Stories

I have a story

It can be non-linear

Occasionally illogical

Often melancholy

Marginally beautiful

And forever evolving

If I were to give it a title

I’d call it ‘Life’

If I were to set it into chapters

They would be named

For those

I have loved or hated or both

Or taught me things about myself

If I were to number the pages

They would be infinite

For time began

before I could start counting

And my time will end

before I can stop counting

The spine would be made

To store feeling and sensations

And the covers would reflect

Not beginning and end

But rather the gifts inside

Where those intersecting stories

Can abide for awhile

While they write their story too

I am an open book

And if I am read carefully

You will see you reside their too

©️Entirety 2018



The Other Shoe

There are some things you just aren’t allowed to process out loud. Whether it’s the circle you are in or greater society, shame still has its hold over certain topics. And I am squirming, my kids see it, my lover sees it and I see it.

I remember after my mom died I had this acute awareness that there was very little time to mourn in the respect that life continues on. Kids have to be taken here, suppers need to be made, eaten and cleaned up after, and work needs to be attended to. Life doesn’t stop, even when you want to cry, scream and stomp your foot. Life is relentless, until it isn’t and we all know that side of things isn’t necessarily any better.

So here I am processing, wishing for time, wishing for space. It’s a cross between wanting to run away, wanting to hide and well… wanting to punch someone. You see, I will always be that person, that carries just that little bit, that edge of sadness in her soul. Someone who picks at her wounds, who ruminates, who stores pain in her soul. It’s not something I consciously choose, it’s not even something I enjoy, but it is who I am, and today even my 9 year old could see it. That hurt a bit too.

When we walked the West Highland Way it was hard. Like real hard. It didn’t matter how long we walked that day, whether 12 km or 27 km, with 2 km to our destination for the day to go I wanted to die…like every fucking time. You’d come around the bend of some winding path and hope that this would be it, here would lie the Mecca… the bathtub, bed and respite for the day. And the disappointment, when THAT bend, was not THE bend to signal the end of the journey for the day.

I don’t think I am 2 km’s from my journeys end, not by any means (I mean not that I know of!!!!). But I keep coming around the bend, hoping for respite, and feeling pain and disappointment, discomfort and sadness. Hope squelched… for now.

So I sit here, on the side of the road, aware that hope can look like it’s missing, aware that just like the bends that came and went that brought no end to that day, obviously eventually came. Otherwise how could I be here, literally.

I keep hoping that one of these lessons in hope will stick, one of these lessons in pain will stick. And that the other shoe, that it would stop dropping, or… maybe I just need to be a barefoot kinda girl, cause I’m running out of shoes.

©️Entirety 2018

Image found on Pinterest

8 more sleeps #Scotland2018 #Westhighlandway


Joy, fear, foreboding, excitement, exhilaration, reality and good old disillusionment are all rearing its head these days. And I’m not just talking about the 96 mile or 154 km hike my man (can I call him that?) and I are about to embark on.

I have been called mad, crazy and brave in the last few weeks and and I think that sums it up in a nut shell. (And I’m still not just talking about the hike.)

We have conspired around an adventure of a life time. We have thought about rain, snow, peeing, eating, blisters, water, and looming old injuries waiting to rear their ugly heads. But what we haven’t yet done is experienced it.

I warned Kevin early on that I’m afraid of hard things and am more or less the laziest person I know but I knew I had to do this. I knew it had something for me. I knew, but knowing, reading and packing doesn’t totally prepare you for what it’s like an eighth of the way in, when you are already sore, wet and maybe deep down inside scared shitless. (Still not just talking about the hike.)

I was totally prepared to do this walk alone. (I’m a great talker.) I had thrown it out there in a few venues and didn’t really have any serious takers.

So when I told Kevin about it though…his response?

“When are you going to ask me to come along?”

I’m a whiner, a passionate being who struggles with irritability, anger and fear. WHAT KIND OF GOD DAMN SAINT WANTS TO GO ON A 154 km HIKE WITH ME?!

Ok, he does. Saint Kevin. (Yeah that sounds all sorts of wrong.)

This next week is a downward slide into unknowns and hard work. I can’t wait to share the journey with you. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Megs at work says I cry when I’m happily overwhelmed. I do. I cried the first several weeks into dating Kevin. I cried on the top of Quiraing, I cried on the side of a mountain while Jim Mackintosh read me poetry. I am expecting some of those tears. (I am expecting some of the other kind too.)

My hope is not to be a drag to my partner, to not steal joy from the experience, to open my body and heart to what persistence and overcoming can mean for me as a person. And even as I wrote this I cry.

Hang on… I have a feeling it’s going to be quite a ride. (And I’m still not only talking about the hike.)

©️Entirety 2018

The Black Hole #doinglife

I live inside my head a lot. For an extrovert it doesn’t feel exactly right, but maybe that’s because Myers Briggs puts me 50% in and 50% out.

I don’t mind time with myself, what I mind is being eaten up by partial truths, misperceptions, and misplaced feelings that tend to grow disproportionately. I was born to catastrophize. Not around everything, but some things.

Some of those things require conversations to resolve, some of those involve reality checks about who I am to myself and who I want to be to those around me, whatever the case it involves heart work. And heart work is hard.

Personally, I’d rather not be stuck in my head, it’s why I process out loud so much. It’s why I write, it’s why the people close to me get to hear the ebbs and flows of my feelings and probably are quite lost at times by my inability to pick a path and not still deliberate about that path while being on it.

In the enneagram (another personality exploring tool) I am a 9 space. I bring this up because while at the pool the other day my aunt pointed out that in relationships all the spaces butt up against another space, with the exception of the 9 space who butts up against the black hole.

I’m wondering if my head is a black hole, and that the dissonance I feel is about roots becoming unrooted, about ties being cut and about the sequential unknowns I keep being faced with. In my 17 year marriage it was always in question whether my husband would be there tomorrow or the next day. In my last year, it was about how would I make it through financially, or without my mom or with a child who was struggling with his anger. Where would I live? Where would my kids go to school? Who, what, where, when and why begin most of my thoughts out loud.

Life is a black hole, it’s a blank space until you’re there doing it. It’s potential space, possibilities and a choose your own adventure. But I keep coming around the corner of a new experience, faced with new unknowns and part of me feels like shouldn’t I be more solid at 43? Less swayed by unknowns? Less afraid of them? When does one fully mature? Where you can say with confidence, I know, I want, I need…

So I’ll hide in my head today, this grey prairie day with a wind that has me sitting in my car over being outside. I’ll let myself feel the unknowns without letting the fear of them control my actions. I’ll let myself butt up against the black hole knowing that the getting lost in them and getting found in them is just as much a part of my journey as breathing. I’ll let myself feel the scope of love that life has to offer, still learning at 43 how to be fully present to it and being ok with being me amidst it all.

©️Entirety 2018

Letters #augustfalls18

If I am honest

My letter to the ocean

Is filled with a fear

Of not being strong enough

To swim its current

Of not being deep enough

To understand

Where it needs to go

Of not being generous enough

To let it ebb and flow

If I am honest

My letter to the sea

Is filled with longing

It is filled with a love

That wants to live with no bounds

It is filled with a raging passion

Only a sea could understand

And a need to explore caverns

These depths no land could ever know

It seems to me

Being in love with an ocean

Or a sea

Is a terribly exhilarating

And scary place to be

It seems to me

There is no other way

But to be engulfed

By its gravity

To feel its polar ends

Its surface and its depths

To wake at the end of all the morrows

Spent

Given all

And to have wholeheartedly

Received its gift

©️Entirety 2018

Image found on tumblr

Don’t Let Go #poetry

I love the way you hold me

When I’m sad

When I’m afraid

When I don’t know the way

When I say

The words that linger

On both our tongues

And echo in our ears

I love the way you kiss me

When we say hello

The goodbye less so

I love the way

When I need to know

You are there

Penetrating my soul

You don’t let go

©️Entirety 2018

Art found on Pinterest

What Happens When We Don’t Get a Goodbye?

Image by Alex Solis


It may be the age I am at, but I am taking notice that life seems to be speeding up a bit.  The perspective of seeing kids growing, some days going as slow as molasses and other days you get this big smack to the face that realizes a once 8 pound 8 oz baby now is both taller and weighs more than you.  Perspective grows further into the other spectrum though, it opens up an abyss into the world of death as well.

Just like when I was pregnant, I noticed all the other pregnant people in my general vicinity, now I see my peers, people my own age begin to face death more frequently than we have in our adult journey thus far.

There is nothing I regret surrounding my moms death.  My dad’s death is another story, but I have mostly relinquished my feelings towards that story.

My aunty, she is brilliant.  She is articulate, intelligent, pro-active, beautiful, giving and has taught me a wealth of things over the past 43 years.  In fact, I am named after her and her twin sisters, my middle names Faith and Joy.  Two women I can say, that have impacted my life like no others.

Today I got an email from her with a Ted Talk Titled A Heroic Narrative for Death by Amanda Bennett.  To be honest I’m not really a Ted Talk kinda girl.  (Except for when it comes to Brené Brown.)  But this came from my Aunty, so it came with some credibility.

After I watched the Ted Talk and read her brief email, I began to think about a time in my life where I helped lead a ministry program in the church called Alpha.  I spent 3 years studying theology in college, and 20 odd years involved in the Christian church, many years in a variety of leadership positions and it was during this Alpha program that I had first learned what Amen really meant.

I had prayed thousands of times throughout my years in the church, I had said amen more times than I have brushed my teeth and combed my hair in my life time combined, and yet I had no idea what it meant.  The bible says that prayer is a conversation with God, and I thought when you said amen at the end of a prayers, essentially you were saying, “The End” to the conversation.  as an aside,  I think that’s kinda paradoxical now that I am a writer and that I RARELY get to use those words because my pieces rarely come to their end.   And without losing a bunch of you because I am talking about the bible or praying, that is not my point at all.  I just saw something I had never thought of before and wanted to share a connection my brain had made after engaging with this Ted Talk.

It turns out Amen does not mean The End.  Amen means, “so be it.”

I began to think and pontificate, and let my thoughts wander.

What if our lives are in fact, living prayers? And what if we misinterpret the pronouncement of death as The End?  And instead choose to let death be our “So be it.”  A proclamation in fact.

This is what it could mean for me and my perspective of losing my mother.

For one, it means, it is not an ending.  I suppose I could see it as a continuation, of the 74 years she previously lived.  What if instead of Goodbye I said, so be it?  Acknowledging the life til now, and leaving our goodbyes to an open ended conversation, that doesn’t end at amen, or goodbye.

I don’t want to argue semantics, philosophy or religion, and I see there are many places for this idea to be taken apart, but my choice right now is to not see death and hence the idea of goodbye as the end.  (I kinda imagine I’m not the only person to consider this concept either.) But the metaphor of our lives as a prayer, and death not being the end but instead the amen.

I 100% believe this is part of the reason my mom’s death was a heroic one.  My mom didn’t end her life with a final page outlook, she approached death with an open ended conversation.  She said so be it, with an occasional, “but am I really dying?”  She told my sister (and my Aunty) that she looked at death as an adventure, she was curious about what lay beyond that last breath.  It’s not like she was all gung ho or anything.  She struggled for every breath until she took her last one New Years Eve.  She cried when she realized her mini-stroke had prevented her from a much needed conversation with her best friend days before her death, because although she walked/rode heroically onto the palliative care unit, she was under no delusion, that in fact some things of what we knew as our normal were most definitely coming to an end.

I did have the privilege of saying goodbye to my mom, I said it to her every time I left the room to leave or to just go get a glass of water.  But the amens, they were everywhere.  Our “so be its” were evident even without our words.  Our “so be its”, were in our toasts at the bedside with glasses of wine, our “so be its” were in the washing of her hair, the holding of her hands and the tears we shed both at and away from her bedside.  Saying the word “goodbye”, although a part of, were not the act of our saying “so be it”, our actions spoke as well.

And for that I am reassured all the goodbyes my mom needed were said, and unsaid, just as they were meant to be.

©️Entirety 2018

New Life #birth #stories

New life. It’s one of my favouritest things about this earth, because there is nothing that fosters hope, like new life.

16 years ago today, I welcomed new life into my arms. I laboured for hours, ruptured membranes, an epidural, oxytocin and a fetal heart rate that scared the pants off of all of us resulting in a c-section.

Fast forward three years and me telling my midwife, “don’t worry, I won’t go into labour today, because it’s my other sons birthday.” Kismet. Fate. Like it wasn’t up for that challenge. I was so naive. New life doesn’t wait, and neither did my second son. Stalled out at 6cm, we thankfully succumbed to a c-section after hours and hours of trying to deliver naturally.

So two boys, exactly three years apart. And like many mothers, birthdays, surface birth stories. We want to tell our stories, the scary parts, the exciting parts and the tender parts. Not to scare other mothers, or to judge our caregivers, or to foster jealousy in others, but because our stories make up who we are.

My boys make up a part of who I am. Same birthdays, similar type of birth, same red hair and the similarities end there. I’ve said many times I would have gone on to have as many kids as possible just for the biology experiment of it all. I wondered how many babies it would take to have a black haired baby, or till a baby who would nurse, or if maybe baby number x would deliver vaginally. (I still have vivid dreams even after delivering 4 red heads via c-section that I could pop one out naturally. I dream I am pregnant often, even though it’s relatively impossible now because of my tubes being done.)

My boys are different, their struggles different and their passions different.

Calvin is a passionate engager, he will take over the world one day if the millenialists and their inability to stick things through don’t take over. He is a fighter. A warrior. For good or for bad, and he has confidence. I have seen him nurture, I have seen him lead and he is a powerful human being whom I believe in immensely.

Eliot, he is a connector. A feeler. He found his niche in band this year playing the frenchhorn and I couldn’t be more proud. But more so for the ways teachers have spoke of his compassion for others, ability to step in and help and build relationships with others.

Stories are making up who they are becoming, and what a gift it is to be characters in one another’s life. Some days the antagonist, some days the anti-hero, but most days the fire that feeds change.

New life is about the hope of the journey, the catalyst for the stories that make up who we are, and who we are becoming, yes even at 43, or 13, 16 or 86…

Thankful to have these kids make up some of the stories in my journey, and maybe one day, much later in their more adult years, they will be thankful for my role in theirs. But for now, we eat cake. And celebrate the new life they continue to be.

©️Entirety 2018

When I Was 8 #taketwo #reallife #parenting #grieving


I have a therapist who encourages me to write. She knows this is a way I connect with my heart, writing and people are the glue that hold me together. I haven’t a chance to talk to her about this new development though, something I worry about speaking aloud, for fear of backlash and judgment.

I have a secret.

Entirety is not perfect, and she is an even less perfect mother. But my counsellor would piss therapeutically on me for that statement.

I’m not wearing my family’s garbage out for all to see and to gawk. Instead I am speaking about some of these unspeakable things so that they could hold less power over me, and that stigma and inadequacy could be quelled.

I

am

a

parent

of

an

angry

child

An explosive child, and a child some days I feel lost at parenting. Co-parenting with an ex-spouse, living out dynamics of dealing with not always agreeing, and knowing this child acts differently with me then he does with his dad, and yet the thread remains.

I am sometimes afraid.

In the midst of trying to grieve my mothers death, I have been trying to hold family life together. Often with the absence of my ex-spouse who has been necessarily dealing with personal issues. And I am drowning.

In the last month I have seen Lawyers, Doctors, Bankers, Counsellors, Funeral directors, mental health workers, police officers and I can tell you I am about done with professionals. There is nothing more to make you feel alone than walking into all these offices to fight these battles with only air by your side. I don’t mean to undermine my sisters hard work through my moms death, but I am partnerless, and at the end of the day, on the days I can, I crawl into bed alone and listen to the sound of the furnace and I hope I can sleep. On the days I can’t, I crawl in beside my 9 year old to not feel so alone.

Tomorrow I am taking my oldest son to live temporarily somewhere else. I want to make sarcastic comments about what kind of mother has to do this. Wise cracks about what a loser I am, but I won’t. Because I know it’s not true, I am a good mom who loves all her kids, even the one that I am driving to a friends house tomorrow through an organization called Safe Families. In the last two months my son has been expressing an enormous amount of hurt through anger, a tv was broken, baking destroyed, my iPhone 7 lobbed through a parking lot and I have been called a fucking bitch more times then I can count. But I can honestly say with my rose coloured glasses OFF, I know he is a good kid.

So I’m still showing up.

When I was 8 my sister ran away. (Note here she is far from being an adult screw up despite some of her journey being unconventional through her teens… ok she remains unconventional but in a good way.) After she returned safely she spent some time living with my Aunt and Uncle.

I remember quite distinctly my mom during this time. I remember comforting her at the age of 8, like my youngest does for me. These moments don’t really make you feel like a great mother. One that your kid can’t live with you and two that you need comfort from your youngest and three this underlying fear that it was something you did or didn’t do as a mother. Cause if I am honest, I’ve probably only fucked up with my son a few thousand times. Like the time he ate crayons and I put tobasco sauce on his tongue for doing so, or the time I told him he was pathological. (Hoping that all his time watching House didn’t clue him in to what I meant.). But I get angry too, and I have said some hurtful things.

So don’t you see, after my mom put my sister in with my aunt and uncle, I just want to know what my mom thought. How did she feel doing that? Did she feel like a failure too? Did she question if they were doing the right thing? Did she cry at thinking about the vulnerability of her child while simultaneously go through the motions of having to keep showing up for me since I was still there? I want to ask my mom, but she’s not here. I can’t ask her what it was like and I can’t not think about the journey they took with my sister and I am now taking with my son. I keep thinking about this quote I read, “why can’t heaven have visiting hours?”

Parenting is hard. I know that’s not a news flash. But it’s hard and I’m still showing up, and I’m a lazy fuck.

My mom showed up too. Somedays better than others, but I always knew she loved me, and that she loved my sisters too.

I can love my kids. Even if the days are sometimes hard. Even if it means unconventional family life so that everyone can get their needs met as best possible.

I just wish I could ask my mom though, what she felt and thought… but true to form I’d probably just accuse her of backseat driving.

©️Entirety 2018

Grief and the great divide #poetry

~

She was there‬‪

To watch you dance‬

‪To hold your hand‬

‪To kiss your cheek‬

‪Her heart‬

‪In every sigh‬

‪In every touch‬

‪In every breath‬

‪As you hold her‬

‪Now‬

‪Across the unforgiving grave‬

‪Separation‬

‪Is the biggest threat to love‬

‪But not this day‬

‪This day is yours and hers‬

‪To mourn‬

‪As daughter and mom‬

©Entirety 2017