Normal? What is your’s?

All of us, or pretty much all of us look at our own individual lives as ‘normal’, even people that are differently able probably see their life’s as ‘normal’ for their circumstance. It is from this vantage point that we view where/how others live. Where we try to understand/judge how others live if different than our own ‘normal’, as we assume ‘most people’ live just like us.

We accept hardships and/or luxuries as ‘normal’ if we have always experienced them. As when Mary-Antoinette, a queen in France, when she reportedly told that her people could no longer even afford bread, she replied, “Then, let them eat cake.” Was she really this callus? I imagine she just really had no idea, what life was like outside her ‘world’, her royal life was her ‘normal’.

I just watched the movie, “Breathe”, about a polio survivor  who was now a paraplegic. His ‘normal’ changed overnight, a huge adjustment, but then his new ‘normal’ that of a paraplegic, he and his family in time wondered did they really have to accept this new normal? From that normal, they started imaging a different one.

It is imagining the different life, the one not normal from where we currently are when we make change. Sometimes this means being exposed to someone else’s normal, to see a different way. Sometimes it takes a huge unforeseen change in our normal, a loss of a job, a death, illness, natural disaster, war to create a change. Not all change is for the better, or at least some at the time can’t be seen as good changes at the moment. Sometimes things need to get really bad before people are willing to put an effort into change, to rising up. As humans I think it is always our goal to rise up.

17 Global Goals

Is the world really better than ever?

Why the world is better than you think

Yes, some of us accept where we are, and see no reason for change, “It was like that when I grew up, and I didn’t turn out that bad”. Or we look around at our situation, see our family circumstance and how our families past has been, and with comments from our elders reinforcing the thought, this is just how it is for us folks, many believe, accept their ‘normal’. They may complain about it, like the story of a hound dog laying on a nail and groaning because it hurts, but not willing to move from that spot on the floor, because he would have to make a change and he is not willing to do so, instead he will just complain.

I believe that big changes can be made with little steps.This can be picking up litter, recycling, smiling, helping another even in a small way, …being the best person we can be. Being creative, looking at things from new ways, seeing new connections from unusual things. Most importantly imagining a new way, a new normal, and working towards that, believing in it until it is. 2 steps forward one step back….fine….sideways,…. fine, but always forward, always improving the ‘normal’ for an even brighter future.

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Carol Burnett

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world. Robin Williams

Tears. I wonder?

My daughter called yesterday. She was suppose to be running off to a baby shower soon, and remembered she was suppose to bring advice for the new mother. She called me, ( I think this is the 2nd shower she has called me for this, being as she is not a mother yet). “Mom, remember when you said that, tears must help us heal? That maybe we should eat or drink them?”

“Honestly, no, I don’t remember saying that, but it does sound rather interesting”, I said to her, “and yes, I can imagine me saying something like that.” Probably after one of them (my children) had had a good cry. I often felt while I had young children how fortunate it was to relive childhood through their eyes, especially the wonder and curiosity, for an adult it’s like looking through fresh eyes, seeing again. I can imagine me, wondering at the time, just “Why” do we cry? Our bodies are so miraculous, healing cuts and bruises by themselves, our bodies regenerating the cells in our bodies every 7 years, that we can create new life, such a complicated being, all without effort. So why do we cry? What purpose are tears?

We cry when we are hurt badly, when we are very sad, sometimes when we are very happy, sometimes when we are relieved after being scared, afraid, worried and that has proved not necessary, the being afraid, worried or scared. Definitely tears express emotion, and they definitely are a release, a release of salty water. Salty water is something we might gargle with to help heal a sore throat. Salt draws things out, absorbs moisture. Does it absorb toxins, germs,…. bad feelings?

I remember when I was going to my sister’s funeral, my first funeral. My sister died at 17, quickly, and we were all very unprepared for that. Walking in for the funeral my mother said to me poke me if I start to cry. Poke me if I start to cry…. how sad, not to allow yourself to cry at your own child’s funeral, how ingrained that to cry is a weakness that you should not show. Probably the most heart wrench thing to experience to have your child die. To cry, to have an avenue for release of all those emotions we were all feeling, that would have helped I’m sure in the healing process.

I am certainly not much of a cryer, but I think, that it is a letting go, at least when it is a sad or hurtful thing you are experiencing.

I remember watching my daughter at gymnastics and I had her two brothers there as well, they were playing on the sidelines with some other children. My youngest got hurt, (not badly), fell I think, and came running back to me on the bleachers crying. I listened while he told me what happened and showed me where it hurt, I kissed his “booboo” better and the tears stopped and off he went again to play some more. Another mother of an only child looked at me like I was a miracle Mom, how did you do that? Do what I asked? Get him to stop crying? I just listened, and acknowledged his pain, he just needed to know someone cared and was there for him, not a biggy. Children stumble and fall all the time, I suppose we all do in a way throughout life, and sometimes that is all we need someone to listen and care.

Are tears magic? Maybe, I still don’t know the answer. We do sometimes cry when we are overcome with joy, surely we wouldn’t want to release that emotion? Maybe that’s the answer, maybe with ‘too much’ joy we need a release valve too?

I know when I am feeling down, I do my best to visualize a moment of ‘joy’ in my life, to see it, to feel it, to re-create that moment, and I can feel the corners of my mouth turn up and that warm fuzzy feeling starting to come back and push that sadness away. I hope we all have a moment, actually many moments we can remember experiencing “joy” such a wonderful emotion. Children, definitely bring us many gifts, and “joy” is one of them.

Absolutely nothing wrong with tears, nor do they show weakness or strength, they show emotion, they’re a human trait

Tears,  still a wonder…are they magical. Is there more to them than meets the eye?

Well that was exciting!

My son a renovator found a house for sale, contractor special it read. He send me the link, blue prints, a couple of photos, it looked interesting. The price was tempting so was the location, I was impressed, an architect had been hired to convert this character on the outside home to an amazing modern home on the inside. I encouraged him to set up an appointment to view it. Then as it happened I was going to be in the City that afternoon as well, so I tagged along.

They certainly had gone to town on it. Totally gutted, but new support beams installed, roughed in plumbing, all windows new except a couple, several skylights. Their vision was going to look great once someone completed it. I guess they ran out of money and the bank was going to foreclose therefore the sale. When we walked down to the basement we were pleasantly surprised, there was more headroom than I expected, bonus there were 3 huge windows, certainly didn’t expect that! Yes, the basement floor had all heaved, that would need dealt with, but not a biggy, in dealing with that more headspace could even be created. There was even a small loft for an office, or….

The outside was cute, kept to it’s character, some had been re done. That was what else impressed me, everything that had been done had been done well, even if not complete. There was aluminium soffits and gutters, new supports under the porch, the stones had been re-pointed. Yes, we were definitely interested.

As we drove away, in different directions, I thought wow, won’t that place be amazing, and such a great location too, something like that sure isn’t going to come along very often. He called as I was on the road, he was impressed too, offers were being looked at the following day. His money was tied up, could we figure out how to finance it and put in an offer? We were certainly going to try. We both knew this would be a great flip house, but as I said to him, this would be a fantastic home for him, and he had to agree. Heck I was already thinking, maybe I could have a gallery in the basement if we could have access from the outside, being only a block off an artsy fartsy street, how perfect!!! We were pumped! Did the phoning to various sources for funding, had a plan in place, made an offer, clean, quick possession, well over list as there was 10 offers before we wrote ours. Should we offer more? You do what you are comfortable with, no reason to go crazy as multiple offers are a total crap shoot. We waited……Our offer expired at 9pm, by 7pm we heard there were 28 offers!!!!! Well, yes we had gone in our opinion well over list, but 28 offers, someone was going to go crazy on their offer. My son figured maybe they would go as high as $40,000 over list, maybe but we weren’t ready to do that. 9:25pm, we hadn’t heard anything, he said the realtor said she probably wouldn’t hear until close to 10pm. Just before 10, guess what it sold for? Totally gutted, so you can’t get a mortgage on it until it’s livable. …..$120,000 over list price!!! We will have to take a drive by in 6 months just out of curiosity. well, we had a dream, and it was exciting, we tried, so no regrets.

Man I am glad we don’t have such a crazy market where I live. Multiple offers like that are so dangerous for Buyers, more so on complete homes where you can put nothing in to protect yourself from things that aren’t visible. Having previously been a realtor, and taken the courses, it was always my understanding that the list price was suppose to be in the ballpark of the market value, that doesn’t seem to be the game in the City, list stupid low, and then let everyone gamble, and go crazy on their offers.

That was a fun dream for a day and a half, makes you feel alive! And if we had gotten it, we would have been hyped for a long time, and busy, fun busy. Next!

Stories in the Emergency room

Last night I took my son to the emergency room. Very anti-climatic, thank goodness. The phone call, ” Mom, I was wondering, I think I need stitches in my leg” He has been renovating a house. Well, I said, I think you should go to the hospital. He said, “I would, but I need to hold the cut closed.” “Okay, I’ll be right over!”

Thankfully I wasn’t met with blood gushing all over and he could still walk. I live in a small town so the hospital wasn’t far. I drop him off at the door, and he goes in while I park the car. He’s very calm, as he holds his cut clamped together with his hand and talks to the receptionist. We get his paperwork, slide it in the appropriate spot on the triage door and take a seat with all the others waiting for their own emergencies.

You know a visit to emergency always starts off with quite a jolt from routine, “Oh my God, what happened? We need to deal with this NOW!!!, hence emergency.” Then of course you get there, and in a prim and proper way, after all we are Canadians, we are prioritized as to need, who might actually have a more pressing emergency than yourself or loved one. Makes total sense, and I understand that a 3″ gash probably 3/8ths of an inch deep is not, thankfully, life threatening, so you wait. Half an hour later, we had a person sit beside us (other chairs were already full), an hour past and my son was seen by a triage person, and sent back out to wait. They have installed a TV now that gives you updates, how many patients are waiting, average wait time, longest wait time and this is updated regularly. I suppose it is there to give you some form of understanding, acceptance of why you are still waiting, and that yes if your situation is a higher priority you will be seen sooner. So, you sit and watch quietly while time ticks by, as these possible wait times change, and number of patients also changes. And since you have nothing better to do you measure your standing against this as to how long you have been there and how much longer you may have to wait the good scenario 2 hours and the bad scenario at one point 4 1/2 hours. As my son tells me, still better than a hospital wait in the City. I jokingly tell him and the lady beside us, both waiting for stitches, that maybe if they had wanted quicker attention they should have come in with blood gushing out and screaming?

So what do you do while you are waiting? Observe the others in the waiting room. Play your own guess the priority game? Is that one really an emergency, they look fine, you call that a cough, I’ve heard worse than that. A police brought him in but then the police fellow left and he seems fine. Then being a small town people start to come in that you know, who knew an emergency room could be like a coffee shop.

On being admitted, one of the questions was have you been to emergency in the last 6 months? (Does it matter? Okay maybe some people are more accident prone, but if you need help, you need help, right?). That did make for some conversation on sitting down, memory lane, when did you go in for cutting your hand, did you get a tetanus shot then or did they just talk about it? When did you break your collarbone? Now he’s thinking will they have to cut my pants off? They cut his clothes off when he broke his collarbone, but it’s -30′ outside and he doesn’t have any extra pants here. I told him he could let go of his cut for the few minutes it would take to pull his pants down, it wouldn’t bleed for long. I had to laugh internally when he went in to triage and came out with a piece of tape holding his pants together??? But no stitches on his leg yet. Really? What was the purpose of that? I was more concerned about his wound getting stuck to his pants and then being ripped open again when they went to deal with it.

Meanwhile the lady beside us had cut her finger. I asked how she had done that, cutting frozen meat? (That’s how my daughter had ended up in emergency a few years ago.) No, putting something in the garbage and slicing it on an open tin can in there already. Down to the bone she said, ouch! (Now that I think of it, that ‘can’ should have been in the recycling, next time, Isn’t it funny how our brains bounce around, or mine anyways)

My son and I talked as we waited about how I should have brought my own needle and thread and then we wouldn’t be waiting so long, or just a clamp, though he admitted that would really hurt. Seriously I don’t know if I could stitch up another human being …unless I thought there was no other option, which of course I would then, but here’s hoping I never have to. We talked about staples, just imagining that made me wince. Superglue, I have had that before, it stings, my other son had that when he ran a hand saw over his hand while building a fort, the glue job didn’t hold and I wanted to take him back to get it re-done, he, a teenager at the time , said “No” he wanted a battle scar, a story to tell, silly kid. While waiting, we learned that they don’t do stitches if the wound is more that 24 hours old. Certainly we wouldn’t be waiting 24 hours, if so I would find someway to put “Humpty” back together again, no, 4 1/2 hours at most the TV screen said.

At one point the lady beside me told me that she once had to come in because she had put an axe through her leg, not good. Okay, my turn, I had tripped on some scrub bush and had another piece go up my leg when I was playing tag, stitches out on my birthday, (I was 5), She had another, she was bit by a beaver!!! A beaver, wow, how uncommon is that! How on earth did that happen, I asked did she poke it with a stick? She said she was with her dog, when they ran into the beaver, and she did have a stick and was trying to keep the beaver from her dog when it, she thought rubbed up to her, but she had three bites, and had to get rabie shots in the wounds and couldn’t get it stitched up because of the possible rabies. Now that was a story. Well, I didn’t have one to trump her, but I told her I had been followed to school by a bear one day, haha. (true)

It was more than 2 hours before he went in for his stitches, and he did come out with his pants intack (besides the slice he had made cutting his leg) for his hour plus ride back to the city.

I bet those emergency room staff have all kinds of whopper stories to tell, silly ones, what were they thinking ones, and absolutely devastating one’s, heart wrenching ones. So glad ours was just a different way to spend a few hours on a Sunday night, and that someone else was there to stitch up my son. And we have no intention of coming back anytime soon, thanks for being there though. Love, living in Canada.

Oliver

16722410_10158248774290501_1439403914849664656_oPlanning my trip to Guatemala in the fall of 2014, I figured I should nail down accommodations for over Christmas and New Years before maybe there weren’t any or they were out of my price range. I thought I would like to spend that time in Antigua, Guatemala and a World Heritage site. I found a place through AirBnB I believe, it sounded perfect but it said those dates weren’t available. I decided to send them a note anyways seeing if they might suggest other accommodations for that time. The owner got back to me, that since I was a single lady, I could stay there during that time any ways, she had booked it off as her child “Oliver” was coming at that time. Oh, I thought, and replied, maybe since this was such a special time for her I shouldn’t impose. Initially I understood by how she replied that she was pregnant and expecting her first child, so I offered to help in any way I could with cooking and cleaning at that time to help her. Then when she kept referring him to him as “Oliver” I thought maybe I misunderstood, maybe he was already born, and she just got to visit with him at that time. So I started telling her a bit about my children and how old they were. She replied then, that no he had not been born yet, and indeed was expected to arrive at that time. I had a place to stay. A wonderful family, and her Mom was going to be staying with them as well to help out and be there for the birth.

I felt like part of the family, the first day there I got to attend a baby shower at their church. I was there when the priest came to visit at their home prior to the birth. They were not yet married yet even though they had been together for sometime as there were problems due to Daniel being from Germany I believe. (Guatemala is very religious with something like 97% being Roman Catholic.) That was another question I was asked from place to place as I arrived, was I religious? My answer, “No”, but I was brought up Roman Catholic.

Antigua is a wonderful place to be around the Christmas/New Years holidays, lots of extra activities happening. There was the evening before Christmas when a procession went by at night, maybe a rendition of them looking for a room for the Virgin Mary, I’m not sure but the lanterns, etc were a nice surprise, and it was very small scale, intimate. Video of procession

Paola had been hoping to give birth at home with a mid wife, but just before Christmas, she learned that the baby was breech, the midwife tried moving it, but he was too comfortable, or big. Paola tried crawling around a bit as she was told this might get the little fellow motivated to move but it just wasn’t happening. Plan B, a doctor and hospital, to find one in a place that she felt comfortable in. That done, now the doctor was trying to encourage her to have it before Christmas, but she really didn’t want to, even though her husband was anxious to see the little guy. I thought the Doctor just didn’t want to be disturbed during the holidays? There was also the thought of schooling and where that would put him in the school year when that time came. Paola decided she would plan for Jan 2, if the baby decided it could wait that long. (Daniel had painted from time to time, images on Paolo’s growing stomach, the one I remember most, the cat’s back end, and  a cracked egg. They also wanted to make a cast of her stomach just before “Oliver” was born. I’m not sure if that happened, but I think so. Very creative.)

On Christmas Eve, which is the day they celebrate or on the stroke of midnight, Paola’s mother Isabelle, Paola, Daniel and myself all sat down to help make tamales, a Costa-rican version as that was where her Mom was from. Quite the assembly line we had going, and by the end we had made over 100.

Making tamales 

(Making cost ricin tamales for new years
Plantain leave, masa with garlic, salt and pork fat, then rice with achiote or paprika , spoonful of peas, pork slice and pork fat, 2 slices of tomatoes and carrot, 6 raisins,1 prune, 1 olive, wrap it all up and bake for 1 1/2 -2 hours at 325′)

Then there was Mass, which Daniel asked why I wanted to come if I wasn’t really religious, part of the experience I told him. A grand church, with a nativity scene that they had brought in dirt from the various areas around so that all were represented.. Then we went home for the meal and gifts, they even got me a journal, with a cover that had local weaving on it. Then I heard it, that strange sound… What could it be? I finally asked, “that rumbling noise, what was it?” It sounded, I said, like someone rolling a barrel of ice down the cobblestone hill. Her brother looked at me, curiously amused. “Only a Canadian would come up with something like that. It was fireworks.”…Okay, I have to admit that did make a lot more sense, and then we went up to the roof top to see. All over the city fireworks were being set off at midnight, not in just one spot, the whole sky was alive with them. I was told that they would set off fireworks at midnight, 6am, noon and 6pm, that’s a lot of fireworks!! I know how expensive they were back home so I asked about that there. Yes they said, they were expensive there as well, but everyone saved up to set off fireworks, rich to poor. On Christmas day I called home to talk to my son on Facetime just before noon, and I was up on the roof top showing him the view when the fireworks started, “Get down, Mom!!!” he shouted, as he thought it was gun fire, no I assured him, just fireworks.

I couldn’t believe all the firework debris along the streets. Then came the New Years celebration, the central street in Antigua was filled with performers, it was alive, and of course a big fireworks display.

The next day, January 2nd, time for “Oliver”, they told me the address of the small hospital, so when I thought enough time had passed, I wandered down, my Spanish not being very good, I managed to let them know what I was there for, and down the hall I went. Very different than our hospitals. There she was with little, or not so little, “Oliver”, one proud father, who I couldn’t believe how much this new born looked like!!!! He seemed all Dad and no, or very little Mom. A mini me, for Daniel. Also a very proud Grandma, and 2 brothers, her younger one was VERY excited even before hand and let Paola know, he already had a car seat so he could take him for rides.

So I was the very first person to hold that first born child, after the Mom, Dad, Grandma and Uncles, pretty special. Such a short time ago now, and he is such a big boy now at 3, (especially for that country, but there comes into play his German father), still looks the spitting image of his dad, who unfortunately, past away last year but will always be remembered, a kind caring person.