Sep 3, 2011

You Can't Get There From Here

We all start relationships with the best of intentions. We meet someone and they make us feel good about ourselves. They make us feel whole and alive. These feelings are amazing. They are some of the most incredible we have in our lifetimes. However they don't always stay because sooner or later we show our true colours, we argue over the same thing again and again and we lose the physical attraction we have for one another.

When all of that takes place, you better have a rock hard friendship to hold up that bridge because a bridge is what you are going to need to get from there to somewhere new, next and better.

Think about this - how often do you argue your partner (minimum 5 years together)?

How often have you lied about something because it's easier to lie than to have an argument?

How often have you said something really awful in the heat of a fight that you wish you hadn't said and you know you can't take back because it will still be there looming even if you did take it back?

When you fight - is it over something you have struggled with before?

Is it money or "you don't listen to me" or "you only care about yourself?" or "did you have an affair with that person?" or "you never say you love me anymore" or is it the fully loaded...

"I can't do this anymore"

How do things get so heated? How do we go from loving someone so much to wanting them out of our lives so badly?

Relationships fail, marriages fail, we fail and our lives change forever. Is it harder to stay or leave? Does it hurt more to feel the pain or not feel anything?

What if you woke up tomorrow and instead of being married and having your house and your routine and your Saturday night out for dinner and sex before or after the news - what if you were in a loft by yourself? You had the place set up exactly how you like and you could do whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted. That's right - you could eat what you want, when you want. You could turn on the TV loud and watch the channel you want or you could leave it off all weekend and do nothing but listen to jazz and read a book. You could meet an old friend for a coffee - someone you were intimate with at some time in your life and although you chose different paths, there was nothing ugly about your parting - it just happened that way.

What if someone made you feel beautiful and desirable for the first time in years? They didn't criticize you or make a joke that they thought was funny but wasn't funny at all?

How many people do you think stick it out even though they are miserable. They have an affair of take a few extra business trips. They buy things to settle their feeling of being un-settled. They stay together for the kids, for the dog for the real estate.

So is it easier to leave or to stay?

Here's the thing. Whether you leave or stay you will end up in the same place unless you are absolutely willing to change your life as you know it. As much as we may complain and may fantasize about a different life, if we could press a magic button and go there - wherever there is - would we be happier?

Unless you are ready to uproot yourself and possibly kids, dogs, investments whatever makes up your life - and unless you are really willing to leave that partner and "partner" is a tough word to replace (really check out your thesaurus for a better word), you best take the situation you are in and make it better.

Because that loft and that free schedule and open menu - it may be great for a few days but chances are you'll wake up one morning and realize you have made an awful mistake and you haven't really made it all that far.

In order to get anywhere you have to start from where you are - where you truly are and that place starts in your heart and rests in your gut as it shouts out

"You can't get there from here."

Know where you are and stay there.

Sep 2, 2011

I Saw a Cyclist Get Hit By a Car

I was crossing a major intersection and noticed a cyclist heading the wrong way into traffic. Before reaching the oncoming cars, he was hit by someone pulling out of parking lot.

He immediately fell to the ground and under the front of the car; his bicycle thrown to the side as if it had dodged the impact purposely.

The driver of the car and several other people including me approached the cyclist down on our hands and knees while another driver circulated the traffic around the scene.

The cyclist was in his late sixties though in good shape. His first reaction was to stand up quickly holding his left hip. He told everyone he was fine and went to get his bike off the street. As soon as he reached the grass on the side, he collapsed.

People do that when they are injured and in shock - their adrenaline fools them into thinking they are untouched, invincible but then the pain weighs in (milli seconds later)it's apparently clear that they are not alright.

As he lay on the grass, the driver who hit him was on his phone speaking to the 911 operator. I leaned over the cyclist and asked where it hurt. He motioned to his hip and started to rock his body back and forth as if that would remedy the situation. I held his hand and told him he would be alright.

I am not a doctor but I am a WFR (wilderness first responder). My training is meant to stabilize victims who are injured in remote areas and are hours/days from medical treatment facilities. This was not the case but I wanted to offer my support in any way I could.

The ambulance came and scooped the cyclist up and he was gone. The driver spoke with police and was asked to follow the ambulance to the hospital. I felt bad for him because he hadn't done anything wrong and it would have been near impossible for him to not hit the cyclist.

I felt bad for the cyclist because he was in pain and he wasn't young enough to mend quickly or perhaps at all. I thought about his family and how worried they would be and how they would say to him, "We've told you a million times, it's too dangerous for you to be cycling at your age especially in the city." I was thinking about how humiliating that would be for the man who just wanted to stay in shape and enjoy a beautiful day on his bike without anyone telling him he shouldn't.

It took seconds to happen. It took seconds to change the day of the driver who had just finished teaching a class at a nearby University and was on his way to pick up his son at preschool. What would he tell his son? Even though it was not his fault he felt bad and guilty and he would relive the moment again and again when he tried to sleep that night.

The cyclist would have to undergo hip surgery and be dependent upon his family to care for him during the convalescent period. He would be bedridden and need help going to the bathroom, dressing, eating, etc. His quality of life would be greatly effected.

His children who are already busy caring for their own children with barely any time for themselves would have to pitch in and help their mother who is herself dealing with health issues.

There could be complications during the hip surgery and that would weigh on the family even more.

All of this in seconds. When something of this sort occurs there is only the "now" and the "next". What is for certain is that from the moment the front of that car hit the cyclist a domino effect started in motion and there was no stopping the pieces from falling forward flat on their faces.

All it takes is seconds to change your entire life and those of the ones you love.

Nurture those seconds, be aware of your surroundings and never think it won't happen to you because it does and it will and there is no rewind button.

Aug 30, 2011


Today I went for my fourth tattoo which completes my "half sleeve". This will not please my husband or my mother or my brothers but it pleases me. Tattoos are forms of self expression and in most cases (mine) they are meaningful on various levels. I now have a bird flying out of my tree that is being splashed by a dolphin and all of this life and wonder emanates from the main image - my dog Buster.

Have you ever been tattooed? Do you know what it feels like? Well here, I'll run you through it.

So first you have to pick a tattoo artist/shop. It's sort of like looking for a new hairdresser. You want the hairdresser to look really good and for the people he/she cuts/styles to look even better. It's usually word of mouth or you can just walk in and watch them work and see for yourself. In terms of a tattoo artist, many have tattoos all over the bodies however in all likelihood it's not their work so best to ask to see their portfolio.

I also feel it is important to be comfortable and to trust the artist. They are extremely talented individuals who have to be able to sketch and bring life to your "I want a tattoo of a flower" (not realizing there are hundreds of thousands of possible renditions of flower tattoos). For example, someone could come in and say, "I want a tattoo of a tiger with a rose in his mouth" (happened today - not me). The artist has to render a sketch and then make it fit proportionally on the right part of your body. If you have a tattoo in that area already, it's even trickier because he has to make sure the shape and colours blend in with the rest.

Getting a tattoo hurts. Here's a comparison. Many years ago I was rock climbing in Squamish, British Columbia. I was on a ledge prepping for my next ascent when a family of bees came out of a crack in the rock that was directly in front of my stomach. The bees stung me several times as I hung in mid-air screaming for help. By the time I was belayed down, my stomach was swollen red and burning/stinging all that same time. So the feeling of being stung by several bees is similar to the feeling of the needles penetrating your skin for 1 to 2 or more hours (depending on the detail and size of the tattoo). Oh and another thing - you can't move - I mean not even a bit or you will have one crazy ass tattoo for the rest of your life.

In any case the tattoo artist holds down your body part with their weight and I have yet to meet a small tattoo artist. I have only had men work on me and they were big boys.

Some tips: Chew gum incessantly, listen to your ipod at top volume, don't watch - turn your head the other way, think about something that really pisses you off or someone you are really angry at and feed that anger with the pain. Drink water - it's important to hydrate because chances are you will sweat.

Once the tattoo is completed, the artist will spray it with anti septic and then gel it with Vaseline. It will be wrapped in something that resembles a piece of a garbage bag - oh wait, it is a piece of a garbage bag and then you will have to take very good care of it for the next few weeks. It's like having a sunburn except it's a sunburned image that will accompany you throughout the rest of your life.

Lots of people make jokes as to how that tattoo is going to look on someone when they are in their 80s hanging out in a seniors home. How do you think the rest of me - never mind the tatts - is going to look when I am 80? And who cares? Am I going to be asked out on dates by some hot 20 yr old orderly? I don't think so.

My tattoos are just that - they are mine - they are for me. There's a lot that we do in our lifetimes that is for someone other than ourselves - that is if we are half decent people and most of us are.

It's important to add our own little flavours and offerings to this one life. It makes it more special and unique and it brings us closer to who we truly are beneath and above the surface of our skin.

Being ourselves does honor to our lives and everyone who is part of it. We are here for such a short time and so we may as well put it all out there for everyone to see...

After all, we are everywhere.

Aug 28, 2011

Close your eyes - what do you see?

Think of your childhood in a flash not at length. Close your eyes. What do you see?

I see myself at 7 yrs of age. I am with my grandmother who was in the early stages of a devastating disease - MS. At the time she has a walker but 5 years later she would become paralyzed from the neck down and condemned to a hospital bed.

We are on a picnic by a large fountain that shoots up from the mossy base so high that I can see it catch the rays of the sun. My grandmother is smiling and laughing and she affectionately brushes my cheek with her hand and kisses me on the forehead and says "I am very proud of you and I love you."

I close my eyes again and I see my dog Buster who passed away last fall just before his fifth birthday from Cancer. This is a constant vision I have of him. He is sitting on the top stair waiting for me to come home. I open the door and there he is just waiting - no matter how long - he waits. He runs down to greet me and pushes me into the wall with his excitement. He chases his tail and we make our way to the living room where I tell him all about my day while he places his head in my lap. He's just happy I'm home and I'm just happy I have him to come home to and I don't want to open my eyes because I know he won't be there ever again.

Memories are black and white film strips left in a dark, dusty room curled up on the floor waiting for us to discover them. Sometimes we just choose to let them be while other times we want so badly to get down on that floor, face in hands, knees pressed against the surface searching as they travel through our minds and become a movie with no beginning and only one end.

My eyes are closed. I see Buster and my Grandmother. She is able to walk and he is at her side. This isn't a memory because it never happened or perhaps it is happening now and every day in a much better place than here.

I open my eyes and they are gone.

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