Tag Archives: family

Chaos and Creativity

I heard a hard truth a few weeks ago. Harder because it was about my second book. The one that has consumed me for more than two years and to which I have given freely my heart and soul. I believe every word I have written in this book but this week I found out that that is not enough. In fact, it is such a small part of enough that the book world smirks.

I thought I had finished my book and that soon it would be read to small minds who would grow to adulthood and feel better about themselves because of it. Better than I had growing up. I knew the book business was hard but did not realize until now how little the words in the book had to do with anything. No, that’s wrong. The words have everything to do with everything, just not in the way I had thought. According to my truth-teller, I have to make my words convey one thing to publishers – this book can make you money!

This realization sent me spiraling down into my awful place. It is not where I want to ever be but it’s my default place. This is not feeling sad about something that has happened in my life. It is far worse than that. It is a place I first visited when I was thirteen. For no reason. “There’s no reason to feel like this,” “You have a family that loves you”, “You have friends… School’s going well…. Snap out of it.”  I heard it all.

I grew tough. I grew up. I had to in order to cope. Life with depression can feel very lonely and even at times of great joy, it always lurks in the shadows. Depression tilts the world so that those who have it always walk uphill and it doesn’t take much to slide down. I have tools and today I forced myself to use the simplest one. The mindless one. All I had to do was get dressed and put on a pair of running shoes. For the first kilometer, I was painfully aware of the sidewalk beneath my feet and the plodding. Left, right. Left, right. And then they came.

Thought after thought. Idea after idea. Billowing out from me like dandelion’s seeds exploding into the air with the first winds. Both my thoughts and the dandelion’s seeds had no idea they were ready to release until the moment that they were. I felt a sense of separateness, watching in awe and marveling at the clarity and sheer brilliance of each idea.  I could think this way about these thoughts because I had no part in formulating them. This process had clearly happened beyond my consciousness and must have been brewing for days because each idea was so complete and directed with perfect precision at my problem.

I felt anxious that I would forget but now that I had them within my conscious grasp, I repeated them as I ran, trying as hard as I could to commit each one to memory so I could write them down as soon as I got home. In such a short time, my belief that there was only one way to see my problem was thrown on its head and I was able to see it from a completely different perspective. I allowed myself to absorb the lesson. Chaos feels terrible, tumultuous, confusing and depressing but out of chaos and because of chaos a new understanding is born.

As I neared home, I felt the sun warm on my body and the cool breeze flowing through my hair. I heard the birds singing. My sad place was the shadow under a tree. I wished it well but for now, I was happy to be climbing the hill once again.

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Love and Giggles

When I was a little girl I used to have giggling fits with my sister. These are wonderful memories despite the fact that my father quickly became annoyed with us because we couldn’t stop giggling. And it seemed the more he wanted us to, the less we could.

When I was about 15 I belonged to a youth movement. My reasons for being there were totally social, but the leaders attempted to create a somewhat academic environment. The organization took pride in its focus on deep contemplation of the world. So we were subjected to discussions and debates, which I suffered through to get to the fun stuff.

On one such night, we were all seated in a room waiting for a debate to begin on something. The first speaker stood up. She clearly had taken her task very seriously and hauled out a wad of preparatory notes. She spoke intensely about her “side” and then sat down. We looked expectantly at the young man who was to retaliate. He stood up with a slight smile on his face and had no notes whatsoever. He started to speak but instead began to laugh.

His opponent glared at him and the leaders looked stern but all this response managed to do was to fuel his already fast escalating giggling fit. He doubled over holding his stomach and laughed until the tears poured down his cheeks. I joined him because I couldn’t help myself. When the fit finally died down I think we were both surprised to see that he and I were the only two who found the situation hilariously funny. That was my first real connection with this young man. I have now been married to him for thirty-one years.

There are many reasons I love my husband, but the humour and giggling fits that we have shared over the years form a special glue of connectedness. Our mutual value of laughter has passed to our children. We laugh often and many times uncontrollably. There is no better feeling. It tells me that regardless of what else is going on in my life, the essence of connectedness with those I love most, is there.

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What It Means To Be A Grandmother

My eldest son became a father, which makes me a grandmother. Before this, people said, “Wait until you become a grandmother. There are no words to describe it.” Well now that I can speak from the other side of the fence, I am going to try and find some words.

I remember as a kid running relay races. I never quite got their purpose because it seemed like I was trying to pass a baton to someone who was running away from me. For me, parenting has been a bit like that – trying to pass on the wisdom for fulfillment with the persistent sense that I wasn’t quite there.

When I left my son for the first time at preschool, I remember feeling that I had relinquished some invisible hold. I pushed him gently with the baton held firmly in my hand. We had left a place to which there was no return. When he turned sixteen, he refused to give his high school permission to call home if he skipped a class. This time it was his hand that reached back for the baton. When he left for university and then got married I felt that I had finally let go but it wasn’t until my grandson was born that the baton was in my son’s hand facing forward toward his own child.

The love I feel for my grandchild is light and joyful, unweighted by the parental burden of responsibility and unhampered by the kind of worry and anxiety that I feel with my own children. When I’m with my grandson, I think less about his future and more about his present. I can stare at his face, and watch his expressions change for a ridiculous amount of time. I kiss his head constantly because it’s kissable. I love him as much whether he’s crying, smiling or sleeping.

I’m sure there will be times that I will worry about him, but not as much as his mom and dad will. I believe I will be calm and grandmotherly, not through trying, but because that’s the way I will feel.

I have planted and sowed. It’s my time to reap. The baton has been passed.

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