Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring Breaking Part One

No matter how great of an imagination I have, I cannot turn this:

into this:

I'm the only person in the whole entire world that didn't go away for a late-fall/dead-of-winter/early-Spring tropical sunny vacation.

OK, maybe not the whole world. 
But I'm sure I am the only person who has the paste-y white, not-tanned, anemic-looking skin of an almost dead person, in my Facebook world.

A good portion (all) (Ok, maybe 90%) of my married friends have gone away at least once, most  twice, in the past 6 months of this never-ending winter. I'm happy for them. First, that they are married. And second, that they are enjoying this stage of life with their husbands. 

This blog post is for anyone who might be wondering what Spring Break looks like for single/divorced women over 40 (OK, over 50) ...

Pine trees are just as lovely as Palm trees if you adjust your attitude a smidge.

When I noticed that I needed a break, (my mom saying, "You sound bitter" was a red flag moment) I checked my schedule at work and saw a 4 day window of opportunity to stay away from the office where no one would miss the Project Manager. 

In BC the students have two week Spring Breaks (Mar 12 - 26), so my little get-away would take place during the tail end of the second week. HOWEVER, just knowing that I was taking some time off, it was easy to get myself in the holiday mood, while I was still going to the office every day. So even though I was working, I was gearing up (in my heart and soul) for my staycation five days before I actually had time off. 

So. first bit of advice for singles out there:
1. Do something fun, something that nourishes your creative spirit, something that is colourful and pretty and in your hometown ...if you can't get to Hawaii or Palm Springs. Get into holiday mode early. 

Thurs March 16 was the day we went to Michaels and Winners and Fort Langley in the evening. I touched craft supplies, appreciated soap wrap art, walked outside, breathed fresh air, took some pics and talked with a friend. I didn't allow myself to worry or overthink, or wonder or obsess. Staying in/totally appreciating the moment, goes a long way to capturing that vacation feeling.

I worked on Friday Mar 17 planning project deadlines into June, and shuffling some current issues over to someone who could manage them in my absence. And then It. Was. The. Weekend. Not exactly the start of my vacation, but close enough. This was the night of The Art Show. So many people and conversations and art and rain and connections and goodness. 

As per usual, I slept in on Sat Mar 18, did some laundry, made some arrangements and appointments, paid some bills, then went to church. Hahaha. Last Saturday's message was on Singleness. This week was all about Divorce. (According to scripture/the sermon, I'm cleared to marry again. The circumstances of my divorce have freed me from that vow, and should any man every want to, it's OK for me to give er another try. He would not be committing adultery if he takes a chance on me.) (And now we all have Abba in our head.) 

After church, I had supper at the White Spot:

Her: Your name?
Me: Jane. Just me.
Her: How many?
Me: One. Just me.
Her: By yourself? Just one?
Me: Yes.

A few minutes later:
A different her: Have you given us your name?
Me: Yes, Jane.
Her: Jane? For one?
Me: Yes.
Her: Just one?
Me; Yup.

A few minutes later:
Her: JANE?
Me, stepping forward and nodding: Hi.
Me: Yup.
Me, to myself: I'm not sure that couple in the back corner heard, maybe she could announce it louder.

A few minutes later:
Waitress: Can I get you anything to drink while you wait?
Me: It's just me. And ice water would be great.
Waitress: Just you? By yourself?
Me: Uh huh.
Waitress: Ok, then I'll clear away these other settings...

There is no sermon on earth that will ever convince me that being single is awesome.

Anyway, determined to be in vacation mode, I had a leisurely dinner while I read my book.

PROTIP Numero Deux:
2. Be prepared when you're dating yourself. Bring props and toys. 

Dinner out by one's self takes some courage. But it was easy because I had a fantastic book along, so once I got into it, I really didn't care what people were thinking. I had been looking forward to sitting in a well-lit booth, with the hum of restaurant noises around me, good food in front of me and The Count for company.

The first time's the hardest. After that, it gets easier with every outing. I do this about once a month, and love it every single time. (Again, it helps that I've had some really good books to keep me company.)

When I got home at 10, I moved the wet clothes into the dryer then moved the lighting around in the living room and made a comfy spot to continue reading. (I was on a bit of a deadline; I needed to be finished by Monday night, for bookclub.)

A few minutes later:
Mom, sauntering in to living room: Whatcha doin?
Me: reading
Mom: What book?
Me: A Gentleman in Moscow
Mom: What's it about?
Me: A Count in 1922 is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. His house is the Metropol Hotel.
Mom: Is it any good?
Me: I love it.
Mom: I think I should read it. Can I borrow it?
Me: Uh huh. I need it for book club, and then it's yours.

And then Drew and Danica get home. (They're living in the basement again; their months of housesitting  ended a few weeks ago.) (Other than the odd day when we're in the kitchen making our suppers at the same time, our paths don't cross very often in this house. I spend my evenings out with friends and/or on the third floor in my bedroom, and they hang out downstairs.

They don't head downstairs this time tho. They'd been to see Beauty and the Beast, then out to do some bridal shower shopping. Dani needed to wrap some gifts and Drew was hungry for his (late night) supper.
So while he waited for his wings to warm up, and she wrapped shower gifts, we talked about the gay moment in B + B (there isn't one), Disney princesses, (so many that I, mom-of-sons, never saw, including Belle), church sermons, the housing market, post secondary education, extended families, children...

Drew: Not sure why anyone would have kids
Me: For this. This is why we have pregnancies that de-shape us, babies that don't sleep, children who leave messes, teens that rebel:

Drew: What?
Me: This, right here, right now is the best thing ever. You might be too young to appreciate it. But this? Is everything.

We talked til 2:30 am.
Danica: It feels like I'm on a holiday. That my real life hasn't started yet. It seems all vacationy living here.

Which was just the loveliest thing to hear.
And inspired me to, from this day forward, make an effort to have a home, that when others visit, feel refreshed, like they've been on a vacation when they leave.

Sunday Mar 18? Also a semi-vacation day.
Danica invited me to another one of Maddy's showers - this time at their salon.

So much youth and energy and affection.

I left there feeling decidedly not youthful. Haha.

I went to the beach.
To read my book.
In the sun.
On a bench.
Like I was on a holiday.

I sat on one of those benches for two hours with my book, camera and bottle of water.
And it was glorious.

Which brings me to Singles Advice Part 3.

3. If you're an introvert, make sure you're getting enough 'alone time'. Schedule or squeeze it in. You need it, like you need air. Sleeping does not equal 'alone time'. You need to be awake, by yourself, just reflecting and thinking and planning. 

I had worked all day Thursday, with people, and was out Thursday night, with a friend.
I worked on Friday, with people, and was out on Friday night, with many peoples.
For me, Saturday is alone time. I look forward to a day of solitude then an evening where I am lost in a sea of strangers at church.


Sunday afternoon was the bridal shower with two people I knew and many others I didn't. Which is energizing for extroverts. Exhausting for introverts.

So going to the beach, by myself? Was exactly perfect. But I realize this isn't for everyone. So if you're single, and an extrovert, and going to the beach by yourself sounds like pure torture - invite a friend. There are millions of women who'd love to be invited to go for a walk along the beach.

And then it was Monday and I went back to work.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Gettin Old

I've been irritable lately. And negative.
So I gave myself a time out.
I am at the lake thinking about things.

Turns out, after a bit of thought and some online research, my diagnosis is I'm getting old.
And these things (hair loss, impatience, lapses in memory, skin that doesn't heal well, teeth that are at the end of their life-cycle, bones that ache ...) these things are normal, and to be expected in women between the ages of 45 and 55.

There is no way to put a positive spin on that, other than to realize this was part of God's great, beautiful and perfect plan for us when He created our world. (Gag. Barf.) We would age. And our bodies would slowly fall apart. (But WHYYYY God? Surely there were other options available to You when designing us?)

I'm going bald.
Yes, that is probably an over-reaction to having hair fall out like there's a contest going on on my head, with the last one to leave being a rotten egg.

Hair. It was my thing.
For all of my life, that's been the constant.
I am blonde.
And I can could grow hair like a boss.

I do not have memorable eyes (I come from a long line of ancestors with small blue ones), my smile is not wide and full (hiding those also-inherited bad teeth) and my skin is a detailed parchment map showing the scars of acne (from my teen years) and the wrinkles of worry (from my kids' teen years). But by golly, I could effortlessly grow thick hair in my sleep. Without even trying.

Danica, bless her, has taken my situation seriously. She's found some serum and a shampoo to help. God knew what He was doing when He gave me a hair stylist for a daughter-in-law. (Although, I am skeptical. How can you bring new life into something that's old/dead. We will have a funeral for my follicles once I've gotten a handle on my grieving.)

And Julie, (my sisterstylist for 35 years) was at first, all "You've got SO much hair. Seriously. Stop worrying, you have enough hair for two peopl... oh wait. WHERE DID ALL YOUR HAIR GO? There's like, hardly any here... What're we gonna do about bangs? We may have to ... hmmm. Will it grow back? Good news is, you still have no grey..."

So, yeah. The hair thing and the irritable thing are what prompted me to take a few days off work to get a grip. Investigate. Research. Prepare. Chat with God about this new phase. Mourn the official passing of youth.
This stage I'm in? Sounds alot like "Mennonite at rest". Which is accurate.
Or "Taking a pause from men." Which is also a true statement. (Although, after 19 years, I'm not so sure I'd call it a pause.)

Regarding all my symptoms and signs of aging (listed above) - do you know what the #1 recommendation is to keep it at bay? Low fat/low carb diet and exercise.

Diet and exercise. Is the answer to everything.
Depressed? Eat less and move more.
Insomnia? Don't eat so much, and take a walk.
Getting old? Stop eating all the good foods and spend more time getting sweaty.
Losing your hair? Go on a diet and join a gym.


You can fight it, or you can embrace it.

I joined a gym.

And I'm at the lake, figuring out a food plan for the rest of my life next two weeks.
Eliminating sweets is where I'm starting; and I'm doing this in isolation because no one needs to be around this level of negativity.

Plus after doing some research, I found a list of foods/vitamins that are helpful in restoring hair. Some foods are kinda gross, but ones I will eat more of are almonds, salmon, eggs, sweet potatoes and spinach. Plus Vit B6 and Folic acid.

I'm not expecting a miracle.
I can't turn back the hands of time; but maybe I can slow down the impact its having on my head.

In my conversations with God, I just can't bring myself to ask Him to restore what once was. I have so many other miracle-requests, that this one feels vain and self-serving. I'd rather He spent time seeking out lost souls than my lost hair.

Regarding my impatience and irritability?
I do not want them to be a part of the new me.

I couldn't find a vitamin or a super-food that would heal me of grumpiness.

So, apologies in advance if I snark out at you. I don't mean to. The hormones (or lack thereof) made me do it.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Transitioning is hard; eventually this cold scalp will be the new normal and I'll stop obsessing.
2. Grateful for friends who've walked this path already and seem to have adjusted well enough.
3. Thankful for a week off. Sunshine would've been nice. But rain on the roof is OK.


Random Bits n Pieces of Nothing, Really

Know what this means?

(There are 6 of them in my bedroom.)

This means I am that child who is living in their parent's house and has a room full of glasses that need to be brought down to the kitchen.

Yes, you can mature backwards. I am living proof.


Blue books.
On my desk at work are the 4 books I'm working my way through.
I did not choose them because they match.
Although you are right in thinking that possibly I did.
But I did not.

This was purely coincidental.

I would recommend them all,


Last week instead of just our usual Pokemon walk, Heather had a brilliant idea.
Michaels and Winners, first.
Then a walk around The Fort, to catch those pesky monsters because someone has to do it.  (Because we are from that generation who commits to something fully and completely til death do us part. Boredom, or the-next-shiny-thing doesn't lure us away from our goal of catching All The Pokemon.)

As soon as we walked in the door, a sense of peace (with a dash of joy) settled over my entire being.

I don't even scrapbook, but just being around the supplies was life-giving.
So many textures. All those colours. The patterns. The  orderliness of the displays,

It's the potential that excites me.
So many beautiful things can be created if you have the right materials to work with.

And then?

A marriage between my craftstore life and my office life!
Beautiful get-yourself-organized note papers.
I bought some felt pens.

Next stop was Winners.
I think I've been in a Winners once before in my life.
So this was an adventure for me.

Know what got me all happy?

Actually, soap packaging.
Little bits of art. Right there. Wrapped around big, fat bars of soap.
So pretty.

No, really.
This is not your mom's bar of ivory.
THIS? Is stunning.


I bought this one:

... and a frying pan.

And then we walked n talked n filled our bags with balls.
(It's a Pokemon term, you wouldn't understand.)


Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Thursday evening shopping adventures.
2. Creative people, art supplies, pretty things.
3. Soap.


Friday, March 24, 2017

A Guy in Russia...

I loved this book.
5 out of 5 stars.

It was our book club selection for this month, so I was power-reading it last Sunday AT THE BEACH.
Where it was sunny.

It (the book) is set in Moscow, and it's about a gentleman. A count.
Who is under house arrest in 1922 and must stay inside the Metropol Hotel or he will be shot.

The sentences are works of art to be savored.
And the story is compelling and delightful, as are the various characters who visit and work at the hotel.


On the drive home, I pointed my camera out the passenger side window:

I love BC.

Three things I'm thankful for:

1. Writers. Especially those who write good books.
2. All the benches at White Rock. SO many places to sit and read. Or people watch.
3. It's Spring.