Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I used to have ideals

"What happened to you?" A simple question, or a statement, in the midst of a discussion around growing sprouts and making my own yogurt. Yes, I used to do those things. I used to cut the lawn, cook homemade dinners, bake, run triathalons, be a vegetarian. I joined Amnesty International and went to rallies for world peace, to stop nuclear war, and protest government actions. I used to vote passionately - including putting the unpopular NDP sign on my lawn. I used to believe I could make a difference. I breastfed my children, made my own baby food, and chose an alternative school system for my children. So? What happened to me?

I got tired. Tired of struggling up-hill, swimming up-stream, always being on the wrong side of the issue. Oh, I am still always on the wrong side of the issue but I seem to be quieter about it, or maybe I am trying to do what Gandhi said. "Be the change you want to see in the world." But I am not really. I am active in the school, which is very counter-culture, but I am not so much passionate about it as I am consumed by it. Perhaps that is where the fatigue comes from.

I have ideals, but it seems that the ideal life I think I want I don't have the physical ability to see through. I want a nicer yard, more maintained house, but I don't have the energy to put in the labour. Sometimes even the thought of doing the dishes, or getting the bottles to the recycling depot is over-whelming.

So, my ideal life. Away from the rat race, the stuff, the stores, the advertising. Living somewhere where I don't have to rely on a car with cats and a dog, a garden and knitting. Somewhere close to the ocean, close to a beach with tidal pools and waves. Somewhere I can swim in the summer and watch the storms gather in the winter. Somewhere where a wood fire isn't an evil, but a cosy necessity.

Somewhere I don't have to be afraid. Afraid for my health, afraid for my children, afraid for my husband. I am tired of being afraid, I am tired of being tired.

I had ideals. What happened to me? Why did I give up those ideals? Or, did they transform. I never liked sprouts anyways, I can buy organic yogurt now, which I couldn't when I lived up north 30 years ago, and being a vegetarian was hard on my health. My knees make it hard to run triathalons, and when I am not consumed by work I actually do housework, and cooking, and yard work.

What happened to me? I became consumed by an educational system that I believe makes a difference. I got older. I got tired.

So, dear boy, I still have ideals. I am glad you are being driven by yours. Ideals are never to be given up lightly. Because perhaps in 30 years someone will ask you what happened to yours. And God willing you will point to your life and say "I am living it."

My ideal was to have children and to be a good mom. I spent this weekend in close relationship with my family. It was glorious. My life is far from perfect, but as for my children and my relationship with them, and to them....it is ideal to me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Stomach Aches

My stomach aches. I wonder what the Zen buddhists have to say about that? I attended the funeral of a woman today who was only a few years older than me. We nursed our babies together. We counselled women together through La Leche League meetings. I sat in her house where she home-schooled her children and wondered how she did it. And of course, over the years we lost touch. But, never for long for both our children played in the Celtic Ensemble and we sat in audiences together, or sold cd's, and just were. Together. Quietly. Or I would run into her at Indigo's and we would discuss Shakespeare plays. I was searching for a play for my then grade eight class, and she seemed to know all the plot lines. She liked the comedies. Her smile was as big as her heart. I don't know much more about her, but her smile was huge.
Her daughter and my son became friends in their late teens. A lovely friendship that probably evolved from a crush, but has endured to become something more lasting perhaps then a first love.
I cried alot today. When her husband spoke of their messy marriage. When her son spoke of his love for her. When her daughter told a story of how her mom wouldn't take crap from anyone. When many friends spoke of what she had meant to them. She had meant alot, to alot of people from many walks of life. It was sad. But as the Buddhist leader said. Hers was a successful life.

But still my stomach hurts. A parent in my class wants to meet with me, again, to tell me how I am not doing the best for his son. I have tried so hard to be the best for his son, but it is never, never enough. I try to be the best teacher for 16 children everyday, and of course, I make mistakes and sometimes I just can't do it anymore. Today feels like one of those days. I don't want to do it anymore. I have dust bunnies to suck up, counters to wipe, taxes to file and just stuff to do. And I don't want to. I just don't want to. Because - what is the point? You do it. And then it gets messy and you have to do it again. You have the meeting, and sort it out and it gets messy again. You take your class on a trip, and then soon enough you are organizing the next thing. It is like you never get to stop and say "Look what I have done!", because the next thing is creeping up too fast.
To be a teacher, or a mother, or a wife is to never be done. Until is is done. Good-bye Louise. I wish I had known you better. I wish I had been one of your close friends. I am thankful for that part of you I got to be part of too. Good-bye.

Friday, April 4, 2008

500 years

And so I am home. Home from a city filled with history. Home to a place filled with my history. The dirty dishes, the laundry piled every which way, the newspapers scattered about, to help me reconnect with my life here. And the mess, well it is comfortable, it is my mess, my place filled with love and life.

Florence was amazing, the art, history, language, colours were all amazing. but sitting having coffee with my daughter is so very very lovely. i caught her up with me, she caught me up with her, and we made plans for tonight: shopping, movies, supper.

I did it, I took trains, and planes. I ordered food in restaurants where the menu was all in another language. I walked. I walked and walked, and climbed and kept going one foot in front on another. In short, I did it! I am feel strong and proud.

So I kept breathing, breathing life, into every moment. I wasn't afraid. I wasn't afraid. That, for me is saying alot.

And now I continue to look forward. To that quiet sleep in my nineties. I have so much to do still, so much to learn. I look forward to ellen and kyle's stories. My stories, brian's stories. So many stories....and still, so many years. Like those frescoes in the San Marco monastery some part of me will still be here 500 years from now. 500 years from now, I will still be here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


I hate it. I hate getting ready to go away. I always love it the moment I am in the car on a road trip, or on the plane to wherever. But, the packing? Not so much.

I am not so sure why. The anticipation. The nerves. The nameless fears that I feel will materialize if I name them.

What if the plane crashes? What if the train has a bomb on it? What if?

I used to think my negative thoughts were some symptom of deep seated neurosis. Now I just think I can't bear the thought of not being here anymore. I don't want to miss anything. I want to watch my children grow up, and live their lives with joy and forgiveness. I want to die quietly in my sleep when I am 90. Is that too much to ask?

Anyways, you see what happens as I pack. I start to think of my mortality, and for the last 4 and 1/2 years I think about it every day. That is what happens, I think, when you get a diagnosis. You think about it every time. Not for a long time, but every day at some point it flits though my landscape. And so, since that diagnosis I don't take for granted the time I have. And since my diagnosis I have been to Switzerland, Italy, England, and now back to Switzerland and then off to Florence.

When I was first diagnosed Brian asked me what I wanted to do. I want to go camping and sit inside listening to the rain drumming on the roof. So, we have a camper now, and I love being in it - and yes, there have been times when the rain has drummed overhead, and I have slept, peacefully beneath the stars, by the side of an ocean, in the middle of a city.

And so, I pack, and make lists, and fret and worry, but mostly, truthfully I look forward. Because I know if I don't look forward, I will die.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A special place in heaven

There must be a special place in heaven for teachers. There I was today trying to rehearse 15 ten year olds for a play that will be performed next Monday. They weren't having fun, and I wasn't having fun. Well, they were probably having fun, but not in a 'we are performing in four days' kind of way!

So, I am tired, but feeling hopeful that this will be wonderful, and the parents will be pleased. But still at what cost to my well-being. I joked to a colleague today when he asked me if I wanted anything from the store. Yeah, if peace-of-mind is a lost leader today pick me up some!

Of course I probably would pay anything for peace-of-mind even if it wasn't on sale. The funny thing is that while I write this I am feeling very peaceful. I stacked wood today, and did dishes, and made some plans for the weekend that included getting ready to go to Europe next week. Wow, me, in Switzerland and then Florence. I wouldn't have imagined that even six months ago.

I have a good life. Great family, good relationships with my kids and my husband, and friends that I can laugh and cry with. I always thought I should keep a diary and over the years I have written a little of this and that. My daughter started a blog so I can be close to her while she plans a life across the country. Maybe this blog will be that for her too....while I start a life without kids at home, and hopefully with a retired husband.

'For life don't clickety clack down a straight line track, it comes together and comes apart'.

I always loved the line of that Ferron song. I am clickety clacking along.....and my track is together at the moment.