Thursday, May 23, 2019

Climbing Everest - or just surviving life

So this morning on the way to work I was listening to CBC Radio about a Manitoba Teacher that just returned from climbing mount Everest. (News Story Here) and something about this story hit me profoundly and it has been something I have been frankly struggling with lately. I would expect the feeling of finally reaching the top of Everest to bring this immense sense of achievement and to be standing literally on top of the world that you would want to take time and savour the experience (as much as you can at some of the coldest temperatures and in a low oxygen situation) but when asked what it was like to be at the top Dalip Shekhawat said:

"I didn't see what was around — just to reach the top and when I get back, I'll see what was there," he said.
"Not enjoying, actually; just to reach the top, to make sure that I'm safe and secure."
As I have said before my husband has been struggling with mental health and has been off work since early October. From October to even the end of April life has consisted of putting my head down and getting through it. Life hasn't been about going out and doing things or enjoying things with family. It has been worrying about bills being paid, insurance claims, doctors appointments, specialist visits, dealing with work, family and all the other commitments in life. If you know me at all you know that cooking and exploring food is a passion of mine but cooking for last while has been about surviving rather than anything else.

At the family gathering after my grandmother's funeral my cousins (love you guys!) asked if I was happy and how I was doing and if I was happy. Frankly in the last couple of months overall have there been happy moments - yes - but have I been happy? No, I have been personally struggling and depressed. Living with someone who has a mental illness is hard and I am going to say especially when they have finally hit their rock bottom it takes a lot and there have been times where I just didn't want to do it anymore not because I didn't love my husband - but because I didn't have anymore of me to give. I pushed myself because in times where the love is hard to see I hoped it was still there. I also thought about the times where I have struggled and didn't have support.  I wouldn't want someone to leave me or give up on me just because I was at my bottom and needed help.  Now I can say that I am starting to see my the man I married, my husband again and it's like I can start to breath again.

This and the journey that auditioning for MasterChef Canada has sent me on has made me start to think about me - who I am, where I have been, the life I have lead to this point and has lead me that I need a constant reminder that I need to remember who I am - so much so I got a new tattoo on my arm. I am starting down the path *again* of remember who I am, where I have come from and where I am going. One of the things I need to remember is that I don't want to just come back from the top and see what was there after - I want to look at the view as I am climbing and take some time when I get to my top and be happy to reflect on the path and journey I have taken.

- Life has to be more than just running a marathon.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Failing and making mistakes

It sucks to be in a position where you feel like you are failing in life at all things you are working on but moreover to feel like you are failing your family and in my case my daughter - the stress of that is unspeakable. I has left me feeling completely overwhelmed and lost in who I am.  I have been swallowed by the mere concept of just trying to survive and make it to the next moment where I can breath. It is like being swallowed up in the ocean trying to grasp for air between the breaking waves. 
"You said 'we make it through things well together.'.. that doesn't sound very fun, you don't want to look back on your life and say 'I made it through my life' we want to enjoy our projects, enjoy our workweek, we want to enjoy our lives, celebrate our lives..." - Couples Retreat Bulldozing Session
Like I said in my last post there have been the these moments - moments of clarity and brightness in amongst the crashing waves that have pushed me to some realizations in life. It is these moments of sunlight that I have been trying to hold on.

Some of the best moments I have had in the past while centre around two things: my monkey and the newest addition to the family Halley S. Commet (our dog). I try to be very mindful of the experience and example that I am setting for my daughter. I try to be mindful of making sure that she is protected from things that could harm her but also making sure that she can see what is like to be an adult without overwhelming her. This means that I talk with her and I try to be open and honest with her about what is going on without putting too much on her shoulders. Some of the best times I have with my daughters are driving in the car - this where we often have our deepest conversations and our loudest sing along. One of the best things that we do is put on one of "our songs" in the morning on the way to wherever and sing at the top of our lungs. We have special songs with special meanings and one of the ones that has always been important to us is Life of the Party by Shaw Mendes
"We don't have to be ordinary make your best mistakes" 
... the realization that I keep front of mind:
  • I don't need to be "ordinary" - following the 'rules' and expectations of others has often lead me down a path that has lead me to places I didn't want to be
  • I have learned more from my mistakes and failures that I have from my successes.
  • most valuable and simplest thing I ever learned in law school but the hardest to follow the K.I.S.S principle - Keep it Simple Stupid.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Since Mid-January

Sometimes it takes a lot of little things to make you realize something very huge in your life. I have a number of those little things add up to a large realization just yesterday evening. 

It has been since mid-January since I last post and honestly it feels like this is the first time I am coming up for air since that time. It has felt like the last few months have been about keeping my head down and moving through one major event onto the next major event with the scenes from Finding Nemo going through my head of "just keep swimming just keep swimming."

This all started in October when Husband went off work. My first reaction internally was sheer panic - how are we going to manage how are things going to work. He had some sick time (about a month) but honestly at that point I already had a pretty good feeling this would be something longer. Plus there was a realization that Husband was to have surgery that was also going to need a month post-op recovery before he could be back to work. Read absolute panic but I had to put those feelings aside and deal with the practicalities of getting him sorted out with doctors, dealing with his union, work, insurance claims, medical forms. I knew he needed help and I needed help to support him so I called his parents - that brought us to Mid-January were it felt like things were starting to be a mucked-up level of ok-ness - I knew that things were going to take a while to figure out but at least the uncertainty was a known quantity if that made sense. 

Lucille Loiselle
1924 - 2019
I was getting ready to leave for a short night trip when I got a call from my Mom saying I needed to come get them that minute as they got a call that my grandmother wasn't doing well. We rushed to see her and she was sitting there perfectly fine and very confused about why we had rushed to see her but she said she was ready. So I went on a work trip out of town for just two nights away - it was the first time I was leaving husband since he went off work and I was concerned and worried about how he would do - but I had a plan in place and I was confident in that plan. Snap to the second night of the trip I get back to the hotel from supper and the pain set in - sheer agony. I ended up in the hospital and had to call a co-worker in the middle of the night to come out to finish the work trip and bring the husband to drive me home. Less than two days after getting back from the work trip we got another urgent call from my mom again that they needed a ride to see my Memere and this time I knew it would be different. 

I picked up my parents and off we went - I dropped them and husband off at the front door and found a place to park. I knew - I knew before we left the house, before we got to the home where she had been living, before I got off the elevator that she had gone. She had said less than a week before she was ready and it was her time. It's funny the things you remember about a person but from her I remember her determination and strength. When something was to be done it was done so when she said she was ready and it was her time I knew that she would have her way. (I also remember having Christmas presents wrapped up inside old milk cartons; her kitchen; learning to eat tomatoes just like apples; being in the garden at the farm).  We set about the business of calling and notifying family, packing her possessions. Much like when my other grandparents passed I focused on putting my head down and getting through the things that needed to be done.

Before you knew it January was over and we were into February which brings us into the months of Birthdays. First badly planning my daughter's 13th birthday. Ok - well I feel bad but apparently they kids thought it was a hit - but on my end I felt like a failure because I was emailing or texting parents literally days before the date to say please let your kid come so I don't feel like a failure. The monkey the effervescent creature she is never blinked an eye and had no doubt that her party would be amazing - I still feel like a crappy mom. 

This was all while helping plan and execute my Dad's surprise 65th Birthday (which of course means getting to make fantastic cupcakes - Dark Chocolate Raspberry; Lemon meringue Pie and a GF Spice cake with cream cheese frosting). The party was held on my husband's birthday as the decoy for what was actually going on. 

All of this is going on while I am under significant pressure at work and we are still working through the process of husband going through sick leave, short term disability, long term disability and insurance claims. He has had doctors appointments every two weeks on top of counsellor appointments and specialist appointments. He has been in such a bad spot that to say it was like having another child in the house is accurate. I had to ensure that he was eating, taking his medication, changing his clothes, showering and taking basic care of himself. 

Unfortunately this meant that in the shuffle I literally had to run to the store with the husband and monkey in tow to buy husband's birthday card because I had forgotten - it is hard to know and feel like you have failed your family because you are so terribly overwhelmed that you have forgotten to get our husband and daughter birthday cards. Their presents were handled with them in tow as well and I still feel like crap over it (I still have my Mom's birthday present from January 1st at home to give her... sorry Mom) 

On the way home from buying a birthday card for my husband we decided to stop for fun to see the animals at the Winnipeg Humane Society - never really thinking that we would actually find one, fall in love and adopt.  nevertheless that is exactly what happened - we went into just look at two dogs that were cute but we weren't set on when a worker walks by holding this wiggling pile of fur! That was it we were done for. When I heard her story I was heart broken but also felt an instant connection. She had been adopted out several weeks before by a couple who had had another dog and they returned her that very day, the day we happened to randomly go in, because they were moving and couldn't keep *her* anymore. She had been rejected and returned. 

To say that she saved my husband is a complete and total understatement. It would be like saying that the universe isn't really that much bigger than Winnipeg. The change in him has been significant. I still find myself completely overwhelmed though with my commitments and I often have felt like I am failing at everything that I am doing. Between feeling like a failure at work, trying to not let anything else fall between the cracks at home, and my other personal commitments where I likewise feel like I am feeling it has been a hard run and I am facing at least another month of of the same feeling that "this month is just a marathon - I just have to get to the end of the month" 

this has lead me to have a number of thoughts and a major realization this week - but more on that tomorrow - for now a few cute puppy pictures.