An Ode To Mom

ODE TO MOM

 

French writer Marguerite Duras once wrote, “Our mother’s remain the strangest, craziest people we’ve ever met.”

Author Maya Angelou wrote, “To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colours of the rainbow.”

And finally, actress and writer Tina Fey says, “Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.”

I am sure that all you have felt all of these ways about yourself or your own mother’s at some point. The truth of the matter is as mother’s you are all extraordinary humans. You have taken on the weight of the world and have been entrusted to mould the future generation into upstanding individuals that are ready and able to take over and thrive in the remnants of our worldly mistakes.

You have sacrificed ever single ounce of solitude and complete independence to make sure that your children are never without.

Let’s face it, motherhood is not easy. There are barriers at every corner that you must tear down in order for your children to soldier on. The battle is endless, and as mothers you often lose your own hopes, dreams, and desires in the process.

For these sacrifices us children – your children – thank you with everything we have. For this Mother’s Day I invite you to remember who you are, not just as a mother, but everything else that makes up your wonderful self.

Mother’s Day hasn’t always been around. The appreciation for Mother’s was never celebrated until 1908 when Anna Jarvis, of West Virginia decided to honour her mother’s life as well as continue the peace activism her mother did during the Civil War. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed the proclamation creating Mother’s Day as the second Sunday in May. Mother’s Day is now globally recognized and celebrated on assorted dates throughout the year.

My own mom’s first Mother’s Day was celebrated in 1974. I was about 8 months old and I am sure it was a great day as most first Mother’s Day are. My mom was barely an adult herself, as she was only 23 years old. My parents were highschool sweethearts that decided to marry as soon as they graduated. With that came the expectation of children and I arrived, 2 weeks late to 22 year old parents.

My mom dreamed of being a costume designer. Her talent was outstanding even as a child, but her mother, my Granny, a first time mother at the age of 16, would not allow Jacki, my mom to pursue those dreams because there was no future in that. Jacki chose career training in administration instead. Neither of those careers came to fruition, however, as Jacki became a full time mother to both myself and my brother who was born two and a half years later, three months premature, and a full time annoyance to my formerly ‘only child’ life.

My mom’s talent was not lost regardless of the fact that her career dreams were altered. I was the kid with the knitted sweaters on the first day of school. I was the kid with the handmade prom dress. I was the kid who had the mom that made all of the costumes for our school play. I was a lucky kid.

When my brother and I had grown up and moved out of the house, and at the young age of 50, my mom, in a nod to her favorite movie “Shirley Valentine”, split from my Dad, died her hair blonde, got a face lift, and went back to school. She finally got to realize her dream and finished a degree in Textile Arts and Art History.

Regardless of her new found independence, my mom always included us in her aspirations. When her mom passed away, my mom came into an inheritance. She was able to buy things she had never been able to before. She got to fulfill her lifelong dream of travelling. She furnished my brother and sister-in-laws new apartment, and paid for me to accompany her on a month long trip to Europe to see all of the famous paintings she discovered while getting her art history degree.

Mothers are the most important people in the world. Cheryl Strayed, author of best-selling novel Wild, may have said it best when she said about her mother, “she is the most essential person in my life.” When I was a child, all things lead to my mom. She was the one I woke up to, came home to, cried to, and screamed at. She was Brown Owl in my Brownie Troupe, my taxi, my enforcer, my biggest champion.

A few months back I was approached by a young girl, around the age of 10, asking me to help her find a book. The book was a bit advanced for her age, but we found it nonetheless. I watched her take it to her mom, and her mom than came up to me. She asked me my honest opinion on the maturity of the book and weather or not it was alright for her daughter to read. I was honest about the content, but was even more honest to point out that most ages were reading it regardless. As I was saying all of this the 10 year old was motioning me to say that it was ok to her mom. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take that upper hand. Her mom said no to the book. The girl was completely shattered and looked at me as if I was the most heinous person in the world. I felt like I was the most heinous person in the world because I had sold that book to younger girls than her. Out of nowhere, I heard myself say to the girl, “You’re mom knows what is best for you. You may not believe me now, but in time you will.”

For some reason that exchange has stuck with me, and I have finally figured out why. I am who I am today because of my mom. Every word I write, every sentence I speak, every moment of silence I give is because of my mom.

I currently write a feminist blog for an online publication. I majored in Women Studies in University, and I am an outspoken women’s activist. My mother had often differed with me on my political stances. Regardless of the differences, she never told me to stop. She was very proud to stand next to me during Pride Parades, Human Rights Conferences, and would clip out every newspaper article I was in.

I am very strong in my opinions and I actively seek out justice for those that do not receive it. The only reason that I am able to fight is because my mother, Jacki, gave me the tools to do so. My mother taught me to be humble, and powerful. She taught me to be loving and effective in my convictions. She taught me that money didn’t grow on trees, but I had way more than most people in this world. To me, whether you want the label or not, mother’s are the finest feminists in the world. My mother made me all of those things and I am forever grateful.

Mother’s Day 2014 was the last Mother’s Day I will be able to celebrate. Jacki took her last breath 9 days later resulting from a cruel disease that took her away far too young. It is awkward when you are faced with the impending death of a mother. You watch as the woman that pounded the pavement for you to follow triumphantly slowly fade away. You hold her hand and tell her that everything is going to be ok. Myself and my brother are going to be ok, so are your two grandkids.

Those were the most tragic days of my life, and my greatest heartbreak. But, I would never think of being anywhere else. My mother sacrificied and gave everything she had to me. She held my hand while I crossed the street. It was time for me to hold hers.

One year later and I miss my mom more than anything in the world. What I wouldn’t give to talk to her about the return of the X Files, or the impending birth of the newest Royal, two of her most favorite things. What I can tell you though is that I feel her presence everywhere I go. She is in my dreams almost every night. I talk to her like she is right next to me. Sometimes I could swear that she is.

Like a mother, she is with me all of the time. She dedicated her life to me and even after she had gone, her voice still guides me every single day.

My wish for all of you this Mother’s Day is to celebrate yourselves for the true individuals that you are. Understand that you are the single most important people in the world. Your words, your guidance, and your love are all that are needed to shape the next generation. You, as mother’s are who will change the world for the better. My mother made me who I am today, and for that, the world will become a little more beautiful.

 

Thank you Mom’s for being you.

An Ode To Mom

If I Could, I Surely Would…

It’s 12:47 am. I need to get up in 4 and a half hours. It is one of those nights that I hate and love with equal strength. Either it is the ridiculous amount of sugar and caffeine I have had (which I know is killing me) or it is the internal fucked up workings of a brain that is overrun with so much darkness that it cant shut off.It is also when I feel most alive because I am actually feeling that I cant help but love it because there is no other feeling that makes sense.

I just watched a girl get arrested from my window. She seemed tweaked out, like she was dancing to the song that was in my head. I wonder what happened. I am sure that this has happened to her before. I hope that she is ok.

I just watched Wild. I cried a lot. The look on her face when she was dying and dead reminded me so much of that night/morning that I watched my mom slip out of her current life and on to the next. This year has been morbid. I need to be ok with who and what I am right now. I need to grieve. I need to rest.  I need to stop. I need to let it hurt. I need to feel alive. All I am is numb.

If I Could, I Surely Would…

Those Little People….

I have been asked by my counsellor to create a Gratitude Journal. At first it reminded me of the time my ex told me to stand in front of the mirror and say I love you. Never did it and laughed in her face.

This time I will try displaying my personal gratitude in my own way. PUBLIC DISPLAY AND CONSUMPTION!

Gratitude #1.

These two little people. They bring light to my day and I would gladly die for them.

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Those Little People….

The Reasons Why I am Returning Home

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I have decided to return home – home being Calgary. This has been a very tough decision and one not come upon lightly. I am going to touch on the reasons why it was difficult first.

My Toronto friends. You all know who you are. You and you alone are the reasons that I had such a hard time leaving. You have all seen me through the good and the bad and kept by me throughout. Thank you. I will be forever grateful and I will be back to visit, I promise.

Now, to reflect on why I am leaving (and a brief history of Dallas in her thirties). A few years back…say 2006? I met a girl. When I say we met, I mean we chatted online, MSN Messenger to be exact! I had just come out and was really getting along with her. In fact, I was falling hard. Here I am in the throes of my new found identity.

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That particular romance did not last, however a spark in me did. I needed to get out of Vancouver and broaden my horizons. I figured that Calgary would be a good place to start. So I gathered my buddy Erin and my two cats to move with me and recruited two other friends to help us load up the UHaul and drive with us to Calgary.

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Once I arrived it didn’t take me long to flourish. I joined everything, I volunteered, I made amazing friends. I discovered I wanted to write. I felt at home. I met this weirdo.

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I had never been in a space where I felt pretty fantastic. This was my home. This was my Calgary. And than I met a girl.

I fell in love, and I fell hard. I wanted to be her everything and I became someone I was not to try and be that everything to her. I lost myself in the process. This was not her fault. It was how I chose to do things. She wanted me to follow her to Toronto. I did.

In the back of my mind I was telling myself no, don’t go. But my stubborn mind was made up. I went. Our relationship did not work out, but I do not regret going. These are some of the reasons why.

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After we split up, my mom got sick so I came to Vancouver. Before she passed away she told me that I always seemed so happy in Calgary. I was happy, she was right.

I decided to return to Toronto in September with full intentions to make a go at it on my own. I found a great place with great roommates, I reconnected with friends, I went to yoga religiously, and I went back to school for creative writing. I even began working on my mental health by going to groups. But something was missing.

My mental health was at an all time low. I was alone. I was away from heart and soul – my home. I was starting to rediscover myself and with this I realized that I needed to return.

So here I am. Two weeks from my departure. I want to thank Toronto for taking me in, for bashing me around, and for helping me rediscover myself.

I also want to thank Calgary for always being there, even when I left you. Thank you for letting me back.

 

The Reasons Why I am Returning Home

Part Time Jobs, Crazy Classes, a Flu/Cold, and memories of Tofino

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I chose this page today because I think that it really portrays how I am feeling today. A little psychotic, thrilled because I have a coffee, a little dishevelled, and holding a napkin to wipe up my mess.

This photos was taken this summer on Long Beach in Tofino, BC. Sam (my best friend) and I took a road trip around Vancouver Island. We stopped here at my urging. I came here when I was a kid with my family. I remember the soft, sweat, squishy sand in my pudgy little toes. I remember my dog Susie running through the waves. I had to go back and relive what I remembered.

As soon as I heard the ocean I felt at peace. I ran through the sand and than waited to see Sam’s reaction at the entirety of it. It was a good reaction. Here are some photos, however they do not at all capture the immense beauty of it all.

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I guess these photos make feel good because this place and space and feeling exists. I am happy in nature. I am happy surrounded by those that know me inside and out. This is when I am at my best.

So, in order to find this place and feeling without being in Tofino 24/7 needs to be sought.

Is It A Cold Or The Flu

For the past couple of days I have been fighting a cold/flu. My ears hurt, all I want to do is sleep, I sweat profusely and than freeze, and my head feels like it is stuffed with cotton. It is difficult for me to tell if I am sick. I only know if I have the voice of a baritone and the nose of sandpaper. It is hard for me to tell if I am in fact sick or if it is just my brain telling me not get up because there is no point. With this being said, when I do succumb to sickness I don’t rest. I cant rest because I feel guilty about me doing absolutely nothing. That is almost worse than being sick.

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“How about when you sleep in until noon. You wake up and get angry at yourself for sleeping in. Everything you wanted to do today is not going to happen.”

This was said yesterday by the lead of my new Crazy Class. It is actually named the Depression and Anxiety Group held at CAMH. I was referred to this group by a psychiatrist at CAMH who I was referred to by my doctor. It has taken almost a year to come to fruition (free healthcare everyone!).

Anyways, during orientation yesterday my group lead said this. It was like she was talking to me. She wasn’t. She was talking to depression. My group is interesting. Lots of folks who I would definitely categorize as worse of than me (or I hide it better) and a lot of folks that look better than me (or they hide it better).

This is a long program that I have to attend once a week for  many weeks. I am not sure what to expect, but I am looking forward to it. It runs a few hours before my crazy group so Monday’s should be interesting.

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I got a part-time job. Not just for money sakes (although it does help). but also for my sanity, and some structure. For the past few months I have not worked. I have kept busy, which I am thankful for because I was afraid I would allow myself to rot in front of the t.v. But I have not had that structure. I don’t do well with not structure.

I am the kind of person that makes lists of my week, What I will do each day, and what times I will do it. I can not wake up without some kind of plan or I lose my shit.

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So I got a job. I am working part-time (seasonally) at Indigo in this massive upscale mall called Yorkdale. It really is a beautiful store, and it is surrounded by every overpriced thing that I love. I get a discount. This could be dangerous.

I have worked at Indigo before. When I first moved to Toronto a couple of years ago I worked at the Mt. Sinai location. I really did enjoy it as it was so different from ‘retail’. I saw little babies, the elderly, the sick, the grieving. Hell, I even saw Brian Mulroney and his wife (not sure how awesome that is).

This time around I had reservations about working at Indigo. For some reason I thought I deserved a better job, a job with some clout. Why I thought that I don’t know. A job is a job. I would be surrounded by books, my favorite thing ever! There was even a Starbucks there.. like come on!

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I think I think that because I have endured numerous amount of hours in school, volunteering, and work I deserve more. For some reason, I believe that my dream jobs should always be open to me. That I, of course, deserve the job before anyone else.

A counsellor once told me ‘you know you are not the centre of the world.’ I know that sounds harsh but she was right. I was constantly feeling guilty for letting people down. I was feeling sad and desolate because I was never getting what I want.

By understanding that in fact, I am not the centre of the world, the guilt, anger, and desolation subsided.

So I have a job. The fact that I am able to carry a job right now is tremendous. It is only part time, and that is what I want. I want to enjoy my days. I want to go to yoga, walk, eat well, and write. I want to learn how to write well. I want a bit of structure. This is where Indigo comes in. Tonight I work a graveyard tasking shift. Wish me luck..

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Part Time Jobs, Crazy Classes, a Flu/Cold, and memories of Tofino

Yoga and the art of being broken

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So, here I am doing a kick-ass handstand. I am really good at it. Kidding… this is by no means me. In fact handstands don’t even happen in my dreams. I have been able to do them though. I think I was about ten and my brother and I used to whip ourselves into handstands in the basement against my Dad’s workshop door. I can’t imagine that they were graceful, but I do remember them being fun.
Truth is, I have been frequenting yoga for some time now. I did it a bit in Vancouver, but I was more concerned with losing weight and figuring out why I hated boys than I was about the phenomenal and life changing internal benefits.
While here in Toronto, I have been going to Kula Yoga in the Annex. Wow, I can not even tell you what a welcoming place it is. First of all, they offer classes that are only $8.00. Yoga is expensive, and this break in the wallet is welcomed by me and I am sure that multitude of students that live close to here.
Then, as soon as you walk in the door  there is a sign that says something along these lines. “We aim to be a welcoming space and welcome all sizes and shapes. We aim to be Fat-Positive, Trans and Queer Positive, and welcome folks with all abilities.”

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I try not to do the hard classes like Power and Hot Yoga. I feel I may resent yoga if I do. Instead I try to do Gentle Yoga, Restorative Yoga, and Queer Yoga…. Yes that is right there is a yoga for us queer folk (not like the others aren’t welcoming, but this one is our own).
Today I went to Gentle Yoga. As always I felt great. My sciatica screamed in pain, but it was the kind of pain that hurt so good. I still don’t say Namaste because I feel it is culturally not mine, but the rest is great.
What was remarkable about today was the end. I can’t remember what the actual pose name is, but in English it is called the corpse pose. You are basically lying on the ground, breathing well, and trying to tap in to the inner soul we all have.

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I felt good, relaxed, more relaxed than I have for a very long time. My mind started to drift off. I thought about random things. I turned my head to the side and immediately it reminded me of my mom. It reminded me of when I sat with her as she lay dying. I watched her breathe for 10 hours with the help of a machine. Near the end I noticed that her breath was slowing. Everyone that was there with me had left the room about 5 minutes before this. She looked peaceful. I grabbed her hand and told her that it was ok. We would all be ok. She stopped breathing. Her head tilted to the right, just like mine did. Her colour drained from her face but her hands were still warm. She looked like my mom, but she was gone. I knew that she knew that I was there. She opened her eyes about two hours before that and stared at me. I said hi. She closed her eyes soon after that. She would never open them again.
This memory made me start crying while I was in corpse pose (strange irony I know). It was a sad cry, but it was also a cry of release. I felt ok. I felt a bit like my mom was now telling me that it would all be ok.
I continued to think about why I was crying. Why this practice of yoga was doing this to me. This practice of yoga was in fact healing me. I barely cried when my mom died. I stayed strong. I grieved, but I didn’t let go. Today I was letting go. Yoga was breaking me open. It was allowing all the bad to leave. It was opening to allow me to heal again. All the shit (and I mean shit) that had happened this year is finally leaving. I am allowing myself to heal. I am raw, and sad, and hopeful. I have been gaining clarity. Things are really starting to make sense. Thank you yoga for allowing me to do that.

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Yoga and the art of being broken