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We all get a little crazy sometimes.

Living in Northern Alberta, the crazy usually starts in mid-November and can stretch through April. That’s a lot of crazy. Then there are circumstances that can make the crazy, well crazier. And that my friends, is where I found myself a few short weeks ago.

With winter yet to make a real appearance but still looming on an unending horizon and personal issues (man related dontcha know) threatening to lead to an all out emotional implosion, I decided to take my crazy and get the hell out of here.

I have to say it was the best decision I have made in a long time!

After missing my connecting flight in Calgary (thank you Air Canada), I had to overnight in Houston. Air Canada kindly put me up at the Marriott, so it wasn’t too bad. I even had company. My seatmate from Calgary to Houston was a lovely young woman who was on her way to Costa Rica for a four month volunteer stint. She didn’t have a room in Houston and planned to spend the night in the airport. That didn’t sit right with me, so I invited her to share my room. She initially declined, but after seeing the airport she thankfully changed her mind.

The next morning we went our separate ways, her to Costa Rica, me to Austin.

I arrived in Austin about 10am. The weather was gorgeous and I hung outside for awhile chatting with a gentleman who was on his way to Washington DC with his service dog, a St Bernard. I got my first dog fix of the trip in. I finally grabbed a cab and headed downtown to my hotel. Wow, was I in for a treat! The Omni in downtown Austin is fabulous! The staff was great, the amenities first class and my room was lovely. I was there way before check in time but that wasn’t an issue.

After dumping my suitcase in my room, I headed up to the rooftop to scout out the pool. Back down to my room to change into my bathing suit and back to the rooftop I went.

It only took about a minute and I felt my crazy start to lift.

Friday evening was full of good music, good food and catching up with old friends. Oh, and beer. Lots of beer.

Saturday saw me on my own, poking around downtown, having breakfast at the Old Pecan Street Cafe. As it was another beautiful day I was able to dine outside in the courtyard. A little bit of heaven found in downtown Austin. After breakfast I walked to the Capitol building, did a tour of 6th Street in the daylight, then headed back to the hotel. The rooftop awaited me.

Another couple hours poolside and my crazy left me.

Traveling, sun and beer left me a bit tired, so Saturday night there was nothing on my agenda.

The Omni however, had big plans.

The Bachelors of Austin was hosting their annual Debutantes Ball. WTF? I didn’t know Debutante Balls still existed. I had this creepy image of a group of old men salivating at the thought of these beautiful young girls being presented to them as their future wives. Ugh. Really? I later found out that it is just a good excuse for a party, but the disconcerting image still lingered.

My room had a great view of the hotel courtyard so I was able to watch the ball prep. Later on that evening I watched some of the debutantes being presented.

As the debutantes and their escorts made their way down the beautifully decorated staircase, they paused at the landing and curtsied. Okay, whatever. But they didn’t stop at a normal curtsy (whatever that may be). They then reached their arms out, shoulder height, to their sides and basically pronated themselves on the floor from the curtsy position. I know it’s hard to visualize and I was too far away to get a picture. But trust me, the position they took was disturbing.

Sunday saw the parentals drive up from San Antonio to collect me. The next few days were full of sighseeing, eating, shopping and visiting. It was great seeing the family and catching up with family friends.

San Antonio was not all about family doings.

I had the opportunity to go to Durty Nelly’s where a friend of mine is an entertainer.

At Durty Nelly’s I found my crazy, but this time a good crazy.

The patrons come from all over. I struck up a conversation with a couple at the next table and it turns out they were from Calgary. And, they had also lived in Peace River for ten years. I shouldn’t, but I still get amazed about how small this world is.

I drank lots of beer that Wednesday night. After my friend was finished playing, he took me out to some of his haunts and I drank more beer. Ever the gentleman, he had me back at my dad’s before 1:00am.

Having had a little taste of wild and crazy the night before, Thursday night saw me back at Durty Nelly’s, this time with an ambitious plan. My flight out on Friday morning was an early one – I had to be at the airport at 5:30am. My friend generously offered to pull an all nighter with me and get me to the airport.

My dad and step-mom drove me downtown to the Hilton (where the pub is located) and the concierge kindly stowed my luggage. I headed down to the pub which by that time of the evening was rock and rolling – Irish style! I finally found a seat, got myself a beer and sat back to enjoy the entertainment. After a short time, a guy invited my over to join a large group of people who judging by their merriment, had been there awhile. I demurred at first, but he was persistent, so off I went to join them. Hilarity ensued! It was a great evening full of stimulating and enlightening conversation with a group of people from all over who had never met before that evening.

After my friend finished playing, we went out to a lovely wine bar. Like I really needed more alcohol-but hell, it was my last night of vacation. After we closed that place down we went to an all night restaurant and had an early breakfast. I’m sure the pancakes helped absorb the copious amount of alcohol I consumed over the course of the last couple of days. We talked and managed to while away the hours until it was time to get me to the airport. I can’t even begin to say how much I appreciate the kindness from my friend, that was above and beyond the call of duty. He’s a class act.

I stumbled into the airport at 5:30am precisely. I went into the bathroom and thankfully I didn’t look as bad as I felt.

A very kind and amused Continental employee helped my with the check-in. It seemed my brain wasn’t functioning very well and the procedures were all too complicated for me.

I measured my travel day in sleep increments. 40 minutes San Antonio to Houston. 2 hours, Houston to Calgary. 1 hour, Calgary to Grande Prairie. That’s the kind of day it was.

Getting to Grande Prairie was the easy part. Then I was faced with the 2 hour drive home. In the dark. Thankfully, with some fortification from Timmies, it was an uneventful drive home.

Homecoming is always so bittersweet. I missed my doggies something awful, I missed my “stuff” and my house. But I came home to winter and found myself missing my family and southern friends. I can guarantee three years won’t pass before I visit again.

Oh, and I left my crazy in Texas.

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2012 – My Year

Several years ago I started the tradition of writing a year end post.

It recently occurred to me, that I hadn’t done it for the past two years. 2009 and 2010 were difficult years on the home front and I suppose I just wanted to let them slide into their place in history with no fanfare.


2011 has been a pretty good year.


In June I traveled to Kelowna for Brianne’s convocation. I was so proud to see her in her cap and gown, with her degree in hand.

September saw me headed down to the coast, with a weekend stop in Kamloops for a dog show. It was the first time I had been at a dog show since I lost Lobo. It was an emotional weekend in that respect, but my little poppet Calypso got me back in the game and in doing so earned her Novice Rally Obedience title. She was such a trooper!

Riding high off our successful weekend, our next stop was Vancouver. It was an amazing week visiting with Brianne, reconnecting with old friends – dinners, lots of wine, lunches that turned into dinners and walks on the beach, visiting my favorite old haunts. I was reminded how much I love my hometown and was sad to have to leave. One of the people I reconnected with was my “found”. We had a amazing time together. It seemed like no time had passed since we last saw each other – 27 years fell away in an instant.

With all the good that has happened this year, it was depressing to have it all fall apart in the last month of the year. But I suppose too much of a good thing is too much to ask.

To end on a more upbeat note, in the past few days I have had some incredible conversations with some very good friends. A couple of friends I hadn’t talked to in many years. What a treat it was to hear their voices again and pick up where we left off.


So it’s on to 2012 and I think it’s going to be my year. The Globe and Mail confirms it (and the Globe is never wrong):


GEMINI: May 22 – June 21

This really is your year. Not only does the once-in-a-lifetime Venus transit fall in your sign but Jupiter, planet of success and enlightenment, also begins a 13-month stay in Gemini. Their combined influence will help you to recognize without a shadow of doubt where your future lies – and chances are it will have little to do with material goals, acquisitions or accomplishments. Your worldview will alter dramatically, as will your priorities. By the time the last of the year’s four eclipses falls in your sign on Nov. 28, you will know how to make those changes work, not just for yourself but for the wider community too.


I was looking on YouTube for the Shirley Bassey recording of “To All The Men I’ve Loved Before”. This song was the inspiration for this blog and I haven’t even featured it. One day I’ll get back to posting about the men I’ve loved before.

While doing my YouTube search I came across, “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Mayda Del Valle.


Brilliant!





Back to Shirley Bassey. Love her.





Yes, I’ve had the best. And the worst.



A Beautiful Mess

Yep.

That pretty much sums up how I feel these days.

For a change, I’m okay with that. Actually, I’m embracing the beautiful mess that is me.

I’m currently going through something that has caused me to want to slip back into old, well established patterns. I found myself spiraling down that slippery slope of wanting to control things, make things happen in my time frame, my comfort zone. I got called on it. My reaction was “good on you…” I wasn’t offended in the least. Secretly I found myself rather delighted that someone had the fortitude to call me on my shit.

But, old patterns die hard and other issues have come up that trigger a whole pile of shit. The panic rises, the fear comes up and the insecurities flow. The temptation is for me to think it’s my fault. I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy, I did something wrong.

I know intellectually, that’s not true, but it’s a battle to keep those deeply ingrained reactions from settling in to my reality.


I recently read a great article that really resonated with me.


LET GO OF CONTROL: HOW TO LEARN THE ART OF SURRENDER


My new Mantra

Let go of the oars, dammit



I love the beautiful mess that is me.


Lost and Found – A Reprise

Lost

………….Found

Lost

………….Found




Just when you get to the stage of letting go, fate steps up and says, “not yet”. Your immediate response to fate is a hearty, “fuck you”, been there, done that – not going to revisit it. But I believe much of our journey in this life is pre-determined. We can fight against is as much as we want, and of course we can exercise our free will, but we can’t ignore the signs that point to the path we are supposed to take, or indeed, the path we are not supposed to take.

Then you settle down and think, “screw it”, just go with the flow, let the past go and live in the moment. People and situations appear in our lives when we need them. We are exactly where we are supposed to be and who we are supposed to be with at any given moment.

If you embrace that concept, interesting things can happen.

What kind of interesting you may ask? Learning to acknowledge and accept the imperfect human being I am. Trying to accept that yes, I have baggage. I will not let my baggage define me, nor influence the person that I want to be. I am worthy, my intuition and judgment are sound. There are people out there that I can trust, who will treat me with dignity and respect and who will keep their word. I will not project my baggage onto someone else.

Trust has always a huge issue for me, but for some reason, it’s something I’ve only recently been able to acknowledge with more than token lip service.

So how does one get past this? You don’t. But you can learn how to heal. In the week since I started this post I’ve had some clarity about this. More on that below.

It’s not an easy task, as a matter of fact; it can be quite a painful process. It requires digging deep, confronting the shit that you’ve been stuffing down for pretty much your entire lifetime. Denial is a coping mechanism, indeed many times, it helps you survive. But when you find yourself at a crossroads, you realize that in order to move forward, you need to confront, not deny.

It’s a fascinating process. I’ve always considered myself a “seeker”. I have for many years, been on a quest of personal growth. Human nature fascinates me. But as I go through this process now, I realize that I had many preconceived notions about how my growth and enlightenment would play out.

Dust off the baggage, haul it out, recognize it, acknowledge it, forgive yourself or others. Done. I’m good to go.

Oops. It’s not quite that simple.

It’s all good up the “done” part. Crap.

No, it’s more like, dust off the baggage, haul it out, recognize it, acknowledge it, forgive yourself or others – then understand that your baggage is a part of you and it’s not going anywhere. That was somewhat of a depressing revelation.

The trick is that when a situation or person triggers one of your panic buttons, you have to name it, acknowledge it and let it come up so you can feel it. Once it’s there you can ask “what is it that this situation/person has triggered?” Feelings of abandonment (fear), trust (fear), unworthiness (fear), anger (fear)?



So what does all this have to do with my lost and found?


A door opens. Do you slam it shut, or do you take a chance and walk through it?

Do you let your past experience define your future or do you meet your future with eyes and heart wide open?

Ever the optimist, I reject the former and choose the latter.


Lost

…………Found

Lost

…………Found

As I meander through this journey called life, I find myself more and more puzzled and disenchanted with societal attitudes about animal welfare. A conversation I had the other day with a couple of people has stuck in my head and prompted me to come out of my writing hibernation.

Let’s begin with my attitude and I’ll use some of my favorite quotes to illustrate where I’m coming from:

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated . . . I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” Mahatma Gandhi

“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.” George Bernard Shaw

“In relations of man with animals . . . there is a whole great ethic scarcely seen as yet, but which will eventually break through into light and be the corollary and the complement to human ethics.” Victor Hugo

“A mistake is one thing, but a lack of passion is unforgivable.” Steven Tyler

So I watch American Idol. Shoot me. Tyler’s quote is quite appropriate for this rant.

Anyway…

I was discussing an upcoming fundraising event for our local animal shelter. The people I was speaking with were hot off a very successful fundraiser for a new local foundation. I suggested that their support for our fundraiser would be a huge help. That suggestion was met with the comment “people are interested in supporting things that will benefit them – they’re not interested in animals.” (Animals don’t benefit people? More on that later).

Whoa baby. And this coming from people who are pet owners. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I get that there are draws from so many organizations who are fundraising. I get that times are tight, there is only so much money to go around.

But you know what, the problem with animal overpopulation, neglect and abuse has NOTHING to do with the animals and EVERYTHING to do with the people.

~Remember that there is a proven link between cruelty towards animals and violence against people. Kindness towards animals makes us better people. Continue Reading »

Well Hello There…

I wonder when the urge to write will take hold again. It’s been awhile.