Monday, January 11, 2016

Tropical Island

E and I just returned from a tropical island getaway. It was lovely to feel the sun's heat on my skin, to hear ocean waves churning in the distance, to see a wide blue sky, and to drink and eat tropical fruit like mangoes, guava, and passion fruit. A few days like that should be able to carry one a long way through winter, but back in the cold . . . it seems to linger less in mind that I'd hope it would. There must be ways to keep that tranquil state breathing into the present.

I will try, over the next weeks of winter, to bring the relaxation and beauty present in that trip home. I made a list of things to do on my phone and I'll seek out warm winter break opportunities these next two months. There must be a public sauna somewhere . . . there must be opportunities to be out enjoying the sun, even in the frigid air. I've never been one for winter sports, but that may be a place to start . . . last year it all felt too much with the cold, this year may be easier. Getting through winter is always a personal challange for me, but I will have to look for sunny ways to warm my heart.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


A and I watched About a Boy the other day, which was a lovely movie about the importance of community. I would like to strengthen my sense of community and my social ties., especially because my marriage is so distant. Yesterday, I went on a long, cold walk along the river with my newly widowed neighbour. It was a bit awkward, as we have nothing in common but the neighbourhood, but it felt good nevertheless. It was a small gesture of connection. I would like to increase those.

Over the holidays I read the wonderful this is happy by Camilla Gibb. It was also a meditation on intimacy and community. What I appreciated most about the memoir was her brutal honesty about family dysfunction and the legacy of growing up with it. I am convinced my continual sense of alienation stems from a difficult childhood. Her book is a good illustration of how we can overcome our past to create new kinds of families and communities. I would like to do that, but perhaps I am still too much in recovery mode, particularly given my recent scuttle with my family of origin. I decided I wouldn't return for Christmas this year, and it was the best decision for me, but it also felt like a huge loss, particularly for A, I think. She has always been the reason I've returned, and I hope she'll understand why I can't do it anymore.

You have to be careful about who you let close to your heart. I'm a fan of islands.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Happy 2016!

Oh, the best laid plans. I had planned on writing everyday, but . . . as life would have it, I didn't. Now, I regret it, but I'm vowing to start again.

I love blogging, but maybe not always, so on days I don't blog, I'm going to online journal, reflect in a private way on my life experience, as a still newly-married woman in a second marriage with step kids. This is a far more challenging relationship than I expected. I should have known better, but no one can really prepare you for the feelings you experience when you are in this position. It feels like an ongoing conflict that you have no hope of resolving. I've coped by disengaging, as many other stepmothers on various forums have advised. Now, I live in a separate residence, across a river from my "beloved" and his kids. It makes it easier. It is more like a long term affair, something that Harriet Lerner described in one of her books on motherhood as perhaps the best possible option for stepmothers. I agree. Living with my partner and his children feels far too much like I'm a despised outsider. I no longer want to be in that position.

Instead, A and I can live here, alone, creating our own family rituals. This is how it will be. It isn't as I imagined. It is far less than I hoped for, but that's what is. I can only accept or reject it. I choose not to reject it . . . yet. I may change my mind someday if some other option presents itself, but for now, I'm resigned to this half-life. Another half-life. It seems that is all I've ever seen on offer.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Write again

The darkness of fall is upon me. I turn in again to reflect. These cold months are about coming to terms with our own darkness, I'm convinced.

I'm listening to a podcast about the Jungian notion of the shadow
and how important it is to creativity --

My shadow is backed into a corner and howling in indignation. What the f are you doing to me? Pay attention! I'm f ing starving! Give me something I can sink my teeth into! I'm hungry!

I am watching my shadow fearfully. What, me? 

Yes, you, stupid. I'm wretched. Give me something!

Like what?

Meat! Substance! Meaning! 

I'm not sure I have any.


Okay. I'll look into it. 

I'll try writing again. I'll show up and hope for everything that hasn't been flowing for a long, long time.

I'll start tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Okay, where is it? I hear and see birds, a good sign, but it is so blustery and grey that it feels like lingering in winter's last gasp. I hung a birdhouse today after being inspired by my cross-the-street neighbours who have several birdhouses and feeders hanging in the bare branches of their little tree. Just looking at that everyday cheers me up, so I decided to do the same. I don't think they'll mind.

We returned from a trek north yesterday. Spending Easter with my family was relatively low-key this time, as my Brasilian sister-in-law scaled down celebrations because her mother is back in Brasil and she hasn't the extra help to prepare all the festivities. My father is somewhat recovered from his heart attack, but no less acerbic. He seems to delight in making offensive remarks, especially directed at me, but I've decided not to take any bait.

Having A and E with me helps me deal with the return, so I'm always grateful when they are both there. Even so, I am often ensnared in nostalgia. This time the big news is that my long-gone sister is making a prodigal return to visit my father with her 4 kids, husband, and kids' boyfriends in tow. This is to happen in May. I'm convinced she's only doing it to stake a claim on inheritance money and take what she can grab of my mother's belongings while she can. I did try to broach this with my father and brother, but they don't understand my sister as I do. She's avaricious. I can't say I'm looking forward to the hell that will ensue when my father does "drift into the netherworld," as he says now. He claims his near-death experience was delightful and nothing to fear, like falling into a comforting sleep.

I wish I could sleep. I still can't. I'm racked by worry about work . . . and nothing seems to help. I have no idea whether I will have any teaching work next year . . . and fear I'll have to move far away to even have the opportunity to teach in a board, but maybe even not then. I just don't know what to do.

I'm trying to stay present . . . here with the birds, with my coffee, with a blank page, but it isn't easy. Real spring weather might help make it easier, but maybe that's just me wanting a distraction. Action is harder to think about.

Friday, February 27, 2015


So, Judy and I are sitting here in the after rain sun, enjoying a quiet evening alone. I was told that Judy was chatty, but friendly and affectionate, a bully, but only with other cats. All I can tell so far, is that she`s a great companion and since we have no other cats, she`ll be quite happy here. Judy is my new foster cat. She is part of my plan to better tolerate my Ottawa life apart from my other half.

After 2 years of driving back and forth across bridges and in intolerable traffic, I have given up. I will visit my husband on weekends. He will visit me here once a week. That will be it, for as long as the kids require us to have them front and centre, which may be . . . for quite some time yet.

I`m resigned. I wish it were different, but it isn`t.

This is second marriage . . .


I am sitting in my house with Judy, my foster cat. We are listening to the crickets and relaxing on the couch. The street life flows by just outside the open door. The light is fading, but the air is still warm.

There are so many things I am grateful for. Being here and at peace with myself is one. Having my husband still around, but not all the time, is another. Having my daughter here with me, close to her school, on a schedule I`ve grown used to is a third. My life is quite rich . . . even if I`m not.