Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: How I Learned to Meditate.

boo on the rocking chairI learned to meditate while Ma was dying. If she had died suddenly. Or in another place. At a different time. I’d probably have a different story to tell.

As an enduring student of yoga, I made countless attempts over the years to learn the nebulous art of meditation. But I just didn’t get it.  Stilling my mind was impossible. Sitting cross-legged for anything longer than a minute or two just about killed me. Om aside, staying focused on ‘nothing’ was a ridiculous premise at best. Stopping the endless chatter inside my mind was frustrating.  All of it made me uncomfortable. Pain, pain, pain. That was my mantra.

I also tried meditating while in the corpse pose. This just put me to sleep.  Within minutes I was dead to the world. A gaping mouthed drooling transcendental disaster.

Ma used to say that God works in mysterious ways.  I didn’t get that either.  I’ve always expected God to be more direct.  Obvious. Straightforward.  Shoot from the hip. Strike with a bolt of lightening. Flood the earth. And part the seas. Regardless of their color.

Who knows. Maybe Ma and I were talking about different Gods.  Despite all those Sunday mornings sitting side-by-side in the ass-numbing wooden pews of Christ Lutheran Church. Hers was an enigmatic deity filled with paradoxes, parables and puzzles. And with an inexplicable and absolutely unfathomable approach to running things. Mine was simple. He/She spoke my language. Read my letters. Understood the complexities and subtle nuances of the word fuck. And why it was part of my daily vernacular.

Then Ma had a heart attack.

I thanked God for not striking her dead instantly.  Which He/She most certainly could have, especially if He/She was in a particularly angry mood on the morning of Ma’s heart attack. Remember all that scary shit from the Old Testament?

Instead we got another 18 months to enjoy Ma’s presence on Earth. And what a gift that time was.

Most of the last six months of her life was spent in a hospital, on the West Coast.  She came for a visit a few months after the heart attack and never left.  By this time The Old Man was living, and I use this term loosely, in a dreary Senior’s home back in Northwestern Ontario.  They died 5 weeks apart, and 3 thousand miles away from each other.  They hooked up in heaven though. At least that’s what I believe. That notion brought me comfort then. It brings me comfort now. Then, I’ve always liked stories with happy endings.

We held vigil by Ma’s bedside. 

ma + aimee + abbyAt times there were enough of us to form a small crowd. We clustered around Ma’s frail sheet-draped declining body. Her little flock of fragile birds. Still hungry to be fed. We took turns holding her hand. We laughed. Cried. Prayed. Told stories. I’m guessing there was nothing unusual about our good-bye time with Ma. We weren’t the first family to experience this.  But this was our first time. Our first rodeo.

My heart was fractured. Armor chinked. Equilibrium faltered as the earth beneath my feet shook. I was standing on a fault line with nowhere to go. With my lifelong safety net lying in a bed dying.

This was also a time of transformation.

My favorite time with Ma was when it was just the two of us.  Not just because it was precious mother-daughter time, which was slipping rapidly and elusively away. But because it brought me peace.  In the midst of family chaos and emotional gut-wrenching wringer days, this quiet alone time with Ma became a place to escape. A safe haven. A sanctuary. It was the sheltered harbor where I moored my heart and allowed my spirit to rest. Next to hers.

It was in this quiet place that I learned about God and his mysterious ways. It was during these soft murmuring twilight hours that I learned to meditate. Ma taught me everything I needed to know about the stuff that mattered in life. This was no different.

Hours would pass. Time had no meaning. I sat next to her bed in the clinically designed hospital chair, with the hard vinyl seat and wooden arms.  The type fashioned for short visits and good posture. Neither of which applied in this situation.  But it didn’t matter.

Very little was said during these visits.  Words were no longer necessary.

I watched Ma sleep. The gentle rise and fall of her breath against her flannel nightgown. The stillness of her body.  Her peaceful repose. It soothed me. Ma had always been able to comfort me when I was hurt.  Nothing had changed in that regard.

I slipped effortlessly into rhythm with Ma’s breathing. Inhaled. Exhaled. I closed my eyes. I let the world drift away. There was no dying. There was no living. There was just being. Ma. Me. God.

And with the ease of a soaring eagle, I was meditating.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter. Flying with the Dog.

IMG_4225In the years before my knees healed, and running was an impossible dream, I used to walk my dogs. First Andy, then the lovely Miss Coco. And most recently, my silly, endlessly amusing, ginger-cookie pal, Rusty.

With the world outside muted and my family resting serenely in the arms of Morpheus, there we were. Just a woman and her dog. In the ephemeral hour just before dawn.

It was a sweet time. A gift straight out of heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. Undisturbed. A writer’s blessing.

It was a time cherished. Held dear. Revered and coveted. The whispered hush before the busyness of the day began. Before E’s alarm went off.  The kettle plugged in. Shower turned on. Before the Today Show announced another incomprehensible tragedy.

We walked the same circle route every morning. At that hour, I was a creature of habit. So were my dogs. But Rusty, in particular, was painfully predictable. You could bet money on him.

He sniffed every blade of grass. Peed on every shrub. Squatted and pooped in all the same spots. I carried a fistful of white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It was all part of our daily dance. I loved every minute of it.

On one of the last mornings that Rusty and I walked together, I had a bittersweet and profound experience.  When we got to the bend in the road, the glorious spot at the crest of the hill, I caught a glimpse of eternity.

The lights below flickered like halos as the world awoke.

At that moment I wanted to fly. Spread my arms. And take off. Rusty has floppy ears that were engineered for flight. I have big hair.

We can do this, I thought.

I stopped and looked out at the sublime sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days were. Filled with the promise of forever.

But they aren’t of course.

I thought of my mother. My dear Ma. And how this breathtaking orange colored sky would have inspired her to paint.

What a view. Oh God, what a divine view. Tears came unexpectedly.

One day, if I’ve done this right, I will be the memory. I will be the gentle tear brushed from the cheek of one of my children.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Yoga Saved my Life

376817_10150371557691644_851002701_nI do yoga. Like most things, I do it my way. Kind of like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley or Sid Vicious. The record shows.

Little back story.

I started doing yoga with my best friend B. We were, and still are, kindred spirits. Sisters of the soul. Daughters from another mother. We were introspective, pensive young girls with poetic hearts. On our walks home from high school we spent the time chatting about the usual teenage things that cause angst or butterfly emotions. Boys and clothes and boys and music and boys and books and boys. But we also drilled deep. Explored the darkness and diaphanous shadowy places that sometimes scared the shit out of us.

Somewhere along that uneven lumpy sidewalk, from Hammarskjold High School to our respective homes, we had our first conversations about yoga. Little did we know then, that it would become B’s career, her passion, her calling and life’s work. And for me, it would become a daily part of my life. Like breathing and brushing my teeth.

Sometimes I think it saved our lives. Or at the very least, made it saner. A less troubled place to dwell. Not always serene and tranquil.  But not a total train wreck either.

The mental, physical and spiritual benefits of yoga are incomparable. 

I’m a creative and intuitive person. A writer with an overactive imagination. A sensitive and empathic being. I walk the rutted road.  The pitted path littered with potholes. Equilibrium is not my natural state. Before finding yoga, I was neither calm, cool, and definitely not, collected.

But yoga, and then years later running, changed all that.

Spiritual benefits aside, without yoga, I’m not sure what physical shape I’d be in. I doubt that I could touch my toes. Nor bend like a pretzel. I know with 100% certainty that without my daily yoga practice I never would have recovered from a traumatic injury to my knees.  A double whammy seven years ago that quite literally brought me to my knees. So bad that I never thought I’d run again. But four years on the yoga mat strengthening the muscles around my knees. Listening to my body. Relying on its inner physician. Trusting that it knew how to heal itself. Plus a couple of cocky faulty attempts at hitting the streets, because that’s just who I am. Then another two years of dedicated practice.  More listening, listening, listening. To the inner wisdom of my body and spirit. A year ago I just knew the knees were completely healed.

I laced up the sneakers.  And went for a run.

IMG_1547I’m a largely self-taught. And hardly a yogini, but I do know my way around my own body. Until seven years ago, I never had a yoga teacher, nor a mat, for that matter.  Shortly after my son was born I bought a book called, Richard Hittleman’s Yoga 28 Day Exercise Plan. The poses in this little soft-cover book became the foundation of my daily yoga practice. Later I learned some new ones from The ABC of Yoga by Kareen Zebroff, and her marvelous television show.

After 28 days working through Hittleman’s book, I was hooked. Line and sinker. I was a master. A guru. A wise sage. Enlightened. Transcendent and spiritual. Of course, I was none of those things. I look back on my younger self, and I smile. Like Buddha.

It didn’t take much to bring Ma into my yoga circle. She too worked the book. Then Ma and I discovered Kareen’s Yoga television show. That was another life-changer.

No mats, no gear, no fancy pants.

This was over two decades before lululemon was founded in 1998. Just a mother and daughter in front of a small color TV with rabbit ears in the snug and secure living room at 204.

Here I am decades later. Still practicing many of the same poses from Hittleman and Zebroff.  But with a twist.

I have a mat.  It’s lime green.

Namaste.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Master Po and Grasshopper.

Ma + Boo morning2I’m a wisdom seeker. Always have been. Even as a child I intuitively knew that there was a difference between the information and knowledge I was learning at school or through books. And the universal teachings that drilled deeper into the soul and lifted us higher into the spiritual world. That enlightened place where the spirit transcends and soars with the angels. The metaphysical marvel. The place of wonder. Awe. And beauty. That was where I wanted to go.

My first mentor, and the one who shared more wisdom than anyone I’ve ever known, was Ma.

Little back story.

Ma’s formal education ended somewhere in high school. Back then, this was typical for most poor or lower class families. Getting a “good education” was a pipe dream, but especially so, if you were a girl from a poor family.

Ma loved to read and had a secret desire to be an artist. She wanted more from life but didn’t know how to go after it. Yet, what she couldn’t do for herself, she did for her youngest daughter.

In her unassuming and humble way she taught me what I needed to know to chase my dreams.  Even the big ones.

Gertrude Stein held court in her Salon at 27 Rue de Fleurus for the elite of the literary and artistic world. Ma had a Salon of her own at 204.  Preposterous comparison possibly.  But not to the young girls of the Sixties who gathered there around the kitchen table to discuss the happenings of our time. In our own way, we were equally brilliant and talented.

Ma was always there in the background. Quietly serving up homemade cookies or chocolate brownies, and most importantly, keeping the kettle boiling.

She never intruded. That wasn’t her way.

Although she remained discreetly in the background, we all looked up to her and admired her calm benevolence.  When she did speak, which wasn’t often, we all thought she was so wise and intelligent.  Her kindness, the cradle for her words. She was Master Po. We were Grasshopper.

The secret to her wisdom? 

She listened. Carefully. Attentively. Earnestly. With an open mind and an even wider open heart. Without judgement nor condemnation.

She listened with kindness. Compassion and empathy. Caring and concern. She wanted to know. To understand.

She listened without distraction. She remained focused.  Concentrated. Immersed in every word.

She listened with intention. Studiously. With deliberateness.  Absorbed in the conversation.

She listened to the world around her. To nature. The voice of God.  The universal stories of the Ages.

She listened to the words not spoken. The spaces. Gaps. Pauses. The silences and subtleties. The language of hands.

She listened to me. And still she loved me. Unconditionally. Without question nor hesitation.

There you have it.  Listen and acquire wisdom. Sounds so simple.  Trust me it’s not. Or at least not for me.

My hearing is good. Remarkably good for an old broad. But my listening skills, sadly, are not. And they have grown worse with time, not better. I am ashamed to admit, but somewhere along the journey from the kitchen table at 204 to this iMac, I have fallen in love with the sound of my own voice. All the silly chatter and trite bullshit that flows so easily from my mouth.

But starting today, I intend to change that. 

I am here to listen. To you and you and you. Perhaps grow wiser.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Happy to be Here.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

It’s been one of those weeks. The up and down roller coaster ride. Good. Bad. With a little bit of random thrown in for good measure. It’s also been one of those weeks that has left me a little bit shaken. Wobbly-kneed and rubber-legged. But grateful. Big time.

It’s easy to be grateful during the good times. Especially when the living is easy. For the good things. All those blessings that we want more of. Happy shiny people all around us. Our dear ones by our side. Full of good health and abundance. Kindness and generosity. Peace love and understanding. The list is endless of all the good things to be thankful for.

But what about the hard times? The sad and tragic days. The difficult seasons of stress, when life feels more like a pressure cooker than a pastoral playground. How do you find gratitude when you feel like giving up? When life is just one super-sized shit show. What about those days when the best you can say is, thanks for nothing? How do you find the place in your spirit where gratefulness and appreciation dwell?

I don’t know.

I do know this. When you have a close call. A brush with death. A collision with calamity. The veil of ambiguity is lifted. You see. With such lucidity. Clarity. And in high definition. At least that’s what happened to me this week.

While driving into work on Thursday morning, I was in an accident with my truck. It happened in an instant. One minute I was stopped at a crosswalk watching the pedestrian at the curb. Then within seconds I was shoved from behind and catapulted into the middle of the intersection.

That woke me up.

I was momentarily stunned by the deafening sound of the truck behind engaging with the rear-end of mine. It sounded worse than it actually was. Once I got my bearings and realized that the only damage was to my truck. No humans were harmed. Everyone involved was alive and kicking. I was grateful.

I am here.  All is well.

Trucks can be repaired. Or replaced. They’re just material things. Temporary impermanent pleasures. Not important in the grand scheme. Humans and all living creatures matter. I’m thankful to have been intimately reminded of the difference.

The young man, who rear-ended the truck, was horrified that he hit me. My heart ached for him. It was just one of those things. He looked away for a second. That’s all it took. Could have happened to anyone. Including me. I’ve had some close calls. We all have. But for the grace of God, goes I. So in our brief exchange, I got well with him, right then and there. On the spot absolution.

I’m grateful for that too.

Truth is, at that moment, my gratitude muscle was in a need of a workout. It had grown complacent. Lazy even. I had said the words “I am grateful” so often, they had grown damn near meaningless. Rather than coming from a sincere place deep within my heart, they rolled off my tongue like liquid gold. By rote. Like rhyming off multiplication tables. They had become a cliched elixir to cover my ass in the spiritual department.

Evolved psychologist, spiritual gurus and preachers advise us to be in a mindful state of constant gratitude, especially if we want to be divinely healthy. Honestly, I thought I was. After all, I am the Queen of Deep. Especially after the year we just had with E and the Big C.  I was spewing words of gratitude like yellow smoke from a factory. I had it down.

Then Thursday morning happened. I am truly grateful to be here. To write this post. To spend a little time with you.

To say thank you.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Interview.


This is an interview I did with the lovely Karen Elgersma, host of the TV show Go Island about my new book We Are The Girl Warriors. I was terrified. I had to practice Step 2 in the book: Stare Down Your Fears.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Wearing the Cloak of Invisibility.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

Photo by Melissa Adams.

I’m over the hill. Shocking news I know. Truth is, I’ve been here for a while. It’s a hard one to come to terms with. So I’ve been breaking it to myself gently.

But it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. Bust myself. I’m coming clean and this is my confession.

Little back story.  I’ve been feeling invisible since I turned 50. You may think this is crazy talk, and it may be. But it’s how I feel. And I’m not alone. Other women my age have expressed the same thing. It’s a profound conversation. My jaw dropped when I discovered I had far too many “sisters” out there who felt the same way. Either we’re all suffering from menopausal madness. Or there’s something to this.

I turned 50 and it was like I put on Harry Potter’s Cloak of Invisibility. Suddenly no one could see me.

This was disturbing at first.

I am shy to the core. An introvert by nature. And an occupational extravert by necessity. I act out all day, come home exhausted from all that outgoing role-playing, and flop in front of Netflix to recover.  I tell you this because I’ve never had the spotlight on me. But I never felt invisible either. I always believed that my presence was felt, and seen, in the room. My voice, no matter how quiet, was heard. Nothing had prepared me for this.

There was no prior narrative.

One day, shortly after my 50th birthday, it hit. Like a lead balloon. I had this painful epiphany. ‘It’s like I’m not here. I don’t matter. I’m irrelevant. Insignificant. Inconsequential. Unseen.’  Not just by men.  But by everyone who was under the age of 50. Especially all the cool people. And those hipsters.

So that felt lousy.

But not for long.  I realized quite quickly, the powers of wearing the magical Cloak of Invisibility.  If no one saw me, then that meant I could do whatever I wanted. As long as it didn’t cause harm to any other living creature, human or otherwise, nor to the environment and the earth we all share.

That’s when the fun began.

The world was my oyster. I was set free. Liberated. Emancipated.  Let loose. Oh the marvelous things I’ve done while flying under the radar. I’m a free bird. Untethered. Unshackled. Unfettered. I no longer care what people think of me. That’s their business. Not mine.

If you’re a woman over 50, I want you to know that this is just the beginning. We’re the same gutsy girls who changed history in the sixties and seventies. We burned our bras. Carried placards. Marched in unison. Saw the possibilities and ran bravely towards the future. We rewrote the definition of being a woman. For ourselves. Our mothers. Sisters. Nieces. Girlfriends. Daughters. Grand daughters. And for all the men in our lives.

We are those powerful strong beautiful agents of transformation. It only makes sense, that at this time in our lives, we’ll reconstruct and revolutionize. Reshape and rebuild. Renew and redefine what it means to be a women over 50. We will not go quietly into the dark night. Not us.

Wearing the Cloak of Invisibility has been awesome in so many ways. Part of me, doesn’t want to take it off.  EVER.

I don’t know what your personal journey has been like so far, but if you’re reading this and nodding your head in agreement, then keep on reading because we’re just getting started. Fasten your seat belt because you’re in for a fabulous ride.

Here are 20 DO’S & DON’TS for you to consider while wearing the magical cloak:

1. Be creative.  This is your time to escalate. Skyrocket. Shoot right through the roof. Create things that delight you. Whether it’s a blueberry pie, a dress, a song, guitar lick, a squeaky scale on a clarinet, a blog or a book. Make it all you. All authentic. Take an ‘I don’t give a shit’ attitude with this.  See what happens.

2. Go where you want.  Don’t ask permission. Just go. Don’t be afraid to go it alone either. Some trips are meant to be solo adventures. If others want to join you, and that feels right, then the more the merrier. But don’t miss the boat because you’re the only one who wants to get on board.

3. Seek out the company of people you enjoy.  And steer clear of those you don’t. Surround yourself with people who matter to you.  These are your tribe members. You’ll know them at first sight. Open your arms and your heart wide and let them in.

4. Welcome solitude and time alone.  Still your mind. Quiet your thoughts. Get to know them. Love your own company.  Be your own best friend first.

5. Stop distracting yourself with busyness.  Instead listen to the small quiet voice of wisdom inside your head. It may tell you to go for a vigorous walk. Or that this is a day to laze around on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns. Let go of all things frantic, frenetic and feverish. Stop dancing on peanut butter. In the end you go nowhere.

6. Wear what you want.  Take pleasure in clothes that feel like you. Express yourself from the inside out. But first, you must be comfortable in your own skin. Your earth suit. Nothing you wear will feel good if you hate your body. So don’t.

7. Don’t cut your hair. Unless wearing your hair short has always been your style. But if you like long hair, and that feels authentically you, then keep it that way. Don’t cut it off because some crazy person said you were too old for long hair. Don’t listen to them. Show them the door. Long hair. Short hair. No hair. All beautiful. Make it your choice. Not someone else’s.

8. Eat and drink what you want. You’re all grown up now. You can make your own decisions about what you consume. Things that fuel your body are important. At any age. But the things that satisfy your spirit are also essential. For example, I love orange foods. Mandarins, peppers, carrots, and Hawkins Cheezies. I’ve also discovered that a Starbucks full-fat Chai Latte makes Friday night grocery shopping almost bearable.

9. Learn new tricks.  Every day. It doesn’t have to be an entire course of study. One word will do. Learn a new instrument. Or a new language. Read. Write. Explore. Investigate. Examine. Bone up. Grow your brain. And blow your mind wide open with the art of the possible.

10. Open your eyes to wonder.  Take a look at the world around you. It’s beautiful. Breathtaking. Awesome in every way. So look under rocks. Gaze up at the evening sky. Stare into the eyes of someone you adore. Spend time with a person who hasn’t been to school yet. They have much to teach.

11. Stay in the moment.  That’s all we really have. Don’t waste the preciousness of the present with worry and regret. Give fear a kick in the ass. What’s done is done. What will be will be. Que Sera Sera. Only ‘now’ matters.

12. Keep moving and bending.  Be pliable. Your body will thank you for it. It’s designed and perfectly engineered to get you around with ease. All the days of your life. But you have to honor its changing stages. Adapt. Alter. Adjust. Do whatever is necessary to keep going. Your days of running a marathon may be over. So walk. You’ll still get there.

13. Hang out with people.  All kinds. All ages. Your tribe isn’t defined by your age. It’s about who you like to be with. Who turns your crank. The faces you like to see across the table, a crowded room, in the gym, at the movies or the book club. Don’t limit yourself. Don’t be afraid to get out there. Call someone. Reach out.

14. Love.  It’s our heart’s desire. No one is ever too old. Everyone needs it. We crave it. We pine. We yearn. We covet. We’ll do just about anything to possess it. But now, more than ever, you are free to open your heart to love. Let it in. And spread it around. Make it go viral. It may be romantic and lovely. It may be with someone new. Or with the one you’ve always been with. Regardless, just love.

15. Don’t run from your emotions.  Love them all. Be fragile and strong. Vulnerable and powerful. Courageous and terrified. Ballsy and meek. Embrace the contradictions. Hug the enigma. Clutch all the paradoxes of the female spirit.

16. Give up on being perfect.  No longer necessary. Because the truth is, you already are. Divine just the way you are. Warts and all. Beautiful. Beyond compare. Know that.

17. Give up the need to be in control.  Relax. Ease up. Unclench your fist. Let someone else steer the ship. Lead the parade. Now’s the time to share the ride. It’s so much easier. You’ll wonder why you didn’t surrender sooner.

18. Be grateful.  Now more than ever take stock of all the amazing people, places and things in your life. Then give thanks. It’s that simple.

19. Embrace the messiness of life. With arms open wide. Jump into mud puddles. Roll around in the muck. Get egg on your face. Dirty your hands. Cover yourself in grime. Caress the earth. Most importantly, don’t concern yourself with cleaning it up. Just let it be.

20. Remember that you are needed.  Always have been. Always will be. That doesn’t stop because your kids have flown the coop. Or you got divorced. Or widowed. Your parents have died. Or whatever the “winds of change” are for you. No matter what your age. You matter. The world needs what you, and only you, have to give.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: What’s in a Name?

IMG_4046I have a name. It arrived in the mail last week. Bonney Lee Eva King.  That’s me. An official declaration by the Province of British Columbia on January 23, 2014. It was printed on one of those cheesy government certificates that are the same color as our fifty dollar bill. So it must be real.

Truth is, it feels surreal.  And ironic.

Surreal, because it’s been a long time coming. I was 24 when I learned I wasn’t who I thought I was. Some of you know this story from a previous blog post called, “What Happens in 204 Stays in 204 and the Fine Art of Secret Keeping.”  

The truth about my mistaken identity was revealed by the government of Canada when my ex-husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, and I decided to go to Europe. We mailed off our passport applications and within weeks he got his, no sweat. All I got was a letter from the government saying, essentially, that I didn’t exist.

Ridiculous. Preposterous. Insane. Impossible. Laughable if it wasn’t happening to me.

Little back story on the back story.

This is the conversation between me and Ma the night I called her to find out what the hell was going on. Taken from that original blog post, it went down something like this:

“Ma, a strange thing happened when I tried to get my passport.”

“What’s that dear?”

“I got this letter from the government saying I don’t exist.”

“That’s impossible.”

“Glo told me everything Ma.”

Silence followed. By a pregnant pause. By more silence.

“Ma why didn’t you just put The Old Man’s name on my birth certificate?”

“I didn’t know I could.”

So the truth was, I did exist. I just had a different last name than the one I had been using for 24 years. Legally it was same as my three older siblings. And appallingly, the same surname as their biological father, Ma’s infamous, and rarely spoken of, first husband.

Since Ma and The Old Man never married, I was their illegitimate child.  Isn’t that a quaint expression? I think all children are legitimate. And once born, belong here on earth. Precious and valued. Being a veritable product of the sixties, I like to think that I was their “Love Child.”  I can feel the earth in Northwestern Ontario rumble as the two of them roll over in their shared grave.

For decades I was crippled by an illogical fear that it would be intensely complicated, far too time consuming, and downright next to impossible to get my name legally changed. I viewed it as a colossal mess beyond anything I could handle, much less fix. Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. I was also intimidated by the  Big Government machine that declared me nonexistent at 24. This grew so epic in my mind that it prevented me from taking even the teeniest baby-steps towards change.

I was stuck.

Then something happened last summer that was a pain in the ass at the time. But turned out to be the proverbial kick in the ass I needed to transform my thinking. And take action.

I went to get my Drivers License renewed. No big deal. I do it every five years. Except this year, the Government of BC had implemented a new policy. Who knew? Not me. My bad.

Here’s my “Dummies” version. To provide better security, in a world of ever increasing fraud and deception, our Health Care Cards and our Drivers Licenses, or some other form of legal identification with a photo, are now connected. They’ll both be stored together like conjoined twins in one of those big bureaucratic organisms that is way beyond my comprehension. There’s also a hitch. Caveat. Proviso.

The names on both cards have to match.

And mine would have, had there not been an unfortunate typo on my Drivers License. I knew about the typo but it had been a non-issue until this new government policy was instated.

The plot thickens.

I also learned on that fateful summer day that if I didn’t have a connected Health Card Card/Drivers License I could be in big trouble in five years. The government health coverage, for which I have been paying up the yin-yang for years, will be compromised. Or worse. Null and void. I’m no Psychic but I see a hot mess on the horizon.

That was all it took. Scared the shit out me. Imagine a Canadian without health care. Unthinkable.

Long story short. 

I finally went through the process of changing my name. One small step at a time. In the end it was no big deal, cost a little over $300 and a bit of my time here and there. Worth every cent and every second.

Now for the ironic part.

IMG_4075It took over 20 years and a chunk of money to get divorced from my first husband. Remember him? The guy I was going to go to Europe with when I was 24. During that 20 years, E and I were living together, had a Love Child of our own and in 2011, after a painful year of litigation, were married on the top of the hill behind our home. The night before we got married we filled out the paperwork with our Pastor for the marriage license.

In the space for my name I wrote, Bonney Lee Eva King.

At the Vital Statistics Agency I learned that, in my particular case, the most expeditious way to change my name would be to use the one on my marriage license. It was a ground zero document and a good place to start.

That presented a disconcerting conundrum.

Do I take the last name of the man I just spent over 20 years extricating myself from because it’s the swiftest thing to do?  Do I take E’s last name because we are now legally married?  Or do I change it to something completely different like Zelda Zooey because it might be fun to reinvent myself as a borderline fool?

In the end, I chose the name on my marriage license. Not because it was the quickest and easiest way out of all this messy name business. But because I’ve spent more time with that name than any other. It’s become part of my identity. Without realizing it, I grew into the name. It’s me. Feels right. Resonates. When I see it on paper, I recognize it.

Besides, I love the nickname and writing handle that goes with it.

Boo King. That’s me too.

 

 

 

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Saturday Night Spaghetti and Meatballs.

299899_10151127217141644_2016426915_nI love spaghetti and meatballs. Always have. In fact, it’s one of the first foods that I remember enjoying. Picky Eater doesn’t even come close to describing my disinterest in food as a kid.  But Ma’s S ‘n M was a whole other story.  Now I’m no connoisseur, but I have eaten enough to know a good meatball when I taste it.  Trust me, her’s were the best. And her marinara sauce?  To live for.

It wasn’t so much what Ma put into this weekly Italian favorite that made it so spectacular. But how she prepared it that made the world of difference. Like all good cooks she had her secrets. Her little arsenal of remarkable tastes that you couldn’t quite put a finger-licking finger on.

One of my all-time fondest memories is the smell of Saturday morning at 204.

Fresh coffee brewing, bacon and eggs frying, Shaw’s white bread toasting. Fused with these intoxicating breakfast scents, was the savory smell of Ma’s spaghetti sauce simmering on top of the stove. Imagine waking up to that every Saturday morning. Trust me, it was the top of the comfort mountain. A warm hug from heaven. A kiss sweeter than your first. A gentle breeze fluttering through gossamery white curtains. Quite simply, nothing else like it.

I don’t have a recipe to share with you because Ma never cooked that way. Like all good cooks, it was pinch of this, a dash of that, a dollop and a handful. Everything to taste and talent. There’s a certain kind of genius at play, that’s impossible to describe. Besides, you don’t need the S ‘n M recipe anyway. For it’s not the physical ingredients that made it taste so good.

What made my all-time fave comfort food so lip-smacking, scrumptious and sinfully delicious were these 5 things:

1.  Start early. Be the first one up. Breathe in those early quiet and peaceful moments just before dawn. Solitude in the kitchen is a divine gift. Cherish it. Let the whisper of God and the whistle of nature inspire you. Run your fingers over the fresh ingredients that will be the life of the sauce. Let your eyes feast on their colors. Inhale the herbs and spices that will infuse spirit into the sauce. Begin.
2.  Good things take time. Never rush the sauce. Honor the process.  Allow it to simmer on low. To slowly fill the house with its intoxicating delectable aroma. Room by room. Let it fill every inch with pleasure. Long and lazy that’s the key. Enjoy.
3.  Double-dip family style. Let the taste testers dive in. All day long. Let the lid lift and open to an explosion of fragrant Italian goodness. Let the well-seasoned wooden spoon plunge into the saucy depths.  Let them sip, sup and savor. Repeat.
4.  Anticipation. Things taste better when filled with scrumptious expectancy. The longer the wait, the better the taste. Especially with marinara and spicy meatballs. As the divine bouquet fills the air, let your imagination wonder to the end of the day. Mealtime. Picture yourself there. Lick your lips. Savor.
5.  Love. The essence of everything. The heart. The soul. The gist. The marrow of all good things.  And all things that taste good.

There you have it. The delicious intangibles. The ethereal ingredients. The exquisite elements. The sorcery in the sauce.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Lessons from the Hill.

IMG_3946There’s this hill. I’ve mentioned it in my previous posts about running. It’s at the very end of my early morning run. The neighborhood is full of little hills, dips, tilts and slopes. But this is the last one, so it’s always the toughest. Climbing it is a bit like a recurring nightmare. The one where you show up late for an Algebra exam you forgot to study for. Painful doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I have a love-hate relationship with this hill. It’s complicated. Dense with onionskin layers of complexity. I’m attracted to connections of this nature because they are the most profound teachers. They force me to expand and extend. Stretch beyond my comfort zones. Push limits. Smash down walls. Break through closed doors. Grow my physical, spiritual, emotional and intellectual muscles. Their lessons take me above and beyond and back.

In no particular order, here are 15 things I’ve learned while running up the hill:

1. It’s rock solid. Dependable. Not going anywhere. I can count on it being there. Every day, whether I like it or not. I want to be that unshakeable, that steady.
2. Some days it’s easy. Some days it’s not. I don’t know why. That’s the paradox. The enigma. The mystery. So I soar with the easy times. I struggle through the hard times. One baby-step at a time. Either way, I keep going.
3. It takes guts. Especially on the difficult days when just getting out of bed is an act of courage. The bravest thing I do.
4. It’s okay to stop. Take a moment to catch my breath. To regroup. Consider my options. In the end there’s only one. Carry on.
5. It’s easier when I don’t look up. At the very the bottom it’s daunting. Overwhelming. Fucking intimidating. So I keep my eyes on the piece of sidewalk directly in front of me. And take it piece by piece. Suddenly it’s not so big. Little bits are doable. Far less formidable.
6. Don’t look down once I reach the top. It’s a dizzying perspective. A mixture of pride in today’s accomplishment and dread for tomorrow’s harrowing task. So I resist peeking over my shoulder. I simply turn the corner and keep going.
7. Honor my body and where it’s at today. It’s changing. Aging. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the hill. I listen to the subtle messages it sends. I’m respectful of my limitations. And grateful for what I can do.
8. Maintain my runner’s form despite the slower pace. This is part of the art of running and hard to articulate with words. It’s about the shape. Structure. Configuration. Contours. I keep the stance no matter how downtempo the present beat or cadence.
9. It’s not a competition. There’s no one else in this race so the pressure’s off. I don’t rate myself. Think about time. Check my pulse or heart rate. There’s no personal best. No need to push harder. I don’t give a shit about that. I’m not an athlete. I’m not going to Sochi. The beauty of this stage in my life? There’s absolutely nothing to prove.
10. It’s not about conquering. Nothing to beat. Vanquish. Quell. Quash. Clobber. Nor crush. I greet the hill with the peace of a Pacifist. In my heart I’m confident I’ll reach the top. But I’ll inflict no harm along the way.
11. It’s okay to be afraid. Some days the hill scares the living shit out me. It’s just too much. Especially on the dark and eerily quiet mornings. My imagination takes hold. The hill becomes my enemy. Then my legs turn to rubber. Shaky like jelly. That’s when I exhale deeply. And keep moving. Even shaky legs can get you there.
12. It hurts. It’s so fucking painful at times that I think, ‘This is it.  I’m gonna die on this stupid hill.’ But I don’t. I make it home in one piece. And the truly priceless part? It’s like the miracle of childbirth. I forget the pain when it’s over.
13. The weather doesn’t matter. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, the hill is still there. Waiting for me. So I dress accordingly. I never worry about getting wet. Or cold. Or sweating like a pig. The wind can howl like a wolf. I call its bluff and howl right back.
14. Every day is a sweet little victory. I celebrate that. Not in a big glittery New Year’s Eve kind of way. But I do have this little happy endorphin dance going on in my head when I’m done. This is a beautiful reminder to take joy in all the wondrous things life holds. Every day I’m here is a win.
15. The hill will be here long after I’m gone. Reliable. Solid. Stone-steady. Some things endure. Others, like me are ephemeral. But know this, the hill recognizes my footstep. It is imprinted in the soul of the earth. And that’s pretty fucking awesome.

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