Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: On Making America Great Again.

Me and Ma Walking in Duluth

I grew up in a border town, which meant that in a mere half-hour we could be in Minnesota. Taking a drive to “The States” was something we did on a regular basis. The Old Man, Ma and I would take many a Sunday afternoon drive down to the US border just to wander around the Border Store with it’s creaky wooden floors, endless aisles of trinkets ‘n trash, and all kinds of cheap crap made of plastic.

There was also all the absolutely stupendous candy that you could only get in America. It wasn’t like today where you can get anything from anywhere no matter how far out in the boonies you live. Back then, you had to travel 40 miles south on highway 61 and cross the Pigeon River Bridge to sink you teeth into a wondrous and unforgettable Sugar Daddy, Chocolate BB Bat, Big Cherry Bar, Turkish Taffy, and the oh-so exotic wax bottle mini drinks. Good God they were good.

By the time I was a teenager we had many trips to Duluth, or even as far south as Minneapolis. Most trips were shopping excursions, which often included my older sister and at least one of her ubiquitous girlfriends. I have fond memories of the lions and tigers at the Duluth Zoo. Once the Dag Hammarskjold High School Band did a disastrous tour of Duluth High Schools. I played second clarinet. Enough said. I also made at least one trip to Duluth with my girlfriends Terry and Suzy, where we stayed in a cheap old hotel that stank of stale cigarettes and fried onions, and met two man-boys, one of which wore a toupee. I still blush when I think of it.

I loved American small towns, American boys, American music, American movie stars, American baseball, American shoes, American clothes, American potato chips, American candy and even the American flag because it had stars, which I also loved. Yes, I grew up coveting all things American. Everything about it seemed just a little bit better than what we had. I was proud to be a Canadian girl who loved America.

I remember where I was the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Mr. Ward made the announcement that fateful Friday afternoon just before our class was dismissed for the weekend. I remember how stunned and sad I was walking home from school that miserable overcast November day. I remember the excitement of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in the sultry summer of 1969. Decades later I would fictionalize the memory in my first novel, Summer in a Red Mustang with Cookies. I remember where I was the morning of September 11 when the twin towers were brought down. The Today Show’s Katie Couric delivered the devastating news in real-time as we watched in horror as they crumbled to the ground in a cloud of smoke and ash. But like the Phoenix rising, I remember how deliriously happy I was when Barack Obama became President. The Americans had a great leader again, one worthy of our respect and admiration, like Kennedy.

And then I remember how bewildered I was almost a year ago when Donald Trump announced that he was officially running for president of the United States and that he was going to make America great again. How was that even possible? First of all, I thought America was already pretty great. I thought this had to be some kind of joke, another publicity stunt, and that he didn’t stand a chance. But now, like most of us, I know that this isn’t a joke. This is seriously scary shit. Come November, it is quite possible that we could all be saying President Trump. I choke on the words.

When I look back on the America of my youth, the America I loved to visit, the America I admired, and the America I thought would be such a cool place to live, I’m sad and overwhelmed with grief by what is unfolding on the other side of the border. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself angry, frustrated, dismayed, disturbed, troubled, worried, offended, frightened and quite frankly, disappointed, ashamed and embarrassed by all the bad behavior and empty rhetoric taking place in a country I so admired. It’s like finding out your favorite uncle wasn’t at all what you thought he was, that he actually deserved to be behind bars and not held in your high esteem.

But I haven’t lost all hope. There’s still a part of me that has faith in the wisdom and intelligence of the American people; that there are more who are good, kind and equitable than ignorant, hateful and prejudiced. There is still a part of me that believes that when the rubber hits the road, the America that I loved as a young Canadian girl is still there; that these great Americans will show the world that they are too smart to listen to the reprehensible rants of a carnival barker, to be influenced by fear mongering, and most importantly, to be duped by a spoiled charlatan with deep pockets, bad hair and a shallow devious mind.

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boo and Lorraine in a Duluth hotel room.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: This Too Shall Pass.

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Girl Warrior. This too shall pass. Impossible to believe when you’re in the heat of the battle or in the eye of the storm. In the hour of the wolf when only the devil knows your name. When you cry out into the darkness begging for mercy. You’re down on your knees praying for your misery to end. You’re heart is breaking and your body is aching. You hurt everywhere.

You are in agony. You feel alone. Lost. Abandoned. Hopeless.

The emotional or physical pain is so unbearable you wonder if you will ever feel normal again. You can’t see two inches in front of you, much less the light at the end of the tunnel. You are unable to feel the warmth of a sunny day. You wonder, will you ever laugh again? Will your spirit be carefree once more? Will your burden be lifted?

Yes, Girl Warrior. Yes.

Relief from your suffering will come. Be assured. But it will take time. It will also take patience, tenderness, gentleness and kindness. You will find these in the embrace of your Dear Ones, who will love you unconditionally in your vulnerability and brokenness. Bit-by-bit. Day-by-day. One foot in front of the other, you will get there. You will be whole.

Life will never be what it was Girl Warrior. It will be better. Because you not only survived, you thrived.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Purple Rain. Purple Rain.

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I learned about Prince’s death during the 2-hour wait to board the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. I was still basking in the residual glow and euphoria of the Paul McCartney concert that my oldest daughter (OD) and I went to the night before.

Imagine, not only breathing the same air as the ‘cute’ Beatle, but singing along with him. And twenty thousand other people but it felt like he was there just for me. Until Wednesday night singing along to these particular songs only ever happened in the privacy of my upstairs bedroom at 204, where I pretended he was right there with me. Picture it. I’m sixteen years old, lying flat on my back on the floor, eyes closed, the LP Rubber Soul blaring from my record player and I am in teenage heaven.

It was the concert to end all concerts for me. A lifelong rock ‘n roll dream that I never really thought would come true. Shit like that didn’t happen to small-town girls raised in blue-collar neighborhoods from the middle of Nowhere Land. It just didn’t.

But there I was decades later grooving to one of my teenage idols. It was surreal.

It was equally surreal to be sitting in a ferry line-up and flipping through Instagram only to see a photo of my office wall come into my feed. The photo was taken by my youngest daughter (YD) with the caption “Shitty #ripprince #1999.” I immediately commented on her post with, “What?!”

In utter disbelief, I quickly typed #RIPPRINCE in the Instagram search bar. And sadly, post after post, photo after photo appeared with the same message. It rained purple tears.

I went to see Purple Rain with my oldest daughter (OD), the one who treated me to the Paul McCartney concert. She was six at the time. A bit young for a movie experience like that, I know. Please don’t judge. I’ve done plenty of self-condemnation over the past decades, so no need. I’ve taken care of that business for you.

But in my defense, feeble as my case may be, I was irrefutably out of my right mind at the time. I was freshly separated from my husband. My life was more than messy. It was a washout, a calamity of cataclysmic proportions. To say I wasn’t thinking clearly and not making the best decisions, would be putting it politely.

The thing was I loved Prince’s music and I thought he was beautiful and mysterious and sexy and an extraordinary musician. When Purple Rain came out in the summer of 1984, I really wanted to see it. We were living in Toronto. I was a newly minted single mother. I felt alone. Abandoned. Forsaken. Forgotten. And friendless. And by friendless, I mean no babysitter.

So I did what I thought was a good idea at the time. I took my not-yet-six-year-old daughter to see Purple Rain.

Over the years I have been plagued with guilt and have had many regrets about that decision. Questioned my sanity. Pondered the wisdom and prudence of my behavior. Lost sleep worrying that I had scarred her for life. Turned her into a music junkie. A lover of screaming guitar licks. Fostered a penchant for all-things purple. Inspired her to wear platform shoes.

Who knows what horrors I may have unleashed upon my innocent child that Saturday afternoon when we boarded the Dufferin Street bus and headed north to the Yorkdale Mall? No child, we were not going shopping. We were going to the movies. And not some run-of-the-mill bland Disney thing either. We were going to a cinematic and historic event. An epic musical phenomenon.

We were going to see Prince in Purple Rain.

The day after Prince died I texted my oldest daughter (OD) and asked her what she recalled of that movie-going experience and how it had affected her.

She texted the following:

“It was great to see Purple Rain as a kid. What stands out: the skinny-dipping scene and the fight he has with his father. Wanting to be on the back of his motorcycle. Jimmy Jam. How fun they were performing onstage.”

And then she texted this:

“I wouldn’t feel guilty. It was a good thing and a fond memory!”

Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t such a bad mother after all.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Know When to Take Off the Kid Gloves.

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Girl Warrior. Know when to take off the kid gloves. This comes with a warning, as it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Especially when it comes to our beloved tribe. And ourselves.

Our natural instinct is to be kind, loving, supportive and magnanimous of spirit. Our innate tendency is towards being nice, polite, agreeable and well behaved. We want to be liked. We don’t want to offend. Hurt someone’s feelings. Make another angry. Or worse yet, abandon us.

But at what cost Girl Warrior?

What do we lose by handling each other like Delicate Flowers? Does walking on eggshells really resolve issues? Is our skin really that thin? Are we so fragile that hearing the truth, and nothing but the truth, will break us? Is the fear that our authentic and genuine-selves is so unlovable that we’ll scare everyone away even those nearest and dearest?

No. None of this is true. We are not Delicate Flowers. We are not fragile, frail or feeble. Fear not. Have faith in yourself to speak from the wise and higher place within. And trust that the one hearing your words is there with you. Know that you are both strong enough to give and take a little tough talk.

Girl Warrior sometimes the most sensitive, kind and caring messages are the ones delivered when the kid gloves are off.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Ask and You Shall Receive.

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Girl Warrior. Ask and you shall receive. On the surface this is such a simple concept. Easy peasy pudding and pie. You know this. But do you really? Do you get it right down deep in your gut and marrow? The place where your truth lives, where the things that matter most take flight, where your greatness is born.

Understanding the brilliance and pixie dust of asking is a big game changer.

Take a moment Girl Warrior and imagine the life you want to manifest. Picture all the things you want to have or do or see – all the magnificent people you want to draw into your world, all the places your soul beckons, and all the personal and professional boundaries you want to bust through. Think about all those fantastical things you wish and hope for and go to sleep dreaming about.

Is the astonishing life you want achievable on your own? Probably not. We’re all on the Good Ship Lollipop together and we need each other. Big time. The help you seek may only be one question away.

What’s stopping you? Is it fear?

Are you fearful of your requests? Fearful of your desires, your needs and your intense yearnings. Fearful of your hunger and all the things in life that you crave, covet, lust and thirst for. Are you fearful that your requests will fall on mocking ears, scornful ears, or worse yet, deaf ears? That your impassioned appeals will go unanswered. Do you fear that your gorgeous tender heart will break from the silence, rage and fury that beats within?

Do you ask who is listening? Who will answer? You will never know Girl Warrior unless you have the courage to ask. And if you don’t ask, you won’t ever get.

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All photographs courtesy of Melissa Adams.

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: It’s Okay to Fail.

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Girl Warrior: It’s okay to fail. In fact, it’s okay to fail repeatedly. Over and over and over. It’s not the end of the world. Not a catastrophe. Nor a disaster. Never just plain bad luck. It can be quite the opposite, depending on your perspective.

Tweak the lens of your defeatist frame of mind and you will have the power to see things in a different light. Not the end, but the beginning. A mere setback, not game over. Adjust the setting on your viewpoint and you will begin to see the doors and windows of opportunity fling open wide. Just for you.

The catastrophe becomes your good fortune. A disaster leads to your unparalleled success. Bad luck turns into your most profound blessing. You get to experience the awesome wonder of Divine Grace. You get to hear the Heavenly Whisperer’s promise that failing does not make you a failure. It makes you beautifully human. It is simply grooming you to fulfill your Girl Warrior destiny.

Try. Try. And try again. With each attempt you are one step closer to achieving all of your hopes and dreams and wishes and everything your passionate heart desires. All that you crave and hunger and yearn for draws closer and closer. Everything is within reach and ultimately achievable if you are determined, tenacious, resolute, persevering, patient, unwavering, and above all else, unshakable. Be like the dog with a bone.

And know this Girl Warrior, that when you fail you are never alone. A loving, faithful and supportive tribe, who are your collective safety net, surrounds you. And you will always, always, always have a soft and safe place to land.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I Fell in Love.

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Decades ago

In another lifetime

I fell in love

With a beautiful young man.

 

We were barely adults

On the brink

Of becoming

All kinds of things

Beyond what we were

In that sliver of time

And he was my first big love.

 

All capital letters

BIG.

 

I fell hard and fast

I fell deep and wide

I fell

Hopelessly

Painfully

Tragically

In love with this boy-man.

 

When you fall like that

It can only end badly

And it did.

 

All capital letters

BAD.

 

Time and distance

The years pass quickly

But untold seconds

Slow the clock of the heart.

 

Still I think of him

Way more than

Reason or rationality

And good common sense

Dictate that I should.

 

Sometimes I think

It’s sweet that I do

But there are times

When I think it’s

Either bat-shit crazy

Or sadly heartbreaking.

 

All capital letters

SAD.