Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Life Flashes.

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Legend has it that when you die your life flashes before you. That may be true but since no one has ever lived to tell the tale, we’ll never really know for sure, will we?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Little thoughts have been coming to me when I’m meditating or out walking or when I’m in the shower. What I’ve been seeing in these moments of reflection is my life unreeling like a backwards upside-down inside-out movie. Not chronologically but episodically and completely random. Like watching Season 3 Episode 10 of something on Netflix one night and then jumping arbitrarily to Season 1 Episode 4 the next and then watching the finale of Season 6 right afterwards.

I’ll be sitting in my meditation chair all quiet and holy-like trying to remain focused on my mantra when my little mind starts to wander. And then before long the movie sequence of some snippet of my life starts to play. Like last week’s episode about the Toronto days at 402 Northcliffe Blvd. No big deal. Just a sweet little slice of domesticity unfolded that involved kids and bus rides to Yorkdale Mall that made me sad and left my heart pining. For what, I’m not even sure. Maybe I need a new pair of shoes and a good visit with my kids.

This movie re-wind thing can happen anywhere. During one of my morning walks with Coco a few weeks ago, a pair of Canada geese flew overhead. There is just something mournful about their honking call that makes my throat squeeze. Instantly I’m back in Northwestern Ontario. It’s autumn and the leaves are starting to turn. The air is growing crisp with winter on its edges. The large blue skies are dazzling as they start to shift into the next phase, a new season. The sunlight is moody and casts uneven shadows on the earth below, and it has lost its heat. I’m ten years old and I’m on my way to Algonquin Avenue Public School when overhead I hear them calling. Good-bye for now, see you in the spring. I look up. Wave discreetly. This movie fragment makes me weep. I cry for the entire walk. I’m grateful it’s early morning and there’s no one around to see or hear. Coco is deaf.

Tears come easily these days too. Everything is touching my heart. Not piercing. Just a gentle prod of confirmation that I’m still present. Still alive and feeling. Awake to the passage of time and the fleeting transitory evanescence of this thing called life. Here today, and tomorrow’s movie.

I wonder if this is how it actually goes. We wend our way backwards then forwards, and back again. Episode by random episode, season by scattered season until it all makes sense, tells the full story. The things we live and the things we remember, real-time and reel-time.

We press play and pause, rewind and replay. Nothing flashes.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Feel the Pain.

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Girl Warrior. Pain is inevitable. So feel it. Fully. Thoroughly. Exhaustively. Allow yourself to experience every little detail of the hurt you are experiencing. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Wring your emotions dry.

Purge. Cleanse. Release. Repeat.

There is no escaping pain. You can run but you cannot hide. It affects us all sooner or later. Like death, it happens to everyone and everything. Guaranteed. But unlike death, it doesn’t just happen once. And then boom. Lights out. Pain recurs. Also guaranteed.

But what isn’t guaranteed is your perspective. The way you think, feel, react, respond and behave when you’re suffering and in your darkest hour. You may not be able to control when something hurtful is going to come your way or cross your path. But you can control what you do when it does.

This isn’t easy. Your first impulse may be avoidance. Or denial. Or retreat. You may want to run like hell away from the source of your torment, if you can. Or pull the covers over your head. Bury it in the sand. Lock yourself away. Hold a pity party. Lash out. Make accusations. Lay blame. Threaten to harm yourself. Crush your psyche. Curse at your body or mind. Condemn their betrayal. Give up.

Do these things if you must. And there will be times when you need to do all or some of these things. Recovery, getting rid of the bad shit that happens, is a process. And it takes time to heal wounds. Whether it’s a broken arm or a broken heart. A sore knee or a sore spirit. An injured back or an injured mind.

But know Girl Warrior that eventually you have to face it all. Have a showdown with the pain. Feel it all. Surrender to it all. Accept that it is happening. Because the pain won’t leave you until you deal with it. One way or the other. Head-on works. So does a slow and gentle approach. Trust yourself. You actually already know what to do. The wisdom to guide you through this already abides within. Listen to your small quiet voice of truth. Know that all pain is temporary.

Girl Warrior, let this pain be one of your quintessential teachers. Learn. Grow. Forgive. Accept. Emerge. Move on.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Maria’s Chickens.

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I love my daily lunch-hour walks along the country road that leads to the Agency. It’s a sweet time of solitude, relaxation and physical activity. It’s also a walking meditation. For that reason alone, I do my best to incorporate these walks into my workday. And for a city girl, with a rural sedentary job, they are also a lifesaver.

There are many things that I have grown to love about these pastoral walks. Like the smell of fresh-cut hay. Or the magnificence of an eagle perched on the top branch of a Douglas fir. The admirable tenacity of the sheep and goats that feed non-stop in the meadows. The explicitness in the demanding calls of the ravens. The comic relief of the quails scurrying across the road in uniform perfection. The dear beautiful deer. The blackberry bushes that line the road and provide a sweet treat along the way. The two majestic horses always grazing in the buttercup field. The cuteness overload from the Cocker Spaniel rescue haven. The tranquil beauty of the horticulture center at the bend in the road. The canopied chip paths that lead into the dark woods. The fragrant smell in the air after a summer rain.

And then there are Maria’s hens. They are an absolutely fabulous flock of girls. They’re the Girl Warriors of Chickendom. I’ve gotten to know them (and their rooster) pretty well over the last 9 years. In reality they probably aren’t the original group I first met 9 years ago but to me, in my little fantasy world, they most certainly are. In my defense, I’ve read that well-raised chickens in backyard settings can live 8 to 10, even 20 years. So what the hell, they could be. Besides reality sucks anyway. And Maria’s chickens live an enviable idyllic blissful life. Things looks so good, I’ve even fantasized about hopping the fence and joining this little brood of sociable cluckers.

I adore these girls. Crazy admission perhaps. But I do. They’ve completely changed my perspective on this particular fowl. Although they have done nothing to improve my foul mouth, after 9 years I do have new and improved outlook, a birds-eye view perhaps. And I can say without hesitation that they are the highlight of my daily walks. They are an endless source of amusement, fascination, curiosity and delight. I am grateful for their unassuming presence along the road.

They are the reason I stopped eating chicken. This country walk, and a Paul McCartney concert in April, also inspired me to stop eating cows and pigs. I never have eaten lambs or goats or anything wild. But let me make something perfectly clear, I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan but I am heading towards that path. I get it. Plus, my love for animals is making it increasingly difficult to eat the flesh of another. I’m not saying it’s a better way, the right way; it’s just my way. Kind of like that Frank Sinatra song.

This week I’m especially thankful for the their eggs. Maria’s hens produce the best eggs along the road. Or so I’ve heard from the good folks who live along the road and have done taste tests. I have only eaten eggs from Maria’s girls. Why go elsewhere when you’ve already experienced perfection, I say.

Besides, I will not be disloyal to the Girl Warriors of Chickendom.

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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.

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone.

4 Kings on a Wall

This morning

While I was sitting here drinking coffee

In the silent stillness and stifling solitude

Of my writing space

My mind drifted lazily

Back

To when I was a young woman

And my two oldest kids were still my kids

The time of two cats in the yard

Where everything was loud and noisy

Gritty and grating at times.

 

I was obsessed

With cleaning up my messy life

Which was actually

A deliciously divine messy life

But I didn’t know it at the time.

 

You see

Back then I believed

My messy life wasn’t good

And certainly not

Interesting

Beautiful

Virtuous

Or worthy.

 

It didn’t fit

Into the glossy pages

Of a coffee-table magazine

I would never ever be

Wife or mother of the year

But oh how I longed

For that impossible

That implausible

That unattainable

Distinction.

 

I thought

So foolishly

It’s laughable now

That this messiness was a problem

This glorious domestic chaos

And magnificent uproarious thunder

Racket and tumult

This callow tender tackiness

Of everyday life

Was something to be fixed.

Aimee + Tom Xmas

Halloween Aimee the Crayon + glum Tom

Halloween Aimee the Crayon

Polaroid Pictures Mom + T + A

Polaroid Pictures T + A Xmas

Tom + Aimee + Oona + DeeDee in Orange Chair

Tom + Aimee + the TO Gang

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Tom + Aimee on the steps of 402 Northcliffe

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Surrender All.

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Girl Warrior. Surrender all. Let go of all the junk that litters your beautiful life. This includes everything. Externally and internally. Release all the things that break your heart, your mind and ultimately, your precious soul.

Change what you can. Clean house when you. Chuck out all the clutter wherever you can. Clear away as much of the chaos and confusion that is causing you stress and suffering, anguish and agony, distress and disease. Do all that is necessary to rid yourself of negativity. Say farewell to the three isms – cynicism, criticism and pessimism – in yourself, in others, in situations, and in circumstances.

Put on your fiercest boots and kick away. Stomp hard and stomp fast. Do what you have to, to set yourself free from these physical, emotional and spiritual crushers. But be warned Girl Warrior, this may also mean you have to say goodbye to some people, places, things and thinking. Yes, thinking. And this may not be easy. Loosening the grip, uncurling the fist, severing the tie is grueling work. But it is also gratifying.

Girl Warrior, now stand up and take a long hard look at your world, the one you have created. Is it as good as you can make it, at least for today? Have you done all you can? Given it your best shot? Tried the hardest you possibly could? If the answer is yes, then drop to your knees. Kiss the ground. Exhale fully and let it all go.

Then slip into sweet sweet surrender.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Peripheral Vision.

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When I’m driving,

The things I see in my peripheral vision frighten me.

More than anything I see square on,

Or right in front of my face.

These are the bugaboos that catch me off guard.

Seem to come out of nowhere,

And startle me.

 

My heart races.

Pulse quickens.

Sweat gathers on my brow.

 

On some level I’m always on the lookout.

My eyes scan the edges.

I take quick sideways glances.

Double takes.

Triple checks.

 

Then I squeeze the steering wheel,

And take a deep breath.

I exhale the fear out of my body,

And focus on the road ahead.

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