Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Open Your Heart Wide and Let in the Love.

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Girl Warrior. Go where your heart leads you. And don’t run from its softness. Let it be tender. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle. Extend your hand to another and grab on tight. Then let go. Therein lies your strength.

Love again. Then again. And again. You don’t have to get it right. Or perfect. Just let love come naturally. Accept that sometimes it will hurt. Don’t let this frighten you. Don’t push it away. Or turn your back. Don’t give up on it. Most importantly, learn to recognize love when it comes your way. It doesn’t always come gift-wrapped.

Your power to love is your secret weapon.

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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.

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.

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: I am a Couch Potato.

In front of my blue couch in my writing room.

I must confess.  I am a Couch Potato.  In my defense, I come by my CP status honestly.  Ma and The Old Man were also big CPs.  That was back in the day when this activity, or lack thereof, was considered an acceptable pastime.  Before there was an actual term for it.  Pre-guilt era.  Before I thought I should be making better use of my time.  By accomplishing stuff.  Getting things done.  Being a doer.  Not a layabout.  Back when it wasn’t synonymous with sloth.  Laziness.  Wasting time.  Or worse yet, my life.

There was a time when a potato was just a potato.  Mashed, baked or fried.  Served hot with vegetables and meat.  And a couch was just a couch.  A place to sit and put your feet up. Take it easy.  Stretch out.  Lie down.  Languish. Unwind and relax. Rest your weary bones.  Catch forty winks.  A little catnap.  Doze or fall into a deep sleep.

For the record, I like my potatoes mashed, baked or fried.  And I love couches for all the reasons I’ve just described.

Ma’s four kids on the maroon couch.

Little back story.  Ma loved couches long before I ever came into the picture.  We had more than a few during my life at 204.  But the first one had to have been my all-time favorite.  This seems to be the case with many “firsts” in life.  The benchmark for all that follows.  This particular first was a luxurious deep maroon embossed velvet, worthy of being called a “sofa.”  Comfy plush cushions with kid-sturdy wide arms and a head-resting back.  Designed for comfort and built to last.  It could accommodate a family of six easily.  Photographically perfect for portraits of children.  They just don’t make couches like that any more.

Ma asleep on the turquoise sectional.

After Ma’s mania for all things maroon passed, we moved into her turquoise phase of the sixties.  With that came the modern turquoise sectional, which Ma kept covered in plastic for the first year we had it.  This served not only to preserve the pristine newness of the couch but it also appeared to have been a peculiar part of the decorating trend of that era.  There was a spate of plastic covered furniture across the cities and towns of North America.  According to black and white photographic evidence, it seemed to be all the rage.  Why else would so much plastic have appeared in so many family photos?  What else could have accounted for this phenomenon? It was as much a part of the domestic decorating landscape as pole lamps and shag rugs.

Cuddle time on the brown couch with the floral coverlet.

After the plastic covered couch, there was the brown nylon ditty of the seventies.  Equally modern in style, and although not split in two, it did have a matching chair.  The plastic was replaced with fitted slip covers and loose coverlets.  First there was the brown and orange floral patterned coverlet with the fringed edge.  This was draped over the couch like an oversized table cloth.  It was awkward and never stayed properly tucked.  Ma replaced this with a snug fitting gold slip cover that almost looked like it was tailor-made for the couch.  Except when it shrank and no longer covered the cushions fully.

One year, my sister gave Ma a cozy harvest gold mohair throw that was perfect for snuggling under in the evenings, especially during the long cold winter months.  It also looked marvelous draped over the back of the gold slip-covered couch, adding a tone on tone decorative embellishment.  Practicality aside, the slipcovers and coverlets provided a fresh look without having to splurge on an entirely new couch.  Ma loved to experiment and change things up but we were not a family who could afford such whimsy.  So in typical Ma fashion she used her creativity to fill the gaps where her pocketbook was lacking.

Sleepy time on the brown couch with the gold slip cover.

At some point in the eighties Ma went “colonial” with her decorating scheme.  This meant everything had a casual country feel.  Veneer coffee and end tables were replaced with ones made of maple or pine.  The couch to match was large and tweedy.  Warm and earthy in orange, rust and brown. By this time Ma had fully embraced her “orange” period.  The floors were covered in wall to wall orange carpets and the front picture window was ablaze with orange flowered drapes.  Until then she had been dabbling with hints of orange in the coverlets.  But the eighties brought a full-on immersion into this joyous and ebullient color.  It was in this palette that she would remain until her dying day.  She was after all, a fiery and passionate Italian woman.

My niece cuddles with the cat on the tweed couch.

Regardless of the style, color or era, the purpose of these couches was always the same.  We were a family of loungers and languishers. Loafers and lollers. Sprawlers and slouchers.  And there was no better place for such a pleasurable pastime than Ma’s couch.  Nothing more welcoming and enjoyable than stretching out under a warm homey blanket, with the television six feet away broadcasting your favorite comedy or tear jerker.  And in our family the odds were, you’d be dozing off within minutes of the opening theme song. It was just the way we were. There we would remain. Sometimes we’d snooze for a few minutes.  Other times it was a few hours.  There was just something about Ma’s couches that induced sleep.  Something so deliciously reassuring and safe that sent us all off to La La Land. It didn’t matter if they were maroon or plastic covered turquoise.  Gold slip covered or orange tweed.  They all had the same affect.
No matter how long we’d been away. No matter how far we had ventured from 204.  Regardless of our age.  Child and grand child alike.  We all gravitated towards the couch.  Called dibs when it came time for bed during visits and holidays.  Everyone wanted to camp out on Ma’s couch.

The Old Man resting on the tweed colonial.

Years ago when I set up my first writing room in our home, one of the “must-haves” was a couch.  I wanted a private place to curl up and dream, sip tea, read novels, play my guitar, chat with a friend or take a snooze.  A comfy spot that was away from the rest of the household.  I not only wanted a room of my own, but a couch as well.  A big chair just wouldn’t do.  It had to be a couch.  It wasn’t just a piece of furniture after all.

My sanctuary.  My safe haven.  My hideout.  My shelter in the storm.  Ma’s cradling arms.

On the night after Ma died I sought refuge there.  The house had been full of people all day.  Our family had gathered to grieve and share memories.  We made frozen pizzas.  By seven o’clock that evening my head was pounding and my heart was aching.  I was raw.  Empty.  My soul was naked.  So I retreated.  Stole away from the chatter and tears to my safe place.  The couch in the little room of my own.  I crawled under the wool blanket and lay in the dark.  Everything was perfectly still.  My eyes were squeezed shut in pain. I listened to my heartbeat.  It was out of sync.

I wondered where Ma was.  I prayed that she was on an orange tweed couch sleeping peacefully under a mohair blanket.