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: 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

tom + aimee on bikes

Tom + Aimee on the steps of 402 Northcliffe

tom + aimee with cats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: A Writer’s Blessing.

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I walk my ginger cookie dog Rusty every morning in the hour just before dawn. It’s a sweet time. A gift from heaven.

Peaceful. Quiet. A writer’s blessing.

The hush before the alarms go off. The kettles plug in. Showers turn on. The Today Show announces another incomprehensible tragedy.

We walk the same circle route every morning. I’m a creature of habit. So is Rusty.

He likes to poop in the same spots. I carry white plastic grocery bags to scoop up after him. It’s all part of our daily dance.

This morning, 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 stopped and looked out at the glorious sunrise and thought how lovely and endless these days are. Filled with the promise of forever.

But they aren’t of course.

I thought of my mother. How this particular orange of the 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: Snapshot of Ma in the Driveway at 204.

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Ma stood in the driveway waiting for her sister Hazel to come and pick her up to go shopping at Intercity. I sat in the orange plaid swivel rocker and watched her from the living room window.

The sky was clear and blue and the snow was crisp and clean. The snow banks were so high on either side of the driveway entrance that they dwarfed Ma’s already small frame. She was wearing her gray fake fur coat. I don’t know what animal it was imitating. Her purse was draped across her chest. She wasn’t wearing a hat.

While she was waiting, she traced the snow in an arc with the toe of her boot. Like a windshield wiper. Back and forth. Every now and then she would pause and look down the street for my Auntie Hazel’s car.

Her cheeks were blushed red from the cold air and her dark eyes were so bright and alive. I had to remind myself that she was well into her seventies.

I will always remember her that way. The image of her at the end of the driveway, with the winter sun shining its pure radiant light on that particular spot, in that particular solitary moment, and on that particular woman, just for me to see. To bear witness.

And in that sacred, intimate and private moment, my heart was overflowing with tenderness. And love.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: 12 Ways to Bring Heart and Meaning to Your Work.

DSCN1378dI’m a lucky woman. I was born and raised in a small town in Northwestern Ontario at a time when career options were somewhat limited for women. Or more specifically, my vision for what I could be when I grew up was myopic. Salesgirl. Secretary. Teacher. Nurse. Wife. Mother. It was a time of women’s liberation and world transformation but we lagged behind in our town of early snows and sweltering summers. From that list, I chose Teacher, Secondary Level, with specialization in English and History. An honorable profession, but not for me, at least not back then.

Secretly, I had bigger dreams than the classroom could contain. Write novels. Tell stories. Spend my days in the presence of creative, imaginative and artistic folks. And oddly enough, to carry a satchel-style briefcase made of brown leather to work every day.

Through a series of fortunate events, that spanned the better part of a decade, I landed a job as a Junior Copywriter in a mid-sized boutique agency in Toronto. Thus began a career I never dreamed of but as it turns out was tailor-made for me.

Fast forward two decades to the West Coast to a small boutique agency nestled in the countryside where fields of green are dotted with sheep, horses, chickens and goats. It is here that I have found my place amongst some of the most talented and creative minds in Canada. It is here that I bring my heart for service, my teacher’s sensibility and a mother’s compassion and love.

I am a Production Manager.

I have had tons of on-the-job training and learning over the years. But so much of what I do professionally, and the way I work, my modus operandi, comes from my personal life and core values. There are so many, I could write a book, but here are a dozen things I’d like to share with you, in no particular order.

  1. Be kind and compassionate. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. The old adage is true. Imagine yourself in their shoes. Walk a mile in their moccasins or mukluks or Manolos. Seek understanding. Express genuine concern. Cultivate a magnanimous spirit.
  2. Treat everyone the same, from the courier to the CEO. Everyone is important and has value. Everyone has a meaningful role to play in your business. Be respectful and appreciative of what each person brings to the table, regardless of their title or station in life.
  3. See the good in everyone. It’s there. Truth is, you may have to dig deep to see it in some. While others it sits on the surface like a shiny penny. You have the power to bring out the best in everyone. But first you have to see it.
  4. Be generous with your praise. If someone says or does something you think is terrific or wonderful, remarkable or just plain nice, acknowledge it. Don’t be stingy in this area. Don’t withhold. Let your colleagues, associates and suppliers know how much you appreciate them and the work they do. Take pleasure in the accomplishments of others.
  5. Think of different ways to do things. Be innovative and creative in your approach to everything. This will add freshness to your daily routine. Be a Curious George. Say, “yes” to new opportunities and challenges, even if they scare you. Zig when everyone else is zagging.
  6. Have impeccable manners. There is no excuse for rudeness. Anywhere. Anytime. Treat everyone respectfully and politely. Please and thank you go a long way.
  7. Fear not and take risk. Fear kills creativity and it’s paralyzing. It’s that simple. Kick it to the curb every time it enters your heart, mind or spirit. Go out on a limb and extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. Don’t listen to the naysayers or the negative noise around you. Listen to the small quiet voice within that cheers you on and propels you to greater accomplishments. And if fear or insecurity does creep in, work with the confidence, faith and belief that others have in you. Remember why you were hired in the first place.
  8. Be of service and helpful. Look for all the ways you can make someone else’s job easier and more meaningful. Lighten their load. Lift their spirits. Be someone who can be counted on, trusted, relied upon, and the wind beneath the wings. The supporting actors always have the most interesting parts. Remember that.
  9. Be smart not a smart aleck. Be humble and gracious. Let your talent and brilliance speak for itself. It isn’t necessary to flaunt your credentials. There’s no need to show off or grandstand. Park your ego and let others shine. When you do, it’s remarkable how smart and wise your colleagues will find you.
  10. Extend grace in order to receive grace. We all make mistakes, for we are only human after all. First and foremost, be forgiving when someone makes a mistake, especially on your watch. Accept that things often go awry. Turn out wrong with disappointing results. Understand that unfortunate things happen, even with the best intentions, the best efforts, the best people on the project. Resist the urge to point fingers, assign blame or throw someone under the bus. Trust me, in situations like this, the people involved feel badly enough. Scolding an adult like you would a five-year old child is demoralizing and doesn’t accomplish anything. Nor does it move the conversation in the direction it needs to go.
  11. Recover quickly from mistakes. It’s not the end of the world. You’ll survive. This too shall pass. But first, own it and then move swiftly to repair things. And know this, in the end it’s not the mistake that anyone remembers but how it was dealt with. A bad resolution leaves a bitter taste that lingers in the air. Gather all your resources to help you to fix things. Remember, you are not alone. Most things that go wrong involve several people, all of whom could have prevented it from happening at some point along the process. So rally your troops. Fix it, extend your sincere apologies, learn from the experience, stop beating yourself up. And move on.
  12. Go for a walk at lunch. Take a break. Get out of the office or studio or plant or store, or wherever you spend your day. Leave. I go for a walk every day because that’s what I like to do. I love being outdoors, regardless of the weather or time of year. Walking changes my perspective and opens the window to more mindful ways of working. Helps me to see things differently, more clearly. Unclogs my brain, and possibly my arteries. It eases the stress, fosters problem solving, inspiration and new ideas. I often take an idea for a walk to see if it “has legs” or needs to be tossed. After twenty minutes on the road, I usually know. If walking isn’t your thing, then find something that is. But most importantly, remove yourself from the building. Make this a daily habit. It’s one of the healthiest and most productive things you can do in your day. It’s one of the keys to long-lasting and enduring success.