Monday, January 1, 2018

2017: Let's Break it Down!

Hello patient Blog Fans

I've signed onto my blogger account to recount this past year's events much like I did last year. It is with a heavy heart that I acknowledge that my blogging took a mighty dip last year. I have only 4 posts, and most of them involve my uterine situation. I'd say I will vow to blah blah blah...write more blah blah...but I just don't know if I can keep writing promises. Anyway, I can try. I have a project in mind for the coming the year and my blog will be a part of that project. But for now, it's time to go over the year that was 2017.

January 2017: It often feels like the years go by so fast, like everything happened feels like it just happened, which they do in some ways, but as I sit here in my living room thinking about the past year, I'm having trouble remembering January 2017 with a lot of clarity. At least the beginning of it anyway. The end of January was memorable because of an ice storm that hit our area of the country. It was an experience I hope to not repeat this year and not even necessarily for my sake. Losing power for three days wasn't terribly fun, but we had offerings from many generous friends to come over to their place and get warm or use their showers and so we survived it quite fine. It's the trees I worry about. There was so much damage that not all of it has been cleaned up. When you drive south, you can see the evidence of the storm in the still bent birch trees. There are homes around my neighbourhood that have trees, half broken, on the lawn. If we get another ice storm this year, well...I fear the compounded damage will be evident for years to come.

Our One Tree: It's much smaller now.
So basically when I think of last January, I think of ice.

February 2017: My birthday month. This month is usually a difficult one as it's one of the coldest of the year. I took my birthday off as I usually do and when I returned to work the next day, my cubicle was all decked out in Skeletor. It was delightful. I was not a He-Man fan when I was younger. Granted I wasn't the target audience but I just didn't get it, or enjoy it. What a fool I was! A fool! But thanks to Netflix, Sean and I started watching He-Man and I discovered that the best character on the show, by a huge margin, is Skeletor. He's so into evil that it's more like he doesn't have a choice but to live out his life as an evil being. He simply can't help it. He was born this way. He doesn't know how to be nice. He's sure footed and confident when it comes to being evil and frankly, it's inspiring. One of the best Skeletor quotes that I've heard to date is, "He-man, have you never considered doing anything evil?" See? This guy, he's the best!

To keep me inspired, I hung up a few pictures of him in my cubicle, much to the amusement of some of my team mates and so for my birthday, they added about 30 more Skeletor pictures to my area. I was still finding pictures of him on my desk things 10 months later.

Damn right I do!

So yes, when I think of February I think of Skeletor.

March 2017: Spring Break! Well, not really. The kids get a break the second week in March, at least a week before technical spring. (I say technical spring because the date on the calendar that announces, "Hey! Hey! Spring is here!" is not at all accurate for this part of the country. It's a lie! A lie I say!) And, for a break away from it all, Sorcha and I went to PEI. It's not far and it's pretty and it was REALLY cold. However, it was lovely. My bear is growing up so fast and it won't be long before she's out on her own. I truly treasure all the time we spend together.
I do NOT own this album.
I believe Sorcha's favourite part of the trip was trying to prevent me from going to every single kitchen store and listening to Neil Diamond on satellite radio until we heard the hit, "Heartlight": the oh, so moving ballad about boy and his wee alien friend who has a glowing heart that advertises his mood and whether or not he's alive. Adorable.

In all seriousness, we did have a nice time. So when I think of March, I think of Sorcha, and Neil Diamond.

April 2017: This month...well, Sean was in the play, "Peter Mitchell, Canada's Forgotten Father". It was a very good play about New Brunswick's role in Confederation. It was written by local writer and performer Shawn McCarthy in honour of Canada's 150 year anniversary. Originally, I too was in, but unfortunately had to back out of it due to health reasons. (see 3/4 of my 2016 posts for more details)

Sean (L), Tilley (R)
Since January, Sean had been growing a beard. I know, right? Big news.  I should have put it in my January memories. Ok, that was a bit sarcastic. He looks nice with a beard, but he was growing it for the role in the play as Sir Samuel Leonard Tilley.  Back in his day, Tilley didn't have a beard but he had AMAZING breezers. You know, mutton chops, side burns; whatever you're comfortable calling them. So, when the big day arrived, Sean shaved the beard into his delightfully large breezers. He fluffed then out and ended up looking so much like Leonard Tilley that it was a little frightening.

I'm sure there were was more memories from this month, but honestly, I'm having trouble recalling April.

So, when I think about April, the top memory is  "The Tilley Breezers".

May 2017: So...this will be short. When I think of May, I think, Hysterectomy. End of passage.

'Nuff said!

June 2017: Sorcha finished up grade 10 and did very well on her exams. Sean got to reprise The Tilley Breezers again, but this time not in Miramichi, but on the Playhouse stage in Fredericton. I spent a lot time resting and recovering from my surgery. It was quite a nice month, really...even with the recovering. I did very little and when I did things, I did them very slowly. Also, I wrote a couple songs that I am particularly proud of.



July 2017: I...somewhat reluctantly, returned to work. It was rough. So...positive note? I felt great. It was wonderful no longer being at the mercy of my uterus.

AND, this is the month that I became completely obsessed with My Chemical Romance.
Welcome to the Black Parade
You know, the sometimes EMO/punk/ rock band that broke up in 2013? I also got into comics thanks to the lead singer of the broken up 4 years before, MCR, Gerard Way. I started listening to their album, Danger Days, after Sorcha bought it earlier in the year, but I didn't become a super fan until July.Now, I don't want to get into this new obsession too much because I will sound crazy, but I will ask ask aloud, what cave was I in when they were at their peak? They were very popular and yet, I barely knew they existed until 2017! However, I now celebrate their entire catalogue and listen to them A LOT.

Coming soon to Netflix!
I also celebrate Gerard Way's entire comic catalogue meaning ones he has written (Umbrella Academy, The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, Doom Patrol) and  the ones he's curated. For those of you who are into comics and care, Gerard Way  started and is in charge of The Young Animal line at DC Comics. I strongly advise you check this line of comics out if you're into a style of comic that is not at all mainstream. Ok, I'll stop now. Starting to sound like a creepy fan girl.

So, when I think of July, I think of My Chemical Romance, Comics, and Gerard Way...sorry honey.

August 2017: This month was the beginning of a busy travel season for the Rules.

Family hanging out with Sir John A.
We took some vacation time at the end of the month and went over to PEI to visit with Sean's sister and her family. They rented a lovely cottage not far from Charlottetown and we had an enjoyable 2 days with them. After that we ventured to Sydney, Nova Scotia where we'd never been. It's very pretty and we stayed right downtown.

Large Cindy with Fiddle
We saw the big fiddle, took many walks around town, bought LOTS of books, and discovered a GIANT mural of our friend Frank on the back of a newly renovated you do. We also went to an absolutely beautiful contemporary dance show with Frank and Jennie. It was very moving. I cried...a lot...I do that.
Mr. McKibbon

We also visited Fortress Louisbourg. It's pretty cool and really interesting but, after I while I got historical buildinged out and so took advantage of the historical benches while Sorcha and Sean took a look at more historical houses. I also enjoyed sightings of historical geese and historical chickens.

So, when I think of August, I think East Coast Road Trip.

September 2017: and the start of grade 11. Sorcha began her second to last year of high school. Gulp. Too fast...too fast.

And we went on family trip number two to Hal-Con; Halifax's awesome version of Comic Con. This is the event that we attempted to go to 4 years previous, but due to over selling of weekend passes, we actually never made it in as the fire chief kicked everyone out. This time we successfully made it in and had a blast! Sorcha had worked on her cosplay outfits all summer and I, for a few weeks. We each had 3 outfits, all very different. Sorcha dressed up as a cartoon character called Star, a character named Metaton from a video game, and Gerard Way (Ya! She likes him too! It's not just me!) as his Danger Days character, Party Poison. She received many enthusiastic responses and picture requests.

As for myself, I picked a  theme for my cosplay and the theme was "Characters with Glasses". I really need my glasses to, you know, see and so picked 3 characters who sport specs. Yes, I could have gone as anyone and put my glasses on, but it just didn't feel right.

Dalek meets Grunkle Stan
So, I went as Milhouse's Mom, Luann Van Houten from the Simpsons (Crickets. No one asked me who I was and I received confused looks), Grunkle Stan from Gravity Falls (Awesome response from fans) and Mable Pines from Gravity Falls when she is dressed up as Boss Mabel...the only time she is wearing glasses (A couple people knew who I was).
Jim and Mitch.

 It was a great weekend. We went to panels, and got to meet Bobby (Jim Beaver) from Supernatural and Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) from X-Files / Samuel from Supernatural.
Went to a dance where, as background visuals, they played the Star Wars Holiday Special. It was painful. No, I couldn't hear it, but it was still on of the worst things I've ever unintentionally seen and have avoided for years. No offense to super, die hard Star Wars fans, but wow. It hurt.

We also met some really inspiring writers like Ryan North (writes Squirrel Girl and more) and Conor McCreery (writes Kill Shakespeare and more) and artists like Gerhard (artist for Cerebus the Aardvark and more ) and John Kovalic (illustrator for Apples to Apples and many Muchkin games and more) and we caught up with friends we hadn't seen for a while. It was a really fun weekend and we hope to go in 2018 too!

And not long after we returned from Hal-Con, Sean and I were off to Stratford, Ontario, but I'll talk about that more in my October rememberings.

So, when I think of September, I think of Hal-Con.

October 2017: This month was full of ups and downs. A very big up is that Sean and I celebrated our 20th anniversary on October 3rd.
Festival Theatre, Stratford, ON.
Our celebration started in Stratford, Ontario, where we attended 3 plays at the Stratford Festival, and then continued to Niagara-On-The-Lake, where we attended 2 plays at the Shaw Festival. See, Sean and I met in theatre school and had always wanted to go to the Stratford Festival, so this was all very fitting. Both towns were beautiful, all the plays were wonderful, both B&B's we stayed at were comfortable, clean and accommodating. (The Legacy House in Stratford and Bruce Manor in NOTL)

Celebrating 20 years in Style.

We ate at some lovely restaurants, went to Niagara Falls on our anniversary, visited with family, and met some really interesting people along the way. It was a beautiful way to celebrate our 20 years, so far, together.

However, as happens in life, even when things are at their best, something tragic can happen right in the middle of it. While we were away, a very dear friend of ours, Lloyd Cameron died. It was awful. He was a wonderful man who loved art, travel, and wine, his family and friends, and being a life long educator. His passing has left a huge hole in our community. Not being from this part of Canada, I did not have the privilege of having Lloyd as a teacher in high school, but I was fortunate enough to work with him on 4 plays since 2014. I will miss working with him and I will miss his energy and enthusiasm for theatre. He brought out the best in people, made them raise their bars a little higher than they thought possible, and he was also encouraging even at times when you felt at your worst.
 A Lantern for Lloyd.

At Lloyd's funeral Reverend Charlene asked us to take a moment to think about our favourite moment with Lloyd. I didn't have to think that hard. My mind immediately went to our second night of performing "Waiting for the Parade" back in November 2016. My character, Janet, had to play the opening of "God Save the King" (it took place in WWII so yes, it was King) and just as I began my brain suddenly reminded me that 200 people, including my parents, were watching me play the piano (something I never did for anyone) and I screwed up. The chords came out wrong. My hands wouldn't stop shaking. It was very messy. I turned to the audience and said, in character, "You know, we're going to try that again". I put my hands back on the piano and played a few more chords that didn't belong to the song I was trying to play and decided screw it, let's get on with my monologue. I got up an announced, "Well, that was supposed to be..." and went from there.

Taken at the Shaw Festival.
Once my scene was over, and I got back stage, I mentally punched myself in the face, and may have said a few choice words. I was devastated and embarrassed and felt like I'd let everyone down. Apparently, this was not the case. At intermission, Lloyd came back to congratulate us on a good first act. I apologized for my mistake and he smiled and hugged me and said it was fine.  He said that no one had noticed. I didn't entirely believe that, but the next night, Lloyd told me that at a party he'd been to after the show the night before, there was debate about that moment. Half the people there thought it was on purpose, and the other half figured it was a mistake. Lloyd didn't tell them which is was and thought the debate was so interesting that he asked if I could do it again; purposely play the song wrong. I said that I'd prefer to play it properly if at all possible, but I was deeply moved. Here I had been at a very low point, I'd made a huge mistake, in front of a sizeable crowd and because I'd carried on, Lloyd thought it was wonderful and was proud of me.

That is my favourite personal memory of Lloyd because it shows the kind of man he was. He wasn't about perfection. He honestly was about doing your best or, when you need to, making the best of perhaps a bad situation because that, in a nutshell, is life.

Fall Out Boy Concert with Sorcha.
And as a quick side note, at the end of October my bear turned 16! We celebrated with a quick trip to Toronto where we visited friends, went to see Fall Out Boy, went up the CN Tower at night and where we received a very special, personalized video greeting from the incredible and much beloved Canadian TV personality, Rick Mercer.

So, as hard as this month was, when I think of October, I think of life: the beautiful and the tragic.

November and December 2017: I'll wrap these last 2 months up quickly. They were full of ups and some very low downs for many reasons. However, the highlights include:

- Our Words on Water Event at the Rodd, honouring many local veterans.

- Eyes on the Steeple: A really fun play I was involved in to help raise money to get the steeple off  lawn of St. Patrick's church in Nelson, NB and back onto the church.

- Completing the November National Writing Month where I finally took the time to write about our 2015 trip to London, UK.

- Finally getting the change I desperately needed at my job.

- Being involved in a tribute to Lloyd.

- Celebrating the holidays with family and friends.

- Finding real joy in a very up and down year.

Happy New Year!

So, when I think of November and December, I think about happiness.

 And when I think about 2017, I think about how grateful I am for all that I have and all that I am able to do.

My best to you all.

And here's to 2018.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sometimes, you really don't know what you got 'til its gone

Hello All!

Let's begin this post with a picture.

There. Now the stage is set. 

Tomorrow marks 7 weeks since my hysterectomy. A few days ago I had my post-op, hey how you doin', follow up. After my Dr. asked me how everything was and if I was feeling good, she said, 

"So, we did a biopsy (of my uterus)."

"Oh, ok." ( I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they did this, but I hadn't really thought about it so it was)

"AND," pause, "You had massive amounts of fibroids!"

I followed this up with a blank stare and some shocked silence. Eventually I said, "What? Really?"

"Yes, that was a surprise!" said my Dr. with real honestly and strangely over the top enthusiasm.

"So, I had fibroids and andenomyosis?"

She glanced at my file, "No, just fibroids."

After few more seconds of trying to take my new diagnosis in, she said something along the lines of fibroids, the kind I'd had, presenting very similar to andenomyosis and that it can be very hard to diagnose. Well, clearly, or not clearly as turned out to be the case, it was a misdiagnosis. After all, she had been sure that I didn't have fibroids. During my appointment in November 2016, she had said that all the bits of things in the muscle of my uterus were most definitely andeomyosis, not fibroids.

So, I'd run with that. I took that condition on. I researched it, joined a group, wrote posts about it, got along with most of the symptoms of adenomyosis AND THEN, turns out I didn't have it at all.

I don't know why, but I felt like a fraud. It was like I'd run around telling everyone that I believed Batman was real guy, and had convinced other people that he was a real guy, only to find out that he wasn't a real guy and I should never have believed in Batman. (Don't worry...I don't really think Batman is a real guy. Or do I?) I was shaken by the misdiagnosis to the point where, by the time I got in the car, after she released me from ever having to see a gyno again (unless my ovaries go nuts), I was half crying, half laughing. 

When I got home I looked up fibroids, and the type of fibroids I had (Intramural fibroids if you're curious.), all the symptoms were spot on with adenomyosis. As well, the only for definite sure-ies way to get rid of them was a hysterectomy. So while I don't regret having the hysterectomy, I truly do wonder if I would have waited longer, or if I would have tried a different treatment approach before saying yes to a hysterectomy. I was left with a feeling of, not regret, but a touch of frustration that my decision to have surgery was based on a condition that I didn't even have. 

In the end, when it's all said and done, I'm feeling MUCH better than I did before my surgery. I probably would have made the same decision since my time of the month was taking up most of my month, my social life, my energy, my well being.

Besides, what can I really do about it? I've had the hysterectomy. My abnormally large uterus that commanded respect, like Batman, is but a legend. I guessing  I really would have just liked knowing the real state of things instead of finding out what I got until after it was gone.

Let's end with a short video.

Until next time,

Monday, June 5, 2017

Post-Op Post

A week ago at this time I was somewhere between naps. Currently I’m trying to find the right words to describe surgery, my short stay at the hospital and my on-going recovery.

What can I say really? I went into the hospital on May 29, 2017 with a uterus and came home on May 30, 2017 without one. I assume by now it's been incinerated and tiny particles of my uterus are now part of a cloud and will soon rain down on strangers in a distant land.

Or on friends and family here in Canada...sorry about that.

If you read my post about my diagnosis of adenomyosis you already know that previous to my hysterectomy I was the owner of an abnormally large uterus, a fact that my gynaecologist/surgeon reminded me of not once, not twice, but three times during my time at the hospital. 

When we were having our pre-op chat she asked me, much as she had at my appointment in February, if we had discussed Mirena, a type of IUD. I said yes we had but that she had said it wouldn’t work for me because my uterus was too large. After a quick scan at my chart she said, “Oh yes that’s right. It is very large and quite wide. The poor Mirena would be lost up there and wonder what it was doing in this monster.”

In our post-op, hey you can go home now chat, she said everything went well, but that they'd discovered I did indeed have fibroids as well as adenomyosis and that my uterus was (emphatic hand gesture) "quite large". (I didn't ask for details, or if they'd had to use a truck and cable to get it out. I just nodded and smiled.)

And now here I sit, or rather recline on my bed like a lady of leisure in my room, without my monster -sized uterus, contemplating my recovery. Aside from a bit of pain, mild discomfort, and times of fatigue I feel okay. I have a month off work and I really hope to make the most of it. Over the last year and a half my life has been interrupted more than once by my condition. I have said no to many things, events and people that enrich my life. I have turned down roles in plays, dinner dates and phone calls with friends, put off writing stories and playing music because I was in pain or tired or had simply run out creative energy. I truly hope to get my life back to where I want it to be.

I want to write more, act more, play more. 

I want to be more than I am right now.

That’s a lot of pressure isn’t it, Cindy? Yes, you are right. It really is. A few weeks ago, I asked my husband what happens if I don’t live up to the freedom of not having a uterus. He just shook his head and asked, “Who is putting this pressure on you?”

“Nobody but me.”  I said.

If I go back to work not having done anything except finish all of Silicon Valley or read two or three books or sat on my front deck and watch the clouds drift by will I have failed my new-found freedom? Or will I simply taken that freedom and used it to give myself a break from feeling like I always should be accomplishing something?

Or worse, what if I really don’t have anything to say, to write about, to learn on the ukulele that hasn’t already been done by 1000 other people and I no longer have an abnormally large uterus to hide behind and use as an excuse to not do anything? What if this is it? My creative drive has actually dried up and I may as well get used to my future accomplishments being things like catching up on Suits. (which is a great show! I mean no disrespect!)

However, I know I'm just being silly. That last paragraph was self-indulgent nonsense. While in the next month I may not write an epic saga or become an expert on the ukulele I know that my purpose here and now, no matter how big or small the project, is to be creative. It is the force that drives me. My new-found freedom and need to be creative is not new-found at all. 

It’s just been hiding for a while behind an abnormally large monster.

The best to you,
Cin: Now uterus free.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Massive Hysteria

I don’t mean to brag but, I have an abnormally large uterus.

Or at least that’s what my gynaecologist told me last November as she studied with, dare I say, intense awe at my uterine ultra sound scans.

It’s hard to know how to respond to a statement like that. And she said it not once, but twice!  Emphatically, along with “It’s huge! And very chunky!”

Instead of saying, “Oh go on with you! I’ll bet you say that to all the girls!” I just said, “Okay…"

The inspection of my scans continued in between glances at my file and explanations of what I didn’t have.

“You do not have fibroids!”

Back to my file.

“Your ovaries are fine!”

Back to my scans.

“You had an endometrial biopsy! Who gave you that?”

Back to my file.

“You have…”

Back to my scans.


“What is that?”  I asked. The word meant nothing to me except that it sort of sounded like endometriosis and as it turns out, sort of is like endometriosis. You see, while endometriosis is when the endometrial tissue grows outside the uterus in all sorts of places, adenomyosis is when the endometrial tissue, instead of just growing in the uterus like good endometrial tissue is suppose to, grows in the muscle of the uterus. So, every month, when my uterus gets rid of the tissue in its painfully dramatic fashion, it also gets rid of the endometrial tissue in the muscle of my uterus.

While I listened to my gynaechologist give me the story of adenomyosis and all the issues that come with it, my symptoms suddenly made perfect sense and I was flooded with relief. I wasn’t crazy! It’s not all in my head! My pain is real and I have good reason to feel miserable a great deal of the time!

After the explanation she immediately launched into a talk about treatments. They were four-fold.

“One! You could have an ablation, but I would not recommend it (didn’t she just do that?). It won’t work and you will come back to me saying you’re in more pain!”

“Two! You could get an IUD that would release progesterone into your uterus thereby slowing the bleeding! But, in a uterus of your size (thanks?) I wouldn’t recommend it.”

“Three! We could try pain management with a stronger pain killer and continued use of Tranexamic Acid to slow the bleeding.” (You know, the stuff they prescribe to people after they’ve had dental surgery? To stop the bleeding?)

“Four! A partial hysterectomy. What would you like to do?”

I sat quietly for a few seconds, mulling over my situation and the four, but really two, options laid out before me.

“Um…” I said, “Let’s try pain management first and then if that doesn’t work…a hysterectomy?”

“Ok!” she said as grabbed her prescription pad and started writing. "I'll prescribe enough for three months and then you can come back in for a follow up."

I thanked her very much but before I left I needed to have a peek at my scans. I leaned over her desk to get a good look at my large, chunky uterus. The endometrial tissue was all over it, peppering the entire surface. It looked like a constellation with a concentration of stars in the top left corner of my uterus. I pointed that area out to her and said a lot of my pain seemed to be focused right there.

She said, “Well yes! Look at it! This area…”and with a gesture akin to jazz hands she exclaimed, “This area commands respect!”

I did not laugh. I did not say, “Damn right it does!” but smiled because it was one of the best things, regarding my physical self, that I’d ever heard.

And now, here I am on my 44th birthday. Last week, after three months of not so much pain management as much as learning that stronger meds don’t really help, and my life is still being interrupted by being bouts of stabbing pain, I’ve decided to have a hysterectomy. I am nervous, but I know, once it’s all said and done, I will feel a whole lot better.

And I will look back fondly at the girl who once had an abnormally large uterus that commanded respect.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

2016: Let's Break It Down!

Hello Everyone and Welcome to 2017! I right?

Yes, sir before the clock struck 12 last night, a lot of people said they would be very pleased to see the back end of 2016. Once midnight hit they let out a soul wrenching “Happy New Year”, or texted a meaningful “Happy New Year”, or screamed nonsense to the night gods and swore they will never drink again and please for the love of all that’s holy, do not move me from this snow bank. You know, normal new years stuff.

 And then, after the cheering faded away, and the attempted singing of Old Lang Syne lost its luster, they let out deep sigh of relief that 2016 was over and now hope with every fiber of their being that 2017 will be grand.

 2016...not the best year, but was it as horrible as some people are saying? All years have tragedy, heartache, events that make us shake our heads. Every year we all go through a myriad of ups and downs with both the world and in our own lives. Every year we look at each other and ask, “Gah! When will this year end?” or say, “Fast the way the old year passes, fa la la la la”, and yet, when we think about last January, it’s hard to remember what we did, or what happened in the world. A year is a long time. Good things will happen. Bad things will happen. Events you planned, will come to fruition. Happenstances that you never thought would happen, will happen. People you thought were funky keen on January 1st could quite possibly be your enemy come December 31st. (It’s good to have goals right out the gate.)

Well, whatever the reasons, I’m not going to dwell on the negative. A lot of sadness occurred, and events that I refuse to talk about because they send me into a white-hot rage took place. In my personal work bubble, I’m just going to say that I, and most of my co-workers, have found this year to be somewhat challenging. We all hope that work wise, 2017 will not be a repeat of 2016.

So, in celebration of hope, I’m going to go through my year and list positive happenings from every month. This is for me, mainly, but I join you to stick around and share in my reflection of 2016, the year many people were itching to say goodbye to.

January: I’ve got my calendar beside me, the big one we keep in the kitchen with all our what’s happenings on it…And…wow, the memories are foggy. OH, a lovely man who has now directed me 4 times asked me to be in 2 plays this year. That was very flattering and I was happy to accept.

February: Oh boy…ok, not going to lie…this was a dark month. I’m struggling here. Right, on February 7th I went crazy and bought tickets for myself, my daughter Sorcha and her friend Cas for a Supernatural (as in the TV show) Convention. It was happening in October in Toronto. It was something to look forward to.

March: I had a couple days off to myself, but they weren’t supposed to be. They were supposed to be spent with my daughter, during March break, but March break turned out to be the week after. This may seem mean to be happy to have time alone, but sometimes you just have to binge watch something silly to feel that all is right with the world.

April:  On April 15th, I went to a play that had many people in it that I like and have worked with before, but this one was extra special because my husband was in it. Sean and I met in college in a drama program and we worked together in and out of school a lot, but the last time Sean had been on stage was almost 20 years before. I was so proud of him and I’m excited because this we get to be in a play together.

May: Through the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick, I received an honourary mention for a short story I’d written called, “Falling Into”. I’m very proud of this story, but honestly, I wrote it to get rid of some demons and wasn't sure if anyone else would connect with the tale of a young lady who wakes up one morning to find that her spine, her metaphorical spine, has left her to go do all the things she doesn’t have the courage to do.

June: At work, I took the plunge and joined a particularly challenging team. It almost broke me, and I only lasted 8 weeks, but I learned a lot and don’t regret it. It may be strange to find something that brought a HUGE amount of bone crushing stress to my life to be somewhat positive, but it was. I won’t do it again. Don’t make me go back, but it was.

July: Very good friends of ours from Toronto came to visit for a weekend. They are some of our favorite people and always bring happiness and good vibes into our lives. It was lovely. Also, Sorcha and I took an overnight trip to Moncton to spend time with great people. These friends are always a breath of fresh air and it’s always nice to spend time with them.

August: This is the month my year got better and it was in large part to going on a road trip around the east coast with one of my oldest and dearest friends. It was exactly what I needed to break from a lot of the stress chains that were preventing me from seeing how much good I have in my life. I can’t thank Kim enough for that trip. It was beautiful.

September: Sean and I had a getaway to St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We went whale watching, ate at some great restaurants, stayed at a beautiful spot, saw a friend I hadn’t seen in a few years and bought 2 of her beautiful paintings. If you’ve never been to St. Andrews drop what you’re doing and go now. You won’t regret it.

October: This month is usually our best month of the year and once again, it did not disappoint. I could go on and on about our trip to Toronto for the Supernatural Convention, but in brief I'll say it was an incredible experience. Not only was the convention itself a great time, but we had perfect weather, saw lots of good friends, and went to the Royal Ontario Museum. It was an exhausting, but highly memorable and exciting 5 days.

November: This was the month of plays. Both my daughter and I were involved in productions and they went up only a week apart. The play she was in, “The Lion King”, was an absolute joy. All the cast and crew worked so hard to put on this much beloved musical.  It was beautiful and I was, and am, so proud of all of them.

The play I was in, “Waiting for the Parade” was on of the best plays I’ve been in. It was perfectly written, with well developed characters and it was a challenge I needed in my creative life. I’ve been playing around on the piano since I could sit at one. I took lessons off and on in my teens, but had only played publicly once. (I was 14, it was a recital, I'm sorry Anne Murray for butchering one of your tunes.) In the play, my character played the piano and sang and ordered people around all at the same time. I was nervous, and thought I'd maybe taken too much on,  but after I enlisted the help of the very talented and inspirational Margaret Craig, my confidence grew and I did it; I played the piano on stage, in front of people, and survived. Not only that, I screwed up, big time one night, and survived. And while I did a bit of...ok a lot of...ego beating back stage, once I’d settled down, I felt prouder of myself than I’ve possibly ever felt. I'd messed up in front of a live audience, I'd had to quickly find a way out of it, not melt down and stay in character. It was an actor’s nightmare and I lived it in front of 200 people and pulled through. What's that universe? Why yes, I'll take that high five. Thank-you.

And finally,

December: A look at our calendar shows that the Rule’s were a social bunch! It was month of dinners, phone calls to loved ones, parties and long chats with great friends. Last night, New Year’s Eve was full of laughter and absolute silliness, a perfect ending to any year!

Other events, unfortunately trying ones, peppered our year and gave it a hue of stress that made for some tough times. My Mum suffered an injury so severe last February that we weren’t sure if she’d ever be able to walk properly again, but she healed and overcame a lot of odds. She’s a pillar of strength and I admire her beyond words. My job is beyond crazy, but I made it. I’m still standing and come January 3, 2017 I’ll be back at my desk, working away, hoping things will get better. My daughter has had her ups and downs too and Sean, but we’re a close family and we stick together. We have each others backs. We’re each others rocks.

Strong family, wonderful friends, good fortune and a happy home. We had them at the beginning of 2016 and we still have them now.

So while for some 2016 was a year to forget, it gave us a lot to remember and to cherish. I right? It was a pretty good year.


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Long Road of Memories

Me, Cynthia, Liza, and Kim: June 1988

Almost 30 years. That's how long we've known each other. Of whom do I speak? Well, I'll tell you.

 In September 1987 I started grade nine. We had just moved to Ottawa, I didn't know a soul, and my new school had close to 2000 kids. My grade nine class alone, had close to 900 kids; more kids than were at the junior high school I'd left behind in Victoria.

I floundered through my first day in a sweaty haze, never quite shedding the embarrassment of having my book bag on the lap of a  boy I didn't know for the bus ride to school. ( My bus was crazy full. 3 kids per seat, and those of us at the last stop, in the aisle. My bag had no choice but to cozy up to a stranger.)

I remember sitting on the front step of the school at lunch time, not being able to eat  because of the ever tightening knot in my stomach and wishing I was anywhere but there. Most of the kids had at least had tour of the school before they'd started, knew at least one other person, but I was hopelessly alone and often that day, completely figuratively and literally,  lost. It would have gone down as one of my worst days if it hadn't been for Liza.

After school both she and I stood outside the entrance closest to the office. She looked nice, and like me, lost. We started chatting, wondering out loud really, where on earth we went to catch the buses home. Through a series of quick questions, I discovered that like me, she was new to Ottawa and knew no one. I immediately clung to her like a life raft and desperate not to have my second day be like my first, asked her if we could hang out the next day.

As we made our way to where we thought the school buses might be, we saw Cynthia. She was in striped pink top and leaning on a wall. Liza introduced us. She and Cynthia were both a year older than me and had met in few classes earlier that day. Like Liza and I, Cynthia was new and knew no one.

We three then walked until we found the buses and that's where Liza introduced me to Kim. She was in grade nine, like me, but not new. However, she and Liza were on the same bus and became fast friends and often during my grade nine year, she would hang around with Liza, Cynthia, and I.  Come the next year, Cynthia and Liza moved, and Kim and I started to hang out on a regular basis.

So, why am I telling you this? Well the reason I'm sharing this tale is because high school is crazy. Friends come, friends go, friends become enemies one minute, best friends the next. I've stayed in touch with a few people from high school days and these three girls, the first people I became friends with on my first day of school almost 30 years ago are still in my life. They are still my friends.

Liza, I've not seen since 1990 and we had a gap of many years where we weren't in touch, but when I reconnected with her through social media 10 years ago, anyone listening to our long overdue phone conversation would never know it had been at least 10 years since we'd spoken.

Cynthia and I see each other every couple years. Her wonderful and talented daughter Kylah is my Goddaughter. When Cyn and I meet up, we fall right back into our friendship as if we lived next door to each other.

Kim is a world traveler. She comes back to Canada every few years but mostly lives abroad and travels more than anyone I know. She stays in touch though. Christmas cards and emails, visits here and there, including an amazing meet up in London, UK last fall.

And tomorrow, the two of us are going on a road trip. Kim is flying in from Ottawa and we are heading to PEI. Ever since she was very young, Kim has been an Anne of Green Gables fan. Red headed and spirited like Anne, Kim read all the books, collected souvenirs , and has an autographed picture from Megan Fallows, the actress who portrayed Anne in the mini series from the late 1980's, BUT she has never been to PEI. I've said to Kim, "I have picture in my hallway of you with a camel, standing in a desert in India. I can't believe you've never been to PEI."

To commemorate this occasion, to celebrate our friendship, I'm calling this the, "We've known each other for almost 30 years East Coast road trip." I'm beyond excited to share with my lovely friend the joys of the east coast, to be witness to watching her see places she's never seen, just as she watched me meet London and what in had to offer last October. It will be a week making memories with someone who has already been a part of so much of my life and I couldn't be happier.

And Liza and Cynthia? You're coming too.

Who's ready for a road trip??

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Kim Fletcher, your Birthday Blog Post is Ready!

   Just over a week ago I had a nice, long, catch up chat with my good friend Kim. It had been a substantial amount of time since we'd talked, but like I knew it would be, it was fine; exactly as if we'd never skipped a day without talking to each other. It's a comfort, a constant, and I never take that kind of connection for granted.

   In the middle of our call Kim said, "I graduated from high school 25 years ago today." I responded with, "Wow, you're right. That means 25 years ago at this time I was traveling back to Victoria with my family." Kim then said, "That means that we've been friends for almost 25 years."

   When I moved back to Victoria after living in Ottawa for 4 years everything had changed. My friends had grown up, some of my friends had grown apart, and many of my friends had grown away from me. I was adrift in sea of awkward circumstance that honestly, I had never considered would be a possibility. I had assumed that everyone would be so excited to see me! That people I'd known since I was 5 and professed to have missed me in the letters I'd received over the 4 years would be happy I was back.

   This was not the case. They were pleased to see me at first, but then, they weren't. No one was mean, no one was cruel. We just didn't fit anymore and it was with a very heavy heart that I began the second chapter of my life in my home town. Everyone had made plans for their future, but I wasn't in them.

   Everyone that is except for Wendy. We'd stayed close during my stint in the nation's capital and while I was a bit chocked when I found out she was going to go to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby instead of going to University of Victoria with me, our friendship remained intact. And before she headed across the Juan de Fuca straight she gave me a great gift: Kim.

   Kim and Wendy had become close friends in high school. Before I moved back to Victoria I'd heard about her from Wendy. I was a bit, not going to lie, jealous of this Kim as she'd been the special friend who'd got to experience the ups and downs of high school with Wendy while I only got to hear about it letters and late night phone calls.

There's  lot of hair in this picture...
   However, when I finally met this Kim at the movies (Beauty and the Beast) in August, a couple weeks before University started, all my jealousy melted. I liked her immediately. She was fun, smart, and kind. Plus she laughed at my stupid jokes, which is always a good path to my heart. I hoped that we would be friends, but wasn't sure if we'd meet up and figured our paths would only cross when Wendy came home from university on holidays.

   The first day of University was nerve wracking to say the least. I was scared and nervous about my future. When I hopped on the city bus to the big school, I thought was going to be sick. But then I saw a familiar face: Kim. She was sitting alone, looking a little anxious and invited me to sit with her. For the entire bus ride to UVic, I talked her ear off. I don’t remember what I talked about. I just remember being so happy that I wasn't experiencing my first day alone and I a strong feeling that we were going to become good friends.

   And we did. By the time Wendy came home for Thanksgiving, we were inseparable and anyone would think Kim and I had known each other for years. Many Friday nights, I would be found watching taped videos off of Much Music at Kim's place. I don't know how many times we watched those World on Edge, or Bryan Adams, or Roxette videos, but they never got old. We bonded over them and movies like The Shawshank Redemption and Gleaming the Cube. (Kim worked at video store. It rocked!
Oh we swooned.

   After our first year at UVic, we both decided it wasn't for us and for the next while, we kind of lived parallel lives. We both took a year off, we both moved to Ontario a year later, we both went to college in Ontario where we both met Ottawa boys whose fathers worked for Bell Canada and knew each other. (The fathers knew each other, not our boys).

   Both of us married our Ottawa boys and settled in B.C. At first Kim was in Victoria and I was in New Westminster, but not long after, she was there too and moved to apartment not very far away. We both got pregnant in 2001 and had daughters only 6 and half months apart.

   However, it wasn't in the cards for our paths to continue running side by side-ish. In 2006, my family and I took the plunge and moved across the country to Miramichi where my husband had found a job in his field of animation. As Kim and I hugged goodbye and wiped away tears, I felt the 15 years of friendship and memories fill my heart to the breaking point. She had been with me through so many tough times, happy experiences, embarrassing scenarios that I'd care to not remember, and here she was again. Supporting me and helping me to embrace a future that was as uncertain and scary as it had been that day I'd seen her on the bus to UVic.

Kim and I in Ottawa, July 2014
  The last 10 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. Our kids have grown, we've suffered losses, celebrated gains and while we haven't experienced these things together, they haven't created a distance between us. We have grown up, but not grown apart and I think in 25 years one of us will say to the other, "We've known each other for almost 50 years."

   Kim, this one is for you.