Archive | March 2011

Honoured

When you devote your life to achieving your goal, you will not be bothered by shallow criticism. In fact nothing important can be accomplished if you allow yourself to be swayed by some trifling matter, always looking over your shoulder and wondering what others are saying or thinking. The key to achievement is to move forward resolutely along your chosen path.

-Daisaku Ikeda

I went to my last downtown district meeting this past Sunday.  I had been assistant women’s group leader there for the past 3 1/2 years and watched the district grow, develop and unite.  I will miss the people I had become so close to.  The changes have been significant.  I also have to say that they key was for the leaders (M, T and myself)  to do their own human revolution, overcome their obstacles and doubt so that they could fully concentrate on the members without begrudging their lives.  My own struggle of course has been well documented in this blog.  It seemed like yesterday when my close girlfriend and I both brought our tiny babies to a discussion meeting and they lay side by side on the couch.  And now they can walk and visit people’s laps.  Planning meetings were held during the day while the Precious was coddled and cooed over or while he slept.  I so looked forward to having people over during the isolated days.  They always forgave me when I would completely forget about those meetings, so distracted I was and I was out walking the baby and the dog or the times I was late hurrying down the sidewalk.  They never scolded me or implied that I wasn’t competent.

Often at our first tiny study meetings, we would discuss the material and bring in our own struggles, searching for enlightenment.  There were tears but also support and encouragement.  One young woman came and she was so depressed and distraught with her life but moved by our own struggles, she has grown into a strong youth leader who always encourages others and has made incredible strides in her personal life.  To witness someone blossom like that  and know that you played a part is an incredible privilege.

Our discussion meeting was incredible – one woman shared her experience of being able to forgive her rapist because of her practice and was no longer a victim but a survivor.  Another woman suddenly revealed that she had been a victim as well. I never reveal what goes on at our meetings, and honestly they’re never that dramatic, but this woman practically glowed.  She opened up her life so that she could inspire others.  This is the mark of the bodhisattva.  Courage and compassion.   I was the emcee and it was a challenge to move the meeting forward without breaking down in tears.   After the meeting, everyone sang that song from The Sound of Music –  So Long, Farewell – to me!  Badly.  It was hysterical.  I laughed so hard, I cried.  Then I was presented with a beautiful cake, flowers,cards even gifts.  I was stunned.  Overwhelmed.  Grateful.  Feeling the love, folks, feeling the love.

I loved it.  You know, the one thing I have always enjoyed about my Buddhist community is that whenever I feel that everyone and their dog has to go out of their way to correct me, discourage me, criticize me and make me feel that I am “not enough” (and this includes the voices in my head) – they never do.  When I am late, they thank me for making it at all, when I feel sad, they lift my spirits, when I doubt, they chant with me and lift my spirits. They accepted my “edge” and in turn, I hope I have learned to curb my tongue a little.

I am back in my old beloved district.  Kosen rufu (world peace) happens wherever you are – and I look forward to doing whatever I can to fulfill my mission.

I have more to say about the quote above, but I’ve got another mission in the other room that needs my attention.

Pain/revelations *edited*

I’ve been on the cranky side lately.  Ruminating on my fundamental darkness.  It may have a lot to do with the fact that I hurt my back again – twisting and lifting my boy – a definite no-no for me but apparently I keep forgetting.  My usual chiro was away and I couldn’t get a hold of my massage person so  I went to a new chiro up the street.  Oh, boy, that ended up being  complicated and irritating and expensive.  Which made me even crabbier.  Yes, I do feel better but he’s pushy, arrogant and I don’t want going to the chiro to be part of my “healing” lifestyle.   It was a little like going to get your oil changed and ended up getting filters replaced and oops, there’s something else leaking and you need an engine overhaul.  Sure everyone’s car would run better if they fixed and replaced every little damn part, but that’s not what you  went in for.  I’m going back to my old chiro to have a little chat next week.  Right after I break the appointment I made with the new one.  Something’s telling me this isn’t the right doc for me. Just a feeling.

Which brings me back to fundamental darkness.  In Buddhism, it’s equivalent to what’s really holding you back in life.  It’s your negativity, your doubt, your fears, your lack of whatever that makes you feel like you’re walking through quicksand at challenging times in your life.  It comes up to smack the back of your head whenever you’re pushed beyond your comfort zones.  In theory, you can avoid it by staying within your comfort zones, but you may have noticed that as you get older, life can get complicated.  Perhaps it’s your spouse that doesn’t behave as you would like  or it’s your children or lack thereof, your body gets sick, your parents get sick, you lose your job, or someone you love dies.  Or sometimes, life is just fine, but you have a sneaking suspicion that it could be better. Cause if it was, you wouldn’t feel the way you do. You can only ignore that little whisper from your heart at your own peril.

How do I feel?  Generally, quite content with life as is. I have an amazing life, full of good friends and good times.  I’m digging the family thing.  Specifically, my creative side is floundering quite a bit. It’s been proposed to  put creativity to work in the domestic arena.  This is insufficient for me.  Unsatisfying.  Boring.  I already know how to make an apple pie from scratch.  Telling me I make a wonderful lamb roast is a compliment but it doesn’t make me feel excited and alive.  Sorry.  I miss running my own life.  Entering the motherhood arena has its own rewards, but there are pitfalls as well.  It’s supposed to be noble to give up your own life for your child.  My child can have my life, that’s not a problem.  But I will not snuff out the light on my artistic self because it’s not convenient.  Next up, is a bit of daycare so I can do my errands, or get my hair done or go for lunch with someone who doesn’t fling food on the floor.

Let’s face it, the Precious is in control of my life. He’s my little guy.   He smiles up at me and I melt.  I love it when he plays peekaboo with me and pinches an old cel phone between his shoulder and his head (like me).   He runs to me and hugs my leg and cuddles my fleecy bathrobe.

*I realized my ending was a little abrupt – I had hit publish because I had to go – we had to go grocery shopping – and I didn’t realize I never finished my thought.  What I wanted to say was this:

I adore raising this little boy.  My husband has worked very hard to bring us to this point and I appreciate all his efforts.  I have had to be careful lately about what I say because my spoken ruminations sound like negativity to him.  Perhaps it is, but what I really needed was someone to talk to about how I feel.  I’m not depressed, I’m just stuck.  And sometimes I wonder if my back problems reflect my inner turmoil as well as my spare tire.

Yesterday I had an audition (yes, on a Sunday) and of course, I wasn’t as prepared as I wanted to be, family stuff, we had had friends over the night before and I had to ask DH to run lines with me just before I had to go.  I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, a mother of a 3 year old and we sat down on the couch to talk after we had finished auditioning.  She listened, she understood, she nodded her head and offered practical suggestions.  She talked about staying up until the wee hours just so she could decompress from her day, settling herself down, getting the things done she wanted done – of course, only to have her sleep interrupted time and time again.   She realized that some things had to slide, domestic tidiness was not always possible.  She needed to give things up in order to be more present with her child.  More importantly, it was more about giving ourselves permission to grab back chunks of our prior artistic selves, handing the reins of child care to another on a regular basis.  Now this was a woman who was NEVER without her child attached to her. She took attached parenting very seriously.   She carried him EVERYWHERE. At the same time, she and her husband own a business, she has her mother who is debilitated with Alzheimers’ LIVE with her (along with constant caregivers), and she is also an actress.  This woman is BUSY.   She hired someone to just play with her little boy while she did what she had to do and she told me to schedule 5 hours not 3 so I wouldn’t be too rushed if I had to drive to the North Shore that day.

My point is this.  If I can find the time to schedule chiropractic care (of course the pain motivated me to find the time) then I can find the time to schedule my “artistic care”.   And it doesn’t have to be squeezed into the wee hours when I’m tired and spent and everyone else’s needs have been attended to.

My son will continue to have the very best of me.  I have to cultivate the very best in me.  This is my mission.

You talking to me?

Oh, yeah, I busted in the front door yesterday.  Wha?  Wha?  Wha?  I was going to go to my friend’s place, just to get out of the damn house really, so I took the Precious and the dog for a short walk around the block.  Then I dragged the Bob up the stairs (as I do everyday) and proceeded to put my key in the door.  The deadlock turned but the doorknob did not.  That should have been my first clue.  I tried repeatedly to open the door, even pushing my shoulder into the door a couple of times.  Then I bumped the stroller back down the stairs, go round the back and go in the back door.  Of course, I know already that I locked the door to the basement (cause I do it every day after DH leaves for the day), but what the hell, maybe I was mistaken.  Turns out, I was not. So technically, I was back in the house, but my purse was still out of reach for me and there was no food downstairs.

So I go back out to the front again.  I call DH after I try once again to get in the front door.  The kid starts squawking from his stroller at the bottom of the stairs.  I go back down and bring him up.   That of course, means I have to go all the way downtown, pick him up and drive him back down again. I just want to get my purse so I can to my friend’s place.  So of course, I try one more time, pressing my shoulder into the door rather firmly. I did not, I repeat, did not take a run at it or anything. I just leaned.

Crack!  Ooops.  My text alert goes off, it’s DH. He says come get him, he’ll deal with it.  Too late.  The right side of the door frame is definitely split – not too bad, it’s not like it’s hanging off, and I try to explain this to DH, but it’s something that needs to be seen.  Wow, bad back or not, I’m stronger than I think.  My morning is now shot to hell, so I call my friend who starts to laugh, and then I go fetch DH.  He thought it was pretty funny too.  He just changed his clothes and actually nailed the frame back together.  Problem solved and the door closes just fine.

Don’t fuck with me house, I will break you.

Old house, old me

And so it begins.  Meaning, the challenges of what it’s like to live in a less than perfectly outfitted house.  I’m taking it like it’s a prelude to actually owning a house. We are not, repeat, not moving into a fixer upper.  Our fixer upper days are long behind us.

We’ve already spent a couple hundred fixing up this and that – new lightbulbs (not the 99cent kind), nightlights for bathroom (the airplane hanger fan and light are electrically connected, dark bedroom closet, the kid’s room (no ambient light like in the heart of the city), friction strips for the basement stairs (the 70 lb princess dog skittering precariously down the steep stairs like a newbie on roller skates), new sockets for the scanty electrical outlets (that are not properly grounded), garbage can for the backyard (for Princess Juno), new recycling bin (the last one was full of rusty paint cans, etc.)  and of course, the obligatory trip to Ikea for organizational baskets.

I’ve also observed that the City of Vancouver is a little particular when it comes to picking up garbage.  I called for and received new bags for recycling – yellow for paper products – ALL CARDBOARD MUST BE FLATTENED – and blue for newspapers – NO STRING.  They will not pick up a small plastic bag of  garbage or recycled material if you are so foolish as to leave one.   Of course, when you have moved, you have a lot of cardboard that will never fit in a 15 x 15 inch bag, so I had to take a load of stuff to the recycling depot which, thank goodness, they took for free.  You have to move the 1 garbage can 3 feet away from the back of your fence and the lid must be closed properly.  Forget about leaving mattresses, TVs, or anything else that does not fit into the list of what constitutes garbage or recycled materials.  This is, of course, unlike living in the city.  You could leave just about anything in the alley and it would be gone by morning.  And we had a dumpster of course, so we could put as much trash in as we liked and if yours was full, that’s what the next building’s dumpster was for.   That is, after all, how we got rid of all the crap we weren’t taking with us.  Here, on Dunbar “island”, everyone’s garbage is as neat as a pin.  I have snuck bags of the dog’s poo in people’s garbage bins as we’ve walked around the neighbourhood, fully expecting to get yelled at.  The public garbage cans are not on residential streets.

My back is out again.  Swell.  I took the Precious to the community centre last week and  managed to twist my back trying to help him navigate down a slide.  I thought it was just a little pull, but of course, it only got worse.  Just in time for an acting audition workshop that I attended this weekend.  I also woke up with a cold.  Keeps getting better.  I had been feeling pretty miserable about so called career and my self identity and being trapped in the house while it poured for days hadn’t helped.  So I was really looking forward to this workshop.  I just wanted to immerse myself in my work.  I got a really good scene and a good scene partner (not much rehearsal cause I also had to work at night transcribing).  I am feel pretty vulnerable these days, out of routine, things aren’t where I’m used to, I know, just part of sorting out a new environment. So when I woke up that Saturday, feeling like a truck hit me, I was not amused.  Still, the show goes on.

Anyway, the workshop was great, we had a local casting director come in and she loved me! My confidence really needed the boost.  I’ve got the acting coach and the casting director say how talented I am, what a wonderful presence I have, blah, blah, she has no suggestions for me and yet, I am not booking gigs.  I am definitely having troubling balancing the two sides of my life.  I think I am looking for affirmation from outside of myself and this is the crux of my problem.  My coach also mentioned that I should “get an ego”.  Meaning, somewhere along the line, I have lost my confidence in myself as an actor, I am settling for less than I deserve.  I need to get a part of my old life, my old spark back, you know, the self centred me.  You know, the one that mothers aren’t supposed to have.  More on that later.

Smart marketing

Found something in my email box I usually delete – it’s from Pampers.  These guys have definitely improved their marketing techniques:

“Dear Deathstar:

Whether he’s planned or not.  Whether she’s through IVF or adoption… whether she has special needs or a lot of needs.  Pampers believes every baby is a miracle to be celebrated, supported and protected…..” and goes on to prompt you to go to their Facebook page and tell your story.

Well, I’ve already shared my story, so there’s no need to Facebook it to every Tom, Dick and Harriet who have ever heard of me and can’t be bothered to talk to me in person.  I just wanted to share that with you because of the way they worded their announcement.

Makes you want to go out and buy Pampers, eh?

 

House envy

I’m finally starting to feel a bit more relaxed.  There’s still a vacation kind of vibe  going on – it feels a little cabin-y with the first floor’s rooms being so close together.  DH’s man den is coming along nicely.  I demanded we get the 42 in upstairs in the living room (kind of addicted to its ambient noise) so he had to go out and get another TV for himself.  In the old days, I would have predicted he would have gotten a much bigger one but he reasoned that we would be moving on to another place soon so  32 inch would suffice.  It would eventually go into a bedroom, he would get the giant TV of his dreams when we got a big enough living room or basement.  That’s progress, I guess.

My good friend  ( I’ll call her C) came over with her 17 month old to finally see the place.  She’s owned 3 places in the time that I’ve known her and her last place is a custom designed penthouse.  C really does have great taste  for modern things. I, on the other hand, am living for the day when I don’t have to go the route of particle board furniture.  She liked the place of course and  offered some really great suggestions.  She suggested I get one of those cupboards that go above toilets instead of the 5 Ikea boxes  (soon to be 6) I have on the shelves.  Yet there’s a well thought out reason for those boxes. #1, I hate those cupboards.  I either get a cheap one that doesn’t really hold much or I get an expensive one that I will never use once we move.  Plus none of the floors are precisely level.  #2, no cupboard could possibly hold the 2000 beauty and hair items I currently possess.  And since there is only one closet (in the master bedroom)  on the main floor, you can see my problem.  I’m not going downstairs every time I need to get a Qtip.  I still have one box left that I haven’t unpacked.

Another good suggestion was to build a custom cupboard inside the fireplace we’ll never use.  FIL can handle that I think.  I’ve always wanted a real fireplace, but it’s impractical with a toddler.  So we put a gold foil chest(that I’ve had since the 80’s)  in front of it to keep Mr. Curious out.  I wonder how long that will last.

Walking around the neighbourhood, I’ve really developed house envy.  Some of them are simply gorgeous on the outside.  I expect they’re all in the $2 mill +  range.  A wee pricey for our means, but here’s hoping our future brightens up considerably in the near future. Ah, perchance to dream  – and my dream has stainless steel appliances in it.

Freaking out

Okay, I admit it.  I should have been heavily medicated for this move.  I lost it this week.  DH went away on business and I was home alone with the dog and the kid and the boxes.  The kid has been teething – the molars – and oh, boy, that’s terrible.  He was whiny, bitchy, miserable, clingy – no, wait – that was me.  At one point, while I waited for the Advil to take effect, I went to my happy place while he alternatively wanted me to pick him up then put him down again all the while whinging like a creaky door. He’s also coughing a lot but that’s part of the teething.

We went out a lot (ohmigod – STAIRS, no elevator!) , exploring the neighbourhood.  Dunbar is like a urban suburb.  A sleepy stretch of stores mere blocks away (a convenient liquor store and Tim Horton’s tantalizingly close) amidst lots of beautiful old homes.  Some renovated and spiffy, some not, all incredibly expensive.  The majority are million dollar homes.  For my American readers, please do not envision beautiful, huge estates.  These houses are fairly ordinary.  It’s all about prime real estate here.

I discovered another black person just a block and half away.  An older gentleman coming out on his porch, I waited til I caught his eye and we started to chat.  Turns out he coaches a soccer team that my husband and a former co-worker (from his corrections days) played with years ago.     Small world, eh?  Then later on the return trip, my son’s loud cries attracted his wife (who thought it was her cat) and she came out to say hi.

I tried to do some unpacking, but dealing with the Precious and the dog made that nearly impossible.  After he went to bed, I just puttered around, went to bed and did email and read a bit.  I was just worn out.    By the time DH came home, I was quite jittery.  He caught the early flight, came home, changed, went back to the office, came back home, took the dog, did some errands and by the time he finally returned home, I literally bolted and ran out the door with the promise to bring back Indian food.  I think I was shaking. When I was driving down a side road, I clipped someone’s driver side view mirror with my side view mirror.  I’ve never done that before.  The guy approached his car a few moments later and I actually admitted it and apologized.  He just waved it off.  I guess it happens.

As I waited for our order to be ready, I just sat and breathed in and out trying to look normal.  I was considering not going home for a couple of days.  I just needed a break away from a teething toddler who insisted on careening around a non babyproofed home (he fell continuously trying to maneouvre the raised entrance to the kitchen, hit his head on a corner (not that hard but it scared the crap out of me) pulled things out of boxes, etc.  The dog was wondering what the heck was going on, skittered down the basement stairs,  and wanted in and out several times a day, the forced air heating was either too hot or too cold, the hardwood floors are slightly slanted and creak, the washer wasn’t working, the backyard needed cleaning up, I don’t have a rake, I only have two arms and one of them is cramped because I’m carrying around a cranky baby who won’t let me out of his sight.  I need my hair done.  And a drink.

The waiter asked me if I wanted something to drink, but I just took water.  An hour later, I came home and realized that a lot of people fold in their side view mirrors because the streets are narrow and people park on both sides.  Okay, don’t feel so bad about that boo-boo anymore. My husband is exhausted and stressed out from work yet he’s working ceaselessly trying to put the place to order.  He’s a good man.  I can’t complain because I chanted for this and now I have it.  I just panicked cause I’m out of my comfort zone, out of a comfy, spacious, electrically equipped home and into one that is “as is” quirky and I don’t even own it  and I’m freaking out cause it’s just CHANGE.