Monday, 3 April 2017

Whiter Shades of Pale - or Pizzazz

Well, I took the plunge. After much discussion over coffee and online and anywhere else I could corner someone, I quit coloring my hair! YES, you heard me!! I went full on into white with a little residual blond in the ends in one cut. Why, you ask?

Well, thanks to my father's genes, I have been turning white since I was 32 years old. Yes, pregnant and turning white. I started coloring my hair when people started asking me about my cute little granddaughter when it was my two year old daughter in my arms. DONE!

Over the decades, with my colored hair in place, I have often been mistaken for being ten years younger than I am due mostly to my mother's genetics and her relatively wrinkle free aging gene. When I retired at the age of 64, many colleagues across campus assumed I was retiring VERY young - like in my fifties. I thanked them profusely but proclaimed that I was only a year early and had figured out I had just enough vim and vigour left to travel and explore a life without children and job, and, the release from the demands of hundreds of energetic college students.

In retirement, I set out to find ME - re-branding into a retiree with a passion for ....writing, painting, and living the good life. Much of this was new for me and I stayed in the rut of colored hair and ultra short cuts fearing to venture forth. Last year I looked back on all the amazing things that had permeated my life at this stage - my first published stories, my first painting sold, and my initiation into a more political realm. I had made a foray into trying to find a new style of dressing about a year into retirement considering I no longer went to an office each day and segued into t-shirts and capris for 9 months of the year. I didn't even bother with trendy jeans as I sat back, sipped our home brew and watched the sunset over the mountains and lake. I was a time bomb waiting to erupt. This was not me! Not yet.

With a little writing under my belt and a lot of painting sitting on my shelves (not yet selling like a pro!) I decided I needed a new look. I also needed to start saving some money to fit the new retiree budget and it was obvious that colouring my hair was a feasible place to start - right? This isn't necessarily for everyone but for made sense. I took a few pictures into the hair salon, told her I was going to let my hair grow out but asked her to transform the cut into something a little more funky so I didn't turn into a 70 or 80 year old before my time. I didn't want granny curls with purple rinse - unless, of course, it was purple stripes tastefully sweeping across my bangs! She introduced me to an asymmetrical, swing-y cut that almost took all of the final blonde ends off leaving only a light dusting across the front. Over the months that has been slowly eroded and I think the next cut will eliminate even that faint golden glow of things past.

It is a fact - the NOW of me has started to emerge. I implore you to wear your age with a pizzazz that reflects the real you - colored or not! The you that you are now, not ten years ago.

Now, I need help with my makeup and wardrobe and...well, I will be trolling the internet for ideas on that!

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Four Days in My Life

The days stream by in a steady blur in retirement with little to mark one from the other. Occasional appointments and events dot my calendar and I am amazed at what month it is already - every single time! It feels a little like a vacation, I suppose, but without the impending end that looms in the near future. Day after day I enjoy this time, letting the minutes and hours flow together much like my breath - inhale/exhale, inhale/exhale. There are four days. however, that still stand out in my mind more than any others in my life - four amazing days each with its own miracle.

Day #1 - June 22, 1972
Labour pains woke me as I tried to sleep in the still strange bed at my in-laws' home. In a transition to our new home in Brandon, Manitoba I missed the comfort of my own "stuff", of being in control of my own environment and certainly having my own personal space without someone commenting on my food or sleep or degree of exhaustion as the birthdate for my firstborn came ever closer. At 5 AM I waddled to the bathroom and sploosh - yep, amniotic fluid everywhere. The whispers and activity woke my mother-in-law, dear soul, and she waved her son and me off to the hospital with a smile and reassurances all would be OK. Five hours later, in a drug-induced stupor, I held my first baby girl in my arms and fell in love - deeply, over the top, 100% all in kind of love! Lisa Michelle captured my heart in a way only a mother could describe. Her spiky hair, her tiny little cries, more like a kitten than a wailing baby, her perfect little mouth - I took it all in and held her as she curled up into a tiny little ball on my chest. The wails became louder as the days went on and the exhaustion kicked in as I wobbled my way through my first year as a Mom, but I will never forget how it felt to feel the warmth of my own child against my chest and experience her newborn smell as I kissed her head.

Day #2 - April 30, 1975
The Calgary sun shone brightly that April and my three-year-old, Lisa had the scraped knees to prove it. Labour set in with intensity in the wee hours of the morning. With Lisa cared for, off we drove to the Grace Hospital to welcome our next child. False alarm but due to my size and the size of the baby, they decided to keep me. I walked the halls of the maternity wing, gazing dreamily at the nursery and talking to fellow patients as I made my laps. My doctor induced me at dinner time and went home not expecting to see me until the next morning. Our little Vanessa saw otherwise, assessed the situation, and decided to take on the world outside the womb, on her own time, of course. She had a little entanglement with the umbilical cord but thankfully, slipped through with the doctor's help and greeted the world with blinking eyes, wide awake, just after midnight. I noticed how much longer she was than her sister, with downy hair instead of the dark spikes, and, above all, I how wide awake she was, and I swear, how she even smiled at me and some of her dad's colleagues who had stopped at the hospital after their evening shift at the Calgary Tower. A sweet, happy, embracing, engaged child - my little bit of sunshine. Rarely cranky, always up for any challenge, and ready to take on anything her sister could do, Vanessa owned her Mama's heart from Day One. Never fear, young moms - there is indeed enough room in your heart for each and every child - a special place and the only time 100% can happen over and over again.

Day #3 - May 14, 1978
Living near the small town of Sundre, I waddled my way around our rural home, excited about the impending birth of our third child. As the due date came and went and the baby continued to grow, the doctor became concerned and decided to induce my labour once again. This ensured an easy transition with Grandma already on her way to take care of the other two children, bags packed, the car full of gas - list fully checked. It was Mother's Day and, truly, my most memorable Mother's Day ever. Christy Jo-Leen was born just after dinner time with a church full of people praying for her safe delivery. Good timing, little one. I loved holding this little chubby sweet thing - she was cuddly and turned towards me with abandonment. With many tense hours of concern over jaundice that turned my sweet darling into a very yellow baby, I cuddled this little one endlessly when I was allowed to take her out of the incubator and never let her leave my sight. She was sleepy and adorable with big blue eyes, dark, curly eyelashes and more dark hair than any baby I had seen. I often told her she would be the baby of the family forever. Sorry Christy. That isn't quite the way it turned out, but you made a wonderful big sister!

Day #4 - July 20, 1982
Our surprise bundle was on the way. I have to admit I was not prepared for this little one. There was no nursery and no crib but there was certainly going to be a baby - a big baby. Having had a late ultrasound to check for twins, I was pretty certain we were having a little girl. I went into labour late in the evening and stayed at home until my contractions were long and close. The hospital was minutes away in our small town and I was in no rush to wait around there. I called the hospital finally, reported the data, and was instructed to get to the hospital immediately. Whoops. Two hours later, with some complication, I delivered a wonderful baby girl. My first sight of her was a grey, lifeless-looking body as they whisked her away to pure oxygen and an isolette. Time stood still as we waited for this little darling to breathe. Four very long minutes ticked off on the big clock as I held my breath, willing my new little daughter to take her first one. Four minutes on the dot she inhaled and cried. Her body went from blue to pink as her lungs drew in the much-needed oxygen. I did not get to hold her right away. My arms ached for her as the doctor and nurses in the small town hospital checked her thoroughly and monitored her vitals. Finally, they brought her to my waiting arms, all wrapped up in a blanket, sleepy from her ordeal. The delivery injured her brachial plexis which paralyzed her left arm. My sleepy baby endured, and grew, and became the joy that can melt every heart in her range. Her big blue eyes and ready smile, her arms that sought cuddles and kisses, her early connection with those around her - all these things made her a walking, talking miracle.

So, if you have made it this far into my post, you are truly a mother yourself - by birth or adoption or ache to be one. You have your own stories to treasure. And, if you are blessed with grandchildren, you will be able to add to these stories as each new little one takes a place in your heart - even at a distance.
Miss you Mom!!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers who have their own miracles to hold close, but especially Happy Mother's Day to all my grown up angels!!


Saturday, 9 April 2016

Help - I Need Your Help! What is Driving You Crazy?

What is it that is at the top of your list - that one thing about retirement or aging that frustrates you to no end? What is your biggest frustration with aging right now? Last year I struggled to keep myself busy, often (well,maybe not "often" but...) vacuuming or dusting ad nauseum just to give myself a purpose to get up and get moving. This year I am actually having to write things down on a calendar to keep it all straight (and the dust bunnies are partying under my dining room table!).

I am so curious what you are facing now in your ongoing journey into your "new old age" that is driving you crazy?