Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Mystic Island Diaries:

“I see a red door and I want to paint it black….” These lyrics are in my ears, pulling me along the charcoal grey asphalt strip, my feet finding their way without me. Run it says, be free! In deference to the gippy knee, I walk briskly but still with enough to look around me, the impudent wind ruffling my hair and the sun shining brightly down on my shoulders and upturned face.
It’s Tuesday – beautiful day outside, slightly overcast, a little muggy but beautiful. It’s the typical Caribbean scene painted in travel magazines and destination television. With Mick in my head for company, I contemplate the road.

This island is the Caribbean but not really – it’s all orderly here. The trees pruned back neatly from the road, not arbitrarily hacked off and the surrounding vegetation stripped; the usual practice is to remove everything in the name of “environmentalism”. It is so clean….devoid of anything out of place, some may sterile but it speaks to organization that is well run. This order is calming; it removes that constant breathless feeling that has been ever present. Here, you never feel like to have to constantly be doing SOMETHING, always.

The acid reflux has taken a back seat to the lure of open air eating and wine, yes, wine with meals. Hey, the purple pill can cure a multitude of sins and my body, though tired, wants to go with the flow and enjoy. Going into the ocean every day has proved healing, the warm embrace of the clear blue water a clarion call to just let it all go. Even the strays here are treated well, fed by strangers or homeowners, these people will even pay vet bills and Rescue, who sleeps on our porch knows that she is loved.

The eclectic selection of music on the iPod hanging loosely around my neck is a representation of events from different parts of my life. It plays in a random shuffle reminding me of a first kiss, the transcending of a long term relationship, absolute abandonment, children playing, school friends, in long, a life. This place gives you the space to just be and in though ten minutes away from the bigger island, it is a whole different world.

In the year that I’ve been retreating here to recharge and visit my energy source aka my brother, I have grown to appreciate the space. New music has joined the sound track, with the waves constantly in the background.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Grumpy guts

A chance comment from a far away friend some weeks ago was the wake up call. This was someone who'd known me WHEN. When we were young and supposedly carefree. When we shared most things, from an order of fries and a coke in KFC to clothes and confidences. So you could say, even though more than twenty years have gone by, she knows me. In our brief time together on a fleeting visit to home, she'd called me hoping to get together finally, something we have been trying to do for more than a year now. As usual, I was working. When am I not? Eventually we did get together, but we've not managed to do since.

And that's what did it really. Looking back at this blog there's been a definite trend, the joy has gone, to be replaced by a heaviness, a distinct lack of joy. That's when I knew for sure, no balance, I'd become subsumed by the rigours of job and given up the very things that made me interesting, that gave me pleasure and most of all, balance. A self confessed workaholic, my tendency to hold myself responsible for all things was now taking a toll.

That, and the residual effects of too much responsibility and overwork after the Summit caused me to re-visit my cognitive therapist. It has been a long journey back but worth the effort. In pouring out my thoughts, feelings and emotions to her, in our ritual of cleansing, I am reminded that I must be an active part of my own recovery.

When did food stop being a pleasure and become reduced to fuel? When taste become unimportant, when did the act of sitting down to a meal and being aware of everything going into my mouth become a chore? The act of cooking, or cooking for and with friends. Slowly I started to understand how much of me had been given up, most of all shocked by how bored I was by me.

It took a lot of little earthquakes to wake me up. Relating to another friend how tired my body felt, when did I become old? I remembered too, the all too brief sensations that took hold, salsa dancing one night recently, E. counting the steps for me, telling me to slow down and let him lead. The sound of his voice in my ear, soothing and reassuring, knowing that he would not let me fall. In those moments letting myself go, singing along to Elvis Crespo and really feeling my body move. I love to dance, it was one of the things that was so great about the X-man, is a great dancer and when we were on the floor it was magic. For a couple of nights it came back to me, as held tight against this man who smelled so good and moved like a dream, my body ignored the uptight me and really let go. We moved around the floor in step, it was an outpouring that opened a door I don't wish to close.

Yoga, an activity that I've practiced for most of my life and yet have only attempted sporadically over the last five years, how could I have let it go? The limber strength that was such a part of everyday living, put aside. My body knows the difference, the excuses are getting tired, how did I get from instructor training to barely being able to get into basic positions? This cannot continue.

Mother's Day today, barreling up the highway to see my Granny. Knowing that there would be at least fifteen minutes of her diatribe about my lack of visits and phone calls. The time I spend working and not looking after myself. In the end, we hung out together, she oohing over the plants that I bought her and then disappearing inside to bequeath a new dress sent to her by my aunt but too racy for her. No sleeves and short, you might see her knees! We giggled together like two girls. I truly love her and she loves me, warts and all. Yes Gaby, I took your advice, no grumpy guts today.

And so, the changes, slow in coming, some a deal between my therapist and me, are taking hold. My dog and I play ball again, he drives me nuts and I put up with him. Spanish class starts in two weeks, meanwhile, yoga on Tuesday. Work is that thing you do to live, you do not live to work. When people speak of finding balance it should not be an abstract concept. Today, really tasting the savoury bite of fresh watercress. The vivid green leaves crinkling as I put them into my mouth, enjoying the peppery bite against my tongue. Later this week my brother, John and I will split a bottle of good wine, maybe some cheese, and talk.

Taking pleasure from reading a good book or going to the movies. There are art exhibitions to go to, play clothes to try on, meals to be cooked, lots of coffee to be drunk and new classes to try. Maybe even a coffee shop...who knows what waits.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. For those of us who are neither mothers nor have a mother, it is an interesting experience. Whether we chose not to have children, are yet to do the deed or for whatever reason, cannot, it is our business. It can get a trifle irksome when every store clerk, or male person you happen to run into wishes you “happy mother’s day”. I want to say, it’s okay, having ovaries is not necessarily a pre-requisite, you don’t have to say anything.

What exactly is Mother’s day anyway? Not that I begrudge anyone the opportunity to score some presents and some down time, judging from my temporary part time mommy stint, it’s not easy. Ladies, feel free if you can, to put your feet up, kick back and wallow as much as you can. This does not change my view that Mother’s Day, like Valentine’s Day and all the other “made up” occasions are really a good excuse for some conspicuous consumerism. If you love someone, do you really need to have a designated day to show them ? I didn’t think so…..

My mother has been gone for sixteen years, yes I still think about her, but the years have blurred. I appreciate the women who have come in and out of my life to fill the void when I needed the assist. Thanks ladies. If you’ve still got yours, take the time to appreciate her, you just never know how much time you get to have.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Waiting for Barack

Hugh Jackman is one fine piece of manhood. What this has to do with Barack Obama you’ll have to bear with me a moment and you shall see. If you have not yet been to see the movie Wolverine, Jackman’s fourth outing as that character, wait no longer, get thee hence to your nearest Cineplex, spring for some popcorn and sit back and enjoy. That man is one of the hottest things on two legs walking around right now. He has that old world charm, the winning smile, he can act, he can dance, he can sing, he seems very secure in himself, loves his wife etc. In short, he is what Victorians used to describe as a “fine figure of a man”. Yes, I would definitely stand around waiting for Hugh.

The most asked (inane) question before/during/after the recent Summit: are you going to see/see/have seen Barack Obama? It would appear that the Summit began and end with the Golden One for most people. You may remember that the leader who got my pulse up was/is Brazil’s Lula, Barack, oh yeah, nice but whatever. I don’t really rave about anybody, other than Hugh of course, the rich and famous are just richer and more, well known versions of us ordinary folk, what’s the big deal? If anybody told me that I and eight of my colleagues would be thundering down fourteen flights of stairs to position ourselves so that we could catch a glimpse of Barack Obama as he pulled up in the “Beast” at the hotel, I would have fallen over laughing.

We are all sensible women and men, we were all pretty jaded by the time Summit arrival day rolled around, and we’d been seeing leaders pretty much most of the day. So when I got the text from Johanna, the White House press lady about “wheels down” I wasn’t too hot and bothered. Watching the arrivals on TV while we worked, suddenly the pressure started to build and all of a sudden we realized that we were where half the country wanted to be. And that’s when the insanity took hold; like the idiots we are, we flung open the doors to the stairs because the elevators took too long, and thundered like a herd of renegade elephants down first one, then two and finally all fourteen flights to make it to the ground floor. As though the man was a rock star and we a bunch of demented groupies, in hindsight, it’s kind of embarrassing. We, so formerly blasé about the waiting for Barack thing, caught in the act as it where.

So the answer to the above question is yes, I did see the man, a few dozen times, I stood right next to him, no, no pictures, that would be crass - I was working. I got to know the Secret Service dudes and the White House press office and am now back to being all blasé. Yes, he is tall, he’s slimmer than he appears on TV, he’s very polite and has that aura of quiet authority. Like Hugh, he is a fine figure of a man, but truthfully; I’d probably trample you to get to Hugh, Barack, not so much.

It was interesting being around all that power, thirty-three leaders in small space certainly gets crowded very quickly. I still think Lula is the bomb and have an even bigger respect for him now, he smiled at me in greeting one day and I blushed. Oh yes I did. For the record, I’m all Baracked out, sure he’s quite something, and his wife is too, I think he’s doing okay as President but I’m really, really tired of hearing about them so stop asking me. One of these days maybe but until then, there are other interesting people out there you know.