Expert Advice to My Kids – Thank You Medium!

It’s not easy being a mother. I have two kids (aka Kid 1 and Kid 2)and a husband (aka Loverboy) which when I think of it is kind of like having three kids.

There are so many responsibilities and it can be overwhelming at times, especially when I feel that I have a wealth of expert advice to share with Kid 2 who is still trying to find himself.

The problem is that sometimes he isn’t always open to listening and I become one of those “whomp, whomp” voices in his head.

It is at times like these that I have to pull out the “big guns” (figuratively not literally — I am anti-violence all the way) and I have discovered some really “big guns” on Medium.

I am not exactly sure how I stumbled upon the Medium site but finding this great wealth of information has been like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

On a daily basis there are some excellent articles posted that I personally think sound just like me but are actually written by cool twenty/thirty-somethings (who obviously listened to their mothers). It is like these bloggers have read my mind and written down my wisdom in an entertaining, logical and non-judgmental way.

I find the articles I like and that speak to me as a mother, and I share them with Kid 2 via text message, Twitter or private message on Facebook.

I have stopped sharing publicly on his Facebook timeline because he thought it was a bit lame. He also told me it was ruining his sex life and God forbid I get blamed for that, too!

The great miracle of the internet allows me to press “send” instead of calling Kid 2 and sharing my advice orally (aka nagging). Plus he never answers his phone so this is a much better and satisfactory solution.

He gets the information I am certain he needs to help him make those important life decisions and I get the satisfaction of still being able to say mother knows best without actually saying mother knows best. It is the perfect solution!

Here are some of the articles I have shared over the last few weeks and you have to admit from their titles that they are pure gold!

You’re More Powerful Than You Think by The Mission

This is What Stops People From Having the Life They Want by Nicholas Cole

4 Things You Should Do Before It’s Too Late by Nicholas Cole

Don’t Live for the Moment, Live for the Legacy by Brianna Wiest

This is the Process You Go Through When You Decide to Change Yourself by Nicholas Cole

40 Ways to Live a Full Life (And Leave Nothing on the Table) by Age 30 by Ryan Holiday

19 Things You Should Know About Life Before You Turn 29 by Nicholas Cole

Stop Thinking, Start Doing by Ayodeji Awosika

5 Things I Wish I Knew in My Twenties by Scott Tongas

Now my husband, Loverboy, doesn’t really believe that Kid 2 actually reads the articles that I send them but I continue to have hope.

I know that hope is not a strategy, but at the end of the day it makes me feel a whole lot better and helps me sleep at night. I hope that the wisdom Kid 2 gleans from the articles helps him sleep better at night, too.

I am so appreciative of the wealth of information that Medium shares and as a mother, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing my thoughts that others have had the good sense to write down.

Together we are force to be reckoned with!

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I Will Only Eat a Few – The Lies I Tell Myself

Oops, I did it again!

Just when I think I’ve learned my lesson, history repeats itself.

I went to the grocery store on an empty stomach. I know this is not a good thing to do because I’ve done it before and the final bill is never pretty.

I was starving and the Christmas candy stocked sky-high in the aisles beckoned and cajoled me. I picked up some of my favorite candy, supposedly to put away for Christmas. At least that was what my brain convinced me was going to happen as I went through the check-out.

When I got to the car, however, my brain did an abrupt reversal and told me to dig in!

What a traitor!

It is Hallowe’en all over again! You would think I would be able to exercise some willpower after that recent fiasco.

As per every year, I bought enough candy for about a hundred little ghosts and goblins.

Loverboy shook his head when I put the candy out and inquired why I bought so much. He pointed out that we usually only get ten little ghosts and goblins.

Since I couldn’t think of a really good reason that he would actually believe, I passed him a couple of bars and they kept him busy, and quiet, for awhile.

That night ten little ghosts and goblins knocked on the door and I was left with a full bowl of treats. (Did I mention that I only buy the treats I like?)

Back in the day, when there were ninety plus treats left over, I ate the remainder with nary a thought to my waistline. I indulged without guilt, or worry about not fitting into my jeans.

I would chow down on the leftovers, in a couple of days they would be gone and nothing about my shape would change.

I was a “treat-metabolizing” machine!

My how times have changed.

This year, I was left with a smorgasbord of my favorite treats and I began my yearly indulgence fest, scarfing them down like there was no tomorrow.

I grabbed a few at a time (they are really really small) and I ate them for breakfast dessert, lunch dessert, dinner dessert and snack dessert.

It was a chocolatey, peanutty, scrumptious, delightful feast!

Unfortunately, those little bite-sized bits caused an immediate weight gain of ten pounds on my hips, my thighs, my belly, and my double chin.

I also got a really bad stomach ache.

It is unbelievable how packages of candy that small can wreak so much havoc. Okay, I admit I did eat a lot of them but this was the first time candy actually made me feel sick!

Now here I am, salivating over my favorite Christmas chocolates and candies that I know I am not supposed to eat until Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, it is more than a month away and I realize that I have zero willpower!

I’ve already opened the Ganong Chicken Bones, those delectable, pink, cinnamon-candy-coated, dark-chocolate-in-the-middle bonbons that can only be purchased around the Christmas holidays. I’ve only eaten two or three but they are calling my name, very loudly I might add!

A box of dark chocolate-covered cherries sits patiently waiting for me to rip open and devour.

I am beside myself!

So I do the only prudent thing a person in my situation can do. I throw the candy in the garbage.

I have double bagged it in ziplock bags in case I change my mind and need to retrieve it but so far, I am okay. I don’t think I will have a do a dumpster dive at this point.

I am also setting a goal for myself and they say that if you want your goals to stick, you need to write them down and then tell someone.

My Goal: I will not purchase any more Christmas candy until just before Christmas.

There, you are my witnesses! I know you will do everything in your power to help me through what I know will be a difficult time.

You probably wondering why didn’t include something about not eating the Christmas candy that I do buy.

That might be taking things a bit too far.

Baby steps, people, baby steps!

I Don’t Do Bright and Early Anymore

I never needed an alarm clock to wake up; I was always told the early bird gets the worm so it was bright and early for me, every day.

It didn’t matter what leisure activities I did at night, (which in my youth consisted of partying til all hours or more recently doing a Netflix binge) what time I went to bed or where I slept.

My internal alarm clock woke me up at 5:00 am, that still dark time when the world is quiet and Loverboy is snoring happily beside me.

Unfortunately, as soon as my eyes popped open I was awake and it didn’t matter if I slept eight hours or three hours.

Some nights I tossed and turned so much, I am surprised Loverboy didn’t give me the heave ho and send me on my way to a spare bedroom.

He can sleep through pretty much anything; that is a real gift!

Now many “experts” say that getting up early is one of the most important habits to form if you want to be successful in life. And although I did enjoy a modicum of success, it was sometimes hard to find the pleasure in it because I was soooo tired!

Things have changed, however.

It happened slowly at first – early bird hours, crack of dawn sort of thing – then gradually I started to notice that the clock beside my bed read 7:00 a.m., then 7:30 a.m., then 8:00 a.m. until now I am regularly waking up at 8:30 a.m.

The more surprising thing is that if I do wake up at night, often due to an occasional hot flash or perhaps a stomach ache from eating too much candy (you can read about that here — I Will Only Eat a Few — One of the Little Lies I Tell Myself) I am able to get right back to sleep.

No more tossing and turning!

Well you are probably wondering what my secret is and how I accomplished this feat. I have one word for you —

RETIREMENT

It is the best thing to happen to me!

My life has changed for the better. No longer am I a slave to the 9–5 or in my last role, 5 am to midnight or beyond.

Without work issues rolling around in my head every night, I now get the sleep I need to function and do the things I enjoy.

I am exercising regularly, reading voraciously, writing every day and exploring areas that I really couldn’t even think about because I was so tired and stressed out from working.

There are just not enough hours in the day to do all things you want to do when you actually have the energy to do them.

And so I am refuting the expert’s advice that getting up early is the best way to start your day.

I don’t do bright and early anymore, and I am doing just fine, thank you very much!

Thank You Richard Gere – A Story of Enduring Friendship

The year was 1983, the summer after we graduated from university.

We were grown-up, (or so we thought), joining the workforce and assuming the responsibilities that come with that.

The times we spent together, joined at the hip, laughing and dancing the night away, sharing secrets and crying on each other’s shoulders were now few and far between.

We lived in different locations and we were making new lives for ourselves as we settled into adulthood.

A conversation about how we were moving on in our lives led to the idea of a gathering centered around the films of an actor we thought was one of the sexiest and most compelling of our time.

And so The Richard Gere Film Festival was born.

On a hot summer’s day a group of childhood friends gathered at my parent’s home for the event. We ate, we drank, we watched two Richard Gere movies, (American Gigolo and An Officer and A Gentleman). We laughed, we danced and we sang.

We didn’t know we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun.

Then life happened. We went our separate ways, established our careers, got married, had children, and made new friends in the communities where we lived.

We kept in touch sporadically and then more often through the miracle of Facebook.

That was where someone posted the pictures of that summer at our Richard Gere Film Festival. An idea took shape — what if?

And so the 2nd Annual Richard Gere Film Festival Reunion was born.

Thirty three years after our first gathering, we met and we ate, we drank, we laughed, we danced and we sang.

We planned on watching some of Richard Gere’s newest films but we never actually got around to it because there was just too much to say, too many stories to share in the precious time that we had.

The years fell away that night and we had so much fun. But we also realized, with the wisdom that comes with growing older, that we made new memories to hold us until we can gather together again. And we will!

Thank you Richard Gere.

Questions From My Ten Year Old Self – With (Probably) No Easy Answers

I was ten years old the first time a man exposed himself to me.

Grudgingly delivering my sick brother’s newspapers (back in the days when it was supposedly safe for kids to do such a thing), I noticed the same car pass me multiple times. I figured it was somebody who was lost.

As I was making my way down a quiet side street, the car pulled up to the curb. The window was down and the driver leaned over and spoke to me, asking me directions to a local skating arena. His voice was very low and I had to move closer to the car to hear what he said.

That was when I saw IT.

My first thought was

“Why does that guy have a carrot in his hand?”

I was ten, remember.

My next thought was

“Oh. My. God. That is not a carrot!”

I froze for a moment, speechless, and then raised my hand pointing in the general direction of the river and said,

“That way.”

The man laughed and drove off. I was stunned!

I continued delivering the papers, my shock turning first to nervous laughter and then suddenly fear.

What if he came back?

I made the decision to get home quickly and, with the mostly empty newspaper sack flapping behind me, I ran home to tell my mother.

The police were called, a man was apprehended (he had done this a few times that day and there were several witnesses), I identified him through a two-way mirror at the police station (he was fully dressed), and that was the end of that little drama.

But it wasn’t really the end.

I still feel the shock, disgust and fear that my ten-year-old-self experienced that day long ago, when I reminded on a daily basis that this happens to woman and girls (and men and boys), every single day, often by men they know, love and/or work with.

The perpetrators are not always strangers on quiet streets or so-called perverts in back alleys that we were warned about when we were children.

Some are men of power, privilege and fame who use their position to do unthinkable things to people they know.

And they use their power to keep their dirty deeds secret for a long time, allowing them to feel that they are untouchable.

I have to ask the question —

“Why?”

I am sure there are no easy answers, but my ten-year-old-self still wants to know.

Skip to “The Loo”, My Darling!

I have a major fascination with restrooms, washrooms, lavoratories, loos, washclosets, toilets – you know those places where you go – well, you know.   I know this seems like a really random thing, but having been stricken with a chronic bladder disorder (it has a medical name but I prefer to call it  “cranky bladder”) I have come to have a love/hate relationship with washrooms, which depending on their condition, add heightened stress to an already  stressful situation. I take a miracle pill three times a day that certainly helps and I am really lucky that it worked for me as 25% of the women afflicted with a “cranky bladder” get no relief whatsoever. And so when my husband (Loverboy) and I planned a trip to Ireland, the idea of traveling around and trying to locate a decent washroom was a definite concern.

The whole washroom-issue-while-traveling has probably been heightened by a trip to China I took a few years ago.  Some of the washrooms in China are quite interesting and can provide plenty of challenges for the uninitiated.  I remember my first foray into what is called a squatter.  I had traveled for 21 hours to reach my destination in Nanjing.  Upon my arrival, my hosts whisked me away to a restaurant where we shared a hot pot and some quarts of beer (therein lies the problem, as my mother would say).  By the time we were ready to leave the restaurant, I really had to use the washroom.  I made my way to one and when I got in and closed the door, I realized it was nothing more than an hole in the floor.  Now, never having had to use a hole in the floor (even the most primitive outhouse I have ever used had a seat of sorts) I was helpless to know how to even begin.  Using a squatter requires agility and skill that I certainly didn’t have, and in most instances where I was forced to use one, the results were sketchy, at best.  I needed at least four hands to deal with everything that was involved however, I was only born with two hands so that was an issue.  I won’t go into details as no one needs to have that picture in their heads but let’s just say I celebrated when I found a washroom with a “Canadian” toilet and my “cranky bladder” was very happy. After a couple of weeks in China, it did get a little easier but it was never something I was really comfortable with – kind of like using chopsticks!

So now Loverboy and I were traveling to another foreign country and I could only imagine the horrifying washrooms we would encounter.  We arrived in Ireland in the early morning hours and so couldn’t check into our hotel.  We were able to check our bags with the front desk and then found the public washrooms in the hotel.  Imagine my delight to find a beautifully clean washroom with stalls that had floor to ceiling doors.  So private and comfortable.  My “cranky bladder” felt a little less cranky with this discovery.  Our hotel was the lovely Grand Hotel in Malahide, located outside Dublin, so I figured this was an anomaly and things would go downhill from there – kind of like how the medieval bathrooms in castles worked.

Traveling across Ireland for two weeks provided me plenty of opportunities to go to washrooms, especially as there is a pub on every corner, in every city, town, village, field (well, you get the picture). Whether I was in hotels, pubs, restaurants, museums, on the bus that we traveled on, in outhouses on a farm (honestly, I could have eaten off the floor of this one!), in castles, or in gaols (jails in Irish and I was only visiting, I swear!), each and every washroom I entered was the same – meticulously clean with private stalls that my “cranky bladder” really appreciated.  Now Ireland probably doesn’t think to advertise their wonderfully clean and private washrooms as a reason to visit their country,  but I really think it is something to celebrate and share with the world. There are a lot of people out there with “cranky bladders” or other “cranky parts” that would appreciate the attention Ireland gives to its washrooms.

One of the coolest washrooms I visited (and yes, I even took a picture) was in Galway.  We had eaten lunch at the Kings Head Pub and I used the washroom before I left.  Well, five minutes later, my “cranky bladder” started to complain again.  I figured I would wait until I got on the bus but as Loverboy and I were walking down the main street, we passed a modern looking steel building (really stood out sitting among the cobble stone sidewalks and limestone cottages) with the international symbol for washroom on the doors, two for women and two for men.  My “cranky bladder” decided this was as good a place as any and so I sidled up to the door.  The cost to use the washroom was twenty cents and when I put my money in the slot, the steel door whooshed open (kind of like in a Get Smart episode) and I stepped inside, the door closing automatically behind me.  In front of me stood a modern steel toilet and on the walls were buttons and little cubby holes.  It was pretty freaky.  A voice began announcing all the features and how to use them.  You pushed a button by the toilet and toilet paper came down into one of the cubbies.  To get soap and wash your hands, you had to push other buttons and put your hands into another cubby.  As in most washroom establishments in Ireland, you used a powerful dryer (not wimpy dryers like the ones in Canada) to thoroughly dry your hands in a matter of seconds.  Very few washrooms had paper towels, obviously an environmentally friendly choice,  which probably helped keep the washrooms cleaner.  (I am always puzzled by the number of people who can’t get their paper towels into the garbage can when I visit washrooms in Canada.) The whole experience made my “cranky bladder” happy; the only worry I had was how to open the door to leave, but I finally located the exit button and with a whoosh I was out.  (I will be using this setting in a future piece of writing. This was the best twenty cent investment I ever made!)

Ireland really was one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.  In any direction I looked, a picture was waiting to be taken.  The scenery was breathtaking; the washrooms were phenomenal!   I know I will return to Ireland one day and it will be with the knowledge that I can skip to “the loo” without having to worry about my “cranky bladder”.  After all, there are so many other things to worry about when you visit Ireland like:

  • Where is the nearest pub?
  • What time does the traditional music start at the pub?
  • What time does the pub close?

A decent washroom needs to be the least of our worries!

Slainte!

 

Toilet Troubles!

Getting back to reality after a vacation takes a little bit of getting use to.  Going from the sand and sun to forecasted snowstorms in April can be hard to take, and a little depressing if you ask me. However, there have been so many interesting things that have happened in my life, post-vacation, that I really felt it important to overshare!

We are having some major toilet issues going on at our house.  I know talking about toilet troubles is probably not good form but bear with me – there are some lessons to be learned! We arrived home to water in our basement.  Now this is not an unusual event as we have an older home with a foundation that was poured over a few days – back in the olden days when our house was built, they had to use muscle power and a small mixer and it took several days to pour the cement for the foundation. This means there is a seam that sometimes allows the water in.  Nothing that we can’t deal with as we have a sump pump and an electric pump for those “accidents” that happen from time to time.

Anyway, I awoke on our return from vacation to hear water running in the basement and when I went to check it out, found out the overflow valve was spewing water.  I knew this was not a good thing so called Donnie (aka Loverboy) to come take a look.  He hummed and hawed and used his “plumber knowledge” to diagnose a blockage in the line inside the house.  (This had actually happened before when I was in an isolation room at the hospital having radiation treatments.  The downstairs toilet overflowed and Loverboy called me to ask what he should do.  Being unable to leave the area where I was without setting off multiple alarms and alerting the HazMat team, I told him to hang up the phone and call the plumber.)  So I took his diagnoses with a grain of salt and told him to call the plumber. He then decided to pump out the water that had collected in a few places. Normally, we pump the water into a big old cast iron double sink and this usually works like a charm, however this time both sinks filled up and threatened to overflow!  Not a good omen.

Meanwhile, I noticed that the toilet upstairs was not flushing very well.  We purchased a new toilet about ten years ago and it was designed with a “nifty” side button that you pushed to make the flush work.  It worked well for the last ten years but suddenly, the side button was not so “nifty” anymore as it would no longer flush the toilet.  This meant that we now were dealing with three issues having to do with bathroom features that we would rather not think about on a daily basis.

Of course, I had to head back to work which meant that Loverboy was left to tend to all these issues.  Dealing with household backups and breakdowns is one of his most favorite things to do!  And so, he began calling plumbers and contractors, trying to find someone who would help us with our problems. Meanwhile, I headed back to work for some of my own excitement that came by way of several emails from Natalia.

Now if you have never heard me mention Natalia before, it is because she is a new pen pal who found me via email.  I am not sure how she got my email address but I have received at least one email from her each day since my return to work. She is lovely gal from the Russian Federation who is looking for a man, and she has her standards.   Each day she discusses the characteristics she is looking for in a man and they include a “goodness man”, a “serious man”, a “smashing man”, a “reliable man”, a “respectable man”, a “good natured man”,  a “dependable man”, a “superb man” and finally, a “fair man”.  I am sure that I am all those things -well except for the “man” part so not sure why she is writing to me, but it does make for entertaining reading and I am really growing my vocabulary with her help. If I had any intention of writing back to her I would tell her that I am looking for a “plumber man” because it would be really good to have one of those right now!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Donnie finally found a plumber but he refused to come to the house and instead recommended we call the pressure wash guy with the camera who can see into your lines.  Of course, when a plumber recommends this you know what is next – “Will that be cash or credit card?” Ca-ching! Someone is about to become very rich and it is not me!  The blockage is outside the house, very close to the street but still on our property.  This means that we now require a contractor to come and dig up our lawn and walkway so that they can replace the errant sewer line.  Goodbye landscaping, hello mud! Ca-ching!!

As for the sink in the basement, the plumber did come over and decided it needed to be replaced because repairing it would cost about “as much as it costs to feed a family of seven for a year”.  Gotta love an old house! We now have a lovely plastic basin that will hopefully drain well and last for five or six years – about the lifetime of most things made today!

The toilet is another story.  We are still unable to flush it (well we can lift the lid, stick our hand into the scary disgusting water and lift the lever manually – yuck!).  I did go to the store where we bought it and they did attempt, half-heartedly, I might add, to try and contact the manufacturer but, guess what, they don’t make those “nifty” side buttons anymore!  What looked glamorous ten years ago, was no longer in vogue, so along with the lovely new plastic sink in the basement and a brand spanking new sewer line, we are going to have a beautiful new toilet to show off to friends and family.  Can’t wait until my next party!

So there you have it! Here are few lessons that I hope you take out of my story .  First of all buy a toilet that flushes like a real toilet.  Secondly, if you suspect you have a blockage in your sewer pipes, plan on winning the lotto and thirdly, if you find an old house for sale,  drive by, very quickly!  Thank goodness I took my vacation before all of this happened! In fact, I think I need another vacation now – preferably somewhere with working toilets and lots of vodka. Can anyone say “Russian Federation”?