1/2 a story is not a story, it’s an outline

If you only read one page of a story, you will never know its’ full meaning…..the same applies to people; if you believe only one side of what you hear, you will never know the full human…………take time to turn the page…….you may be surprised with the full story!!

How often do we hear “insert whatever tidbit of information” about a person, and form a judgement from a small snippet?  Unfortunately, more often than not this is the case.  I am guilty of doing this, but over the years have realized that there is so much more to a person than second, third, fourth hand innuendo.

I actively take the time to meet people and find out “whole” story, not one page, but the continuing story……..I have been blessed to find out so many “full” stories.  It is an eye opening experience, and one that has made me feel like a better person.

People are scared, yes, I am throwing that out there, to reach out to others and take the time to find out their story.  We are complacent, to stick to “our own kind”….whatever that is, and too busy to bother with others who seem different from who we are.

The more we talk and read a life story, the more we realize, there are very few differences between anyone.  Step outside your fears of what society and peers think (they really don’t matter, and ultimately contribute to the continuing ostracization of people).  Rejoice in what we all have to offer,……read the whole story and learn from it!!

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A military wife….exposed

me....no green.......being my usual goofy self!!!

me….no green…….being my usual goofy self!!!

 

Dad at work....wearing green....at work!

Dad at work….wearing green….at work!

I have been thinking long and hard about how to post this, so all will understand and perhaps take a moment to think about how we treat others in our military community.  With our departure from Canada quickly approaching, I think the time is right for me to vent….

Yes, fair readers vent!!  This is my blog, and I have finally allowed myself the freedom, to feel comfortable enough to say what I think is important….a quick glance at our life….not a facebook, blah, blah look, but what our 13 years have been like.  I don’t want this to come across as a pity party, for it is not…..I have made my decisions regarding our life, and am very comfortable (most days) with those decisions.  This is a mere glance at my frustration.

There seems to be this preconceived notion of what being an Officer’s wife, or an Officer is all about……I am here, to best describe from my perspective, what my protected, entitled and privileged lifestyle is really all about.  I will apologize in advance, if I seem curt or angry, but when I am hurt, when my family is hurt, or anyone I care for is hurt I react with anger.  I am working on this, but still haven’t come far enough in my development as a person to be able to “turn the other cheek” yet.  See, still more learning!

I am going to start this off with some basic facts…..

1.  I fell in love with my husband, not his job, plain and simple

2.  The Canadian Forces drives me as crazy as anyone else out there on any given day. If you think I am a Forces cheerleader, you don’t know me at all.

3.  If you think that befriending me will in any way, shape or form help forward your spouses career, you are dead wrong……I don’t involve myself in my dh’s job, heck, I can’t even tell you with any sort of accuracy what he actually does!

4. Serving in the Forces or being a spouse of a Forces member is a tough job/life……it is not for the weak of heart or spirit.  Fact!!!

5.  My husband’s most important rank is “daddy”

6.  The most annoying question ever asked is “what does your spouse do?”….who cares?????  He wears green, and that should be good enough.

7.  There will be families out there, to whom, the military is everything, and rank means everything….that is not us……if you don’t know that, once again, you don’t know me.

8.  Any post seen on social media regarding my dh, is not focused at anyone but our family.  This is how we share what is happening in our lives.

9.  Officer’s are not millionaires…….yep, that’s a fact!!!

10.  There is still this archaic mentally carried about by some serving members regarding rank etc….I think it was passed on by someone’s great grand-father or something, but in our house it doesn’t fly……and if anyone brings it into our house, you will quickly be shown the front door.

11.  My dh genuinely cares about his soldiers…end of!

12.  Nasty women take great pleasure in attacking an Officer’s spouse……are they crazy, perhaps…..I don’t know, but I can’t see of any other reason that would explain this strange phenomena.

13.  I am an individual, I am not defined by my dh’s career choice, and if you choose to view me in this manner, shame of you, because I think, I am a pretty great person!!!

There is some basic facts about our life….nothing news worthy, or perhaps even interesting, but a starting point…..so I will move on to my “entitled”  existence.

This is what I am entitled to                                                                                             notice the big empty space…….good, I got your attention!!!  That is exactly what I, as opposed to any other spouse am entitled to, nothing!  We are all entitled housing if required….heck, your house may be bigger than mine depending on the amount of children in the family!!   We are entitled to insurance, a pay cheque, the basics that everyone receives, that is it, nothing more.  Last time I visited Walmart, there was no reserved parking sign for me, people don’t pump my gas, I do my own laundry, clean my own house, clean cuts and scrapes, no fast entry to the er for me…..in short, look, you wouldn’t know me from any other harried mother scurrying down the aisles at Sobey’s, except perhaps the fact that I will probably be the one in the really tacky neon jammy bottoms.  If there is an Officer’s manual regarding special entitlements, I am not priivy to it, nor would I want to be…..I am quite capable of walking the 100 meters across the parking lot, thank you!

I will now move onto the privileged section of my life…..now here is where is gets really interesting, perhaps after reading what my “privileges” are, maybe, just maybe, people will be more content and thankful for what they have.

1.  I have the privilege of moving every couple of years…..anyone who has moved more than once, knows the ultimate privilege this is!

2.  Everytime we move, I get to dry the tears of my children night after night for about 4 months…..this is something I look forward to anticipation always….as any mother knows, it is the best feeling in the world to see your child in pain, and know that other than words and reassuring hugs, there is nothing you can do about it…….We have to move….end of discussion.

3.  I have the privilege of starting from scratch every posting.  Trying to make new friends, weed out the one’s who cause you pain……about the time you move again, you almost have it figured out….almost!

4.  There is that pain when you move about leaving those that have touched you, that you have called friend.  For me, when I refer to someone as a friend, I have given part of myself to that person….it makes for many tearful nights for mummy too!

5.  I have the privilege, upon arrival in a new location, of people already hating me, because of my dh’s job.  That folks is a wonderful feeling….new boss comes in, must be cause for the rumor mill and nastiness to ensue!

6.  I have the privilege of not having had any family even remotely close to us for the past 8 years.

7.  I have the privilege of people judging me, before they know me…..or even after they know me, because of lack of courage in their own convictions, to still snub me or speak badly about me or attack me….just for fun and games.

8.  My children have the privilege of being avoided by other children (who have been told be their insightful parents) not to befriend the Officer’s children.

9.  I have the privilege of sending my dh off to fight the same wars as everyone else’s…..If I hear “he’s safe, he’s an Officer” one more time I might go finally lose it….don’t believe me…..ask!

10.  Following above mentioned wars…..I also have the privilege of my dh returning, just a bit different than when he left……no one is immune from this.

11.  I have the privilege of listening to speak about my husband in terms that are less than flattering.  Remember, he is my husband, and I love him dearly……how would you feel if what your spouse?

12. I have the privilege of people not doing business with me, because I am the Officer’s wife….she doesn’t need the money right?   Go back to the facts portion of this segment if you forgot, or the great grandfathers words of wisdom not to associate with the “others”….times have changed my friend…..I was just doing what at one point I enjoyed.

13.  I have the privilege of not knowing exactly who to trust (and on of my downfalls is that I tend to be an extremely trusting person)…..I am not quite sure of who is talking to me because they want to, or because of what “information” they think they can get from me…..it usually turns out to be none, because I don’t know anything regarding the “green.”  I don’t speak in acronyms, I chastise my husband if he talks to me like a soldier….you kind of get the idea!

14.  I have the privilege of consistently hearing, “Your dh isn’t bad for an Officer,” now this may be said tongue in cheek, but after you have heard it over 50 times……trust me, it really loses its gufaw factor!!

15.  I have the privilege of being berated by other Officer’s wives for calling some behaviours elitist, and down right wrong…never tell me how to dress, I am an adult, I know right from wrong, and so do my friends!

Gosh, there are so many more, but I don’t want to rant on and on adnauseaum.

I will sum this up, by saying…..we are a community, and as a community we should be pulling together, not by holding some archaic, out of date set of “rules”, that some feel are cast in stone.  The world has changed and so should attitudes.  One should never judge another by their job, more importantly by their spouses job….there are far too many more important things in life.  I will say, that my dh has worked hard his entire career, and neither myself nor he would every apologize for the job he has.  I will also say that NEVER should my children be used, in the way they have……to those who have done that, you have sunk to a low that is unimaginable.

We are all individuals trying to make it through this crazy maze called life.  I believe if we tried to understand others a bit better, and focused less on the “unimportant” things, the world would be a much better place.  Let’s look at people as people, not a uniform, not a job, not a rank…..let’s show the human kindness we all strive for, and if you can’t do that, at least keep quiet and don’t add to the many stressors many families have to deal with.

I love my family, I love my life, I love my friends…..when I love, I love with every fibre of my being…….and that is a fact, one I will not be ashamed of, nor apologize for…it has nothing to do with “green” or trying to impress, it is me, totally imperfect, flawed,  scarred me…..an Officer’s wife.

 

FAMILUY

Our wild an wacky family......this is reality!

Our wild an wacky family……this is reality!

 

My Mother’s Day wish

Never lose your smile, even when people try to erase it

Never lose your smile, even when people try to erase it

I have noticed, floating around on social media, some very very touching “what I wish for my children” lists in regards to Mother’s Day quick approach.  I sat with a box  of kleenex dabbing my eyes, as I read through the wishes for our children.  I thought of cutting and pasting these tender tributes to our children, then I thought, the best Mother’s Day gift I could give my children would be a personalized wish list for them.  A story written just for them, my precious boog’s;  so my little one’s here we go….this is for you, these are my wishes for you:

1.  I hope you always know love.  Love is the one thing in thing in this world that will get you through anything.

2.  I wish for you faith and hope.  Faith and hope planted in your core will see you through the roughest times.  If you find yourself lacking in these, go back to number one, add it to the mix, and you will see that even the darkest clouds will be blown away by the wind eventually.

3.  I hope you never forget how to laugh, and how to laugh at yourself.  Sometimes a little dose of laughter is a great cure for ails us.

4.  I hope you have at least one friend that you consider family, these friends are rare, but if you nurture one of these friendships, never let it go.

5.  I hope you never change who you are.  You both are unique, wonderful individuals, never change who you are, for what others think you should be.  This world is richer because of your individuality, always remember that.

6.  Know that the world is full of cruel individuals.  I hope not too many cross your path, but when they do,  I hope you have the courage and strength not to let them dull your sparkle.

7.  I wish you the courage to stand tall in life.  It is very easy to become a sheep amongst others, to stand tall takes courage, and courage is hard;  hard but worth it.

8.  Everything in life requires effort, if it doesn’t, DO NOT do it!!!  Do not look for the next best thing, it may quench some instant gratification, but in the long run, you lose.  Remember life is a long learning process……Learn, do not cave.

9.  Don’t listen to what people say about you….this is called gossip.  It is started by unhappy individuals with even smaller minds.  Refer back to number 7….you will need it.

10.  If you have not heard a statement directly from an individual’s mouth, DO NOT speak about what you do not know.  Remember, I am still your mother, and I have no problem sticking a bar of soap in your mouth.

11.  Don’t swear like it is part of normal English vocabulary.  You may think you are being “cool”, but all it really does it show your ignorance.  Like I have always told you, “use your words.”

12.  Please don’t try to be “cool”…..why?  refer back to number 5, you are an individual, you are spectacular just the way you are.

13.  Remember the number of  “friends” you have, does not define who you are….it is the quality not quantity of friends you have that is important.

14.  Don’t be afraid to try something new.  Life is an adventure…jump in!!!  If it falls under the criminal code, it is not an adventure, it is illegal, and I will not be there to bail you out.

15.  Travel, travel, travel if you have the opportunity……Experience all the world has to offer you.  You will see history first hand, experience other traditions, and learn that even though there are many differences in people, we are all people.

16.  Never pass judgement on someone else’s life choices…..if they are not hurting you, it is their choice, not yours.

17.  Be loving to everyone you meet, we all need human kindness.

18.  I hope you fall in love,  I hope it is a wildly silly, crazy, romantic love….it will be like something you could never imagine.

19.  Love will sometimes hurt….but if it is meant to be, you can work hard to overcome anything with this simple four letter word.

20.  There will be battles in life….these too will all take hard work to overcome.  Know you are strong enough to triumph over these, and I will always be there to be a calm in the storm.

21.  Know that I love you with every fibre of my being, but that does not mean I will always like you.  There is a difference.  I am your mother, not your best friend, I am here to unconditionally support, nurture and love you, but I will not go clubbing with you.

22.  You will make mistakes, and that is ok.  Be the kind of person to learn from the mistakes you make, accept that it was ‘You’ who made the mistake, be strong enough in character to apologize if necessary, and remember I am not judging you…..I made my fair share of them, and still do.

23.  I want you to look in the mirror and smile when you the reflection looking back at you.

24.  I hope you try to “be the change you want to see in the world”….it takes one courageous individual to start this, it won’t make you popular, but popularity is an infantile want/need.  Be strong enough in your convictions to realize this.

25.  I hope you do something you love, it may change over the years, but get into your career for the right reasons…..you are part of a change, remember that.

26.  Never stop looking for disgusting bugs and dancing in the rain…..remember the fun we always have doing that.  You are never too old to go on a good ole slug hunt!

27.  Do not cave into peer pressure, it is difficult, but be who you are, stay true to yourself.  This refers to friendships too….never discard someone you have called friend…..remember, I am your mother, I will find out!!

28.  Always be willing to help out someone in need.  Do not become selfish, it is not all about you.

29.  Always use your manners,  “Please and thank you” go a long way.

30.  Don’t concentrate on the “things” in your life….concentrate on the people.

31.  Say, “I Love you” at least once a day.

32.  Cuddle up with a good book, as your grandmother always told me, “a good book is better than a bad date, or bad friend” any day of the week.

33.  Learn, learn and learn some more…..study obscure religions, ancient societies, rare animals…..whatever interests you, learn!

34.  Remember there is no problem too big to be overcome….you may not be able to do it alone, but that is why I am here….I am here to help you always.

35.  Know I would lay my life down for you without a thought….you are the most important people in my life, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for you.

36.  Remember life begins and ends with family that is the most important fact out there…..we are a unit supporting each other, Family, the most important relationship you will ever have.

37.  Even if you don’t speak the truth, know what the truth is.

38.  Remember to brush your teeth and wash your underarms everyday…..it does make a difference!

39.  People will take advantage of you, this is just a fact of life…you are kind, and the monsters of the world prey on the kind….I will be there for you.

40.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you the “cream rises to the top”, so does sour milk….remember that!

41.  Never use someone for your own gain…..if you do this, my lap will always be large enough to lay you over it and give you a good spanking!!

42.  Always hang onto your love of animals…….they my darlings are sometimes the calm in the storm….unless they ate your couch, then they may be the storm!

43.  I hope you find your soul mate with whom you can share your desires, dreams and life with.  There will be ups and downs, but this person will bring a ray of light into your world.  It isn’t about looks or jobs, it is about a connection that can’t be seen.  It is in enjoying just talking, walking hand in hand, and sharing your innermost secrets……if it is right…..it is beautiful!

44.  Finally, I wish for you children.  I wish for you children as beautiful, intelligent, grounded and kind as I have been blessed with….it is a love like one you could never imagine.

This my dear little one’s is my Mother’s day wish for you……I love you to the moon and back, to Mariana’s Trench and to the remote Greek Isles.

Mummy xoxo

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My little warrior…..boog#2

My littlest boog came into the world screaming, and for the next 3 months of his life he did not stop…..then something changed.  I watched as friends children starting babbling, chatting and talking,  my boog made sounds, noise, a lot of noise, but those words did not come.  His frustration grew, as did his temper, and mine followed in check.

It was when Liam turned 3, that I had to sit down and do some soul searching…….he wasn’t lazy, his sister wasn’t doing the speaking for him…..he couldn’t talk, he could make noise, but could not speak.  I spoke with our Doctor regarding my smallest boog, and we were sent off for hearing tests, speech assessments, ENT’s the whole enchilada, to find the the root cause of his problem….so started a roller coaster ride of emotion, questions, anger, and finally answers.

Liam’s hearing was fine, the speech assessment (which I found to be ridiculous, as he could not talk) proved to be very frustrating, as when shown flash cards and pointing out what he knew, the therapist, the “professional” took me aside, and informed me that Liam was severely developmentally delayed.  As a mother, the words were very hard to hear….I left the hospital, deflated, her words ringing through my ears.  I remember speaking with Michael about the “diagnosis”….he was furious.  We talked and talked, and realized that not knowing the difference between “in front” and “behind” did not dictate such a diagnosis….we would wait for the ENT appointment, and keep working with our little boog ourselves.

We met with the ENT, finally some good news, Liam’s adenoids and tonsils were so large that he could not form a sound properly…..the Doctor agreed to remove his adenoids, but would not remove the tonsils…apparently because there was no infection in them, it was better to keep them and not be able to speak than risk the future “possible case scenarios”……bravo once again “professional”…..you know your book knowledge, but have no idea the frustration and alienation my little boog was living with on a daily basis.

Adenoids removed, subtle improvement….none that an individual would immediately notice, but one that I as a parent could see….progress.  Our little boog was making progress, but his frustration still remained.  He watched as other children played together, and he was excluded because he was different.  I watched as the tears welled up in his eyes….the tears welled up in my eyes, as I sat him on yet another time out because of the frustration.  I watched him cry and yell, because of a situation he could not control…I would not let him see my tears of heartbreak for him, that was saved for alone time. I heard the “quiet whispers” of the other parents, of friends, and even of myself.  Yes, my son was different, but that never made him less worthy of the love and simple human kindness of others.  It is our differences that  make us wonderful, and I wanted people to understand this;  but unfortunately “different” was seen as strange and bizarre (an insight as to part of the reason the society we live in is so messed up).  We worked with Liam, and worked.  I wasn’t allowing any of the so called “professionals” back into my sons life again.  He was my son, and knowing him better than a “professional” did, we worked on the basics, things that worked for him, things that helped him….and help they did.

At age 3 3/4, boog #2 had his tonsils removed, he was a champ!!  I heard him wake in the morning following his surgery and come out of his room…..he greeted me with “HI MUM!”…..clear as day!!  The tears started running down my face uncontrollably….hi mum…..two words that most parents had been hearing on a daily basis for a couple of years, two little words I had longed to hear…..two little words that changed my life and boog #2’s.  The world was his oyster and he was ready to crack it open and dive in!

Learning…..this is what drove my littlest one.  He loved preschool….he couldn’t learn enough, Kindergarten, even more fun, grade one…..full blown student, couldn’t be better!!  He was different, yet again,… he thrived on education, he thrived on knowledge, he didn’t care about sports, about getting dirty, he didn’t want to play “soldier” like daddy, why would he?  He was Liam, and part of being Liam was a quest for knowledge for new things…he wanted to learn.  What he learned, at an early age, was that being different equated to being bullied, and teased, being bullied for being himself.  In retrospect I am thankful that all this nonsense occurred at an early age, for having seen and experienced this, my boog learned who he was, what he was willing to put up with, and what made him exceptional early on, and we stood by him 100 percent.

Little boog discovered karate when he was seven and immediately fell in love with something other than learning, as parents we couldn’t be more pleased.  Boog #2 is cursed with my joints and flexibility, so “normal” boy sports were not of any interest to him…..he was gangly and somewhat akward…but through karate, he found control of his body and mind….he basked in the physical and mental aspects that karate taught him…he loved it, he studied it, ahhh yes, the sport and the meaning behind the sport.

         Nine years into boogs life, he has figured out most of us adults still struggle with…..who he is.  He dances to the beat of his own drum, and doesn’t give a hoot who questions what makes him tick.  He is different, he is a genius (not just mum’s opinion, but the results of testing) he is intense, he is focused, he knows what he wants and does it….  he is a 60 year old man in a nine year olds body.  His mind works in ways that most adults don’t….and he has figured out that his differences are what make him absolutely OUTSTANDING!!

The “professionals” were correct about one thing regarding my boog #2, he does have a tongue thrust, so we still work on certain sound combinations…..but, besides that, they were wrong….absolutely, completely  and utterly wrong.  I am happy, that we as parents didn’t buy into the “professionals”, I am happy that we fought for our child and continue too, as society still doesn’t know what to do with children who are different, and I am happy that all the negatives that Liam experienced in his early years, happened to a hyper intelligent child;  a child who was able to process a lot of what some adults can not, and it has made him a better little person.

I admire my little warrior……he is strong, independent and most of all unique.  He has been judged by children and adults alike, and walks away proud of who he is and his abilities. He has fought against an, at times, very cruel society, but has never given up.  He knows he is special, but has a humility about him, he knows he is smart, but is willing to lend a hand to whoever needs helps, he is talented, and wants to share that talent with the world.  He has been laughed at and teased, but still wants to give back…..to share, to help, to care.  I often wish I was more like my boog, able to let the world slide off my shoulders and look to the next amazing adventure in life, be proud of who I am without fear of repercussion.  I wish I could figure out how at the age of nine, he has seemed to master much of what a lot of adults fight with…but he is much smarter than I am and always has been….maybe one day he will let me in on his secret, maybe one day he will share it with all of us…..and what a day that will be!!!

our little warrior

This photo is from the Atlantic Canada karate tournament last weekend……the “different” boy placed sixth among competitors from 5 provinces…..weird, sissy, and other adjectives to disgusting to repeat………I don’t think so, BRILLIANT, AMAZING AND INSPIRING, a definite YES!!!  “UUUUUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPPP!”

The birthing debate.

Our second blessing

Our second blessing

Our first blesssing

Our first blesssing

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Birth…..bringing a new life into the world.  Think about it, we women are capable of bringing life into the world, how amazing and empowering is that!!!  We carry a tiny being inside of us for up to 40 weeks, and at the end have the greatest gift one could ever be given….a child;  a little piece of us, wrapped in a tiny blanket, who already has us wrapped around their little finger.  There is nothing more beautiful, and of course, nothing more debated amongst women….this I will call the birthing debate.

In years gone by, women gave birth, while in fields, any place that was convenient at the time.  There was no epidural, there were no inductions, no pitocin, no nitereous oxide, none of these fancy little things that have made their way into sterile hospital settings in the 21 century.  If you found yourself in the unfortunate position of having a breech baby, chances are the end result would be the death of the mother, the fetus or both.  Birth was hard (hence the term labour), it wasn’t a kodak moment (even if there had been a Mr. Kodak).  Women congratulated their friends and acquaintances on the birth of a child, as it is a time to celebrate.  They knew the pain and hard work involved in producing the baby, they respected it and they respected the woman who had just gone through the entire experience.

Welcome to good old 2013….how the times have changed. Put a 100 women in a room and you will hear 100 different opinions on giving birth the “correct” way:  natural, under water, c-section, epidural, hanging from the ceiling, Doctor, Doula, Midwife.  I am not sure when, how or why women decided that how one gives birth became a topic for debate,  I am not sure why women find it acceptable to give advice on “how one should give birth,” and finally I definitely can not comprehend how or why a woman would even consider telling another woman, “if you haven’t done it naturally, you really haven’t given birth.”

I am a mum, according to some, who has never actually given birth.  Thanks to advancements in medical technology, I am not one of those women who would have died in childbirth, long and short of it, I have had two c-sections.  They were both planned c-sections, and both were medically necessary.  Am I grateful for technological advancements, you are darn right!!!!, do I feel any less of a woman for not having to push a baby out of my body, honestly no.  If I am being completely honest, I don’t like pain, the thought of unmanageable pain can put me into a panic attack;  once again the world works in mysterious ways,  my first child was a transverse footling breech (c-section) and the second, and this is quoting my ob/gyn, “You will never, ever, never be able to push out.”  Ok fine Doctor, point well taken (c-section #2).  Now some will debate my point not to try naturally with the second, but take note, that during my second section, the head of my yet unborn son was visible through my first section scar (ever read about ruptured uterus’s?)….it would have been a fatal choice on my part for me and my son, I made the correct decision, the best decision for me and my unborn child.

Correct decision or not, I am still viewed by some as less of a woman (no matter what the circumstance) for not doing it naturally.  Ok, so be it…..but why has this become such an issue of debate.  The birth of a child is a very personal decision, based on what is best for the mother, father and baby, but yet we as a society have decided that it is ok to give unsolicited advice on “the best and proper” way to birth.

I listen in utter fascination and terror when people speak about their birthing experiences.  Every story is so different, so unique, so personal, so beautiful, something that the parents can cherish for their lifetimes.

I also listen in utter fascination when I hear the “expert’s” aka: other women who have had children, give their “expert” advice on how to properly give birth….yes ladies, apparently there is a right and wrong way to do this!

I have met the ultimate “expert” on giving birth.  I do not know this person, other than another mum at gymnastics back in Alberta.  We were sharing our birth stories, as one of the ladies was “very pregnant,” and due to give birth very soon.  We described in detail, probably too detailed for some sitting around us, the stories of how our children came into the world.  The “expert” was the last to speak, and started her story with, “Now I appreciate all your stories, but any medical intervention (unless the child is in distress) is detrimental to the mother and the child…” I knew this was going to be one of “those” stories, a sermon, and it was going to be a good one!!!  A good one it was!!  I will not bore you with all the details, but in the “expert’s” opinion having a natural tear from end to end was much preferable than a carefully cut episiotomy, pain medication should never be used, it is not necessary….oh it was a wonderful account.  The “expert” beamed after telling her story, the rest of us were speechless.  The one and only comment I could muster, was how long was your recovery?  Her answer 5 weeks……hmmmmm…..5 weeks, that would be a week longer than my recovery from my c-sections……all seems worth it to me! (but it was her decision, so I guess I had to respect that.)   More time passed in an akward silence……Of course not being able to hold my tongue any longer, I pounced.  In retrospect, this was a very snide comment on my part, but I felt I had to hammer my point home….and hammer it home I did.

I asked the “expert” what kind of trophy did she receive?  She looked at me with a bewildered look in her eyes…..I repeated my question, “what kind of trophy did you receive?”  She was appalled that I would ask such a question…..I was appalled that she was have the gall to preach to us on how to give birth properly.  With no answer forthcoming, I told her, “I didn’t realize that there were trophies for birthing the “correct” way….. I wondered if she was high fived by the entire staff for her efforts, for kicking it old school, probably not…. she probably received the same “congratulations,” that the rest of us did…..she probably felt the same joy the rest of us felt.

This is just one story, but the most memorable in my mind.  These stories are everywhere.  Get a group of pregnant women together, and let the fight begin.  I will, I won’t, I would never, how could you?, it can go on and on.  It would almost be comical, but for the fact that these are women all in the same position, and all hoping for the ultimate “trophy”….a healthy baby.

What was so wrong with the days when we revelled in each other’s blessings?  When did we all become “experts”?  We have our own experiences, but that in no way makes us an expert on anything.  What works for one, may not work for another…..and me being a coward, would never work for me!!!  Let us unite and celebrate, not divide and conquer.  We as women, are afforded the most amazing of abilities, the creation of life…..I will repeat, the creation of life…..bask in this,  feel privileged that we are part of a very special “club”….a club we all understand.

My birthing days are long gone, but I think we as women,  must refocus on what birth is all about.  It is about bringing a new life into the world.  It is a very personal and private decision.  This is a topic that should bring us together, not divide us.  I know women in general are fantastic debaters…..but we should focus on what should be debated, and what should be respected.

Birth, the experience of a lifetime.  Everyone’s experience is different,  but it is an experience like no other.  I may not have ever been in labour, I may never have pushed a child out of my body, but I have carried a child inside of me for 37 weeks on two occasions.  I have felt evey flutter, kick, hiccup, just like my counterparts who did it naturally.  I do not have any trophies for giving birth, nor does anyone.  In the end, I was blessed with two healthy children, and two smiley faced scars that remind me I am woman……here me ROAR!!!!

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Today is honest…

Today is honesty Sunday……My family doesn’t live in a “perfect” online world…..we fight, there are times I don’t like my children, and they certainly don’t like me, sometimes I could whap my husband upside the head with a shoe, and he feels the same, our dogs have pooped in our shoes, I have dog/cat hair in my house, I am not a good cook and freely admit my disdain for cooking, I eat gluten, I eat whatever I want, I feed my kids peanut butter, my kids stay in their pj’s all day, pick their noses and fight like cats and dogs, I have bad hair days, I don’t exercise and don’t feel compelled to “work out” just to fit in, I go shopping in my jammie bottoms, we don’t fake it, we do real, and sometimes real isn’t pretty, so please don’t judge if I seem down and am being honest. We fight, we argue, we are sometimes a mess, but most of all we LOVE….and that’s what gets us through everything. Here’s to our total and completely IMPERFECT LIFE, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!!! – me-

Walking through the darkness…..a journey with depression

de·pres·sion

/diˈpreSHən/

Noun
  1. Severe despondency and dejection, accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy.
  2. A condition of mental disturbance, typically with lack of energy and difficulty in maintaining concentration or interest in life

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Two points…..two small points, to describe a condition, that all too many people have experienced.  Two points that define a word that fundamentally changes ones life, the lives of those around them, and the understanding of what a “normal” life should be.  Two small points………think about them…..

According to statistics, 1 in 4 Canadians will suffer a depressive episode in their lifetime.  Having looked at the “depression” test available at Doctor’s offices, I would suspect that we are all closet depressive personalities….but what happens when, it is not a “simple” depression….what if it is more……this is my story.

At age 15, I clearly remember telling my mum, that something was not right.  I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something with my internal chemistry was not firing on all cylinders.  I was 15, I wasn’t supposed to overwhelmed with worry and feelings of uselessness…..My biggest concern should have been my choice in clothing, not how I was to make it through the next 24 hours.  My mum dismissed my concerns, telling me I was hormonal (this was mid 1980’s remember, and things like “this” were not discussed in polite company, or any company for that matter.)  This statement only added to my angst…..I knew it wasn’t hormones, I knew it wasn’t my age…..All I did know for sure was that it was “something” that was over taking my life, and I had no way to stop it.  So begins the darkness that enveloped my life for the next 15 years….a darkness, that at it’s worst was something I would never wish on anyone, a darkness that robbed me of any joy, any compassion and love for others…the darkness I will call depression.

This is so hard to write about, as it is such a huge part of my life that I am so ashamed of, not ashamed of being clinically depressed, but of my actions during this time. There will be things that I am hesitant about putting down on paper.   Please bear with me dear reader, if I am all over the page….this is like picking at a scab that is not quite ready to come off;  but it is important.  It is important for me, important for my friends, important for other people and parents out there who are catching glimpses of something…something they are not sure of.

Depression is a nasty little trickster….it comes and goes, and just when you think you have made it through the darkness it will knock you down harder than you have ever thought possible.  Each time, it takes a little more of you, until you are so wrapped up in its cocoon, that the thought of escape, or even seeing life as worth living becomes almost non-existent.  It robs you of any sense of self worth, self esteem or your place in this world of ours.  Depression chuckles at you while you are being systematically torn apart.  Does my description sound overly dramatic….for some perhaps, for those who have experienced it, I am sure you could more eloquently state the devastating effects of this disease.  That is correct, “disease”….this is no more anyone’s fault than being diabetic, or having a thyroid condition.  For those not well versed on depression, serotonin is the key to this whole equation.  We simply, just do not produce enough of it.  Now exercise, vitamin D, taking comfort in what brings us peace can help reduce the absolute “bottoms”, but in the end, it comes down to brain chemistry…..please don’t tell me to “smile”….it really doesn’t help!

For many years, I suffered, and suffered alone…..then came my “coming of age” years…and I found my “best friend” to help me deal with my feelings of hopelessness…..alcohol.  I don’t think I would have considered myself an alcoholic, but a binge drinker definitely.  Whenever the chance arose to go out I did…..and I did it in big style.  It was amazing the feeling that came over me, when under the influence.  The worries, the problems, the cares all disappeared…..for 5-6 hours, I was normal (yes, I know, I was anything but…..), but I felt like I could laugh again.  I made a fool of myself on most occassions, said and did things to people I cared about that shames me to this day.  I was jekkyl and hyde, but I didn’t care….as long as I had my 5-6 hours without pain, I was happy. There were times I drank so much I would pass out…..during these times, I prayed that this would be the one….the one time I wouldn’t wake up…..but that never happened, I am not sure why, but I was being spared.  At the time, I saw it as a punishment…I was doing everything in my power to avoid the next 24 hours, but they kept coming.  My anger and depression intensified, as did my drinking…remember 5-6 hours of happiness was worth the next 5 days of depression worse than the previous week’s.

I was spiralling downward quickly, I was pushing people away who cared for me.  My self hatred was so intense, that I did everything in my limited power to make people hate me as much as I hated myself, and I was good at it!  It was a confirmation, that I was a terrible person, not worthy of anyone’s time, anyone’s love…..all I was worthy of was to be the “goodtime girl”….I can’t expand any more on that, but it was one of the lowest points of my life.

During this time, I was being dragged from one psychologist to another, to psychiatrists…….all to no avail.  I distinctly remember one psychologist, who had me look at ink blots……yes INK BLOTS!!  I thought that science had long been abandoned, but after five minutes with me, and his interpretation of my answers, proudly told my mother “she is psychotic!”  Once again, this being the late 80’s….there still was not a “good” mental health network…..ink blots prove my point.  I remember arguing with my mother about revisiting this “professional” again…….I knew I was suffering from something, that I was not “normal”, but psychotic…..no!  I did not go back to see said “professional”, but was in and out of various Doctor offices….”take this, take that, I will see you in a month.”   I took the medications, but secretly hoped that in the ensuing months time, that somehow my life would be snuffed out….somehow I would not have to return to the cold sterile environments, and politely answer questions with the appropriate answers and be sent on my way.

I remember family members asking me “when I was going to stop giving my mother such a hard time, grow up, and smarten up.”  How do you answer that question?  I was on a dangerous roller coaster ride, hanging on for my dear life.  Was I hurting everyone and everything in my path…YES, but, and this sounds incredibly selfish, was nothing compared to the hell my life was…..once again, I wanted everyone to feel even a portion of the pain I was living in….and if that meant hurting them in the process, then that was my way of “sharing” my life.

By this point, I was living on my own, as I like I had said, pushed everyone away who cared about me.  I sat in my apartment day after day falling deeper into the well.  I did my prescribed tasks ie:  taking out the garbage.  Yes, my task for one month was to take out my garbage each day.  I could not work, I went on the welfare role……I even had home visits, as I was emotionally not able to leave the confines of my home (Friday nights, different story….remember alcohol was my best friend.)  I missed my mother’s wedding to her second husband, ( I wasn’t welcome, and with good reason) I missed my best friends wedding to her husband ( I was too entangled in my own battles to understand the consequences of this action)…..university had fallen by the wayside, I had nothing…..I sat, and sat, and sat.

I thought my life was turning around, when I met someone we will call “John”.  John moved in, and I thought this was it,  I could not have been more mistaken.  “John” saw in me something, the depression, and was quick to pounce on it.  What I thought was love, would end up being a physically abusive con man, who played me like a well tuned violin.  When all was said and done, the depression (and me) had given “John” all of what was left……it was at this point I tried to commit suicide for the first time.  I was a joke, I was a waste on society, my life would never even be noticed if snuffed out….in fact, it would be a blessing to so many if I just disappeared….First attempt failure……there would be another day though.

I was sexually assaulted, not soon after this…..my mother took me to a sexual assault clinic, where I spoke to a counsellor….I suppose my answers, or lack of emotion (remember I had none), led to her conclusion that this event had never taken place, a fact that she told my mother.  The shadows became even darker, I didn’t care anymore….even less than I had previously, if that was possible.  I was a drain on society….suicide attempt number two, once again a failure.  Failure, the constant theme in my life….I was scratching at walls of a well that I wanted to get out of, but at this point, I had no hope, I was exhausted, and no one could seem to help me.

During the next 5-6 years my life continued along its’ path….I did get on medication that let me function (to some extent), I gained employment and went about my days.  I can’t say I felt any real joy in my life, but I was functioning again, I suppose that was good enough for someone like me.

It was in 1996, that my life took a downward spiral again,  my uncle was missing.  I connected with this uncle on a level that was different,  he suffered from depression too.  I felt that we were lost souls who understood each other, understood the aspects of our lives, that no one else did.  I remember like yesterday the moment we got the phone call, letting us know they had found him…..he had hung himself….he was dead.  My cousins without a father…..others were angry with him, I understood how the pain became too intense, and all he wanted was for the pain to end, and ended it he did.  I found myself defending my uncle, (and although in retrospect, suicide is the most selfish act anyone can ever inflict upon themselves and family) I was yelling at other family members, “You don’t understand, you can’t understand the helplessness and pain!!!”

Shortly after this, my first marriage broke down forever, re enter the clinical depression. We had another family friend, who shot himself in the head….clinical depression turned into another dark, dark depression…..this one, would be like no other…..one that almost destroyed me.

I wandered around in a fog for months on end….I went on long term disability at work, I could not and did not want to be a part of society.  I could not relate to any person I met.  Other people’s happiness only threw me deeper into my well.  I could not speak in full sentences.  I wanted out, but was so badly off, I didn’t even know how to get out.  I reflected on every criticism (and there was a lot of them) I had ever received in my life, every joke made at my expense, every failure, every negative….this was the beginning of the end, I thought.  It was the beginning of the end, but not as I had envisioned.

We were now in 1999, and thank goodness, mental health care and mental health issues were “socially acceptable” topics of conversation, and because of tragic events in my family’s life, my battle was not a “dark little secret”, but something that needed to dealt with, and dealt with immediately.

It was a beautiful summer night at Lake of the Woods, and we had just returned from a bay dinner.  My mother excused herself to say good-bye to neighbours (this neighbour had just bought at Lake of the Woods, and happened to be Head of Psychiatry at a Winnipeg Hospital, yes, God works in mysterious ways).  I was later told, that my mother had trapped the good Doctor on the dock and told him, “I am going to lose my daughter, please help us.”

I met with the Doctor on Monday afternoon, and was admitted Monday evening….upon entering, I had the humbling experience of turning in all my necessities ie:  toothbrush, razor, hair brush etc……, when you needed them, you got to ask for them,  you could check them out, and then return them.  I was put on a cocktail of drugs, that had the ability to take down a small horse, but put me in a state of not feeling bad, not feeling good, just not feeling.  For weeks I went to therapy, met with my Psychiatrist, took my meds and slowly the fog started to lift……one day I laughed, not a forced laugh, but an actual laugh.  It almost took me by surprise, as I couldn’t remember the last time I had laughed, just for laughters sake.  I was released from the hospital, I thought I was ready to face the world again….this euphoria was to be short lived.  While in the hospital, I learned to accept the depression I was dealt, but my coping mechanisms for the real world were non-existant.  Each week upon visiting my Psychiatrist, he would take notice of not just my mood, my answers, but my weight…..one month after being released I was back in the hospital, after losing 20 pounds.  My battle with anorexia had begun (previously blogged about).

This hospital stay was much more intensive than my first.  I was to learn that depression, is never just depression.  Depression is alcohol’s best friend, depression loves anxiety disorders, depression and eating disorders skip through the fields together hand in hand.  I was a mess.  Why was I cursed with this life?  Why me……why bother???  Why bother, because of the little bit that I had learned, was that in my pathetic shell of a body, was someone who was worthwhile…..there was a little pin point of light at the end of the darkness.  It was my choice to reach for it.  I choose to reach.

That choice to reach for the light proved to be one of the hardest jobs I have ever had in my life.  Now some may laugh, but consider this;  when you have lost almost everything, and must redefine who and what you are….that you have been sick, and have to recover emotionally and physically….this is a full time job.  The therapy was intensive, painful, exhausting, but worth every moment.  I was in the light…..I had lost so much (not things, but people) in the process,,,,,but those who were still standing with me at the end, I knew, would be there for life.

There are many individuals you have to make amends with when fighting depression.  There will be those who don’t want to hear it, there will be those who don’t believe in mental illness but do believe in you as evil incarnate, there will be those who are too uncomfortable to hear your story, there will be those who just don’t care….but there will be the one’s who will rejoice with you in your recovery and those are the one’s the make the journey incredible!

Often, I find myself being diagnosed by well meaning individuals, who really have no clue as to what I have fought for, I also have been judged by these same individuals.  I have been denied opportunities because I had a “major depressive episode”,  I have been told to “pray more,” as if somehow God has a control switch to my serotonin levels, and I was also told, “it was a shame that your suicide attempts were not successful.”  I have been told a lot of things….. I have learned what to listen to and what not to.

Next to my husband’s Afghanistan deployment, the biggest challenge to holding onto who I am to this point, was when Child and Family Services Alberta denied us for adoption because of my prior depression,…..in their eyes, I was not a “fit parent.”  The crack smoker, or abuser can get their child back, but there was no way they would consider my husband and I as adoptive parents.  For many months, I questioned my parenting abilities with boog #1 and #2, my ability to be a good wife, my abilities as a human;  these were the “professionals”, maybe I was not fit to be raising children, maybe I was on the fringe of society, not deserving.  I did come to realize that unfortunately the stigma with mental illness still remains…..it may not be as bad as it was, but there are still people living under rocks when it comes to this subject….Remember the statistic at the beginning, 1 in 4 people!!

My life pd (post depression), has not been an easy one (nor is anyone’s), I have had my ups and downs.  I have never (thankfully) been at the stage I went through before. I have taken antidepressants once in the past 13 years, short course, did the trick.  I am keenly aware of the signals my body is giving me, and my physical capabilities…..I know when to ask for help.  I have also learned  that each day is a gift, it may not always be good, but  we must embrace what is given to us, the good with the bad.

I have redefined what success is. (as I have witnessed first hand how quickly that can be taken away.)  I watch in fascination as others go “full out” to succeed or define themselves by doing something they and society consider “successful”…..I have altered what success is in my life.  I am alive:  there is light in my life,  I have a family;  that is the greatest success I could ever have dreamed about at my darkest times, and I have it all!!  Some judge me on this, but having come from where I did, I love and bask in my small but meaningful successes!

The one thing that I have hung onto is the love of my family.  I know my husband can get extremely frustrated with me, but God love him, he has stood by my side.  My children are rays of sunshine that I have been blessed with.  Not a day goes by that  I do not count my lucky stars to have three individuals in my life who don’t judge, don’t offer the “just smile, you will feel better” line, just love me……me, with all my human foibles.

Depression, it isn’t a scourge from God, it is not the devil’s work, it doesn’t afflict people because they are bad people…..it is a disease.  I will repeat that, “it is a disease,” not unlike any other disease.  People with mental illnesses do not need to be judged by at an all to many times, very judgemental society (you are different than me, you are bad), they don’t need to be looked down on, they need to be loved, and loved harder than you think is humanly possible…..for only through this and a willingness to fight, will they emerge into the light.

My depression has taught me many things about life;  the number one thing is that life is worth living no matter what the circumstance.  Life is a precious gift given to us….use it wisely and to its’ fullest extent!!!!  It has showed me the ugliness in people, but also the shining examples of human compassion, understanding and love.  It showed me that the seemingly impossible can be overcome if we have the inner fortitude to stick it out. It showed my humility, humility and more humility.  It showed me that success is not measured by what we “do”, but rather what we have battled through and who we are now.  It showed me that ignorance still surrounds us, but that rising above the narrow minded thinkers is very empowering. It showed me that just taking the time out of our busy lives to just listen can be better than all the medication in the pharmacy  Finally it showed me that people we judge as “bad” or “screwed up” are a lot of times suffering, and suffering alone.

I sometimes wonder why I was chosen for this battle, but as time goes on it become more clear.  I am to share my battles, share my story, share the knowledge, share the hope.

This in a small way, is my apology to all the people in my life I have hurt.  It is a story, that I hope can be shared with others  a story that can erase a little of the stigma of mental illness.  This is something I never wished for, but it is my story.  Am I proud of aspects of my story, no……am I proud to tell my story, YES!  This is my story from the darkness back into the light…..and it was worth every step!!!!!

To Michael, Caleigh and Liam…..you are my life….I love you with every fibre of my being…..I am humbled by each of you.  You teach me everyday how to be a better person.  To all the others who stood beside me, “thank you” will never be enough…..I love each and every one of you…. ❤

Where’s my inspiration?……

I have been wandering around the ole homestead this past week, wondering……”Where is my inspiration?”  Who stole it?  Can I please have it back?, When suddenly, during a quiet moment, I sat down, looked around me, and realized it hadn’t left me…….I was surrounded by it.  My eyes, jumped from one photo to another, a souvenier, a ball of dog hair…..it was still here, I had just become too busy to sit back and realize that inspiration is everywhere. There are inspirational people and things happening every moment of our lives, we just have to slow down and appreciate what is being shown to us.

I looked up to a family photo on the wall, and suddenly it became very clear….here are the three most inspiring individuals in my life.  My husband Michael, who at every turn never ceases to amaze me.  My boog #1 and #2 who can brighten my day with just a quick smile, and show you everything that is good in the world.  The furbabies, who unconditionally love you, and all they want in return in a soothing scratch on the head, no more……just the simple things.

This got me thinking about the people in my life who have left their hand prints on my heart;  the one’s who have faced life events that would take down a lesser person, the one’s who did it with a smile on their face, and taught everyone around them a lesson about the human spirit.

To my mother, who without her, I would not be here…..I wish I could tell you all the things that were left partially said……

To my friend, who from junior high, was convinced he was going to start his own security firm, the biggest the best……he did it!!  Thank you!

My friend, who lost her husband very suddenly from cancer.  She, at that moment, decided to change her life, and change it, has she ever!!…..Thank you!

My friend, who was separating from her husband and discovered she had stage 3 breast cancer,  looked both of these obstacles straight in the eye and kicked them both in the butt, all the while with the biggest smile on her face and contagious laugh echoing through our town.  Thank you!!

My friend, who handled every deployment of her husband, like it was a trip to the grocery store….all while doing it with 2.5 and eventually 3 children (yes, she was pregnant).  Thank you!

My friend, who after 5 years, asked me to call her…..and left me in tears (of joy and sorrow).  Thank you!

The individuals of our prior sleepy town, who came out and helped us, when life was at the lowest for us….Thank you!

To all the military spouses out there, who I look up to.  Who can handle this lifestyle without so much as a hiccup.  I want to be like you when I grow up……Thank you!

To all my friends, who stood by me, while others did not…..Thank you!

I realize that I am surrounded by inspiration every moment, of everyday.  My life has been touched by so many people, with so many amazing stories of how to live.  How to live without reservation, to believe in something beyond and bigger than yourself….how to give, how to hope, and how to love.

Inspiration……it doesn’t come with dollar signs, or a job title……it comes with attitude, the ability to give without consideration of return, to persevere under the harshest of life’s trials, and to do it all without realizing how you are touching people……humbly and with humility.Image

I am inspired……with the people in my life, how could I not be?

 

 

 

She’s really a skater!!….Boog #1

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We pulled ourselves out of bed at 6:00 am this morning (yes, for all you hockey mum’s you can stop laughing at me now!), loaded up the car, and headed out to Minto for a day of skating.  Interpretive, couples, solo and elements…..it all sounded very impressive to me, but the last time I saw my daughter skate a solo, it was a year ago….her first year in juniors.  There was a lot of scraping along the ice, jerky movements, wonderful attempts at jumps, staring at the ice, and spins consisting of one rotation and a bit.  I loved every minute of it….I was the proudest mum in the stands…..my boog was the junior skater of the year, and she loved it!!!!  After two years of canskate, a coach who made no bones of her dislike of my boog, and many tears shed over said coach, she loved skating again!!!  She was elated, proud of herself, and as parents, we couldn’t have been prouder.  Proud of the fact that she left it all on the ice and even more importantly, she did it with a smile on her face…..she knew she was getting it no matter what anyone in her past had intimated.

Now, I will admit, I am a bad skating mum…..I don’t do well in the cold, and as much as I would love to watch every moment of boog 1’s ice time…..I just can’t.  I pop in and out warming up at home in between or spending some time at Timmie’s.    Her coaches (bless them) had been telling me how wonderfully she was doing, progressing and her natural ability to skate.  I heard the words, but really did not “get it”….not until today.

Boog stepped out on the ice, dad and I sat in the stands with all the anticipation and excitement, as if this were the Olympic games themselves.  She skated the first portion (interpretive) to a country theme…..UGH!!!!….but wait, she had a presence and personality (and if you know my daughter she has a HUGE personality), that absolutely dazzled on the ice.  She skated a routine, made up on the fly, to music that was, well, bad country!!!  It was magic!!!  Result, Gold medal!!!

She went through her elements portion, Gold medal!!!, but the most magical moment for me was when she performed her solo (now she didn’t have all the required number of jumps, so we weren’t in the running for this one), but she stepped on this ice, almost like she owned it.  How such a small person can command an ice surface, I am in awe of.  She began skating, and it was almost like watching someone floating across the surface.  She jumped, spun, connected foot work patterns, smiled and was having the time of her life.  I watched every moment, every arm movement, every impish grin from her beautiful face.  I am not sure if I took a breath during that 1 1/2 minutes.  The music ended, and I found myself looking at my daughter, the figure skater.  The tears were running down my face, and I didn’t care who saw them.  I ran from the stands and grabbed my boog and held her for a good 30 seconds, crying into her head.  I cried because of the pride I felt,  but more importantly, the sheer determination my boog has;  even though she had been treated like something on the bottom of your shoe by her previous coach, she knew deep down inside that she had what it takes to make her dreams come true (through hard work and determination) and she would let no one stop her in this quest…..to be a figure skater…..and on this day, she showed all of us!!!!!!                                                                     IMG_0148 IMG_0131.JPG (2) IMG_0110.JPG (2)