Welcome!

Cause you never think the last time’s going to be the last time – you think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don’t” – Grey’s Anatomy

My mother died at 62. My father died at 54. I just turned 50. If we average out our life expectancies based on our parents lives that gives me just eight more years to live. Eight short years to start living and doing and not regretting! Eight years to take an active role. Eight more years to do things for me and make choices for me.

About me? Who am I? Good question? As I look through countless bloggers to get ideas on ways to answer that question I read lots of “I’m a wife, mother, daughter, sister etc” Although these are worthy titles and I am these things- I don’t feel they would completely describe who I am.

After purging my spare room I came across some old film I had nearly forgotten about that I had converted to DVD. It was from 1959. What’s fascinating is most of my family members in the film have passed on. I’m fortunate enough to be in possession of many photos dating back to the early 1900s of my family. Yes, going through scrapbooks of memories is always nice but having live action video to watch is a treasure! You can see faces light up with smiles and laughter! Catching a glimpse of these personalities from another time is truly priceless! This is one reason I started this blog along with amping up all my other social media accounts to document my journey.

Another reason is to leave a history for my family to discover and catch a glimpse of my stories from my childhood and beyond. If the universe graces me with longer than my parents had then I have a responsibilty to make the most of my time and leave a legacy my children and their children can be proud of! The 5 words that flipped the switch for me and is etched in my mind “You are going to die” Maybe not in eight years but I have One life and it’s mine to live!

Please feel free to join me and I’ll try to keep it interesting!!

At Last! The Secret of My Sister Revealed!!

img_9034Did you ever have an imaginary friend? What if your friend didn’t turn out to be imaginary at all? What if she turned out to be real? Well, mine did and this is the story.

When I was younger I wanted a sister so bad! I played with or talked about my imaginary friend as being my little sister. I was told by the adults that it was my imagination and when talking about it I was often hushed or dismissed.

Then it happened. I was in my mid-twenties when my mother came to me and confirmed what I always thought was imaginary or false memories. I did indeed have a sister and she was given up for adoption.

The story starts in the late sixties. The facts in the beginning were told to me by my mother who is sadly passed on now. She didn’t have an easy life and this was a particular difficult time for her. She was a very young mother of two whose husband (my father) was a marine deployed to Vietnam. While my father was overseas he went missing. My mother comes from a large family and instead of staying alone waiting for his return in another country she decided to come back to Canada during this time. Now, to protect the privacy of other’s involved in this part of the story I will save the details of how she became pregnant. She did make the difficult choice to put the baby up for adoption. My sister was adopted by a local family and had a happy life.

After my mother told me her story I couldn’t help but always have her on my mind. I thought about her quite a lot-Did she look like me, what was she like, was she happy, did our paths ever cross? In my early thirties while pregnant with my second son the urge to find out took over my thoughts daily and access to the internet became a common thing in most people’s households. Without my mother’s knowledge I started looking on adoption boards and sites with any stories of people looking for their birth families that had information similar to mine. I did decide to make a search post on one of these boards with the limited information I had. One night my mother called me saying she saw my post. I quickly pointed out that obviously she was interested in finding her too. With her permission and armed with more information I contacted Family and Children Services.

I don’t know how they do things now but back then this is how things were done. I submitted my name and info to a social worker who would input it into a database.  If you do match up you exchanged letters with non-identifying information. When the social worker received a release of personal information then what followed is an exchange of emails and phone calls before a meeting can take place. The social worker was very blunt and made a point of letting me know it could take years if ever a match would happen. It was dependent on whether or not my sister had her information in the database as well. Well, three days later she called to say there was a match!

I was so excited to write my letter but more so to receive hers. In it, she mentioned she was an RN. I’m not the most patient person and since my sister-in-law is also a nurse I thought maybe something may ring a bell with her if I read the letter to her. It turns out my sister-in-law said she worked with someone who fit the information in her letter. I called the social worker to ask her if the name I had was hers and she said she couldn’t confirm it yet because she hadn’t received the release of info forms. I read between the lines and knew it was indeed my sister. A few moments later it was confirmed. My sister-in-law worked with my sister all along. It turned out there were several other “six degrees of separation” moments like this. Needless to say we basically disregarded the standard protocol and went straight to the reunion! This was the Spring of 2000.

At first it was a bit of a challenge for us to start to get to know each other. Since we lived far apart initially it was a long distance relationship for a while with some awkward visits. It’s taken a few years to get comfortable and grow our relationship. Although we were robbed of many memories sisters share of growing up together we are making them now! I look forward to the many more good times and memories we will have in the future! Real ones-not imaginary!!

 

 

 

The Truth About Raising Boys During The “#Timesup” & “#MeToo” Era

img_8284May is sexual assault awareness month. Here are some of my thoughts.

This is more than just a women’s issue. Women don’t come forward with sexual assaults or harassments because it’s just easier not to. We risk being completely vilified, shamed, blamed and judged by the clothes we wear, the alcohol we drink, by a flirtatious conversation we had or a bad choice we made in the past.

What we can do besides shout or angrily express our thoughts on the injustice is use this as an opportunity to start open and ongoing communication with our children about boundaries. It’s not enough just to educate our daughters not to get themselves into situations alone, to watch their drinks when they’re out at a party or club and why society would blame them for wearing a certain outfit etc. We also have to teach our son’s. As a mother of two boys I know this is important. I also know they receive mixed messages from girls. I’ve read their texts and messages myself. Some are aggressive and read like a paragraph from an adult magazine. Regardless, my boys are responsible for their behavior and choices.

Therefore, it’s not just one conversation we need to have. It starts when they are really young. When they’re in the playground interacting with the girls on the swings or in the sandbox. It continues with how the boys behave at recess, in gym class and at lunchtime, in high school, online, at the mall etc. I like to think I’ve been somewhat successful in this matter. As my boys were growing up every opportunity I had and still have I discuss with them boundaries and consent and what that meant and means at certain times in their life. From not getting physical when you want the toy she has, not snapping her preteen bra strap and not taking advantage of a girl who may have had too much to drink just to name a few examples. I’ve gone over countless scenarios to ask what they would do and what they should and shouldn’t do. I’ve also made sure they are very aware of what consent is. Maybe, sometimes in great, uncomfortable detail. Sometimes they’re embarrassed. And sometimes they don’t want to hear it.

As a woman I feel the need for them to be taught respect for these boundaries in a loving and detailed, specific manner continually and it’s my responsibility to do so. They know they can ask me anything too. As a mother I’m also educating them and protecting them from any situation they may find themselves in so they make the right choice to treat another human being kindly and respectfully. And of course, so they don’t end up facing a wrath of a court room or worse, the wrath of their mother. We need to educate our sons because this is not just a woman’s issue.

I’m A Fraud! It’s Time To Come Clean!

That’s right! And I need to come clean! The life I want to live in requires authenticity. How can I thrive and grow if I’m not living my authentic self? How can inspire if what I put out is not based on my reality? I’m going to start with one confession today and save more for a later post. I feel a sense of guilt each time I post a filtered, photo shopped picture of myself. It’s hypocritical, really.

 Today is about stopping the comparisons and pulling back the curtain on body image and aging. On the outside I may appear to others as confident, in control and put together because that is the mask I’ve worn. Truth is I’ve been afraid all my life of other people’s judgement. Hopefully, I can squelch one of the fears of being discovered as a fake and maybe help at least one person reading this who may have compared the image they see in the mirror to mine.

Here’s my confession:

  • If you’ve compared your hair to mine, I’ve been colouring the gray out for years.
  • If you’ve compared your face to mine, I’ve had chemical peels, derma-rolling, micro-needling, fillers and botox.
  • If you’ve compared your body to mine, besides various, relentless diet programs and an eating disorder I’ve had an abdominoplasty & liposuction.

What you’ve seen is my highlight reel. An edited representation of me. We need to unite together as women and accept ourselves as is! We shame each other because we’re too big, too small or not aging gracefully based on ridiculous standards.

Young impressionable girls are watching. It’s a struggle enough to be a teen never mind one who thinks they need perfect hair, eyebrows or a perfect proportioned body and older women who are “too big” or “too small” or ‘too wrinkly”! Please, while your hiding behind your keyboards and smart phones spewing negativity and hatred about someone’s appearance look at your daughters, granddaughters, sisters, wives and girlfriends and think about whether what you’re saying is something you want them to read before pressing send!!

Let’s be real. Let’s be authentic. Let’s support each other and be kind, be positive and be enough because we are all beautiful and imperfectly perfect!! Authentic

 

 

My 2 Cents- It’s Free!

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Today is Thursday! Over the last few years with the increase in social media interactions it has been dubbed as “Hashtag Throwback Thursday”! I don’t know about you but I’ve been sufficiently programmed enough now that as soon as my eyelids pop open I start to reminisce.

At one time I wished for one of those gadgets Tommy Lee Jones had in Men in Black that would erase certain moments with a click of a button. I guess this is one of those “With age comes wisdom” epiphanies because now of course I realize I wouldn’t want to delete those moments (okay, actually, after proof reading this -maybe a few). They’ve made me who I am now. My perspective and personality has been woven with all those experiences whether good or bad.

Some things that have been pointed out to me over the years from people is that they want to hear what I have to say. I’m constantly surprised when someone comes to me for advice and appreciates my feedback, support, opinion etc on anything they’re going through.  I enjoy observing and listening and if you know me, you’ve noticed I really enjoy sharing with you what I think too!! LOL!

Reminiscing on #TBT has reminded me that I’m a survivor. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve made bad choices. I’ve made awesome choices. I’ve had successes and failures. I’ve struggled with eating disorders and some mental health situations. I’ve gained and lost friends and family. I’ve had many jobs. I’ve helped open and close many businesses. I’ve had jobs where I’ve counselled people. I’ve answered telephone help lines. I graduated college with an Honours diploma in Human Relations. I’m a woman, mother, wife, daughter (I guess still even though both my parents died young), sister, aunt, niece, friend etc. All of these things I believe give me the experience and ability to give you my two cents!

Now that I’ve shared all of that, let me share my next endeavor. My advice column which I will post/blog once a month answering any questions about anything you’d like my opinion or advice about!! There are those who have already approached me for advice and I’ve given it. For the rest of you, feel free to email me at pawnyu@gmail.com. Your identity will remain anonymous!! I promise! Cross my heart! So, hit me up!!! And Happy Thursday!!

Mondays? Yeah or Nay?

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And here I lay on a Sunday night anticipating another Monday. Another beginning. That’s what Monday’s represent to me. Fresh, new, exciting beginnings!

When you’re ready for a new adventure, you feel it deep down to your core! I’ve reached one of those milestone ages where most others are ready to slow down, Ready to retire but this new journey I’ve started has so many potential new chapters. It fills me with an indescribable feeling! I’m ecstatic and excited, I’m nervous yet strangely calm.

 They say everything happens for a reason. Maybe this time the reason was to push me to that something more I didn’t even know I needed! This is what’s thrusting me forward to pursue my dreams! This new outlook has actually caught me off guard! I wasn’t expecting to have these feelings! And just like that it’s time to start something new!!

I’m going to embrace this Monday coming to see what unchartered path lays before me and experience the magical ride this new beginning has in store! You’re never too old to start something new!!

Warning- Sensitive Truths Divulged!

I’ve actually been writing as long as I can remember and I saved most things I wrote. It sounds contradictory but even though I share a lot of my life on various social media platforms I am a private person. I will try to keep this brief. The below pic is a letter I wrote in 11th grade before my third and last failed suicide attempt. Only a few people know about this. I’m writing this blog today in hopes that it saves at least one person who reads this!

We’ve seen this week in the news strong, beautiful people with everything going for them take their lives. I’ve seen people react with shock and also sometimes with negative comments. Why would people with seemingly perfect lives who have all available resources to get help do this? You won’t understand unless you’ve been in their shoes. I have. What I can tell you is what people show you about themselves is only what they choose to show you. All of it is a mask, a facade, a character they cling to make it through the day.

The people in your life view you as strong. Able to survive the worse life can throw at you because to them it seems you have. You seem this way while feeling empty inside except for pain. It’s hard to explain and I’ll try my best but the pain is not just relentless and torturous in your mind but is also actual physical pain in your stomach, chest and throat. A heavy, crushing, suffocating ache. It’s as if you’re outside of yourself watching life happen to someone else. The torment is exhausting. It’s all you can do to get out of bed in the morning. But you do. You get up and get through each day until you can’t anymore. And that’s when you make that final choice.

Luckily, for me, this was another thing I was not good at.  I was young and didn’t really know what I was doing. That’s why my attempts failed. The last one in particular had me feeling even worse because I felt couldn’t even succeed at ending it! When I knew the house would be empty one night I took a bunch of sleeping pills and filled the bathtub up and got in. After I drifted off my toes linked up on the chain of the stopper and nudged it out enough that all the water eventually drained out. Hours later I woke up freezing, sick to my stomach with a pounding head ache. Something or some divine being was always making sure I was not successful. And with this crushing realization I knew that this was my life and I had to find a way to deal with the pain.  I know now of course, how fortunate I was.

Later the only time I mentioned this again to my mother was in a principal’s office while at a meeting to determine whether they’d allow me to switch high schools. I basically and as a matter-of-fact stated unemotionally “I can’t take it anymore, If I stay here I will kill myself”. And with that I started at a new school not knowing anyone there. And this was pivotal for me. Within the first few days I met a girl who would become a very important person in my life. I credit her for saving mine. That’s really all it took. One person reaching out to me, handing me that life line that started me on my journey of healing. It didn’t happen overnight. The pain manifested itself in different ways over the years with an eating disorder, drinking and some dabbling with drugs. Also, to be honest, sometimes even now my mind and voice will get those moments again but with wisdom and life experience I’ve been able to conquer that voice.

All these years later as I’m here writing this blog I’m listening to the beautiful sounds of my boys, the barking of my dog at the birds chirping on my window sill, feeling the cool rush of air from my vents and enjoying this warm sip of tea! It may not be perfect but I embrace every moment of life now and know how lucky I am!

We really don’t know what some people are going through. I know we all get busy with our own lives but Please every once in a while check up on your strong friends and family.

And if you’re reading this and are in pain, use me as an example. Please reach out to someone. It gets better. YOU WILL FEEL BETTER. I promise you!

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