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In the heartbreakingly funny auto-biogrophy of Cupcake Brown’s “A Piece of Cake”, she describes how alcohol talks to you. Who do you think convinces the drunk man that he drives *better* drunk? Or that the stranger in the bar is after his woman? And it turns on you, after you did the stupid thing the drink tells you to do, it says, “Ooooooo, you done fucked up now!”
Well, I’ve noticed that grief talks to you too. It’s like an electrical current, looking for any route to take to ground. It’ll transform into any emotion it needs to be to get out of your body and into the world.
It can shift into guilt. I noticed this a lot after my cat Leo died. I re-lived his final hours over and over, wondering what I could have done differently, even as my thinking brain *knows* I did all I could, and I’d made the right choices. Even so, the grief talks, and says, “What if? But maybe!” The same voice turns into a teasing kid on the playground: “It’s too late now, isn’t it, sucker!”
Or, grief can morph into anger and outrage, it can invoke the dreaded DRAMA TRIANGLE! (duh duh duhhhhh!) You know, that negative feedback loop where one person is the victim, another is a persecutor and the third is the rescuer? Then some unknown square-dance caller shouts a turn and everyone switches places – the victim becomes the persecutor, the rescuer is the new victim and on the terrible merry dance goes. I’ve seen friendships implode through this dynamic of grief, and it’s pretty terrible what this can do to families who are all grieving together.
So if grief is making you or someone in your life act unreasonably, just remember, they’re suffering. Their grief is telling them stories, and they can’t see what’s really happening.
Grief can even pretend to be your friend, bubbling into the ground in giddy laughter, joy and relief. Laughter that releases pain and hurts to laugh – or maybe is genuine happiness with just an aftertaste of guilt.
The trickiest trickster trick of grief is that it can convince you that you are alone in the world, and can cause you to shut out those who wish to help you. Don’t let it do that to you.
Grief is a selfish bitch.
My mother passed away at three am on Thursday.
When I was a teenager tying up the family phone line, Mom would pick up the extension and imitate Queen Elizabeth – it was a teasing attempt to embarrass her kid, but all my friends were drama geeks and just ate her impression up. One guy even called her “Queen E.”
With her exaggerated, royally-affected English accent, “Queen E” would inform me, “Hem, hem! The royal schnauzer is due for her evening constitutional!”
This was Mom’s way of telling me to get the hell off the phone and into the fresh air and sunshine.
Now, as I experience and observe the shifting voices of grief inside of me, I also hear Queen E’s voice, quoting the real Queen Elizabeth’s consoling words, “Grief is the price we pay for love.”
Thank you everyone for your kind words on facebook. Alas, internet was NOT installed in my house on Friday as promised and has been bumped back to MAY 7th! Can you believe that??? A local cable company should be able to get us basic connectivity before then, so please wish us luck. Meanwhile, I do my best with emails, I apologize for the delay in my response. I’m using cell phone minutes to access the internet, so I have to do it sparingly!
So many things on my to do list – but all happy things!
Once there is internet at home, there will be another podcast episode.
I am planning on releasing the audio class on a schedule this spring, and have two conference calls in coordination with the release of the classes – I’m SO excited about that one.
There are, of course, the readings. I’ve had to delay sending the recordings to people because it’s too expensive to upload using my cell phone data. BUT I figured out how to make a “mobile hot spot” with my phone, so at least I can keep an eye on emails and keep up with crucial communication.
Ain’t technology grand? It’s incredible what has become possible in the past 5 years.
Even so, our home internet will be limited (50 gig /month) so there will be no streaming of classes until our little community finally gets the fibre optic cable rolled over the mountain.
Thank you everyone who has sent kind words and well-wishes to my Mom.
Here you go! No babies with this girl. I hope I get a sighting of some spotty fawns before they all grow up!
It appears that in the crunch of moving, I didn’t cross-post my last entry with kick-ass entity Erik Medhus over at Channeling Erik. Here you go!
I was just thinking of Erik this morning, when I realized that all of my favourite podcasts have a good deal of cursing in them. I was thinking, “What do I associate with swearing? Why do I like it so much? Is it honesty? Open emotion? Is it the community in which I was raised? (North Bay is a sort of redneck / swarthy French Canadian town. Kids learn to curse in two languages.)
You know what else is interesting? I’ve picked up some basic phrases of Nuu Chah Nulth while living here on the coast these past 7 years. (Nuu Chah Nulth is the original language of this region, and thanks to hard-working and determined community members, this language was not lost during the genocide and is starting to come back.)
I know “chuu” (until we meet again) and kleco kleco (thank you) and a few other phrases thanks to the local language osmosis effect and the radio broadcasting language education once in a while. But I haven’t learned any Nuu Chah Nulth swearing, assuming that the language has the same pattern of segregating certain words as taboo.
It’s interesting to think about just the words being segregated and labelled as rude, rather than addressing the actual thought / intention / rudeness / heart of what was actually said. On one hand I’m thinking “of course all language has curse words, right?” But on the other hand, why would that be? And what would it look like if all the cursing Erik could do would be to say “Bless your heart!”
I’m going to have to ask one of my friends, I think I know just the guy to ask, too. I’ll let you know what he says.
I would prefer to post this entry with actual PHOTOS of the house, alas, restricted internet access makes it difficult to get the photos and text to happen in the same place at the same time, so I’ll likely post photos in a separate entry later on.
Let me just tell you what I love:
I love that I wake up to birdsong. We installed a feeder in the backyard. It was a bit of a disaster at first – the feeder we bought is designed to discourage the larger, more aggressive and generally well-fed birds from eating *all* of the seed so that the small, charming, hungry migrating songbirds have a steady supply of food while they rest up for the next leg of their journey.
The first day, the stellar jays strategically body-chucked the feeder until they were able to pry the lid upright, knock the feeder sideways and dump all of the seed on the ground. FEAST! A whole week’s worth of seed was gone in an hour.
Crows and their relatives, jays, are pretty damn smart.
I have tied a knot in the wire that holds the lid on the feeder, so I hope that will keep the jays from dumping the seed a second time – yesterday it seemed to work. For now.
About a week after we installed the feeder and the smaller songbirds discovered it, I started hearing the mischievous, lilting notes of my favourite songbird: the northern shrike. The shrike is following the migrating songbirds up the coast, and he is eating them. The shrike kills and eats other songbirds by knocking them into trees, windows or barbed-wire fences. He then hangs the carcass in a thorny bush and eats it over a few days, or shows it off to a female. Female shrikes are attracted to bad-ass songbirds.
I wonder if our feeder will supply a steady source of food not just for the migrating songbirds, but also for the shrike. It’s like having an African dessert watering hole right outside my kitchen window. Limited resources attracts the prey, and also the predators.
I’m such a fan of predators. It’s difficult to justify, you either love them or you don’t. Why would my favourite songbird be the ONLY ONE who eats the other birds? I wonder how this little species evolved into an almost-cannibal. Did it find birds who accidentally knocked themselves out on trees and decide to take a nibble? At what point did this species start to actively cause fatal in-flight accidents? How does an insect-eating song bird evolve into a killer? Even crows and ravens who LOVE to eat dead animals haven’t actively started hunting to kill. They’ll hang out the juncture of wildlife corridors and highways waiting for some poor animal to bite asphalt, and I wouldn’t be surprised if an crow or raven baited a high-traffic trap with seeds and berries, to increase the possibility of a casualty. But I’ve never seen, nor heard of a crow or raven displaying full-on predatory behaviour. And THEY would be pretty unstoppable.
It’s all very interesting.
I love that the deer come into our yard.
There are no deer in Tofino for some reason. Maybe the wolves get them, maybe the town is too densely populated, too busy and too loud for a sensitive deer. There is certainly more than enough food for them. The golf course seems to be the bottle-neck in the deer migration, and deer are seldom seen north of Long Beach.
In Ucluelet, the deer are everywhere. There is a doe with two fauns who wander through our yard every day or two. One morning she hung out in our back yard for hours.
The trouble with the deer is they attract cougars. This is one of the many reasons my cat Sunshine will is becoming an indoor cat once again.
Sunshine is doing pretty well on her medication. She has regained some weight and muscle tone, and doesn’t howl at night anymore. She isn’t completely on board with becoming an indoor-only cat again, but it’s truly necessary in our new house. Not only is there the greater predator risk in Ucluelet, there are *two* badass male cats who consider our back yard their territory, and Sunshine sustained an injury in the past from a similar tom-next-door in our first place in Ucluelet. She wasn’t badly hurt, but the resulting abscess required a vet visit and thrice-daily washings of her hind-end, which was not fun for either of us.
On top of the cougars and the domestic cats, the house’s previous occupant had a cat that was savaged by an off-leash dog who jumped the fence to get at the cat in their back yard – right in front of the family! The poor girl almost died and required surgery to put her belly back together. So Sunshine will stay inside, even when we’re home, because these injuries can happen in an instant.
The final straw on the indoor-cat debate happened just a week before we moved. Some anonymous neighbour called the SPCA because she observed Sunshine sitting outside for several weeks. She left me a condescending note saying that I was obviously neglecting my cat, and if I didn’t want her I should give her a chance to be loved by someone else. This neighbour had taken it upon herself to FEED Sunshine and included in her note a lecture about feeding “high-quality, high-protein food”. It’s possible she noticed Sunshine is a bit skinny, due to her illness.
God bless the animal rescue folks, but sometimes they can be incredibly judgmental, even of each other. Sometimes people want to see a neglected animal instead of talking to the human. I was relieved I’d gone with the supplement plan of treating Sunshine’s hyperthyroidism because if I’d gone the iodine-deficient diet approach, this person would have undermined Sunshine’s whole treatment and made her sicker. Animal lovers, just talk to the people, or leave a respectful, curious note. I wouldn’t have been upset if there was a note asking if she was okay, or if we needed help caring for her.
I am just super-grateful that this person didn’t decide to “rescue” Sunshine by kidnapping her. The whole incident was really invasive and scary. Thus, Sunshine will remain inside where she is safe from predators and other people.
Sunshine doesn’t see it that way, though. As far as she was concerned, she *loved* getting fed outside! She adores attention and pets from strangers. Strangers with food? AWESOME!
We just have to keep explaining to her that our new yard is dangerous. A cat was nearly killed by a dog outside. The big male cats will fight with her. Sunshine has adjusted to being an indoor cat in the past, she’ll get used to it again.
Besides, there is so much space and sunlight in our new house!
I am slowly acquiring houseplants and unpacking boxes. Settling in, and listening to songbirds.
Well, that’s the earliest I’ll have internet at home. For now, I’m checking emails from my favourite tofino coffee shop: The Common Loaf
I’ve been thinking about why I’ve been given this month of internet-free home time. What am I supposed to focus on? Obviously not social media. Maybe this is that down time I’ve been wanting to write some new content, or maybe I’m just meant to really settle in and set up the new house.
I’ll post pictures for you guys soon!
(The moving crew)
Folks! Thank you for all the birthday wishes!
Our move was amazing, the best, most fun move I’ve ever had! We LOVE our new house! We have a deer who hangs out in our back yard and an eagle who flies over our house at sunrise.
It is SO QUIET. So very quiet. We have been sleeping about 12 hours a night.
The only sticking point: we were denied internet by our choice provider. Durn it. I had high hopes for that. Oh well, on Tuesday I’ll call around and get the dial up equivalent of cable internet, which will at least get me connected. Alas, no skype or cool video conferences, and emails will pile up a bit until we’re hooked up. I’ll do my best to check them from Internet cafés and hopefully we’ll get our new house connected in the next week.
The best news is I DID snag a killer long distance plan for our landline, so there is no issue with doing readings.
That’s it! Thanks for the love, all!
The next week or two will be pretty unplugged. We move to our new house on April 1, and I’m hoping we will get internet on April 2. Keep your fingers crossed for us.
I’ll have a few days to set up the new house – think healthy thoughts for us, we need strong bodies!
I am just getting over the stomach flu – as are our friends who are helping us move! It’s weird that the closer we’re getting to moving day, we feel like this house is resisting our departure. Things that should be easy keep getting harder!
I am so looking forward to our new home. Our own landline, our own internet, our own laundry. If we’re tired we can go to sleep and stay asleep, and not be disturbed by footsteps or barking of neighbours.
I’ll post photos of our new place soon.
Thank you everyone for your kindness, and your patience.
I’m using this demanding time to learn how to be graceful under pressure. I just wanted to let you know that if you had a session with me last week, you WILL receive your session recording by the end of the day today.
I would like to let everyone else know that my response time for emails, comments and so on is pretty low right now, and I’m having to let some emails wait until after I’m moved and settled in.
I just want to let you know that I love you, I do see your email, I will respond. I really wish I could spend all my time with you guys, writing, responding to comments and emails, responding to requests and ideas. It’s all gold, and I really appreciate you taking the time to write to me.
Thank you especially to those who have sent me short, supportive notes of kind words and support. You are awesome.
When I do a retreat, I am totally taking you guys here.
We visited the shoreline bog just outside of Ucluelet yesterday. It’s one of my favourite places. These trees are incredibly old, which is why they’re so twisted. They only grow a few cm / year, because the bog is so acidic.
These tiny, ancient trees have been left virtually undisturbed, even as surrounding rainforest was clearcut in the past 100 years.
It’s eerily quiet. At one point on the trail, you can feel yourself being watched.
I swear, it’s wee folk, spirit beings, residents of this tiny ancient wood.
I feel them every time I visit, and catch movements out of the corner of my eyes.