Resilient photo challenge

Resilient
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I am not one to toot my own horn but when I saw the word for this week I knew it describes me. An ability to bounce back from difficulties…yep that’s me.
The year started out with an enormous about of stress dealing with paperwork for the estate, taxes, sorting through stuff in the house and looking for a place to live. All the while doing it entirely on my own. As I told a friend at Christmas I also had to deal with a lot of people who didn’t think I was capable because I was a girl…including family members. I was so frustrated because I couldn’t find an apartment that I liked and I felt the pressure of knowing that I had to find one as soon as possible so we could sell the house.
The hardest part was knowing that people my age hadn’t had to deal with this yet. I just knew that I had to be ruthless when I was sorting.
The great thing about living in an apartment is I no longer have the responsibility of caring for a house. This year I’ve also had to roll with the punches. Things didn’t work out exactly as planned but once I moved I felt this great weight lifted off.
As tough as I have had to be there are things that have happened that will remain with me. I have been introduced by Christian people by how my twin died. I’ve come to realize that those people will never see past my losses. I am more than that and THEY are more than that but I’m also done trying to change people’s opinions. I’ve tried that and it doesn’t work. I’ve decided to walk away from environments that aren’t good for me.
I don’t know where my strength came from. I learned a lot this past year. I also had a wonderful Christmas because I chose to find the joy in the season.
I’m looking forward to the new year because it’s full of possibilities.

An Ordinary Day

Mope
Yesterday I had groceries delivered. A new guy but really friendly. Asked how my Christmas was and if I had plans for New Years. I’ve never seen the big deal about New Years. I think it’s more of a couple thing. Today I’m catching up on laundry and cleaning my bedroom. I had to laugh at a friend when we were comparing how bad our rooms were so she took a picture on her cell. I kiddingly told her ok you win! Last night I was reading a Debbie Macomber book that I bought myself for Christmas. I like to read a book over Christmas because all the shows are in reruns until next week. It’s the last book in the Rose Harbor Inn series.
The superintendent took down the decorations on Wednesday. It made me feel a little sad. We always kept them up until after my Dad’s birthday on January 5. Sometimes we would have his siblings over for cake and ice cream so it was a decoration. But the day after we had to take it down. I’m not sure when I’m going to take my tree down. It always make me feel sad because then it’s officially over. Although Christmas was very busy (social) so I’m glad to be able to have a quiet day today.
There aren’t any writing classes until the spring. Last year she had what she called coffee chats once a month so I’m hoping she will again. I’m looking forward to the New Year now that things are settled. On Wednesday my friend handed me my Christmas card and in it she wrote “dare we say it?”. We both laughed. She has written in my card the past few years “here’s hoping the New Year is better” and it never is. This year started out with an enormous amount of stress. Daily emails from the co-executor and then the stress of cleaning out the house. The last 4 months were great because I got to hang out with friends. I had things to look forward to. My memory for today on Facebook was of our cruise that we took 7 years ago. It’s time to plan another vacation!

Another day out with a friend

Pillage
If I went by the word of the day I would like to rob time. There never seems to be enough of it. Today my friend is leaving the city. She will still be in Canada for a little bit longer but I will miss being in the same time zone. Talking to her by email everyday. But We both will have the memories and photos of a wonderful evening together. I’m going to print some off and put them on my fridge. I have a gift for a friend from college but I’m not sure when we will have time to get together.
This morning I went out for coffee and gift exchange which was rescheduled from a week ago. We try to get together once a month. We went to Starbucks in Chapters. We both love wandering around the store. We had to stop at Dollarama so I could pick up a lighter for my candles. My friend got me a gingerbread one for Christmas and this one got me one that is flannel. It sort of smells like clean laundry. We talk about anything and everything. By the time we were finished it was 12:30 by the time I got home.
I went for coffee with my Moms younger brother yesterday. He talks and I listen. It’s nice that he can talk openly about Grandma and Grandpa and Mom. He’s the only person I can share memories with.
That’s the one thing about time I have realized that it’s precious. I didn’t have enough of it with my family. But I have wonderful memories. That’s what I am trying to do itwith friends too.
It has been a very busy month. I need to vacuum my apartment. Take all my boxes from Christmas presents out to recycling bin. Tomorrow I need to get groceries. Normal everyday stuff.

The day after Christmas

Retreat
This has really been a fabulous week. Yesterday I woke up, had breakfast and just hung up in my pjs until 11 when I had a shower and changed to go to a friend’s house for Christmas. It was the first year that I didn’t feel the overwhelming sadness. I miss my family everyday but I think it was different being in my own place. I wasn’t surrounded by the memories of Christmas past.
I couldn’t wait for my friend to open her gift. Although I put on the card for both because it’s a gift for the house. My friend posted a photo on Facebook of her Willow Tree nativity scene but she was minus the wise men. I thought perfect that’s what I will get her. It took 10 days to mail from the States and I was worried it wouldn’t get here on time. The look on her face when she opened it was priceless. It’s my favourite part of Christmas is seeing the look on people’s faces when they open the perfect gift. I don’t have anyone to buy for so I went a little overboard this year. My friend got me a decorative plate that says “the super girl cape is in the laundry you’ll just have to take my word for it”. It made me smile because it’s SO ME. It’s a little bit cheeky too. It acknowledges what I have had to overcome this past year but I did it.
I’ve learned the hard way that life is short. For me it’s all about making the memories. Going out to a fancy restaurant with a friend I hadn’t seen for 9 years, having our picture taken with Santa, buying a gift for someone that has done a lot for me. The gift of friendship is beyond measure.
Yesterday I picked up my mail that I forgot to get on Friday. I got a letter from a twin friend and a card from a college friend. When I saw the envelope I had a feeling we did it again…we bought each other the same card! That’s how in sync we are! Her gift is still under the tree.
Retreat is a good word for today because I plan on having a quiet day to read the book I purchased for myself. I also need to do laundry.
Tomorrow I’m going for coffee with Uncle and Wednesday I’m meeting a friend that was sick last week. I also did some Boxing Day shopping in my pjs. I need some new slippers and they were reduced to less than 10 dollars. I like bootie slippers they are so comfortable. Santa may bring pjs to kids but this girl has to buy her own.

Janet whispering again

Bounty
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This is the third Christmas mouse ornament that I have gotten this year. When I was looking closely at it the colouring is the same as a mouse my friend gave me last year. We were walking around the market and I saw this mouse which reminded me of Janet. She collected mice and I would buy her an ornament almost every Christmas. I was thinking this morning that it’s not just MY connection to her but she is connected to my friends as well. They loved her too.
Yesterday I wrote about path. My journey includes honouring my twin. Many of my friends don’t understand how I have family members that don’t talk about them anymore. They live on in my heart forever. I am so blessed to have friends that understand that.

PATH

Path
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When I think of the word path I think of my parents who have guided me. That’s their job to guide me in life, to teach me right from wrong. Many of my poems talk about a journey, or how I can feel them walking beside me.
This picture was taken 21 years ago at a cousins wedding. The last picture with all five of us in it.
After Janet died I used the path analogy a lot because it was like walking along a dark path and there was only enough light to see in front of me. I looked after my Dad who had colon cancer. I knew nothing about what to do but I looked up stuff online and I did the best I could. Cancer is a terrible disease but it brought us closer. It was the first time in my life I knew he was proud of me. My Dad was not demonstrative but I would hold his hand in the hospital. One day I told him I loved him and he said I love you too.
I am on the path I am now because they are no longer with me physically. This year I had to move out of the only home I ever known and make a new life for myself. This post could also be put with Discover because I learned a lot about myself along the way. I discovered who would walk with me and who I needed to leave behind on the path. It’s never an easy decision. I also discovered that it’s not always the people that you think that will walk with you.
I was thinking about this word a lot today. How I carry stuff with me along the path. I wish I saw myself the way my friend sees me. She sees this strong, amazing person. When she posted a collage of our pictures from Tuesday she wrote my beautiful friend. She sees the person inside. I still struggle with words like brave, inspiration, amazing etc. Girls weren’t taught to blow their own horn.
The year is drawing to a close. When I think about this year it was hard but there were so many good moments spent with some pretty amazing people.

Acts of kindness

Hope Gone Viral
This has been a year of friends coming to my aid so I’m just going to make a list
1. My neighbour helping me run errands, go furniture shopping, taking me to the Dr etc. In return I pay for her coffee when we go out.
2. My friend CB who came with me to check out apartment and also helped with getting lamps etc. She is always there to listen.
3. My super who put my bookcase together for me. They helped so much in the process of moving.
4. My act of kindness is cutting off a couple pieces of Birthday cake for them.
5. Special gifts in memory of Janet
6. A Christmas mouse sent in the mail in memory of Janet from a special twin friend.
7. Friends who invited me for Christmas
8. A surprise gift basket
9. Opening the door to the store even though it wasn’t open yet.
10. An email or a kind word on my blog

Christmas fun

Enthusiasm
Last night I met a public school friend and her partner for dinner at 5. If you’re wondering where we went…the usual place. When I got there the waiter said my party had already arrived and were in the drawing room. I have been there many times but didn’t know that is what it is called. I was actually nervous about the evening because I hadn’t seen her for 9 years although we talk regularly on Facebook but I hadn’t met her partner. I shouldn’t have been worried because he must be a nice guy if he’s with her. She gets up to give me a hug and I waited for him to make the first move. Never know if people are huggers or not so we just shook hands.
When we sat down one of the waitresses came over and said nice to see you again so my friend leaned over and said “does everyone know you?” Yep, pretty much. After he took our order she passed over my presents. I opened the card first although I knew I should have waited until I got home because it always makes me cry and I forgot to put Kleenex in my purse. There is a picture of Janet, her and me and we are all hugging. She said it’s because she could give me a hug in person.
After they had finished their soups I handed her one of her gifts. I made her a photo book with pictures of my visit to her in Vancouver. She said “this is the best gift ever!” I love seeing people’s faces when they open a perfect gift. Since I will be sharing this post with her I will write here that this is the first year since my Dad died that I have had any Christmas spririt. That’s why I got carried away with gifts because I wanted to share it with people I love.
We took a cab back to my place but made a detour to the park to see the lights. I guess I hadn’t been because I didn’t want to go by myself. We stopped at the angel tree. I knew what it was for but had never stopped to look at the pictures on it. And so many butterflies. My friend saw two butterflies on top of Janet’s grave and they have special significance to a family member too. We wandered around and I saw the Santa House. No line at all so I asked if we could do it. I could tell she wasn’t so sure but it now has a place on my bookcase. We took a few more pictures posing in front of Santa and his reindeer and the snowmen.
We walked back to my place so they could call a cab so I asked if they wanted to come up and see it. Thankfully I was supposed to have company today so the place was clean. I could give her complete tour as my bedroom looks like something exploded inward. She did agree with me it needs more art.
A evening filled with much needed laughter.

Blessed

Relax
Last night I was feeling sad, missing the unconditional love from my sister. I was talking to a friend this morning and she asked how I was and it’s hard to explain it. I’m trying hard but this season isn’t easy.
This morning I changed my profile picture on Facebook. It brings me comfort seeing our favourite picture. Many twin friends clicked like. I am blessed that even though I know that I may not talk to some often I know they are thinking of me.
At 11:30 I got a phone call from a place saying they had a gift basket for me and would I be home to receive it. I’m cleaning for company on Wednesday so I am, all the while curious who it was from? Half an hour later I buzzed her up. As soon as I saw my name on the card I knew it was from my cousin. It has packages of hot chocolate and assorted goodies. Something to look forward to after Christmas sitting and reading my new Debbie Macomber book (a gift for myself) and a cup of cocoa.
After watching my soap opera I went down to check for mail. I go two cards today. A funny one from my Moms younger brother and my friend I’m spending Christmas with. She wrote we are blessed to have you as a friend. I am the one who is blessed because I don’t know what I would have done without my friends this past year. The two family members who I can be totally honest with.
Sometimes I need reminding.

Christmas past

Moody
Christmas 2008 was special. The first weekend in December we all went to have our portrait taken at my church. The men were “moody” because we had to wait a long time because they were running behind. My brother didn’t see the need since we would be getting photos at their wedding the following August. But I knew that with my Dad having cancer anything could happen.

We went back to the house to trim the tree. As I wrote the other day they did it really fast. They didn’t get thatnthere was supposed to be an order to it. When we were finished the kids went off to the mall. I didn’t need anything but Dad volunteered me to go with them. I remember we had roast pork, squash and rice for dinner. My brothers fiancĂ© didn’t like squash or pumpkin but I think we had salad too. And of course we had squares for dessert.

I invited a friend that was going to be alone for Christmas. We all got want we wanted for Christmas. My Dad got a new watch, my Mom got a new microwave and I got an e-reader. But what I really got was the wonderful feeling of family. Dad fell asleep in the chair after dinner and we all played board games. The memory of the day was so special for Mom and I because the following July we would lose him to cancer. We were glad that we didn’t know that his cancer had returned because it would have made the day different.

The following year Mom and I went on a cruise for Christmas. It kind of felt like running away for both of us. We both had a wonderful time but we realized this wasn’t really our idea of spending Christmas.

I think this time of year brings about so much stress because we want everything to be perfect. The house is a mess, someone is sick, haven’t finished shopping. But somehow on Christmas morning none of that matters. If you have someone to share the day with be thankful.