Ah, Grasshopper

I feel in so many ways like I’ve become an aunt to two boys that came so unexpectedly into my life. But definitely the cool aunt, that takes them for ice cream with all the windows open and the music turned up.

That shows up at the cottage and pedals the paddle boat out into the middle of the lake with them, taking turns jumping off the side into the freezing water below. Curling up on the couch watching bad Adam Sandler movies and sucking on sour candy that they cleverly keep in the fridge.

Spending hours playing Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble and Crazy 8s and Texas Hold’em, teaching them how to check raise and then losing all my chips.

 
Late last night, we went down to the water to look at the night sky. The sky was so bright, and the lake so flat, that a million stars were reflected onto the water below and became a million more. We laid on the flat rocks at the edge of the water, side by side. We looked for constellations and the Milky Way; I hazarded a guess at the Big Dipper and they agreed that I must be right. 

They are so incredibly open to learning new things.

“What would you wish for right now if we were to see a shooting star?” I asked.

The eldest was quiet, he keeps a lot of his thoughts to himself, but the youngest answered. He wished for life, love, happiness, and then made one more. Actually, two.

He wished for his dad to never have gotten sick; and for them to find a cure.

I believe in the universe, in how it conspires and how it delivers and how it can suddenly come to life, at just the right moment.

Across the lake, a loon called. Behind us, in the water, there was a splash, as a fish jumped from the surface of the still lake. And above us, a shooting star crossed the night sky.

Me and the eldest shouted, our voices loud against the back drop of the night. “Did you see that?” I asked the youngest.

He had not – he was trying to see the fish jumping in the lake; the disappointment in his voice was clear.

I did my best to reassure him, reminding him that he had made his wishes and then the shooting star had appeared. I told him I very much believed his wishes could come true.

Such simple and pure wishes – love, happiness and life.

We started to walk back up to the cottage and I was quiet, trying to absorb as much as I could from all that was around me.

And then he spoke, the youngest, and asked if I thought there was any chance when we woke up in the morning that his dad would no longer be sick.

Because he had wished it. 

They are – both of them so curious and so willing to learn. I’ve already said that, but it’s so very true. And being so much older than them both, I’ve always just assumed that I will be the one teaching them new things, at least for a while still.

But in that moment, that assumption dissolved, kind of like that star that shot across the night sky just moments before – because all of a sudden – I had a startling new perspective.

Love, happiness and life. All things to be grateful for and never to be taken for granted.

I stopped and looked up at the night sky. At the million of stars, shining so brightly above us. The universe, doing it’s thing. I looked at the boys beside me, so young but so wise.

Ah, grasshopper.

“He won’t be better in the morning,” I said, and my voice probably broke a little. Actually, it probably broke a lot. “But if they do find a cure – and you wished for one – think about other families that won’t go through what yours has.”

He was quiet – they both were – listening, and thinking. My answer seemed like it was enough. 

We went indoors, and the screen door fell gently behind us. And I wished, with one last look at the night behind us, that all their wishes would come true.

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Explaining Courage to a 5 Year Old – and Loneliness to Myself

Last weekend, Clara and I spent the afternoon at Crawford Lake. At the end of the day, we browsed the gift shop and ate Popsicles and drifted back out into the early evening sunlight to sit in the grass. Clara tumbled and rolled down a gently sloping hill; I sat amidst the clover and examined the few things I had bought at the gift shop: an artisan scarf, some candles, a rock to keep inside my yoga bag to always remind me of my intention during practice.   

  
Clara fell against me, looped her arm around my neck and leaned in close. I could smell the sweat on her skin and the faint smell of her shampoo.

She spotted the rock and asked what it said and what did it mean? 

How do you explain courage to a 5 year old when it’s a concept that you’re only beginning to just now understand yourself?

I did my best; I explained that courage was like being brave, and doing things that scared you. Immediately she asked why anyone would ever do anything that they were scared of.

“Because it feels really good,” I replied, without any hesitation. 

I’m only just realizing that now.

Many times in my life, I’ve  been scared of being alone. And I’ve been completely and utterly immobilized by my fear. I’ve been scared of people leaving me, and what it would mean if they did. Reversely, I was scared of leaving and what that would mean if I did. I recognize now how that fear of being alone has kept me from making some pretty big decisions in my life – and from taking control.
Being alone was an unknown. Not being alone was easier.

It’s amazing what you can think about while sitting in a field of clover, holding your rock that says courage.

Being alone for so many of us seems to be something that should be avoided. Only a few months ago, I posted this to my social media: “I’m often told by others that being alone is not a bad thing. That I should enjoy it; embrace it even. I know it’s always being said from a place of love, and for the most part, I agree. But sometimes, it’s really hard hearing that from people that aren’t actually alone.”

That was a challenge. It still is, actually. I don’t know many people that are actively choosing to be alone, that are embracing it. So I think for many, being alone is still an unknown, and it’s a hugely difficult thing to relate too. 

I often say that I’m alone but not lonely and this is true. There’s something so completely empowering and liberating about enjoying being alone, enjoying your own company without the crushing accompaniment of loneliness. It’s powerful. But I can also be alone and lonely, this is also true. Some of my days without Clara are harder than others.

On those days, I’m dealing with my fear of being alone and it’s taking me courage to do so. It’s perhaps the most courageous thing that I have done for myself. And with that courage, I’m experiencing a shift in my thinking. 

What I thought about the other day, while I sat in clover and Clara tumbled and played, is this shift in my thinking and how it’s come to pass that I don’t fear being alone or feeling lonely. For me, being alone, and to a deeper extent, feeling lonely, is not a bad thing; nor is it really something I should be scared of. When I’m alone, and as a direct result, when I’m feeling lonely, it’s always because I’m wanting to be with others. I’m craving connection and that craving in itself is a beautiful thing. 

And the alternative, of always being alone and never feeling loneliness, while self-protective and would seem ideal to some people, would mean that I’ve become a person that functions in isolation and doesn’t crave connection. 

That is not somebody that I want to be. 

I believe it takes a lot of courage to admit to feeling lonely, especially to people that you perceive are unable to relate. They may seem sympathetic but not empathetic and the difference between the two can be isolating in itself. It can, frankly, be lonely.

But being lonely, as I’ve discovered, is not a bad place to be if only because it’s a reminder that I want more. And that is so much better than not wanting anything at all.

It takes courage to be alone, but far more to be lonely. But it takes far more courage to admit to loneliness. But the funny thing is; when you can admit to being lonely – to yourself; but especially to others – then suddenly you’re not quite so lonely.

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Why I Will Always Take Sleeping Pills to Sleep. 

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know? – Ernest Hemingway

When I was diagnosed with parasomnia a few years ago I struggled with the idea of needing sleeping pills for the rest of my life in order to sleep properly. I actually thought that my sleep disorder was something that I could beat; that it was simply mind over matter. I thought I could train myself to sleep better. But when you’re experiencing 1% Stage 4 sleep and 101 spontaneous arousals/interruptions through the night and having hallucinogenic episodes, it’s not that simple. 

When I was pregnant, I couldn’t take my sleeping pills, but I was allowed to take Benadryl so I did. I slept, but not enough. When I was breast feeding Clara, anti-histamines were a no-no, and obviously sleeping pills were too, so that too was a sleepless year. Even when I could lay down to get some sleep – in between waking up with Clara and waking up to pump – sleep didn’t come easily. It never has and maybe never will.

Because I never really made sleeping well a priority, I suffered as a result. I never knew how much I actually suffered, and how much my day to day life was impaired until I eventually started getting enough sleep – quality sleep, without waking up every hour after laying awake for more than an hour waiting for sleep to come. 

Then a bunch of things happened that made me realize how important sleep was and how much it was negatively impacting my life. I went back to work full time, Clara was still waking up in the night, Taylor and I separated and eventually divorced, we sold our house, I found my own place, I suddenly had bills to pay and a budget to manage. 

I started to struggle with bouts of anxiety, that left me gasping for breath on good days, and distraught and almost hysterical on bad days. 

My anxiety was affecting my ability to sleep, and my lack of sleep was affecting my anxiety.  

“You need to do whatever you need to do sleep,” both my doctor and my therapist said to me.

I’ve been off and on different sleeping pills for the past few years; including Clonazepam, that I developed a disturbing high level of tolerance too. It was my therapist that eventually pointed out to me that Clonazepam was part of the Valium family, and I was taking too much. I spoke to my doctor and he agreed; we began trying new pills and combinations to see what would work. 

 A few months ago, we found the right combination (10mg of Sublinox and 50mg of Trazodone) and I’ve been sleeping. Actually sleeping. Falling asleep within 15-20 minutes and sleeping for a straight 6 hours most nights. Waking up after 6 hours and being able to fall back asleep. Waking up and finding the rest of the bed relatively undisturbed, on the nights Clara is not here and I sleep alone.

Waking up and feeling rested.

As soon as I started to sleep properly, my anxiety diminished substantially, to the point of almost being gone. It’s still there, but it’s usually triggered when I have a lot going on and I’m pushing myself too hard. When physical and mental exhaustion sets in, and the anxiety starts to creep up, I can usually recognize it coming and then I treat it with sleep. If I have Clara, I go to bed when she does, even if it’s 8pm and still light out. I’ve gone to bed at 9pm on Saturday nights when Clara is at at Taylor’s and slept until 9am the next morning.

My sleep has become selfish and unapologetic. 

Earlier this week, I was low on my usual pills and so I substituted from a prescription leftover from when I was trying out different pills. I administered safely, and didn’t exceed the maximum dosage, and technically, after not being able to sleep for a few hours, I did sleep. But poorly.

And the results the next day were disastrous.

I fought with waking up in the morning, I was groggy and struggled with doing the neccessary things to start our day. When Clara told me she “wasn’t feeling well” and didn’t want to go to summer camp, I agreed far too easily. I rescheduled my day, and sent an email saying I wouldn’t be in. We had a quiet morning – still feeling groggy and disoriented, I slept off and on and Clara played on the iPad and kept me company.

When we did get up – to head to the gym for a yoga class and some play time and then the pool, I continued to struggle. I boiled eggs for egg salad for our lunch and almost cried when I realized I had no mayo. We were late; I got to yoga and realized I had no towel or water bottle and almost left class. My practice sucked, I spent a lot of class unfocused and not really there. When the cafe by the pool messed up our food order and delayed our lunch by an hour, again I almost cried.

Clara made friends in the pool and those kids insisted on talking to me and asking me never ending questions – this happens a lot, I think I’m the mom kids naturally like. But I found myself resisting the urge to be rude. “Stop asking me questions,” I wanted to snap at them. Or, to tell them to go ask their questions to their parent that was sitting by the side of the pool, stoically unengaged and not parenting. I wanted to tell stoic dad to start paying attention to his children so I didn’t have too. Yes, I judged. 

All day I didn’t feel myself. I literally felt under water, struggling to reach the surface. I tried hard to force myself to enjoy a rare day off alone with Clara, that in theory, should have been idyllic. But I wasn’t mentally present to enjoy it, not truly, and felt like a dimmer, smaller version of myself. 

I was so completely tired, and being tired made me feel like I was being a bad parent.

I understand better parents that maybe snap at their children because they’re tired. I did it far more than I would have liked with Clara that day, my words edged with impatience. Parenting is honestly hard enough on a good day but extremely difficult on a bad day when you’re not resourced.

Finally, late in the afternoon, I decided I needed to stop being so hard on myself. I was doing the best I could, but I was tired and there was a reason for it.   I gave into what I was feeling; I stopped fighting my exhaustion, finally realized just how much my lack of sleep was affecting me.

I forgave myself and promised to do better; to sleep well that night.

I took a deep breath. I yawned. I told Clara that I was tired, that other kids splashing me in the pool was frustrating, I needed food and water and shade if we were going to stay out in the sun much longer. She didn’t really understand it – she’ll go until she drops from exhaustion or hunger – but it didn’t matter so much, because I understood it.

So that night – last night – I took one of the last remaining pills from my usual prescription and made a mental note to have my prescription refilled. I went to bed shortly after Clara did. 

And I slept. Selfishly and unapologetically.

And the next day, I woke up rested, already a better parent. 

  

   
 

 

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See You Wednesday, Mama

Most Sunday mornings, regardless if I’ve had Clara overnight on the Saturday, I try and make it to her swim class to watch her. Taylor and Joanna are usually there as well, and the three of us sit together, catching up if we haven’t seen each other in a few days, usually waving simultaneously if Clara looks up to see if we’re watching.

At the beginning, when we’d be together in public spaces – the pool at the gym, Wonderland, or her school functions – I used to be self-conscious, and hyper-sensitive. Were people watching us? Were they trying to understand our dynamic? Was it foreign to them, as friendly co-parenting seems to be, especially with a new partner and step-mother added to the mix? What stories were they making up at a distance? I was a bit obsessed – in my mind, I saw us as a non-Mormon Canadian version of Big Love – when the truth likely was that nobody was actually watching us at all.

For a while, I cared too much about these potential stories that I was perhaps giving them more weight than they actually deserved. (I’ve spent a lot of my life doing that; caring what others think).Then I realized I needed to own my perceptions – and quite frankly, my own judgements. And as soon as I started to do that, I started to feel a shift.

The biggest thing for me was at birthday parties and play dates that Clara was invited too and some of the other moms started to ask questions, hesitantly it seemed at first, about the custody schedule for Clara, my relationship with Taylor as Clara’s dad and an ex-spouse, and with Joanna, as Clara’s step-parent.

Initially feeling shy, I forced myself to start meeting the eyes of the person asking me questions, and began taking some time answering. Before, I’d say everything was fine and brush it off casually, to avoid getting into it further; if I even allowed myself to let that conversation open up. I’ve gotten pretty good at filling conversation with other people by asking them questions about themselves to deflect and self-protect. Instead, I started to let the gaps in conversations happen organically, and when I left an opening – people started to fill them with questions of their own.

And I learned pretty quickly that the people asking questions weren’t judging – most seemed genuinely curious. They seemed to be asking questions because they wanted to understand. And it seemed like they wanted to understand because it was something that they hadn’t seen before.

A friend of mine commented recently that while she might not understand my co-parenting relationship(s), it was whatever worked. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard something like that and likely not that last. Sometimes, if I’m on autopilot or not feeling resourced enough to provide more detail, I say the default, automatic canned response – that it’s what’s best for Clara because, yes, ultimately this is true.

That’s the easy answer. Because absolutely it’s what’s best for Clara – but it’s also what’s best for me and allowing me to move forward in my own life – and in my relationship with her dad. I think the latter is likely what’s more difficult for people to understand. Because they seem to understand putting Clara’s best interests first; but the idea of two parents divorcing and putting their differences behind them, forgiving and moving past the petty grievances, and investing in their relationship with one another – that’s a concept that seems harder for them to fathom.

At the pool this morning, while talking with Taylor, another mom joined us. Clara has befriended her children, and we’re all becoming friendly as a result. I don’t remember exactly was she said, but at one point, it seemed like she forgot that we weren’t together as a couple and asked a question that seemed to allude to that. And her pause could have been a bunch of different things – awkwardness, or confusion or a thoughtful contemplation, I’ll likely never know, because I didn’t ask. Instead, I smiled (kindly or gently, I hoped) and the conversation moved on.

It’s little things like those silences – where I’m not quite brave enough to ask what they mean or maybe it’s because I no longer care what they mean (my preference would be the latter) – it’s those silences that I’m letting go of and moving past. Because while they matter – I feel there’s recognition or validation in those silences – they’re not as important to me as the questions that I find eventually following. I’m starting to love those questions and how they challenge perceptions and judgements, my own included.

Clara finished her swim lesson. And because it was a beautiful day and I had some time available to me (a broken washing machine is a great reason not to do laundry and watch Netflix on a Sunday), I decided that I’d join Clara, Taylor and Joanna at the outdoor pool for the afternoon, with Clara’s grandfather. We set up lounge chairs and ordered lunch poolside, and all took turns going in the water to swim with Clara. And yes, maybe we went mostly unnoticed (or I’m not simply noticing as much) or yes, maybe the couple sitting across from us on their lounge chairs, languidly applying their sun screen, watched us from behind their sunglasses.

But for perhaps the first time, I didn’t catch myself imagining what their stories were – instead, I watched Clara, and imagined what her stories would be when she grew up. How she would remember us on this summer day, as she practiced her swimming and ate cherries beneath an umbrella in the sunshine.

At the end of the afternoon, I left them at the pool so I could go inside to a yoga class. I hugged Clara, she pressed a kiss to my mouth. “See you Wednesday, Mama,” she said in a natural voice, as if it were perfectly natural.

And it is.

 

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What I’m Wearing: Post-Move

We moved in just over a week ago, when the renos on the condo were mostly finished.

“Just a couple of hiccups,” I said when people would ask about the work being done. Hiccups like not enough floor to finish my bedroom or only enough tiles to finish half the backsplash in my kitchen.

“Minor hiccups,” my contractor, Wally, kept saying. “I’ve dealt with worse.”

I’ve become convinced over the past few months that the universe has been teaching me to have more patience. I’ve never been an overly patient person, and impulsiveness seems to be something that I succumb to easily.

I have a hard time working around other peoples timelines and schedules. People have suggested before that I require instant gratification, that I want immediate results. I’m guilty of this, I know this to be true. It’s not always about me, I keep reminding myself.

Patience. I’m trying hard to slow down, relax, wait for it to be my turn.

A few weeks ago, I went to the IABC conference and attended the closing keynote, given by Hayley Wickenheiser.

I felt that familiar nudge. “Pay attention to her,” I heard from within myself and I sat up a little taller.

Hayley talked about training for the Olympics, about digging a little deeper, about blooming where you’re planted. How you’ll simply DIE if you’re not willing to change or adapt. All of it resonated within me, when I thought about how hard the past few months have been.

Dig a little deeper. Seriously. Head down, get things done. Oh, how I’ve been digging.

But then, then she said something else and all of a sudden, everything just made sense. How you have to control the things you CAN and let go of the things you CAN’T. How at some point, you had to start trusting that all the hours – the sweat and the tears – you’ve spent preparing for something that matters – all that work pays off. But first you have to trust.

So I did.

I let go of what I couldn’t control.

I trusted that the Wally would come through on the work and deadlines that I had given him. That my reno supplies would show up when I needed them, if I could just be a little more patient. They did; and Wally did.

I trusted that the people that had said they’d help me move, would, and they did. Oh, how they did. #love

I trusted that all the measurements that I did of the condo and my existing furniture and the floor plans and sketches I kept obsessively drawing would turn out to be accurate – that things would fit they way I visualized them fitting. And they did, perfectly. #trust

I wouldn’t say that I’ve been drowning the past couple of months, but absolutely, I’ve been struggling through all of this. Treading water in what has been very decidedly choppy waves.

“You can do this,” I’ve told myself on more than one occasion.

“Dig a little deeper,” Hayley said. “And let go. Trust.”

So I have.

And last week, I made it back into the office after being off for six days to finishing packing, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, unpacking, getting settled.

On both Thursday and Friday, I arrived at the office, in heels (my Merrill flip flops, as comfy as they are, have been killing my arches; it seems my feet have become accustomed to the curve of a delicate high heel), my hair down and curly and just a little out of control (it’s been so carefully contained in messy buns on top of my head). I was back in dresses too, both days; finally, my ripped jeans and grimy t-shirts tossed on my closet floor, where my mom (love her) would swoop them into the wash when I wasn’t looking.

It’s been a long hard lesson in learning to be patient, and every time I feel my patience slipping, the universe nudges me to look up. Usually, I’m rewarded with a sunset, or a beautiful morning sky.

The clouds from my bedroom window, where I feel I’m floating in the sky.

Sometimes, it’s Clara, sleeping next to me. “Mama, can I share your pillow?” I’ve heard her sleepy little voice ask, within the last week. And, “can you cover me up?” as she nestles into my side.

But sometimes, if I take the time and I look long enough, sometimes the reward is me looking up, and looking back.

She was right about everything, Hayley was. About digging deeper, adapting to change, trusting that my hard work would pay off. Because it has.

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#love #trust #truth

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What I’m Wearing: Polka-dots with the Sweetest Ruffle

I’ve become convinced that the universe has the kind of sense of humor that if we met at a party, I’d want to be his or her best friend.

Completely convinced.

And being the universe, all mighty and powerful, it would likely be all James Bond in it’s own badass way, drinking a Vesper martini. “Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” The universe would say.

And me, because I think I’m all badass (when I’m really not), I’d order the same and then I’d fall over while the universe would chuckle and tell me to get back up.

Last week was a crazy week that had me run ragged as I spent three days commuting back and forth to the IABC conference and then to my condo to check on the renos that hadn’t been started yet, much to my dismay. “Have the renos started?” everyone kept asking me and I was all deer-in-a-headlight as I shook head and replied no, they had not, because my contractor was MIA and not replying to my emails. I then got a call from Home Depot saying my backsplash was in and I was all great, that’s awesome, because I’m excited and I love my bottle green glass tiles, but where was my flooring that I had ordered two weeks prior and was supposed to be delivered in 48 hours? “We don’t know where your flooring is, actually,” Home Depot said on the phone to me, but they were assuming it was on a truck somewhere. “Can we call you back?”

“Please,” I pleaded. “Definitely call me back.”

I’ve been doing a lot of yoga in the past year, which I think has gotten me through a lot of the stress and pressure that accompanies a marriage coming to an end, selling a house, moving into a rental, learning to single parent (especially those late, late nights in the middle of the winter when you’re sick and she’s sick and there’s puke everywhere), buying a condo, meeting with contractors and the never ending packing even though you purged the first time you moved, less than a year before.

“Do good, be good, say good,” Suzy keeps saying in yoga class. “How you handle yourself on your mat will transfer into how you handle yourself off your mat.”

I’ve been trying hard to do just that. To do good, be good, say good, and as a result, the universe has been kind. I’ve been rewarded, gifted, blessed, fortunate or lucky, however you want to see it. It has not been lost on me.

“You’re a bright, shiny spark in the universe,” a friend said to me, and then admitted to being a little envious.

“Do good, be good, say good,” I replied.

But then. Then I started to lose sight of that last week though, and allowed myself to get caught up in the pressures of work stress and the self-imposed drama around my contractor and my floor. Toxicity started to creep in. Negative thoughts and self-doubts.

On Thursday, I was whirling through my day, and ran into a friend. We started to chat, I bitched about my contractor and my floors and then she shared something bad that had happened to her, and I paused, because suddenly, suddenly, I could feel the universe giving me a nudge.

“Let me help,” I said, and I did.

I don’t believe in doing good and being good and expecting a reward. I honestly don’t think that entered my thoughts as I did what I was able to do to help a friend. And afterwards, when I reflected on what I did to help, the joy I felt wasn’t because I had helped but was because I could help. I was in a position to do so, and so I did.

I walked back to my desk, and had forgotten about my small problems in this big world, where there are always bigger problems. I saw a missed call on my phone, returned the call and heard my contractor’s voice on the other end. “I’m in your condo,” he said, his voice echoing in the empty rooms. “I’m about to make a big mess.”

We hung up the phone and it rang again.

“It’s Home Depot,” the person calling said. “I’ve got your flooring, do you want to pick it up or would you rather we deliver it?”

There was the universe, working busily away.

I picked Clara up after school that day, told her I wanted to show her something. We walked into the demolished condo; and though I was prepared for it, even I was surprised by the forces that had been at work.

“Mama,” Clara said, her eyes big. “This sure is a big mess. Did Wally make this mess?”

I confirmed that he had, as we walked from room to room, through the dust and debris.

“I sure hope Wally’s going to clean this mess up,” Clara said, her hands on her hips. “We didn’t make this mess, so I don’t think we should have to clean it up. I was at school, and you were at work. Do you agree?”

I tried to hide my smile, as I agreed with her.

This morning I woke up early, threw on some running clothes and hit the pavement for a short run. I showered, and applied some makeup, did my hair, thinking about the renos and the packing, the journey that I’m on.

All my pants and dress shirts are packed, a dozen or so dresses remain hanging in my closet to get me through the next two weeks at work until I move.

I passed my hand over a polka-dot dress with a fitted bodice and a sweet ruffle along the hem. It makes me think of my honeymoon in Los Angeles, of the photos of me in that dress while I splashed in the surf in Santa Monica. It’s a sweet, sweet dress, with romantic notions and ideas; it reminds me of train stations and chance encounters, and the opportunities that exist if you open yourself to them.

I pulled the dress on, added my beige colored shoes that Clara has been wearing every chance she gets, tripping in them when we play Clara and Mommy and she’s me and I’m her.

I looked at the date on the calendar, it hadn’t changed; it’s still the day that my divorce becomes final and official, as far as the courts are concerned. It’s still the day that my very first mortgage payment comes out. One chapter closing, another one opening.

“You’ve got a wicked sense of humor,” I told the universe, as I grabbed my purse and phone and car keys and headed out.

Do good, be good, say good, I think the universe probably replied, and tilted it’s Vesper martini my way.

And I tilted mine in return.

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What I’m Wearing: Closing Day

I was awake at 4:30 this morning, staring at the time. It’s closing day, I kept thinking, as I tried to coax myself back to sleep.

I slept off and on till 6:30 when I (finally) gave up and got up so I could get outside in the cool morning air for a run. It’s closing day, I thought, as I looked up and saw my apartment building in the distance.

Back home, I showered and got ready quickly, pulling my hair into a messy twist on top of my head. I dressed just as quickly, reaching instinctively for my black lace dress with the pale, pale pink slip underneath. Purposely vintage, it always reminds me of something my grandmother would have worn. Or something from an episode of Mad Men. Either or.

Added my delicate pink shoes, with the pointed toe and the dainty ankle strap.

“You look like a ballerina,” I’ve been told before, while wearing this dress and those pink shoes, my hair twisted up.

I always thought of ballerinas as flimsy delicate things, easily broken into a million little pieces.

I’ve since changed my mind about them, admiring instead their strength and grace, their discipline and their desire to succeed. Their sheer drive.

It was a good look for closing day, I decided, buckling the straps on my shoes.

“How do you feel?” I kept getting asked, throughout the day, by people.

“I’m terrified,” I said honestly, much to their surprise and amusement.

On the way back from a business lunch, my boss turned to look at me sitting in the backseat, my chin in my hand, staring out the window.

“You look very Audrey Hepburn-ish,” she said. “The dress, the big glasses, your hair pulled up like that.”

I may or may not have blinked owlishly at her from behind my sunglasses, then asked, distractedly and panicked, “Do closings ever fall through day of?”

I thought about my grandmother a lot today, wishing when I got dressed this morning for something of hers to wear today. I settled instead for something of Clara’s, a pink sparkly Hello Kitty charm that I attached to a bracelet of hers.

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My grandmother would have been proud of me, I kept thinking this afternoon, when I gave up waiting at the office and drove across the city to my lawyers. “Your keys should be here by the time you get here,” Holly (not Golightly) said to me on the phone, when she returned my call.

Why the sudden and constant thoughts of my grandmother lately? Is she here with me, watching closely?

“You can do this,” I told myself, as I climbed the stairs to my lawyer’s office.

I collected my keys, and drove back across the city. Fumbled with the buttons on one of the fobs enclosed in my envelope until the security gate marked Residents swung up.

Parked my car. Fumbled with another fob to get into the building. Filled out forms at security, turned in cheques to the property manager, and then finally (finally) I was opening my front door and walking into my new home.

How delicious my heels sounded as they clicked on the flooring as I walked through the living room and into the kitchen.

“You can do this,” I told myself again, as I flipped light switches, and opened cupboards, searching randomly for I don’t know what. Sat in my deeper than normal bath tub, then sat on the floor in the living room, leaning against the wall in the exact spot my couch will go and looked at the wall where my television will be.

I walked from room to room. Ignored the floors and paint. Pictured instead my dark hardwoods, my Alice White bedroom walls, the aqua blue glass backsplash I’ve already picked for the kitchen.

And then. Then, I marvelled at the wide window sills, in both the bedrooms. Window sills that I could easily sit on (and so can Clara), with my legs drawn up. Window sills for daydreaming on, or watching the rain, or the snow or the sunset. Window sills where I can sit and just be.

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“You can do this,” I told myself.

WILL do this, I reminded myself. And have already done so.

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