Thursday, December 31, 2009

You Never Know

"I can't do a New Year's post this year, it'll sound like I'm bragging."

This is what I said earlier this week, heavily influenced by that Danish-Canadian thing about not tooting your own horn overmuch (and perhaps a little by the fear that if I say something out loud, it'll jinx it).

At New Year's in 2005, I wrote about buying the ticket. In 2007, I wrote about how my life was smaller than it had ever been, yet I was genuinely happy. In 2008, I wrote about how by stepping around, you can find a new road to old joys, that limits can be transcended if you change your way of thinking. And it all comes out of getting my life back five years ago, about coming very close to losing everything and in the aftermath and healing finding happiness and joy in a place so unlike what I had previously imagined would be necessary for happiness and joy.

And then 2009 happened. As I mentioned in yesterday's post for MyRACentral, comparing my life today to what I could do and was doing on December 31, 2008 blows my mind. In the past 12 months, I've gotten a new job with more responsibility, a job that is not only fascinating, but in which I actually sometimes make a difference. Between that and my own stuff, I often spend 4-5 hours a day working, easily twice what I was able to do last December. In 2008, I dreamed of being a photographer, this year, I’ve exhibited twice. A year ago, I canceled plans with friends at least half of the time, not having enough energy to follow through on what I wanted to do. This year, I’ve started seeing my friends again, actually having dinner and spending evenings with them and at the end of the evening, there is often hugging. A year ago, I had almost accepted being too wrecked to ever have a relationship again and this year, I found a life partner, a man I am absolutely mad about (and who is undoubtedly blushing as he reads this). A year ago, I was happy with my fairly small life, hoping for a bit of an increase in strength and energy in the new year, but didn’t expect the world.

And then I got the world.

In the past, I've talked about being exactly where I'm supposed to be, usually around times of difficulty, where things take longer than I'd hoped or where it seems apparent that I need to become accustomed to living in a smaller world and it's been hard to believe it at times. And now? Now would not be possible without those hard times. Without almost losing everything five years ago, I wouldn't have my now. I wouldn't have taken this road and without being razed to the ground by illness and pain, I wouldn't have been able to build the new me and my new life. Everything I have today can be linked directly back to a very dark place, everything I am today comes from that moment in my life. And if I'm grateful for the way my life has turned out - and I am, every minute of every day - I am also grateful for having been in that dark place. It and the hard journey out of it taught me more about living, happiness and limitless than any other event in my life.

I’ve just finished reading American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson’s autobiography - by the way, I can highly recommend it, especially the audio version read by the author (oh, that Glasgow accent!) - and he mentions that the motto of the Ferguson clan is dulcius ex asperis, which supposedly means ‘sweeter after difficulty’. And that rings a bell. Because wonderful is even more so when you've worked hard to get there. When you've been in a crappy place that helps you understand just how profound happiness can be. When you've been at whatever represents stuck and bottom for you and then slowly crawled out of it, done it by showing up and doing your best and keep getting back on the horse that threw you and then all of a sudden, it all comes together and you wonder how you got so lucky.

Before I was able to do my best, someone else to had to do theirs. And that was Abbott, the pharmaceutical company that makes Humira. Someone there made the decision to invest millions of dollars and likely decades in developing this drug and without that decision, I wouldn't have my now. And other people need thanking, too, because without the taxpayers of Ontario who pay for this medication, I wouldn't have my now and I still, just as I did five years ago, send out a silent thank you every time I get my shot.

You never know.

May your hard times turn into joy. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Looking Forward

It's time to reflect on MyRACentral:

"Have you decided what's wrong with you yet? After all, it's what making resolutions is all about, isn't it? To review your life, to find it wanting, to pick it apart and identify areas of dissatisfaction and is it any wonder so many of us get depressed around New Year's?"

You can read the rest

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Random December

The Copenhagen climate talks are over and there’s an excellent Seussian take on them. And speaking of Denmark, meet you at the airport? While we're traveling, consider this fascinating Spanish case of murder in which reality is stranger than fiction. And then there is the story of a novel approach to recruitment in the Church. The word of 2009 has been announced and according to this article about gender differences in shopping, I am extremely in touch with my male side.

From Ken, I'm reminded of why I miss Calvin and Hobbes. Gaina sent me the techno chicken (warning: it's hard not to watch 27 times in a row), Karin (I'm blonding out on your URL Karin - leave it in the comments, please?) linked to a fascinating movie about the story of stuff and mor sent a link to footage from 1927 London that made me want to time travel.

And while we're (sort of) in London, Trevor forwarded a charming picture from King’s Cross station, a rather brilliant little movie called Present Face to which you may relate after the season's festivities, a fantastic ice cream ad (not entirely safe for all audiences), one of the funniest (or scariest) autocompletes I've seen in a long time, links to two news stories of the kind that makes you shake your head: table sex and the police department branches out linguistically and if you're in the mood for having movie magic debunked, click here. Also, a new exhibit at the Zoo.

David started off in the natural world sending me this story about a leopard seal trying to help out a human, as well as this one that made me realize that octopuses (octopi?) have way more going on than you'd think. Google is at Pompei, Cuban cigar factory workers have a really good reason to go to work every day and while we are on the topic of books, a wonderful review of Going Rogue. For the low self-esteem days, check out Make Me Mighty. And lastly, two time suckers: first, Pretend Office. You have no idea. The explanation of the mailing list for Pretend Office and the archives for the mailing list. Start at the beginning. I'll see you in April. And second, the Continuity Game. Add that to Pretend Office and perhaps it will more be June by the time they pry you off the computer.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Tinkified Christmas

As we walked down the street to my mother's, it was snowing. A quiet evening, crisp and cold, with gentle snow falling from the sky, leaving just enough of a covering on the ground to leave marks of shoes and tires. It was a movie Christmas moment, the kind of perfect that doesn't happen except in fiction. And then... it continued. Christmas is always somehow magic at my mother's but this year, it exceeded expectations. There was laughing and love and wonderful food and the kids were spectacularly well-behaved. And energetic.

As usual, Morgan's favourite was the cucumber salad and it was even more favourite because she and Michele fed it to each other (click to embiggen photos).

Michele was Tink Wrangler extraordinaire, teaching them the "criss-cross, applesauce" game, which they both took to with delight, testing it out on each other and the rest of us. Shiveries abounded.

And then she played horsie (gentle walking and out of control galloping). For a really long time. We're thinking of making a Tink Exercise video - great for leg muscles! Sold with icepacks and painkillers for the aftermath

There was singing. And Liam did interpretive dance.

Many, many excellent gifts

Novel use for bows down Ken's end

Janne's reaction to the Polly Pocket vet set (the wee vet wore Crocs!)

Morgan had her first encounter with bubblewrap and was entranced. David helped her burst a sheet

And lastly, my two favourite Tink pics of the evening. Morgan playing gatekeeper to the kitchen

And Liam at the end of the evening

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Family Christmas

27 years ago, my parents, my sister and I moved to Canada. Only for a year and then it became two, then four and then we somehow put down roots and had two countries we called home. And home this is, but for many years, it was especially at Christmas that we missed our other home, the Old Country, because it is at Christmas that our Danishness shows through in the different ways - some small, some bigger - we celebrate the season. And it is at Christmas especially that we miss the family we left behind, the holiday rituals where we'd all descend on somebody's house and celebrate with all of us together. It didn't matter who was hosting Christmas, it was all done more or less the same way every year - there was food (when my uncle Poul hosted, he'd get reindeer from Greenland and we'd eat Rudolph) and then there was the tree and singing and presents and the adults sitting around digesting, laughing and talking while the kids played with their presents. And there's something about that feeling of family, of people who have known you for years, people with whom you do the same thing at the same time every year that was hard to re-create for a small immigrant family in a land far away from home.

A couple of days ago, I realized that tonight, we will be nine people around the table celebrating Christmas and it was at that moment I realized how much our small immigrant family has grown. Over the years, Ken and Michele were added to our Christmas Eve and thanks to Janne and John, we now have the joy of children playing, as well. And I cannot wait to share the Danish Christmas with the kids, sharing our way of doing things with dinner first, then cleanup and then singing, sending them into a state of vibrating excitement before we start opening presents, one by one (ok, so the rest of us vibrate pretty intensely, too). They are old enough now that they can handle the delay and they are old enough now that we can sing carols first without it violating the Geneva Convention on torture. And I cannot wait to share it with David, who in a few hours will for the first time get dropped into the deep end of Danish Christmas – sink or swim, darling!

This evening is my favourite day of the year, my favourite holiday, my favourite meal - everything about this night is magical and what sends it from wonderful into the stratosphere of magic, the moment where it all comes together and your heart fills up is when we sing. Together, most of us not on key, only some of us understanding the Danish carols, but everybody giving it a try anyway, laughing until we can’t breathe at the phonetic pronunciation from the Canadian contingent, we mess up a particular song the way my father always did and bring him into the celebration with us, Janne and I add a little something to another carol that brings our Danish childhood back and we always, always end with the same song. This part of the evening is what does it for me every Christmas Eve, sends me into a place of no thinking, but pure in-the-moment joy and love, the connection between all of us so strong a feeling of family.

In Denmark, they call Christmas the feast of the hearts – perhaps festival of the hearts sounds less Aztec blood ritual – and somehow, our small immigrant family has managed to grow, with all of us descending on mor’s place to celebrate together. And in the week to come, we will celebrate again, with the people who have become extended family, meeting up like we did back home, to share a meal and the love of the season.

Glaedelig Jul! May your heart sing with the magic of small moments.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Up Against That Wall Again

It's no secret around these parts that I don't deal well with being reminded that I have a disability. Well, obviously I know I have one - the no walking is a huge clue - but I’ve managed to create a life where there's an acceptable ratio of the Cannot to the Can, the latter tending to be facilitated by people (attendants, specialized transportation) or technology (wheelchair, Dragon). It becomes seamless, just the way life is… normal. However, when one of those facilitators goes wonky, it very quickly becomes a matter of me coming smack up against the Cannot. With which I do not deal well.

And last weekend when my microphone died, the spiral started. First, I talked. A lot. And very fast. Turns out that the approximately 1500-2000 words I write in various places every day need to be released in some form, come hell or high water. So I did not exactly have conversations with others, rather, it more or less took the shape of extended monologues. The weekend progressed and nothing worked - the desk mic didn't work, the array mic didn't work and the Bluetooth worked brilliantly, but putting it on and taking it off caused massive pain and was therefore not an option, after all. As my shoulders screamed louder and louder with nothing to show for it, the prospect of not being able to write began to darken my world while the words tumbled through my brain, dancing, pairing up, ideas for posts, for essays, for the next line, making me positively itch with the urge to write it all down. But none of the things we tried - me and the two geekiest people I know - worked. And if the combined focus of me (who's pretty geeky) and the two geekiest people I know couldn't figure this out, then maybe… maybe it's it was impossible.

Looking back, it's clear I jumped to some conclusions that were a little premature, but when in the midst of a technological problem that appears unsolvable, with really loud pain, a deadline looming and worry over the cat coloring everything, one tends to unhinge a little easier. And unhinge I did. Because the more we worked at it and the less it cooperated, the more afraid I became of losing my ability to communicate. Losing my ability to work, losing my ability to e-mail and blog. Losing my ability to write. Which turns out to be not just what I do, but who I am and the sheer terror at the prospect insisted on quivering on the mental horizon, threatening to swoop in and take over. It wasn't pretty. In fact, my normally pretty good coping skills disintegrated completely and by Tuesday, I fell apart in a rather spectacular manner. I mean, Olympic level.

And then Wednesday, we found a mic that works. And I got my voice back. Which not only put me back together again in mere nanoseconds, but should ease the strain on the people otherwise forced to listen to me talk way more than usual (and I’m usually pretty… erm… ‘communicative’) and I can go to work again and post again and email and…

Well. It’s possible I got a little carried away. Because my shoulders are requesting a rest again.

Will I ever learn?

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Skinny on the New Comment Box

As you may have noticed, my comment box no longer looks like the comment box I used to have. Earlier this week, I got a notice from Haloscan (my comment provider) that it had been bought out by Echo and that users would gradually be moved over to the new system, for which I get to pay $9.95 a year. They told me I had two weeks to make up my mind and if I didn't want to use the new system, I would be able to back up all my comments and buh-bye. In other words, if I didn't sign up, I would lose all my comments on the blog. I could keep them on my hard drive, but that's not much use, is it now?

So, no-brainer, right? Only, I switched and discovered that I hate my new comment box. I wrote the support team and got the following information:

Display of link to your webpage. When someone wants to leave a comment, they have to sign in by indicating where they're from and there are a multitude of options (Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Only then will the link to your webpage be displayed. And only then will every other comment you have left on my blog from the last four years display where you're from. Because yes indeedy, none of my past comments display a link to their webpage, which really pisses me off, as I regularly use them for reference.

Your e-mail. No longer provided. Because apparently, all conversations will now be in public - I assume this is because we have all magically turned into 17-year-olds who have no problem telling all their 287 "friends" everything that happens in their life. Should I wish to reply to someone privately - as I planned to do with the WheelTrans employee who left a comment on my blog last week, but had to delay due to shoulder/Dragon problems and now I can't, because I don't have their e-mail - I can only do so if the person who left a comment has filled in their profile, which means I'll have to click on a link that would take me to their Twitter or Facebook (or etc.) page where I can, after 20 minutes of clicking about hunting down an e-mail address, send them an e-mail. This is presented as a benefit because now there are linkages everywhere, no such thing as a separate part of your life over here and another separate part over there, no no! Now everyone will know everything and be linked everywhere. And none of it will be happening in private.

Changing size/color of comment fields and fonts so it's actually legible. Allegedly, this can be changed. I have no idea how. It's only presented in high-level Geek.

For a while now, I've been thinking about creating a "real" website, moving away from the free platform. This may be what pushes me over the edge. Might be a while before I get that organized, though. Hope it won’t deter you from commenting.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Year That Was: Knowledge & Community

This week on MyRACentral, I prove myself to not be immune to the trend of recapping the year:

"The end of 2009? Already? Are you sure? Wasn't it just July?

But no, all the signs are there. My windows are frozen shut after the first winter storm of the season, the supermarket is playing muzak-ified carols and the Christmas tree guys are here up on the corner. And as I go by, my senses fill with the scent of pine, creating a forest of green around me as a welcome counterpoint to the concrete of downtown."

The rest of the post is

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reason #617 I Love Living Downtown

Sitting in my livingroom with The Boy on a lazy Saturday afternoon, talking about not much, I glanced out the window and saw this:

The best part? I have no idea why.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mojo Update & Mercury Retrograde Comes Early

Thanks for all the lovely comments and thoughts for Mojo and me on Friday's post. Having this many people pulling for her seems to have obliged Her Royal Catness to do well and so far, so good. The colonoscopy was clear, the surgery went well and they were able to get the mass with 1cm margins with no apparent effect on bodily functions - a very cheerful Australian vet told me on Saturday that you only need half of your anus to be continent. Not just good news considering how much time the wee beastie spends on my bed, but also an absolutely fascinating piece of trivia, no? Mojo's staying until she doesn't need painkillers or major medical care and will hopefully be home in a few days. Pathology results later this week - continued crossing of appendages would be much appreciated.

As for the Mercury Retrograde thing... Thursday, my shoulders went ballistic, Friday, my microphone went to its reward after many years of dedicated service and the combination of the two means I can't write. At all. Fabulous. I have two other microphones and Friday evening, Ken tried to get things going. One sort of worked - not well, but well enough that I should've been able to meet my deadline (today - eek!). David tried Saturday, adding an extra mic options, same results. On Sunday, nothing worked at all and by the time I finally figured something out, my shoulders were so messed up, I need to step away from the computer for several days. Icepacks and codeine call. As for the deadline... well. Luckily, I have an understanding editor.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

She Is Too Much Part of Me

Mojo has a new thing. She comes up with new things all the time and I find it impossibly charming that even though she's been with me for 13 years, she still finds new things to do on a regular basis. For the longest time, she's had a ritual when I go to bed, coming up next to me and lying down while grabbing my left hand and then she lies there purring while we hold hands. When she's had enough, she'll wander off to the bottom of the bed where after her pre-sleep grooming session, she'll spread out across the foot of the bed, back legs up against my leg, tail decorously draped over my shin. Terribly adorable, except when I wake up at 6am lying diagonally because she has slowly and oh-so-sweetly pushed against my legs so she can have more room.

I'm just grateful she lets me borrow the bed every now and again.

This is still going on, but she's added a new element to the bonding session. As I lie down, she places herself by my right shoulder, purring expectantly and as the attendant who's helping me get into bed puts the comforter over me, Mojo lets me know in no uncertain terms that she wants to go under, so naturally (because I live to serve), I lift up the comforter and in she goes. She walks half across my body and lies down, back legs on one side of me, front legs on the other and as the impossibly soft and silky fur on her belly starts to warm my stomach, my hands strokes the even softer fur on her head and glide over the length of her back to her tail and she cranks up the volume and gives me her throatiest, happiest purr.

She's done this since last Wednesday evening and it makes me wonder if somehow she knows. If she's picked up on my feelings and for the first time in her life comes to me instead of keeping her distance and giving me space when I'm upset. It makes me wonder if this increase in mommy-itis comes out of her feeling, somehow knowing there's something wrong. Because last Wednesday evening, the test came back. Positive for cancer.

And that's the point where I started thinking. About how much she has been through - were she a car, she'd be a lemon - about talking to the specialist in internal medicine last year, saying I just wanted to give her a couple of good years now that we’d finally found out what was going on in her gastrointestinal area. Remembering that one of the responsibilities you accept when you take a pet into your home is not just to take good care of it, but to do the hardest thing when the hardest thing will end suffering.

And then I thought of the last 13 years with Her Royal Catness. Of spending 24 hours a day, every day with her face in my face, of catering to her whims, be they food, a cuddle or play. I thought of her sitting at me so loudly I can hear it in another room, of the ways she comes to get me when she wants a brush, making sure she has my attention then leading the way into the bedroom, tail held high, ears turned back to check that I am following, going up on the bed, waiting on the corner for me to get the brush and assume the position so she can step onto my lap, purring so deeply that my legs vibrate.

I thought of her lying on the bed behind me as I write, running towards me when I open the door as I come home, sometimes running past me into the hallway where she checks her outer territory and I spend several minutes attempting to herd her back inside again (only eventually succeeding when she’s good and ready). Of her delight in meeting new people (as long as they aren't the veterinary kind), her profound love of children, her obsession with boxes and bags, of the way she places her paw possessively on me or the armrest of my wheelchair, not allowing me to move because I am hers and of the way she lies down next to me when she's not feeling entirely well, putting her front paws on my arm in a slightly different way, this time for comfort. I thought of the years of my big flare and the recovery when my life got smaller and smaller, when the pain isolated (because illness and pain are hard on relationships) and how for a very long time, needing to take care of her was what kept me going, her face in my face, her purr every day giving me love and warmth in the hard times. Of the way she has for 13 years opened my heart every single day and how for 13 years, she’s made me laugh at least once every single day, even during the darkest of the dark times. And I thought of the way she is interwoven in my days and nights, part of everything I do because that's the kind of cat she is, as much there in my life as I am myself.

And I knew that I needed more information before I could make a decision because if I didn’t, I would spend the rest of my life wondering if it could have been fixed and so, she went to see the oncologist last Friday. The x-rays and ultrasound are clear with no metastases, the surgeon thinks he can get the mass with good margins and to me, there is no question that we do this, because all things considered, that's good news and I cannot let my wee familiar down. The money doesn't matter - it’s why god invented credit cards - because if she is not suffering, if the cancer has not spread, this is what happens when you share your life with animals, this is part of the promise you make when you take them home.

This afternoon, she'll have the surgery and a colonoscopy to make sure that there's just the one lesion/mass. Please send some good thoughts her way.

Some Snow, A Rant & I Repeat Myself

I have a vague recollection of having had a wee rant about a similar event before, not just on the phone to friends or in person, but quite possibly in this space sometime last winter, but it bears repeating.

So we’ve had some snow coming and by the time you read this, it's arrived, made the morning commute a slushy mess and a few hours ago turned into rain. And also by the time you read this, we'll have spent the previous 2-3 days reading about the coming snow, watching the talking heads on CP24 talk to politicians and City staff about snow preparedness, to Canadian Tire employees regarding what you can do to make your car winter ready and extended discussion on what to include in a safety kit in the trunk of your car in case you get stuck in the masses of snow and have to spend several days in your car whilst trying not to gnaw off you arm from the hunger. The Star calls it Snowmageddon, The Weather Network has done regular Storm Watch segments since Monday morning and I started to get a tad worried, taking a look in my fridge and my cupboards and wondering what I need to stock up on to last for the duration. And then, one of aforementioned talking heads mentioned that we're going to have some rain first and then 5-10 cm of snow.

Beg pardon?

5-10? Centimetres? I'll convert for those of you who've yet to see the wisdom of metric: this is about 2-4 inches.

And sure, there was a nor'easter pummeling the Maritimes a few days ago that seemed genuinely worthy of a bit of coverage, but can we get a grip here? This is Canada, 5-10 cm is nothing, certainly not warranting two or three days of advanced Storm Watch! (insert ominous music here). Back in the days when I went to school and work outside my home, 5-10 cm might cause a bit of delay in my WheelTrans pickup, but nobody missed class or work because of it and now? Now people are being asked to stay home unless it's absolutely necessary or they have dialysis by aforementioned WheelTrans (which has apparently developed a distinctly Southern sensibility in the past decade or so) and people who don't use WheelTrans have been hypered into a frenzy of anxiety by 24 hour coverage of the oncoming storm to apparently and all storms.

Before the 24-hour news cycle, they’d have told us to leave earlier and drive safely. Now? You have to shove something into those 24 hours, because there really isn't that much news happening in the world that you can talk about it for 24 hours a day (especially when you as most North American news outlets pay scant attention to anything outside of your own continent) and therefore, what looked to be a bit of snow falling to finally make things look Christmasy, has now become – dum dum DUM! – Snowmaggedon!!! And sure, by yesterday afternoon, they were forecasting up to 15 cm (7 inches), but that still doesn't qualify as Snowmageddon. Snowmageddon is over 30 cm. Several days in a row. And maybe we would all be less anxious and much better off if we heavily medicated the media.

Me? PMS? Why do you ask??

Monday, December 07, 2009

Having Plans

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a documentary called 65_RedRoses about a young woman with cystic fibrosis who was waiting for a double lung transplant. It's a nailbiter and you need Kleenex and in the end, when you see her on the Dragon boat team of people who've had transplants, paddling furiously, you are as happy as if she were a friend. It's the best argument for signing your donor card I've seen in a long time. At the end before the credits, there is some text, information telling us that Eva was living on own and planning to finish her university degree.

And what struck me about that was the plans. That instead of being static, of living through each day, of the disease being your life, now there are plans. The difference between living inward and living outward. The difference between constant struggle and laughing in the sun.

I've been frustrated lately, frustrated that I'm not where I want to be, that it's going to take me a long time to reach that next goal, that I feel I could get there if only I didn't have to work so slowly because of my pain and energy levels and after I watched that documentary, it hit me that I've forgotten something.

I've forgotten that I am exactly where I'm supposed to be, I've forgotten that having plans is the miracle, that this lightness there is to life (when my head isn't firmly stuck up my arse) is what it's about. That ultimately, it doesn't matter what I accomplish, it doesn't matter how long it takes me, what matters is the journey. What matters is that I'm working on it.

And it hit me even stronger this past week. I've had to skip a couple doses of Humira, once because the side effects were piling up and another because I had a sinus infection and by last weekend, I was "enjoying" the beginnings of a flare. It always starts in tendons and ligaments, creaking, pain, a pain deeper, stronger, so much more than the regular pain that I'm used to, that can still be pretty intense, but not like this. And it accompanies every movement, as well as no movement at all and not even a double dose of painkillers will make it go away, only mask it, while you're somehow very aware that it's just under that mask, ready to roar into attack again. And then the swelling in my feet starts and I begin to count the hours until I can go to my doctor and tell her I don't care if I'm sick, don't care about anything, justgivemethedrugnow. And on Monday she did and an hour later, I was busy doing something when I realized I hadn't noticed when the pain went away. Instead, I'd just moved seamlessly from it blaring as loud as a jackhammer outside your window to receding into the background, largely ignorable, clicking back into my life being at the front, the pain pushed back. And I cannot tell you how weird it is to realize that you got back on track without noticing the moment when you did.

My life is so full - some, including myself, might argue that it's a little too full - but in amongst the busy and the drive to do more, go further, fly higher, I lost sight of the fact that I am doing, am going, am flying. In this sense that I am now so well and have been well for long enough that I forget for days, weeks, not just one or two, but four or six that hey, take a look around - it's all rainbows and unicorns and floating on a cloud of bubbles that rise up into the sky towards the sun while I get lost in the laughing.

I forget. And it takes stronger and stronger reminders to remember the miracle, because the miracle has become my everyday. It's getting up in the morning, going to work (luckily, not far, right there in my bedroom/office) and losing track of time because I'm immersed in a task, waking up usually when my shoulder screams loud enough to penetrate the focus. And then I do my grocery shopping, feed the cat, have endless meetings because I volunteer too much, make plans for the next place to go in my career, make plans to go out – me! Going out! To things that happen in the evening and require tickets! - and spend time with my family and friends, laughing with the kids and hang out with my love.

And can we just take a moment while my world rocks with what has happened in the past year? Where instead of looking at what I don't have (yet - my god, there's a yet!), I look at what I do and marveling, boggling are not strong enough words to convey how I feel when I look at this change. Who I was then and who I am now. How my life was and how it is now. And it occurs to me that perhaps I need to not run so fast I can't see what is right in front of my face.

That perhaps I need to slow down and look and giggle with the joy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

International Day for People with Disabilities

I got up before the crack of dawn to a rainy, blustery day and had built in some time before I left to allow for crying because it's just uncivilized to get up before the sun. I'm an Ahrtiste, dahlink and a night owl and it just wasn't pretty.

The day started of promising. I'd booked Dignity - a sort of taxi - as I wasn't in the mood to rattle around on WheelTrans for hours and we went straight to Variety Village where I was meeting David who'd signed up for minion duties for the day. I got off the van and the driver told me it was going to be a certain amount. I mentioned that the office had said it was $10 less when I booked the ride and he got out the run sheet to prove it and…. showed it to David. Aside from the fact that the booking sheet showed that I was right, it was a moment of rather stunning stereotypical behaviour, so appropriate on this day. I was the one who booked the ride, I was the one in the van, I was the one paying the man and yet? David's the one who needs to know what the booking sheet says. Sexism? Ableism? A double whammy?

Once inside, the day started with a welcome speech by David Onley, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the first in a job with a physical disability. He spoke of going to Texas in the 1970s and seeing curb cuts and automatic door openers for the first time, realizing how difficult it was to get aroundToronto when he came back. And then he said that there are young adults who can vote now who have never known a world without the blue sign with a grey wheelchair denoting accessibility, never known a world without automatic door openers and ramps and it was one of the most thought-provoking moments of the day (if not the week). I often rant about lack of access and I am convinced that the world can do better, but it was a moment of realizing how far we have come.

Some members of the audience appeared to not like the speeches

Seeing as the event, including speeches and exhibits took place in the gym of.Village, exhibit space was improvised, but it worked and for those of you who are here because you picked up my card yesterday, welcome!

The improvise easels (thank various divinities for used book sales)

and the backstage view. My mother has always claimed that within half an hour of being somewhere, I tend to inhabit the place. I think I see her point.

It was a terrific day, I had a lot of fun, learned some things, met so many nice people and got enough compliments on my photos that - to paraphrase the Grinch - my head swelled three sizes that day.

Caption Contest Winner

Choosing a winner was hard - I've been giggling my way through the comment box for the last couple of days I can't even begin to give you a list of favourites, because they're all good. However, Willowtree’s "I still can't hear you" made me snort tea up my nose and that's as good an indication as any. E-mail me at landers5ATgmailDOTcom with your choice and address and I'll get it in the mail for you as soon as I can. Given that you're in Australia, it may not make it before Christmas, but it will definitely be on its way.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Designing Woman with RA: An Interview with Louisa Summerfield

Last week, I spoke to a very interesting woman:

"Louisa Summerfield, 43, has turned what many see as adversity into an advantage. Diagnosed at age 9 with severe juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, she started using a wheelchair in her early teens. Not finding what she was looking for in comfortable, fashionable clothes, she founded
WheelieChix-Chic in 2007, offering clothes and lingerie for women who use wheelchairs and for able-bodied women. Based in the UK, she has participated in Abilities Expo which took her to several cities in the U.S. as part of Chloe Magazine's Dare to Change the World Fashion Showcase. She returns with her Fall Collection in Abilities Expo's 2010 show."

You can read the rest here.

Oops... this wasn't supposed to go up until tomorrow. Blonde moment. Contest still open.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Christmas Caption Contest

I just realized that there are 23 days left until The Big Day and am experiencing a slight panic attack. Assuming the rest of you are in the same boat - and if you talk about having been ready since August, I will cry - I decided it's time for a contest. Winner will receive an 8 x 10 photo of their choice from my Flickr account that they can use as a present for anyone on their list (including themselves).

The task: caption this photo of Mojo (taken this weekend where she spent a fair bit of time looking like this due to a problem in the business area of her nether regions - problem not resolved yet and so far, no diagnosis, either). Best caption wins. Contest closes Thursday at 6pm Toronto time, winner announced Friday, which should be enough time to get the print to you by Christmas.