Wave over Wave

Vacation winds down and not a surprised my flight is delayed.  Gives me a the perfect opportunity to write the post I have been drafting in my head since this morning.

The past 6 and half days have been filled with sun, sand and the ocean.  This morning I donned my bathing suit for the last time.  Lathered up in sunscreen and for extra protection, added my rash guard to my look.  Put on my ball cap and sunglasses and started to walk across the beach to the water sports pavillion.

This has been my routine for the past 6 mornings, and finally the water sport guys have figured it out.  I was met half way with my lifejacket.

“One more?”

“Yes, the last  one.”

He measured the paddle for me and while I walked into the water, he pulled out my board. I jumped up and he attached the ankle strap for me.

“Remember to stay where I can see you.”

I looked at him, smiled and he smiled in return.  “I know,” he says.  “You will be going out far.  Just make sure I can see you.”

I get to my feet, find my balance before the next wave comes, and start the 700 metre paddle out to the first buoy.

Instantly I sense that today’s paddle will be different.  While it was windy on the beach, it was not as windy on the water.

Every day my paddles have had a very familiar feeling.  Hard, seemingly soul crushing.  Every day I battled the wind and the waves coming at me from the right, while paddling on the left just to keep a straight line and get out to the buoy.  With each and every paddle stroke, I was so thankful for the hundreds of lat rows, lat pull downs and chin ups that I have done over the past 12 months.  Every single one.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible before the wind knocked me off course.

At the buoy, I maneuver the board to the right and begin the 1km paddle, directly across into the wind and over the waves.

Dip the paddle, pull straight back, elbow close to the body, bend my knees.  Repeat as quickly as possible to avoid being pushed back to where I have come from.

This is the hard work.

Perseverance.

Determination.

Drive.

Every day I battled that wind.  And every day, I won.  After a couple of days of very hard work I learned to feel the wind, look for the wind, anticipate the wind.  I learned that I could see the wind coming, by keeping my eyes on the water.  Looking at the waves and watching for the small, jumpy ripples as they moved towards me.  As the small ripples moved along the water, closer to me, so did the wind.  I braced for it, I paddled harder and eventually moved through it.  The wind and the ripples.  Sometimes the wind was so strong that the effort of my paddling simply kept me in the same spot and did not allow me to drift backwards, but I did not make forward progress either.

I became so focused in my paddling that I was always surprised to see the rocks, my turn around point, so closely in front of me.

I am sure there is a name for the phenomenon I encountered every time I approached those rocks.  A point in which the water was moving in waves towards me, and right in front of me, at the end of my board, waves running away from me towards the rocks.  This was were I would turn around.  Right before being battered into the rocks.

I would have thought the kilometre paddle back to the buoy would be easy with the wind at my back, but it never was.  I still can’t quite figure out why.  Maybe I was just so tired from the paddle to the rocks.  As I approached the buoy, I would maneuver the board to the left and head back to the beach.

Today’s paddle was different.

Less wind.  Wind still, but with less power, less strength.

I easily paddled out to the buoy and turned right.  A balanced paddle, I was not fighting the wind.  I was able to use each arm, each shoulder, each lat muscle.

I could feel the wind on my face, but it never gathered strength.  I paddled, almost effortlessly. The waves today were bigger.  Rolling.  Gently flattening under my board.  Soft knees, I glided over them.  I paid attention.  I watched for the ripples but they never came.

The time for easy had come.  I had worked hard all week and this was my reward.

I paddled across to the rocks and turned around again, like I had the other  6 days this week.  I gently paddled back to the buoy and then back to the beach.

I enjoyed each and every smooth paddle stroke.  I relished in the harmony I created with the wind for today.  The wind and I had become one.  Equals.  Neither one of us having won the battle.  Each of us knowing that on any given day it might be a toss up, but the wind knowing that I was a worthy opponent.

As I approach the beach, my water sports guy meets me.  I come down to my knees on the board and undo the ankle strap.

“Good paddle?”

“Amazing.”

A Year Can Change A Lot

“The old ones will leave…and I do believe…that I’ll surrender to it all…cause the best-laid plans…unfold like fans…then snap tight on the spot…and a year can change a lot…another orbit around the big star…guess I’ll give it another shot…’cause a year can change a lot” ~ Chris Velan (singer songwriter)

One year ago, on March 1, 2015, I met up with my dear friend Shannon, for lunch.  Shannon like all of my friends, has been instrumental in helping me through the past year.  She is an amazing and patient listener.  And when I might have droned on too long on any given subject, our eyes would meet and we would both get a silly grin on our faces.  Shannon, knowing that I knew what had to be done, and me, knowing and admitting that I needed to let it go.

On that day a year ago, we went to lunch at Le Cheese, a grill cheese dive in NDG.  Grill cheese…comfort food…the best comfort food.  We talked.  We laughed.  I probably cried.  And on that day Shannon said to me, “Julie, in a year from now when we are together, you will look back and will have come so far.”

At the time, it was so hard to imagine.  Back then I was dealing with heartbreak.  With putting one foot in front of the other.  With trying to eat.  With trying to sleep.  With trying to help my kids grapple with the reality of their new life.  With trying to grapple with the reality of my new life.

It was so hard to imagine days without tears.  Days without pain.

Yet.  Here.  I.  Am.

Days without tears.  Days without pain.

I am not with Shannon today, March 1st, 2016.  But she is not far from my thoughts.  Today, all of my friends are on my mind and in my heart.

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As I post this, I am lying in bed.  Listening to the sound of the ocean outside my window.  The sun is shining and the beach is calling.  My schedule today, and for the next 6 days will consist of sleeping, reading, yoga, spa treatments, tea.  All on repeat.

No tears.  No pain.

One year later from that comforting lunch, I can look back and see that I have accomplished so much.  That I have come so far.  Because of the love and support of my friends.

Some highlights of my year include (and will be expanded upon in future posts…yes there will be more):

I saved my dog’s life.

Learning how to change a flat.  Not on my car but on my bike.

I embarked on a fitness journey that has made me stronger and more fit than I have ever been in my entire life.

Running 10 kilometres without stopping.  And doing it in 60 minutes.

Developing a slight obsession with taking pictures of sunrises and flowers.

Buying a new bed and putting it together myself.  It’s from Ikea.  I have been sleeping on it for 6 months and every morning I wake up grateful, not that I was able to put it together, but that I am not on the floor!

I took a trip on my own to New York City.

I took the kids on a long ago promised trip, to New York City.  For Christmas.

I got a part time job.

I took a semi-intensive french class for 4 weeks.

I took the class at the same time that I started my job.  The kids and I all survived the numerous 12 hours days.

I started a new blog which was raw and real.  It allowed me to write exactly what I wanted to write.  Say what I needed to say.  Get it all out of my head.

And so here I am.  One year later, on March 1, 2016.

It is time to bring my two blogs together.  That one and this one.  The new blog and the old blog.  Time to move forward.  Time to write like I always did, about my family, about my days.  My new family.  My new days.

Thank you for being patient in my absence.  Over the next while, my blog, this blog, will transform.  One day, one step, one breath at a time.

Just like I did.

Just like I am.

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How to Save a Life

So.  My dog.

Really, he was not meant to be my dog.  I am not even a dog person.  But, in the end, he is my dog.

Tyler joined our family in 2006.  He wasn’t the dog we were supposed to get.  The dog we were supposed to get was a black lab and his name was going to be Magic Bubbles Puppy, or something to that effect, named by our daughter, who was 4 at the time.  Instead of a black Magic Bubbles Puppy, we got a blond Tyler.  The dog breeder did not have any black labs, only black labradoodles.  We did not want a labradoodle, so we settled for the yellow lab.  And thankfully we managed to convince her to change his name

Tyler has been a great dog.  Not the brightest bulb in the socket, but not destructive like the famous Marley for which most yellow labs are named.  As a puppy his greatest joy was eating sweaty, stinky socks from my 2 year old son.  We would find them deposited randomly in the yard.  In his older years, he has moved on to tissues, used kleenex.  And today, it was a bottle of his own pain medication.

A few days ago, my girlfriend K called and asked if I would be interested in going to a ball.  Did I mention my favourite Disney movie is Cinderella?  Well, it is.  My first reply was YES!  However I could not afford the ticket price, nor did I have a dress to wear.  The ticket was taken care of, and a dress?  She suggested going to our friend M’s closet and seeing what I could find there.

The ball was a fundraiser for our city’s Children’s Hospital.  I have never been to a fundraiser of this calibre before.  Needless to say I was excited.  I went “shopping” in the closets of two friends, and in the end had three dresses to chose from.  I even managed to snag a pair of shoes.

I was so excited.  I might have mentioned that already.

I did all the things that a woman does to get ready.  Showered.  Shaved my legs.  Put on “my face”.  Blew dry my hair and managed to get the nicest little flip.  I even found time to do my nails, and they turned out perfectly.  Ten minutes before departure, I finally put on my dress and a bit of jewelry.  I go into my daughter’s room to ask her how I look.  She loved the dress.  And being the wonderful daughter she is, said I looked very nice.  And although it was a little black dress (covered with black satin flowers and grey pearl bead centres), I felt a bit like Cinderella.

As we start to discuss the plans for the evening I hear it.  This gnawing noise.  It sounded like Tyler was chewing on a bone.  I even thought to myself, “wonder where Tyler got the bone?”  By the time I go and investigate, probably 20 seconds, I find Tyler, his pill bottle, and that is all.

I grab the bottle which thankfully has the vet’s phone number on it, and immediately call the vet.  While I wait on hold, I quickly calculate how many pills he would have eaten and come up with approximately 10 to 12 pills.  However, because he only takes a half pill a day, it is between 20 to 24 doses.

It is suggested to me that I can either bring the dog in to the vet right away or I can try to induce vomiting on my own, at home.  I look down at my dress and realize right away that Cinderella is going to be late.

I am told that I can induce vomiting by administering hydrogen peroxide.  I did not have hydrogen peroxide.  They told me that I could grab a handful of table salt, and throw it into the back of Tyler’s mouth.

This might be a good time to remind you of the facts.  I am a single parent.  My daughter is 13 years old.  My son is 11 years old.  Tyler is a yellow lab and weighs 88 pounds.

I cannot, for an single second, fathom how on earth the three of us will be able to manage getting salt into Tyler’s mouth to induce vomiting.  The image alone makes me chuckle and shake my head.

Off goes the dress.  Cinderella turns back into mom.  I rush off to the drug store to buy hydrogen peroxide.  I get lucky and find a parking spot, on the street, but realize I do not have money for the meter.  I only have my debit card.  Great.  The money I am trying to save by being Dr. Mom instead of going to the vet, is probably going to end up costing me parking ticket.  I don’t even check the meter.  It does not matter if there is any time left on it from a previous driver.  I run down the block.

I find the hydrogen peroxide and of course, there is a line up at the cash register.  Tap tap tap goes my toe.  Come on, come on.  A customer tries to leave the store and they set off the anti-theft alarm.  You’ve.  Got.  To. Be. Kidding. Me.  After handing a number of items back to the cashier for scanning, the customer tries to leave and again the alarm goes off.  At this point I become a bit like a mad-woman.  “I really need to pay, my dog has eaten a bunch of pills and I really need to get back with this so that I can help him”.  Sympathy abounds.  The cashier lets the potential thief pass by even though they may have put something into the bottom of their stroller, the woman in front of me pays, and finally it is my turn.

I rush back to my car and for the second time today (my meter ran out on me earlier in the day) I have been blessed by the meter fairies, and there is no ticket.  Those of you who live here, know this is a great feat.

I get home and start giving Tyler the peroxide by syringe.  As instructed, I give him 15mL, a tablespoon’s worth.  Nothing.  He looks fine.  Doesn’t even seem to mind.  I try again.  My syringe only hold 5mL.  Now I’ve given him a total of 6 syringes full of peroxide.  And still, nothing.  I call the vet back.  “Keep giving it to him until he vomits, and when he vomits, it will be very foamy”.

Let me just tell you, to save time and agony, I lost count as to how many syringes it took for him to throw up.

And when he did, it was foamy, just like she said it would be.  And as he did, all I could think of was a) the ball, b) the beautiful dress, c) I think I can still make it, and d) crap, that was $70 worth of medication he just ate and now has thrown up all over the lawn.

Another phone call to the vet, has me disappointed.  I can find no evidence of the pills in the vomit (sorry…I know…too much information), and that is disconcerting.  She wants me to bring Tyler in.  This, I was hoping to avoid.  Vet bills are expensive.

Off we go to the vet.  It is at this moment that I can no longer keep it together.  This is my first “crisis”, so to speak, since ex left.  In the past, a crisis like this would have warranted a phone call, resulting in support, advice, concern, encouragement.  This time?  It was all me.  Even though I was not sure I could afford the visit, I knew I needed to take Tyler to the vet.  I would never forgive myself if something avoidable had happened.  On the way I called my friend, N, and sobbed my way through the story.  The sadness, the disappointment, the worry, the frustration.

At the vet, Tyler is fed a can of “gourmet” wet dog food which has been mixed with charcoal, to absorb any remaining medication.  The bowl is full of something that resembles black tar.  Tyler being a good and dutiful Lab, eats it right up.

I stop to pay on the way out.  My heart starting to sink to my stomach.  The receptionist and the technician are trying to find the charcoal price on the computer.  They talk about price per millilitre.  It was a really big bottle of charcoal.  I start to feel overwhelmed.  They finally find it.

“Twenty-three dollars”, she says.

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Ticket to the ball.  Free.  Dress.  Free.  Shoes. Free.  Clutch and shawl that I did not get to use but can use another time.  $40.  Bottle of hydrogen peroxide.  $2.70.  Money saved by the parking meter fairies.  $100.  Vet visit.  $23.

Listening to Tyler snore beside me.  Priceless.