On Being a Firefighter’s Wife, Part III

[In continuation of Part I and Part II]

The news was everywhere this morning. Four firefighters seriously injured from an industrial building fire in the early hours of this morning – one firefighter in critical condition.

Of course, I knew my husband was okay. He was not scheduled to work yesterday.

Yet, this is the type of news that will almost immobilize me. I am both relieved and sad at the same time. And I am anxious and nervous as well.

I understand I should just be thankful that he was not working last night and that he is safe. But it’s difficult, being a firefighter’s wife (or any loved one of some one who works in the emergency sector), to not think, “What if it had been him?”

When a wall or ceiling collapses, trapping firefighters, it’s about one of the worst, yet realistic, situations. Still, it’s one of those scenes I tend to play out in only TV shows and movies. My defense mechanism puts those scenarios in make-belief land as a way to cope with the possible dangers my husband faces when he’s on the job.

A lot of people envision firefighters sitting around, eating ice cream and just waiting for a call. I can ensure you, this is what I imagined as well. Some days, they do have uneventful shifts. There’s work to be done at the station, though – and continuous training to stay on top of things.

Yet, since he’s been on, I have seen a lot more crazy days and more fires than I realized existed. I can only account for this by assuming there are more of these types of calls when the infrastructure of a city starts to age and decay. As economical hardship hits our times, less detail and attention (due to both man power and financial resources) are put to safety and prevention to such infrastructures. These are the times, where we need to NOT close down firetrucks and stations.

Hopefully, this blog gets read by our Mayor Rob Ford along with his Ford-Nation.

Our thoughts and prayers go to those four injured firefighters and their loved ones.

Easter weekend 2014 (and checking in)

I feel like I’ve been neglecting my space here. And I miss it. I miss it very much.

Time is difficult to find these days – or I should say, making time is difficult these days. I’m up at 5:15am to workout, off to work long and sometimes very intensely busy days (more days than not), back home for the after work/after school daily grind and then, hoping, to be in bed by 10pm. Though most nights, I could easily fall asleep at 9pm.

But how am I, one might wonder?

I’m doing fine. I wouldn’t say I’m filled with constant happiness. But I do check in with myself once in awhile. I’m actually not use to be going on for this long without suicidal thoughts and sometimes wonder if all those dark days of are of the past.

Are they? Or are they just lying dormant? It’s difficult to say. I suppose, I’m being cautiously optimistic. I’m partly being hopeful that the worst is all behind me. But realistic that I’m not cured, by any sense – just that I’m able to, perhaps, manage all this.

A part of me wishes that I could steer onwards with a heart full of hope and charity. Another part of me realizes this is not completely realistic. Not to say that I am without hope or faith – I do continue to strive for a full heart. But sometimes, a certain level of being guarded is part of survival of this world we live in.

It’s knowing who to trust and who needs more time to be trusted (rather than jumping to the conclusion of who not to trust). The latter usually requires much more space and distance – at least at the beginning of whatever relationship I may or may not have with that person.

Anyway, we had a beautiful but busy long Easter weekend, full of egg colouring, food prepping and dinner hosting, seeing Captain America – The Winter Soldier, an egg hunt, a bike ride and walk under the sun, pub wings and some organizing/cleaning in between everything.

leg of lamb with prosciutto

image courtesy of taste.com.au

Our traditional Easter dinner menu for my family:

  1. Spinach, Egg and Bacon Salad
  2. Smoked Trout
  3. Roasted Lamb with Sage and Prosciutto
  4. Spaghetti Squash Casserole
  5. Roasted Asparagus
  6. Applesauce Cake*
    • Modified ingredients:
      • 1/2 cup coconut flour
        1 teaspoon baking powder
        1/2 teaspoon baking soda
        3 teaspoons cinnamon
        1/2 teaspoon ginger
        1/2 cup reduced-calorie margarine
        2 whole eggs
        1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        1/3 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
        1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

* The dessert was modified (and I’m still working on perfecting the modifications) to make it diabetic friendly. The original recipe asked for 1/4 molasses (pure sugar) and 1 cup Splenda. I normally reduce the sugar by 1/2 or 2/3rds anyway. As I’m not big on the artifical sweet taste, I’m working on reducing the Splenda but will also look into natural agave to substitute the sweetness. The unsweetened applesauce already has enough natural sweetness to it, though. And coconut flour, which has a higher absorbancy over regular flour, is much lower on the carb count and glycemic index. It’s nutritional value is higher as well.The above recipe is gluten-free – just make sure the baking powder and soda have no additives that would be problematic for those who have certain food intolerance.

Vampires 1: Zombies 0 (wherein this is actually about parenting)

twilight breaking dawn

oh those pesky teenage vampires again…

Awhile back, I mentioned Chaeli’s interest in both the Twilight movies and Twilight books.

Since then, it’s all she asks to watch. Fortunately, as a family, we don’t have that much time for movie nights anymore. We’ve been privileged to spend time outdoors together – all seasons – doing various physical activities. And when we’re stuck at home, there’s just so much to do – including game night and hobbies night. Movie nights are becoming a rarer treat. So when it comes time for crashing in front of the TV, it’s a nice change of pace (plus an excuse to have popcorn).

I also mentioned my plan to withhold the last book, Breaking Dawn, from her until we had more conversations about sex.

Well, just some series of events which lead to my failure as a parent here – these are not excuses, mind you, but they do explain how it all just sort of unraveled on me:

  1. My workplace has gone through tremendous changes, including new ownership; I am still employed but the overtime has been pretty steady.
  2. We went to donate some of our old belongings to Variety Village where Chaeli spotted Breaking Dawn, the hardcover, for only $5.
  3. When we got home, due to being drained from event no. 1, and many other crazy things that have happened to us which I won’t bore you with here, I completely forgot to take the book from her room.

I suppose my greatest fault is no. 3 above. A part of my brain did remember it was there from time to time, but then another part of my brain, the one that’s famous for procrastinating, kept on saying that she was still in the beginning of reading Eclipse, the book before. It will be awhile before she gets to Breaking Dawn.

This reasoning seemed to satisfy the part of my brain that usually is pretty good at taking charge. Until one day, I see my 10 year old walking around carrying the Breaking Dawn book.

With her bookmark sticking out from the middle pages.

This past Saturday was one of the rare moments we had time for a movie. Of course, she asked to watch Twilight. And of course, she asked to watch Breaking Dawn, Part 2, her favourite.

When it got to the scene where Edward and Bella were implied to have a 2nd honeymoon (nothing graphic but it was suggestive that they were making love even though nothing is shown), my kid turns to me and says, “You know in the book? They do this for like a whole day.”

I was stunned. And silent. At least at first. Then I started to laugh as I worked out a semi-audible, “Oh yeah – I forgot about that part of the book” to cover up my real reason for laughing.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking, Oh great. Not only did I fail to discuss with her about sex, I’m now laughing like an immature dweeb.

“Yeah, and the only reason why they stop is because they wanted to check up on their baby. If they didn’t have a kid, they would be doing this for days. Maybe weeks!”

Well, not all is at a loss. Chaeli is not completely ignorant about where babies come from. And she has been introduced to sex but I’m not sure if she understood that what they were doing, was sex. Or if she thinks they just spent an entire day kissing and holding each other. (<- my wishful thinking)

It’s a discussion I’ll be having with her soon. *Sigh*

Why can’t she just like zombies? You don’t have to worry about zombies getting down and dirty. They’re too busy being disgusting as they tear into live, human victims.

Warrior Two – Much kinder but still strong


Warrior Two – Much kinder but still strong

I use to be an angry warrior – with little confidence.

Now? I’m the stronger, gentler type – that simply just poses like one. Read more…

the true meaning of the word ‘namaste’

the word ‘namaste’ has been in my life a lot these past several years. it is a sanskrit word which when translated means, “i bow to you.” basically, the etymology behind it  breaks down to namah = ‘bow’ and te = ‘you.’

in modern-day asian culture, it is used basically as a form of both salutation and a way of parting. but even in the indian culture, there are some people who take it as a form of respect and even spiritual meaning.

in western yoga practice, it has become a most definitely spiritual meaning where yogis perform the bowing motion in conjunction of the word at the end of a yoga glass as a sign of respect, equality and a deliverance, so to speak, of spiritual well wishes to their fellow yogis.

why am i bringing this up?

about a year ago, i was having dinner with two of my girlfriends. one is east indian, growing up with hindu traditions. she does not speak her native language but she has been raised in her culture as both her parents were born in india.

i was talking about turning 40 and how i was musing over the idea of doing something to commemorate my rite of passage. i had, in the past, toyed around with the idea of getting a tattoo. alas, i told them, i have not found any type of symbol i could use which would have enough meaning for it to be a part of my body for life.

they asked me if i had any ideas at all. i did mention that it will most likely be something spiritual – and as yoga has become such an important part of me, it might have something to do with the practice of yoga. i mentioned a couple of ideas, one being the use of the sanskrit writing for ‘namaste.’

to this, my one indian friend scoffed and said, “you know that just means ‘hello,’ right?” then she went on a mini-rant about how westerners always do this – we glorify other cultures without truly understanding the meaning behind what we’re glorifying.

i said nothing to this. as the truth is, i was not sure if she was right or not. and regardless, she did have a point. we do do this.

and so, i’ve been doing my research on and off for a year. it’s been difficult to find out exactly whether or not us north american yogis have been lead down the wrong path to the word ‘namaste.’ until i was able to find some solid information, i have been using the words ‘om shanti’ (meaning not just ‘peace’ but especially from buddhist practice, it means ‘inner peace’) during my practice instead, though if my yoga instructor prefers using ‘namaste,’ i do repeat it back as a sign of respect to him or her.

after all, during the practice of yoga, there’s no room for debate on semantics.

as mentioned above, i have gotten as far as the true meaning of where the word was derived from. that i am quite sure is correct. it is not just ‘hello’ or ‘good-bye’ though it is used for the moment of greeting and parting. but it does mean ‘i bow to you’. no one can deny that such an act and statement obviously is showing a sign of respect. it is a peaceful gesture.

the popular meaning “the divine light in me shines to the divine light in you”, however, might very well have been populated by western interpretation. it’s more like a ‘step up’ from the etymology of ‘namaste.’

so the question still has not been answered – are we essentially adding a bit of pretentiousness to the true use of ‘namaste?’

honestly, when i hear my yoga instructors say it to me and others in class, i do not feel any sign of pretentiousness. i feel, actually, only peace and love – because regardless of whether or not the meaning of the word is being used properly or not, their intent is pure, all good, and yes, even divine. i even have one instructor who says this and  concludes the class with an additional, “i love you all!” and while this seemed so foreign to me at the time, i believe him when he says this. it is on that level of how he sees the good in all humans and that is the part of humanity he wishes to send his love. it is, therefore, where he concentrates his positive energy so that the good in us, in all of us, is fed and nurtured.

at the end of the day, i see nothing wrong with this.

perhaps i’m still leery of getting a tattoo that says ‘namaste’ as i prefer the word ‘shanti’ anyway, but i have decided that it’s okay to follow the concluding ‘namaste’ ritual at the end of one of my yoga classes, leaving my friend’s sarcastic comment at the door of the studio (i love my friend, but that doesn’t mean i always agree with her).

i also mentioned that should i get a sanskrit word as a tattoo, i would also consider a illustration of a lotus flower to tie in my chinese heritage and my connection to my buddhist traditions. she did add another sarcastic comment, “and that probably is just a flower to people in china.”

in reply, i smiled back and said, “no… it actually has a deeply rooted meaning for those who practice buddhism.”

what are your thoughts on how north american yogis use the word, ‘namaste?’