My Birthday – Take Two!

My 44th birthday was not what I imagined it to be. And I’m not picky. Believe me! I’m the less-is-more type of person. Some birthday wishes from good friends through whatever means they prefer (Facebook, email, text, etc.) puts a smile to my face. A quiet day where I can have my own loose schedule – allowing time to read, go to the gym, do yoga and then chill out in front of our Christmas tree listening to more Xmas tunes as a way to preserve and lengthen Christmas which comes and goes faster and faster each year for just little longer. Ending the day with dinner with my extended family is somewhat of a “requirement” but if it’s like the take-out sushi we had yesterday at home I can be okay with that.

Except that on the way home from the gym, a man cut-me off and then at the right lights, came out of his car and started yelling at me for having my left signal on all the way he was behind me on the highway. Of course, it wasn’t me. I know which driver was doing that because I was behind the guilty driver. Point is even if it were me, I had every right to honk at this road-rage-of-an-asshole because I had to break in order to avoid him colliding his car into mind. And he had no right to yell at me and then hit my side-rear mirror with his hand. Hello? Who was pulling the illegal move? That’s called assault. If I had recorded it all with my phone I’d have a solid report at the police station right now.

He was also driving like a maniac on the highway. At one point he rolled down his window and waved what looked like an alt-right support flag at me (I could be wrong but I am certain it was definitely not a ‘lets be friends’ flag). Older, middle-aged, white-haired man, with a white beard, black rim-glasses, short (of course) and I would say in his late 50’s to mid 60’s. He’s not the first that fits under that description to target me (and probably many other women like me). I suppose they feel justified in trying to make up for their small penises in whatever way they can.

Anyway – after that scare, I felt my birthday could not get any worse.

Until… my parents, aunt and uncle arrived.

I spent the evening hosting people on my birthday who just wanted to monopolize the conversation with how horrible their 2016 has been… and about who is dying. Or who has died. Or one negative shit after another.

The only one who didn’t grade on my nerves with my father who at one point between all his napping said, “It could have been worse.”

I love my family. But I didn’t need that. Not on my birthday. Not on my time off. As I said, I’m a simple person. If all I had was a quiet evening with my husband and daughter, either doing something like watching a new Blu-ray I received for my birthday or just doing a whole bunch of nothing together, I would have gone to bed content.

So I woke up this morning with a plan. I told my husband and daughter that I’m asking for a birthday re-do. I would very much like, I asked them both, for a birthday brunch. With coconut waffles and a birthday candle in the middle of my waffle. And then later, after digesting with my current fabulous read I intend to finish soon – “Life After Life” – I will do 90 minutes of yoga as my only workout today. And then who knows what else – maybe something, maybe nothing. So long as I don’t have to see anyone outside my own household, I will be happy.

Fuck having to celebrate one’s birthday just on one’s birthday!

Post-Christmas quiet

Past Christmas to New Year’s week use to be a swarm of activities. I used to have a packed schedule, usually with family plus in between visits with friends.

I also used to email with my girlfriend almost every single year, both of us with one vent – the same vent year after year – “Why can’t we just be left alone to relax?”

Obligations – we were continuously planning our schedule to make everyone else happy.

Christmas Stockings

Christmas morning – our stockings are stuffed.

This year, the same thing happens. I’m working myself hard at work while preparing for our holiday festivities to the point where I’m burnt out, exhausted beyond hope and eventually, finding myself with a very uncomfortable cold. The bug bit down on me overnight from December 23rd to Christmas Eve morning. As if to say, Well, now that you’re done working 60 hours a week, cramming the last bit of crap in the office, it’s time for you the pay for what you’ve done to your body!

I’ve gotten better, of course. My family always thinks, year after year, that just because I take the whole week off, I’m available to meet up with them 5 times for lunch, get-togethers, dinners, etc. The truth is, I’m not the social butterfly I use to be in my 20’s. Even that was short-lived. The honest to God truth is that I need a lot of downtime now to recharge myself for the next social gathering.

So, this year, I limited the celebrations to Christmas dinner at my aunt’s place (on Christmas Eve), my birthday, and my mom’s birthday at the very end of the week. It’s down to 3 times with family, no visits with friends and staying home as much as I can with just my family in between. Including New Year’s Eve – a holiday my husband and I don’t really care for anyway. And I wonder why we pushed ourselves to do it every year when truth be told, we’re so tired by NYE that I’m literally looking at the time every 10 minutes or so starting 9pm until midnight, praying time will go faster so I can just go home and go to bed!

And the family is getting better at understanding how tired I am and the amount of rest I need. I use to get awful backlash for not being as available as they want me to be. Finally, in the past few years I have been brutally honest – that I just want to be left alone, left to have NO SCHEDULE and just time to unwind. That’s basically it. Call me anti-social but that’s the only way I’ll be happy.

Still, it’s a hard habit to kick. When it came to my birthday, without realizing it, I was even planning the day to make everyone else happy. My husband and daughter really wanted to see Star Wars – Rogue One, and I knew my parents wanted to see it as well. To minimize having to go a different day and therefore, having to see them again (because you see, it’s not just going to a movie but there will be an expected dinner afterwards with the whole family) I planned on the day we were to have my birthday dinner at our house (take-out sushi). See how that works? I had to squeeze in the movie the same day just so I could free up the following days.

sheep onesie

She’s been living in her new onesie

After getting sick, we called off the movie and possibly the sushi dinner as well, but as soon as I started to feel better, the dinner was back on (which I didn’t mind since it’s sushi and at our place), my husband started to get all excited that the movie was back on too.

I told him, “Hold it. I didn’t say the movie was back on.”

He said, “But don’t you want to see it?”

“I do. But I’m not in as much of a rush to see it as you.”

“So we see it later in the week?”

“No – because that means I’ll have to see my family. Again!”

“So why don’t the 3 of us see it and then see it again with your parents?”

“I don’t have the time or energy to do that! The movie will still be around the following weekend.”

“But…”

“Look – it’s too much for me. Go see it with C. If it’s that good you can see it again with me. Or not and I’ll go on my own.” (Truth be told I use to love seeing movies on my own!)

He was disappointed but also realized that the plans I had to see Star Wars was more for everyone else and not really for myself. As much as I hate to disappoint him, and there’s this small voice in my head that is nagging me to just do it – get it over with and make everyone happy about seeing the movie on my birthday – I just know I’ll feel worn out and this cold may never truly go away in time for me to enjoy the rest of my holiday.

People get use to the “reliable” you when you are always the one that makes everyone else happy. And it’s really about striking that balance to keep them happy and keep myself happy. I love my family, don’t get me wrong. I enjoy getting together with them for Christmas, birthdays and just family time every now and then.

But I can’t see them so often that it feels that they are getting their way, and not giving me what I need – solitude. It’s nothing personal.It’s not that I love them any less. But I love solitude. I love having free time to do as I please because I rarely get that anymore.

pooped dog

What can make this dog so pooped!

Like my dog in the above photo, I’m just so… exhausted.

Will we have a White Christmas?

Xmas mason jars

Our new #HoHoHo marque sign

Toronto is having a more typical Canadian winter. And unlike many who are complaining about the cold and all the snow we have received, my husband and I are ecstatic! The last two winters have been pitiful. We didn’t go snow-shoeing once. And skiing/snowboarding was pathetic.

Xmas mason jars

We bought these new Xmas mason jars as well – set of 3

So my hope and wish if for this snow, if not perhaps a blanket of fresh snow, be present for Christmas. It’s been a rough year on many levels – a White Christmas will give us that little sense of peace and give us the break we deserve.

I wish we had more time to savor Christmas. Each year it comes and goes faster and faster. I find myself not sitting by our tree, reading for pleasure, listening to tunes, etc. These days I’m more working overtime by our tree. I still put on the Christmas tunes but a whole CD will go by and I swear it’s like I haven’t heard one song.

Winter-themed nail design

I decided for a winter-theme look

So I do what little I can to try and enjoy this time of year. I even pampered myself with a winter-themed nail design (my manicurist is an artist!) And we spent Friday night staying up late wrapping the first batch of presents we need to ship to my in-laws in Thunder Bay.

One thing I am always excited about – gift giving. As much work as it is to shop for everyone it is the one tradition I pride myself in. And it gives me such great pleasure to spoil my loved ones. Even though our daughter is passed the age of believing in Santa, she will have her stockings filled to the brim from, well, we can say from the spirit of Christmas and Santa.

I have seen those Facebook posts about how Children should only receive a few gifts – that it makes it unfair when their friends whom have little gifts (mainly the ones from families less fortunate than ours). I understand – and we teach our child not to brag. And we’re very thankful that presently, we are in a position to splurge a little during Christmas time.

Even when we were not in the position we are inĀ  now, I would fill our daughter’s stockings – maybe most of the presents were from the Dollar store. But it was never about the amount we spent – it was the fun of opening gifts on Christmas day together.

Anyway – one more week left. I have to hang on just for one more week…

A little peace of heaven

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Regal Princess at Port in Antigua

We came back recently from a 7-day Caribbean Cruise on the Regal Princess.

A splurge and gift to ourselves was upgrading to a mini-suite with a balcony.

Best. Decision. Ever.

The extra space made it a little home away from home. The balcony allowed an escape from the busy crowd. And the extra attention from our cabin steward… Magnifico!

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View from our balcony.

Having constant view of the ocean really helped me calm my nerves. Even in the dark, just the sound of the vessel cutting through the waves was enough to sooth me. If there was any room for me to drag a mattress out on the balcony so I could sleep under the stars, I would have!

This just confirmed how burnt out I am. With work. With everyday life. Though, everyday life would not be as hard if it weren’t for work… Work is slowly killing me. My blood pressure is up, my body weight is up…ugh! I can’t even stand to look at myself in the mirror!

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Our private over-the-water cabana in Amber Cover, Dominican Republic

Getting away, though, sort of let me forget all that I had temporarily left behind. And even though I worked out everyday, walked a lot and took the stairs as much as I could, I escaped my body image. I wore a 2-piece and didn’t quite care but just took the liberty and feeling good not being bound or restricted with too much clothing. On formal nights, I brought formal pants and loose, sparkly tops. Comfort was what I aimed for and it was wonderful.

But now, I am back to reality. I need to do something – my work, my physical health and my mental health. Of course all of theses things are tightly connected.

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Mountain top view in St. Thomas

So for the next 2 weeks it is going to be hell at work as we wrap things up for the year while also getting ready for the first of January.

There’s little I can do about minimizing stress with work for the next 2 weeks. Until the holidays come I will visualize the sea and the view from our balcony… just to try and escape in whatever capacity I can.

Sunset from our balcony – Antigua port

On Being a Firefighter’s Wife, Part IV

This entry will not be as heavy or serious as the previous 3 On Being a Firefighter’s Wife. It is just something that’s been on my mind lately – In all honesty, it has to do with me more than my husband.

The realization I’ve had is that he has been a firefighter for a few years now. His shift has not changed. During their shift cycle, there are still two weekends where he has to work one or two days. On one of those weekends, he is gone all Friday and all Sunday. On the other one of those weekends, he is gone all Saturday.

The Saturday one I can take. Sometimes, we get invited out to social events with friends and he can not be there. Over all, though, I’ve adjusted to that. Plus, when he comes home to us Sunday morning, for a full brunch and some type of outdoor outing, it’s a great feeling! I can not describe it. It’s just… wonderful! To have him home with us safe and sound.

It’s like a cheesy feel-good family movie. I’m up early to greet him, then when he comes through the door, our dog nearly pounced towards the door, barking and whining as he wonders why it’s taking so long for daddy to come in, our daughter wakes up to give her dad a sleepy hug…

And the small things that makes life happy starts to work its magic… the smell of freshly made coffee from freshly ground up beans, eggs & bacon sizzling in the frying pan (or whatever we’re creating for brunch that day) – Both the smell and sound infuses into this Sunday morning bliss.

Then, that weekend where he works on a Friday and Sunday comes along. It’s not that it’s just 2 days of the weekend. There’s just this bit of empty feeling I get when he is not home with us after a long week of work – I can not celebrate that crazy end of the week with my best friend. Nor do I have him around Sunday… the last bit of peace before the daily grind hits us again.

This empty feeling I get is worse now that my work load and responsibility is so heavy. It’s always been there, though. From the start of his career. I know it sounds so trivial but I thought I would be use to it by now.

And it surprises me that I’m still getting that bluesy feeling when I don’t have him at the start and end of a weekend because I’m such an independent person. I’ve never had any issues doing things on my own – In fact, to this day, I love being on my own from time to time. I continue to leave early weekend mornings when he is home, to get a manicure or pedicure, every now and then – Just to be on my own for small doses at a time. Or reading at a coffee shop – for an hour or so. I never am the type of person that needs to have some one with me when I go out and do or see things. When I’m on a business trip, sometimes, I am on my own for dinner and in the evenings. There’s nothing I love more than to dine somewhere and explore afterwards, completely on my own.

Yes – these Sundays when he is not around. I still am not really getting use to it – And I’m not sure if this feeling will ever go away, either.