Welcome to my New Home!

I have moved back to my birthplace - a town of about 1800 in rural New Brunswick, Canada.

I have been gone for 20 years working in various cities, but not a lot has changed around here. People still leave their keys in their cars and their front doors unlocked...people still walk into your house without knocking and help themselves to a cup of coffee....and neighbors are both nosey AND some of the most helpful and wholesome folks you will ever find!

I am not sure if I will fit in here. I am used to "breakfast, lunch and dinner", not "breakfast, dinner and supper" which leads to all kinds of confusion when my friends show up at noon for a meal I was making at 6pm. I am also used to wearing $100 Lululemon yoga pants not $15 WalMart specials. (Not that there is anything wrong with WalMart!).

I have a convertible, which is completely inappropriate for a town that has snow 6 months of the year. I loved it when the old-timers would say, half-smiling, "So, you gonna be driving that car this winter?" like I might have just fell off the turnip truck the night before. I'd make my big blue eyes as big as I could as I would sweetly reply "Do you think I could....?"

Well, I WILL adjust, I WILL! One way or another, I want to be part of this town. I want to "be the me I was when I was child", not the one I created while living in the city.

So, let me share my experiences with you, as I adjust to this new, but old, environment.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day Melancholy

Hello, Readers. Normally I try to be funny. Not today. Today is Mother's Day, and I am an orphan. Granted, I am a 45 year old orphan with a husband, a house, a job, cars, food....... but today none of that stuff is being considered, because I just can't shake the feeling of being an orphan..

My Dad passed away in 1995, and Mum passed away a little over 2 years ago. I could just put on Facebook "to my Mum in Heaven" but I figured I would take it up a notch.

My Mother lived until she was 80. Although my Mother probably seemed like a pretty ordinary person, a sweet little old lady, there were some pretty interesting things about her that you probably didn’t know. So, I want to do a top 10 “Did You Know” countdown  to tell you a few secrets about my Mum.

10. When my cell phone rang, a Kid Rock song would play. When Mum heard it, she would start dancing around the kitchen, bathroom, wherever.  In fact, my 80-Mother dancing to the song “So Hott” got my attention way more than a ringing cell phone ever could.
9. in 1960 Mum was one of two people that got polio in the Perth-Andover area. The doctor said she would never walk again without braces, but with Dad’s help, and Mum’s strength and resilience, she never had to wear leg braces.
8. Mum was a beautiful singer, and she used to sing to her kids all the time. When I was little, I tried and tried to convince Mum to be a country music star so we could be rich. But Mum said she was too shy, so that money making scheme was a no-go.
7. When I was about 7, all of a sudden Mum started crying uncontrollably, and was very sad, for many days. I didn’t know who this Elvis guy was that had just passed away, but he obviously was Mum’s close personal friend for her to cry so hard and for so long.
6. Mum had a condition called spinal stenosis. She was in pain quite a bit of the time, but she was really concerned that she might get addicted to one of the hard-core drugs the doctor prescribed. Tylenol.
5. When Mum was young, she completed a correspondence course in nursing. She didn’t complete the whole program because she would have had to work in Boston for a while for the practical part of the course. It didn’t really matter if she finished her degree or not, we called her Doctor Miller, anyway.
4. When my Mum was going through menopause some number of years ago, she went through a grumpy spell, and she used to tell her kids not to stand so close to her …She’d say…”Get away from me, you’re using up all my air…..” That sure made a kid feel loved.
3. Mum was always a fan of the underdog. It didn’t matter what bad stuff a person did, she would always find their good qualities and focus on those. I can just imagine her saying, ….”well, the Devil is not that bad of a guy, he just made some bad choices, he’ll come around, just give him some time….”
2. Mum was unusually thankful. These last few weeks in the hospital, she thanked everyone that helped her, even if the person did the smallest of tasks like empty the garbage can in her. How many of us have the strength of character to thank the person who gives you a needle?
1. At every funeral Mum ever went to, she wore big black sunglasses over her regular glasses. I suppose she didn’t want anyone to see the grief in her eyes. She kind of looked like a white-haired Roy Orbison.
As much as Mum was just a simple farm wife from the country, she led an interesting and full life, and was a hoot ‘til the end….she loved and was loved by many. And I suppose that is all any of us can ask for.
Here is a secret I didn't tell anyone until now. I am the only person in the whole world that heard, saw, and even felt, Mum's last breath. My sisters were in the hospital room at the time, but were distracted. I was very present for her last breath, just like she was there for my first.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

People are Funny

I have been a people-Manager since I was 28 years old. I have met and managed some wonderful people. But being a manager can be quite a challenge. You need a strong sense of humor to get through some of the days.

Over the years, I have had some interesting conversations with some of my employees. Some of the conversations have made me laugh, some have made me cry, and some have made me want to poke them in the eye. Luckily for me, there has been lots of laughter, little crying, and the only time I ever poked anyone in the eye was on a streetcar in Toronto when I lost my grip on the pole I was hanging on to, and a lady was standing too close to me.

So I have decided to share some of those interesting conversations between myself and my employees here....for your reading pleasure. All of these conversations happened somewhere in the last 17 years. Likely the employees who made the comments don't even remember doing so. But I remember. I remember it all.

Spiritual Lady
One of my employees was late for work. When she arrived, she asked me to step into the boardroom with her, and to bring a box of Kleenex. Since she had been having medical issues, my first thought was that she had received some terrible news about her health. Instead, she began...."The reason I am late for work is because my spirit guides told me I should drive right on past work and go to a church where a man was praying, and who needed my help".


She continued to tell me how her "kundelini was rising" and that she could see spirits all around.

I have nothing against people who have non-traditional spiritual beliefs. I have nothing against people being late for work. But I do have something against people who creep me out and give me nightmares and the heebie-jeebies every time I see them.

Pretty Lady
A very pretty young lady came into my office, obviously in distress and wishing to talk. When I asked what was wrong, she said that she never wanted to work with a particular gentleman again, and asked if I could please make sure that happened. When I inquired as to what was the issue, she said that "Every time he looks at me, he's undressing me with his eyes....you know what it's like..."

I didn't want to smile. I tried not to smile. But I smiled.

And then to test her skills to see if she TRULY could tell if someone were undressing her with their eyes, I undressed her with my eyes. Nothing. Nada. Zip. No response. 

By the way, I do not know what it is like to have someone undress me with their eyes. But at my age, if someone wants to do that, I encourage them to do so with my blessing.

Creative Lady 
I got a phone call one morning from one of my employees. It was early enough in the morning that I assumed she was calling in sick for the day.

When I answered the phone, she said "Donna, I wont be able to come to work today. I looked out the window and it looks really windy".

You know how some people have an allergy to peanuts and if they go near peanuts, the result might be anaphylactic shock and potential death? I am thinking that this creative lady was going to tell me she had a severe allergy to wind, and if she stepped onto her porch she might go into anaphylactic shock. Or maybe she has a deep-rooted psychological fear that she is going to end up in a tornado like Dorothy, and she HATES Kansas.

Man on a Mission
I had a male employee who made it quite obvious he thought of himself as very intelligent, very capable, and just a whole lot of other good things.

He was a lot of those good things, but he was also lazy and refused to do what I asked him to do for customers.

So I had to fire him.

His response "You can't fire me, I am going to be the General Manager here some day".

If he would have stopped there, we just could have parted ways on friendly terms. But no, he had to continue.

"And I'm smarter than you, so I should actually have your job instead".

Um. OK. So I should fire you from your current job and give you mine? Good try, but YOU'RE STILL FIRED!

Middle-Aged Me

As hard as it is to believe, I am officially middle-aged: 45, to be exact.

I don't feel bad about becoming an old crow. I am actually quite excited about this.

There's a whole lot of stuff I no longer have to worry my pretty little head about. For example, I don't think it's necessary for me to worry too much about trying to achieve an acceptable bikini body before my upcoming vacation to Cuba. I used to stew something awful before holidays: starve myself a little, get more than a little exercise obsessed. Now, what the heck! I'm an old lady. I'm seriously not worried about my cellulite anymore. I don't poke and prod at it, and tan it, and massage it. I'm 45! I've got more important things to think about than cellulite!

I'm also no longer worried about being polite and respectful 100% of the time. Rather, I am a lot more direct and to the point. I only have half my life left, no time for beating around the bush! For example, some time ago, one of my employees had her Dad pass away. I have lots of empathy for people going through that, since I myself became an orphan 2 years ago. So, I had to rearrange work schedules for the next week to make sure the lady could have bereavement leave. One of my other employees was not happy with my redistribution of the hours. To get to the heart of the matter, I bluntly said "I just want to understand your concern...Betty's Dad has DIED and your concern is that you only are getting an extra 4 hours of work out of it?" When she nodded, I was astounded and rendered speechless. At my advanced age, I have no energy to carry on conversations with self-centred  witches. I am not saying that I've become unprofessional, just more likely to point out the absurdity of what is in front of me. The elephant in the room, so to speak.

Other things I am so pleased about, now that I am middle aged:

1) nobody expects me to be fashionable....which is virtually impossible in Perth-Andover, anyway, since we can't even buy a pair of under-roos here. But on the rare occasion I am fashionably dressed, people seem to view it as a wondrous thing to behold.

2) I'm not worried anymore if I am going to have a successful life. This is it...given that I kept myself alive to 45, I consider that a grand success.

3) If I have an alcoholic beverage with breakfast I'm not worried someone is going to tell on me.

4) it is unlikely I am going to get pregnant and have to confess to my friends and family that I've had unprotected sex

5)  I don't have to justify my choices to anyone. If someone tries to goad me into it, I hang up the phone, tell them to leave my house, or stare at them blankly until they get embarrassed and wander away. It's not necessary that everyone likes me. If you don't,.....whatever....

6) I have a low tolerance for crazy behaviour. If you have drama, stay away. I will politely and respectfully delete you from my porch or my Facebook account.

7) I don't feel guilty about eating enthusiastically, whatever I want. When I was young, (and I think with many young females), eating other than to keep yourself alive was like some "dirty little secret". Now my only "dirty little secret" is that I haven't done laundry in 13 days.

8) I can say "no". To anyone, about anything. No guilt. No-one can make me do anything I don't want to do. So there.

9) I have given up on the concept of having a perfectly clean house at all times. Dirt driveways and 8 little puppy paws have rendered me into a state of submission.

10) I can write about all of the cool stuff I have done in the last 45 years, and it is no longer embarrassing.....looking back, I have done some pretty funny stuff, of which many things are blog-worthy. More to come on that!