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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On Days Like Today

This last month has been filled with fancy dresses, nights out, and even a special award. But none of that moved me enough to write about it. But today did. Today our little girl, Shayleen came home from her last day of Kindergarden, and in her little pink Dora backpack there was a certificate. It was just a little piece of paper that stated that she was being promoted to Grade One in the fall, and she will stay in French Immersion.

They had pajama day today, so I snapped a pic of her in her princess nightgown clutching her certificate. She has a huge grin on her face, and slipped out to the deck to have a quick little cry as while many others might take such days for granted, we never will.

We made the commitment to all our kids that we would do our best by our children when we had them, and we mean that for all the kids in our lives, whether they are fostered, biological or adopted. All parents usually make the same promises. We all stay up all night with them as babies, and when they are sick. We do late night pick ups and early mornings with coffee in hand. Sometimes I think that we are so worried about doing things wrong with Shayleen that we spend extra time with her than we did with the others, but we were so dedicated to our boys as well, that I don't know. Maybe we just feel more protective of her, because we want her story be more of a "happy ever after" than to just remember the terrible start she had in this world. Because as many don't know, our two boys are absolute miracles too. We were never suppose to have them, and I guess we look at all of them as such treasures. As all children should be....treasures.

Mitchell came in the door today and said, "I'm officially done grade 11." And Shayleen came home this afternoon finished kindergarden. I have joked for many years that I will need medication to deal with the baby being in school full time in the fall, and the oldest in his graduating year. As it draws closer, and I see all kinds of other friends going through it this year, I might not joke any more.

But for tonight, let's all celebrate life, children, hard work, and the end of the school year!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Finding my Voice and losing it again.

I struggle with what and how people think of me. I always have, and it's not a good problem to deal with, as I keep learning. You would think that at 41, I would not care any more, but I still spend some nights in tears because of how I wish things could be different. I know people will be surprised by this confession, since I seem to have no trouble sharing my opinion pretty openly in my columns, on Facebook and especially some nights on Twitter.

I had a huge shift in my life about two and a half years ago. Every few years I go through scares with my health and that winter of 2011-2012, I felt like I was completely overwhelmed, and scared to death. For months I only shared the details with close family members, and some very special teachers who helped me deal with the stress that the boys felt about the whole situation. I wrote a column for the Cape Breton Post about it, and at the last minute I pulled it because I did not want anyone upset with me. I bottled it all up, and kept it to myself, and it all festered. Tim and I booked our first trip alone in 17 years without the kids. And we came back, and life continued. Thankfully. But something changed in me during that winter. While I had kept up some form of writing the last number of years, I often held back my true opinion on things so as to not upset people. But that winter I realized that the people that love you and give you support through the hard times will not suddenly hate you for being honest.

And then came July of 2012, and our whole family changed again. We often say now that we had life "before and after the accident". Tim was hit by a drunk driver, and two years later, he still is suffering the consequences, physically, financially, and emotionally. While we are not suffering physically with him, it has been painful to see him more limited in what he can do, and not be able to do anything to help him. That summer as he lay in bed for long periods of time, I sat beside him, or parked myself on the couch and started writing the way that felt really good. I found my voice. I used my voice. And in hindsight, as a result, great things began to happen to me.

Over the last two years I have gotten to know more people in Fort McMurray than I did in the five years before that. But I also made friends from around the world who connected with my stories about going through my bone marrow transplant, and dealing with some of the struggles of life.

A few months ago I started doing some other work for Your McMurray Magazine(YMM), and I took on some other new projects as well. Things that I never would have dreamed of doing a few short years ago. But in doing more work, I found that I was not blogging, not sharing, and not writing for fun. I came up with 20 reasons why I wasn't blogging when people asked why I hadn't written anything lately. I was too busy, the kids were busy, I was working more, the house needed attention. And then the other night I got an email from an old friend, who completely called me out. I had no reasons, just excuses. And she was right. But she said something else that really got me thinking, and ironically, made me want to sit down and write again. She said that for as long as she had known me, I would retreat when given positive attention. I play it down, I don't want people to think that I am "getting too big for my britches" so to speak. I have had many wonderful things happen the last few months, and one of them was that I was nominated as a "Woman of Inspiration" here in Fort McMurray. The gala for the event is on Saturday. So many sent their congratulations, and happiness for me. Some didn't, and of course, it is their lack of happiness for me that is affecting me. I still want people to like me, even if they never bother with me or my family. It's that one sentence that I need to deal with, and finally let it go. My friend pointed out that I always tend to focus on the five negative people instead of the hundred positive ones. And then in withdrawing I was just giving my power away, my voice. And here I am suppose to be going to a gala, for Girls Inc, which is all about girl power, strength and using your voice as a girl and as a woman. I feel like a fraud.

Over the last few years I have once again realized that life is short. You don't know what each day will bring for you or your loved ones. I have fallen in love with my husband again, have engaged with my community more than ever and kept my children more happy through it all more than I was doing when stressed that winter over two years ago.

Why am I sharing all this? Because I am ready to find my voice again, I feel better when I am writing, sharing and hearing from all of you. And in sharing, I always hear from so many who say they can relate to what I am going through, that's the reason I write, so that someone, somewhere can relate.