So, I turned 40 last weekend. I have had lots of thoughts about this throughout the month of January, but I could never find time to write them down. I couldn’t decide if they were good thoughts, or bad thoughts. But I had many thoughts.
And I know that birthdays, new years, anniversaries are really just the same as any other day, but something about that subtle change in a date, or a number, makes you feel like you’re starting something new. When you start a new decade of your life, you feel something. You might not know what it is, but something is in the air, and your mind, that there is change afoot. I get caught up in these silly ideas pretty easily, and sometimes you might need that.
I’m now 40. There are a new set of years ahead of me with 4 as the first number in my age. It’s a different chapter in my life: mostly physically, as ageing is wont to do. I’m not going to lie, I am not really sad to see the 30s go. I had an amazing decade of personal growth and really came into my own and finally was happy with who I am. But a lot of crappy stuff happened, too. And I’m not sad to move on from that.
I’m the type of person who has to look at what’s behind her in order to move forward. Not dwell on the past, but take note of all that’s happened to make me who I am today. And so I make lists. And I have been working on this list for a little while now. It’s more of a highlight reel, but ultimately it shows me what I’ve been through and what I may have accomplished. And it makes me feel good about myself, and ready to start a new decade of challenges and adventure.
- turned 30
- offered/accepted new job
- apartment burns down (three days after job offer)
- moved into in-laws’ basement
- start new job
- celebrated 1st wedding anniversary
- had breast reduction
- landlord cheats us and steals our duplex flat when he rebuilds building
- my favourite aunt (and godmother) diagnosed with multiple myeloma (Feb)
- bought our first house! (March)
- my aunt died (within 3 months of getting cancer) (May)
- my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer (May)
- our car died on the way home from work one night (June)
- bought new car! (June)
- Dad had surgery (June)
- started my book blog
- got my learner’s permit!
- lots of health issues for me
- Shawn started a new job
- had my entire family, plus in-laws’ over for Thanksgiving in our new house!
- was very happy
- got my wrist star tattoo (yay!)
- finally celebrated our honeymoon – at DISNEY WORLD! best trip ever!
- broke my toe
- my grandfather died @ 95 of natural causes. A little over a year after my aunt passed away. (June)
- lost power to the house for 4 days in an unusual heatwave (32C + humidity!)
- dishwasher broke and flooded the kitchen
- health issues, health issues, health issues
- because of a super awesome sale, I was able to spend my 33rd birthday at Disney World! This wasn’t the best trip we’d taken, but it was the first time I’d ever been somewhere else for my birthday!
- health issues, health issues
- my grandmother got sick in February, and then passed away in April (for those keeping score, I lost a family member a year for three years: May, June, April. Sigh.)
- I wrote in a 2010 blog post that 2009 was miserable, but besides my health and the loss of my grandmother, I can’t even remember anything else from that year.
- I joined highland dancing
- health issues and financial issues
- job issues (not mine)
- saw CATS! (yay!)
- had laser eye surgery (pew! pew!) and took 3 years to heal =/
- had our bank account hacked twice, Grrr.
- went to NYC for BEA by train by myself!
- entire street, and most of the driveway dug up for all of May because of pipe replacement by city. It was awful (but needed)
- we lost Annabelly a week before her 13th birthday 🙁
- “diagnosed” with fibromyalgia in regards to health issues & my pain
- my parents put my childhood house up for sale
- drove to Michigan and adopted Sophie (and I got the worst case of food poisoning I have ever had in my life.)
- failed my first driver’s test
- Shawn started new job
- stupid union went on stupid strike for three stupid months
- medical leave due to my pain problems
- passed my second driving test! Woohoo!
- parents sold their house
- dying tree in our yard broke pipes under the driveway & neighbours had to dig up our driveway & then we had a giant hole for a year & no driveway
- went back to work in December; morale was LOVELY =/
- sister & I threw our parents a surprise 40th wedding anniversary-slash-going away party
- went to Quebec city for the first time
- my parents moved to Kingston
- we had central a/c installed (yes, this is a BIG EVENT because OMG cool air in summer!)
- visited my parents in Kingston
- went to NYC for BEA yet again, by myself. Hung out with my cousin.
- realized that Jinx was an awesome gardener
- got my back tattoo
- saw The Muppets live
- dead tree in our yard finally cut down, hole in driveway finally (sort of) filled
- went back to school for the first time in 17 years
- visited Toronto
- visted Ottawa
- looked forward to 2013… little did I know
- stupid guy jumped from a stupid building on my way into work for a stupid meeting, and almost landed on top of me and it was the most traumatic thing in my life
- my husband’s company closed up his department & he was out of a job (two weeks after the stupid jumping guy)
- started running
- ended up on medical leave at work because of delayed-onset PTSD
- found myself attending the first fitness class of a new personal trainer in the fall and thought I’d not like it, but have been working out with this same woman ever since. And found a new, dear friend in the trainer.
- was oddly comforted by the fact that while I was off on leave, Shawn was also home (looking for work) and that I could be completely broken at home and have him care for me. I am a very lucky gal to have this man by my side
- I spent a much-needed mental health pre-Christmas visit with Monkey and she let me glitter all of the things to help me heal. She’s what true friends are made of.
- started the year still on leave for PTSD
- spent the week of the traumaversary in Kingston with my parents. It was comforting.
- completed my first (and only!) Spartan Race. It was hard, and emotional, and I did it but never want to do it again. It was a huge deal for me to get through and I’m proud of myself.
- we lost Jinx to cancer. Surprise cancer. It was a shocking, fast 4 weeks. We still haven’t really recovered from it.
- husband started a new job
- had to take year off from school because of the depression/PTSD stuff. could not focus.
- we drove to Memphis, TN at Christmas time. We adopted Yoshi.
- ended up on leave again for the PTSD crap, which was re-triggered by things in my life. Big, scary things. Yoshi helped me a lot.
- my dad had major surgery, I stayed with them for a little under 2 weeks to help out
- Celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. Without Jinx. It was difficult.
- got my nose pierced
- got my arm tattoo
- job searching, financial issues, fun things like that
- had my job first interview in 10 years. Did not get the job. Was depressed by this, but knew I shouldn’t be.
- new form of health issues resulting in extreme fatigue. Can’t drive due to exhaustion. Can hardly stay awake for dinner after work. Going to exercise class. But started back at school in the fall.
- depressed about turning 40 next year. nervous about turning 40 next year. excited about turning 40 next year.
- Tired. Exhausted. Sad. Restless. Ready to start over.
Add in a bunch of health issues that have continued over from one year to the next, I’m ready to just say toodles to my 30s and hope that the next decade has a little more to offer on the happy side.
One thing I am so thankful for from the last 10 years of my life is the amazing group of friends I now have in my life. I am very lucky to have the sort of friendship ring I have right now, and I think that’s really what helped me get through the worst times in my life. Those friends, and Shawn, of course. I have an amazing husband who gets me, and heals me, and makes me laugh.
So, hello 40. I plan to rock this next year of my life. So get ready.
All Fall Down by Ally Carter
Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her — so there’s no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can’t control Grace — no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn’t stop it, Grace isn’t the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down. (goodreads.com)
I didn’t know about this new series from Ally Carter until I saw it mentioned on a friend’s blog. I was thrilled when I discovered my library actually had it in stock. I don’t think anything else Ally Carter will write will ever compare to the Gallagher Girls series in my mind, but it’s a fun mystery. What I missed in this story, that I loved in the GG series, was the depth of the side characters. I felt like all the “friends” that Grace had in All Fall Down were sort of flat, and bland. Perhaps they will be better fleshed out in the sequel. I’d like to know more about them.
I do like stories where you can’t trust anyone though, and this was certainly one of those! Even Grace isn’t the most reliable main character. 😉 Suppose I should keep an eye out for the second book to show up at my library.
I am not alone.
This might seem like a silly statement, but it holds the weight of the the world within those words. I used to think I was alone. So alone. I could be surrounded by groups of people, yet feel nothing but alone.
I thought I was invisible. Insignificant. Unimportant. I was sure no one noticed me, if I were there or not.
But I wasn’t alone. I never was. I’m not sure when I began to realize that I wasn’t alone. It started slowly, until one day I woke up and saw just how surrounded I was with friends who cared about me. Friends who were there for me when I needed to be covered in love and support. It’s almost as if I blinked and the fog around me lifted and suddenly there were all these people right there in front of me.
*note: don’t be offended if you’re not in this photo. I used what was on my phone at the time!
But this isn’t going to be a post about depression, even if it sounds like it is. What this is, is a post about how much I appreciate every single friendship I have in my life. Some of these friendships are online, and I have yet to meet the kindred soul I have been chatting with for years. Some of these friendships are with people I have known for years, but do not see very often. Some of these friendships are with people I see on a daily basis.
Sometimes you don’t notice just how well-insulated you are against the world because of your friends. I’m slow to trust, and slow to believe that someone might actually care about me. But when I clue in and stop thinking “why me?”, I realize just how strong of a bond I might have with someone and that will make me stop in my tracks in surprise. I’m not used to feeling like I matter to other people. That way of thinking was part of my life for more than half of the years I have been alive. I’m friendly. I’m bubbly. But I hide a lot of apprehension well, and I don’t like to let too many people into the core of my soul.
Each time I get a message that says, “I miss you”, or, “This made me think of you”, you probably have no idea how much that means to me. I never thought I was someone others might think of when I wasn’t around. It always feels new. I’m always surprised. And I appreciate every, single thought.
Having gone through an incredibly crazy and scary time in my recent past, I suddenly woke up to how much I was loved and cared for by people I already thought were amazing. Strange how it can take a trauma, or Big Event in your life to help you notice what is right there in front of you.
I have amazing friends. I have fabulous close friends. I am surrounded by so much love and humour and support. I am not alone. My friends will not let me be alone. We share laughter and tears. We share health woes and work woes with each other. We help each other.
And when things get tough, and I’m feeling down, I turn to my friends because they bring me joy. Thank you for that.
So, Internet, I have decided to do a Thing this month. I am exhausted from negativity and I wanted to try and change what I see and read for this 2016 year (that I am already suspicious of because it’s an even-numbered year.) Winter is difficult. January is difficult. So for this month I am going to take note of the Joy. Little joys. Big joys. January Joy 2016. I am going to blog about things that bring me joy this month. Not daily (because: hahahahahaha. Right.) but way more often than I have been. Because we need more joy in our lives.
To start the New Year, on this very first day of January, my joy is found in the birthday of our wonderful YoshiBear. The fluffiest, sweetest, and derpiest Finnish Lapphund of them all. (“Them all” being relative to those Lappies we have lived with in the past 17 years.)
So this is how I thought Yoshi should sport his birthday hat for his 4th birthday today.
Yoshi had other ideas, because this is how he felt the birthday hat was best put to use.
Oh, boy! NOM! NOM! NOM!
Yeah, he was having none of that with the hat. Apparently I’d just given him the best toy ever.
And of course the hat was a huge hit with Yoshi, not in the way I’d intended. We thought his birthday treat of a pig’s knuckle would have been more exciting, but he just looked at me, looked at the treat and had no clue what to do.
Birthday hat = BEST TOY EVER! Birthday pig’s knuckle treat = da fuq do I do with this??
But where Yoshi may lack in smarts, he makes up for in infinite amounts of love and snuggles. I wake up to this face every* morning:
* it’s not always his face in my face every morning. If you get my drift.
How can you not be filled with joy seeing that teddybear of a face first thing every morning?
Yoshi is such a loveable pup. He’s calm, curious, friendly, and silly. He chews his toys or treats with his bum up in the air. He gets startled by and barks at the mysterious dog that only comes out at night, that he sees in the back yard (SPOILER ALERT: it’s his reflection.) Still. He gets startled by the dog he sees in the mirror next to the bed a lot as well. He doesn’t bark at this one, he admires it. Or maybe he’s figured out that it’s HIM and he’s just lost in his own beauty. Hey, it happens to the best of us.
This is his second year with snow, and he didn’t seem to recall the cold part of it. He wants to stay outside, but his poor, southern belle paws need to get used to the cold. heh
What do you MEAN, this scarfy isn’t for ME? Look how fashionable I am!!
Yoshi loves scarves. Don’t tell him, but I’m making him one for his birthday. Though due to my being sucked into the Lego Batman 3 Void, and the craft project I’m trying to get done this weekend, I’m a little behind. So far he’s got a pretty decent knitted bookmark. You know, for all those books he reads. *cough*
I dids not choose the thugs life. It choosed me.
He’s such a patient dog. He might not like all the stuff I put on him (the scarfys are an exception. He loooooooves the yarn and knitting. Kid you not.) He just looks more and more like a toy when I dress him up. He’s so adorable I can’t stand it sometimes. Just look at him in that hoodie! Gah!
File this! Minute that! When is lunch time?
Yoshi is such a calm, quiet dog, that I wish I could bring him into the office with me regularly. I may or may not have snuck him into the office on our last day before the holidays. As you can see, he does Business Casual pretty well. He was so happy to meet new people. And with the tie, you wouldn’t even notice he was a dog. (He did not like the elevators though. Going up startled him, and he had to be carried into the elevator on the way down.)
I had no idea what a gift Yoshi would turn out to be when we adopted him. He’s helped me through so much in the last year. His calming influence, and complete devotion to me helped me through some awful anxiety and PTSD relapses. His constant shadowing of me where ever I go in the house makes me smile, giggle, and feel so safe and calm. He hates when I cough or sneeze, he’ll lie on top of me and stick his nose in my face. Doesn’t blink an eye when Shawn does it. Guess he’s expendable. heh
Yoshi sleeps on me, and I have fallen asleep on him. He often likes to put his paw in my hand when we sleep. Or he’ll place my hand on his face and press up firmly against it and falls right asleep. He dreams vividly if his many ear flutters, paw running, nose and eye twitches are any indication. He has to be near one of us at all times. He’s branching out and spending more time with Shawn these days. I don’t feel so guilty about his devotion now.
Even Sophie has grown to love him in her own way. Now that there is snow on the ground, she will play with him (FINALLY — YoshiBear). She lets him lie down next to her (more often than she used to), and lets him lick her face at night. He’ll never fill the place that Jinx had in her life, but she’s a lot happier having Yoshi around than being by herself. She’s also happier because I inflict all my dressing up games on him and not her. See how thrilled she is to NOT be wearing a hoodie? I think she was laughing at him.
Happy 4th birthday, my YoshiBear. Thank you for being such a huge part of my life, and our lives, this year. You’ve only been here a little over a year, but it feels like you’ve been part of my heart for my entire life.
And that, Internet, is my first moment of Joy this January.