i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

coffee, sweet

I didn’t always drink coffee. I have never really cared for coffee. When I worked at the university bookstore, I’d have coffee during really busy, stressful times. People around me knew to avoid me when I was having coffee because I only drank it when I was in a bad mood.

Coffee isn’t a soothing, happy drink. If I want to be soothed, and happy, I’ll drink tea.

Anyhow, the last 10 years, I have become a regular coffee drinker. I used to have to drown the coffee in cream and sugar to cover the taste. And then I started dropping the sugar, and finally the cream. I have been drinking black coffee for a while. Every morning. Who am I? Eh, we all evolve. I happened to evolve into a coffee drinker.

But coffee is bitter, and I really only drank it because I was in a bitter mood. Well, at least to keep myself in a sort of stressed, on edge state, I guess.

But lately black coffee has been…wrong. I wasn’t drinking the cup I’d pour. And this past week I have started taking my coffee with cream and sugar again.

And that reminds me of my grandparents. I have vivid memories of them drinking coffee at McDonald’s. I used to get to drink those little cream cups that came with the coffee. I’d get to stir the coffee with that tall, skinny, brown plastic spoon with the M on top, and then I could put the spoon in my mouth. It was sweet, and bitter. It was creamy. It was a little bit of rebellious adventure since we weren’t allowed coffee as children. Really, I only started drinking coffee in my late-20s. Mostly in my 30s.

I don’t know why springtime always makes me miss my grandparents. It’s partly memories of how my grandmother loved the blooming lilacs and peonies. It could be because it’s the time of year that my aunt, grandfather, and grandgrandmother all passed away (May, June, and April). It’s ten years this month that my aunt passed away. Nine for my grandfather, and eight for my grandmother.

And something this week is tugging at my memories, and emotions, and I have these vivid memories of stirring coffee in styrofoam cups (oh, the 80s) at McDonald’s and getting to taste the sweet, creamy coffee on the tip of that stir-stick. And I feel… content? Nostalgic? Happy?

Happiness might be the closest. I am happy right now. I don’t feel stressed, or bitter, or anxious. I am in a very good place in my head, and I’m comforted by the memories of my grandparents, and their coffee. I don’t remember who had the sweet coffee – my grandmother? My grandfather didn’t like sweet stuff very much. I just remember getting to stir the coffee, and loving those little skinny stir-stick-spoons at McD’s.

I’m still not at the tea-in-the-morning stage, but I have started taking my coffee sweet. And as I drink it, I remember. I feel calm.

On a side note: I miss the pirate ship seats that McD’s used to have when I was a kid. It was the best getting to eat on a ship in the middle of a restaurant!

the year of lost things & found things

Every year, as the end of December closes in, I feel as though I am reaching the finish line staggering, and out of breath. The last handful of years, I see the start of a new calendar year as a refresh, sort of like clearing your browser history and cache. I have felt alone in my struggles through each year as I look around at others’ recaps. I miss the days when I used to read (and enjoy) blogs. I miss the days when friends I made through blogging used to blog. I would read their summaries of the year that ended and feel as though I was alone in having a difficult, struggling year. I gave up hope that the next (new) year would bring about more happiness, because things always just tended to pile up on top of what was already a suffocating weight on my shoulders.

However with the end of 2016 I can finally say I am not alone. I don’t know what the heck was going on, but I don’t believe anyone had a good 2016. I’m not talking about the astonishing amount of celebrity deaths (of those there were way too many), but my own friends and their personal struggles, the rest of the world and all of the horrid, awful, evil things that have been going on. Loss of innocence, and hope, and a general loss of positive anything when you look online.

I left facebook for a while. I left twitter for a while. I went back on both, but I have very limited access because I removed apps from my phone. I mostly update facebook through instagram – the one social media platform that brought me joy. Until it didn’t – when they removed chronological order for posts. I don’t get that AT all. I don’t browse it as much anymore. I just post my own photos.  I like their filters at least.

And I was struggling myself. Between all the negative in the world, and bad things happening to good people, and not being able to fix problems of others with a magic wand (I wish), I was drowning in an ocean of grey, and apathy. I was fading as a person. I was questioning everything – who I was, why I should live, why hope for anything.

And I couldn’t stomach that feeling, or those questions anymore. I knew I needed to do something. Anything. I needed to finish this story and start a new one.

And so I did.

I held my breath. I took a leap. I took a chance. And I was suddenly less lost than I was earlier in the year. And you know, using the leap/jump metaphor isn’t an easy one for me. But I needed to associate leaping off the edge of something with thoughts that were less horrific than a man jumping off a building and almost hitting me. I needed to associate taking that leap with something positive, and courageous. I quit my job because I couldn’t find ME anymore within the walls of that office, or cubicle. I have been working at the bookstore for a month now and I can’t recall when I was last happy like this.

Leaping is now about courage, and passion, and realizing dreams, and less about death and trauma and fear.

I don’t want to go into 2017 holding on to the fear that has been surrounding me the past three years. I want to start 2017 with the joy of sharing my joy with others. And this is what I found with the scary, difficult decisions I made in the fall.

I was so lost, but I refused to stay lost. In taking chances, and making life a little less comfortable financially, I found myself again and I feel as though I can finish putting the still broken parts of myself back together.

I have zero idea what 2017 will bring. I am not convinced that it will be a better year than 2016. It does have the added bonus of not being an even-numbered year. (You all know how much I do not like even numbers!) There is still so much lost out there, and I think that perhaps the world needs a little more courage to take the leaps it needs to take to be found again. Cheesy, I know. But I think more people need to focus on what can make themselves, and others, heal and find their paths, rather than settle for what is taken for granted as “well, that’s just how it is.” Life isn’t like that anymore. Life isn’t something you settle for. You need to take your leaps and find your answers. Spread happiness. Spread kindness. Spread joy. It might mean you won’t feel as lost as you thought you were.

—–

In 2016 –

I didn’t read nearly as much as I thought I would. 45/50 books in my challenge. Many of those in December were picture books, or early readers.

I quit my job.

I got a tattoo.

I decorated my Happy Planner every week since the end of June. I took an hour or two every Sunday to update the week ahead and used colours that I was feeling at the time. It was a healthy dose of crafty therapy that I desperately needed.

I went back to therapy.

I sang in a band, in front of people. It was amazing.

I blogged more than I had in the past, but still not very much. Turns out I didn’t blog at all in May.

I lost two friends too soon, who made the world spark. I could only go to one memorial.

We moved Jinx’s Garden and grew our first ever watermelons. It was nice.

I got a bird feeder and watched birds in my backyard.

I turned 40.

I realized I needed to change my life or I would drown.

I changed my life. I started a new story. I ended the year happier than I have been in a long time.

—–

Happy new year, internet. I hope it’s a better one than the one before.

My Happy Place

Find your happy place.

remembering – 2016 edition

erin walker 1977-1994

erin walker :: august 6, 1977 – october 23, 1994

when i close my eyes

she’s too young to be forgotten
her world has only just begun
her future is an empty slate
waiting to be filled
and i see her
standing there
when i close my eyes

dancing in the sky
over moonbeams, around clouds
starlight in her eyes
angels in her hair
and i see her
when i close my eyes

child of the sunlight
daughter of the day
sleeping on bed of roses
with flowers in her hair

the wind it softly kissed her cheek
the raindrops fell like tears

and i see her
when i close my eyes

a thousand white candles
their flames dancing with the air
as rocks play tag with ocean

she’s fast asleep
never to be woken

and i see her
when i close my eyes

© catherine healy
October 23, 1994

~~>–<@>–<~~

I have been reflective on October 22 and 23 for twenty-two years now. I have been blogging about this memory since 2004 (sadly the first posts were lost on a since-deleted blog). Whenever the dates fall on a weekend, it’s harder.

I remember sitting in the Church, during choir practice, waiting for Erin and her brother to arrive. We’d just seen each other the day before at school, and I was ready to start gossiping and giggling about all sorts of things in-between songs. But they didn’t show up.

It was a rainy, miserable October day. Just like today. The Church was damp, humid, a weird combination of too cold, and too warm. You can’t dress comfortably for this kind of weather. The sky was dark, grey. The day was gloomy and glum. Just like today.

I often see women around campus who remind me of Erin. I remember one year there was a student in my Faculty who looked so much like Erin, and whose name was Erin, it made my breath catch. I take the bus home to the South Shore from in town and I think about how Erin did that every day while in high school. A time I rarely ventured into the city. And I remember her, in her school uniform, talking about the bus, and the commute, and how confident she was about the trip. I was terrified of public transportation back then. Sure I would be mugged or worse. Always afraid of the people around me. But Erin was fire. She was flame. She was a spark that would shine bright and confident, even if maybe she didn’t feel that way all of the time. I admired her. I envied her. I loved her.

When you lose a friend while you are still young yourself, I think the loss and emotions stitch themselves into your entire being. Right into your bones. I have lost many others since 1994, but the loss of Erin and her mother are possibly the biggest imprint on my life. I can still vividly recall the smell, sounds, sight, and atmosphere of the Church that Saturday. I can still see myself watching the front doors, waiting for the arrival of my friends. I recall the whispers, the anxiety, the feelings that I can almost taste in my mouth.

And so this weekend, I remember. And I mourn. And I fondly remember all the laughs and good times. Because life is short, and you want to be a spark in the gloom. Remembering Erin always makes me remember to be that spark. For others. For myself.

september adventure

Yoshi sees ducks

Hey there, Internet! I have had an unusually active and adventurous September this year. Considering my Septembers have been purely school-focused since 2012, this has been a pretty fun break from the norm. One of the courses I was to take this semester was cancelled, so instead of having two six-week classes, I only have one – and that one starts on October 24!

This has left me to enjoy the end of summer, and beginning of autumn, and really appreciate these weekends and all they have to offer.

I did something crazy and exciting earlier this month – I sang with a band! In front of real, live people! What? Only something I have dreamed of doing since FOREVER. Seriously. It was awesome. I even developed an appreciation for Country music (which I always just blanket thought I disliked.)

Strings Attached at GPK Family Fun Day

September 17, 2016 @ Greenfield Park

My brother-in-law, and his uncle asked if I’d like to participate in a group to sing at a Family Fun Day fundraiser for local elementary schools. At first I was hesitant, and shy, but as I went to the practices I started having a lot more fun than I thought I would have had. And it was a nice change from focusing on school work yet again. I channeled my inner Jem and sang my little heart out. I wasn’t even nervous, which surprised the heck out of me. It was the first time I’d ever performed outside, too. It was a challenge, but we survived the wind and weather. And I’ll be honest – I miss my band mates. I miss the weekly practices, though I’ll be happy doing them on a non-weeknight if we do something again. I am not a person who is good at being awake after 8pm. 😉

This past weekend, Shawn and I took the dogs and drove to visit my parents in Kingston. My parents weren’t able to make it to the band performance, so I said I would come visit them. We had a ton of food, and walks along the water. And I love the area that my parents are in so much. I will move out there one day. I will.

 

parentals

Shawn stayed one night, and came home by train the next day. I drove myself and the dogs home on Monday. ALL. BY. MYSELF. I’m so proud of me. Thopse of you who have been driving since you were teens are probably scoffing at me right now. But you know what? I don’t care. =P I’ve only had my license for five years, and I don’t do much of the driving at all. Last year’s jaunt with Yoshi to a dog show in Cornwall was the first time I’d ever a) driven that far b ) driven that far BY MYSELF, and c) went on a trip by car without another human being. So a four hour drive home, with two dogs, was a Big Deal for me. I even learned how to use Cruise Control! Who says you can’t teach an old dog (40-year old Cat) new tricks. [Side bar: WHERE HAS CRUISE CONTROL BEEN ALL MY LIFE??]

This weekend I’m off an yet another adventure to visit my cousin Sheryl in New Brunswick! I was finally able to find some way to redeem my Air Miles (before they expire in December. I’ll not get into how much that makes me do a Very Grumpy Face. Nor will I get into how DIFFICULT it was to try and redeem any of my miles. Ugh.) So I’ll be visiting for a short, whorl-wind weekend, where we will celebrate our 40th years together. (Birthdays long past, but still in the right year!) I haven’t been to visit Sheryl since 2008OMG 2007!! –, and that trip was cut short because I was still so sick all of the time.

This time around, I’m flying both ways, and I am trying to not think about how terrified of flying I am.

So, I’ll just leave this photo here. One that I took on Saturday night, near my parents’ place. Because it’s gorgeous. And peaceful. And I love it there.

tree

And I will fondly remember this September full of adventures. So many new things I accomplished, or tackled. I think I’m doing 40 ok.

when the flame goes out

I was sitting at my desk yesterday, counting down the minutes until it was time to go home, when a friend came over, in tears,  to see me.

Bad news is never expected. Bad news comes out of nowhere and punches you in the gut.

A mutual friend of ours, someone I had worked with myself and adored, collapsed at work that afternoon and passed away. Sudden.

I couldn’t breathe. As I made my way home, I began to shake. I was numb. In shock.

I haven’t worked with Shane in 10 years. But when I was at the bookstore, he was one of my favourite people. He was one of My Shippers. I loved the men in the shipping department. They were my gang of protectors. They came to my wedding. They joined me for my Birthday Bowling Extravaganzas. Every time I’d see them at a union meeting, I’d always go over for hugs and gossip.

Shane was always someone I could count on to make me laugh. He was never a doom and gloom guy. Not a chipper, cheerleader fellow, but someone with a sharp wit and sarcastic streak, and someone who always had a joke, or comment to make me laugh.

He lived hard. He played hard. He was Shane. I always thought of him as The Fonz of the group. He was the Cool Guy. Listening to the rock station (always on in the shipping department). He always put a smile on my face.

I went looking through all of my bowling party photos from the early 2000s (I don’t like saying early 2000s! Wasn’t 10 years ago the 90s??) and it seems like I don’t have any photos of Shane’s FACE. Just the backs of his awesome bowling shirts, or him in a group shot with a bowling ball in his face. But then I saw the photo I used for this post, and it was just…so very Shane. The flames on his shirt. So him.

He was a bright, fiery guy. He was flames. He was fire. He was fierce.

And now he’s gone. And I can’t get my head around this fact.

I was just talking to him about a month ago, when we were voting on our new contract at work. I saw My Shippers and went over for hugs and gossip. I hadn’t seen them in too long and I felt sort of guilty about not having stopped by to visit. I had a difficult year, so a lot of things fell by the way-side (like socializing). We talked about the number of years left before retirement. Of My Shippers, I believe he had the most years left.

And now he’s gone.

I can’t even imagine the bookstore, and shipping, without Shane. Shane, Bernie, Sean, Che… they are My Shippers. And I have a huge space in my heart for them. These guys are part of what makes my time at McGill so amazing. I loved spending time in the shipping department. No matter what I was going through, they made me laugh, and feel like I could get through anything. They were like a gang of big brothers who looked out for me.

I love My Shippers.

And my heart feels a little less full with the loss of one of them. Though my heart is full of grief, and love, for my friends at the store who were with him when this happened, and who have to go into work today without him. I am covering them all in love right now.

Your flame was bright, Shane. The world is a little darker without it.