We certainly had snow for Christmas this year. Not like last year. And after a rather rough year, we managed to have one of the best Christmases I can think of. Stockings were full, and there were more gifts under the tree than I thought we’d have. And as always, Shawn won Christmas yet again with the best gift ever.
Every year Shawn manages to give me one gift that makes me cry, or at least tear up. He’s made me photo frames, and cards, and thoughtful gifts, but this one is hands down the one that hit my heart the hardest.
Once in a while silly little ads on social media sites work. In this case it was something Shawn saw (and I saw, too, actually only not this particular title) and thought it fit me. It fits. So well.
It’s no secret that I have been struggling since March 2013. And maybe even a little before then, but certainly since the trauma things have been a mess. As much as I have worked hard to put myself back together again, I was still feeling slightly broken, and very lost. Just the cover of this story made my breath catch. The title. The purple. The little girl with dark hair and polkadots.
Then I opened it. And the second page stopped me in my tracks.
A magic rainbow trail.
Seriously. When this entire year I have been surrounding myself with as many colours of the rainbow as I could. In a year when I felt like everything around me was grey and I was desperate for those rainbow moments. This little girl, with the lost name, found a magic rainbow trail that she had to follow.
So much me.
And on the story goes as the little girl meets random animals, and magical creatures, whom she helps with their problems, and in return they each give her a letter in hopes to help her find her name. Words like courageous, and splendid, and spellbound, are tossed around. And with each page my eyes grew even more teary.
And in the end…
The girl who lost her name, finds it again and falls asleep wrapped in that magic rainbow.
And I cried. And I hugged my husband tight. And I cried. And I pick up this book and hug it every day. Because this story, this book, this gift… it was all so apt. So perfect for everything I have been going through and feeling since the start of this year.
– – – – –
Our tree wasn’t up as long as it normally is, and will come down this weekend. Our house isn’t as decorated as it has been in the past. I didn’t listen to Christmas music on repeat for a month (instead I shuffled my entire music library and had the Christmas tunes appear at random). I wasn’t feeling un-Christmassy, but I wasn’t feeling as overtly festive as I normally do. This was a quiet, and simple Christmas. I am working in retail now, and at the moment am not exhausted by it. It was nice to be out of the house during a time I’d normally be sitting on the couch dreading going back to the office once the holidays were over.
One year I’ll win Christmas with a gift that makes Shawn’s heart sing. He always outdoes me. He won with wedding vows, too. Dammit. Never thought I’d be out-sentimentaled on a continuous basis. It’s a good thing I love him. heh
The above photo accurately depicts how I am feeling these days. Rainbows, and stars, and magical, sparkly happiness. Me. Who I am. Who I have always been, but lost.
I have completed 7 full shifts at the bookstore and aside from sore feet (and lower back), I have never felt better. I feel like I am floating through the aisles as I wander the store and help customers, or tidy up books on the shelves. I can’t stop smiling. I am so genuinely happy that I feel like sunshine and rainbows.
I have been lucky enough to be scheduled for 40 hours a week, and during weekdays only. It’s nice to have my weekends off to see Shawn since I have been working afternoon-into-evening, and getting home way past my bed time. This coming week I’ll be working until 10pm or 11pm. I am slightly worried about exhaustion and driving in the winter, but I have been managing so far. I sleep well at night. I think I’ve only had one headache in the past 2 weeks, instead of one every day.
Even with the exhaustion of relearning how to be on my feet for 8 hours a day (and having to talk to people!), I feel as though I have so much energy to want to do things again. I read a 400+ page book from cover to cover in a day this weekend. I have shovelled snow. I feel bright and light.
I know this is a seasonal contract, and I can only hope to be offered part-time work after it’s over, if they ever need more help. But I am such a happier creature once more. I knew I wanted to do this, but it’s been like night and day the changes I feel and see in myself. I love the store. I love the books. I love the customers. Even when you get the occasional grumpy, negative client, I still take it all in with a smile. I am there because I WANT to be, not because I have to be. I am there to talk books (and other cool stuff) to people and share my joy and enjoyment of books with them. I love recommending titles to people looking for YA or MG books. I love sharing my thoughts about mysteries and fantasy novels. I am just loving every single second of this job and I am so happy to finally feel happy again. To finally feel like MYSELF again.
For the four or five of you who still read this (ha), you know how much I have been struggling the past three years. You know how lost and broken I was after the stupid jumper trauma. I just wasn’t me. I didn’t love anything about anything or myself. I was lost, I was apathetic, I was sad and scared.
But now I am feeling so much joy. So much…just right. Like things are clicking back into place. I am seeing colours and sparkles everywhere, and not only grey, colour-draining monochromatic surroundings. I feel as though the above amazing rainbow, star, unicorn onesie (the best gift ever from Monkey!) is a reflection of my soul right now. So cheesy and pathetic, yes, but true.
The decision to leave my old job was so difficult because of how it was a safety net for health benefits and money, and leaving my friends there was the hardest part. Leaving the job itself wasn’t difficult. I haven’t looked back yet, and not once have I thought I made the wrong choice. Retail isn’t easy, it’s not for everyone, and many think I am going backwards and not doing something important. To that I say – titles, and positions are just labels. Why focus on what your title is when you’re not happy with what you’re doing? Pay cuts are terrifying and difficult to work around, but not impossible, and I am so lucky to be able to choose what I want to do even though it will be a bit of a challenge to re-budget things.
I have the most patient, and supportive husband in the world. He might not get why I would want to go back to retail, but he gets that I want to be (and need to be) happy. And he knows I am happy. And we will make this work. And because of how fulfilled this bookstore job makes me feel, I feel as though we can make anything work. Always.
I’m still slightly lost in some ways, but I have found the right form of healing I needed to follow. Happy. I am so very happy. I love my new (but old) job, and I am so thankful that I found the courage to make this change.
Currently on my piano: one of my many piles of books TBR!
It’s no secret that I love books. I love the feel of them, the look of them, the smell of them. I love to read them. Books are like candy to me. Granted, with everything that’s gone on in my life the last few years, my reading progress has been scattered, and little. But that doesn’t stop me from buying books, borrowing books, collecting books, or staring at the piles of books I have in the house wishing I could read one of them from cover to cover.
I’ve done a little better with reading this year, well in the fall anyhow. I read way more once I made the decision to quit my job an official, final decision. I read a lot in October, even though I was still working, and in school. I didn’t read much at all in November though I was home. I was finding it difficult to sit still and focus on a book for any period of time. I did buy a bunch of new books, and I received some as gifts, but I have been so full of nervous energy that I couldn’t get into many books at all. I even took some of my regular comfort-food books back to the library without finishing them! *gasp*
I’m at 34 books read, out of the 50 I challenged myself to read for the year (both on Goodreads, and the 50 Book Pledge). I managed 40 last year. I am hoping to make it at least that far this year. Who knows. I only have 3 weeks left, and…
I’m going to be WORKING a lot! Wooo! I got a job at the bookstore, and though it’s seasonal right now, I couldn’t be happier to be back working with books. I start training this week, and then have a full, busy schedule next week. Christmas rush at a bookstore is my favourite time to be working with books. There’s just something about the atmosphere that fills me up with joy and excitement!
I admit to being a little nervous about going back to book retail after all these years. Being on my feet all day will be difficult, and exhausting, at first, and I’ll have to remember all sorts of new things because the company has changed immensely since I was last an employee with them. Also, I worked in a smaller format mall store, not a giant format store like this one, so it will be a learning curve. And I’m trying not to think about the fact that I am currently old enough to be the mother of many of the other people I will be working with. I was that young, hopeful girl back when I first worked at the bookshop, and now I’m… not young or hopeful anymore. ha ha!
But internet, I was so happy during the tour of the store this week that I thought I was going to burst into tears in the middle of the sales floor.
Fingers crossed that I am actually as happy about this job as I think I am. I’m pretty sure my instincts are on point though. But still, new things are scary and exciting at the same time. I’m just so happy to be going back to working with books. And I am hoping this will help me with my reading issues, because I’ll be surrounded by books, and people who love books just as much as I do, and I’ll want to be reading all the time soon I am sure!
I’ve been thinking a lot about how excited my grandmother was when the year changed from 1999 to 2000. It was so important to her to watch the ball drop in NYC at midnight as the century changed from the 1900s to the 2000s. I think she stayed up watching Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve that night, and had an alarm set so my grandfather would wake up and celebrate the change in years with her. I am sure he was excited as well, but he wouldn’t admit it. Poppop liked to grump about things like that more than he liked to admit he was excited.
July 12, 1942
I remember my grandmother saying that she and my grandfather never thought they’d see a new century. My Nana was born in 1918, my Poppop was born in 1912. They lived into their 90s, and being alive to see a new century begin was amazing to them. This was during the time the younger crowd was freaking out about the end of the world, and computers not working, and Y2K DOOM, and whatnot. My grandparents just wanted to see a year that didn’t begin with 19.
They saw so much change in their lives. So many discoveries in medicine, technology, media. Cars were invented, and evolved. Television was invented, and evolved. Cures for diseases were discovered and worked. Men travelled to the moon. Computers were created and shrank in size so that they could be brought into your own home. The internet was created. My Nana, in her 80s, used the internet to connect with relatives and friends in Australia, Canada, and Panama. My Nana, who could hardly see in her late-80s, could touch type like the best of them, and could stay in touch, and expand her world just by sitting in her living room. She was amazed and astonished, and took to this new part of life like a fish to water. (My grandfather thought it was all pish-posh and didn’t see what the fuss was about. He liked his newspapers! Though I am pretty sure he was amazed by it just as much as his wife was, though didn’t quite understand how it worked so he just grumped about it. Silly Poppop.)
My grandfather lived through two World Wars, granted he was way too young to even register what was happening during WWI. Both he, and my grandmother, were certainly old enough during the Second World War to know what was going on. My grandfather wasn’t able to serve in WWII as he’d broken his nose in a boxing match and had zero sense of smell, so he was not deemed fit to serve. He had at least one brother who served in the war though. I can’t remember if all of his brothers served or not (there were NINE siblings in total), but I recall hearing about his brother Joe. My grandfather always said that his brother had changed after the war and he didn’t like who he had become. He swore a lot. And I guess he drank a lot. My grandfather didn’t approve of this. I remember being told that Uncle Joe didn’t like to talk about the war. I didn’t understand at the time, I was young, but I get it now. I can’t imagine what sort of toll being in a war must take on a person. No wonder they change. No wonder they might not want to talk about it.
And I keeping thinking about how excited my grandmother was as the century turned over, and how much wonder she had for the world. I can’t stop thinking about her excitement and amazement over the changes she’d seen, and the changes still to come.
And I think: I am happy my grandparents are not alive to see the changes that are happening now. Hate is spreading like a disease. So much anger. So much rage. It’s one thing when history repeats itself by foolishly bringing back fashion trends that were better off left in the past — fashion doesn’t really hurt anyone. (Unless, you know, you get blinded from some god-awful fluorescent-coloured fashion mistake.) It’s another thing when history repeats itself by allowing fear and hatred to flare up and come to a boil, scalding and hurting so many people around it. I am happy my grandparents are no longer here to re-live the terrifying thoughts and actions that are unfolding in the world right now.They’ve been through it once. I think that’s enough.
I wasn’t at all interested in history in school. I didn’t really care. I could never understand how people could be so blind to what was happening around them that they’d let something so disgusting and demonic happen to a group of people based on religion, or skin colour. How could a fear of differences be so strong that you need to eliminate anyone different than you? How is that possible? And yet, I sit here safe in my own home, and see that pot starting to boil again, and boil fast. And I don’t understand how people don’t see the problems with this. I do not understand why so many people think that these thoughts and actions are OK, and normal. I will never, ever, understand why someone would think that skin colour dictates a person’s worth.
I am not perfect. I have my moments of prejudice. I am not proud of that, but it’s true. I think we all do. No one is 100% free of negative thoughts. But I believe that your actions are what matter most. It’s what you do, and how you treat others that will make you worthy of respect and honour.
But at the rate hate and fear is spreading like wildfire these days, I’m scared. I’m very worried. And I am thankful that my grandmother’s wonder and heartfelt excitement about how the world was changing, and seeing a whole new century open up as a blank page waiting for new stories, isn’t going to be snuffed out by the unbelievable sad state of the world today.
If only history would stick to repeating itself with poor fashion choices, because I don’t particularly want to live through an era that will be part of history books of the future under the “bad things that happened” chapter.