Flashback to today

There were more entries.  But they came to an abrupt end with this final statement.

A new lesson I’ve learned – it’s not about me. It’s about PURPOSE. And for this reason I am ending this blog. It was ill-fated to name it “Pieces of Me” – My pieces are immaterial! And so I am starting with a new direction… and a new blog.

Then began the singlestream.  The rest is well documented history.   I hope you’ve enjoyed my trip down memory lane!


To see the Flashbacks in this series, visit the links below:

How sweet it is to be loved by you…

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me confess first of all that I am not a Techy.  My autocorrect tells me I can’t even spell it correctly insisting that it needs an ‘ie’ instead of a ‘y’.  Bahumbug.  My brother still loads my iPod.  My mom has more gadgets than I do ( iPad, iPods (plural), kindle, blackberry playbook, iPod docs and accessories).  In fact I think they switched our generations around.  She has more than one Facebook account for more than one capacity, several emails and understands apple and blackberry generations.  We’re all very proud of her.
Me not so much.  I like my paper books, my handwritten diary for work, a wall calendar and I will admit to missing the prominence of the CD.  I hate that people prefer to communicate my instant message rather than meet in person or talk on the phone (but admit its cheaper).  There are old friends I prefer not to have lunch with because they are always on their blackberry.
Despite all this, in the last six months I have maintained a blog.  And through this blog I have made some very real and very inspiring human relationships.
It is such a phenomenon to me. I have friends I have never lain eyes on that I have been through some pretty rough mileage with.  They have sent comments of encouragement in answer to my occasional rant, have heaped praise on me when I have enjoyed breakthroughs or simply written well, and they have shared their inspirations, their pet peeves and their breakdowns with me.  I count a few of them a real friends whose opinions I value and whose blogs I enjoy.
There are very real people on the East Coast and on the West Coast of the USA, in England, in South East Asia who share moments of my day with me, my struggles and their struggles, my joys and their joys.
We are FRIENDS.  Using a virtual reality to share our true realities.  A friend of mine shares frequently about a  peeve of his – abusive relationships.  He has applied his shoulder to the wheel of a great cause and helped me understand how to avoid sliding into one.  Another has just given birth.  She took us through every step of her pregnancy with hilarious detail and I honestly feel better prepared.  She’s younger than I am but well on her way to being a super mom.  If Kat can do it I’m sure I’ll be able to do it when the time comes.  She’ll be there for me.  Another expresses herself through black and white drawings.  She will be doing portraits of my family and of my pets for me in the coming year.  Another lady is a retiree who really enjoys words and sets us little writing projects that stretches our skills.  And I could go on and on…
Teresa of Ávila, a saint whose story has me fascinated, encourages her reader to seek good friends to pray together and strengthen each other, said of her own experience, “I had many friends to help me fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now that I was not always on the ground.”
As for me, I have not been so neglected.  Where one form of friendship causes pain another opens itself up as consolation.
Today I am thankful for how sweet it is to be loved by you.

Snip Snip… Again

This time it was for me.  A little trim.  A bit of pep in my step and breeze on my neck.  Not as short as the last one but a little step backward.  Or forward.  Or not at all.

Perhaps I have learned there is so much to say and that my hair grows so fast that I have given myself too little time…?

For those who have followed my blog, you know what I am about to explain to newcomers.  The Singlestream came into being with the Resolution that I will remain single until my hair falls to my shoulders again and that I will publish an entry for this blog every day of this period.  A sabbatical one might say.  A break from the rollercoaster of mate-finding to find meaning and purpose within my own space.

“A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.”

tienne Balsan, Coco avant Chanel

It could be a sign of progress on this journey that I feel so confident and satisfied that I cut my hair and extended the period.  Perhaps I’ll get to love it here and make it my forever home.  Maybe I will find a way to face and eliminate the fears and negatives I see in singleness enough to stay here forever.  Even if I don’t, the journey has been worth it.

Today my head is light, I look good, I feel confident, and I am happy to write a little longer.

Haircut = $50

The confidence and growth it represents = PRICELESS

Last day as an only child

“Nooo Shay-shay I want to sleeeeeep.”  Amy turns over and stretches out squeezing her eyes shut to keep the sleep in.  “Just a teensy bit more Shay-shay pleeeeeeeeeease…”
Her nose wiggles.

“Ok ok is that porridge?”

Tossing the blanket back and covering Carla, the bald headed doll (the bestest doll in the whole world!) she scrambles out of the little bed.

Sleepy eyed at the table, Amy likes to break up her bread and butter into her porridge.  But she always has to eat from the edges first Mummy says.  It’s supposed to be cooler but it isn’t.  It still has smoke coming off the spoon.  Today Shay-shay has oats porridge for her and Shay-shay always puts plenty of butter on the bread.  Amy likes oats porridge today.  It has a good skin on the top of it and there’s lots of condensed milk.  Shay-shay lets her lick the spoon and turns back to the stove as Amy cuts into her porridge bowl edges with all the clumsy carefulness of a three-year old and licks the warm spoon clean.  Shay-shay turns just in time to catch and steaming spoon on the rise and call out a warning to blow on it.

But this is not the best way to eat porridge.  It’s best when Daddy sits next to Amy and turns it into a heliscopter.  He picks up the lumps of buttery bread smothered in porridge on the spoon and flies it in the air with heliscopter chopper wings clicking “tsk-tsk-tsk-tsk” with his tongue.  The salty butter mixes with the sweet of the porridge and makes her tummy so very cozy and warm.

“But where is Daddy Shay-shay?”  She wants him to do the heliscopter for her.  Sometimes Daddy goes to work early and misses breakfast.

“Is Daddy at work Shay-shay?”

“No Amy, Daddy’s gone to the hospital.”  Shay-shay doesn’t turn around but smiles a white smile secretly at the laundry she is taking out of the machine.  She checks the bed linens from last night and puts them back into the washer for a second run.  The linens are heavy with water but her strong brown arms maneuver them into balance with more detergent and some bleach.

Mummy works at the hospital sometimes.  But these days Mummy has been at home.  As Amy sticks one finger into her bowl while Shay-shay isn’t looking she wonders if Mummy is still asleep.

Last night when Daddy came in to read Amy her story Mummy was on the sofa, her swollen belly supported by a mountain of pillows.  She had called Amy over to touch the movement.  As Amy’s little hand found the spot it jumped under her hand like the time when Boo-Boo threw a ball at the curtains.  Her little eyes had grown wide.

She has a baby brother in there you know.  He’s been there for years!  Amy doesn’t know how long years are but they are a long long time.  And she knows she has three of them on her fingers.  She has been practicing with Daddy for when she gets four.  She will open her hand out and hold her thumb back and there it will be – her four years.

But that’s a long long time from now too.

As far as Amy can remember, she always wanted a baby brother that she could play with like Boo-Boo.  But because he would be her very own brother he wouldn’t have to go home with Uncle Charlie in the evening.  He could stay right here at home with her and with Mummy and Daddy and Shay-shay and they could porridge together and play together and Daddy would read them time stories together and do just everything fun together.

Mummy’s belly was so big last night that Amy knows he must be a big strong boy.    That’s what she asked Jesus for anyway.  Mummy said she couldn’t give Amy a baby brother but she did tell Amy to ask Jesus.  That was years ago too.  But now Jesus had answered Amy’s prayer and she would soon have her baby brother.   Every day she asked Mummy when he would come out.

Amy is very excited by the thought and looks down surprised to find the porridge bowl is empty.  She looks up to see Shay-shay turn from the kitchen counter with the tussin bottle. Amy hates tussin because it taces nasty and makes her want to vomit.  She doesn’t want to take it this morning but she has to be very quiet because Mummy must be sleeping.  She shakes her head but Shay-shay isn’t taking no for an answer.

“Come on now Amily… open wide.  See?  I have the water right here.  Drink it quick and you can wash it down with the water right after.”  Shay-shay stoops down by the chair and there is no escape.  Amy pulls on her brave face and swallows.  The tussin goes down completely destroying the beautiful taste of porridge and she coughs, reaching sticky porridge hands out for the water quick.

Every morning this nasty, nasty tussin.  Amy hates it.  But there is no time – she has to get to the potty quick and go by herself.  She is a big girl now after all.

She tip-toes into Mummy’s bedroom where she slides the little steps up next to the toilet.  Mummy is not asleep – the bed is clean and tidy.  Mummy is not here!  Where is Mummy?

“Mummy’s at the hospital too” says Shay-shay as she comes into check.

“I want to go to the horspital too, Shay-shay.  I want Daddy to come home so he can take me to the hospital too.”

“Soon soon Amy.  We have to finish all our work first.  I am going to need you to help me hang out the clothes.”

Shay-shay is big and tall.  She’s almost a woman or an addle.  Amy watches Shay-shay stretch the sheets wide and shake them out above her head.  They fly like a big bird and flash across the sky before dropping heavy with a crack in a perfect fold over the line.  They smell strong of bleach and fabric softener but Amy thinks they smell like clean.  She is to be Shay-shay’s helper today and hand her the clothespins.  The bag is her job and with one hand she holds it and sticks the thumb on the other hand into her mouth.  Every time Shay-shay needs a pin she pulls out the wet thumb and picks up a pin and hands it over.  She’s off travelling now to far away places.  Travelling is what Mummy calls it.  Amy calls it finking.  And she is now finking about her brother, about Mummy at work, about Daddy at the horspital, and about how she wishes she never needs to taste that tussin again.

When Shay-shay finishes hanging out the load she picks Amy up high in the air and sits her on her shoulders.  Amy giggles all the way up and settles into a comfortable position. When she is sat solidly she sticks her thumb back in her mouth and feels her eyes close heavy.

Before she is out of her bath good she is asleep, curled up with Carla and rubbing her blanket over her lip just over her thumb.  The only sound in the room is her breathing and the hum of the fan as it circulates.

“Amy wake up.  It’s Daddy!”

She opens one eye.  Daddy has a big grin on his face like colgate.  That’s what Mummy calls it.  The finger comes out of the mouth and the arms reach up as Daddy swings her in the air.

“I have a surprise for you!  Your brother is here!”

“Here?  Where Daddy?  I don’t see him!” Amy squeals, suddenly excited and very much awake.

“You need to go meet him.  He’s at the hospital with Mummy.  You ready?”

Of course she is!  Didn’t she pray for a brother?  But Daddy is smiling so hard he looks funny.  And Amy can’t help but smile too.  Daddy straps her into her booster seat and Shay-shay jumps in the front.  As Daddy pulls the car carefully out onto the main road Amy sucks her finger and flies through a million little excited thoughts… “What does he look like?  Can I call him Jaime?  Can he run as fast as me?  Jaime and Amy.  My goodness.  My brother is here.  Jaime and Amy.  Can we play hide and seek tonight?”

Writer Terror

“Anybody who has survived his childhood has enough information about life to last him the rest of his days.”   
— Flannery O’Connor

All weekend I have been battling with my writing class assignment.  The result has been that not one word has been written.  It promises to be a very intense piece of work (visceral is the word the instructor used) and I am likely going to have to work it and re-work it.  So far I have been writing light works for my blogs, little bites of my day.  It has been a forward-looking journey charting a new course through lands hitherto unknown and filled with optimism.

Not so my writing class homework.  This promises to be a visit to the murky swamps of my memories.  And I admit it freely here – I am intimidated.  The assignment for this week is that I take a childhood memory and re-write it in the voice of my childhood.  Three pages.

Writing about the past is something I have never practiced.  Not about my past anyway.  I don’t mind brief visits to other people’s ponds.  But much like I don’t like the idea of going to a psychologist to dig through the silt and make a new decision on what happened in the past I have a strong resistance to sifting through on my own for sources of fiction.

You would swear I had skeletons in my closet!

A big part of what scares me is the burden of protecting the people in my life from the magnifying glass.  It scares me to have to examine each character closely and make a decision on them.  It scares me to show the decision I have made to them.  They lived in my life un-rehearsed, un-varnished and would never have guessed when I was growing up alongside them that one day I would open my veins and bleed out my secrets, which are shared secrets and therefore their secrets, through a pen.  The rye words exchanged, the events we pushed into the past in order to still be able to relate today, the wrongs we have worked hard to forget and survive.

I struggled to identify a childhood memory that wasn’t in some way tainted by one of these secrets.  The drama that belonged to the adults affected how we children would be allowed to relate – where we went, who came over, what could and could not be discussed with whom.  In the end I found some untainted memories in our neighbourhood, things shared with my brother and our friends, but most of them I had to really fight through the mire to get to.

Without even beginning to write I see how enormous an impression adults leave on children.  A theme for the story of my life.  The fears and the fierce love of our protectors and the way they fought for us or over us during the days of our childhood – the prickly hedge that kept us sheltered from the world.

Having already admitted to my commitment phobia, I am going to apply my own advice to this problem.  I have a problem – I am terrified of writing for this class.  My goal is to complete every assignment from the heart for this class.  And you, the reader of my blog, I ask to hold me accountable.  If by Friday each week for the next five weeks I haven’t mentioned it, this means I am avoiding it.  Please kick my rear into gear.

Writing Found a Home

I was late and sat in the back.  My first writing class.  But I was hooked before I even sat down!  Twenty men and women of various ages and backgrounds were in the room where the collection of Art and Manga books call home in our local Books & Books.  They were rapt, listening to the instructor, eloquent as a feather, laying the framework for our six weeks together.

Tingles danced over my arms as I reached into my bag for my diary.  I was engaged, caught up in her reverence and passion for a thing she clearly loves.  She talked on writerly habits, having a writer’s journal, writing daily for at least fifteen minutes, reading like a writer.  She expressed in words several of the things I have learned since sitting down and committing to this blog.  Like the extraordinary gems of material hidden in the ordinariness of our own lives.  Like the way a writer thinks, examining the event of the day or the moving moment and creating words to recreate this picture to someone else.

We were given a class exercise – to write a paragraph each on three childhood memories – and the silence was broken only by the odd chuckle and the dizzy rush of pens.  I smiled down at my book feeling like a little girl again on the first day I realized that I could read.  I had cracked the code!  Found a new world to explore.  Once again I am in that moment.

This class will change my life.

And I won’t be alone.  The excitement in the room was like the 22nd person – hard and defined by bones covered in flesh.  The questions asked and experiences shared came as though from one massive tank of thought.  I learned something that will stay with me forever.  There is a community of writers.  Everywhere.  Watching, observing and loving the moment enough to write it.  Even here in my home town.  People like me who shut down a part of their day to spend with a pen and paper or notepad or laptop to pour themselves out for a moment.  There are people who take the colours of life and recreate them more brilliantly in black and white.  Others are fluent in my language.

This morning I have my blog to commit to and my homework to do.  I am praying for the time to do it all – both mean a lot to me.  And so I am giving fair warning – much of the frilly bits of my life will be cut for a time to make space for this thing that promises to take over, to bring a new chapter of meaning and a whole new purpose.

Onward with the Journey!

The first 14

Today my blog is two weeks old and the Resolution of the Hair is firm.  I have made the right decision to lay off romance for a while and to commit to posting every day something of value that does not involve romance.  I knew it would be a challenge – especially the daily thing – and that I would learn a lot along the way.  But I had no idea what I was getting into or where it would take me.

Every so often I am going to draw brakes on this blog and review my lessons.  I’m in unchartered waters within myself and my own space and like all good explorers off on adventures before me into new worlds I feel the need to draw a map.  These reviews will be the signposts and the milestones of the journeys I have made – into my own soul, into the world, into new friendships, and through the internet.

First, my internet journey.  It has been remarkable to create a website almost from scratch with little zero knowledge of this world.  If I am honest with myself, and with you, I will have to admit that I am a bit daunted by technology.  Despite belonging to the generation that invented Facebook and Twitter, I have been a bit afraid to venture too far.  The social sites I get – they are made for the use of all people including the ignorant like myself.  The email thing is great for work and for life.  But to step out and choose colours, fonts, backgrounds, link to twitter accounts, link to previous posts and select and define parameters for widgets – I deserve a MEDAL for what I have had to overcome to get to this!   What has also surprised me is how much I enjoy it.  I had to stop myself with self admonitions from spending two more days on setting this thing up (“Who cares if there’s no photo in the heading Bushlings?  get on with it, you need content for this to work”).

I’ve found WordPress a bit baffling, a new world to dig around and play with.  The support seems to have been written for techno geeks but fortunately I have a few in my address book to bail me out when I need a little help.

Blog surfing is relatively new to me too.  I joined this expedition for the writing, not the reading.  But now I have been sucked in!  Into tag surfing, leaving comments, and meeting new people.  I have met a talented artist who likes to draw portraits in pencil, a father who loves to tell stories in rhyme, a young PhD student with an interest in the plight of single women (bless him), a Catholic devotee who believes married couples should be chaste after having kids (whatever happened to the Proverb about drinking out of your own well?), a grieving mother determined to comfort others with memory bears, and a couple of crazy college self-proclaimed Betches who are obsessed with all things Betch.

Something very exciting for me is the fact that there are people out there who want to read what I have to say.  Hundreds have popped in for a visit this past fortnight (212 in one day!!!) and some have committed to me, to hear me out every single day, by pressing the subscribe button.  What an honour!

I don’t know if this is a break if internet etiquette (and I don’t rightly care) but I feel the bursting desire to say “Thank You”.  Thank you for taking the time to visit, for taking the interest to commit, and for offering the grace of understanding in your comments.  Thank you for sharing and supporting my journey – a journey is only as good as the travelling companions.

Several of my friends have taken this a step further and started their own blogs.  Four of them to be precise.  Some are private musings, some are public offerings, but all are an enrichment to the world.  It truly amazes me how one drop of water in an ocean can start a ripple from shore to shore.

My journey has started strong on the internet but what I did not expect was how much it would push me off the computer and into the world.  In committing to delivering a post every day about anything and everything but romance until my hair grows I have forced myself off my couch and into the world to find things, do things, and live things to write about.  It has turned into a resolution to live every minute of life and leave no moment unfilled.  Almost like a renewal of vows with Life.

My personal journey, the sabbatical from relationships, is a cleanse.  It is a challenge for me as it would be for many single woman.  But it is so liberating!  I have conversations without digging for deeper meanings (because who cares if that’s what he’s after?)  I gently redirect away from flirtation (and sometimes not so gently).  I choose what I wear, what I eat, where I go and who I spend time with completely free from the hinderance and influence of “what-if-I-bump-into-Mr.-Last-Chance-on-the-street-today?” kind of thoughts.

If I do bump into him he’ll have to wait.

I am having too much fun to quit!  In two weeks I have learned that I like being pretty – for me.  I enjoy putting on my makeup for the art involved.  I relish walking my dogs for the fresh air and not the calorie-burning benefits.  High heels kick my confidence and don’t just perk my bottom.  Friendships of substance keep me revived and refreshed as the ideas come without potential lifetime mating consequences.  I am truly blessed and life can be such a joy with me on my own.

One day when the hair grows to my shoulders I will see how I feel about getting back in the game.  I suspect, if the first fortnight is anything to go by, I am going to want to continue on this journey.  It might keep me in the hairdresser’s chair!  But in truth, it will take something mind-blowing and special to take this train out of the Single Stream.

I love my life!