Latest Posts

Thursday, 22 June 2017

KUNG FU NOISES


The other day I had one of those parenting moments where I could see the lesson in front of me… know the lesson needed to be learned by the King at some point in life (but really, now??), but wanted to do everything in my mommy power to stop time in its tracks and REWIND.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The King’s school was having a talent show; or as my husband calls it, ‘an entertainment’ contest (his talent show wounds run deep). The King decided that he wanted to audition and decided he was going to do his first pattern in Kung Fu (patterns are a series of moves that they learn to advance in their belts). It’s an intricate set of moves that he has done at competition and it’s honestly one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen – especially when he hops back and does this little squat maneuver. [Yes, I know very little about Kung Fu]. Anyway, he decided in conjunction with the pattern, he was also going to join his friends in doing a ‘silly show.’ What that entailed I had no idea, but I wasn’t sure if it contained any talent per se.

A few weeks into his preparation, I mentioned that perhaps he should make his ‘power noises’ when doing the pattern; in competition, one can often hear sighs, grunts and loud exhalations as a sign of power. Okay, fine, the first time I heard it, I burst out laughing (internally of course as the Master is damn scary), but understood it was all part of the Kung Fu vibe. The King wasn’t so sure and said he was going to continue practicing, in silence, and gave me the signal that he had this, so to speak, and didn’t need my advice.

About a week out, he alerted me that he was only doing the Kung Fu pattern and didn’t want to do the silly show. Great, let’s do this I thought… Let’s show the world your adorable Kung Fu talent.

Morning of, he takes his outfit to school and is his usual confident self – not much sticks to this kid, so while other parents weren’t fans of the talent show because of the unnecessary competition, I figured, he’s the King, he’ll be fine. So, I wished him luck and off he went.

That afternoon I picked him up. I usually spot him across the schoolyard and he always greets me with a huge grin (followed by, ‘where’s my snack!’). But I could immediately tell something was wrong. VERY wrong. The second the words ‘How did it go’ fell out of my mouth, I regretted them instantly. His face was about to crumple into a million pieces, but trying to save face, he managed a short, ‘Let’s go!’ before the tears started quietly streaming down his face. For blocks, it was just silent tears and him refusing to talk to me (there is nothing more heartbreaking than silent tears). 

He finally stopped in the middle of the road, looked at me and said, ‘Mommy, they laughed. They laughed at me!’ I said who laughed? His response, “54 children!! 54 children laughed at me when I did the noises. You said to do the noises and they laughed at me!!"

Yeah, I now know what it feels like to be gut punched. So thanks to me, I hand delivered my child to be laughed at in front of 54 children. Nice one Mommy. Of course, I launched into a fierce defense of his skill, ability, his misunderstood greatness, the power of Kung Fu, the ‘people are simply going to laugh sometimes’ defense, and that they were laughing WITH him (not at him). Finally, grasping at straws, I said, “Remember when Dave (his instructor) first made those noises, what did you do?” He looked at me and said, ‘I laughed.’ …. Yeah, ok, let’s focus on that then, shall we. You laughed. As did I.  I guess the moral is, Kung Fu power noises are funny.

Then the ultimate kicker, or at least I thought it was, who got through and made it to the final round? Hi pals in the silly show. To his credit and a mirror into this kid's comportment, he exclaimed that their bit was the best, and made him laugh so hard and he wanted to see them perform in the final. Meanwhile, my husband, hysterically chimed in that he had a similar thing happen to him at his talent show when he was young and he never did one again (um, not helpful, Daddy!).

To the King’s credit, he shrugged it off pretty quickly and is already practicing singing Blackbird (Lennon/McCartney) for next year, so I suppose the wound wasn’t that deep. At least one of us is resilient.

PERSPECTIVE


Perspective… a coveted gift in life that always seems to turn up a little too late, or certainly not always when you need it. When it does wash up on shore, you’re always struck by that feeling of, ‘How did I not figure this out in the first place? It was right there in front of my face.’ But alas, we’re human and we often lose focus, have to learn things the hard way, and get caught up in the emotion of the situation until clarity washes up on shore.

Of late, thanks to the vicissitudes of life, I’ve been bathed in perspective (to clarify, I'm talking about the profound moments of perspective; not the "if I drink gin, eat Indian food and then do a headstand,  I'm going to have issues" type perspective. Then again, that type of insight is helpful as well). Like it or not, as one ages, this tends to start happening with a lot more dependability. We get older, have children, people around us pass away, get sick, face challenges that seem to test them on every front. It’s part of the grand journey of life, so they tell me. And you start to realize that all the clichés are true: one better appreciate the small moments, be grateful for what has, and don’t sweat the small stuff  - you know, all that chicken soup for the soul type stuff. 

You also realize that perspective has often come in bursts throughout one’s life, but it’s a challenge to get it to last more than five minutes. It's worth adding that for those of you that have been able to take a step back and really look at their lives on a weekly basis, kudos... but trust me you're in the minority. Perhaps it’s because life moves so quickly and we’re so adept at shoving our heads in the sand, or that perspective demands empathy and self examination, and well, that's not always something the human brain wants to engage in. Just turn on the news and you’ll get a dose of perspective on all fronts… war, the ills of the world, the depravity of human beings, nature’s wrath… I mean, that’s enough perspective to make you reach for the tequila after breakfast.

But on the more positive side of things, perspective is also there to bring about gratefulness and presence of mind. For me personally, this year has been one of loss; and there is nothing that teaches you more than the sobering reality that life is indeed fleeting than death. We are constantly told this, we know it won’t last forever, and yet, we often behave like it will. But when one experiences the loss of family and friends, it’s hard to escape the writing on the wall that it’s only about the now. Being grateful for the now, embracing the now, staring at the giant fire breathing NOW in your living room and saying, OK, ok, I get it, and I’m going to learn from you, take what I need to know and really get to work!

As expected, the now has been a very loud voice in my head lately… a ‘this is it’ voice that has coloured my actions on all fronts. So when the King asks me to put Blackbird on repeat at 6:30 a.m. and help him draw a camouflage bird (don’t ask), whereas part of me wants to crawl under the rug and go back to sleep, the other part of me realizes that this moment is a moment worth treating as a gift. Even at 6:30 a.m. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are still times where the King’s machine gun fire requests come too fast and furiously and I find myself buckling under the fatigue, but I have found myself reaching for the yes more often than not lately.

Whereas, I would hope that I could gain this perspective without so much loss, unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way (or it certainly doesn’t last that long). So for now, as I’m certainly thankful to be here, I’ll welcome perspective like an old friend and allow it to show me what I need to see. As the King would say, allow it to be the Yoda to my Jedi... ahhh, perspective, wise you so are. 



Thursday, 25 May 2017

STAND TOGETHER


People keep asking me if I’m okay over here in England (in light of recent events in Manchester). And my answer is always the same. Yes, of course, why wouldn’t I be? My answer perhaps seems too matter of fact for some, but I refuse to give into fear.... Fear of spiders perhaps… fear of guns and Monsanto and the destruction of our planet… but fear of terrorism, no, never. I wouldn’t give the extremists a moment of my emotion. 

Obviously these are tricky, complicated times for a variety of reasons - most of which have very little to do with terrorism; And the world feels like a different place (Then again, is it?? Cause merely explaining to the King the other day why Henry VIII was holding this wife's head in an illustration, well, it dawned on me that the world has always been a savage place on many levels, especially to women!) But I have a numbers brain (although I suck at math, go figure), and as long as the statistics fall on my side I will still go out and live my life.

The thing is, events like this are designed to inspire fear, division, and hatred. And not just by the perpetrators. The media, our governments, ahem, our President... even one’s neighbors all take part in fueling this fear machine and I simply will not add fuel to the absurd fire. Now more than ever it’s time to stay together and choose our words and actions wisely. Because it’s far too easy to let the hysteria grow; this morning on (right wing) talk radio alone, you can hear the battle cries for internment camps, and military on the streets and you quickly watch the hysteria build (and our rights as citizens go out the window). Not to mention, the very people crying that our world is under attack, are the same people naïve and close-minded enough to judge a person by their skin colour (trust me, my husband is brown and mistaken for being every ethnic group out there and you quickly see how judgmental people can be).

As I’ve said many many times, I live between a mosque and a Hasidic Jewish neighborhood and I have never felt safer, never felt discord and never felt like I should fear for my safety. As I pointed out to my husband the other day, I am vigilant, I always have been. I live in a city. I’m a woman. I’m vigilant not to get mugged, I’m vigilant not to walk down a dark street alone, and I’m vigilant to not lock my bike outside with a flimsy lock! Am I scared about an extremist blowing up my local pub? No, because basic, glaring statistics are on my (and your) side and you simply won’t convince me otherwise.

The other diatribe you hear constantly is that the Muslim community as a whole should do more. They should denounce these attacks (They do, I assure you, it’s just not publicized cause that’s not a good news story. WE need a villain after all). They should kick and scream and drive the extremists out. And yes, to a certain respect, like any of us, if any one of us hears about extremism, then by all means, report it. But does (and should) the blame fall on them as a community as a whole? Of course not. Are all men responsible for those of their gender that rape? (Cause I can tell you this, every 98 seconds a woman is sexually assaulted and there are a lot of men out there doing SOD ALL about it) Are they reporting on their male brothers (ahem, nope, in fact, the collusion, especially on college campuses is egregious especially in the world of athletics). Are Christians responsible for the rampant pedophilia problem that has existed in our churches for years upon years? The same issue that has been covered up and even deemed a ‘transgression’ that can be cleansed with confession. So agree with me or don’t, but don’t tar and feather 1.6 billion followers of a faith that all clearly do NOT support extremism. 

Because, I won’t be scared. I won’t be divided, and I won’t treat the King’s teacher, dentist or my husband’s colleagues any differently because they are Muslim. (In fact, word of advice, if you don’t know people of other faiths, go make some friends and broaden your horizons. It will quell the hysteria in your brain to humanize things).

What took place in Manchester the other night was appalling, ghastly, and unthinkable. And it makes you want to react, to fight back, to kick and scream and shout for justice, but to give in to fear and hate is a sign that they are winning.  And I don’t know about you, but I refuse to let that happen.

Friday, 21 April 2017

GRIEF 1, 2, 3


Here’s the funny thing about grief  (I never knew there was anything funny about grief to be honest) it always surprises you. It is not (and I repeat) NOT a one size fits all emotion. And anyone that tells you differently, well, just turn and walk the other direction cause they don’t know what they’re talking about.

At my age, I feel very confident that I know who I am, and more importantly, how I will react to certain things that life throws in my path. I am practical, I love a good challenge.. and yet I tend to be sensitive at times, (soft and gooey on the inside and all that). And of course when the situation demands it, I can be pretty tough and unrelenting. But when it comes to death, I won’t lie; I have always been terrified of it. It’s finality, the unknowing, or lack of control over one’s mortality. And I love control. Oh how I love it. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, hence the many things we cling to in this life to somehow soften the blow of what's inevitable. 

So in light of watching death, actually watching someone dear to me take their last breath on earth, I have been utterly mystified by my reaction to it. In the moment, like I had always imagined, the grief was palpable, visceral even. I thought to myself, there is no way my brain can digest what I’m seeing, feeling…it’s simply too much. And yet, there was a stillness there and peace unlike anything I’ve ever seen or felt; in simple terms, an organic surrender that even I couldn’t fight; and that was this person’s unknowing gift to me. Watch this, see that I’m okay, and put the fear aside (at least for now).

And perhaps in that moment, that very monumental, surreal moment, my mind told me that it was enough to merely witness it… and yet to feel it on that profound level was simply too much.  So in short, I have subconsciously (or very consciously) put it somewhere.  I can see it, sitting up there on the shelf, and I know in time, I will get it down and open it and feel what comes pouring out, but for now, I will just let it inhabit that place, knowing it is somehow keeping me company, but not overwhelming me. 

The interesting part in all of it is how people expect you to respond or more to the point, assume they would respond (and trust me, I’ve been guilty of this myself, always assuming what the post loss response should be) and in turn, you feel somehow defective for not responding in that precise way. Or in some cases, proud you are somehow able to hold it together. ‘Yay, look at me go, I’ve showered.’ What I do know is that grief has surprised me (and I don’t surprise easily). It’s profound presence and yet lack of feeling has shocked me to my core; it’s quietness, it’s patience, it’s ability to live inside you, and for the time being simply remain silent until it feels like screaming from the rooftops like an unhinged lunatic.

The other revelation of this journey has been the amount of laughter one can find in the most sobering of moments. I know, shocking, right? But in the pain, through the pain, there are so many moments that one (depending on the person or group of people) can see the humor in, or find things that simply are so poignant or revelatory, you can’t help but fall on the floor in hysterics. In short, an outlet is an outlet however it seeps out of you. I suppose it’s also the psyche’s way of preventing you from coming apart at the seams.

So I suppose the reality is that grief wears many masks:  some loud and garish, some crippling and meek, some furious and dripping with rage… and yes, even one lurking behind a quiet, thoughtful smile… and I’m telling myself, at the moment, that it’s perfectly okay. 

Monday, 3 April 2017

IN MEMORY OF...


My mother used to read my blog, and she was always one of the first to write back with a comment, nothing lengthy, but enough to let me know that it made her laugh, think, or peer into my mind just a little bit more (I think she understood it was a very crowded place!).

So, in honor of her, this is a very small testament to who she was - as it’s always hard to encapsulate a person in mere words.

‘Anne I Can’… this was my mother’s moniker. Anyone that knew her would know how fitting this was. She simply could, and DID and of course she made it look utterly effortless, usually dressed to the nines and bejeweled, without breaking a sweat.

She taught us so many things: dignity, grace, elegance, and of course as children, how to wear a silk scarf as a belt.

The night before she passed we were all in the kitchen giving her a chance to rest. She said to my sister: “why on earth are they in there, they should come in here.” Cause that was Anne, total sense. So my four sisters and I went in the room and gathered round her bed. We surprised her with a small cup of wine in an espresso cup. She took one look at it and said “Are you mad? I want it in a proper glass!” That was also Anne. No small measures and propriety always reigned supreme. Then of course we poured her an inch and again, we got that look that only Anne could deliver, “Is that all I get!?”

That night we laughed, and cried and shared memories of our lives together and it is a night I know that my sisters and I will never forget. The next morning my mother's first words to me were about how much the previous evening meant to her, how it put life in perspective. Not long after, she passed on, peacefully and with such grace. 

‘Anne I Can’ was such a unique, enchanting, beautiful force of a woman. When people met her they always had a story to tell of how she left her mark on them; sometimes it was simply being a recipient of her charm, or how she made them feel like they were the only ones in the room; for others it was marveling at her elegance and dignity in the face of life. She was curious and direct to a fault. She was fiercely private to the point that most people did not know even know she was sick. She would laugh till she’d cry. She could hold a plank longer than anyone I’ve known (at 74!). She came to love her leopard print almost as much as her art. She would leave you an accidental 5 minute voice message as she could never get her car phone system to work: “Amanda, HOME. Amanda HOME, Cancel. Expletive!” You could smell her vanilla perfume before she entered a room and the click of her sandals. She had a five-tier yawn. She was loyal, and discreet, and had a light that truly emanated from within. And she had a million dollar smile that you simply could not forget.

She loved us girls fiercely and raised five strong, assertive, curious, vibrant women that will proudly carry a part of her within us forever. She will simply be missed beyond words.









Copyright © 2014 Anthea Anka - Delighted And Disturbed