Memories of influenza 

Today blurred as it picked up speed around me. I found myself writing random dates in people’s charts, and had to correct at least half before continuing. First it was the day, then the year, and finally the month that escaped me.

Once I finally figured out how to write the date, it struck me it may be time to check my memory. I shrugged and got my flu shot on the memory unit instead.

I get the flu shot every year, and I haven’t missed one since 2008, when I was too sick to get it. 

I still remember how I felt that June. I went to clinic like a normal day, and within a half hour, before my first patient showed up, I felt suddenly unwell. 

Like the kind of unwell that made me feel like I’d been hit crossing the road with a hot ice cream truck- everything ached, shivers and sweat poured down my back. 

For the first and only time in my life, I immediately went home sick. 

I spent the next 4 days in bed, on my back, too sick to watch tv or read a book.

It hurt to walk to the bathroom and I couldn’t breathe. 

I listened to my clear lungs and took useless Advil and Tylenol as I slipped in and out of what I would call a true delirium. 

Finally, my two doctor-friends dragged my denial-fuelled backside into the hospital for a beautiful two litre bolus of normal saline.

It felt like a refreshing jump into an ice cold pool. 

Luckily, I recovered. It took almost a month for me to be able to return to work, as I got another flu the week after. 

It took me until the fall to be able to run again, after being able to run two hours.

But I didn’t die, like other women that year. And I didn’t go to the icu, like other people I’ve known. Compared to them, my version of H1N1 was tame.

I did walk away with the most amazing parting gift anyone could have from that experience. 

One of my friends brought me ginger ale. And then he visited, and kept me company as I recovered.

He’s still great at making me feel better whenever I feel tired or sick. And he’s still my best friend.

Today I remembered how awful I felt when I had the flu, and recommended the flu shot to several people. 

While I may have lucked into a wonderful life the one year I didn’t get my shot, I’m not eager to experience it again any time soon.

Driven

What do you believe in? 
What would you fight for,
die for,

give everything you have for?

Is it a person, place or thing,

do they love you back the same?
Do you wake up every day, 

eager to carry on?

Or do you struggle to continue, 

telling yourself,

“Just one more day”
Does your soul fly free

when you think of it?

Or does it crush under the heels 

of regret?
Do you know 

where your purpose lies?

What makes you dedicate yourself,

to something outside your self?

How do you find that drive?
We all choose every day what

our aim will be. 

We can choose to be ambitious,

show commitment and resolve, 

to fight for the bigger goal,

strive for our dreams.
Or we can live a small life,

a calm life, 

a safe life.

Remembering that a hero dies 

but once.

To give thanks 

Fall and thanksgiving are irrevocably connected to me. 

Today, I fulfilled a long held need that I didn’t have just a few years ago. 

It’s been building this year though, 

a sense of nostalgia and separation, feeling sometimes as though I am leading my life 

on a superficial plane,

Working, sleeping, going through the motions, 

always rush, rush, rush.

Feeling as if everything was repetitive, 

unimportant to the world around me.

But today, I got back to solid ground.

I spent my day with family, 

working together.

Pickling beets, making food, breaking bread and sharing love and stories and laughter.

Today felt real, 

deeply satisfying on a level past the delicious food and the physical joy of eating.

Today was about thanksgiving, being happy and feeling lucky for the blessings in my life.

My children, my parents, my siblings and their families.

For nature’s bounty, 

For sweet potato casserole.

With all the tragedy and heartache in the world I stopped, 

Paused one moment,

And breathed deeply of all the love within my life.

Thank you all.

 

A food lovers prayer

The holidays are hard on a waist,

this much is true.

Get enough people together,

Food is the glue 
My stomach stretched and overfull,

my mouth with an elastic ability, 

to eat past common sense,

past the point of debility 
As each holiday comes and goes,

I warn myself thus;

Don’t eat that much again,

or next time, you’ll need a trus.

Thanksgiving 

This weekend is one of remembrance and family for me. For many people in North America and around the world, it also leads into the holiday season in the Christian world.

As the leaves turn shades of gold and russet, the weather chills and the smell of decaying leaves and dirt surrounds me. 

I picked the last of the carrots and beets, saying goodbye to my tiny garden that makes tiny vegetables, for another winter.

It was only a few days ago that a solid white blanket of snow covered them and I gave thanks that I was able to reap their bounty before it was too late. 

Luckily, the snow faded with the sun and the wind from the mountains, and I was able to have a small grace period to finish the season.

My parents came today, my brother and his partner yesterday. 

A turkey is thawing safely in the fridge this time, not overnight in the oven like last time. 

Safety first, after all.

I’m looking forward to spending this time with my family, visiting, cooking, and even canning. 

With my mother and husband’s sister, we will reenact my memories of fall as we make beets the way my grandmother always did. 

The weekend stretches wide and warm in front of me, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that as I get older, I’m appreciating the value in the traditions that I once knew, coming back to my roots. 

Learning what I need to someday pass the lessons on to my own children, 

coming full circle from being the child to the mother.

The real me

I’ve never been accused 

of being fashionable. 

My hair has always been 

too unruly, 

my taste in clothing 

a little too comfortable.
I like eating, 
a little too much for a perfect figure,

And laugh way too loud 

at my own jokes.

I cry at commercials 

and blush at the drop of a hat.
I feel deeply

and have volume control issues

But what you see is usually 

what you get.

I’ve tried ever since 

my first report card

To pay attention and not interrupt, 

to be a little more shy and retiring 
But the closer I get to forty 

the more I know that this is me

For better or worse,

For richer or poorer. 

My filter may be a little broken, 

But my heart works just fine.

Photographs

Sometimes life is a challenge, and sometimes it’s truly amazing, and sometimes you slide into reflection accidentally. 

I was on Facebook, doing what you do with Facebook when I came upon an article- 

10 times your parents were cooler than you are.

I looked at the pictures from the sixties, seventies and eighties. A wave of nostalgia washed over me, swamping me with the bittersweet feeling that no, we really aren’t as cool as our parents.

I’m not even as cool as I was, once upon a time.

Were people tougher? Or did they just take fewer pictures, and live more?

I thought of my travels to other countries and how obsessed some people were with taking pictures that we look at, 

once or twice a year, maybe.

I obsessed differently, needing to capture my thoughts and emotions. I journaled my way through Europe, and Egypt, and Australia, and the US. 

I’ve written everything down on every long trip I’ve been to. And I don’t think I’ve looked at them once.

What makes a memory vivid?

What gives us those moments we can’t deny?

The flashes of clarity that stay with us forever?

I remember bits and pieces. 

Walking along the seine, 

alone in a grey day,

Running through the streets of Luxor in lulu’s while locals stared at me with confusion.

The sight of kangaroos bouncing through a field while my face burned from the propane in the hot air balloon,

Being upside down in a tiger moth, positive I would die.

Laughing while trying to be supportive of my friend, stung by a stingray, 

encouraging tequila in the morning.

Calling my brother sneezeburger, our code word when we were ready to kill each other.

The heat of New Orleans in August and how tight my curls got.

How hungry I was on the cruise ship on my honeymoon, unaware it wasn’t the sea air.

Snapshots of my travels, 

none with any photo evidence.

Times when I was alive and living, without thinking of capturing the moment.

I found myself misty looking at other people’s youth. 

Hoping I get to do it all again, someday

Internal motivation 

What drives you?

Where does your interest lie?

Could you work all day?

Or would it make you cry?
What makes you get up

and out of bed?

Is it the lure of the dollar,

or a desperate need for bread?
Is each day a struggle

to fulfill a basic need?

Or is it a race, 

between pleasure and greed?
Is it altruism that finds you

at the sick bed of others?

Or is it your own desires causing

you to cheat your brothers?
Lightness and dark, 

Softness and hard,

Who’s is charge of the hand,

Who deals the card?
Remember each day

when you lift your own load,

Not one of us knows

what’s at the end of the road.

Runner

I’ve never thought of myself 

as an athlete, 

A little too slow, a little too soft.

But I love to run,

Feel my heart pumping

Muscles working,

The ache of a job well done.

The calm that descends 

in the middle of a run,

The peace that follows a cool down.

The slap, slap, slap 

of my feet on the pavement,

Birds in the trees 

as the leaves tumble down

Cool air on my face, 

sweat drying

I may not be an athlete, 

but I’m a little athletic,

each time I go for a run

Popular

I remember what the word meant as a kid, as a teenager, even as a young adult.

Popular was something everyone wanted, 

consciously or otherwise. 

It didn’t matter what group you ran with, you wanted to be liked, to be noticed, 

but in a good way.

It doesn’t even matter what generation you’re from. 

We all had our version of what popular was. 

Speaking with my parents it sounded the same then, 

and listening to kids now tells me it hasn’t changed.

But popular as an adult…. ugh. 

The vast majority of people I know no longer want to be popular. 

In fact, we sometimes wish we were invisible.

So many demands on our time, so many responsibilities and people depending on us.

Popular as an adult means no one else can do your job, and everyone needs you at the same time. 

It’s not a good thing these days.

I look back fondly on the days when popular meant what it was in the movies

Fast cars, attractive young people at the prime of life, without any real worries

And now I watch as wrinkles appear in my mirror, 

wondering when it cracked like that.