Life, Love, Long Hair, Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth, and other mysteries

All this and more, from a semi-Serbian, slightly sane, former editor for physicians and surgeons, who is the mother of seven kids.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

When I Was a Teenager

(If you're getting this by email, click the blog title to see the pictures and video).

I was recently asked to tell stories of when I was a teenager.

That could become a whole blog in itself, and I am sure I will have more specific entries in future in that regard, but a lot of it is stuff I am not sure I should publicly share!

The challenge lies in deciding what is worth mentioning.

Age 16.

Those who knew me back then probably assumed I was a pothead.  In actuality, I smoked very little compared to others in my circles.


I had these circles of friends, some of which overlapped, but others which clashed.

Some friends from one circle didn't want anything to do with those in other circles.

I felt I was in the middle of different groups.

Can you relate?

Always, though, there was my best friend, who I refer to in my blogging as Shakira.

The stupid things we used to come up with - and still do sometimes when we get together - could fill a book.

Again, though, the challenge exists in figuring out which stories are acceptable to repeat in mixed company.

Oh, I know!  I'll post a separate blog entry on the short story Shakira inspired me to write called "Neil Of Fortune".  (Done - here!)

But back to the topic - when I was a teenager.

I admit, I was bad:  among other irresponsible and unwise behavior, I used and sold various drugs, I drank a lot of booze, I stole - and received due punishment from the law on all of those - but worse, it all meant harm to myself which has taken years of hard work to correct, and on which I am still working.

And worse still, I caused pain to those who loved me.

Now that I am a parent of teens, I can relate to how my own parents felt.

But there were non-bad things, too - everyday stuff, like getting up in the morning and listening to a Led Zeppelin record while doing my hair and makeup...

Grabbing a cup of yogurt, throwing some granola into it, and eating it with a spoon on my half hour walk to school...

Spending some of my lunch hours locked in the darkroom processing pictures...

Age 18 with the camera I frequently used from high school photography club.
Arriving home from school famished, slathering an inch of peanut butter onto a piece of toast, and piling a further half inch of butter on top of that so it'd melt in pools of delightful yet unhealthy fat...

Passing out in the rays of sunshine on my bed at 4:00 in the afternoon...

Walking to the beach at the bottom of 200 steps and writing poetry in a notebook... (see my Poetry blog entry).

Playing guitar in my room and dreaming of going to a beautiful land away from it all...

(There is a video here that won't show up if you're receiving this by email.
Click the blog title to get to the blog).

Stretching the phone cord from the kitchen to my piano and calling Shakira to teach each other songs...

Playing one of my hundreds of records or tapes in my room, by the likes of Led Zeppelin (naturally), Lynyrd Skynyrd, CCR, Pink Floyd, Bad Company, Fleetwood Mac, Blondie, Queen, The Who, Aerosmith, Rush, The Doobie Brothers, The Allman Brothers, Jethro Tull, Boston, Steve Miller Band, The B-52s, Joni Mitchell, The Eagles, Neil Young, and so much more...

And, yes, even secretly Mozart... (see my Mozart blog entry).

So much more I can, and probably will, write from my teenage years.  Thank-you, "S-Gurl", for asking me.  :)

With love,

If you like my writing, check out my other entries, and click "follow" on the top left of this page.

Neil Of Fortune

Neil Of Fortune: Canada's Favorite Gameshow (or something like that)  
Copyright Jan. 1997, 2009 Steeny Lou
with inspiration from "Shakira B. O'Neil"
"Uh, I'd like to buy a bowel."

"O.K. Which one?"

"A moving one, please."

"Excuse me?"

"Uh, nevermind. How about an O?"

Ka-ping. Ka-ping. Vanna Black turns the blocks over.

"Yes, there are two O's," enthused Jack Stayback.



"Would you like to spin?"

"Hmmm.... Yes, I would," says the contestant.

Nervous laughter from the audience.

Jack asks, slightly annoyed, "What are you doing?"

"Spinning," the contestant says from the floor where he's lying on his back, rotating by propelling himself around with his hands and feet.

"A funny guy, huh?"

Spinning stops.

The contestant brushes himself off as he stands up and returns to his seat. He spins the wheel and it lands on "Half-eaten Tootsie Pop."

The audience ooh's and ahh's.

"Is there a . . . t?"



Disappointment flows over the audience. "Awwwww."

Commercial break.

Return to the show. Theme song for "Neil Of Fortune" plays on harmonica and acoustic guitar, with lyrics sung in whiny male vocals, to the effect of Bruce Barry and an Econoline with bullet holes in the mirrors, down by a river where a cinnamon girl was shot under a harvest moon.

Announcer's voice. "The winner of tonight's game will receive a right rear window for a 1974 Vega, a Donny Osmond T-shirt from the Value Village discount rack, and a half-eaten Tootsie-Pop with just a hiiiiint of paper stuck to one side of it . . . "

The audience goes wild with applause.

" . . . and an all-expense paid trip to Port . . . uh . . . Coquitlam!"

Self Explanatory picture here

More applause, accompanied by cheering and deep "ooh-ooh-ooh-ing" as the audience punches the air in delight.

"Yes, folks, tonight's winner will be thrilled by the industrial sights of Port Coquitlam, B.C. For two glorious fun-filled nights you'll stay at the finest hotel Poco has to offer, with views of the breath-taking Lougheed  Highway, and within walking distance of some railroad tracks!!!"  

(Audience goes wild again.)

" . . . But that's not all! You'll also receive 5% off meals at McDonald's restaurant!"

The audience starts flicking lighters and chanting, "Po-Co! Po-Co!" Somebody climbs on the stage and does a body dive into the crowd. Vanna Black saunters out dressed in army fatigues, carrying a fire extinguisher, and begins to laugh maniacally while she proceeds to douse the audience in an effort to calm them down.

Vanna then whirls around on her stiletto'd heel and starts spraying the television crew, yelling obscenities while carrying on a tirade of complaints. "I'm tired of being just a letter-turner!" And "No more will I be a mannequin giving cheap publicity to tacky clothing designers! I quit!!!"

With that, Vanna aims her fire-extinguisher at the camera. 

Indistinct shouting is heard, hands flail in front of the now tipped over camera, then the screen goes blank.

We never did get to find out what was being spelled.

(If you're reading this via email, click on blog title to get in to see the video)


A short note here with a request that if you ever see a typo in my blog entries you would be so kind as to point it out to me in a comment.  I do strive to spell things properly, and I pay attention to the markings of spell-check, but sometimes I miss stuff.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Long Hair Going Crazy Video - Blondie

OK, for those who appreciate long hair and silliness, here's my weirdness for the week.

If you're reading this via email update, you'll have to click the title line of this message
 to get into my blog in order to see the video.


A couple of my teens and I were goofing around on my 18-year-old daughter's computer, with her trial version of YouCam.  We applied ultra-red lipstick and were lip-syncing to a few songs, such as Bohemian Rhapsody, and I can't remember the others.

 The girls were growing weary, and I was still hyper, but fading a little, so I went through my YouTube favorites in search of a song to which I knew all the words, sung by a female, which would go with the late night weirdness as my 14-year-old daughter was using a straightener iron on my hair behind me and my 18-year-old daughter was half passed out on the bed in the background, who, after having heard the song, said, "That sounded like an acid trip."

I do hope she knows not that of which she speaks.

I chose Blondie's "Fade Away And Radiate".

Radiate - heat - straightener iron.

Me - fading away at the end of a day.

And the video is coming through in waves.

Rays of hair.


OK, well, I had fun anyway.

Click the comment button and let me know you were here.  Don't be a secret stalker!

The fine print:  Inspired, in part, by Lizzi and her Bad Reputation video.  ;)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Why Does Sh!t Happen To ME? Ohhh... I Get It!

I shake my head in near disbelief at all the crap I've been through.

A few nights ago, I asked myself the classic question:  "WHY ME?"

Really, of all people, why ME?

It seems to me that out of everyone I have ever met, I've had an inordinate amount of ... shall we say "interesting things" happen to me.

Ugh.  Some of those interesting things are downright disgusting.

Barely did I get the "WHY ME?" line of questioning done when, nearly instantaneously, I got this other thought running through my head, which caused me to run for a pen and paper to jot it down:

"It is because even though you hurt, you bounce back, and you show others through your writing that it can be survived, that it does get better.  You have the writing talent to convey your empathy and your encouragement."

And that is why I have so many stories to tell.

Gee, thanks, God.  I do love You, but wow, You must have a lot of faith in me.  I'll try not to let You down.

So, help me, Jesus...

(There is a video here, of Johnny Cash singing "Why Me, Lord?",  in case you're receiving these updates by email, so you'll have to click to see it.)

"Tell me Lord, if you think there's a way
 I can try to repay
All I've taken from You
 Maybe Lord, I can show someone else
 What I've been through myself
On my way back to you."

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Mozart and Me

I love the music of Mozart.

I can't remember when it officially entered my life.

It might have been from a cassette tapes sent to me by a pen-pal in those years.
Or maybe it was on one of the 33 RPM records I used to borrow from the library in my teen years and secretly listen to in my room.  (Hey, it wasn't cool for a Led Zeppelin-y person like me to admit to liking classical music in those days, but in retrospect, I see there is a huge correlation in the musical styles of classical-classical and some classic rock.)

Or it could have been when I, again secretly, listened to the Vancouver CBC Radio station that played classical music, which was where I first heard Chopin's "Butterfly Etude", (Etude in G-Flat major, Op 25, No 9) which was love at first listen.

But that is the only piece I recognize by Chopin.

Mozart, however, offers many a tune to my ear and heart which make me say, "Ah, yes, that's Mozart."

I learned to play a little bit of Mozart in the Royal Conservatory of Music piano lessons I took in my youth, but what I really wanted to play was his Fantasy in D Minor, for which I bought the sheet music contained in a book of many other pieces of his.

I finally came out of the closet with my love for Mozart when in my early 30s I bought a Sony Music Classics CD  "Mozart - Greatest Hits".

Many a time have I cranked that CD while driving in my truck, my children a captive audience in the back seat.

We didn't know the words in those foreign languages so we made up a few of our own.

Such as in Non Piu Andrai, from The Marriage of Figaro, an opera originally banned in Vienna because it is a satire of aristocracy, where, at the 0:13 point, my daughters and I said it sounded like they were saying...

"...and she said, 'Put the cheese on the wall.'"

I think it was my third daughter who made that one up, when she was about four years old.  It has stuck with all of us.  Even now, whenever we listen to it, we sing along with our "cheesy" lyrics.

It is a beautiful thing to drive with my ultra-cool teenagers, blaring a Mozart instrumental such as, oh, say the Overture to Le Nozze di Fagaro Overture K. 492, and singing along with every note -  that's right, it is an instrumental, yet we "sing" with words such as "da da da da da, doodle oodle oodle oodle oodle oot, la la la, la la la," etc.

At the :43 point, we do have some real words:  we sing, "Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, noi-iii-oii-iii..." (etc...), and again at 3:58, where it fits twice, and a couple more rounds of it at 4:12.

Come on, doesn't everyone make up their own words to classical music?


If you do, please tell me about it - I'd like to shake your hand!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Sadness and Inability

Who do you talk to when you feel like you are going to cry, and the thing that triggered you doesn't make sense to even yourself?

I feel this is something in which I cannot be the only one.

Someone somewhere who is reading this must be able to relate and think, "Hey, yeah, really... I know what you are feeling."

I am sorry to not have an answer for them or for myself.

Sometimes it's just a word, or the way someone says that word, or the look on someone's face, or the weight of a whole world's worth of troubles.

I will restate that with a different twist:

Sometimes it is just a word, or the way it was said, or the look, which suddenly becomes the equivalent weight in emotional heaviness of a whole world's worth of troubles - the same feeling of inability to do anything about it, whether it be trying to fix one relatively small problem or trying to fix the entire broken planet.


Inability to change something that I want to change.

Inability to even understand what the root is.

Inability to put it into words.

And hence, the feeling of sadness.

Ironically, in such situations, the one who pulled the trigger is not the one who shot me, so I do not blame them - I merely feel the feelings of pain, relive the things that caused it, even when I cannot always picture the event that inflicted the original wound.

Do you know what I mean?

At all?

I deal with things that trigger me, and I deal with the fallout.

I ask myself questions.

I ask God.

One cannot always know in advance that their actions may cause pain in me.

I will seldom tell the trigger-puller that they have shot at me.

I bear it silently.

I wonder if it happens to others?

The pain will pass, but meanwhile, I try to understand it.

There must be a reason in it.

One more is coming to mind as fitting:

PS:  I welcome comments, either in the comment box or privately, even if they are to the effect of  "I don't get it".

Monday, 20 February 2012

Poetry and Song Lyrics, My Own and Otherwise

In my teen years, I had a 3-ring binder full of song lyrics I'd written out by hand while listening to cassette tapes or records in my room.

With some of them, I'd play on my guitar and sing.  Some of them were just for looking at.

Some were written by me and never had any tunes formally written for them. 

1984 - age 17

Imagine my joy at discovering the ability to look up lyrics on Google!

I wish I would have kept all the writing I did back then.

So much poetry, up in smoke.


I had taken a pile of my writing down to the beach at the bottom of 200 rickety old wooden steps in my home town one day when I was 17 and burned it all.


I've written a lot more lyrics since then, most of which have been seen by nobody but me.

I need someone to turn them into real songs.

Dang it, it might have to be me.

I do have one poem I wrote in the early 1980s, when I was 13, which was published in a grade 8 English poetry book.  Here it is:

Love is something that can't be bought
It's more than just a friendly thought

Living forever in your mind
It's always there, rain or shine

Love is when you don't have to hide
The glowing warmth of mutual pride

Each day the bond grows stronger
As the hours pass, the heart grows fonder

Love may be secret, or might* open wide
But the feeling of passion is always inside

When one day the friendship catches fire
The heart is filled with hope and desire

*I remember when they printed it, I noticed a typo, but now I can't remember what I really meant to say, if it should be "might be open wide" or "right open wide".

Age 16, in 1983

When I was in a band (called "Joyful Noise"), in the early 2000's, I started adding to my song sheets.

Now I've got two binders full of songs, mostly printed off the internet, but some written by hand.

Do you/did you write out the lyrics to songs and keep them in a binder?

Do you/did you write poetry?

Ever destroyed any of your writing and then wish you hadn't?

Comment and tell me about it, if so.  I love to hear the thoughts of others!

Other semi-related blog entries:   
Long Hair Going Crazy Video, Blondie
Don't Let Me Get Me!
When I Was A Teenager

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Serbian Accent

Originally I thought of this while staring off into space at the library and noticing there was a magazine called "O", for Oprah Winfrey.

I thought, "I should start a magazine called 'S' - for Steenybopper."  (Not my real name. Duh.)

I could model my Srpska shirt.
I told my 17-year-old daughter about it, whose name starts with the same letter as mine, and she wanted in.

We came up with what I thought were some pretty good random ideas, such as centerfold photos of a sombrero, for example, and the conclusion was that we could hire all kinds of staff and produce a lovely magazine that nobody would buy, and we'd die in debt.

Not all breros make it to the top - only "som".

Then I told my 19-year-old daughter about the idea, and she suggested we make it about my dad instead and call it "G".

My dad is from Serbia (which was still Yugoslavia in his day) and lived there until the early 1950s, when he emigrated to Canada, long before I was born.

He has the accent to prove it.

My kids and I imitate his accent even in the name we call him, which is "G'dampa".

All of the articles would be written with a Serbian accent, which, if you are not familiar with it, is similar to a Russian accent, but different.

I'm sadly aware that there are not a lot of videos on Youtube that exemplify the Serbian accent in an English-speaking person.

And I have never seen anything in print that is written in a Serbian accent, other than from myself.

So, to preserve the beauty of the Serbian accent when spoken in English, we need the help of a magazine.

I did a quick Google search to see if there already exists a publication called "G".

Apparently, there is one, on another continent, but it is nothing to do with Serbian accents.

It is of subject matter that I will not mention, lest people trying to find that kind of thing on a search engine end up here.

So, back to the drawing board.  I supposed we could call it "G'd", and leave people to wonder how it is pronounced.  It might pique enough curiosity for at least one or two people to purchase a copy.

If it started to take off here in Canada, why, I could see us making dozens of dollars!

We could have pictures of Serbo-Canadians in their natural settings, which, for example, would involve a huge green bottle of homemade wine nearby... no, wait, "vino"... a cigarette smouldering in an ashtray with smoke billowing all around their head while cleaning a gun, wearing a purple mack jacket,  on their back porch, muttering incoherent cuss words in Serbian in hopes that their children don't understand what they are saying even though those children can imitate those strings of swearing syllable for syllable regardless of comprehension of meaning.

Come on, don't all Serbo-Canadians fit that stereotype?

Eventually I hope to have a video to share, complete with the accent about which I speak.   Subscribe to my blog by clicking "follow" at the top left of this page so you don't miss a beat.

For now, here is one made by a couple of my kids in 2009, mixing a few different stories I've shared with them over the years concerning my dad.  (Long stories, which I might try to explain another time.)

With love,

PS:  This was a very silly blog entry.  If you would like to read something more serious, like, say, the story of how my oldest daughter went from drug addiction to clean living, check out this post.

Or for something a little more romantic, read about the love between me 'n' my man:  here.

And, of course, you can click through the archives at the top right column of this blog for more.

Daughter's Journey From Addiction to Freedom

My oldest daughter, who is now 19, has such a wonderful success story, I can hardly wait for her to publish her side of it.   Right now, her days are pretty darn full, so I will encapsulate a bit of it from my viewpoint, which, I will mention here, has first been read and approved by her.

For privacy, I will change her name.  I will call her "Nirvana".  I think she will like that name.

When Nirvana was a child, I had more than once heard words from friends to the effect of, "I sure don't envy you being her mother."

"How can you LIVE with a child like that?"

"I don't know how you do it.  You must have a lot of patience."

She was a difficult child, to say the least.

By the time Nirvana was 11, she had gone a few times to the care of family friends for a week, just to give the rest of us at home a bit of respite.

She displayed a lot of anger, jealousy, selfishness, bossiness, impudence, and defiance.  She was mean to her siblings, especially my third child, Santana* (*name also changed) who is now 14.

I remember one time, sitting on my bed with Nirvana, talking about her anger, and she said, "It's not that I don't like Santana.  I love her.  I want to stop being mean to her but I don't know how."

I didn't know how to help her.

But I kept praying, for her as well as for me.

Since having left her father in early 2004, I've taken a lot of parenting courses, and maybe if I'd taken them sooner, I could have had some answers for her.

Nevertheless, Nirvana eventually found a way to get better, but not without some very rough lessons along the way.

Shortly after I left her father because I couldn't take his abuse of me any longer, Nirvana ended up in a psychiatric ward for a few weeks.

I had tried to take my four children with me when leaving their dad, but he made it impossible.  (Long story, which can be read here).

While at home with her dad, she got into a fight with him, where she threatened him with a steak knife.  That was the event that wound her up in the psych ward, where she was assessed and medicated, but no long term help was given to her at that point.

By the time she was in her early teens, she got into heavy drinking.

She ran away from her dad and came to live with me.

She got kicked out of not only the junior high school but also from the whole school district, for too many offenses, such as getting into fights, skipping school, sassing the teachers, etc.

She came home from school one day when she was 15 and it was obvious she'd been crying.  She asked me if I knew anyone, in another town, with whom she could go live so she could start fresh.

I thought of my best friend, Shakira* (*name also changed), back near my hometown six hours away, who had previously told me that if ever I and/or my kids needed a place to stay, we could stay with her.

I called Shakira, and plans were made for my daughter to go live there.

However, when Nirvana's father learned of her desire to move away, he invited her to his house and spent a few weeks convincing her not to live with Shakira, but rather to go live with his parents, who also lived in the same area.

During those weeks, Nirvana, having been kicked out of the school district, had nowhere to attend classes.  So much time went by that she missed her chance to start at the beginning of the next semester in the new school.  Her only option by then was to join "the alternate program", which is ill reputed for its harboring of those with little to no desire to do good academically or socially, unless you call partying a beneficial part of growing up.

Had she gone directly to Shakira's house as we'd planned, she would have gotten in on regular schooling and things might have gone easier for her, with more exposure to people heading in the right direction, as she had desired to go, instead of falling back in with another party crowd which she was trying to escape in the first place.

Over the next few months, Nirvana went from wild to wilder.

I was in contact a few times with the school principal - who, interestingly, was my former gym teacher from grade 8, who I thought was awesome, and who remembered me.  (Nirvana was going to my old high school).

The principal and I had discussion about what could be done for Nirvana, which didn't amount to much without her participation.

One thing that happened was Nirvana got a psychological evaluation and it was determined that she had ADHD.  She was prescribed a couple of medications to help with her sleep and her concentration.

The diagnosis helped it all make sense, why I had such a hard time with her all her life, in retrospect going right back to when she was a newborn.

After several months of living with her paternal grandparents, with whom Nirvana was not getting along, she left.  She called me from a gas station and asked for Shakira's phone number.

Shakira was there to pick her up within a couple hours, and quickly became one of my daughter's best friends to this day.

Shakira had her share of hard times with Nirvana, but their rapport was wonderful.  Nirvana calls her "my second mom".

During the summer, Nirvana came to visit me.  She commented with awe over how much she missed our big blue skies, the rolling hills, the lakes, and the peacefulness, and asked to move back in with me.

She said, "But there is one condition:  I want to get into a rehab program.  Can you help me get into one?"

Yes!  Yes, I could help her!  Yes, I did help her!

Before she had even packed her bags and moved back home, I called the community family services agency and asked what kind of help there was for my struggling daughter.

They sent a key worker out to my house and we went over the options, which included a youth drug and alcohol counselor, a personal counselor, a few different alternate school programs from which to choose, as well as some rehab programs of varying lengths and locations from which to choose.

I registered Nirvana in the alternate program at the high school, as that was the only one that was going to work for her at this point in her life, with the difficulties she had in concentrating and getting to class.

Nirvana started attending personal counseling as well as drug and alcohol counseling.

She joined a rugby team and a local Mixed Martial Arts group.

She occasionally went to a local church youth group with some rugby team members.

I was in frequent contact with the teacher of her alternate program, as well as with her key worker and her drug and alcohol counselor, discussing progress as well as struggles, trying to come up with solutions but mostly waiting for a bed to open up at the long-term rehab center on which she and I had decided for her.

On the surface, it looked like things were getting better, but soon her school attendance got worse.

She was spending more and more nights out late or not coming home at all.

I heard from one of the teachers at the alternate program that she was hanging out with those known to be involved in "things that are really not good", without giving me too much information.

I was finding tiny little zip-lock bags all over her room.

Rolled-up five-dollar bills.

I knew what was going on, having been around it enough from her father's use of it, although it would be months before she would admit the truth.


On top of so much else.

I pushed and pushed with the rehab program coordinators, telling them how urgent it was that my daughter get in.

I understood that there was nothing they could do to speed it up, but I didn't want to slip through the cracks so I continued to make my presence known.

All this time, however, Nirvana for the most part was very respectful.  She would call or text to let me know where she was and when she'd be home.  She kept her room tidy, did her laundry, and helped with chores around the house.  When she slipped up and had a moment of rage a few times, she was quick to apologize and made efforts to not go in that direction again.

So there were some positive changes, despite the destructive lifestyle she was living, and had it not been for the loving support and sometimes tough love of "her second mom", Shakira, before moving back in with me, I don't know if she would have even been alive, let alone respectful.

Finally, after endless phone calls from me to various people involved in the rehab program, to the local drug and alcohol counselor, and to the key worker, we got news that there was a bed available at Portage!

Portage is the rehab program responsible for the transformation in my daughter.

I can't say enough good about Portage.

I tear up just thinking how much they've done for her -- how much they supported her and tough-loved her into the realization of her own power to change herself!

On February 2, 2010, we drove five hours to get my daughter to Portage.

Just as I'd seen in the pictures, the buildings were the same shape as my own house, which I thought was a nice little "meant to be" touch to the whole experience.

Our House, Sept 2010

Here's one of the buildings at Portage.  See the video on their website for much more.
During the first three months at Portage, Nirvana had a very hard time.  She was the queen of the rebels in there.

She wanted out.

She sneaked to use the phone when she wasn't authorized to do so, and called to beg me to get her out of there.

I listened to her concerns compassionately.

Then, I phoned the staff to discuss it with them.

It sounded pretty grim, like if she really wanted to get out, they'd not stop her, but they'd still do whatever they could to try to encourage her to stay.

I phoned a few friends to arrange a little incentive for her to stay, such as the promise of a trip upon graduation, to stay with my friend in Hawaii, or a trip to go visit family members she knew in Alaska where we used to live.

But it turned out I didn't need those "bribes" after all, and she decided on her own that she was going to persist with the program.

Within a few more months, Nirvana became what they called "chief" of the girls program.  This status was earned by proving oneself responsible enough to handle such a position, and according to the program staff, with whom I had a teleconference every few weeks, she was not only the first person to achieve such a position in such a short time, she was also doing an excellent job of it and was respected by her peers.

By the time Nirvana was ready to graduate, she had fallen so much in love with the program and the people, it was difficult for her to leave.

My family and I met up with Shakira at Portage at the end of January, 2011, to take part in Nirvana's emotionally moving graduation ceremony.

I video'd the whole thing, being careful not to include any faces other than Nirvana's, as privacy is a huge part of the success of such a program -- the participants need to feel trust in order to heal and to succeed in their goals.

Now here we are, February 2012.

Nirvana is over two years clean and sober.

She attends aftercare meetings and support groups regularly in the city in which she lives, six hours away from me.

She goes to concerts completely sober, associating mostly with people of a similar mindset, but also having some friends who are substance users.

She is now a licensed body piercer with her own tools and has even done my belly-button for me.

She has been cleaning houses for a living while paying her rent, buying her needs and a few wants, and attending an adult learning center to complete her grade 12.

She graduated from that grade 12 program a few weeks ago, and I plan to attend the official grad ceremony next month.

She phones me at least once a week, usually late in the evening on her way home from meetings, while she is on the bus, as that is her only free time, she keeps herself so busy.

She has multiple piercings and tattoos, sometimes wears her dyed black hair in a Mohawk, and is often found in mosh pits rocking out to wild music, but the inner Nirvana is far from the stereotype of such outward appearances.

Sometimes she still struggles with issues in life, like anyone else, but she no longer turns to poisons to muddle her clarity.

She has much support in the form of counselors, friends, family, and social services -- and from the strength and wisdom she has within her.

Her current goal is to become a drug and alcohol counselor.  I have no doubt that if that is the direction she is set on going, she will achieve her goal with flying colours, and that any other goal she sets will be met with the same success.

My girl is a winner.

I'm so proud of her.

I adore, admire, and respect her.

I love her.  

Monday, 13 February 2012

A Man Who Truly Loves Me

When I hear this song, it reminds me of the things my Sweet Man says to me:

 "Just The Way You Are"
~by Bruno Mars~

Oh, her eyes, her eyes
Make the stars look like they're not shinin'
Her hair, her hair
Falls perfectly without her trying
She's so beautiful
And I tell her everyday (yeahh)

I know, I know
When I compliment her she won't believe me
And it's so, it's so
Sad to think that she don't see what I see
But everytime she asks me "Do I look okay? "
I say 

When I see your face (face face...)
There's not a thing that I would change
'Cause you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)
And when you smile (smile)
The whole world stops and stares for a while
'Cause girl you're amazing (amazing)
Just the way you are (are)

Her lips, her lips
I could kiss them all day if she'd let me
Her laugh, her laugh
She hates but I think it's so sexy
She's so beautiful
And I tell her everyday

Oh you know, you know, you know
I'd never ask you to change
If perfect's what you're searching for
Then just stay the same
So don't even bother asking if you look okay
You know I'll say 


The way you are
The way you are
Girl you're amazing
Just the way you are

My man is amazing, amazing... the way he is to me.

How common IS that kind of adoration?  I don't hear about it often enough in the lives of others.

Do you have it?

Because I had been treated with such hatred by a "partner" for 18 years (see my long story at this link), and because of all the stories I know of others in similar boats, it seems to me that far too many men not only take their woman for granted but also fail to pour out kindness to her.

Even worse, they, either via their words or their actions, demand that she be less than him.

What's there to love about someone who's squashed under your foot?

I've commented to Sweet Man, "You  have never once called me a derogatory name.  You've never put me down.  You've never hit me, not even in jest.  I love how you don't purposely hurt me."

His response is, "Hurting you is like hurting myself.  Why would I want to do that?"

And he has proven that he really means it.

There are times when he, in his humanity, inadvertently hurts me, because he is frustrated or overwhelmed with life.

A recent example was when he was vacuuming in the adjacent living room.  He gestured with his arm towards the office and asked if I could move some of the big stuff out of the way for him.

I thought he meant right here in the office, so I moved a few things out of the way.

He soon started picking up toys and blankets in the living room and hurling them to and over the couch, accompanied by yelling and cussing.

I've become more assertive over the years and so I yelled back, to be heard over the vacuum cleaner, "Stop swearing!"

But that's as far as it went.  That's as far as it always goes.  It didn't and it doesn't turn into a fight.

A little while later, when he'd had some time to calm down, as he always does, he expressed how bad he felt about that demonstration of anger, and he apologized to me.

His apology is not mere words.

Knowing him as I do, I know he is hurt when he has done something to cause hurt in me. 

Occasionally, Sweet Man will go through something worse than a short snit.

We've had times where he gets a real 'tude going on and I wish he'd pack some bags and leave indefinitely.

Those are the times when I'm dragging myself around the house, doing what seems like 90% of the work and the parenting, and he is on the couch for his second nap of the day, or watching TV or endless Youtube videos on his computer (his employment in a sawmill is sporadic, so sometimes he's off for weeks or even months, and I must transcribe all the more medical reports to pay the bills, amidst being and doing dang near everything for everyone in the family).

But we always fix it eventually, peacefully, respectfully, getting back to the hugging we so frequently do at random throughout the house, and to our heartfelt "Hi Gorgeous!"  "Hi Beautiful!" comments, and to him helping me in the kitchen, and to him picking me up and carrying me around while I squeal with laughter, and telling each other how amazing we think the other is, and and and...

I love how we truly hear each other.

The fact that I can write about this at all with no fear of repercussion reminds me of how free indeed I am with this man.

No fear.

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment.
He that feareth is not made perfect in love"
  ~1 John 4:18~

August 2005 with our old truck, at the wedding of some friends on a ranch at Ruth Lake, BC
Sept 2005, Okanagan Lake, BC
July 2010, at home

April 2011, 100 Mile House, BC - him 50, me 44

 July 2011, Fred Gingell Park, Tsawwassen, BC

With love,

Much more is in the works about love in upcoming blog entries. 
From the heart!  
Follow this blog and don't miss a beat!

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Green Smoothie Of The Day

(I originally posted this in a Facebook note but have adapted/moved it here).

When I first discovered green smoothies, I made them almost every morning for a few months, for anyone who was at our house at the time.

Sometimes these smoothies are so good, I want to write down what I used so I can duplicate them, and in case others want to try them.

Of course, there are some that are not worth mentioning but we force them down because they're healthy - like the time I threw in a raw beet.  Eew.  Crunchy.

Depending on what combination of produce one uses in any given smoothie, their thick and sometimes fibrous texture can require a little chewing to get them down, which is not altogether unpleasant, but I prefer to use a straw for maximum enjoyment.

I will add to this list if and when other good smoothies materialize in my good ol' Bosch blender.

Friday, November 5, 2010
  1. organic mint leaves (5 or 6 of them)
  2. organic baby spinach (half a blender full)
  3. organic coconut milk (from a can - they don't sell baby coconuts in my town....YET!)... half a can
  4. banana
  5. 1/4 of a pineapple
  6. 1/3 of a cantaloupe
  7. 1/2 an English cucumber
  8. about 1/2 tsp Stevia Plus powder
  9. water (however much is needed to get smoothie to desired consistency after everything is blended
Blend up the first three ingredients first, so the leaves get as liquefied as possible.  Then add more stuff until it fills the blender loosely, blend it, and repeat till it's all blended.

Drink it with a straw.  YUM!

Wednesday, November 10
Today's smoothie consisted of:
Mint leaves
  1. Spinach
  2. Half a mini watermelon (just the red part!) 
  3. Banana
  4. Tomato
  5. Kiwi
  6. Mint leaves
  7. Water
  8. Apple
  9. Stevia Plus
It was okay, but not fabulous.

Thursday, November 11
Another reason it's good to use a straw.
  1. Coconut milk
  2. Pineapple
  3. Banana
  4. Spinach
  5. Parsley
  6. Water
  7. Stevia Plus
Tasty, but would've been better if the pineapple was a sweeter one.

Saturday, November 20

Dragon fruit
1.  Coconut milk (1/2 can)             
2.  Dragon fruit (whole)
3.  Banana (1)
4.  Long English cucumber (1/3)
5.  Fuji apple (1 large)
6.  Spinach (1/2 blender full)
7.  Cinnamon (about 2 tsp)
8.  Stevia Plus (about 1 tsp - or 1/8 to 1/4 tsp of plain stevia powder)

I haven't been listing the smoothies I make every day as they were just kind of average.  This one, however,  was worth mentioning as it got a lot of "oh, man, that is GOOD" type comments from the kids and Daddy.  I concur.

Sun Jan 15, 2012
1.  Seeds of 1 large pomegranate
2.  Half a honeydew melon
3.  1/2 blender full of spinach
4.  Fuji apple
5.  Carrot
6.  2 ribs of celery
7.  Frozen banana
8.  Water to thin it out
9.  1/8 tsp stevia powder
I took a picture of them before adding water to thin them out.


Sun Feb 12, 2012
1.  Spinach
2.  Walnuts (about 1/3 cup)
3.  Can of organic coconut milk
4.  Banana
5.  Organic Fuji apple (sliced into 8 or so pieces, core removed but skin left on).
6.  One orange
7.   Mango
8.  Water to thin it out
9.  Stevia powder (1/4 tsp)

This one received the YUM word from both my 17-year-old daughter and my 14-year-old daughter, so that tells me it was a winner.

Another favorite and super healthy item to throw into your smoothies -- again, if you can find one -- is a baby coconut.  More readily available in larger towns, baby coconuts have incredible health benefits, much of which has already been written on the internet and I encourage you to look it up and be amazed with me.

I can barely cut one of these life-giving mothers up without at least one of my kids hovering around waiting to pounce on the water and the yummy "meat".

 The water in these coconuts is full to the top.  Cutting them open can be tricky but well worth it, and I strongly recommend you look up a Youtube video for help before risking losing a finger in the process.

If you are into smoothies, please comment.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on them!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Fet Bottom Gerrells - Russian Eccent

Oy!  You goink to tek me hom tonight.

Oy!  Down beside det rr'ded fire light.

Oy!  Ve goink to let it all heng out,

Fet bottom gerrells yoo mek rr'dockink verld go rr'dound.

It was February 2004.  I was something like three weeks into the month I spent at a women's shelter after having escaped from the abusive ex.  All that freedom was getting to me and I was giddy.

I started singing that song out loud in front of some of the women I had befriended in the shelter.  Pretty soon some of them joined in.

I became addicted to talking with a Russian accent for several days in a row.

I'm not kidding.  You think I'm joking?

Spend a little time in my presence and you will see how serious I am.  Or, rather, you'll see how un-serious I can be.

With the amount of stress I have in my life, I have to get silly to balance things out.

Now, listen to the song and imagine it with a Russian accent:

That's all I'm gonna say about THAT. 

For now.

Just Breathe/My Unfavorite Things

I almost titled this blog entry "These Are A Few Of My Un-Favorite Things", but that sounded more negative than I feel like being right now.

Still, here are a few of 'em:

1.  The movie "Get Him To The Greek".

2.  The sound of whining.

3.  Television.

4.  Spunj Bahb (it so sickens me, I don't even want to spell it properly).

5.  Being behind on work.

6.  Being tired while being behind on work.

7.  Being distracted enough to wander on over to see what the heyell's new on FB and finding it has changed AGAIN.

8.  Having a day when almost everything goes wrong except for the continuance of my heartbeat, but even that is brought into question on such days.

9.  Hearing the TV blaring Spunj Bahb's whiny voice while I'm tired and behind on work, having a day when far too many things are going wrong, distractedly clicking on Facebook only to find that it has changed again and there is an ugly picture of Russell Brand in the ads trying to tell me to watch a movie I hate, like, oh, I dunno, "Get Him To The Greek."

These are a few of my unfavorite things.  ♪♫


So, I click on the link for my blog and write about it.

"If I get it all down on paper it's no longer inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to."

Oh yeah, I do need to breathe, just breathe.

And I do like that song!  Here it is:

"Breathe (2 AM)"

2 AM and she calls me 'cause I'm still awake,
"Can you help me unravel my latest mistake?,
I don't love him. Winter just wasn't my season"
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize,
Hypocrites. You're all here for the very same reason

'Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button, girl.
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

May he turned 21 on the base at Fort Bliss
"Just a day" he said down to the flask in his fist,
"Ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year."
Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while,
But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles,
Wanna hold him. Maybe I'll just sing about it.

Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button, boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe... just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe

There's a light at each end of this tunnel,
You shout 'cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
And these mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you'd only try turning around.

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, it's no longer inside of me,
Threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to

But you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
and breathe, just breathe
woah breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Chocolate Almond Bark Recipe - TRES Healthy!

EVERYTHING about this stuff is GOOD for you.  Some may not like the taste if they are used to refined sugar and other crap in their chocolate, but if you can acclimatize your tastebuds to natural, healthy things like this, it is very much worth it for your health.

What you need can be found in the average health food store and even in some grocery stores.

  • Organic cocoa powder
  • Virgin coconut oil
  • Celtic sea salt
  • Stevia powder
  • Almonds

That's it.

1.  The way I make it is to mutli-task.  While I've got a cup of tea steeping, I place a glass soup bowl on top of the hot mug.  Into the bowl, I place about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil.  You can put a plate over the bowl to speed up the melting process and/or stir the solidified oil with a spoon or fork till melted.  (This step is not necessary if your coconut oil is in liquid state already, such as in summer, in a warm climate, or in a very cozy house.)

2.  Then I add enough cocoa powder to make about the consistency of Elmer's glue except a bit more runny and not mucilaginous.

3.  Add a pinch of Celtic sea salt (about 1/8 tsp but adjust to taste) and the same for stevia.

4.  Stir in about 1/2 cup of chopped almonds.

5.  Now take all this and spread it around on a square of wax paper that is on a pie plate.  Doesn't need to look fancy coz you're going to break it into pieces later anyway.

6.  Put this in the freezer for at least half an hour.

7.  Remove from freezer and break into bite sized pieces.

8.  Store in the fridge. Eat when hungry.

It is likely to give you energy, so use with caution around bedtime.  If not already aware of the health benefits, look into each ingredient and see for yourself.  This is a powerhouse of goodness for the body and the mind.

I'll add a picture of this stuff next time I make it.  For now, here's a picture of my gallon bucket of coconut  oil: