It’s the middle of the night!!

I woke up at about 3 this morning with stuff on my mind.  I fought with it for about half and hour, then got up and paced around for a while.  Finally, at about 4, I started to write in a beautiful journal that Doug bought me for my birthday this year, just for this purpose.  I decided then to type it out here verbatim because I believe that my thinking was as clear then as it will be for a bit on the topic.  Clarity is often a middle-of-the-night thing with me, and if I don’t write it down in the moment, the edge seems to disappear.  So you shall have it verbatim, grammatical glitches, word mix-ups and all.  Enjoy.  Or not.

It’s 4 am.  Maybe not the middle of the night for some, but it is for me. I woke up about an hour ago and since then my mind has been churning.  Write it down, dummy, and then maybe you can go back to sleep.

It’s all about identity, you see.  Sure, I have to wrestle with the meaning of my new labels, “healthy 67-year-old” and “retiree.”  But they are only labels, the content of which I get to discover and shape.  The advantage I have going for me is that my ultimate identity isn’t bound up in those labels.  Who I am is defined by my faith.

Now I don’t pretend to understand the depths of Christian theology.  I’ve only been a Christian since 1990 after all.  But in those 30-some years, I have learned what it means to me to be a Christian.  For now, and for recognizing who I am, there are three important dimensions of my faith for my current quest.

The first is that I’m not alone on the journey.  I have, course, the love and strength and support that comes from my family and friends, but believe me, as important as those things are, they pale in comparison with the love and strength and support I find in my relationship with Jesus.  He walks with me always.  Christians aren’t promised an easy ride.  No where in the Bible does it say we won’t have trouble.  In fact, being a Christian causes its own problems — defending unpopular causes, standing against the prevailing culture, sometimes doing the opposite of those things like leading the charge for social justice and social change.  Some of those problems can even lead to death!  But what I do have is the freedom to express and live my faith without fear, and this is the really important part, no matter what I go through, what I have to confront on a day-to-day basis, I will always do so with Christ at my side.  And that means, quite simply, that I can deal with anything life throws at me.  I may not do so easily or with style or even very well, but I will be able to deal with stuff because I know Jesus has my back.

[ASIDE:  When I get dizzy and fall down, I usually can’t get up right away.  When I am able to sit, Doug will stand behind me so I can lean on his legs until the world stops spinning.  I can always count on him to be there to support me.  He quite literally “has my back.”  So it is in my walk with Christ.]

The second dimension of my faith that helps in the current journey (or is it “journeys” plural?) is that I am sure about my ultimate future.  No matter what I accomplish or fail to accomplish here on earth, my final destination is the place called Heaven.  I have absolutely no idea what that will look like or when it will happen, but I have total confidence that that’s where I’m going to end up. I don’t mean to sound arrogant about it.  I believe that I’m as great a sinner as anyone on this earth, but I also believe that I am forgiven. This doesn’t make getting there any easier, but there is a certainty about the end that takes away at least some of the fear along the way.  For me at least, I know that if I continue to love and serve God, to love and serve others, living justly and striving to be the best Gail I can be, my earthly journey will have meaning.  That’s all I can do.  Knowing that there is a life after death, what it may be, means that dying is really just another life stage.  As is my current dilemma about who I am.

Which brings me nicely to the third dimension of my faith that matters here.  Who I am is also settled by what I believe.  I am a child of God, made in his image.  Sure I am a wife, sister, aunt, friend, teacher, mentor, and lots of other things.  But my true identity is as a child of God.  Knowing that provides a context for the task of defining and framing and living these new “identities” as that retired healthy 67-year-old. It assures me that I am more than all the labels I can attach to myself, or have attached to myself by others.  It means that I can explore all these roles in life without fear of failing.  It is incredibly freeing!

And now, with all this out of my head, perhaps I can go back to sleep.  I will type it out verbatim in the morning.  Oh, wait.  It is morning.  But I mean in the normal, sensible morning,  If I tried to type it now, the spell-checker would have a blast.  Perhaps I’ll scan a page to show you what I mean.  I’m now writing with one eye closed.



Good night, or good morning or whatever. I’m going back to bed.

So that’s what I wrote. And it doesn’t look all that bad. Now my hand it killing me, so good noon!



Reality setting in…

As December draws inexorably to its end, I have another life change to work through. Even though I was out of the classroom from 2005 until 2011 when I officially “retired,” I think I always knew I would be back, if only for a while and only part-time. Which is, of course, what I’ve just done. And now it’s all over but the storing of final exams. And the marking of the two final exams to be written on January 11. Then it will be truly finished. Then what? What happens then?

I realize that’s the question that retirees face every day, but now it’s my turn, and while I’ve kind of been there before, this time it is SO final. So along with the transition to healthy 67-year-old, I will have to add in the transition to true retiree. Sounds easy, right? Nope. It will be a struggle unless or until I can accept the changes and carve out new roles for myself. So stay tuned as the journey continues. Input welcome, as always….


‘Twas the day after ….

….our final Christmas celebration, and all through the house, not a human wanted to stir, but life demands some kind action at least some of the time. So brother has been met for coffee, groceries bought, gift card spent for lunch, New year’s supper all arranged. Now a cup of tea and a Christmas cookie, followed by a nap. After that, who knows?

I’m seriously tired so I need to rest, big time. Everything hurts far more than it should. The numbness, which had been tolerable, has become increasingly both annoying and painful. I’m still terribly irritable. You don’t want to read about that, so I won’t inflict it on you any longer. One thing, though…I forgot to do my weight loss report yesterday: nothing remarkable, just a half pound gain. But wait until next week!!

Christmas Past

or is that “passed?” Whatever, Christmas Number 3 is now history. Good dishes washed and put back in their secure hiding place, table-cloth washed and put away, no sign that they were ever here. Except for some new presents under the trees and two very tired people. The stew was such a success that there are no leftovers. We actually spoke to one another, and even managed a phone call to fourth brother John, across the pond near Bristol, England. An odd conversation, but contact made.

Funny how things work out. Doug has been having spasms in his back, a recurring problem for which no apparent solution seems to exist. When he gets tired or abandons his exercise regimen for a bit, this spasming thing sets in. He, who has been getting stuff off the low shelves (as well as the high ones) so that I won’t get dizzy, is now in so much pain when he does so that I have taken over. So far, no falling over. He has taken over other tasks, so the load always balances.

The stress of all this celebrating got to me last night, and I had a melt-down. Haven’t had one this bad for a very, very long time. All evening, I wrote it out in my head, but now, when it comes to actually put it on paper, I realize that it just isn’t worth it. We seem to have resolved the problem, so why dredge it up again? Leave it that I lost it, then found it (whatever “it” is) again. All is well.

And now, being awfully aware of numbness in the old right hand again, I shall retire to the withdrawing room, er… TV room, and bid you all a good night.


Preparing for Christmas Number 3

Doug is cooking, I’m setting table and doing odd jobs to get ready for the brothers tomorrow. Christmas Number 2 at brother Art’s was delightful. Us and Them, two friends from church who would otherwise have been alone, great brunch food, conversation about teaching and retirement, all in all, pretty relaxing. Headache-making again, for us both, and slippery drive home kind of took the shine off a bit. Stuffed chicken breasts for supper, and the stuffing of some whole-grain bread, pecan pieces, dried cranberries, sautéed onions and mushrooms, actually stayed in the chicken! I should have taken a picture because it really looked quite lovely. And tasted pretty good as well. Green beans, cherry tomatoes, Christmas (plum) pudding and vanilla ice cream for dessert. Perhaps Christmas Number 2.5?

Looking at the stuff under our Christmas trees (2 small artificial ones — no more than a foot tall — that used to belong to our mothers), one might wonder about us. Lots of neat stuff from family, but my present to Doug was a high-tech blender and his to me was a high-tech Dyson hand vacuum. We do have fun!

We really aren’t used to the noise level when more than 4 people congregate. Christmas Number 3 tomorrow will be really loud too, since one of my sisters-in-law is stone deaf in one ear. But we will enjoy the time with the family, and the good food. They come for lunch and since the Toronto brother is on his way to Windsor, they will get away at a reasonable time so that we can clean up and still have some time together.

The highlight of the week so far has been a note from my niece in Toronto. She wasn’t able to join us this year, but the clarity with which she is thinking about why that happened gives me great joy. She is so much like me, it’s a bit scary. She seems to be finding her niche in life far sooner than I did. Even though I gave the outward appearance of a successful professional at her age, the inside of me was in turmoil for so long. It was a combination of many factors that brought me into touch with myself, or at least began the process. This blog is simply a continuation. For Jen, I suspect it is also a combination of things coming together for her now: her professional success must be giving her the confidence and validation of her talent that she has so long sought; her environment in Toronto seems to be supportive, caring and understanding; her inner strength is emerging and empowering her in all kinds of ways. I am so proud of her, so happy for her, missing her so much.

So on I go to set the table with all the fancy dishes and cutlery. The beef bourgignon is ready to finish tomorrow, the apple pie will go into the oven this afternoon. The crudités will be prepared, the appetizer is all set. Tomorrow, God willing, will be a wonderful day weather-wise and all will be well.

I hope everyone had a great day yesterday, and can spend today doing what makes them happiest.


PS…the spellchecker doesn’t like the way I spelled bourgignon but right now I don’t have time to find the right spelling, so shoot me.

Christmas morning greetings

Merry Christmas, everyone. Three suggestions for today. First, love what matters most in your life — faith, family, friends, freedom, things that come with being Canadian, whatever means happiness to you. Second, take a moment to think of those who sacrificed to make your happiness possible and those everywhere who have less than you do. Third, celebrate this day with everything that’s in you!! Say “Merry Christmas!” and really mean it!

Christmas Number 1

I tried to do this last night but was so tired that it came out as a garbled mess of words. While it’s likely not much better today, at least both eyes are open. I likely won’t get back here before tomorrow sometime, so I wish all of you, believer or not, a truly blessed Christmas, in the midst of all you love and hold dear. For the believers among you, let us join again in the celebration of the birth of a baby long ago and far away, a baby who revolutionized the world, who gave us all the chance to live.

There is nothing like the sound of small children at Christmas time to banish any dark mood. So it was today when we celebrated with my brother and sister-in-law, my nephew and his family. The kids, Emma and Adam, aged 9 and 7, are a never-ending source of joy. And headaches. Because we aren’t used to any kind of noise, most of our visits with the little ones end with headaches, at least for me.

Today, their joy banished the darkness, at least for a while. By the time we got home, it had returned. Not as dark, to be sure, but still dark. It is all becoming clearer to me, the source of this angst (sorry for sounding pedantic, but that’s exactly what it is). I’m beginning to get a fix on what’s going on in my head. Doug’s advice to sleep it off simply won’t play for me. And I think he knows that. Maybe by the end of the week, I will be able to verbalize some of it.

Tomorrow, I cook dinner for Doug, we have our own celebration of Christmas, then go to the late service at the church to join with our friends to worship at the manger and rejoice in the arrival of the baby who changed the world. Home to bed, up on Christmas morning and back to my brother’s for a traditional Frankel family Christmas morning brunch — that will be Christmas Number 2 — then home to spend some quality time alone together. Thursday is our day off. No Boxing Day sales for us! Perhaps a drive if the weather cooperates, or a movie if we can figure out the Rogers on Demand thing. Friday, Christmas Number 3 with Doug’s brothers, again providing the weather cooperates. They were supposed to come last Saturday, but some ice storm or other kept them in Toronto. Doug cooks New Year’s Eve and we try to stay awake until midnight. Then, I think, the celebration is over.

And we can begin to get excited about our cruise!


I’m going to take my ball and go home…

And don’t bother pointing out the obvious fact that I am home!  Before I started this blogging thing, if I had a crappy day, I could blame it on the fibro or find some other illness to hide behind, and then retreat to my own misery without having to figure out what was really going on.  Now, either I have to just be plain sick and tired and still do the retreating thing, knowing that I may be lying to myself, or I have to face the fact that what’s going on with my body is a reflection of something going on in my head.  Then, because of my nature, I will spend hours trying to figure out the why of it all.  Frequently that leads to some discomfort.

I just got home from church. Going to church usually lifts me out of this mood but tonight it didn’t. I remain in a bitchy, depressed, nearly crying state, so I think I will just take my ball and …..

Good night all.

I Refuse to Write Today

So there *sticks out tongue*

And Peter, as much as I would love too, I am in no shape to get into a discussion of biblical abuse versus biblical truth.  Of course there are parts of the Bible that I can’t believe, but I do believe a lot of things that you don’t, and that’s what makes the world go ’round.  Jerks like Phil Roberston are simply that — jerks.  Anyone can use anything to justify their words actions; just look at most of the wars over the course of human history.  I bet there are even some who could do that with parts of Dickens.  That would be sacrilegious.



Marking party…..

Marking parties lead to:
— total exhaustion
— excessive eating
— inadequate fluid consumption … or inappropriate fluid consumption — too much tea and not enough water
— what feels like a massive hangover — unearned, no booze passes these lips, but only because it interacts badly with my meds
— walking around like a zombie, nearly falling over because of dizziness
— a strange sense of disconnect with the world

But…even with all that, the marking is done because Michael was willing and able to work with me from 9 to 5 on Wednesday and Thursday. The poker group should thank me for getting him so tired that he ended up as bubble boy. And of course, we couldn’t have done it if Doug hadn’t been willing and able to cook super lunches for us both days. It’s done, the grades submitted and approved, the exams packed away in a little box. At least they were. I’ve had several kids email with questions about why their grades on the final exam were so low. So I had to dig out their papers and find out. What’s amazing is that every one of them is taking responsibility for their predicament, and most of them even thanked us for the teaching. What a note to depart the profession on (grammar is also a consequence of marking parties)! I will remember this class, these kids, Michael, and the departmental support staff with great fondness. But no regrets.

Anyway, the exhaustion remains an issue. By the time we were done on Wednesday, the zombie-stage had set in. Yesterday, I was OK until about 6, then started getting dizzy. Still there when I got up this morning. Feeling no more like getting ready for a visit from Doug’s brothers tomorrow than like joining my friend Peter in his Ironman training. Then the email from the Toronto brother saying they were cancelling because of the weather. God is watching out for me, in some bizarre way. Not that I wish freezing rain on anyone. So the visit is postponed until next weekend. Thankfully.

Now, I will take my dizzies upstairs, retrieve the last of the laundry from the dryer without bending over too far, and plunk myself down in front of the TV. Perhaps tomorrow will see the end of the aftermath of the marking party. As Doug rightly points out, it signifies the end of much more than that, but I’ll write about that tomorrow.