Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I took a bath this morning-an epsom salt and bubbles, grab the book and shut the door kind of bath. Instead of my usual weekday run through the shower and go, I poured a hot-as-I-could-stand, sink- in-with-a-sigh-and-figure-out-how-to-get-out-later, all-that-was-missing-was-a-glass-of-wine kind of 11am on a Wednesday morning.

This was so out of the ordinary that my old, deaf 19 year old tabby came into the bathroom to investigate and hopped up on the rim of the bathtub to keep me company. This in and of itself was extraordinary, because since the arrival of the new, frisky female cat, he's stayed in our bedroom for the most part. While she is making friendly overtures to him, he is having none of it, and has been sulking since her arrival. I suspect he was concerned that I had finally tipped over the edge and risked running into the other cat to investigate. (She is at the vet being neutered. She was in heat this weekend, and drove him crazy with unwanted affection. He was appalled.)

I've been mired in shoulds lately. Since I was a child, bubble baths and books have been a favorite escape to destress and recharge. I would fill the tub to the brim and disappear alone with a book and bubbles, and sometimes, candles and a glass of wine. Since the arrival of my small child, however, solo bubble baths have become a thing of the past. I've tried it a couple of times, and the relaxation value is greatly diminished by the addition of a non-stop talking child, a dozen bath toys and a never-ending chorus of Hannah Montana's greatest hits. Besides, she splashes and soaks the pages of my book.

I was getting ready to take my normal shower this morning. Kid was at school. Husband was at work. Cat was at the vet and I had a few precious hours of peace and quiet to work. As I reached over to turn on the shower, the plug fell into the drain. The universe gave me a sign. The old cat came in around then and meowed at me. I thought I wish I could have a bath...followed by, "Well, why the hell not."

I've been feeling anxious and stressed, my throat in spasm and my jaw has clenched so much that my teeth hurt. I grabbed book and my reading glasses, bubbles and epsom salts, and the phone, just in case. I filled the tub, sank into the bubbles and did something just for me. It was selfish, it was a waste of precious alone time when I should be working, or starting to get my taxes together, or venturing into the black hole under my daughter's bed...and instead I let the epsom salts and bubbles work some magic as I read a Debbie McComber story and relished in her way with words and characters and plot. I let the water cool to tepid, and pet the old cat who chose to share the time with me.
I forget to take care of myself sometimes. I forget to make selfish decisions to put myself first. I forget to honour the woman and person that I am.  For one small space of time, I let go the reins of control and escaped into a book.

Today, I took a bath in the middle of the day. By myself. And I don't feel the least bit guilty.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Blank Slate

I completed one of my favorite rituals this morning. It's 2011, so time for the new calendar to go up, and the old calendar to be retired.

I am a planner. I need to know what I am doing, when I am doing it and how long I am doing it for. I can be spontaneous-just tell me when and I'll mark it on the calendar. I don't do impromptu. I live by the creed "if you're coming to see us: come in. If you're coming to see the house, call 2 weeks ahead and avoid the cupboards."

My husband is not a planner, so I have assumed the social convener role for the family. I keep track of my work deadlines, my husband's appointments, my evening activities and meetings, my mother's appointments that require transport and what days of the week my daughter is in school because she's still on a variable schedule. I keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and other important (sad) dates that might recall a quick phone call or e-mail to let people know we remember and we care.

Every New Year's Day, I'm faced with a blank calendar. All those lovely, blank squares full of potential-it's enough to make a planner giddy with anticipation. I have a system. First I transfer the birthdays and anniversaries from my calendar in my purse to the wall calendar, and then to the new purse calendar, although I usually buy a 2-years-at-a-time calendar for my purse so that I'm not scribbling future dates on a piece of paper.  Then I colour code the calendar with the days that my daughter is actually in school, shaking my head at the dubious wisdom that has her in school exactly 1 Friday for the month of January. Then I add my choir schedule, the PWAC monthly meetings, and any appointments that have already been established for the new year. It doesn't take long to fill up the squares.

I always take a few minutes to flip through the outgoing calendar.In the hustle-bustle of life, it's easy to forget the year that has just exited, although for my family, 2010 will not be one we forget. My husband and brother in law lost their mother, my daughter, her grandma, my father-in- law, his wife and I lost my funny, kind, loving mother-in-law who remembered dates better than any calendar, knew and understood what 2nd cousin once removed meant and marked every trip she had ever been on by the food that she ate. She vaguely remembered the landmarks, but the pecan pie..oh the pie. She's left a big hole in our lives that won't ever be filled. I lost 2 acquaintances to cancer, and I lost my brother of my heart to Hepatitis C. A quick glance through the calendar's entries for the funerals I sang at in 2010 shows we weren't the only family struggling with a not-so-festive Christmas.

2010 is gone. 2011 is new, shiny and like the blank spaces on my calendar, gleaming with potential and anticipation. I wish you blank days to enjoy as you wish. I wish you happy occasions, parties and gatherings to fill your days with. I wish you work opportunities, prosperity and good health.I wish you an abundance of good news, leisure time, and enough money, time, friends, health and happiness to fill your lives with love, positive feelings and energy, and prosperity.

I wish you enough of whatever it is that will enrich your life. Happy 2011.