Saturday, January 31, 2009

Coffee, lettuce, names and running...

Everyone around me is sneezing. Achoo! So far I've been lucky this year and haven't had a cold. Now that I've typed that, maybe I've jinxed myself. I feel like having another coffee. Saturday mornings make me crave more coffee than usual. My first cup this morning was extra good. Maybe that's the reason I feel like a second cup. The person who helped me get ready for today loves to chat. As a cancer survivor, I respect her. She tells me whatever is on her mind whether it's work, personal or medically related. I listen and try to be positive. Often I don't know what to say, but she must be okay with that because she keeps talking.

Remember the tennant in my building who thought I passed away? I saw her yesterday n the produce asile at the grocery store. For the first time in years, she knew my name. Hearing her say it made me feel so special. A high school teacher once told me that people love hearing their names. It's true. Names are personal and when acquaintances make an effort to remember who we are, it matters. The store was crowded. I couldn't hold my two bags of lettuce on my lap. The customer in front of me in the line-up offered to hold them for me and take them to the counter. As she paid and was leaving, she reminded me that my lettuce was waiting. Looking her in the eye, I thanked her and said to have a great weekend. I wish I had asked her name.

On my way home from running errands last night, I stopped into Starbucks for a cup of decaf coffee with a shot of sugar free vanilla syrup. I really didn't need coffee since I already had three cups that day, but I was cold. The shop was busy. Lots of people often come in and sit at a table with friends for a while. To me, a visit to Starbucks with the Observer or a good friend makes a fun Friday or Saturday night past-time. It's never too exciting, but something about mellow music, top-notch coffee, meaningful conversation and being surrounded by fellow coffee drinkers makes me feel centered. Coffee is my water, so I guess being in a coffee focused environment has to be appealing. The girl behind the counter who served me was very helpful. She must have remembered how to help me and how I take my coffee. The Starbucks girl would make a good friend. I could tell. Sitting in the shop was relaxing even though I forgot to bring my book. I kept checking messages on my cell phone. If I have it with me, I find it very distracting. Lately, I've been trying not to use it unless I absolutely have to. I think life is more peaceful if we give our full attention to the people and things around us. The people I have met on the bus by saying hello and being friendly have made my day. If I had been chatting on my cell phone, I would have missed those chances. Listening to a stranger's entire private conversation can feel a bit awkward, so I prefer to sit and mind my own business and if someone wants to chat, I'm down with that.

My listening ear got a good work-out today. At least I'm not out of breath and sweating. Sometimes I wish I could run......I hear walking is over-rated, but running must feel freeing.

Happy weekend!

- OCG

Friday, January 30, 2009

Money is what keeps us going...

On my way to the library a short time ago, I got stuck behind a slew of protesters carrying signs and chanting something about the war in Sir Lanka. I don't know how I got stuck in the line of action. Luck or bad luck maybe. Most of the protesters were young and passionate about their cause, which is good. Honestly, I have to say that I was a bit annoyed that they were right in the middle of the street. They wanted to attract attention, which is exactly what they did. The people carrying signs were considerate and moved out of my way so I could pass. I appreciated their gesture and kept saying, "Thank you."

At the bank this afternoon, I met four friendly, helpful people in a row. A man in line beside me asked how I was managing in the snowy weather and if I had far to go. I like when people make small talk just because. If someone seems strange to me, I don't enjoy making conversation, but they usually get the hint pretty quickly. The bank teller who assisted me was down-to-earth and used my first name when addressing me. I felt important. People often use my first name when finances are concerned including when I use my credit card or at the bank. I guess money brings out manners. Leaving the bank, the security guard who helped me put my purse away and out of site was very understanding. On my way out the door, a girl my age held the door and gave me a warm smile. People are mostly good. There is anger, yelling, war and conflict everywhere. That's life. The world isn't perfect, but there will always be banks. Before this afternoon, I had never considered banks as places of human to human contact that ensure our lives keep moving. Money counts for much these days, but so does kindness.

- OCG

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Life and snowy streets...

Not surprisingly, it's another wet, messy day. We might as well embrace this weather since it's here whether we like it or not. I was touched by the amount of strangers who stopped and pushed me out of the snow yesterday. One guy even went into a nearby Starbucks, asked for a shovel and cleared the street so I could cross. Two girls around my age kicked snow off the curb to prevent me from getting stuck. A man waited with me until I could safely cross a street. An older lady in my apartment building helped me get snow off my tires before I went into my apartment. There are many kind people out there if we are lucky enough to come upon them. In my short travels yesterday, as I struggled to get over big snow banks, I felt a push from strangers who I couldn't see since they were so far behind me. I thanked them loudly. Hopefully the right people got the message.

A few days ago, I was waiting for a bus and saw a sweet tenant in my building. As she usually does, she greeted me warmly, but had a funny expression on her face. The woman explained that she had learned of a young girl who lived in my building and also used a wheelchair who tragically passed away weeks ago. The woman thought I was the girl. Realizing her mistake, she gave me a warm hug and quick kiss on the cheek. It was a very bittersweet experience. I was touched that the tenant was so pleased to see me, but sorry for the young girl who lost her life. No one has ever mistaken me for dead before which is good. Hopefully no one ever will. Who knows how much time any of us have. I suppose that's why it's important to enjoy every moment, even if it involves trudging through snow. At least I met some kind souls along the way.

- OCG

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A tough ticker talk...

The snow is coming down heavily today. The ground is piled with dirty, wet stuff. My coat was covered in wet flurries and my glasses were drippy and fogged up as soon as I came indoors. My wheelchair cooperated in the snow, but a few people had to push me over some stubborn curbs. Sometimes helpful strangers come up behind me and give me a boast, which I really appreciate.

It's not too cold out today, and that's the upside to lots of snow. I am feeling healthy today. My stomach was irritated yesterday. This morning it only took seconds for me to feel like a whole new person. I am so glad that relief comes so easily to me.

The Observer and I decided to talk instead of see a movie yesterday. We covered some serious, heart wrenching matters. We want different future paths right now. I am not thinking of marriage while that's the Observer's goal. I want him to be happy and live his dream. Everyone deserves that opportunity. He is one of the greatest people I have known. The last thing I want to do is hold him back. Whenever we talk about these issues, the Observer cries. I feel as if I hurt him by being honest, which is rough on both of us. I love the Observer too much to hurt him.

I am happy with my life right now, especially where I life and all I can see and do. The Observer is my very best friend. I try not to dwell on the future, because right now is all we can really count on. Even so, I respect the Observer's plans. I am glad we talked so openly, even though it was hard. Nothing became resolved, but for now,it's OK. I am lucky to have the Observer in my life and today I feel good. These are facts that I am certain of today, and maybe for now, that's enough.

- OCG

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The weight of the world on our shoulders...

The sun is shining brightly, which always makes the day better. It's cold, but not frigid. The Observer and I are seeing a movie today. I haven't seen him in a few days. I've missed his laugh and shiny head.

I watched Oprah on tape yesterday. The show was on obese teenagers and the reasons behind their troubles. I couldn't stop crying as they talked about all the pain they were in. Being a teenager is hard. Life can get complicated. There is pressure and confusion. You couldn't pay me to go back to those years. I was awful to my family and cruel to myself. Lots of youth were probably in the same situation. Somehow though, it's common to feel completely alone. As teenagers, we don't have the maturity to stop and voice all the pain we are in and the wisdom to know that it's part of that phase of growth. On the Oprah show yesterday, the youth did an exercise where they had to finish the sentence I'm angry because.... Their words were powerful and their anguish intense. Though I was not an obese teenager, I did feel the same pain. We all know how it feels to excluded or teased. We have all felt unworthy, disregarded or blamed ourselves for the unfairness of life. We've all felt what seems like the weight of the world on our shoulders. In the case of the teenagers on Oprah yesterday, the extent of the burdens they carry are more obvious.

Oprah believes that each of us go about our lives wanting to be heard. Everyone finds some way to ask "Do you hear me?" and "Does what I have to say matter?" My heart went out to those youth. I was one not long ago. Life gets better, but we have to take care of ourselves to be around to experience it.

- OCG

Monday, January 26, 2009

Sizing up the new girl at the family dinner table...

Last night my family had a fun family dinner. We often have dinner on Sundays. I look forward to the time to catch up and the food is always delicious. My oldest brother, his wife and the Observer were missing, but it was still loud and special. I ate like a horse. Mom's chocolate cake was sooo yummy, especially topped with vanilla ice cream. I had two HUGE pieces. Today I'm feeling a bit guilty about my over-indulgence, but trying to be forgiving. I sat beside my brother's new girlfriend. The more I get to know her, the more I like her. She is upbeat, sweet and funny. When she left last night, my brother-in-law said that "she is my twin's yang." I think he means that my brother's new girlfriend balances him out or they both balance each other out. I agree. My brother is reserved, so someone is an extrovert is good for him. He is also a person who has trouble asserting himself. His new girlfriend seems very certain of herself and I can tell that she really cares about my brother. She loves to eat, so I feel less shy about my love of food. So far, I'm impressed. As his twin sister, I feel compelled to watch out for my brother. We go back farther than anyone else I know...

- OCG

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Affirmation...

I believe the sun should never set upon an argument
I believe we place our happiness in other people's hands
I believe that junk food tastes so good because it's bad for you
I believe your parents did the best job they knew how to do
I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem
I believe I'm loved when I'm completely by myself alone

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe you can't control or choose your sexuality
I believe that trust is more important than monogamy
I believe your most attractive features are your heart and soul
I believe that family is worth more than money or gold

I believe the struggle for financial freedom is unfair
I believe the only ones who disagree are millionaires

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

I believe forgiveness is the key to your unhappiness
I believe that wedded bliss negates the need to be undressed
I believe that God does not endorse TV evangelists
I believe in love surviving death into eternity

I believe in Karma what you give is what you get returned
I believe you can't appreciate real love until you've been burned
I believe the grass is no more greener on the other side
I believe you don't know what you've got until you say goodbye

Affirmation (by Savage Garden)

Wedding touches...


The Bridal Show was an experience. Yesterday's event was the first I have attended. I am glad that I decided to come along. My sister booked a photographer and choose the bakery where she wants to order her wedding cake. I think having those two decisions made must be a relief. The photographer seemed laid-back and his style of work looked classic. Hopefully my sister is happy. Once we started browsing through all the different booths, she seemed focused and excited. There were lots of different businesses trying to get our attention. We tried some yummy, light wedding cake. I sampled cafe latte and lemon. Both flavours were delicious. My sister hasn't picked a flavour or type of cake yet. Her husband-to-be will have the yummy job of tasting all the flavours. He loves sweets as much as I do, so he'll enjoy that task.

On our way home, we stopped to see my sister's new house. It's classic and simple - just like her and her fiancee. The neighbourhood is close to downtown, but the house is away from all the traffic, noise, and congestion. My sister will be living close to me. I am glad. My parents are sad that she will be living forty minutes away instead of five, but I know it's the right move. I am so pleased and happy for my sister. Her nature is relaxed, logical and simple. There is no better person I could ask for as a roll model in my life. My sister will be such a beautiful bride. I am very excited for her wedding. To watch my sister build her future is inspiring. She deserves all the good things coming her way. I remember fighting with her when she used to burrow my shirts. We still argue sometimes, but my sister is my friend. We can't pick our family members, so when we like them for who they are, it's a blessing, especially when we get to be there for the special times like choosing a photographer or wedding cake. Our futures aren't built quickly, so maybe the little things count more than we sometimes realize.

- OCG

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Sugary cold...

I can't believe how much the temperature has dropped between yesterday and today. The weather is biting cold. It hurts to be out in the freezing wind. Yesterday was quite seasonal. I didn't need my mittens while out with the Observer, which is a first for weeks. Being winter, I get a runny, snotty nose while outside. I suppose we all do. Once it drys, it looks like I sprinkled my nose with sugar. It's been looking this way every day for a while. I know a "sugary" nose sounds gross, but it's part of the season, right? On my way to the library, I keep seeing a caramel coloured pigeon. I usually only see white, grey, or black pigeons. This bird is pretty, probably because it's so unique. I always stop and admire the bird for a minute or two. I like to think it's a female, because we are naturally beautiful, but I guess it doesn't matter.

Last night I was so tired when the Observer was visiting. I think I was grumpy. Actually I know I was grumpy. Both of us were tired. I am glad we got to hang out. Sleeping has been a challenge for me lately. I've gained a bit of weight and I tend to worry about that at night. It's silly. Why loose sleep over something we can't change by worrying about it? Weight and my size will always be a big concern of mine. I'm not vain, but I worry about my health and size, as people do lift me daily. Life is easier when I'm lighter and I feel better. Even so, I wish my weight wasn't such an issue, but I guess we all have things that preoccupy our minds. Maybe I need more of a focus in life - something that gives me a purpose, but what? For today, I am going to the Bridal Show and being a daughter and sister. Right now, I am a girl who is slowly warming up while typing wearing black, fleece gloves. My nose is "sugary". I'm not a fan of the cold, so maybe my purpose is to find meaningful work and save my money, so I can move to Florida or Myrtle Beach as a lady in my golden years. Who knows? Maybe that caramel coloured pigeon is from somewhere warm. If I were a pigeon, I'd come here only in the spring and summer and not worry about my weight because there would be bigger things to ruffle my feathers over.

- OCG

Friday, January 23, 2009

Two minds...

I couldn't sleep last night. My mind was on fast forward. Thoughts were flying through my mind. I don't know why I couldn't relax and let sleep come. My bedroom TV came in handy. I watched a few shows, but nothing too exciting. Frasier re-runs make me laugh. Late at night I often watch the music channel. The noise probably doesn't put me in the mood for sleep, but I enjoy catching up on current tunes. The Observer has been telling me about a song called The Man Of Two Minds by a band called The Trews for a while. I finally heard the song last night. He kept telling me that I would enjoy The Man With Of Two Minds - that it is my style of music. He was right. It's a beautiful, mellow acoustic tune. It's comforting when someone knows the type of music I enjoy. The fact that the Observer knows my taste makes me feel special. I'm glad I finally heard the song The Man Of Two Minds. As I stared at my bedside table watching the minutes tick by, I was happy to hear such a pretty song and even happier to know that the Observer thought of me.

Today a homeless guy asked for "change for a beer." After living here a few years, I've heard my share of homeless people ask for cash. I've often thought they are probably wanting money for alcohol, but few actually say so because there is less of a chance that strangers will feed an addiction. The guy has guts to be so honest. Maybe he knows many people are aware of what he plans to do with the money, so why hide the truth? I wonder how many people actually do give the guy cash - probably not many. On some days, maybe that same guy wishes he wasn't so honest, because maybe a little discretion would mean more money from passers-by. He could be a man with two minds like the song I heard. A part of his brain probably tells him to be honest because it's right - while another part says to omit the truth to make more money. I think we all have two minds, but some of us don't sit on the street and show our venerability. I hope that man gets help and food, not beer. Maybe I didn't hear him right.

- OCG

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Flip-flopping plans...

Today was a meeting for my job. I decided to join by phone. I usually choose to go in person, because it's not too far. Having had an upset stomach for a number of days, I thought I better play it safe and stick close to home. I waited around all day for the phone to ring and to join the conference call but it never happened. Waiting makes for a very boring day.



I woke up very warm and sweaty this morning. I had my heat turned on and I guess I really didn't it. Mom says tomorrow is going to be the deep freeze again. The weather changes so quickly. Part of me is disappointed because it's not too cold today and I could have been out taking advantage of the seasonal temperatures. Having time to wait around is a blessing not everyone is afforded, so maybe I should feel grateful. Honestly, today felt wasted, but I am feeling good, so I guess that's a plus.



My plans for the weekend got all changed. Both the Observer and I kept having our schedules switched. My sister wants to go to the bridal show. I'm surprised. She's getting married in July. I don't think of her as the type to be interested in all the traditional wedding hype. My sister has always been easy going and done things her way. I admire her free spirit. I am her maid of honour, so the Observer convinced me that I ought to go the Bridal Show with her and Mom. He's right. My sister will only get married once. The thought of the Bridal Show doesn't excite me, but it's for my sister. Maybe one day I'll look back on the day and it will be a happy memory. If I miss out, there's no chance of that. Sometimes we just have to do what feels right, or be encouraged by people who know better - like our boyfriends.

- OCG

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sushi with a side of TLC...

I had a bad day yesterday. Today is better - though it's still very cold. My plans to go home never materialized. I left the library in a big rush. Nature called and would not wait. Remember how I said my body would not cooperate? Well, it finally did in a big way. I couldn't travel on the bus to see my family, which made me sad, but at least I felt better. Once home from the library, I needed extra help from my attendants. The lady I had to deal with is challenging most of the time. In emergencies, she is very frustrating. Feeling slightly sick and very annoyed, I called my Mom. In seconds, she picked up on my gloomy mood and asked my Dad to visit me on the way home from work. I have to admit, seeing Dad did brighten my spirits. As is our tradition when he visits, we went out for sushi. As usual, I loved our time together. I forget how much I miss him. Just seeing his face comforts me. Part me wishes I could have been all brave and grown up and concealed that I was feeling under the weather. Sometimes I do, but on really yucky days like yesterday, it's hard. Both Mom and the Observer picked up on my feeling off, so I most have sounded rough. I know being mature means surviving days when we feel sick, but maybe sometimes, we all have days when we need a little TLC (tender loving care) from our Mom or Dad.

- OCG

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

History-making...

I'm at the library listening to Obama. There are huge groups of people gathering near TVs clapping and sitting in groups. I'm hopeful for the future. Obama is wise. He understands people. I keep saying, that after Bush, there is nowhere to go but up. The world needed change and change is what we have. Obama speaks with eloquence and that is an important skill as president. The world is struggling to find balance and peace. Hopefully Obama will help us all find such a path.

It's freezing outside today. The sun is out and it feels a little like it's teasing us. Winter will be here for three more months, so I best not complain. I'm going home today. I have missed my family. Today is a day that will make history, so I'm glad I will be home.

-OCG

Monday, January 19, 2009

Garlic breath...

My body is frustrating me. It's not doing what it needs to. Getting upset doesn't help, but it's hard to just wait. Things that are out of our control can cause so much stress.

The weather outside is snowy and cold. The streets are wet and messy. Yesterday afternoon the snow was coming down in funky, tiny, little wet balls. Watching them fall on my coat was strange and cool. The temperature has gone up. The air isn't so frigid, but now there's the snow. We win some and lose some, I suppose.

I met the Observer for dinner last night. I enjoyed our evening, but I could tell he was sad to return to his apartment. Having being at home with a sweet family, it's normal to feel sad, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. After five years, I still feel sad to leave my family when I visit them. How can we not miss people we love? I ordered bruschetta for dinner. I usually do when we eat at the Pickle Barrel. It's served with bread sticks fashioned like a tower with a tomato salad in the middle. Eventually, as I eat each bread stick, the tower tumbles, which is part of the thrill of eating bruschetta. Both the Observer and I had garlic breath after dinner. I've heard that if two people both have garlic breath, they can't smell it on each other, so we are safe. Then again, after four years of dating, we've been around each other's garlic breath and all is still OK.

There have been many days for both of us when our bodies haven't cooperated and we've been uncomfortable. We undestand. Everyone does, but I know the Observer really understands and for that, I feel less alone.

- OCG

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Revolutionary Road...

The Observer and I saw Revolutionary Road last night. I knew it was about a dysfunctional marriage between two strong willed characters (Kate Winslett and Leonardo Dicaprio). Set in the mid 1950's, both husband and wife struggled to meet society's expectations of what it means to be a man and a woman. The film gave a raw, violent perspective of two people who try desperately to hold up the image of the perfect life, but end up miserable in the process. Revolutionary Road is the name of the street where the couple buy a house and try to settle into the "perfect life" with their two children. Early on, Revolutionary Road is described as a "sweet, little area that one must travel through some unpleasant areas to reach." When Kate Winslett learns she is pregnant with the couple's third child just as they are about to relocate to Europe, things unravel rapidly for their family. The couple push each other to the brink, making the film hard to watch and hard to turn away from.

Revolutionary Road takes a long, dark look at what happens when you decide to settle and not follow your heart. On the opposite spectrum, the film shows how wanting a life too drastic from the majority can cost one a lifetime of unhappiness. Times, values and people change, but not without sometimes paying a major price.

I joked with the usher at the movie theater before seeing the film that "It might not want to make me feel ready for marriage for a long time." Revolutionary Road is not a happy, light movie, but it does leave one thinking about how many people push themselves to attain the picture perfect life and others who want a life so different from the norm. Both types can end up miserable. Life is a road. If we stay too much in the middle, we can end destroyed, and if we travel too far off course, we are in trouble. Such realities are made clear when society's values are being upside down during a revolution. Marriage is beautiful, but it would have been challenging in the 1950's - mostly because there wouldn't have been such great wheelchairs invented or Starbucks coffee.

- OCG

Saturday, January 17, 2009

A resolution review...

2009 is two weeks in. My New Years resolutions have been quite easily maintained. I have managed to keep my mantra people first, then money, then things. I have also managed to be sightly kinder to myself, though I had a few days where that proved challenging. There are bound to be days where our strength and commitment is tested. What would be the point of having resolutions if they weren't right? Another goal for 2009 was to eat salad every day, which hasn't been hard. I missed a day, but resolutions aren't about perfection; they are about progress.

I thought of another resolution, which ought to make a difference to my self-image. I will not apologize for situations, issues or misfortunes that I can't control. If you know me in real life, you know that I spend a lot of time saying sorry when asking for help or when anything happens that I feel is unfair. Many people in my life do the same and I think it comes from feeling inadequate because we need help. Every one needs help, but some need more than others and it's not negative; it's reality. Being dependent on people every day can mean listening to groans and grumbles of people who don't feel like working. When someone needs basic care, it doesn't matter if a person who is paid doesn't feel like providing it. We all require and deserve help and should not apologize for asking for the things which help us function each day. I have slipped a few times and said sorry when I really didn't have to, but I think about whether an apology is necessary now. "Sorry" is one of those words that ought to used when it is warranted, not because we are putting ourselves down for needing essential things in life.

I am sorry that it's so cold out today. I can't control the weather, but I am a bit sad that it's so harsh out. I didn't cause these temperatures, but not many of us enjoy these weather, so that makes me a bit sad. Today I needed a shower. I didn't apologize for that, because a girl's got to be clean.

- OCG

Friday, January 16, 2009

A cold snap...

I know I have said how cold it's been all week, but today is FREEZING. The wind whips at any exposed skin in seconds and takes one's breath away. Even with a heavy coat, a scarf and gloves on, the winter air hit me with a wallop. I haven't been out in cold like this for a very long time. I am already dreading February. It's such a dreary, cold month. Maybe it's shorter than most to give us all a break.

Last night one of my attendants was a bit short with me. I dropped a half empty salad bowl on the floor along with a fork. Not a big deal, I know, but just the day before I ended up with a flat tire from running over a strap in a wheelchair bus. In seconds the tire was off its tubing and I could barely move. After that experience, I am trying to be more careful about where and what I drive over. I am glad that a technician came quickly and that I wasn't out in the cold. Things can always be worse. I find myself often checking my tires to make sure they have enough air. It takes a few days after getting a flat tire to trust that everything is back in working order. When a wheelchair is how I function, I guess my anxieties make sense. Once I explained my recent tire troubles to my attendant, she softened. Over the years, I have found her moods to be very erratic and almost alarming sometimes. She will be sweet as honey one minute and snap the next. My moods can be just as unpredictable, so maybe being around her reminds me of my own faults and moodiness. Sometimes I feel sorry for the Observer because I can be very short tempered. I feel like there are moments where he is unsure what to do, because I can be so uneven. He rarely complains, but I know I can be challenging. I am going to work on keeping to myself when I'm grumpy. My Mom reminds me that, if I have nothing pleasant to say, not to say anything at all. She's right. Good, old-fashioned "mother" wisdom stays true to life.

I heard a quote on Oprah that made me think. One of her colleagues specializing in spirituality said, "Grief is an expression of how much we have loved." In the midst of a broken heart, it's hard to think logically, but I think it's a positive thought. The more we give, the more we lose, but loving is worth the risk. Life isn't free of pain, flat tires, freezing cold, or miserable people. We deal with whatever comes our way and savour the good in between. We may go in frigid temperatures, but there will always be a warm safe place to take revenge if we choose to find it.

- OCG

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Connected...

It's another cold day. I shouldn't be surprised. Hot coffee is sure comforting. Tomorrow is supposed to be warmer. Let's hope so. You can see your breath everywhere you go. Just knowing the temperature and that there is a cold weather alert makes me feel cold.

Yesterday my stomach was giving me trouble. I didn't feel like smiling or being happy, but I tried anyway. By afternoon I felt like myself. I'm lucky that being under the weather is not a permanent state for me. Discomfort comes in short waves and disappears quickly. Some people live their lives feeling unwell for long periods. I feel empathy for them and blessed that most of my day is spent feeling healthy.

Coming into my apartment yesterday, a sweet lady who lives in my building told me it was too cold for a young girl like me to be out and about. I smiled and said, "I could say the same to you, my wise friend." She laughed. The next five minutes involved her telling me all about her health issues - how she fainted in church and how her doctor thinks she may have a blood clot. I see the same tenant often. She's special. We connect. Seeing her makes me feel affectionate because she is so sweet and reminds me of my family. I listen and it makes me feel important. Each of us has health problems or issues of some kind. I'm young, so all I have is an irritated stomach. The lady in my building is old, so her issues are more complex, but somehow we understand one another.

- OCG

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm grateful for...

* A good sleep

* Mittens

* The Observer

* Kind bus drivers

* Having wheelchair repairs and not having to pay for them

* Heat

* My phone

* Flexibility in my life

* My medication

* Self respect

* That seasons change

* Living downtown where things are accessible

* The freedom to discover what makes me happy

* Good friends

* My warm jacket

- OCG

A nudge worth listening to...

They are calling today's weather "The Deep Freeze". It's pretty cold. My fingers got red and numb even with gloves on. Do you ever notice that the cold makes your nose run? It happens to me every day now.

The other night, I kept feeling this need to head home. While out doing errands, something inside me kept saying, "go home." Usually, once I'm out and about, I get carried away and end up doing more than planned. This unmistakable nudge to do only essential jobs kept gnawing at me. Immediately upon getting home, my phone rang. Again, I felt a powerful pull to pick up the phone. I said hello a few times before hearing someone crying softly on the other end. Before long, I realized it was my best friend. Hours earlier, she had learned that her Mom has cancer. Clearly devastated, she needed a friend. Somehow, there was a higher power ensuring that friend was me. We talked. I listened. I wish I could have made all of her pain disappear, but I am so glad that I listened to that nudge. Being there to support friends is such an important opportunity. Life sucks sometimes. No one knows what the future holds, but when we feel nudges, maybe that's God's way of saying things will be OK....somehow.

- OCG

Monday, January 12, 2009

almost deliciously perfect...

i went home and returned today. seeing my family was so comforting. i didn't realize how much i missed them. the observer came for dinner. he was teased. he's a good sport. my brother has a new girlfriend who talks a lot. i think it's because she gets nervous. she seems to be starting to relax. i'm glad. she's friendly and funny. she treats my brother well, and that's most important.

i have been eating way too much. i feel fat....still. mom made apple crisp yesterday - my favourite dessert paired with vanilla ice cream. i had more today. the simplest foods are so yummy.

i just laughed out loud for no reason. i'm at the library. people must wonder why. my computer is being repaired. it's not even a year old. i'm frustrated, but technology isn't perfect. nothing is. i'm happy about that. actually, apple crisp comes pretty close.

- ocg

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bloated but happy Saturday!

Today I feel like a balloon ready to pop. My stomach is very bloated which drives me crazy. Few of us enjoy this feeling. There are gurgling, airy noises coming from me. Looking at my tummy, you'd think that I am ready to give birth. Being very sensitive about body image, I am very bothered. I feel fat. My pants are not comfortable. I have been in the same position many times before. It passes. It's not the end of the world. I am still OK. If I keep telling myself this, maybe I'll believe it. If my best friend or the Observer were a bit heavier, I wouldn't care. I would care if they were unhappy, as I am when I'm a bit bigger. I wish my body size didn't have such importance to me. I wish I didn't dwell on a few pounds. My weight doesn't change who I am. It never will. I can only change how I feel about myself.

The person who helped me shower and get ready this morning talks a lot. Every Saturday my listening skills get a tune up when we see each other. She shares very personal information. I knew when she discovered that she had breast cancer, when her husband left her, and now I see her struggling to find her way. Today she told me that she wants to open a home for minorities in her country. She sounded excited. I told her to follow her heart and that providing service to those who need it is always a good idea. I listened and she didn't say a thing about my huge belly.

Visiting my friend at Union Station was fun. We met in late afternoon so lots of commuters were on their way home. Finding a place for my friend to sit was a challenge. She tracked down a bar-type area with a chair. We both felt lucky as we watched people stand for long periods. I have my own chair (my wheelchair) with me whenever I go, but I would have felt awful if she had to stand for the whole time. Our spot was at a cinnamon bun store, so we watched the employers roll the dough and sprinkle it with sugar again and again. If I had that job, I think I would get sick of cinnamon buns quickly.

The Observer is coming over today. I am not going to tell him that I feel fat. He needs to hear something more positive from me. Maybe "Happy Snowy Saturday!"

- OCG

Friday, January 09, 2009

warm and comfortable...

Do you ever wonder why it can be so hard to sleep? We all need it, so why is it so hard to get? I am going on very little rest today. Maybe my coffee stayed in my system too long. maybe i was thinking too much. maybe both. so far I'm not too tired. I'm meeting a friend at union station today. seeing her will be sweet. it's been a while. life gets busy. i love union station. there is a vibe of excitement in the air with people coming and going. being there makes me love the city, because many people are going in different directions. i wonder how many people need a good sleep like me. we all need rest regardless of how far we travel.

It's cold today. my heat is on again. i guess that's OK. being warm is pleasant but i don't like to use heat when i don't have to. life is too short to waste time and energy on too many luxuries. when it's really cold, i feel blessed to be comfortable in my home, because i see the homeless outside my window.

stay warm.

- OCG

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Flipping for warmth...


I'm tired. There is snow on the ground. I watched it fall before going to bed last night. Someone told me that it's not too cold outside. I'm happy to hear that. Snow seems to keep temperatures from being frigid. On a day when it's freezing out, it's often really windy, but there's not a whole lot of snow.

Yesterday I spent a long time outside. My arms and legs felt numb. The weather was strangely pleasant - not too cold and sunny in places. I enjoyed being downtown. The streets were busy and many people smiled at me. They must have been appreciating the day too. Though it wasn't too chilly, it was still winter, so after a while, I did get cold. I stopped and got a coffee and that warmed me up. Once home, I turned my heat on. I rarely feel the need to have heat. I prefer to dress in layers, but when I really need warmth, I do flip it on. I'm lucky that I can warm my home up with a simple flip of a switch. Many people struggle to stay warm.

My eyes are half closing. It's not a good sign - considering it's just after noon. Maybe I need some fresh air. The Observer and I are meeting for dinner. Hopefully I will be more alert. Early this morning, I woke up with my legs twisted like a pretzel - very uncomfortable and hard to sleep. My stomach is upset, so I am a bit grumpy, but today will pass and some top notch sleep awaits.

- OCG

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A side of war we can't forget...

Last night I had trouble sleeping. Somehow I couldn't get comfortable. Aren't those kind of nights frustrating? As I always do when I can't sleep, I tuned into some late night TV. Newsworld, our daily Canadian national news show, featured a documentary called Fighting Ghosts. Twenty-one-year-old solider Glen Villa, carried a video camera and recorded as he fought in Afghanistan. His footage was raw, eerie and captivating. I don't spend much time dwelling on war - though I know there is one now. To think about death and enemies in battle makes me sad. I hope everyone feels some sadness too. I was intrigued to hear and see a soldier's experience. The footage was scattered and there were black and white moments. There were huge bursts of light and that was an explosion or gunfire. There was yelling, swearing and often the words "get out!".

Villa talked about how the enemies never face each other. All they see is gunfire and explosives. Technology is so far advanced that face-to-contact isn't needed to blow each other to bits or to show resistance. Is this better or worse than seeing the face or hearing the voice of some one's life you are about to end? Villa said it's a very different experience than past wars, because the fighting is so allusive.

I realized how there is a stark difference between civilians and terrorists. Most citizens in Afghanistan are good. They want peace and freedom, but it's the terrorists and government who are in battle. Imagine living around constant violence and death when all you want is peace. Rarely have I thought about every day citizens in Afganistan and the ravaged life they must be living.

I felt such compassion for Glen Villa as you shared his stories with honesty and insight. He talked about the challenge of coming home after fighting in a war - how every day issues seem so mundane after seeing the evil side of life. I can't imagine. After watching Fighting Ghosts, I wondered if that was the message of the footage. Unless we are soldiers ourselves, we have no idea what each experiences, but we can care and get a tiny glimpse of war through one guy's video camera. It might not seem like much. However, hearing such a frank perspective moved me and made me appreciate my freedom and warm, safe bed. Thank you solider.

- OCG

Monday, January 05, 2009

Letting go and breathing out...


Maybe I am trying too hard to have my life "set up." Routines are comforting. They are predictable. I know what I need to do, so I do it. My teeth get brushed a few times a day. It's important they are white. I try to read, write and talk to a friend every day. I try to leave my apartment at least once a day. Every day I have two or three cups of coffee. A day doesn't go by when I haven't spoken to the Observer or my family. I say "thank you" every day. My orange jacket is usually worn every day. The TV usually stays off during the daylight hours. Each night it gets turned on as soon as I go to sleep. I enter the calories I've eaten every day. Every day I worry that I have eaten too much. I say, "I love you" every day.

Perhaps I am too set in my ways. It's hard to let go of what I know - to just eat and watch whatever is on TV even if it's day-time.

I have been eating too much. Every morning I wake up and tell myself that today I am going to eat less. Every day I eat the same (or a little more) than the day before. I'm angry at myself for indulging between Christmas and New Years. It's obvious that I've gained weight. I wish it was gone. Maybe I need to let go. I'm heavier, but my body will balance out. It needs time and I need to respect that. Rules and routines work, but only if there is a little space to breath. I'm taking a deep breath out. I feel better already.

- OCG

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Do you ever?


Do you ever worry about the future? Do you ever wonder what's around the corner? Do you dwell on things that have already happened? Do you ever plan out your day and nothing goes accordingly? Do you ever procrastinate and wonder why since you'll have to do what you are avoiding at some point? Do you ever talk to yourself and say something kind? Do you ever watch a movie and think maybe the plot was written to show you something in your own life? Do you ever meet a stranger and realize you could be friends, but you're too afraid to say so? Do you ever laugh at yourself while brushing your teeth because your smile looks funny? Do you ever pass gas and tell the people around you? Do you ever choke on your own spit? Do you ever think about how you want people to remember you? Do you ever sleep with your watch on?

Maybe, when it comes down to it, we're more alike than we realize.

- OCG

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Oh, What A Night...

I had so much fun at Jersey Boys! The Observer enjoyed the show too. The music was catchy and positive, just as I thought. I loved when the cast preformed Walk Like A Man and Oh What A Night. Our wheelchair seats were quite good. From the balcony, we could see almost the whole stage. I couldn't stop thinking of my Dad throughout the show. Growing up, he played oldies for me at every opportunity, so I grew to love them. Dad would love Jersey Boys. Most of the audience was grey-haired baby boomers who loved the classics especially Can't Take My Eyes Off You. *Thanks to whoever corrected me!*


Since the members of The Four Seasons are Italian, I think the Observer appreciated the humor. The audience gave the performance a well-deserved standing ovation. Good music and stories of perseverance transcend generations. Classic tunes remind us of childhood and the people we love. Every show or piece of art usually has meaning for each of us. If not, seeing a play or movie is a fun night on the town and aren't those good for the soul?

I will look back on Jersey Boys and think, "Oh, What A Night!"

- OCG

Friday, January 02, 2009

Hoping for a little progress...




The Observer and I are going to see Jersey Boys tonight. I am looking forward to the music. Friends and family have told me that the story is from the 1950's/1960's era when the music is fun, catchy, classic oldies. We are going to a theatre where neither the Observer or I have visited, so hopefully we find our wheelchair seating OK. Somehow the two of us always manage.

After drinking too much diet Coke and barely sleeping well on New Years Eve, I was more than ready to hit the hay. I don't know why I drank three Cokes. I guess I figured that I had to ring in the New Year with some kind of beverage, even if it was only cola. Whenever I order diet Coke from a restaurant, I get nervous that it's not diet. I worry that I will gain weight without knowing. The holidays are rough for me when it comes to my body image. I feel pressure to eat more than usual. We all do, but I beat myself up for gaining weight for the next month. It's all I can think about. Today I feel like I have a round, moon face. Yesterday I ate double what I normally do, because I was with my family. I'm trying not to obsess over a day that has passed, but it's still bugging me. It's a new year. Maybe I'll sort out all these little, mundane worries just a bit. I don't expect them to go away completely. How can they disappear after being here for the better part of my life? I hope to make progress, think rationally and be healthy. There will always be that little voice in my head screaming, "You're fat!," but maybe I will be able to quiet it slowly.

On New Year's Eve, the restaurant the Observer and I went to gave us complimentary noise makers on the house to blow at midnight. Every time I tried to use mine, I wouldn't make any noise. The Observer and I joked that I spent the majority of the night trying to blow. Normally, I don't have a problem, but maybe it was the pressure of an audience.

- OCG

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009 begins!


Well, 2009 is here! I hope the first day of the New Year was a pleasant one for you.

The Observer and I rang in 2009 with a classy, quiet dinner at a trendy Italian restaurant. I enjoyed the time we got to chat, reflect and share delicious food. The music at the restaurant was upbeat, just the Observer's style. Having had dinner at the same restaurant last New Year's Eve, we knew there was a lounge with music, a countdown and champagne at midnight. The Observer loves loud music, dancing and crowds. I'm the quieter, one-on-one type of celebrator, so our night was a good compromise.

My New Year's resolution is to prioritize my life with the following mantra: people first, money second, and then things. Thinking of last night, I got to see the Observer, I didn't spend too much money, and the food was delicious. I spent the first day of 2009 with my family. There are always first. So far so good...

- OCG