Saying goodbye..

Life with my dad. What can I say? He was a brilliant man in his youth, he saw colour, form and life all as an adventure he needed to conquer. He was self indulgent, lover of decadent food, flavour and texture. He was difficult and demanding of his life long partner.
He had no time room in his life for responsibility, materialism or accountability. He was free spirited.
He was complicated and  at the same time not at all.

Dad was the kind of man who if he saw me, I was right there in his space, he showed his love and attention, but when not in shared space I may not hear or see or hear from him for months on end. Mom hid that well as a child, but the older I got the more I realized this. But when I did see him , especially as a child I thought wow, what great adventure would we have? Like many little girls, I loved my dad. When I got off that plane every summer I would run and jump into his arms and just hug him. He was a big man, six three, and when I was a kid his arms were the size of tree branches, very strong.

I crossed provinces with him, road In the back of a pick up truck in the seventies through the mountains of Jasper , seeing mountain goats take over the road , so we had a picnic in the flatbed.
I crossed a suspension bridge by myself at six (might explain my crazy fear of heights!) went white water rafting at 7 and fell out, scooped right back in by his big arm.  Climbed mountains, had Christmas on a march break adventure, skied down great mountains.( likely a bunny hill!)

Music was a big part of his life, and his addictions. music always filled the house, be in 3pm or 3am. He loved all kinds, especially 70's rock. He was a massive John Lennon fan. the guess who and Burton comings, super tramp .. He had hundreds of albums, always blasting.

When I was a teenager he taught me about canning, and making pickles and tomato sauce from scratch, something he did with is mom. He loved to grow tomatoes, always abundant. He made the best homemade pizza, Chinese food.. Anything really. I use to bring friends to his house just to eat Chinese.

I worked with him on job sites as a teenager, painted , poured balconies. He could fix or make anything. Rarely the stuff at home though!

He died this month, and our relationship was getting better after years of not so much of good things.. Losing a parent no matter your relationship is  heartbreaking.  I want to remember him as he was , not for his absences, but for those moments when I thought my heart would burst with love, for the crazy big man full of adventures, art and music.

Saying good bye to him is not something I was ready to do.  so instead I will dance to seventies rock, and paint some abstract art inspired by him.  Letting go of the not so good times.. And remembering breakfast at four am, over looking the lake thinking wow he woke me up to see the mist and watch the sun rise, while everyone else was fast asleep.

Because he once believed it was a beautiful world.


Lost in you own story

Have you ever felt lost?  Detached or like you are watching your life go by without really truly participating in it? This happens to me, and has my entire life. It can last hours, days or months. I am neither sad or depressed, just there.  I took this week off , knowing that I was going to work through a few of the things I need to clear out and bring into my life. (Mentally and literally - simplification)

I think we all carry "stuff" in our lives. Be it the need to please others, or the ability to see the good and joy in this world. I think we as human beings, can advocate or defend  our own behaviours no matter the issue.  I think this is just a part of being human. a person I respect and love once said to me  "remember you are the biggest re-teller of your own story"

At first I just accepted what she said, but as time went by I really reflected on that and what it could mean. And I realized it meant so much. I could keep living in the past by telling my own story in my head over and over. I could relive painful moments again and or again, I could re-live all the happy times in my life.I am ultimately my own historian, and no one can tell my story as true or as false as I could.

We re-tell our stories, to ourselves and others. For thousands of different reasons. But we do it because we ultimately get something from it. Which I think was my friends point, as she is one of the most profoundly   self aware people I know.

I find great joy and passion in what I do for a living, I would not be still doing it 25 years later if I did not. I love and cherish my family. My daughter and husband bring me great joy.  But the thing I miss and have "forgotten" about myself is my love of art, self reflection and general need for calm and quiet in my soul. Those detached moments, were once filled instead with observation , quiet and peace, and somewhere along the line they turned into something else, my priorities got jumbled, and I started telling a different story about me.

i do not believe the "I am to busy for ..." Line, I think you make time for what you want to make time for.  Those times I felt like I was just going through the motions in life was also those times I was not finding a creative moment., or I was lost in a complicated or unpleasant moment in my own story. but it was my choice to be detached, it is not a pretty coping method in life, but it is dis functionally all  mine :)  and one, I am actively going to end the chapter on.

 I may not always be a critical thinker, I may not always be as aware and self  reflective as I should be, and times when I need to switch off will happen,  but I will no longer feel lost in my own life either. Because as the same wise friend once said .. I have that choice.



When the Light fades

I recently ran into an individual I knew who lives in a group home. some of my most cherished memories include getting to know her. I had not seen her in many many years, and at first I was so happy to have seen her. But as the days pasted I realized I was deeply sadden by something I had not seen. I had not seen the light, or the spark behind her eyes. the feisty free spirit who I once knew was gone. How could  she not of changed? I asked myself. of course she had it had been so very long since I saw her, I knew nothing of her life since the moment we said goodbye. I had changed , maybe she saw the same thing missing in me. until today I had held it in, but tonight I cried. Because I had seen that look in her eyes before, when she walked the halls of a place that had to be home with the other six hundred people who lived where she lived.  She looked defeated.

I know what I saw was a brief moment in time , in that brief moment though something became very clear to me, my whole life all of what I have done and worked toward and believed I was adding to a system of care is meaningless, if I continue to see the light fade in those once so spirited. Myself included.

For 25 years I have worked in the same field , every moment believing in the greater good of a system, or a staff group and in the rights and freedoms of those I felt I fought for. But that is just it, I fought for them, not with them. I see this amazing road ahead, I see a vision of a system not easy to get to, but it was not until tonight that I realized that instead of trying to blaze a path, we need walk together to the far off finish line, pushing uncomfortable boundaries, finding comfort in ideals and making those lights turn back on, by switching off apathy in those who provide care, determine plans, and write the rules. Instead of accepting what is.. We need to say what is needed to be and make difficult changes, together.  I no longer want to hear or say "that's the way it is" instead I only want to hear we can do this, and we can do it right this time.


..watching the light dance...

I have been thinking lately about all the challenges over the last couple of years, moments when I questioned life, love, family and friends.  I realized that the part of the journey my little family was on, was a bit tough over the this time.. From ADHD, heart problems, to diabeties and gallbladder disease and the most difficult pulmonary embolism. Yet lately I notice, I have my camera in my hand or find myself looking through my eyes as if they were themselves lenses, looking for beauty or a moment that I want to capture in my mind. This  tells me, not only did these past couple of years teach me about pain, and life (the actually beating heart kind) but it brought back to me something I thought I had lost.. The ability to find my own creative voice, to see again in shades and images what I use to always see. It has been a long time since I did an essay of photos or thought of photographic stories within my mind. I dabbled in video for the last five years but not in the way I once use to emerge  into myself behind a picture..

Those who knew me in the time of my darkroom days, know I spent hours and hours with my face behind the body of a camera, then hours in the darkroom perfecting shading, blurring and creating what was inside my head.. Photography has changed, my love bought me a new type of lens to look through, I am learning again how to capture the shadows.

I use to dream of great art shows, of images that captured the attention of the world.. Now I simply want to capture a moment , and watch the light dance.

Maybe I will share them here with you .. Right now I look to capture life as it defines itself to me through the lens.


Life lessons

About a year ago I was walking with a sense that life was good, I was happy, life was good work was great..but in those moments I also  feared  that because life was good I was waiting for the next disaster to happen. It started as a whisper and then became a heartbreaking in my face life defining moment.

My fortieth  year  was to be filled such amazing experiences, and true moments of  self acceptance, love and pain.. In my year of all about me, I was privileged, celebrated by those I love and began a journey of letting go of false ideas about myself.

But it was a brief moment in time three months ago  in a moment that I could not control, could not plan, organize or predict that has taught me the most important lesson in life.

When you look into the eyes of the person you love, have shared every part of your soul ,the good the bad and the ugly, and you watch them close their eyes close and they have said I love you and you believe it is for the last time, something inside changes you. And then I was blessed and those eyes opened and amazing medical professionals did their magic and my love came back better and stronger then my mind could comprehend, and we went on with life - one eye open while he slept, because he was still there still breathing.

So what i have I learned from a year of wonderful highs, dramatic lows, and a moment of soul crushing grief?

Nothing that has not been said before, but words once empty now have a depth of meaning to me, that it took me forty years to finally get.

-Love  -  if you really love someone, love everything about them .. even the ugly parts

-Do not give up parts of who you are or be ashamed that you are not "as good" as someone else - you are better to accept your challenges and rise to meet them.

-Let go of people who you have grown apart from , not in malice but with acceptance that you do not have to hold on to relationships and people who have let go of you.

- Leave behind the what if 's -

-life is not measured by the toys you have, the clothes you wear ..it is by every beautiful breath of air you breath, make everyone of them count.

- Believe in second chances - focus not on the moment the world went pear shaped, but when it righted itself and you got to try again.

I have always believed in showing the people you love how you feel, now i understand that in what may be someones final moment what it feels like to KNOW you are truly Loved by them - never take someones heart for granted it is the greatest gift you hold in your hands.




I have been reflecting lately on the idea of choices. My entire 30's decade I believed that we make every choice , if you eat , drink or stay depressed or hurt yourself in anyway, its your choice, and you can choose to continue or stop. I have always believed  if you want to change it you just do, you simply make the choice to do so. In a very arrogant and at times hurtful manor i looked at those who actively choose to do things that were not at all healthy as making the wrong choices. I looked at myself this way many times,thousands of times, because it feed a self depreciating need is my guess. It was at the end of my thirties that through much discussion and self reflection that I slowly began to try and see things differently.

I understand that some choices are harder then others, usually those that involve the emotions of others, or make a change in other people's life.  Simple choices like how you act or respond in certain situations while automatic I think are also on some level a conditioned response but also I have always been fully aware when I shove a handful of chips in my mouth that I am not making the best choice, or every time I had a cigarette I hated my self for a split second, but I still made the decision to smoke, just as I made the decision to stop. (And then shoved more chips in my mouth) Part of my health problems are a direct result of me making bad eating choices, being a binge eater, being self depreciating, being cruel to my self. These were choices I made, and now I am dealing with the consequences of those choices.

With how I have been feeling lately around my health and my general overall state of being, I have realized that my way of thinking may not always have been the most true description of a situation or how I feel about things may not have come through as I have been at times recently been on automatic, going from one appointment to the next in a state of numbness and sadness and fear.  And in doing so have shut off consciously how I feel about all types situations and things. This seems  more of a conditioned response to dealing with the stress in my life, but in a way that is not healthy or productive at all. It actually appears to be a shutting off of my emotions and times rational thought!

This year I have made a promise to myself to be more present in my own life, making real choices, thinking things though being more aware of how my responses and how my choices affect me. I
made a similar promise a few years ago around doing this with how my responses and choices affect the behaviour and responding of others, I learned a lot during that time. I used a trick a friend taught me reminding myself to "w.a.i.t"  or ask myself Why Am I Talking? By doing this it at times made others uncomfortable, not putting myself in the fore front in meetings on a small team, was to some unsettling, it was to others on opportunity to be heard. Strangely enough it taught me that in my listening, I realized I did not want to be on the job I thought I loved and as a result I switched careers.

I have no idea what being in the "now" will bring, so far it kind of sucks dealing with uncertainty and fear,  and to be honest seems a little flaky! But of course I have bought a couple of books, and will do the research on how to live simply, be present in the now, and learn finally how to release stress, so I can heal not only my body, but my brain, and my heart and health.

today's task - reflection time and 10 minutes of breathing and not thinking.

Signing off as your anxious friend,the over thinker on a journey to enlightenment! (Even writing that makes me laugh, I must have a long way to go on this journey.)
Melanie Jane


Love of Cooking

I love to cook, and anyone who has read my blog before knows this to be true, no matter what food craze I am currently exploring. I love more the creating of something for my family. Like all working parents, you can lose the desire to do more then put something on the table that meets their nutritional needs (hopefully), and tastes pretty good. Especially when you add all of other life's pressures to do and get it done. Whatever "it" is.

Terrible place to get to, especially when given time and energy you are someone who loves a good opportunity to feed your family something yummy and healthy and not so healthy once in awhile. I shall not lie , Friday night take out is never a good choice :)

Food has been a big part of my last year in life, not necessarily for the good, or for all bad either. With the new diabetes diagnosis,gallbladder and liver issues, and food has taken on an interesting role in my life. I can love it and it causes pain, or I can change it and be pain free, healthier and feel good.. not being a dumb ass I am choosing to be pain free - well as best I can.

I have wanted to cook through my Jamie Oliver cookbooks for sometime, and I will be doing that over the next year, I have to admit I will stay away from his seafood creations as I just can't handle that stuff. But his rustic presentation, and his use of lots of vegetables interest me. And I admit it, back before he was married, with kids and was super famous and had a show out of his kitchen, I loved to watch the young Jamie cook! Here is a snapshot of the books I will be cooking from.
All I ever wanted to do was to make food accessible to everyone; to show that you can make mistakes - I do all the time - but it doesn't matter.
Jamie Oliver
Now to make breakfast , happy eating. I love the make mistakes all the time quote - in life and in cooking I do it too!