Friday, July 13, 2018

Mum & Dad... a love story

Towards the end of her life my Mum started getting a little bit cheesed off with my Dad. He kept asking her to marry him again... and again... and again. He seemed to completely forget that he had remarried a couple of times since they divorced in 1973. 

My mum and dad had an unusual relationship, especially after they split. I often think about what they had… and lost, and regained again. Losing mum so suddenly in 2008 made me want to write down some of her stories... particularly this one, of how they met… I believe there should always be a story teller in every family to record all that happens for the next generation. They do say a picture tells a thousand words, but to me well-written words will always give a far richer portrait.

Jose Summers had been the baby of the family, the youngest of 6 and was desperate to see the world when she left home at 17. By the time she was 21 she'd been a land army girl, a kennel maid in Lincolnshire, and a waitress at the White Hart in Stratford-upon-Avon, 

Mum in the Land Army 1947

Mum met my Dad the evening of her twenty-first birthday. She had been persuaded by some friends to spend the evening at a dance hall in the city. She wasn’t at all keen on dancing, so this certainly hadn’t been her idea. By the end of the evening her girlfriends had met up with a group of guys and they were urging mum not to be a wet blanket and go on somewhere with them, but mum wasn’t keen. She was struggling with her coat and wondering how she was going to get out of it, when she found someone was guiding her arm into her sleeve. She turned and saw it was a sailor; a very nice looking sailor with bright blue eyes and a wonderful smile. She called out to them, “It’s OK. You go on. I’m with him!”

I imagine my dad was quite surprised at this… but he’d also had a disappointing evening, so he asked if he could walk her home. By the time they reached mum’s door he was well and truly smitten. He asked her to marry him! She said, “But I can’t cook!” He said, “Oh, that's ok. I can! I can teach you.” The best he could get out of her that night was a promise of a date the next day. They arranged to meet underneath the clock tower in Leicester town centre at noon. Dad had to send a telegram to a girl his mum had been trying to set him up with, but he’d never sent one before so asked Mum to give him a hand. She agreed and started to write his name on the form: “A L A N… “ She realizes she has no idea of his last name and Dad said he’d better spell it. “P…Y…W…E…” By this time she’s really wondering what on earth could possibly come next!

It was just two Ls …PYWELL. She didn’t yet know she’d spend many years of her life spelling it out to everyone herself.

They walked and talked through the whole afternoon, went to see a film that night and then walked and talked all the way home again. By now mum is also very taken with this young sailor. 

Mum and Dad - Malta 1952

I’d like to share a poem Mum wrote 4 years after they divorced… it gives me a wonderful picture of their marriage, which at times was a bit of a rocky road. My dad was sometimes away at sea for a year to 18 months at a time, but the honeymoons every now and then were lovely.

Marry in haste - repent in leisure
that's how the saying goes
But that's not true in every case
and I am the one who knows
My husband and I "met and married"
in the space of twenty-eight days
When one falls in love at first sight
it puts life in a "golden haze"

I enjoyed my marriage; it lasted
just twenty three years.
With all the usual ups and downs
through sickness, joy and tears.
We had a daughter, then two sons
to us "Our Imps" from birth
Finding the pleasures of Motherhood
seemed my reason for being on earth.

All the "happenings" as they grew
talking, walking, cuts to heal.
Toddlers, teenagers, now adults, yes
my memories are so real.
My husband and I have now parted
it seemed the best thing to do
I was just a home bird, while he
was a "boy in blue".

The life he loved - the "Social Whirl"
I never enjoyed at all.
So it was, "you go your way, and I'll go mine"
I hope you have "a ball"
Four years have passed since that day
we are still the best of friends.
If I can stay as contented as now
I'll be happy till my life ends.

After they divorced they never did lose touch, in fact, believe it or not, my mum hosted my dad’s third wedding - now there’s another story. He and his new wife, Sheila, stayed with mum and her second husband, Wally, a number of times during their marriage. (and that's a whole other story!)

Mum & Dad... 1975, 2 years divorced, still lots to talk about!

Mum and Dad wrote to each other regularly for the rest of their lives, and when Dad’s writing got a little too shaky he phoned her almost every week. And yes, he frequently asked her to marry him again. He would say, “Oh, Cuddly, why did we ever part?” She could have easily replied, “Oh, let me count the ways! You drank like a fish and gambled our money away." But Mum, who had been very happily single for the last twenty years of her life, just said, “Oh, Al, it would never work out. Best keep things the way they are…”

After we lost our darling Mum in 2008, my brother Mike and I visited Dad just after Mum's funeral.  He was living in care home in Portsmouth and wasn't able to travel up north to the memorial service.  But we needed to tell him face to face what had happened; it was a very emotional meeting.    

It took him a while to understand and he cried a fair bit. But then we had a bit of a singsong together, singing some of his favourite Nat King Cole songs, and he seemed OK... he then asked me who I was again. 

I admit I didn't talk to Dad often after that, Mike was always so much closer to him.   And then we lost him 2 years later it took me a while to reconcile my feelings.  It's always confusing that you can truly love two people in such completely different ways.  It used to make me sad that although mum and I were so much in synch, I couldn't ever get close to Dad but I've managed to do that, through my writing here in Remembering Dad... Swinging on a Star

It was incredibly cathartic to do this piece.  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Born This Way...

"What can I do for you, sonny?"

The shopkeeper's words reached my seven-year-old brain, and went ZING!  There's no doubt that I probably turned a bright shade of red, not quite knowing how to react, but I do remember giving him a big ol' grin, thinking,

"Wow!  He thinks I'm a BOY! Yeah... how cool is that?!" 

There has to be a ton of messed up reasons for my immediate reaction to his comment.  You could blame our patriarchal society for one, especially back then.  I mean, we’re talking 1960 here.  At that time, there really were no clearly defined female role models for the average girl.  Yes, they were around, they always had been, but they weren’t widely celebrated.  OK, I had my mum, who was pretty awesome - she could fix my bike and was a lot of fun.  All my friends loved her and would knock at our door asking if she could come out to play.  

But boys were so much cooler than girly girls... Girls were just plain bloody silly.  Most of them couldn't play soccer… or throw a ball.  And I prided myself on my good throwing arm!

Yes, I was a tree-climbing, jeans-wearing, soccer-playing, jumping-off-roofs kinda girl… just a big ol' Tomboy.  And as for wearing a dress, hah!  Mum used to have to have to chase me around the house to get me into one!

It was a recent episode of CBC's The Next Chapter that got me thinking about this again.  I listened to Shelagh Rogers' fascinating conversation with author Ivan Coyote, talking about the book, Tomboy Survival Guide.  I was completely enthralled and ended up sitting in my car in my underground parking spot until it was over.

I'd never heard of Ivan before, but as soon as I got in, I had to find out more.  So began my internet journey exploring more of what this amazing human being has accomplished.  There are lots of books... a TED talk, and then I found this super video on YouTube...

I think I'm in love.  💗 

I've since read the book and absolutely loved it!  It's very funny and has some incredibly poignant memories.  It tells stories of the pleasures and difficulties growing up a tomboy in Canada's Yukon.  Ivan’s journey from tomboy to adulthood, as a person who doesn’t fit neatly into boxes or identities or labels is a complex one… far more complicated than mine. Listening to the radio interview brought so much back to me.  And those memories certainly made me give my gender identity some pretty serious thought as I explored the feelings I’d had as a young girl all those many years ago.  It made me ponder if I had been born 50 years later, would things have turned out differently?

The book talks about many firsts: the first time Ivan was mistaken for a boy; or when a bikini top was discarded to join the boys at the local swimming pool..." 

As I said, I related completely.  That could have been me.

I remember the day that shopkeeper mistook me for a boy like it was yesterday.   And, ok... I may not have discarded my bikini top to join the boys, because I never bothered actually wearing one! I don't think they were even available for a girl back then.  But I never wore a top if we were out playing Cowboys and Indians, why the heck would I?! It wasn't until I was around 10 or 11 that my mum said that perhaps I shouldn't be doing that any more... that was a sad day for sure.

Left to Right: Me age 10, brother Mike age 8, my dad and brother Ed, age 3

Since puberty hit, I had honestly never questioned my gender, but the memories this book brought back to me, led me to want to do more research about the whole question of gender identity. How come I didn't end up like Ivan?  After having the exact same thoughts and feelings as a child, was it merely a preconceived predestined journey for me to meet a guy, get married and have kids, never once questioning the journey I'd taken? 
I came across many remarkable stories about some amazing people, who have grown up feeling the exact opposite of me.  But I think it was this TED Talk by Norman Spack that really opened my eyes about the subject.  And I realized after listening to it, just how lucky I had been when the doctor said, "It's a girl!" when I was born.  It really isn't always that cut and dried, and not everyone is so fortunate.

My life journey was definitely not as complicated as Ivan's was, to live as "a predominantly estrogen based organism" but never being completely comfortable with body that came with it.  

It makes me wonder about how different things are now with this new freedom of opportunity for the kids born in more recent times, who have the ability to make life choices, separating their sexuality and gender identity, sometimes at an incredibly young age. 

As my blog moniker suggests, I certainly have no regrets about the way things turned out.  Living and working for most of my adult life with my Jim - it was 40 years together until he passed away in 2012. And now working with both my kids in the company that Jim and I created is pretty amazing and it constantly surprises me how well it works. It's been 28 years working with my Karen.  

My life could have turned out completely differently had I made other choices if I'd been a little bolder perhaps.  But that big ol’ Tomboy of years gone by really hasn’t changed that much.  She’s still here, alive and kicking, still rocking things when they need to rocked... still challenging things when they need to be challenged.  And despite the osteoarthritis, she most definitely turned out to be the soccer-playing grandma rather than the girly girl grandma who knits.  

And that makes me happy. 

Saturday, July 1, 2017


I do love to sing; I always have.  Music has given me so much in my life.  It's been a great source of solace in times of trouble; to lose myself in the sound of a beautiful passage, or listen to the glorious rich sounds of some of my favourite voices has been pure pleasure.  Music has given me joy, whether i'm listening or dancing, or singing the song. 

Yes... to lose myself in music and stories.  I do it frequently.  I recall an evening in my teens; it had to be around 1968, so I would have been 14 or 15.  But the details are so vivid it could have been last week.  I was walking home after seeing the movie, "Funny Girl", starring Barbra Streisand.  I adored her!  She was so funny and quirky, and what a great voice!  As I belted out, "I'd Rather be Blue", I remember thinking...'you'd better watch out, Barbra, cos I'm comin... I'm gonna be the next big star!!'

There was just one small problem with that statement... because I has never going to be a star.  I was too damn scared!

Oh yes, I loved to sing, but it was mostly to myself, or maybe in a large group of people.  I was in a choir at school and I absolutely loved being a part of it all, performing the Hallelujah Chorus was such a thrill, to be at least partly responsible for creating the wonderful sound we made.  But it would have to be from the back row, where I wouldn't be noticed.  I was always far too nervous to move out the the front to do a solo.

When I left school I gave up singing in a choir.  Not being a churchgoer cut down on the chances that I would do it again.  So, other than blasting out Bohemian Rhapsody while cleaning my house, or singing in the shower, or in the car, or to my kids, that was pretty much it.  Any formal singing completely dried up.  And I certainly never pursued a singing career!  Far from it, as I was perfectly content to stay away from the limelight, working behind the scenes wherever I happened to be.

Move forward 40 years... that fear of being in the limelight had never left me; it had only got worse as I grew older.  The mere thought of getting up in front of a room full of people had my knees shaking and my stomach churning.  I'm not quite sure how I'd managed to accomplish as much as I had in my life to that point!

The year was 2008, my mum had passed away and I was attending her celebration of life.  My brothers had persuaded me to get up and give a eulogy.  Fear seized me, but I did it anyway.  The yes came from a place of love, but the panic I felt was real as I read my piece.  My voice was tremulous, and I shook like a leaf as I rushed through it far too quickly.  I was so cross with myself! 

Then I watched my brothers give their speeches in utter awe.  They held every single person in the room in the palm of their hands as they told their stories about our darling mum, stories that left everyone in laughter and tears.  I don't think I've ever been so envious of their natural ability to speak from the heart with such ease.  Where did it come from?  I remember thinking, "I want to do that!"

I needed to do that!   

It took a couple more years before I finally discovered Toastmasters.  I found a club in Ladner, Deltones Toastmasters and went along to a meeting to find out more.  And I jumped in with both feet and joined! 

I managed to get through my first Icebreaker speech without completely collapsing into a big puddle.  I didn't die. This was an important thing to notice.  After I'd done my third speech I was invited to be a test speaker at another club's contest.  I said YES, a response that completely shocked me!  My confidence was growing in leaps and bounds.

The day I finally completed the first 10-speech Competent Communicator manual felt pretty amazing.  And the day my daughter told me how impressed she was and how much I'd changed was even more special.

In September, 2012 I took another huge step.  I got the chance to audition for The Richmond Singers.  Getting accepted was such a thrill!  Being a part of this fabulous group of women, making beautiful music together has been an absolute joy over the last 5 years.

Although I'm usually pretty exhausted at the end of a long work day, I find I lose myself so much in the process of our Monday night rehearsals, by the time we're done, I'm completely energized!  It's a fantastic stress reliever, and the challenge of reading music again, and learning all our new songs, stretches me more than I thought possible.   

Joining Toastmasters has helped me tremendously in my business.  I no longer stay in the shadows.  I have moved up front and centre of my life.  But I have to say that joining my choir has been the absolute best thing that has come out of my Toastmaster experience.  It gave me the confidence to audition in the first place.  

Although I still haven't been brave enough to have taken on a solo... yet. I've sung in a quartet, so the solo could happen.  But I'm up there on stage enjoying every moment... in the front row!   

The most important thing I've learned about this whole journey is, that it's never too late to stretch your wings and take flight.

So, Ms. Streisand, you had better watch your back. It's quite possible that I could be coming after your spot! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Donate your voice... it can change someone's life!

Most people take their voice for granted.  It's something I'm guilty of for sure!  Like any other human being on this planet, communication is crucial; as a business owner, a mother, a grandmother, a storyteller of my own stories and of others'I also have the privilege of singing in a choir, so I get an immense amount of pleasure using my voice in a myriad of ways. Heck, I've even had wrong numbers call me back because they like the sound of my voice - that was a laugh!

But did I ever truly think about what life would be like without a voice? 
The discovery of VocaliD, the voice company that brings machine voices to life, was a complete revelation to me!  It really helped me truly appreciate my ability to speak and realize that there are many who don't have a voice. 

I've now recorded over 1000 sentences for VocaliD, about a third of the way to completing my goal of 3487 sentences.  This means that I will soon be able donate my voice to someone who is a match to me.  Curious yet? Don't worry, I'll tell you more!   Hey, I even got this cool certificate celebrating my progress!

So, what is it all about you might ask.

I was so inspired when I first heard about Dr. Rupal Patel on an episode on Terry O’Reilly’s Under the Influence CBC show.  I was intrigued enough to find out more about her, so found her TED Talk: Synthetic voices, as unique as fingerprints.  After watching it, I was completely captivated and I knew I had to find out more.

It was her first story that got to me most, about the two people chatting to each other using their electronic devices; a young girl and a grown man.  When I heard her tell about these two people using the same synthetic voice, both sounding like Stephen Hawking, it had the same profound effect on me.  Dr. Patel said that it "hurt her heart" that this young girl had to use a voice that did not represent her; her age, her gender or her unique personality.  It was just so wrong.  You would never dream of giving this young girl an adult prosthetic limb... so why would you give her a man’s voice.  She knew she had to figure out a way to do something about making sure as many people as possible were given the gift of a voice unique to them.

There are about 10 million people worldwide with an inability to speak.  It could be because of a neurological disorder, something they are born with, like cerebral palsy; or perhaps it's ALS like Stephen Hawking, or a stroke, or Alzheimer’s.  In fact there are over 60 diseases where losing the ability to talk is a devastating complication.

Dr. Patel collaborated with a colleague of, Dr. Tim Bunnell, the head of a Speech Research Lab at a hospital in Delaware.  He had been working on reconstructing voices for his patients who had lost their vocal ability later in life.

There is obviously a lot of complicated science behind it but over the next few years, they developed a technology, which is now VocaliD.  Through reverse engineering, they can create personalized voices for people who have severely impaired speech, people who have never had a voice.

The basic principles are that VocaliD blends the speech of two individuals—a donor and the recipient.  They first record whatever sound the recipient is still able to make. Sometimes it’s just a single vowel sound, but each person has a unique vocal identity.  Someone like Samantha, who you will meet in the video, can make a sound... just an "Aaaaah..." but it's uniquely her sound.  It isn't much, just the tonal quality – the colour of her voice – but it’s enough to be able to match up the with a voice donor - someone like me... or you... so they can customize a voice just for her.

I'm really hoping that this will inspire more people to sign up on the website and donate their voice.  I'm finding it so incredibly rewarding to know that they have already matched me up with three woman who will now have a voice.  And it’s even more heartwarming to know that my grandson, Connor was motivated to sign up too!  I'll have to check out to see how he's getting along.  

Here's a quote from Dr. Patel's quote - I think it is perfect:

    "To give blood can save lives... to give your voice can change lives."

If you still have questions, here are the answers to some of the questions I had before I started:

Here’s what you need to know if you’re interested in donating the gift of your voice: 
Q: When can I start?
A: If you want to be part of The Human Voicebank Initiative, please visit and sign up to donate your voice, time, expertise, or financial support.  It’s easier than you might think!
Q: What do I need to do?
A: You need to be able to read or repeat short sentences that, together, cover all the combinations of sounds that occur in our language.  The more of your speech we have, the better a voice we can create.
Q: How long does it take?
A: We need about 2-3 hours of speech from each donor. (Though even an hour of speech can go a long way.)  You don’t have to do this all at once. You can take your time and break it up into small sessions of around 15-20 minutes, so that you can record your best voice. That’s why we need a simple website or app — so you can record whenever you want. All we’d ask is that you record in a quiet place. The better your recordings, the better the voice we can create.
Q: Do I need to sound like a radio announcer?
A: No.  We want and need all types of voices.  Each person has a unique voice, which can help this project in its own way.
Q: Will others recognize me in someone’s voice?
A: The new voice will have elements of your voice blended with the recipient’s voice, so it is possible, but very unlikely that others will recognize you — unless of course you have a famous or well-known voice ;)
Q: Why should I do this?
There are so many reasons!  First, you can help give someone a voice — that’s powerful.  But in the process, you can also learn something about your own voice just by banking it.  Most of us rarely give our voice much thought, but the process of recording can be made educational and reflective.  In fact, for K-12 donors, we hope to develop a curriculum that will supplement the voice donation process.


Sunday, May 22, 2016

Happiness... it's the small precious moments that count.

May is a rough month for me... 
Today, May 22nd, is the anniversary of my darling Mum's passing.  I often reflect on her life and her lessons, but on this day she is even more present in my mind, especially her special philosophy on happiness.  But I can't believe it's been 8 years.
Mum - just before our float plane ride to Victoria

On my walk with Zoe this morning, I also thought about my precious Tilly, the Westie I had before Zoe came into my life. (Did I tell you May was a bad month?).  It was at this time of the year in 2010 that I lost her.  Tilly died very suddenly after contracting aspiration pneumonia; she was only four. 
At the time, I was a complete basket case, utterly  devastated at losing her, and spent at least two weeks in tears. 

It confused me so much at the time.  Why wasn't I handling Tilly's death as well as I did when my own Mum passed. I came to the conclusion that it's because Mum was able to give me permission to be ok with it, to be happy that she had lived such a wonderful life. She was able to tell me how content she'd been, that she had absolutely no regrets about her life.

People told me that Tilly would have no doubt have said the same thing if she'd been able.

So, in memory of Josie Summers... (what a fantastic name!) I thought I'd repost a piece that I wrote when I first discovered how ill Mum was... it helped me at the time and it helps me now to remember her as the amazing woman she was and it gives people some idea about how she lived her life.

Originally written on March 22nd, 2008.

I've been desperately trying to come to terms with some news I've received this week. And after a couple of days of bawling my eyes out, I've found a few things that have helped me cope. One is my daughter, Karen. She's my rock. And playing baseball with my grandsons, Connor and Callum yesterday was the best! I tell you, whacking at a ball with a baseball bat is GOOD therapy!! The fact that it has completely buggered up my shoulder is totally irrelevant...

Then there's writing. I'm sure a couple of my friends here will forgive me for spilling all my feelings out to them.... but it is the one way I know to get my thoughts in order and try to understand my true feelings about stuff.

I have the most amazing mum... she's always been such a big inspiration for me and has always been one of the strongest people I know. Her zest for life has never ceased to amaze me... and even now, now that she knows the end is quite near, it seems to be no different.

Mum is in Leicester Royal Infirmary at the moment after suffering a spinal cord collapse yesterday. It's a very scary complication from the cancer she's just had diagnosed. We only found out for sure on Thursday this week.

She's always been a terror when it comes to going the doctor. Not quite sure why. She said she didn't want to bother anyone when she felt perfectly alright. But she's always been a true fatalist and a realist and is of the opinion that what's meant to be, will be. It might not have been the wisest course of action, but it was hers. And I'll always respect her choices in life.

Anyway, she hadn't been to the docs for at least three years - too bloody busy enjoying life. She's hardly ever felt ill her whole life. But last month she finally admitted she'd been feeling unwell. She'd had some back pain so went to see someone. They did some blood tests and found alarmingly high calcium levels. This was just three short weeks ago so what's happened since has been a big shock to us all.

As I've often said, my Mum is a pretty amazing woman. She has told both my brothers that she's very happy and so glad that she's led such an interesting life. Mum has wanted to experience as much as she possibly can... and I believe she has.

Apparently this hunger for life experiences even includes what she's going through right now.

She spoke to my brother, Ed, yesterday about how beautiful the day was, the view from her window of the hospital is glorious. She said that the music in between the thumping and banging of the scanner was so lovely, she fell asleep and they had to wake her up. She talks of how good the food is at the hospital and how wonderful all the nurses are. How can you argue with that attitude in life?

Mike just phoned again to talk about the plans when I get there on Wednesday. Then he told me of the laugh he'd had with mum today. She's really upset about the brand new, very expensive hearing aid she's just bought - and I mean REALLY upset! If you knew my mum you'd know she HATES wasting hard-earned money. So, she was wondering if Mike could try to get a rebate on it. On a lighter note, she's also really pissed off about the 5 or 6 good pairs of shoes she' won't be getting any use out of now she can't walk... and suggested Mike try to sell them on eBay! Bloody hilarious!!

I wrote here yesterday that you can wake up every day and choose to be angry with the world... or wake up to the world happy. Mum chooses happy. That's my philosophy too. And I'm determined to be happy when I see her this week... even if it might be for the last time.

This is one of my favourite pictures of Mum taken on her favourite beach in Cleethorpes with her sister Lorn...  I love you Mum… xxxx

I did see my Mum again on another trip to England in April and sat with her sharing many precious memories.  It was so very special and treasure those moments in the garden of the hospice.  I will never forget it.

Thursday, September 13, 2012


It's been a while... But then, I read these words.  My mind went... ZING! And I felt compelled to come back here.

"Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be."
 Wayne W. Dyer
Peace... how wonderful...

Yes... being at peace.  It's a place most people seem to struggle with, but for some reason it has always come fairly easy for me.  Contentment... peace... pure joy at being alive, however you name it, I've been lucky.  I would say that "decide to be happy when you wake up" kind of approach to life is an attitude I got from my darling mum.  I have to thank her for that.  I have joked in the past that it was probably because I have such low expectations.  A friend said last night that she's always amazed at how many people have such a sense of entitlement, that life owes them something, just for existing.  This is exactly why this quote struck home for me.

I often think back to the time we were living in Gosport, when I was in my early twenties.  Jim and I were sharing a rental house with a couple of single guys.  Looking back at that place now, I realize it was pretty tough.  Jim was starting our first business and was hardly ever home... which is where I was most of the time.  Money was very tight, but we'd made the decision that I should be at home with our two kids.  For me, there really wasn't another choice.  Mark and Karen were both still in diapers, we had no washing machine or dryer, so there was a big pile of hand-washing to be done every morning.  I didn't drive so we walked everywhere. And I mean everywhere.  Even up St. Anne's Hill Road, which seemed at the time to be the longest hill ever.  It really was only an overpass, but on wet days when I couldn't hang the washing on the line, slogging it up that hill to the laundrette in the pouring rain, with two kids piled into the pram, heavily weighed down with wet laundry, the dog by our side... well, it was flippin' exhausting.  How could I possibly have taken ANY pleasure in this existence?  Amazingly enough I did.  I can bring back that feeling now... being in that steamy room, drips running down the condensation on the windows and the damp smell of clean washing in the air.  With my two lovely kids chattering away to each other, happily playing with the toys I'd brought with us, I would settle down and dive back into the book I was reading and steal a few precious moments for myself.

And even though there were long evenings, once I'd put the kids to bed, spent looking out the bedroom window, waiting for Jim to come home, for some reason, deep down inside I was happy.

I'm forever thankful that I am blessed with the ability to see the beauty around me everywhere, even on the darkest days.  I can easily take pleasure in the small happinesses that come my way.

I've been trying to write something about what life has brought me so far this year... "New Beginnings", but being completely honest with my words is proving difficult for me.  This is an unusual set of circumstances, I don't normally have that problem.

After a lifetime together, the last 8 years with Jim were incredibly hard.  They were hard for us both.  Jim had so many struggles with his health and with his self-esteem.  He had such a hard time coping with being sick, he'd always been so fit and so strong.  I guess the spiral of dealing with all conflicts he faced trying to live a healthy lifestyle just took over.  Sometimes it's just too hard... and I don't think I need say anymore than that.

But I honestly believe the choices I made during that awful time have gone a long way to saving me and my sanity.  When I made the decision to become my own person, and to consciously live a purposeful life before it was forced upon me was an incredibly powerful thing.  It's the only way I've been able to cope with the challenges I've faced, both personally and with our business, since Jim finally left us in March this year.

It's because I made peace with those decisions, that I'm still loving life.  And I do feel at peace and even full of joy when I wake up every morning.   At first it made me feel guilty, but after a while I realized that it was ok.  To quote another friend, "It is what it is..."