A Second Set of Eyes

I have learned over many, many years, that everybody needs a second set of eyes on them. And not many people are afforded this little perk in life. The world operates on the “I can do it myself” mentality. Some make it and prosper, others, find their way into our rooms, and have to begin again, from the ground up.

Recently, I was reading a book. And was pleasantly surprised to learn a piece of truth, that just made everything make sense all of a sudden.

In my life, when my husband was diagnosed as Bi-Polar in 2003, he was very ill and was down for the count for almost an entire calendar year. What I learned in that time was the “Importance” of those second set of eyes.

When it comes to Mental Health, we should not try to go it alone. Because for the most part, a doctor, (If you can find one) sees you, (after whatever wait time you have to sit through) gives you a diagnosis, then begins the arduous task of giving one medication, one goes home and begins said treatment plan.

Then What ???

Who is gonna be there to see if what the pills that one is taking is doing the right job, and if not, have the ability to observe from the outside, what is going on in the inside of our “Significant Other.”

I know a lot of kids, in my community, going it alone. They don’t have that second set of eyes on them. In the past, I tried to be that other set of eyes for them, to the best of my ability. All of them, today, are “out there.”

Every once in a while, when sitting in a particular room, those boys and girls sitting with us, connect. And if we are wise, those of us, who know what to do, quietly bring one or two on board with us.

Quiet and Considerate action can be fruitful, if your bank is topped up and you know what to do for your fellows. A long time ago, Todd took a liking to me, and when it was necessary for him to step in and take control, that is exactly what he did. And I live to tell that story, as often as possible.

I get to take the knowledge in my bank and share it with a chosen handful of men, in my life. They trust me enough to listen. And I find that once we begin talking, we find commonality.

I don’t think we are meant to go at life alone, forever. At least, I have not had to Go It Alone for the last little while. If you can step up and be that second set of eyes for someone or to step up and mentor a young person, or go above and beyond the call and really step up your game with your kids, that is the way to go.

We only get this one life. And the faster one realizes that, “You Can’t Take It With You” when you’re dead, we then get to decide how we are going to spread our wealth and treasure with someone who just might need it, when necessary. It does not take much to help our fellow boys and girls.

All you have to do is step up and be counted. To offer a conversation, at first, and see where that goes. You might be surprised that within a simple conversation, we find ways to give back. Quietly and Humbly.

This Christmas is all about Giving It Back.

A number of years ago, when my great aunt Georgette was still alive, and was in the Grey Nuns Convent, just up the block from my home, she would call me into her office and assign me a Giving Back Job, every Christmas.

Every year was a different situation.

One year, I had to provide a Christmas dinner for a family who did not have the money to buy food. Turkey and all the fixings.

A second year, a young family could not afford gifts for their kids, so we shopped for a family and their kids.

A third year, a family could not afford a Christmas Tree and decorations. So we bought them a tree and all the doo dads to go with it.

When I was a kid, my step mom provided fantastical holiday gatherings at her house. My father was not such a fan, but it is what it is.

I have kids to give to this year. I have family that come to our home for Christmas Dinner. Chosen family. The gift of today is the ability to choose our family, when the nuclear family fails to represent.

We don’t need shiny objects or surplus doo dads that we really do not need. I think the best way to be kind, is to find one person, in your “sphere of influence” that has shared with us a passion or a desire.

It is in the listening to another, that we learn just what we can do to make a difference in someones life.

Do you listen to your friends ? Attentively ???

It is Christmas. Find that one human whom you can make a difference for, and then go do it.

Just don’t think about how much it might cost you, because the return on investment could be astronomical. You never know.

Make a difference in someones life this Christmas.

Remember, Miracles count double on Christmas Eve.

Seventeen

December 9th 2018 came and went without fanfare.

The phone only rang once all day. The Big Celebration will take place on Friday night, at our regular Friday Night meeting. It is our Anniversary Meeting/Christmas Party. And I will take my cake as well.

I’ve been trying to figure out where I sit in the grand scheme of things, a little drop in the Big Ocean of the Universe. I’ve not quite figured that out just yet, so I am still flying by the seat of my pants.

A while back I had a conversation with a friend who is at year seven in his transition, today. Back then, amid some strife in his life, I told him that “What people think of us is none of our business.”

Not long ago, while talking together he parroted back to me that phrase, but he could not place where he had originally heard it. And I said, “that was a sober thought, and it sounds like something I would have said to you in the past. So it went.

We talked about what he calls being “Emotionally Self Sufficient.” Not relying on others, judgments, critiques, support or not support for us, to dictate the men and women we become.

I don’t usually worry about what people think of me, on the whole. It used to bother me when people, in public would critique my outfits or judge me one way or another. I kind of grew out of that insanity. Albeit, the hard way.

It had to be purged amid a pass through my steps this past Fall.

The one thing that haunts me to this day is the nostalgic portion of my brain that gives credence to the thought that people would grow up and finally want to make peace, after a lifetime of vitriol and hatred. In the back of my head I believe that every human has One Redeeming Quality, that can overcome whatever hardness in their hearts, if only they would find it within themselves. Alas, that has not happened.

I really cannot stomach that there are people in my life who hate me and want nothing to do with me because I am Gay and that I chose to take hold of my life, and go my own way, and do my own thing, and I believe, I did a good job so far. Some people don’t get it, and fault me for leaving a nuclear unit to break out on my own. Let’s remember that these same people, pushed me away and out of that nuclear unit, because I was Gay.

So Fuck Me !

There are so many good things in my life today. Today was my Quit Day, smoking cigarettes. I’ve been on Chantix for more than a week now, and just crossed the second week dosing of higher doses of medication. Which has seriously curbed my desire to smoke. That is a thing.

Working with others has kept me busy and on point. Trying to be the best human I can, and teaching lessons to others, that I learned myself many, many years ago, today. Not too many people pay attention to my stories, but there are three men who will listen.

And when I say to them, TRUST ME … I know what I am talking about, because it comes from a place deep within my soul. From the man who saved my life, and said those words to me, when I needed to hear them, and I have survived more than twenty five years now.

Hindsight is truly a gift these days.

Christmas shopping is going on. I did the bulk of my shopping on Tuesday. I had to travel into the Village for some things. And the central village Metro Station is closed for renovations until next June 2019. So I had to figure out how to get out of our intermodal Berri Station, which houses several Metro lines on three levels, down into the ground. The main Montreal bus station and all associated towers and service offices. There are many ways out of the station, but if you take the wrong tower exit, you end up in a particularly “other” area of town that you actually wanted to end up in.

There is a little snow on the ground. It is unseasonably below average cold, but it should warm up into positive numbers come the weekend. Long range forecasts says that snow showers will fall on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We are hosting a Christmas Dinner party for a friend, his wife and her mom. Their Second Christmas dinner here at our house.

It will be grand.

All in all life is good. I am still sober. And all is well.

Thursday – What’s Going On ?

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The holidays have come to the city-scape. There was a huge kerfuffle this past Remembrance Day, here in Montreal, where a particular shopping mall had scheduled Santa coming to see the kids on November 11th … Remembrance Day.

People were incensed. Lots of people were pissed off because the mall would disrespect the memory of those who died in Canada’s conflicts, with Santa … On the same day.

Cue Indignation and Protests.

Santa came anyways.

Christmas decorations go up, as soon as Halloween is over. That was NOT the case this year. The street workers hung the lights on the street light poles last week, and they are lit tonight.

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The Alexis Nihon Plaza put up decorations over the past few days. This is the tree in the Atrium just outside the Canadian Tire. It spans two floors. And has hanging ornaments up above in the ceiling.

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We usually don’t put up the tree until after American Thanksgiving. It’s not Christmas until the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade goes off in New York City. Hubby wants to change-up our decorations this year, since we have not invested in new ornament nor lights in over a decade. We really need a new tree, but $300.00 for a fake tree at the Tire is just so cost prohibitive.

This week, I did some Winter shopping. I needed some new shirts, because my old Winter standard under shirts and Henleys are ripped and torn, and every year I just sew them back together after the Winter.

Have thread and needle – will sew …

I could not find the White nor the Green Henleys I really wanted, Gap shirts. I even went to Gap to see if they had them in stock. I saw a boy on the bus to Ottawa wearing one (Green) and I really liked the color, but I wasn’t going to ask him where he bought his clothing !

I was at Winners yesterday, and they had over stocked their Winter gear. I found a white Henley in the style I wanted, and it’s off white … I also found a couple of winter shirts in red and purple to go with my wardrobe. I need to be able to accessorize my tights collection. I found some BAUER hockey thermal gear (I don’ play hockey) at the Tire last week so I am set to go.

Last night I was searching my platforms for clothing. I usually comb Ebay and my assorted sites that send me email sales flyers. I’ve been looking for a purple long sleeve Under Armour shirt, on a particular site I shop at, and the shirts are cheap, but are on back order for three weeks, but shipping is a kick in the ass at $32.00 per item.

If the shipping cost MORE than the item itself, that’s a deal breaker.

Back on Ebay last night, I am always on the hunt for rare pieces that nobody else is selling anywhere world-wide. Hot Ticket tights are rare. And I’ve searched all over the world for stuff I see on Tumblr and Pinterest. They give you photos, but not necessarily a sales point to find them.

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I was trolling the list when I came across a “RARE” Skins brand pair of tights that were white. They were authentic, and I carted them for a few minutes while I completed my scan. I ended up buying them because they came in really cheap. I paid a total of $40.00 U.S. plus shipping. After I completed the sale I thought about the item that I had just bought.

People selling on a platform don’t necessarily do their homework before they put an item up for sale, like, is it a “RARE?” Is anyone else selling something similar ? Is that RARE item available from the specific sales point (read: SKINS) ?

People tend to haphazardly list an item with no searches. And when that happens you can get away with a RARE for very little money.

This afternoon, I wrote the seller and told him he lost good money selling a RARE for little cash, when he could have sold that specific item for 4 to 5 times the price he sold mine at, and made some serious cash in his pocket. Because SKINS brand tights sales begin at $100.00 and go up to over $200.00 depending on where you are shopping and the exchange rate in either the Euro, the UK, or Australia. Plus shipping.

Today I ran errands all afternoon and took a power nap, before the meeting. I forgot one particular piece of information. I got up, sorted new clothes to wear, showered and coiffed, (I got my hair cut yesterday – it’s quite sleek now). I got dressed, and walked up to the bus stop, got on the bus and when I arrived at the church realized that I indeed forgot that: THE MEETING WAS CLOSED TONIGHT.

UGH – I hate Old Timers Disease.

The weather here is slowly moving towards Winter. Nights are cold, going down to minuses with a little rain. Which under the right conditions will turn to snow flurries, which leads to snow itself. We are still sitting in flurry territory this week.

That can all change depending on what direction the wind is blowing from.

Hopefully this year we might get a white Christmas.

More to come.

Friday – Our Family Has Grown – Best Night of the Week

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The weather has turned cold, and a little of the white stuff may fall over the next few days. Sadly, not enough to make a difference on the ground. The hope is for a White Christmas.

I’ve met my new Elders this week. We spent family night together, and it was their first “Family Night” because this community event was not part of where they had been prior to coming to our ward.

The Holiday Event for the LDS church began: Mormon.org Christmas Message

There are twenty five days of giving on a daily schedule. After the short film we played a crowd favorite: Werewolf … gather your folks, each has an identity, and it is a day and night game, with a narrator who guides the game. One of our local Mandarin Elders is really good at that, and our new Elders had never played before so that was a treat to watch.

Wednesday I started my Christmas shopping for home and New Foundland. I am sharing Christmas with Baby Mama, she recently moved into her new home with baby LuLu. And given recent events, and child support still up in the air, money is an issue. So I have been collecting Christmas for both of them. We have a date at a food bank Christmas Gift Program, and a lady friend of mine is going to go shopping with me, for Mama in the coming days. All that will go by Express Post as soon as we’ve collected everything that needs to go to New Foundland.

Today, I had my first “Discussion” with my new Elders. We set the stage for continuity of ministry, I shared with them what my LDS mentors in Salt Lake City have said about my circumstances. Now they are consulting the Mission President so that I can sit with him and have a discussion about me, because his no win repugnant suggestion is totally off base and disrespectful to me and my husband.

I came home with time to spare, so I got a disco nap before I had to head out. We welcomed a couple, (Who are now new parents) from Toronto. These young people have been staple members of the group for a long time. Tonight they brought their new baby.

Babies make things brighter. We are so proud of both of them.

We are marching towards the holidays. And I’ve made some suggestions to our young people:

  • Go and find someone who might not be IN the meetings, and CALL THEM, and do something good for that person. Coffee, Meals, Meetings.
  • Go into your community and find someone, or a family, that might not have enough to make Christmas really special, and give something because you can.
  • Christmas is a time of miracles. Go Be a Miracle for someone.
  • The Holidays can be sketchy, and we have options and guides to help make things a bit easier. We introduced them this evening. (READ: Living Sober)
  • Invite a member to your Holiday Dinner if you can and are able.
  • Make sure your elderly neighbors are not alone. Check on them, make sure they are alright.
  • Meetings are OPEN on the holidays. There are very few closures and cancellations here, so there is no reason you can’t make a meeting on the holiday.

The Holiday Season is a a season of happiness and giving. But it is also a season of misery and sadness for some. And this is a fact. We see this every year. So I’ve been working tirelessly in making sure there is a room to go to and people to care for their neighbors and their fellows.

Numbers always fluctuate during the holidays. And Sobriety Looses Its Priority for some. The factor of a slip versus making it back after the new year are slim. So our job is to keep our numbers stable, because we always see numbers spike in January, so everybody needs to be on deck. Every good moment we create NOW, will carry through the Holidays.

GOOD DEEDS COUNT TWICE ON CHRISTMAS EVE …

Go Do Good Deeds.

 

Sunday Sundries: The Bone Collection

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The Holiday’s have begun here at home. After a slow start to the weekend, today comes to an end, with the Christmas Tree up, lit and decorated. A yearly tradition begins with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on tv and decorating the tree.

Sadly, when we started, and we tested the lights we have been using for the last decade or so, some of them did not make it through the last storage period. So we tossed them.

Now we are planning Christmas Shopping strategies. There is a neat retro shop that has all kinds of retro 80’s stuff… There are two of these shops in separate shopping malls downtown that I know of, and I think we are going to go for a Retro Christmas this year for the family. That should be very interesting because all the sisters and brothers in law are in the same age bracket as I am … (read: Pushing fifty)

I have made a dent in my recently purchased books read. There are about six books “in process” on my bedside table. I am slowly still reading Andrew Sullivan’s Far and Away, and a new book by Ben Ehrenreich, and a few others.

My Kathy Reich’s books came a few days ago from Amazon, so they were pushed to the top of the pile. Last night I finished reading “The Bone Collection,” a book of short stories and novella’s that have been compiled into a single volume.

When I began reading the Kathy Reich’s series, the Temperance Brennan series, you just don’t get investigation stories, you also get Tempe’s social, family and love life with them. And I’ve been reading her books for a long time, trying to follow ALL the story lines from book to book.

On her last write Tempe had been condo shopping with her beau, Andrew Ryan. And he had asked her to marry him.

She has not answered yet.

I have been waiting for the next installment to see what she had decided. And was pleasantly surprised when she touched the subject in the short story “Bones on Ice” about an investigation of a climber from Mount Everest who dies and is eventually brought off the mountain for death investigation.

Really, it was one sentence … But it was a healthy sentence.

The Bone Collection does not disappoint. Reading this book, put the other early books in perspective, knowing how she was invited into her first case, and the why, and what happened, that led her from archeology to her present job as criminal forensic anthropologist.

Temperance had a hard journey into the force in the first several books. It took a long time for Tempe to find her way, and to also find respect as a female lead in a male driven work environment. She eventually grew into her own.

The second book I bought was Cross Bones. I bought it because it had a very recent publish date and I thought it was new. But as I sat with it last night, reading the first chapter, i was having a case of Deja Vu… Me thinks I read this before …

I got out of bed and searched my library and sure enough, the book was in my already read library against the bedroom wall.

UGH, what a let down. I was hoping for some fresh current news about Temperance Brennan. Now I will just have to wait for the next installment.

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After the Elder/Sister shake up last week, we learned that several of our LDS Elders and Sisters had been moved to other locations and cities, and I had been told who was coming in to fill those positions. Tonight, I actually got a phone call from my new Elder team, with formal introductions, so we will meet for the first time tomorrow night.

This was the best piece of news to come this weekend.

I was feeling a bit abandoned.

THERE ARE ONLY 28 SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS …

 

Tuesday – Christmas Miracles

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Well, the forecast is not good, for Canada that is, Canada in the Mid to East. There is too much snow out West, and out East, to the Maritimes.

We will hit a balmy 17c on Christmas Day. For the record books, this will be green Christmas number 7. This record goes back to the 1950’s.

The Canadian forecasters tell us tonight that Winter, will just be “late,” as they put it.

It was a busy day today.

I had a doctors appointment across town, a 40 minute train ride and a short stroll. I got there EARLY and waited almost 90 minutes. Once again, I noticed that the Greek national dress is black …

The room was full of hens and chicks. And they were babbling away. Several women, traveling with husbands and daughters. But it seemed to me, a common conversation was going on between them, that I could not understand.

While people were coming and going from the exam office, couples were reunited, and we played musical chairs for an hour. I had the solo seat, being the only single in the bunch. And a couple of elderly women came in and needed seats, so I know that drill …

I moved three times, I stood for half an hour, then had my turn.

Doc had things to say, and not all good. He said the x-ray report was worse than the x-rays themselves. I have calcium build up on L3 and L4, and the discs are crammed together, causing pinched nerves which caused the sciatica and the pain and numbness.

He can tell by the x-rays whats wrong, and the fact that I am presenting solid evidence for spinal issues, the aforementioned pain and numbness.

I have NOT been taking my pills, that are suggested: As needed.

The pain is not cranking, and only ranges in the 1’s and 2’s. And not the past 9’s or 10’s. So I stopped taking them. Addict that I am, I don’t need any help.

BUT, he suggested I take the pills so that I get the muscle relaxing and the hope is, in 3 to 4 weeks, things will begin to get better. I asked about Chiro … He does not usually suggest chiro.

In simple speak, I am almost 50. And my body is aging. Having several medical issues going on at the same time, and the fact that I take a handful of pills nightly for them, one more isn’t going to kill me.

Ok …

I got back on the train and headed back to my first connection where the Orange and Blue lines connect. At this station, the tracks are not side by side, they are stacked, one above the other, on both lines.

I get off on the upper level, and have to transit downstairs to my connection to go back downtown. Somewhere along the line, I ended back on a blue train going back in the direction I just came from.

I should have noticed, the train was empty when I boarded, and that the train sat in the station longer than a usual train does. So I sat down, and did not notice I was on the wrong train until it hit the first station, like I said, in the outbound direction.

I had to get off at the stop and cross back over and come back a station to get on the proper Orange line train I needed to make.

Hubby left early this morning, so I got home and was all alone. I had a couple of hours to kill before I had to travel back in the direction I came from earlier in the day.

I packed my bag, with the usual stuff. I have an old plastic and metal water bottle, and I had bought a great Christmas card for the church and had our Christmas donation in a baggie, and a few odds and ends.

I dropped my bag at the elevator going downstairs, and it cracked on the floor. I did not notice that anything was wrong with the bag until I hit the mall. As I walked in and got on the escalator to go down, I noticed my pants were soaked wet. I was like, did I pee my pants or something?

No, I didn’t actually.

My bottle was broken and a full bottle of water was flowing out the bottom of the bag all over everything inside. There is a huge potted plant on the ground floor which I stopped at to rid the bag of water and now sodden shit. The card was ruined, but thankfully, the money was dry. You can’t wet Canadian currency. It won’t hold water.

I got on the train and made my transit without delay.

I walked down the hill to the church, and miracle number one was waiting for me in the hall. For the last few months I have been writing about a particular friend, whom a disagreement was had.

Both of us went into radio silence.

One because he was mad at me, and two because my sponsor told me to keep my thoughts to myself and my mouth shut.

In no uncertain terms.

It has been a tough slog going to meetings knowing that someone in the rooms hates your guts and is resentful. But people have to be allowed their process, and God took His sweet old time in acting.

I walked in the room and stopped short and dropped my bag on the table, and thought to myself, “what are you doing here? You never come to this meeting.”

I said nothing, instead.

Love is a term we use with friends we care about. And I love my friends, this particular friend especially. He said his piece outside in the hall. I was shocked and in tears by the time it was over with.

The water flowed and we hugged for the first time in months.

We spent the rest of the pre meeting time period talking outside.

He did not stay. And they asked me to chair.

I sat down and began the meeting, and miracle number two walked in the room and sat down. Miracle number two is a young man, like miracle number one, I care about very deeply, because they together saved my ass during a very crucial time in my sobriety.

Good deeds do not go unnoticed.

Miracle number two has been off on an adventure in Isolation.

But he’s been coming around for a few weeks, quietly. He would come and go and not speak. So I put him to work, in reading and participating in 12 step work at the end of the meeting.

After the meeting we walked back to the train together and we spoke for the first time in months and months.

Never let good deeds go unspoken. I had things to say and he needed someone to listen.

Right Now, my family is complete. Everyone I need is in my life. And I mean everyone I need. (not including my husband).

I prayed for these two miracles for months now. I Begged God to make it right, and in His time, He made things right.

Glory Be To God…

My heart is full.

There are gifts under the tree that I did not buy. Where they came from and how they got in here without me noticing them and then the gifts being wrapped, is beyond me. One is a huge box, and the other stands about four feet tall and I have no idea what they are.

The gifts I bought myself are in transit. One is in the city somewhere, and the other two are in transit from the states as we speak. My Indigo books that I bought on Friday, came on Monday night.

All I want for Christmas is family. It is the family we created. The family we were all meant to have. Some are blessed to have family of origin still in their lives, but I do not.

And you are grateful for God’s small miracles.

I certain am.