Thanks, Mom!

Mom cut my bangs

Dear Mom,

Thank you for the many, many things you’ve ever done for me. As it is for most mothers, they are far too numerous to list here.

An endless list, actually. Hey, you even took it upon yourself to trim my bangs from time to time. Why would we bother driving to the beauty parlor when you were there, eager and happy to do it? How hard could it be? And naturally, your other daughter’s bangs didn’t escape your butchery expertise either.

Now Mom, I understand we were a one-income household at the time and you liked saving money wherever possible, but don’t you think your scissors-happy ways may have been a tad aggressive, especially for a school photo, recorded for posterity?

This practice of yours was nearly as darling as your penchant for dressing up my sister and me as twins. Never mind that I was two and a half years older than her.

And yet, as I flip through this old family album, my heart swells.

I see your smile.

I hear your laughter.

I feel the love.

I see my happy childhood, personified, in all of these snaps of captured memories.

And you know what, Mom? It makes me realize I wouldn’t change a single thing.

– Love your daughter,
Jennifer

Wishing a Happy Mother’s Day to all the loving moms out there!

Pages From The Past: Moving to Newtown

Moving to Newtown, Newfoundland in 2010

These are a few excerpts from my private journal in September 2010, shortly before I started this blog.  We were living in Mike Perry’s summer house here in Newtown, while our future home’s interior was being renovated on Perry’s Point by Paul’s two handy cousins and by Paul himself.  

Of note, this excerpt was written during Hurricane Igor and its aftermath.  Also of note is my poem at the end.

Very slowly, the old house on the point is undergoing its planned metamorphosis. My emotions are mixed. To see the rot exposed, the peeling paint and wallpaper, the ancient cobwebs hanging from the now-bare and blackened rafters, the unbelievable mess in the yard created by demolition, and now reconstruction – all of this plays havoc with my need for cleanliness and order. Are we really going to live here, in this two-storey house on a piece of rock jutting out into the cold North Atlantic? And are we ever going to find carpenters to install the new windows and clapboard while the rest of the work is done?

But then on one occasion when I visited the point last week, I saw something. I caught an encouraging glimpse of what could be. Of what that old house could become. My eye is drawn to the sun shining in through the multi-coloured glass of the windows we are not replacing. I see promise in their dazzling jewel tones of green, pink and yellow.

I get a mental picture of the rooms, devoid of junk and sawdust. Instead, they are neatly decorated, warm and comfortable, the kitchen filled with welcoming smells, music playing, Paul laughing at our cat Vivian as she skitters across the floor after a pop bottle stopper. I see Paul in his home office working on design plans, and I see me typing another page in my new novel. I welcome a visitor, put the kettle on…

I pretty much wish we were already there, playing house. Patience has never been my strongest virtue, so time drags on.

Sept. 21

So the house in Paradise didn’t close yesterday as planned. The buyers require a survey of the land…why did they wait until the last minute??

And now we are back in Newtown, enduring the wrath of Hurricane Igor as he sweeps over the province, the likes of which we have never witnessed. There’s a leak in the living-room here at Mike’s that started since Paul left to go out on the point. The wind is howling, the rain is hitting the windows in sheets. Mother Nature is showing her teeth today and she means business! The radio assures me that this storm is a record breaker, and I feel like I have three houses to worry about: this one, the one on the point, and our biggest investment up to now, the one in Paradise that is almost sold.

Even Maisie and Vivian look worried.

Sept. 23

Everyone I love now has their power back. My sister Lynn got hers at 1 yesterday, my mother-in-law last evening, and daughter Denise at 4 this morning (no other family lost theirs). We had it gone for about seven minutes on the night of the storm. So I breathe a great sigh of relief that all is well once again. I smile to realize that many have no cable TV or internet access right now – just like us!

Of course, we still wait for a phone call from our real estate agent or our lawyer as to when the house will close. I pray the walk-thru goes well. We wait to see if the Trans Canada Highway will open later today. And we wait for our new windows to be delivered. Sometimes life feels like a long drawn-out waiting game.

I love cooking and baking. Sometimes it feels downright therapeutic. As I made cod au gratin and a strawberry-apple crumble yesterday, a feeling of such peace and contentment enveloped me, it made me think of the book Simple Abundance and how much truth is in it. Whenever I cook and there is lots of time to do it right, I adore it. Thinking of living on the point and cooking and baking in my brand new kitchen fills me with happiness. I taped some loose recipes into my personal cookbook just this morning, in anticipation of using them soon.

The only thing that hurts is to read the recipes that Mom dictated to me over the phone not that long ago.

And I wait for a call from Lynn to see if they have a new placement for Mom. I don’t think I will get over the hurt of her Alzheimer’s disease for a very long time, and the worst is yet to come. Right on the heels of Dad’s ALS and death in 2003, the dreaded condition swooped in on my precious mother and changed her forever. Why has this double whammy hit our family, I wonder. I fear that the knowledge of it and the pain of its aftermath have changed me forever too.

As a way of dealing with these feelings, I wrote a poem this morning.

God, give me back my mom, I beg you and I plead

we’ve lost her much too early, the pain will not recede

First we lose our father to a death no one should know

too young he was to leave us–my God! I miss him so..

The grief it proved a burden our mother couldn’t bear

her sadness turned to illness with a name I’ve always feared

I know not how her soul survives as her mind and body waste

she lives and yet she doesn’t;  a stranger took her place

Where is my mother’s heart?  Where is her winsome smile?

I miss the wisdom of her words, her gentle, caring style

God, give me back my mom, if it’s only in a dream

let her put her arms around me;  let her hold me as she sings

Then please take her up to heaven, let her suffering be gone

reunite my precious parents–maybe then I can go on.

***

Bath-Time Bliss

Bathtimebliss
View from the bubbles!

Sunday Snap: Bath-time Bliss

“I think a lot of contemplation happens in bathtubs. It does for me. Nothing like a hot bath to ease the tension and think about what’s going to happen next.” ~ Sarah McLachlan

Photo: Perry’s Point, May 2, 2016

An Appreciation Bouquet for 2017

Happy 2018!

With the start of January, many bloggers like to share a statistical overview of their blog’s traffic and engagement for the previous year. I’ve chosen not to bore you with share my numbers, because personally, I value the quality of blogger/ follower interaction over the quantity of views, likes, follows and comments.

In the spirit of that, I’d like to throw out a bouquet to all of you who consistently stopped by and liked my articles, updates and photos throughout the year, but particularly I wish to thank my most frequent commenters of 2017. You know who you are, and I hope you also know how much I value your visits and our conversations! 🙂

pixabay.com

December 31, 2017 marked my sixth blogging anniversary.

How long I will continue to blog? I suppose I’m still getting something out of showing up here, so I haven’t the faintest idea, really!

I’ve seen other bloggers come and go over these six years, and some of them I truly miss. And as recently as this past week, two of my favourites have decided to close their blogs, one dealing with grief over the loss of her spouse, and the other citing lack of time due to her job and her art. Both of them have been here on WordPress at least as long as I have, so naturally, their absence will be deeply felt.

How long have you been blogging, and how long will you continue?
What do you like the most – or the least – about it?
Have you lost some of your own go-to bloggers?
Please share your thoughts with me.

Sunday Snap: the Challenge

wishes to all
for an inspired and creative week

❤ ❤ ❤

The Marathon of Novel-Writing

I’m guest-posting on A Writer’s Path today, sharing my experiences as a novelist.

Come on over for a visit and check it out!

The Marathon of Novel-Writing

A Life That Matters

 “It doesn’t matter who we are, what we are doing and what our station in life is, we all have the ability to contribute to something beyond ourselves and (to find) purpose in doing so.” – Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters.

According to Smith’s research, it isn’t happiness that makes life worth living – it is meaning. It is rising each day with a purpose. As simple and as uncomplicated as that sounds, I wonder how many of us have been chasing the wrong thing.

Is developing a “meaning mindset” the only true answer to achieving fulfillment?

Living on auto-pilot, or chasing mostly what brings you pleasure, or working long and crazy hours, driving yourself to exhaustion to conform to someone else’s definition of success – do any of these pursuits sound like happiness to you?

Or have you already figured this out?

Have you found your meaning?

A Moment With Maisie

Alright, I admit it.I am clearly the more introverted feline in this two-cat family.
Often the loner – the diametric opposite of my sister Vivian –
you will usually find me shying away from the spotlight.
Yes, I am a lap cat, and an affectionate one at that…
…but Vivian is the more “in your face” sister,
and the more photogenic one,
so naturally she gets the lion’s share of attention.
I’m the quiet and cautious girl who moves with stealth,
who wonders why Vivian is so annoyingly vocal.
And even though I might seem timid,
I’m actually more “alpha” than Viv.
I guess that’s why Jennifer says I’m the glue that holds us all together.

Do you live in a multi-cat or multi-pet household?
Do you sometimes feel overshadowed by your sibling?
 

Five-Year Reflection

I received this notification today:
5 Year Anniversary Achievement
“Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 5 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.”
 ***
 My blog turns five years old on New Year’s Eve. When I look back on that first post, Follow the Yellow Brick Road, I wonder: how on earth did I make it this far?
images-200x199Before I started blogging, I wondered what the point would be in it. I used to liken it to shouting into a void, and where was the fun in that? And at first, that’s exactly what it was. With only a handful of followers, getting a like or two – or, wow, is that a comment??? – was all the encouragement I needed to post another photo, or a poem, or a thought about something.
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Consistency is everything, as many of my blogger friends will tell you. Showing up and putting in the time and energy is what draws more followers, likes and comments. It is what brings the lovely reward of connection with other like-minded people, as well as with those who walk an entirely different path.
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 So much can happen in the span of five years. When I reflect on my life as shared through this blog, certain events stand out. I remember the highs – cherished moments with friends and loved ones (which strengthened those relationships), travel to new destinations near and far, and the fulfillment of two novels written; and the lows – first and foremost, the loss of my beloved mother to Alzheimer’s disease, as well as other sad good-byes, personal disappointments and health afflictions. For me, keeping a blog is also a form of testimonial to my ongoing gratitude, as a way to pay homage to the priceless gifts that life has granted me.
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 Today, I can’t picture my life without blogging. I know I’ve said this on earlier blog anniversaries, but it still holds true. When life gets hectic or throws me a curveball, I admit to moments that hint of burnout, but those times have thankfully been few.
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I hope Jennifer’s Journal lives on for a few years yet. Why? Because, as an introvert, I have been enriched and inspired by all the incredible people I’ve met here. You’ve added another meaningful dimension to my days, and I want to keep you around, in 2017 and beyond!

Bloggers:      
How long have you been blogging?
Have you found the connections you’ve made rewarding?

Christmas Gifts With A Wow – Not An Ow!

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Big-Hearted Gifts on a Small-Sized Budget

There is satisfaction in settling on the perfect gift – something that shows how well you know the recipient and how much you care about your relationship with them. And contrary to what advertisers will tell you, you don’t have to drop loads of cash to find the right present. In fact, the most meaningful gifts are often the ones that cost less money, but take a little more thought, time, and creativity.

Check out this list of gift ideas that tug at the heartstrings while giving your wallet a much-needed rest.

Poetic License

Express how you feel about the recipient with a poem or quote (you can use someone else’s, but please give them credit). Write it on heavy cardstock in your prettiest handwriting and frame it. Even if you’ve never crafted before, there’s lots of inspiration to be found online.

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(Photo)

Dinner Party for Two (or More)

You don’t have to be a master chef to make a delicious, inexpensive meal. Look up some recipes and whip up a loved one’s favorite meal and dessert. For an extra festive touch, deck the table with Christmas decor items from your local thrift store.

Personalized Playlist or “Mixtape”

Burn a CD of songs that mean something to you and the recipient, make nifty cover art with an easy-to-use template, and print out a track listing. Or, use Everyone’s Mixtape to keep the gift purely digital… while giving a nod to old-school mixtapes.

Do It Differently

Come up with something unique. There are many unusual present ideas for her or for the man in your life that don’t mean whacking the wallet. Stay away from the same-old, same-old, and watch their faces light up!

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Movie Night – Their Choice

Invite that special someone over for a movie marathon – they get to choose the flicks. Make awesome snacks, munch, laugh, discuss, enjoy, repeat.

Say That Again?

Choose a quotation that means something to your friend or loved one, or is significant to your relationship, and get it lettered on a cool print.

Make It Snappy

Use a service like Printstagram to print photos from a trip or an event, or order pictures of you and the gang, or the family. In a world of online selfies and digital photo albums, a tangible memento has special cachet.

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Bargain Bag

Searching Amazon for “cheap stuff” returns a treasure trove of fun gifts. Do your part to help a loved one get goofy and playful with a bundle of goodies they might not buy themselves! Need some ideas? A vintage owl pendant, ‘80’s Style Wayfarer Sunglasses, The New York Times Light & Easy Crossword Puzzles, and the game Set totals less than $19.

Simply Sales

At Threadless, artists submit designs and the community selects which ones will become t-shirts. The result is unique tees with fun, funky graphics. Shop the $10 category for cool and adorable t-shirts for men and women.

Selecting the perfect gifts for your loved ones is often tough, we all know that firsthand. But if you can come up with heartfelt presents, they will earn you mistletoe merriment and possibly save you money in the bargain!

Do you have any clever and inexpensive gift ideas or online gift sites to share?