Devil thy name is a carpet rake

What I am about to tell you can go no further. I mean it…..NO FURTHER. In fact, telling you about this is going to place my membership into this exclusive Facebook group in jeopardy. By disclosing this information I am probably breaking one of their Cardinal Rules and one of the ‘Admins’ will probably track me down and delete me from the page.

Seriously.

For real.

They are a tough bunch.

I became a member of this particular Facebook page a few years ago after my adult daughter mentioned that she had recently begun ‘Stripping’. Being the progressive parent that I am, I concealed the look of horror on my face and said, “Pardon me? Did you say stripping?”.

“Yes mom…..stripping…..as in stripping laundry” she responded.

“Stripping laundry? Like removing sheets from the bed?” I ask…..confused.

“No…stripping laundry in the bathtub to remove the buildup of minerals and soap from my clothing”.

She went on to explain how she has begun stripping quite regularly and when she wasn’t stripping she was deep cleaning. “The ingredients for stripping laundry are quite different from deep cleaning laundry. For stripping I use washing soda, borax, and…. ( I am not going to tell you the ingredients because then FOR SURE I will be expelled from the group) and for deep cleaning I use a combination of detergent, and…..(again….not going to say). Mom seriously you SHOULD SEE THE DIRTY WATER!!!!! ”.

This is the same girl that drinks wheatgrass in the morning and devours kale chips for lunch. This is the same girl who once told me that she couldn’t remember the last time she washed her hair. THIS girl is mixing together a witch’s brew of chemicals to remove any “impurities” from her sheets and towels.

She then got all animated as she explained how the Shark Navigator vacuum was way better than the Dyson and how she created the ultimate all purpose cleaner by combining two household staples (not gonna say) in a spray bottle.

I looked around to see if I was being Punk’d. Then I teared up because she knew what a vacuum was *sniff*.

What is this Facebook page you ask? The page is called Laundry Love and Cleaning Science and has over 150,000 members from all over the world. These folks take cleaning very, very seriously.

I asked to join and was quickly approved. Let me tell you…….an entirely new world opened for me.

There is an endless stream of posts and they cover a wide range of questions. Here is one from today, “I forgot to take out the trash before leaving town. It’s over 100 degrees outside so I don’t want to open the windows. Any ideas? I don’t have any Febreze or citrus. Should I just throw handfuls of baking soda in the air??”

Cleaning porn is posted on their Facebook page all the time. Cleaning porn is described as a before and after that is so different that you wonder if it is the same home. Cleaning porn is when someone posts short video clips of power washers slowly removing sundeck or concrete stains. Cleaning porn is when someone posts a picture of a carpet with perfect vacuum ‘lines’. Cleaning porn is when they create a super-duper grout-cleaning machine out of a cordless drill and a scrubbing pad.

I admit that I was intrigued at the lengths that these members go to get things, ‘hospital’ clean.

I wondered how long it would take for my home to get into the state of some of these before pictures. If I quit doing dishes, my kitchen would be wreck by mid week. If I quit doing laundry, it would pile up to a seemingly insurmountable mountain in two weeks. I get it….it could happen to many of us. I actually have a couple of rooms that could qualify as pre-hoarding but that is a completely different Facebook group.

Which brings me to why many of the individuals feel comfortable sharing their messy and/or dirty homes. A few of them (admittedly) suffer from depression or are overwhelmed with their responsibilities of working and parenting. Only a small portion of them are OCD, whereas the others are posting pictures to keep themselves accountable. In fact, you cannot use the term ‘OCD’ on the Facebook page or your comment will be deleted. The group is there to support one another not disparage.

So….while the page does have its weird updates, I have grown to appreciate the role that it plays in many of their lives and I continue to stalk the page from the sidelines. Have I ever tried any of the strange things that they suggest? Sure, but I also take it with a grain of water softener salt. In my 20’s and 30’s I would have been all over their ideas and trying to hold myself to an unbelievable standard. This Judy doesn’t care if there is a little mess here and but I do get it…..I do understand how having the opportunity to be in control of one part of ones life can help keep the rest of the life from spinning out of control. If that opportunity comes in the way of perfect vacuum lines on the carpeting then who am I to judge.

Cheers!

Judy

If I were to be honest…..

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If I were to be honest and walk the talk, I would admit that this January has been pretty hard for me. My brain is not in the right place and I am having difficulty controlling my emotional wellbeing. You know….hypersensitive, angry, generally bitchy and wanting to spend some alone time.  Nothing to worry about really because I am aware and conscious of how I feel, but just wanted to let you know that if you feel the same way – it’s okay and we will get through it and the days will get longer and spring is around the corner and the sun will come up tomorrow.

When we admit that we are feeling kind of shitty and a wee bit blue we are not asking for hugs or pats on our hands or pity or judgement, we are just letting you know that we are struggling to find our footing. We will find our footing, I know we will, but in the meantime if you see us taking a few moments to ourselves, maybe even look like we have shed a tear, or seem a little different than normal, it is okay. Still ask us “how are doing?” because we might just need to tell you.

Judy

 

Cara Speaks….

I met Cara at our first TEDx Grande Prairie practice session. She sat in the first table directly in front of our makeshift practice stage and I could not help but notice how invested she was in each of our presentations. During my practice, she assumed the role of silent cheerleader, her smile encouraging, her nodding of understanding……I locked my eyes on her and clung as if it were a life preserver and she was keeping me safe.

We, the TEDx Grande Prairie 2016 speaking team, had just met for the first time and we were hearing our presentations for the first time. It was “solidarity in terror”, all of us feeling the pressure of our looming TEDx talks.

I knew that Cara was special. I felt her empathy for others – she wore it like an invisible cloak of feathers that fell softly as she moved. I felt safe around Cara.

You know when you meet someone and you feel like you have been wrapped in a hug of happiness? That is how I felt after spending time with Cara – especially after the evening where we all stood on that stage and shared our personal stories to the TEDx audience.

Here is Cara’s TEDx Talk – Familiar Strangers. It will fill you with hope.

 

Are you interested in hearing more from Cara? Well…..you can! She has a podcast where you can further experience the light that is Cara…..

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/cara-jones-speaks/id1131004280

Follow Cara on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carajonesspeakstv/?pnref=lhc

Sharing our ‘almost’ moments are important

Yesterday, the Premier of British Columbia , Premier Christy Clark publicly shared a personal moment in her life where she had been a victim. A moment of when a man had pulled her 13 year old being off the sidewalk and into shrubbery. She was lucky…..she managed to escape without physical harm, but still wonders who else might have suffered at the hands of this stranger.

She didn’t tell anyone. She kept it to herself like so many did and still do.

Premier Clark shared her personal story with the knowledge that she will be victimized again. She knew that telling her story would result in a deluge of terrible, horrific comments by the public who do not support her politically. Comments by folks who cannot see past her political position to a place where a vulnerable teenager still relives a horrible moment. An “almost” moment that would have irrevocably changed her life.

I can only imagine that her hope was that someone else might read what she wrote and feel safe in coming forward if the same or similar were to happen in their lives.

For a moment let’s read the words written by Premier Clark as if they were written by our sister, aunt, wife or mother. We would be horrified to read about that moment that almost was: The moment where someone dragged her into the bushes with the intent to harm her and she escaped. We would be horrified to think that she had to replay that moment in her mind over and over and over again and that she wasn’t able to share it with someone who could have helped her cope. We would be horrified to think that she had to keep this to herself for so long.

If Christy Clark were our sister, our aunt, our wife, our mother or our daughter we would be applauding her courage and empathizing with her.

Instead she will be victimized again….and young women: our daughters, our granddaughters and our nieces will stay silent because if Christy Clark cannot share her pain, her terrified moment, her “almost was” without judgment, then how can anyone?

This has nothing to do with political alliances or affiliations – this is a human issue.

Dream Killers

Dream Killers……hidingin you

Monsters: As children we check in the closet and under the bed and sleep once we are reassured that they are off terrorizing someone else.

I am grown up, but I still worry about monsters. They don’t live under the bed any longer, they live in my brain and I call them Doubts.

Those buggers are dream killers and they seem to have super human powers to turn my brain against me….

They come in so many forms: a comment on a Facebook page, an off-handed remark, a perceived facial response.

They enter your being through your pores and manifest as doubt….their only goal is to kill your dream.

Why would my brain do that to me? Why would it give me Hope with one hand and then Doubt with the other?

The Doubt Monster had told me (and the bitch didn’t even whisper, she screamed), “You are an amateur Judy and everyone is going to know you are an amateur and you are a fraud and your book is a book of a fraud(y) amateur and not worth the paper it is printed on.” and then the Doubt Monster said that my, “friends are going to be forced to lie to me and say its good when we know it isn’t”

And I want to crawl into a fetal position beside my bed. I want to throw up.

She.is.SUCH.a.bitch.

The Doubt Monster is like one of the cool girls at school and the power that she holds over me is unlike anything I have felt before.

Doubt Monster: Calm, cool, calculating

Judy: Frazzled and sweating from a hot flash.

Yesterday I was completed mired in doubt and so I reached out to a friend.

My friend listened…..She let me know that the Doubt Monster comes to her brain frequently and that I am not alone. She told me that I have the right to be both attached to my book and scared by it.

She talked me down…..bless her. No, seriously someone should bless her because today is somewhat brighter and I am trying to remember her words when that mean girl “Doubt” attempts to enter my brain.

The Doubt Monster looks for a picked at edge to gain entry. She runs her hands over the surface until she finds a little rough spot, a little corner that has become raised and frayed and then she picks and picks and picks.

It’s hard to battle the Doubt Monster 😦

Goodbye Ozzie Magoo

I have not written about Ozzie’s sudden passing in my newspaper column. I had no idea that we would lose both of our fur-babies that close together. After Riley died, Ozzie walked about like a lost puppy….he mourned….he was so sad. He would not eat and was clingy which is totally unlike Ozzie. He had the appetite of a much larger dog and food was never an issue for him. As far as being clingy….Ozzie was his own “man” and in that respect he was like a cat…only cuddling if he wanted to cuddle.

This lasted a couple of weeks and then something remarkable occurred. Ozzie began acting like a puppy once again. He was running around the house with his toys and scampering up the steps on the back deck – acting so spry! His appetite picked up and we had our Ozzie Magoo back again.

Then one day I saw him stumble and strangely begin walking in circles. I panicked and took him to the vet, scared that I was going to lose him too. Ozzie had suffered something that many small dogs suffer, much like a stroke, but one that he could recover from.

Gathering him up in my arms I took him home and both Bob and I tended to him until he seemed “almost” back to himself again.

A month passed and Ozzie began to lose his appetite once more. We tried changing his food and offering him treats, but he didn’t seem to have that voracious appetite any longer. Then I noticed him trip as he went from the grass to the deck and he had difficult time regaining his footing. It was if he was drunk and he was weaving back and forth. I picked him up and carried him into the house.

Then he began to cough. Bob and I hovered near, worried sick that we were losing our Ozzie now too.

I took Ozzie to bed with me and let him snuggle alongside my legs. I felt like something might happen and I wanted to be near him.

At about 5:30 a.m. Ozzie began to cough once more and I picked him up and snuggled him on my shoulder like he loved to do since he was a wee puppy. I heard it then…his breathing sounded like a water pipe.

Waking Bob I said, “I think this might be Ozzie’s last day with us. Do you want to get up and spend some time with him?”.

We did. We made coffee and sat with Ozzie between us, rubbing his back and scratching his ears.

That afternoon I took Ozzie down to the vet again.

Ozzie was in heart failure and his tiny body was filling with fluid making it difficult to breathe.

I called Bob at work to come home and took Ozzie home while I waited. I sat on the sun-deck with Ozzie on my lap and I soaked in his presence. I told him how much I loved him, even knowing that his deaf ears could not comprehend the words.

When Bob arrived, he did the same thing – cuddling our wee dog in his arms knowing that he would be gone soon.

The hardest part of loving your pets is knowing when to say goodbye. We didn’t want Ozzie to suffer what would be a very difficult and painful death.

We returned to the vet. It was time to say goodbye.

Holding our sweet guy in our arms, we told him we loved him and that he was a “good dog” and then he slipped from our lives forever.

And now we grieve once again. We grieve for the loss we feel in our lives and how much we miss both Riley and Ozzie’s presence.

Goodbye my sweet Ozzie.

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The Life of Riley

(Previously published in the Alaska Highway News February 3, 2016)

12573772_10153858490255050_2379012927297780315_nOzzie stares blankly at the front door, his tiny wool beret sits at an odd angle, an unlit cigarillo hangs from his mouth.

Under his breath I am certain I hear him whisper “Pourquoi?” as he shakes his head in confusion.

He has been this way for a few days now. Ever since the frantic flurry of activity where his buddy, his lifetime companion, was scooped up and carried out the front door to a waiting car: “The “Feeder” had not even put proper footwear on, nor changed out of her pajama pants. Perhaps she is going to Walmart? Why would she take Riley with her? Why did she return without him? Did Riley go to the groomer?  We always go together?

Hmmmm….something does not feel right.

Poor Ozzie. He has been wandering throughout the house for days now, mourning the loss of his friend.

We humans have been doing the same thing.

Throughout the years I have mentioned my dogs in this column. I have anthropomorphized them to the point where I image Ozzie with a beret and a cigarette and Riley as a skinny old man with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Last week we lost our dear Riley. It was very sudden and we are still coming to terms with that missing piece of our lives.

You knew that I had to do this. I simply had to share with you, “The life of Riley” which in retrospect, really was as delightful as the definition.

Riley was a pet store puppy. Literally we pointed and asked, “How much is that doggie in the window”.

At the time, Bob was looking for a puppy to be his travel buddy. Someone to sit in the seat next to him, keep him company and be his best friend.

Riley had other aspirations and they didn’t involve riding around in the truck all day. This was the scene every morning when Riley was a puppy:

Bob places Riley on the floor beside him while he puts his work boots on.

Riley scampers off to the bedroom and climbs under the covers beside me pretending to sleep.

Bob picks Riley off the bed and takes him to the truck.

Riley fakes car-sickness.

After a short time, Bob realized that he was fighting a losing battle. Riley was not going to be the truck companion of his dreams, instead Riley was going to stay at home with mom (me).

Riley was a Shih Tzu – Cockapoo cross with long legs and a pointed nose. Very little Shih Tzu was involved in his genetic makeup. He was a lovable conundrum with soft black hair and tiny paws that he would place on the most tender, sensitive part of your anatomy as he walked across you in bed.

Riley had a severe under-bite that scared small children. I believe that he became a loveable, gentle, patient dog as a way of saying to the world “don’t judge me by my looks”. After he won a stranger over with his charm, that under-bite became a smile.

Riley was our OCD dog – watching him eat was a study in animal anxiety. He was afraid of flying bugs and in the summer he would vacillate between loving the sunshine warm his sore back and the fear of being stung by a wasp.

Riley disliked a bed that was made for some reason and after I made ours, I would hear a rustle and go in and see the pillows on the floor and the bedspread crumpled: Clearly a sign that Riley had been there.

Once we brought Ozzie home, the family bed got a wee bit crowded. We moved the dogs into their own beds on the floor. Ozzie will sleep on anything, but Riley was partial to a small down-filled duvet. He would nest until he was curled into a little ball and we would hear the most contented sigh.

My sister told me, “When you give an animal a life so good he sighs in contentment, you’ve done a very good thing”.

It is true, Riley did have a very satisfying, long life, but we are never prepared for a pet to leave us. My thoughts after he passed away? “If I had known that I was going to lose him today I would have held him closer yesterday”.