Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring, for Real! New Beginnings with Beau.

It was the first day of spring.

And, unlike in other parts of North America, it really and truly is spring here.

Flowers are busting out all over, much to everyone's delight.

Every year, if I look closely enough, I can see the flowers' shoots coming up out of the ground in late December. I just love Canada's south-west coast! You couldn't pay me to live anywhere else.

Jeans, shirt, belt, and cami: Reitmans; Shoes: Ecco; Bangles, brooch, earrings, and locket: vintage; Jacket: thrift
Yes, it does rain a lot here, but the sun does come out sometimes and, on the first day of spring, it came out in bright, squint-my-eyes force...

... lighting up all those lovely flowers.

It was so warm, I even wore my mary-jane shoes without socks and discarded my little jacket by noon.

This seemed in keeping with my entire outfit, with its flower theme...

... to go with the flowers in my new neighbourhood.

The sun complimented real flowers and my flower brooch alike.

Yes, my brooch fetish continues. I got this one especially because I knew my grandmother would have loved it. There were very few good adults in my childhood so I really like to honour my grandmother in little ways. It was her brooch collection that was the start of my own, much larger collection. 

And yes, you did hear right if you were reading carefully: I'm now in a new neighbourhood. After two years together, Beau (and his two children) and I have taken the plunge and moved in together.

We are exhausted!!!

We've been so busy, neither of us has had a haircut in months so, lately, whenever I go out, I pull my hair back. Believe me, it's the best choice. I thought these barrettes worked though, and were in keeping with the general floral theme of the day.

The whole outfit was totally cobbled together with whatever I was able to find in boxes and piles around the new place. It's going to feel great when everything is finally set up and in its place.

But I did my best on this, the first day of spring, to look at least a little presentable, as we drove across town to get the right poles and attachments to set up my bird feeders at our new place.

It's a well-known fact that I love me my birds at least as much as I love me my brooches.

It's a bit of a lie to say I've moved to a new neighbourhood. I'm actually only a few streets away from where I lived before. I can certainly still go to all my favourite cafes and shops and see all the neighbourhood regulars.

I can even still see the crows flying home each night above my head. Look closely at the above photo. See them? That's the well-known and huge flock that flies west each morning and east each night, predictable, loud, and reassuring in their regularity. 

So the neighbourhood is the same but my new area of it is actually nicer than where I was before. When I was able-bodied, I often used to walk and jog over here, so I could enjoy the beautiful gardens and houses. 

Now that I live here, I can walk in this neighbourhood again, after all these years.

I always particularly remembered this garden in which the owner created little magical paths and archways for his grandchildren to enjoy. Way back when I was able-bodied, he told me to feel free to explore them myself. Maybe now I can!

It's such a beautiful area, where people take full advantage of our extended growing season, and then gloat a little to their friends back east.

Our own new yard is busting out with flowers too, though we don't even know what some of them are. Do you know what these are? I don't.


Our yard is pretty wild and overgrown. This is the top of what can only be called a rose tree. It's grown right up the side of the house and over the second floor balcony. I'll be getting my good friend and landscaper to come and give us advice. 

We're going to prune off all the dead bits on this tree so it has the energy to really focus on growing flowers again.

If this all reminds you a little bit of The Secret Garden, it does for me too. I love that!

I'm enjoying the little unexpected beauties as each emerges. I'm told these are crab apple blossoms. 

And there is more beauty to come, budding and ready to emerge day by day. 

What's next? Who knows?

And if that isn't a metaphor for my new life with Beau, I don't know what is.

To be continued...

(I'm linking this up with Visible Mondays on Not Dead Yet and Tres Chic Style Bits on Searching the Inner Me.)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bone Weary: Big Change and Big Courage

Beau and I are in the process of moving in together and I'm tired.

Really really tired. You know that feeling, when you're weary down to your bones and liable to burst into tears at any moment, when you get a full night's sleep and feel like you haven't slept at all. We've all been there. Moving sucks.

Dress: It's already packed so I don't know; Boots; Ecco; Levi's jacket: a gift from a friend 20 years ago; Shirt: Reitmans; Pendant, black and white ring, purse, and Larin brooch: vintage; Earrings: boutique; Diamond ring: Birk
These days, I don't feel beautiful. I haven't cut my hair in God knows how long. I'm irritable and weepy. And I just feel tired.

And scared.

You see, Beau is a single father of two boys, aged nine and twelve. I don't write about them much in this blog and I never post photos of them because we feel it's important for children to have internet privacy. But they are a big part of my life, and my moving in with Beau means I'm becoming a step-mother! That's why we've waited two years to live together. We wanted to give the kids and me the time to get to know each other.

Even once we'd decided to live together, even once the kids were whole heartedly on board with the idea, we wanted to make sure we found just the right place, with lots of room for everyone. We found a great place, and we're all really excited about it.


But I'm really tired and, yes, I'm really scared. I was feigning drama in this photo, but only barely.

There is some real drama. You can see the fatigue in my eyes, even as I'm trying to ham it up for the camera.

Don't get me wrong. I want to make this move. I like the kids and we get along really well. They think of me as family already and are eager for me to live with their father and them.

But I have lived alone, by choice, for twenty years!

I was born into a family of extreme cruelty, brutality, and unimaginable sexual abuse. Of course I have complex PTSD. Over the years, I've found many ways to cope with it, and one major way has been to let my natural introversion take over. Given my experience of family, the only way I've known how to feel safe has been to live alone. There have been times when I've spent 90% of my meager income just to have a door to shut between me and the world.

In the last two years, I've found that my introvert space has slowly expanded to include Beau. I do feel safe with him. I do want to live with him. But making this move, especially moving in with children, is forcing me to think about my own childhood, my own coping mechanisms, the negative associations I have with the word "family," and how I'm going to have to learn to make some changes in the ways I face the world.

So, yeah, I'm scared and I'm stressed, and I'm tired.

As always when my stress level increases, my pain level has increased too. Given that my disability was caused by child abuse, my pain becomes a kind of a trigger, reminding me of abuse, which causes more stress, which causes more pain. The cycle continues.

And, on a more practical note, have you ever tried moving when you're disabled? It's an exercise in frustration and, yes, stress. More stress.

So, on this day, I felt the need to dress tough. I even dug out the old Anubis earring I got in my early teens. Anubis was the Jackal headed Greek god who, among other things, weighed the hearts of the dead against an ostrich feather. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it was not pure, and would be eaten by Ammit. In other words, the impure of heart would not gain immortality.

For me, in my teens, badly abused, and having no recourse for justice or escape, Anubis made me feel that maybe, just maybe, there would be justice in the afterlife. Maybe those who hurt me would pay for their sins after all.

I don't wear my Anubis earring often anymore, but, when I do, it's because I'm really struggling to feel my own power.

Thus the "tough girl" outfit. Okay, as usual, I'm not very good at looking tough. I never have been.

But, to me, there was something tough about this outfit. An ancient, weather-beaten, jean jacket, a Brutalist brooch, the colours of urban decay... Tough, right?

Or, if not quite tough, then at least urban? Will you grant me that?

I felt my outfit had a certain grit and edge to it that I felt I needed to combat my own fear and fatigue. Am I the only one who dresses for courage? I doubt it.

And what says "tough" like a knuckle duster ring?

On a boomerang pattern, urban grey, table top. That boomerang pattern, a staple of the 1950s, made me think of our new kitchen, which we are decorating in total 1950s fashion. I really am excited about our new place, in between the fear and the exhaustion.


And besides, it's spring here! Really and truly spring. God how I love the west coast. 

Not only is it spring, but it wasn't even raining, and you know what that means, don't you? 

That means: Enjoy it, quick, before the rain comes back! So I wore a long skirt (that, for once, would not drag in the rain), and a little spring colour to go with the urban grit.

I didn't even wear tights or leggings. It was too warm for that.


So, yeah, I tried to have a little fun, but I can't say I was hugely successful.

Can I maintain some inner peace when I'm not living alone? Do I have what it takes to be a step-mom? Am I giving enough? Do I have that generosity of spirit?

Beau says I do. Beau says I already give more to his children than anyone would expect. 

Beau says that, far from making me an unkind person, my rough background has made me exceptionally compassionate towards the weak and marginalized, including children and animals. In the above photo, I'm talking to my cat friend, Houdini, asking him why he won't come down off his porch to say hello.

Beau makes a little joke about me and cats, and I smile. He's able to make me laugh even in all this stress.

Beau has faith in me. He has faith that everything will work out well for the four of us. I'm doing my best to share that faith. Sometimes a great move forward takes great courage. 

I'm doing my best.

(I'm linking this up with Visible Mondays on Not Dead Yet, and Seeker's Tres Chic Bits at Searching the Inner Me.)