Category Archives: The Prompt

The Prompt – My Favourite Smell

The Prompt for this week is a topic and it is:
My favourite smell…

 

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My favourite smell is the sea

That salty, seaweed smell evokes such vivid childhood memories of weekends spent having fun, swimming, sailing, messing around in rubber dinghy’s or playing on the beach.

As a little girl I always wanted to live by the sea and when Hubbie and I got married and had our first Son I finally got my wish and we moved to the part of the Essex coast where I spent most of my childhood.

Eldest son wasn’t the easiest of babies truth be told, in fact he was quite a handful in my young and inexperienced hands. Every single day, without fail, I would put him in his pram and we would take a long walk along the sea wall which was right at the end of my road.  I was lonely in those early days as a new mum with a demanding baby but those walks along the sea wall were good for me, they got me out of the house and gave us both some fresh air which thankfully made eldest son sleep, which he rarely did!

When we immigrated to Canada I felt the need to be by water and although Lake Ontario is a freshwater lake, not salty, it is so vast that it feels like the sea.  I just knew that was where we needed to settle.

I regularly walk along the lake shore here and, just like those walks I did as a new mum, it’s acts as a therapy for me.

In the summer we get a build up of algae that drives locals mad because it smells like seaweed and while I nod, as if to agree with their proclamations of disgust, I inwardly smile at the familiarity of the scent.

When I am feeling lonely, sad or homesick I take a walk down to the lake and I sit on the beach, close my eyes and listen to the waves lapping at the shoreline, I inhale deeply and fill my lungs with the aroma of the sea. It brings back a hundred different wonderful memories, and it comforts me because it smells like home.

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The Prompt – Time

The Prompt for this week is a topic and it is:

I wish I had more time…

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This is going to be a hard post to write because when I first read this weeks Prompt my mind jumped straight to my beloved Mother-in-Law and the last time I spoke to her.

 

 

She had been in the hospice for a while, the operations, chemo and radiotherapy had ceased and the cancer was ravaging her body.

Her hair, once black, glossy and wavy with red undertones that would gleam in the sun was now short, spiky and patchy.
Her skin, which used to be a flawless almost olive in shade now hung translucent from her shrinking frame.

 

We knew the end was near but were all in denial as we tried to protect ourselves from the inevitable pain and then eventually the day came when we were told it was time to say goodbye.

 

She saw us all in groups; her children, her grandchildren, her siblings.
So I stood at the bottom of her bed with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

“I thought I had more time”, she said
“I thought I had time to take the grandchildren to the seaside, to sit outside a beach hut and watch them play,
I didn’t think it would end like this”.

 

She didn’t say it in a self pitying way, it was simply a statement.

 

It wasn’t meant to be this way.

 

She was so brave and so calm while I was a wreck.

I could’ve, should’ve been stronger for her

I managed to tell her, between sobs, that I loved her and how grateful I was for everything she did for us.
I am glad I had a chance to tell her.

 

But she should have had more time.

 

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The Prompt – Lucky

The Prompt for this week is a quote and it is:

Calvin: You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

 

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We have a saying in our house “The harder I work, the luckier I get”.

It stems from the criticism Hubbie and I received when we started our own business and began to do well.  We often heard phrases like ‘you’re lucky’ or “it’s alright for you but…” and worst of all this criticism came from our nearest and dearest, the very people that should support us.

 

The thing is, nothing we have achieved ever came from luck it came from determination, hard work and often sheer bloody mindedness. We have never been given any more opportunities than the next person and we certainly weren’t born with silver spoons in our mouths but we had ambition and knew we always wanted that little bit more from life.

 

From what I have discovered it is a particularly British thing to support the underdog and frown on people who succeed, which is probably why we fit in well here in North America where the ‘good for you’ attitude is abundant.  I, like my fellow Canadians, enjoy watching people do well and succeed.  I love to see my family and friends live a happy life no matter what they choose to do with it.  We are all different after all and what makes us happy is different.  No particular way is better than any other it’s what suits you and makes you happy that is important.

 

We don’t have the life we do because we were wearing our lucky rocket ship underpants, it’s because it we worked hard for it, we took risks and they paid off.

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The Prompt – Vacation

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As I stood on the shore of the lake I was blown away by the view the calm water that didn’t have the slightest ripple, the intense cobalt blue sky and the emerald green pines that is so quintessentially Canadian.  The view, when compared to the other 3 million lakes in Canada, wasn’t anything special but as I stood there this intense feeling of calm and stillness washed over me.

 

I think it was the realisation of our dream, the ideal that we had been working towards for the preceding 5 years had finally come to fruition and standing there on that beach in awe of the beauty of my surroundings that I finally began to feel that I had arrived.

 

This feeling of calm, of being completely at peace with the world and utterly relaxed was what we had given up the security and comfort of our lives in England for.  For the first time since we had moved the homesickness started to dwindled and the big hole left by the absence of my family and friends began to shrink and was replaced with a feeling of belonging and being settled.

I don’t think the feelings of homesickness will ever go away completely but ironically it took being away from our new house to make it feel like home. That brief holiday went a long way to healing my expat fears, it helped to calmed my worries and started to heal my soul.

 

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A Perfect Day – The Prompt

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The Prompt for this week is a phrase and it is:

A perfect day…

 

I awoke to the sound of chipmunks chasing each other up and down the bark of the big pine trees that tower above our campsite, the sun already warm on the side of the canvas promises a lovely day ahead.  I creep quietly out of the tent so as not to disturb the softly snoring bodies beside me, into the fresh morning air.

It is still early and the campground is quiet except for the wildlife that scurries through the trees.  I light the fire under the kettle and sit listening to the crackle of the wood as the water boils, there’s nothing quite like that first cuppa in the morning and I enjoy mine in solitude.  The heavy sent of pine fills the air and I listen to the birds singing and watch the squirrels forage in the undergrowth.

 

It is only the crackle and aroma of cooking bacon wafting across the campground that gets the boys out of their beds and a cooked breakfast sets us up perfectly for our day, starting with a hike.

 

The trail is a gradual climb to a look out over the lake, I can feel the burn in my legs as we wind our way on the path through the rocks and trees and as we finally reach the view point we stand together in silence, amazed at the natural beauty before us.

 

At this point I quietly chide myself for the homesickness that is like a constant background noise to my daily life, what a fool I am, it is impossible not to be content and happy in such a stunning environment.

 

We return to the campground hot and sweaty and immediately head to the beach for a swim in the crisp, clear water of the lake.  The first steps into the cool water are utter bliss and as the sun beats down we enjoy swimming,  floating and splashing around in the afternoon heat.

 

That evening as we sit around the camp fire cooking our dinner of steak and baked potatoes and with a chilled glass of my favourite Pinot Grigio I admit wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.  We all have a glow to our cheeks from the sun and our active day has left us tired but happy.  I am so lucky to have my family around me and I struggle to fend off sadness as I think about how few days like this we have left, the boys are growing up so fast and will be off on their own soon.  I feel immense pride in them as I watch them chatting and laughing together, thank God they get on so well.

 

The sky turns from dark blue to peach and orange and then a spectacular night sky is revealed above us so we take a walk down to the beach to escape the light pollution of the campground and to get a better view. I’ve never seen the sky so full of stars before and we lie on the sand and point out the constellations that we know.

 

Later that night as I curl up in my bed feeling the warm glow of my Sunkist skin and my aching muscles I listen to the haunting call of the loons on the lake, a final thought runs through my head as I drift off to sleep…What a perfect day.

 

 

Unexpected – The Prompt

The Prompt for this week is a phrase and it is:

That was unexpected…

 

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It was a normal Friday, September 27th 2013, nothing unusual on the agenda but before I even opened my eyes there was a strange anxious feeling in my stomach.  I did a quick mental check on the events of the day before and the day to come…nothing out of the ordinary was expected or had happened but there it was an unsettled, nervous feeling deep in my stomach that I couldn’t explain.

 

What was going on?

 

I got Husband and the boys out the door and set about my usual Friday chores, grocery shopping and housework.  The unsettled feeling persisted.

 

I got stuck into the housework as I scrubbed, vacuumed, bleached and polished  my  anxiety grew.  Periodically I stopped to analyse what was going on and ask myself why I felt like this.  My 40th was one week away, was this what people termed a ‘midlife crisis’, was I turning into a neurotic nut bag?

By lunchtime I felt an overwhelming need to speak to my parents so I logged into Skype.  Offline it said, now that was unexpected they were never offline.  A quick mental calculation of the time difference in England told me it was 6pm there, Dad should be home Mum would be getting home from work about now why would they possibly be offline this time on a Friday? My nervous stomach did a back flip.

I distracted myself with more cleaning, everything that stood still was either scrubbed or put away, I couldn’t stop and I didn’t know why.  I checked skype repeatedly, still offline.  Was that the reason behind my feelings? Was something wrong back in England?  The logical part of my brain told me I was being utterly ridiculous but I was sure something was going on, I just didn’t know what.

By 3pm I couldn’t take it anymore, sixth sense, instinct, call it what you will but something in my very core told me something usual was happening and every fibre of my being needed to find out what it was. I called my sister.

“Hey, do you know where mum and dad are?” I asked.  “No, why?” she replied, the picture of innocence.  I explained my anxiety and how my stomach had been churning for the last 8 hours and how I couldn’t get hold of our parents and I just knew something wasn’t right.  “ I feel like something is happening” I told her

Half an hour later, when my husband arrived home early and asked me come outside I was greeted with the most amazing, jaw dropping sight.  There on the drive, suitcases in hand and grinning from ear to ear were my parents.   A wonderful, completely unexpected, birthday surprise.  The brave face I wear daily like a layer of armour crumpled and with my defences down the homesickness I had been stifling for a year boiled over I allowed myself to admit how much I missed them and as I ran towards them, overcome with emotion, I began to cry.

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The Prompt – Reflection

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As I step into the canoe I am all too aware of 14-kilometer trip I have agreed to and I reflect on the wisdom of my willingness to try something new… I have a tendency to do that.

14 kilometres, with nothing but the power of our arms and our determination to get us there.  We set off on the clear, still water with the heat of the sun warming our backs.

We hear nothing, absolutely nothing but the rhythmic plop, swoosh, plop, swoosh, plop, swoosh as our paddles propel us on our journey. We are so far from civilization there is no sound whatsoever and for the first time ever I appreciate the term silence is deafening. It is so quiet my ears buzz.

As we take a turn in the river we stop paddling to stare in awe of our surroundings.

The pine trees rise sharply from the edge of the still water to meet the cobalt blue sky and the image is mirrored exactly in the perfectly calm water.

The quintessential Canadian landscape.

A perfect reflection.

I reflect on the change in my life.  The Essex girl from a small rural village and I’m here, in Canada not just living but thriving in these breathtaking surroundings.

As we paddle in harmony we make small, subconscious, almost undetectable adjustments to our strokes so that we are paddling in unison, pulling together in the same direction.

Synchronization is the key to get us to the same destination at the same time, with the least amount of wasted energy.

I reflect on how this afternoon’s adventure is a metaphor for our lives.

Working in harmony, together to achieve our goal with a determination to persevere.

Brut strength, sheer bloody mindedness and a view of the destination will get us to where we want to be.

We step on to the shore at the end of our journey and reflect on our achievement.

It was hard work and our arms and backs ache but when was anything worthwhile easy  to accomplish?

And most importantly we made it,

together.

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