Ahhhh the smell of a brand-new year! Hello 2019! As always, the air is ripe with the scent of almost everyone discussing their resolutions. What are these resolutions? Get fit, lose weight, spend less money,… More
In a month I’ll be 52. By the time you hit this age, you get comfortable with who you are. I’m a Mom, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Cousin and Friend. Those are my “identities” if you will, and I wear them with pride.
Last month, our Son asked the love of his life to be his Wife. They have dated for eight years and have a lot of experience under their belt both as individuals, and as a couple. This is the type of relationship that has a solid foundation. That makes me proud.
So, what does this have to do with my role?
Sitting on the deck one evening with my husband, we happily laughed about this new wonderful event that happened in our lives. We smiled proudly, marveling at how our little boy has become a man in front of our eyes. Suddenly, we realized that we were going to be someone’s Mother–in law and Father–in law. Whoa!!!!!
This got me thinking. How does this all work? What does a Mother-in law do? Up until that moment, I had never given a thought to the actual role.
I mean no big deal, I was always in regular contact with my Son’s Fiancée, before she became his fiancée. I have always prided myself on our relationship and the ease with which we communicate. There doesn’t seem to be many topics that we can’t chat about. Our visits, text messages, hugs and kisses. But suddenly, I felt self-conscious.
Is it because a “Mother-in law” has such a bad rap? Oh boy, what do I do? How do I act?
Obviously, just like some of the most important roles in our lives, this one comes with no formal job description.
No one wants to be the overbearing, obnoxious, nosey, pushy, condescending busy body the world makes Mother in laws out to be. When do I ask questions? What questions am I allowed to ask? Do I keep some of my opinions to myself? Or ALL of my opinions to myself?
EEEEEEEEK!!!! I will have a new identity in about a year!
I considered rushing to Google just to see what I would find. But, I stopped myself. Really? Come on Maryse! Get a grip! You are so not resorting to asking Google “What are the functions of a Mother-in-law”.
And so, I have simply continued on with what I’ve been doing for the last few years. Communicating with my future daughter in law in the same way we always have over the past eight years.
Maybe as if sensing my hesitation, she has recently asked me what I think of a few things pertaining to the wedding. Those simple things make me feel important, and I have realized that everything is going to be alright. Why? Because I am going to be just ME, this is who I am and will continue to be. Loving and supportive and kind. I embrace this new upcoming role with glee.
Shades of our Sisters was an event held on Thursday June 21 at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. This event happened (intentionally or not) on National Indigenous Peoples Day. In recent years I have been learning quite a bit about the Indigenous people and culture. I am saddened that while growing up in Canada from infancy, I was never educated about Canada’s first inhabitants. Not in grade school, high school or even while earning two degrees. The only vague memory I have is of reading books in grade school about cowboys and Indians and even playing a game by the same name. Obviously, I now know that this was inappropriate.
While I have been aware that there have been many missing Indigenous men and women in Canada over the years, I have never been intimately exposed to personal information about any of these people. That is – until I attended this particular event.
Shades of our Sisters was created by two particular families to celebrate the lives of two missing and murdered Indigenous women in particular, Sonya Cywink from Birch Island, Ontario and Patricia Carpenter from Toronto, Ontario.
I was speechless as the event transported us back to the lives of these women. We participated in an interactive journey through their neighbourhoods, homes and interviews with their loved ones. In addition, there were exhibits that held personal artifacts that once belonged to the women.
I looked through each exhibit and I was moved by all the personal items displayed. Both women enjoyed writing poetry and some of their original work was available for viewing. There were also many photographs that spanned from their childhoods and numerous letters written on lined paper.
Many family members belonging to some of the missing women in Canada were present. The families of Patricia and Sonya were there and interacted with the participants. Nothing makes it more real, than watching a mother silently weep as videos of her murdered daughter play on a loop.
I was very moved by this event and also extremely saddened. While we have heard about the cases of these missing women in the news, attending this event showed me who they were. They are more than just a statistic. They are our daughters, sisters, mothers, aunties and friends.
I was honored to have attended
In the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, there has been a lot said on social media. In fact, I had to chuckle to myself when I saw this recent text exchange:
Person A: “Depression is a real thing”
Person B: “It doesn’t discriminate”
Sounds fair? It’s not. I know for a fact that Person A has no idea what depression really is. In fact, I believe that this person is representative of much of society. I know because Person A has openly declared numerous times in my presence, “I don’t get it?” “Why can’t a depressed individual look around them and see a beautiful day?” “Why are they such a sad sack?” Yet here we go, pretending they know and understand. Lip service, pure hypocrisy if you ask me. In fact, I’m seeing a lot of this on Facebook as well. People who just DO NOT know and are shooting off opinions left right and centre.
What is depression? According to the Mayo Clinic, “depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest”. It is a terrible illness that plagues millions around the world. While it is reported that Kate Spade was getting medical help, it doesn’t mean that it always works. A few summers ago, my neighbour’s 20 something year old son, was getting help and was taking prescribed medication yet – he still hung himself in their basement one sunny June day after an appointment with his psychiatrist. At this point you’re probably thinking what causes it? According to the Mayo Clinic “the exact cause is not known at this time, but it could be a variety of factors: hormones, brain chemistry, biological differences, or inherited traits”.
My depression is in remission. I am grateful for that. I also know that many of you are probably shocked to read that I suffer from depression and anxiety. Well, that is another story for another day. But do I feel qualified to speak on it? You bet I do.
First, I am sick and tired of hearing and reading about people saying that these two people were rich and had it all. Do you think for a single second that they did not know that they were rich and famous? That they had it all? You are damn right they did. They were definitely well aware they “had it all”. IT IS NOT ABOUT THAT! Or, secondly, the most frequent one I am seeing everywhere, “What a selfish think to have done! What about their kids?” RIGHT!!! BECAUSE THAT WAS THEIR PLAN TO LEAVE THEIR CHILDREN BEHIND.
Understand this, the need to stop the pain, the sadness, the disappointment and the darkness they were trapped in was paramount. The need to stop being a burden to family members might have weighed heavily on their minds. To just make it all go away, to make the hurt stop…might have been all they wanted.
Sometimes all the medication, and cognitive therapy in the world does not and cannot help. The spiral of sadness, or the big black dog of depression holds a person hostage. This is not their fault, just because you can’t see depression, or if someone is seemingly sporting a happy smile on the outside, doesn’t mean that there may be a ton of sadness deep down. If you are not a doctor, or someone who has experienced depression – please stop judging! You are not qualified to pass judgement! Furthermore, don’t pretend to understand! Make the effort to actually learn about it. You may just save someone’s life
I feel the need to post some of the symptoms for everyone. Please read through them carefully:
• Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
• Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
• Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports
• Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
• Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take great effort
• Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain
• Anxiety, agitation or restlessness
• Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
• Feelings of worthlessness or guilt fixating on past failures and self blame
• Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
• Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
• Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
What can you do? If you think a friend, relative or co-worker may be depressed? Be the person who cares. Ask them if they are ok, offer to talk, be a friend. Be available.
If you are feeling very low, darkness is closing in and you can’t find yourself, please call someone. Dial 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
Don’t be ashamed, or embarrassed. Not everyone can see the sunny day and that’s okay.
There is help on the horizon.
Phone toll-free 1-833-456-4566
Kids Help Phone Ages 20 and younger in Canada 1-800-668-6868
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness 24/7 Help Line 1-855-242-3310
Canadian and Residential School Crisis Line 1-866-925-4419
Trans Lifeline- All Ages 1-877-330-6366
I heard the other day that some women get through perimenopause and menopause with scarcely a bothersome symptom. I don’t think I like those women.
Seriously though – through my younger years, I was well aware of menopause and the fact that it meant that your period was over. Oh, and perhaps there may the odd mood swing. Cool!!!! I’m ok with that, end of my monthly visitor!
WRONG…menopause has a vicious little sister named perimenopause and she hangs out with you for many years before menopause even comes within sight. That’s right, these are the things that you end up finding out about that no one told you about before.
So, lets get a few things straight. What is perimenopause? According to the Mayo Clinic “it is the time around menopause.” Pardon? Can we be more vague? I need answers people! I need to know down to the minute how much longer I can expect the peri gal to hangout for. So apparently this means some lucky ladies might be having to experience these symptoms for up to 10 years before the actual onset of menopause. Well, based on my research – it seems that perimenopause brings its own list of symptoms:
Changing menstrual cycle
The Etc., is big a one, because depending on the woman there could be a whole host of other things, from restless legs and joint aches to itchy skin and so much more.
Also, keep in mind that sometimes all the above symptoms sometimes like to show up and join the party at the same time.
In the last few weeks I have been having skin breakouts like that of a teenager. This is beyond frustrating for me, especially since I never had acne as a teenager! Why is this happening? Well, as anyone in my family can tell you – when something requires research you bet I’ll be pulling up a chair to settle in for some quality time with the internet to find out everything I can! I’ve done the work for you ladies – during my research I found out some interesting facts. I found out that during perimenopause, hormone levels significantly drop, specifically estrogen. But the levels of the strongest male hormone – testosterone, will remain the same. This imbalance results in acne.
As if, having all these hormones wasn’t one thing, we also have to deal with a MALE hormone! Why can’t they keep their hormones to themselves?
While there exist medications to help with some of these symptoms, as luck would have it, due to family history I don’t qualify for any of them. I am in the process of checking into some natural remedies and I will definitely keep you posted.
Anyway, for those of you that know me, you know that I try to keep a positive outlook on things, and my thought process is one of gratitude. I’m grateful that I made it to this age, to experience this bumpy hormonal change of life ride. As frustrating as it can be at times.
But maybe in my next life, I’m coming back as a man.
Today it is my pleasure to host guest blogger Melissa Howard. Melissa believes that every suicide is preventable. After losing her younger brother to suicide, she felt compelled to create StopSuicide.info. By providing helpful resources and articles on her website, she hopes to build a lifeline of information. Please take the time to click on material that is hyperlinked.
Mental health is an enormously important issue. Unfortunately, there will be times when one’s mental health goes through adverse changes, subtle or overt, that can have a significant impact on quality of life. If unaddressed or overlooked, it can develop into thoughts of suicide. Being aware of the symptoms is critical to knowing when to seek out support and start healing.
When to Seek Help
It’s hugely important to be vigilant when facing any sort of emotional downturn, even more so if there’s a family history of mental health issues. The impact it can have on your life, work, studies, and relationships can escalate quickly if not addressed, and may lead to thoughts of suicide and self-harm. Symptoms will vary by person, but there are usually common signs that indicate it’s time to seek help. You may find yourself disinterested in things that once gave joy, or even avoiding friends and family. There may be a loss of focus or unexplained crying. You may no longer feel you have the energy to work or study and may even find the act of getting out of bed quite overwhelming. These feelings of listlessness and fatigue can affect every aspect of your life, potentially leading to isolation and a sense of hopelessness. It’s essential to seek professional support, especially so if symptoms have persisted for weeks. Seeking help can be a terrifying prospect, but it will provide immeasurable relief and help treat whatever you’re dealing with. There will be crisis lines, and doctors should have information on what sort of services, such as therapy, are available to you. Such support can provide you with a lot of the tools to help you get better.
Keeping Up Wellness
When you’re facing serious mental health issues, self-care can be incredibly difficult, leaving your physical and emotional well-being neglected. No matter what help you’re receiving, it’s still important to find ways to look after your own needs. Self-care can be very basic, but truly essential. Showering, eating healthily, and staying hydrated are some invaluable things you can do to achieve this. Of course, maintaining an exercise routine can be challenging, but the positive effect it can have on self-esteem and mood can be significant. Opening up is something else that can also be truly beneficial. When facing emotional downturns, it can be easy to withdraw and try to get through everything privately. But if you do have someone in your life that you trust, tell them what you’re going through. Try, also, to stay active, whether that involves a quick walk or hanging out with friends, it can be a welcome change of pace. Another thing to consider is a safety plan. This could contain trusted numbers, emergency contacts, affirming words, and treatment techniques.
Suicide and Addiction
When faced with any downturn in mood, such as depression, it can be tempting for some to alleviate symptoms by taking substances. They might seem like an escape, but that is usually fleeting, and they quickly exacerbate the symptoms and worsen long-term mental health. Substance abuse can also have a harmful effect on relationships, creating more isolation and loneliness, if that is already an issue. This can quickly result in a habitual coping mechanism that can lead to addiction. As substances can remove inhibitions and impair judgement, it can also intensify suicidal thoughts. Research has shown substances to be a major risk factor in thinking about, and attempting, suicide. Indeed, one in three suicides occur under the influence of opioids or alcohol. Addiction, thankfully, is a treatable condition, and recovery itself helps improve mental health.
Don’t feel alone. You do not have to face what you’re going through by yourself. Sometimes it may not seem like it, but these feelings and thoughts are temporary. Thankfully, whatever the cause, it will be treatable, and remember to practice self-care as it will help you manage what you’re going through.
Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com
We made it! Winter is slowly retreating and while some years there has been the odd cameo appearance of snow in April, we can only think positive. Positive that now it’s the first day of Spring, Spring will be sprung!
It’s funny how your attitude towards the changing seasons evolves as you get older. As a child I remember feeling sad when it seemed that winter would be wrapping up. I would miserably watch as our favourite outdoor rink would slowly melt into a puddle, saddened that skating would soon be over for the year. Rain was boring and only seemed to bring mud and worms. As a child the beauty of the changing seasons was insignificant to me.
Fast forward a few years, ok many years and the pending arrival of Spring brings me the utmost happiness. Spring represents change and a fresh start. Grass is greening up; spring tulips are slowly waking up and poking their heads through the soil. Leaves begin slowly budding and the air is alive with the promise of new beginnings.
New beginnings can present themselves in many different forms at this time of the year. This may be the time to consider setting some new goals. How about starting that spring cleaning and decluttering that you’ve been putting off? Or maybe you have some personal goals that you would like to set and begin working on. Why not start that program of healthy eating that you’ve been thinking about? Or, begin that new exercise program and ask a friend to participate with you? Take the photography class, cooking class or even join the reading club you keep hearing about. Whatever it might be, we all have the ability to start something new – and it’s right at our fingertips. The freshness and newness of Spring provides a perfect environment to begin.
When the opportunity to attend a Pow Wow was extended to me, I jumped at it. I have been keenly interested in Indigenous culture for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, there was little to no teaching about Indigenous culture throughout my school years, even during my University years.
Fast forward 30 years and it’s pretty awesome to see all the education available and awareness with regards to Canada’s first residents.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was excited and eager to learn and take a lot of pics!
The Indigenous Studies Students’ Union at the University of Toronto held their second annual Honouring Our Students Pow Wow on what happened to coincide with the St. Patrick’s Day parade downtown Toronto. Again, another reason why I love Toronto. Outside you have a bustling parade lining down the street with music celebrating Irish tradition while just a few feet away in a gymnasium is the cultural experience of an Indigenous Pow Wow. Co-existence and acceptance in such a large city restores my faith in humanity. I did not attend the first one, however it was apparently overwhelmingly busy that they had to relocate to a larger venue for this year. I can’t even begin to imagine how busy it was last year because as soon as we set foot in the gymnasium this year – it was busting at the seams!
The upper level of the gym had delicious smells of traditional Indigenous food wafting throughout the entire building. On the lower level along the perimeter of the gym were countless booths with items for sale. From t-shirts, traditional Indigenous jewellery, to moccasins, shawls, dream catchers and so much more. The colours and intricate details were mesmerizing to look at. While wandering about, we took the time to stop and chat with many of the sellers about their products. It was so nice to know that all these vendors were local sellers with a lot of their own handmade goods. I was excited to purchase a handmade bracelet and my daughter’s friends purchased countless earrings!
I was struck by a t-shirt that read “Canada’s first landlords”. An incredibly true statement. Unless you’re Indigenous, you’re an immigrant to Canada.
We took our seats just in time for the formal part to begin. We listened to directions from the Master of Ceremonies who provided background information, with regards to which groups were drumming or dancing. He also reminded us when picture taking was allowed as the Grand Entry along with certain prayers and songs are sacred.
I looked around and I was struck by all the beautiful and colourful garments. Many of the singers and dancers participating were dressing in their regalia extremely close to us, so we were able to see the intricate details and beading on the garments. It was so cool to see the colours, feathers, jingles etc. I was shocked by how many different symbols and Indigenous communities there are across Ontario alone.
When the Grand Entry began I was amazed. To say that this was an amazing start to the Pow Wow is an understatement. It was an incredibly moving, emotional and powerful part of the Pow Wow with participants, carrying flags, led by military veterans.
What I enjoyed most was watching families of all ages participate in the dancing and singing. There were little babies dressed in handknit moccasins to toddlers in beautifully quilted scarves to adults donning belts with hundreds of eagle feathers. I learned that the eagle feathers are so significant in Indigenous culture, as it is the highest honour one can get from an elder, as the eagle flies closest to the sun and the Gods. The more they have on their belts the more respected and honoured they are in their community.
It was an amazing day and so much more then what I expected. I knew that a Pow Wow was a traditional event involving singing, feasting and dancing. But, after attending my first Pow Wow, I learned that it is about so much more. It’s about, tradition, family, love, respect, history and friendship.
I’m already making plans to attend my next Pow Wow.
How often have you saved a certain outfit for a special occasion? I’ll bet more times then you can count. There have been many times over the years that I have been guilty of doing the same.
Now I’m not sure if it is the wisdom of growing older, or just the overall appreciation of life, or a little of both. But in recent years I’ve learned that being mindful of the present and living life to the fullest is more important now than ever.
There is never a need of a “special occasion” to go somewhere or do something. When the staff at Maison Blanc day spa asked my daughter and I what we were celebrating, I didn’t hesitate in answering: Life. I loved seeing them break out in smiles and nod in agreement.
For the afternoon my daughter and I donned our make-believe crowns and attended a catered High Tea that was a lovely addition to our afternoon of pampering treatments.
Ordinarily, we have attended High Tea exclusively for special occasions. I decided that life itself was a special occasion and so was spending time with my daughter.
We were asked to come early so that we could relax and enjoy our High Tea. We were warmly greeted by the Spa Director and shown to a private room for our tea. The table setting was perfect and the arrangement of our sandwiches and desserts were so pleasant and classy on the tray. Tea lights added such a classy touch that made us feel that we were transported to Paris for the afternoon. The atmosphere was perfect.
We loved having the time to chat and eat before our services. The staff at Maison Blanc went out of their way to ensure that we had everything we needed, checking in on us frequently throughout the afternoon.
It was a relaxing afternoon from beginning to end.
Don’t ever wait for a special occasion! Pop that bottle of champagne, wear that new outfit, use your special china. Because life is meant to be lived.
This month, is the 50th anniversary that Canada opened her arms and welcomed my parents and myself. It would be amazing if I could just remember what that was like, I was a baby and the nervousness and excitement of it all was obviously lost on me.
With changes to legislation regarding who could be admitted to Canada, the 1960’s saw a wave of immigration. Canada welcomed smiling faces from a variety of countries ranging from the lush green landscape of Ireland, to Africa, India, England, the West Indies, South America and many more places. Thankfully, my parents and myself were among these new immigrants that landed on Canadian soil. I can’t imagine how exciting yet scary it must have been for my 20 something year old Mom to have left the only home she has ever known with a baby and husband. Or for my Dad, to be bravely leading the way to a new and better life.
Let’s be honest, most people would probably say that they live in the best Country in the world. I would of course agree with them, if that Country is Canada.
As a child I had the opportunity to embrace and experience the diversity represented among the people of this country. Growing up, my classmates were from different Countries around the world. The excitement of learning about their cultures, visiting their homes and quite simply calling them friend was wonderful. We were different, but we had one thing in common and that was the fact that we called Canada home.
I’m incredibly grateful that my parents made the best decision to choose Canada as their home. I often tease my Dad that I wish he had chosen a warmer Country, but truth be told I love this Country! I could list at least 100 reasons why Canada is a wonderful place and why I am grateful to be living here, but I instead I will try to sum them up into three reasons that make Canada great:
- From coast to coast, Canada is simply beautiful. Every single province has its own beauty about it that makes travel memorable. For example: British Columbia has the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the Calgary Stampede in Alberta, and the easy going friendly and down to earth nature of Maritimers and the amazing abundance of fresh seafood.
- Often envied, our healthcare system is something I am always grateful for. While it isn’t perfect, it is better then some equally developed Countries.
- Racism is a word that is far removed in the vocabulary of Canadians alike. Sure, it exists (hey – nobody’s perfect) but on Canadian soil it is far less threatening and aggressive than in other countries. It is not nearly as corrupt as some other neighbouring countries.
Thank you, Canada, for all that you have brought to my life, excellent education, the start of my own family and a future that continues to shine a beacon of bright light.
This year I have celebrated a pretty exciting birthday. Happy Birthday Maryse’s Pieces!! You are officially ONE YEAR OLD!
Shortly after my 50th birthday I wondered where all the other 50 something year old women were in cyber world. I was interested in hearing other perspectives on what they were experiencing now that they were in the 50’s club.
I began by looking around on Instagram. I was happy to see that there existed an abundance of other women like myself who were celebrating the 50’s, in fashion, in writing, in food, in religion, in basically any way that appealed to them! Without a moment’s hesitation I created a more social and public account while still maintaining the privacy around my other account which was strictly for family and friends. I was surprised to see the interest and “likes” my pictures generated on my public account.
Friends and family encouraged me to start a blog. I had no idea what I was gong to write about or even what I would name it. I could talk your ear off but…write? I was unsure about it. Through research and Facebook groups, I got to know other bloggers who advised me to find a niche and go from there. I remember thinking a niche? As in, write about only one area of me?? That would be like telling me to talk just a little bit. I couldn’t quite do that, there were so many pieces of me that deserved equal time in my blog. As a Wife, Mom, Daughter, Sister, Aunt and Friend. I had more roles in my 50’s then ever before, and I wanted to share them all!
So, my blog was named “Maryse’s Pieces” and almost immediately I had subscribers and followers! I was floored. I thought that my target audience would be women aged 50 and over, but I was pleasantly surprised that my stats consistently showed a demographic both of men and women, 30 years and older. Here I was worrying about being a boring old lady writing meaningless posts!
The support of my blog has been enormous and has come from all sources. My family has been behind me every step of the way, my sister Holly took pics, gave advice and opinions. My daughter was forced to proof read my posts (and still does), she also receives a constant barrage of photos to review to help me decide on the perfect one. Together, they both provided important initial feedback to help me create the casual tone that I wanted in my writing. They quickly let me know if I was sounding too essay like, or too much like a novel. My husband, happily reads my blogs and I will always receive positive feedback from him.
Friends have continually supported and cheered me on, not just by the customary “like” on Facebook but also by sharing my blogs. I love receiving texts and messages from so many of them who tell me they can relate to something I have posted.
In the coming year, readers will on occasion read a different side of “Maryse’s Pieces” through my posts, as I strive to cover a variety of topics that are requested by different people. I have also decided that this year, I will start publishing posts from fellow guest bloggers!
Thank you for helping my first year be as successful as it has been. Please keep reading, sharing and above all I love hearing from you – so keep your messages coming!
The best is yet to come xo