I’ll keep your memory vague-W.I.S.E. Project 2016

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I love memories. They are powerful. I think memories would be one of the most difficult things to ever have to give up .

Memories for me are not just about people I have met or places I have been but sometimes it is a feeling the memory arouses.

I have this special place that I like to go and I always wish I could capture the feeling of that place, that feeling of being connected, wholehearted and deeply and madly free. Memories, like feelings are sometimes fleeting, fading as quickly as they came. Others are enduring and they survive our greatest attempts to exile them.

Memories can warm you, like a roaring cabin fire on a dreadfully cold February day. They can recapture a time, a place, or a feeling, and envelope you in a delightfully toasty embrace.
Unfortunately just as quickly they can tear apart your insides, and rip open old wounds as if you swallowed a bucket of rusty razor blades.

Ironically bad memories come to us with greater intensity than pleasant ones because the memory is not about a place or a person as much as it is about the feelings the memory evokes. Sadly, feelings of hurt, anger, heartbreak and hopelessness can be crippling, even years later.

I told you just recently how excited I am to be in such a good and warm place in my marriage. That wasn’t always the case. Like a lot of couples, just because we have always felt like we were meant to be together doesn’t mean that it has been an easy road.

The other night in a conversation with a friend my husband brought up something that surprised me. I was upset but tried to brush it off and suceeded for a short time. It seemed out of the blue to me and I was a bit shocked because it obviously came from a place of pain and I most definititely missed the part of the conversation that made the timing relevant.

The next day I had an appointment for a ninety minute float at the Floatique, to melt away stress and clear my mind. About 60 minutes in I had an aha moment of sorts. The thing about floating and sensory deprivation is that once you have cleared you mind and relaxed sometimes things that have been mired in the mud of stress and noise pop into your brain and you get it immediately. It’s mental clarity. I had that moment and it was a comfort initially, feeling like I had found the answer to an equation.

That response was short lived however. The emotional response that I had to the memories that came up that day hit me square in the face the next morning. I was catapulted to a time of sadness and uncertainty in my marriage. I tried to refocus. I tried several times to no avail as tears that I tried desperately to hold in spilled out of the corner of my eyes. It wasn’t the memory of the time, the place, the people or even the events, it was undeniably the feelings. I fiercely wished for an override button to bring me back but it wasn’t possible. I think the only thing worse than living through those feelings the first time is living through them again and again.

A lesson I have learned from doing the W.I.S.E. project is how important it is to live in the present. The past is gone, I can’t change it, I have this moment, this very one. I can’t have yesterday and I am not promised tomorrow or next week. I have now. I knew I didn’t want to feel that pain again, I knew better than to dwell on it but I also know that our emotional memories are sometimes cautions.

Have you ever had a drink of sour milk? If you have you remember it and you never want to drink it again. This memory stays in the back of your mind and cautions you. You check the date on the carton, you smell the milk if it is close to expiry, you are vigilant about it.

I feel like that memory, that moment… those feelings; were a caution of sorts. Reminding me of our indomitable spirit, our incredible love and our valiant vulnerability. Reminding us to keep moving forward. There will always be another hurtle, another roadblock to stumble over, another fork in the road that we will have to face together and forge on.

Memories can be a holding tank of your greatest pain but they can also be a place of peace, of passion and of solace. I have learned that memories will come and go like the wind. I get to decide which memories I give power to. Some I may hold unto longer than others, feel their soothing warmth like hot sun on my face on a July day. The feel of my lips swollen from my very first kiss, the joy of falling in love, the soothing embrace of my children. The sound of the ocean, the soaring heights of the mountains, the feel of summer rain, those are the feelings I will hang unto.

Other memories may hit me hard and fast when I least expect it, bringing feelings of fear and sadness. I will let the wind carry them away just as fast.

“Memories are made of peculiar stuff, elusive and yet compelling, powerful and fleet. You cannot trust your reminiscences, and yet there is no realty except the one we remember…”

~Klaus Mann

Be. W.I.S.E. friends.

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A Penny for your thoughts…

MYlife

How it must feel to pack up thirty years of memories into boxes, to decide what gets put in the trash pile and what comes with you to your new home. I remember six years ago when I packed up my house and moved 5300 kms away to Edmonton, Alberta. It was a huge process and whenever I was upset my Mom would say “take the memories!” They don’t take up a lot of room and there will always be a use for them.

I spoke with my Mom today and she is in the throes of packing up thirty years into boxes and I wish I could be there to share in every smile and every tear, I am sure there are many. I can’t even imagine the things you would come across and the memories they would evoke. I jokingly said “Don’t throw anything of mine out!” My Mom said she is sending me a little envelope and I am so excited to see what is inside. When I was home last spring she gave me a package with newspaper clippings, awkward school photos and poems I wrote. You really cannot give someone a better gift then a memory that transports them back in time. I frequently dig out that envelope and thumb through my past and though I always wonder what the heck my mother was thinking with some of those haircuts I was sporting I will treasure the contents of that package forever.

The house my Mom is packing up was my home since I was about 11. I believe we moved the summer I was going into grade six. If I remember correctly my Dad had lost his job and we put our house up for sale and when things took a turn for the better and my parents wanted to take it off the market the Real Estate company held us to the three month contract and though my parents wished it wouldn’t our house sold. I recall my parents apologizing to my brothers and I about the house they were moving to. It was a “fixer upper” and the rooms were much smaller but it had room for my Dad’s business ventures and he could be his own boss. We didn’t really care, it was a roof over our head!

We were about to embark on a humid Nova Scotia summer, we had endless sunny adventure filled days on our minds. Moving was no biggie for us, just a different spot to lay our heads at night!

Our parents even allowed us to attend the same school in the fall, grade 6 for me, grade five for my younger brother and the same Junior High for my older brother. These were the days when kids actually played outside and I really don’t remember it being such a big deal. I am sure it stressed my Mom out a great deal but we all adapted.

We only had a few short years at that house while my Dad was alive but it was great to have him with his business at home. I got to make him and the guys coffee and clean his office which for some reason I thought was super fun! I remember thinking how glamorous it would be to have my own office someday! Ha!

My Dad owned an Auto Body shop and he also had a dealers license so we grew up with several different vehicles. My older brother had a car from the day he turned sixteen and he never quite learned not to get attached. He took a shine to a Bronco Dad had brought home for him and was quite disappointed when he came home from school one day and Dad had sold it and got him something else. Anyone who knew my brother during those teenage years will recall how much he liked his cars. He had a black Monte Carlo that he treated better then anyone in his life. One day he bought another Monte Carlo, black as well but a bit newer, he decided to sell his original love to an acquaintance. Apparently my brother was getting reports that the new owner was driving the car erratically (burning the piss out of it) was the term he animatedly used to describe the treatment of his true love he had sold to another. I shrugged my shoulders when he told me. I really didn’t understand what this had to do with him. My brother couldn’t get past it though so he contacted the new owner and made arrangements to buy the car back! My brother now had twin black Monte Carlos. I secretly hope that in the envelope coming is a picture of me beside one of those sexy black Montes with my long glorious black permed hair and poufy eighties bangs!

I remember how my friends and I used to spray the product called “sun in” in our hair in hopes of getting au natural highlights and lather ourselves up with suntan lotion and lay on the roof of the spray booth during the July heat waves with L.L. Cool J beats playing on my bright orange boombox! In the cooler monthes we used to pack into the tiny hallway of the upstairs to play Risk afterschool and sometimes we carried on the game for days!

I’ll never forget the time my younger brother and his friends decided in their “everything’s a great idea” teen years to take a newly painted car out of the shop and go on a joyride when my parents were away. They got to the bottom of our road and panicked when they thought they saw my parents and put the car in the ditch. They took the smashed car back to the house, put it back in the garage and locked up as if nothing happened. My older brother and mother met us at the bus stop the next day and my brother immediately knew why and tried to walk in the other direction. There were a couple of tense days to follow in that little house. Later that night I tried to sneak my brother a peanut butter and jam sandwich but my Dad intercepted me. Under the circumstances, and I can sympathize with his frame of mind, he thought it best that my brother go without supper for the night! After awhile it blew over and we moved on, as a family in that little house.

Years later after my dad passed away and my stepdad came along to give my Mom a new lease on life and someone me and my brothers could count on always, we made new memories in that little house. We became adults, married and brought our own children there for family dinners.

When my mom and stepdad pack up those boxes I wonder what kind of things they will recall, what stories they will tell. Which ones will make them laugh and which ones will make them cry? Whatever they choose to put in the throw away pile, I hope it’s regret and sadness. I hope they take with them thirty years of memories from that little house and they pack all the love our family has for each other and fill each and every room in their new home with it!

Cheers! I am off now to open my wine and drink my book…or something like that.

xo Michelle

P.S. Always take the memories.