Heartfelt but not Hallmark…

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Valentine’s Day always has me awash in mixed emotions. I suspect I am far from the only one who feels a pull between celebrating, ignoring, or simply acknowledging February 14th.

The cynics say it is just another “Hallmark holiday” – a day that is commercialized to increase sales of certain items such as cards, chocolates, lingerie, champagne, wine, diamonds, and dinners out. Of course, that is true. But, I dare say, the day should not just be for couples who are lovers, sweethearts, or life partners with fat wallets. It can be a day for anyone to remind someone how much they are loved.

If one strictly looks at the day in a romantic sense or in the commercialized way of what one is “supposed” to do, it is easy to become cynical. Viewing it by that definition opens one up to guilt, expectation and even comparison, all feelings we best avoid as no good will come of them.

Mr. Wanton and I used to celebrate Valentine’s Day every year, until his Dad died on that date about twenty-five years ago. The year after the death, I no longer received flowers, we did not go out on a date, and my funny but loving card went unreciprocated.

I was devastated, but pretended it didn’t matter. I made a delicious dinner for us at home, reminding myself what mattered most is that we loved each other and we were together. We never talked about his Dad’s passing then; we still don’t today.

Over the years following his Dad’s death I waited with anticipation for when we would return to our previous traditions of celebration, but it has never happened. Initially, I was hurt because I felt as though I was being punished for something I did not do.

My husband blames our lack of celebration and festivities on February 14th to having three sons born approximately nine months after Valentine’s Day. Mr. Wanton thinks it is hilarious to tell people he used to buy me champagne and roses every Valentine’s but after having three kids as a result of it, he had to put a stop to it.

I don’t laugh when he tells the story. I wish he could speak the real reason, but he can’t. Initially I went out of my way to attempt making February 14th a happy day, choosing just the right card for him, making a special dinner at home with some of his favourites, but then I stopped. Today will be a regular day for Mr. Wanton and I. That’s okay.

So what is the point of this tale of woe, with a seemingly “poor me” theme?

Well, this morning as I woke up and thought about what day it was, I thought about everyone who may not be having the fairy-tale Happy Valentine’s Day “as advertised”. I know there are people at this very moment who are feeling forgotten, unloved, and unworthy. You may be one of them.

I want you to know you are not alone, and you alone are “enough”. I want you to keep your heart soft, even if it hurts. Please don’t let it become hardened. If you don’t have someone to love today, do something you love. I want you to remember even on days you may not receive love, it is still yours to give. Give generously.

xoxoxox

Queen of Cliche’s Friday the 13th

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I have a confession to make – Mr. Wanton affectionately calls me the “Queen of Clichés”. Being a blogger, a writer, a sometimes poet, this is not a title I should be proud of in any way.

He crowned me the Queen after decades of daily use of such phrases as: I look like the wreck of the Hesperus and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Admittedly, I do overuse clichés. I know it, I own it. When I write for public consumption I consciously attempt to avoid them. However, after the day I had yesterday I realize sometimes what happens in a day warrants the use of clichés; sometimes a brain just needs to rely on old stand-bys to get the job done.

Depending on your level of belief in superstition and how your day went yesterday you may understand what I am talking about. Yesterday was Friday the 13th, a supposed bad luck day. Since my eldest son was born on the 13th day, I personally consider it a lucky number, a lucky day.

As a child I avoided stepping on sidewalk cracks so my mother wouldn’t break her back, but I have never been one to avoid walking under ladders or feared black cats crossing my path. Moral of that story: I feared my mother much more than black cats or ladders.

So knowing full well the date, I went about my day yesterday filled with optimism and a sense of good fortune. Perhaps I was a little too smug in my outlook from the outset, you know what they say – Karma is a bitch. See? Sometimes clichés are really the best for what you want to say. Cut to the chase, everyone knows exactly what I am talking about.

So, my day away from home officially started with a haircut with a stylist who delivers a beyond relaxing shampoo and sensual scalp massage. Once confessing I nearly moaned out loud in the chair while she was running her fabulous nails along my scalp, she said I would not have been the first. (Notice how ever since I said this blog was not sexual in nature sexual innuendo has been popping up? It’s like that old childhood game when someone would say: “I will say a word and do not think of the word I say.” They say “blue”, and hence it is all you could think about.)

After my hair appointment, I ran a few errands in record time in the suddenly increasingly warm winter weather. I mailed a small parcel that fit into the letter size slot and was low enough in weight to be mailed as a letter instead of parcel saving me about ten dollars. The postal clerk said “It’s your lucky day!” It did indeed feel like it was, so next I went and bought a lottery ticket. Then I met a friend for tea downtown, later running into my son’s girlfriend and a book club friend to have a visit with as well. The sun was shining; I was on a roll having the most relaxing day.

Then I went home. That’s when the you know what hit the fan, the wheels fell off the bus, and the day from Hell began. I knew I shouldn’t have counted my chickens before they hatched. It was all too good to be true, the cliché is correct: all good things must come to an end.

And, do you think I won the lottery? Not a snowball’s chance in Hell.

My Joy Jar*

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A few years ago on Pinterest the “good things jar” was pinned which basically is: re-purposing an old jar or container of some sort, every week writing down something good that happened to you and putting the slip of paper in the container, then on New Year’s Eve reading the contents to reflect on all the good things that happened to you during the year. Yah, whatever, bah humbug.

Even though I came across this idea on Facebook multiple times, I never considered making one until this year. What spurred me into action was a friend whose 2016 contained significant losses of people she loved dearly, enduring on-going health challenges, difficulties at her job, and also banishing a family member out of her life; however not all was bad, she did go on her lifelong dream trip overseas. At the end of the year she posted about how having the notes in the jar to read did help her realize indeed numerous “good things” had happened in spite of the grief, frustrations and losses she sustained.

What the hell, I’ve nothing to lose and only warm fuzzies to gain was my thought this New Year’s Eve. Perhaps because this past Dec. 31st was one of the better ones in recent memory, I was motivated, I had something positive to put on a paper to start off the year. I would commence documenting every day small joys.

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When I decided to go forward with this project, I blew the dust off an empty container in the pantry, placed it on my desk, writing and tossing my first note inside. Skepticism engulfed me. I wondered if some weeks the best I’d be able to muster would be “did not drop toothbrush on the floor” or “didn’t get dog drool on my pants”. No, I reminded myself, this was not about bad things that didn’t happen hence being good by default, but honest to God “good things” that would actually occur.

Some people write a daily note, some write a weekly note. I figured I was optimistic and realistic with a once a week goal. Yet here I sit, just seven days into the year and I have seven notes in the jar. I now see how this can work from beginning to end of the year. Just by having the jar on my desk in clear sight it is reminding me to acknowledge the good that happens every day. I’ll let you know in 358 days how it has all worked out.

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*Earlier this week I blogged about the meaning of the word “wanton” assuring readers of no sexual content on this blog. Yet, while sitting at my desk writing down a “good thing”, I hollered to my husband (“Mr. Wanton”) downstairs in his office: “Hey, you wanna help fill “My Joy Jar”? Silence. I hadn’t explained the project; he had no idea what I was talking about. A few seconds later he hollered back: “Sure. I’ll meet you in the bedroom.” Someone thinks he might be in for a really good year. 😉

Wanting to be Wanton

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I began this blog by naming it based on my intentions of what I would be posting. The word “wanton” (not to be confused with “wonton” of the Chinese soup and deep fried variety) has three different meanings.

The first is maliciousness or viciousness that is unprovoked, or with cruel intention. No, that is not what I had in mind. Definitely not going to virtually bitch slap anyone here (at least not intentionally). The second meaning involves sexual promiscuity and unchaste loose women, you know, like the ones who cavorted with pirates when their ships landed ashore. So if someone came upon the blog looking for porn or pirate tales, they too would be out of luck. Lastly, wanton also means to play or frolic.

It was my intention for this to be a place where I could frolic with words playfully and flirtatiously. I intended to be here at least several times a week, not just a handful of times per year. I didn’t want each post to take hours to write; rather it would be a place to spontaneously spurt out what might be on my mind at any given moment. Like a kitten walking along a sidewalk that spots a leaf and decides to pounce on it, throws itself on its back, tosses the leaf in the air, then struts off down the sidewalk again with nary a furtive glance back. Yes, that is what I desired to do here, with words.

As I opened the calendar today to the first day of the first month of a new year, I had a surging feeling of renewal. I began to reflect on what my goals were for the coming year. I became possessed by a sense of urgency to return to writing here; writing the way I initially intended to. So here I am with no idea of what might be to come in the days ahead, but ready to write come what may.

Happy New Year! Love and light to all – may you too be blessed with an urge to write, renew, revisit, frolic or pounce.

xoxo

Sick of hearing about Sjogren’s?

Are you sick of hearing about Sjogren’s Syndrome?

The topic came up this week on Christine Molloy’s Facebook page “Thoughts and Ramblings on Life, Love and Health”. Christine has a blog: http://www.christinemolloy.com She celebrated her 6th anniversary of beginning the blog by posting the link to her very first blog post again this week. Over the years she has posted about Sjogren’s but her blog is not exclusively about the syndrome. At the outset she made a conscious decision for it not to be. She stated she was more than Sjogren’s, so she intended her blog to be more than just that too.

Likewise I made a similar decision about my blog when I began. That is why I have a topic bar underneath my blog title, so people can chose to read just the Sjogren’s posts or random topics, just memoir or poems, or whichever combo thereof.

It is a common concern of most Sjogren’s patients (as I am sure is the same with sufferers of any other chronic illness) to not to talk about their illness all of the time. We are quite aware other people will get sick of hearing about it, because guess what? So do we.

Unfortunately it is not an easy ailment for patients to ignore since symptoms frequently affect a person from head to toe, literally.  It is chronic and without cure. There is no treatment specific to Sjogren’s; what treatments are available are often hit and miss.Relentlessly day after day, Sjogren’s is exhausting.

Even the minority of Sjogren’s patients who are not affected initially by overwhelming fatigue become tired because of the illness being so invasive of time, energy and finances. Fatigue is not just a physical symptom of the disease itself and the chronic flu-like pain so many suffer with, but also becomes a side effect of what it takes to manage the disease. A few years ago a chronic disease lifestyle study was done which showed that Sjogren’s was on par with Multiple Sclerosis as far as the patients’ day to day quality of life.

While admittedly we get tired of not just hearing about Sjogren’s but also living with it, many of us do feel it is critical to raise awareness of the disease, as well as reach out to support others, especially those who may be new to the diagnosis, or perhaps still seeking one. So for that reason I will continue to post about Sjogren’s from time to time, not just during awareness month but whenever the mood strikes me.

Am I doing it for attention, pity, sympathy, or to play the “my disease / symptoms are worse than yours” game? Absolutely not.

I do it to educate, so perhaps others who may be struggling with symptoms may have a shorter road to diagnosis and treatment than I had. I also do it in hope of creating better understanding not just of the medical aspects of Sjogren’s, but for the challenges that come along with living with the myriad of symptoms. I do it not just for the Sjogren’s patients but also for their loved ones, so that they too may have a better understanding of the syndrome, thus in turn the potential for greater patience and compassion. I do it because telling my story makes me feel better, and maybe just maybe, my story might do the same for you.

vanzant quote re story sharing

http://www.sjogrens.org
http://www.sjogrenscanada.org

No better day to return!

Upon waking this morning I grabbed the book on the top of the stack beside me, Patti Smith’s “M Train’. It had recently been recommended by
Eunice, a writer, mentor to many who have had attended one of her writing workshops, and the woman whose voice I always hear when I write.
Knowing I would have to be up early tomorrow, I allowed myself the luxury of remaining horizontal between the flannelette sheets to read for two
consecutive hours finishing the book.

I then picked up my phone to check my e-mails and Facebook. I was reminded today was International Women’s Day,
which reminded me in turn that today is Eunice’s birthday. How fitting, a woman who encourages women to tell their stories, celebrating her own birth
on the same day we celebrate women all over the world. In the post today I received a boxed collection of Alice Munro’s work I ordered awhile back.
Eunice’s workshop title is a play on words of Nobel-prize winning short story author Alice Munro’s novel “Lives of Girls and Women”.

Serendipity? Synchronicity? Fate? Power of intention? Female energy?

I’ve neglected my blog for over a year. I have procrastinated for weeks, contemplating my return. The universe was telling me today was the day.

Thank you Patti Smith. Thank you Eunice. Thank you Alice Munro. Thank you girls and women everywhere. I heard you all.

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Disco!

Mirror ball throwing shimmering pieces of light all over the old brick walls. Music echoing, bouncing against the brick, concrete floors and ceiling pipes. Strobe lights flashing bright streaks into the centre of the dance floor. Groups of sweet-sixteen girls, in white jeans and sleeveless t-shirts, dancing, doing the hustle to “Car Wash”. Boys with mullets or “fros”, and platform shoes watching from tiny tables scattered along the perimeter, between slipping outside to have a smoke and a boot-legged beer. This was as exotic an atmosphere as one could hope for in our small rural town on a frigid January night. Some teenage guy had an extensive record collection, a decent stereo system, a few Radio Shack gizmos, and enough cash to rent out the basement of the “Old Brick School” to fulfill his vision of “Saturday Night Fever” with a $3.00 admission we were only too willing to pay.

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After a long summer hiatus I am back with another piece of bite-size memoir. (Memoir in a 150 word “bite”, no more, no less!)

If you would like to know more about the bite-size memoir project, or Lisa Reiter who initiated it, please check out her blog:

http://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/goals-or-should-that-be-gaols/#more-1640

Once in a Lifetime!

Four 14 year old girls dropped off on their own with an old green canvas tent at a campground thirty miles from home for the weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Apparently many things. According to my parents who absolutely forbade this camping excursion to happen unless they were to accompany us. My parents agreed they would park their RV several hundred feet away well out of sight.

Dropping us off, we excitedly set up the tent, threw our sleeping bags inside, and opened our cooler to have a wiener roast supper over the campfire. How cool were we?

Not as cool as at four a.m. when we woke in the pouring rain to discover we had set up the tent downhill from an incline, sleeping bag, and pyjamas soaked through.

To their credit my parents never came to rescue us. Forty years have passed; I never tented again, ever.

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This was again a piece of bite-size memoir from Lisa Reiter’s prompts, read more about it here:

http://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/bite-size-memoir-no-5-camping

No Champagne, No Cake…

Wanton Word Flirt is celebrating its first anniversary. Flinging myself into the blogosphere with few expectations and little foresight, here are a few random thoughts on the first year:

No champagne, no birthday cake… just wishes to write more wantonly. My writing has been “careful, safe, nice”. That was not my original intent. I want to laugh louder, cry harder, be more reckless if and when I want to be.

Opening my blog today I found a birthday gift of 100 followers. I am grateful for those who have been reading my words. You are from 52 different countries all over the world including Canada, USA, UK, Australia, Brazil, Netherlands, Fiji and more. Thank you all for visiting, reading, commenting, sharing, and inspiring.

Learning the technical aspects  of having a blog will be a work in progress. I do love my new look though!

Although I would write whether I blog or not, being part of a seemingly endless community of bloggers, poets, fiction writers, memoirists, and readers across the world is an invigorating experience for a writer.

I have discovered that kindred spirits, serendipity, and synergy abound; all I have to do is put my writing out in the world.

Cheers!

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“Red Ribbons + Mullets”

Legs moving as fast as possible, like pistons in a luxury sports car, arms pumping alongside. Chest straight and head tall until the very last second lean forward to anticipate the finish. Every boy hoping to be first in the sprints, the senior high elite events.

“GO! GO! GO!” All the girls encouraging their favorites on the sidelines. Important to cheer on your hometown guys during the county track and field meet, but who could resist checking out the boys from all the neighboring towns who came to compete too.

It was the seventies. Short shorts and mullets were everywhere. It was just a matter of deciding who you thought was the cutest guy of all. There were stars, easy to pick out by red first place, and blue second place ribbons pinned on the front of their t-shirts. The losers sat sunning themselves bare-chested, they were definitely noticed too.

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This was yet another piece of “Bite-size Memoir” initiated by blogger Lisa Reiter. Check out her project / more memoir based on her weekly prompts at:

http://sharingthestoryblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/bite-size-memoir-no-4-sports-day/#comments