Serena and Decorating and Crystals, Oh My!

Happy end of May! For my Canadian readers, I hope you had a lovely Victoria Day weekend. It was a bit rainy here but still nice to have the extra day. For the Americans, I hope you are gearing up for a lovely Memorial Day weekend. For everyone else, you need a May long weekend! 

The eye thing is sort of stalled as we are in a holding pattern while I continue to administer the steroids. I'm sort of resigned to the new normal but am optimistic that some improvement is on the horizon. 

Miss Serena is doing much better. Her fur has now grown back. I think we have to suspend her therapy work indefinitely. The vet told me about some anecdotal cases as well as a study of therapy dogs picking up bacteria and given how old Miss Thing is now, I just can't take the chance of more illness. We've been on an ear infection/skin infection/pneumonia roundabout since the fall. Thankfully, her sassy attitude remains intact!

I've been packaging some crystals for little gift packs for new graduates since graduation is on the brain. The stones I've selected for these gift sets are particularly helpful with further studies, travel, and building a meditation practice. I've listed them on my little Etsy shop here. The crystals seem to make people quite happy so it's a nice little side gig while I write. I believe the universe always nudges one in the right direction. 

One of the things preventing me from jumping whole heartedly into crystals was my Anglican church upbringing. Recently, I had a lovely conversation about crystals with a few friends in Christian ministry, since I know that they are often used in woo woo practices that make some people nervous. We talked about how crystals are mentioned throughout scripture and are a wonderful reminder that from ashes comes beauty. As long as they are used as touchstones to help us tap into the best and strongest parts of ourselves and not as magic rocks, the two practices are not inconsistent. Phew! Perhaps that explains why my Anglican rosary appears to be made out of angelite. 

It's pouring buckets today but we've had a run of fabulous weather and I've been taking advantage of that. On the Mother's Day weekend, we spent some time arranging a funeral for an elderly relative who was finally freed from a decade-long battle with acute dementia and visiting the cemetery, but we also managed to have a nice trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and the White Rock Ostrich Farm. If you ever have the opportunity to speak with Deborah, the owner of White Rock, do. She's a delight.

I've been dining out al fresco, as I catch up with everyone before they all disappear for the summer.

The lake has looked very oceany lately. It's so very pretty.

It's making me excited for the summer. We've picked out paint colours for the summer place. Next, we have to get furniture. We'll be Ikea-ing and Wayfairing major pieces, I suspect, since we need to be somewhat set up before we arrive. And then we shall be buying things locally once we get there. 

We are likely going to rent it out for a few weeks as, realistically, we need to be back and forth given work and kid commitments. So I'm planning on lots of slipcovers and easy care pieces a la Something's Gotta Give (albeit with a less spendy price tag!) 

I'm using turquoise, aquamarine, angelite, and celestite crystals for colour inspiration as well as a Sanderson fabric sample and some beachy magazines. I'll be using a cream colour for the walls so that the ocean view pops. 

Well, that's what's up in this neck of the woods. I've been busy reading over some of my favourite blogs to catch up on what is going on with everyone else. The news has been so grim these days and it's lovely to focus on the positive. 

Take care, lovelies,


Chakras for the Chanel Set

Inspired by Chanel

Thank you for your kind inquiries into my health. I was at the surgeon yesterday and the aftercare doctor ran a bunch of tests. They are simply not sure why my left eye is not healing. It looks normal - better than normal, due to the copious amount of drops going in. The prescription was etched in correctly. There is no damage to the back of the eye. The "flap" has healed correctly: there is no bubbling or moisture that got trapped. 

So it's a mystery. Like how the caramel got into the Caramilk bar.

The good news is that the doctor remains hopeful that the eye will simply heal on its own. I will not, in fact, end up like Crazy, One-Eyed Janine (the doctor, who is also watching The Handmaid's Tale, confirmed this.) I'm on a new regime of spendy drops - apparently they have their own financial assistance program - which will hopefully nudge things along.

And Serena is coming along well too. Her ears are good and her fur is growing back. Hope springs eternal!

I've been surrounding myself with crystals, have had a reiki treatment, and met with a holistic therapist. I've been having lots of salt baths. I'm strengthening the positive relationships in my life and walking away from the negative ones. It all feels very necessary. Perhaps this eye thing is a gift.

I've been preparing for an upcoming chakra crystal workshop I'm doing and making little crystal sets to sell.

Reminds one of the proverbial basket weaving, no?

I was first introduced to the chakra system when I started practicing yoga back in the late 1990s. I was a hardcore, logic-driven banker, and was only there for the exercise. All the talk about energy seemed a little woo woo.

But then life got me searching. I became captivated by the postmodernists and Metaphysics. I became a fan of Joseph Campbell, who I'd first encountered during my undergraduate degree in Classics. I became interested in Jung and qualified as a MBTI administrator. And I studied religions: Christianity and Buddhism in particular. And the same patterns continued to repeat themselves. Life is a mystery, suffering makes you stronger, there is beauty in everything, and we heal only when are ready.

For me, it all clicked when I saw a diagram explaining the chakra system in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs. As an MBA and former corporate trainer, Maslow, I got. I'm not certain where I first saw the comparison, but I suspect it was in Daniel Tomasulo's article, Maslow Revisited: The Hierarchy of Chakras?

For those of you new to Maslow, he was psychologist who, in 1943, postulated that good psychological health depends on the fulfillment of core human needs. I've drawn up a little chart to show you how it works: Maslow's needs are on the right-hand side.  You read from the bottom, up.

According to Maslow, human needs start with the most basic ones: shelter, water, food, and other physiological requirements. Once those needs were met, one moved up the pyramid. One needed to feel safe and feel a sense of belonging in one's community. One needed to feel loved and esteemed, with good relationships and purposeful work. Finally, at the top of the pyramid, one needed to feel self-actualization: the feeling one gets when reaching one's potential.

In his later years, Maslow added a level beyond self-actualization: self-transcendence. He defined this as "the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos." This ties into spirituality and connection and explains why people at the apex of their careers are not always happy. It is only through transcending the self and living for a higher purpose that happiness can be found.

The diagram shows how the chakra system closely mirrors Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I find a quick scan of the chakras is an excellent way to get in touch with one's feelings of well-being. When I feel unwell, I scan my body to see if I feel grounded and safe. Do I feel loved and accepted? Do I feel able to communicate my needs and find meaningful work? If anything feels out of balance, it provides a clue to changes I can make. For me, chakra crystals are an excellent reminder of all of the areas to check. They are not so much "magic rocks" as touchstones.

See, not so woo woo. One of the things I want to do is make some of the things that have helped me seem more accessible. I know a lot of people in the Cheever set who find a lot of these concepts "out there." I totally get it. That's where I was too. If they sold Chakra stones at Chanel, I'd have embraced them a whole lot earlier...

I hope y'all have a wonderful weekend. Happy Mother's Day to those of you who celebrate. For those of you for whom it's a hard day (Fertility Treatment on Mother's Day: I've been there...), try to engage in acts of self care.


Quick update

Right eye: fabulous. Left eye: not so much.

On the plus side, I am able to put crystals in bags for my little shop.  It's like occupational therapy, I suppose.

Also, I've sketched out a new novel set in Stepford. This one is funny, which is more my wheelhouse than the intense book I wrote last year. That was was simply therapy. I love how fiction teases out truth; I suppose it's easier to be brave with fake names. Now I just need the eye power to write it all down.

I've dipped into The Handmaid's Tale. It was one of my favourite books in high school and feels shockingly relevant these days. I once had a very long conversation with Margaret Atwood about her LongPen technology. She told me I had wiles. It was, perhaps, the compliment of a lifetime.

Not much else is new with us. Hay House is running it's free online summit right now so there's lots of audio material available. I find listening to podcasts and audio books in the bathtub is one of my favourite new things. There is a blessing in everything: even in botched eyes.

Serena is on the mend too and we are thankfully both off the steroids. We won't be able to attend the Olympics next year, although - with our newfound steroid strength - we'd make one hell of a team.

I hope you are all doing well and enjoying the spring. The rain has thankfully tapered off here. We were preparing to build an ark.


Mine eyes have seen the glory

Happy Wednesday, y'all!

Serena and I have some super good news.

Sweet Home Oklahoma has been renewed!! There will be eight more episodes of Tubbers in July. Someone is putting on her party hat to C E L E B R A T E.

Loved the season finale. The ladies are ridiculous but have great hearts. They've all gone through a lot of crappy stuff in their lives and keep smiling. And just when you think it's all lighthearted fun, they slip in some real words of wisdom.


And you know what else it good news? It's finally sunny outside. We've had at least 1000 days of rain but look at that blue sky!

And the really good news is that I can see it!

The left eye is still blurry but it's getting better, I think. Glory be! I'm not certain it will be as clear as I'd hoped it might be prior to the surgery. But it's certainly better than it was and I still have several more days on the steroids to promote healing. The key question ahead of me is: if, when healed, the eye is still not where I want it, do I venture in for a retouch? At this point, the answer is a decided No. Once bitten, twice shy and - as I well know - there are always risks with surgery. Certainly, to proceed I'd need to know what would happen differently this time that did not happen initially. I have a few months to decide since - at that point - a retouch is still easy since the eye is not completely healed.

I'm able to drive again and do most things. Reading is still a struggle and my eyes tire quickly. But given how things looked (or didn't look!) last week, I'll take it!

Boy, oh boy do two weeks away from TV, computer, phone, driving, social outings, reading, exercise etc. ever give you time to think -- particularly when you think you might never see properly again. I realized that pretty much all of my de-stressing methods require sight. For the first couple of nights post surgery, even hot baths were discouraged. People, it was not good! I had a steady diet of meditation tapes and calming books on loop to keep semi-sane. I also slept on so many crystals that I'm surprised I don't have indentations in the back of my head.

I need to find ways to take the base level of stress out of my life so I have more bandwidth going forward. While I was convalescing, I "watched" the documentary, Happy, which is playing on Netflix right now. It's really, really good and was an excellent reminder of the happiness research out there (I interviewed some happiness experts for a piece I wrote for Today's Parent in 2009 (an updated version is online.) In the documentary, they interview Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who identified the concept of Flow: the idea that people are happiest when engaged in pleasurable work (his book is Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.) I realized that I need to build more flow into my life: more writing blocks, more collaborative activity, more taking concepts from idea to execution. Happiness is like a muscle. You have to use it so it does not wear out. I've spent the last few weeks stressing about my vision and trying to make a french bulldog eat her pills (I caught her spitting them into a closet!) so there is some room for rebuilding happiness levels right now...

I also "watched" PBS's Secrets of Chatsworth on Netflix because every now and then I like to be reminded how I'm related to Debo and Kick Kennedy et al. Highly recommend. It's part of a series and I plan to watch all the others.

Well, that's it for now. I'm trying not to go bananas on computer time since I'm meant to take things easy. I hope things are sunny in your neck of the woods and that you are able to see and enjoy it.


Blue Kitchens?

Morning y'all.

A light post today after yesterday's heavy.

What do you think of blue kitchens. I want to refresh the Stepford house. All carpet in bedrooms gone. Painted kitchen. New counters. New master bath. Want to do it as cheap and cheerful as these things run.

We have good oak cabinets. But they look dated. Love french blue.


I love Woodlawn Blue and Wedgewood Blue and Wythe Blue. I've used them on walls but never cupboards.  The rest of the house is neutrals and woods and it's dark. Behold, the darkest kitchen in the world!! This is how I imagine Voldemort's kitchen looks too. 

As my designer-goddess pal pointed out, the blue could magnify the orange in the floors. But if we go with white, I fear it will look like a Hooters. The owl's wing is the same colour as the floors. Perhaps while I'm on the surgery train, I could get implants and open a Hooters Stepford from my house. 

Apparently, Hooters makes you happy. That's a good thing. See how I'm being positive now? 

But seriously, I love this look here from Cliff Kitchen. The floors look similar. My fear is they are more brown. Mine might pull super orange like bad highlights after a trip to Cancun. But if it looked like this, it would be magical. 


Happy weekend. 


The Super-Long Eye Update Post (Now with Pomeranian Photo!)

So, the eye saga continues. They think I'll get better on my own but it will be slow. There is a possibility I will need more surgery. I've been assured it will be less painful because they do not need to use the gawdawful pressure machine thing again. It's being sent to Guantánamo Bay, I assume.

Thank you so much for checking in and showing patience with this whole thing. People have been lovely. I appreciate the concern online and IRL. It means more than y'all could know. And my mom and husband have been saints, stepping up with driving and meals. They understand about the need for Caramel Mocha Power Puddings. And the kids have stepped it up. My son ate fish last night with a minimum of complaining. This is big stuff, my friends.

I'm trying to stay positive but it's really hard. This sucks. And this comes on the heels of a whole lot of suckage. I want to write about it, because for me, writing is how I process the suckage. I've also learned that other people who are going through similar things feel less alone when they read about your struggles. I think that telling the truth about our struggles is important and when I read that someone is going through something I'm going through, I feel better. It's not so much misery loves company, but "me too." Somehow it makes it easier to bear.

But not everyone feels this way. I've also been criticized in this space for being negative when I've dared to share my struggles. I've learned that while it's OK to write about hard things like PPD, and divorce, and infertility, and miscarriage, and struggling with faith, and children's rehab hospitals, and blending families. and 50 year old Mean Girls, and the difficult work of parenting, and anxiety, and being a survivor of assault, it's totally not OK to complain about them. And complaining is kind of what I want to do right now because this eye thing is total total BS. I do not need this in my life right now and I want to stomp my little feet and yell. It's not like I'm in pain because my lip implant surgery went bad. (I totally want lip implant surgery. Over the last decade, I went from Kim Basinger to the pursed-lipped parking meter attendant. I want my youthful lips back and the cosmetic surgery clinic that just opened sent around a brochure saying they can do that!) This was not a mere vanity project. I hoped it would help solve the eye blister/vertigo thing. This is Total BS! (Even if it was a total vanity project, it would still be total BS...)

Also, I was assured by a very reputable Medium that my time in the crucible was over. She said I'd been through enough. The medium said, no more suffering. This is total BS.

Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever stomp your feet and say "unfair"? I know a lot of writers feel like that, but do regular people?

It's also unfair that this is the stuff I fear I'll be criticized for saying. I know I bring this all upon myself since I have a bizarre need to put my every waking thought on the internet but it's all I really know how to do. And I've felt censored for a super long time. Because in the past, when I've been honest, I've been stung.

I find this so strange. Honestly, I write openly about a lot of ridiculous stuff. Ridiculous. I own a Chanel Classic Jumbo bag for the love of Pete. Have you seen the price of those things? It's obscene. And I have a WOC. Yes, I speak Chanel. That, in and of itself, is ridiculous. And don't get me started on the Louiss. That's Louis -- plural. And I carry my dog - a designer dog who cannot breathe through her nose because she's been so designed - in a Goyard bag. Sometimes, said dog wears $400 sunglasses because her face is the same size as mine and it makes me laugh. This is ridiculous, ridiculous, Imelda Marcos-like behaviour and yet I've never been criticized for it in writing. Never.

But the minute I write about how it was really hard to be a single parent, I'm a whiner. Being a single parent is hard. People complain when they have to solo parent for a weekend! Imagine that all the time. Hard stuff. And blending families. Not easy. They don't call it melting, or merging, or folding. They call it blending. Ever looked at your Vitamix when it's working? Stuff is being spun around and pulverized. Smashed to smithereens. Blended: this is the word they choose. But if you write about it, you are Cinderella's Stepmother without Cate Blachett's excellent complexion.

I have learned to tread carefully around the whole wives of widowers thing. People do not like that topic. There is a truth universally acknowledged among wives of widowers that it is a difficult path when you stay in the same community, but there are still those who swear it's not true and that there must be something wrong with you, because they know a woman, who knows a woman in the same situation who is treated like gold and goes around wearing a tiara that says Second Wives Are The Best Wives and it was bought for her by the first wife's BFFs who are now her BFFs too and everyone sings Kumbaya in unison. It's easier to not go there. If you feel the need to attract negative attention, write instead about how you hate the world's cutest Pomeranian.


Through my days of forced self-reflection (ie no TV or internet for 96 hours) I've decided that I need to find a way to write more openly about hard things and yet shelter myself from the inevitable criticism that comes when you say that things are hard.

So I've decided that instead of leaving the peanut gallery unpublished, I will put their words in pretty picture quotes. Like on Pinterest! I'm not sure where the copyright laws sit on the ownership of the words but I guess if you write an anonymous mean comment and want Pinterest credit, email me?

To kick things off, here is an oldie, but goodie. To provide context, at the time, I was undergoing EMDR to deal with ongoing nightmares and was on the waitlist for the government's PTSD program. I guess that's the "victim" thing? We generally prefer the term survivor now, but that's an honest oversight.  Someone was peeved that I complained about how hard it was to carry three pairs of skis when skiing as a single parent of young kids. They were also peeved that I wrote about how some people in town had been mean to me at a party because I was dating a widower. I know now that I was supposed to keep that one a secret. Live and learn. Anyhow, here is the comment, all prettied up.

I added the bluebird of happiness for effect. Cute, right? I wanted something that suited the theme of "I hate the weather."

Maybe this commenter - in my mind, I see a rather leathery women with bad hair and a smoker's cough - meant well? It's sort of good advice. Maybe people were happy for me. That might have been a "playful shove" at that party... And yes, one should never hate all inclusives. Everyone knows that.

Anyhow, that's how I'm going to deal with it so I can get back in the arena, as Brené Brown likes to say. Laughing at awful things has always been my coping mechanism. I come from a long line of Swedes and Brits and Scots with serious gallows humour. Medical people find me hilarious as do therapists and cops. Do you know how hard it is to make a cop laugh? Gallows humour.

My life mantra comes from the words of Carrie Fisher, who I think was one of the smartest people on the planet.

So I joke. About the one eye for the price of two surgery. How I wish I was happy to "see" the doctor too. I become a really bad cruise ship comedian. It's better than crying.

But there is some good news. I'm healing albeit slowly. And the pressure issue we feared is not causing the problem. In fact, there is now I better chance I won't get glaucoma than I'd previously thought. There is some sort of shizzleshow involving thick corneas and some business going on at the back of my eye that is strange but I choose to be all Scarlett O'Hara on that one.

Also on the plus side, I've re-established my love of talking books. It's nice to have someone read you a bedtime story. I adore Daphne Rose Kingma and going to Esalen in Big Sur when she is there is totally on my bucket list. She's magical and so gets it. I urge you to read The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook. Better yet, listen to it; to her. Amazing, amazing stuff.

When I got the all-clear to cry, I finished Glennon Doyle Melton's Carry On, Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life. It's a mostly beautiful book. She reads it, which makes it even better. Some authors who read their own books ruin them, but I can't imagine anyone else doing the voiceover for this one. Some of it is amazing and I was playing parts of it for both my husband and my mom. But this passage, about the things she would do to punish God if she let her down again, was Not Cool At All:
"I’ll quit trying not to be a jerk. I’ll quit writing. I’ll quit talking to you and caring about other people and smiling so much. I’ll spend all my money on fancy make-up and couches and I’ll spend all my time watching Real Housewives of Orange County."
I will say this once and only once. There is nothing wrong with spending all of one's money on fancy makeup and couches and spending all of one's time watching Real Housewives. NOTHING. And that is the final word on that. Also, if you take public transit a lot, it's OK to not smile at strangers. It generally makes them nervous.

I'm back to being able to get on the computer. Thank god! It strains my eyes (eye!) a little but the doc said it will do them no harm. It's good to get them working again. And I can drive. Did you know you can legally drive with one eye?  Explains a lot, I think. I just need to practice a bit so my brain gets used to things. I'm left eye (bad eye) dominant, so it will take a bit of getting used to it all.

I have so hated not driving. I hate not jumping in my car and going to the gym or to the store. I hate having to make arrangements to get my kids here and there. Not driving in the city is totally doable but not driving in Stepford is impossible. Plus, driving on a sunny day is one of my favourite ways to relax. Now if I feel like driving for an hour so I can get a piece of pie in the afternoon, I have to ask someone. Trust me, people judge.

I'm soooo glad I can read and write again, albeit imperfectly. Yesterday, I set up an Etsy site using a magnifying glass to see the screen since it's hard to adjust to my reading glasses. I'm selling wellness crystals and yes I realize how ironic that all seems. But friends, just think of how weird I'd be without the crystals... Anyhow, it gave me something to do, which I desperately need. An idle mind is not good for me. I become consumed with worry and doubt. I hate that. I wish my mind was filled with those glittery unicorns you find on Kawaii sites.

Anyhow, thanks for reading this super long post. I've had a lot to say. And thank you for the kind comments and emails and IMs. Writers get used to writing into the void and my stats counters lets me know I'm not alone but I love love love the feedback and getting to know y'all.

Peace and love.

They all ran after the farmer's wife...

So, I had the laser surgery. On the bright side, my right eye is aces. I could see for Canada were seeing things an Olympic event. Also, I'm into regular sunglasses and got to ditch the freebie ones the clinic provides. Life is always a bit better in Chanel and Maui Jim's. No? I'm trying out readers on my good eye so future optical shopping opportunities abound. Yippee.

But then there is my left eye. I have pre-glaucoma because of a stupid pigment malfuntion that keeps turning my baby blue eyes the colour of the middle of the Atlantic. People compliment their darkness, not realizing this is in fact the thing that may eventually lead me to a white stick and a service dog other than Serena.

I could have just worn glasses, only they seemed to be contributing to my vertigo. Oh, life has just been a merry whirl over the last few months here. Trust me, when all of this is over, I plan to celebrate big time. In couture.

So I had the surgery which, by the way, hurts like hell. The lasering part is fine. You feel nothing. It's way less painful than YAG face lasering. You just hear the snapping sound. That's it. But the thing they use to wedge your eye open was designed for a cyclops. A big one. I kid you not. I once had a Hysterosalpingography with a very twisted cervix when I was trying to get pregnant. They came at me with something that looked like jaggedy barbecue tongs. That was better. Just saying.

Anyhow, they got my eye set up and then the surgery was no biggy but the left eye is just not healing as it should in spite of 7,632 drops of prednisone and antibiotics every day. This is not the doctor's fault. He's a rock star and deals with glaucoma. I just have crappy health. I have a chart I have to use to figure out my eye meds since it's different for each eye. It looks something like this. Also, remember, I really can't see very well so filling out a chart is super helpful. The good times are rolling fast and furious.


At night, I tape two giant plastic disks to my face with surgical tape, so I cannot scratch out my eyes with frustration. It's super glam. I plan to keep them in my bag in case I ever find myself in a Tippi situation.


This is the first time since Thursday, I've been allowed any screen time. Still can't use my phone and am not watching TV. I cannot even be entertained by Tinsley! Also I can't read. 

I can't read my new books!!

I bought some stuff through Audible. God bless them! I can't cry or laugh wildly so Carry On Warrior had to be shelved for a while so I've been listening to chick lit. Also, Daphne Rose Kingma's 10 Things To Do When Your Life Falls Apart because it feels appropriate and I've read it a bunch and there are no surprises. Her voice is super soothing. 

Well, that's it for the update. Back to see the surgeon again. My regular eye doc has been amazing, coming in on her day off to make sure I'm as OK as possible. It will all be OK in the end. Just glacially slow and slightly worrisome. 

I've used up my daily allotment for seeing. Keep calm and carry on, y'all. 


Serena and Decorating and Crystals, Oh My!

Happy end of May! For my Canadian readers, I hope you had a lovely Victoria Day weekend. It was a bit rainy here but still nice to have the...