Tangled in knots

The other day I was in charge of coordinating, organising and physically carrying out a lice check from Kindergarten to Grade 5 at our school. Simple enough task…

We got through the youngest ones, I was starting a grade 5 class, these kids roughly 10 turning 11 years old by the end of the year. They are newly aware of the changes in their bodies and brain functions causing them to re think, overthink or over analyze their own reactions and behaviors. A time when we unfortunately become increasingly aware of our surroundings as well as how those around us may perceive us…

I started at the front of the first row, we decided going up and down each row in class with our tools better (faster) and less disruptive to instruction than calling each child out individually into the hall.  I noticed a girl, more than the others were, watching me. I could feel her anxiety. I try my best to make the kids comfortable, I ask them their name, comment how nice their hair color, length, girth, style etc…  is.

I finished the first 2 rows , she was still watching, waiting, I walked past her desk to put the wooden hair separators I had used already into the garbage and grab clean ones. she came close to me and said I have to tell you something. I looked at this beautiful dark skinned girl that was staring at her hands and smiled. She continues, as she is pulling the hood off her head, “you see, I used to have braids (her hair; very tightly curled black hair) and when you take them out its a bit of a mess…” She sort of points to the back of her head. I smile again and say ‘shall I just check quickly now, you have beautiful hair, it will be fine’. I grab my stick and easily separate some hair at the top, but as she warned at the base it was very much a large dreadlock hard to seperate. In that moment so many things flashed into my mind.

How nervous she must have been feeling, but brave she was to approach me, how different than the mostly white and asian students in regards to hair she obviously feels, the anxiety the notice of this lice/hair check clearly gave her as she tensed as soon as I entered the room. How I wanted to take her and spend the hours needed to detangle her hair, though I don’t even know if that’s possible, I felt naive to understanding what ‘black people’ need to deal with in regards to their hair. The shame society has placed on them because of it. She had it hidden after all under a hood. My heart hurt for this little 10 year old girl who deserved nothing but an education in a safe space but clearly felt judge and worry as well.

It also reminded me of the most embarrassing moment of my childhood. The reason I make my kids wash and brush their hair(because my mom didn’t). My mom, a mom of the 80’s whose motto was basically, “they(you) will figure it out” however vague and spread out in options that meant for us…

I was away at Girl guide camp (in grade 5 coincidentally enough) and it was a special weekend, I don’t remember specifically, mothers day, or easter maybe anyway, one of the leaders offered to give all the girls in our cabin of 6 girls french braids to go home in! We were all so excited at how nice we would look! I will never forget the feeling of shame and embarrassment when she got to me. All the other girls looked so pretty in their braids, she could barely comb to the middle half of my head because my hair was so knotted in tangles, she couldn’t or maybe didn’t want to bother, but I remember it was so easy and fast for all the others and she sat there for an hour trying to brush my hair and eventually settled on the top quarter being braided and tying the rest back in a ponytail. After the fact I remember analyzing, were they all laughing at me behind my back? Did she chose me last because she had already noticed my hair was so gross? I don’t remember if it taught me to want to wash and brush my hair more but it did teach me that my mom didn’t care enough about me to not keep me from being so embarrassed.

This girl who tracked my steps around her class, nervously waiting for me to check her knotted hair, I hope I calmed her nerves in how I reacted. I pray she felt relief.

It is an interesting thing in life to have random moments bring us back to old memories, good or bad.

I do believe kids need to learn on their own but they also need constant reminders and help and a little push especially if they don’t want to things they should like bathe, or wear climate appropriate clothing, eat vegetables etc. However, I have a feeling with this girl its not her fault her hair is so tangled.  I really hope she didn’t feel shame that day. I was curious what it takes for  her so I googled it and wow! Here is the link to what I see as an incredibly hard task on top of the rest of your life to deal with every day.

https://www.wikihow.com/Detangle-African-Hair

I have always thought black womens/girls hair is so beautiful and after finding out the lengths they need to go through for it to look that way! I am in awe and admiration. I thought I would include a few other links about detangling hair.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

7 Easy Steps To Detangling Natural Black Hair Safely

https://www.allure.com/story/single-strand-knots-natural-curly-hair

https://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty/g26325730/best-hair-detangler/

 

 

So it starts and the next 6 months are heavy…

The following months that lead up to my girls supposed to be 7th birthday, which is followed by the 7th date since her death (2 months later) so needless to say my not so good months of the year are soon to come; this time of year for me is heavy.

September:

As the beginning of another season.  The changing colors, fallen leaves of autumn, the beginning of another school year. Another year of growth for my other children, a new grade, a new teacher, whole new experiences. And one looming thought… the little girl who would be entering Grade 2, what would she choose to be for Halloween as an almost 7 year old? would she start to love math and hate art? How tall would she be now? …

October:

My birth month, never a big celebration as I do not like being the focus or for money wasted. But the thoughts are always there, as I age. Am I wiser? Do I care more or less? I guess its all changed dramatically over time, through grief, because of life and its unrelenting series of events, be them good or bad. The future or death really is always at the back of my mind. And of course another Thanksgiving holiday without her…

November:

I do not know if you’ve ever been to a schools Remembrance day ceremony? (Nov.11) Usually some of the kids sing sad songs while a slide show of graves and war pictures fill the room. Poems are read by innocent voices, too young to really understand the words that seem to make the adults in the rooms tear up. Outside becomes quite cold, the trees are bare and I always think of how in November of 2011 I was 8 months pregnant about to have a baby…

December:

Was my favorite month, before… I used to decorate December 1st for the holiday season, a fun day of unpacking years of decorations, an activity I would get excited for every beginning of Fall. Something I once loved so much. Is now something I dread. Another Christmas she wont be here, her stocking,  another birthday (Dec 30th) we wont celebrate, followed immediately by a new year. December is the worst…

January:

How I made those 3 hour round trips to the hospital everyday, how I begged (felt like anyway) friends to watch my other kids so I didn’t have to drag them there every day. The cold, dark days, the fact another year has gone by just like that…

February:

Is the shortest month of the year but the longest in my memory. I went out, for the first time in 11 months, to a parent advisory meeting, it was Tuesday February 11 2012, I went because an acclaimed parent speaker was giving a talk that night. Another mom commented, how she couldn’t believe I was there, you know having a newborn and all. She didn’t know I was trying for normalcy after what I had been going through since the traumatic birth of my daughter. The speaker had just started and 20 min in I got a call from my husband. He forgot to give our daughter her phenobarb (phenobarbitol is a seizure medication) hers was given through her G-tube and as I had always given the dose, he didn’t actually know how to. I later found out he called because our then almost 4 year old had fallen near where she was laying and it startled her so much that she went blank, he was scared and called me with the excuse she needed her medicine, which was partly true. So I left. I got home at 830, kissed my little 3 & 5 year old boys goodnight and heard Steve scream for me. Sheri come here! I ran down the stairs, I could hear the terror in his voice. Shes not breathing! I grabbed her from him, I yelled to call 911, to tell them an infant is unconscious and not breathing, that is what I learnt you say when you need them to come to you first. But in this case was also true. He put the speaker on, I explained I was giving her CPR but it wasn’t working, she asked me if I tilted her neck (step 2!) no, as soon as I did, she gasped for air. Seconds later the ambulance was at our door and once again I was abandoning my other babies in the middle of the night. Once again I was terrified and watching my littlest baby be hooked up to multiple cords, poked for IVs. But all I kept thinking was how my boys would be scared and sad when they woke up and their mom and sister were gone. I was up all night, they got her stable and all seemed on the up and up the next day, until she had 3 more seizures and I ran down the hallway as the room filled with too many doctors and nurses, codes being yelled over the PA. She was transferred back to Children’s Hospital where, x-rays and CT scans found other problem we never knew about, she needed a tracheotomy to breathe (a hole in her throat) if we wanted her to live. That was on top of the 3 heart surgeries we were already waiting for her to have, before this happened. She would never survive them, she wasn’t healthy enough, chances were slim for a healthy baby, which she wasn’t. I remember sitting in my room staring out the window as the doctor explained all the surgeries. That we needed to meet very soon to make a decision.

The world went still for me.

They tried to move us to the children’s hospice but I was too scared that she would die  during transfer. Another regret I carry.

Tuesday February 18 2012 we signed a DNC (do not resuscitate) they took our her breathing tube, and IV and I held her as she took or struggled more like through her last breath.

Her funeral was a week later and shortly after that it began… the you must be ok by now comments that infuriated me, the you can have another comments, the she’s not suffering anymore, those expecting me to smile only months after her death. little did they know my grief journey hadn’t even started, as I was in denial after the shock wore off. Now I relive those early days, the middle struggle and the final blow every year and it starts in September and goes until February 28 when I get a slight reprieve from the heavy feeling that seems to live in my heart 6 months a year.

Thanks for reading,

Sheri

 

poor baby

Its not about me…

‘His sister died when he was 6’ I recently had to explain to the principal of my older son at school in regards to an issue about behavior and something that had occurred between him and another boy. The call went silent, no I didn’t know that…

‘Its his sister, who died 2  years ago’ I explained to my other sons kindergarten teacher after he asked about a drawing my younger son had drawn that included his sister and that he couldn’t explain to the teacher, who thought he was seeing ghosts or had an imaginary friend, it came from a concerned place I believe…

‘He lost his little sister in kindergarten’ which can explain why he is a quieter kid I said to the vice principal when asked about any issues they should know about as he was starting a new school for grade 3…

Not to forget the mass emails I had to send out to coaches and current teachers(at the time), their friends parents about my boys losing their sister back in 2012, when they were only 4 and 6. How I had to explain typing through my own hand soaked tears about what happened and to please be easy with my children in these difficult times and upcoming days and weeks…

How every time I had to mention it, include it or divulge this piece of my broken heart, I always did so with their best interest in mind, in hopes that gentler gloves could deal with them if issues arose, hadn’t they been through enough? ‘Losing’ their parents right after Christmas when they went to the hospital to have their little sister not to return for days then for the next 51 days being driven around by neighbors and friends parents as their own parents were suddenly gone at the hospital all the time. Our house became quiet those dark weeks that turned into months, our children had gone from happy innocent children, to those that not only lost their baby sister but the parents they knew forever, because we were never the same again. I wanted people to understand my kids didn’t need to suffer anymore. It wasn’t about me.

So I shared and it made people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to be around me but its not about me…

Every time I had to fill out a form asking for any necessary reasons for concerns the pen hovered, do I mention their loss? do I say they may say her name, do I recall painful details? Does it matter to them? or this situation? I did get to a point years later where I stopped filling it out, thinking time enough had passed I didn’t need to, until a couple weeks ago I go a call that my son was in trouble at school. We talked briefly, my son had apparently jokingly said he was going to kill someone, in his defense his young, undeveloped brain of 13 did not understand that saying this is equal to saying you have a bomb on a plane in today’s world, especially with school shootings and such, but lesson learned he will never speak like that again, joking or not…

This boy in particular had recently lost a family member and was feeling a bit touchy, and was acting out at school, when prompted he said what my son had said to him which set off a firestorm of ‘rules’ that needed to be followed. Long story shortened the 4th call with the principal, I felt the need to tell him about how my son had lost his sister when he was 6, he had gotten into trouble in kindergarten because of his grief and anger at school and people did not tell me about it, it was shielded from me so to speak. when I found out I was so upset, upset I could have been there for my little boy, upset at having that teachable moment taken from me, that even in our own pain we do not physically fight with others, that if he felt a certain way all he had to do was call me or ask the teacher to call me and I would have been there. I didn’t say this to the principal but what I explained was that my sons never been in trouble, not since this incident in kindergarten and now 6 years later, he is in grade 7 and was crying as the school (police) liaison officer spoke to him about his “threat” I was not there. I see I have made the principal uncomfortable, because since this incident when I see him in the hallways it is different, as it was back then after someone found out…

The time I had to explain my middle sons drawings to his kindergarten teacher, the same thing happened, he looked at me with pity, as soon as I mentioned he lost his sister he said but stopped himself mid way ‘so you lost a’… I kept talking about my son, it was not about me…

Or the time my oldest was in grade one, so the same year she died, his teacher at the 1st parent teacher interview, says to me so I know about lily, I said oh? she says H(my son) talks about her a lot, I explain we/he goes to group therapy at Canucks Children Hospice and is encouraged to talk about her, she says its OK but that he seems tired a lot. Yeah, me too I thought. Grief is tiring, but it wasn’t about me…

Or the time when my oldest was in grade 4 and wrote this on his jump rope for heart heart…

Hayden gr 4

Or 2 weeks ago when I dropped off my middle sons violin, who was 4, in preschool when his sister died and is in grade 5 now, I found this on his desk…

** Every year elementary schools in Canada participate in the Jump rope for heart campaign.

logan gr 5

 

So as I have said, felt, voiced since 2012, yes my heart broke when I lost my daughter, my third child but my heart broke even more witnessing what my sons went through, still learn to grow through. So no, its not about me…

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

Lost in Life

Do you ever feel stuck? lost? confused at how you got here?

We go through the motions, awake, pee, drink coffee, begin daily mind-numbing tasks that incessantly nag at us to be completed. Take out the garbage, empty the compost, fill and unload the dishwasher, turn on the dryer, wipe the counters, lock the door and off to work, errands, kids obligations.

Some days you wonder how you made it this far, to this day of this month. Did you forget anything this week? today? Probably but you wont remember until you are trying to fall asleep later.

That voice irritates your brain, the one asking you what you are doing, the one that demands action but your heavy bones refuse to allow the motions needed to complete the tasks you think you need to do.

When someone we love, admire, cherish, take care of dies, we pass a peace of our heart to the other side. What comes back is like a stone in its place, a cold hard heavy stone. But the weight of the world is not only in death but in life. What we view around us, what we forgive or allow. Who we help or don’t. How do we keep going when it all becomes mundane.

A favorite saying of mine , don’t let the world make you cold, don’t let the pain steal your light,  or something… here’s the real one…

407fca5b1f34eeb95a5b1f20253f99b3

I cant focus my thoughts, I cant focus my energy, I haven’t felt so un motivated since my days stuck in raw grief. when the zombie like state of my brain and body just got me from day to day without the realization of what I was doing. Am I depressed? maybe, am I bored with life? yes. What we do day after day is how we live our lives right? so if its spent doing the same monotonous tasks what are we really doing? Are we even living?

What is the purpose,

the point of it all?

I try to remind myself we are here to help others.

To do good. To keep going.

So, I will continue.

Thanks for reading

Sheri

 

Distressed; a poem of thoughts on society

Distress

shuddering shaking shock

cries violence outrage

constantly taking stock

too little love too weak to care

too few are concerned with so much consumption

greed death lies oh how time flies

another day another tragedy another loss to add to the pile

the ever growing mound of grief of life

as the trees disappear and the waters muddy

some things come clear the motives of the businesses destroying the planet

the needs of the poor ignored through our shallow deeds of neglect and fear

we will all take our last breath but none know when

we live as though promised the pot of gold at the end

we push we pull we step on each others hands to climb the endless mountain fill its demand

our bodies shake overcome with distress but we plough onward forging through the mess

the smog filed air we breathe as thick as our goggles of ignorance

we wash away our sins with chemically treated springs

inject the fountain of youth to our foreheads and lips pretending no one notices the blip

because we cannot accept reality the demons our demise

we wash down our daily gluten free bread with overpriced fermented potatoes

praying for sleep to subside our unrest, our need to ignore reality overwhelms it gets our best

 screens sewn to our palms to engage anger enthrall

no need for eye contact no room left to fall

stay positive use a filter deny the walls we have built

lest us be reminded of our guilt

shaking subsides some see through the lies

others can breathe free without the worry for you and me

they have more than they need they were ‘blessed’ loved more perhaps

lay in our beds cover our heads put down our screen adjust to being mean

another day awaits

we all have taken the bait

 

 

 

 

 

 

I quite literally sat down after an emotional morning and let it out, so I apologize if it is darker or less positive or depressing to read.

Sometimes life is.

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

Let it go

The person you thought you could be

Let it go

The person you hoped you’d be

Let it go

Your shame is not necessary

Let it go

It isn’t real

Let it go

Why do you hold on to that wish

That view, that praise

Let it go

You are what you are

You are amazing  at what you do

You are you

Let it go what holds you

It hurts your heart when you reflect

Let it go

The remorse the regret

Leg it go

You are you; its time to grow.

 

By Sheri Hall

Body Image; the subjective picture or mental image of one’s own body

*** This post is not about Grief, though there is some in it. I am choosing to write about something else that I have dealt with my whole life.

Body Image – Noun- an intellectual or idealized image of what one’s body is or should be like, that is sometimes misconceived in such mental disorders as anorexia nervosa.

Since I can remember I have been obsessed with being “skinny” my first recollection of this issue, or problem, as it became, was when I was around 7; one of my best friends was a ballet dancer. I was constantly looking at her legs beside mine, always believing that mine were huge by comparison. This photo of us below proves my delusion.

Summer of 1987

I loved playing with my Barbie dolls but unlike others I do not blame their tiny unattainable frames for my obsession, I blame society and television. It (Barbie) was/is a toy after all, a doll to act out my fun with. Magazines and music videos on the other hand had only beautiful, tall, skinny women in my face constantly, they were real women. I grew up in the age of Kate Moss, the ridiculously skinny frame and face of Calvin Klein.

By the time I was 12 I wanted to be a model, I was only 5ft 6 but hey so was Kate Moss, the problem however  was my frame… I was not “petit” or “tiny”, I always felt like an ogre beside my friends, big shoulders, big glasses, I was not an athlete or a dancer, I played no instrument, basically I had or felt I had no talent. By fifteen I was doing some local modeling and shows after taking classes the previous year. A friend at the time commented to me, a male friend, which in hindsight made it matter more, he said ‘wow, your too skinny!’ You see I spent much of the 8th and 9th grade not eating and if I felt I overate, I made myself throw up. I weighed 112 lbs. in grade 9 down from 118 in Grade 7 and when he said that, you’d think it sounded an insult but not to me, it was validation.

I went to a modeling show in Whistler at 15,  here I am, in this picture which is important because the pink sweater I am wearing in it is a shirt I was given when I was 8yrs old and here I was wearing it as half top 7 years later, I was so proud I fit into it.

model

 

My body image morphed from a child who kind of thought she was bigger than others, (even though I clearly was not) to being obsessed with controlling how many calories I ate and exercise I did. I didn’t really like throwing up and felt so mature that I was making the decision to exercise over being anorexic…(eye roll at myself) I joined the gym at 15, it was my routine. I took the bus everyday or went with my boyfriend, whose mom ironically or not was a former model and always commented negatively and positively to me about my body weight or the state of it.

I noticed every .05 of a pound I gained or lost. Fast forward to me realizing I will never be able to maintain 110lbs or be discovered,  so at 18 I got hired and started working at Hooters restaurant I began doing bikini contests. You see bikini models over fashion models were allowed to have curves. Something I, as I got older could not hide no matter how little I ate.

contest       1998     I got 2nd place at  a Miss Hooters contest which put me in the finals for Miss Hooters BC. I got 4th in a Miss Molson contest. 3rd in a Miss Ocean Beach, which put me in their finals. I never won any, those were the ones I placed, I did a dozen others that left me feeling even more insecure and fatter than ever. There was always someone skinnier or prettier or both.

I worked at Hooters for 2 years, at the time in the picture below, I was closing the bar and one night 5 minutes  before closing time a guy came in, I was visibly frustrated as I was ready to go home. I poured him his pint and continued my closing duties, in his mind I suppose I was ignoring him. He paid and left. I found a note under his pint that read, ‘You are not as hot as you think you are , PS lose some weight your muffin top looks terrible over those shorts.’ I crumpled it and tossed it hoping my face didn’t show the pain I felt just in case he was out the window waiting for my reaction. I weighed 122 lbs. at that time the most I had ever weighed in my life- I was fat! and he just confirmed it.

Hooters

My obsession with my body image, the distorted view I became to have of what my body looked like was taking over my life, I fell asleep at night counting how many calories I had consumed that day. I ensured I was at the gym 7 days a week and through it all I smiled and pretended I didn’t care. Fast forward into my mid 20’s I struggled to maintain a weight that was not my natural body weight, I weighed between 121 – 126 lbs. constantly striving to be under 120 again. I look back at pictures and think wow, I was skinny, yet I never once felt it.  The next 10 years my inner demons fought within myself to maintain a body I couldn’t. Then I had my 1rst child at 25 and suddenly didn’t care, he was all that mattered. I wish I could say that it grew into a healthy mindset about my body image but no, it didn’t last, I did, after not caring for the 3 years whilst I had baby 1 and 2 but soon after rejoining the gym and learning very disgustingly how out of shape 3 years sans exercise made my body. I was even more ashamed of myself.

How did I let myself go? no, I never was actually overweight, though my new weight range was between 131lbs and 135- to me I was huge, that’s almost 20lbs larger than I always strived for. I got a personal trainer and got down to 128! then I got pregnant again. I was bitter, I just got my body back. I became depressed. I didn’t want another child, I didn’t want to get fat again. Then my beautiful little girl was born upside down and backwards not breathing with many complications. She died 51 days later.

I hated myself. It must have been my fault, I cared too much about getting fat and not appreciating what was growing inside me. I killed my baby. I sat with this pain and regret and guilt for many years. I also did not care what I looked like…is what I wish I could say but no, immediately after she died I hired another personal trainer my excuse this time? I didn’t not want to look like I had just had a baby, especially if I didn’t have one to show for it! Would you know it, a way some people grieve is sex, there are many, self medication, over eating, over sleeping and yes sex. Low and behold I was pregnant 2mths after my 3rd child died.

This is me, as big as a house, pregnant with my 4th child at 32.  I can honestly say I didn’t care how fat I got this time because this was going to be the healthiest baby damn it!

4rth pregnancy

The point of me needing to write about dealing with body image is that it is so incredibly unhealthy in the way it has literally ruled/ruined my life. I delete pictures immediately if I think I look fat, my mood is ruined if I don’t like what I am wearing or if something doesn’t fit right. I also feel that most if not all women struggle with this self imposed pressure. I constantly look at the small frames I always wished I was and think man they look good. But I bet they don’t think so. I still work hard at being healthy, I still go to the gym 5x a week, but I eat whatever I want and I try not to stress so much. I think with age it has become easier to let go of the “perfect” body.

I have kids who I pray see themselves as the beautiful little beings that I do. That I show them or have shown them how to be healthy over being skinny. I express to them their mind is much more important to work on than their body. I hope they hear me.

But I cannot lie, this picture below is  from only a few days ago. My husband said to me, ‘wow you look good’. I was excited to see it, I asked him to send it to me.  And I hated it. All I see is the paunch in my belly when I look at this photo. I want to stop this cycle. I  want to stop looking back and thinking wow I looked good, or skinny or fit. I want to feel it, now, but I don’t think there is an answer on how.

July 15 2018

Today, at almost 38, I weigh 137lbs, a very healthy weight for my age and height. I am trying to stop being my biggest critic. But I think with having it be an unhealthy obsession my whole life it might always be a demon that lives inside me. I wish there was a magical cure to how we see ourselves regarding our body image.

I just pray as a society with the shifts that are in place today we start appreciating our brains, our words, or acts of kindness as much as we have been taught to appreciate a ‘nice body’.

This post was inspired by this photo that I saw on FB the other day. It really struck me and stuck with me because it is how I have felt my whole life.

body image

Thanks for reading

Namaste,

Sheri

 

 

Nothing left but a memory and a recipe…

‘Si cara’   ‘yes dear’

Sounds very formal, however, my nonno, who died a year ago this week, used to call me cara- dear and the last time that I have a meaningful memory  of him other than the ones of my childhood is one of the time I brought my first born to visit. As a first time stay at home mother I was very lonely, I used it as a reason so see my maternal grandparents.

It felt amazing to see them, to visit every week for two straight years. After not seeing them after my parents divorce. After a childhood of weekly visits that ended when I was ten because of their separation. We visited weekly until my Nonna was admitted to care. I was leaving with my first born, pregnant with my second and tears in my eyes as my son screamed to be locked into his car seat, an acknowledgement of pain locked in our gaze, he (my strong, Italian born Grandparent who hid from Mussolini) said ‘oh cara’ – oh dear, with the look of love and sympathy on his eyes that I had not seen in ten years. My heart melted into a childhood heart, I cried. I was young, I had no help, I wanted my family. A sudden flashback came to me of my nonno calling me cara as a child.

Fast forward to his funeral; I see his brother who recently lost his son my cousin to a drug overdose and cried continually, when he’d stop to look at me,  he would hold my hand and say Oh Nina, my name is Sheri, but oddly growing up I always wanted my name to be more Italian, I wanted Nina or Gina. he always called me nina as a child, I thought it meant neice, as he was my Zeo gino, my uncle. A strong Italian immigrant came to Canada with his brothers for a better life. Always hard workers, always tax paying, law abiding citizens. All gone, my family from my childhood, gone.

With my dad suffering and witling away from dementia, my mom and I estranged since their divorce when I was a teen, my brothers, one a drug addict, a thief, on and off the streets, the other wanting nothing to do with our family. It is easy to feel sorry for oneself, but I try to remember that many, so many, still have it worse than I.

Thoughts of life and death wander through my mind and then sometimes with the reflections of those gone; a simple memory of soup. A warm meal served with love at my Nonna and Nonno’s house, a favorite place to be as a child. A beautiful memory, like the delicious homemade soup, warms my heart.

Italian Minestrone Soup

 

minestrone

 

Ingredients

400 g of cannellini beans or a mix of pinto and garbanzo beans

2 liters of water to boil the beans

1 can of stewed tomatoes (unsalted)

200 g zucchini

500 g of herbs (Italian seasoning or fresh basil and oregano

150 g of pork rind or 100 g of raw ham

200 g of fine pasta

Parmesan cheese

extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 parsley

1 Tbsp. salt

1 Tsp. pepper

 

Instructions

  1. Place into a saucepan the prosciutto (ham) cut into strips or pork, together with oil, a chopped onion and parsley.
  2. As soon as the onion starts to boil, add tomatoes, beans, garlic, herbs, zucchini and season with freshly ground salt and pepper.
  3. Let it simmer for a few minutes, add the water in which the beans have been boiled, cover the pan and let it cook at moderate heat.
  4. Let it simmer, increase the heat and add  large macaroni pasta or small shell pasta, let cool.
The minestrone should be dense at the end. Serve it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese on top.
Enjoy with a slice or two of fresh bread mmmmm.
Buon appetito.
Thanks for reading
Sheri

The never ending mountain

 

Grief; ultimately the hike of your lifetime, a steep decent into the muddy, dark mess that sticks to your boots pulling you into its sinking sludge. Sometimes a light stroll through the memories, a rainbow follows a storm and you appreciate the change. Out of nowhere a harsh incline appears as if out of nothing it feels as though you are not going anywhere but if you look back the reflection is faint. You have come further than you realise, one foot in front of the other, drag, pull, skip, jump but don’t stop. You must keep climbing. Moving forward into the hard fog for it will lift at the slighest moment to show you new beauty. The colors around you are constantly changing, the landscape never the same. New fears appear as past loss is accepted but that is the way we grow. We learn to accept, we challenge our normal, feel the hurt and keep climbing.

 

 

Sometimes the smallest things can seem like a huge hurdle to get over, take a breath, have a moment for yourself and start again.

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Share your thoughts.

 

Thanks for reading

Namste

Sheri