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/

 

 

#Truth

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I had a FB memories pop up from 2012 this is what I wrote…

So I made it into a meme with my artwork.

Thanks for reading.

Dimes

 

I keep a corner outside my daughter’s room, it was my first daughter’s and is now my seconds.

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Beside it to the right is, was her bedroom and to the left is the laundry room.

 

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I have been having a harder time lately.

I stop and light her candle as I do often, kiss my fingers to her photo and proceed to finish the laundry.

Where I immediately find this.

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A dime.

Now it is not the first but this one came at a time I truly needed.

I have found one on the floor in my closet, on the ground outside my car door, on a walk.

Why dimes? Why not quarters or nickels and some will say, like in the post I share below that finding coins period is a sign from above and others believe it is specifically dimes that we receive from ones we lost.

What do you think? Has it happened to you?

Thanks for reading.

Sheri

https://www.ask-angels.com/spiritual-guidance/finding-dimes-pennies-from-heaven/

 

https://www.auntyflo.com/Superstition-dictionary/finding-dimes

 

https://passingthru.com/finding-dimes/

 

 

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…

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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

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

Why God is not a part of my Grief

 

Nature has been a place of solace for me. Walking amongst the trees, staring at clouds, sunset or sunrise. Feeling the rain on my face. But there are those that maybe have not experienced a great loss and do not see that you find comfort in simpler things perhaps over words.

“They’re with God now”, “God needed another angel”, “it is Gods plan”, “Don’t be sad they are with God”, “it is not meant to be”, “Time heals”, “God loved them more”

Just a few things that people who blindly follow religion or a  church might say, to those who do not, may not or will not understand. Why you would say something so unnecessary or hurtful and confusing.

Do you know my faith? Or have you assumed I am Christian. Do you so boldly state what you believe and that you know my child, parent, sibling, friend is actually with God (your God?),  or summoned by them,  gone because of them… Perhaps a question of how are you may be better. Or offering to walk alongside in silence.

If one accepts it is Gods plan, then there is the following questions that I have witnessed grievers deal with- Why? why would God do this? Why does God cause suffering? If God cared or loved me he wouldn’t have done this! Many people question their faith after a trauma, tragic death or unexpected loss.

I believe in science but I would never say to a women that suffered a miscarriage the scientific reason that perhaps their body could not carry a fetus to term, just as I would not say it was not meant to be, or God had a different plan.

By putting my thoughts, beliefs or opinions on someone elses grief that takes away their right to how they  feel, I am imposing myself and ignoring them. Not allowing someone to feel their own process of grief or thoughts and reasons why is a disservice to their journey.

Many times, at funerals a pastor or minister will say ” do not grieve, do not be sad” immediately taking away the right of the griever with the excuse that God will made this so and therefore you need not “suffer in grief”.  But many know that to move through your grief and loss you MUST feel it. Allow it to overtake you when it comes. It is a process with no timeline. I ran into the women that officiated my daughters funeral, she was officiating my Grandmothers funeral a few months later. She said after a very insincere hello, that I must be doing better because well 4 months had passed since my daughters death and that is double the time she lived. I could tell she was proud of herself for this “revelation” to me, as though I had not considered every possible equation as to the months I carried her, the months she lived, the time that has passed since she is gone. I felt she thought she was comforting me with those words and all I felt was anger. How dare you tell me how I should feel. That because her life was short my grief must be too?

I have just learned a childhood friend has died, he was only 39.  His mothers funeral was the first I had ever been to, she died of a brain hemorrhage when we were kids. He and his sisters had a much harder life, I assume, after that loss,(we moved away a couple years later).  I have thought of them often, how they the ages of 8, 10 and 12,  how they must have felt losing the one constant in their life, entering their teen years and young adulthood without her comfort and guidance. Now he has passed, some will say he is back with her, I think that is what all want to hope for. But no one really knows, so I will just say to his dad and sisters, I am sorry. I am sorry he is gone. Sibling loss they say can be as hard as losing a child.  I look at my boys, they are best friends, each others first friend, comrade, confidante. They have a bond that will only be broken with death.

Rest In Peace Curtis Hall

 

Thanks for reading,

Namaste

Sheri

 

When a book stays with you…

I have always been an avid reader, with a few neighborhood friends but not many school friends once I learned to read and discovered this magical place called the public library that let you borrow books for free I was hooked. I will never forget my excitement every summer as we packed up to go to the cabin we would go to the library, there was always so many I wanted to take out but I was always only aloud two, I think my mom was afraid of them getting lost…  I spent many days of my childhood tucked away in my room reading, then as I became a teen reading into the early mornings. as a young adult I continued my affair with books though not as much as I would have liked, having to work, sleep, deal with life as an adult but also have some sort of a life. Then this magical thing called pregnancy happened and I was allowed to read, all the time again, I added the necessary parenting and child birth books to my repertoire along with my novels. who would have known that that would be the last time I loved to read…

Not right away though, after the birth of my first son, I read to him aloud while he nursed, it is very good for infants to hear their mothers voice as well as a large spread of vocabulary, or so I learnt in one of my previously read baby books. But then they start moving and you don’t get to sit still again…

Soon after the birth of  my second son two years later I realized I hadn’t read a book in a very long time, I was too tired. I was haggard and angry with two little ones that needed all my time. My husband worked long days but also traveled a lot, he saw this change in me I suppose it was the beginning of me losing myself into my children. We went to Mexico after our second turned two, I had not read a full book in almost three years. I was feeling very unhappy. A neighbor at the time who is now a very close friend lent me EAT PRAY LOVE by Liz Gilbert, ‘you have to read this!’ she said. So I reluctantly brought it along knowing I would never get a moment to myself to do so.  I will never forgot the one afternoon, my husband said as the kids napped in the room, I have to answer emails, why don’t you go for a swim or something… I was pleasantly surprised, I grabbed my book and ran out the door, not returning for a few hours, finishing from cover to cover this book that I just had to read. I was changed by the words I read, I connected to Liz’s struggle with her life. I too wanted to be a better me. That book stayed with me for a long time, I re read it over and over for the next few years not wanting to stop the feeling of hope it gave me.

eat pray love            no death no fear       The Secret Wisdom of the Earth

Fast forward  a few years, we fell back in love, our kids became easy little humans no more menacing , time consuming, toddlers. life was good. Life was great! We even finally took a solo trip together to Hawaii – were we conceived…

When we got pregnant again all I could think of was why? not now. everything in our life was so good, why did we go and do something so stupid. I cried and I cried, knowing the hard road another baby would bring. Well not to worry, it was even harder than we could have ever anticipated. The pregnancy was “normal”  but my new baby was not, she was born upside down and backwards, not breathing. She spent her first four weeks of life having surgery and brain scans. She came home for two short weeks and almost died on our living room floor when she stopped breathing, I gave her CPR and she was rushed back to the hospital, where we learned she had an abnormal trachea and would never breathe on her own. She died a week later. Life teaches us so many different things through hardship, if we are willing to see them. But at that moment my life went dark.

After she died I only read books on grief, fiction and non fiction. I needed answers to my thoughts, I wanted understanding to my feelings of hopelessness; my grief, a feeling that was so overwhelming. Article after article, book after book. All on death, grief, bereavement, loss, suicide and coping. The one that I read over and over trying to accept my loss was No death no Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh.

My son said a few years later in a very painful way, you used to laugh when I tickled you.

I also used to read for pleasure too…

Today, five and a half years after my daughters death, I have half read a hundred books, nothing could catch me, nothing mattered, they were all dumb stories.

I did finish a few, for I went back to College wanting a change, a distraction, needing to learn. I read Frankenstein, The Watchmen, Tale of two cities, The Road, The Island of Doctor Moreau to recall a few. All great books by equally great authors. But not until just recently have I noticed I can read with enjoyment again, I think my taste is much more ‘real’ than it was but who knows that would not have happened over time with age.

So I share The Secret  Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton, the first large novel I have read in less than two weeks that I did not want to put down, that I have thought about its contents long after I closed its pages. That I think will stay will me for a long time just like Eat Pray Love did/has.

The Secret Wisdom of the Earth is about a young family that suffers a tragedy and how they come out on the other side by moving for the summer to a small town where their family is originally from and learning about life, death and the earth. This book touched me in a way that has not happened in a long time. It had yes, my need to examine grief checked off, but it had side stories about different forms of grief, a grief for what was, for what man and greed is doing to the earth, how small southern towns still have a long list of bigotries and prejudices, how society in general still needs to find acceptance. With adventure and truth the family slowly heals, though will be forever changed.

If you are looking for a new read I highly recommend this book.

Thanks for reading,

Namaste,

Sheri