My breakup letter to coffee.

Why I am breaking up with Coffee.

Dear Coffee,

Look, we need to talk. No, seriously, please put away the delicious smell of my favourite Starbucks Caramel k-cup. It’s time for us to to be honest with one another.

I’m going to get straight to the point. It’s time for us to be done.

I know, I know. This is shocking for you. And me. And literally every single person who knows me and my severe addiction to your smooth, warm, inviting energy kick. But it’s true.

Please, don’t be upset. It’s not you, it’s… Well, actually, it is you. But let me explain.

I’ve recently had a few concerns, which have left me questioning many aspects of my current lifestyle. Something is up with either my brain or my heart, and I may or may not have recently had a stroke. As if that’s not enough, since losing Mom last summer, I’ve been battling depression again and haven’t been sleeping properly as a result. Also between work, university and life in general, I have had more than my fair share of stress these days. Heavy stuff, right? You can understand why I need to take a long hard look at the young lady in the mirror.

The thing is, between you and whiskey, I drink too much chemical altering liquids. And let’s be honest here if it’s a choice between the two of you, we all know I’m not giving up whiskey.

I mean, look how great this collection is getting! Not to mention my pretty new DIY dry bar…

Turn an old TV into a DIY dry bar.

Yes, this is an old TV. Gutted and painted. I love it.

But I digress. I feel I have become far too reliant on you, and I’m not quite sure how we got here. I used to be a tea drinker and a snobby one at that. To be honest, and this might hurt to hear, but I’ve never actually like the taste of coffee. There. I said it.

So how did I become so utterly dependent on you? It all started about a dozen years ago, in college, when you and I were simply mere acquaintances. I handful of looming deadlines and all-nighters, and you and I got to know each other real quick. What started out as the odd couple here and there, evolved into 3 to 4 cups per day over the last several years.

I convinced myself I needed you. After all, I was busy career woman working tirelessly to launch a new company. I thought I was exhausted in those years. Then I had kids. It turns out I had no fucking idea what exhausted was. I somehow became one of those people who desperately had to make my morning coffee before I even hit the bathroom. By the time I got the kids out the door and finished my morning commute to the office, I believed I needed another. Then, as I found myself sleepy-eyed in the early afternoon, I would make one or two more.

There were days when I’m sure I had consumed more than 40 ounces of your warm, sleep altering drug. That just can’t be ok.

Dammit, Coffee. I said put down the caramel k-cup! You’re not playing fair.

Listen, I know you’re thinking. You think I can’t do this. You think I’ll come crawling back to you. But here’s the thing. As of today, I have gone one month without you. That’s right; it has been four full weeks since I’ve had a cup of coffee.

I got a tell ya, coffee, I feel pretty damn good. I am sleeping better than I have in years. I feel much more alert during the day. In fact, I have so much energy I almost feel superhuman. It’s a bit ironic given that I only embraced this relationship with you to give me an energy boost. Now I find myself far more energetic since our abrupt breakup.

I have gone back to my snobby, loose leaf tea drinking ways. My cupboard is now filled with deliciously fragrant varieties. I even found a Caramel Rooibos. So you can give up the caramel k cup already, you’re never going to break me.

If it makes you feel any better, some of the tea I drink does contain your heart and soul, caffeine. See, I haven’t left you completely. I have just moved onto your incredibly less caffeinated cousin.

That probably doesn’t make you feel any better.

But it not about making you feel better. Ideally, it’s about making me feel better. And I do. Impressively so.

Because I want to dance with my grandkids on their wedding day.

Cute-Family-Photos-18

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About two and a half years ago, I had some scary symptoms while 30 weeks pregnant with my son. Various doctors tossed around the word stroke and had discussed the idea of taking him early. They put me on blood thinners, and the symptoms seemed to subside. Cole was born at 38 weeks, perfectly healthy. I thought that was the end of it. I was wrong.

About a month ago, I started noticing some sporadic blurriness in my eyes. I chalked it up to light sensitivity. However, a little over two weeks ago, I had an episode of blurred vision, disorientation, and numbness in my left arm. This incident was the worst it had been yet since the symptoms have reappeared and was eerily familiar to what I had gone through during my pregnancy with Cole. I wound up spending that entire Tuesday at emerge, with the team there running blood tests and CT scans.

In the weeks that have followed I have been back for various tests, more blood work, and to meet with a couple of different specialists. I’m still waiting for an MRI to be booked, which supposedly will tell us more than the CT scans did.

While we still have no definitive answers, I do know from two separate doctors, one of which is a stroke specialist, that I have a pronator drift with my left arm. Do you know what a pronator drift is? I didn’t either two weeks ago. I kind of wish I was still blissfully ignorant. Don’t Google it. You’ll spend all night doing the test on yourself and building your paranoia. Trust me.

A pronator drift is almost always a sign of at least a minor stroke, or can be due to a neurological disorder. Honestly, those are pretty shitty choices.

Now, I’m not a doctor, and stroke specialist did say that I still may just be suffering from a variant of migraines. Until the MRI is complete and follow-ups have been done I’m playing the wait-and-see game. Complete with a mild blood thinner, to control my symptoms and as a precaution to prevent a stroke.

I’m 32 years old.

I truly didn’t think I would be dealing with this kind of shit. Not yet. Sure, in looking at our family history, it’s a bit of a crapshoot as far as genetics are concerned. Both sides are riddled with some mixture of heart issues, cancers, diabetes, etc.

A poem for dealing with grief

Me and Mama, June 2015

The nurse at the stroke clinic laid it all out for me. Having a first-degree family member suffer from heart issues or heart disease can increase my chances of developing heart disease. Those chances are further increased if the relative is a male under the age of 55 or female under the age of 65. That’s when I informed her that my mother suffered a minor stroke at 52 and died of a heart attack, just last summer, at 59.

So those are my odds.

I don’t love them, but I can do something about them. I need to stop taking my life for granted and take better care of myself. Now. If not for me, than for my children. It might be a depressing thought to have in my early 30s, but I desperately want to live past 70 and tear up the dance floor with my grandkids at their weddings.

It has been nearly a year since Mom passed and I can’t help thinking about everything she has already missed. She has a beautiful new granddaughter and a fourth grandson due in less than a month. She has missed my younger brother achieving a goal in his life. She will never hear my daughter read her a book. She will never get to play cars with my son.

Selfishly, I am heartbroken that she is not here for what I am going through now. I have shed more tears in the last week, purely out of fear mixed with the anguish that I cannot call her. Every kid, no matter how old, wants their mom when they are sick. I am terrified and I want to call my Mom so she can calm me down. But I can’t, so she can’t.

I don’t want to follow in her footsteps.

Not when it comes to this. It’s time to be completely honest with myself. I need to stop talking about living a healthier lifestyle and actually do it.

I need to be more conscience of what I put into my body. To eat take-out less and fresh food much more. To cut out coffee and drink less whiskey (*tear*). To drink more water and become smarter about my food choices and how they impact my body.

I need to put exercise back into my schedule. At one point I was really into fitness, but I let it go with the busyness of life. I need to find the time to walk, jog, swim and do yoga, on a much more consistent and frequent basis. I need to feel strong again.

I need to reduce the level of stress in my life. I’m a working mom of two, with an incredibly busy career, a university degree in progress, a bit of freelance work on the side, a novel in the works and a passion for community involvement. I’m exhausted just typing that list. I need to realize that I don’t have to work every night at 9:30 pm. Some nights it’s ok to say no and leave the office for the office. It’s also ok to say no to extra projects or slow down my schooling to a pace that fits my life. Guaranteed, this will be my greatest hurdle, but ultimately one that will have a huge impact.

I need to do more of the things that make me happy. I need to find more time to write for me; to work on my novel, write long-winded editorial pieces and spill my guts with poetry. I need to read more books again, catch more movies with my girlfriends, and spend more time with my family. I need to focus little less on making a living, and a little more on living. Period.

I need to sleep more. God, I need to sleep more. I can’t stress this one enough. I’ve always been a nighthawk, and so was my mother. I need to work on breaking more than 20 years worth of a bad habit because this is one of the few traits of hers I don’t want to embody anymore. I need to crawl into bed before 11 PM, put down the damn phone, and close my eyes.

I understand that this isn’t going to be easy, and none of it will happen overnight. It will take a great deal of commitment and self-initiative. However, I need to focus on being the healthiest and happiest I can. For me and for my family. My kids motivate me more than anything, to live as long as possible and have a great life. I simply need to harness that motivation.

Here’s to me and my future heart. Ideally speaking, I will be looking back on this post 50 years from now and patting myself on the back. With my cane, of course.

Handling grief and a poem for my Mama.

Over the past eight months, I have had to learn that grief is the most sporadic and frustratingly uncontrollable emotion to have to deal with. It ebbs and flows and often hits seemingly out of nowhere. Just when you think that you pulled yourself together, and you go through stretch of really great days and no tears, grief creeps up again and build an instant brick wall for you to slam into.

December kicked my ass. I didn’t talk about it much of the time because it supposed to be a joyous time of year. Mom loved Christmas. It was her absolute favourite holiday. I’m one of those Christmas nerd types that has hundreds of Christmas songs on a playlist, just waiting for December to come around so I have an excuse to play it. I didn’t expect that my beloved holiday tunes would bring about such an emotional reaction. The truth is, I would break down into tears almost every single day on my way to and from the office in December.

Christmas without her was hard, and then my birthday followed three weeks later. It has been a lot to recuperate from and is been part of the reason I took a bit of a break on here. But I didn’t take a break from writing. In fact, just as I always have in my life, I filtered my emotion down into more writing.

Every once in a while I go through phases where my writer soul threatens to consume me. It almost always happens when I’m dealing with depression. While it can make for some productive creativity, it can also be a bit of a dangerous venture. There’ve been many nights in the last three months where I find myself pacing the living room, sipping whiskey at 1 AM, writing poetry like some sort of tortured soul. My writing has always been like this. When it comes, it comes hard, and if I don’t get it out it will haunt me. My grief over mom was a catalyst back into depression and therefore into writing.

Which leads me to this. The first poem I have finished in probably over two years. I wrote this for her. For my mama.

I wanted to share it today, on what would’ve been her 60th birthday.

I love you, Mama.

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Crippling

Crippling, a poem about grief

Mama and I when I was around 2.

I still cripple
with thoughts of you.
My breath catches
my body heaves
and I never expect it.

Sometimes it is the soft light,
pushing through the clouds,
lighting a path home.
Not my home. Not yet.
You are keeping my seat warm.
I bask in the beauty;
only a moment or two, and I am hit.
Pain replaces comfort,
running through me with force.
Sobs racking my fragile frame.
And I cripple.

A poem for dealing with grief

Me and Mama, June 2015

Sometimes I willingly bait it.
Getting lost in your words;
Rediscovered on pages long forgotten.
Blanketing myself in old letters,
I hear your voice.
Or with the whiff of red door,
Fooling my senses into believing;
you are here, you are near.
Memories crash over me.
Bruising my soul and breaking my heart.
And I cripple.

Sometimes others drive the impact.
A kind soul asking in earnest,
“How are you?”
My small child making a declaration,
of her own heartbreak.
Their words stir in me.
Inviting an unwelcomed reminder;
you are not here, you are nowhere near.
My fingers long to call you.
My head aches for your shoulder.
And I cripple.
I still cripple.