Maui with my posse :)

This was my very first GIRL's trip 

It definitely won't be my last!!

This has been a poopy year ... and a great year ... I think life is like that .. death and life .. new beginnings... seasons change .... my Disney dream life popped a LONG LONG time ago!

life is like a box of Chocolate .. you'll never know what your going to get (Quote from Forest Gump)

so so true 

This holiday was filled with sun, laughter, more sun and more laughter .. and a few drinks and food :)

I am blessed with friends who are so totally there for me... love me unconditionally ... listen, share and love
and laugh!!!

oh how I love to laugh!

The weather was amazing ... our condo was beautiful and it was the right combination of lazy pool days and sight seeing tourist

I felt the sun kiss my soul .. and as I look to the future, a future different then I had planned or imagined I feel sadness at the fact my dad is not here to witness it with me, and I feel excitement (and a whole lot of tired and maybe a tad bit of anxiety, ok maybe more then a tad bit ha ha ) at where life is taking me next!
The land of the living is not for the faint of heart

take time for you
allow yourself to feel all your feels
share your heart with safe people
be real and transparent
be kind to yourself

and if you can ... and honestly I don't think I could afford NOT to have taken this trip .. take a break with some really fun like minded friends ... you'll be glad you did!!!!

why I paint

my dad

my hero

did you know my dad was an artist? he was!!!
my dad was a design consultant by trade & highly acclaimed in his profession back in the day!

everywhere we went as kids my dad talked to us about design ,, my sister Shash and I would eagerly report to our dad what the ladies washroom was like in every, and I mean EVERY, establishment we went too... we were taught at a young age to gauge colour ... to understand balance ... and even though we grew up and loved colour and lots of of it on our walls he taught us walls should be white .. so the art can shine 

he was amazing

his light was brilliant 

he was the best dad I could ever imagine having

when he got sick my whole world flipped upside down ..even now .. 7 months after he left us it doesn't make sense, doesn't quite feel real, doesn't seem possible even .. that he could get sick and leave us all

I would have sworn he was going to out live us all!

Last summer when he was sick and we were there sitting with him .... soaking up as much up of his presence that I could .. I wanted every line in his face to be imprinted in my mind .. and honestly I don't have to try to so hard cuz I kind of look like him :) ... and my lines were his lines .. and that is ok with me!

anyways as I was saying .. sitting with dad .. talking and sharing .. my sister Shash asked me if I could paint something she had seen .. she showed me the picture and dad said use my canvases and paints ... he painted with oils .. one day I will do an oil painting .. I have all of his old oil paints .. they are probably cement by now but I have them they were his and now they are mine and I treasure them! so I brought over my acrylics that I had ... and used his canvas .. not knowing if I could for sure capture what my sister had seen ... we needed encouragement .. we needed to hold on to hope and when you are faced with a death sentence you CLING to hope!! and so I swallowed my fears and inhibitions and I tried .. without expecting much ... and I did it .. I did my own version of what my sister had seen and shown me 

and I was kind of shocked

first painting in years acrylic on canvas 
 I had taken art in high school .. I had fooled around with my dad's oil paints as a kid .. and always got in trouble for not cleaning his brushes properly and screwing the lids back on tight enough :) ... I knew I could sort of draw ... I could kind of copy things ... and I knew I could sew and crochet and a few times I painted little things for the girls and they were cute but that's about as far as it ever went .. maybe things would have been different for a thousand different reasons that have no reason to go in to at this point in my life .. but they weren't and I didn't try ... didn't know I could paint .. not really .. not like I am painting now

and then when I saw the painting (above) .. I was like wow .. I did that .. I think I could do more .. and so with my dad encouraging me I began to paint .. I had taken a course the spring before and loved it ... I had taken some other lessons of sorts from a friend and loved it ... but still never really thought of myself as a painter ... as an artist .. not an artist like my dad .. 

and the atmosphere in my parents house .. one where we were trying so hard to cling to hope... to find a cure even though we were told there was none ... trying, for me anyways, to believe he would beat it .. cuz my dad of all people could beat it .. trying to allow myself to be carried by others people faith .. cuz when I looked at my dad and saw his wasting away and my faith was wavering I knew I needed others to hold my hands up and to lift me up .. at times I am not going to lie other peoples positive attitudes were hard to take cuz at some point, not sure when, but at some point I knew he was dying and no prayer, not even the best most faith filled prayer or the right scripture being prayed over and over and over was going to save my dad ... so I painted .. and he criticized me . and I loved it .. I just wanted to absorb all he had to say

the dragonfly

the picture above was  my dad's favourite that he got to see .. he said to me "Lise, this is good, it's very very good" and I knew that's the best praise you would/could get from my dad .. and I knew I could do this .. it was something that connected me to him ... something that I could do that he could see with his artist eyes and something that could make him proud .. my first marriage did NOT make him proud .. my 2nd and LAST :) does .. and this this ability to paint .. something he could do as well connected me with my father who was about to depart from this world 

I was dying inside and yet trying so hard to keep finding that connection

loosing a parent 
watching them die
knowing they are dying and feeling like your the only one who knows... it sucks!! and it was hard and I am carrying all the feelings that goes along with that still and so I paint .. I paint like mad as I have found something in my mid-life that shuts down the noise, the thoughts, the busyness that lives constantly in my brain ... and I sit and I paint now with my dad gone but when I paint .. he's here ... he's looking over my shoulder... a little more light here Lise ... a little less here Lise ... that's good La .. that's mmmm ok La ... not sure what you are trying to do here La .... so proud of you La ... and I feel him and I hear him and the crazy world around me goes quiet for awhile

and it's just me ... and my dad 

Harvest Pumpkin (acrylic on high gloss paper)

wood painting with acrylic ... cuz it's never too early to start some Christmas crafts :) 

Dragonfly at dusk

my signature paintings .. at least I think they are ... dragonflies symbolize change and beauty and strength ... I love painting them they bring me joy and I love painting abstract mostly cuz it was my dad's favourite!!!

Saying goodbye to dad

I am not even sure how I am going to be able to type this through my tears rolling down my cheeks 

how do you say goodbye to your dad

your hero

your mentor

your business partner of sorts

the grandfather to your children

the husband/partner to your mother

the man who has been the most constant in your life

I am not sure you can!

work feels so different with him gone .... like a light has permanently gone out in the restaurant
sometimes, a lot of the times, it's really hard to do work life without him. he was Mr Mayor after all!
there is such a giant hole

 Watching my dad die was awful. Understatement ... the weird part is that it all still feels so surreal .. like a bad dream. My dad was the most positive man/person I've ever known .. he walked what he talked and he was deeply convicted that the scripture that life and death are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21) .. he felt he would live until he was 88 and then have the choice to live on or pass on to Heaven .. as weird as that might sound to some it was very normal to talk this way in my home! so in my mind growing up there was NO DOUBT my dad would live forever! so his even getting sick was such a shock and when I knew he was really dying .. it was brutal .. there are no words to describe trying to reconcile it in my head let alone my heart. Knowing he was dying was not something we could really talk about .. at least that is how I felt .. it was like to say it out loud would make it true therefore it was not spoken. So I watched silently. I was hopeful I was wrong.. that maybe I just lacked the faith everyone else seemed to have and I was totally wrong... I wanted to be wrong so very very badly.

Christmas he tried to rally ... he was out shopping totally exhausted, a walking skeleton by this time, buying us all presents, checking his list over and over, he bought us all blankets and prayed over them and attached scripture verses to them .. ok the tears are really hard to see through!! .... he loved us all so very much .. what a gift he was! his life was lived to give ... honestly I don't know anyone who gave us much as my dad. Christmas Day dad was not feeling well... he could hardly hold his head up... what he wasn't telling anyone was just how bad the pain was. He would never admit it. The thought of how much pain he was in breaks my heart. He was grumpy that day.. he would be grumpy then apologize .. repeat! I kept looking around at my family seeing if anyone knew what I knew.. that this was his last Christmas with us .. but no one said a word... it's something we just couldn't talk about.

After Christmas he really started declining .. his energy low, his thin body even thinner ... he could barely keep a few swallows of food down ... I visited him every single day .. sometimes only for a few minutes as the noise from Brahm drove him a little crazy as every sense in his body was in agony. I knew it was a matter of time... hoping against hope I was wrong... knowing I wasn't. My prayer life consisted of one word for the most part ... "PLEASE" ....

He would try to rally .. want to go out for Nando's Chicken.. which he couldn't keep down .. he missed food... he obsessed about food and what he could eat and keep down .. he mostly slept ... listened to Christian music and teachings... smiled weakly at me, told me he loved me, that he was so happy to see me happy in love and marriage.. told me he had worked through any unforgiveness that he may have in his heart towards anyone.. told me that the last person he had to work through forgiving was my ex (this still breaks my heart that my dad was so hurt and affected by the man I chose to marry all those years ago .. still makes me sad that everyone was affected) ... I cried he cried ... he would lightly touch my hand .. he couldn't stand to be touched by this time .. too much pain! ... he was so thankful for me coming over and making him his food.. jello with fruit was his favourite, reminds me of his mom as she always made that for us, for him, when we would go to her house .. love knowing that they are together again but deeply broken by it at the same time of fresh grief.

By the beginning of February I knew it was going to be soon .. I didn't know how soon but I knew it was more months ... but a handful of weeks.... maybe

That is the time we got the call to go to Montreal for our immigration ... I was so scared of having to go and not being there when he died ... thankfully that wasn't the case, I am not sure I would have done that so well.

My life was moving full steam ahead .. my oldest daughter made me a grandma... my family was finally going to be immigrating to the US and moving .. and soon ... so many changes were about to happen and were happening and my dad's life was coming to an end here on earth.

The day he died is etched in my brain .. I am sure I play that tape a few times every day still.. mom called me to go sit with him as the physical therapist didn't want to be at the house alone with him .... so I left work ( I had just started back at work after a year of maternity leave.. over half of that was me at my parents helping to take care of dad) ... to keep his dignity I am not going to type out the details ... I just knew .. the therapist knew... the WCB case nurse knew .... I started calling my sisters ... it was time to come home NOW ... the therapist told me we needed an intervention, I told him he wanted to be home and to not be dying and not talk about it .. finally the pain climaxed and dad had had enough and agreed to me calling an ambulance... they finally came .. that felt like forever ... I called mom ... I called my sisters.. I called my husband ... I still thought a few days...we have a few days, he will go to hospice now, they will make him comfortable, we can gather, say goodbye..gulp how do you do that?.. and that's that ... they finally put him in a room ... a woman came flying into the ER and 5 minutes later delivered her baby right there in the ER .. a new born baby crying just feet where my dad lay breathing his last breaths ... the irony did not escape my sister Tam and I ... they gave dad some drugs, he had been crying for morphine, he started to relax ... I felt done, spent, the last several hours threatening to crumble me there in a pile on the nasty ER floor ... dad lay there on his side.. his bony no fat whatsoever left on his body side... looked at me with those amazing baby blue eyes and I knew the pain was at least at bay ... I said I love you dad.. I will be back after supper.. he said ok La I love you ..... I didn't go back after supper .. I was exhausted and was telling myself I had all day the next day to sit with him... to soak up as much of his presence as I possibly could.

I lay in bed and tossed and turned .... all I could think of was funeral plans and who we needed to contact and all the details.. the planner in me was wide wide awake and battling thoughts that I was full of unbelief and a massive lack of faith ... my sister in Ontario texted me at 1:30 am .. simply "are you awake" .. I quickly replied yes I can't sleep .. she said "mom texted me dad's stats have changed I think you need to go"... I got up and got dressed and went in ... the ER nurse told me what was happening .. the Dr signed a do not resuscitate order as his body couldn't take the CPR ... his stats were lowering ... this was really happening .. she said she tried to tell my mom but she thought my mom was in denial ... I don't blame her, the love of her life was about to leave this world I am not sure I wouldn't be the same .... I went in and saw she was right .. she called my dad's name and he responded with a HUH kind of noise ... and then he didn't respond anymore ... this was really happening .. I called my mom .. "mom, dad is dying you need to come" .. I called my niece to wake up my sister as she wasn't answering her phone... "papa's dying you need to tell your mom to come" .. I tried my sister in the Kootney's for hours to no avail ... I facetimed my sister in Ontario... she gathered her family there ... mom came.. crying .. it's too soon, it's too soon ... my sister Tam arrived ... we 3 stood there and my sister Shash watched from the phone... we cried... we told him we loved him ... my mom stroked his face and kissed him .... I held his hand.. his big giant hand ... told him it was ok.. we would be ok.. we would watch mom ... we would see him again .. it was ok to go now..

at 4:20am Tuesday Feb 16, 2016 my dad, Dwayne, took his last breath ... what he saw next I can hardly even imagine as he was welcomed into his Heavenly home ... he would see Jesus first I am sure .. his mom his dad his stepdad his brother his sister who he never met .. uncles aunts grandparents.. and my babies .. all my babies that died before they could take a breath .. he is with them all ....

and I miss him so very much
My world here will never be the same

but I am glad I at least know where he is

I will see you again dad!

Dad with Dr Jackson and my Grandson Alistair Jan 14, 2016

Catching up

(playing around with my post trying to get this painting to not only appear in the banner part!!)

FancyTail Fish

one of my latest paintings

I took a wee break from blogging here!

For the most part I update my Facebook page way more often
you can follow me here ...

Life takes twists and turns and the only constant is change!

My dad died Feb 16 2016 ... that sucks .. I am not over it, I have not come to terms with it and I am not sure I even want too!

I went back to work 2 weeks before that ... after being by his side every day for the 8 months he bravely fought the F'n cancer ... then we followed through with the expansion of the business my dad had started when he was fighting for his life .. cuz you know a workaholic doesn't stop work even when they have been given a death sentence!!!

I sold my townhouse, the place that I lived in as a single mom again after 15 years of a not-great marriage ... I found myself again in that home. I found my strength again in that home. It was a great place for me and the 4 girls.

I found love again in that home ... married and moved my miracle man in with me and the girls .... we had a baby .. at 40 .. HELLO 40!!! yup cuz I am crazy like that!!

We moved in with my mom for a couple of months while we waited for our green cards to come through .. a few trips to Montreal .. that's a long story .... and then we found a house.. a home .. my dream home on an acre ... and everything that was seemingly taking forever and I questioned WHY we were even doing this process fell into place

and we did the BIG move south of the border ... sort of I still work with my mom .. and that is weird .. not the working with my mom part but the working without my dad there ... Mr Mayor himself ... it's weird and I feel his absence there every single day

my baby is walking and full on toddler now ... time flies! he bring us all so much joy .. he is a combo of the 2 of us but he really resembles my baby pictures .. and he makes this certain face (juts out his bottom jaw) and it's SOOOO my dad and since I look like my dad my son looks like me so my son looks like my dad .. and I am so thankful for that

and now I find myself adjusting again and my girls adjusting again and I am constantly reminded how change is constant and it's what you do with what life throws at you that is so important!

We love our new home .. the 2 middle girls started their new school today (grade 11 and grade 9).. my oldest daughter at home is staying at her old school as she finishes grade 12 .. SHE GRADUATES THIS YEAR SAY WHAT?!

oh and in case you didn't know I am a grandma as well ... see it's been so long since I've blogged here I don't even remember where I left off .. I maybe should have checked that first .. but then that would have been me being organized and yah we all know that is NOT ME!

and that leaves me somewhere in a land of individuality lol ... I am a grandma, I have a married daughter, my 2nd child is graduating high school this year, I have 2 more girls in high school, and I have a 1 1/2 year old living in a new country (even though we live 15 min from the border it's still a whole other country you know!!) and I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up!!

So that's what I have been up too!!!

I am planning on starting to blog more .. that's my goal at any rate .. it has been for awhile but you know life priorities the constant change thing I have mentioned a few times .. it gets in the way sometimes! I would like to blog about blended families and the realities of step-parenting without blogging about my children individually! .. one of my daughters has asked that I not blog about her specifically and so I shall honour that and keep this about me .. about my journey and my life and I hope you enjoy tagging along!!

being a MOM

When I was a child I had pretty much decided that when I grew up I was going to be a missionary! I was going to travel the world and hold as many unwanted babies as I could.

I was pretty positive this was going to happen and going to Kenya with YWAM for 6 months at 17 years old pretty much cemented it into me that that is what I wanted to do with my life....

Then when I was 19 something happened to me that changed the course of my life forever

I am not going to blog the details of that .. not now .. but needless to say I found myself a scared, disillusioned, confused, hurt and wounded pregnant 19 year old...

this was not my life plan

Being pregnant with this at the time very unwanted baby was one of the most difficult times in my life. There even was a day, a really bad day, that I stood in the kitchen staring at a knife, contemplating how I could possibly live another day. That was a dark day. To this day when I look back at that time it feels as if a tornado of emotions and very very dark days are swirling around me .. although there has been so much healing.. obviously... that time was dark for me and the one person who was there for me above all others was my mother! this is why my mom and I are so close! we've always been close but this time she was the thread that held me here.

When I finally was in full labour with her I didn't want to push .. 2 1/2 hours of me fighting my body's natural instinct to push this baby out and I didn't want it .. didn't want what was happening to me.. didn't want to be a single mom .. didn't want to be shamed and judged.. didn't want to NOT be a missionary anymore as I was sure that dream was long gone.

Then she finally was born

They laid her on my chest

and the worries of what others thought melted away in a flash

like they were gone gone

all that was left was this overwhelming instant and total love for this baby

Life wasn't like magically ALL better after that! when you are deeply wounded it takes time to heal .. and most likely counselling and lots of prayer and seeking God!

At that time I wasn't aware of how much lingering damage was still there ... but that's another story :) 

This little girl was so amazing to me .. I was a great mother! :) ... even if I say so myself :)

When she was 1 1/2 I married and wanted so badly to provide her with siblings close to her own age .. giving her that I felt would make things more "normal" for her! as if somehow giving her a sibling close in age would somehow fix things for her.

I suffered 5 miscarriages in a row and I have blogged many a time about this ... it was crazy for me in my head going through all that .. how was I loosing the babies I wanted so much and kept the baby that I hadn't wanted, although I couldn't imagine my life without her... it was an internal torture for me over and over and I relived many a nightmare in those years. On top of that I really believe that I married in a place of brokenness and therefore chose someone who in my view was also broken... 2 broken people does not a happy marriage make!

When Morgan was almost 5 years old her little sister Emily was born ... and so began a healing couple of years for me as Emily was quickly followed by Hailey and then another loss and then Faith completed our family ... at that time!! man how much life changes! sometimes I still cannot believe everything I have walked through ... key being I have WALKED through it :) not stayed there!!! 

The year of the divorce was so hard on the girls .. understatement .. it's still hard in aspects! Morgan was 16 and grade 12 was almost a disaster for her!

This girl of mine has been through so much!

BUT she found a man who is so gentle and kind and soft to her ... they are so perfect together!

And watching her in labour with her first child it was like having flash backs of all the years gone by .. of me in labour with her at the very same hospital .. of the fears I had .. of the joy I had when I saw her .. and here she was about to become a mother herself! surreal! so much has happened over the years... so many more hurts and so many more triumphs! personally I am in the best place of my life and I am so glad that I am standing in that place in my life when I welcomed this little blessing 

I think it's kind of funny that I was so desperate to have a belly buddy :) when I was pregnant with Brahm! none of my friends are having babies!!! I knew it was possible but didn't think it would happen with my daughter! The timing is actually incredible as we are able to give them all our baby things and I am thrilled it's a boy as my son Brahm ... Uncle Brahm if you please :) .. now has a forever playmate cuz he is SO not getting a sibling close in age to him, I am so over that!!!! Alistair and Brahm have each other and Alistair gets all Brahm's hand me downs and all the baby advice my daughter needs is pretty fresh in my memory :)

She is a great mom! I am so very proud of her. 

I may not be a missionary, I may have received a ton of judgement and shaming in my lifetime , I may have a lot more to go through.. hello I still have 3 teen girls at home and a baby boy!!! ... my life has not turned out the way that I planned when I was a child except for the being a mom part and that brings me such JOY


and while I am not loving the title of Grandma.. cuz I am way too young for that :) ... I love my little Alistair and I love being his Lala!!!