Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Escape from YYC continues

Hospital Outing

We made our way to see the surgeon at the hospital.  Long story, short.  Everything stays the same for another 10 days.

Concussion seems to be getting worse though.  Possibly that's part of healing.  Feeling worse before it gets better.  Light, noise and dizziness are on the menu.  Feel depression setting in.  Husband is frustrated and discouraged.  He's had to leave the room and go lay down when the grandchildren are having too much fun.  As I help him to his room and get him comfortable I can't help but think about the time I had to excuse myself from the drama at a friends house only a few months ago.  I just left the room and went to lay down and listen to a meditation session on my iPhone for 20 minutes then I returned.

I was criticized for doing so.  WHY?

Since having cancer I have become less passive in standing up for my needs.  It is fear that I face each time I decline to do what the group is doing.  Is it worth listening to the belittling?  Is it worth listening to the verbal diarrhea?  Is it worth the hassle?  Sometimes yes.  Sometimes no.

In the last blog I mentioned the holiday that went from sweet to sour.  It went sour because I failed to respect the needs of my body by saying I need to stay quietly alone for the day.  My body paid a high price with a diabetic reaction.

I came home wanting to run away from my life.  My entire being wanted to die and go to heaven.  I have no energy to plan an escape.  Now I must care for the needs of another.

I told our daughter my needs are at the bottom of the list again.  So she suggested I make a list of what I need to do for myself and slowly make them happen.  I really appreciated her advise.  I really wanted to go for my vitamin IV at the Naturopath's office.  That was on the top of the list.  I called our son and asked him to spend a few hours with his Pa so I could go to my appointment.  I called one daughter to spend a few hours with us.  Another daughter to be available so I can drop off her Pa and spend a few hours with a friend.

That is of encouragement to myself. 

What's on your list?  It's up to you to make it happen.  If you don't, chances are no one else will make it happen for you.  What will you do to encourage yourself?  What will you do to move forward?

Visiting the Psych Ward.

The day before my husbands accident we were helping a family friend in need.  He ended up in the hospital.  I asked my husband if he was OK after seeing the surgeon that we go see our friend.  He agreed.  We were lucky to get in as they have special visiting hours.

It was a quick visit.  Well appreciated.  As I listened to our friends concerns I thought about mankind in general.  We all want our freedom.  We don't want anyone to control our lives.  We have fears.  We want to be assured.  We want to be loved.  We want to be heard and understood.

A lot of people have a difficult person to deal with or are living under a dictatorship.  When someone is controlling us or our fears control us.  And we no longer have the freedom of  choice.  We shut down.  We all shut down in different ways.

How does one escape from their situation?  There is no escape.  Our friend can't escape the hospital and I can't escape from YYC.  The only thing we have control over is our thoughts and how we're going to handle our emotions during our situation.

How about we run away just for a day.  Visit - www.MyBigG.com  On the menu bar, under My Big G is My Big Dream.  There you'll see what I did to help myself through my thoughts of escaping.

Much Love,
Mrs. Encouragement

p.s. Sometimes you have to stop thinking so much and just go where your heart takes you.  My heart takes me around Alberta.  My province in Canada.  Encouraging women just for a day.  A weekend.  Creating a lifetime of happy times with happy wives spreading happiness to their unhappily retired husbands.  Are you with me?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Escape from YYC

Where?  How?  When? 

How to plan a runaway.

We came home from a sweet holiday that went sour.  The Italians have a saying: La Dolce Vita.  Which means the sweet life.  With all the economic situation in Italy the way it is, the saying has changed to:  La Dolce Vita e Finita.  The sweet life is over!

When life gets tough the tough get going.  Where are they going to go?  So . . . .

I started planning my run away and so did my Italian husband.  I would plan on leaving my empty nest.  Questions I asked myself:  Where would I go?  How would I get there?  When would I leave?  What would I take?  How long would I stay?  How much money would I need?  What do I really really want?

Planning a trip for a holiday is one thing.  Planning a runaway for an extended period of time, totally different.

Where would I go?  How much would it cost?

  • Divorce - That was my first option.  Take half the money and get the heck out of here.  So I started my realtor.ca research.  Living in a condo - you need to pay condo fees.  I had no income.  Getting my Canada Pension Plan  in a couple of years wouldn't cover food, shelter and transportation.  So I'd have to give up my car.  Which lead to me look for a condo on (YYC-Calgary) Calgary's C Train line (public transportation). 
  • Volunteer - To teach English.  Over a couple of weeks I read what I could and came across a reputable company.  When I filled out their questionnaire about where to volunteer.  I was shocked at the place it chose for me due to my age, likes and qualities.  Naples Italy!  That's where my husband is from.  Really, why not.  That's the best place I could be.  I understand Neapolitan a bit.  I love Italy.  Let's see what happens.  But that's only for a few weeks.  Hence I could leave for a couple of weeks to a month.  (Funny movie I've watched in the past:  Shirley Valentine - she ran away to Greece for 2 weeks)
  • Snowbird - I could become a snowbird for a month in Arizona.  That would cost a minimum of $2000.00 a month plus car rental, food and entertainment.  Live in Mexico for 3 months.  Not sure how much that would cost.  For more than a month without family around that wouldn't be fun.
  • Amica Retirement Center - $3500.00 a month for a studio suite.  All meals and recreation included.  Salt water pool, private kitchen for cooking, entertaining & feeding 12 friends. A movie theatre.  Located in 32 locations in Alberta, BC, and Ontario.  You can go on a staycation for under $150.00 a night.  ie:  run away for a couple of days, relax be fed and entertained  Now that's a cool run away for a few days or recovering from surgery.  
  • Ask husband to buy me an apartment.  Pay the bills.  Come for weekend visits.  I thought that was the best idea of the list.  He didn't go for it. 
  • Final idea:  Buy an apartment on a cruise ship and travel the world- only requirement is your net worth must be $5Million.   

But for now my time is limited on what activities I can and can not do with my time AS I'M stuck here looking after a man who thinks he's invincible.  A man who is very impatient.  That man is my Neapolitan husband.

He has a concussion.  Both wrists broken.  One had to be reset.  Two types of casts.  One plaster and one fiberglass.  Going to see a surgeon to see if he'll need surgery as he crushed a few bones on the wrist of the arm he uses to work with.  To stop the impact of hitting his head on a brick wall playing indoor soccer he's stuck on this new healing journey AT HOME.

Just before this happened, he was planning his running away too!!  Now he's stuck with me.  No driving for 2 months.  He needs me for just about everything.

Happy husband, happy home, happy wife oh what a wonderful life!!

Do you think My Big G is trying to tell us something!  Our daughter said to us "You two are meant to stay together.  Pa, when the Dr tells you to be kind to your wife, take it seriously.  If that's all you learn from this situation let that be your lesson!"  

Last November he was pulling up my pants after breast cancer surgery.  This year I am pulling up his pants.  Who is wearing the pants in this family?  My Big G is telling us to be kind and take care of each other.

I hope you gain insight into your life as you read the details of my life.  I will continue to blog further updates.

We are thankful for two broken wrists as that saved my husband from severe brain injury.  We'll focus on being grateful as we missed the Canadian Thanksgiving while on holiday in Italy.  

Much love, 

Mrs. Encouragement  
p.s. Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends.  

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Courage in Croatia

Espresso, Gelato and Courageous Women!

We were on a cruise.  Rome to Venice.  To begin our day in Zadar Croatia.  The stop before Venice. We found our selves on a bus with 2 new friends from our evening dinner table and the friends we were travelling with.  The bus which was provided by the cruise ship at no cost was the only form of transportation.  It was a long drive into the old town center.  It would have been too long of a walk to get there.  Never saw a taxi along the way or any tour guides like in Valletta - Malta, or Kotor- Montenegro.

We walked around for quite some time enjoying the unfamiliar sights and sounds of the area.  We ladies noticed that the men could not walk and talk.  One of the men requested that we sit down to enjoy the view and have a drink.  We were sitting outside in the sun. 

I needed something to eat and get out of the sun!  A drink would have sent me over board. 

I'm Type 2 Diabetic so drinking water and having many snacks keeps me going.  Yet I feel so uncomfortable being the only one eating in a group setting.  

I did order a salad which would have satisfied a mouse.  I was still not feeling like myself.  So I went to the bathroom to look into my grab bag of snackies.  I was about ready to open up my foil pouch, but in walked two other women.  When they left in walked another one.  So I went into the inner dining area where the servers were coming and going.  No one said anything as I quickly swallowed the chicken and quinoa in the baby food foil pouch.  

I then went for a short walk down the path and got something else out of my bag to sustain by blood sugar.

By then my husband came over to tell me the others noticed I wasn't doing well.  I assured him I'd be OK soon and I'd join them again.

As I made my way to the table our friends were ready to go go go again!  I asked who paid and said thank you.  We made our way around another part of the old town.  We came across a gelato and espresso bar.  Wonderful.  We loved espresso and our friends loved gelato.  As we enjoyed our espresso one of our friends was talking up a storm with a couple of the clients who were enjoying their gelato.

With this being a new business in the area of only 3 months, our friend did a survey to see what the customers would enjoy with their espresso or gelato.  I believe the consensus was 'cinnamon buns'.  The aroma would bring in more customers.

One of the customers was at the table next to ours.  Turns out she was visiting her friend who was the owner of the espresso/gelato bar.  The owner over heard me talking to my daughter on the phone.  She understood English and said "You're so lucky you'll be seeing your daughter soon!  I will not be able to see my mother as she passed away a year ago from Cancer.  I left home when I was 17 and only saw her once a year.
Now I have time to visit with my mother and she's gone.  My friend had breast cancer this year and has come to visit me!"  

What could I do but bring out my 'Courage' sign!  So that's just what I did.  I told her the cancer stories of our group.  We shared a few tears then took a photo and began the walk back to the bus.  That is the story of Courage in Croatia.

Where does Courage show up in your life?  

Much love,
Mrs. Encouragement

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Courage Courage Courage

Her name is Martina.  She is a courageous young woman of 19 years.

I sat beside Martina on flight from Rome to Amsterdam.  She was on her way for a job interview as a Nanny.  We were on our way home from a European vacation.

Martina was from Naples Italy.  This was her first step towards her dream.  Her dream to be a movie director.  She had to leave Italy because, as I understood.  It was a reason for family and friends to laugh at her rather than support her and her dream.  

I encouraged her to continue to believe in herself and her dream.  She would be making $3000 Euro a month working 4 days a week as a Nanny.  I was shocked.  I had just met a lady from the Ukraine who was looking after my husbands Zia (Aunt) in Italy.  She was making only $800 Euro a month, working 6 days a week.  As my husband conversed with his Zia I opened a conversation with her care giver.  

Her name Nina.  She had been 8 years in Italy.  Her husband died at 33 years of age.  She was the only one working to support her 2 married children.  She had not met her grandchildren.

Unlike Martina, who was able to leave the country and begin the journey towards her dream Nina was not.  If she left Italy she would not be able to re enter hence loose her income.  She lives with my husbands Zia in a very small area of a home which was once her own.  Her sons have divided it into 4 homes.  One for each of the three sons and a very small one bedroom for their mother with a tiny bathroom and a very tiny kitchen which consists of a sink and 2 burner electric cook top on the counter.

My husbands Zia pointed out that the care giver sleeps in a folding cot bed as her bed was only for her and her husband.  Now that he's past away it is only for her alone.  We all had a chuckle.

My mother in law passed away 4 years ago.  Her care giver was from Bulgaria.  She also slept in a separate bed in the same home as my mother in law.  It was a full size apartment so quite comfortable.  Her caregiver was Nellie.  In 2009 we took the two of them to Positano.  It was quite a challenge to get my mother in law around in a wheel chair.  Italy is a country not suited for those with disabilities.  But no matter where we went someone would help us. 


This photo is in Positano this year.  Taken with a friend, our daughter and two nieces and a great niece.  

I recall another Zia who lived in Naples.  She was not able to do stairs and lived on the second floor of a building.  It was a very steep set of stairs that was difficult for us to climb back in the 90's.  She would put her money in a basket and lower it to the street below so that the veggie or fruit vendor would put her grocery list of items and her change into the basket and she would pull it back up through her bedroom window. 

The street vendor would travel town to town on a three wheeled type of motor cycle to sell his goods.

I've had quite a life knowing two cultures.  It takes a lot of courage to be yourself as it is easy to get lost living in the expectations of another culture. 

What is your dream?  Courage lives within you.  Stir it up and make your dreams come true.

Much Love,
Mrs. Encouragement

Saturday, September 16, 2017

How Did They Know?

True or False?

I'm a Christian and I'm not dead.  I am alive.

Today I'm going to share with you two discoveries.  To my surprise the computer knows a lot about me and a lot about you.

Discovery #1.  A Christian Promotional Company found out I'm a Christian and sent me an email about an upcoming Christian movie.

How did their computer know I was a Christian?  I got curious so I read to the end to find a contact.

I did find the contact person and sent an email to ask how they got my email address.  My inquiry went deeper than that.  I believe in ASK and you shall receive.

They sent my email to their department head because I went and checked out their website.

This company sends out books to churches.  SO I asked for some books too.

Guess what?  They sent 2 books to me for a special occasion we were having.  I was impressed.  I called to thank them for going out of their way to send those books and I also asked them to pray for the special occasion we were having.

Have you ever taken the time to take the extra steps to figure something out?  Something that intrigued you?  Something you don't normally do?

Well nothing is normal in my life since the cancer diagnosis.  It's like I'm living each day as if it were my last.  And I'm finding I'm doing some silly and some crazy things VERY spontaneously I might add.

Well the extra mile I went this time turned into a double blessing.  I got the free books and they're also looking for people to read books and write comments after they've been read.  I enjoy reading so I just might sign up.

The special occasion we were having was a CELEBRATION of courage. The family whose loved one we were honoring on her cancer journey took the books and the memories of a lovely evening home with them.

Discovery #2  The world wide web knows more about me and more about you - than we think!

The Christian company went online and found my email address from a speakers directory.  So I went online and looked me up.  This time I was shocked !!!  Google thinks I'm dead.  Why does Google think that?  You're wondering, right?  There are people who go around taking photo's at cemeteries.  

If your name is on a tomb stone guess what?  They think you're dead.  It's called Billion Graves.  The worlds largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data!!  Now ya know it too!

I'd say most people get a tomb stone after their loved one dies.  After my father passed away we chose to buy a plot and a tomb stone so our children would not have to do that.  It is extremely overwhelming burying a loved one.  We thought we'd simplify things a bit for them.  They're not interested right now, but when the time comes they will appreciate what we did.

Google I'd just like you to know that I am more alive NOW than when i was dead - yet walking!!!!
Thanks be to the man who walked on water.  You've heard of him, right? His name is Jesus, I call him My Big G.  You can discover hope and healing at MyBigG.com

Much Love,
Mrs. Encouragement

Saturday, September 2, 2017

What Goes with Espresso? Italians!!

After reading these 3 stories, you’ll believe everything happens for a reason.  

I’ve been paying attention to detail since looking back on recent encounters.  Usually the first encounter means there is more to follow > >

I saw them while in the security line up at the airport. Italians!!  They’re everywhere. 

You could tell they were from Italy.  They dressed the part.  They spoke Italian.  They looked like professionals.  I saw them holding their Italian passports.  They saw my Napoli carry on bag.  My husband being Italian overheard them talking about my bag.  I saw them again at our gate.  I wasn’t surprised when I saw them sit down in the aisle across from us on our Air Canada flight from Calgary to Victoria BC.   

The plane was full.  A lady was trying to fit in her luggage on the overhead compartment with no success.  I nudged my husband to ask the Italians if he could move their two small back packs over one compartment so she could easily fit her suitcase in the next section. 
He hesitantly agreed and spoke to the couple in their language.  They agreed.  He got up and moved their bags over.  That was the ice breaker.  You could see their demeanor change.  Like they had found a friend.  Dot & Vini (our nicknames) were about to become their friends.  Turns out they speak a little English too.  The hour flight was non-stop talking.  That’s what Italians are all about.  Communication!! 

We took a taxi together.  The 3 Italians sat in the back seat.  The quiet Canadian?  That’s me!  I sat in the front seat with the quiet foreign taxi driver.  Politely I told him.  They.  Those 3 Italians in the back seat would be talking Italian on our drive.  When we reached our destination we  had an espresso together.  It was a delight!  It had been 13 days without an authentic espresso since visiting the Canadian Rocky Mountains.  Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper.  Gabriella enjoyed the coffee and conversation.  Stefano not quite impressed by the coffee but by the conversation around food and travelling.  He was a travel agent in his younger years.  Now organizes tours in Italy.

They told us they wondered what the Italian connection was with me and my bag because my husband does not look like an authentic Italian.  According to Stefano.  The difference between Italians and Canadians in my opinion.  Italians think out loud, using their outside voice.  Canadians think and keep it all inside.  The Canadian might not be heard.  But the Italian.  Heard for sure.   
My husband has been here 43 years.  Stephano commented that Vini could pass as an Anglo Saxon.  Just like Stefano, not impressed with the espresso.  My husband was not impressed with the Anglo-Saxon comment!  He has blue eyes and fair skin compared to them but never considered himself Anglo-Saxon. 

We figured out how to add each other’s phone numbers to the ‘WhatsApp’ on our cell phones.  This is the test -  text message from Gabriella’s Italian cell phone. Ciao, grazie per il caffe.

The Italians were going to Ucuelet/Tofino for 3 days.  I encouraged them to stop at Coombs market on their drive for a good espresso.  That is exactly what they did!  On the way, there and on the way back.  They enjoyed their espresso and God’s creation.  They had hoped to see a bear but it didn’t happen on their trip to Canada.  Maybe next time. 
We had dinner together when they got back.  Stefano brought his own ground Italian coffee beans.  So, we made espresso for 4 with Caffe Vergnano.  A delicious coffee bean roasted in Torino.  From our guests, we learned about Eataly.net   When our coffee was finished we went to the car.  

Taking them on a tour of Victoria.  What impressed me the most about this Italian couple was their kindness towards each other.  When Gabriella was running out of energy on our tour of famous Butchart Gardens Stefano simply came to us and said “Gabriella is very tired.  IT would be best if we finished the garden tour within the hour.”  What a kind way of communicating the needs of his companion when travelling in a group.  

It was meant to happen.  Our encounter > > > >

At the last minute, they had cancelled a flight to Montreal.  Changed their destination to Victoria and explore the Island before heading back to Italy.  We accompanied them to the airport and said goodbye to our new Italian friends.  Guess what:  Gabriella & Stefano are going to be in Sorrento Italy the next time we are visiting there!  Ciao for now Italiani.  This is the text message when they left Victoria.  Not easy to find people so nice like you are!  Thanks again for everything and see you soon!  Ciao Stefano & Gabriella. 

Another story of encounter. 

My husband was wearing his Italian jacket on our way to have an espresso.  When we got to the coffee shop a lady stood up and said, “Bella Italia!”.  After she had reminded herself – OYM – open your mouth!!!!!  That gave her the courage to let go of her shy quiet demeanor.  That was all the Italian she knew.  She loves Italy.  We became besties, her and I since 2005.  Her name is Judi.  She is from Saskatchewan and lives in Victoria where we had planned on retiring. 

With 7 grandchildren in Calgary, we’ve chosen to run away to Victoria but always return home. 

Judi planned a 3-month holiday to Portugal and Italy to celebrate her 70th birthday this year.  I arranged for my brother in law and sister in law to pick her up in Sorrento.  They showed her around my husband’s home town and she got to meet the whole fam damily!  With our niece being the translator, she managed just fine.  They fed her well. 
It was meant to be that we met Judi in 2005 and Gabriella & Stefano in 2017.  The connection?  Italy and Espresso!  What makes you connect to others?

Now for the original encounter.  It wasn’t espresso that brought us together.  It was dancing!
In 1976 My Big G, God, knew I needed to learn how to ESPRESS myself.  I was sent to the dance floor at the Cabaret in Calgary where I met my future husband.  It’s a miracle that I found my voice within my being married to an Italian.  This Canadian girl, shy, quiet, polite, afraid to use her voice, girl. 

Boy have things changed around here!!  Not only did I find my voice, I know how to show up, stand up and ESPRESS myself where ever I go.  Using the language of Love.  Under the influence of CafĂ© LavAzza.

May memories of past encounters excite you to smile, say hello and invite a stranger into your home.  You just might be entertaining an Angel.

p.s. When my Mother-in-law came to Calgary for a visit in the middle of winter in 1984 she compared us to caged chickens.  White skin because we didn’t go outside.  It was TOO cold.  Those Italians must be free run chickens then.  What about chickens that used to be caged and now are called free run.  Do they leave their coops? 

p.p.s. In Victoria, the city of newly weds and nearly dead’s the traffic is crazy with all the free run chickens trying to get where ever they are going.  It’s too cold out east so the chickens are heading west for retirement.  Tired from shovelling the snow and being cooped up inside.  Ready to add a little color to their skin when the winter grey sky gives permission to the sunshine to occasionally show up. 

With Much Love
Mrs. Encouragement

Sunday, August 20, 2017

A Week of Memories

It's been a year this week since I had my mammogram which detected a tumor in my breast.

Dr. M called and left a message on my answering machine one day this week.

I had a follow up appointment with my surgeon the next day so when I received the message I was a little confused.

I called Dr. M's secretary and asked who Dr. M was.  She said Dr. L had made a referral.  Well I'm going to see Dr. L tomorrow does it have anything to do with that appointment", I asked?

Now she was confused so she read me the referral notes.  I said, "Oh, Dr. M is a plastic surgeon. And when did he get this referral", I said?  "In October", she replied.  "In October!!! and now it's August. I could be dead by now, but I'm not - thank goodness and by the way, I kept my breasts".

"That's great so I'll give your appointment to someone else.  Ten months is a normal wait for a specialist", she replied!

The next day I went to see Dr. L my surgeon, who performed the lumpectomy/partial mastectomy in November last year. He's also the surgeon who removed my gallbladder 24 years ago.  In and out of his office in 5 minutes - leaving with a requisition for a mammogram in Sept.  I gave him a thank you card which read:  Dear Dr. L - I chose you to be my surgeon.  I'm glad I did.  Word got out from my gallbladder to my breasts that you were the best!

He did such a great job - no damage to any nerve endings.  He is known to be meticulous.  Thanks be to God.

After that I went to get my breast prosthesis and a new bra.  I feel well balanced now.  Guess what? Our health care pays for 70% of the cost of the prosthesis and private insurance pays for mastectomy bras. Wow, am I lucky or what??  While I was there a lady was inquiring about a prosthesis for her sister.  SO I asked my fitting specialist "How can she buy one for someone else?"

"It is possible for a full mastectomy.  And this happens quite a bit in this office, as these are not available in all countries", she replied.

The other memory is recalling the birth of my first child who just turned 40!!!!  We had a back yard BBQ pizza party for her and her friends.  It was a blast.  By the end of the night, I was more tired than I was in giving birth to this bouncing baby girl at 8 lbs 7 oz.

May memories of your past fill you with gratitude and give you the courage to face your future.

Much Love,
Mrs. Encouragement
Dorothy Sessa