The older I grow, the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom.

– H.L. Mencken

Morning folks!

We were chatting with a reader last week, who also happens to be a close friend, and they were kind enough to tell us that our blog is making them consider… more. Forgetting how it came up, in particular, we came to the question of age, and that we (A and I) should talk about it. Age is a very prevalent topic for us right now – neither of us have ever suited “our age” (although I have more than Aisha I think), Aisha has just gone through a month of being told that “for her age…” in relation to her injuries/physical reality, and well, there are ten years between us – which means that even when we try and reminisce together about things as simple as our childhoods, we usually have more differences than similarities (80’s baby vs. 90’s baby, if you can imagine). 

Socially, age is fair game for being questioned or policed at any given moment. The elderly are infantilized and not as readily given their independence, children are expected to grow up way too fast and experience stimuli that we as adults find overwhelming. In many of these instances, we accept or understand this policing because it is usually done in a “top down” way: your clothes as an adolescent are policed by adults, your body choices aren’t yours to make until you reach an age society deems appropriate (tattoos, piercings, hair dye and sex), and there is stigma in obtaining education when you are ‘older’ (25+, which is not old) because you should have already done it. 

Dove and RoC are using their powers as marketing gurus by using age discourse to redefine us as shoppers (RoC video), taking the phrase “you look great — for your age” and turning it on its head. Culturally, we seem to be moving away from rigorous policing because socially we are slowly distinguishing (or embodying?) a difference between age and maturity. Age, as I’m sure we can all agree, is the numerical amount of time you have existed. Maturity, on the other hand, apparently refers to your state of ripeness. Not sure what ripeness has to do with life experience, but we’ll go with it.

In comparison, a simple definition of emotional maturity is:

Emotional maturity is the ability to handle situations without unnecessarily escalating them. Instead of seeking to blame someone else for their problems or behaviour, emotionally mature people seek to fix the problem or behaviour.

This is what I believe most people mean when they say someone is mature. How has your age influenced people’s beliefs of your maturity? Are you in a generation that has a good rep? I accept the Xennial definition of my generation when I have to think about it (basically that I grew up in a time before computers and was nearly an adult when technology really hit its’ peak). Aisha is absolutely a Millennial (she was born when technology was peaking and has been on a steady ride with it since). I think Baby Boomers were the last generation to have any respect given to them as a demographic, but how does this come down to age and maturity?

Are you an age conscious person? Have you ever ended a friendship, or defined boundaries of a friendship based on age? What about a romantic/sexual interest? Have you misinterpreted someone’s age and had that change your interest in them? Do you find that you tend to get along better with people who are older/younger than you? Less obvious examples range from whether you are someone that gives your public seat up for an elderly person (good manners) or holds your purse closer if a teen with facial piercings comes close (bad bad bad). Do you look to hang out with children or studiously avoid them – not all of this is overarching. I wasn’t a “kid” person, per se, until Duderroo, because I didn’t know any. Had you asked me to spend a day surrounded by them pre-Duder I would have laughed at you. Now that I know how amazing they are, I want to be with them all the time. Aisha, on the other hand, finds most kids other than duder exhausting and sometimes hard to handle, but is more of an ‘old dog’ with ‘young puppies’ than a miserable, grouchy Scrooge. If we happen to run into an ‘older’ (read: more mature) young child that Aisha can teach something to, she has the utmost patience for them regardless of age, mess, attention span, etc. 

What about your friends? Aisha has always gravitated towards people older than herself (though not necessarily mature) and has few friends close in age, but those who are, are very mature or have had a lot of life experience. This also means that she has had a lot of friends who, by logic of age, would be more mature but display more childish behaviour than some children (namely, duderroo). I, on the other hand, seem to gravitate to whatever age group I “need” at the time, and I have equally as much respect for people younger and older than me. I have had a very fluid friend base, age wise, and find I am drawn more to someone’s depth of connection so long as the other person is an equal contributor. Why are people different, drawn or repulsed by age-specific groups and is this determined by maturity? Is maturity only determined by experience? 

So… What’s your sign, baby? *wink*

Have you investigated what your sign says about you? Not necessarily the sun and moon birth charts, etc. but just any innocent meandering into whether there are factors outside of your age, experience and culture that determine your traits. I have always enjoyed referencing what Taurus means. I feel very attached to my sign, but only for fun. For instance, my traits are usually said to be stubborn, loyal, hard to change, tied to orderliness, love ‘the good life’ and nice things, can be lazy but ultimately can be a focused, forward moving individual who is good to have around. I absolutely accept that! When going deeper though, I find out that Taurus is the third sign and so I am essentially an infant!! That, well that is hard for me to wrap my head around. I have always felt a little older, wiser, maybe more challenged than my peers and my peers have often come to me for direction! So how am I “young”?? 

Aisha, being the more spiritually inclined and a ‘mystic’ type has helped me figure this astrological ‘age’ thing out. She is a Pisces, which is the twelfth, and final, sign. This means that because she has taken on characteristics of the eleven previous signs, she is technically referenced as ‘older’ than me. Pisces tend to be regarded as the wisest, though most ‘unpredictable’, because they have successfully passed through the previous signs and adopt whatever traits appeal to them. When looking at it like this (combined with her awesome explanation) we get to see what may be different between us. Keep in mind, she is 26 and I am 35:

  1. I forgive, and forget, almost instantly – I do not enjoy holding on to negative things because it weighs me down. Aisha, while incredibly forgiving, does not forget, holds onto her lessons, and does not repeat ‘emotional’ mistakes. 
  2. I am awed by simple or what others may see as mundane, things. Everything moves me, awes me, and a lot still surprises me. Aisha, while she loves nature and the world, rarely seems childlike in our explorations, and is rarely genuinely surprised by the actions of people or trains of events.
  3. I have an intense motivation for almost everything: figuring out issues, making plans, finding the right path. Aisha is the most chill person ever, she embodies “go with the flow” and trusts the universe to come through. I help her get / stay motivated, she helps me find solid ground without having to dig my roots in.
  4. Finally, my curiosity towards all people and interest in ‘bringing’ them in is in sharp contrast to Aisha’s ability to be with whomever is here, she does not actively search for ‘more’. I strive to make my relationships and interactions as pleasant, or at least as productive, as possible, whereas Aisha just accepts whoever is around, whatever state they may be in. 

But really, does this have so much weight? I am sure you know people who share your sign and you are like, “whoa, astrology does NOT have any merit”. But have you ever said someone is an old soul? Been told you are ‘wiser than your years’? Do you feel world weary? Age and maturity, as I’ve said, are wrapped up in a complicated web of experience, self-confidence, intelligence, access to opportunity, etc. This is merely fun banter about what other determinants may be present, and so, we’ll go ever further…

Reincarnation! I am on the fence with this philosophy and not because I don’t think it is possible, but because it seems so friggin’ amazing I can’t wrap my head around it. 

So, what did I learn? Well, I’ll point you to the Five Stages of Reincarnation that we looked at. I am, decidedly, a baby soul:

“the focus of human life is no longer on day-to-day physical survival but on participating in a social structure that provides ordersecurity and a sense of belonging.”

This is so true and if you have been following along with our posts, or you know us personally, you are probably chuckling as we did. With Aisha dispelling the idea that ‘young’ (baby soul, Taurus as a toddler, etc.) means incompetent or not worth considering (think of how children are left out of ‘adult’ conversations), I was able to really look at this with an open mind. While I feel a disjunct between thinking I am older or assuming an ‘old soul’ description fits me, I am actually feeling a sense of relief that I have time! I feel relieved that my weariness is because I am learning, not because I am finished. It also helps me try and foster the traits I felt were ‘immature’ before; my sense of play and imagination, my trusting side, and I no longer try and hide my awe or my feelings.  

Aisha has always been told she is an old soul, that she is older and wiser than her years (Aisha: Yeah, I had a psychic tell me when I was 9 that I had had at least 100 lives before this one – imagine trying to figure that one out as a young kid). Her mother was very spiritually and ‘mystically’ inclined, so fostered astrological interests early and, coupled with Aisha’s other abilities (clairsentience and clairvoyance), she never really struggled with this assumption. In reading through the five stages, though, she has found a different possibility, she may be a mature soul:

“the mature soul focuses on being sensitive, cooperative and authentic
the mature soul recognizes that other perspectives are equally valid
the mature soul is more concerned with the self-other relationship

Aisha and I both like to investigate socio-psychological tests/quizzes just to do self check-in’s: the 16 Personality types, horoscopes, tarot, stuff like that. Honestly, it is a fun way to try and navigate things – is Mercury on my side this month, OR NO?!?!! What does retrograde even MEAN?! We adopt these explanations as just another interesting layer of ourselves to help understand why we are so different sometimes.

Therefore, we will end with this thought. It is not just your age, sign, possible reincarnation that defines you. We are ultimately all individuals who experience a myriad of determining moments that shape us. I like to use these ‘fluffy’ concepts. I like to look at the Soul Types because not every Taurus I know is hell-bent on service and providing like I am (I am the server soul, Aisha doesn’t seem to suit any of the types listed). This way, when I get a little lost and can’t find ‘someone like me’ I can look at this compilation: my impulsiveness and sense of confusion is valid and I have the strengths to work past it; my need to provide and ensure others happiness isn’t bad, but yeah, I absolutely need to know how to balance it if I want to be in charge of it. 

At the end of the day, I would say that my younger soul that is focused on others, but also achieving the best for me, is kind of awesome. I don’t get weary, per se, I get overwhelmed because I try and do it alone but am too ‘young’, so I stumble. I had a friend ask me yesterday, after their first real update of Aisha, when do I get time to breathe. My only honest response was, I don’t stop. I think I don’t stop breathing because I am in a stage of strength – vulnerable strength because I am learning and hopefully following the right path – but I can keep going, just like kids with their faces burning red, sweat dripping down their bodies as they play in the summer sun. 

Aisha needs breaks – she goes into silent retreats in her head to organize the amount she is sorting through. She needs time to process, to think, to compartmentalize… and then she reacts. Big decisions can’t be made without ample time to weigh out every reasonable option (and sometimes unreasonable ones too). She has a depth of natural resources that when tapped into, are absolutely staggering — that she, at this age, can be that aware. But, remember, just because you may be a mature or old soul, does not mean that your numerical age has any advantages. She is a weary 26 whose inner child has to emerge to play with us. The confusion of feeling like you “should” know or be able to tackle a certain task – while literally not having the life experience to have found the resources to do so – can be draining and lead into thoughts of not being good, smart, or just simply, enough. But she tries to approach things in a “slow and steady” way; not to win the race, but to reach the finish line in one piece – if feeling out of sorts or overwhelmed, her numerical age rears it’s head and usually has her skidding in at high speed with a bloody knee or elbow to show for it. It is hard to completely balance age and maturity.  

Age defines a lot: how we view ourselves, how others view us, what knowledge we have, and our confidence. Maturity comes, in part from age, but you can’t discredit mature young people, or immature older people. Read Maura Vananzo’s piece about maturity and you will see what I mean. 

So, the question comes back to you, friends. What are your thoughts on age? Could you use a refresher on what expectations are laid out for you, because of your age? Can you take a step back from things because maybe you are trying to bite off more than you can chew? Stepping back in order to accept the load you are literally able to handle is not weakness. Taking a step back from your perceived responsibilities at work, is not weakness. If we honestly come at our situations with a true understanding of what we are working with – we only get better. 

That, is a promise.

— Jo & Aisha

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.”

Ellen DeGeneres

Botched Surgeries, BuJo & Big Decisions: What’s New

Hi all, remember me? I’m the other half of this blog that doesn’t really write much, haha. 

For those of you that know us, you know that we’ve had a helluva few weeks. We’ve been trying to be vigilant about keeping our Facebook friends up to date, but for those that don’t have the incredible privilege of being our friend IRL (*insert snorting laughter here*), consider this a super informal, we’re-meeting-over-coffee kind of catch up. Because a big part of my personal “mission statement” to running this blog was to be completely genuine and honest — so, honestly… It’s been a roller coaster.

In the last post I published here, I talked about getting a last minute call to go in for a long-awaited spinal surgery called a microdiscectomy, how it got to this point (getting hurt, closing a business, the aftermath) and my vague and convoluted thoughts about being a 25 year old with chronic pain. If you haven’t read it, it’s a pretty quick walkthrough of the events leading up to January 24th (the day I got the call), and will help what I’m about to write make more sense. 

Anyway, three weeks, not one, but two surgeries later and it would be an extreme understatement to say that things are a little bit different now. 

The day of surgery #1, Monday, January 28th, came — regardless of my preparedness. Getting ready for someone to cut bits off your spine is nerve-racking to say the very least, and I spent the evening before with Jo, watching Trevor Noah on Netflix (10/10 we recommend any and all of his stand up), eating junk food (until I had to start fasting at midnight), and trying to keep my mind off of how anxious I was about the next morning. The brotato chip stayed overnight with his grandmother as I was due to be at Hamilton General Hospital at 8:00am, and surgery was scheduled for 10:30. 

I got up early, showered, and we hit the road in good time. Arrival, parking, check-in — for the most part everything went smoothly. We hit a bump when we found out that my surgery had been moved to noon, and then again to 1:30pm. I was hungry, I was anxious, I may or may not have yelled at one of the Same-Day-Surgery nurses (sorry!) so Jo, being the saviour that they are, managed to find a nice nurse that gave me a sexy Lavender gown and an Ativan to calm me the f*ck down until they were ready to wheel me in.

This was probably post-Ativan, because I was actually smiling and laughing. Even wearing that awful gown, haha. January 2019.

My surgery took about two and a half hours. A lot of the disc that was bulging out and pushing on my nerves had calcified, so my surgeon had a bit of extra work to do, but, apparently, went into the waiting room and told Jo that I’d be feeling 70%-90% better by the time the anaesthetic wore off that evening. We were hopeful. I didn’t even care that I threw up three times waking up because anesthesia does something to my body that is alien to me. I was fixed! 

After about 30 minutes of waking up, they wheeled me into recovery, I was allowed to see Jo and we were sent home with a pamphlet for “after care” (this is a bold faced lie — after care for this type of surgery doesn’t really exist other than no bending, lifting or twisting [BLT] for six weeks) and instructions to come back if I had any pain — and that the loss of sensation in my three smallest toes (and outer half of my leg… and outside of my left foot… and butt… and crotch…) was  “normal”. So, I went to bed that night not being able to feel any of those parts of my body…

And I woke up the same way.

Now, Jo and I didn’t panic right away. Spinal surgery is a crazy, involved, complex endeavour and we knew that. But it did seem weird that I wasn’t feeling any better — if anything I was feeling less able than I did before surgery — so we decided to wait until the afternoon, and if nothing changed, we’d call Telehealth. 

[ For those that don’t know — in Ontario we have this awesome service called Telehealth, which is a phone-operated resource where anyone with a valid OHIP number / health card can call and speak to a registered nurse about a variety of different health concerns. This service is especially helpful if you’re trying to figure out whether or not your situation is an emergency, which is what we were doing. If you need emergency help, please just go to your nearest ER. ]

When nothing changed that afternoon we decided to do just that — Jo called and briefly spoke to the nurse about my surgery and what I was experiencing, and then handed me the phone so I could answer a few questions. The call took about 15 minutes, but by the end of it the nurse was so concerned that I practically had to swear on my first-born’s life that I’d be headed straight to an emergency room after I hung up the phone or she would be sending an ambulance to our house to get me. 

We spent almost 2 days at the St. Catharines General Hospital. I had MRI’s, exams of all kinds, an emotional breakdown or two, and was transferred to Hamilton and back again before finally being allowed to sign myself out. I won’t get into too many of the details but we were bullied, demeaned, and disrespected at St. Catharines General and I would never go back to their ER for another situation like what we were experiencing, but, they managed to get my MRI results to my surgeon in Hamilton, I was prescribed a steroid to help strengthen my muscles and regain sensation (we hoped) and told to go back and see my surgeon in a few days if nothing changed. Guess what?

Nothing did. (Surprise!)

Getting transferred from St. Catharines General to Hamilton General. It sure was warm in that patient transfer bus! January 2019.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, medical details, blah blah blah. In seeing my surgeon and looking at my MRI we found out that I’d somehow herniated more of my disc post-operation, and that that was what was causing my partial paralysis. There was a 10% chance that would happen — and I like to stand out (though not really stand, apparently), so why not? Best option was to do another surgery — the same surgery — as soon as possible to fix the new pressure and to get my leg back!!!

I went back in for surgery #2 on February 11th and woke up feeling no different. I told my surgeon, he told me not to worry, that there was a lot of debris on my spine and he moved things around a lot, so I’d be fine in a couple of days. He sat with Jo for 20 minutes and talked to them about how it went, what he did, and, again, that I’d be fine. If nothing changed, I was not to come and see him before the one week mark. So, we’re seeing him on Wednesday.

We had only been in the hospital for 6 or so hours at this point – hence why we’re both smiling. January 2019.

I realize I’m not paralyzed. I realize there are so many people in the world that have it so much worse than I do. I am grateful I can still stand, walk around my house, maybe make it through a grocery shopping trip if I’m feeling extra adventurous. I’m grateful it’s not “bad enough” that I’ve had to live the last three weeks of my life in a hospital, that I was able to get in for surgery #2 quickly and that I have a surgeon that I believe truly wants to make me feel better. But I don’t feel better, this was supposed to be easily fixed, and quickly, and my life has now become something completely different than what it was nearly guaranteed to look like. 

I’ve been looking at ways to pass the time, but stay productive and focused so I don’t end up spinning out into this floaty, unstable being that has no clue what’s going on — because I tend to do that. I came across the #bujo tag on instagram and the videos there have totally been getting me through pain flare ups, while inspiring me to get back into tickling my creativity. I’ve also felt the need to get more “organized” (though I’ve been looking for a different word for this because my vague definition and Jo’s more rigid one are very different) and have a better idea of what’s happening in my life now that I can’t measure my schedule based on cookie orders and / or dog walks. 

I also had a slip-up this week where I didn’t realize broseidon had a P.A. Day from school until the day before — having ADD and being someone whose entire life kind of just got flipped on its’ head means that I can’t keep track of anything. I’ve tried to get into Bullet Journaling in the past but thought my ADD brain was too scattered to even know where to start, until I found out that the creator of the BuJo system, Ryder Carroll, was diagnosed and struggled with ADD, which led to him creating the system in the first place. So it is something my brain can handle and, if anything, is a system that is designed with my brain in mind (get it?!).

We also have a bit of a countdown going now which is why I think I’m feeling the need to get my shit together — kind of like nesting when you’re pregnant. I remember, a month before Edgar Allen Bro was born, I ran around my entire room (which, at the time, looked like a hurricane had gone through it) and organized all my clothes, all of the diapers I’d gotten, all of his clothes, hung up pictures, etc. etc. etc. It’s like you’re preparing for this big thing to happen even though you really have no idea of when it’s happening. I can’t divulge too many details about our upcoming plans yet because there are some people close to us that need to hear them first, but, suffice to say the three of us are excited for a new chapter, and I hope that the changes affect this blog in a positive way.

Anyway, so now that I can’t really move and am sort of dealing with a disability I’m thinking about starting to Bullet Journal. I had forgotten that a year or two ago I had bought Ryder Carroll’s book, The Bullet Journal Method. I started reading it today and I really like how he has laid out the system in a way that’s almost a “Learn First, Practice Later” approach, which I have always responded really well to. I think it will even help me keep track of my ideas on what to write about here and maybe help keep me on schedule so our posts will become more regular and hopefully more enjoyable to keep up with. I’d love if I could post some spreads eventually, because I absolutely love looking at the artists I’ve found on IG like @jannplansthings , @kirbycat.bujo and @bujoist . Check them out if you haven’t already, even just for super satisfying stationary photos, haha!

So that’s what’s new here. Surgery was kind of a bomb, both times, but I’m trying my hardest to stay positive and keep myself occupied until we can come up with a better plan. I’m excited to get into doing some things that inspire me and push me to be a little bit more creative. I’m sad that I will probably have to stop taking large cookie / cake orders, and even more sad that a lot of the dog friends I’ve made since last summer will probably have to find a new sitter. I’m excited to see what life has in store for us and our family if this is what my life is going to look like — but I suppose I’m still grieving the idea of what I thought it would be. Instead it feels like this is going to be a time of rebirth, reinvention and reevaluating where I want to focus my time, now that I have more of it to spare, and, if anything, I’m especially grateful for that.

The bad thing that happens today could be paving the way for the good things coming tomorrow. Trust the process.”

— Mandy Hale

This has been a long one, guys. Thanks for getting all the way to the end — I know I’m a bit of a rambler!

— Aisha

If it’s both terrifying and amazing then you should definitely pursue it.

Erada

So, this blog post is going to be a little bit different. Usually I try and sit down on one of our super comfy ikea couches, get my laptop into that perfect “I’m going to get inspired and write” position, have a few sips of my coffee, and away I go.

Today though, is different. It’s 7:45am, I have just had a very pleasant conversation about the confusion of OHIP not updating my address (or family doctor… or phone number…) with a lovely nurse practitioner at a mini-hospital, a 45 minute drive from home. Jo and the brotato chip weren’t able to come with me today, which led to a few tears and panicked feelings as I left the house this morning at 6:40. The roads in our city were fine- the roads in Hamilton, however, were not and I didn’t want to be stuck on a highway, running late to an appointment I heard about yesterday.

So- how did we get here? We alluded to chatting about chronic pain (mine specifically) in our introductory post, but had to leave you guessing a little bit. But, after the phone call I received yesterday, I suppose now is the time.

In October 2017 I was running a restaurant kitchen on my own, working 50+ hours per week, with support from my mother and business partner as the “front of house” authority. Most of the prep work was being done, by me, alone in the restaurant between 8:30-11:30 each morning. I loved this time. It was quiet, I just got to cook (which is why I wanted to open a restaurant in the first place), I had my local grocery store memorized, and things were going pretty well. I wouldn’t say we were “busy” or “successful”, but people loved my food and we had a small group of regulars that I looked forward to seeing each week (Jo included!).

I still don’t know what “happened”. I don’t know if it was the hours I was working, how physical the work was, maybe it happened during sex? Maybe I just twisted the wrong way grabbing something from the fridge? Whatever it was, it hit me hard, and it hit me fast. I woke up one morning that October, and all of a sudden I could barely move. My lower back felt like there was a constant dagger buried into it, and someone (I’m pretty sure it was the devil himself, honestly) would come and just twist it around a bit when they felt like it. My left leg was constantly on fire with the fury of a million suns, and if it wasn’t – it was numb.

I tried to work through it. I took a lot of Tylenol, used some Rub A535, got a couple of massages, saw a chiropractor. I tried to work the same hours I had been, because who else would? My mother could run the restaurant by herself, but things were starting to get busy and the prep work wasn’t something she had been prepared to tackle solo. It was my restaurant. They were my recipes. All of the chefs I have had the pleasure of knowing have been the hardest working, dedicated, most under rated people I’ve met. My best friend at the time, K, was working almost 70 hour weeks – and running himself ragged – but there was something glamorous to me about pushing through. That being said, my main culinary mentor, who owns an incredibly successful BBQ restaurant in our region, has also always been one of those “work-til-you-drop” people, and ended up having a heart attack in 2015 due to stress. I’ve always been a bit of a sucker for punishment, I guess. I guess us culinary folk all kind of are.

It was hard. It was painful. I would come home from work and not be able to sit down because I’d been standing all day and sitting just hurt too much. I started having a(n even more) difficult time sleeping, my panic got much worse very quickly, and I spent most of my time drinking to be able to relax enough to, well, relax. I didn’t really feel like there was any other option, and then the worst happened.

2017, from what I remember, was a decent year for a winter in Canada. It wasn’t cold, we had more rain than snow, but we got a BIG dump, early in the season. Jo was working their old sales job, and my mother and I decided we didn’t want to dig the restaurant out, and most places in the area were either closed, or business was dismal. So we sat down, went over the pros and cons, and decided on two words: snow day.

Now. Why on earth would someone who is already in a load of pain, decide it would be a stellar idea to try and dig their little red sports car out of the foot and a half of snow in the driveway? Who knows. I sure don’t.

But I did it.

And I fell. On my ass. And slid down the driveway.

Everything that occurred after that point is blurry, fuzzy and just altogether a little f’ed up. I don’t remember much, but I do remember that that wasn’t the only time I fell that year (down the stairs, on the sidewalk, in my kitchen… I’m really f’ing clumsy, ok?!). I also remember that it became very clear, startlingly quickly, that I wasn’t going to be able to do much, let alone run a restaurant, for much longer.

(I also have to mention that closing my business was not my first choice. I have a universal/energetic theory about why I hurt myself – seemingly without cause – that I will get to by the end of this post, because I do honestly believe it holds weight. BUT, moving on.)

I saw my family doctor in late 2017/early 2018 and was told that herniated discs are pretty common and that it would clear up on its own in 6 weeks if I took it easy and essentially stayed on my back for a month and a half. Granted – I didn’t do that. I owned a business. So I bought a back brace (that I tried but failed miserably at remembering to wear), started doing some stretching semi regularly, and even changed the hours at the restaurant to give myself some time to rest, without shutting everything down entirely in the process. It was supposed to clear up “on its own” in 6 weeks. I could get through 6 weeks.

But 6 turned into 12. Strings of weeks turned into months of maybe-opening-maybe-not, people stopped coming to the restaurant because they didn’t know whether or not we would be there. Today, the day I’m writing this, marks a year and a half long battle with my body just not doing what it used to, and almost a year since I made the decision to close the restaurant for good.

I saw a wonderful doctor through the ISAEC program, who recommended me for surgery, saw a great surgeon that is pretty confident that this micro discectomy is going to make me feel better, and after almost a year of waiting, I got a call yesterday.

See, the thing about surgery here in Ontario is that you know it’s coming. You’re on a list, you “should get a call within the year”, and you know, at some point- you gotta go under the knife. This, thankfully, gives you some time to talk with your family, plan for the day, settle your nerves, get everybody on board.

The other cool thing about surgery in Ontario is that they have this option that, if you choose, they can call you in the night before and boom– you’re having that surgery that wasn’t supposed to happen until next year!- but you’re having it tomorrow so let’s get you in to see all these doctors and specialists and hospital admins and X-ray techs….

So. Today is Friday. It is now 9:00am and I have seen 2 nurses, an anesthesiologist, had my blood taken, had an ECG, and am now sitting in a completely different waiting room, patiently listening for my name, to get a chest X-ray. Monday morning, I will be walking into a different hospital, getting shot up with a bunch of stuff to knock me out, getting a breathing tube (oh god), getting my spine sliced open and then hopefully coming out feeling at the least a little bit better than I did when I went in.

If I’m going to be honest, my main concern isn’t (and hasn’t ever been) the surgery itself. Jo’s father was paralyzed, as I’m sure they will get into eventually (if not sooner, being triggered by this medical adventure we are about to embark on). THAT is my main concern. Your spine is tricky. Everything kind of works from that little line of nerves that travels the whole length of it. One slip; my legs, arms, body could no longer be under my control. The other concern is obviously not waking up, making my family worry. There’s so much on the line for such a “simple, routine” operation. But it’s happening.

To quickly jump back to my comment about my energetic reasoning for getting hurt: I believe we know what we honestly, truly want – even if that is subconscious. I was not happy with the way my restaurant was going. I worked a lot, I felt really tired all the time, I felt like nothing I was doing was helping to make us more money, I was losing time with my son, and it blew my relationship with my mother to smithereens. I wanted out; but consciously, didn’t feel like I could, honourably, surrender.

I was the one running the kitchen. So if I wasn’t able to- we couldn’t be open. Easy way out, right?

Don’t get me wrong- this wasn’t ideal. Lots of debt, even more stress, a lot of pain, grief, hurt. I felt it all. I filed for bankruptcy. I begged and pleaded for my landlord to let me out of the remaining 2 years of my lease (which, bless him, he did) and then literally loaded out almost everything I’d loaded in – with Jo’s help, of course – locked the door, and walked away from what I had thought was going to be my “thing”. And, strangely enough, my back slowly started improving (in fractions).

The universe will let you know when you’re ready to move forward. Things have improved, my life has improved since closing my business, but my back has become a constant 9/10 on the pain scale. I am a high-functioning person with chronic pain, and that was something I thought I would have to be for a long time, if not the rest of my life. But a simple phone call can flip the whole world, twice over, right in front of your eyes. This is the universe telling me I’m ready to not be hurt anymore. Im ready to move forward and go back to doing the things I love; like yoga, running and tossing my kid around. I had to wait a year and a half, but if my theory stands, I did this to myself anyway – and am so much happier for it now.

I’m terrified. My anesthesiologist told me today that I am going to wake up to a breathing tube sticking out of me, and I’ll have to be conscious and responsive for them to remove it. My surgery has been rescheduled twice, in the day since it’s been booked, and I haven’t met my surgeon yet. I’m scared. I’m anxious. I’m nervous. But I have a great support system to help me, I know I’ll be well taken care of, and I know that the people that love me now will still love me if I’m a different person at the end of it all.

Obviously, whatever happens, I’m still going to be me. But hopefully, by Monday evening, I’ll just be the same old me; minus a herniated disc.

(At least being couch bound means I’ll have lots of time to write!)

“Don’t do what you want. Do what you don’t want. Do what you’re trained not to want. Do the things that scare you the most.” – Chuck Palahniuk

Mover, Shaker… Cookie Baker?

Have you ever read a story that seems so out-of-this-world that, even when faced with a barely legible claim of being “based on a true story”, doesn’t seem like it would ever be possible? Like a now-famous celebrity that had just happened to be at the right place at the right time, or a professional athlete that just happened to have their best game yet — the day a professional team scout was there to see it. 

These events are all obviously unlikely (and incredibly lucky), but still believable, right? What about when everything continues to line up for those people afterwards – what if that professional athlete won the lottery a week later? What if that celebrity got their first acting gig AND a major modelling contract in the same month? Would it still be believable? These are the lives we write books about, the people we pay craploads of money to watch movies about — are we envious? Or are we just trying to see what it would be like, without all the inevitable hardships and bullshit, without having to commit?

My history, my life, is one of those stories that when people hear it, even in snippets, are quick to jump to the idea of an autobiography.

I’m serious.

This conversation usually goes something like this; I give a brief overview of something to do with my life experience, the person stares at me in disbelief — “that really happened to you? you should write a book!” — and I respond, happily, with a reply I’ve slowly adopted from my mother over the years:

“… but no one would believe it.”

It got to the point where my best friend and I had planned an entire cast of celebrities to play out the most insane events of my time on this planet so far. 

Melissa McCarthy was going to play me, by the way.

Alas, I was never one of the lucky ones to get discovered flaunting my little 12 year old body to “Ain’t No Other Man” on stage in a small Ontario town (even though I won); I wasn’t blessed in being born with wealthy parents that could give me gold-clad diapers and a life worthy of Bill Gates — though I’ve been incredibly blessed in other ways and recognize that deeply and truthfully. 

I was just a really sensitive, emotional and intuitive kid born into a world that was becoming convoluted, confusing and hard at an alarming rate. I stick to the theory that I just didn’t know how to keep up and hold onto my softness, but for a child to have to deal with a feeling that is impossible for them to understand — I think the proper description for what eventually happened was nothing short of “implosion”. I was just really messed up and, in turn, have had some pretty messed up experiences since (more on those later). 

So — I’ve come a long way since then. I’m a month shy of 26, I’ve been a student, business owner, mother, partner, daughter, sister. I’ve been an addict, and not; I’ve been healthy, and not. I’ve done some really stupid things, and some not so much — and I’ve been through a lot to get here. I’m excited to look back, get a little nostalgic, and share some mental photographs of what I’ve learned over the (VERY) short time I’ve been alive, with you. Jo is always reminding me that I have important things to say, and I’m starting to realize that even if my story isn’t “believable” — it’s still worth being told (and is pretty entertaining at times, if I’m to be so bold).

I’m grateful to you, our readers, for committing to coming on this ride with us. I think we each have amazing things to offer, both independently and as a unit. My hope for this blog is that we can meet and connect with some incredible people, while keeping away from the haterzz, as well as share our stories and experiences so as to maybe help you — and if it doesn’t “help”, even if it makes you think about things a little bit differently, I’m happy with that too.

So, are you ready to explore our universe? Buckle up, put your helmets on…

Houston, we are All Queer for Takeoff.

Adversity Makes Strange Bedfellows: How We’ve Come To Be

Welcome,

Thanks for trusting ‘Queer for Take-Off’ to be worth opening! My partner, Aisha and I (Jo), have decided that in our search for community, work-life balance, blending a step-family and being queer in a very white, heteronormative, south-western Ontario border town, it would be worth writing about our efforts. We know from the threads of people we have had vulnerable moments with, that a lot of us feel lonely, wish for a connection to others who have some resemblance to the mess we call ourselves (or not).  

Starbucks is a must-have when you’re travelling in Seattle! February 2018.

If you can relate to any of this, then I hope you enjoy our perspective as well. Obviously, this is an incredibly informal and opinionated space, but I believe we are both level-headed, sympathetic individuals that have walked many different paths in our short time here on earth. We will be writing from a queer, small-town perspective but hope to cover things that are cross boundaries; such as families, health and healthy eating, losing weight, relationships, how to shop for clothes, cooking basics, emotions and things that maybe poke the bear. 

Who we are:

Good hair day! January 2019.

Aisha: Pisces, 25, 5’7″, a smokin’ hot yogi who is spiritually and energetically inclined. 

Aisha will be our resident sound-advice giver, nutrition and cooking expert, and will discuss motherhood, chronic pain, supply sex advice and general body-focused content, and more. Also, the tech-inclined half of us. Her how-to’s and gentleness are what I look forward to sharing with you most, although she informed me this morning, I will be the lead generator. Thanks, pal.

Weekend away in Stratford. Coffee at Revel. January 2019.http://revelstratford.ca/

Jo: Taurus,35, 5’8 3/4″, a model-worthy smoke show with an eye for the beauty in the everyday.

Jo will tackle the broader scope of all thing’s LGBTQ+, gender (or not), adulting, working out / fitness (maybe), finding community, finding yourself and so, so much more. The brains and motivation behind the decision to start this blog. “I just can’t wait to see how you speak to these people, our people. I can’t wait to see how many lives you’re going to change with your story.” – Aisha

We are a dynamic, ambivert duo who love to laugh, learn, eat and love. We think we are hilarious and will try and bring you into the world that is ours.  And all I can say, from the bottom of our humble hearts, is thanks for pulling up a chair and giving us a shot. We cannot wait to get to know you, too. 

Sincerely,

Aisha and Jo