The Sounds of Summer

This past weekend was Victoria Day up here in The Great White North. It’s a national holiday and the kick-off to Summer (in Canada, Summer gets a capital “S” – it’s that important to us).

Victoria Day is a Canadian statutory holiday celebrated on the Monday preceding May 25 in every province and territory. It honours Queen Victoria’s birthday. In Quebec this holiday is called “National Patriotes Day” (Journée nationale des patriotes).

From Statutory

www.pinterest.comThe Victoria Day weekend is commonly referred to as “May 2-4”; partly because Queen Victoria’s birthday was May 24th, but mostly because, as the kick-off to Summer, there is a lot of beer consumed on the weekend. As in “I’d like a case of 2-4, please.”


I Am Canadian. Image courtesy of

May 2-4 is the traditional weekend to open cabins and cottages. It’s the official kick-start to the Canadian camping season. It’s the weekend Canadians ready their yard for our 3-months of sun and high temperatures. We put in gardens. We rake up grass. We get out our patio furniture; dust off the BBQs and smokers; fix our decks; replace the boards on fences; mow the lawn and light up the bonfires. Not to mention fireworks – this is one of two holidays, the other being Canada Day, when it is legal to set off fireworks.

The Madhouse was no exception to the unwritten get-ready-for-summer bylaw that affects 90% of the population up here. We too were busy in the yard all weekend. What were we doing? We were building a shed. Yup, a great, big 10×14 Arrow Oakbrook storage shed.

It was a project and a half. Let me put it to you this way – it came with 192 nuts and bolts (that’s 192 sets of nuts and bolts) and 446 screws. Thank God for electric drills. Mike was a trooper. Not only was he the driving force behind getting it done he also tolerated my dizzy spells (I’m susceptible to heat/sunstroke) and Rian’s whining (she is a teenager and she breaks out in a rash if she gets too much sun – thank you, Irish ancestors).


The Muppet Show’s lovable gofer, Scooter.

Alexi wasn’t too involved with the shed. He had all four of his wisdom teeth extracted on Thursday so he wasn’t feeling too hot. Despite bearing a striking resemblance to Marlon Brando in the Godfather (holy swollen cheeks, Batman) he still pitched in. He did some yard work; helped hold up wall panels while Mike and I screwed them in place; and acted as our gofer or as he put it, “I’m your Scooter.” (I’d love to post a picture of his puffy face, but he asked me not to, and I must respect his request. Trust me, it was both cute and hilarious.)



After two, long days of working in 25C+  (77F+) temperatures, we were worn out. I could not wait to go to bed. All the windows were open allowing a beautiful breeze to flow through the house. There’s nothing quite as nice as having a fresh breeze blow all that stale, winter air out of your home. But you know what else comes with the lovely breeze? The not-so-lovely noise.


We’ve lived here, “in town” (“town” has a population of about 35 000, which is a small city by Canadian standards) as we call it, for 16 years. I lived in the country for 10 years before that and spent a great deal of my childhood on the family farm where my mother grew up. When we lived out in the country our windows were open all the time in the spring and summer (except when they were spreading manure, we shut up the house super quick at the first waft of “Eau de Poo”).  I would fall asleep to the sounds of cattle lowing in the barn, grain elevators, tractors and combines in the fields, crickets, birds, and the occasional car driving by. It was heaven.

Do you know what I hear at night here in town? Cars driving by on any of the two dozen streets within earshot of my home; sirens; neighbours in their pools and hot tubs till all hours of the night; car alarms; people screaming; central air units humming; Guitar Hero blaring from a basement window; dogs barking; the occasional train; and last night – fireworks. And in the daytime it’s non-stop lawnmowers; kids screaming (that I can handle because kids need to play); even more traffic; buzz saws; power drills; hammering; the neighbour’s pool pump; the birds (which I enjoy) and once a week the banging of the garbage truck stopping at hundreds of houses. Basically a cacophony of sound.


It’s like an audio assault on my senses. I become overwhelmed by the onslaught of sound. I cannot rest. My brain will not shut off. I lie in bed trying to decern which neighbour is having a party. Is the ambulance heading out or bringing some poor soul to the emergency room? Or is there a fire nearby? Is that our car alarm or someone else’s? Should I get up and check the yard just in case there’s a problem?

Last night I got out of bed, went out to the living room and closed all the windows just so I could try to sleep. I’m not sure if what I’m experiencing is ADHD or anxiety. Or if it’s related to the hypervigilance associated with PTSD. Maybe it’s all three. What I know for sure is that, even after 16 years in town, I still haven’t adjusted to the sheer volume of city life. I still feel vulnerable surrounded by that much noise.

I’m not sure if the noise affects the kids in the same way. After all, they grew up here. I have noticed they don’t like their windows open either maybe they don’t like the noise either. I’ll have to ask.

So what’s the solution because you can’t live life in the problem. The long-term goal is to move back out to the country, even a small village. In the short-term, it’s either keep all the windows closed or start wearing noise-canceling headphones.



I can totally rock this look.

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747 360 Minutes

747 360 minutes. That’s how much time has ticked by since I have written anything of substance; anything that has meant something to me. 747 360 minutes or 519 days.

I did sneak that small post in back in January, The Battle, but that was so raw (not to mention short) I’m not really counting it as a substantial piece of writing.

So, what’s stopped me from writing? There had to have been time. I mean, 747 360 minutes isn’t chump change. There was time. And lots of it. So what stopped me?

Was I that busy? No, not really. I’ve watched a lot of TV in 747 360 minutes. I mean, a lot.

So if it wasn’t a matter of time what was it? No ideas? No, that’s not it. There have been tons of things I’ve wanted to share – our trip to Canada’s Wonderland; my 40th birthday; my 20-year college mini-reunion; Alexi’s 16th birthday; Rian’s 18th birthday; the passing of my cat, Louis; the adoption of our new cat, Skippy; finding out my other cat, Mittie (yeah, there are a lot of cats in The Madhouse), has cancer; going to Fan Expo in Toronto; how I’ve been tapping into my creative side and making crafts (all kinds of stuff, who knew I could do that?); reconnecting with old friends…the list goes on, and on.

Ok, so there was plenty of writing material, maybe lack of encouragement? No, that wasn’t it. Larry at Me, Myself and Kids has continued to encourage me to get back to writing. And Kate at Did That Just Happen? has told me numerous times she’s looking forward to reading about The Madhouse again. Mike has been exceptionally supportive. Every time he sees me madly keying at the laptop he asks, “Is that for your blog?”.

We’ve established what hasn’t stopped me from writing – there’s been plenty of time, oodles of inspiration and an abundance of support. So, what was it? It’s hard to explain, even now, because I’m experiencing the same phenomenon that has held me back for the past 747 360 minutes even as I type these words.

I feel like I’m choking. It feels like there is a hand applying pressure to my throat and the more I type the more pressure that hand applies. As though the hand doesn’t want me to communicate. As if it is trying to crush my ability to express myself. As I am experiencing this choking sensation I am also experiencing an ever-increasing build-up of anxiety although I am forcing myself to continue. I am trying not to cry. I am going to keep going.

This is the first time in 747 360 minutes I have been able to persevere through the feeling of being strangled. The first time in 519 days I’ve been able to carry on through the nausea, the clenching of my jaw, the cold, clammy hands, the shallow breathing, the racing thoughts not to mention racing heart. The first time I’ve been able to endure the mental anguish that presents itself as physical symptoms.


adjective psy·cho·so·mat·ic \-sə-ˈma-tik\

Simple Definition of psychosomatic

  • : caused by mental or emotional problems rather than by physical illness

Full Definition of psychosomatic

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, concerned with, or involving both mind and body <the psychosomatic nature of man — Herbert Ratner>
  2. 2 :  of, relating to, involving, or concerned with bodily symptoms caused by mental or emotional disturbance <psychosomatic symptoms> <psychosomatic medicine

from Merriam-Webster

Even my face is tingling. God, I hate this. Please get me through this.

At the New Year I received a message from my friend, Saidat. Saidat is a motivational speaker, singer, songwriter, and author of the children’s book, Tadias and the Bully Tree. Saidat wanted to start a blog but needed help. She asked if I would be willing to help with editing (I’m sure some of you are cringing as I know I often misuse commas and formal writing tools, like, well, brackets) and maintain the blog. I accepted.

And thus was born Living to Motivate, Motivating to Live. Saidat’s blog. I’ve been enjoying editing her work and doing the odd extra bit of writing for her here and there, but it’s not the same as writing in my own voice; giving my thoughts words and wings. Allowing myself to write as me.

Another friend sent me an email yesterday asking my opinion on an email she had written. I did, what I call, a “quick tweaking” and sent it back to her. This was what she sent me in reply.

It’s amazing what that little “take some credit” did for me. Yes, I can write and write well. Yes, I have a gift for stringing words together in such a way that they are coherent and expressive. Yes, I am a Writer. It’s only taken me 28 years or 10 222 days or 14 716 800 minutes to say it out loud.




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The Battle

I posted this on Facebook about a week ago. My Michael has encouraged me to share it here even though I haven’t posted in 14 months. I’ve been debating it for the past few days but was inspired by the hope-themed post “Everyone Had the Fever” written by my friend, Larry, over at Me, Myself and Kids.

Anxiety is more than a mental health issue. It is a parasite. It sucks away your energy. Your drive. Your desires. Your dreams. It poisons you with fear. It causes paralysis of the mind – it anesthetizes the positive thoughts, creativity, and imagination. The poison feeds your fears. Fuels your Nightmares and holds you captive. Anxiety eats you from the inside out. Leaving an empty shell that was once a vibrant person. I have the desire to kill my tormentor. Slaughter my captor. Rid myself of the infestation that is Anxiety. I use coping tools, medications, and therapy to wage war against my unseen enemy. I win some battles. I lose others. I long for a cease-fire. There are days I am ready to wave the white flag. Surrender and never fight again. But that is not an option. So today, when I am ready to tie anything that is white to a stick and wave it feebly in the air, crying, “You win! You’re stronger than I am. I give up” – I don’t. It may not be a great victory. The only ground that may be won is the step I take to grind the white flag of surrender into the ground. But I will not surrender. Not today. Not ever.

white flag

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An En Suite and a Mini-Fridge

Last Monday I would have given my left arm for an en suite and a mini-fridge. You see, if I had an en suite and a stocked mini-fridge I would never have to leave the sanctity of my bedroom.

A place where I feel safe. Where no one can judge me. No one can hear me cry, or moan, or wail as the anxiety overwhelms me. I can bury my head under my pillows, hold on tight to Special Bear (the teddy bear I’ve had since my first Christmas when I was 6 months old) and ignore the world.

Often DJ and Jake keep me company. And that’s ok. They know not to ask me how I’m doing. They don’t expect me to solve problems or think about what’s causing the meltdown. They just allow me to be. And I appreciate that about them.


Jake is on the left and DJ is on the right. They’re great nursemaids.


DJ is especially helpful when he lays across me. The extra weight is surprisingly soothing. I’ve wanted to invest in a weighted blanket but they’re terribly expensive so I’ll just keep trying to convince DJ to snuggle up close.

My friend Ruthie said she has a mini-fridge stored in her parents’ garage that I am welcome to use. However, after she thought about it for a minute she didn’t think enabling me to stay in my bedroom forever was a great plan after all.

I talked to Mike about putting an en suite in and he poo-pooed the idea. He argued that we don’t have enough room for an en suite (which is true, I’d have to give up my closet and a few feet of my bedroom). He also argued that installing an en suite so I could hide under my covers was not necessarily the healthiest way to deal with my mental illness (maybe not, but it would be the easiest, at least for me).

That was Monday. Tuesday I managed to force myself out of bed, out of my bedroom and out of the house. It was Remembrance day and Ruthie and I went to the Dutton memorial, laid some flowers and took our two minutes of silence.


Lest We Forget – Je me souviens

The rest of the week I spent busily preparing for a craft show on Saturday at the local Seniors’ Centre. We rented a table to display our Perky & Quirky merchandise (shameless advertising – here’s the Pinterest link – Perky & Quirky) and I needed to finish some product.

Saturday morning as we were finishing setting up our table I had to take a lorazepam in order to stay calm enough to speak with customers. I survived the four hours of the sale, packed up and headed home where I napped and read.

Sunday I spent most of the day shaking like a leaf. Poor Mike had to deal with me in WalMart. We needed a few grocery items, lunch meat, bananas, etc. It is important that I force myself outside my comfort zone in an attempt to continue living with some normalcy. WalMart is usually the toughest store for me to go into. It’s always busy and people are usually in a hurry and a little cranky.

Mike had to stop me several times as I was rocking back and forth (standing up) and moaning softly. He had to call me back into the present moment and remind me to use the deep breathing technique that often helps soothe my anxious soul.

When we returned home from shopping (thank God that was over and done with) I curled up on the couch and had a nap. The kids made supper (chicken burgers and salad) and I just relaxed.

I was hoping I would feel better this morning, but instead, I’m feeling very down. As I said to Mike earlier, I feel like I’m walking uphill, carrying a house, into a brick wall. Every. Day. I fight it. I use the “fake it til you make it” technique, but I’m weary. I get like this every once in a while. I’m sure tomorrow will be better.


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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerNeither of my children has cell phones, but they usually have their noses stuck in books when we travel so they miss out on a lot too.


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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerAs promised to my good friend, Ruthie (she did not find last Sunday Funnies funny, which they weren’t, but they were important to share), silly pictures of kitties who have ADHD.

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Insanity at the Madhouse

Sounds a little redundant, doesn’t it? Of course, there’s insanity at the Madhouse. It’s the Madhouse!!!

This is a different kind of insanity, though. In an attempt to get me out of my Madhouse bubble and stretch outside my comfort zone (which is very teeny, tiny), I have starting crafting. I know, it’s almost cliche, but it’s definitely proved helpful.

Allowing myself to be creative and allowing myself to try something new and make mistakes has proven very beneficial to my mental health. The state of my living room, welllllll, that’s a different story. There’s glitter, glue and felt EVERYWHERE!! Even the dog has glitter on him (I think he looks pretty).

My dear friend, Ruthie and I rented a table at a local craft show (this is outside my comfort zone on so many levels you need a parachute to get back down to ground level). We named our little endeavour, Perky & Quirky, and laid our wares out for sale.

We are both book fiends so we focused some of our creative energies on upcycled book art. Ruthie has done some original artwork and photography, enlarged and framed. I displayed Christmas ornaments. Ruthie also had one-of-a-kind book purses for sale. And we made some fabulous bath products.

The sale wasn’t as successful financially as we had hoped but we both had lots of fun putting the stuff together. We spend 2 full days listening to (and singing with) some great music from the ’50s on up while we mixed, glued, glittered, brewed and modge-podged our brains out.

If you’re interested in checking out some of our stuff we’re on Facebook…

facebookWe’re also on Pinterest

pinterestLike us! Follow us! Buy our stuff!! It’s super cool.



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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerThere has been a lot happening in the Madhouse over the past month, and I promise to write about it this week (maybe even tomorrow!! My calendar is free.)

There has been a lot happening in my community (municipal elections) and my country in the past few weeks too.

For those who haven’t heard, Canada lost two of our heroes, on home soil,  in recent weeks. Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent of Quebec was killed when a radical Islamist extremist ran Vincent and another soldier over with his car. The killer was chased by police and died by police gunfire.


Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent. Image courtesy of

That was October 20th. Two days later, 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, was shot and killed while standing honour guard at the National War Memorial.


The National War Memorial, Ottawa, Ontario Image courtesy of

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo stands honour guard on the left behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Image courtesy of


A popular political cartoon floating around Facebook, depicting one of the statue soldiers coming to Cirillo’s aid and a hand inviting him to join their ranks. Image courtesy of

After shooting Cirillo the lone gunman ran into the parliament building and opened fired. He was shot and killed by Sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers. The best description I heard of the incident was from John Colbert’s show (although in second viewing I realize it’s a recount from the CBC).


Yes sir, he most certainly is. Image courtesy of

So my topic wasn’t overly funny today, but Colbert was so I figured that made up for it. Thanks to our American and International friends who have sent condolences and words of support. It meant more than you will ever know.


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A Walk On the Wildside

Yesterday was a gorgeous fall day here in Southwestern Ontario. We’ve been experiencing unseasonably warm days in the high 20s (low 80s for my American friends) and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and take a walk in the bush (walk in the woods).

Mike owns property in a village about 30 mins West of the city where I live and I was heading out there to pick something up for him so I decided to check out a small Conservation Area near there. I love walking in local Conservation Areas. The paths are usually well kept and they’re never very far from the nearest community.

I drove out the woodlot at the end of a dirt road (my white van isn’t very white anymore). Right away I noticed this Conservation Area was much smaller than the one I usually walk, but I saw a couple paths heading off the main trail and decided to plunge in.

I was sorely disappointed. Each of the paths led to a dead end after about 4 minutes of walking. I sighed in frustration. I had psyched myself for a great adventure and it was snuffed out before it had begun.

Then something magical happened. It was noontime so the sun was high in the sky and filtering through the trees. The breeze picked up. The towering ashes swayed and the air was filled with hundreds of floating yellowed leaves. Each leaf floated gently to the ground, like an elegant dancer on the wind.

And in that moment I was at peace. What a glorious feeling.




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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerHomework hosted by ADHD.

1baby bluesbaby blues2baby blues3

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