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The Jay Way Click Here To Comment!

There is probably a reason that I have not chosen parenting as a theme in my life. I’ve not much confidence in this area and, frankly, I have always been just a bit afraid of children. Afraid of saying the wrong things, or somehow putting the seed of some idea in their little heads that will result in years of therapy later. Of making an off-hand comment that will result in a grown up child needing to work out their fear of lawns or tea bags or picture frames.

I don’t really “get” kids. I was one, once, and that is helpful. I have tons of memories of growing up, of course, and most of them are well-worn stories about extraordinary moments of fun or perceived danger or adventure. I remember them with a writer’s eye, as if I was watching all the characters and recording the story as it unfolds, frame by frame.

Remembering the kid perspective is a whole other ballgame. It calls for me to give up the bystander perspective and be “in” the story and that feels like a rusty old tool in need of some WD 40. If I’m being entirely honest, the bystander perspective on memory gives me a ton of control. Switching perspectives, remembering how I felt in those moments, as a participant, gives me up to the gods of vulnerability. Feeling small, feet not touching the floor at the table, laughing inappropriately at my own peculiar logic, trying so hard to understand, trying not to show that I don’t understand, toughing it out (whatever it is), hanging in there and always – always – looking up at people.

Nonetheless, channeling my child of my past is helping me try to figure out the children of my present and the 1,000 ways in which I Do.Not.Understand them.

As an adult, I’ve become very wordy. Come to think of it, I think I was a pretty wordy, nerdy kid. (Others reading this blog are more qualified to comment.) I like to use words. I like to describe things. I expect other people to be able to articulate their thoughts clearly. Children have almost no practice at this and have only a fraction of the tools grown-ups have.  As adults, we ask them to “use your words” but sometimes the words aren’t there yet and nothing can be articulated with certainty. Words turn ideas into defined, black and white statements and sometimes that is just too scary for kids. Sometimes communication has to be non-verbal and thus less defined. Murkier and more open to interpretation. This adult less good at murky. Less sure about what messages I’m sending and even less sure about what I’m receiving.

However, I’m learning to open this channel up a bit wider and listen with more than my ears. Today, for example, I learned more about The Jay Way.

A few days ago, the Gull River Snow Removal crew (me, Jay and Charlotte) tackled the removal of about 15 inches of snow off our 30 x 50 foot ice rink. I started and the kids joined me shortly thereafter, which was nice. Charlotte is a bit less focused on the objective but she does not lack in enthusiasm. Jay “gets” why we need to do this and gamely started shoveling in a sort of random way. After a few moments, I pointed out to him that he would have to move the same snow all over again and I wondered if that was really what he had intended. He looked at his work and groaned a bit. Then, he removed himself to a different area of the rink, not too far away yet untouched by our shovels, and started going in straight lines across the rink. Over and over again. The same line, or so it seemed. In fact, there is no way to fully clear the snow, scraping the surface of the ice, without leaving a trail behind. So he would take a bit of snow each time, clearing up his trails from previous passes. After about 20 minutes, I realized that his ice was cleaner than mine! Not only that, his way was more efficient and well-paced than my way. So, I adopted the Jay Way of snow removal.

It was time again today to take another 10 inches off our unfortunate, as yet unskate-able rink. Poor kids – helping to shovel a rink they haven’t even used yet. What good sports. I hadn’t anticipated any assistance but, lo and behold, the Gull River Snow Removal crew arrived shortly after I started. Jay needed no direction. He started at exactly the same place he had started two days ago, with exactly the same method. Straight across the rink, not trying to take all the snow in one go. Back and forth. Making One. Neat. Row. Then, making that One. Neat. Row bigger yet even neater. When we got to the part that does not, unfortunately, take a straight line across, he created a new, symmetrical, quite artistic yet efficient pattern.

Thus, here is what I know about The Jay Way (so far):

  • I like tasks that let me make patterns.
  • I like repeating patterns and straight lines.
  • I like doing my pattern well.
  • I don’t take direct compliments very well but feel free to tell my sister that I’m doing a good job. 🙂
  • I’m not so good with direct supervision but don’t get too far away.
  • I can concentrate easily when I work alone. In fact, I enjoy concentrating this way. But feel free to distract me with an impromptu, undeclared shovel race.
  • (Also, for pete’s sake, when are we going to get to skate on this ice?!?)

Ain’t No Flies On Me Click Here To Comment!

Actually, I was going to title this “How to Smell Good” but I figured that was too much of a set-up for certain readers.

Last week, I changed my Facebook status to reflect that I really was digging how I smelled. I’m sure this may have seemed odd to some. The backstory is this: my massage therapist uses a selection of aromatherapy oils in her practice. Sometimes, a visit with her reminds me of a visit to a top restaurant that has a selection of fine wines. She gestures magnanimously to her impressive collection of bottles and asks me what my pleasure is that day. She often has suggestions based on her own intuition. I just don’t know enough about aromatherapy to really do more than nod and say “ok”, and to veto anything that smells like oranges. I also, and with a twinge of sadness, veto patchouli. Secretly, I adore patchouli. However, you wanna find the lesbian community in North America? Just follow the patchouli. As much as plaid flannel, birkenstocks and/or Blundstones, short hair and short fingernails are the common stereotypes, so is patchouli. Shame, that. I can do all the rest of the “code” but the patchouli is just pushing it too far.

I’ve noticed that I lean towards some combination that involves lavender, something in the woody line (pine, spruce, cedar), and some other “x” factor. Often there are more than three oils on the go. Bergamot is often a fav, clary sage also puts in appearances, as does something I’ve never heard of called vetiver. I go easy on the vetiver because it tends to just put me out flat in a heartbeat, which is terrific on the massage table. Not so good when driving.

Having said all that, I know zero about this. Sort of like art – and wine for that matter. Don’t know much about either, but ah know what ah like.

As a final observation, I have, for years, dabbed on a bit of the Body Shop’s Ylang Ylang massage oil after showering in the a.m. because I like catching a whiff of it during the day.

OK – so, back to last week. I came away from my massage appointment totally digging whatever combination she used that time. Do I remember it? No. Do I know in what proportions she used x or y oil? Nope. All this past week, I’ve really wanted to reproduce that scent. I’m up to the challenge!

Yesterday was designated “time for me” day so I took care of a few personal errands. Took my broken ring into the Craft Guild. Had sushi pizza at the best sushi pizza place next door to the Craft Guild. That feels like cheating without  wizzy, but rest assured that yesterday’s was definitely sub-par. Sauntered over to Body Shop on Bloor and smelled every single product and every single essential oil. Came away with Olive Oil Hair Conditioner, a bar of White Musk soap (long story there*), and a tiny thingie called an “atomizer”. Headed over to the “fweep fweep” section of the Danforth which is essential oil heaven. Came away with cedarwood, ylang ylang, and vetiver.

But what to do about proportions? The vetiver is going to calm me to the point of comatose if I use too much.  The cedarwood is quite bitter on its own.

Flying by the seat of my pants, on my first attempt, I overdid the cedarwood which I think I can balance with the ylang ylang. (Why does it have the same word repeated? Isn’t ylang descriptive enough on its own?) I’m happy with just having tried. For those of you who see me – or rather, smell me – in person, please do let me know whether I’m way off base, or if just being around me is making you feel comatose too.

*Long Story, Beginning With White Musk
I can remember almost all my “big” relationships by virtue of the scent that the other person wore. This has both good and bad ramifications. Like being in a crowded place and catching a whiff of something and suddenly being irrationally, momentarily, convinced that the person from the past is somewhere in the immediate vicinity. Like being taken on a nostalgic, often pleasant voyage of memory from catching the slightest inkling of a scent. In case you are wondering, here is a olfactory run-down of past relationships, in chronological order.

1. Body Shop White Musk … and, Happy Birthday, btw!
2. Clinique original scent
3. Some expensive French stuff that I can’t remember the name of
4. Body Shop Lime/Coconut – intoxicating, still
5. Patchouli
6. Molton Brown, a British hair product
7. Something clean and fresh smelling, maybe Body Shop Oceana …?
8. Something strong and flowery, kinda over powering. I never did get the name of it.

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