Monthly Archives: December 2014

There’s a Cupboard in My Kitchen

We built our dream home in 2006. When I say dream home though, please keep that in perspective. It is under 2000 square feet … it is no mansion. But it is very much “our” dream home … built in a beautiful, quiet, country setting in Nova Scotia with a stunning view out over the water.

We had waited so long to come home, had waited a long time to figure out the style of home that best suited who we were as a family, and we eagerly drew up the plans ourselves, ready to build a place we would call our forever home.

An absolute must was a large open concept kitchen. We are – by birth and by choice – Maritimers. And by that one small truth, you by default are required to have a large, warm and welcoming kitchen if it is within your possibility to do so. And we consciously planned for that.

We built a big island and tonnes of cupboard space, stained in a cinnamon colour I had them custom make for me. It is after all where Maritmers congregate. It is where we share drinks and food and laughter. It is where friends and family come and cook together and gather together. It is where secrets are told and burdens are shared and laughter rings out.

I knew all of this when I was designing it. I am proud of my strong roots and I knew … I hoped … that our kitchen would prove to be a place of countless parties, potlucks and dinners … with shared laughter and great memories. Eight years later all of this has come to pass. Every single moment. And there is nothing I don’t love about my kitchen. It is my favourite room in the house. Bar none.

What I didn’t know however, all those years ago, is that there would be a certain cupboard in my kitchen.

Now I’m blessed to have many beautiful doors in my kitchen, but this one is to the left of the fridge. I don’t remember if I chose it because it’s proximity to the fridge but I probably did.

This cupboard isn’t filled with spices or wine glasses or pottery. It’s not one of my corner cupboards that hold my entertaining dishes. It’s actually quite unassuming, but would come to be the most important and sometimes most often used space in my kitchen.

It’s my sons chemotherapy cupboard.

And I tell you … when I was planning our kitchen I never thought we’d have one of those!

But so it was.

As we moved into our new home and I unpacked boxes, I sat aside this cupboard for the three and a half years of medications and chemotherapy and paraphernalia we would gather over the years. As I unpacked China and silverware I also unpacked syringes and steroids and supplementary therapies. Side by side these things got put away.

So began our chemo cupboard for our son. There was Septra and ranitidine and methotrexate and 6MP. There were binders full of information and contact numbers galore. There were barf basins and Emla and piles of blood work. Thermometers and vitamins sat along with medication schedules and chemotherapy so poisonous I wasn’t allowed to touch it or even inhale it (meanwhile my son was expected to ingest it on a daily basis). Post it notes were stuck on the inside door and antibacterial wipes and purell abounded.

I would come to access this cupboard as much or more than any other one in my home.

And the thing is, is that I’m writing this in the past tense … which of course that part of our journey is over. But truth be told that cupboard … the one by the fridge … still hasn’t been emptied. It still stands there, waiting for me to take that step. I don’t know when that will be, but I know its time will come, like so many other things did from that time in our Iives. One can analyze that all one wants. But I have learned that things come at their own time and pace for everyone.

So yes. There is a cupboard in my house. One that most families have never had. One that we never thought we would need. But one that served us well, and that sits unassumingly in my favourite room of our home, with cinnamon colour doors and hematite colour knobs. A cupboard that will someday be emptied … when the time is right for me … and one that will hopefully never be used again.

‘Busy’ is Not an Emotion.

Over the last few years, and most especially the last few months, I have taken notice of something that has become very interesting to me.

I can’t tell you how many times I meet a colleague, a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger, and I will ask “How are you?”

And more often than not their answer is … you guessed it … “I’m so Busy”.

In this crazy world we live in that hardly comes as a surprise does it?  We are all running in five different directions wishing for extra hours in the day, extra days in the week, and extra months in the year (especially ‘this’ time of the year).

I get it.  I really do.  I’m busy too.

But here’s the thing.

“Busy” is not an emotion.

You see … the question I asked was, “How are YOU?”

And let me be clear.  When I’m asking how you are I am not asking how many basketball, curling or hockey games your kid had today.  I am not asking how many deadlines you have at work this week or how many volunteer commitments you have on your plate this month.  I’m not asking about your list of things to do, nor am I asking about how many miles you have driven in the past 48 hours.

I am asking about YOU.  About how YOU are.  As a person.

I know many of these things certainly impact on how you are feeling … about where you are emotionally … but they are not YOU.  These things on your checklist and on your fridge calendar and on your blackberry … they are not you … they are not how you are … and they are certainly not emotions.

Maybe you are overwhelmed.  Perhaps you are at your wits end.  Perhaps you are ready to cry you are feeling so buried by everything.  Or maybe you are thrilled with how busy your life is.  Maybe you are fulfilled and overflowing with gratefulness about how many rich and rewarding experiences you are participating in right now in your life.

Either way … THAT’S what I want to know.  Say that.  Own that.  But don’t say you’re busy.  Busy is not an emotion.

Busy is the easy way out.  And somehow it has become what we, so called good parents and good citizens of the world, are ‘supposed’ to say.  If we are busy, well then our life must be very important and fulfilling.  If we are by contrast not busy, how can we possibly be leading a rewarding life?  If our kids are not doing six difference activities how can they possibly be growing into amazing young people?  (She writes with heavy sarcasm).

But that’s not what this post is about.  Right now in my life our family happens to be in fact very busy.  We have two kiddos in middle school who want to be part of every opportunity going, we are two working parents and we have pretty robust social lives with friends and extended family.

But “busy” is not how I choose to define myself.  “Busy” is not who I am.  And it’s certainly not a status symbol of any kind in my life.  I admittedly look forward to March when I am less busy … but this is the life we, as a family, have chosen for the months of September to March.  I try and recognize my “busy” for what it is … and I try not to complain about it nor do I wear it as a badge of honour or glorify the fact that my life right now may happen to be busy.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that words matter.

I know we don’t always express ourselves as well as we could.  I can’t tell you how many times I wish that I had the perfect words for a grieving friend or an awkward situation or the perfect answer for a difficult situation.

Our words can’t and shouldn’t be perfect.  But maybe we can be more thoughtful about them sometimes.  Because they are how we portray ourselves in the world.

So the next time someone asks you how you are … remember what the question is … that maybe they really do want to know about YOU and how you are feeling … not about your to-do list.

And then if you still want to say busy, then by all means, shout it from the rooftops … but at least be thoughtful about it and don’t use it as a crutch, a glorification, a go-to, an excuse …. or an emotion.

Because it’s not.