IntrepidWoman's Journey

It has been a long while since Intrepid Woman ‘picked up the pen’ so to speak. Life continues to be a roller coaster and I write this a few hours before I turn 70.

In the cycle of happy birthdays and not-so-pleasant ones, this is turning out to be one of the latter. To me, turning 70 is a big deal. I honestly did not think I would reach it. My long list of chronic illnesses has made the journey difficult. My father died a month before his 66th birthday and my younger sister died at 66. Then just before Christmas last year, two long-time, very dear friends, my age, died 10 days apart from cancer. I have had cancer twice and survived, so far.

All this leads to me wanting to make a big deal of my birthday this year. I wanted my two sons and their families to spend time with me on my birthday. My middle son has been agreeable but oldest son and family have plans elsewhere, every year, elsewhere on my birthday. They did offer to take me on a swimming, boating weekend for my birthday in the US where they usually go, but I use a walker and don’t swim or boat.

My family has never gotten together to give me a party or been together for even dinner and a cake, but every Boxing Day they rush to Calgary to see their dad on his birthday. He was not there as my 3 sons were growing up in a single-parent, poverty-stricken home with me, but they jump as adults when he calls.

When I turned 60 I wanted two of my sons and their families to join me for a picnic for my birthday, but they had had a rare falling out and the oldest would not come. At 65, they helped finance a trip to Vancouver island for a few days where I celebrated by myself. Only at 50 did my middle son go with me to Tofino, BC  for a few days to celebrate. His brothers were living in China at the time.

Last year my ex married for the third time at age 70 and all 3 sons and their families went to the combined birthday-wedding celebration in January. Youngest son came from his home in Hong Kong. He spent Christmas with me and his 91 year old grandma and it was obvious he would rather have been on his usual holiday in a warm place. I cooked a big turkey dinner with no help from him or my mother and it was most difficult as I have chronic, debilitating pain. He arrived on Christmas Eve, we drove to the Pass and returned on Boxing Day morning and he immediately left for Calgary. I was left exhausted and vowed it was my last turkey dinner.

Yesterday I was asked what gift certificate I would like, then told I should get something I need instead of want (referring to card making supplies. I am not even valued for the hundreds of cards I have made for cancer patients and seniors.)

I guess this all sounds like a pity party. I really do feel sorry for myself, but I also remember an important piece of advice I had heard but obviously did not learn from: “You need to teach others how you want to be treated.”

I have not been a good teacher. I put myself out there to babysit kids, dogs and houses, go to things I don’t want to go to, offer emotional support during their life crises and in return, have not asked for respect and to be valued. I have spent my adult life putting others needs before my needs.

I have failed myself. I am a kind, loving Nana, and a helpful, supportive mother and daughter, but I have not taken care of me. On the eve of my seventieth year, I feel sad and lonely and very unworthy.

I can continue to wallow in this pain or I can get off my duff and find ways to help others in my community who are less fortunate than me. In helping others, I will feel valued. It is too late for my middle aged children. Perhaps they will value me when I am gone, but it is not too late to help others in need and therefore value myself now and in my remaining years.

There is no doubt that the next post will be better; happier and full of good news. That is a promise. That is my birthday present to myself.



And the saga continues with more examples of dumbassery in my life. There are so many, but these two come to mind as they relate to my last blog.

I have had 13 surgeries and number 13 was bad luck. I had hernias as a result of cancer surgery a few years before and instead of having them taken care of, I procrastinated because I thought my job would fall apart if I was not there. I had always put my job first, ever since I was a teacher, starting in 1985.

Anyway, I started having horrific pains which my son suggested might be hernia strangulation.  I was lucky enough to contact my doctor from the Pass, who volunteered his time in Okotoks, where I was living, at the Urgent Care Centre. He had me into a surgeon’s office within 24 hours and I agreed to be ‘fixed’ a few weeks later. The surgeon said he could do it immediately, but again I waited, as I had school groups scheduled and copy deadlines at work.

The day after surgery, which took several hours longer than planned as there were about 5 areas needing repair, I was up and walking around the hospital. Suddenly, my blood pressure plummeted and my kidneys shut down. Long story, short, it took two weeks to get me stabilized and I ended up off work longer than originally planned. Thus, Dumbassery #2.

My third example is my favorite. While working for the town of Okotoks, all staff were summoned one day to attend the opening of the new fire/police station. Lunch and a tour was included. The building was finished and in use but the outside grounds were still a mess.

Because we were late, my coworker and I were rushing through the gravel towards the sidewalk, which was a big step up until landscaping could be completed. I, of course, was clutzy and tripped as I reached the cement, landing heavily on my shoulder. The fall knocked the wind out of me and the pain kept me momentarily sprawled on the sidewalk. I know. It was not a pretty site.

I need to backtrack at this point to tell you about a fireman who had come to the museum to do routine inspections and who I deemed did not have a funny bone in his entire body. Example: He was to let us know the current building capacity. I said, in my dumbass way, “I want to know because I have a group of students scheduled and need to know how many to throw off the balcony.” Well. If looks could kill, I would not be here today to write this story. My coworker looked at me in utter horror and I slunk into my office to relive the disgrace again and again, for the rest of the afternoon. From that point on, I started calling him Grumpy, as in, “Is Grumpy coming to check the storage areas today?” Other staff also started referring to him as Grumpy. He had a very serious demeanor.

Back to my fall from grace, during work hours, outside the firehall. My coworker asked if I could get up. When I said no, she ran into the building to get help. Remember. This was outside the new fire station. Out ran the entire D division of firemen, and the first to get to me was, yup, you guessed it – Grumpy.

He was beyond kind. I was surrounded by men in blue, with Grumpy holding one hand and supporting my back with the other as they checked me for injuries. They kept asking if I had hit my head. I still am not sure why they asked more than once, ha, ha! They were all so kind and very professional.

Eventually, I was helped by Grumpy into an ambulance, given laughing gas by an EMT and whisked away to Urgent Care where I sat in a wheel chair for 4 hours before anyone even examined me.

I had torn my rotator cuff, ended up driving daily for a month into Calgary for physio through Workers Comp and again found out that my job did not collapse if I was not 100 % on it.

Moral of the story – I learned respect that day. Grumpy was very professional at his job at all times and did not kid around. I took a day off work and when I returned, I told everyone how kind he was and that they all needed to call him MR. Grumpy from that day forward. (I also delivered boxes of Purdy chocolates, with a thank you card, to Division D at the fire hall.)

I had to drive by the new fire station everyday on my way to and from work. Everyday I would look over to where I had fallen and where I left my dignity, sprawled on that sidewalk. The landscaping was finally completed and a tree was planted where I had fallen. I like to think of it as my tree. Dumbassery #3.


Having a high pain tolerance is not always a good thing. My story:

Many years ago I lived on a farm, 3 km south of Lundbreck, with my horse Freckles. It was a beautiful place, with the house sitting on a hill, overlooking the valley all the way to the road that led back to town.

Winter was tough as the snow had melted and re-frozen into lots of ice around the house. One day I happened to look out and spied Freckles almost a mile down the road. There was a cattle guard so I could not imagine how he had escaped the fenced area.

I hurriedly donned winter wear and headed down the road to the cattle guard. It looked like it was frozen over. Freckles was old so I did not think he had jumped it. Being a city kid, I decided he must have walked across the frozen guard so I proceeded to do the same. I fell in with my right leg, all the way up past my shin. It hurt, but I was more concerned about rescuing Freckles so I hobbled down the road, finally catching him and bringing him home, locking him in a corral for his own safety.

The next day I went to my doctor who sent me for an x-ray. He said I had 3 cracked bones.  Being dumb and not really understanding what that meant, (cracked is broken, duh!), I continued on with life and took Tylenol for the pain.

About a week later, I came down the steps from the house and fell hard. It was nearly 9 pm and I knew I had some serious damage as I heard the bones snap as I landed on the ice.

My first thought was that I had to get into town to the little store before it closed at 9 pm to get someone to help me, as I was alone. I dragged myself into my Bronco with standard transmission and drove into town with my injured leg having to move between gas and clutch petals. My high boot was keeping everything in place.

As I pulled into town and stopped near the store, I realized I was going into shock and that the store was already closed. I parked in the middle of the road and a couple in a van stopped to help me.

The story only gets worse from here. The man drove me in his vehicle to the hospital in Blairmore while his wife followed in my vehicle. Once in emergency, the hospital cut off my boot and phoned the doctor on call. He was busy with his cows and told them to put me in a bed and he would see me in the morning. During all this, I refused morphine because I wanted to remain lucid.

I was mad at the doctor for not coming in so left the hospital and ended up on a friend’s couch for the night, with my leg propped up on pillows. The next day my son came and drove me to the hospital in Pincher Creek. They took one look at my leg and phoned ahead to Lethbridge to arrange for an orthopedic surgeon and surgery.

After finally letting them give me a shot of morphine, I laid in the backseat of the Bronco and endured a bumpy ride to the city. They offered an ambulance, but of course I said no.

After surgery that included a steel plate and pins to hold together 3 breaks, I had a cast from my toes up to my knee. I wanted to go home. The surgeon said I had to stay in the hospital until I was able to walk to the bathroom because I had no one to look after me at home. As soon as he left, I hobbled to the bathroom, pulled the cord for the nurse, then told her to tell the doctor I was leaving. He said it was against his advice, but I left.

Next time I saw my family doctor, he gave me heck because I should not have been walking on bones that were ‘cracked’ after the first fall. He had not told me that at the time, but assumed I understood. Poor fellow was my doctor for many years and I always made him earn his fee.

Best part of story – I was told to stay home for at least 9 weeks and they would not be giving me a walking cast. One of my students phoned me after about a month and pleaded for me to come back. The substitute teacher in my art room was not to his liking. I did go back and sat on a chair with my leg up. I was just as happy to be back in the classroom as my student!

So what did my bravery due to a high pain tolerance get me? Today I have osteoarthritis in my ankle and it can be a real pain some days. BUT: I also have a story in dumbassery to tell, (according to friend Deanna.)  Is ‘dumbassery’ a word? With stories from my life, I can make it so.






It was many years ago. As a solitary soul, I never have partied on New Year’s Eve, preferring to spend it quietly and introspectively. One year, when I lived in the Crowsnest Pass and was a teacher, after my sons had left home, I decided to rent a cabin at Radium and spend a few days with my computer, venturing out in the daytime to explore the towns and tucking in by the roaring fire in the evenings to read and journal.

This was before laptops, so I packed up all the components for my PC into the trunk of my car and away I went, planning to journal and do some soul soothing after a hectic year. Upon arriving, the owner asked if I was a writer, as he saw my trunk full of equipment. (I laugh as I look back at that. There was no access to the internet, but I did not care.) There were piles of snow everywhere and each cabin sat isolated from the others, tucked into the pine trees, with wood cut and stacked high on every front porch. It was heaven and is a wonderful memory that always makes me smile. I had books to read, a box of simple foods and felt like I had won the lottery.

The magic was complete on New Year’s Eve at midnight. The crispness of the winter night took my breath away as I stepped out onto the front porch at midnight. I could not see the neighbors, but could hear them on their little porches, banging pots and pans to bring in the new year. The sky was inky blue-black and clear, and the stars were putting on a light show that made my heart want to burst with joy.

It snowed all night. By the time I was ready to leave for home the next day, there were several feet of snow on both sides of the road. I drove out in a tunnel.

I have never forgotten that New Year’s experience, even though I am not exactly sure what year it happened, but I have often wanted to repeat it. This year I thought about going to Waterton, but I know that I cannot duplicate that magical experience.

Instead, I will stay in, maybe get a bottle of wine or Baileys or Grande Marnier (also known as ‘eyelash warmer’) and toast 2016 before turning off the phone and tucking into fuzzy fleece sheets for a sleep-in. I could even light the outside fire pit and wrap in a blanket on the patio to enjoy the star show. Or not. The joy is in being able to choose when the time comes.

May 2016 bring much love and kindness and good health into everyone’s lives. May we all be a little wiser and a whole lot more caring towards our fellow man. And may we laugh loudly and often!


Not always. Christmases have highs and lows like all other events in our lives. Today I am speaking as a Christian who grew up with the magic and wonder of Christ’s birth celebration amidst the store santas and rampant commercialism.

Now as a senior, I am sad to see the evolution of christian celebration of the season. It is not that I want nativity scenes on every corner, but I want them to have equal importance to all cultural representations at this time of year. Instead, I am seeing it all disappear.

I am sad that people argue over whether to say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Hanukkah” or ……  The joy of celebrating our beliefs, whether Christian, Jew or another faith, has been diluted to almost disappearance for all faiths in all public settings.

The weakness of democracy is that it tries so hard to stress freedoms that it actually takes away freedoms. I know that may not make sense, but think about it. If we all had the true freedom to celebrate our faiths, we would have menorahs on display, nativity scenes and other representations of religious faiths, side by side. Many people want it to be like that but political correctness takes it all away from everybody.

How sad and bleak and scary. Our children’s children are not learning about faith and given choices so they can decide what to believe. They will grow up believing in nothing but commercialism and consumerism.

In the winter of my life, I continue to celebrate the birth of Christ and feel the joy in my heart. My friends with other faiths join me in keeping their beliefs in their hearts, but each generation is losing a bit at a time. How bleak the world will be in the future with only the radical religions taking over by force. Sounds extreme? Maybe. Maybe not. If we do not stand our ground by standing by our faith, it will be easy for radical believers to control the masses.

I do wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Seasons Greetings to all. I wish Joy to every person this time of year. Kindness to others less fortunate is the reason for the season. Many suffer pain and loss and need to feel that mankind still has an element of caring for their fellow man. Most religions have the universal belief in loving each other. Is that not a good thing to continue teaching our children? I am grateful for my God and cannot imagine the long walk through this life without Him by my side.

It is Christmas Eve and gently snowing here in southern Alberta. I still feel the magic and the joy in my heart, after all these years.


Banishng Facebook from my daily life on November 2nd has made me mentally more contented and relaxed and has changed my thoughts to be more positive and creative. It was hard at first but each day has been easier. I have broken the addiction. I have cleansed my mind.

Up next, my body. History: obese entire adult life, pre-diabetic, hypertension, lupus (in remission but working insidiously behind the scenes), fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis in knees, hips, lower back and right ankle, neuropathy in feet and legs, and cancer twice, resulting in radical hysterectomy and removal of thyroid. Imagine what I am costing the health system!

Four days ago, I began a Reboot, made famous by Joe Cross, who juiced his way across the US for 60 days in 2010, losing 80 lbs and ending up off all medications for a serious autoimune illness. His documentary about his journey is called “Fat, Sick and Almost Dead”. His website talks about juice fasting for periods of 3, 5, 15, 30 and 60 days.

For a few weeks now I have been juicing one meal per day, usually breakfast, and eating mostly fresh foods, not processed. Last week I upgrated to a more efficient juicing machine which increased liquid output by almost 100%. Much research has gone into juicing, types of juicers, Joe Cross and his website RebootWithJoeCross. It is the teacher in me. I needed to know all the facts.

I was finally ready to do an actual reboot where nothing is comsumed except fresh juices, water, coconut water and herbal tea. I chose 3 days because that seemed doable. (Note: purchased bottled juices are not good as they have added sugar and preservatives.)

I have never purchased an IPad app, but have downloaded many free ones. For this reboot, I purchased Joe’s Reboot app and it was awesome! For $6.99, I was able to input daily weight, nutrition, exercise, how I was feeling, etc. and any negatives were met with instant tips to counter the issue. It also contained juice recipes, progress charts and shopping lists. I just finished my first 3 day Reboot and lost 8 lbs! All info is kept in the app and I can easily add many more reboots.

This is not a fad diet. It is a quick way to fill your body with micronutrients and cleanse your internal systems. Doctors and nutritionists agree.  I could quickly gain back that weight in no time by eating processed foods and going back to bad habits.

The hardest part is after a reboot, which Joe discovered as well. North America is fat and sick because of processed foods found in grocery stores and drive-thru ‘quick and dirties’. Meals that heat in a few minutes contain very few nutrients and a whole lot of chemicals. People on the hamster wheel of life like these convenience foods because time is limited in their busy lives, BUT: there are more chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension, autoimmune illnesses and cancers since how and what we eat has changed over the last 50+ years. These conditions are being found in children as well in the last few years. Also, food producers are using ever-increasing amounts of chemicals, antibotics, plastics, preservatives, and poisons in the raising of animals and crops for consumption. It truly is scary.

The documentation is available that proves all this, but people generally dismiss all the facts. Joe Cross and others have proven by example that the healthiest foods are fresh, not processed and that a diet of mostly vegetables and fruits with minimal dairy and meat meals (fish, chicken, beef, preferablly organic) per week can change lives by improving health and extending life expectancy.

Studies of eating habits around the world show very little disease and obesity where plants are the main diet. Industrialization has been our downfall!

So, here are my facts. Since I began to eat healthier, plant-based, fresh and not processed foods, I have lost 35 lbs in 4.5 months. My blood pressure meds have been cut in half, my AC1 test for blood sugar is below the pre-diabetic range now and my energy level has increased 100%.

I have found a local farm that grows vegetables and brings in BC fruits that were not grown with chemicals and pesticides. I try to buy organic in stores where available.  Also, no more caffeine (coffee), diet pop and artificial sweeteners for me. If it does not contain nutrients, my body doesn’t need or want it.

My final BUT: I am not on a diet; I have changed my eating habits. I still eat in restaurants once in a while, choosing the healthiest items on the menu, I still enjoy a piece of homemade apple pie when I make one for a family dinner, and a visit to Dairy Queen a couple of times in the summer will still happen, just not every hot day. I wont indulge in pop or chips because they have no nutrition whatever in them, and that seems like a waste to me. And when I fail, as people do, I will get right back up, dust myself off and do a Reboot. It is called eating to live, and I want to live long enough to dance at my grandchildren’s weddings.

In summary, I am finished with Facebook and fast foods. I call that Freedom.

Dreams are wondrous things. I have had two that stand out very clearly in my memory. In the first, I was driving very fast on a winding road in a heavily forested area. At one point, I careened off the road and sailed into the air, knowing without a doubt that when the car landed, I would die. I woke up, shaken to the core. It was so real.

I eventually forgot that dream until a couple years later when I was heading to the city to visit family. I decided to take a back rode through a scenic, forested area. I was driving briskly along when I recognized that place in the dream where I went off the rode. I pulled over and stopped, reliving the dream in my mind, my heart pounding. After several deep breaths, I continued my trip, driving more slowly and with great caution.

The second dream was a feel-good experience where I realized I could jump high into the air and then float or fly around. I kept doing it over and over, enjoying the sensation of weightlessness and being able to look around and see below me. The sense of joy and freedom was wonderful. I woke from this one smiling.

Last night I dreamt I was working with a boss from my past, and it was frustrating and scary. A good friend who died a few years ago was also in this dream scene, which was a mix of my past careers and past acquaintances. I woke up coughing and in a mental fog, coming slowly back to my safe and calm reality.

In the dream, Bad Boss and I were in business together, but I never knew what he was doing from one minute until the next and I have no idea what kind of business it was.  The room, activities and people were constantly changing around me. At one point, on his way out the door, BB handed me some papers and left. I seemed to be running around trying to track people down to see what they were doing, and finally I glanced at the papers. Our company cheque had bounced and the receiver was stating that he was done with us. Distressed, I started running around again, trying to find BB.

When I told him the news he was not too concerned, but I was unable to show him the note, as I had set it down somewhere. Then I started searching for the note, stopping to talk to my Dear Friend who was standing by a wall of shelves containing art and craft supplies.  As I continued to walk the halls, searching for the note, I also began searching for DF, who had suddenly disappeared as well.  I had conversations with several people along the way. Finally, I started coughing and stumbled out of this nonsensical scene. It took a while to clear the grogginess and I was left feeling sluggish and unsettled.

i am not sure how accurate dream interpretation is, but it is likely very interesting. What brings people from your past into your dreams? What causes the same dream to happen more than once? Why do we remember some dreams and not others? Are some dreams a prediction of the future?

Sometimes a dream will hang over me for part of the next day. I feel like it was real and the experience, no matter how weird, may linger for hours. Last night’s dream is still with me. Maybe a long, hot shower will clear my head and reset my day.

DF was a good friend who was known for her kind heart and unlimited generosity. She died too young from a heart condition. BB was a boss from hell. He stole from the employer and from friends and clients, went on emotional rants with everyone quite often, lied and played the injured party for over two, long years before leaving town and his job.

I have not seen these two people for several years. They were never together in my life. I miss DF. I try not to ever even think about BB.

Last night was our first snow fall. I awoke from this dream to white and wet.

This is likely the strangest post I will ever write. At least I hope it is. Heading for that shower now.

Historically Speaking

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