Back to reality with NOT the greatest of ease – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

After the initial welcome back hugs (how come hugs from kids are the best?) we tried to have a nap to put some sanity back into our heads. It was really hot but we managed to sleep a bit. I woke to an empty house and wandered around in a daze when I remembered that I had a few suitcases stored out in the garage with my `stuff`. Suddenly I got an excited burst of energy as I padded my way out to unbury my hidden treasure. Any backpacker will tell you how exciting it is to get a new thing, even if its just a new toothbrush. I guess its the fact that you don`t have much and what you do have you know inside out.It was like a grab bag packed with old memories and remnants of my life previous. I dragged them back into the house and began rooting through them with reckless abandon. I found heaps of my `favorite` clothes (which I immediately had to try on to see if they still fit) as well as pictures and journals…jackpot. I felt like a kid in a candystore when I discovered the packages the I had sent home periodically from abroad. I carefully inspected and turned over each and every `souvineir` and memory.

It was very fun until I came upon the part which represented all my responsibilities. I had mountains of papers and bills and letters…all reminders that while I had been gone, life had gone on. So back down to reality with a thud as I began sorting into piles what needed to be taken care of. The next few days were pretty much a blur of phone calls, appointments and overall maintenance. I was grateful that my family had embraced Max so quickly as it seemed I had the phone practically glued to my ear.

My sister and her family had just moved back here from the States and were still in the process of unpacking and building a shed in the backyard. So the house was in a bit of chaos and my head started to feel the same way. It wasn’t long before I realized that my ability to handle responsibility and stress had decreased dramatically. Remember the days when I would thrive on having a million things to do…I would get bored without knowing that I had 5 more things in line after I finished the present task.

I felt like life was one big race and the more I accomplished, the further ahead I was. It never occurred to me that having 4 calenders at my desk was a bit excessive…now I dont even know what year it is most of the time. The phone would ring and I would wait to hear the footsteps and the inevitable, `its for you`. Every time we would go out, I would come home to a barrage of messages wallpapering the mirror. Doctors, lawyers, bankers and tax people not to mention the pool of long lost friends who all wanted to `hear all about it.`

After only a few days, it became painfully obvious that I needed a break. A small part of me felt disappointed and defeated until I remembered that this, for me, was progress. One of the things I learned while away was the importance of balance…something I had lacked greatly before with my all or nothing perfectionist do-it-all-myself attitude. So I tried to be a bit more gentle. Its a good thing because as I had become harder on myself, I had begun being harder on everyone else. I was losing my patience and getting frustrated if things went the least bit off track. I was scared that I had learned nothing…and on top of it, I had lost my coping skills.

I suppose its alot like exercising…if you try to do too much too soon, you are going to hurt yourself. You must build up to it, ease into it. I hadn’t `lost` anything…I just haven’t had to use these `muscles` for a long time so I needed to stretch a bit. As I had already blown I few gaskets, Max and I decided to take a trip to the mountains to hopefully regain some of that `inner peace` that I knew was in me somewhere.

We had a few friends to visit and a wedding to attend anyway so a camping trip would fit in just nicely. We went to the rental car company and ended up getting a great deal on a brand new never driven red sports car complete with cruise control and air conditioning. Woohoo! I had never driven a new car before and that smell, well there is just something about it…no wonder they make an air freshener called `New Car` scent. So we packed her up and headed out promising my fam to be back in a week after I abandoned extreme hard-nosed control freak Carmella somewhere in the mountains.

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