From Troubled to Triumph – My Story
Most blogs only give you a tiny glimpse of the person behind the posts, but I wanted to put it all out there for you so that you have a chance to get to know me better.
Everything changed when I turned 50. What I mean is that my mindset shifted dramatically. You always think about the future when you’re younger, wondering what will happen in the years to come. Suddenly, at 50, I could feel that shift that maybe “someday” was just around the corner.
Turning 50 has been the only upsetting milestone for me in my life and it occurred to me (finally!) that this life is mine. I’m retiring from my day job (at a college) in 4 1/2 years (two months, three days, 60 minutes and 42 seconds…but who’s counting?). I’m looking forward the change, but I can’t sit home and do nothing. In preparation for retirement, I started this blog. The blog fits the bill perfectly; I love to write and I love dogs. Perfect!
Turning 50 and retiring soon is opening new doors for me and I’m excited to step into those spaces to have a look around.
Let’s back this up a bit…
I was born in 1967 in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada. I was a “surprise”. I’m not sure if there is a more delicate way to put it. I have two sisters who are 16 years and 18 years older than I am. After trying for a third child for years, my parents just figured they weren’t having any more children. I don’t think birth control options were plentiful in the 60’s. At least not in this little town.
My mother worked at “the cotton mill”. The corporate name was Dominion Textiles, but everybody I know still calls it The Cotton Mill. She worked piece-work, operating machinery I was always too scared to go near. Her job was to make sure the looms operated smoothly and spent a lot of time fixing them. When she came home at the end of the day, her hair was actually speckled with dust and cotton threads.
There was a nurse on staff at the cotton mill and my mother went to see her one day. She was worried she might have a tumor! Uh…it was me. She was 39 years old when the nurse told her she 3 months pregnant. Enter Lisa.
In order to accommodate my arrival, my parents switched their shifts so that someone would always be home with me. My mother worked the 7 am to 3 pm shift, and my father worked the 3 pm to 11 pm shift. Dad would see me off to school in the morning, and mom would greet me when I got home.
My parents say I was a good child, but I doubt it. I never slept (never did….now I’m on a lifetime supply of sleeping pills). I was mean to my mother as a teenage girl. I suppose all teenage girls are, but I feel badly about it. I like to think that at the end – when I looked after my mother as she died – she got to see a more tender, loving side of me. Anyway, there she was. Thirty-nine and pregnant. Abortion wasn’t an option for a devout Catholic woman, not that she ever had that thought.
Here I am at 2 years old. Does anybody else think it’s weird that they dressed me in pink to match the kitchen cupboards???
My father was forty-nine years old, ten years older than mom. He was really excited when I was born and apparently I was “daddy’s girl”. He was a very quiet, contemplative man. I discovered later that he also suffered from severe anxiety and depression, a fact he hid quite well!
My father was born with 11 brothers and sisters in a time when medication was a luxury and only people in a psychiatric hospital got therapy. I’m sure my father saw it as a weakness in himself. That’s sad to me.
Very young dad.
Much older dad. The photo isn’t great but it’s all I had.
My elementary school years were okay. I had fun, learned fast, and quickly discovered that getting high marks also got me high praise. So I kept that trend going right through high school. Except in math….but that’s another story.
Junior high sucked! I think it does for most people. For some reason a group of girls I never knew decided to make me the target of their bullying. It’s easy to brush it off now, but back then it was pretty scary. These girls were terrible! They never laid a hand on me, but they would follow me around and intimidate me. Sometimes they would tell me that I should kill myself. Really bad stuff.
If you’re a certain age, you might remember Super Dave Osborne. Well, it was a Canadian television comedy that was really silly and weird. I loved it. Super Dave Osborne had this mantra he repeated when he felt something wasn’t going right. On one episode, he was in an accident and his head blew off and landed in a field. The camera zooms in and there is Super Dave’s heading chanting his favorite mantra “balloon ball…balloon ball….balloon ball.” Hey, I told you it was silly. I thought it was so funny that I decided to use the mantra at school.
One day, the gaggle of tormentors cornered me outside. They never actually touched me, but they intimidated the sh*t out of me. So I started chanting. “Balloon ball! Balloon ball!” The tormentors didn’t think it was funny. In fact, one of the more obese girls said, “You better not be talking about me!”
I survived and went on to high school, where things got much better.
Still, I was struggling with some mental illness of my own. The pressure to be perfect (especially weight) was heavy back then. I developed an eating disorder in my teens that, thankfully, mostly resolved after a while.
Fast forward to adulthood. Two divorces. One child. A third marriage that’s working out.
To this day, I have no idea why the adults in my life didn’t forbid me to marry when I was just 22 years old. I was a child. I went through all the motions of preparing for a wedding and even went to a pre-marriage course with my fiance. The whole time, I didn’t recognize the signs that he did not want to get married. But for some stupid reason, he went through with it. That marriage (if you want to call it that) barely lasted one year. I hardly even think it counts!
To make things worse, I was so afraid to be on my own that I latched onto the next guy pretty quickly. I married him and had a child with him. That lasted about 15 years.
Now I’m married again. Well, common law marriage which is considered marriage in Canada. I call him my clusband. Common-law husband. Clever, right? I hit the jackpot of relationship bliss. This man treats me with respect and kindness. He doesn’t raise his voice and he encourages me to grow and learn. After he came into my life, I learned to manage my own finances and make my own decisions. It took me a long time, but I finally feel as if I’ve made it. At 50, I’m a full-fledged mature adult.
This is the much happier and much older me.
And now I’m almost ready to retire from my day job. I see a lot of exciting endeavors ahead of me, including this blog. I’ve always wanted to be a pro-blogger and now is my time. I heard somewhere that you should blog about a passion, and my passion is dogs. If I could afford a huge ranch, I would own a lot of dogs. But since I can’t do that right now, I’m happy to write about them.
I want this blog to be smart and informative. I don’t cookie-cutter it from other blogs. All of my research is carefully plotted and I always ask for input. If you ever read something in my blog that doesn’t resonate, please tell me! The last thing I want is incorrect information out there.
My love of dogs started with a rabbit-hound named Skippy. I was 6-years-old, waiting in the backseat of the car while my father rummaged under the raised floor of my uncle’s old hunting cabin, a derelict structure without electricity or running water. It was summer and we had driven deep into the woods. The black flies swarmed the car and I watched my father swat at them with his Sunday cap.
My mother kept sneaking peaks at me in the back seat, eager to see my reaction. Of course, I didn’t have a sweet clue what the big secret was!
Then my father shimmied out from under the cabin and as he approached the car, I saw a small, wriggling dog in his arms.
I was a quiet child and I didn’t whoop or holler or even laugh out loud, a personal trait my mother found incredibly annoying. But this day was different. I leaned forward and held out my arms, my mouth wide open. I can still remember those soft, velvety ears and the black spots on his round tummy.
To be honest, I don’t remember who came up with the dog’s name. I just remember it was Skippy. To this day, I have a very special place in my heart for hounds. Skippy was covered with fleas, ticks, and mud but I didn’t care. He was mine.
Below is the only photograph I could find of me and my father. There are no pictures of Skippy because – unlike today – we didn’t have smart phones and we didn’t regularly carry cameras around. Cameras were usually for special occasions like Christmas and birthdays.
My mother must have thought this was a special occasion when she took this picture.
I had a lovely relationship with my father. He was nearly 50 years old when I was born, he and my mother having raised two daughters already. You could say I was a surprise!
My sisters are 16 and 18 years older than I am, and they had moved out of the house by the time I was old enough to realize I had sisters. We lived on a dirt road in a rural town with very few other kids around to play with. But I had Skippy. I snuggled up to him on my mother’s pristine kitchen floor, played with him in the backyard, and followed the dog, and my father, on rabbit-hunting excursions.
I vaguely remember the day I came home from school and Skippy wasn’t outside in his pen. I asked my mother where he was and she, looking uncomfortable, mumbled something about the dog “disappearing”. Something inside, maybe childhood naivety, accepted the explanation without fuss or question. I can’t explain that to this day. I never cried and I don’t know why.
Here’s a picture of my mother holding me. It was 1967 and she was 39 years old.
Now I’m 50 years old and I have two dogs – a golden lab and a pit bull/lab mix.
Here’s the “pup”, Coco, now 6 years old, drifting asleep.
Coco – Pit Mix
Even though I watched my father and – years later – my mother, fade and eventually pass away, something about the eventual passing of my dogs has me tied in knots. I just keep reminding myself that if I could get through my parent’s passing, I can handle it when the time comes. But can I?
If you’re reading this, you obviously LOVE DOGS as much as I do. It means a lot to me that you’ve arrived here and I intend to bring you the best, most accurate information about dog health.
My extensive research and experience led me to create this blog in the hopes of helping other dog owners find reliable, practical, and useful information.
Hey, let’s not make this a one-way conversation! Write to me. Send me your dog photos and videos.