Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The need for change has always pulled me.........................

For as long as I can remember " being " - major changes have been a part of my life.
My Father died at a ridiculously young age ( 29 ) leaving me fatherless at a ridiculously young age
( 5 going on 6 )
In an attempt to pack up and create a new life my Mother moved us clear across the country - to British Columbia - from Montreal - as far as she could get from memories I suppose - but somehow all the grief slipped it's way into our suitcases and arrived in Vancouver with us...............quite intact -
( pain is quite immune to bumpy rides - unlike my Chatty Cathy - who arrived with a broken arm and one eye that never closed right after that trip - at 5 going on 6 you grieve more for dolls than humans )
But obviously that was the first ( of many many ) changes in my world.
I woke up one morning to a missing Dad - and not long after to a missing extended family.
I learned at an early age to adjust to my surroundings - to make the best of things - and for the most part it was an easy transition - I was a happy kid - ( looking back I see that I was an extremely happy kid - this is NOT a pity fest - just a moment or 2 of sharing )
I can remember very clearly the mix of anxiety - and sadness - accompanied with a little bubble of excitement as we drove away - smiling at the entire family getting smaller and smaller through the back window - waving a sea of kleenex in our direction.

" it'll be better " my mother assured us.

My Mother met a man 2 years into our trip - and a wedding was planned - I explained to my teacher that next month my name would be Susie Williscroft ( the embarrassment of my last name Sweatman had already begun - you can read about that HERE ) but next month never came.
Change in my life came once again the night we were awakened to my Mother pleading for her life - as " Williscroft " savagely beat her to within an inch of it - after a date where he claimed she was sending secret messages to the milkman - HELP would have been a great message to be sending out in hindsight - however the suspicious looking tire tracks were simply from his truck - the suspicious looking footprints belonged to him as well - and those 2 circles on the stoop?  Yeah - that would have been where the milk sat until my Mother opened the door to bring them in.  I only recall 2 bottles of milk coming in through the front door - not a  milk man. Although she would have been better off making wedding plans with him, don't ya think?
That was a major Change - that was the first time I had seen a man strike a woman -
( sadly it would not be the last )

Sometimes changes are planned - sometimes they are unexpected.

My Mother woke us up a week or so after that - and whispered -


And as we arrived at the train station - she urged us to have a race to the platform - we ran squealing and giggling with her running behind us - and as we boarded the train I can remember very clearly the mix of anxiety - and sadness - accompanied with a little bubble of excitement as we rode away - Chatty Cathy by my side.

It was only as adults that we found out that we were running for our lives.................back to Montreal and as far away from " Williscroft " as we could get -
We were running back to the comfort of that sea of kleenex.

" it'll be better " my Mother assured us.

And it was better of course - back to a very large boisterous loving Irish family - who opened their doors to us with no questions asked.
" They're back " Nanny Egan yelled to all the neighbors
" Oh you poor orphans - she never should have taken you half way across the world "
Nana Sweatman cried.
( you can read about Nanny and Nana HERE )

Halfway through elementary school my Mother decided to pull me out of the Catholic system ( that's another post for another day - but I think it had something to do with the Nun's constantly telling me I had too much of the devil in me because I was left handed - and the chicken scratch I came up with
using my right hand just didn't " cut it " )

" it'll be better " my Mother assured me

And it was - in the 60's - Catholic schools were learning machines - with very little outlet's for an impressionable creative mind.  So although I switched over to the Protestant system in the same grade I was ahead of the rest my class for years.
BUT it was heaven for a child that wanted to draw pictures in art class ( we were only allowed to paint or draw religious images at the school I had been to previously ) or excel in gym class - where previously I had only been allowed to do a few lame jumping jacks ( and got in a lot of trouble for trying to be creative with them - let me tell you )

HIgh school found another change as we moved direction completely - having done one year at one this was a change that was a little more difficult - leaving friends is never easy but it's hardest when you're on the threshold of becoming a teenager -
I learned to navigate the bus system like a little pro - promising everyone I would visit constantly and I did

for about 1 month....................

" It'll be better " - my mother assured me.

And of course it was - that change was where I found my life long sisters of the heart - where sleepovers began -  and experimenting with hair rinses  and dark blue eye shadow and burgundy lipstick and matching jean jackets - where broken hearts were healed by " numbers " over and over and over again and dresses bought at the local " fancy " store were bought for dances.
Where night after night dance steps were practised
Do the Hustle -
Do it.
Do it.
until we were able to do it in unison.
Where we shared bags of greasy fries on cold winter nights and just roamed around - and pooled babysitting money to go to concerts and shared sweaters and sometimes jeans - and stories - where we had sun tanning contests to see who was darkest - where we learned to use curling irons and blow dryers - these were my " bonding " years and I prayed things would not change - for the first time in my life.
That stuff makes you close.
Oh so close.
Close enough to keep it alive even when space and time and circumstance creep in to keep you apart.
I hope you all have a friend (s) in your world that you can remember wearing too much dark eye shadow with.

My Mother met someone in 1973 - they were married in 1974 - she had my brother in 1975 - and by 1976 the great " move " happened.  Montreal experienced an " exodus " from the English speaking sector when the first " Separatist " party came into power.  My Mom and Stepfather made the long trek to Alberta in 1977 with my infant brother - terrified for his future in a province where people were frantically trying to make sense of it all.
I chose - at 18 years old - to stay.
I found an apartment - with 2 room mates and began my life as an adult - which was a change - but not such a drastic one.

Of course many many changes occurred from that point on - but they're adult stories and I think
I may have pushed my luck with the length of this post already so we'll leave that for another day :)

if any of you have been sitting and shaking your head and questioning my sanity on why on earth we would buy this particular place - when there were quite a few " easier " ones - now you know,
It was the devil that made me do it
Well that and the need for change.

(I still can't write with my right hand.)

As we signed on the dotted line - we had a moment's hesitation.

John said - I don't know about this one Suzan - it's in really bad condition

And the moment he uttered the words - I felt a mix of anxiety - and sadness accompanied once again by that little bubble of excitement.

It'll be better - I assured him.

And it will be.  I'm an expert at change - so trust me :)

In case you haven't realized it yet - you my friends - have become my sea of kleenex.

Much love,

P.S. - we all have stories - some of us are willing to share them - some are not - but we ALL have stories - without them we'd be as interesting as a potato.
 John thinks I divulge too much - I think he divulges too little - c'est la vie
( said the old folks - it goes to show  you never can tell )

John says - did you post that yet?
Suzan says - yes I did
John says - I can't imagine what people think of you,  you know
John says - You always go too far
Suzan says - I'm not a potato
John says - What the hell does that mean?
Suzan says - Only a potato would ask me that.......................
Suzan says - It's a North American thing John - forget it.


  1. Hy Suzan! It's been awhile I dind't wrotte you, but I read all of your posts. This one came right on my needs. It's a time for me I have to take a decision to change my life. And as your brotther was terrified , I am too. But you made me see that changes could bring god things and now I feel that changing is the right thing to do. Hugs, Cristina

  2. It's a hard way to grow up Suzan, but I think the reward is enormous. You learned to adapt, to figure your way out of a tough situation and to make a new life when the old one is gone. I am grateful I have those skills and feel terribly sorry for anyone facing their first real challenge without them. Those are the characteristics that made this country. I'm glad you shared that part of yourself with us.

  3. I really enjoyed reading this post (so there, John!) because I enjoy change. I think that little feeling of anxiety that often comes along with it, is a good thing. It means we are pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone, and I believe that helps to prepare us for any unexpected change that may come our way.

  4. As an Army brat, change was a way of life. I went to 4 different second grade schools in the same year. I learned to make friends fast and learned to let go too easily. I think that all the changes and lack of certainty about nearly everything made me who I am and I would not have had it any other way.

    Tell John we just know you a little better now...and it is a good thing, not folly.

  5. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. Your writing is courageous and beautiful. I'm so glad you followed your instincts on posting this.

  6. Well, I so enjoyed reading this....a glimpse into a very REAL Suzan. I swear, and I have said this before, I think you and I are twins separated at birth. We don't look a thing alike, but our lives are so parallel that it's scary. That could be my story with American cities inserted. I too have experienced enormous change from losing my dad to losing my husband and moving from the US to Canada to start a new life with a new husband who came with 2 precious packages on top of my 3 gifts from God. Through all of the changes, I have emerged a happier and better woman ready to tackle multiple pieces of furniture and some cans of Annie Sloane paint! your Life's experiences (and mine) have shaped you (and me) into the fine specimens of humans that we are...NOT POTATOES! Have a great day. xoxox

  7. Everyone has a story...and they are all different....some much happier than others. Unfortunate, but they mold us into who we are. You chose not to let your past circumstances rule your life and came out a stronger person because of it...:) I would have never guessed by your bubbly spirit that you went through such challenging times as a child. You are an inspiration...not to mention, a fabulous interior designer! I love your style and am anxiously awaiting each room reveal..:) Thanks for not being a potato!

    Blessings, Vicky

  8. You are right, we all have stories and some are so painful that we have to wait before they can be told.
    I am not amazed at the house purchase but I am amazed at how quickly you are completing it! Dianntha

  9. Suzan, John should know by now that he does not have to worry about us, we are your friends. You had some heartbreaking moments in your childhood for sure, but that is what has made you who you are today. I hope that man paid for what he did to your Mom but also for making you experience that as a child, it must have been terrifying. I am so glad your Mom finally found happiness. Thank you for sharing your story with us. But it has not changed how I feel about you, only made me love you more. hugs Tobey

  10. Suzan, thank you for sharing your personal story here. I'm sure it will encourage others who read it who have also had a lot to deal with in life. Life is difficult and some of us have more burdens than we want to carry. You have made the best of it all and your many moves explain a lot, but, you can 'do' change and make it work. Make it better. Blessings to you! Hugs. Pam

  11. You're right, Suzan, we all have stories to tell. Thanks for sharing yours and I look forward to more when you do share. Change has always been difficult for me but I am learning to embrace it.
    You have already accomplished so much on the will be "home" before you know it.
    My daughter is left- handed and very creative too!

  12. I enjoyed getting to know you better. Oh John no judging on here. We all have pasts and some are just more interesting than others. I always said I had a twisted family tree. Now as an adult that sees what so many others have overcome I figure I am glad that my past has shaped me into the person I am today. Who knows what I could have been had things been different. No one knows where they might have been, but we all know where we are today and hopefully it is the best place for God to use each of us.

  13. Best reveal so far, Suzanne - really. And, due to the "Do Not Use Water" ban I've been experiencing here in WV with the recent chemical leak into our river and treatment plant, I was behind on your posts (I don't even like glamping, let alone camping, so we skipped town for a couple of the days without water, now back, but many still don't have use of water here. And ours still stinks.) I've now caught up on reading your posts, and can't believe how much you've gotten done! The kitchen looks great, and so sorry for the floor debacle. I think the pantry idea is a good one, roll with it!
    ps - I think all those nuns had more than just a little devil in else could they identify it in us??

  14. What a wonderful post. So interesting to read. It really shows that we don't know what someone else has been through and everyone has a story. I think we all fear change, but change is good and usually results in a better place.

  15. Bravo! You are so NOT a are something interesting and lively and quirky.....maybe a As always I love your posts! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Love this post. Our past experiences really do have a major influence in our lives. I fight change tooth & nail - so very exhausting. I am always amazed when I read your posts - how you just tackle whatever obstacles come your way and have such wonderful results.

  17. Bravo Suzan! Now I understand your willingness to dive in where angels fear to tread! But I never for one moment doubted that you would turn that house into your own little piece of heaven. Amazing post. Keep them coming!

  18. Yes, we are your sea of Kleenex. Please tell John this- You are a woman with a heart wide open. We embrace you and love you for that. Our experiences make us who we are and our stories are compelling and heartbreaking at the same time. We read your stories and that enables us to know you. We laugh with you. We cry with you. We hold each other up when life tries to pull us down. We adore you, you crazy wonderful lovely nutjob. That's what we think of you. xxx

  19. I had such a brilliant comment and it's POOF-GONE! Oh well, such is my life. I think I said-glad your mom ran when she did, you stayed when you did, and that you signed the papers when you did. You are REAL and that is why I'm here. We like John, too, as he seems real.♥♫

  20. I've very glad you share your life with us. It helps us understand you and feel like real girlfriends. Anyone who thinks they can stay safe by not fooling themselves. Life is forever changing...get on board and go with the flow! Or make things happen! It's the ONLY way to live, really LIVE in the present! Sweet hugs to you both!

  21. This was a fantastic post, Suzan. It let us see the person inside and how you have learned to adapt and how it molded the person you are today. A tough childhood, girl...but look what a strong and adaptable person you are. Your Mother was right...."It will be better". Thank you for reminding us about that. {{{HUGS}}}. I SO enjoy your posts!

  22. laurayne said you two must be twins...we have to change that to mom was beaten within an inch of her life too and moved us cross country from pa to fl it made me have backbone to make new friends although i pined inside for the old ones i am in tn now i live with my daughter,son-in-law and 2 grandsons and i can meet most challenges head on i love your posts,i have laughed a lot,i shuddered with you over the rat poop and now i am waving my kleenex cheering you on (i love john but sometimes he is a twit lol ) xx

  23. Well, I think you got it when you said we all have stories. Telling our stories is not always easy but I truly think it helps us to understand who we are better and why we tend to do the things we do.... react the way we do... hurt the way we do and laugh the way we do.

  24. I get your posts a day later via email. Thank goodness we are not potatoes. You've had an interesting life so far...which translates into an interesting life...and it shows in your home projects. That's why I keep coming's all so interesting! ;)

  25. Change is constant and it would be boring. I think you're house is going to be amazing!

  26. Thank God your mother had the strength to take that train back to Montreal. Life is never easy for any of us that's why it is so special. I am so glad you are not a potato and if sharing of yourself makes this transition easier I am thankful you hit that publish button.
    I know this place will turn out beautifully and you will be so proud for your accomplishment.
    It'll be better..says Granny

  27. Oh Yes My Friend. I know you well. Your story echoes through my heart and I understand you even more fully now than I did before. You were a brave child that because a brave woman.....brave enough to share a story that many would not share for fear of "what people will think". Thank you for trusting and sharing and loving us enough to be open. I have a whole unopened box of Kleenex anytime you need it.

    That house will come along- It will be better! Love to you, my sweet Canadian friend- xo Diana

  28. Wow! Thank you for sharing. Tell John it's fine to share.

  29. Suzan, we are a compilation of the experiences we live through in this life. Yours have made you a strong woman. It sounds like a hard beginning, that's for sure. And you have my deepest sympathies for your losses. But I love the lady you are now, thank you very much for continuing to share what John thinks is too much. We are all more human, for the sharing. Hugs from Texas!

  30. What do people think of you? I think we all think you are Amazing! Strong! Real! Inspiring! Not to mention, Talented and Creative! We ARE our stories, our beginnings. We can choose to let them break us, or let them make us. Thank you for sharing this part of you, Suzan. I consider it to be a privilege to be a drop in your sea of Kleenex!

  31. Good post as always. What I appreciate, is it comes from the heart. :-) Thanks!

  32. Susan I get you. Thank you for the post :)

  33. So interesting to read your story. Yes , you inspired me to keep sharing:)
    But I am a potatoe. Usable for everything:)

  34. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am often told that I share too much, too, but I know that all of our stories are important. xo Laura

  35. What an interesting life Suzan. John is wrong...we adore you..and you divulge just enough. Life is well...a lovely ride, bumps, crashes and all.

  36. I'm not surprised you've had so much change in your life - I think that's what drives some of us who constantly move things and houses. I'm also someone who has seen a lot of change - many different homes as a child, no extended family, parents divorced and now I'm following their footsteps and have moved numerous times (18 houses?) and am on my third (and final - wonderful) marriage. I can make friends easily, let go easily, don't look back with regret and can make a cozy home in no time flat. It's not always easy - like your life - but it's still good. As the Goslings (of Kate + 8 fame) used to say: it's a crazy life, but it's our life. xox

  37. So I'm confused.... are you saying the nuns were wrong or they were just wrong about the reason?

  38. Wow Suzan...what a great post. Not the bad stuff you had to endure, but the way you told it and the woman you became. I like to think of myself as a sweet potato. :)


  39. Great post, thank you for sharing!

  40. Wonderful post Suzan. Everyone has a story to tell and a past some of us would rather forget but then come to realize how it made us who we are today. Your new home may be a challenge but at the end of the day, when the last nail is hammered and the final brush stroke is applied you will beam with pride in your accomplishments and the new beginning you have created in a beautiful new home.

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  42. Oh my. I love this post. I shared a bit of vulnerability on my blog today and immediately had second thoughts. I lost my mom when I was 10 and my dad seven years later. It's our past that defines and molds who we are. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for not being a potato so the other non-potatoes don't feel lonely.
    Let's Add Sprinkles

  43. People come to visit you here because of your stories, your sharing, your spirit. We can relate. I have always thrived on change. Only until the last decade have I started to make commitments (to my house, my job), it was change that allowed me to find these things that I COULD commit to. I did not want to settle.
    Signed, Not a Potato Either.

  44. what a beautiful post....I love the potato bit..........such a wonderful word to describe the people that don't know how to share or worry that we share too much. My john is so like that. He is always worried that I have shared personal stuff. But if we don't how are we suppose to know who our kindred spirits are?


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