Monday, June 21, 2010

Birthday Card

My husband is lying beside me in bed, just winding down after a low key but very nice Father's Day - after brunch and loot, he had an epic bike ride while I cut down (very small) shrubs and moved around some dirt to make a small courtyard kitchen garden of herbs and heirloom tomatoes for him. We met for coffee at the end of his ride and I drove him home to watch golf. And then the four of us had a really amazing dinner of carnitas - it's become my specialty (you'd have to be a complete fool to ruin a pork shoulder!).

And in a few hours he'll be celebrating his birthday - the big 45 - the beginning of the year in which he plans to get into the best shape of his life. After a real eating and exercise push over the last few months ("preseason training" he called it: swore off booze, dabbled in the gluten-free and vegetarian lifestyle and started RUNNING), he now tips the scale at 100 pounds less than he did eight years ago. Since that time back in Winnipeg when we were both at rock bottom physically and emotionally, it's been a very slow up-and-down journey to both physical and mental health, but we are both well on our way.(note: image shown here is of a sugar, fat and gluten-free organic birthday cake lit with low-carbon soy candles)

Eight years ago my husband was a stressed out, obese, pasty-faced single-malt-drinking white-collar type who wore very nice suits and dealt with stress by hitting the drive-through on his way home for dinner (or on his way home FROM dinner on the many nights he had a business event.)  And on really bad days, by hiding under a duvet. We didn't see much of him, and there wasn't much left of him by the time he did make it home - life was a little on the toxic side back then, for all of us.

But decisions were made, big ones - game-changers. Eight years, five moves, thousands of kilometers, plenty of debt, one PhD and a hundred pounds later, it's all different.

I don't even think I'd recognize that other guy today - the very handsome, sexy man I live with now and love with all my heart has what can only be accurately described as bright eyes and a shiny coat. He dresses like a well-groomed surfer/recreation professor because that's who he is now - last time he wore a suit was my office Christmas party six months ago. He's not fat, not at all! He deals with stress on his bicycle, or on the footpath (only occasionally climbing right into a bottle of decent red wine - okay his mother was visiting and I was on the warpath, and there is only so much that exercise endorphins can do in a situation like that).

And he is very much present in all of our lives.

He eats local "this" and organic "that" - going out to the farmer's markets on Saturdays and bringing home food he bought from the people who grew or made it. He doesn't "do" McDonald's - ever- anymore. Last week he got cranky because he didn't get out to buy his weekly bag of sprouted seeds from these hippie guys at the Moss Street Market. What?

And he is setting a fine example for me, for our boys and for his students. He is living proof that people CAN change who they are. It has taken an incredible effort over the years, months, days. A lot of saying "no" to some things and "yes" to others. "Yes" to himself, to me and to our family. "No" to other people's expectations of who he's supposed to be. And the most resounding "no" to the voice inside him, the voice of generations of his fatalistic Scottish ancestors saying over and over that we cannot help who we are, and that we are powerless to change. No to that, just no.

This blog post is my birthday card for him.  I could have bought or made a card,  but I am so proud that I want EVERYONE to know just what he's achieved.  And he's only just begun.

Happy Birthday Bear! Whatever you need from me to achieve your "45th Year" goals, I'm with you all the way.


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