What the Heart Wants

The heart wants what the heart wants and I wanted you so badly.

In your face I saw my future unfold.

All things fall away when you are safe.

You are not a friend, nor a lover

two things that gravity pulls to me.

You are a teacher of life’s

joy and pain.

Never mine, always yours

as my mother taught me.

Time does pass and I will go.

Know that you are loved , son of my heart.

What Keeps You Young?

In the past two years, I was not surprised to find a number of things that keep me young.  I am not suggesting that there are less lines on my face or I can take the stairs faster, just that my head is clearer and I’m am learning more about the world and myself.

First is water.  I am notorious for ignoring thirst.  I’m the kind of person who thrashes around in bed trying to avoid waking up for anything including water and bathroom breaks.   If you keep a bottle of room temperature water where ever you go, you will drink it.  Guaranteed.  Generally, I am finding my head clearer and my furnace more efficient by drinking more fluids including herbal tea, water and, yes, juice.

Second is people.  Interaction with people is crucial to staying young.  I’m not shy, but I hate small talk and I tend to stay in small groups.  So much of what we do is with the same old peers in large structured groups like charity events and house parties, but the real connection comes in small intimate groups of people unlike ourselves.  For the past two years, I’ve taken on students from the local high school in their co-op program.  Wrangling teens in a working environment has been my boon and my bane.  It’s taken a tremendous amount of patience to set up and run a program that they can learn something and receive a mark for while also trying to run a business.  The amazing part is what I’ve learned from them and how I’ve taken that knowledge into my costume business.

For example, this weekend I am taking my 23 year old daughter, my nephew and my students to Con-G in Guelph.  This is essentially a large conference where young adults sell and buy, but mostly build and show off their costume creations for the fandom of their choice.  Fandom being a character in a tv show, book, film, anime or comic book.  Because of my students, I’ve connected with Underworld LARP [live action role playing] a business that provides structure for people who love all things Orcs, Elves in order to Run. Fight. Hide.  For Underworld’s panel, I’ve designed four characters with make-up and costume and at 3:00 p.m. and 11:0 p.m. this old gal is dragging herself away from her cozy home office to body paint a Dark Elf, Jack Frost, a Faun and an Irish Banshee.  Talk about getting out of your comfort zone.

The third thing I’m doing is Hatha Yoga, but not any class.  It took me five years to find a guru, and I don’t mean a rock star in the social media vernacular, but a teacher who was more about the spirit of mind, body and soul than trying to give me a hard body.  Through yoga, I am learning more about this connection and using fully the body I was given to do the things that I want in the time I have been given.

What is your fountain of youth?

The Leash

The Leash by Alison Pentland

Eager and impatient I pull
I am the writer, the business owner, the mother, the wife and lover

behind me, the dog
grizzled beard, velvet ears, tremorous legs, softly wagging tail

who is on the leash
I stop


Callebaut, Age 14, Labrador Retriever, hates swimming and doesn’t retrieve in favour of a slow meandering search for good smells, cookies and getting his ears rubbed.

Sunday with Grammie

I love playing with kids.  I’m the kind of grandmother who gets right down in the mud.  Some times at parties, other adults will shoot me a look while I break dance with a seven year old boy or play a clap game with little girl.  I don’t prefer kids to adults, but sometimes, especially at parties, I don’t like the games adults play.  The idle gossip, the bragging, the heated political conversations when I know the other person hasn’t even voted in several years, the surface stuff that can now be transmitted by Twitter.  With kids it’s basic and it’s authentic.

My daughter is finally working [ another story] in a job that she loves and is very good at.  She asked me to watch her three year old on Sunday while she worked.  I’ve said no for many reasons, but the one that mostly stops me is that my granddaughter has anxiety when separated from her mother.  The quivering lip, tears rolling down her face, the endless “Where is Mommy?” and the experience of my being unable to console her, to the point that she vomits, was good for none of us.

This time I said, yes.  Yes I will watch her for the day.  Half way to Grammie’s House from the bus stop, she stopped and both our lips quivered.  It was such a beautiful day.  Suddenly an epiphany.  I’d forgotten how to raise kids.  My job was not to convince her nor to console her, as consolation is a choice to let somebody comfort you.  Maybe she wasn’t ready for me to console her, maybe my job was to distract her.

With renewed enthusiasm, I pulled all the arrows from my parenting quiver and this is what we did.


Walked the Dogs


Let Her Take Pictures of Me


So I Could Get a Picture of Her


Made and Hugged François, the Snowman


Made a Tent Under the Dining Table


Played with a Flashlight


Read Books

We also went to the park to swing.  We played a memory game.  She played in the bath.  We  made scrambled eggs and while she crushed the shells with relish, she refused to eat anything I made until late in the afternoon.

It was not the first and last quiver, tear or question about Mommy, but we finally had an entire day where she did not get hysterical.  During the last walk with the dogs, dusk approaching, we walked in silence, only the crunch of snow under our boots.  I looked down to see her eyes looking shyly up at me with the smallest of smiles curving her rosy cheeks.  You know the kind of face a child offers up unconditionally and open and your heart lurches with love and gratefulness.

Ya that.

My Six Year Old Self

At fifty four years on the planet I still feel like a six year old, eager to touch, taste and appreciate.   “Jack of all trades, master of none” describes me very well.  I am constantly reinventing myself through learning, creative works, changing careers and jobs to meet new people and develop new skills.

I’m not saying that I am a adrenaline junkie, I also have a cautious, angst kind of side.  The side whose stomach lurches in line at the U.S. border, even though I’ve done nothing wrong.

When I enrolled in University at forty, my friends both laughed at and marveled at my willingness to drag my two children across campus at midnight to turn in a paper on time.  When I used the internet to date, they worried I’d be attacked and and when I finally moved in with the new boyfriend, the keeper, they blushed and twittered at the thought of sex.  ImageWhen I opened FeeFiFoFun Costumes at age fifty, my friends shook their heads at me.  “Why would you sell your cottage to open a business?”, they asked.  “You should be playing tennis, traveling, reading, working at Williams-Sonoma part time, painting, anything but this”, they opined.

I can’t explain why.  It’s like when you are healthy, then suddenly you are sick.  You are poor, then suddenly you are rich.  You think, how did I get here?

I feel this internal pressure, this pull, this borderline anxious desire to keep putting it out there.  I am always surprised when I find myself, I think suddenly, somewhere doing something else.

Sometimes I try to explain it through my genes.  My amazing and crappy DNA where half my immediate family has died and if I add their ages together and divide by the number of them, the average age of life expectancy is 58.

It’s not a bucket list I’m going through.  It’s not a book entitled 300 Places You Should See Before You Die.  It’s just a way I want to feel each day.  That I reach for.  Not always successfully though.

You know, like a winter day after a long storm.  The air is still and the sky is startlingly blue.  The sun is so bright.  You breath in the crisp air.  You hear the crunch of the snow.  You marvel at it all.  How breathtaking that I am alive and aware in that moment.

How even the terrible moments endured have been exquisite in their pain.  That when that terrible moment was released, the realization that the weight of it was opposite and equal to the joyful moments.

Sometimes my six year old self gets into trouble, but it’s never catastrophic or so I’ve learned.  I’ve had enough life experiences to know that it can get really really bad, and yet I can still find my way back to myself.

I don’t believe in heaven, not the way it’s explained by religion, but should I find myself in heaven, I expect to be a glimmer of what I am now.  I expect that it will, like all those other moments, to be a surprise regardless of whether I arrive at 88 or 58.  By cancer, heart disease, or by being hit by a bus.  That I will still be like that six year old, eager for the experience and trying to be in the moment.