Week 7 – Jeannine “Witchy Woman”

Raven hair & ruby lips
Sparks fly from her fingertips
Echoed voices in the night
She’s a restless spirit on an endless flight

(Lyrics from Witchy Woman by The Eagles)


That song came out in 1972, the same year that Jeannine “bewitched” and stole my boyfriend. Oh, did I mention that she had beautiful, long, jet-black hair? So, naturally, every time I heard the song, my blood boiled. (There’s so much high drama in life when you’re 15.)

To be fair, we went to the same school, but didn’t know each other at the time. He was her family’s paperboy and she thought he was cute, so she set out to win him, and she did. It wasn’t just that she replaced me in his affections; it was that she also claimed a place in our tightly-knit circle of friends. Anywhere I went, there she was

Jeannine around the time we met.

Jeannine (@ 1973)

with her black hair, hazel eyes and her hand tucked into the crook of his arm. Being rejected for someone else at 15 is painful; the thought of losing your friends to that person too is unthinkable. (Again, drama is everywhere when you’re 15.) I had no choice but to put on a good face and just keep showing up. And then a strange thing happened. I discovered she wasn’t all bad. In fact, there was nothing “witchy” about her – either in the evil or in the enigmatic sense. She was actually a little quirky and fun – a good balance to my shy, introspective nature – and a friendship was born.

Fast forward a few years and I’m a bridesmaid at her wedding (and no, said boyfriend is not the groom, although he remains to this day a very good friend to us both) and a year later godmother to her firstborn child.

More recently, Jeannine and I went out for dinner with our husbands. At the restaurant, a lady at a near-by table asked if one of us could take a photo of their little group. It was a girls’ night out for two adult sisters and their elderly mother and they wanted to capture it for posterity. Jeannine jumped up right away and offered to take the shot.  A few minutes later, I looked over and saw her standing behind one of the women’s chairs. She was talking to the group and, as she talked, she was gently rubbing the woman’s back in little circular motions.

“Do you know them?” I asked when she came back to our table. “No, but they’re really nice,” she answered. Always one to state the obvious, I said, “OK, but you know you were rubbing a perfect stranger’s back, right?” She just shrugged and smiled. She’s like that. A touchy-feely person who’s genuinely interested in others and appears to be an open book herself. It’s only when you know her well that you understand that the last part is an illusion, smoke and mirrors.

She’s easy to approach, has no problem starting a conversation with just about anyone and can be very vocal on certain topics. She engages others easily and is a good listener. But if you’re paying attention, you’ll realize that you have to probe to find out what’s going on in her head and in her heart. You know you’re getting close when her voice gets soft and quiet, almost inaudible. And you don’t dare ask her to speak up for fear of breaking the spell and sending her scurrying back to her inner self.  There may not be anything “witchy” about her, but there’s probably some truth to the  restless spirit part of the song.

She’s many things including a mother, wife, naturopath, artist and friend. She’s uber-sensitive in a way that sometimes leaves me confused because it causes her anguish.

Jeannine & I (@ 1999)

Jeannine & I (@ 1999)

But regardless of her internal dialogue, her desire to help others is real. I’m sure it has a lot to do with why she became a naturopath. She’s passionate about not messing with the natural order of things when it comes to the human body and to our beautiful planet. That’s why that jet-black hair is now generously streaked with gray. Keeping it black with the help of hair dye products would go against everything she stands for. But to paraphrase a line from Seinfeld, “It’s real and it’s spectacular.”


Cause that’s close to her heart:
Natural health is something I have been working hard at for many years….and at times well, you know, I feel that I am not always doing what I preach: exercise (not enough!!), drinking water (not as often as I should!!), am taking meds for my BP which I am not proud of and that  bugs me like crazy!!!!

Biggest Fear:
Probably of dying……..to know that our bodies are finite scars me….but I am confident that our spirit lives on….only: where?????

Guilty Pleasure:
Chocolate…I looooooooooooove chocolate….and reading books!

What makes her laugh:
Babies and children. I love to watch them and play with them. I get right down on the floor and play with them…any child, I love them all.

Pet Peeve:
This is a hard one. As I get older and am wishing to be more Zen, I realize that I do have pet peeves not just one! I have a hard time with people always criticizing others! I hope I don’t do it…omg! do I?? Another pet peeve: Wishing people would accept me as I am….

My good life-long friends are very important to me as is my family of course! Actually my friends are my family.



Hippy girl clip art

There’s one in almost every woman’s memory. You know who I mean. The girl who came back to school after summer vacation one year with curves and hips while you were still in that awkward stage. For me, it was Donna C. I sometimes wonder about her. Is she still pretty? Is she a good person? I have no idea, but it once felt like she’d been put on my path for the sole purpose of making me feel like a dork.

In grade school, Donna and I were in the same circle of friends and everything was fine – until seventh grade. When we returned to school that September, I’d grown a few inches and gone from pudgy to beanpole. Donna, though, was almost unrecognizable.

Somehow that girl got herself a shapely derrière that she showed off in hip hugger jeans so tight that I wondered how she got into them.  (This was before jeans had any stretch fabric in them.) She later explained the technique learned from her two older sisters.   1) Lie down with jeans still wet from washing; 2) Wiggle into them while lying on your back; 3) Suck stomach in; 4) Zip and wear.

Donna also suddenly had funky belts, ribbed turtleneck sweaters that showed off her new curves and neat jewellery – all courtesy of her sisters’ closets. I envied her those “cool” older sisters because when it came to clothes and music, they gave her an edge.  I had two younger brothers and, really, what good are they?

But the worst insult of all was the swell in just the right place under those great new sweaters she wore. “Don’t worry,” my mother told me. “You’ll be glad you’re tall, slim and small-chested when you get older. Women put on weight as they age and girls like you carry it much better.” Really?  When you’re 12, who cares?  I wanted boobs and I wanted them now!

I’m pretty sure Donna’s sisters were single-handedly responsible for ruining Wendy K.’s 14th birthday party for all the girls. The party was in Wendy’s basement on a Saturday afternoon in January.  Chips and pop were laid out, the lights were dim, and “Hey Jude” was in the line-up of tunes to be played. Because it was seven+ minutes long, every girl hoped the boy she liked would ask her to dance when it came on. There we were in our party dresses and feeling pretty good about ourselves until Donna made her entrance.

The doorbell rang and we heard Wendy’s parents greet the newcomer. A few minutes later, Donna came down the basement stairs and instantly became every boy’s fantasy. She wore a tight-fitting black mini-dress, nylons and heels. She had rouge on her cheekbones, a thin line of expertly applied black eyeliner around her eyes and shiny pink gloss on her lips. This had to be the work of her sisters!

I went from feeling exhilarated about the party and my pastel dress to being completely miserable. What was I thinking? I looked like a kid, for God’s sakes! A look at the other girls told me they felt the same way. A glance at the boys’ faces told me that no matter who asked me to dance to “Hey Jude”, I’d be second-choice.

The following year Donna changed schools and we lost touch. I didn’t harbor any hard feelings; it wasn’t her fault the way she looked made the rest of us feel less than worthy. On the contrary, I should thank her for starting me on the road to accepting something that most girls, even Donna, have to.  There’s always someone slimmer, prettier, better-looking or with better clothes out there and so what? Beauty’s only skin deep and first impressions are fleeting. The lasting impressions are the ones that count.

It’s not always an easy thing to accept and I bet it’s even harder for girls growing up today. We had television, magazines and the occasional movie to tell us what was fashionable. Today, girls are bombarded by television, Facebook, Youtube, MuchMusic and more with images of pop princesses with toned bodies in skimpy clothes, so that’s what they aspire to.

Even now, as a “mature” woman, there are times when I walk into a room, see someone who looks dazzling and feel momentarily off-balance.  But then it passes. For the most part, I’m grateful for the healthy body that’s gotten me through life so far and hopefully has a lot more good years left.

BLOGGER’S NOTE:  While Donna C. can’t be considered a “woman” in my life I want to get to know better, she clearly left her mark and deserves a place in the 52-Week project.



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Free spirited Luce

Every blended family starts out with hopes and dreams of forming a perfect unit. Parents see a golden chance to make up for a failed past; kids just want a secure, loving home. A few (rare) blended families come together naturally and fluidly. They’re both the exception and they’re exceptionally lucky. The rest of us have to work at it.

Luce Baby Pics_0011 (3)

Luce was a six-year old with a little, turned-up nose and energy to spare when I met her dad, Ben. I had a four-year old son and we both had custody of our kids. Right from the start, Luce and I had trouble getting into sync. There was no evil child or wicked stepmother. We just didn’t understand each other. She probably hoped that I could fill a small part of the hole left by her absent mother. And I brought my preconceived notions of parenting a little girl and of the person that little girl should be to the mix. We set the bar pretty high for each other.

Today, she’s 32 and we’re very different but long ago learned to celebrate our differences. To her great credit, a lot of that is because she always stayed true to herself. Even as a little girl, she stuck to her guns and her beliefs.  For example, she refused to wear pink – purple maybe – but never, ever pink. And dresses? Let’s not even go there. One day, I decided to try a new tack. When she was about 11, I went shopping to buy her a winter hat and scarf. I bought the set I thought was the ugliest one in the store because I was sure she’d love it. She did and we both thought that was hysterical.

Applying that outlook to her bigger life choices was harder. After

High school graduation

High school graduation

high school, she spent a few years trying to decide what to do. She kept an open mind and wasn’t afraid to try things. In her search, she took a cabinet-making course, a bartending class and she tried communications and liberal arts in college. Eventually, she found her way and graduated from university with an arts degree. I was happy for her but concerned about how she could make a living. Being the pragmatic, practical person that I am, I kept asking “Yes, but what kind of job can you find with that degree?”

I still didn’t get it. I was trying to measure her future happiness and success using my ruler. Luce is an artist and a free spirit in her heart and in her soul. Where that comes from, I don’t know because her dad’s an accountant and I’m in communications. We live in the suburbs and like stability and security and that’s what we tried to give our kids. But that doesn’t mean they have to value the same things when they grow up.

In contrast, Luce is a city girl. I think she’s moved every year for the last 10 years. She has very little attachment to material things and for the longest time didn’t own any major appliance like a fridge, stove, washer or dryer. She never learned to drive and gets around on her bike in the summer and public transit in the winter. She’s got the androgynous look going for her that lets you know she’s artistic even before you meet her. (Is that stereotyping? Maybe, but if it’s true, what does it matter?) And she’s happy with all of that, so it’s just fine. She’s also kind, generous and almost always in a good mood and those are the things that really count.

I think I’ve rubbed off on her a little bit, though. She loves the rituals I used to create around holidays or birthdays. She’s often the one to call me and ask “So, what are we doing for Christmas (or Father’s Day or any holiday). I guess I better start thinking about what we’ll do for Easter.


Cause that’s close to her heart:
Animal welfare, I am very sensitive about any animal causes weather it’s elephants in Thailand chained for tourists attraction or zoo animals or animals in shelter or treatments to animals in livestock all the way to the slaughter houses.

I find it heartbreaking that animals (who don’t have a voice) are treated like objects, even if it was proven that they are in fact sensitive being with emotions and should be have better protection and be more respected.

It breaks my heart every time I hear or witness any kind or torture or mad treatment directed to them. It is probably a good reason why I am so drawn to the vegetarian culture.

 Biggest Fear:
Doing something I don’t like for the rest of my life, I’m always scared of missing out on something else. It’s sometime holds me from doing something in the first place. There are so many things I’d want to do in my lifetime that if freezes me and sometime I don’t even start by fear of failure. I would like to trust myself more and and dive into the unknown, even if it doesn’t work out at least I would of given it a shot. I’m working on that.

Guilty Pleasure:
Watching a lot of TV series and movies, I love all moving pictures. I studied video making, I guess it comes with it. It has a tendency to make me lazy and the more I watch the more I want to watch. I don’t mind this state I get into, but people around me might see it as me just being lazy, I see it as an educative exercise.

What makes her laugh:
Videos and animated cats doing funny cat stuff like knocking over kids who bullied them. I see it as pay back for cats. I think cats are my favorite pets.

Pet Peeve:
Someone who tells you how to do your job when they have absolutely no idea on what you really do. Also Ignorant people (Which is about the same as previous).