Monday, 24 November 2008

200th Blog Post

I know I can’t believe it either.

Dad thought that I should post where I got my blog name. So in honour of my Dad (may he rest in peace) I am going to give you the low down on where I got the name and what it means to me.

Andrea, a young woman with inflammatory breast cancer who died earlier this year, wrote a blog entitled Punk Rock Mommy. On one of her posts she put a Chinese proverb which went like this:

“You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from circling your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.”

This resonated with me like nothing else did at the time. I could see how the birds, if they even had a chance to nest may never leave.

Colette was the first person to know what I was going to call my blog; as she helped me set it up one cold morning in February.

This having cancer is not an easy thing. As a matter of fact it is one of the worst things. I had just gone through almost two full years of chemotherapy and I needed to figure out what the hell just happened to me. I wanted to try to write to clear my head, to make me happier, to give me something to do. I wanted more than anything for people to know that I was here.

I wanted people to know that once upon a time in a small city in a big country there was a woman who loved her children so much she felt that if they could read her stories when she was gone they would feel that she was with them and they wouldn’t forget her.

When I first started writing this blog the birds were indeed circling. They still circle but their wings are not so loud, they make me less dizzy, they no longer drop little sticks and feathers on to my hair. They try of course, especially when I am tired, and then I remind myself of how much I love my husband and children and how I would be stealing their wife and mother away earlier than necessary just to become a nest for squawking birds.

These birds who try to nest represent more than one thing to me. One bird represents my grief at not being able to retire with my dear husband, not being able to grow old together, and more than anything; not being able to share our grandchildren with each other; talking long into the evening about how happy they made us that day. One bird represents my physical pain and squawks that if I think I have felt pain; well hold on baby because you ain’t seen nothing yet. One bird reminds me of my friends that have left before me and are no longer here, no longer physical, no longer touchable. One bird squawked very loudly for me to look at how beautiful its feathers are and to remind me that I was no longer physically beautiful.

But the King of the Birds of Sorrow is Despair, and him I have to deal with every day. He has the strongest hold on me and is the one that I have the fiercest battles with. And that is because Despair is the bird that wants to nest in my hair and squawk over and over that I will not finish what I set out to do. I will not see all my children married with their children at their knees. That one day I will have to leave them and because of that I will break their hearts.

You see the power of that sneaky fuck. I feel him now along with the rest just at the back corner of my right ear taunting ‘you’re screwed, nobody escapes, it will never be better, yes you are dragging your family down.’

So I go back to my blog and I post and I post and I post. I get feedback from people who I never knew but I know now and I know that they care. I don’t get feedback from others that I know because their feelings have been hurt along the way. Somehow the blog has become about them and not about me; and now I don’t want to hear any longer what they have to say.

But to keep the birds of sorrow at bay I make connections with people. They along with my husband and children remind me that I am not defenseless. By writing I am shooing the birds away. I have reached people who can relate and get it. They know and they can help keep the birds of sorrow out of my hair. These empathetic people have reached through the darkness and they give me messages of hope.

They tell me to take heart. ‘Take heart.’ They remind me of what my dear Jill said when she stated ‘we are still here.’ ‘You are still here.’

So while my blog is a venue to clear the air of the birds of sorrow, it will never take the place of my family who support me each and every day. The people that I love the most in this world telling me ‘take heart; you are still here.’

And so I do. I take heart because I believe that the birds are made of the darkest matter and while they squawk the truth, they only tell half the story.

And so I do. I take heart because I believe that my children are made of the brightest matter and while they whisper words of encouragement and love, they tell the best part of the story.

And so I do. I take heart because I believe that even though my children’s hearts may break, their hearts will also heal, if not for themselves, than at the very least for me and that tells the most hopeful part of the story.

So Dad, now you know. Now you know the story.


Julie said...

I, too, was curious as to the exact origin of your blog name. Thanks so much for sharing this and all your stories and insights. Yes, you are still here! And not just with a beating heart, you are creating art!

And I know that bird, Despair. He is one stubborn motherfucker. Cheers for keeping him at bay most of the time. I go through periods of months where he takes up residence in my head.

Anonymous said...

Oh Renee, you will leave your childern a legacy with your eloquence expression of your life and hope and dreams, not only through your blog but with your very existence. And how can anyone who has knows you every forget. Never I say!! You touch my soul.
Love DPG
PS: I am sure that your dad lived like you do now, by never letting those birds of sorrow nest.

Renee said...

Julie: when he comes near you next time, look right in the face of your children and you can't but help find Joy and Hope.

Donna: it was an immediate connection with us right from the start wasn't it. Thank you dear friend, I love you and pray for you every day. We are going to make it, for awhile at least.

Love to you both. xoxoxo

Anonymous said...

Beautiful read, you have touched my heart, thank you. Your beautiful.

Shelly said...

200 Amazing posts later ... I have always loved your insights and your way with words, I now love how you put pictures to your written word ... I cried reading how you came up with the name of your blog and how you relate to it, but once again you have opened my mind and made me think ... I have written the proverb down and will carry it with me. I love you very much xoxo

Anonymous said...


You are never alone. Birds of feather flock together.

Thank you for the 200th gift of yourself!


Anonymous said...

Hi Renee, your words are art! It is you and you are so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

Renee,when reading your words I have laughed and I have cried but best of all your words always make me think. You have reached the 200th milestone and I look forward to many many more. Please keep writing and sharing. You have touched many lives and your words provide support to many. You have described that bird despair so well. I hope that one day soon that
bird is erased from this world.

Love You Always
Jeannine XOXOXO

Meg said...

I wish I could kick your birds away for you. Give them a good shove for me.

I am... said...

I am so glad that I have had 200 post to read and you have been the amazing writer of all of them. You have touched me in so many way by these. I have a giant elastic ball I could loan you to help keep those birds away. I love the name you picked for this blog, and I love you my friend...

natalie said...

200 posts - wow! thank you for opening your heart to us and for continuing to take heart everyday. i loved reading about the name of your blog, and the description of all the birds. i love you auntie renee - i take heart that you're mine. i'm so lucky.

Taylor said...

Auntie Renee,
200 blog posts is like opening 200 gifts; of a variety i can not describe. Each allowing us to open a new view on the world.
Perhaps even like 200 pages of your thoughts; I'd read 2 million pages of your book anyday. Us readers, You and I, will stick together and keep those ugly birds at bay. (far, far away.)
Love You.

jacquie said...

i love you and i love your blogging. your pictures are like having a window into your soul as they have your mark all over then.
as for the birds ... i wish they
would crawl back into pandora's box and then we could torture them
instead of them torturing you !!!
i hate those fuckers and what they
take heart ...
together strong

ben said...

thanks for your 1st two hundred blogs, looking forward to reading many more, for many years to you....

one little acorn said...


Thanks for sharing your story. The story of your blog origins and the story of your daily journey. Your love and insight is inspirational. And your words give us understanding and hope in a time of despair and fear.

Thanks for visiting my blog and sharing your thoughts. Bloggers do help and strengthen the support network of family and friends.

Regards, Jacinta

Anonymous said...

You're amazing!

Sally said...

200!!!!! Renee your such a beautiful writer and beautiful friend. I can remember like it was yesterday you telling me about beginning your blog.
Here's to a gazillion +++++ more!

Anonymous said...

Take heart. What a wonderful choice of words. Whenever you need to take heart, you can take mine. You make the world a better place.

If you keep letting the birds of love, hope, honesty, and faith nest, there will be no room for those other squawking bastards.
(And if they're still bothering you, call me and I'll load the rifle)
Looking forward to 200 more,
L xo

SweetAnnee said...

Cancer is not an easy journey, but it has taught me many things..Love, forgiving, the power of laughter, the joy of family and the strength I find in the fact that God is with me each day I awake.
No time for despair, tis just the devil wanting us to waste precious time.

Love and Hope.

Renee said...

Deena: Thank you and I love despair being just the devil making us waste prescious time. I wish you well Deena.

Love Renee

Anonymous said...


I am so glad to "meet " you. I have scrolled through your blog to this post and the reason for your blog title.

Here's what I like about you immediately. You are frank, and up front. You say it how it is, and you even say "fuck" in your blog! (Love that)

Not only that, my dear, but YOU CAN WRITE!

Your words flow easily and naturally and I hear your voice.

I'll do the Arnie thing and come back.

Anonymous said...

Take heart, dear friend. Thanks so much for telling the origin of your blog. What a gift it is to be able to share your innermost thoughts so beautifully written. I feel so blessed to be part of the circle of love that surrounds you. Barb

Jackie said...

How touching Renee! You know my aunt made a scrapbook for each of her children before she passed away. My great aunts helped to assemble all the pics into each childs book and then my aunt journaled and wrote letters to them. I saw her barely able to hold a pen or pencil and sometimes not able to write. It was a struggle for her to leave those messages for them . She was the type to send you 6 page letters and always a writer and a picture taker. So , I guess we all want our stories told.
I can promise you that you will not be forgotten . We live inside the people who love us and it is with them and their stories that we live on .
I remember sitting with my aunt on the bed and she looked me in the eyes and asked if I thought there really was life after death. I know there is because I think of her all the time . Sometimes the people we touch or the messages that are most important are the ones we didn't intend to send.
Every person , whomever they are , however long they are here , leaves their mark.It's up to us to decide what we want to leave . The things I cherish the most about my aunt are the things she probably didn't even realize I was watching.If you think about it some of the people who impacted you probably aren't even aware of how deeply they did and I can bet you that you have touched many many many lives without even meaning too.
I found this poem in a vintage book I bought and I love it...

Music I heard
Music I heard with you was more than music,
And bread I broke with you was more than bread;
Now that I am without you , all is desolate;
All that was once so beautiful is dead.

Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass.
These things do not remember you ,beloved
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.

For it was in my heart you moved among them,
And blessed them with your hands and eyes;
And in my heart they will remember ALWAYS,-
they knew you once,O beautiful and wise.