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LIFE WITH CYNTHIA: Don't let stress cloud precious moments

In her weekly column, Cynthia Breadner discusses aging and how it reminds us of what was lost and what is to come

At 63 years old, I am struggling with PMS. Let me see if I can explain...

For the last few weeks, I have been anticipating a visit from family. Family I have not seen in person for years, partially because of the pandemic, but also because of geography. I have been so excited, and we have been busy planning.

The day had finally arrived. I was feeling anxious and struggling with anxiety that I could not put my finger on. I know now it was PMS. Something strange for a woman my age, that is for sure.

Both my daughter Danielle and I have been on a plant-based diet for quite some time now so as we planned the dinner, we worked together to be sure we had the best and most flavourful recipes on the menu. Dan was hosting, and I was bringing the dips, salad and bread (all homemade). The ease is in the planning; however, no matter how well planned it felt, I still suffered. 

As a family, we hiked the Bruce Trail in the morning. The five of us in the fall sunshine playing hide ‘n seek and running through the leaves. The sunshine on my face was wonderful, as were the “come on, Gramma, come hide with me!” voices. Both my grandsons and I crouched off the trail to jump out when Mommy and Daddy passed by. The acting on the parents' part was deserving of an Emmy. Yet the PMS was still a ghost in my heart. 

Back home, we went our separate ways to polish up our final dishes. I had my mother’s clothes basket ready to carry all the items I was bringing. It is a tradition I am carrying on that likely no one else notices. They will someday when their own PMS flares up. I put the veggies, dips, bread and dressing in the basket, dressed and showered then headed out the door. 

As I was driving over, I encountered a challenging moment. I drove along the familiar route and pulled up behind a car that was waiting to turn right, as was I. The light was green, but there was a pedestrian crossing, so the driver in the car waited. As they pulled away, I went to go as well. Coming from the right was a man on a bicycle, who proceeded to go against the red light and travel across right in front of me. I braked quickly, honked and called to him, “the light is red for you!” He turned, threw me the finger, spit on my car and yelled at me! I was gobsmacked and shaking. I knew this was not PMS; this was fear. What the heck? It set me on edge until I could get to my daughter’s home and settle a little. I realized how vulnerable we are because the thought crossed my mind, “if he had a gun, would he have shot me?” and I shook in my boots at the way we live today. 

Back to my PMS …. I gathered it up, took it in hand and helped my daughter complete the rest of dinner so it was trouble-free when our guests arrived. We decided we did not want to be in the kitchen; we wanted to visit. All went off without a hitch. Dinner was perfect, and all meat eaters were happy and filled with our plant-based meal, including pumpkin pie! My son, being polite, skipped the small meat lasagna to try the plant-based one and ended up never eating the meat one!

Today as I write on this beautiful warm fall morning, the relatives are on their way to the next stop. My brother’s farm over in apple country and the Beaver Valley, where the leaves will bring on PMS for everyone involved. I envy them. I wish I could go too!

But alas, I will simply sit here on this Sunday morning, with a tear in my eye, and realize that precious memories are sacred! In case you haven't figured it out yet when I say PMS, I have changed the acronym to mean 'precious moments are sacred.'  And I will steep myself in the pain of the PMS of older adults. The guest I hugged so tightly was my 80-year-old sister and her daughter. Two very precious people indeed. The cousins, as they chattered around the table, bonded while watching the two-year-old and the five-year-old. The new addition to our family, my daughter-in-law, watched and absorbed the energy and realized her own PMS as she grows the twins in her belly. My son played guitar, and my son-in-law did the dishes! Blessings all around. 

Aging is bittersweet in so many ways. Somedays, the PMS I feel bursts my heart while breaking it at the same time because I look back and I look forward and wonder if the PMS of my grandsons and babies to come will be as precious as mine. We are in changing times, and aging reminds us of what was lost and what is to come. 

May your PMS be strong, heartfelt and meaningful. Process it carefully and take no relief medicine because in pain we can find joy. Duality is the sacred measuring tool … the man on the bike was my reminder that there are those immersed in their own world to the depths of disregard for others. Know that and let it go, and feel your PMS every day.

Cynthia Breadner is a teacher, author, grief specialist and bereavement counsellor; a soul care worker and offers specialized care in spiritually integrated therapies. She works as a LTC chaplain assisting with end-of-life care for client and family. She is the mother part of the #DanCynAdventures duo and practices fitness, health and wellness. 

She is available remotely by safe and secure video connections. If you have any questions, contact her today!

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Cynthia Breadner

About the Author: Cynthia Breadner

Writer Cynthia Breadner is a grief specialist and bereavement counsellor, a soul care worker providing one-on-one support at
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