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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sshhh...It's A Secret

I recently had to keep a secret at the request of one of our children. Being good news, I was overwhelmed at how hard it became not to blurt it out at every encounter with a friend or loved one. Oh heck, to anyone and EVERY one!

Any discussion about it with my husband was short-lived. He hates nattering  so I couldn't dissect and relish over every bit of the news. Within hours, I found myself bursting at the seams. Like being filled with helium and unable to burp, the sensation swelled and grew until I feared for the worst .
That was Day One With a Secret.

I tried imagining telling- to visualize it in my head without actually executing the task. That picture in my head ballooned comic style into my sister saying, "what...and you didn't tell me?" which ended in a short e-mail to her where a little leak kind of snuck out of my fingers in an expletive kind of moment. Blah...blah...Baby... OOPS!! Had I said that out loud? But really, it was my SISTER who has a government job where keeping secrets is mandatory.This secret was safe with her and the relief of having shared such extreme joy diffused the explosion I was sure would come.

Still, within minutes of sharing, the guilt crept up and began to choke me. There was No excuse for betraying that confidence.My head hung: my husband always said I couldn't keep a secret. How embarrassing. Maybe he wouldn't find out about that e-mail? (Funny because wouldn't that be another secret I would have to try to keep?)  Aghast and sorely disappointed in myself, I tightened my resolve NOT to tell anyone else. I could do this even against the odds our kids were probably betting.
That was Day Two With a Secret.

Determined to re-kindle my promise not to tell, I decided it easier to avoid people than it was to try keeping my mouth shut. But,  now being on the ski hill for the next four days made that impossible as you find friends at every turn, every chair lift or t-bar.So I would say things like, "One of these days, probably very soon, I might find out I'm going to be a (cough) Grandma.
Then I got too brave and said to my girlfriend who knew the daughter and the situation "that I can show you something but I can't tell you anything" before presenting the e-mailed photo evidence which bore the name of the recipient in the high left hand corner.
Day Three ended with a firm mental whipping. I am such a lousy secret keeper. I should be put in the middle of the town square and stoned (with rotten fruit, not real rocks)!

Day Four ended with news that I was free to share the joy, although not on FaceBook. (Does a blog count, I wonder? Am I in trouble again?) Ahhh, such relief. Almost like reaching the end of the trip and finally using the washroom. Ahhh.

I share this tale of woe with you because whether you have good news or bad news to share, sometimes it can help to tell just a little bit. Especially if that secret is keeping you awake, stressing you out or having you do extreme things to avoid telling (like avoiding your friends). If the secret is something you absolutely don't want others to know, the only thing you can do is share with complete strangers or NOT tell it in the first place to anyone. Because as sure as there are secrets in the world, there are people who cannot keep them. Like the characters in the Soap Operas. And okay, like me.

Now, if you want my advice on something and need to tell me a private thing, THAT I can and will keep a secret. What's the difference? The difference is knowing what could happen if the story were to get out.

My news was good and wouldn't hurt anyone to know so it was very hard to keep. You want to make everyone else's day as happy as yours. With bad news, you don't want to ruin anyone's day so you want to keep that to yourself . Maybe it's a cancer diagnosis or nasty test result, a death or a horrible situation: the first reaction is often to keep it to ourselves. In the old days, everything was private. Suffering was encouraged to be done quietly behind closed doors. These days, we share and talk about everything. No holds barred. We talk about incest and abuse, we talk about our cancers and our prostates and now there is help and information available. You only have to come out of the closet to get it.
Besides, the relief of sharing news can be enormous and possibly even beneficial. "A grandma? Have you heard about the latest self-help book on becoming the best grandma in the world?" Get the idea?

So, sometimes keeping a secret completely isn't the best thing. Turns out "Grandpa" didn't have much luck keeping it in either. And yes, you're right, that doesn't excuse a thing.But, did you know...I'm going to be a Grandma? Sshhh...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Scenting Sensibly

My post cancer regime of cutting down on as many toxins as possible has made one remarkable change in
my life. I have regained my sense of smell, something I never realized was missing until I found it again.

After CT scans, radiation therapy and the ensuing mammograms, I consider myself lucky not to be a Wicked Witch of the West  shade of shimmering green. I can't do much about the radiation I have been given but I can resolve to be smarter about what I put in, on and around my body.

After reading the David Suzuki's Top Ten  Dirty Dozen list of substances to avoid, ( I began to take a reality check through-out my bathroom and kitchen cupboards.I couldn't believe how many toxic products I was using!

So many that I couldn't afford to simply trash them all and start over, but since ending treatments four years ago, I began to transform my collection of beauty and cleaning aids with healthier choices. The easiest and probably most important was throwing out my chemical immersed dryer sheets for hard plastic re-usable dryer balls. I use one plastic ball and one Norwex  wool dryer ball to completely eliminate static cling a more health-friendly way. Between them and the unscented natural cold water laundry soap I insist upon using, there is nothing but clean clothes travelling with me and my skin every day. That same skin is washed with a coconut all natural salt scrub and my deodorant and hair gel are also all natural and unscented. which means head-to-toe I only retain a slight coconut aroma. Not the usual cacophony of  five-to-seven over-scented products between hair, make-up and skin products. Start thinking about it. How many aromatic products are you sporting every day? Would you have ever guessed that this onslaught of scents is slowing down that sniffer of yours? (Then again, maybe it's for the best if you're really piling them on?)

 It took a bit of talking myself into omitting that daily shot of "Angelic"(pseudonym) between my breasts and just slightly south of my navel every morning and the slathering of Angelic cream onto my arms and legs, the dusting of Angelic body powder across the bee-hind but before long, I realized those extra few minutes every day could all add up to a second cup of perk-me-up ( called Bengal Spice tea by Celestial and it's the best Chai tea you've ever sipped without the sweetener or caffeine). On top of giving my skin a chance to breathe, I was reducing my scent over-load; something I'd been reading was a no-no when entering hospitals and clinics, places I am still prone to frequent.

Sometimes I find my "new" self being overwhelmed by the smells around me. In a restaurant, my nose goes crazy with my brain in hot pursuit as I try to discern a fragrance. I can tell a smoker from a non-smoker at a dozen paces which might be a handy tool IF I was a life insurance agent. I can often tell if you own a pet (other than a fish) and sometimes what you cooked for dinner last night (especially if it was a fish).

 This new realization of all the smells drifting in the air helped me relate to people with scent allergies. Some scents are enough to reduce me to coughing and gagging fits, red, watery eyes and sneezing. All because someone ELSE wanted to smell like something else.Or maybe didn't know that something smells so strong to someone else.

I wonder how animals manage these smells with senses much more amplified than ours? A dog has 220 olfactory receptors to a human's five.

Of course the market is loaded with naturally scented products but again, few are delicately scented, instead giving you a full blast of their lavender, orange or ginger alternatives.So there's coconut in your hair, lavender on your skin, orange counter top spray, lemon scented window cleaner and linen-scented air freshener. Even the all-natural aromas can be bothersome when mixed together, like a cereal bowl of cherries, flowers, lemon juice and cotton. Mmmm. Not.

 Remember the good old days when there was pure soap and the only other smelly thing in the house was cinnamon buns? Cleaning was done with vinegar, baking soda and water. Okay and maybe a little lye. Not the healthiest option there either.

Sometimes the best smelling things are simply the fresh air in your hair, the rain water on your clothes hung from a line or the sunshine on your skin. Could it be so easy to smell so good?