Saturday, December 31, 2011

A toast for today and tomorrow..........

May your discoveries be plenty, 
May your sorrows be few.
May it rain dollops of colour
Under a sky brilliant in blue.
May you warble a few songs
with notes full of grace
May your spirit always be lifted
When you're lovingly embraced...........

If winter's cold gets too wicked 
and the blues settle in.....
If lonely crumbles your foundation
try to rise up again.
Know you're never alone friend.
Know you always have me.
I'm the one dancing jigs on your sadness
I'm the one whistling through the trees.....

May 2012 be as brightly coloured as 2011............ A different shade would be nice, but just as colourful!  May you always carry your favourite song in your backpocket. May we continue to draw strength from the ones we love and who love us.  We are in this together.  It's who we are.  It's all we have.  

Blessings may get enveloped by the storms that bellow from time to time, but they never dissolve.  In fact, they have a tendancy to float on top of the waves.  I caught sight of two this morning as they slept soundly in their beds.... 

Happy New Year........ !!!!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

discarded anniversary............

So what do you do with a wedding anniversary soured beyond its due date?  Once full of youthful exuberance, of hopeful dreams, it now blinks in the corner discarded and covered in dust bunnies.  Shared only between two lovebirds whose past, present and future was intertwined with accumulated history, events, births, deaths, struggles and accomplishments?  Talking.  Always talking, dancing, lingering together.  Laughter too.  Lots of laughter.  Tears too.  Frightening times.  Exciting times.  Figuring it out times.  NOT figuring it out times............ slipping away, away, away............ to silence and hurt.

What do you do with it now when the marriage is no more?  Remember?  Forget?  Deny?  Repress? Joke? Ironic that one of the most happiest days of one's life can bottom out into one of the saddest.  It's hard not to get caught in the misery of broken.

failure, failure, blinks.......... your vows became fraudulent..... it blinks.

On any other day, its manageable.  Difficult sometimes to accept, but manageable.  But on the day of the anniversary.......... that big day when the people, the music, the vows, the beauty, the flowers, the smiles, the speeches, the dancing,  so clearly come to mind?  There's no way of sidestepping it, especially if you're still living in the marital home.  ITS everywhere!!! Even when decluttering and boxing up stuff has occured.  Even if you've painted the walls and hung up new pictures.  

It lingers............. loudly.
It lingers.............mournfully.
It lingers............lonely.  
On the day of.................. Mr. and Mrs...........

A tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a noise?  One side of a marriage whispers "happy anniversary" but no one is around to hear it, is it at least felt and remembered? Does it matter? 

Moving on..................... time to suck up those blinking dust bunnies with my Dyson. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

joyful giggles. from singing off key.........

I got the case of the giggles right in the middle of the Christmas Eve service tonight.  During the second verse of a bouncy carol I didn't recognize.  I blame it on my son, who was purposely singing off key. and making up new lyrics to the old standards.  If anyone was looking at him, they would've thought he was sullenly just "getting through" the church service.......... head down and not really paying attention.  Well, he was sort of doing just that.  Church isn't his cup of tea.  Religion isn't logical to him.  Philosophy however, is another matter. Thats FOOD for a beyond the horizon brain of his because that kind of thinking verse goes on and on forever.  

However, he was singing. Off key!  Loud enough only for me and his sister to hear his comedic attempts.  Methinks he was verging on landing on Santa's naughty list for his subversive humour.  It was a welcome respite..... sometimes Max just knows how to put his own stamp on perspective. 

Interestingly, my son still believes........... in Santa.  Or at least tries very hard to believe it. I caught him online checking out the Norrad Santa tracking site this afternoon!!!   When he was around 9 years old, he told his sister that there has to be Santa Claus because there was no way Mom and Dad would buy all those presents!  Yeah, he managed to get his head around St. Nick.  It made more sense to him than any other explanation.  Still does.

He even managed to get to bed earlier tonight than he has in months.  Same with my daughter, except she has a reason to retreat under the covers.  She's been working her tushie off in the mad world of RETAIL, right up to the mall closing bell tonight.  She could hardly keep her eyes open during the church service.  It was a valiant attempt that reminded me of the years I would be working crazy hours in retail at her age, so bone tired and weary of listening to Christmas jingly tunes for two months...... 

A couple of times, I could feel her lean on me for a quick respite.  There was absolutely no way she had the energy to follow along with any zippity verve though she did her best.  She gave up trying to find the right page or the right spot on the service guide and let me guide her.  Her brothers' off key singing most certainly helped too.  So did recognizing half the congregation whom she served at the store or whom she knew in another life context.  

My two beauties are now sound asleep in their own beds and I sit here in front of the Christmas tree with a sense of gratitude.  It was a hilarious drive home, zigzagging up and down the neighbourhood streets to gawk at the lights on snow covered lawns, and listening to Max's one liner banter based on his observations.  He had us laughing so hard.... a feat he has accomplished since the kid learned how to walk!  He can be so quiet when others are around, but then he can open up like a good stand up comedian when the urge hits him.  We are the recipients of his gift.  

Yesterday, was the same.  Martha arrived home from an 8 hour stint selling with just enough downtime to hang out with us while I prepared for our annual open house.  Max, who had been relatively insular most of the afternoon, turned it on and the three of us enjoyed a few good laughs in the kitchen. It began when he appeared from the basement with a pair of "emergency" underwear on his head.  The rest of the prepping was put aside as we caught up and connected.  It continued between the two of them for another hour or so as I went off to get myself ready for the arrival of our friends........ I could hear them sharing stories and singing to favourite songs that were blaring from a bouncy tune CD mix we have listened to during car trips to and fro. 

It has been a stressful two years, no doubt about it.  Changes and learning to accept the reality that their Dad doesnt live here anymore has been an ever evolving process.  Top it off with my health scare, AND the fact that Martha is moving out on New Year's Day to begin her academic studies at a University two hours from home, as well as all the other transitions that are simply part of life and its safe to say that we have had our fair share of flesh wounds during adjustments.  It will continue......... that's how growth occurs...... and where it occurs best is in a place called uncomfortable. 

You can't halt change, and God knows you can't avoid the daily reminders.  Tonight, as I sat in between my growing children (they are both taller than me now), one leaning on me out of sheer fatigue and another piping out a carol off key on purpose, the laughter oozing out of my pores could not be fully suppressed.  Joyful noise simply cannot be and should not be suppressed.  Neither can gratitude found in the levity between the discomfort.  

This was our first Christmas Eve just the three of us.  It would be a lie if I said that this little piece of awareness hadn't poked me in the gut a few times over the past couple of days.  I'm sure my children experienced similar moments of gut poking reality.  Individually we have had to figure it out.  Collectively we fed off each other's coping gifts.  This is why I find myself in a place of thanksgiving.  The evening certainly didn't unfold as I had envisioned it.  When does that ever happen?  Rather, it unfolded from its own flow from love, understanding, belonging and acceptance.......... from our strengths and vulnerabilities, but mostly from our inner resilience that has been nurtured by all of the components I've mentioned....... 

Time to find out where that Jolly old white haired man hid those stockings.  Time to unleash the "Spirit we call Holy" that sits under the tree............. Time for me to find my own bed as I count my overwhelming blessings. 

Merry Christmas to you and your families............. May this season offer you a case of the giggles at least once. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

shooting stars.... evening lights.

 Candlelight holding up the sunset.

Almost time....... far from ready.  It doesn't matter though does it, because it will come in a flurry even if little old me is ready or not.  The day is just around the corner............. and I'm glad.  Calm and glad.

The tree is up. No chunky garlands.  I left them off.   I filled it with a thousand lights....... with ornaments from family and friends who have picked them up in their travels for me.... with ornaments I picked up in my travels.  It is a universal tree.  Multi-cultural.  

My daughter exclaimed that it's a "lady" tree.   It wasn't planned that way.  It just happened.  Dancing ladies from Barcelona, Prague, Austria, New York ..... from Indonesia, India, Peru......... angel ladies dusted in gold holding harps and wands. Angels made of pressed tin resplendent in pearl beads.  Angels created in a fine raffia made by women ten thousands villages away.   Up top is a wobbly legged skater wearing a bright red felt overcoat....her legs splayed from falling into the Christmas tree branch.  It was a joyful landing!

I had many plans to create things during my healing and time home waiting for the next part of this journey.  But, it wasn't meant to be.  Neither was writing.  My muse and my craft hands have been still.  Silent for the most part as I continued to clear my head doing other types of projects that seem to take much longer than normal.  

That's the way it is these days.......... up and down.  Clear and then foggy.  Focused as much as I can muster on big complicated tasks that challenge me as much as the cancer.  Legal stuff.  Financial stuff.  Trying to help two children reach the plateau of their personal dreams.......... wondering how the hell I'm going to afford it, but knowing I can figure it out.   In between these tasks, time with them.  Time with friends.  A visit from my parents. Time alone to think.  Time to listen to music, attend concerts, go to church..... all food for the soul. 

I did accomplish one crafty thing...........

I gave a special friend a 3 foot shooting star I made to put up in her backyard so she can see one every night.  It has strings of lights as its tail.......  I want her to make a wish every day throughout the Christmas season...... right up to Epiphany and beyond until we can sit in my backyard or on a star filled night on the beach this summer and gaze up into the sky to catch one zipping through the air.   Wishes upon wishes......... smiles upon smiles....... to defeat winter's frosty ice pellets that can dampen the spirit. 

Last summer, she admitted that she had never seen a shooting or falling star before.  Surprising since she grew up on the Island and spent many days on the beach.  As an adult though, she has lived in a house with many trees in her backyard......... beautiful old trees that have held up forts for climbing kids.  But, they have obscured the view of the night sky.

One late night last August after this admission, I was out walking the dog.  A shower of shooting stars dazzled above me.  I couldn't believe it!  6 or 7 crisscrossed darkness with spectacular clarity....... too many to hang first wishes onto.  That would have been greedy anyways.  As I stood there in complete awe, I phoned my friend who was already settling into bed for the night.  As far as I'm concerned, experiencing your first shooting star far outweighs sleep!

  "Anne........!  You've got to get outside!  There are shooting stars a plenty tonight!  Call me back when you see one!"  

Out she went......... jammies and all into her backyard, hoping to get a glimpse through broad branches that intertwine from tree to tree......... through the lush leaves that cover her yard in a natural umbrella.  No such luck.  Determined, she scampered past her own yard onto the walking trail, which still was too dense with trees.......... still beyond the trail to an opening near the park behind her house where the lights were still blaring on the courts and the streetlights glowing in the neighbourhood. 

What a valiant, courageous attempt!  What a hilarious risk to be out wandering around in flannel jammies with one's face pointed to the sky!  All for naught, except a good laugh!  She never saw the light show that night.  Who knows who saw HER!  Hahahaha!

She loved her star............... "No one has built anything for me in a long time" she replied!  Hopefully it is up... situated in the middle of her backyard so she can see it from the warmth of her family room.  Every night!  Tied to those same branches that obscure her view.  I left it up to her husband to figure out the mechanics of wiring it into the air!  I just build them.  I don't situate them!  :) 

I wonder how many people in this world never have a chance to see a shooting star or even a sky filled with twinkling lights off in the distance?  Sometimes, I catch myself taking the beauty for granted.  Usually when I'm too busy to look up.  But because I am blessed to live in this part of the world, in a home nestled away from the artificial lights of the city, on a street with one streetlight, those stars normally shimmer enough to grab my attention.  Make me stop.  Make me look and listen.  I don't know what I listen for.  I guess it is the feeling behind the use of those two senses.  Silent comfort?  Joyful contentment?  Little girl excitement......... wonderment that this world is much more grand than I can fathom? 

So is Christmas. The ultimate Star of Wonder!  It produces the same reaction....... looking, listening and feeling as it arrives even if we aren't as ready as we thought we'd be. 

It doesn't matter really does it?  What is ready?  We do our best to prepare for the big celebration and make sure everything is just perfect.... Often we are so laden with tasks, life pressures and responsibilities that we forget to look up.  Thank God we have the lights of Noel both in the sky and in our homes to grab our attention if only for the amount of time it takes a shooting star to graze across over our human paths.  Blink. 

Thank God we are children at heart who love a good surprise or too that arrive during the unplanned times of the season.  Most of them involve others....... and end up as part of your own story.  Gifts of friendship and compassion.  Gifts that have no monetary value but matter.  Gatherings.  Toasts.  Interactions.  Smiles from strangers.  Isn't it funny how we remember the things at Christmas that simply happen rather than are all planned out? Internal shooting stars wrapped in love.  

Almost time........... ready as I want to be.  Calm and glad.  Thankful in a way I have never felt before.  Even on miserable weather nights, the shooting stars are a plenty.......

one light bigger than the horizon,
held by an angel............

PS.  After two surgeries, I have been told they are confident the cancer cells are gone. I am very relieved.  Exhausted now because I think I was holding my breath inside tightened stressy muscles for months.  But, all is good.  All is bright.   Radiation will happen. It's part of the precautionary plan.  I will know on Friday the details. 

Saturday, December 03, 2011

it starts with a breath.........

 The moon's reflection in the river.....

I decided to try to put into words how I prepare myself and get to the place where I can meditate.  The first time it happened, it was a gift I stumbled onto.  Out of exhaustion.  I was so exhausted that it simply occurred because I had no defenses left.  It happened when I attended the Greenbelt Festival in the UK a couple of years ago.  Since then, I have been able to "revisit" that place inside me whenever I want to.   

A few times, I have tried to follow guided meditations or  to books on this ancient ritual but I always put the CD's or books aside because it seemed to complicate the process.  Like religion, I choose to keep it as clear of accouterments as I can.  Not that I want to dumb it down.  Rather, I want to keep whatever spiritual journey or path I take to be as clutter free as possible.  Less judgement.  More acceptance.  My pace.  Does that make sense?  Well, it works for independent little old me!  

During this past year and a half, I have used this technique to help me refocus on the here and now rather than the anxieties of the future or the regrets that linger in the past.  This fall, I have tried to re-kindle and strengthen my belief in a Higher Power as the best way to find strength in hope and optimism as I take the steps to being healthy and whole again.  It most certainly has helped me, because the biggest challenge is not allowing the intrusive scary thoughts to take control over my life!   

Maybe you do something similar?  Maybe what I do will encourage you to try meditation?  Maybe what I do or how I do it creeps you out?  Or maybe all of those self help books and meditation books are too directive? This way or the highway?  

What I have learned from stumbling upon my ability to find a stillness where prayer dwells?
  1. I let go of that pent up energy in my muscles by breathing.  By relinquishing the control, I begin to relax. 
  2. I remind myself that I am not alone in this scary world and that I don't always have to be in charge.
  3. I acknowledge the thoughts and feelings that want my undivided attention and consciously let them float away.  One breath at a time.
  4. I remember that the word Spirit and the word Breath are tied in meaning.  This helps me visualize the invisible Holy Spirit who is in the air all around us. Ancestral spirits too. They are all around us too.  I think we feel them deeply at this time of year.
 So, without further yapping............... here it is............

I close my eyes to lift up the inside blinds which cover the window that looks out upon the landscape of my life.
I turn up my internal volume to let in the hums, hymns and harmonies that is the soundtrack of my life.
I release my mind to the thoughts and lessons stored as reflections and mysteries of my life.
I open my heart to rambling brambles of feelings that lead and guide me through the heightened senses of my life.

Deep slow breathing begins with over-awareness of actions 
As I welcome in those immediate thoughts, feelings, sights and sounds tempered with anxious vibrations, 
I breathe.  
Awareness breathing.  Too deliberate at first.  
Breaths like new dance steps take a while to master without full stop awareness. 
Acknowledge the vibrations...... those nervous cluttery fears with a cordial greeting, then send them on their way.
I find the courage to let go of my self-centred energy.
The longer I breathe, the easier it is to surrender the energy over ......

I breathe......knowing fresh air is filled with the goodness of Spirit.
Breath ........... Spirit.
Step, dance, step..... 
Relearning to let go ........ to let the breaths happen ..... to let them lead.
To let the Spirit lead.  
To let the Holy into the Spirit. 
Holy Spirit ..... Breath. 
Guiding goodness
Smiling kindness
Step, dance, step.
I allow my vision to center around my perception of home. 
I allow the breaths to take care of me.

Harsh immediacy hands over to relaxed timelessness...... 
I hand over the reins... controlling energy over to blue energy.
Always blue.  Don't know why.  Soothing blue. 

The gates inside me open........ like a vessel ..... unblocked.  
Some call them chakras I think. 

Senses cascade.......
My eyes catch sight of soothing blends of warm twilight, 
earthened hues, tidal blues, tickle pink flowers
elegant morning sun's rays of light lifting off the surface of the river
As it flows, as it flows past my internal window.
My volume hears harmony measured in a pattern beat.
I release my mind to explore mystery
As I let go of controlling emotions, 
I re-learn how to open my heart to the bathing of a humbling message cupped by grace and gratitude ...... 

Life's gifts are real, raw and enhancing.  
Who I am and where I am is who and where I am meant to be.  


These moments of meditation have a timeline of their own.  They could last fifteen minutes or an hour.  I never know until it is complete.  And I know I have completed this cycle of calming the inside turmoil when I reach the moment when my whole body takes in one enormous breath of air and lets it out......... whoosh!