Monday, December 31, 2012


As usual, I was awake this morning before the light emerged over the horizon.  I love that time of day for so many reasons, all of which unfold from a wakening stretch, a new breath, a re-emergence of sight and sound.  Intuitive sounds.  Familiar surroundings.  A friendly stirring of security gravitating from the grounding of my roots.  My senses, accompanied by new day realization lead me to wonder..... "What will become?"

While the kettle revved up,  I stood by my living room window to look out at the view I am blessed to call my own. At first, I could barely catch a glimpse.  Then, the sky began to lighten and a sliver of dawn peaked up over the curtain as the liminal transition evolved.  In front of me.......gentle sloping farmland, barns and homes under fading streetlights; evergreenery and leafless maples, birch, oak..... snow-nestled limbs and branches; and the river.  Oh, the river..... flowing constantly under the film of ice.  

Hello valley.  Good morning river.........

I can't find the words to describe the impact the Saint John river has had on me over the years I've lived in this home. Especially during the most recent years when I have been stuck in emotional ruts up to my chinney chin chin!  Reassuring, challenging my thinking......... demanding that I stop and look and listen to what is happening inside me. Embracing. Inviting me to look outward to wonder what is happening inside others. It makes me feel like I'm not alone, even at the loneliest dips.  It ties me to a community, to a sense of continuity especially on days when nothing seemed to connect.  It invites me to belong to a bigger world beyond ........ beyond.  It flows east ......... like my thoughts of becoming ....... towards the bed where the sun sleeps and rises again.  Rise again.  And again.  I wonder.  How it heals.  

This morning, my neighbourhood woke up to a wonderland of winter's finest.  40 centimetres of snow fell in one day.  All that was left was the wind tunnelling down the river like logs in a chute. Howling with such brutal strength reminding with every menacing whistle, it's power was serious enough to knock out ours.  It was a stark contradiction to the tranquil vista in front of me.  Off to the right, birds began to emerge from the distance.  Jet black...... poking through the openings in the sky.  Dozens and dozens, all the same colour dispersing into the howling windy gusts.  Gymnastic tumblers with wings!  

The "dawn and dusk" birds, who migrate on the same flight path every day from the University in town to somewhere up river and back again, were my entertainment as I welcomed a new becoming.  I hadn't noticed them recently.  My attention always seemed to be elsewhere.  But, there they were again.  I stood in awe as they pitched and plummeted in all directions, as they fought to find sleeves of windpockets to move forward  to their eventual   

My first impression of being entertained by them quickly morphed into recognizing the struggle they were exhibiting as they defied the elements that pummelled their attempts to proceed.  Somehow, these little black birds managed.  Despite the stormy odds, they were succeeding.  

How?  I watched more closely.  

Up and down they soared.  They flew in sideway zigzags with no planned pattern or flock to help them. Every bird was on their own to figure out how to take on the wind, how to tackle the journey.  The idea of staying put rather than taking flight was not a consideration.  Individually, they fought back with surges of energy when the timing was right, and then would tap into a surrendering glide when the gale opened up like a slide. One wing flap at a time.........  It must've been so exhausting!  

On a calm day, these birds fly in scores of dozens, like a crowd emerging from a subway exit during rush hour.  Today, there was no mirage of solidarity.  Despite what it looked like, however, I believe they instinctively garnered motivation from one another to make headway.  Just like humans.  We may feel like we are alone against life's elements.  We are alone in the ultimate struggles........ no one can do it for us.  But, we too instinctively gain strength to claw forward by the people in our lives and by the stories we hear of others.  

I have flown through so many storms this year.  Some larger than others.  For a period of time, it felt like a storm a week.  It took its toll on my energy and my health.  There were days when exhaustion would hit me like a wall of wind and I couldn't find one of those windpockets to slip into.  On the most trying days, I went silent.  My writing dried up.  I was afraid to write because I didn't know how to catch the words as they scattered in sideway zigzags.   There were too many of them, all tied to too many stories.  I couldn't sit still. I couldn't settle down.  Too much drama. So much that it peaked at embarrassing levels and depleted my resources.   Every time I thought the storm was over, another one landed overhead.  For months and months. 

This morning, a new thought emerged as I watched the birds.  The year is over.  A new one is about to begin.  I have reached a destination despite the obstacles, in spite of myself!!!  Humour intact.  Health restored. A roof over my head.  Two amazing kids who have had their fair share of shocks and storms this year as well.  Enough radiation to painfully peel the skin off my breast and to leave a constant warmth as a reminder.  Appendix-free. Loved. An unpredicted heartbreak that left me on my knees with a continuing deeply felt lesson on loneliness. Confidence drained. Confidence renewed.  Divorced with a few new scars on the inside and outside.  Free. 

New friendships kindled.  Old friendships rekindled.  Phenomenal conversations about love, loss, yearnings, dreams, commonalities, ideas, emotions, fears, truths and lies.  Spirit renewed.  Faith challenged.  Loneliness understood.  Learning to let go of the controls........ Trusting others to help me heal and re-heal.  

I pushed through........... with much help.  On my own.  Like a blackbird.  Wings ready to take flight no matter what is in store.  

Welcome 2013.  Let it unfold in the glory of becoming!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

recognizing, remembering.........

Lost notes
muffled by wayward apparitions

seep out of the stormfront
weeping their dreary sound
onto loosened images
etched in shades of grey
carpeting a lonely landscape
where melancholy lingers. 

The flowers of the forest play on.

Fallen bodies
clothed in camoflauged discomfort
loom over clay remnants

laying on an abandoned field 
where fog blurs reality into images 
of inescapable battles
shaken by confusion and chaos
blaring painful moans into the silence
where death preys.

Good friends never come back.

Last notes 

strike chords of far away sorrow
meshed with poignant passiongs
echoing on the edge of fog fed light
forever lost in the blues 

where silence renders memories 
where life once harboured hope.

The world waits for the sun to rise out of the grey draped hills

Until then.....we will recognize 
For whom the bell tolls.
For whom the pipes whine,
For whom the hymns are sung 
and pray for peace, 
heart and soul. 

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Emerging from Ashes

We really shouldn't try to catch a shooting  star.  They are meant to be admired with a quiet awe rather than to be touched by needy hands.  As they freely careen across the darkest night skies, shooting stars carry the hope and sorrows of broken hearts to a place beyond.  Where wishes are restored.  Where time blends with the eternal.  To a place beyond our ruffled existence.   To the edges of Heaven. 

Never meant to be touched by our skin, they somehow still manage to tantalize our spirit with a light we often forget that dwells inside our bodies.  When I see one amongst the breath of the other stars, burdens lift. I feel lighter.  A smile forms along with a quiet peace I am reminded of the importance of being still in order to see, of being an open vessel in order to catch its essence.   

Holy moments remind us to breathe in the hopeful aspirations of God's love. 

As much as we would like to, we can't put a sunrise into a basket for ongoing observation.  Its just not so.  Even a photo can't capture its depth of radiance, nor its dawning performance.  Sunrises are meant to be admired with a quiet awe rather than to be touched by human hands.  As the sun slips up above the horizon, its colourful rays preceding its round peak,  it forces us to pay attention.  It clears the web of worry and distraught we wrestled with the night before.   

The magnificence of the sunrise blesses us with fresh awareness and a cleansed spirit..... two very important components of feeling those effervescent possibilities again.  Even for a moment.  No matter how thick the air of desperation is around me, when I see the glory of a sunrise, I can feel the air fill with vitality.  From the ground up, I am filled with promise.  

Holy moments remind us to breathe in the hopeful aspirations of God's love.  

You can't sculpt new words out of cold ashes. Words are kindling that feeds the fire.  No amount of spit or tears can regenerate what had been expressed and tossed on the flames.  Ashes are the story remnants of past accomplishments, failures, marriages, lost love, good health, ancestral connections, shared harvests, successes.  Grief from all changes.  Good and bad. Once a thriving furnace fed by words and feelings, vital as it sent spark-tigers up the flue, a fire loses its breath, only to leave grey flakes of what has been. 

 What can come out of trying to hold ashes in our hands?   Dirty hands?  

Yet, our traditions honour ash. Mixed with loam, sifted into fertile soil, ashes  regenerate thought and life.  Ash reminds us of where we came from, who we are, where we will be.  If that is so, then perhaps ashes are more monumental, more beautiful, more miraculous than shooting stars or sunrises .......... Perhaps ashes are the key ingredient in the emergence of new sculptures, new life, new directions?

Once stirred, ashes release an enduring faith.  And isn't hope simply faith holding out its hands to us when its dark?   

Hmmmmm............. Maybe holding ashes in our hands is the closest we will ever be to touching God's Hand?  Maybe holding them as we find that stillness and light inside us is the most holy?  Beyond the extraordinary-ness of sunrises, shooting stars........... of ALL the beauty around us, ashes place us on the edges of Heaven.  

Amongst the stars....... surrounded by new words. 

Holy moments remind us to breathe in the hopeful aspirations of God's love. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Spontaneity revealed......

You can't schedule a "random act of kindness."  It makes no sense. There's no randomness in that act! You can't sketch out a day of creating, teaching, or facilitating a business meeting and expect it to unfold exactly how you envision it.  It just doesn't happen that way.  Parties, events, vacations, day trips, appointments, first dates, all dates, even chores around the house...... they can all be planned right down to the micro minutae.  We all know however, that nothing unfolds as you think it will.  Why?  Because there is a little Pixie named Spontaneity that LOVES to wink, blink and paplink on life with giggling abandon!  You never know when she will make an appearance.  

Spontaneity is the Id jigging on our plans. Makes me smile just thinking about it!  It is the spoon that stirs the cinammon into the bland batter.  It is the one note which rises up above the others that takes a song to the altar. Spontaneity is the scalliwag blush determined to splash onto a beige landscape with colourful love.... the moxie in the body wiggle........  the feisty spirit in our personality ..... the starry night twinkle in our eyes!  Like the heat from soulmate intimacy, it is the passion that levitates from our footprints.  

Spontaneity is the human being divinely inspired.  It's source is joy and love.... gladness and kindness.

Most of the time.......

 There is a dark side to this little personified Pixie whose main goal is to bring a sense of surprise goodness.  A kablink instead of a paplink!  Spontaneity with a poison dart is nasty. We know it when it strikes.  It feels like a slap or a re-piercing of a wound.  Usually it is the ammo in a bully's arsenal and it arrives unannounced.  Most forms of abuse are a spontaneous action thrusted out into the face of another. Impulsive, unthinking, driven by an ignited passion fueled by kerosene.   It's source is anger and fear .... low self esteem and old triggers.   

Sometimes, you don't know what has "hit or stung" you until you take a step back from the situation, it is so quick to lash out.   By then, the damage is done.  Those wounds fester, especially if the spontaneous combustion of another's actions are perpetuated.  Over and over......... Bullies like to hit the same target.  Target practise with spontaneity. Aggression with Spite.  Once we have felt it from someone, we begin to expect it to happen again.  Nervousness looms, while attempting to sidestep the landmines.  

Dark spontaneity is the human being deviously inspired.  

On the other hand, Pixie spontaneity, the kind that pecks you on the cheek and leaves a stain of lipstick, are like separate little gifts.  One offers! 

Last Sunday, we heard........ "Some people give a lot of love and some people give a small amount of love.  How much love do you give out?"  This part of the sermon has stayed with me this week, as I thought about it.  I thought of the people I encounter who don't have the capacity for one reason or another to give much love. Why?  Discomfort, personal wounds, defensiveness...... a tightly guarded heart.... could this be why?  What about the people who spontaneously dole out a whole lotta of love?  Are they more confident?  More comfortable in their own skin?  Or are they very needy of love themselves and they give it away too impulsively?  

If all of our actions are our best attempt at fulfilling a personal need (Survival, Love and Belonging, Control/Empowerment, Freedom, Fun) what needs are people who give a lot of love fulfilling?  What needs are people who give a small amount of love fulfilling?  guess the key thing to remember when it comes to giving away big amounts of love is the need to keep a little love for ourselves.  If we give it all away, we deplete ourselves of heartsongs.   

Here's a thought....... maybe the ones who have little to give, or who veer more towards spiteful spontaneous actions need more big love offered to them?  Maybe they are depleted and don't know how to love themselves. 

Here's another thought........... Because Pixie spontaneity is impulsively offered, we do it without thinking beyond the action.  Unconditional fairy dustings of love.  Perhaps this is one way God helps us give of ourselves with no expectations of fulfilling any need?  A random offering......... a surprise.............. a smile ........ kindness with no strings attached ..... spontaneously divine.........   

Just remember "above all else, guard your heart, for everything flows from it........." (Proverbs 4:23)  This is the way to being a good Pixie. :)

May your day have an unpredictable Pixie wink to it........... 

Sunday, May 13, 2012


June, 2011. 
Max's Grade 8 celebration. 
He is much taller now. :)

"There is no fear in tenderness.  Tenderness is not a weakness, lack of strength, or sloppiness; tenderness is filled with strength, respect, and wisdom.  In tenderness, we know how and when to touch someone to help them to be and be well."  
Jean Vanier, Becoming Human.

Yesterday, my two children accompanied me to the market.  This is a rare occasion.  Usually, I go on my own, early and armed with my camera.I kept my camera hidden because I know my spontaneous photo clicking of decorated legs and human costumes embarrasses them! (Eye-rolling....OMG, there goes my crazy Mom taking photos again of someone's footwear! She's nutty!)

My market trips are my Saturday morning ritual to meander while clearing my head from a work week.  Its a time to touch base with the folks I know who work or panhandle there.... and for random encounters with friends, neighbours and colleagues, for picture taking and chatting.  Yesterday, it was a little different.  I felt like a Momma chick showing off her little family....two strappingly tall beauties on either side of me.  I was the short one in the middle smiling proudly.   My focus was on them, on what they had to say, on how they interacted with the vendors and the random people from our lives that we bumped into.

Our time together didn't last very long.  We toured the stalls and stopped a few times.  Before we knew it, Martha flew off to meet up with her friends.  Max and I headed home.  But, it wasn't the length of time that mattered.  It was the feeling of enjoying each other's company while chatting and swapping a few jokes that only the three of us would laugh at. It was a sense of belonging that permeated us and spun energy around us.  It was a touching of that invisible energy.... like fingertips to fingertips...... 

Togetherness.  We are each other in a fresh breeze way.  Family.  We thrive in good and bad weather.  We thrive because no matter how much freedom there is in the personal journey, there is a nest to come home to.  A haven where unconditional love and listening offers safe landings.  Like anyone, we spend time on our own......... doing tasks, figuring out our own stuff, being quiet.  Maybe that's why when the three of us are sharing a meal, or are involved in an activity together, there is an unspoken tenderness that binds us beautifully. 

As individuals, we have experienced a whole lot of struggles.  Growing pains.  Uncertainty.  Frustration.  Loneliness. New horizons. Human learning. Stretching beyond comfort zones.  I know how much they worry about me, and still do as I try to regain my zip!  They count on me, and I encourage it.  Honest open conversations.  Truth, honesty.  Meaningful moments that remind them that I am their lead.  I am Mom.   

They know how much I worry about them too as they forage forward into independence.  That's my job....... figuring out  when to let go, when to intervene, when to nurture....when to stand on the sidelines applauding their amazing accomplishments.  Encouragement enthusiastically trumps worry.  Love expressed through action, through reliability, through the daily gifts we share feeds the tenderness we innately feel for each other. 

This is what I was thinking as I walked to the market with my tall beauties at my side.   Because we have conquered some of life's big hills together.   Because we acknowledge the daily little hills we attempt too.  Because we know deep in our beating hearts that we love one another to the moon and back, we are fine.  More than just fine.  Blessed by this knowledge and by belonging.

Today is Mother's Day........... its a special one for me as I cognitively and emotionally revisit the past year's milestones.   Martha's personal experiences forced her to stretch beyond, beyond her comfort zone.  Max's body has stretched beyond, beyond his comfort zone.  Both have encountered big transitions in their academic and personal lives...... stuff I could help them with, stuff their friends could help them with, but lots and lots of stuff they had to dig deep inside themselves to figure out solutions, to make decisions.  Just like their Momma.  

It has been a year (or two) when I have found myself on my knees more than I can count.  I've learned my perspective from there is cleansed becomes much clearer.  

But, here we ARE!  Whole, transitioning,  transforming....... reflecting ....... becoming..........always grateful for their tenderness.  

I am a very very lucky Mom.  

Happy Mother's Day. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012

the times they are a changin'

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Bob Dylan......

I keep waiting for the words to fly like they used to.  But every time I think I've got a handle on it, the times they are a changin'.....  It's like an amusement ride stuck on GO.  The story I want to write, I continue to live it.  Everytime I think I've got a conclusion to the present moment story, a new angle appears. 

Tonight, the feeling is different.  Though I've lost my wordsmith polish, I don't want that to deter me any longer.  Or the sense of readiness to share.  Writing is therapy.  It once felt like breathing to me, but somewhere along the line, the integration between life inside and out evaporated.  I lose focus so quickly.......... it's time to push through that and let whatever it is inside me to come out onto a blank canvas.......

I am well.  Thank you, thank you for all of your good wishes and thoughts.  I am well.  I felt your presence throughout.  I really did. 

Though life seems to want to push me closer to the edge of insanity, my faith and the people in my life continue to wrap their arms around me.  I am living my story I guess and I can't seem to put it down in any form of logic or fantasy.  It's the only reasonable rationale I have.   

Physically, I am healed.  All the test have come back with no surprises.  Emotionally, I am healing.  As much as I want this to be at the same place I am physically, it is lagging behind.  Too many other incidents keep rocking my world.  But, I truly believe time will resolve some of them.  Goodness prevails.  If you dare to be open to dealing with the wounds, goodness prevails. 

The experiences I have encountered through the mirage of the health care system, the vignettes stored in my brain for future sharing, the lessons I've been blasted with, the crappy TV shows I've become addicted to, The Re-emergence post radiation and burns, post two breast surgeries and THEN post appendix surgery........( YES I had my appendix out too!!!  First day back to work and by morning coffee break, I'm feeling the pain in my gut!!!)  the special times with so many special people who drove me to and from radiation, who dropped off food, who stayed with me in my home overnight while I healed......... phenomenal.  I am blessed.  I am blessed.  The conversations have been enlightening, thought provoking, helpful........ I am overwhelmed by a litany of voices.  I can't settle enough to write.  I can't settle enough to read anything more than a few pages.  Frig, I can't settle enough to get the laundry done!  OK, it's done.  It's just not all folded yet!

I keep floating............. events keep happening............. I want it to stop at a place called peace where prayer and stillness settle into my bones.  But, for some unknown Godly reason, it is not meant to be.  

You know what I've learned?  Real strength generates from the soul.  Real strength emerges through the salty wounds of adversity.  It looks like the face of a vulnerable puppy caught in the rain.  A Beagle puppy.  But, it responds in a manner that can only be described as intrinsically God sent through the hearts of friends and family.  

I am well.  I am strong.  The times may be a changin'......... and that's alright with me.  

Stories to follow................ 

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Seeking the still small voice of love.......

Wandering with and without the knowledge of where I was planting my feet, I continued to seek out a stillness inside that lasts for more than a mere thread of serenity. 

I still am a seeker, though the challenges I have been surrounded by have certainly created dark craters of doubt and fear. Of thin air anxieties and tears.   I keep falling into them.

Then, I find myself climbing up and out only to find a beacon flickering warm light to guide me back to safe ground.  Moments pass, the light goes out and the ground beneath me trembles again. I slide down an embankment only to begin seeking another thread of serenity in the dark.  I always find it, but sometimes its really hard to do. 

Why is this such a driving force?  We need the nurturing of stillness.  We need those morsels of serenity to feed our faith or we would lose our minds!  It is when I feel the calming awareness of a lingering essence of serenity that I am reminded to let life undulate like my river's mid-summer pace.  It is when I can let go of the chatter, the scraping noises of anxiety and just be.

At peace. 

Nestled in the holy space where God's love dwells.....where joy sits in contented gladness patiently waiting to be chosen, the words I long to write again dwell too.   They are there, waiting for me to absorb all that I am to learn this winter.

While this hibernation full of thoughts and feelings continues to feed my belief that there is a reason for this season of challenges, not only for me, but for many people around me, I return to the inspirational words of Henri Nouwen.  Food for the soul.  Bread for the journey.  Of all the faith based authors I have read over the years, Nouwen's work has been my most important guide.  The topics I have chosen to share on this blog often derived from my thoughts after reading one of his pieces.  

Serendipitously, I was redirected back to Nouwen's books by an engaging Priest who delivered a sermon last Sunday night on seeking stillness from anxiety through meditative prayer.  Father Brennan shared a story about wrestling with his own late night doubts that steal away inner calm, as well as this passage from Nouwen's daily comtemplative book, Bread for the Journey: 

The Still, Small Voice of Love

Many voices ask for our attention.  There is a voice that says, "Prove that you are a good person." Another voice says, "You'd better be ashamed of yourself." There also is a voice that says "Nobody really cares about you," and one that says, "Be sure to become successful, popular, and powerful."  But underneath all these often very noisy voices is a still small voice that says, "You are my Beloved, my favour rests on you."  That's the voice we need most of all to hear. To hear that voice, however, requires special effort; it requires solitude, silence and a strong determination to listen.
That's what prayer is.  It is listening to the voice that calls us "my Beloved."

It was a last minute choice to attend Mass at St. Dunstan's last Sunday night.  Invited by a dear friend who has been a wonderful companion on this breast cancer journey with me from the beginning, I went seeking some kind of stillness after an emotionally full day trying to help and support friends who were going through a family crisis.  I went with a brain and a heart tired from the anxieties I had been harbouring for months over trying to deal with my health fears.  

I went into the church emptied of energy, heavy with responsibilities as a Mom, a homeowner, a friend, a human being who seems to be juggling a variety of issues all at once.......... and about to topple over.....  I went into that service in hopes of touching that Hand of God we cannot see, but can FEEL.  With gladness returning, I stepped out into the night softened by the messages I absorbed, lightened by the lifting of the noises that had crowded out that irrepressible still small voice of love.  The urge to write again has been stirred.  The words are feather touching my fingertips again.

I am listening. I am receiving.  I am learning more about myself and the world around me than ever before.  I am storing all of the experiences I am encountering knowing this is a season of discomfort.   Craters of doubt will appear out of nowhere.   Fears will drum up the noises again and again,. But I have been reminded that I still have the ability to silence them too.  I still have the ability to be touched by that small voice of comfort.   Beautiful!

Thank you Father Brennan.  Your message reached me sitting in the last pew.  Henri Nouwen's book will once again travel with me.