Monday, December 31, 2007

Review, Renew, Remind......Reflect.

I have taken a step back to review. It's what feels right on the last day of the fact I have a tough time even contemplating ringing in another year without a chance to reflect on what has passed by, and what I had a chance to grab onto before the wind took it down river.

The writing shared on my blog, the beautiful quotes I have found along the way, my own musings and ALL of the wonderful insights, feedback, thoughts and feelings left in the comment section by you has fed me like a Sunday brunch buffet. Rereading the posts and comments of this past year has stirred up new ideas, as well as the desire to expand on some of the same themes. Learning is that way isn't it? Learning is like a daisy chain, all interconnected, lovely and potentially never ending. Or perhaps learning is more of a multi-coloured, multi-layered tablet of construction paper waiting for creativity to do it's magic. However one wants to look at it, we are always adding to or using previous learning as a hitching post.

We seem to have covered a lot of ground this year. And yet, I'm left with the thought that we only ever show and see glimpses of one another. It makes me wonder if we ever really know another person.......if we ever really have the opportunity to truly know ourselves as deeply as we can. Like winter, our whole story doesn't show. Some of who we are is buried under the snow.....laying dormant, not dead.........just dormant. Some of who we are is waiting to be discovered.

I have found many gems tucked in the comments that people have taken the time to leave. Amazing little gems......of self disclosure, of feelings, even of quotes which resonated with them in a meaningful be shared. The interactions played out through blogging is what makes me return to the buffet table time and again. When I try to explain to someone outside of this medium looking in, it feels like an ongoing discussion found in a university classroom. I feel like I am taking the best course I have ever taken..........self-initiated, self-directed and yet interconnected and interdependent on the generosity of others who regularly or intermitedly pop into the same venue. It seems like a safe place to try out new ideas, new ways of expressing an old concept. It is a place where one can dig a little deeper under the snow to add nutrients and warmth to a dormant side of oneself.

A dear friend whom I have met through this medium shared his feelings about knowledge and wisdom. He wrote that "perhaps wisdom begins with fear............that a healthy scare of imperfection ain't such a bad thing. " As always, his comment when he left it made me think and it continues to make me think.......

Perhaps we are sometimes too afraid of looking in the cracked mirror where our imperfections glare back at us that stops us from wanting to see anything beyond the superficial glimpses. Too scary and too ugly? Too messy under the snow.........? And yet, isn't it worth recognizing imperfection because of what lays behind it? Isn't that where pure beauty is found in all it's formations?

There are bright yellow crocuses laying dormant under that snow.

There is pure beauty in our enlightenment, especially if it is shared. How I learn and what I learn is by sharing it with others. I can keep my ruminations to myself and allow them to accumulate silently, or I can take a chance to elaborate on them, messy and ugly as they may be in order to see them from a different angle..........and in order to receive feedback and reinforcing order to figure it out.

I feel a bit satiated right now......and a wee bit stunned by some of the pieces I had written and forgotten about. Not the lessons.......or the topics..........just that somewhere along the line I had found the words (or the words found me more like it) to express it. Thoughts and ideas were definately generated by what I have read on other's blogs, and by the comments left on my own. Rereading them has reinforced my belief in the interconnectedness and interdependence of community........and how important that is.

So, I thank you for feeding me with colourful threads of ideas to stitch into my imagination.

The words I managed to capture? They are a gift.........and I am the vessel, as they continue to pour out at an alarming rate! Over the course of the year, I have tried to recite prayers which I found comfortable with as a way to step a little closer to God. I thought that maybe if I knew the words more by heart..........that maybe I would feel the power of prayer which I read about. It would become a meditation through which I can connect to a Higher Power. I will continue to pursue this........seeking out the right prayer, the one that fits. But, the more I think about it, the more I realize that writing is my prayer to God. Writing is my prayer shawl. It is where I seem to be able to share a more vulnerable side of who I am. It is where I find my purpose and focus. It is where I feel He meets with me and offers the cracked mirror which reflect back to me a healthy scare of imperfections. And you know what? It sure ain't a bad thing now is it Mr. Harbour?

Happy New Year. May our worlds collide, coincide, and interconnect throughout 2008. I look foward to where the journey will lead.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Been sledding lately?

Sunday afternoon.........the last one of 2007.
Where I'm sitting, I can see my neighbour's grandchildren sledding on their hill across the street from me. The kids, all around age 5, have made a fast groove in the snow, wide enough to slide belly down on their crazy carpets. Up and down.......stopping on the way up sometimes to sink into the snow to scoop up a mitt full for a frosty taste. They arent feeling the cold at all, partially because they are bundled up in their gear from head to toe, but mostly because they are focused on the fun. The Dad with them, standing and cheering them along?? His shoulders are scrunched up to ward off the cold, his hands are swallowed up by his sleeves and he keeps stomping his feet. He's ready to go inside for something hot to drink. And Grandma? Well, she's the bright one........standing in her big bay window watching from the inside, waving and smiling at her visiting little ones whenever they check to see if she's watching.
I remember spending hours doing the same thing just down the street from the house I grew up in, never growing tired of the rush of freedom. We'd build jumps out of the snow to tackle as fast as we could zoom our sleds over, and have races to see who could get down the hill the fastest and who could go the farthest.

On special days, normally after a good snowstorm, my Dad would fill the car with neighbourhood kids and take us to the nearest golf course where the hills were much higher and more daring. Back then, we had a metal toboggan, big enough for 3 or 4 of us to fit on, with a long red plaid cushion attached to it for a little comfort. The front of it was curved up like a candy cane, perfect for deflecting and ploughing through the snow and just right for the brave front end person to stick her clumpy booted feet.

There was a technique to sitting on that toboggan with your friends. Once it was situated properly for downhill delight, the brave frontrunner would get on first, sticking her feet into the curved space, and holding onto the rope attached to the front of the toboggan that was used to pull the darn thing back up the hill. Then the second person would slide in behind with her legs tucked alongside and hugging around the first person's body....... arms in a bear hug to hold on tight. The third and fourth followed suit. As soon as everyone was ready, my Dad would give us a heave ho................... and off we'd go...............



Sometimes we'd all manage to stay onboard...............sometimes one or two would tumble off into the safe soft snow............ until the toboggan would come to a slow stop.

stop.......................... then we'd all breathe again............laughing and recounting the ride.

I don't know if they still make those big heavy metal slides. Given how we do our very best to avoid all danger at all costs, to protect our children from anything that sniffs of risk, to try to place them in bubble wrap, I doubt it.

After a good long while, we'd all tumble back into the car, our doubled up woolen mitts covered in tiny snowballs, the bottoms of our sweaters that managed to escape the tuck into the snowpant encrusted in ice.........our feet feeling the cold finally......and our rosy cheeked faces feeling the burn of the heat in the car........we'd head home to hand warming, inside warming hot chocolate and snacks to recharge our energy. An afternoon of tobogganing guaranteed sound sleeping that night.

Sunday afternoons............ my favourite time of the week, especially in the wintertime when there's something savoury in the oven, and relaxation permeates. Music fills the background with sounds of violins, or fiddles, or guitars...........melodic melodies paced the same as my own. Today however, as I found myself at the grocery store stocking up for New Years and beyond, filling the cupboards before the next storm arrives tomorrow, I had a grumbling feeling about how long this winter is feeling already. I was hit with the dread that it will be a long time before we see any signs of life again............nature's life.

It made me feel heavy in my longing to push time ahead, as I carried the groceries into the house and put them away. But, then I heard the excitement of my son as he pulled on his snow gear again to hit the hills. Then I heard the uplifting warm music on the radio. Then I looked out the window and saw joy sliding down on their bellies.

And I remembered what it takes to ward off the deep chill Canadian cold. Sometimes, you just gotta bundle up and focus on the fun.............

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Irish Heartbeat, More Than You Know......

leader of the pack.

        Yesterday, I read Carmi's post on 100 statements and decided to give it a whirl. Here is the result of my stream of conscious thoughts.

        1. My favourite flowers are tulips

        2. I carried them in my wedding bouquet 20 years ago today.
        3. Yes, today is my 20th wedding anniversary
        4. I married the kindest, handsomest, funniest man I know.
        5. A man who sings in the shower, who always thinks of others first, whose blue eyes smile.
        6. We decided to marry between Christmas and New Years so that everyone would be home for the holidays, including us since we had just moved to New Brunswick in the fall of 1987 from Ontario.
        7. It was a candlelight service......followed by a dancing reception.

        8. I wore my wedding dress all night long. I never understood why a bride would change out of her dress to put on a "going away" outfit when it was the only day she'd wear the dress EVER. So, I wore mine all night long..........
        9. There were speeches and father turned into Bill Cosby and had everyone falling out of their seats with laughter. First daughter, first wedding speech. He nailed it.
        10. I was a nervous wreck and decided not to make my own speech. I think if I was to be married today, I wouldn't hesitate to take my turn behind the microphone. Somewhere along the line I got over my fear of standing up in front of an audience.

        11. I'll never forget the feeling of waiting to walk down the aisle with my Dad. I think I had forgotten how to breathe. But, when we stood at the doorway and I looked down the aisle and saw all the people turned to look at us, every face spoke to me.......every face was recognizable and represented parts of my life.

        12. Interestingly, I seemed to hone in on 5 or 6 people as I made my way towards the front of the church to where my future husband, Best Man and Minister were standing. Everyone else seemed like a blur, though I felt their reassurance and presence.

        13. Don't trip, don't trip, don't trip.............

        14. I honestly didn't know if I would be able to focus myself beyond my nerves to repeat the vows.

        15. Then Jamie's grandmother, a little confused at this point in her life and a bit hard of hearing, leaned over to her son (my father in law) whom she called Buzzie.......and loudly asked......"Who's wedding is this Buzzie????"

        16. Loudly the reply........."It's DANA AND JAMIE'S wedding......"

        17. "Oh......good, OK.....She looks beautiful.........."

        18. Thank you Gram. I then relaxed. All was right in the world.

        19. When I think back today on my wedding day, I am struck by how many who attended have since passed away. I will make sure they are with me today in my thoughts.

        20. Reverend Johnson, my Minister who resided over my confirmation 12 years prior continued to smile warmly and began the ceremony by talking about the beauty of watching a bride and her father walk down the aisle. He made me feel special. He made me feel like a floating beautiful bride.

        21. Our friend Robin read a beautiful piece...........he had been in a car accident the day before and had lost a couple of teeth, the poor bugger........all swollen mouthed, he still spoke eloquently, as only Robin can.

        22. Behind the scenes, as the organist played, the wedding party entered the little office to sign the registry........youthful giggles and laughter over Gram's loud outburst........over nerves and excitement......hugs and kisses and sighs of relief.

        23. 20 years ago..........feels like a dream

        24. We met through a mutual friend whom I was dating. long story, but ends well. He's still one of our closest friends, and Godfather to our son.

        25. Our first date was to see Paul Young in concert. Though it didn't start out as a regular date, since we were supposedly just attending as friends. But, on the way home, when he began singing Sinatra's "More than you know........."

        26. I knew right away...........

        27. He knew right away.......

        28. I had always told my girlfriends that I would marry the first guy to arrange to have flowers delivered to me.

        29. They arrived the morning after the Paul Young concert. An enormous bouquet of spring flowers................delivered to ME.

        30. I made my friend Bonnie take a photo of me holding the bouquet. We laughed that my prediction was possibly going to come true.

        31. He still brings me flowers, sometimes just because.

        32. My husband loves to have fresh cut flowers in our home just as much as I do.

        33. Though he isn't into gardening, he fully appreciates my efforts.

        34. Our honeymoon included our whole wedding party and a few others.

        35. It was New Year's after all, and it was the only time we would see these friends for a while since we were moving back to New Brunswick on our own.

        36. The first year in our new province was difficult.

        37. Jamie was studying full time and I struggled to find work.

        38. I grabbed anything that came my way...........afterschool daycare worker, crap jewelry sales person, workplace analyst..........

        39. As a workplace analyst, I worked at a local club to write down every task of every staff person. That meant I got to hang out one night with the bouncers and heard unbelievable stories, mostly to do with sexual trysts occuring in every nook and cranny of that club.........and some right out in the open!! People are brazen arent they? Horny too.

        40. I also spent an evening sitting at a bar on a Friday night observing the Manager named Anne. It turned out to be the beginning of a very close friendship which thrives 20 years later.

        41. Then, we were young and married. Now, we are young and married with 2 children each, all of whom are either adolescents or not too far away from it.

        42. Since that first night when we were the only two sober people in the whole place, our growing families have shared many holidays, weekends away, Easters, Christmases, and summer beach trips together.

        43. Two families away from our biologicial extended families, grown together.

        44. It was a struggle for me to find my way, to feel like I belonged here

        45. Frederiction is an established little alcove, where most people have their own set of friends

        46. New people were somewhat invisible

        47. New people were looked upon with unease, especially Upper Canadians. Why would they move here? They won't stay long..........that's the attitude.

        48. It was an attitude I heard many times while trying to secure a good job. Why did you move here? How long are you staying? It was disturbing. It showed me a lack of confidence in themselves.

        49. There is still a bit of that, but I have seen great changes in the openness of the community.

        50. We met most of our friends through the University because we were all in the same boat. Poor, displaced, and interested in many of the same things.

        51. Eventually, our group of friends expanded.

        52. And it continues to grow into a eclectic group of talented people, including the children.

        53. Interestingly, every family we are close friends with are "from away."

        54. As Jamie continued to study, I jumped from one short term job to another until I landed at the Community College to teach night school.

        55. It evolved to teaching during the day too.

        56. All of a sudden, I am a teacher........a coach...........a facilitator..........of adults.

        57. My degree is in child assessment and counselling, and yet, I'm teaching and working in the world of adults.

        58. My career path has been one adjustment after another. This has never stopped.

        59. As much as I love certain aspects of the work I do.......especially the counselling, I have never really felt established or secure in any job I have found myself ensconced in.

        60. That's the way of the Maritimes.

        61. Though the political message is...............there are lots of jobs, and lots of is pure and utter bullshit.

        62. This topic is for another time.

        63. Because today, I am celebrating my 20 year anniversary.

        64. Our first dance was to Van Morrison's Irish Heartbeat.

        65. Oh, wont you stay, stay awhile with your only ones...........

        66. Van Morrison has provided the music to our marriage.

        67. There are other musicians who play a prominent role...........certain songs, certain memories, but it is Van who is key.

        68. I would get stuck listening to the same preferred music over and over again if it wasn't for my flower giving music man who provides me with new compilation CD's to listen to. Every song is chosen with tremendous he tries to broaden my interests, but also find songs which he knows will compliment my tastes.

        69. Our first house became a home on Thanksgiving Day, 1993 when we walked through the front door with our baby daughter Martha for the first time. The light in the place changed before our eyes.

        70. I'll never forget the adjustment from being two to being a family of three. One particular moment will forever be etched. Martha was 6 weeks old and hadnt yet slept for more than a two hour stretch at a time and I was nursing her. I was beyond exhaustion when Jamie came home one night from work. In his always calm manner, he poured me a glass of wine and told me to go to bed.........he would look after Martha.

        71. I fell asleep right away and didn't move for 6 solid hours. It was heaven.

        72. When I awoke, I was was dark by then. I found Jamie lying as still as ever on the couch with his baby girl lying on his chest fast asleep.

        73. Jamie looked relieved to see me......not that it had been difficult to keep her settled down, but he had had to use the washroom for a few hours and was afraid to move for fear of waking Martha and consequently me.

        74. How many people are that thoughtful????? I counted my blessings that I had found a life partner who would be that thoughtful...........and relieved to see me?

        75. We are a good team............

        76. Our individual strengths compliment our individual weaknesses.

        77. We have learned to cope with adversity.

        78. We have learned to rely on one another while living away from familial supports.

        79. We have always recognized and respected each other's differences

        80. Me an extrovert

        81. He an introvert

        82. We meet in the middle most of the time

        83. Our sense of humour is our glue.

        84. As are our foundational values

        85. One of the key values is friendship

        86. Another is organizing really good parties. Interestingly, I'm more in the background, while Jamie becomes the entertainer host when we throw parties. It's like we trade in our extroversion/introversion personalities.

        87. The home we live in now is the home we brought our newborn son to. Max completed our family. His personality is a combination of his parents, like his sister's is.

        88. I look at both of our children and see parts of me in them and parts of Jamie in them.

        89. Martha has Jamie's calm friendliness. She shares a love of music and the arts with him. And her patience. Her entrepreneurial streak and her creativity she gets from me. Jamie tells Martha that she is his hero...........and he really means it.

        90. Max acquired Jamie's sense of humour and ability to sing a variety of songs, changing the words on the fly. His over sensitivity unfortunately he inherited from me. But, lucky boy, his brain is wired to learn just like his momma! However, he still whups my ass in Scrabble.

        91. I feel we do a very good job teaching our children the importance of looking out for others and respecting people of all ages. The other night, I watched our 10 year old Max entertain a 3 year old little girl and enjoying it thoroughly.......making her laugh so joyfully that he ended up laughing along with her. It was wonderful to watch evolve.

        92. Our marriage has not been without its ups and downs. That's normal.

        93. Sometimes one needs more than the other. Sometimes one member of the relationship is going through major stress and strain.............we learn to work through, to be patient, to know that it will pass if you just keep talking.

        94. Today I look back on 20 years............too many things to put in 100 statements. Too many intimate memories shared only with my life partner.

        95. Today I look around at my the early morning when everyone is still fast asleep and I feel an overwhelming sense of love and belonging.

        96. It is a home we have nutured.

        97. It is a home we fill with ourselves.

        98. It is a marriage and a partnership I am blessed to be a part of.

        99. 20 years. Where has the time gone?

        100. To living our lives together, surrounded by a soundtrack of harmonies.

        Friday, December 28, 2007


        suspended between the blue shaded darkness
        where light awaits on the threshold of time
        liminal time
        open ambiguity of the unknown
        under the clock stars of night

        straddled illusions resting in sleeping dreams
        where reality of daylight awaits on the platform
        behind the horizon
        to take centre stage
        in a fire of colour bursting up into the sky
        Between now and then

        meditative silence surrounds whispered hopes
        streams of relaxing thoughts stir slowly
        culminating in breath focused anticipation
        birthing transition
        liminal thresholding
        blood and sweat pushing
        of new life
        fear and excitement collide
        through the barrier of dreams
        where blue shades fade into the light of a new day.
        now becomes then.......becomes now.

        and it begins with a healthy cry
        and it begins with a relief sounding sigh
        and it begins with a heart melting high.

        new life craddled in dreams.

        This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is now and then........for more interpretations, please click here.

        Thursday, December 27, 2007


        There is a man who walks everyday all through town. He's a regular sight, as he walks along the side of the road. Not slow, nor is his pace fast. Rather, it seems to be constant........the same number of steps a minute, the same lope, the same space between his steps. Hands in his pockets, eyes averting the world, he walks all day long. It must be all day long because he is seen at all hours of the day, often on the same route. A circular journey within the town limits.

        I often wonder if his true yearnings stretch beyond his ordinary expectations as he walks endlessly. Is he wrestling with a turmoil that knows no bounds? Does he walk in search of a place to hide from the truth? Or, is he looking for a home to rest his head in love? Will he ever find that illusive soft belly love?

        There is an unquenchable thirst when one is drinking from a fountain of dreams isn't there? Discontented ache in our hungry bones scramble to seek satisfaction and serenity as we yearn for calm, as we long for peace. Is this man walking to fill his soul with eternal sentiments rather than the dark cold brought on by absence and loneliness? Will he ever find comfort? What would happen if he stopped walking, would his ache and yearnings swallow him whole? I think they may and I find it very sad. His whole life, days on end, is an endless walk.

        We may think we are uniquely different than this man, who seeking for a lost soul. But, I think we are more alike than we want to admit. Our yearnings are the same. Some of us may have found the serenity captured in the sacred messiness of our lives. Some of us may have found the ingredients to be able to remain journeying in the present day. But, my feeling is that most of us find ourselves stretched by our holy yearnings, our unquenching desires that consume us in restlessness. Luckily for the most part, these strong pulling longings come and go. We do find some solace when we can reach the pinnacle of internal security.

        Prayer helps us find grounding

        Harnessing our yearnings to use the energy bursting from them helps us to determine real goals.

        Interactions with others who love us unconditionally stave off the wandering lustfulness that yearnings can nuture.

        Fulfilling our sexual appetites with someone whom we can reach heightened stirrings and deep sleep calm with most certainly helps.

        Seeking out the attainment of peace through our decisions and choices on our journey most definately helps us integrate the dream filled yearnings with expectations.

        Knowing and seeing an enduring light, sometimes openly bright, and sometimes through a tiny crack helps us find recognition and connection with our Higher power.

        It is when our yearnings capture our innermost thoughts and hold them at ransom that we are in trouble. If all of a sudden we find ourselves walking and walking with the same pace, the same lope, in a perseverative circle in our thinking, the shackles of restless temptation take hold. It's hard to break free because all of a sudden, the yearnings produce big shadows that block the light, that affect our choices, that lead us down a prickly path of discontent. We lose sight of our real lives, and of our comfort zone. The throbbing ache accumulated through the endless walking and searching settles into your bones and eats away at any stored energy, leaving an absence. And absence is painful.

        The walking man never stops, and yet is he accomplishing anything? No he isn't, except perhaps he's able to find some semblance of balance that keeps his mental illness at bay. However, he doesn't have time to do anything else, like trying to connect with another human being, like stopping at the church to pray quietly. He seems to be a part of the community because he's visible, but what we see is the outer casing walking by. He lives on the periphery and remains on the periphery of society..........walking off his unrelenting yearnings.

        The only way to be in control of our own longings and desires is to be fully aware of them as we can. If we know that all yearnings want to push down the path to contentment, harmony, serenity and peace...........that all we want is to find the soft belly love, the warmth of companionship, the sense of belonging soaked in the succulence of a life lived, we need to learn to stop, sit and enjoy the view for a while to learn how to just be.
        Right in the present moment of life............
        what are your restless yearnings?

        Wednesday, December 26, 2007

        reindeer games

        Growing up together, these shiny happy terrific kids.
        I love them all.

        The name of the game is Boutros Boutros Ghali, named after the Egyptian United Nations leader a while back. It's not that he invented the game.........I think it became named this because his is so cool. All you need is a pile of little pieces of paper, some pens and a bowl. Two teams are formed. Everyone writes down names of famous or not so famous (obscure) people on the scraps of paper and then throws them in the bowl. Each team takes turns, with one volunteer from their team describing the person picked out of the bowl, without using the fast as possible. The goal is to describe as many people as you can in a minute.

        Boutros Ghali is a fast paced fun game we play often when groups of us get together. Over the years, the kids have joined us, or have played their own version in another room. Last night, after the big Christmas feast shared by three families, the kids challenged the parents to a Boutros duel........the first time we were pitted against one another. And, they whipped our asses. Given that we are a competitive bunch, this came as a shocker. It was like they were in the zone together, often only having to offer one or two words to describe the person and they would guess right!

        They laughed until they fell over. We laughed at them laughing until they fell over.

        After this mornings sober second thought.......perhaps it was payback time..........I mean I did make them all don antlers and reindeer noses at the dinner table.

        It was a great day. One of my favourite moments? Right in the middle of dinner, before we got too silly, each person was given a photo of another person sitting at the dinner table and they were asked to say something about the person in the photo. Memories of times together were shared.......feelings about another person's gifts were expressed........a few laughs were provided.....a chance to acknowledge another was embraced.

        Who needs a turkey dinner when the food is fellowship? Having stated that, I have to say the turkey AND the music were really excellent even though it won't be what is remembered down the road. It will be the laughs, the beautiful spoken grace as we held hands. It will be the games and the time together.............that's what will last in our memories. Well, except perhaps for my son. He'll remember eating a lot of bacon. Yes, bacon was served for breakfast!

        Today, a chance to hunker down to watch movies and read. (Grace Eventually was tucked in my stocking.....:) ) Boxing Day may be known as a shopping day for many. For me, it means staying in my jammies on the couch under a blanket.

        The boys acting out a new version of a Christmas Carol. Turns out Scrooge (in red) was gay. It "totally" cracked these two up.... :)

        Tuesday, December 25, 2007

        sweetly singing.....

        Angels we have heard on high,
        Singing sweetly through the night,
        And the mountains in reply
        Echoing their brave delight.

        Gloria in excelsis Deo.
        Gloria in excelsis Deo.

        Shepherds, why this jubilee?
        Why these songs of happy cheer?
        What great brightness did you see?
        What glad tiding did you hear?

        Gloria in excelsis Deo.
        Gloria in excelsis Deo.

        Come to Bethlehem and see
        Him whose birth the angels sing;
        Come, adore on bended knee
        Christ, the Lord, the new-born King.

        Gloria in excelsis Deo.
        Gloria in excelsis Deo.

        See him in a manger laid
        Whom the angels praise above;
        Mary, Joseph, lend your aid,
        While we raise our hearts in love.

        Gloria in excelsis Deo.
        Gloria in excelsis Deo.

        Merry Christmas.
        May you day be rich with the gifts of the season.

        Monday, December 24, 2007

        visions of sugarplums......

        A collage of the shiny faces in my life. Singing carols, making crafts, hanging out, playing reindeer games, sharing friendships, having some at Christmas time. These are a few of my favourite photos of the season.......... Today, Christmas Eve will most likely FEEL like the longest day of the year for these beautiful kids as they anticipate Christmas morning.

        They are ALL growing UP!! These are my favourite girls in my life........and they have grown up together like sisters.

        Loved the Christmas concert at the school this year. The boys are dressed in their white shirts and black pants because they are in the boy choir.......I took a bunch of photos prior to the concert from the doorway of the classroom. My son, whom I embarrass on a regular basis it seems, was moaning about looking like a member of the geek squad dressed like they were. I reassured them that they all have the potential to be members if they don't watch out!

        These outdoor photos were taken during the tree lighting
        ceremony outside of the provincial legislature. The Garden Creek boys choir were part of the entertainment. Sweet young voices singing silent night........
        It was best that I continued taking photos to keep my composure ........

        Wishing you a Merry Christmas, from my world to yours.

        Sunday, December 23, 2007

        Winter Solstice

        The semi annual solstice celebration took place under balmy night skies last night. Potluck feasts inside, roasting apples and sausages over the big fire. Wine and song, Christmas carols and laughs by the fire. At some point all the kids ended up inside, while the adults stood around the campfire talking.........about the year, about the season, about the plans for future get togethers........about kids, dogs, songs and stories. The dogs...........all Labs of some mixture romped in the snow all around us, sometimes venturing close to check out the cooked sausages. I learned that apple tree wood burns the hottest. Didn't know that, did you?

        Old apple tree lit up in the yard................... two different exposures as I messed around with my camera. Doesn't the one below look like the outline of an angel or is it just my wishful imagination?

        Friends and good times.........memories in the making while we all take a breather to enjoy the beginning of winter. Oh, and guess what? The days are getting longer again. wooooo whooooo!

        thanks Jen and Tom....... Oh, and Jen? My New Year's resolution is to hang out with you at the Auction centre on Thursday evenings. I want a two dollar couch and chair set too!

        Saturday, December 22, 2007

        M is for Memory Keeping Momma

        It always amazes me how a whole group of people can take part in the same event and yet walk away with a diverse assortment of memories. It makes me ponder over just how reliable our memories are, especially after time has it's way with them.
        When you think of all the filters one human being has that affects how a single moment is viewed, felt and remembered it's a wonder we ever find a common ground during those "remember when" conversations. How we are feeling emotionally and physically, what we are thinking at the time, when it takes place, where we are, who we are with......all of these variables act as a prism refracting the interpretation of the moment. Then tack on the external events happening at the same know those connectors that sometimes help us place the memory in a certain time and setting? Add to that, the level of importance of the event............then stir in how much wine you've had.......

        Christmas memories, impressionistic in their artistry are unique to the individual. Though we may share some of them..........the bigger brush strokes perhaps.......the fine details blend in colour and contrast, in shape and size and importance, are based on how we choose to remember them. It's like we have our own scrapbook filled with momento photos which flicker in our own light.

        As an experiment to see if my theory holds any eggnog, the spiked kind........... I asked my family this morning what their memories are of last year's Christmas.

        "What are your most vivid memories from last year," asks Mom.

        My 14 year old daughter's reply?

        "I remember waking up at 4 in the morning and having to watch some extreme sport show on TV because I was so sick of watching that movie, The Christmas Story........oh, and doing my nails to pass the time. Oh, yeah, and I remember running a bake sale at the school to raise money for the soup kitchen........"

        My 10 year old son's reply?

        " I couldn't sleep on Christmas Eve and there was lots of bacon."

        How utterly profound............ note to me............ make sure we're stocked up on the bacon. Hmmmmm, perhaps I need to go out today and buy two pairs of hot pink bunny pyjamas with feet. They would most definately remember that wouldn't they?? :)

        My husband's response?

        "I remember how much fun the open house was, and seeing friends we hadn't seen in a long time, and Christmas dinner. I remember it being a wonderful dinner just sitting around the dining room table with our friends. Then relaxing afterwards watching Waking Ned Devine with our friends and watching my family fall asleep all around us."

        And ME?

        I remember walking into my living room in the middle of our open house we had on the 23rd of December to find everyone singing Christmas impromptu moment which could never be replicated. Oh, then there was the solstice celebration at our friend's house. I remember spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen and enjoying the pace and busyness of entertaining. I remember looking around and seeing people engaged in good cheer conversations................I remember the wrapping and opening of presents on Christmas morning, the big breakfast the four of us shared.......yes, I do recall the pound of bacon I cooked....

        I do remember basting the turkey, pulling together the Christmas dinner while my good friend Anne plied me with chilled white wine. But, for the life of me? The whole dinner conversation and subsequent movie? Yeah, I'm sure it happened, but by then I was toast.

        yes, we all do have different memories don't we? It's a good thing mothers were invented to ensure that the memories are expanded upon and added to for future reference. Photos help do blogs!

        Perhaps this year, starting today...................I will point out key potential Christmas memories to my kids who seem to have amazing brains when it comes to reciting every Simpsons episode, right down all of Krusty's infamous lines. Better yet.........wait til they see what I have planned as a kickstart to Christmas dinner this year. Photos will be taken to preserve the moments.

        Anne? Bring on the wine.
        Hark the Herald Angels sing............

        This week's Sunday Scribbling's prompt was "holiday memories." For more versions of those memories, click here.

        Friday, December 21, 2007

        Freedom can be found in a gliding pair of skates,
        and a river glazed in translucent ice.
        With the wind at your back,
        it will meet you with frosty nips
        on your exposed face
        as you glide towards destination unknown.

        Thursday, December 20, 2007

        capturing light.

        Silent night
        Holy night
        All is calm
        All is bright.

        I'm sitting in my livingroom in front of the fireplace. I can't imagine living in a home without a fireplace. Not one of those fancy natural gas has to be a real fireplace full of hot embers and mesmerizing flames which dance differently every time you put another log on. The crackles and smokey scents are as inviting as my Dad's cologne. Every now and then a small wind gust blows down the chimney to feed the flames......a whoosh fanning sound tells me so. When I was a teenager living at home, every now and then in the middle of winter, I would cozy up to the fireplace at night with a pillow and a blanket and fall asleep in glowing comfort.

        Beside the fireplace stands a tall majestic tree that touches the ceiling. I don't know how I managed it, but I think I found THE perfect tree this year. Sorry folks, I got it. For some reason the colour of the ornaments are predominatly red and white........a Canadian tree it is, it is. Even the parcels under the tree managed to be wrapped in red and green and white. It wasn't a planned thing..........kind of spooky like I channeled Martha Stewart and didn't know it. What's really bizarre is that the parcels sent by bus from my sisters and parents are wrapped in matching paper!! It's a gene thing I think.

        There really is no theme to it except that it represents 20 years of my husband and I creating our own family. Several of the ornaments were given to us at a party our friends had just before our wedding day which happened to fall between Christmas and New Year's. The tree skirt was made by hand by a friend named Grace whom I havent seen in a long time. At the top of the tree are two shiny old fashioned ornaments with my name painted on one and Jamie's name painted on the other. (Bonnie are you reading this? You gave them to me. :) Through the years, we have accumulated other homemade treasures......embroidered ones from my Grandmother, handpainted scallop shells Martha and I made when she was little, others made by little hands when they were at daycare......angels and snowmen.........candy canes and snowflakes, garlands of wooden beads, shiny stained glass, reflecting light, capturing light, and a few bells to ring when an angel gets her wings.

        All are meaningful to us. All packaged in a remember when........

        My favourite ornament is the oldest. I purchased it in the turkish bazaar in Istanbul before I was married. They are tiny knitted mittens on a string that cost me all of 50 cents. But they hold such wonderful memories. funny eh? It's never anything really expensive and flashy that touches us. It's the little ordinary looking trinket that holds the key to our heart treasure box.

        The lights are on. tiny multi-coloured lights. They too are mesmerizing, but won't really glimmer like they can until Christmas Eve. That's when a tree looks the most magical......when it really feels like Christmas.

        For some reason it seemed to take me a lot longer to get my act together with the decorating etc. Part of the reason is that I have purposefully continued to focus on my writing, which most definately etches into my time. But, other variables seem to be wreaking havoc with my usually good organizational abilities. Time seems to have a mind of it's own these days. Jamie and I were talking about it this morning as I drove him to work..........both of us are dumbfounded really that we find ourselves on the precipice of our 20th wedding anniversary in two weeks. How in the heck did this happen? Sure there are periods when you wish the clock would move faster because it feels like it has stopped completely (Christmas Eve day is an example of this according to my son). But, most days it's over before we even acknowledge that it has begun.

        Silent Night
        Holy Night
        All is calm
        All is bright.

        We live in such a fast paced world. We multi-task, juggle, think ahead of ourselves. We plan and plod and prepare and push ahead. We rush, rage, run, and sometimes wipe out because we're going too fast. And before you know it...................all you see is a blur of colour all smearing across a painted sky............the lights begin to blend in like one of those timed photos. We need to jump off the bus regularly to catch ourselves from free falling. We need to gaze backwards on the day that has recognize the blessings and encounters (the rest really doesn't matter does it?) reflect on a day which will never be captured again.

        We need to learn to sit quietly and enjoy our own inner voice nestled in the spirit.

        I look into the fire and watch the flames dance for me. I listen to the whooshing fan noise, the tiny crackles and feel the warmth of it's energy on my face. I look at my beautiful tree which sings nostalgia and hums a familiar song of belonging. I hear my dog snoring lightly right behind me..... I hear my husband quietly reading a story to our son down the hall. I think of my daughter wearing a new dress which makes her spin around whenever she tried it on to show us. She's at her first Christmas formal at the high school, and I hope it's living up to her excited expectations.

        I also reflect on my time spent with my friend who joined me for lunch today......a wonderful treat where we didn't look at the clock. We just leisurely sipped on a glass of wine and let the conversation flow, comfortably sitting in this living room with the fire blazing. It's been entertaining me on and off all day. And because we didn't feel the pressure of all the preparations and forthcoming busy family time and all that, we found ourselves talking about God and wondered out loud if He was one of us.

        Trying to make his way home.....................

        It's been a good day.

        Sleep in heavenly peace
        Sleep in heavenly peace.

        Tuesday, December 18, 2007

        the mystery of transformation

        “Martin Buber defines a miracle as an event that instills us with a feeling of “abiding astonishment”. The experience of being lost is the shadow side of experiencing something miraculous: both are bewildering, both transformative. Over time, if we are sensitive and perceptive, we will come to view all of life with a sense not of shock but of wonder. With wisdom we will shed our doubts and fears, regardless of the challenges or hardships we must confront. We will welcome the adventure. For it is life itself, with all its ambiguity and mystery, that is the hidden miracle – overlooked, omnipresent, waiting to be discovered and explored.”
        a quote from the book Lost Souls, by Niles Goldstein

        There are so many events in life which take a great deal of fortitude to reach the point where we can think of them with a sense of wonder. Or maybe I'm being too narrow in my own definition of wonder and astonishment because I tend to associate these feelings with positive experiences filled with smiling joy or surprising revelation. Could astonishment and wonder be applied to the other more serious and sometimes tragic events in our lives? After all, it is life too isn't it?

        When we are confronted by a tragic death or a life altering accident our lives are tossed into an abyss, a lost soul solstice where time seems to standstill and meaning is out of reach. Surprised, confused and full of questions starting with "why??" Astonishment is defined as something unexpected which produces an emotional state. We shake our heads and proclaim......

        "I don't believe it......."

        "Is this really true?"

        "I'm so surprised that this happened."


        These statements are reiterated whether the event is lottery winning amazing or life altering devastating. Both are bewildering. Both are transformative. One is a feeling of experiencing a miracle. The other is a feeling of experiencing a sense of being lost. Our grounding is altered by both.

        A few years ago, I had the pleasure of a meeting a woman whose son was born with severe disabilities. His level of functioning was comparable to an infant. There were no explanations as to why this happened. It just did. Her son, who required 24 hour care, who was completely dependent on his family, especially his mother whose life changed from career person to full time caregiver right at the moment of his birth, had just turned 18.

        For all of those years, the Mom rarely left his presence because his needs were unique and complicated. With no extended family in the area and for some reason no real assistance from community social services, it fell on this boy's parents to figure it out. His Dad remained the primary breadwinner. His Mom remained home. His little sister who was able bodied and full of dance steps never knew family life like her friends. As much as her parents tried to accomodate, and attempt to find the attention balance one strives for when siblings are involved, the little sister's needs sometimes had to take a backseat. Always.

        When this young man was well enough, he could attend school with a full time caregiver though rarely had there been a week when he was able to attend for 5 days in a row. Hospitalizations were too numerous to count, but a few were made more memorable when this family clung onto the ledge of hope wondering if he was going to survive. As I listened to the stories, the horrors and stress of ongoing medical interventions, of never ending advocating......of sleepless nights when their son was awake for days on end, a habit which continues to this day...... I wondered how a family comes to terms with such a burden.

        I've wondered this throughout my career.........

        I spent two hours with this woman in her living room listening to her family's story of how the birth and life of her son impacts every component of their story. I was there to complete a social/home assessment so that I could write up their application for disability certification and consequent social assistance for her son who qualified when her turned 18.

        Her son at the time was sound asleep, and not stirring at all. He had been awake for days and had just fallen asleep for the first time. This is the norm for this family. It turned out to be good timing on my part because it gave the mom freedom to spill her fatigue, her worries, and to share with me how she and her husband went from astonishment and feeling utterly lost to a sense of gratitude and calm acceptance to how their lives are unfolding.

        They have had 18 years to process it all.

        And yet, I wondered if by telling me her story she was still trying to convince herself that there was much to be grateful for. I mean, this woman was trapped.....that's how I perceived it. She had no freedom. The very idea of going to the hairdressers or to the YMCA for a workout was a monumental task. She has had to compromise, give up, accomodate, adjust, assimilate throughout every waking and sleeping moment of motherhood.

        After she finished sharing and I finished asking questions.....she asked me if I wanted to meet her son, assuring me that he wouldn't wake up if we went into his bedroom. He was sleeping that deeply. So, we went into his darkened room and i went right over to the large crib like bed where he sleep soundly. I leaned in and held his fingers while he was relaxed in his dreams. Then, I turned my focus back to his Mom who was watching me and her son.

        What I saw on her face was my answer to how someone overcomes the feeling of burden in a situation like that.

        Love. Unconditional love. Untarnished, uncomplicated, unending love.

        What I witnessed made my knees buckle at the intensity of the love melting on this woman's face. When she witnessed her son, she witnessed beauty in a way that felt spiritual. Never before or after have I been privy to this wonderful moment.

        Now, after reading this quote, I recognize what I witnessed as astonishment transformed from a shadow of lost to welcoming the mystery of the adventure as a miracle. This woman had figured it out.

        And I am a little closer to understanding.

        Thank you Katie for sending me the quote.