Thursday, August 30, 2007

suck it up....

View of Spencer's Island from the beach....July, 2007

Mind over matter, right? It's something I try to convey to my clients who have big hills to climb and firey dragons to slay. It's a practise I try to teach my children when they are faced with a fear or a sense of apprehension that has the potential to grow out of proportion. I encourage my friends and family by offering motivating words, by listening to their fears. To overcome the feeling of dread.....when there is a sense of foreboding permeating ones thinking, turn your thinking around. Put a positive spin on it. Use self-talk to pump yourself up. You can do it! It's simply mind over matter.
Yeah, right.

I'm having a tough time walking my own talk today. Dread seems to be winning. The storm clouds hover. Dread is feeding my expectations with distorting serum. It has the capacity to make a self-fulfilling prophecy come true. So, here I am writing about attempt to shrink the monster.

When does it rear it's ugly head?

  • You don't have enough information about a situation or event

  • You don't feel like you have any control over said situation or event

  • Someone has a history of being unpredictable when you see them

  • You've had numerous previous experiences when a situation, or an event turned out horribly

  • You can't predict at all how something is going to turn out.

Sometimes a vivid imagination is a friend......and sometimes? Well, it just about does you in.

Many examples come to mind.....starting a new job, preparing to write a final exam, waiting for a big personal event to happen, opening an unknown door, riding a new roller coaster, living in the midst of alcoholism, abuse, mental illness, or physical illness, addictions.............even attending a party where you don't know anyone.......oh, the list is endless and it can just about drive you batty. I remember how dreadfully terrified I was when one of my children had a high fever, or when my son would have a bout of croup......I was fine and functioning on all cylinders during the day, but when twilight hit? Dread would settle into the pit of my stomach and would send out pulsing pangs of fear as I struggled with my foreboding thoughts.

Dread is kind of like a fever now that I think about never know what follows it, or when it will break.

Do you think that a person who lives in an unpredicable environment gets used to the feeling of dread or do they become numb to it, protecting themselves by setting up an emotional cocooning shield of some kind? Is that how a person growing up in an alcoholic family copes with a permanently unwielding feeling of dread hanging over like a storm cloud.

This weekend, we return to Spencer's Island to attend a memorial service for my in-laws. It fills my thoughts with dread because of the unpredicability of the situation and the lack of information and control I have over the service, over our reception, etc, etc..... Alcohol is a factor too.

Though I am not a control freak (well maybe my family thinks otherwise, but I'm going with not being a control freak) I am an organizer. I also like to be involved. I am neither. The service has been hanging over this family's heads all summer long.....and it's now about to happen. Don't know how it's going to unfold.......don't know if the tension will be manageable or will it spill over in front of us all? I hope not.

OK...........I have to interupt this post with an I am typing this, Julie Andrews as Maria Von Trapp is singing "I Have Confidence" I KID YOU NOT! I mean what are the odds of that song, written and sung in 1965 being played on the CBC in 2007, RIGHT AT THIS MOMENT?? It is sung during the scene when she is making her way to the Von Trapp mansion to take on the role of Nanny for 7 snotty kids and a whistle blowing anal retentive Captain whom she eventually falls in love with and escapes Austria during the Nazi regime.

Well, that just lifted the mood around fickle am I that I can be assuaged by a song from my childhood? You don't have to answer, really..... know what I think is the kicker for evicting dread from the pit of your stomach? Humour, especially the absurdist kind. Music and lots of it. about cranking that wonderful Proclaimers song.........I'm on my Way..........? Meeting it head on.................with the strength of a smile. AND..........watching ready??

I'm off to pack my suitcase so I can swing it wildly while I sing my confidence song......thank you Maria.........I think I just had a wink from the cosmos. Good thing because I had no idea how I was going to end this post.
ah, life.......sometimes it can do it's very best to suck all of the positive light right out of you one minute and the next......? It offers you a "put it in perspective" laugh.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


a few cousins.........

We have the capability to put down roots wherever we want, and whenever we feel a sense of connectivity to a community. I don't think they ever replace previous roots, though sometimes for some, the chosen roots may be stronger than the roots originally provided by ancestry and family. For others, familial roots continue to take precedence throughout a person's life. The foundation remains, the sense of belonging to a clan feeds their identity.

Some roots grow deep and wide, where others' roots are closer to the surface. They always help us feel a sense of belonging, a feeling of significance. No matter how stridently independent one may live their life, if we don't feel a sense of a family, to a church, to a group of friends, to a community, to a local group...... we stumble along disconnected, without meaning.

"I belong here. I know where I fit," they speak......."I will provide the ingredients to help you chart your life course....."

On the weekend, I had a chance to catch up with my Aunt who had just returned from a trip to Scotland with her husband. Her inner purpose was to add a couple of pieces of her roots puzzle by learning more of her father, my grandfather who had died when she was only 16 years old. It was an important step for her, like many others who want to grab hold of some knowledge of the past to have a clearer picture of who they are as an see and feel for themselves the beginning of the roots.

There aren't many in my family who could correctly envision the places she visited or the people she spoke fact, it is just me and my parents. Out of the large family living in Canada, we are the only others who have walked the streets, and met some of the extended family who live in an area called Lanarkshire. So, when my Aunt spoke of her cousin and her family........when she mentioned the landmarks of the area.........when she talked of how she felt visiting the streets where her father grew up, and where his sister lived (which is where we had both stayed at different times years ago........) I was right there with her, remembering how I had felt too surrounded by roots.

Like my Aunt, who had initially visited Scotland 30+ years ago, it had been a profoundly moving experience for was like learning where your blood flowed from. Though it has been over 20 years since I was there, the people and the place remained with me.

Henri Nouwen writes about remembering the people who have died before us as a way of keeping them in our hearts...."remembering them means letting their spirits inspire us in our daily lives. They can become part of our spiritual communities and gently help us as we make decisions on our journeys......" I can relate to his reflections.....our roots which are tied to family and friends affect our choices and our direction more than we realize. Not only that, it profoundly impacts how we see ourselves and how we define ourselves. By taking the time to remember our ancestry, we can develop a better understanding of how we tick, and why.
Awareness.......of ourselves through the lives of others who have touched us directly and indirectly through our roots offer us a chance to be more fully aware of what makes us tick.
I don't know whether she is satisfied with the amount of information she gleaned from spending time with her cousin looking over the family Bible, and touring the area. She needs time to sift through her thoughts and the conversations she had. What was apparent to me while listening to her enthusiasm was that she was offered a few glimpses of her father when he was a young man. Those glimpses not only added pieces to her roots puzzle, but it may have answered a few questions about his youthful motivations and his personality. Because her memory of him is sketchy after all these years, revisiting her roots sharpened the picture for her. She also has a bigger picture of where she fits.......where she belongs.
New awareness brings new perceptions.....

Roots. It seems like a theme of sorts this summer.........

Monday, August 27, 2007


What makes a desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

What an interesting thought. In the midst of adversity, when one feels the challenge of overcoming an obstacle, it is the tug from the feeling of hope that helps us put one foot in front of the other. If we can just keep pushing, keep pulling, keep at it......we will find the well. Adversity is like an expansive desert which can seem endlessly parched. And yet, if one looked at it with different eyes, one can visualize a place to find the sips needed to tackle adversity.

What if the mountain of adversity is just too high to climb? What if one finds themselves at the bottom of the mountain without the necessary tools in their life toolbox to ascend? What if it's just so overwhelming to overcome that one succumbs into the sea of surrender? Sometimes the obstacles are just too big.

and yet......................

I find it fascinating that some have the capacity to drill into a well of hope more deeply than others. Two people both suffering from the same determined to fight it to the end, and the other languishes in a ghost of despair. Why is that? Does it derive from a predetermined personality, where one has the ability to be more optimistic and consequently hopeful and the other can't help but see the glass almost empty?

Adversity can be a motivator but only if there are a few ingredients to accompany it. Hope, confidence and emotional support all play key roles, as does balance.........where perhaps one's whole world isn't falling apart at the same time........where perhaps one is dealing with adversity in one part of their life, but strength and focus in another. Vision.......seeing yourself conquering the challenge......AND seeing how to conquer it is also needed. But I think the most important ingredient, is faith.

Our personal beliefs are derived from many avenues........our own faith may include different smatterings of ingredients.......It may be grounded in religion--a belief in a Higher Power......or it may be suurounded by the laws of nature... or in fellow human beings....or in science.........or in the knowledge of the journey of the monarch could be a little bit of all....wherever one's faith comes from, the very idea that one has a strong belief system allows for the confidence and the unmoving foundation to help one find the other ingredients needed to face adversity head on.

We may not win every challenge.....we may live through years of unending adversity....... but if we know there is a well out in the middle of the desert........or a cabin waiting for us in the wilderness? I believe we will keep on trying, one step at a time. Faith makes us feel like we are never alone.
We are never alone.

A comforting thought isn't it?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Skalli-wag Cousins.

Late summer evenings......these scalliwags have just climbed out of the pool all shivering and are now huddled together in shared sweats and clothes in front of the campfire. All boys.....all cousins......altogether. Except there's one missing. The rose between the skalli-wag cousins.....their one and only girl cousin whose home with her Dad in Fredericton.
Martha, you are missed every moment by these rascals....AND not because you're the only one old enough to drive the golf cart!! Thomas would be in your arms demanding you carry him everywhere because of his broken leg. Joe and Will would be shooting nerf darts at you (instead of me).....Sam would be showing you his newest book on wildlife and Jake? He may get on your case about teaching him to drive the golf cart without any of the adults knowing! AND, like the wonderful only girl cousin that you are........and because you're a kind person, you would accomodate all of them (except the sneaky golf cart lessons, right?) and even deal with a brother who would be in your face driving you crazy like he can so well.
Here's a secret................your brother misses you the most. I'm not kidding.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

where i used to go...........

A good friend sent me this photo today with a teaser, "guess what this is?" Not many would recognize it, and only a handful would look at the building in this photo and have the same nostalgic feelings I have of it. This little cabin nestled in the woods was where I spent many wonderful hours during my youth. It used to be a destination as a kid, and then it eventually though temporarily it became my domain, albeit one I shared with a gaggle of kids. This used to be a merry making hub of activity craft shop. It hasn't functioned as one for many years. The beams are broken from age and winter beatings. It's filled with rusty old iron bunkbed springs from long ago......abandoned and left to harbour the echos of the past.
But, back when the voices were creating the future echos?
It was a haven that housed 4 groups of kids during four activity periods everyday for two months out of the year. They would arrive excited to hang make something, to listen to the music, to chat with their friends, to be still in a place where still was in short commodity. After outbursts of activity emanating throughout the rest of camp.........from swimming to sailing to water skiing to skin was a place to catch one's breath. Even the wiggly jiggly ones who rarely could sit still, they would find some focus in the craft shop.
This magical spot was set up with shelves, supplies and half creations hugging the perimeter, while a work area was set up in the middle in a U shape. I worked mostly behind the work area in order to facilitate and help kids working on projects, all the while working on my own. It would be nothing for 15 kids to be in there working on 15 different projects ranging from plaster molds to copper enamelling, to etchings, clay pottery, weaving, and various and sundry other sorts of crafts.........and two or three staff to direct the harmony.
Paints, dyes, powders and clay......glue, varnish, wool and strings.....sticks, sand, pipe cleaners and jute...... it was all there to do with it what we wanted.
I think this is where I first learned about how the process of creating was much more satisfying than the end product. It is also where I learned how an activity where one is working with their hands has the power to allow for a comfort in sharing of the heart. Lots of talk was interspersed with the music and the jokes and laughter.
Some nights, when I wanted to get away from the hubbub of the other staff milling around after the campers went to bed, I would head up to the craft shop to work on a project......sometimes alone........sometimes with a the stillness of a summer night. Creating something helps clear the head. It's where we find our flow.........where time slips by unnoticed and takes with it the fog of worries......
I can't imagine how many kids soaked up the welcome over the years.....too many to count. The majority of them left something there forever though.....they left their name, painted on the inside walls of this their favourite a spot chosen for posterity....with the dates of the years they lived at camp. The walls are plastered with names, some painted over.
Mine is in red. Names which conjure up the faces of the echos. If I close my eyes, I can see the inside of this little place and know exactly where I painted my name, just like everyone else who holds a memory or two of the old craft shop.
Nostalgia has it's place in our memories. It can be visited like a good friend who lives far away. It can leave you feeling a whole mix of emotions too that sometimes surprises us with the intensity it creates. Sometimes it simply slips by as an afterthought. I guess the word that best describes this particular nostalgic memory for me is bittersweet. But mostly sweet.....a whole bag of sweets.
Thank you Ribii Scott for the chance to relive some sweets......and to hear some of the echos. And one of the echos is you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Not Selling Myself Short.......

Patience is the companion of wisdom
Saint Augustine
It feels like it has been more than two days since my new blog, Grace Notes made it's debut. Yesterday morning, I found myself feeling like I had entered a road race with a bunch of bloggers I didn't even know, let alone know their personal motivations. Why? It seemed like the new site where Grace Notes dwells is set up to highlight bloggers who post furiously often and the ones who will be posting a couple of pieces a week may not be highlighted as respectfully. When I realized how it was all set up, I could feel my pulse rise and my competitive nature kick in. The road race seem inevitable.
I fretted over this. My intention is to highlight my writing, some of which I have written over the course of these past two years. I had no intentions of setting up another site to double my writing, and I sure as hell am not ready to leave this place. Back and forth I went onto the site trying to figure out the bigger picture of this new adventure I had found myself a part of.....and my blood pressure kept rising.......I was feeling full of electricity.......all zippy.....and I didn't like it.
Then, I began to step out of the road race mentality, which really does go against my nature and transported myself back to the beginning of setting up this blog. I am not a patient person by nature. So, when I began writing again and felt this relatively unusual calm found when patience enters the atmosphere, I realized that I would simply allow the topics and the process of the journey lead me. I had no clear idea of a destination........and for the most part, I still don't though it's plain to see the obvious themes of my writing and hence the path I found myself on. I wanted to feel that way again.
I jumped out of the road race.
One of my personal goals is to make something out of my writing. This desire has continued to increase as I have found my confidence again. Consequently, my goal for pursuing a more public blogsite was very different than when I began this Awareness site. Then, it was to archive my ideas. For the most part, I write unedited. What you read is first draft attempts........I have taken the advice I received at the start of my writing..........just write, edit later........ Now, I am beginning to review some of the pieces I have posted here. I have begun to edit them and will feed the other site with newer tighter written versions. I will write some new material, but it's time to hone and tone and possibly send it out more publicly.......
So, the desire to have my pieces read was fueling my feeling of frenzy. Can't let that happen. Need to remain patient. Need to stay the course, whatever course it is I'm on. I don't know whether patience is the only companion of wisdom, but you know what? I think they do make a good couple.
One step at a time.........finding my way
My hand in His.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I love the streak of light filtering up into the blue sky in this photo. I took it last week while sitting in the passenger side of the van. We were driving on the Trans Canada highway on our way home from a baseball game. It had rained lightly during the game, the clouds grey and full only to break up to deliver the late sun rays for our enjoyment. It had a calming enlightening feel to the moment. Another day ending and we were all well.

Mid August. How did that happen? Can it be that twilight is finding us earlier? Are the colours over the horizon more sharp and less hazy? Yes they are. I love the changes in the evening sky at this time of year because it speaks of the pending autumn where the earth's soul dwells. Autumn is my favourite time of year. But, it's still summer......late summer.........when the harvesting takes on active meaning.......when the wild blackberries ripen like glistening jewels on the vines.

Mid August. We have turned the corner on the middle of August. Did I have my eyes closed? How can this be? BE it is and I better catch up. I swear time moves more swiftly than it used to or maybe it's just more scary thinking about it.

Miles to go before the night becomes long.

And a few more August night skies to appreciate.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Grace Notes

a view from my writing chair, PEI 2007

What makes a song memorable? What turns a typical day into a gem? What moves an ordinary event into a standout moment? It's the awareness of the grace notes found within the soundtrack of our lives. Have you recogized one lately? Your child's first pop fly catch in left field....a spontaneous conversation in the checkout line.....the comfortable silence with an old friend.....a favourite tune on the car radio just when you needed a lift.....the first spring crocus poking through the snow......all gentle enhancements of our life journeys which send a plink to our hearts. Grace notes add the "extra" onto "ordinary" and leave us wanting more.

This is the introduction to my new blog, Grace Notes, on the CanadaEast website. YES! I was selected. It's officially up and running tomorrow, but it looks like it's accessible now, so I've posted my first piece...........I would LOVE it if you visited. I don't think one can leave a comment on the site unless you're a subscriber (which btw I'm not either :) but I'm pushing to fix this oversight on their part. If they want interaction, they have to open it up to bloggers for goodness sake.

My plan is to post regularly Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (their high read days). I hope you will visit me there. I will set up a link on my sidebar once I'm sure their site is really set up properly. So, in the meantime...........introducing a kindred to Awareness.......... Grace Notes. I'm very excited.

Just click on the Blog name......and you will find yourself there!! Let me know what you think............. :)

Thanks everyone......

Saturday, August 18, 2007

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves,

and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We adults are pretty dopey arent we? So often we forget the lessons learned, especially the biggies we learned as kids. It's good to surround ourselves with these lovable anklebiters every now and then to be re-educated on those know the ones which end with us realizing the important things in life........??

Friday, August 17, 2007

Dear Diary

Reflections and light, Maximville, PEI

Dear Diary
I'm feeling strange. I don't have much to write about today. So, let's see.......maybe I could start by writing about why it is I'm feeling strange. Strange? I don't even know what that means.....feeling strange.

At odds?
I don't fit in?
Not comfortable in my own skin?

Gee, that's really not how I'm feeling. Funny, I think we throw out words verbally all the time without a second thought to them. We throw them out into space into the abyss where they can be twisted, misinterpreted, ignored, accepted, forgotten or simply dropped. But when we write them down, they take on concrete posterity. So, swipe that. I'm not feeling strange. A bit loopy, but that's normal....

So, how am I really feeling?

OK, now I'm wondering if I really want to write down exactly HOW I'm feeling, diary because once it's down and I've confessed, where does that leave me? What if someone happens to open this diary and sees the stark naked words......words which describe me......words which will need an explanation......words which may lead to someone wanting to have a conversation about them WITH ME.........or WORSE...........what if the feeling words SCARE them away and they never ask? If I really and truly write from my heart, will I be rejected?

If I write who I really am, and then no one one acknowledges me, I would feel that my ugly little secrets which are part of my real self has been cast aside.......thrown away, rejected. Then what? I will have nothing left to offer someone.

Ugly, pockmarked imperfection........put in the sale bin with all the other dented tins....all because I admitted to how I was feeling and consequently who I really am. They are tied into one another you know, diary.........if I begin with the feeling words, than I am revealing much more of who I am than I realize. Each feeling word is like a red flag, or a blue flag, or a mult-hue flag depending on the feeling word. No matter the colour, the flag is an indication to someone that you want them to ask WHY?
What if they don't ask WHY?
What if your feelings scare the shit out of them and they go running, leaving you with a whole bunch of flags you want to share?

Yeah, I know're supposed to be just mine to use. I'm supposed to feel safe enough to write anything I want in here. That's why there's a trusty lock on it, right? But whose kidding whom? Every single lock on a diary uses the same damn key, made in China. Plus, I'm not good at putting you away in my underwear drawer every time I use you. So, I hesitate to confess how I'm truly feeling today..........this day when I don't have much to write.

Hmmmmmmm........I wonder if cyberspace and the anonymity of the internet is the new diary? It seems to me that people will express themselves, share their innermost thoughts......BLEED their desires into their computers for all the world to see like its their diary tucked in their underwear drawer? Chat rooms, MSN, Facebook (well, more the pics than the feeling words's kindof a voyeuristic weird place), Myspace, and all of those bizarre virtual games...are they not outlets of expressing one's deep secrets? The phenomenon of that site called "Post Secret" where people send their confessions on a postcard to some guy whose now making a fortune publishing them is a great marketing idea, but do any of those people get any help? Does it make them feel better to admit their darkest secrets, diary?

I'm pretty much an open book. My feelings are there to see on my sleeve for the most part, though like everyone I harbour a few secrets......even to you diary. I guess I'm not ready to share them with myself let alone an inanimate object. I'm lucky that I have people in my life whom I can be myself, and express myself rather openly. I have even found a few through my writing. Some have even encouraged me to be more open and to share my real thoughts. AND, you know what diary? They reply telling me I'm beautiful.

I'm beautiful. With all my imperfections........with all my complicated feelings......with all my scars and ugly secrets.......I'm beautiful. Aren't we all? Because what matters more than anything is that we all have hearts which intertwined and speak the same voice of the need to belong........the need to feel like we matter.
You know, diary.........sometimes when I sit down to write in you, I don't have a flipping clue what I want to write about..........and yet, if I just allow the words to find me.....I always finish feeling more buoyant and less strange.
Today was a great day. I stayed home with my son who flitted in and out of the house, mostly when he was thirsty, but sometimes just to touch base with me. Twice he came inside to tell me that he loved me. Once, when I saw that he was alone on the frontyard, I snuck up to him and told him that I loved him.......before he could tell me.

Today was a great day, diary. My good friend Anne joined me for lunch here on the backdeck. We caught up, talked mostly serious family stuff, but had a chance to have a couple of laughs and a couple of moments of silence. What was missing was a nice bottle of cold white wine. Alas, she had to go back to work. Another day.......

Today is a great day diary. It's not finished. My husband is returning home from work. WE will have dinner as a family, though we all miss our beautiful daughter whose away at camp for another week......she would've received a carepackage today from me with new jammies in it and a couple of goofy dollar store things for her hair........just for laughs.......and some minty chocolates to share with her cabin mates. I can see her laughing at the words I shared with her in a funny card too.

And who knows diary..............maybe the sunset tonight will be picture perfect....or imperfect. No matter will be acknowledged for what it is. As you do me. are five words to describe how I'm feeling RIGHT at this moment to end with....and leave you wondering diary.......I love a mystery.

thirsty...............boy I'm thirsty.

For more diary writings, head over to Sunday just never know what will be revealed there!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

a scene from the alley.......

Under puddle grey skies they emerge,
in large numbers
filing out through the heavy metal door
lighting up in unison --
An after dinner toke on a full stomach.
The best tasting cigarette of the day
besides the first one with morning coffee.
But sometimes there's no sweet aromatic coffee.
It's made from grains of yesterday
Bitter tar-like substance from the bottom of an urn.

Sometimes morning begins
starring at the underbelly of a bridge
in backbreaking pain,
throbbingly disjointed
where no coffee is brewing
where the only smoke is a discarded butt.

Sometimes morning begins in
a sock stinking room shared by 10 damp strangers
Shivering under an unknown blanket,
worn and used by others
prickly and unwelcoming transience.
Coffee there is weakly tepid
Served in a stained unfamiliar mug.
Given to charity
"Worlds Best Dad......"

At first glance, I see
Weather worn faces seemingly the same
Dazed, angry, bone weary aged.
Empty discards
in oversized pants from Sally Ann
in threadbare shirts, wrinkled from sleep
tattered, torn faded colour

Sadness prevails
Surrendered souls
Who have seen the bottom of a bottle of cheap whiskey
many times
Who have felt the biting winter winds
many times
and know it feels the same as the hard slap from the back of a hand.
They've felt them both and know they are the same.

Strangers lost in a fog of mental illness, shit luck,
abuse and a lifelong hangover.
Numbed on the bare boned skinned knee open wound existance.

But tonight,
as they emerge and converge for an after dinner smoke
Gathering in an puddle filled alley
hidden by a brick building,
where the shelter and the kitchen
make it a meaningful destination,
I look again and see some familiar faces.
People who have visited me in my office.
Human beings I have seen around town.
The man with the marionette monkey
who makes it dance for money every Saturday at the market.
The woman who collects bottles and cans from the dumpster behind my office building
The mom and her two kids whom I've shared a coffee chat with in her home.
The guy who sleeps on the bench in the park downtown
A few whose names I don't know, but have seen in the lobby.
Many I don't recognize.
Many are lost in a schizophrenic fog.
Some gather together to talk,
while others stay within themselves
lost in the periphery of the marginalized.
Marginalized by the marginalized.
Our society breathes hierarchy like dragon's breath

One small statured man walks gingerly and awkward
trying to pretend he isn't completely drunk
Another with a shaved head whose eyes dart in paranoia paces.
And another, and another............same look.......same space....

Sober --stark, real, cold, wet reality. Who wants sober?

In the middle of the group?
A little boy
about 4 years old
with a red ballcap
and red crocs on his feet
glides by on his scooter.
Whoosh............his colourful presence
enraptures me.
Like a taste of watermelon on a hot day.

In and out splashing through the grey sky puddles
twisting and turning his scooter
past the sad adult faces too hurt to pay attention
Oblivious to his joy
He oblivious (maybe) to their pain.

The scooter skids and the little boy yelps.
All eyes turn to him.
His mother, incapacitated by a full leg cast lurches forward
But a friendly face intervenes.
He tends to the little boy,
then playfully takes the scooter
and turns the scene into a circus romp.

He's a smiling clown.
The little boy laughs from his belly
The sad adults, thirsty for relief
begin to cheer on the clown.
Smiles all around.

A moment of light tasting levity
in the midst of despair.
And it makes me wonder if Jesus is close by taking it all in.
I think He is.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

reflections and love in riddles.

A mystical bohemian recently and virtually presented me with the illustrious Blogger Reflection award. The orphaned cousin of Mr. Nobel and Miss Pullitzer, Count Reflection is much more gratuitous because it is set up to be shared..........and spread around like homemade jam. Plus, the prize is not money or fame...........two sinfully inducing nasty motivators, the obvious bane of all that has gone horribly wrong in this world. Who the heck wants money and fame??? Look where it got Hilton, Lohan and Stewart?
Rather, the reward comes with friendship and human connections which one day .......who knows?........will be toasted over Coronas with lime.......followed by dinner of some sort (who cares really.....the conversation will be food enough) and then finished off with cigars and Cointreau.............smokey music too?
As anyone who knows me, even a little bit, knows that I suck at following rules. I'm supposed to copy and paste a bunch of Count Reflection's here and then present the award to 5 others. But, I seem to be incapable of doing that. Instead, I welcome you to travel to another blog, one you havent visited before or one you havent visited in a while, to read their reflections. All writing is reflective. It's the nature of the process. It is why I love this interactive community. We are interconnected through the reflections we share.
Why not check out one of the links I have on my sidebar, or follow a link of someone who may have left a comment on another blog and see what the author has to say.
Seriously.........with a smile. Thank you Mr. Mystical bohemian. Your own reflections have added colour and shading to my world. You have honoured me with the most wonderful that makes me think and grin. It had to do with writing about love in riddles............stories which may reveal hope and beauty perhaps if you look under the covers?
Love in riddles
seen in the eyes of another in need
expressed by their tattered tiredness,
no words, just longing for relief.
Love in riddles
whispered along the road to nowhere
sung by a bluesman yearning for warmth
alone, just longing to be understood.
Love in riddles
reflected in stories of the human condition
shared by a yearning student
quietly trying to understand.

the silence to listen

"Feeling is deep and still

and the word that floats on the surface

Is as a tossing buoy

that betrays where the anchor is hidden"

Longfellow, from Evangeline

Two years ago, when my family and I arrived at the cottage we rented on Prince Edward Island, these two attached chairs beckoned. Tired from slogging through work and responsibilities and in need of some downtime, we unpacked the van, dumped out stuff in the cottage and set out to reunite with our friends who we meet up with every year. Instead of being social like I normally am, I poured myself a glass of wine, grabbed my black journal which I had packed at the last minute and sat down in the chair on the left with a tired thud.

I started to write. For the first time in many years, I began to let it flow. Though I had carried my journal around with me for a long time, I could never find the lost words. As much as I have always loved writing, my pen had been silent except for a few scratches of ideas, a few half-hearted attempts.......

"Just write.........don't edit.........let the words flow......" advice I had recently been given by a friend......... "You can edit it later......just get the words down....... "

And so I did. I took his timely advice.

It felt like a releasing rainfall bursting out of the clouds

It felt like a rush of water through a dam

It felt like a ball rolling down a hill picking up speed

The air around me and the tides below helped me find the silence within to hear the tumbling words.

It was like holding onto the hand of an old friend.

Every morning I awoke early. Quietly, I'd pull on my oversized sweatshirt overtop of my nightgown and tiptoe out of the cottage with a large travel mug of tea and my journal. Sometimes if the wind was brisk, I'd cart out a blanket to tuck my legs under. Then, I'd settle into the chair, with my tea to my right and my left hand free to capture the words. It was always a relief to find out that it wasn't a fluke........that the words were still tumbling out of the silence like a prayer.

I hadn't realized how thirsty I was. Thirsty for prayer, for spiritual connection, for expression to myself and to God, for the outlet to confess that I had lost myself. I had lost the connection to me. Though I didn't take the time to analyze why it was happening......I was too busy being the vessel for the words to stop to think about it.......I knew it was meaningful. It was later, after my writing continued on into the fall when I began to reflect on how it made me feel and what it offered to me spiritually.

I'm still reflecting on the meaning. No rush to figure it out fully. Just like my re-emergence of my faith, my writing and the topics which float to the surface "from an anchor below" has a transformative gameplan which isn't held by me. I'm holding onto the hand of an old friend whom I'm learning to trust again, whom I'm wanting to be acquainted with as an adult, not as an adolescent who wasn't mature enough to interpret, to challenge, or to be comfortable with the grey areas. Writing about one idea at a time is the pace needed for me to get it.

My journal writing two years ago seemed like it had nothing to do with religion and it had more to do with simply spewing out my observations of what life had offered up to that point. Coinciding with an important reunion in my life at Camp Kawabi, it seemed like a natural time to reflect and to assess. Interestingly, the last time I had written so much was when I had been actively involved with the church in my late teens and early twenties and when I had also been leading summer chapel services at Kawabi. And there I was, sitting in an Adirondack chair overlooking the Northumberland Strait tides finding my way back to those beliefs again. And I didn't even know it.

The hand of an old friend.......passed me a pen two years ago and with an open welcoming palm invited me to take a seat........ in a chair built for two.........It is there I rediscovered the silence to listen. I'll never let go again.

Monday, August 13, 2007

the long and winding road.......

Ready to take it all on!

You'll never find a kid's camp without a long and winding road leading to it's magical spot. It needs the journey of anticipation to reach it with the level of excitement and a dash of anxiety necessary to kick off the emotions and adrenaline of meeting new and reuniting with the cherished.

Yesterday, I was the driver of the journey to camp for two very excited 13 year old girls, who had been looking forward to the arrival of the BIG DAY since I picked them up last summer at the end of their successful foray. I knew exactly how they were feeling. I had been in the backseat for the trip many times. Though it was a different winding road and a different camp, the thoughts and feelings, as well as many of the sensory cues were exactly the same.

Hazy blues in a slumbering summer sky...........just how it should be when we turned off onto the entrance driveway, the tires crunching the dusty gravel. Sounds of music, and kids voices greeted us waving through the pine scented air. It's far from loud.....just enough volume to filter through the forest. All so familiar, like a favourite camp shirt fresh out of the dryer.

All of the questions which have fed the pulse of the excitement.....Which cabin will I live in? Who will be my counsellors? Who will be in my cabin? Will there be new things to see and do? I wonder if we'll go on a canoe trip?..........ALL of these questions pondered over and over for months leading up to being greeted by the camp staff receive their answers as we lugged overstuffed bags to the two top bunks nestled in the cabin closest to the glistening waterfront.

As the girls were acclimatizing themselves by setting up their beds, and reuniting with two other smiling exuberant friends, I was whooshed by the deja vu real life memories of my own arrival as a 13 year old girl to my camp. Different locale, but the same in all the important aspects. Echos from the past were also filtering through the pine. My own summer reunions and wonderment, all around me offering significance and a sense of belonging. I could feel my camp shirt touching my skin again.

I tucked them in as best as I could, chatted with the counsellor all the while dropping positive vibes about how much fun she will have with these 4 keen campers in her care, gave all of the girls hugs and encouragement (like they needed it) to ENJOY! to SAVOUR! to TRY something NEW! Then, I left them

I drove home the long way, taking an even more undulating road which hugged the river to revisit my own 13 year old friends and to remember the times we shared. It's been so long since then. That specific summer isn't totally separate from my 12 years at camp memory bank. I needed a longer drive just to process the many jump up memories. They are like a chain of daisies, beautiful as a garland, linked step back and see a bouquet. You look closer and see the strength and beauty of one flower.

What I was left with at the end of my drive was the new learning which comes from taking the time to reflect about the people who have been a part of my life journey. It's not fully new.......reflections help you add onto previous helps you enhance or alter what you know. New perspectives from long ago experiences can also reinforce one's faith in our destinies......our long and winding roads.

Camp for me was a sturdy life affirming series of signposts which pointed out a path I ended up on. It taught me how to paddle my own unique canoe and it gave me the grounding for my career as a counsellor and a teacher. It opened my eyes to believing that the important gifts in our lives come from the connections we make with people. For that, I will always be grateful.

which canoe do you choose to paddle?

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Saturday mornings are never complete without a trip to the local Boyce Farmers market in Fredericton. It's a tradition for many who live in and around the area and it most definately is one of my favourite activities of the week. I had missed a couple of weekends in town lately, so when I arrived relatively early, before the rush of crowds and tourists, I took in the summer's abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables. For some reason, this particular summer seems to be rushing by so quickly. I can't believe we're heading into the middle of August already. So, it came as a surprise to see the truckloads of produce harvested for our dinner delight.

I'm a firm believer in supporting local farmers and vendors and try to purchase as much of our food through them. The other day, when I was at the grocery store, I saw a large display of bing cherries on special. I LOVE cherries, and unfortunately they aren't grown in this area readily. Ontario is known for their cherries and it was always one of the fruits I looked forward to eating as many as I could when I was growing up there. This is the end of the cherry season in Ontario, so I expected the ones I was salivating over to be from the fruit belt in Southern Ontario. Quel surprise! Turned out they were shipped up from the United States, as were the melons and grapes. What's that all about?

The growing season in this country is pretty narrow. The people who toil over growing our produce need us to support their efforts and their livelihood.......even if they are in another province. Local? It includes other parts of our country as well.

But today? I bought very options were endless.....and abundant. And eye catching. Including the Freudian carrots

aromatic dill wafted throughout
the market stalls
and added to a variety
of pickles

Crisp yellow beans,
cooked just a little and served with melted butter.
We're having some for dinner tonight.

the first of the corn just waiting to be husked and shared with a big family of friends

sweet juicy field favourite

jams, jellies and tasty spreads

Early apples. The Macs and Cortlands will follow will the new sensation Honey Crisp. Have you tasted a Honey Crisp apple? I dare you to take just one juicy bite.

Blueberries...........cases and cases of these purple blue jewels. Pies, jams, crisps, crumbles, muffins, coffee cakes, teas, wine, syrups, jellies and a handful in the pancake mix.....blueberries thrive in this part of the world. People were buying 10 lb cases of them to take home today to enjoy. Don't they look delicious?

So, if you were ever to visit my neck of the woods, I would take you along to our market. It's a friendly welcoming place, full of smiling faces and something for everyone.

Friday, August 10, 2007

somewhere over the rainbow......

"They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only times I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own

Now I have seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria"
Billy Joel, Summer Highland Falls

Goosebumps. It starts with the first notes on the piano followed by the familiar tune on his harmonica and automatically I feel a swelling of emotion somewhere in the pit of my stomach which quickly emanates outwardly until my skin feels vibrantly alive with goosebumps. I can't tell you how often I've listened to the song and I can't even tell you why it resonates with me every single time I hear it. No matter what I'm doing, when Mr. Piano Man begins to play his signature song, my actions slow down as I find myself pulled into his angry young man anthem. By the time he reaches the chorus, I'm singing along with him.

I was 16 years old the first time I saw Billy Joel perform live at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. The Stranger album had just been released and already I had devoured all of his new songs, like I had his previous ones. It was one of the first concerts I had ever attended and by far the most exhilarating. I'll never forget the moment he stepped onto the stage, sat down at his piano and began to play........without his band yet.......the spotlight just on him as he started the set with another song which to this day makes me feel something reserved for only special songs. Summer Highland Falls.............followed by Piano Man. By the time he started into Honesty..........such a lonely word........... I was putty.

The purity of emotion expressed through music is probably the most universal tie we have to one another. We all have our own timbre, our own preferences. Culturally, we are conditioned to respond and react to different sounding instruments, but we all know what its like to hear a tune or a song that takes your breath away, that leaves you feeling the prickling cold heat of emotionally charged goosebumps. When it happens to me now, they are usually accompanied by a rush welling of tears which seem to come from nowhere but end up sliding down my face.

Why is that? Why do the tears come so much more readily when I'm feeling something deeply?

Tonight as I thought about what i wanted to write for this weeks prompt for Sunday Scribblings (goosebumps), music and Billy Joel were my first thoughts but were quickly followed by thinking about other songs which have tugged at the same spot over the past couple of years. Turns out more than a few of them have. And, I took some time to revisit some of them on YouTube just to see if the goosebumps returned......if my memory was serving me correctly. And it did.

I sat back and listened to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman sing Con te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye) and felt like it was the first time I had heard it. I felt the goosebumps return when I found Paul Potts sing Nessun Dorma as beautifully as Pavarotti. Harry Chapin's Circle filmed in Hamilton in 1981 just about did me in........I think I may have been at that concert. It has been a goosebump kind of night.

But if I had to pick one song that I happened upon a couple of years ago while listening to Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe on the CBC on Sunday morning was a very familiar song remade by a young man (who has since died) and his ukelele. Pure, hopeful, stunningly beautiful. It stopped me in my tracks that morning and I stood in my kitchen, my elbows on the counter, face to the radio, listening...........and feeling those goosebumpy tears again. I want to share it with's the link. Expect the goosebumps and enjoy as I did again tonight.

For more stories on "goosebumps" take a walk over to Sunday Scribblings.......