Thursday, July 31, 2008


A sheep found a hole in the fence and crept through it. He wandered far and lost his way back. Then he realized that he was being followed by a wolf. He ran and ran, but the wolf kept chasing him until the shepherd came and rescued him and carried him lovingly back to the fold.
In spite of everyone's urgings to the contrary, the shepherd refused to nail up the hole.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Lady sitting in a crowded waiting room of an after hours clinic last night talking on her cellphone........(and may i just add......LOUDLY!!!!!)
"Did you hear about Shirley's mom? She's was in a bad car accident. She's DEAD ..... (pause)....What? She didn't die? Are you sure she didn't die? I heard she did....... pause ......... oh, so when is she going to die?"

I left after that and went to sit in the sun in the parking lot while most of the people stuck in the waiting room, obviously feeling pretty darn crappy or they wouldn't be at an after hours clinic either cringed while trying to tune her out, or laughed out loud. I was laughing and shaking my head at the same time because it seems to happen all the time now......overhearing bizarre snippets of others lives. Cellphones are brutally rude and invasive in the wrong hands!

The problem with my choice to move out into the open was that many others were mingling about waiting their turn, openly conversing about their personal lives, oblivious to the fact that they were surrounded by strangers who really didn't want to hear about it. Not only that, the topics were borish......even some admissions to illegal drug use, and all of it peppered in foul language. You know, the big nasty word bombs, not the smaller fluffier disposable ones.

As my father would say, "he had a mouth on him like a ripped boot......." I always liked that saying........ it makes no sense, and yet it does. Who the hell wants a mouth on them like a ripped boot?? There were ripped boots all over the place. Why is it that men who talk like that, slipping swear words as often as they can into every single sentence uttered from their mouths, also like to hork spit generated from their phlegmy throats while adjusting their manhood at the same time?? What brilliant multi-taskers they are. Did I mention my 10 year old son was with me? Good thing we've let him watch a few Will Ferrell movies lately. Bad mommy............bad, bad mommy.......... I was actually more concerned about him listening to two men openly discuss their partying habits of snorting lines of cocaine like it was acceptable and dissing "the wife" comments than him hearing cuss words.

Where have our boundaries gone? Have they been erased? It seems so, and I blame this partially on Oprah and her ilk for encouraging the universal acceptance of spilling our stuff to anyone within earshot as a therapeutic primal purge rather than bad manners. Has it become a disturbed way of bonding or is it simply disrespectful of other's boundaries? Whatever it is, it's just plain rude.

Our society has been flipped on it's ear when it comes to communicative decorum. And what is so bizarrely contradictory is that we seem to be messing with both ends of the communication continuum. Either we are yapping away on our trusty cell phones (which btw have recently been identified as a cancer causing what isn't??) or conversing loudly face to face with buddy fella in the middle of a department store, restaurant, waiting room, subway, grocery store, city bus, line-up, in the LOO for fecks sake.......... or we have unplugged the whole world and turned ourselves into walking internal boom boxes ignoring even the beautiful sounds around us. Its two side of self-absorption. Thinking of oneself first and foremost.

It's a purge or perish kind of existance, and quite frankly I find it disturbing. Either we have a fear of getting lost as a means of learning something about ourselves and need to be in touch with the people in our lives at all times and waking hours, or we float through existance in a blurred earphone zone, untouched by anyone or anything except what is blaring away.

Now before anyone thinks I'm some wingnut do-gooder with a phobia of technology, let me make it perfectly clear that i do see the functionality and FUNality side of it these lovely devices. I'd have them both and use them frequently if I had to commute great stretches everyday. I also love the openness of conversations which happen frequently in this part of the world. People have no trouble falling into a deeply felt conversation with a stranger. It happens everywhere if you want it to. And I guess that's the point. We should always maintain our choice to be a part of what is being discussed and not have it foisted upon us.

Control over who is allowed into our intimate boundaries is just plain healthy. Allowing someone whose pushy and needy to invade your privacy, or simply by their unaware actions demand your involvement isn't healthy whatsoever. Who I let into my own domain is my perogative, as it is for you. But I also believe in the imperativeness of remaining connected and in tune with the world around us too. Why would anyone sit on a beach plugged into Nirvana when in fact it could be absorbed by the sounds of the surf? Why would anyone go for a walk in the woods and not take it in with all of their senses? It makes NO sense.


Have you ever met someone in your life who seemed to be exactly the person you were searching for and didn't even know you were? Friendships, the ones who step out from behind the tree and into your path.......they are like that. Friendships are not made.......friendships are discovered sometimes right when we need them.

It's always so surprising to realize the randomness of meeting someone for the first time. It seems so accidental, but I wonder if there is a more intentioned destiny playing out, especially when it comes with a feeling that you can't imagine life without them? Friends help give our lives shape and meaning. Friends help you discover who you are by reaching in to help you recognize your own internal sunlight. In sorrow and in joy, friends walk the mile with you to help you figure life out.

To thrive is to know deep down you are loved. To feel alive is to know you matter to someone. To discover a friend is to discover a new reflection.

ps. perhaps a new friend is awaiting to be found today. I have finally posted a few links on my sidebar to some of my blogfriends, and will continue to add on as I can. Why don't you check one their sites out .......... you just may find someone out there whom you would like to walk a mile with.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Your grief for what you've lost lifts a mirror
up to where you're bravely working.
Expecting the worst, you look, and instead,
here's the joyful face you've been longing to see.
Your hand opens and closes, and opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open
you would be paralyzed.
Your deepest presence
is in every small contraction and expansion,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated
as bird wings.


Monday, July 28, 2008

destination greenbelt.....someday....

Dreams, like thoughts need to be spoken, written, owned
sewed into the fabric of destiny.
Photos elude my dreams
captured only by the expanse of the imagination
fueled by lyrical descriptions and poetic harmony
where worship spills out in tender cadences
among the sea of receiving minds.
I've been told the air is thin
allowing gasps of reverence to filter in scoring beauty
like jetstreams crisscrossing a clear blue sky
like orange wisps reaching out of the morning dew
like a hummingbird tickling nectar from a pink flower
like a smile, eternally soaked by tears of recognition
If I close my eyes, I can see
the deep green of late summer
a cup filled with the warmth of cointreau cheer
fluttering coloured ribbons touching from the breezes
a buffet of venues under sunshine bigtops
a hand held out for me to hold
and one which guides.
If I open my ears, I can hear
songs of hurt, hope and hallelujah
comforting silence floating in midair
deep discourse reaching level 5 feelings
and words smothered in an embracing welcome.

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
Dreams are within walking distance if you know which way to go.
I will walk on.
I will walk on.
shalom. shalom.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hats from the heart.

Beauty makes presence shine. It brings out elegance and dignity and has a confidence, an effortlessness that is not laboured or forced. This fluency and ease of presence is ultimately rooted below the surface in surer depths. In a sense, the question of beauty is about a way of looking at things. It is everywhere, and everything is beauty; it is merely a matter of discovering it. John O'Donahue.

Yesterday, I was asked to help out as the "official photographer" and support for my colleague who had organized the second annual Hats from the Heart tea. Held right in the heart of the city in the back garden of an apartment building for seniors, citizens from all parts congregated to celebrate summer breezes, nostaligic music and a touch of shining elegance. Everywhere I looked I saw the smiles and eyes, in the life lines of lives lived..........there was a genuine radiance to the communion of beauty..........ageless, timeless human beauty.

This was a special event in many ways. There is a caring and sharing feel underlying it all, from the young girls, all dressed up to sing and to serve, to the recognition from the mayor (who sang a beautiful rendition of Sinatra's classic New York, New York.......and the local member of the legislature who was all smiles of genuine pleasure connecting with every single person sitting at the tables......) to the fact that each hat worn yesterday had been donated by a member of our community. Each hat had a note tucked inside............a story about the hat's meaning, or a message of love from the donor......... hats from the heart........

I havent yet formulated all of my thoughts on the experience of taking part yesterday. As an observer and a participant and as someone who knows a few of the stories behind the beautiful faces, I was touched more deeply than I had expected and was left with a feeling that I it had been a true honour to attend. I loved watching the young girls all dressed up serving their "elders"...... i loved listening to one young girl sing an aria which simply pierced every single heart listening......and watching their reaction. I loved reuniting with a few people I hadnt seen in a good hand full of years and in different contexts. I loved the conversations, the song, joyfulness of the event.

We congregated under the umbrellas and shade of the tree to share a couple of hours together with blooming hats on. We were all left with a sense of communion. Enjoy some of the photos.............. :)

In its graciousness, beauty often touches our hearts with the grandeur and nobility of its larger resonance. In our daily lives such resonance usually eludes us. We can only awaken to it when beauty visits us. John O'Donahue

"For beauty is the cause of harmony, of sympathy, of community. Beauty unites all things and is the source of all things. It is the great creating cause which bestirs the world and holds all things in existence by the longing inside them to have beauty. And there it is ahead of all as....the Beloved....toward which all things move, since it is the longing for beauty which actually brings them into being.."

Friday, July 25, 2008


The forlorn ache of a hardened heart grips onto the belief that solace is an illusion, like the distant twinkling of the stars. Comfort rings hollow, an echo lost in a canyon steeped in darkness and endless space thickened by the low hanging heavy air. Shallow anxious breath from a forsakened host keep the heart unfulfilled.

It takes intense energy to keep the hardened heart guarded from the army of feelings despite their continued attempts to advance close enough to pierce through the casing. Defense demands ever-tightened grips, causing numbness to seep into the constricted clench......until you can't feel anymore except lonesome notes lost in tones of abandonment.

Solace is a lost memory.
Wished tenderness of a forgotten friend.

As the grip grows tired, the guarded heart becomes tired too.......tired of feeling so alone, unwanted and untouched by beauty. A silent sigh seeps out of the hard casing, alerting the army of feelings to advance ...... perhaps ......... perhaps......

Illusions mask what can be found in the forgotten range of unchartered memories?

All at once the heart finds it's sorrow in it's aloneness and begins to weep. Feelings ambush the casing..... The hardened heart softens and bleeds red drops of relief, until the guard surrenders to the loving gaze of a forgotten friend. Solace plucks the lonesome heartstrings, reminding the heart that it truly does thrive in the coves hidden in the daylight.

This week's word prompt from Sunday Scribblings is solace........ For more cozy comfort, check it out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

what it means.........

I was asked the other day if I would pull together a piece of writing to capture the thoughts and feelings of a group of people who were about to say so long to a woman who had been their Manager a while back for many years and who had impacted them in a very positive personal way. They were a tight knit team. She is about to retire after 33 years leading and mentoring in the public service. I was honoured to be asked and agreed. Personally I have known her since I began my work as a Life Skills coach almost 20 years ago. She was the one who hired me! The opportunity allowed me to reflect on my ties and experiences working with her too.

I'm sure there have been times when she wondered what she was thinking, a sensible thought full introvert, hiring an extraoverted person like me who is unable to ever work under the radar and who has a tendancy to express herself quite readily (I tend to think this is a good thing, but you know for some reason it has stranded me in hot water from time to feeling? If you've got hot water all around you, steep some tea!) Over the years, we have worked on several projects and intitiatives......our individual gifts and perspectives complimenting. We have talked at length about books, ideas, training, client issues, and family stuff. Like many colleagues I have the pleasure and the blessing to work with, she and I have kept each other informed of our lives outside of the work walls. She knows every major milestone in my life especially with my children as well as I know hers.

There is a lot of sharing of ourselves in my work place. Whether it's due to the nature of the work, or it's the chemistry of the group I tend to gravitate to, I don't know. But, it's there and it's acknowledged openly...........usually with the beginning comment sounding like.........."we are so lucky.............."
These colleague friends are like an extension of family. Though we rarely interact outside of the workday besides bumping into one another at the Market or the grocery store, our 9-5 time spent together is sprinkled with personal vignettes which include everything from holiday updates to stories about our children to our hopes, wishes and dreams for the other people in our lives. Big ceremonies and events are definately and baby showers and other milestones..........some joyful and some full of sorrow...........but getting together outside of the office for a Saturday night potluck rarely happens.

We know each other well, and like family there have been times when smooth sailing has hit rough waters. It happens. It should happen actually because something broken is impetus to make some changes, and to possibly strengthen a bond. It is the discomfort in the broken mess which forces us to make our perceptions, relationships, in ourselves ultimately. So, needless to say, drama and comedy, miscommunication or too much communication, raw feelings, the company of misery, the sharing of success, different sets of ideas clanging and banging together, have fueled the deepening of our bonds. I have learned more about myself and what it is that drives me in this crazy milieu from the uncomfortable tensions naturally caused by different personalities working together under such emotionally charged circumstances and I think I've helped in the self discovery learning of others.

The group provided me with snippets on bits of paper and I did my best trying to weave them into their song with my melody. I was happy with the end product, but for me it was the process of focusing on the threads in the fabric of our relationships and shared journeys where the personal learning occured. GEEZ, I was up most of the night lost in the threads! I didn't realize how many there were. Part of the reason for my lack of thread insight is the fact that the group involved in this collective piece of writing is now spread out working in three different office buildings on different teams, some doing different work. Me included. As much as I'm only across the street, and am bouncing back and forth between at least two of these offices for consults and file info, you might as well have the great divide between us. So, I had tucked many of these threads and dropped some too over the two years I've been in exile.

We are losing a member of our family tomorrow..........we're launching her out into new adventures she has chosen to pursue and we're really excited for her. She's stepping outside of her own comfort zone and taking a new flight path, knowing we'll be around. In fact in a couple of weeks, we are all launching out of our offices, but instead of taking flight in another direction, we're moving into a brand new building together......all under one roof. Yes, we will congregate as a full department for the first time since three separate departments merged at least 5 years ago. For me personally, it will make all the difference in the world. It is what I came to realize while sorting the threads in the middle of last night as I struggled to write something for a special person in the eyes of many. I will be back in proximity with the others who know me best......the good the bad and the beautiful! :)

Like everyone, I've changed. The lessons strummed by adversity and deep gut tensions were so difficult. Some of what I've experienced I havent even made inroads on as to what the life lesson is supposed to be.......and maybe they were just really awful tasting decoys with nothing to learn from them. I don't know yet. What I do know is that I've changed and most of it has been tugged out of me and wrestled with through my writing. I can't tell you how much writing has helped my sanity. Without it, many more threads would have slipped out of my hands. I will return to the fold sporting a new look, an internally altered look. The feistiness remains, but with more clarity and more inner calm.

I just have one regret.....that my friend who retires tomorrow won't be there for the next phase of development. I think she would've liked the changes I am bringing back to the fold.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known. Winnie the Pooh

That silly old bear is full of reverent thoughts...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

sticky songs

love is flowing like a river
flowing out through you and me.......

Do you suffer from songs stuck in your head syndrome? I do, though I must admit it's sometimes difficult to hear the song over the voices in there too.

Kidding.......well sort of.........

Today, for some reason I have had a little church hymn keeping me company. The same lyrics kept looping back over and over whenever I stopped for a breather in between work tasks where I had to remain focused and not thinking about little hymn ditties. It actually acted as a soothing reprieve on a day that was fraught with intensity and the need for me to remain on task.

What's bizarre about this particular song though is that I didn't even know the whole hymn. I couldn't even place a time when I have even sung it aloud. And yet there is was, drowning out my silence. I do know the origin however. It was the word "flow" which had originally captured my thinking. I had used it to describe my feelings to a friend this morning and from there the word seemed to hook onto the hymn and pull it into my conciousness.

peace is flowing like a river,
flowing out through you and me.

A gentle flowing river of tranquility, an essence I sorely lacked during the counselling, adversity and group dynamic facilitating I was involved with today. I've always loved the visualization and feelings of the word flow..........there's a sense of reiteritive movement, never ending in nature.....which is exactly how sticky songs feel like too. I think this is often the case. You start with one idea, one word, one concept and all of a sudden it has theme music accompanying it.

joy is flowing like a river,
flowing out through you and me......

Some people suffer from hearing the same sticky song for long stretches. I'd find that really annoying. Mine usually last a day or so, and then I tend to move onto another one, most likely from a different venue. Van Morrison is a regular vistor to my noggin. Old camp songs show their harmony too..... both the loud after dinner "99 bottles of beer in the wall" kind and the early evening "fires burning, draw nearer" rounds. Recently John Denver made a comeback for some reason........weird.......hadn't thought about Sunshine on My Shoulders in years, but there it was. Yeah, I could list ten songs off the top of my head which have recently flowed all through me during a brief visit and then pulled out only to be tucked away again.....and all different venues and different genres.

hope is flowing like a river
flowing out through you and me.

I could almost taste the refreshing springfilled essence coming from that river hymn.....engaging and reassuring. It gave me energy.

I was thinking about this stickiness phenomenon tonight as I searched for the rest of the lyrics for my flowy hymn which had stuck to me today. After I found them, I decided to seek out more about the syndrome. It turns out one of the most common songs to get stuck is "Who Let the Dogs Out...." Thank GOD it's not one that visits me!

The other piece of sticky song information I learned? It happens most often to neurotics. Good to know I have another descriptive word to identify me. I can live with that. It's better than worrying about it. Right? It is right? I should just accept the label and move on, right??

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A fable.....fearfully and wonderfully...

A man walking through the forest saw a fox that had lost its legs and wondered how it lived. Then he saw a tiger come in with game in its mouth. The tiger had its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.

The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The man began to wonder at God's greatness and said to himself, "I too shall just rest in a corner with full trust in the Lord and he will provide me with all I need."
He did this for many days but nothing happened, and he was almost at death's door when he heard a voice say, "O you who are in the path of error, open your eyes to the truth! Follow the example of the tiger and stop imitating the disabled fox."

There are human beings who have come into our lives, into our consciousness who have made us question why God permits their suffering. Their painful struggles make us ask big questions about whether or not He really exists and why He would allow such grief. We ask....

"Why would You permit this?"

"Why aren't You doing something about this person's suffering?"

So we pray.....that's what we're supposed to do.....the motions of prayer.

Perhaps in our prayers, we point out this suffering human being to God........we say........."Please look after this person who has too many burdens to carry themselves. Do something please God."

We stay busy in our lives, feeling good that we have identified this person to God. We've done our work. We've passed the buck onto the Almighty's bank of woes and we don't have to think about it again.

Then one night, sleep doesn't come easy. Restlessness and discomfort seep into our legs, and makes our stomachs queasy, and forces us out of bed and into the dark silence......silence sliced with crashing echoes of waves along a shore, or winds brushing leaves......silence so loud despite the quiet setting we find ourselves in. We can't escape it. We try to calm the inner turmoil........the incessant noise filling the internal spaces. We begin by focusing on taking deep breaths.......slow deep breaths which somehow begin to open gaps in between the noise, allowing ourselves to go beyond the listening of the silence. Small slivers of space begin to emerge where the ear drumming used to be.

The uncomfortable feelings continue to panic.......discomfort grows, so we do what we can to push it away by continuing to peel away the loud anxious silence. We inhale slow deep breaths of oxygen to calm the waves, until at last we begin to feel an undressing of the ego. Soon, vocalized words are replaced by the reverence of humility.

Suddenly through a wild eye opening in the silence, we hear the clear whisperered message.....

"I did do something...........I made you."

Saturday, July 19, 2008

thought du jour

If you want to shrink something,
You must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
You must first allow it to flourish.
If you want to take something,
You must first allow it to be given.
This is called the subtle perception
Of the way things are.

Tao Te Ching

Friday, July 18, 2008

Lambeth discourse.

While feasting on abundance,
they banter and bray in serious postering tones
of the evils of gay marriage,
of the mind altering idea of ordaining women,
of the horrors of sexuality,
  • More than 30 per cent of children in developing countries – about 600 million – live on less than US $1 a day.
  • Every 3.6 seconds one person dies of starvation. Usually it is a child under the age of 5.
  • Around 270 million children, just over 14 per cent of all children in developing countries, have no access to health care services.
  • Some 13 per cent of children ages 7 to 18 years in developing countries have never attended school. This rate is 32 per cent among girls in sub-Saharan Africa (27 per cent of boys) and 33 per cent of rural children in the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Over 1 billion people—1 in 6 people around the world—live in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1 a day.
  • More than 800 million go hungry each day.
The earth continues to spin on an axis of hunger, poverty, violence...... while the dudes in robes, who study the Good Word focus on what they think matters. There are some who spend their days talking the talk, and others who spend their days walking their talk. Actions speak louder than shallow prayers and misguided hymns. Prioritizing and putting human beings first doesn't seem to be a prerequisite in the minds of the Lambeth delegates.
Is there something wrong with this picture. I am so tired of academically enhanced discourse which continues to overwhelm the realities we should be focusing on. Ivory tower philosophies don't feed the hungry, don't vaccinate the children, don't provide blankets to the homeless. Hell, ivory tower talking doesnt help to soothe the weeping of the forgotten. Effective guidance and leadership works within the Body of Christ where we all dwell equally. Effective leadership is harboured within messiness of living.

Can we just get someone in the lead to make a decision and move on to deal with the more important, life and death crises than whether or not two guys can marry? Let them marry for goodness sake.......throw the confetti, turn on the macerana, have a party in the church hall. And when the hangover of a good celebration goes away..........get out there and ACT.

the slow pace of real change

There is, perhaps, a moment in every life when something dark comes along. If we are not careful to recognize its life damaging potential before it grips us, it can hold us for the rest of our lives. We can become addicted to that wound and use it forever as an identity card. We can turn that wound into sorrow and forsakenness, a prison of crippled identity. It is difficult to be objective and gracious about your wounds because they can hurt and weep for years. Wounds are not sent to make us small and frightened; they are sent to open us up and to help graciousness, compassion and beauty root within us. Wounds offer us unique gifts but they demand a severe apprenticeship before the door of blessing opens.
John O'Donahue, Eternal Echoes.

The other day, I was priviledged to be in a room where the wounds ran deep, both in the individuals independently and as a collective group. Old seeping, weeping wounds which most definately have become identity cards, for themselves and for the outside observer. The apprenticeship has been severe, as they have weathered antarctic storms and have collected stamps in their identity passport there and back. I don't know whether these stamps will ever be eliminated or erased. They seem to be indelible.....whether they were adhered by themselves or by others. I don't know whether it's too late......victims imprisoned in their enclosed spaces.

Often I work with individuals who are on the cusp of change..........change is good..........change is needed. But, once they wake up and realize how much they want it, they tend to want it NOW. Theres a strong hurried desire to find a shed the labels, the walk away from the seeping wounds and I wish at this point I could wave a magic wand to resolve and revive. I wish it was as easy as changing into a new set of clothes. It's not.
It took years sometimes to build the prison with walls smeared in negative life experience for many human beings. The accumulation of abuse, addictions, of a life of poverty living on the margins, surviving, coping never happens overnight. Sometimes we are dealing with generations of accumulation. The family tree is littered with historical regenerated wounds........the branches reach out in all directions.
So it's slow and painful...........the undoing needs to go slow. You may be able to lose 20 pounds in a couple of weeks if you starve yourself. But, it'll reappear as flab again if the weight loss is too quick because drastic measures wreak havoc with metabolism. Our soul and our spirit has a metabolism too. It can't be purged and starved and then the inbalance stemmed one dose of a good day. Emotional literacy takes time to synthesize into our way of being. It's part of the apprenticeship. And its worth the effort.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

hmmmmmmmm........what to do?

If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.
Let him step to the music which he hears,
however measured or far away.
Henry David Theroux
I love the hestitation of this little duckling......he's got a look on his beaky face wondering if he should really fall in line and get with the formation. I think he has other slipping off to test the waters somewhere else, or perhaps swimming upstream. Or maybe, he likes where he is now and doesn't feel the urge to hang with the pack.
It's always a good feeling to know you belong to a group. There are those times however and for whatever reason when we yearn for time alone..........some personal head space to get to know ourselves outside of the clan. To belong and to be surrounded by unconditional love and positve regard is the food needed to pick and choose our own convoluted harmony with others or by the solitary flute music we hear in our hearts.
This post was inspired by Carmi's Wednesday thematic photography prompt. This week, it's animals. Ok, I know I didn't actually pick an animal photo........I heard the birdsong and followed the tune.

Monday, July 14, 2008

loving the unlovely

In the middle of the forest where the light barely reaches through the filtering limbs of the large overbearing pine and birch is a crooked little tree. It sits in the dark cool shadows of insignficance. Every inch of growth has been a struggle because it rarely captures any strength from the sun, nor any moist sustenance for it's roots. It somehow survives, sight unseen.......unrecognized by the hikers passing by whose eyes are turned up to view the majesty of the dignified presence all around them.

The crooked little tree receives no attention. And yet, it should be the one we pay attention to for it has earned our respect. It has quietly and with little help has fought the cold darkness of winters, and the frightening winds when the bigger trees all around it bend and slap it's branches with ferocious intensity. It has struggled against all odds and elements.

Now the crooked tree, despite it's size and shape that make it appear to be in early growth is tired. It's tired of fighting the odds. It has expended so much energy just to survive that now it sits in isolation, broken and vulnerable to dissolving into mulch. There is a sense of surrendering to the elements.........the same ones it was once challenged to seek leftover nourishment from.

Sighing a deep burdensome moan, thinking that no one is listening, the tree prepares to accept its invisibility.........what does it matter was not the crooked tree's destiny to be able to bathe in sunlight or to be showered with a torrent of rain.

One day, a hiker arrives. He stops right in front of the crooked little tree, it's top already bowing down to the ground. The hiker likes it and admires with wonder how this tree has survived for so long surrounded by brutes who steal the light, who lap up all the water.........who steal away possibility. Impulsively, he pulls out his waterbottle from his backpack, unscrews the lid and pours all of it's contents at the base of the crooked little tree where it is soaked up like a dry sponge........ Smiling, the hiker walks away knowing that perhaps for the first time in a very long time, the crooked little tree has quenched it's thirst first.

Before too long, the top of the tree lifts its head upward towards a ray of sunlight which has managed to filter through the pine and birch, leaving a dappling of warmth, and a sense of loveliness the crooked little tree hadn't felt in a very long time.

Today I helped the crooked little tree and it left me with a radiating feeling of satisfaction that perhaps I played a bit of a role correcting a wrong.

self contained will...........

Work can feel like soul bursting drudgery, especially if you find yourself in an environment which exudes authoritative distrust. There's nothing worse than feeling like someone is breathing down your neck watching every little move you make. It zaps you of creative energy. It kills something inside you. I honestly believe that we are capable of taking on even the most menial kind of work if we are recognized, respected and reassured every now and then that we are needed and liked...........that we belong to a team..........that we have something to offer. How wonderful it feels when someone tells you with their words or actions that you belong.....or that you were missed when you were away.

We all yearn to belong don't we? No one wants to be a lost boy misfit all the time.

Even if we are in a field of work that is suited for our personal interests and gifts, if there is a lack of enthusiasm for new ideas, for spontaneity every once in a while.........if there is a fearful flavour emanating down the hallways seeping into cubicles and offices, even the most suited work feels torturous. When the power is upperhanded, and the playing field isn't level, the very idea of Monday morning can make the strongest person feel impotent.

I often struggle with my own situation, though I happen to love the work I do, which is why I continue to find a way to balance my feelings about the hands on counselling and my feelings about the atmosphere. It most definately has been an internal joust where I have waxed and waned with my thoughts. It has produced many sleepless nights, bouts of anxiety that I never knew existed in me. It has left me in tears, shaking my head wondering how to deal with it. And it's always the work that I DO which pulls me back into the foray again and again.

Life is not to be approached as something to get through without some scrapes and scars. If we were to handle it that way, we've completely missed the point of living. Joy is nothing without sorrow. Strength means little without the understanding of how anxiety feels like. Real living forces us to figure out the tough stuff by challenging our assumptions, confronting our beliefs, and most importantly learning about what we are made of. There are days when i feel like I'm simply made up of fluff and I have no muscle in me to take on the bullies. But, then there are other days when I can sense that I have the muscle and the fortitude to see the powerseekers as simply human beings trying to do the best that they can........that their motivation to use their muscle lies in the bottom of a pool of insecurities.

The best days are when I can put all of this aside and simply do what some Big Guy up there intended for me to work from a loving heart by recognizing that it is up to me and me alone to harness my own motivation, my own creativity and my own ability to see the world through absurdist eyes in order to approach the work I choose to do with my best foot forward with a smile on my face. If I can hold onto this thought, knowing that I alone have the key to my thoughts and wishes, the burdens will evaporate into the air and make it lighter.

And if all else fails....... stick in your earphones, crank up the tunes....... ..and leave them in your wake.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

air awareness.........

There's an hilarious scene in Fawlty Towers when Manuel is underneath the counter in the hotel lobby. The old Colonel comes into the lobby only to find a moosehead staring at him. Manuel begins talking and the Colonel who can't see him, replies to the assumed talking moose.......commenting to it that it can speak English well.........Manuel replies......."Yes, I know English. I learned it from a boooooooooook."

Good to know moose can learn the English language from a boooooooook.

If I was to describe my cooking prowess, I would say I'm a slapdash kind of kitchen princess. Though I enjoy reading cookbooks and new recipes for ideas, I rarely go by the full recipe, unless of course it's when I'm making jam or baking. Then, I know I can't mess around with the details. I've learned that the hard way. However, all other dishes are "miss muskiefied".....a few extra spices, an elimination of certain items.........mad dashes, sponteneous stirrings. I've never been one to follow the rules.....
I can learn some things from a book, but the offbeat rule breaking me tends to go off the batter beater path....... I'll read about a new way of doing something, or looking at the world.........I'll find myself lost in a beautiful poem, my eye will catch on a phrase that sticks to my inner teflon.......I can learn new theories, information, techniques.......but when it comes to really learning, it has to be absorbed, synthesized and put into my own words. It has to be tried and applied.
Most important things you can't learn from a book anyways.....
like love.
like loving.
like what its like to be in love.
like what its like to feel loved.
like the pain of love.
Do you remember when big love zoomed into your life like a bolt out of the blue, bringing with it the big night sky fireworks of possibility? Kaboom! Zip! Zing! The sky fills with showering outbursts of light and colour. LOVE. When it happens in all it's glory, it hits you right in the sweet spot, where destiny awaits to be discovered. Sleep alludes you. It's like you were injected with effervescence that opens up your eyes, opens up yourself to wild bubbly gulps of champagne. The best champagne.
Maybe the way I see and feel it is very different than you?
You can't learn that from a book. Its not's not cerebral. Its a rolling thunder of yearnings and desires unique to each of us. It's a give and take onslaught of personal wants and needs. How can you really understand it simply from reading about it? How can you really get over it either by reading it in a book? And yet, the self help industry flourishes...........and feeds our quest for awareness and understanding. I may be able to learn how to make gazpacho, or some fancy schmancy dessert by scouring the pages of the Joy of Cooking......, but when it comes to the recipe for living? When it comes to seeking answers about the important things in life?
You gotta live it, be it, feel it.............and figure it out......a nose in a book trying to memorize the steps of life and love? You can swallow the essence of the idea, the poem, the feeling that you're not alone in this vast and magnificent world........but it always comes down to kneeling to the beauty of a feeling heart.
My kitchen time when I'm messing with the spices and ingredients, is when I feel comfortable letting my thoughts and feelings flow. But, by far my favourite place to reflect, to plan, and to feel is sitting on a dock (or a beach) dangling my feet in the water and listening to the grace-full sounds of life around me, inhaling the simmering spices of the spirit and learning to understand how to breathe again. One invisible breath at a time. Because, it is in the air we breathe where we find our own unique recipes for all the big things in life which are not found in a boooooook.
ps. the essence of this post was found in the spiritual wisdom gracenotes of John O'Donahue's anam cara.......i highly recommend it. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

big stops and blue canoes

Hey Charles! Your very favourite wishy washy bleeding heart Irving blogger is home! Thought you'd like to know. Full on blogging on this site will begin again tomorrow.........! Who knows which direction I will go cause I sure as heck don't.........political, opinionated, sexual, or touchy feely smarmy...... stay tuned!
ps. It looks like you only have a couple more weeks to knock on my office window for a chat and a cig invite. Then, I will be lodged on the second floor away from the people I love to chat with, AND on the other side of the river away from a bus route. Should I not be set up with a desk in the front foyer so I can be the Irving blogger Walmart greeter????? Wouldn't I be good at that?
Perhaps we could start some lobbying.......pun intended.

Friday, July 11, 2008


We've been on the road for almost two weeks..........jumping in pools, lakes and puddles....... throwing pennies into fountains, making wishes. We've reconnected with friends and family.... sipped wine, ate strawberries, sat around big tables sharing summer meals.

Along the way, we've soaked in the sun, played a few games, sat on a dock, took in a concert on Parliament Hill on Canada Day. Saw a Blue Jays game, did some shopping, paddled in a kayak, took a great ride in a boat. I slipped into a canoe for a very short stint, dangled my feet in Lake Kawagama and watched a beaver swim by. We've seen parts of Ontario we had never ventured through before.........where the small highways break through the Canadian Shield. We sat below the CN Tower that reaches high into the blue sky....... and in my sister's backyard nestled into the Niagara Escarpment......

Cities and country.........the bustle and the calm.........

A long time ago, when we lived in Toronto, we had dinner with friends who now live WAY over on the other side of this country on an island near Vancouver. During that memorable dinner, we started a conversation about Canada........and somehow the term "vast and magnificent" entered into it. It became a running joke. Since then for over 20 years, in Christmas cards and scant letters....and the few times we have managed to connect in person the term is thrown in............

Vast and Magnificent......... it makes me laugh everytime I think of it. But, you know what? It damn well is bloody vast! And, parts of it are truly magnificent.

Today, we all pour back into the travelling salvation show (thank you Mr. Neil Diamond) van and begin the trek across our part of the "vast and magnificent" country...... to home. It's been a good break from all things routine, but it's time to recapture our lives, pick up our dog and unpack new memories. Yes, it's time to get home to see a new sunrise over the Saint John river......magnificent all on its own.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

clarity captured in the fog

Loneliness surrounds the sound of a foghorn, off in the distance........heard but unseen. It pulls you into a feeling of mysterious uncertainty, its sound wavering in the air as it moves through the cocoon of clouds which have touched the earth. It's difficult to gain your bearings to know precisely where it is echoing from. Hidden in the fog mask, the spooky call haunts thoughts, and pulls at the chords of our own fears, beckoning them to reveal themselves in the density of the surrounding air.

I love foggy nights in Spencer's Island, Nova Scotia.......the place where my mother in law grew up and continued to spend summers surrounded by her family and friends............loving the foggy days too. It was something we had in common. I love watching it roll in with the tide lapping up the beach......enveloping the homes and buildings tucked into the hill close to the shore. They are a common occurance because the air and tides mix beautifully to make this natural blanketing happen. Peripheral sounds are muffled leaving the more important ones heightened and heard in between the foghorn blasts.

Early evening around a campfire in June, I was surrounded by my family and some good friends whom we hadn't seen since last summer. The tides had rolled in and out many times bringing in the flotsam of life leaving stark realities and a few precious moments both of which we have learned from and taking away time and a layer of innocence. We caught up while sipping on wine and embracing our short visiting time together. We cling to these sparse life moments when winter forces the distance between them. As we mingled, some standing away from the fire, and some sitting in lawn chairs close to the flames, we marvelled at the expansive vista down from the cliff we are situated overlooking the beach and bay.......... a feast for the tired eyes.
I find it the most meaningful on the first and last glance of the season.........

As the fog rolled in, the air became more and more at a time people left to go inside to warm up taking their conversations with them......... until I am left alone. I stoked the fire, pulled my chair closer and listened to the faraway familiar sound of the foghorn while staring at the flames rising from the red embers. It's a mesmerizing flamenco dance of leaping flames. The sparks escaping from the tips of the dancing flames and float up into the dark freedom until they disappeared into the fog. In between the call of warning, when silence settles into the cadence of the crackling fire, I felt an unexpected welling of emotions stirring in a place where the past and the present meet.

I realized right then in a split second moment that I wasn't alone after all. I looked up and around and saw the vacated chairs pulled up to the firepit........and felt the presence of a past generation mingling on their own. My mother in law, Mim, my father in law, George (aka Buzzie)...........Mim's brother Max and his wife Patty. They too had spent many evenings together sitting around campfires on the beach in Spencer's Island during youthful courting, continuing on into adulthood while their own children grew up together learning life lessons and accumulating remember whens......a campfire circle of life set against the tidal pull.

I could hear them talking..................not their words, just the sound of their voices captured by the fog, pulled in by the tide. Every once in a while I could hear the realness of Uncle Max's laugh, the higher pitch of Aunt Patty's Cape Breton cadence. I could hear Buzzie's ever present charisma and Mim laughing at something...........her wit and her sense of humour always her family name.............Spicer.........

It all felt very real and connected to the threads families weave. I remembered past conversations with Mim about how she felt when she returned to open up the old house every she always felt the presence of her own parents and it made me wonder if she felt a cocooning sense of the past always while living in her childhood home, while walking down paths and roads she had travelled with a stick in hand as a kid.
I wondered what memories she revisited whenever she unpacked a picnic lunch while settling into a familiar cove with a group of old friends who also returned in the summer with their broods............or when she stood for an hour in the raspberry patch behind the house cleanly picking the juicy berries for pies and jelly making? Did her ancestors visit often? I think they did. And now, she has joined them, along with many from her generation to visit visit me, bringing the past into the present.

It flooded me with memories of when they were all there in body and not just spirit though it was always spirited. Certain beach suppers filtered through my thoughts.......the time Uncle Max cooked up a mess of lobster back in his maple sugar camp and brought them to us on the beach to dive into.........the time when we journeyed to Spicer's Cove where the sand is finely ground and sticks to salty wet feet and your the bum of your pants that is settled into an own made divoted spot............the infamous Sunday brunch that turned into a long leisurely gathering that went well into the evening..........the time when Buzzie dressed up in tails and tophat found in the attic to join us for cooked hotdogs over an open fire......and the real dogs.........all the family dogs hovering around him because he was the one who would ALWAYS sneak them a bite. he could NEVER walk away from the sad mournful eyes of his canine companions.
The past and present woven together touching the space all around me........a space of fog and smoke..........a space where the fire sends out sparks into the night.........a space where the silence of the foghorn opens a window onto familiar lives, familiar sounds clear as a sunny day.

The human eye sees the empty chairs sitting in the fog. The spirit eye sees it very differently. The human ear hears the loneliness of the foghorn streaking through the clouds settled on the surface. But the spirit ear hears the hum of grace caught in the blanket of human connections, both past and present. In this one otherworldly moment while sitting seemingly alone in the tidal air mist, I was left with a sense that I had been given a glimpse into the vast holiness of infinity.
I realized that this is the one place in the whole world where I can learn the meaning of it from the eternal ebb and flow of ancestral life and death and life and death......and of passing it on...... I also realized that this is the very reason why it will be difficult to walk away completely from a home filled with generations of building fires together. The old house and the property is now in flux. We don't have legal access to it while the estate matters are incomplete. And, when it is, we have decided that it will be necessary to walk away from it for many unresolvable reasons.
But, if this is where infinity dwells, it will always be there to slip back into another time. The homefires will always be time.