Saturday, December 31, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 29, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 25, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

shooting stars.... evening lights.

 Candlelight holding up the sunset.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, December 03, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Monday, November 28, 2011


As a little girl, I was never really good at colouring a picture inside the margins.  I'd start off with those intentions, keeping an eye on the black outline, studiously shading with the same even strokes. Before I knew it, a line of colour would cross over beyond the margins.  I'd usually lose interest in finishing the task.  Too repetitive.  Too mindless.  Or maybe it wasn't mindless.  Maybe it was exactly the opposite and  it was just that my mind that always had a tendancy to drift. It never felt creative.  It always felt too closed in! 

The same can be said for my penmanship.  As my writing style evolved, it became more and more scripty looking.  Given that I am left handed as well and can't see the page as I write, remaining within the left margin and the right side of the paper as well as staying on the line were never my forte.   Can't cut a straight line with scissors either.  And I suck at craft projects that require teeny tiny fine motor skills.  Beading, hand stitching, needlepoint?  Forget about it!  Knitting too.  I've tried.  Not my cup of tea.   

I'm a big canvas, large crafty project kind of person! Expressive!  Open ended!  No boundaries........ Creative infinity.  That's my preference.   There's a freedom of motion and emotion during the process that satisfies and suits me.   I could say the same thing about the type of work I enjoy the most.  Nothing frustrates me more than being shackled by a bunch of bureaucratic rules, especially the ones that impact people negatively or make no sense to me.  I like to push the envelope..... beyond the margins!   To a place where thinking outside of the designated box produces results.   Hold my hands down.  Or, keep me cornered while I feel a sense of unfairness and I just about burst.  

Looks like my body reacts the same way to margins.  It colours outside of the lines!   What does this mean??  Well, it means that I have another appointment with the surgeon on Wednesday.  She needs to make the "margins" around the microscopic cancer area another 1 milimetre wider before I can heal fully and then start radiation treatment..... before everyone is comfortable that all of the cancer has been removed.   

 1 milimetre.......... Crazy eh? The width of a hair!  It seems so outrageously small!   Yet, it is monumentally important this time that my "margins" are respected!!  It's not in my hands to accomplish this.  Thank God, I'm in the hands of a master whom I completely trust......who knows her margins.  I bet even as a little girl she was able to colour without her mind drifting............ Let's frigging hope so!  

A friend or two who have also experienced this told me that its more of a head game than anything.  They weren't kidding!  Every day, I try my best to stay emotionally afloat, to keep things in perspective, to rid myself of "energy vampires," to take in fresh air, to smile, to have bubble baths........ and to catch a falling star to put into my pocket so I can pull it out on the days when the reality of this knocks the sense right out of my head!    It truly is a head game.  An spinny head twirl!

Today, the first Sunday of Advent, I lit a candle.  It is the candle of hope and expectation.........  Just one more silly old milimetre.........  before I light next Sunday's candle.  The Peace one.......

Thursday, November 24, 2011

memories floating in the late night air.........

Late night ramblings almost always leads to thoughts that have been turned off for a while.  Random memories surface, triggered by a recognizable feeling or a glimpse of something you see in the darkness of the sky.  I just looked out the window .......... down river.  It had been a snowy day, the first of what may be a long season of hibernation, of contemplation, of healing through meditation and treatment.  Evening's winds brought more swirling tiny flakes, the ones that accumulate more rapidly than the fatter ones for some reason.  Now, all is calm.  A blanket of pristine white stuff covers the streets, blending them into the rest of the landscape.  

The clouds are breaking.  There are no stars visible.  Yet.  Only a few streetlights glow yellow on the other side of the right.  What caught my eye was an unusual light on the horizon.  Nothing glamourous.  Just a swath of dull light coming through the runaway clouds.  It's reassuring message tells me this latest storm is over. For some reason, the view snatches a heartfelt memory I hadn't revisited in long time.  

I love when that happens!  It seems so out of the blue.......... You're looking at one thing and all of a sudden, your thoughts are transported to another time and place.  You hear a piece of music and in one grace note, you find yourself flooded with stories and faces from your past.  Our senses are such a beautiful guide to tapping into our foundational archives.   Sometimes they produce smiles.  Sometimes tears.  Sometimes searing soul pain.  Sometimes comfort.  One or all.......... we feel them when allow the sensory connections to be made between a present moment and a past moment.   

Tonight, as I looked out the window and saw the dull light above the river horizon........ clouds breaking off, floating individually at such a low level, I automatically found myself transported to the time when my son had just been born.  Over 14 years ago.  For the first three weeks of Max's life, he was nocturnal.  His little time clock was upside down.  Consequently so was his Momma's.  I think if he had been my first baby, it would've made me feel inadequate and stressed.... second guessing my ability and all that.  Instead, I was in a different headspace......... and embraced the time we had together during the middle of the night when few lights twinkled in the dark, when the fall storms moved through leaving peace.   We were awake together.  We slept at the same time.  Day was night.  Night was day.  Our own mixed up routine. 

The majority of time at 3 am, he was in my arms as I comfortably sat in the cushioned corner of the couch.  I'd rock him and talk quietly.  I kissed his forehead often, transferring my love to him through touch.  Sometimes, I'd have him tucked in the crook of my right arm while reading a book held by my left hand.  Sometimes, I'd lay him down on a fluffy blanket on the couch to let him stretch his limbs, to let him look around at his surroundings.  If he did fall asleep it was always against my chest.... his little trusting body cuddled up with a complete sense of security.   

Our time together during our nocturnal adjustments left an indelible bond that gestated then and continued to grow in the months following when late nights meant nursing and then a return to his bassinet.  I loved having him in my arms.  As I did with Martha.  Day or night. 

It also left me with a peaceful feeling when my time clock turns upside down..... when my regular routine is cast aside for one reason or another...... and I'm free to go with the flow of sleeping and doing other activities at the wrong time of day.  Its certainly not stress free when I MUST get up in the morning to head to work.  But, as I journey down this little life detour, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to step out of the regular day and listen to the drumming of my own pace.......... my own day and night.  

Now, my two babies have grown up. Well, Max has a few more inches to go.   Still they need reassurance.  Different circumstances.  Different individual needs and life journeys.  Reactions to what their Momma is going through are real.  They need reassurance and I give it.  As much as I know, they know.    They have had to endure a lot of adult issues over the past 2 years and there was no way of protecting them from the harsh realities. As much as I would have loved to do just that!  

Routines like having dinner together at the table, like morning breakfast served in front of the sports updates on the TV, like sharing stories, personal news, thoughts and ideas ..... like putting a fire on the fireplace that acts as a conduit to settling in for an evening of low key-ness, when listening is golden ..... like me tiptoeing into their rooms as they sleep just to check on them...... like encouraging them to try something they have expressed an interest in.... like quizzing them just before a test, or providing feedback all support reassurance.  Bonding.  Belonging.  Feeling loved. 

All is blessedly quiet tonight. I'm the only one living the nocturnal life under this roof.  But I feel far from alone. The bond I feel between my two children and I is one of multi-layered goodness.  Full of warm memories....... full of present day love ........... full of gratitude.  I am a very very lucky Mom. 

Later today, that little baby I held in my arms and rocked and kissed?  He's writing an scholarship exam that is only offered to one person in the whole province.  It would allow him to be able to attend a boarding school he would really like to be a part of.  This is part of his journey.  He needs and wants to write it.... just to see.  I am happy he has the confidence and the BIG dreams to lead him.  It is also a chance for him to learn about how the universe sometimes can look after us............  you just have to put it out there!  I'm very proud of his drive and focus. 

Late night thoughts.............. random memories.......... comfort in the love that remains.......

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canadian flavoured inspirations...........

I watched an interview tonight with Michael J. Fox.  He spoke about his struggles with Parkinson's Disease and the support he receives from his friends and loved ones especially when he's about to step out into the public and his body won't cooperate.  Times when he would've backed out, postponed the event, there was always someone who cared  to give him an invisible but warmly felt embrace, enough support to propel him forward. 

Fox's primary focus since his diagnosis has been on the public and governmental enlightenment of Parkinson's, and most importantly on advocacy.  Demanding more funding for research.  Drumming up more awareness for the need for research.   His choice to go public, to use his personal situation in a manner which promotes the eradication of Parkinson's and other related neurological diseases through intensive research.

This is a man with a mission, albeit one he never ever would've predicted.  He impresses and inspires so many.  Me included. Watching the interview on CTV tonight, I couldn't help but smile at his down to earth approach coupled with his realistic passion as he spoke about his Foundation  

TEAMFOX, he explained in the interview is what he called "Disruptive Philanthropy."  The Foundation wants results NOW.  There is no Department of Cures, he said.  Money is dispensed for all kinds of research with little or no connection or accountability.  This team wants to know the findings, the progress.  Face to face discussions.  Working together.  What motivates Michael J. Fox?  He has taken on this massive responsibility on behalf of millions of others hoping for a cure to make demands, to raise funds, to send a message that there IS a Foundation that is working for them.  

Active, proactive....... putting it out there!  I am convinced Michael J. Fox's optimistic yet "disruptive" approach, which always comes across as respectful and dignified not only will help this cause, it has most certainly enhanced his life by providing a spiritual energy you can't define. 

Here's another story.................

Last night, regular programming was altered on the CBC.  Hockey Night in Canada kicked in with a special hockey game, featuring the return of Sydney Crosby, Canada's golden boy.  (he did score the gold medal winning goal in the Vancouver Olympics..... something so magical, I don't think you could've scripted the ending better!)  He is THE hope for the NHL to break into the American sports market more effectively.  HE IS the hero and inspiration for every little kid who gets up early for hockey practice at the local rink.  If Sydney could start off as a "Timbit" player and rise to the top of the hockey scoring echelon, why can't I?  

This is the message..... He is the ultimate spokesperson for the sport.  Like his predecessor, Wayne Gretzky, Crosby is a well spoken hometown boy who takes his role seriously.  Respectful whenever he is thrusted into the media limelight (daily) and patient with the onslaught of questions, autograph sessions, time with kids, Sydney naturally became our collective son.

You'd have to been living in a Great White North shoebox  not to know that Sydney Crosby suffered a concussion almost a year ago that sidelined him indefinitely.  Even if you don't catch the news on a regular basis, chances are you heard on story update after another...... from the "catastrophic" messages that he would never play again, to the hopeful message that he just needs time to heal. Many debates on the need to change the type of on ice playing/hitting/checking ensued as did discussions on what a concussion feels like and how it is treated.   Often, a Crosby news update was the headliner in the National paper, or the top story on the National news, usurping some violent uprising that was changing another nation in the Middle East!  SAFE to assume this got out of hand.   The media beat this story to a pulp. 

However, like many folks across this country, I embraced the hype. Why?  Because of his manner.  Because of how he presented himself while working hard to get back in shape.  Because he has drive, determination, focus.  I wanted to see return to the ice again.  Would he be just as effective?  How would he perform?  Would he be able to find that confidence.... that "zone" where only the elite and gifted can enter or would it be gone for good?   It took a matter of seconds to see that Sydney Crosby still ruled the ice.  2 goals and 2 assists later? Boy Wonder is back.  

What he went through personally has had to be life altering. That famous hockey check that knocked him to the ground a year ago (and has been shown on the news on a daily basis....!!!) not only left him with a brain injury and an unpredictable healing journey, it foisted him into the role of spokesman.  Head injuries now have their spokesperson. Even new techniques were tried on him to get him back to top shape.  We're learning abou them now.   It will be interesting to see if he takes this on as effectively as Michael J. Fox has Parkinson's Disease............ If he's paying attention to his destiny, he will.  For now, let him play, play, play.....  let him be the quiet mentor of every kid who laces up for early morning practices.....

So, why did these two stories merge into one article?  Hockey.  Michael J. Fox is a rabid hockey fan.  Crazy for it!!  He may be an American citizen, but he is a Canuck at heart.  Grew up here.  Was fed on Hockey Night in Canada.   He's often seen sitting in the stands at a game.  I'm sure he has had many discussions with his friends on the progress of our golden boy Sydney......  However, there other connections I was thinking abou too.  These two guys have the same behavioural manner.  The same approach to the public.  Respectful.  Approachable.  Determined.  Emotionally literate. Dignified even when they wear flannel plaid!  They project the manner all Canadians aspire to.  These are values we collectively hold dear. It is what is expected of us.  In the boardrooms, on the warfronts, during peacekeeping, in front of a camera........... in our communities, in our classrooms.  Face to face.  

The other thing?  Well it turns out that the place where Michael J. Fox's tremours quietly settle down the most? At the rink.  When he's geared up...... skates, jersey, shoulder pads etc, it appears Fox is in his happy place! Put a hockey stick in his hands and Michael J. Fox is physically and spiritually integrated.  The friendly banterer who continues to be an effective advocate?  I'm sure he was glued to the TV last night too waiting, watching and hoping Sydney could bring the magic back to the game.

These two men, have learned to work hard, and have learned how to tackle "mind over matter....."  Their trials are part of who they are.......  Just thinking about them tonight inspires me as I accept the next stage in my own journey.  Their determination certainly puts things into perspective.   

Monday, November 21, 2011

jumpy monkey thoughts......

Certainty is a scarce commodity in high demand.  We want the truth.  WE demand to know the facts, the details, the credible rather than the incredible.  Feed me assurance, we say.   Don't leave me hanging like a dangling participle, we demand.  Give me certainty!  A whole punch bowl filled with it!

Life doesn't work like that.  Most of the time we live in mid-air subjectivity, anxious to find safe ground.  We touchdown on that safe ground and before we know it, we bounce back up in the air, arms flailing, legs splayed.  Trampolines are what we crave! NOT certainty! 

The longer we feel a sense of security that anchors us to knowing and believing with unequivocal assurance,  the more our urge intensifies to add a new bouncy spice into our lives.  As much as we seek out certainty to own it, we quickly realize we just want to rent it. Just for a breather.  Just for a little while. 

Today, I need that breather.   I need to feel that dollop of reassurance that all will work out just fine.  Financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually.  The whole enchilada!  Just a little safety net made of soft down to catch me, to rock me, to take the load off my shoulders and the growling from my stomach.   A bouquet of blossoming care I can hold onto with my hands.  To inhale its sweet aromatic comfort. 

But, I know its not within my outward reach.  It never will be.   No ........ its inside.  I've got to reach deep inside for that relaxin' comfort.  For a reprieve.  Its in my control how to react/respond/act.  This very thought?  Gives me strength.  Produces a smile.

I am fine.  I am.  Because I know this one rule.  Don't ever ever believe everything you think.  Some of them are only jumpy monkey thoughts and you know where they lead you? 

trust in life............. trust in the spirits all around.........

The repose of night is being held ransom by the rippling of memories.  Let this beautiful Monday sunrise caress and bless this day.  Let this be the day where I regain balance.......... where I trust life again.

You can't trust LIFE if you don't trust YOURSELF. 

Peace.  Clear headed calm.  This is where i long to be this morning.  I am finding glimpses of it inside the unsettled stew. But,  I can't seem to lasso it to last longer.  Good energy quickly melts into a mass of apathy.  My feelings look like a pail of slushy swamp water.   I don't trust them enough to take these cross dressing emotions out in public for very long.  Spontaneous tears are not a welcome sight.  It makes everyone uncomfortable.  There is little patience for them.   I've been wallowing in the swamp water for a few days as I wait to hear back from the surgeon, as I wait to hear what will be the next part of this detour in my life.  

What always gets between me and that sense of inner calm, besides whacky hormones,  are my imagination and my expectations.  Even if I am cognizant of creating them as a way of preparing myself for an event, I get ahead of myself, or I plan for a scenario that could easily happen, but doesn't.  Whether they are positive or negative event-outcomes accumulating in this brain of mine that never ceases to stir up unrelenting frights, follies, and fantasies, my creative horizon of expectations almost always turns up the volume on my emotional dial.  They foist me out into the hinterland  .... into a territory completely unknown, especially if the situation/event I find myself in has the potential to be out of my control. I am letting the dark side of my imagination devour me.  

Visioning from the soul.........
I wonder........
What if.........
What would happen if.........

You'd think I would have learned this lesson by now.   Expect the unexpected ....... or just let life unfold as it is going to anyways. ....... Expectations can be unrelenting teasers that prostitute our emotions.

The blending of my imagination with the action of my expectations is the force I reconcile with daily.   And if I don't?  If I leave them to duke it out, then I am left feeling unbalanced.  Off kilter.  In limbo.  Dazed.  Even my taste buds are all wrong.  This is the conflict I am struggling with now.  As much as I know and WANT to be focused on the present moment rather than get all tangled up in the mystery of what may follow.... as much as I crave to be settled inside a pillow of mind full peace, my imagination whips up expectations into a frothy concoction of anxiety.   I'm not very good at waiting.  It depresses me. 

On the other hand.............. I love how broad minded my imagination works!  That is a true blessing!  A gift!  It could give me a break every now and then, but for the most part, it has been a crazy companion all my life.  My imagination can conjure up just about anything and DOES!   It is the fuel for my muse, the trigger for any project idea, theme party, trip planning, spontaneous dream I've ever had.  Lately though, the dreams I've woken up remembering teeter on the brink of real and are peppered with people from my past.  They are creeping me out! 

Oh, the stories my imagination could tell! The secrets it holds!  Some of them are pretty darn erotic!  It  entertains me in boring meetings, stimulates my senses when I need a boost and motivates my whole being by providing a new lens, a new way of seeing something.  It gets me outside of that BOX to think beyond what I can see, feel and hear.  It is the decorated portal I travel down when I'm writing.   It takes me down unending waterslides that twist and turn and never let me know when I'm going to splashdown into the pool of water.  Funny thing, I rarely know what the temperature that water will be.

Perhaps this is where I should focus.  Instead of storing up the ideas, I need to unleash some of them.  Rather than wait to "know" whether the surgeon got all the cancer or when I am to start radiation, or any of the hundreds of scenarios percolating in my brain, maybe I just have to make some plans. 

Make plans.  Organize a party.  Decorate, demonstrate, day trippin',  do my thing........... and if I can't do it because of an appointment conflict..... does it really matter?  

Expect that all won't go as planned.  Expect that some of it will.  Expect some surprises.  Good.  Bad.  Unpredictable.  If I'm ever going to feel that balance.......... that sense of being in charge rather than my life DETOUR being in charge?  I've gotta take the helm and put my imagination to better use.  The best medicine to combat the "headgame...."

Trust in life unfolding.  Trust in the spirits all around. Know you are never alone.  Even when there is no repose in the middle of the night...........

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

A Morning Offering....

I arise today

Blessed by all things,
Wings of breath,
Delight of eyes,
Wonder of whisper, 
Intimacy of touch,
Eternity of soul,
Urgency of thought,
Miracle of health, 
Embrace of God.

May I live this day,

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness, 
Courageous of thought
Generous in love.

John O'Donohue.
Bless this Space Between Us
A Book of Blessings.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Radiance and time........

Blogging in the wee hours is a liberating feeling. 

All puppies and children are fast asleep in this neck of the woods.  Tucked in their beds.  Safe.   Most of the city is quiet.  New Moms are up with their thirsty babies.  Some are pacing to seek calm.  Some are rocking back and forth.  Some are sitting under a blanket nursing quietly wondering if they will ever have another full night of sleep.  The fridge whirs........ dreams float on by.  I wonder how many little ones weren't rocked, tucked in......unsafe? 

Outside, even the wind is quiet tonight. Stars alight.  The moon, high up in the sky now looks like its bursting to be full.  Soon.  It will be full.  But the constant river flows it's timeless meandering. Comforting predictability, my river flows...............  I can't hear it, but I know its out there. 

I've always enjoyed witching hour writing.  When I can't sleep, I come here to reflect on the lives of my loved ones and how everything is unfolding.  We have no control over most of life's roll out.  The best we can do is recognize it, accept the tangles of it, and just be grateful for the goodness every single day has to offer.  And love one another as we set forth......  We never have to tackle life's tangles alone.

Last week, I held a baby for the first time in a long time.  He sat in my arms drinking his bottle while his Mom cut my hair.  I had forgotten the soft comfort of a little one, so trusting......... so dependent... nestled in my arms.  New life.  A miracle.  A smiley, wiggly, curious  little being happy to be held.  Happy to be fed.  Satisfied enough to fall sound asleep......... those heavy eyes opening and closing until they settled into a nap.

Last week and every week I too am held.  Big strong arms wrapped around me.  Loved.  There is no other feeling that generates a sense of security as someone holding you in their arms.   Sharing a moment when words sift into the ground beneath us.  I've come to the conclusion that if there is ever a moment when time takes a breath, it is when we are in the arms of another.......... when we have our arms wrapped around another human.   Time remains in the present and forgets to creep forward.  

The other night, my son crawled into my bed.  Snuggled under the covers, he settled in to watch TV.  He looked so content........... so comfortable, and I kind of wondered if taking over my bed, the duvet up to his neck full of my scents, head on my pillows that he felt my presence like a hug.  One that he may have needed as reassurance that his Momma is going to be alright.  He fell fast asleep.......... like a little boy again.  I kissed him as he dreamt.  Secure.  Safe.  Relaxed.  All is well.   

On Sunday, I drove 2 hours to Sackville to pick up my daughter and her friend.  It will be a familiar drive beginning in January because that's where she will be living and attending university.  I offered to pick them up this weekend because I wanted the time in the car with her........... conversations always flow more sanguinely.  But, I selfishly wanted to drive on my own, free of duties and drama....... liberated on the highway listening to my music.  A little landscape adventure accompanied by Paul Simon.  Have you heard his latest CD?  It's gorgeous.  Layered and full of sounds and thought provoking words about God and gratitude.  Toe tapping too.  He's a genius.

Before I hit the road, I attended the church service at St. Paul's United.  I'm now a member, switching from the church I attended years and years ago in another province.  It felt right.  It was time.  

I always sit in the same spot.  Near the front.  On the right.  I like that vantage point.  Morning light filters through the deep coloured stained glass.......... through a Bible story.  Coloured rays touch upon the front of the church like a wand of miracles. Gentle beauty.  Sometimes it touches upon the head of a baby being baptised and on the arms of the Minister holding the baby.  Kissed by the spirit of light.  

Sunday's service, as always, was thought and feeling provoking.  There is always something that touches the chord.... that one we often lose.  It brings it back to life again for another week.  But, this service was special because it plucked that chord over and over again.  Turned it into a heart-hymn that continues to radiate as well as to calm my inside fears.   The message, based on a story from the Bible was of being prepared because you just never know........ the future is unseen.  The prayer, written and spoken so beautifully by a dear friend........ was about remembering our ancestors.... our veterans..... and learning from their valiant efforts.  We live a blessed life.  

Tucked into the middle of the service was a very moving rendition of "In Flanders Fields" followed by the strong resonating call of the Last Post.  Is there another piece of music that can bring to attention our collective thoughts of the fallen?  While we stood deep in thought-full remembrance in the silence after,  I heard the sound of wind.  Winter wind.  A little rush sound high up in the peak of the church.  I have no idea if anyone else heard it.  I did.  

My thoughts automatically shifted to pictures in my head of young men, shivering, wet, lost in trenches away from home, fighting in fear.  I tried to conjure up what it must've been like to live, eat, breathe, suffer,  fight amongst their comrades during the bitter winter months.  For our freedom.  For our future.  Courage.  Resilience.  Hope.  Optimism.  Determination.  Belief in what they were fighting for.

That one errant wind sound brought a spirit of insight.  It offered the gift of reverence.  It allowed little me to go deeper in time.   It left me wondering.  It left me feeling holy grateful.  It also put some perspective into my fears and thinking about my own journey this week. Was I the only one that heard it?  Spirit wind. 

Life is an uncertain.  If we can get our heads around that, we're doing well.  So often we try to hold onto reasons and rationalizations.  We soak in our own dramas forgetting that others have experienced far worse and have come out of it with new eyes, and perhaps some emotional weariness.  It is the burdensome weariness which we humans needs to pay attention to......... if we can lighten the load of others, we bring the Word of God alive.  Our actions make them matter.  Faith is an action word.  

Tomorrow, Wednesday November 9th at 10 am, I am having that surgery to get rid of the breast cancer.  I take in with me calm, and the embrace of many.... those strong arms that hold me.  Love.  Radiant strength.   Don't know about the future.  Can't know.  That's the scary part.  But, what I do know is that it is the story unfolding that is life..... not skipping to the end to see what happens.  

Time to love bomb that cancer.   Let the sun shine.  Let the stars sparkle.  Let that moon burst into a full one.  Let faith be the strength and love be the healer................ and may relief feel like a sleeping son wrapped in his Momma's blankets. 

I'm ready.  Just gotta do a few load of laundry first............!