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............!