Image

let’s all be curious….

In our house we like to make things.

It can be a bit frustrating, because scattered all about are bits of paper, pens, half-finished projects, supplies for half-finished projects, balls of yarn and knitting needles, books about making things, little models, lego guys and pieces, more scraps of paper, pieces of paper folded up into accordions (that would be Dan, and these are everywhere), journals, more and more books, and……did I say pens.

It is a love-hate relationship I have with all of this stuff that I shove behind closed doors when people come over,

because on one hand I adore that we can all become lost in our own worlds of what to create and do next, but on the other hand I crave order and I yearn to  pair down and simplify.

However.

 

In the end, I know that  ‘making stuff’ wins because it brings us joy and feeds our souls.

And getting lost in a idea or  project can often feel invigorating and peaceful all at once.

 

For many years now, there has been quite a lot of talk about ‘passion’ and finding yours. There is some truth to this pursuit, of course, because who doesn’t want to find, explore and live out their passion for the rest of their days.

But for some, that idea might feel a little unreachable, vague, and confusing.

 

In her new book, ‘Big Magic’, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this, and I love what she says,

Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Furthermore curiosity is accessible to everyone. Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times – a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion.

So… may lego guys, multitudes of colored pens and bits of yarn and paper be welcomed in this house.

 

 

A month or two ago, George and I were walking home from school and he said to me,

‘Mom,  I was kind of tired and cranky this morning and didn’t feel like going to school but I’m really glad I went. Had I not gone today, I would not have discovered my passion for sloths. I am even going to work at a sloth sanctuary when I grow up.’

He then proceeded to spend the entire rest of the afternoon and evening researching and sharing with us facts about sloths,

as well as intricately and repeatedly folding, until he had created an origami sloth.

IMG_5759

Now, to be honest, the whole sloth obsession seemed to run its course fairly quickly. George hasn’t mentioned this sloth sanctuary  dream job since that day, and so I feel fairly confident in my statement that I doubt his life will take him in this particular direction of sloth-saving.

 

But. What a perfectly beautiful dream to have for a day. A dream that completely seized him and carried him away into gentle imaginings of future days spent in peaceful and lush green sanctuaries,

                                                                                          then gently dissipated.

 

The very dreaming of it, though,

expanded his reality and sense of possibility.

 

This same kid recently recovered from a two and a half week rather stressful-for-all-of-us bout of painful cornea issues, due to some particularly severe allergies that just exploded due to an early and particularly robust spring. His eyes were unimaginably irritated and sore, and it actually reached the point where I needed to keep him home to stop him from rubbing his eyes to prevent further damage,  and administer eye drops every hour.

 

He missed a lot of school but during  his time at home he

taught himself how to make stop motion videos and launched his own you-tube channel,

built a homemade loom to increase the efficiency of his latest knitting project,

and memorized how to solve the rubic’s cube as well as a 5 by 5 cube.

 

I watched all of this with awe, all the time thinking that it was just beautiful,

all of this creativity that was drawn out by these big stretches of time alone.

From one thing on to the next, without feeling any regret at moving on or having done enough,

just gently following a pull in a new direction.

 

This is pure play and  joyful curiosity.

 

FullSizeRender[13]

oh, those lilacs….

Feasting on one’s own life.

 

just because.

 

I wrote this post before the tragic events this week up north. Sending big love and strength to all those affected and facing such tremendous loss and adversity. Events such as this truly require us all to come together as one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

One year ago

I write this on the one year anniversary  of my heart surgery,

filled with gratitude for my healthy, beating heart

and my body,       renewed.

 

On the treadmill this week I noticed that the stepping is still becoming easier as is  increasing my pace.  I am falling more in love, in awe,

more connected to this body that is still gaining strength and has carried me through much,

and is ready now for new endeavors and adventures.

 

This week, too, my wonderful hairdresser told me at an appointment that my ‘hair is back‘ and I felt like cheering. The effects of the anaesthetic ravaged it for many months, leaving it dry and frizzy, broken and brittle.

Suddenly, it is soft and shiny again. A small thing but not.

 

And I am more committed then ever to honouring this body, this life’s vehicle that I have been gifted. Fresh, wholesome, gorgeous real food hold all of the appeal.

And I will watch, too, how my emotions affect how I treat this body, and how they live inside me-

 

Earlier this week, I had a frenetic and crazed day where I was hardly present for a minute, consumed by all of the things I had to do,

and also feeling fearful and overwhelmed by what actually may be a new and beautiful opportunity in my life.

At the end of that day, after picking up Olivia one more time from a lesson, I jumped out of my SUV and quickly slammed the door shut before my hand was out,

crushing my thumb.

 

As I yelled in pain and ordered  my kids to go grab a towel to stop the dramatic spurting of blood from underneath my nail,

I  felt the literal power of this wake-up call to

S  L  O  W    D  O  W  N,

 

trust,

 

breathe,

 

and invite into my life a sense of willingness to open myself up to the future rather than grip tightly to a  desperate need to master, control, and know.

 

I also read this week about the idea of building up core strength,

not in order to have a flat stomach,

but to make yourself stronger from the inside out,

a building up of strength and power  from within –  how I completely love that concept.

 

It is spring and many of us are feeling the invigorating and beautiful seasonal shift this week towards warmth and sunshine,       possibility.

 

All feels new.

 

It is the loveliest of times to not only take stock of our gifts, but commit to honouring them with our continued gentle and fierce care.

FullSizeRender[9]

This is your body, your greatest gift, pregnant with wisdom you do not hear, grief you thought was forgotten, and joy you have never known. – Marion Woodman

 

 

 

 

Image

joy and the story of my tattoo

The story of how I came to have a tattoo is also a story about joy.

 

It all happened about 17 years ago.

I am not even over-dramatizing when I say that when my first marriage ended, I  resolutely hauled all of the clothes out of my closet as I sobbed, threw everything in garbage bags, grabbed my beloved basset hound, and drove away from my life as I knew it in the dead of night.

 

I ended up back in my parents’ home and very gradually and gently, began to re-build and create a new life,

 

this life.

 

My break from my first marriage was abrupt and harsh, and though I knew for sure that leaving was for the best, there was much to grieve and much that I still cared about in that little  town that I had so quickly left behind.

Karen, for instance -not me, of course, but my dear friend Karen, the woman who had been my principal through my first few years of teaching elementary. Karen had become my mentor, not just in teaching, but in life: in leadership, in spirituality, in all things good that I aspired to become.

She worried about me after I left, calling me, sending me uplifting gifts, and even driving us both all the way up to Edmonton and back on the day before school started back in September so that we could attend Lilith Fair together.

 

What I remember most about that trip, though,  were the deep conversations during the long car ride –

 

Conversations that still stay with me even though she has been gone 9 years, having died of cancer a little over a year after my mom died.

 

On another car trip that summer, her and I  went to Calgary and each bravely got a tattoo in honour of her 45th birthday.

I had an orange and blue star inked onto my lower back, inspired by the paper lantern that hung in the bedroom of my new apartment.

IMG_6172

The walls of that little bedroom in the top floor suite of the old house that I was renting were painted orange and navy blue and my landlord (who would become my future father-in-law) apologized profusely for this fact. I didn’t care, though,

I loved everything about that apartment, especially the bedroom. 

I would look up from my bed at that beautiful star,

while the bold, strong colours on the walls cocooned me up at night.

Emerging from underneath my feelings of hurt and betrayal was a sense of freedom and renewal that I had never before quite experienced,

an exhilarating sense of possibility that from that day forward I could and would re-write my life. I would choose new words to define my days,

words like integrity, truth, adventure, kindness,

 

Joy.

 

And when I went to bed at night in my little apartment, even though I was alone, I felt

 

happy.

 

I rarely even remember anymore that I have a tattoo. It is mostly hidden, and I can’t see it. For a while I stated that I would, at some point, go back and have the star filled in with a more intricate and detailed design to make the tattoo more artistic and interesting, as it is really just an outline of a star filled in with solid colors.

 

However, even as I said it out loud back them, I doubted I ever would.

My minor act of rebellion was complete and I had no desire to subject myself to more needless pain.

 

The outline is enough.

 

Thank you, Karen, for your big love that summer and for holding my hand through the pain that I needed to then bear,

for generously taking me into the fold of your true self, uncovering to me truths and desires and ideas that I needed to understand then to be who I am now.

 

I am ever amazed by the intricate paths that the stories of our lives lead us down, cleverly and magically winding,

seemingly finding the fullness of circles (and stars)  to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

5 People I Admire

After hearing Chris Hadfield speak at a Leadership Conference in our community last week, I found myself thinking about well-known people that have inspired me. I am not always particularly in touch with pop culture, and I am certainly forgetting about people in all sorts of fields that I have looked up to, but here are 5 people that have been on my mind lately.

1.This man is so wise. Certainly, Chris Hadfield is technically and scientifically brilliant, but he is also funny and grounded and kind. What I admire most, though, is his clarity and perspective. This is a man that can hoist up a little girl on one hip and explain how chicken soup is made in space, but he can also remind us all in such a clear and unarguable way that we are all the same, we are in this together, and that we need to take care of the earth and each other. These simple truths coming from a man who has looked at our world, at us,  from a perspective that only a few have experienced.

2.  Ok. You might be tired of me bringing up Harry Potter. But. We at our house (well, mostly George and I) are still in the  throes of a re-visiting of the Harry Potter books, for me, largely inspired by this FB post about Alan Rickman that describes another wise man who displayed such joyful integrity to his art, and also knew how to listen.

3. How I have always loved Jane Goodall. Always. And here she is at 80, more beautiful than ever. Someone said to me once that gentle strength is the best kind of strength. Jane Goodall emanates a gentle strength and a sweetness of spirit that sees and fights for good, for nature, and for our collective positive evolution.

4. And Meryl Streep, oh Meryl Streep, another fierce woman that I have loved forever. To me she is unapologetically herself and I adore that authenticity that she has continually exuded and brought to her craft. She is unapologetic about aging, too, and seems willing to own all of the complex aspects of herself.  She’s also always struck me as particularly playful.

5. OK. One last Harry Potter reference. JK Rowling~ her interview with Oprah in 2010  affected me deeply:

Forever changed by her mother’s death. Edinburgh. Magic and depth and soulfulness. Celebration of imagination and creative inspiration. Did I say this interview may have changed my life? I actually just watched it again to be sure. More on this to come…….

Love is the most powerful thing of all.           JK Rowling

FullSizeRender[20]

Origami Unicorn made by George

When I saw Chris Hadfield speak last week, he also talked about how he has learned to really listen, and in so doing has realized that pretty much everyone has a story, has been heroic, has their own reasons to be admired. I agree. I could easily list so many of you, all of you really, and describe at length your particular qualities that amaze me.

So, to us!

Go forth, love, and be the very best you! In this crazy world, it seems that this is the very best and magical defense we have.

 

 

 

Image

That Purse Project

One of the many things that I have been thinking about as I consider Joy is the idea of  celebrating and really paying attention to the spaces around me. Being married to an architect, I have come to recognize and consider aspects of space all the time, but much of our conversation tends to be focused on bigger spaces – such as the feel of a building or a room.

I am feeling drawn, though, to honour the very little spaces too – the drawers, the closets, the shelves, handbags.

Years ago, I read about the idea of having a ‘sick-day drawer’ which would be dedicated to such days and filled with nurturing items such as puzzle books, a beautiful journal, chocolate, a brain-candy novel,

whatever makes you feel happy and comforted.

Though I haven’t yet created such a drawer and my sick days are few and far between, after my heart surgery I did have a whole 6 weeks in which I was quite forced to nestle in.

I had not personally designated space for myself to convalesce but my family  created for me a whole loving space completely devoted to my recovery. I think that I will always remember how comforting it felt to be in that big chair by the window as Spring awakened,

on one side a basket of magazines, books, and cards and on the other my treasured little antique table that had belonged to my Scottish grandmother.

Fresh flowers and cups of tea,

friends arriving with treats and treasures.

The days passed and for perhaps the first time in my adult life other than right after my babies were born, the world came to me while I just stayed put in my perfect little nest.

 

Recovery has its challenges, as does fully committing to it,

but the idea of creating a nurturing space is an unarguably loving and healing thing to do for yourself, even when you are not sick.

 

For Christmas this year from Dan, I received a beautiful new brown leather handbag.

It’s a big bag, which can be a tricky business because before long it is inevitably filled with old grocery lists, more lists (I might possibly make more lists than anyone I have ever known), 14 pens, my kids’ garbage, and you get the idea.

Well, my kids are old enough now to throw out their own garbage and carry their own stuff,

so I am reclaiming this particular space.

 

Presently in my purse is some wonderful hand lotion that I will often and generously apply on my dry and cracking prairie skin (and share with you if you are sitting next to me), 1-2 good quality pens (have I mentioned my complete adoration for pens), a lovely little journal, ginger candies (my kids hate them which helps), my wallet, and whatever else is presently inspiring me and making me happy.

 

It’s a small thing but it’s me nurturing myself while I am out and about in the world.

I can’t always easily get to transforming the big spaces but I can take tiny steps every day to making my life a little more beautiful.

Happy Valentine’s All – Wishing you all beautiful small and big spaces.

 

Be your own best friend. xo

FullSizeRender[13]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

carrying around some love and nurturing

what used to be in my purse

what is in my purse now

it’s the big things, and sometimes it’s the little things

Image

what is joy

So the first few weeks of this joy plan proved themselves rather trying.

A friend of ours has experienced an unimaginable and tragic loss, repercussions of a struggling economy are all around us, I sustained a very minor but uncomfortable injury after Christmas that is taking time to resolve, and on it goes.

So much pain, heartache, and uncertainty in the world. Every. day.

 

All of this during my first weeks of publicized joy finding.

 

I never said it would be easy. And calling upon joy does not guarantee her arrival, or does it?

Because when I really think about it, there were moments of pure happiness.

For example,     this.

My gardener/writer friend invited me over to his greenhouse one morning. It was chilly. I kept my big coat on and we sat amidst his heartier winter-tolerating plants and drank hot pumpkin tea and chatted. It was overcast at first, but towards the end of our visit we found ourselves and the plants bathed in cheerful sunlight. He entertained me with his stories and told me about some of the plants in our company.

And this. Reading Harry Potter again, inspired by the news of the recent death of the lovely and deeply talented Alan Rickman.  George and I deciding to take on the 4th and 5th books, immersing ourselves in a world of such magic and beauty-first reading together but then him reading on, eagerly jumping ahead of me. Alex, excitedly chiming in at supper one night as we talked about Harry Potter, reflecting on how her entire childhood was  somewhat defined by J.K. Rowling’s books.

A homemade pizza crust one Saturday night eaten in front of the fire that turned out better than any I have ever attempted. ever. Pure heaven.

FullSizeRender[10]

And then just a few days ago we attended the dance show put on by Olivia’s middle school and it was a pure spectacle of joy – a  triumph of creativity, energy, synergy, commitment. Loads of people working together to create something positive and wondrous. My girl swept away by her love for performing.

photo credit to Lethbridge School District No51FullSizeRender[12]

Pumpkin tea in a greenhouse, Harry Potter, pizza,  and a dance show.

And then just one more deliciously lovely moment. Cuddled up with George watching a documentary on pelicans that he had been asking us to watch with him for weeks. At first, of course, it was all quite gentle and interesting -pelican behaviours and development, habitat, rehabilitation practices etc.

but then it quickly got depressing as these nature documentaries always do.

Heart-breaking scenes showing helpless pelicans drowning in oil spills, stuck and struggling in fishing nets or with hooks lodged in their throats, their webbed feet deformed by frost bite due to changing weather patterns affecting migratory behaviours. ugh.

It begs one to ask what is even the point of rehabilitation for these birds. What are these poor pelicans even being sent back out into?

 

But even as I ask the question I know the answer.

 

They are being sent back out into life, in all of its beauty and wretchedness.

They are being sent back out into the wild to be with other pelicans, to soar above the ocean waters, and to do that perfectly executed long and straight arrow dive in that particular pelican way. Keeping pelicans in even a beautiful sanctuary is not an answer at all. In fact, if that is the only alternative they are often euthanized.

Life is tricky and dangerous and filled with all sorts of things that could go wrong, events that could very well break our hearts and leave us marred,

but, life, in every form, is also our very greatest privilege and gift.

And to truly experience it and honour it we must be courageous enough to open ourselves up to the fullness of it all, fish hooks, oil spills and all.

For, as the wise women discussed at my last workshop, when we are courageous enough to open our hearts to joy, when we are strong enough to feel, than we are also making ourselves quite vulnerable to sorrow,

all of  it existing within one same spectrum.

We may suddenly find ourselves weeping for all sorts of reasons,

so easily  touched by beauty, kindness, creative acts, pain, despair;

 

The plight of pelicans, a friend’s grief, or a perfectly choreographed dance. All of these experiences  – treasures for the open-hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

My Purse Project and chronicling a year of finding Joy

 

After having coffee with a dear friend last week, I spent an hour or so perusing Chapters and had a bit of a brainwave.

I first need to say, though, that I almost didn’t peruse Chapters – because it wasn’t a ‘productive’ activity.

 

Seriously.

 

I have spent my entire life being caught up with the idea of spending my time doing  ‘important’ and ‘productive’ tasks. I could spend all sorts of time analyzing where this rigid mindset comes from ~ Generally, though, we are a culture obsessed with results and ‘success’.

Perhaps I partly inherited this strong-hold of an ethic from my accomplished head-nurse grandmother, whom I was very close to. Grandma was passionate, loving and had a great sense of fun, but was also extremely efficient, productive, and task-oriented. She was constantly at battle with herself over the hours that weren’t productive, the tasks that weren’t completed.

It makes sense,

I don’t blame her and in actuality completely adored her. Our society was built upon the tasks of hard-working immigrants such as Grandma who had no choice but to be productive and build new lives against all odds.

 

And they did.

 

However, it’s now a very different world; the rules and needs have changed.

It feels right for me to announce that this focus enslaves me more than it serves me.  It makes me distracted,  cranky with the ones I love the most, and often quite negative. Yet, sadly and truthfully, it’s most often how I measure the worth of my days.

I am going to try serving another master: Joy

and see where that takes me.

 

So that’s it. That’s my New Year’s plan and my new practice.          Joy.

I am going to investigate, explore and give full reign to things that bring me

joy.

If this sounds hoaky, simplistic, or idealistic,      I really don’t care.   I am blessed enough to be surrounded by lots of intelligent, successful, and highly artistic people and for too long  I believed that everything I wrote or did needed to be academic or clever and original. I am done with that line of thinking because not only is it paralyzing, but I am a true believer in the deep and abiding worth of simple concepts.

Also, a very wise friend once said to me,

‘Everything’s been done before. Don’t kid yourself. But it hasn’t been done by you.’

 

Also, because I know that every practice is fortified by writing about it and tracking  developments (my friend and I actually discussed this over said coffee),

I am going to write about Joy this year and the places where I find it.

When I wake up in the morning I am going to consider what will fill me up rather than what needs be to accomplished.

 

Last post I talked about being open to receiving beautiful moments.

Let’s just see if setting forth an intent widens the scope and potential of my receptivity.

So, there will be far less ado about what I have done and far more about surrendering to a new way of looking at things. I have been given so many precious gifts in this life, it seems nothing less than a betrayal to not find ways to celebrate their sweet presence. We all know too well that life is short.

 

Plus there’s nothing like publicly announcing something to make it happen.

See.

I said I was going to re-think my blog a bit this year. Plus as soon as I use the word project or theme I get all tingly and excited and inspired and dare I say…Joyful.

So there it is. I gave myself permission to be unproductive and peruse Chapters for an hour with no agenda and an agenda found me.

At any rate, I am pretty sure that it’s a non-debatable fact that the world could use more       Joy.

And,  I suspect that Joy is a direct highway to      Peace.

 

Here, I got you all interested in my Purse Project and I didn’t even tell you about it. No worries, I will in a few days. It’s idea #1 and I just need to flesh it out a bit.

In the meantime, I hope you all feel a little inspired to figure out what it is your lives need more of.

Joy, however, is anything but saccharine or false. It is delight; a fully embodied form of contentment. It’s the smile that finds its own stretch and doesn’t need to be tugged into place. It’s what the morning glory does when it feels the first rays of sunlight on its petals. It’s the splash that sends a feeding fish slaphappy out of the water, and it’s the flick of its tail on its return. Joy is the impulse in the morning that sends you into the kitchen for tea and toast before the alarm has had a chance to ring.                                       Tzivia Gover, ‘Joy in Every Moment’

 

The beautiful image heading this piece is from from Robin Mead! Check out her other inspiring and joyful designs at https://www.facebook.com/RobinMeadDesigns

 

 

 

 

Image

On what it is to be brave, how I almost burned the house down, and an invitation

On what it is to be brave,

There have been times in my life when people have told me that I was brave, that I  was strong….when I divorced, when my mom died, when I had my heart surgery.

I didn’t feel particularly strong or brave in any of these instances.

In fact, people’s encouraging words in part frustrated me because it felt like I had no other alternatives. I was simply putting one foot in front of the other and moving through my days, my life, doing my best to work with the hand I had been dealt.

What courage, I thought, is there in that,

not realizing that this ordinary brand of courage, this gentle strength, is momentous in its own quiet but important way.

And ironically, I now hear myself saying and thinking these same words to friends who are struggling with or facing their own life-altering events,

‘You are strong, you are brave.’

And I mean these words. And yet these friends deflect my sentiments in the same way that I once did.

I now realize, though, that it in fact takes tremendous courage to simply move through a life. And when it is done with honesty and open-heartedness, I am in awe.

In such lovely and ordinary ways, we are brave.

For example,

My friend who is terrified of flying still gets on that plane because she cannot deny her yearning to explore and travel the world,

and she who is grieving her spouse or parent does so with authenticity, expressing her tears, her anger, her laughter, despite the fact that our culture does not like to talk about grief.

This woman says what needs to be said in that meeting, what no one else will say, even though her heart feels like it will pound right out of her chest when she begins to speak

or another friend doesn’t speak up, because sometimes it is better to be kind than right.

Another woman says no to joining the committee, despite her overwhelming feelings of guilt and obligation, because she knows it is just too much

and she who is overwhelmed asks for help.

My friend leaves her marriage because it is the best thing, the only thing, for herself and for her kids

while another stays in her marriage for the same reasons.

And this one follows a path that few understand or support, yet with deep determination he keeps doing his art and persists in his vision, his passion,

whilst another takes a job because it will pay the bills and that is the bigger priority.

A  mother I know watches her child walk right into a difficult situation even though it breaks her heart but she knows her child needs to navigate this particular storm on his own,

and this friend uproots and moves away because she knows deep inside that it is the right next step for her, even though it means leaving so much.

Another has the courage and confidence to shine when the moment asks for it, but  also knows when it is time to stand in the background in a supporting role.

This woman shows real and uninhibited exuberance and delight in her daily encounters despite this world that presently seems to favour cynicism and guardedness,

and he who has worked for so long in pursuit of his goal finally reaches the finish line and accepts his rewards with grace, while another friend understands when the time has come to walk away.

My friend who has cancer shares with us all her reasons to smile and describes the cherished places where she finds gratitude and hope, just as she expresses her feelings of helplessness and gripping fear,

and another brave soul silently processes the news of her illness because that is her way.

FullSizeRender[7]

We               are            brave.

How I almost burned the house down

My dear life-long friend and I were recently able to get away on a quick and much long-anticipated weekend getaway. I was finally able to see the vacation home that Charlotte and her husband have built along with 3 other couples, a lovely getaway in the mountains.

After arriving Friday evening we awoke Saturday morning eagerly anticipating our day of cafe breaks, walks, and early Christmas shopping. While Charlotte was showering, I went downstairs to put the kettle on for my tea. Mindlessly, as this is one of the most routine behaviours of my daily existence, I filled up the kettle with water and put it on the gas stove. I then grabbed my phone and dialed Dan and the kids to have a quick chat, and see how their night had been.

As I was chatting with Olivia, I began to smell a combination of smoke and burning plastic. I looked over at the stove-top, and noticed that the entire bottom of the ELECTRIC KETTLE, exposed wire and all, was on fire.

Yes, readers , I put an electric kettle on a gas range and almost burned the house down, and not even my house, but my friend’s house that she shares with 3 other families.

As I was throwing bowls of water on top of the stove, I was half-panicking, half-imagining how I would tell everyone what I had done. And as the smoke alarm was going off, I was weakly calling  Charlotte’s name, not really wanting her to come down before I had attempted to peel off the hard pieces of melted kettle off the burners.

The most embarrassing part of this whole story, though, is that neither Charlotte nor Dan were entirely surprised by what I did,

but            they both still love me.

So, if you see me randomly bursting into laughter in the grocery store aisle or while waiting to pick up my kids,

I am probably just remembering what I did.

FullSizeRender[5]

Despite the kettle mishap, we did each manage to find beautiful new boots to buy.

An invitation

I have a few projects on the go right now, and often wonder at when and how they should intersect. They inevitably do intertwine, though, and so it feels right to extend an invitation to my readers to my PeaceCard evening slated for an evening in late November.

For at least the last ten years, I have imagined such mini-retreats~ times set aside for honest connection, meaning, and simple and artful play. I know so many of us crave this, and I also know it lacks in many of our lives.

Women have always gathered. My mother and her friends used to gather so often, whether to quilt and craft, or talk and plan. This is women’s play and it is essential to so many of us, to our well-being. To find out what I have dreamed up for this first evening of its kind, please message me for the details.

HeartLogo

Image

On this is all I will say about politics, connection, and last week’s hero

This is all I will say about politics (for now)

I am going to tell you a little secret about me. I am not much of a joiner.

It’s actually hard for me to admit this because it feels somewhat like claiming a lack of commitment which isn’t at all true. I can be fiercely committed and loyal. 

I have always felt, though, that there can sometimes be something slightly dangerous about identifying too much with a particular perspective or stance. If we become too patriotic, too zealous, too enmeshed with a group,

we sometimes end up leaving out other people, other views, other valid ways of being in this world. It can all get       a little too ‘us’ and ‘them’, though often             

that is the place where we feel the safest.

It happens to all of us, and certainly me too. I speak to this but I have been guilty of sitting up on my high horse     a thousand or more times.

Since the beginning of time, though, that is exactly the point where it falls to pieces. We make it all black and white, see things at face value and forget to look harder in the depths for the clarity and understanding beneath. Feelings are hurt, resentments breed,   wars start.

We forget that we ALL have our burdens to bear and for the most part, we all want the same things.

Love.     Connection.     Peace.

I speak to this perhaps because talk of the upcoming election is everywhere. I will not speak up for a specific party here, or speak down to another one. I do, think, however, that the challenge is to really make this about seeking to understand the issues,

identifying the leaders that truly speak to our hearts and minds at this time, and sifting through the rhetoric and the drama and the posturing until we find the place where we are simply most aligned.              Then vote.

Undoubtedly and thankfully, we will forevermore need to gather and form groups and associations and parties and work for positive change and, to be honest,

there is little that moves me more than people working together to create beautiful initiatives in this world, inspired events, important societal or environmental change.

My hope, however,  is that when we form our partnerships and alliances we can always remember that

It’s not about ‘us’ and ‘them’.

It’s always about ALL of us. 

Connection

Recently, I saw a video documenting people who offered up a minute of eye contact to passers by on busy streets. I have seen other versions of this project executed in different ways, but it always ends up being deeply moving to watch people just seeing each other.

It strikes me that if I was, for an entire minute,  to stare into the eyes of someone who I felt I didn’t understand or that I was at odds with,

something  in both of us would inevitably shift.

FullSizeRender[1]

Even just imagining it feels a little transformative.

Last week’s hero

Last week, the hero of our story was George.

He had decided that he would agree to have his head shaved for the Terry Fox Run event hosted by his school and he stayed resolute in that decision.

It was a beautiful and ambitious event for a school that is known for celebrating Terry Fox’s legacy. Thousands of kids, teachers and parents came from all over our city to walk together, cheer on the memory of Terry (even his dad was in attendance) and raise money for cancer research.

FullSizeRender[2]

When it was time,

George marched up onto the stage with the other brave volunteers and quietly let the stylist shave his hair all the while wearing a sticker announcing that ‘he was running today for Grandma Carol‘.

My beautiful boy who has always had a gorgeous head full of blond hair that I have loved to smell, kiss, ruffle~

afterwards walked back to where we were sitting (a little shakily),

          completely bald.

All at once my heart both broke and grew.

I have long since given up on the idea of finding a one and only hero who always acts in a way that is brave and true and good. Few, if any of us, are capable of that.

But we do get little opportunities, scattered throughout our every days, to have heroic moments.

Yay George, for accepting and rising up to yours.

FullSizeRender[3]

Image

On decluttering, walking, and my little girl….

Decluttering

It is an interesting period for me,  right now ~

The time has come, my heart surgeon has informed Dan and I,

to move ahead with my heart surgery.

I am now waiting to go through for a few more tests

and then we will be given a date.

I have felt all sorts of emotions around the processing of this big news:

relief, conviction, fear, anger,  excitement, anticipation, confusion, frustration, deep gratitude….

 

One of my biggest challenges, though, has simply been around what to do with myself during this time.

I am the sort of person that thrives on expansion in every direction and operating from her extensive lists,

constantly setting new goals and getting things done,

drawing lines through my items accomplished  as quickly as I add more new things to do.

This all, I admit, makes me feel productive and useful and alive and a part of things.

 

Yet, here I am,

suddenly being asked to      slow        right        down,

and take loving care of myself in all ways to prepare for what my body is about to go through ~

My priorities have suddenly become

not adding too many new things to my lists,

long walks and stretching,

eating wholesome foods,

staying calm and grounded by being mindful and meditating,

attending to myself and my family, and letting my family and friends attend to me.

 

I am also slowly but surely tidying things up at home,

simplifying,

paying attention to many of the little chores and projects that will allow me to feel organized and happier during my recuperation time.

One of those projects involves decluttering my working space, the room that stores all of my many books, paper and art supplies. This is a job that I have been trying to get to for at least two years, as the room has become a chaotic disaster, nothing more than a place to put everything.

I am finding myself moving through this particular task gently and lovingly, working on it a bit each day, combing though books and old pictures, cards, old journals,

making recurring trips to Michael’s for more wicker baskets,

and feeling so re-inspired by all of the wonderful things that I forgot I owned.

 

As the space begins to transform and stuff gets cleared out I feel noticeably lighter.

 

And so it strikes me that perhaps, in life,

there may be times of transition,

wherein we feel seriously called to declutter not just our rooms but our life in its entirety.

We must stop, blink as if we are just waking up,

assess our surroundings, reflect on where we are putting our time and energies and ask ourselves,

‘Is this necessary?’

‘Do I even want this anymore?’

‘Is this a good use of my time?’

‘Does this serve me? Does this serve my family?’

‘Is this still a good fit?’

‘Does this still interest me?’

Magically, I am finding that in the distilling, the decluttering, the clearing away,

and the slowing down,

a gentle and bright clarity is undeniably coming.

Surprisingly, underneath all of the stuff and the people and the events and the clutter and the aspirations,

sits

me.

IMG_3013

Walking

I was driving by our urban lake one afternoon this week, and heard a tiny voice inside my head say,

Walk around the lake.’

 Ok,

I thought,

committed to my new plan of slowing down and listening.

 

After dropping off several bags of used books at George’s school, I returned to the lake and walked its perimeter.

The weather was cold, but the air was still.

It was just me alone with the sounds of my steps,           my breath.

I passed a handful of senior citizen couples, we all smiled at each other and said hello,

and one older gentleman deeply engrossed in preparing his fishing line as he sat on a bench,

and, oh yeah,

these guys.

Why hello, Canada Geese.

I see you.

Here

we all are.

 

Thich Nhat Hanh writes,

Walk wherever you are. Don’t wait for the perfect forest path. Even when you go to the bus stop, make it into a walking meditation. Even if your surroundings are full of noise and agitation, you can still walk in rhythm with your breathing. Even in the commotion of a big city, you can walk with peace, and happiness, and an inner smile. This is what it means to live fully in every moment of every day of your life.

My Little Girl

IMG_3016

Our sweet Olivia perfectly engaged in her own walking meditation -this photo taken many years ago by my dear friend Andrea.