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Before and After the Fire & The Audition Song

Before the Fire – written Sept. 11

I began writing this post on the first day of school, and then was swept away by the worry of the Kenow Fire in Waterton, and the pressing need to gather a few cherished items from our place before evacuation,  and so I ended up not publishing.

This post that I began was one brimming with optimism for a new year, and even despite the events of this week, these words still ring true. We cannot control all of the external chaos swirling around us right now,  rather we are further challenged to remain steady and trusting from within -wisdom & clarity & love can and often do reign in times of turmoil.

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taken on a recent hike up to Bertha Lake

Particular to this fire event,

the extensive efforts and preparation of the Park and its staff, the different levels of government and surrounding municipalities unifying, the indescribably brave work of the firefighters,

the deep passion obviously present around both honouring the welfare of nature and  preserving the townsite –

ALL of this makes me want to weep about 17 times a day.

 

There truly are countless people deeply invested and committed to  –

our Peace Park.

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one of our favourite spots in the park

After the Fire: written Sept 12

We have a calendar hanging in our kitchen, upon which I only write the truly significant stuff….family birthdays, including the times the kids were born….

weddings,

the time and date of my mom’s death- for several years I even recorded the date of her diagnosis and turning points before she died,

the anniversary of my heart surgery.

Sometimes in a New Year when I am transferring everything to a fresh calendar, I will let a particular anniversary fall away if it no longer feels relevant or important to remember….

or perhaps the healing around the event is simply                 complete.

What is certain, though, is that if an event gets written on the calendar, it’s because it was somehow powerful enough to cut time into a before and after.

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a photo making the social media rounds, taken very near our cabin….credit?

Yesterday afternoon, on our kitchen calendar, I wrote down on Sept. 12, 2017,

 

Waterton Fire.

 

The Audition Song – written on Sept. 5, first day of school

I just dropped off my kids at school and now am sitting in a coffee shop eating a lunch of crackers, hummus, & nuts, and drinking iced tea. The weather is still full-on summer hot and when I asked for an iced tea, my barista actually said ‘So you want your tea iced?’ as if  I hadn’t thought to translate my order to Starbucks language (:

I have not been in this particular cafe all summer and it has been recently renovated, looking quite different but feeling the same, quite black and trendy.  I was taken aback at first by the change.

 

I am still processing this reality of a new year.

For the last few weeks gearing up to September, Olivia and I needed to repeat to each other about a thousand times that it all, in fact, would be all right, maybe even better than all right.

Today, we sang the ‘Audition Song’ from LaLaLand to each other as we headed towards the high school, which has become our new shared ritual of empowerment and courage,

a song all about being true to yourself, true to your dreams.

 

George on the other hand was fine. I acted quite shocked that he didn’t want me to come into the school.  I told him that I had planned on settling him into his desk and giving him a big goodbye kiss. But even he knows I would never actually dream of imposing this horror on him.

 

And so here I am now, sitting in this coffee shop, writing….feeling at once both the excitement around new beginnings and the bitter-sweetness of the years going by too quickly,

realizing for sure that I need to truly commit to myself this year, my dreams. It ends up ringing hollow to my kids when I don’t live by the same standards that I want for them,

 

sing with them.

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play break during the wedding weekend, photo credit: Jonathan Tennant

 

I have not written since Easter. It was a tumultuous spring, then an action-packed, full summer. Our daughter Alex married her love, Ryland, in beloved Waterton.

It was an event that filled our hearts beyond description. I don’t even know how to write about it yet, so lovely and precious it was, but I know that it will be woven in so many stories and writings to come.

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photo credit: Jonathan Tennant

So the summer flew by and my thoughts and ideas I mostly kept quiet, trusting that they needed time and space to percolate in the heat and the holidays, the celebrations and all the hoopla.  Still, in the background, I thought a lot about what’s coming up this fall, for us, for me.

 

 

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The Bear Grass this summer was stunning, magical, abundant.

On our final turn into the high school, I dug deep for one last helpful thing to say to my nervous girl,  feeling as if every single possible thing to say had been completely and utterly worn out,

 

‘This is it. For whatever reason, here you are… in this city, in this family, in this high school. We can’t know how or why, but here you are. And so then both the great stuff and the hard stuff are meant for you. So just be you and trust.’

 

She looked at me as we pulled up, smiled and jumped out of the vehicle.

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Olivia not so long ago

 

Audition Song lyrics:

My aunt used to live in Paris
I remember, she used to come home and tell us these stories about being abroad
And I remember she told us that she jumped into the river once, barefoot
She smiled
Leapt, without looking
And tumbled into the Seine
The water was freezing
She spent a month sneezing
But said she would do it again

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

She captured a feeling
Sky with no ceiling
The sunset inside a frame

She lived in her liquor
And died with a flicker
I’ll always remember the flame

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

She told me
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us”

So bring on the rebels
The ripples from pebbles
The painters, and poets, and plays

And here’s to the fools who dream
Crazy as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that break
Here’s to the mess we make

I trace it all back to then
Her, and the snow, and the Seine
Smiling through it
She said she’d do it again

Written by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, Justin Noble Paul • Copyright © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

 

 

 

 

 

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she sees whales

Quite some time ago, I vowed to write about play. Play as antidote to fear. Play as means of coping, even thriving in a quickly changing world.

 

After I wrote this an event happened that stalled my writing, halted my sure and steady movement through my well planned days,

and once again brought uncertainty into the picture.

My step-mother died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

 

In a moment everything changed.

I remember a teacher colleague once saying, many years ago, that it is not usually the anticipated events that rock our worlds, rather it is that unexpected phone call on a Monday afternoon.

 

The day it happened ~

I had just had coffee and a slice of chocolate cake with a dear friend, a great inspiring visit actually full of good laughs and exciting future plans, and then as I  left the cafe and  walked towards my vehicle I checked my phone.

 

Three calls from Dan.

 

When I called him back he said right away,

‘Where are you? I don’t want to tell you over the phone what I need to tell you. I want to come and talk to you in person’.

My heart pounding,  ‘No, tell me now. Please just say it.’

In our most secret unspeakable depths, we all prepare for those calls, don’t we?

 

That Monday afternoon call that will force us to put everything we thought was important on hold for weeks perhaps, and then re-calibrate our entire perceptions of the world, our very place in it.

 

Once again.

 

After we hung up I cried out openly, there on the street, in agony for my dad and for this new loss that he was forced to bear. I stood there tears streaming, waiting for Dan, and looking everywhere for my friend who had already gotten in his truck, already gone.

 

Feeling so alone.

 

Wanting to call my friend back so that he could reassure me that things would be ok.

Wanting somebody, anybody, to tell me that we would get through this one.

On that street corner all by myself waiting for Dan who was coming because he was worried for me, I realized that every maternal figure I have ever had is gone ~my mentor, my grandmothers, my step-mother now,

and my mother.

 

It is just me.

 

Even my friend had gotten in his truck and driven away.

 

Then.

Over Easter,

after the hospital and the funeral and the tears and the big conversations and the grief and the family everywhere and all the missed school and work and the beginning of finding a way forward for my dad,

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we went whale watching in Victoria.

 

We had gathered there as a family over the break and we spontaneously booked a tour on our first morning. We had always promised George we would go on a whale adventure, but then had always found reasons not to.  That day,  however,  the weather seemed particularly good, we had nothing else planned, and I can tell you honestly that I knew, absolutely knew, that we would see whales that day if we went.

 

We had to go out fairly far, but it ended up being what they call a T-party of whales. Whales in every direction. Not even knowing which way to look because as one would surface, there would suddenly be another sighting on the other side of the boat.

Families of whales. Young whales pressed against their mother as they swam. An independent male on his own  surfacing then going under as we all watched with anticipation, wondering where he would pop up next.

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All around us, a whole pod, a matrilineal community of interrelated magnificent communicating, beautiful orcas.

Orcas that have visited me in my dreams since I was a child. Magical dreams where I watch them, down from a cliff at night or my face pressed up against the glass of a huge aquarium,

half of me afraid of their power and strength while the other half is delighted, transfixed, comforted and healed.

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Orcas drawing by George

A show that day that just went on and on. Our kind tour guides were willing to stay on past the allotted time because the day was perfect and the whales just weren’t leaving.

And then finally not being able to linger any longer, we reluctantly turned back towards the mainland.

The orcas swam back with us in the same direction, stealth-like and fast, underwater, towards a cropping of rocks covered in lounging elephant seals.

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Such dramatic suspense.

 

Our captain stopped the boat for us to watch the hunt unfold; the orcas surfaced at the rocks and surprised their prey who were by no means helpless, fighting back with vigor. It was over quickly, and the whales were again moving on, having been rewarded with one unlucky seal.

 

A nature documentary in real time.

 

Continuing on, bathed in glowing late afternoon sunshine, the whales headed towards the shore and swam right up against a cliff nestled on top of which was a park where families often recreate. From the boat we watched as children ran along the cliff following the orcas, screeching with delight.

 

I truly don’t know if I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing such a perfect moment of spontaneous play, natural and true, uncomplicated and wild.

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It is never just me. It is Dan and I, the kids and I, us. It is this beautiful extended family that I love so much that were gathered for Easter fun. It is my dad and I. My friends.       My wonderful neighbours. It is new acquaintances and the grocery store cashier that I exchange friendly words with ~

It is all those I have lost, living in me with every heartbeat.

 

It is all of us…

 

navigating the heartache and the uncertainty yet still forging creative ways to joyfully be in this brave and beautiful new world.

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And it is whales, meeting me at sunset after a lifetime of knowing each other in dreams. The promise is the same. It’s going to be ok.

 

 

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Rise UP.

Several years ago Olivia told me that she wanted an ‘office-themed’ birthday party. Though this sounded unusual, I was up for it –

I loved planning parties for my kids when they were little, loved it. I actually enjoyed the boundless planning and creativity that such opportunities offered,

and I found it wonderful and infinitely delightful that kids will

without question,

 

just enter and participate without hesitation in an entirely new world of your making.

They really will.

 

I also adore office supplies. Pens and paper make my heart beat faster.

Best of all, we had access to an office!

 

So a few Saturdays later,  Dan and I found ourselves in the board room of the architectural firm where he works, while eight or so 9-year old girls (and George) sat very seriously around that big table, both an agenda and a cup of Starbucks steamed vanilla milk in front them,

dressed in suit jackets, hair neatly tied back, reading glasses on, ready to take on the world and make important decisions.

 

For the next hour or two, we discussed –

personnel issues (what we should do about an employee with an excessive burping problem which involved  actually bringing her in to brainstorm solutions)

which candy our company should choose to market,

and from which seller should we buy (we were fortunately able to skype our Ryland in who had a thorough presentation prepared).

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Here’s the particular brilliance of that afternoon that I can only see now all these years later…

 

 

(And) never mind that these girls were not for even a moment  questioning their right to be in that board room which is gorgeous and  perfect in itself,

 

(And)…never mind that there they sat, collaborating respectfully, taking their roles very seriously,

genuinely discussing, listening, offering opinions and solutions.

 

 

But.

 

We were,       all of us,              adults and kids alike, engaged in an afternoon of simply indulging our imaginations which felt deeply empowering, beautifully cooperative, joyful and so crazy hilarious that I actually remember laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my cheeks.

 

 

And why not?

 

 

 

Let’s not ever forget to play my friends,          ever.

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Listen, now, because this is really important. …

There’s a powerful magic in play that goes far beyond what we see on the surface.

 

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce

 

I have been quiet so far this year, words have honestly escaped me as I look to work out a new position that feels both authentic and positive given the shifting of our times. I have, finally, decided to talk about LOVE-based play and creativity, and make that my focus for this new year.

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That is my resistance, my persistence, my rising up (I believe it looks a little different for each of us). It’s what I can contribute, and I promise you it’s going to be

 

lovely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Election Day….Find the Cake!

I may be unusual in that as a child I would sometimes lay awake stressing about the cold war, acid rain, and other issues potentially threatening the future of mankind. Being sensitive, also, to my parents peace of mind I didn’t want to bother them or anybody else with my spiraling thoughts-

So, mostly,  I carried my fears alone.

 

Now, I have no trouble speaking out and I understand that keeping it all in is not particularly healthy, but I still hold a fierce desire to protect those I love from heart-ache.

 

My 11 year-old son is my kindred global worrier and will sometimes come home concerned about some teacher’s dire warnings about the hopeless state of our environment or current affairs, and I have to talk him through it,

reminding him that there are very clever people working very hard on our biggest problems and that he may even have his own contribution to make someday –

 

though silently wishing in those moments that the message, still acknowledging that relaying evidence and information is crucial,  had been more around inspiration and positive call to actions.

For how can we ever deny our impressionable and listening children the idea that there will always be hope and that there is good and important work waiting to be done in our world?

 

At least six times I have sat down to blog about the political climate here and in the United States as it has very much been on my mind, and at least six times I have scrapped much of what I wrote,

realizing I was criticizing, complaining, judging and obsessing.

 

Somehow, I needed to separate myself from all of the endless chatter and find some light, some reason,  some quiet,          before I could say anything at all.

 

What I have come to realize, too, was that every single time I have expressed fear and disgust around the state of our politics and future,

I have sent the message to my kids that their future is something to be feared rather than anticipated.

 

Shortly after my mom died, I had a vivid dream, one which I will never forget.

I was standing in the kitchen in the house where I grew up, though mom was clearly already gone. Suddenly, I discovered that there were cakes hidden in every cupboard, on every shelf, in every single available space…

beautiful, home-made, joyful and gorgeous, always more and more cakes, and they were mine, ours, to just keep finding and pulling out –

 

Birthday cakes, Wedding cakes, Holiday cakes, My-Goodness-Look-at-What-You-Just-Achieved cake, Life-is-Good-cake, Happy-Tuesday cake, We-Are-So-Grateful-Cake,

 

and then even still more cakes.

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our most recent celebration cake

 

Though it feels as if I have read hundreds of political articles in the last few months coming from every angle, here is one I loved –

the Dalai Lama giving his bit on what is happening in the Western World right now:

Selflessness and joy are intertwined. The more we are one with the rest of humanity, the better we feel. This helps explain why pain and indignation are sweeping through prosperous countries. The problem is not a lack of material riches. It is the growing number of people who feel they are no longer useful, no longer needed, no longer one with their societies. ..This pattern is occurring throughout the developed world — and the consequences are not merely economic. Feeling superfluous is a blow to the human spirit. It leads to social isolation and emotional pain, and creates the conditions for negative emotions to take root.

 

What if I put my energies towards the things I know make me brighter, stronger, and less fearful  –

stretching, reading, walking, eating together, putting down my phone, talking to kids, playing, laughing, drinking tea, writing, making wonderful plans…..   ?

 

Then, spreading  kindness, and contributing where and when I can.

 

And yes, using my  voice for positive change,

but how much stronger and more effective my voice is  when it comes from a place of compassion and self-awareness.

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And remembering to keep on finding the light, the cakes, the reasons to celebrate,          the joy.

 

This is the seventh version of this post. Finally, I think I have it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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beautiful you….

I need to clarify something…

I often tell people that they are beautiful. And though I always mean it, sometimes I think it may come across as being a superficial  word or a compliment that has become meaningless from overuse,

but to me it is often the very best word that I can find.

 

And though it’s entirely possible I may be noticing your lovely hair-cut or outfit (or shoes!),

 

usually what I am really talking about is how beautiful you are,

and that I see you, and that I am happy to see you,

and I often even want to tell you that  I love you and give you a hug,

but some people are not ready for that kind of onslaught of affection, so I don’t –

 

but do it in my mind instead. (:

 

Or when I send a message or an email to you, and tell you this in writing, my meaning is the same

I am in awe of the essence of you, and you are beautiful.

I don’t know how to explain it well otherwise, but life can be brutal and when people can,

still,  despite all of the certain heart-ache,

just show up and be joyful and kind and creative and dedicated and invested

 

(like so many of you are),                 to me that is

 

extraordinarily beautiful.

 

I have a dear friend who, when we were in our twenties, would see an elderly wrinkled woman making her way and she would comment to me on how beautiful she was. I was still young and caught up in image and I didn’t quite get what she was seeing,

but I was intrigued and would look harder at people and at things, spurred by the deeper wisdom of my friend.

 

Now, of course,  it seems so obvious.

That  elderly woman is brave

 

                        for she has lived.

 

We don’t know her story but we don’t need to. We can be pretty much guaranteed that she has loved and lost, weathered storms and walked through fire, laughed and cried and raged, been both sick and healthy, depleted and elated.

 

And yet there she is out and about in the sun, tending to her daily errands,

 

and my god how is that not earth-shatteringly beautiful.

 

I just read a wonderful book (Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton) where Melton is describing to her daughters what it really means to be sexy and beautiful. I have been thinking about this a lot, because I am finding myself having lots of conversations lately with my 14 year-old daughter  around this topic – and it’s such an important one.

 

…If what you want to be is pretty, you’ll have to keep changing yourself constantly – and eventually you won’t know who you are.

What I want to be, girls, is beautiful. Beautiful means ‘full of beauty’. Beautiful is not about how to look on the outside. Beautiful is about what you are made of. Beautiful people spend time discovering what their idea of beauty on this earth is. They know themselves well enough to know what they love, and they love themselves enough to fill up with a little of their particular kind of beauty each day….

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You will meet plenty of women who are pretty but haven’t yet learned how to be beautiful. They will have the right look for the times, but they will not glow. Beautiful women glow. When you are with a beautiful woman you might not notice her hair or skin or body or clothes, because you’ll be distracted by the way she makes you feel. She will be so full of beauty that you will feel some of it overflow onto you. You’ll feel warm and safe and curious around her.  Her eyes will twinkle a little and she’ll look at you really closely – because beautiful, wise women know that the quickest way to fill up with beauty is to soak in another human being. Other people are beauty, beauty, beauty. The most beautiful women take their time with other people. They are filling up.

 

Fall PeaceCard Events:

‘Wonder Women’
Thursday, October 27th, 2016
Herbal teas & fall treats
7-9pm
915 15th St. South, Lethbridge
hosted by Karen Westwood                   email:karenforest@me.com
Cost: $40
Past Participants: $35

In this session, we will explore and celebrate the strength, beauty, and exquisite wonder of our feminine natures, understanding that we have immeasurable inner resources, support & friendship, and ancestry to call upon to light our way.
Through a short but powerful meditation and a few other simple and playful activities you will leave feeling blessed and empowered by the deep wisdom, guidance, and connection that is available to all of us, always.

‘1st Christmas PeaceCard MarketPlace’ Wine & Cheese
Thursday, November 24, 2016
7-9pm,
915 15th St. South, Lethbridge
hosted by Karen Westwood                    email:karenforest@me.com
Cost: $20

Let’s ground ourselves again for the busy Christmas season with a meditation for peace. Then, we will gather, play and shop! All supplies provided to make Christmas gift cards/tags together (if desired)
and…..beautiful Christmas cards and other paper treasures and unique gifts to peruse in the first ever PeaceCard marketplace!

Spots are limited due to space. Please register with me soon to ensure that I can make room for you.
karenforest@me.com or 403-308-3048
Pre-register for both events by Oct. 14 for an early bird price $50

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pure Imagination

A few weeks ago, we hiked the spectacular Crypt Lake trail. Even though we have lived part time in Waterton for the last 5 years, we had not yet done this hike. Not only is it well known as being one of the park’s more challenging hikes, but it also has some famous tricky sections such as a ladder climbing up into a natural tunnel, followed by a narrow cliff with cable attached.

 

I had been quite successful in talking myself out of it for quite some time.

 

I am afraid of bears.         It seems dangerous.         The kids might hurt themselves.

I am worried about my heart.              What if one of us fell?        The weather could turn.

Also.                   Only really good and experienced hikers do this kind of hike.

 

I am very good, so good,  at this kind of talk.

 

However, after visiting my dad, an avid outdoors-man, and talking to him about it  and watching you-tube videos of 7 year olds making the trek with solely their Barbie back-packs on, I decided it was        probably safe.

 

As it turned out, it was. The day we chose for our hike  was a hot mid-August Saturday that stayed hot and sunny, and there were literally boatloads of people,

which made the chance of being devoured by a bear relatively non-existent, as I am sure they were the nervous ones.

It didn’t feel particularly dangerous either. I am not generally afraid of heights and am pretty limber so the obstacles were fine as long as you didn’t look down.

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Nobody fell.

 

And my heart kept up beautifully.   Yay, heart!

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Sitting at the lake having lunch, Dan and I commented to each other about how easy it is to build things up in your head, make them so much bigger than they really are.

 

In Scotland this Spring, Dan had a marvelous opportunity to do something that many people dream of, but few get the chance to do. It’s his story to tell, not mine, so that’s all I am going to say about it.

Except that…..he almost didn’t do it. Because he didn’t think he was good enough or prepared enough or a bunch of other things that only he knows.

He did it, though, and had one of the most rewarding days of his life.

 

It seems so silly to talk ourselves out of things when we can do anything really,

the possibilities before us are as wide as the sky.

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And, is everyone really more talented and capable than us –

regardless of how prepared they may look with all of their gear and confidence. Or maybe it’s just guts.

 

I am looking forward to courageously and joyfully moving forward this fall into new territories and adventures, even if all I have on me is my Barbie backpack because really,

as sung by one of my all-time favourites, Gene Wilder (rest in peace beautiful man) who masterfully played Willy Wonka –

 

Keep watch this week for an announcement regarding my Fall PeaceCard sessions. I have spent the last few months pondering what they should be all about, and I am super excited about how it’s all come together and what’s in store.

Happy Fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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travel lessons and coming home

As many of you might be aware, last month we returned from a pretty significant trip (to us). Since coming home from Scotland, I have been mulling over exactly what it is I want to say about our experience. However,  rather than saying anything,

I have been gently lulled away by the events of early summer: a family reunion, some work, obsessively reading the Outlander series, worrying too much about politics etc….and so time has passed and  I have said nothing.

It’s time to write again, though, even though I often resist getting back to my computer. For me, experiences seem to need to simmer and percolate for a while so I can draw out what is actually worth being said.

Perhaps it is the introvert in me that always needs time and space, much of it, to simply make my own sense of things. I have also been thinking lately about the idea,

that sometimes we can honour experiences and events  by not talking about them.

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Nevertheless, here are the golden nuggets from Scotland that are asking to be published, lessons learned both across the waters and after coming home….

People are kind everywhere, people are hurting everywhere

It’s so obvious, but there it is. We have been so tempted as of late, to find way too many differences among us.  However, the more we travel the world, the more that we ultimately realize that throughout time and space, we really are in so many important ways, the same.

We love, we despair, we rejoice, we grieve. We laugh, we reach out, we make ourselves vulnerable,

and, in our own ways, we all hope for a better world.

 

Food is a gift

I am so curious about food, food prepared with delight and love never fails to bring me joy.

Food, to me then, is often what I am most curious about when I travel. How cultures prepare their food, where they find their inspiration, reasons for giving importance to certain foods, particular creative quirks, new ways of combining ingredients, new movements and philosophies  around food –

all of this deeply inspires me.

 

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Breakfast is my favourite meal. How yummy does this look?!?

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Seriously delicious seafood pasta dish at Jamie Oliver

At the tiny and quaint Kilted Lobster, for instance,  we were greeted with absolute hospitality, our kids as well. We truly felt welcomed into their space with open arms, as if it was their honour to feed us. The kids bravely tried an appetizer of delicate pigeon and haggis. Dan and I ordered the special, which was a half lobster with perfect green beans and a glass each of champagne. Simple, lovely perfection.

At the Gardener’s Cottage we celebrated Father’s Day with a brunch of the best meatloaf I have ever eaten served on top of heavenly sweet brioche topped with homemade Hollandaise. When I peeked behind the restaurant/cottage afterwards,

I saw a gorgeous rambling garden, a big wooden work table, a bbq, a true farm to table set-up in the very heart of a city.

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And then at the Glennfinnan House Hotel we ate in the dining room of our Highland inn, feeling as if we were encased in an old world of giant wood-burning fireplaces, plaids, dark wood and rich colours,protected from the driving rain and a sometimes forbidding landscape. We ate smoked fish, sausages, potatoes, porridge,

heartier foods stemming from a landscape where people need warmth and rich sustenance.

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History is so messy, present times are messy

My god, we have not been good to one another.

We forget, sometimes, our brutal and horrific pasts. Gory accounts from medieval times still haunt and shock (just ask my kids). Rivalries and wars, unthinkable crimes, and betrayals among nations are as old as time. Though we cannot use this is an excuse, that events have always been dark and challenging,

we do need to see that we have made some progress and acknowledge how far we have come.

 

We cannot escape ourselves and it is good to be together

We have a tendency to expect much of ourselves on holidays,

that we will see every sight, try every great restaurant, that every experience will be favorable, that we will all be on our best behavior, that we will come home completely rested and renewed.

These unreasonable expectations can create frustration and resentment as well as prevent us from simply being open to what happens. I have always struggled with expecting too much from vacations, and this trip was certainly no exception. However, this time I was able to reach a point where I felt a great deal more acceptance around the idea of simply letting things unfold

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Letting things unfold.

and enjoyed the experience of just being together in a new and beautiful place.

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All over the world, we need green spaces/ beauty

Dan and I often measure the worth of a city according to its green spaces and walkability.

 

                      Beauty and nature heal, restore hope and calm.  

Edinburgh, in particular, is bursting with green spaces and everywhere people are walking and enjoying the precious bits of sunshine that gift this perpetually wet country.

 

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It seemed generally, too, that their gardens, buildings, displays, museums and homes were quite often altars to beauty,

thoughtfully and carefully arranged.

 

Yet perhaps it is also the case that when we are discovering a new place we look up more, we see the beauty that’s right there for us to see.

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Many times in Scotland people said to us ‘we would love to see Canada’ and we would think to ourselves, ‘yes, but do you know how beautiful this place is too?’

 

And so it always is.

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Olivia, inspired, bought tulips for our little kitchen in the apartment we had rented

 

We can always find ourselves, a little more

All those rituals that I learned and lived in my grandmother’s home;

making tender, buttery shortbreads and big, dense fruitcakes at Christmas

constant summer tours of the garden and her yard: her precious roses, lily of the valley

eating rich stews and dumplings for family dinners, savouring sticky toffee pudding while tucked in beside her on the couch

standing in her bedroom excitedly trying on the red plaid kilt she bought for me

drinking sweet milky tea together in her kitchen in the afternoon,

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and of course I would think that teatime is the loveliest and most civilized ritual of all

Parts of me that I thought were me but were grandma, were Scotland, all along.

 

We think back through our mothers if we are women.     Virginia Woolf

 

Yes, and our grandmothers too.

 

 

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and in every church (kirk), I lit two candles

And coming Home is good.

And now, understanding myself more,  I can suddenly see things at home more clearly too.

I look up,

and I see my beautiful kitchen with so much light streaming in and I am inspired  to cook again.

We see our mountains and lakes, too, and are reminded that, my goodness, they are so very magnificent.

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I am reminded, too,  that there is such love here to bask in, from family and friends.

 

And…I have many projects and ideas simmering as I re-work plans and new directions,

but I feel less desperate, less ambitions, less in a hurry, more here, more grateful. Dan tells me he feels the same.

 

Coming home is good.