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.


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.


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….


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.


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.


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.


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.




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.


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







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,






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.


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