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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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On forgiveness, letters new and old, and no more single digits

On Forgiveness

‘The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world’                  Marianne Williamson

 

Of course.

If everyone from ex-spouses to kids on playgrounds to leaders of states and religions found it in themselves to forgive each other,

the world would suddenly look very different.

 

I know,

far easier said than done.

The roots of conflicts are long, twisted and deep,

and it can feel impossibly difficult to get past unimaginable betrayals and hurts of all kinds.

Still,

forgiveness has been on my mind as of late.

 

Richard Holloway, a Scottish writer, wrote

‘When true forgiveness happens it is one of the most astonishing and liberating of the human experiences’.

Yes.

I get it because

I had a moment like that once. A moment of forgiveness that was utterly astonishing and liberating that caught me completely by surprise.

I am not ready to write about it yet, but in due time, I will.

 

One day over the Christmas holidays however, I did experience an afternoon of

mini-forgiving,

I don’t even know what else to call it.

It was a very hushed and thoughtful sort of afternoon in Waterton. The weather was frigid and we were hanging out in our cottage, each of us doing our own thing.

Random long-ago events and people kept popping into my mind,

distasteful little snippets of memories that I didn’t even realize were weighing on me…

 

The teacher that made fun of me in grade school because I wrote too much,

the old boyfriend whose stinging, guilt-inducing words I can still hear,

the friend who lied to me,

the time I lied.

 

So,

as I remembered the old hurts,

based on my distorted and fuzzy memories,

I did what felt right and quietly and gently just let each one go.

 

They didn’t know any better and I didn’t know any better.

 

Binding layers slowly drifting away, fragments of forgiveness released

to dissipate,

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a seemingly insignificant exercise but not,

 

one afternoon’s humble contribution towards the healing of our world.

Letters new and old

Now that I am in the business of card creation and retail,

I have been thinking a lot about the wider context of sending and receiving letters, cards and messages,

especially given that I am also a writer.

 

My dear friend Charlotte and I used to laugh over the memory that when we were kids I could spend hours in office and stationery stores, whilst she was enamored with drugstores.

Hence, she is now a physician and I am…..well, still smitten with words and paper.

Preparing to write this piece, I looked through just one of the boxes I have that is full to the brim with cards, letters, and notes that I have received over the years,

identifiable scripts of family and friends, pictures the kids have drawn,

even doodles, quotes, and bits and scraps of paper that have for one reason or another captured my attention,

my stashes of paper love,

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my inspiration.

 

This is the recent stuff,

I could dig much deeper to the time of

pre-Dan, pre-kids, pre-this-life-now,

but those particular collections I keep hidden farther away but still kept to be found one day,

when my kids are ready to know the fullness of who I was before them.

 

For now, though,  I am far more captivated by the more recent bits,

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Truly,

these are the stories of me and us,

the love-filled evidence that both makes up and fills up my heart.

 

There is, I believe, such tremendous power in telling people how we feel about them,

and an even greater power in actually taking the time and energy to write our feelings down and let people hold onto and savor our messages,

tangible reminders of support and love.

I am so delighting in this path that I am now on, and I look forward to talking  in more expansive ways about the possibilities around sending and receiving all sorts of messages of love and peace,

because I am certain that there’s something in all of that that’s a little more sacred and precious

than we even realize.

No more single digits

This week our George turned 10.

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We are undeniably leaving the world of young children and entering the more complicated realms of tweendom and teenager-hood,

and even wedding planning and such!

I am, however, ready for the wild ride.

Truth be told, even despite the more trying days (and there are trying days),

I have never quite gotten over the feeling that

I am the lucky one that gets to mother these three and witness the unfolding of their beautiful lives.

I suspect that I have just as much to learn from them as they do from me.

maybe more.

 

Mom, today would be your birthday too.

You would be 68.

and I wish, as I have wished a hundred thousand times before, that you were here to guide us and enjoy these kids, as you would have done ever so completely,

but the truth that I have always trusted and known

is that you are.

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Our old spruce, my new venture, and gratitude

Our old spruce

This week we said goodbye to the giant old spruce in front of our house.

It was a sudden decision to cut her down.

Dan had heard the tree creaking and cracking early on in the week. We consulted with two different arborists and both recommended, for safety’s sake,  taking the tree down as soon as possible.  By Friday, all that was left was a massive stump full of numerous decades of rings and a mess of sawdust on our lawn.

We may not often directly reflect upon the presence of the trees around us,

and certainly I have not spent much time over the years being that aware of our lost spruce.

Why would I?

when she has been so steady, and rooted, and constant.

 

Yet, nothing ever stays the same and everything has a life span. We all know that-

and on Friday morning as Alex and I looked up her for the last time,

I clearly understood that even the strongest and most powerful of trees grows old and weary.

Our friend and neighbour across the street, Lorraine, said it best,

Sad. Such an amazing tree, and it lived a great life, watching over our kids as they grew and celebrating at the block parties. Always closest to the action.

Another friend and neighbour, Judy, brought up the children’s story The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein,

and it was easy to see the connection,

as our old tree, our protectress, has given us much without ever asking for anything in return.

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It is winter, and she leaves a bare and terribly noticeable vacant space,

but in the spring,

we will plant a new tree.

My new venture

Last night, I launched my new project.

To learn more, please check out my Facebook page

or my website.

I have said before that life can be likened to a trail of breadcrumbs.

We may not really know where we are going,

but each crumb, each event, each friend, each moment,

leads us to the next.

And so we ultimately find that where we are going is simply along the road.

For me, it does feel as if everything has lead to this,

and so it just expands and continues,

and I am delighted by the unfoldment.

Gratitude

Many of my friends and family came to see my PeaceCards last night and my new little stationery shop,

and though it was an exciting time to show what had been created and what I had to share,

all of that felt completely secondary to the joy I felt at seeing so many faces that I love.

I was reminded, again, that our relationships and connections are always what matter most,

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 ‘That love is all there is, Is all we know of love.’     Emily Dickinson

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On birthdays, Maya Angelou, and lilacs

Every week I am going to speak to three topics: anecdotes, books, ideas, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles. Complaining and criticizing are easy traps to fall into, but I am convinced that building up holds far more power and transformative energy.

So, my sweet friends, here goes…Our world is a beautiful village and peace does begin at home.

What I am thinking about / loving this week….

Birthdays

Last week was the engagement,

then this week brought us yet another reason to celebrate…

Olivia turned twelve.

Admittedly, I do have a thing about birthdays. I believe they are truly worth celebrating. Life, after all, is challenging and none of us are immune to pain and difficulties. To some degree, most of us struggle with our sense of worth in this crazy and messy world.

So why not spend one day a year (or 2 or 3) whooping it up, and celebrating the mere fact of our honored presence on this planet? Also, why not wholeheartedly celebrate the birth days of those that we love and hold dear?

My mother was a master of the art of celebration. It wasn’t that she ever tried to be her own version of Martha Stewart. Rather, she simply oozed joy and delight and invited celebration. She was happy to bake a cake and plan a meal, welcomed guests with laughter and hugs, was ready to dance in the kitchen or sit and chat and share a glass of wine, and she loved buying gifts….

Not only did I adore all of that about her, but I feel it and get it and embrace it all in myself too.

So again, why not celebrate?

Surely the marking of another year is worth a gathering, a cake, a feast, and laughter.

Happy Birthday my twelve year old girl.

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Maya Angelou

I cannot now pretend that I closely followed the work and life of Maya Angelou, nor can I pretend that I have read most of her books or her poems.

What I do know of this fascinating woman has come to me in small snippets:

a quote or poem of hers I may have come across in another book, an interview with her and Oprah that I saw, and so many references to her from other writers and teachers.

Still, I find myself quite struck by the news of her death this week,

and riveted by the descriptions of her as they have come in from different news sources –

she lived a life of relentless creativity’,

‘she was a sculptor of words’,

‘she lived a life as a teacher, an activist, artist and human being. She was a warrior for equality, tolerance, and peace’ (Guy B Johnson)

she moved through the world with unshakeable calm, confidence, and a fierce grace‘ (Oprah)

and then there’s her last incredible tweet from a few days before her death, that has been spread the world round already,

‘Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God’.

Be still my heart. What honoring words of pure inspiration are these,

describing a woman who fully understood her own power and willingly stepped into it,

owning herself with no apologies,

and understanding always that true power and strength is guided, motivated, and fueled above all by love.

What a woman,

one that I now am even more inspired to get to know deeper.

I will finally be reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as I have been intending to for years, and I along with so many others, will be letting myself be mentored by Maya Angelou‘s essence, her spirit, and her words long after her death.

‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you’ Maya Angelou also once said,

and so may we all be graced by her beautiful example, and all be empowered to find our own voices,

everywhere.

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Lilacs

Have you noticed the lilacs in full radiant bloom (how could one not!?),

and noted their heady gorgeous Spring fragrance?

Is it just me, or do these sorts of recurring wonders of nature become only more miraculous as we age,

and become more aware of the fragility and beauty of it all?

I see you lilacs, and you are a sight to behold.

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