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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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On speaking out, our house of Gryffindor, and looking up

On Speaking Out

Two weeks ago, I wrote about dyslexia, a complex issue which we deal with in our household every day.

After writing about it, I noticed a Facebook friend had written a post about her struggles around educating a new crop of teachers about the accommodations that her son requires to be successful.

I shared my article with her, and she shared this fantastic new find with me…..

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The author Ben Foss, is identified as having dyslexia himself, and discusses his personal journey and offers wonderful perspective. He writes,

‘Whereas most other books or ‘experts’  will promise a cure for your child, I’m here to say that there is no disease. In the mainstream dyslexics are the minority (1 in 10), but that doesn’t make us less valuable. We just do things a little differently. To use a commercial metaphor, it’s like we’re Macs, whereas the majority of people are PCs. This book – and your mission as a parent – is about moving the model for your child from dyslexia as disease to dyslexia as identity, an identity we can all be proud of.’

His position is brilliant and so accessible.

Last week I spoke about dyslexia in the context of ‘acceptance’, and Foss clearly promotes this sort of attitude as being both necessary and healthy.

Doesn’t this apply to everything? So often,

once we claim something, own it, and speak to it,

its gripping power over us fades away. Isolated in our houses and runaway minds, everything seems bigger and harder and scarier,

but just maybe outside our doors supportive communities are waiting to be formed,

and partnerships and positive alliances are possible.

Though we may fear we are alone in our struggles,

the reality is that there are people everywhere who are going through the very same things.

If dyslexia affects your life or someone close to you, please pick up this book, and feel free to comment or message me your thoughts.

We live in such exciting and interesting times. Technology, connectedness, and advances in education are granting us infinite possibilities to empower every individual to reach her or his fullest potential,

so that we are now poised to create a better world for all,

where no one feels any shame for simply being who they are.

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original artwork by Olivia

Fun fact: 35% of American entrepreneurs are dyslexic.

Our House of Gryffindor

There are two stories that have particularly captivated the hearts and imaginations of our household,

and inspired more Halloween costumes than any other,

Wizard of Oz and Harry Potter.

George has been a cute baby munchkin, Olivia has been Dorothy at least twice (maybe 3 times?) as well as the heart-searching Tinman,

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and after my mom died I splurged on a pink Glinda the Good Witch costume,

suddenly smitten with the concept of traveling around in a protective and magical bubble.

The famous Harry Potter has had at least as much influence in our house. All six books provided the backdrop to Alex’s childhood. She lived and loved Harry Potter and his adventures with all of her being, and still does,

and George appears to be firmly set on a similar track.

Last year he was the spitting image of Harry, Olivia was Hermione, and Alex and Ry were also from the house of Gryffindor and this year,

our independent and deep-thinking boy has decided to shift to the darker side and emulate Harry’s nemesis, Draco Malfoy. How fun is that?!

Being an English major, I could go on and on about the symbolism and importance of these western world myth-stories, but

let’s just simply say that it’s fun to dress up and step outside of ourselves for a day,

and feel different,

more powerful, magical, and courageous,

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why not?

Looking Up

Last week I had a fancy echo stress test on my heart which involved me exercising on a treadmill with the goal of getting my heart rate up as fast as I could get it, and then quickly jumping off whilst maneuvering over the mess of wires that I was hooked up to, and then onto the bed perfectly adjusting my body so that the tech could take pictures before my heart rate slowed down.

This was all a bit worrisome and stressful for me, even though it all ended up being fine,

but it still used up a good day and a half or so in worry time.

Right after the test, we made our way out through the convoluted maze of the hospital and out the doors to find our vehicle,

then Dan pulled us in another direction to check out this view….

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Later, George told me that he had noticed that very spot before my test and had even pointed it out to us, but we hadn’t heard or paid any attention to what he was saying.

How do we miss this stuff?

And, what a reminder that this is the sort of comforting beauty that we can find everywhere when we remember to just

look up.

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It has been a difficult week in Canada, and our hearts collective ache,

but there are beautiful stories of love and connection already surfacing, as they always do, from times of tragedy. These small and simple stories of love and decency and kindness are the only way to ever find any sort of sense in it all, as we are pulled again into remembering

who we are and who we want to be~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

history of our costumes and why? what we need to be -top 10!

God only knows

A song in honor of creating thing stogether – my project launched SOON!!!!!

 

 

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On healing, giving thanks, and dyslexia

Healing

This past week, I lost a least 100 pounds, or so it felt like.

In an unexpected and terribly powerful swoosh of love, I somehow was finally able to let go of an inner demon that has haunted me for a good ten years. There is no need to delve into the specifics, but just know that this was a fear/worry that in many ways was always lurking underneath even my most sincerest of  smiles and happiest and buoyant of days.

After a couple of recent sessions with a therapist healer/friend of mine as well as two separate conversations with two different highly intuitive women that both know and love me so well,

this 10-year-old daunting monster effectively and suddenly melted into a wimpy Wicked Witch of the West puddle.

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monster drawing by George

Here’s the thing. Sometimes healing takes time, sometimes even years and years and years, and we may begin to feel that we will always be trapped and stuck and hurting,

Yet, often we just need to have many layers of experiences before we can be truly ready to let something big go.

Then….sometimes the letting go is quick and dramatic as it was for me this week, or sometimes it is slow and steady….

BUT, peace is always available to the willing, the persistent and the open-hearted.

That, I know.

Giving Thanks

I will never forget my neighbour once saying to me that she never quite got over the feeling of being in loving awe of her children. Every new phase and age holds precious gifts.

I remember, too, my mom saying that mothering a 30-year-old was as interesting and wonderful as mothering a child,

which makes sense to me now as our Alex is in her 20s and our relationship with her only continues to evolve.

So, on this weekend of giving thanks and whatever the particulars of the relationships in your life,

may we celebrate all of the ages and phases of all of our loved ones and  again reaffirm the notion,

that in whatever form it may find itself in,

family is everything and abundance is only ever really about love.

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Dyslexia

I am on a bit of a quest to begin talking about dyslexia and parenting sensitive kids.

Though I taught elementary school for almost 10 years, it has been my mothering experiences that have really forced me to look at these issues from the inside out.

We desperately need to have real conversations about the related  and complex challenges that many kids and parents face.

Just this week I heard personal stories of three local families that are  struggling with their middle-school aged children having major anxiety related to sensitivity or a learning disability.

When I am discussing dyslexia, please note a few things:

1) I am speaking from the perspective of an educated parent who has done her research but I am not an expert.

2) My daughter is vivacious and capable and happy. She has dyslexia and she is highly sensitive, but these things are only parts of what make up the wonder of her being. She is fine with me writing about dyslexia, because she wants people to understand what the world feels like for people like her.

3) I use the word dyslexia for lack of a better word. It is a blanket term that can mean all sorts of things to different people. Depending on who you talk to and where you live, dyslexia is either the proper term, layman’s language, in vogue educationally or not. Regardless, it is usually used to talk about kids who have trouble learning how to read, spell, and may often struggle with math, despite having at least average intelligence. They are often bright sensitive kids who just learn differently and they often shine in creative areas.

The 2 biggest awarenesses that I have had in the last 5 years about dyslexia have been, ironically, about how I need to frame things.

1) Kids with dyslexia need to feel accepted.

They spend a colossal amount of time and energy having to catch up, work harder, and create their own innovative ways of coping. They are smart enough to know that they are different and this causes them no end of grief. Moving through a world that emphasizes academics can slowly and surely chip away at their self-esteem, so what my daughter needs to hear from me is,

‘I love you just the way you are. To me, you are perfect and I would not change a thing about you.’

2) Kids with dyslexia need to have their worries validated, because to them their worries and struggles are very real.

This morning when I dropped my girl off at school, I said to her,

‘I know this is hard. I want you to know that all of the things that you worry about are totally real, and I support you.’

That’s it. I could see her face, her heart, her soul,            relax,

completely ~

all because I didn’t say this time,

‘You will be fine. It’s not that bad. It’s not a big deal. Just don’t worry so much about it.’

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There’s so much more to say, and there’s tons of hope and light in it all,

but for now let’s call this conversation opened.

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I am reading this right now and highly recommend it. Beautiful, powerful insights!

Happy, happy weekend of giving thanks and celebrating abundance!