Image

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.

20dbb60d-f1a4-41f7-91d9-d3071285674c

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.

fullsizerender76

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image

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,

FullSizeRender[49]

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,

 FullSizeRender[51]

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,

FullSizeRender[43]FullSizeRender[40]FullSizeRender[42]FullSizeRender[39]FullSizeRender[41]FullSizeRender[45]

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.

 FullSizeRender[48]

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.

FullSizeRender[46]

Image

On ex-wives and new wives, peace at Christmas, and God only knows….

On ex-wives and new wives

This Christmas Eve, there will be fourteen at our table. Every year, the familial combination is a bit different depending on who’s available,

but this year our little crowd will include

Dan’s parents,

Dan’s sister and her husband,

my brother and his partner,

and our kids, including Alex and her fiance.

Oh, and of course Alex’s mom Glenna and her partner, Steve (yes, I do mean Dan’s ex-wife and her boyfriend).

 

For many, many years, people would tell me that I should share the story of how our blended family all gets along so well. Interestingly enough though, now that I actually have a platform to write from,

it is a story that seems so fixed and normal to our reality that I even forget to mention it.

 

There has been an open letter circulating recently, however, that was written by a woman to her ex-husband’s second wife. In it, she expresses her heart-felt gratitude and love towards this woman who loved her daughter as her own. It is a wonderful story of healthy and mutually respectful co-parenting.

After reading this post,

I realized I had some things to say about co-parenting and blended families, too…

 

When people have asked us, over the years, what our secret to success has been,

each of us (Glenna, Dan, myself, Alex)  will point fingers at one or the other and say, ‘It’s all because of her/him/them,’

but the reality is that it has required an investment of trust and acceptance from everybody that has sat at our table at one time or another,

from grandparents to aunts and uncles to cousins and neighbours and friends.

Sabotage can come from any direction, but love coming from every direction can work unusual miracles.

 

And, if I were to respond to that letter that has been making the rounds and write my own,

from the vantage point of the second wife.

I would say,

Thank you, Glenna, for trusting me with your daughter.

I realize only now, the immensity of your generosity in letting me openly play my part in her life.

Thank you, too, for encouraging her into the arms of my family, and my ways….

Our approaches to parenting have not always been the same, but that never has been an issue,

as we each have always respected and seen the value in each other’s opinions,

and talked through whatever issues have come up until we all agreed.

 

This is where it started,

but it quickly became so much more because, ultimately, sharing a daughter means sharing a life.

Glenna, time and time again you have brought joy and laughter and hilarity to our birthday parties, our Sunday dinners, our celebrations, our family weekends.

When Alex’s siblings were born, you rushed to the hospital and loved them at first sight. And now, you are their Glenna.

And when my mom was dying, you washed my dishes, ran my errands, comforted me, and held my baby.

These are the sorts of things a person never forgets,

and definitely not the sorts of things a woman generally expects from her husband’s ex-wife. You are so much more than that, and at the same time not that at all. You are simply ‘our Glenna’.

 

You have been there for all of the important stuff, Glenna, and cheered us all on in equal measure.

 

Everybody has played a part in making this work,

but you, Glenna, welcomed me into your heart without a moment’s hesitation,

and that paved all of our way.

FullSizeRender[21]

Peace at Christmas

Some people manage to keep Christmas craziness and chaos at bay,

this is something I have never quite been able to manage.

To be perfectly honest,

I truly and desperately want to find everybody the most perfect gift, wrap with creativity and whimsy, plan and prep marvelous feasts, attend every beautiful affair, make my own cards and send every relative a personal letter complete with recent photos, experiment with fun new cookie recipes as well as make all of the traditional favorites, and still find time to curl up with my family and watch all the holiday favorites whilst drinking home-made cocoa with always real whipped cream,

all this at the same time as starting my own business.

Here’s what I have come to realize that I direly need to accept.

Much of this may only happen in my head,

and that’s ok.

Time to say it again Karen,

that’s ok.

At the very least, I will certainly manage food on the table, a few presents under the tree and happy kids,

and what more could we really want, when this is so much and all I have ever wanted,

FullSizeRender[15]

anything else is beautiful gravy.

God Only Knows

Alex introduced us to this lovely little piece,

and given that Love Actually is one of our all-time favourite Christmas movies,

and that we are a family that tries to keep believing in magic and possibility,

it does seem like the perfect way to end this year.

Merry Christmas everybody. Thank you for all of the love, all of the comments, all of the encouragement. It has been a beautiful and interesting year and I look so forward to all that is to come. Treasure your homes and your loved ones and yourselves. Together, we can create peace at home.

 

 

 

 

 

Image

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.

IMG_2061

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.

wedding table

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.’

IMG_2056

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.

IMG_2059

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

Happy, happy weekend of giving thanks and celebrating abundance!

 

 

Image

On tribes, The Red Dust Road, and a family tree….

Tribes

Lately, the idea of tribes has been on my mind.

We all yearn for ‘our people’,

all of us looking to feel cherished, supported, understood, accepted,

and loved.

When I was young, my family tribe felt eternally fixed. There was my brother and I, mom and dad, our grandparents, and our aunts and uncles. We had a relatively small extended family and generally there was no need for extensions at our Christmas dinner table. We all safely fit, and it felt as if we always would. My grandfathers died, one while I was in Junior High, the other while I was in University, but other than that there were few changes.

At 22 I married and found myself living in a very small rural town away from home and attempting to understand my place in a new and different setting. These were people who had all known each other for a lifetime. Their ways were deeply entrenched in the land, their shared past, their common ways of recreating, and their intricate webs of personal histories and stories. I was an outsider,

but I still awkwardly found kinship,

co-workers and acquaintances took me under their wing…

I also found my first mentor there too, and made other solid friendships that I still treasure.

I came to love my husband’s family and grieved them when my husband and I divorced,

especially my mother and sister-in-law.

That tribe, for me, dispersed and changed abruptly when I left that small town.

I created a new life back in my hometown,

made new connections, re-connected with others, and let go of relationships that had run their course.

Now, so many years later, my family looks very different again, and the word tribe suddenly seems even more appropriate given our unconventional construct.  What was once simple and quiet is now often raucous, busy, and complex.

Our dinner table is often overflowing, and the extensions are pulled out of the garage.

This new version of my tribe includes my dad and my stepmother Elsie, my aunts and uncles and cousins,

Dan’s family -his parents, his siblings and their spouses and kids, his uncle Roy, his beloved cousins,

and Dan’s first wife Glenna as well as Glenna’s dad Bill.

More recently, it has also come to include Alex’s boyfriend Ry and his family

and Steve (Glenna’s boyfriend).

Also, I cannot forget my brother Jonathan and his partner Dannielle…

All of us intertwined now,

like our very own little small town of stories and unfolding dramas.

My beautiful tribe.

It has always, though, come down to peace and inclusion. That has been the

unanimous choice.

Circumstances in life are constantly changing for everyone and as a result our tribal memberships expand, contract, and are in an eternal state of flux. People die, marry, move away, form new relationships, come home.

This is what happens with tribes.

What really matters, though, is that there is an epicenter of love that remains, even after so many of the players have changed.

The heart of the storm needs to be that unconditional place of acceptance,

wherein all are welcomed through the front door and into the kitchen for dinner, a glass of wine, hugs, laughter and conversation,

while the kids play and squabble in the background ~

and there is that unspoken but palpable undercurrent of ‘we are so happy to all be together once more’.

So it has been throughout all of my tribal editions,

We may not always agree, our political persuasions may sometimes differ, our choices may not always align, feelings may sometimes get hurt,

but at the end of the day support is certain, and love trumps it all.

because together is always better.

So I am forever grateful that there is always more room at our table.

IMG_8646

The Red Dust Road

I am currently reading a wonderful book, The Red Dust Road by Scottish writer Jackie Kay,

photo[15]

This is Kay’s own story of tracing and finding her birth parents, her Nigerian father and Scottish Highland mother. Kay’s sense of identity and family expands as she must weave in new histories, new places, and new extended family.

Her very real and accessible ways of describing this complex re-calibrating of family and identity positively brims over with depth and beauty.

Though I bought this book because I am drawn to all things ‘Scottish’ these days,

and though I have always known that there is an ancestral tribe and a profound connection to place that awaits me in the land of the Scots,

it was Kay’s emotional description of finally reaching her biological father’s Nigerian village that moved me beyond anything else ~

”The earth is so copper warm and beautiful and the green of the long elephant grasses so lushly green they make me want to weep. I feel such a strong sense of affinity with the colours and the landscape, a strong sense of recognition. There’s a feeling of liberation, and exhilaration, that at last, at last, at last I’m here. It feels a million miles away from Glasgow, from my lovely Fintry Hills, but, surprisingly, it also feels like home.”

Sometimes familiarity and finding a sense of home defy the laws of time and space.

Our Family Tree

Sometimes kids can describe it best, and distill the truths~

photo[16]

‘Family Tree’ by George, aged 7, from our kidart archives

Perhaps we are ALL a part of that tree.

 

 

 

 

Image

on the fourth decade, Deathdays, and Carol’s RADIANT Garden….

The Forties

Though I have always enjoyed friendships with women of all ages, most of my contemporaries have now turned 40.

This is a milestone no matter what we tell ourselves, and is invariably a time to reflect and take stock.

Though aging, per say, has never really bothered me that much, I did find my world a little bit rocked a few years ago on my 40th,

by my own relentless and critical self-assessments of

where I thought I should be at, and what I hadn’t yet accomplished.

As with everything, once I managed to put a halt to the tricky mind games and flip everything in the direction of gratitude and love, it all looked pretty rosy again.

And so it is with my friends too,

once the birthday celebrations are complete,

here is what I am so often noticing about the women that I see and know that are now moving through their fourth decade….

They are far more likely to articulate how they really feel and what they intend and believe, without worrying about how it will be received.

They stand taller, smile more, and open up their hearts and hands more freely.

They have experienced loss, conflict, heart-ache, disappointment and they are thus stronger, wiser and far more beautiful than ever before.

They are less judgmental and less apt to dismiss, disengage, or allow themselves to be disempowered.

They have learned when to say ‘no’ and when to say ‘yes’.

They love their families, their friends, and the world with a passion and intensity that only grows with the passing years.

They are hopeful and are ready for change and adventure.

Many years ago, I heard the Dalai Lama’s surprising and famous quote, ‘The world will be saved by the western woman.’ I remember repeating this idea to Dan, and he whole-heartedly agreed.

So, my radiant girlfriends,  let’s get to it….

We have so many incredible and unprecedented resources at our disposal, and the confidence, understanding and love to move mountains.

It’s time.

Deathdays

This week was the eighth anniversary of my mom’s death. I know that the word ‘deathday’ seems morbid and abrupt, but still I decided to use it,

because we need a word for that day that speaks to the absolute truth of what it is.

In Mexico, of course, they have the  ‘Day of the Dead’ which is a holiday that has spread around the world to many cultures, and continues to gain worldwide popularity.

What a beautiful and healing and necessary concept,

time set aside to stop and remember,

acknowledge,

and celebrate our dead and our ancestors.

I know and have met so many people who have lost someone very close, and then  struggle to create meaning on the anniversaries of the deaths of their beloveds,

often attempting to create their own little rituals or ways of remembering.

On facebook, we see posts all the time on anniversaries of loss –

tributes and photos,

because our hearts desperately yearn to remember and we have no day set aside for our dead.

It can be so easy to sit in a sense of aimlessness on that anniversary, not quite knowing what to do,

or where to focus the emptiness and that need to

cry out,

You are gone, but you will always exist.

It doesn’t matter if it has been a year since the loss, or fifty years,

that yearning to simply acknowledge doesn’t just go away with time.

So, my beautiful mother that I adored heart and soul,

Image

and all of my grandmothers and grandfathers and aunts and uncles and friends and my dearest mentor,

and my unborn baby too,

you are not here anymore for me to talk to and hug and live out all of  life’s moments with, but

I still see you and hear you and feel you,

and know you.

You are my dead and on this day I am proclaiming

that I love you still.

photo[8]

 Carol’s Radiant Garden

The ‘ritual’ that has evolved over the last eight years for us to honour and remember mom on the anniversary of her death, June 11,

is the planting of her garden in the planters beside our front steps.

Every year the kids and I choose a ‘theme’ and then let loose in the greenhouse, concerning ourselves less with flower names and care requirements,

and more with colour, feel and thematic appropriateness.

Some of our themes over the years have been

fairy garden, prairie grasses, enchanted forest, and the tropics.

The year Olivia came up with…..sunshine garden!

So, here it is, mom, your newest radiant and love-filled realm….

We all planted it last night after eating pizza and drinking our very best bottle of wine.

photo[14]

We all most definitely love you still.

 

 

Image

On kid art, sick time, and mother’s day

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….

1) Kid Art

A few months ago, I picked George up from school and he proudly handed me a note indicating that a piece of his art had been chosen to be displayed in our local gallery’s (the Southern Alberta Art Gallery) annual student art exhibit, which showcases works from local schools. ‘Art’s Alive and Well in the Schools’ is a tremendously well attended event and brings in hordes of new people to the gallery. It also allows kids the chance to experience the  joy of showing their work publicly.

Both of George’s big sisters have managed to create art that was chosen for this show, so it was especially heart-warming that he made the cut too.

What a boost. The gallery was packed to the brim with families and enthusiasm. We drank apple juice, visited, and checked out truly wonderful pieces.

By the end of the show, however, George asked me if ‘we could please go home.’ He quietly confided in me that he wasn’t sure he had the energy to ‘show his work to one more person’.

My son. He is no bubbling, self-promoting extrovert,

but his watercolour of birch trees along a wooded path was beautiful, especially according to his mother.

Actually, everything about this type of endeavour makes me tingle.

Kids making art. Kids sharing art. Kids and parents valuing art. Communities gathering to celebrate art.

It’s all so good.

Art promotes peace, of that I am absolutely certain,

and kid art holds its own special brand of magic.

George at the 'Arts Alive' show at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, posing with Mayor Spearman

George at the ‘Arts Alive and Well in the Schools’ show at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, posing with Mayor Chris Spearman

2) Sick Days

We have all been quite healthy this year, but this week Olivia was absolutely walloped with a bad case of the stomach flu.

My poor girl.

What we assumed would be a productive and full week ended up being 4 days of her lying on the couch watching SpongeBob and renovating and home flipping shows,

while sipping warm gingerale and herbal tea,

and munching on saltines.

Actually, it is not uncommon for her little body to dramatically pull out  of life once or twice a year for several days.

To be honest, it never really surprises me and it always feels/looks like a re-booting of sorts.

Olivia is a perfectionist and is deeply persistent and driven. She has achieved excellent grades this year, but it has taken her a ton of dedicated effort given that she has dyslexia. From the moment she was born, she has been sensitive and kinesthetic,

always moving to a beat, singing a song, or acting out something she just saw.

Every so often, though, her sweet active, constantly wiggling body tires and her soul seems to say…..enough.

Stop. Rest. Retreat.

And so I let her. I have the blessing of working from home and so I also have the luxury of being able to let her sleep and stop,

and watch countless home and garden network episodes.

She will catch up, and I will help her.

I get it.

Sometimes it’s all too much. I feel that way too.

It’s okay to hide inside the house for a while.

IMG_8918

3) Mother’s Day

As we lead up to Mother’s day, I am feeling reflective about the role of mother, and how motherhood has changed me.

I am also deeply aware that, like every other holiday, it can be an emotionally challenging day for some…

Mother/child relationships can be complex,

perhaps the day may bring up pain around not having been able to have children for some,

and in so many cases there has been pain or loss  – loss of a child or parent – that surfaces.

Certainly, I am deeply aware of the absence of my mom at our table each year as we sit down to brunch together. Though it was hardest the first few years after she died, I still ache for her and feel as if I always will.

Yet.

Sunday is a lovely opportunity to honour the energy, the beauty, the essence of ‘mothering’ that is nurturing and in some ways is always accessible to all of us,

whether it be through friendships, mentors, extended family, or even through finally learning to properly nurture ourselves.

For me, though, this Mother’s Day, I will celebrate my relationships with my children.

Alex, Olivia, George.

I am deeply aware that I have been gifted the deepest honour of guiding these beautiful people to adulthood.

Though it has not always been easy and I do not mean to downplay the many challenges of parenting,

and though I have often struggled with my identity that has often felt mired and lost in the haze and blur of these extended mothering years,

I still know for sure that I would not change a thing about the way my life has played out.

To learn to step-parent, then parent, and watch these babies grow and blossom has thrilled me to no end. It has been the greatest wonder of my life, and continues to be.

I am grateful beyond words.

This Sunday,

Happy Mother’s Day and peace to all mothers, of all forms.

In all ways, you hold up the earth.

IMG_5159

Alex and her ‘two moms’, Mother’s Day 2013