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On Mrs. Hitchcock, discovering a place, and the writing process

Mrs. Hitchock

Motivated by a looser summer schedule ,

these last few weeks I have been determined to finally watch a few movies that have been released in the last ten years

as they would still be quite new to me.

Thank goodness for Netflix. I can curl up in bed with my iPad and feel like as if I am an in-touch adult again.

Given my remembered teenage obsession with ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’ and ‘Twilight Zone’ episodes,

I decided to watch the 2009 movie ‘Hitchcock’ last week as I had heard an interesting snippet from an interview about it a few months ago.

This movie captures the part of Alfred Hitchcock’s life when he made ‘Psycho’, but largely deals with his fascinating and complex relationship with Alma, his wife.

Hitchcock was certainly not an easy man to be married to and their difficulties are well highlighted in the movie. Alma and Alfred were, however, fantastic collaborators and in the end their love was affirmed. Alma was a brilliant support to her husband, understood his projects, and was even able to masterfully step onto her husband’s  movie set and take over,

or spend hours with him in the cutting room, adding her own bits of genius.

It occurred to me that this, too, is what marriage can be about ~

Creative support and relentless cheer-leading when it seems that every other fan has left the building.

Undying belief in one another when faith in self falters and wanes,

as it will.

Enthusiastic collaboration on one another’s dreams….

Last week I was reading my newest blog post out loud to Dan, as I always do before publishing, and he told me he loved it,

after offering a few truly constructive comments.

He then said to me, ‘I am your Mrs. Hitchcock’.

I looked at him, surprised, while selfishly thinking to myself that it has actually been me who has done all of the

cheering on and supporting and standing beside.

But then I just as quickly realized that, in actuality, our support and belief in one another has always been completely and unarguably

mutual.

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Teamwork builds peace at home, after all.

 

‘Dan, you are my Mrs. Hitchcock and I am yours, and so……

Good Evening.’

Knowing a Place

On my morning walk this morning, in Waterton,

I reflected on how places can offer innumerable and never-ending precious gifts to be discovered. It doesn’t always need to be about the big, glamorous sights that everybody clamors around.

When we  traveled to Holland seven years ago with the kids,

rather than rushing all over the country and the next one over, and seeing every possible sight with little kids in tow,

we decided to just choose one location to settle into and get to know.

We chose Delft,

and spent long afternoons browsing its markets, shops, museums and cafes,

 

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Bike rides along the city’s canals and into the flower-filled countryside, day trips on crowded trains into the next town, lingering dinners with delightful menus (yes for me, it’s so often about the food)… These are the sweetest parcels of memories that I still hold onto from that trip.

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There were so many tourist attractions that we missed, and some that we were able to make time to see,

but so often the greatest delights in life and travel are small,

the ones to which no expectations are attached.

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Sometimes I will berate myself for having spent another whole summer in Waterton  yet still not having checked all the ‘must-do’s off the list.

I haven’t, for example, done the most spectacular hikes that everyone asks and talks about,

and I am not out on wonderful adventures with the kids every time the weather is lovely (and it has been an achingly lovely summer).

Yet.

This morning I drank my tea at the picnic table with George while we watched two squirrels chasing each other,

and we laughed our heads off at their zaniness.

Yesterday, I went on a long walk by myself and found my first perfect thimbleberry (don’t you love that word) of the season.

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This past long weekend, on a long family walk after supper I turned around suddenly and saw this,

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and my heart swelled to about ten times its size.

So.

This is enough.

Perhaps, even,

this is all there really is.

The Writing Process

Earlier on this week, I inadvertently posted a first draft of this blog.

Correction. It wasn’t even a first draft,

it was my very rough and preliminary thoughts about this piece.

I only worked on it for a few minutes and then, to my horror, pushed the post button instead of the save draft button. Of course, I could quickly delete the post from most social media, but those who have signed up to receive my blog via email received my

emerging ramblings.

I decided that I could stress about it, or I could just breathe and let it go.

No point in obsessing over something that can’t be undone.

Perhaps, I even thought, there might be at least one lone soul out there who might be mildly interested in my writing process,

as how others bring their pieces to final form intrigues me to no end.

Writing is such a highly personal and creative act.

For me, writing is largely about distilling a piece, as much as possible,

to its essence.

Therein resides the impact and beauty.

My dear friend and glorious flower arranger, Jen, taught me that the real trick with flowers is to quickly get rid of all the extra unnecessary leaves and foliage fillers,

so that you are left with the perfect simplicity of the flowers.

Re-writing and editing, for me, is like that ~

a repetitive process of filtering and stripping away of words and extraneous thoughts,

until I finally reach a point where I feel that I have found something worth sharing.

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Then, and only then, do I press publish. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On dangers, our Canada, and bear grass….

Dangers

The other night I had a dream that hundreds of little black birds were swarming around me, pecking at me, pursuing me. I felt the relentlessness of their pursuit but I wasn’t completely terrified, rather I felt a sense of just giving in and giving up.

When I woke, the dream felt heavy and ominous. I am, after all, a woman who looks for signs in everything.

Hundreds of little blackbirds trying to attack me… How can that be good?

This dream came after several days of holidays with Dan’s family. We all reunited in Waterton over the Canada Day long weekend and then drove together to Montana, where Dan’s brother and his wife have a holiday house.

Life has been simpler and more relaxed this week…..big dinners, sleep-ins, family walks and games, swims,

all surrounded by the gorgeous bounties of summer,

seasonal fruits and berries, wildflowers in full bloom, and warm days and evenings.

Last night, however, my summer reverie was violently disturbed when George crashed his head into a signpost while playing tag with his cousins after dinner.

It was, ironically, the loveliest of evenings. We had just finished a wonderful meal celebrating Dan’s parents’ anniversary and were all meandering through the park.

Suddenly, though, I found myself cradling my sweet crying boy in my arms, panicking inwardly about how severely he had been hurt. He seemed to recover but at 2am Dan and I made the decision to go into emergency as George had started vomiting.

12 hours later we still had not slept and had made yet another trip to emergency to have it finally determined that George had in fact suffered a mild concussion but would be okay.

These are the very worst kinds of hours as a mother.

They are the long hours when I try to hard to appear brave and calm, but am terrified.

These are the long hours when I talk to my mom in my mind non-stop, asking for support and strength.

These are the long hours when I know for sure that nothing matters more to me in the world than the health and well-being of these precious beings, our children.

Hundreds of blackbirds swarming…..perils dive-bombing me from every direction and I am so so desperately and completely powerless and vulnerable.

On a family hike earlier this week a few of us were talking about how it’s not usually the dangers that we work to protect ourselves from that end up being the problem. At the outset of the hike we were alerted by a warning that bears had been hanging out in the area,

but our most dangerous moment was when we all sat down to rest for a few minutes beside a hill and inadvertently triggered a mini avalanche of rocks.

And on the day of George’s head injury we had taken the kids to the skateboard park in the morning and watched them repeatedly zoom down ramps of steep cement,

unharmed.

It was a sign on the sidewalk that evening that ended up changing our course.

Driving to the hospital this afternoon, however, I made my peace with it all…the kind of peace that I have to make over and over and over,

because my gentle covenant with this life is constantly forgotten,

I am not in control. I surrender. It is too hard to hold so tightly onto my fears and anxiety and panic. I just can’t do it.

I cannot stop this swarm, nor can I predict which one will end up scarring me and unfolding more pain or more of life’s dark bits.

However, beyond and higher is the vast blue sky, billowing clouds, the sun,

a safety and trust and a broader perspective that I have to believe is sustainable and true and real,

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All is well. All will be well.

Our Canada

What a joy it was again to celebrate Canada Day in Waterton. The bike parade in the morning was an absolute delight,

a spectacle of kindness, laughter, joy, innocence and fun,

with the Rockies sparkling in the background.

Our Canada. My goodness we are blessed.

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Canada Day Bike Parade at Waterton Lakes National Park

 Bear grass

Oh yes, and speaking of wildflowers…. the stunning beautiful bear grass is in bloom, a flower I get so excited about.

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‘you belong among the wildflowers, you belong somewhere you feel free’  Tom Petty

 

 

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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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