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On 3 things about my adventure

The adventure I alluded to a few weeks ago has now come and gone. I spent 10 days in New York City and it was a significant trip for a couple of reasons.

Firstly,  I had been looking forward it for quite some time. Since the diagnosis of my heart condition, we haven’t ventured very far. When I found out that I was going to finally have my surgery, I imagined this trip as something to look forward to at the end of my recovery period,

my carrot that I would be able to enjoy with renewed vigor and health.

FullSizeRender[50]Also, New York is the place of our Olivia’s dreams. I couldn’t wait to see it through the eyes of my girl who has always yearned to see the stages of Broadway and feel the captivating energy of this city that oozes such wild and glorious creativity.

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater where the kids did a West African dance class

For the first 5 days in New York I had the honor of chaperoning the grade 8 dancers from Olivia’s school. We had the luxury of a big bus and a witty and fantastic guide. Our days with the tour were long and packed full with sightseeing and dance classes.

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On the last day of the school tour, Dan and George flew out and met Olivia and I for five more days.

It’s always a bit difficult to talk about trips. Condensing a myriad of adventures into some sort of interesting summary feels challenging and I always wonder how much people actually want to hear. So for my purposes here, I have chosen 3 favorite moments, with some Peace at Home Project style meaning attached.  (;

Broadway Dance Workshop:

When Olivia was little, I used to find her in her room making up dramatic musicals about her feelings.

She has never really walked, rather she bops and twirls and grooves. She entertains as much as she talks. Don’t ask me where all of this drama and constant movement comes from because Dan and I can’t figure it out, but a love for the stage seems to be embedded in her cellular makeup.

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Waiting to enter the theater for our first Broadway show in NY, ‘Wicked’, it is no exaggeration to say that she was fairly vibrating. 

My favorite fine arts moment, though, was when Olivia got to experience a Broadway Dance workshop at the Broadway Dance Center. Her instructor had performed with the cast of the hit musical  “Matilda‘ and taught the kids a dance from that show (we were fortunate enough to be able to see Matilda after Dan and George arrived).

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At the end of the class, in a very real and candid way, this kind young man spoke to the kids about what it really takes to make it to Broadway. He described his journey, his background, his training, his triumphs and his difficulties. He generously dispensed advice and            Olivia held on to every word,

           riveted.

It’s one thing to have your own dreams, and have them materialize or not, or  hold deep passions that are mostly suppressed but perhaps occasionally nurtured in opportune moments that find us,

but to see the heart of your child being directly met and spoken to

surpasses anything a parent might ever want for themselves in this life.

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This was such a moment.

Anniversary of 9/11

It so happened that the first full day that we were in New York was also the 9/11 anniversary.

Our guide was gifted at bringing home to us the impact that this event has had on the psyche of the city,

and came back to the topic frequently, as it is so intertwined now in the collective identity of New Yorkers.

The teachers felt it would be meaningful for us to enter one of the fire halls and have a moment of silence together, as the fire halls open their doors every Sept. 11 and welcome in people to talk, continue to process, and leave flowers and condolences . Though the kids may not have been able to truly grasp the depth of how the world changed on that day, it felt important to us that we model to the students a showing of respect, as visitors. Some of us chaperones reminisced about being pregnant at the time of the attacks with our now 13 year-olds. We clearly remembered feeling terrified by the prospect of bringing babies into a world where such a horrific thing could happen.

And so we all entered into one of the fire halls, stood in a circle and held hands as we offered our own minute of silence.

Several of us wept while the firefighters watched in deepest gratitude for our gesture of love. This particular fire hall had lost every one of its firefighters. I cannot pretend to begin to understand the complicated feelings of loss and fear, and abiding sorrow that still surround this event,

but I did feel as if for a precious moment we were gifted the profound and beautiful privilege of sharing and holding just a sliver of the grief.

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Dancing on the High Line

There is a beautiful park in New York that you must go see if you are ever there. In a city that is masterful at creating green spaces in such a densely populated and urban environment, the High Line is a 1.45-mile-long New York City linear park built on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad.

It is beautiful, full of wildflowers, plants, artwork along the way, plenty of seating, and a section where you can buy food and gelato,

What an innovative and extraordinary way to look at parks and greenspace design. We saw The High Line in its infancy the first time I was in New York, and our tour guide Mitch gave us a quick taste of it on the tour group’s last day, but it is the kind of place that calls you back again and again.

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Towards the end of our very best family day in New York (because traveling is not always easy, carefree, and without its cranky times) we found ourselves enjoying walking along the High Line after enjoying tacos from Chelsea Market.

At one point, we stopped and looked down as a wonderful band was playing on the street outside a restaurant below. People had gathered round the musicians and were smiling, singing, moving to the beat.

The music was lively and happy, the city night lights were aglow,

and we stayed on for a good twenty minutes, watching and dancing.

Everything felt                      twinkly and magical and good.

This moment cost nothing and we weren’t at the top of the Empire State Building or eating a gourmet meal or shopping in a designer store or staring at very old and famous art. All of these things are very nice and have their value,

but I think it’s safe to say that this moment  was our very favorite at all.

I wish I had a photo of it, but we were too busy just being happy to take one.

Life’s funny that way.

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On bears, silence, and unhealthier eating

Bears

Last week I wrote about our beloved Waterton,

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and then, a few days later,  it seems she gave us an unexpected gift.

It was Monday morning, and I woke early. This was very unusual for me, because this summer I have slept and slept.

Likely a combination of much later nights, fresh mountain air, more physical activity, and heavy dark curtains in our bedroom that block out all light,
my sleeps here are often heavy and long.
Yet, when I go back to the city I am up by 7.

However, this particular Monday morning in Waterton, I was wide awake at 5:30am. It seems safe to say that this is the first time this summer that I have been wide awake at 5:30… So awake in fact, that I got up and went into our living room to curl up in my chair by the window and read. Dan would not need to get up for another hour to get to work in time.

I was only there a few minutes,

when I looked out and saw a bear lumbering across the street near our neighbour’s cottage. I have seen a bear hanging out there once before, a few months ago, but it’s always a thrill to see a big animal up close (especially when you are safely tucked inside a house).

As I watched, the bear walked toward our cabin, came around my vehicle and then headed right for our back deck.

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Quickly, I ran into our bedroom, woke Dan and told him that there was a bear outside our bedroom window.

The timing was perfect!

Dan threw open the curtains and the bear was right there, 2 feet away.

It looked right at us,

and then went on its early morning way.

It was our own dreamy, before-the-world-is-awake, magical moment of connection with this powerful creature.

I crawled back into our bed and slowly went back to sleep,

happy,

and delightfully bewildered.

Silence

July, for me, has not only been a month of deep sleeps,

but also of silence.

Certainly, we are a family that loves music.

Ryland, of course, is a talented musician.

Alex, too, has a lovely voice and often vocally accompanies her fiancée.

Both of them, as well as Glenna, are active contributors in helping organize  South Country Fair every year.

And Olivia, I think, was born expressing her feelings and thoughts through self-created musical theater renditions of everything (I will never forget over-hearing her in her bedroom when she about 4-years-old singing and dancing quite theatrically at the top of her lungs,

about how hard done by she was about something or other)

and Dan often relaxes and gets his mind off of work,

by strumming away on his guitar.

George and I, though, often just prefer

quiet.

I have an extensive playlist that I like to add to,

and I love going to productions and concerts,

but I can go through long phases where peace, to me, is

stillness.

Quiet mornings and evenings. Conversation with no soundtrack

and the sounds of simply going about my day.

The wind. Birds in the morning. Just my book and the turning pages. A walk. My footsteps. Running water.

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Driving with the radio off.

This is exactly what I needed for a while, I think.

My July.

A deeper processing of another full year and preparing to begin again,

a taking of stock and recalibrating.

 

I think I am ready, now, for some music.

Unhealthier Eating

Some of you may be happy to hear that our pendulum which had swung to the extreme of very healthy eating (remember the celebrated black bean chia brownies), has made its way back in the other direction this week.

My kids feasted on fried perogies and bacon for supper,

Olivia and her friend Piper made a deliciously sweet and cinnamon-y puffed pancake one morning which we doused with icing sugar (I plan to repeat this one this weekend for our visiting family),

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I made margarita pizza with 3 kinds of cheese (every time I make pizza dough from scratch, I think, why don’t I do this all the time, it’s so easy- and then, of course,  I forget and don’t).

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and I made chocolate zucchini muffins with regular white flour and positively loaded the batter with cocoa and chocolate chips (George was still turned off by the zucchini of course).

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All of it was lovely and yummy and delicious,
and I don’t feel a shred of guilt.
Balance always finds us again and real food, prepared with love and pleasure, is just so beautiful, regardless.

This is a bit of a celebration weekend for us and I shall perhaps have more food stories to share next week. I am terribly excited, for example, about the suggestion of roasting cherries with honey and balsamic, (thank you Julie Van RosenDaal for this recipe)

How perfectly amazing and impressive does that sound?

Happy happy August long weekend everyone! EnJOY!

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On Waterton, a boys’ reconciliation, and mandalalalas

Waterton

We are so blessed to have a little cottage nestled in what is surely one of the wildest and untamed of places,

Waterton Lakes National Park.

Not a day goes by here when I, we, are not bowled over by an immense sense of gratitude for our luck in somehow landing in this part of the world.

As I write this, by the way,

the wind is absolutely howling,
gusts up to 100 km/h,
and there is driving rain. About an hour ago, George and I ran outside because we were both fairly certain that the rain had changed to snow.

Have I mentioned that it is July 24th?

Still.

And when I make  statements such as ‘we are so blessed to have the opportunity to get to know this part of the world’,
I add a caveat.

I don’t actually believe that this place is entirely knowable.

Our wonderful friend Lyndon was visiting us this last weekend and him and I found ourselves having the conversation that we have had before,

whereby we sit and sing the praises of these glorious surroundings.

I reminded him of the time when he likened Waterton to a portal.

There is, after all, such mystery to this place. One might think, if one was the kind of person to think on these sorts of things,

that if there existed a veil between worlds, Waterton would be the seat of that transitional dimension,

There is a feeling though that we are only allowed to touch the surface of understanding it,

yet, at the same time, the answers to life’s biggest questions might just almost be within grasp here.

Almost.

It is, after all, a land of dramatic extremes and contrasts.

Today’s pounding wind and rain may very well give way tomorrow to the ideal and calm heat of a perfect summer’s day,

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and a lake of glass.

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The stretching golden flatness of the prairies suddenly falls into the great depths of Waterton lake and rises up the steep Rocky Mountains.

This town is small, and the number of visitors cannot even begin to compare to the tourists that flood into the villages of other North American national parks, as we are out-of-the-way,

hidden in an unused corner.

And the wildlife here abounds in a way that continues to astound,

even those who have known this place for a lifetime are in careful awe of the raw power and beauty of the magnificent animals that inhabit these forests,

grizzlies, cougars, black bears, wolves,

foxes, lynx, wolverines.

The winters here are long and difficult, and I am not at all convinced that I could stand the loneliness and isolation, never mind the brutal weather, of a sustained stay through that season.

Yet, when Spring finally comes, the wildflowers that suddenly abound are unparalleled in abundance and variety to most places in the world.

It is rare for me to write such homages to landscapes and geography,

but this piece so wanted to be written.

She is my refuge, my inspiration and my creative cozy den, my safe source of comfort,

the place where our family gathers,

she is at once adventure and calm,

and in the midst of a busy life,

a continued and certain source of spirit, peace, renewal.

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A Boy’s Reconciliation

As will happen, George and his friend had a falling-out this week.

It was a passionate and volatile argument that occurred at the end of a two-day playdate.

The boys both, it turned out, wanted fiercely and desperately, to be the banker in their game of monopoly.

So much so,

that the game dramatically dissolved into harsh words from both sides, tears, a throwing down of the money and an abrupt parting of ways.

Though my first inclination is to always mend and encourage reconciliation,

I knew they were tired and needed time apart.

So we all rested, read, watched a movie, slept.

The next morning, there was a soft tap on our screen door.

George ran to open it,

the two boys stood and looked at each other for a moment and so I asked them what needed to happen next.

They both quickly said, ‘I’m sorry’, bumped tummies (their version of a hug)

and then ran to the living room to continue their game, this time sharing the role of banker.

I texted an update to my dear friend, the mom of George’s friend, in awe of the absolute simplicity of it all.

No drawn out conversation, resentments, or rehashments~

Just over,

done with, tummies bumped,

and upward and onward with new play.

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Mandalalalas

For years and years and years,

I have been obsessed with the gorgeousness of mandalas,

and the creative, therapeutic, and meditative potential of exploring these circular patterns.

Finally giving myself permission to delve into the things that make my heart sing, I have begun working with them in true but playful seriousness.

More on this topic to come, but for now,

here are the beginnings of possibilities…. 🙂

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On my husband, beans in brownies, and lake life

My husband

13 years ago this weekend Dan and I were married in our backyard.

I was 28, he was 40, and it was a second marriage for us both.

Dan’s brother, David, performed the ceremony in our backyard,

marriage commissioner for a day.

Ours was a whirlwind of a courtship.

By our second date we had determined that we were getting married, which was a complete surprise to us both given that neither of us were convinced that marriage was a direction in which we wanted to head again.

However, I found myself quite suddenly smitten with this man who did terribly romantic things

like leaving a new duvet for me to find in my entry when I came home from work, because I had said that my apartment was cold at night,

and he wined and dined me to no end.

Our first Christmas together, Dan took me to Paris which was where he officially proposed . He had planned to find some romantic venue (Paris has a few),

but he was so excited to pop the big question that it spilled out of him as soon as we arrived at our hotel.

It wasn’t, however, those grand sweeping gestures that won me over (though they are wonderful memories),
rather what I fell in love with were things such as,

the first time we spoke on the phone Dan told me within the first five minutes that he had an 8-year-old daughter that meant the world to him,

he often phoned my mom in the evening to share with her news from his day,

he was still great friends with his ex-wife and her parents,

he was passionate about art, beauty, our world,

and was deeply committed to always being and doing better…..

These things convinced me of his character,
and I felt assured that our life together would be an adventure, a mutual journey of learning, discovery, play, love,

peace.

It has not always been easy.

We have needed to learn about building a healthy relationship, and we have already been through so much,

but how lucky am I,
to have someone who believes in me, cheers me on and cherishes me completely?

We have our moments, but with every big decision we are on the same page.

With you, my dear, there is never a dull moment, or lack of expression.
You know how to play and dream, your generosity is limitless, and your talents still move me.
Happy Anniversary to the man who loves me as much a woman can be loved,

is a wonderful father to our kids,

and who taught me that lighting is everything.

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Brownies

After a couple of weeks of eating a ton of junk food,

I decided that our summer could not be entirely comprised of chips, pop, candy and such.

I pulled out my healthier eating cookbooks, made a big shopping list and headed back to the city to stock up on groceries galore.

Back in Waterton, I started experimenting with healthier recipes again.

I made ‘Trail Mix Cookies’ from Joyous Health by Joy McCarthy to start with (positively delicious!), Creamy Avocado Potato Salad from Oh She Glows by Angela Liddon (also fabulous) and successfully offered my family fresh berries with whipped coconut milk for desserts (omg, have you tried this!?)

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However, things fell apart when I made ‘Black Bean Chia Brownies’ (Joyous Health) the other day and George said to me once they were ready,

‘You didn’t put anything stupid in these brownies, did you?’

‘I have no idea what you are talking about, and that’s not a nice word to be using to talk about my food,’ I replied.

I knew that my game was up, though, when the kids and their friends all bit into the said brownies. Olivia’s friend Georgia politely tried to tell me that they were fine, but my own two were gagging dramatically. Piper, the oldest in the group, said,

‘Karen, are there beans in these brownies?’

My reply was my fit of laughter. You can imagine how my children responded.

Oh well, I think the brownies are quite sophisticated and chocolately and black beany-delicious, and my kids can always stand to have their taste buds broadened,

much to their dismay.

Peace in the kitchen is a process,

and food exploration unapologetically delights me.

Lake Life

We have been blessed these last few weeks with spectacular weather. All is still, hot, and gorgeous.

It has been the kind of weather that wants to be held onto, savoured, and absorbed into every pore.

We have spent more time at the lake,

and as I watch my kids swim, boat, skip rocks, climb the boulders and cliffs, and lie on the beach,

I remember my own similar childhood experiences from summer holidays and camping trips.

I am so grateful that my kids get to experience nature, too, in ways that I did,

as I now know there are few and rare moments in life that are so free, real, and precious.

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On ‘Peace at Home’, summer play, and writing.

Peace at Home

Recently, I read an article that spoke to the power of passwords.

Over the following months, Estrella used this technique successfully in other realms of his life,

such as: Quit@smoking4ever, Save4trip@thailand, and Sleep@before12.

Believe what you want about the correlation of the changes in this man’s life and the passwords he chose, but this article resonated for me as

I will sometimes labour over passwords as if I am creating a spell to invoke luck or love or health,

as I have always secretly believed in the magical powers of language.

A few days ago I came across this quote,

‘It is not enough to just think on things. It is important to write it all down, or at least say it out loud. Writing and speaking are actions – they bring ideas into the physical world and open us to change…’  Gill Edwards

When we renovated our home 11 years ago we had these words imprinted into the cement of our planters, ‘Peace at Home.’ We also had these letter forms fixed to the archway in our dining room.

I had been inspired by a trip to Guanajuato Mexico where we visited a beautiful old villa with those same words written on a wall in the gardens, Casa de Paz.

This was all during a time where I didn’t feel particularly peaceful, nor could I have known of heartaches that were to come,

but I did know that I wanted peace. I had always known that.

Nor did I completely understand that although peace at home is an admirable and important goal, it would only remain a far off dream until I did the real work of nurturing peace in my own heart.

And that is an intimate journey that never ends,

As for our casa, there are no masters of peace or enlightenment here,

we are simply on a journey together,

hoping to continue to choose love at the end of the day,

Peace at Home is the password.

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Summer Play

Though getting kids off their screens can sometimes feel difficult and frustrating I am still convinced that kids for the most part are masters at play.

Sometimes, though, they need a little nudge to do what comes naturally.

The other day I said to my kids and their friends,

‘Let’s make an art show at the end of the summer. We’ll take all of the pieces you create all summer long and host a show. We will pin up your art, have snacks and drinks and invite people’

Whether or not our idea actually makes it that far, the next hour was taken up by George and his friend Kelly very avidly sketching their favorite stuffies for the exhibition.

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And when we came up with the idea of adding works to our painted rock garden when our friends came to stay with us this week, I set out my  Zen Doodling book by Carolyn Scrace out along with all of the felts,

It didn’t take long for Olivia to produce this beauty.

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With much tighter limits set on allowed gaming time,

today George and Kelly decided to list the criteria required to become a ‘Crazy Club Member.’ (inspired by their own ‘Concussion Club’ that they had  formed earlier on in the week as a result of last week’s events)

Items on the their extensive list included:

‘Go on all biking hills that do not have a chance of death.’

‘See 5 or more foxes.’

‘Build a fort in the mini-forest.’

‘Dunk in the lake in your clothes.’

and,

‘Dye your hair with Kool-aid.’

Yes! This is what I’m talking about!

Isn’t life grand when these are the kinds of things that summer asks of you?

Writing

In her wonderful book, A Year of Writing Dangerously, Barbara Abercombie writes about the ways that we sabotage ourselves as writers.

Never mind the things we commonly tell ourselves such as, ‘I have nothing original to say,’ or ‘I haven’t got the time as this stage of my life,’

writing can sometimes just feel like as if it takes way too much energy and effort in a world that already requires so much of us.

Our world, as well, is a highly addictive place and checking Facebook and emails is an easy place to default to ~

Even laundry or unloading the dishwasher can suddenly seem more appealing than finally sitting down to write.

Yet, it’s always so worth it.

Once I am engaged in my writing,

it’s cathartic, invigorating,

and deeply rewarding.

So, may writers write and may kids spend their summer days at play. May we all create time and space for the things that fill our hearts and bring joy and meaning to our days.

What could be more peaceful than that?
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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 report cards, solstice, and my summer reading list…..

Report Cards

This week I actually had a dream that I was impatiently and anxiously waiting for my report card. However, there was a constant and annoying stream of obstacles and delays resulting in me not getting to know how I did.

This drove me crazy. I was actually livid in my dream.

I so desperately wanted my success to be measured in a report.

I wanted it all neatly summed up, whatever it all is.

When I woke up I was still frustrated but also a little mortified by the immaturity of my unconscious mind. Am I really still that consumed with outer perceptions of success? At the age of 41, do I really need to take so seriously someone else’s version of how I am doing?

And what exactly am I being marked on…..

my value as a mother, a wife, a friend, a family or community member, a woman?……The dream didn’t specify.

When I taught grades one and two, I really struggled with making up report cards for my young students.

I found is so impossibly difficult to just sum up a kid.

To make up for the marks that I felt were a woefully inadequate measure of a beautiful little being, I would write reams of anecdotal comments describing what I saw in each kid,

describing their strengths and struggles, their shiniest bits, their quirks and gifts.

I went on and on and on and was completely exhausted by the end of it,

because I felt like I was pulling out this information from the tips of my toes and the depths of my soul, so true to these kids did I want to be.

(Thank you, teachers, for ALL of your hard work).

This week my kids are getting their final report cards of the year and I am noticing something rather ironic….

I am not particularly invested in their marks one way or another nor do I expect lengthy and rambling comments, though I do look forward to going through their report cards.

But as their mother, I already know who they are.

I know how hard they have worked,

I know what they are capable of,

I know where they shine and where they struggle.

I have had conversations with their teachers and I know where everybody is coming from,

I also know that we live in a society that values and requires marks,

and that structured assessment practices are still necessary so that instruction can be planned and coordinated.

Our education system is far from ideal and we all know that, teachers and administrators included.

Report cards can’t even begin to sum up a person nor should we ever presume that they do.

A few pages of letters and numbers can’t possibly document all of the lovely little triumphs, friendships that faltered and grew, areas of subtle but certain growth, issues that were worked through, non-academic skills that blossomed, passions that were discovered, and insights that were ultimately found.

These things need no officious report. They are simply known,

but are so very worthy of a celebration as this end of the year milestone is reached.

And, perhaps, rather than waiting for my dream report card to come (I may be waiting for a very long time), I shall be my own teacher and simply and peacefully congratulate myself on another year’s full and beautiful journey as well. It has been said, after all, that every character in a dream is some version of yourself.

Students, teachers, parents….We all made it!

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Solstice

There is something so magical and enchanting about Summer Solstice and all of those extended hours of light~

and the promise of an abundant summer before us.

My heart and deep inner Celt wants to create playful and symbolic rituals incorporating flowers, herbs and delicious seasonal foods.

My first day of summer reality was a kids’ soccer game and a retirement due indoors.

No matter. It was a lovely day and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Still, in honour of ancient rituals, magic, flowers, wondrous nature, and the multiple blessings of summer, I offer you the image of this tiny fairy garden that Olivia created last summer in Waterton under the shade of a big evergreen,

perfect midsummer fairy habitat….

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My Summer Reading List

Here are just some of the books that have made it onto my dance card this summer and that I will be carting around. I crave a wide range – fiction, non-fiction, memoir, etc….depending on my mood, the time of day…. They are my companions, my sources of inspiration and recreation. My sweet beloved books.

I would dearly love to know what everybody else is reading too….

Fiction

My Best Stories by Alice Munro

The Lemon Grove by Helen Walsh

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Poetry

Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver

The Gift by Hafiz

Graphic Novels (a seriously blossoming and highly acclaimed genre for adults too)

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Memoir

Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety by Daniel Smith

The Memory Palace: A Memoir by Mira Bartok

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Non Fiction

Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s  Search for the Truth about Everything

A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life by Parker J. Palmer

Non-Fiction (photography, art journaling, paper art etc)

A Beautiful Mess: Photo Idea Book

Inner Excavation: Explore your Self Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media

Happy summer reading!

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