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she sees whales

Quite some time ago, I vowed to write about play. Play as antidote to fear. Play as means of coping, even thriving in a quickly changing world.

 

After I wrote this an event happened that stalled my writing, halted my sure and steady movement through my well planned days,

and once again brought uncertainty into the picture.

My step-mother died very suddenly of a brain aneurysm.

 

In a moment everything changed.

I remember a teacher colleague once saying, many years ago, that it is not usually the anticipated events that rock our worlds, rather it is that unexpected phone call on a Monday afternoon.

 

The day it happened ~

I had just had coffee and a slice of chocolate cake with a dear friend, a great inspiring visit actually full of good laughs and exciting future plans, and then as I  left the cafe and  walked towards my vehicle I checked my phone.

 

Three calls from Dan.

 

When I called him back he said right away,

‘Where are you? I don’t want to tell you over the phone what I need to tell you. I want to come and talk to you in person’.

My heart pounding,  ‘No, tell me now. Please just say it.’

In our most secret unspeakable depths, we all prepare for those calls, don’t we?

 

That Monday afternoon call that will force us to put everything we thought was important on hold for weeks perhaps, and then re-calibrate our entire perceptions of the world, our very place in it.

 

Once again.

 

After we hung up I cried out openly, there on the street, in agony for my dad and for this new loss that he was forced to bear. I stood there tears streaming, waiting for Dan, and looking everywhere for my friend who had already gotten in his truck, already gone.

 

Feeling so alone.

 

Wanting to call my friend back so that he could reassure me that things would be ok.

Wanting somebody, anybody, to tell me that we would get through this one.

On that street corner all by myself waiting for Dan who was coming because he was worried for me, I realized that every maternal figure I have ever had is gone ~my mentor, my grandmothers, my step-mother now,

and my mother.

 

It is just me.

 

Even my friend had gotten in his truck and driven away.

 

Then.

Over Easter,

after the hospital and the funeral and the tears and the big conversations and the grief and the family everywhere and all the missed school and work and the beginning of finding a way forward for my dad,

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we went whale watching in Victoria.

 

We had gathered there as a family over the break and we spontaneously booked a tour on our first morning. We had always promised George we would go on a whale adventure, but then had always found reasons not to.  That day,  however,  the weather seemed particularly good, we had nothing else planned, and I can tell you honestly that I knew, absolutely knew, that we would see whales that day if we went.

 

We had to go out fairly far, but it ended up being what they call a T-party of whales. Whales in every direction. Not even knowing which way to look because as one would surface, there would suddenly be another sighting on the other side of the boat.

Families of whales. Young whales pressed against their mother as they swam. An independent male on his own  surfacing then going under as we all watched with anticipation, wondering where he would pop up next.

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All around us, a whole pod, a matrilineal community of interrelated magnificent communicating, beautiful orcas.

Orcas that have visited me in my dreams since I was a child. Magical dreams where I watch them, down from a cliff at night or my face pressed up against the glass of a huge aquarium,

half of me afraid of their power and strength while the other half is delighted, transfixed, comforted and healed.

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Orcas drawing by George

A show that day that just went on and on. Our kind tour guides were willing to stay on past the allotted time because the day was perfect and the whales just weren’t leaving.

And then finally not being able to linger any longer, we reluctantly turned back towards the mainland.

The orcas swam back with us in the same direction, stealth-like and fast, underwater, towards a cropping of rocks covered in lounging elephant seals.

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Such dramatic suspense.

 

Our captain stopped the boat for us to watch the hunt unfold; the orcas surfaced at the rocks and surprised their prey who were by no means helpless, fighting back with vigor. It was over quickly, and the whales were again moving on, having been rewarded with one unlucky seal.

 

A nature documentary in real time.

 

Continuing on, bathed in glowing late afternoon sunshine, the whales headed towards the shore and swam right up against a cliff nestled on top of which was a park where families often recreate. From the boat we watched as children ran along the cliff following the orcas, screeching with delight.

 

I truly don’t know if I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing such a perfect moment of spontaneous play, natural and true, uncomplicated and wild.

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It is never just me. It is Dan and I, the kids and I, us. It is this beautiful extended family that I love so much that were gathered for Easter fun. It is my dad and I. My friends.       My wonderful neighbours. It is new acquaintances and the grocery store cashier that I exchange friendly words with ~

It is all those I have lost, living in me with every heartbeat.

 

It is all of us…

 

navigating the heartache and the uncertainty yet still forging creative ways to joyfully be in this brave and beautiful new world.

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And it is whales, meeting me at sunset after a lifetime of knowing each other in dreams. The promise is the same. It’s going to be ok.

 

 

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let’s all be curious….

In our house we like to make things.

It can be a bit frustrating, because scattered all about are bits of paper, pens, half-finished projects, supplies for half-finished projects, balls of yarn and knitting needles, books about making things, little models, lego guys and pieces, more scraps of paper, pieces of paper folded up into accordions (that would be Dan, and these are everywhere), journals, more and more books, and……did I say pens.

It is a love-hate relationship I have with all of this stuff that I shove behind closed doors when people come over,

because on one hand I adore that we can all become lost in our own worlds of what to create and do next, but on the other hand I crave order and I yearn to  pair down and simplify.

However.

 

In the end, I know that  ‘making stuff’ wins because it brings us joy and feeds our souls.

And getting lost in a idea or  project can often feel invigorating and peaceful all at once.

 

For many years now, there has been quite a lot of talk about ‘passion’ and finding yours. There is some truth to this pursuit, of course, because who doesn’t want to find, explore and live out their passion for the rest of their days.

But for some, that idea might feel a little unreachable, vague, and confusing.

 

In her new book, ‘Big Magic’, Elizabeth Gilbert talks about this, and I love what she says,

Curiosity is the truth and the way of creative living. Curiosity is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. Furthermore curiosity is accessible to everyone. Passion can seem intimidatingly out of reach at times – a distant tower of flame, accessible only to geniuses and to those who are specially touched by God. But curiosity is a milder, quieter, more welcoming, and more democratic entity. The stakes of curiosity are also far lower than the stakes of passion.

So… may lego guys, multitudes of colored pens and bits of yarn and paper be welcomed in this house.

 

 

A month or two ago, George and I were walking home from school and he said to me,

‘Mom,  I was kind of tired and cranky this morning and didn’t feel like going to school but I’m really glad I went. Had I not gone today, I would not have discovered my passion for sloths. I am even going to work at a sloth sanctuary when I grow up.’

He then proceeded to spend the entire rest of the afternoon and evening researching and sharing with us facts about sloths,

as well as intricately and repeatedly folding, until he had created an origami sloth.

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Now, to be honest, the whole sloth obsession seemed to run its course fairly quickly. George hasn’t mentioned this sloth sanctuary  dream job since that day, and so I feel fairly confident in my statement that I doubt his life will take him in this particular direction of sloth-saving.

 

But. What a perfectly beautiful dream to have for a day. A dream that completely seized him and carried him away into gentle imaginings of future days spent in peaceful and lush green sanctuaries,

                                                                                          then gently dissipated.

 

The very dreaming of it, though,

expanded his reality and sense of possibility.

 

This same kid recently recovered from a two and a half week rather stressful-for-all-of-us bout of painful cornea issues, due to some particularly severe allergies that just exploded due to an early and particularly robust spring. His eyes were unimaginably irritated and sore, and it actually reached the point where I needed to keep him home to stop him from rubbing his eyes to prevent further damage,  and administer eye drops every hour.

 

He missed a lot of school but during  his time at home he

taught himself how to make stop motion videos and launched his own you-tube channel,

built a homemade loom to increase the efficiency of his latest knitting project,

and memorized how to solve the rubic’s cube as well as a 5 by 5 cube.

 

I watched all of this with awe, all the time thinking that it was just beautiful,

all of this creativity that was drawn out by these big stretches of time alone.

From one thing on to the next, without feeling any regret at moving on or having done enough,

just gently following a pull in a new direction.

 

This is pure play and  joyful curiosity.

 

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oh, those lilacs….

Feasting on one’s own life.

 

just because.

 

I wrote this post before the tragic events this week up north. Sending big love and strength to all those affected and facing such tremendous loss and adversity. Events such as this truly require us all to come together as one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Road Trips, Detours, and Cardboard Boxes

Road Trips

One of my best childhood memories was packing up our vehicle and trailer and heading out on a two week summer vacation. My family camped a lot back then, and I loved the excitement and sense of adventure around leaving on a holiday and then finding and setting up in a new campsite.

Now that I am an adult, of course, planning and preparing for trips feels a lot more complicated then it did back then. Our vacations often feel as if they are squished into busy times when it feels hard to get away and air travel is often stressful.

The idea of an old-fashioned summer road trip felt like the perfect antidote to a difficult year.

So, the day after school let out we got up early and headed out –

because it doesn’t feel like a proper road trip unless you leave at the dawning of the day, still a little sleepy and blurry, go-cup firmly in hand and vehicle packed tight.

Dan and I both fondly remembered stopping for breakfast mid-morning, too, as part of the perfect family road trip formula. It needed to be a place that would serve hearty breakfast fare such as pancakes, sausages, eggs, and strong black tea preferably on a deck in the sunshine.

We found such a place, and so our road trip delightfully and properly was on its way.

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best ever apple pancakes

It was a week of swimming, playing, and exploring a new place.

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Pure restoration and rejuvenation without any agenda or expectations.

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Perfectly imperfect. There were a few days where we got too much sun, our accommodations were not quite as we expected, we all surely had our cranky spells, and not every experience we had was great.

but.

it was lovely.

There was the most soothing cool breeze every night through our bedroom, we were beautifully located, and the water was spectacular. I swam in a lake for the first time in years and it was utterly exhilarating. How good it feels to start to move and stretch my body again after surgery. We also had a few extraordinary meals ~chocolate peanut butter pie that was to die for, handmade tacos and enchiladas, and appetizers one hot and still night on a sweet little patio surrounded by trees, a guitar player gently strumming away in the background.

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These are the moments I never forget.

Detours

We needed to come home a different way than we had come, as we were going to be spending a night with our family in Montana at their condo.

Using google maps, Dan found us the shortest route possible. We set off a little later than expected and headed the way that Dan had chosen. The GPS system that we are just learning to use on our new vehicle would not accept Dan’s route as legitimate and several times tried to re-route us. Each time, Dan determinedly got us back on his google trail with a few choice words for Ford and her uncooperative mapping system.

So we carried on, me feeling the doubt creeping in but deciding to be supportive.

The roads seemed to become a little less traveled as we carried on and soon we found ourselves off the main highways. Dan insisted that this way was so much better, so much more picturesque, so much faster. The architect in Dan is always looking for the more scenic path, whether we are on our way to the corner store or traveling across a country. I will add, though, with my husband’s permission, that the architect in Dan is also particular and finds dust and dirt offensive.

Google in all her wisdom soon directed us onto a gravel road. We discussed turning back but we were already going to arrive much later than we had promised and we had already backtracked a few times. On the map, it didn’t seem as if the road would go for that long (little did we know that we would only be driving 20 km/hr for well over an hour). So on we kept going and I was soon joking that the road was really more of a winding hiking path. We drove through two little streams, passed only one other vehicle- a family in their ATV who encouraged us on, acquired mud and dirt in every single crevice and cranny of our shiny new vehicle and felt as if we were in the very deepest of Montana’s backwoods. They will never find us here, I though to myself several times.

But.  As we drove on, I laughed and laughed at our self-imposed predicament, until the tears rolled down my cheeks. We all did.

And

we also came upon the most gorgeous mountain lake, the kind that makes you take a deep breath and give sacred thanks for just about everything,

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the kind of thanks that offers the knowledge that there never really are any mistakes in this life, only adventures and detours,

it’s really just one big road trip.

Cardboard Boxes

During the last week of school we had two dining room chairs delivered. They arrived packaged up in GIANT cardboard boxes.

The minute Olivia saw these boxes, she was almost vibrating ~ and excitedly asked us if she could keep them.

Do kids ever get too old for big boxes?

Dan and I weren’t thrilled about keeping all of this cardboard in our living room but who are we to stifle creative play?

Within minutes of getting home from school on the last day, both kids went to town on these boxes, completely absorbed for hours.

I couldn’t believe it.

Olivia had just completed her first set of finals for which she had studied a ridiculous amount of time. Her homework load has been enormous this year. She was absolutely exhausted. I had fully expected her to zonk out on the couch for an extended sitcom-watching marathon the minute she was done, but instead here she was on this hyper-focused mission cutting apart and redecorating a box, and so was her brother who on most days would rather have been playing MineCraft.

Who says kids don’t know how to play any more

or that they can’t think outside the box?

The answer, maybe, is to just give them a box.

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Notice the cardboard chair behind George’s box, made by Dan. Like father like son.

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Olivia’s focus was more on the interior.

Happy Summer friends! May you all find your own cardboard box.

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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 ‘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 medical tests, peace in perfectionism, and ‘Flow’ magazine

Every week I speak to three topics: anecdotes, books, ideas, products, or innovations that I believe are peace-building, heart-opening, community-celebrating, love-spreading vehicles.

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….

Medical Tests

This week I had another echo cardiogram,

and a couple weeks previous to that I had my first mammogram.

Neither of these ended up being at all difficult or lengthy tests, just a little awkward and uncomfortable.

What ends up being much harder is the anxiety and mind games that can set in before, during, or after these kinds of procedures.

Will they find something? Has my heart condition significantly worsened? When will I hear back? Why haven’t I heard back? Should I prepare myself for hard news? What if? What if? What if?

and around and around and around it goes…

as I am suddenly caught up in a silly whirlwind of habitually preparing for the worst and losing the joy of the present.

This is no way to move through a test or a day or a life,

and so I am now employing a couple of new strategies that are helping,

a little bit.

First of all,

I breathe.

I can’t even adequately describe the difference this simple strategy makes. Of course, the mindfulness trend is talked about at every turn these days,

but, for me,

the real triumph comes when I can successfully make the choice to just focus on gently breathing rather than panicking or jumping on a crazy runaway thought train,

whilst in the middle of what would typically be an anxiety inducing event.

Secondly,

I focus on the idea/truth that for the most part, my body truly is a miraculous mechanism that is actually functioning quite perfectly and beautifully for the most part,

and so it makes so much more sense to focus on gratitude for all that is working,

which is pretty much everything.

The crux of it all is that

I can no longer live in fear of ‘what if’.

Instead,

I choose ‘what is’.

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Peace in Perfectionism

In our house it may often seem as if we can never do anything in a small way. We love to create, all of us, and it’s not uncommon to suddenly find ourselves deeply immersed in a ginormous idea of which the scope, or dedication and time required,

we had not considered carefully enough.

For example, several years ago, Dan decided to build for George’s dinosaur-themed birthday party,

a life-sized 3-d T-Rex, inspired by the little wooden models you find at your local dollar store.

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Another event that jumps to mind is the ‘day at the office’ themed birthday party that we threw for Olivia at Dan’s place of work,

complete with Starbucks for everyone, a full meeting with a real agenda, office-wear, and even a presentation from a potential make-believe company that wanted us to market and test their candy.

Below, see Ry brought in as the candy representative live via video tele-conference,

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and Glenna waiting outside to present a ‘personal relations’ issue for the birthday party girls to discuss and resolve.

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I look at these pictures, now, and laugh again,

remembering the fun far more than the expended energy. At the office party, I actually can remember laughing so hard that the tears were rolling down my cheeks.

This week a wise friend was offering me advice about ‘perfectionism’. She was commenting on the idea that we often (I often) perceive perfectionism as a negative trait.

I criticize myself for being a perfectionist, but this is just who I am in part.

We are told constantly that we all need to

let go of perfectionism,

and find more balance.

We also may avoid trying too hard, going to extremes, or appearing as ‘too much’ or ‘over the top’

because maybe that’s just not cool –

and all of this, ironically, whilst navigating a society that ultimately rewards  performance.

The thing is though, that for our family, this is just sometimes how we play and create and collaborate. Not all the time, but sometimes.

It’s not right or wrong. It’s just us,

and every family has their particular ways of being in this world and finding their own sense of meaning and fun.

So today, I am coming out with our wacky and wild side that can be over-the-top,

admittedly exhausting,

but always fun.

And it’s all good.

This week’s production  involved a homemade gopher head bopping game created by George and Dan for the school carnival.

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 Flow Magazine

Do you LOVE paper, stationery, cards, stickers, tags, labels, wrapping paper, mail and such!?

and….

Do you ever comb the magazine racks for a beautiful, relevant, playful, meaningful magazine to no avail…?

I have discovered the most gorgeous magazine, created in the Netherlands,

which offers intelligent articles on themes that are close to my heart, such as  connectedness, play, and peace. Flow  is aesthetically gorgeous and even includes the most delightful paper treasures. The current issue even has 26 detachable letter cards, each one designed by a different illustrator from around the globe.

I discovered Flow when I fell in love with and bought the special edition Flow Book for Paper Lovers at Chapters. The current magazine I ordered from the Netherlands. It came quickly and I am quite definitely smitten.

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On the Engagement, Sticks and Soccer

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….

The Engagement

This week we were celebrating the engagement of our daughter Alex to her long-time boyfriend, Ryland.

This was big beautiful news in our family and we were all pretty excited. Alex and Ry have known each other since childhood and have been together as a couple for a long time, 5 years,

and so he is a fixed part of our family.

Ry has traveled with us, he joins us for dinner at least once or twice a week, and he is a part of our every holiday and celebration.

Our hearts cheer to see him,

he brings fun and love, creativity and sensitivity,

to our lives all the time.

We have watched these two grow as a couple and grow individually.

They are whole-heartedly committed to love and life and each other.

So when I answered Alex’s phone call while buying groceries last Thursday,

the predominant feeling for me as she shared the news of their official engagement

was a peaceful calm.

It was perfect affirmation that our Alex and Ry have a history, a present, and a future,

and that seems so right as Ryland is already wound up tightly and surely in our family matrix.

There are certain to be all sorts of posts down the way about wedding planning, roles, marriage,

and all of the inevitable complexities and stories that are sure to unfold.

But for a little while let’s rest in the beauty and lightness of this joyful engagement.

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Sticks

As many of us do, I often struggle with how much we are all connected to our devices,

and I question our relationship with technology.

Even in Waterton, we have wifi, and our nature breaks often ironically become intersperced with techno time.

I know, though, that my kids are good at play.

In fact, I know that all kids are born masters at play. I have given talks about the importance of play, so strongly do I feel about this topic.

And so when I find ourselves in that moment where we have all been staring down at our i-pods, i-phones, i-pads, i-whatever, a little too long,

I weep a little inside because I know we can do better.

Devices play an important and undeniable place in our lives and they are not evil, but sometimes room and time must be cleared for other things.

Last week, inspired by another blogger, Linda McGurk, and a yard full of sticks as we haven’t yet completed our spring cleaning, I challenged my kids to go and build or make art with sticks.

At first, they rolled their eyes of course. I mean, really mom, ‘sticks’?! How much more boring and ridiculous could I possibly get?

But here’s what transpired:

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I also found them whittling away on the picnic table with steak knives, which brought back fond memories of my childhood camping days and hours spent whittling away then –

This also resulted in the kids biking to the store with Dan to buy proper little pocket knives before someone cut themselves open.

George, inspired, got excited about the idea of making a trip to ‘Driftwood Beach’ as we call it and I promised him we would make a point of doing that the next day.

Here’s what was created at the lake.

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So, here’s what I am thinking,

real life leads to more real life,

and play and creativity inspires more of the same.

The possibilities are endless, and sometimes it need only begin with sticks.

Soccer

I am not a person that is into sports, at all really.

But watching George play soccer on late spring nights feels like such a peaceful and lovely thing.

Tonight Dan and I sat on the grass on a blanket and watched the game, grandparents in their lawn chairs behind us.

When they are all just kids learning how to play the game, it doesn’t really matter who wins thought it is exciting when we do.

George, of course,  puffs right up when he scores a goal,

but I try not to make the  game about the score, because it’s not really.

It’s that it’s fun, and it’s an exercise in good sportsmanship, and it’s learning to work as a team.

Though sports have never really been my thing,

on a warm night late in May, it is pretty easy to see the appeal.

Special thanks to coaches David and Willy.

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