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Pure Imagination

A few weeks ago, we hiked the spectacular Crypt Lake trail. Even though we have lived part time in Waterton for the last 5 years, we had not yet done this hike. Not only is it well known as being one of the park’s more challenging hikes, but it also has some famous tricky sections such as a ladder climbing up into a natural tunnel, followed by a narrow cliff with cable attached.

 

I had been quite successful in talking myself out of it for quite some time.

 

I am afraid of bears.         It seems dangerous.         The kids might hurt themselves.

I am worried about my heart.              What if one of us fell?        The weather could turn.

Also.                   Only really good and experienced hikers do this kind of hike.

 

I am very good, so good,  at this kind of talk.

 

However, after visiting my dad, an avid outdoors-man, and talking to him about it  and watching you-tube videos of 7 year olds making the trek with solely their Barbie back-packs on, I decided it was        probably safe.

 

As it turned out, it was. The day we chose for our hike  was a hot mid-August Saturday that stayed hot and sunny, and there were literally boatloads of people,

which made the chance of being devoured by a bear relatively non-existent, as I am sure they were the nervous ones.

It didn’t feel particularly dangerous either. I am not generally afraid of heights and am pretty limber so the obstacles were fine as long as you didn’t look down.

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Nobody fell.

 

And my heart kept up beautifully.   Yay, heart!

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Sitting at the lake having lunch, Dan and I commented to each other about how easy it is to build things up in your head, make them so much bigger than they really are.

 

In Scotland this Spring, Dan had a marvelous opportunity to do something that many people dream of, but few get the chance to do. It’s his story to tell, not mine, so that’s all I am going to say about it.

Except that…..he almost didn’t do it. Because he didn’t think he was good enough or prepared enough or a bunch of other things that only he knows.

He did it, though, and had one of the most rewarding days of his life.

 

It seems so silly to talk ourselves out of things when we can do anything really,

the possibilities before us are as wide as the sky.

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And, is everyone really more talented and capable than us –

regardless of how prepared they may look with all of their gear and confidence. Or maybe it’s just guts.

 

I am looking forward to courageously and joyfully moving forward this fall into new territories and adventures, even if all I have on me is my Barbie backpack because really,

as sung by one of my all-time favourites, Gene Wilder (rest in peace beautiful man) who masterfully played Willy Wonka –

 

Keep watch this week for an announcement regarding my Fall PeaceCard sessions. I have spent the last few months pondering what they should be all about, and I am super excited about how it’s all come together and what’s in store.

Happy Fall!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What do you do?,wildflower inspiration, and my birthday…..

What do you do?

I have been asked this question 7 gazillion times.

Basically, if I leave the house, someone asks me this question.

Sometimes, all I can do is pause and stare blankly because even though I have been asked this question the aforementioned 7 gazillion times, I still don’t quite know how to answer,

nor have I yet come up a with a satisfactory reply.

What do I do? 

Like…..what do I do with my time???

hmmmm…..well I plan meals and buy groceries and pay all of our bills and manage our finances and correspondence and maintain records for Dan’s limited company and put on holidays and family events and go to meetings and take minutes and send e-mails and receive emails and meet with teachers and make appointments and cancel appointments and re-schedule appointments and go to umpteen functions to help Dan represent his firm and do laundry and run up and down the stairs and help my daughter manage her dyslexia and help her with homework and studying and I drive the kids to activities and school and I run errands and sign forms and talk all of my 3 kids through issues that arise and I write a blog and I sometimes do courses online and I write and I write and I write and I read and I read and I did ‘grief recovery’ for a while, and I try to keep us all healthy and active and fit and dressed and organized and calm and happy and I dream and I think and I plan and I clean the kitchen and I make food and I clean the kitchen and I make food and I clean the kitchen and I make food.

Is there a name for that?

I haven’t come up with one, and if I was to start spouting off a list such as this one to my waiting listener it all starts to sound a bit silly and perhaps even a little desperate, and not nearly as impressive as those one word answers  that neatly and clearly sum up one’s profession,

like lawyer, doctor, professor, librarian, accountant, or architect.

For a long time, I really struggled with this,

because I am a perfectionist and a high achiever and an academic at heart.

Yet, after having my first baby I left my teaching career

and delved into twelve years of love and grief and family and absolutely consuming domesticity.

And here I sit now, in a bit of a blur,

thinking to myself what just happened?, and

excuse me but how many years did you say have gone by?

 

Still, for countless significant and beautiful reasons, I do not regret a single moment,

which does not mean to imply that I have not also felt a crisis of identity throughout those years,

or that I have not questioned my worth and contributions, value and purpose, hundreds of times.

Nor has it always mattered that I have been told over and over by my husband and kids that my worth and value are immense and true.

I have often had a hard time believing them,

given that we live in a culture that has a very specific definition of success, and I am surrounded by so many friends and peers who are wondrous examples of that fixed societal definition,

while I have been at home.

Yet,

I have come to my own definition of success whilst being forced to find my worth separate from a label, and I can so clearly see now the shining radiance in so many around me, regardless of what they ‘do’.

True success, I believe, is all about character and has everything to do with how we move through the world, and less to do with what we do in the world.

It’s about integrity, confidence, and generosity,

and it implies kindness and openness and courage,

traits that take time, tears, commitment and a trust in life to develop.

I understand now, too, that every person’s life trajectory is unique and that none of us are really in a place to judge all of the factors and unique circumstances that may land a  person on a particular path.

 

A better, more interesting question to go around asking people might be,

What do you love to do?

Or even just,

What do you love?

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Wildflower Inspiration

Check out this lovely little video produced in partnership with Travel Alberta to promote the annual Wildflower festival in Waterton, held every June.

Our wonderful friend, Lyndon, opens up the video, and speaks with such joy and passion about what he loves.…..

My Birthday

Something I LOVE is…..

my birthday.  I do.

I love deciding that for a whole day I am not going to wash a dish, or cook, or worry, or hurry.

I love savoring wishes and love and connection from all the people that I love.

and……

I love how excited my kids get, almost as excited as if it was their birthdays.

I love how they jump out of their beds in the morning and hop onto ours with wishes and kisses and surprises,

and,

I love the feeling of treating myself and listening to my whims, and I always think,

We ALL need to do this more of this.

If you happen to bump into me tomorrow,

I will likely be sipping my London Fog in Chapters with Dan and the kids, or I will be perusing the books for an extra long time, or I might be checking out the lovely wares at the Christmas artisan fairs while getting terribly excited about Christmas, or perhaps I will be enjoying a gorgeous dinner out with my family.

How lucky am I?

and,

The best is yet to come…….

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On 10,000 hours, fishing, and my grade one teacher

10,000 hours

This summer I much considered and bought into  Malcolm Gladwell’s theory of 10,000 hours of practice required to get good at most anything.

It suddenly seems so completely obvious.

It you want to improve at something, than just do it.

In my life,

I have often taken the  approach of dancing and skirting around the things that I really want to do,

but never actually jumping in.

Partly, this is a misguided form of martyrdom.

I wait until everybody else is settled and completely taken care of and only then do I  finally sit down ready to enjoy or pursue my bit,

but by then I am tired and have sometimes even lost my drive,

never mind that as a mother in a busy family that time often just never comes.

It is also a way of avoiding my dreams because it’s simply far less risky to just keep doing what I’m doing.

However,

there are certain things that I have always wanted to do, projects I have been considering, and areas that I have wanted to explore….

This past Spring, I decided that enough was enough. If I wanted to write, for example, then I would write.

It’s high time to take responsibility for my own dreams~

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Now that a new year is upon us (to me September always feels like the beginning of a new year), I am changing it up a bit and expanding my focus to another creative writing venture…..

I have a very exciting project in the works that my lovely Alex has been helping me with over the last several months. We are now on a more specific timeline and to keep up my momentum,

I will now be blogging every second Friday,

and will look forward to continuing to connect with all you lovely readers.

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Fishing

This week Dan took Olivia and George fishing.

Surprisingly, everything about this adventure ended up being marvelous and sweet.

It all started with my dad and stepmother coming out to visit us for the day in Waterton on the weekend. Dad, to his core, is an outdoors-man and it filled my heart to watch him sitting at the picnic table with his grand kids, showing them how to tie proper fishing knots and looking at all of the new fishing gear.

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The next morning, George jumped out of bed and ran into our bedroom,

all ready to go.

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I had been debating whether or not to go with them. Olivia, of course, wanted me to come but George gently broke the news to me that he had really pictured himself and Olivia being in the boat on their own with dad.

That was all I needed to hear ~ my gut was telling me that this was an experience that didn’t need to involve me.

So off they went, up the road to Cameron Lake where they rented a boat and spent four hours rowing to the farthest reaches of the lake,

enjoying the early morning mountain splendor.

Much of the time, Dan reported to me later, was spent untangling fishing line and coaching,

and they were out there for a good four hours.

George apparently started to lose heart and interest when near the end of that time, they still hadn’t caught anything. Olivia, of course, started to lecture him about keeping up a positive attitude and focusing on the fun they had still had despite not being successful.

Still dejected, George threw in one more line right before reaching the dock and in a gift of amazing timing,

felt two big tugs on his line and proceeded to catch his first fish!

Later on, while showing me his prized and beautiful catch, he would describe that moment on the boat as ‘one of the best feelings of his life.’

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I can’t tell you exactly why this ended up being such a magical day, or even what it was about fishing in particular that ended up striking such an unexpected cord of nostalgia and joy in all of us,

but it did.

Later on that evening we had an appetizer of grilled lake trout with lemon and butter, and my kids who usually turn their noses up at fish enthusiastically ate their portions.

My grade one teacher

I  heard news this past week of the passing of my first and second grade teacher, Mme. Paquin.

The news actually spurred a thread of messages by classmates expressing sympathies and sharing memories,

one of the lovelier uses of social media. 

It seems timely to offer up my own tribute to this wonderful woman as many of us embark on a new school year, perhaps feeling hesitant about how it will all play out.

My memories of my first few years of school are fuzzy at best, but I do remember feeling nurtured and understood

during a time when I was desperately shy, anxious, and sensitive.

I will also never forget that Mme. Paquin drove an hour to see me during my first marriage, when I was embarking on a career of teaching little ones myself. She and my mother had stayed in touch and she wanted to come and see for herself how I was doing.

We sat at my kitchen table and had tea,

and I remember her dispensing firmly held teaching advice, this time teacher to teacher,

but I felt nurtured still….

cared for by this fascinating woman who never had her own children and had spent twenty-five years in a convent before marrying and entering into the teaching profession. During that visit, I remember Mme. Paquin telling me not to take things too seriously and to always remember that children needed to be allowed to play and be children.

Rest in peace, grand lady.

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On Robin Williams, a goodbye and our block party

Robin Williams

It may seem that some people have such a strong and vibrant life force that the world can only sustain their blinding brightness for so long.

Consequently, when we suddenly find them gone, too young,
their absence is palpable
so deeply felt was their presence.

When Robin Williams died earlier this week, didn’t the world suddenly feel a little emptier, a little more hollow,
as the hole he left
gaped open?

Robin Williams was known for his comic genius, his unparalleled ability to improvise and his endless and unbounded wit and zaniness.

Yet, one of my favorite movies of all time featured him in a more serious role,
‘What Dreams May Come’. I have actually written about this movie in a previous post.

After news of Williams death, it was easy to imagine him,

wish him into a state of frolicking in a heaven of his own making, as that movie depicts –

completely, wildly, ecstatically and finally free.

Certainly, there is so much to be addressed about mental illness and thankfully this important conversation has been re-opened. My friend Lyndon, for example, has written very eloquently on the topic this week as have so many others.

The new revelation of Williams having been recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is personally heart-wrenching too, as I watched my maternal grandfather struggle with this disease for all of my childhood.

Every time, though, that my thoughts take me back to Williams’ death, and I have pondered speaking to it,
it’s not so much the subject of mental illness that asks for my pen,

it’s laughter.

Robin Williams lived to make people laugh.

In death, I think, he would like nothing better than to be able to remind us to laugh…
Big, consuming, tears-streaming, right from the belly, pure and good, healing beautiful laughter –

wherever and whenever it can be found.

Many of us have read the quote, by French poet Antoine De Saint-Exupery, tweeted by Williams daughter, Zelda, right after his death.
“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them … In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night … You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”

And then later she wrote,

‘To those he touched who are sending kind words, know that one of his favorite things in the world was to make you all laugh. As for those who are sending negativity, know that some small, giggling part of him is sending a flock of pigeons to your house to poop on your car. Right after you’ve had it washed. After all, he loved to laugh too.’

And so it is then, his death on one hand a booming call to take care of our hurting brothers and sisters, and to carefully tend to our own pain too,

and on another a reminder to play and laugh and abandon inhibitions.

Could we expect anything less from such a man who was able to take on the most serious of roles but then could effortlessly slip into the shoes of a genie or a nanny,

encompassing the wide spectrum of life~

One who seemed to bear the pain of the world,

but then could just as easily make the very stars laugh.

This beautiful humanity and heart-breaking vulnerability…

It’s in every single one of us.

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A Goodbye

Last night we said goodbye to a family that, for the past 5 weeks, has melded into ours.

For a little while, my kids were her kids and hers were mine.

Both our families have been in Waterton together for the last three summers and with each year the kids’ connection deepens as does our adult friendships.

For our combined brood, It has been the sort of play that can only happen within the freedom of summer.

Suppers of noodles or cereal at 10pm after one last bike ride. Hours of Rainbow Looming. Countless trips to the yogurt place and the gas station for penny candy. Racing to the frigid lake for a quick dunk.

This, to me, has always been why we chose Waterton.

After our friends drove away back to their ‘real’ lives and home, my two burst into tears,

feeling the immediate grief of their departure,

as well as the anxiety regarding the looming school year and the tightly packed schedule to come.

Next year we will meet again, of course, but we all will be one year older,

the same, but different too, as much will have changed.

It always does.

I suggested a walk to cheer my kids up and promised George frozen yogurt smothered with his choice of candy. On our way back to the cabin, they wanted to jump off the dock. They did this wildly and enthusiastically, recovering quickly from their sadness as kids tend to do. It is still summer and they are still free.

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We will miss you, beautiful Howeth family.

Our Block Party

This year marks ten years of block parties on our street. This party has strengthened community bonds in our pretty little neighbourhood like nothing else could have.

Let this be my expression of deep gratitude for this collaborative venture that has proven to all of us here that there is such beauty in this world to be created and found.

This year we have decided to celebrate in a more quiet and intimate way,

and take a year to get to know new neighbours and quietly but surely rejuvenate.

 

 

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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… hot cross buns, stillness, and the Banff Springs

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)Hot Cross Buns

Tuesday mornings, right after I drop off Olivia at school, I turn up the radio because for the rest of my drive I know that Julie Van Rosendaal will be talking about food on the Calgary Eyeopener and I will be hanging on to her every delicious word.

This is a woman who knows how to talk about food.

Julie honours food and celebrates the idea of preparing and enjoying real food together as families and friends,

she naturally finds evocative language to celebrate whatever succulence she is describing,

and she seems delighted to share her passion with her listeners.

Inspired by Julie, I decided to make the hot cross buns I found on her blog over the Easter weekend. We were at our cottage in Waterton and we had all day to play.

Rarely do I devote this kind of time to cooking or baking because there typically aren’t whole days to devote to a whim,

but on that lazy Saturday I was reminded that there is such pure joy in engaging in a project that is multi-stepped,

and that takes time.

There is such joy to be found in not rushing and in simply giving in to the beauty of  a process.

So, while the sun streamed through the windows in our little cottage kitchen Olivia and I found and mixed ingredients

kneaded and punched new dough,

added brightly colored candied fruit,

watched the soft ball of dough rise,

then pulled and formed it into buns,

added sugar topping,

and watched our magnificent creations bake through the warmth of the oven door.

Happiness.

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(Don’t be turned away from Julie’s wonderful blog by my featured recipe choice. Julie’s fantastic recipes are geared towards busy households and weekday cooking.)

2) Standing Still

I may look like a patient woman from the outside,

but, for me, patience does not always come easily.

I want to find the answers, brainstorm, understand, know, decide, act, and fix.

Lately, though, I have been inundated with messages to be still.

It is a theme that keeps finding me, chasing me down, calling at me,

relentlessly and gently.

Be still. Breathe. Stop.

Mostly, I don’t want to stop. I get bored. I want to burst forth with another idea, buy another book, join another class. Of course I resent everything the minute it feels like too much,

but then,

when I clear up space and time I yearn to quickly fill it up again,

often flitting

from book to idea to banking

new project to text message to forms

emails to lists to writing to errands to registering in a new course

and back round again.

Checking and re-checking too many things too many times to admit.

All of this is ok and part of who I am,

but I know there’s something more. That, I have always known.

So.

Now,

I pause for a minute and listen to the birds sing their spring songs.

I wake up a little earlier than everybody else and sit in quiet for 10 minutes.

I lay in the tub and look up through the skylight at the blue, at the clouds,

and don’t pick up my book at all.

I turn off the radio at the red light and just sit.

And today, at the bank, I noticed myself, stopped myself, from checking my phone

again.

Instead, I stood and waited for the teller while she printed my new cheques.

I looked out the window, took a few deep breaths,

and just waited,

patiently.

The hidden treasures of stillness will find me yet.

Special thanks to Cheryl Dyck and Vickie MacArthur for your beautiful stillness mentoring. When the student is ready, the teachers appear.

3) the Banff Springs

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A perk of being married to an architect is that their conferences are always located in beautiful buildings.

Context and environment, of course, can never be compromised within a profession whose entire reason for being is to create beautiful spaces,

so 13 years of marriage to an architect have taught me.

This is why I am fortunate enough to be presently sitting in the Banff Springs hotel finishing up this week’s blog,

thinking,

now,

this is a place where a person can really feel inspired to not only design but to write,

especially if you are a person like me that is drawn to old world beauty

and loves the magical idea of castles,

and rooms thick with deep reds, purples, and golds in fabrics and paint,

plush furniture, dark woods, dramatic sweeping views,

ghosts dancing in the ballroom at the edge of sight,

and old glamorous adventures and stories retold.

It has been pouring rain today which will likely turn to snow, and peace has found me as I sit and write in these cozy rooms and sip my tea,

taking breaks to walk through the spacious corridors and letting this magnificent castle nestled in the Canadian wilderness be my muse.

Today is a peaceful and treasured break from my daily realities and I am so grateful.

Happy May to you all!

Do you have long and lovely projects that call out to you?

Where and how do you find stillness?

What sorts of environments inspire you?