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Find the Cake, Part. 2

Our Christmas tree this year is full and tall and drinks gallons of water.  I can barely keep up. We check the water level every few hours, and are continually surprised that it wants still more to drink. The first few nights I even wondered if I should wake up in the middle of the night, set a timer. I have never seen a tree drink so much water. The kids and I joke about needing to hire a babysitter for our tree when we go out. It is as if it is constantly reminding us that she is a living, pulsing thing requiring our attention too. And so I give it, feeling almost as it I have another mouth to feed, someone else needing me. But she responds by hardly shedding a needle. We have had the tree for over a month now and I have hardly swept. She is radiant, and very much alive. People comment as they stand in our entry way on the health and beauty of  this tree.

In my quietest, most clear and sacred moments, I wonder even,

Is it possible that this tree loves us, so generous she is with the fullness of her being?

 

Regardless, it is for certain that her beauty and scent permeate our home and I love her. We turn on her coloured lights first thing in the morning, and turning them off is the last thing we do at night.

 

 

I have not written since the election. There isn’t anything to say, and there is everything to say. How do I write the way I used to, when there is so much change, so much being challenged, such unrest? So many things now feel uncertain, no matter your views or beliefs, things that once felt unshakable .

 

Yet, here is this tree. Steady she stands reminding me that it is still Christmas and there will be delicious food on our table that we have all worked together to make, and the kids will wake up early on Christmas morning ~

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we will all feel excited and wrapped up in the coziness of the dark and silent early hours, and our hot chocolate (topped off with Bailey’s for the grown-ups) will warm us as will the impressive fire that Dan will build us as he always does, and the filled stockings will bring fun and delight. I will sit with my back right up against that roaring fire because that is where I love to sit, and I  will watch our kids bask in the magical joy of their favourite day of the year and my heart will be full because theirs are~

 

This is the beautiful dichotomy that I coming to honour, that sadness and joy can be felt at once. Even hope and fear. For holding one does not mean disallowing or even devaluing the other. So it is that our beautiful open hearts are made to ache and fill, fill and ache.

 

How could I forget the days before my mom died, so intensely written they are in my mind and heart? Though, to be honest, I don’t remember those days as being awful. Family and friends filled our house, there was lots of comfort food and hugs, shared cups of tea and glasses of wine, and tears freely fell but so did laughter easily ring out. Two days before she died my uncle cooked cabbage rolls all day, and then after sharing a meal together a spontaneous family sing-song  broke out that lasted a few hours while mom watched on, so peaceful. Not wanting the evening to ever end, we searched our collective memories for songs of her childhood, hymns of her upbringing, lyrics to bring us comfort. It was one of the most significant and beautiful nights of my life,

heralding both an end and a beginning.

 

In those unimaginably difficult moments  grace, peace, and even joy found us.

 

 

Times have been turbulent before and people have found their way.

This time, we are being pushed to be brave, true to our own hearts, and fiercely kind beyond measure. This is how we will heal and thrive. I know this with every fiber of my being, as do so many others.

 

Take heart dear friends,

for we have evergreen trees and wide frosty sky, glittering snow, and magical Christmas morning wanting to love us and

 

there are infinite cakes to be found.

 

Sometimes, though, it is up to us to bake them.

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Winter Wonderland cake for Alex’s birthday

 

Merry Christmas to all, dear family, friends, and acquaintances~ So many beautiful hearts finding their way. I love you all.

 

 

 

 

 

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what is joy

So the first few weeks of this joy plan proved themselves rather trying.

A friend of ours has experienced an unimaginable and tragic loss, repercussions of a struggling economy are all around us, I sustained a very minor but uncomfortable injury after Christmas that is taking time to resolve, and on it goes.

So much pain, heartache, and uncertainty in the world. Every. day.

 

All of this during my first weeks of publicized joy finding.

 

I never said it would be easy. And calling upon joy does not guarantee her arrival, or does it?

Because when I really think about it, there were moments of pure happiness.

For example,     this.

My gardener/writer friend invited me over to his greenhouse one morning. It was chilly. I kept my big coat on and we sat amidst his heartier winter-tolerating plants and drank hot pumpkin tea and chatted. It was overcast at first, but towards the end of our visit we found ourselves and the plants bathed in cheerful sunlight. He entertained me with his stories and told me about some of the plants in our company.

And this. Reading Harry Potter again, inspired by the news of the recent death of the lovely and deeply talented Alan Rickman.  George and I deciding to take on the 4th and 5th books, immersing ourselves in a world of such magic and beauty-first reading together but then him reading on, eagerly jumping ahead of me. Alex, excitedly chiming in at supper one night as we talked about Harry Potter, reflecting on how her entire childhood was  somewhat defined by J.K. Rowling’s books.

A homemade pizza crust one Saturday night eaten in front of the fire that turned out better than any I have ever attempted. ever. Pure heaven.

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And then just a few days ago we attended the dance show put on by Olivia’s middle school and it was a pure spectacle of joy – a  triumph of creativity, energy, synergy, commitment. Loads of people working together to create something positive and wondrous. My girl swept away by her love for performing.

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Pumpkin tea in a greenhouse, Harry Potter, pizza,  and a dance show.

And then just one more deliciously lovely moment. Cuddled up with George watching a documentary on pelicans that he had been asking us to watch with him for weeks. At first, of course, it was all quite gentle and interesting -pelican behaviours and development, habitat, rehabilitation practices etc.

but then it quickly got depressing as these nature documentaries always do.

Heart-breaking scenes showing helpless pelicans drowning in oil spills, stuck and struggling in fishing nets or with hooks lodged in their throats, their webbed feet deformed by frost bite due to changing weather patterns affecting migratory behaviours. ugh.

It begs one to ask what is even the point of rehabilitation for these birds. What are these poor pelicans even being sent back out into?

 

But even as I ask the question I know the answer.

 

They are being sent back out into life, in all of its beauty and wretchedness.

They are being sent back out into the wild to be with other pelicans, to soar above the ocean waters, and to do that perfectly executed long and straight arrow dive in that particular pelican way. Keeping pelicans in even a beautiful sanctuary is not an answer at all. In fact, if that is the only alternative they are often euthanized.

Life is tricky and dangerous and filled with all sorts of things that could go wrong, events that could very well break our hearts and leave us marred,

but, life, in every form, is also our very greatest privilege and gift.

And to truly experience it and honour it we must be courageous enough to open ourselves up to the fullness of it all, fish hooks, oil spills and all.

For, as the wise women discussed at my last workshop, when we are courageous enough to open our hearts to joy, when we are strong enough to feel, than we are also making ourselves quite vulnerable to sorrow,

all of  it existing within one same spectrum.

We may suddenly find ourselves weeping for all sorts of reasons,

so easily  touched by beauty, kindness, creative acts, pain, despair;

 

The plight of pelicans, a friend’s grief, or a perfectly choreographed dance. All of these experiences  – treasures for the open-hearted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Purse Project and chronicling a year of finding Joy

 

After having coffee with a dear friend last week, I spent an hour or so perusing Chapters and had a bit of a brainwave.

I first need to say, though, that I almost didn’t peruse Chapters – because it wasn’t a ‘productive’ activity.

 

Seriously.

 

I have spent my entire life being caught up with the idea of spending my time doing  ‘important’ and ‘productive’ tasks. I could spend all sorts of time analyzing where this rigid mindset comes from ~ Generally, though, we are a culture obsessed with results and ‘success’.

Perhaps I partly inherited this strong-hold of an ethic from my accomplished head-nurse grandmother, whom I was very close to. Grandma was passionate, loving and had a great sense of fun, but was also extremely efficient, productive, and task-oriented. She was constantly at battle with herself over the hours that weren’t productive, the tasks that weren’t completed.

It makes sense,

I don’t blame her and in actuality completely adored her. Our society was built upon the tasks of hard-working immigrants such as Grandma who had no choice but to be productive and build new lives against all odds.

 

And they did.

 

However, it’s now a very different world; the rules and needs have changed.

It feels right for me to announce that this focus enslaves me more than it serves me.  It makes me distracted,  cranky with the ones I love the most, and often quite negative. Yet, sadly and truthfully, it’s most often how I measure the worth of my days.

I am going to try serving another master: Joy

and see where that takes me.

 

So that’s it. That’s my New Year’s plan and my new practice.          Joy.

I am going to investigate, explore and give full reign to things that bring me

joy.

If this sounds hoaky, simplistic, or idealistic,      I really don’t care.   I am blessed enough to be surrounded by lots of intelligent, successful, and highly artistic people and for too long  I believed that everything I wrote or did needed to be academic or clever and original. I am done with that line of thinking because not only is it paralyzing, but I am a true believer in the deep and abiding worth of simple concepts.

Also, a very wise friend once said to me,

‘Everything’s been done before. Don’t kid yourself. But it hasn’t been done by you.’

 

Also, because I know that every practice is fortified by writing about it and tracking  developments (my friend and I actually discussed this over said coffee),

I am going to write about Joy this year and the places where I find it.

When I wake up in the morning I am going to consider what will fill me up rather than what needs be to accomplished.

 

Last post I talked about being open to receiving beautiful moments.

Let’s just see if setting forth an intent widens the scope and potential of my receptivity.

So, there will be far less ado about what I have done and far more about surrendering to a new way of looking at things. I have been given so many precious gifts in this life, it seems nothing less than a betrayal to not find ways to celebrate their sweet presence. We all know too well that life is short.

 

Plus there’s nothing like publicly announcing something to make it happen.

See.

I said I was going to re-think my blog a bit this year. Plus as soon as I use the word project or theme I get all tingly and excited and inspired and dare I say…Joyful.

So there it is. I gave myself permission to be unproductive and peruse Chapters for an hour with no agenda and an agenda found me.

At any rate, I am pretty sure that it’s a non-debatable fact that the world could use more       Joy.

And,  I suspect that Joy is a direct highway to      Peace.

 

Here, I got you all interested in my Purse Project and I didn’t even tell you about it. No worries, I will in a few days. It’s idea #1 and I just need to flesh it out a bit.

In the meantime, I hope you all feel a little inspired to figure out what it is your lives need more of.

Joy, however, is anything but saccharine or false. It is delight; a fully embodied form of contentment. It’s the smile that finds its own stretch and doesn’t need to be tugged into place. It’s what the morning glory does when it feels the first rays of sunlight on its petals. It’s the splash that sends a feeding fish slaphappy out of the water, and it’s the flick of its tail on its return. Joy is the impulse in the morning that sends you into the kitchen for tea and toast before the alarm has had a chance to ring.                                       Tzivia Gover, ‘Joy in Every Moment’

 

The beautiful image heading this piece is from from Robin Mead! Check out her other inspiring and joyful designs at https://www.facebook.com/RobinMeadDesigns

 

 

 

 

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A ray of light.

I took this photo on Boxing Day.

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In opposition to a world that seems to revel in an endless stream of photos, George is generally resistant to pictures being taken, especially of himself.

Yet, I still took it. I liked that moment. It was peaceful, simple, tech-free.

 

I can appreciate George’s perspective though. During a time when we attempt to document everything, sometimes the refreshing and rebellious thing is to simply not snap the shot, to courageously experience the moment without any need for a stamp of validation.

 

During the Christmas break, we watched the movie ‘Boyhood‘. Have you seen it? The entire movie is a chronicling of moments, random yet telling, of one boy’s life over the course of 12 years.

Snippets. Some of them even lovely rays of light.

 

Let this photo, this gift of a moment that I was thankfully present enough to notice, be preserved as part of the string of moments that will make up George’s boyhood.

Rays of light that find us. Happiness that we are willing to receive. 

 

2016 has wrapped her arms firmly around us already, hasn’t she?

It is a tentative and uncertain relationship that we have at first with the New Year. We don’t know her yet,

but yet we tend to want to believe that we can mold her and control her.

We forget that her events, her adventures, her surprises, her lessons, her inspirations, her happy and her dark times,

are not yet for us to know.

 

The best we can do is relax into her arms, trusting in her love and wisdom.

 

‘Boyhood’ ends with a poignant line,

A girl that Mason, the main character, has just met says to him,

‘You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kinda thinking it’s the other way around. You know, like the moment seizes us.’

 

May you be seized by innumerable moments and rays of light in 2016. Happy New Year friends!

A reminder that the next PeaceCard workshop will be held on Thursday, Jan. 21 from 7-9pm. It promises to be another lovely evening of connection, play and stillness. Message me for the details if you are interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On decluttering, walking, and my little girl….

Decluttering

It is an interesting period for me,  right now ~

The time has come, my heart surgeon has informed Dan and I,

to move ahead with my heart surgery.

I am now waiting to go through for a few more tests

and then we will be given a date.

I have felt all sorts of emotions around the processing of this big news:

relief, conviction, fear, anger,  excitement, anticipation, confusion, frustration, deep gratitude….

 

One of my biggest challenges, though, has simply been around what to do with myself during this time.

I am the sort of person that thrives on expansion in every direction and operating from her extensive lists,

constantly setting new goals and getting things done,

drawing lines through my items accomplished  as quickly as I add more new things to do.

This all, I admit, makes me feel productive and useful and alive and a part of things.

 

Yet, here I am,

suddenly being asked to      slow        right        down,

and take loving care of myself in all ways to prepare for what my body is about to go through ~

My priorities have suddenly become

not adding too many new things to my lists,

long walks and stretching,

eating wholesome foods,

staying calm and grounded by being mindful and meditating,

attending to myself and my family, and letting my family and friends attend to me.

 

I am also slowly but surely tidying things up at home,

simplifying,

paying attention to many of the little chores and projects that will allow me to feel organized and happier during my recuperation time.

One of those projects involves decluttering my working space, the room that stores all of my many books, paper and art supplies. This is a job that I have been trying to get to for at least two years, as the room has become a chaotic disaster, nothing more than a place to put everything.

I am finding myself moving through this particular task gently and lovingly, working on it a bit each day, combing though books and old pictures, cards, old journals,

making recurring trips to Michael’s for more wicker baskets,

and feeling so re-inspired by all of the wonderful things that I forgot I owned.

 

As the space begins to transform and stuff gets cleared out I feel noticeably lighter.

 

And so it strikes me that perhaps, in life,

there may be times of transition,

wherein we feel seriously called to declutter not just our rooms but our life in its entirety.

We must stop, blink as if we are just waking up,

assess our surroundings, reflect on where we are putting our time and energies and ask ourselves,

‘Is this necessary?’

‘Do I even want this anymore?’

‘Is this a good use of my time?’

‘Does this serve me? Does this serve my family?’

‘Is this still a good fit?’

‘Does this still interest me?’

Magically, I am finding that in the distilling, the decluttering, the clearing away,

and the slowing down,

a gentle and bright clarity is undeniably coming.

Surprisingly, underneath all of the stuff and the people and the events and the clutter and the aspirations,

sits

me.

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Walking

I was driving by our urban lake one afternoon this week, and heard a tiny voice inside my head say,

Walk around the lake.’

 Ok,

I thought,

committed to my new plan of slowing down and listening.

 

After dropping off several bags of used books at George’s school, I returned to the lake and walked its perimeter.

The weather was cold, but the air was still.

It was just me alone with the sounds of my steps,           my breath.

I passed a handful of senior citizen couples, we all smiled at each other and said hello,

and one older gentleman deeply engrossed in preparing his fishing line as he sat on a bench,

and, oh yeah,

these guys.

Why hello, Canada Geese.

I see you.

Here

we all are.

 

Thich Nhat Hanh writes,

Walk wherever you are. Don’t wait for the perfect forest path. Even when you go to the bus stop, make it into a walking meditation. Even if your surroundings are full of noise and agitation, you can still walk in rhythm with your breathing. Even in the commotion of a big city, you can walk with peace, and happiness, and an inner smile. This is what it means to live fully in every moment of every day of your life.

My Little Girl

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Our sweet Olivia perfectly engaged in her own walking meditation -this photo taken many years ago by my dear friend Andrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Ever Guest Blog!

My dear friend, Lyndon Penner, and I are each guest-blogging for each other this week. Lyndon has written on the subject of peace, and I have written a piece for his blog, ‘Jadecypress: One Voice Calling out from the Garden’  that fits within his subject matter of nature and gardening. Please visit jadecypress.wordpress.com to find more of Lyndon’s beautiful writings as well as my contribution. Lyndon Penner is a gardener, CBC columnist, environmentalist, author and teacher. It was a both an honour and a joy to collaborate with someone I deeply admire, and whose friendship I treasure.

What could be a better way to build bridges and peace in the world than for two writers who respect and admire each other to come together and collaborate? I am reminded of how CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien used to get together and compare writings and possibilities, and while I wouldn’t dream of comparing myself to these two giants of literature, I like the idea that through the ages, writers have been encouraging and inspiring and supporting one another.
Karen is a dear friend of mine, and I asked her to write a guest post for my blog. To my delight, she agreed and asked if I would write one for hers! I was thrilled to be able to do so for her, but also a little intimidated. Karen’s audience is different than my audience, and could I really write something that would appeal to her followers? I am not a flavor everyone enjoys, and that’s fine with me, but it’s also good for me to get out of my box and write something for a different group of people.
I think it’s so important that whatever we do in life, we encourage and help each other. I am always so happy to see groups of people working together for a common good, rather than to see people with a common dream at odds with one another, which is too often the case.
If you are an artist, and you paint, I think you should find other artists and encourage them in their painting. Talk about your work together. Support and build one another up. If you sing, find other singers and see what you can do together. The same for musicians. Or sculptors. Or ceramic artists. If we all worked together in our respective fields, wouldn’t the world be a better place? I have a friend named Cheryl who does the same thing for a living that I do. We are quite equally matched in terms of skills and expertise, and when I was really down and out Cheryl went through her contacts and found some extra work for me at a time when I really needed it. This is unheard of in many other professions. Chefs do not share recipes. Graphic designers do not share ideas. Yet gardeners often come together to help each other out. I know someone else who does the same work that I do, and she sees me as a threat. She is nice to me in person, but behind my back she would do anything she could to sell me up the river. I feel sorry for this woman and how insecure she is. How much better would life in our world be if we combined our collective talents rather than try to stamp out anyone who might be better than we are?

Winter is a hard time for many of us. Especially prairie dwellers. Even those of us who grew up here in 30 below and are accustomed to the cold do not necessarily enjoy it. There are different kinds of winter souls. There are some who purchase snowmobiles or cross country skis or toboggans or snowboards and just make the most of every minute. I have friends who long for snow so they can get out there and do winter sports. I am not one of those people, but I am envious of them. How, in the long, dark days of January and February (and often into March and April) can we keep the faith and go bravely forward? It is cold outside; often too cold to be outdoors, and many of us begin to feel the effects of short day light and cabin fever. It takes a stalwart and hardy person to live here. As a gardener, winter is especially hard for me because my income is severely reduced and I am usually stressing about money, but never mind that. Winter is hard because we live in a harsh land; a fact often overlooked when we consider the conveniences of “modern living”. Having gardened in the tropics, I now understand the value of winter. Winter gives my soul a period of rest. There are no weeds to pull in February. There is no grass to mow and no harvesting to be done and no insects to contend with. The trees cast long shadows as I sit by the window and at night I can hear their twiggy fingers tapping against the glass. The garden in winter is at rest. The snow is beautiful. It is peaceful. There are so many on the globe who have never seen snow. Here, we see it for so much of the year we take it for granted. The snow covers the ground, and beneath it the perennials and the small creatures are all resting, all asleep and tucked away, waiting the return of spring. Sometimes, I sense their peacefulness as they dwell in their grottoes beneath the snow and earth, and sometimes I am sure I can feel the spirits of bears and skunks and bats as they slumber in forgotten caves and tunnels in the mountain. How full and beautiful our year is because of the rest that winter brings. We have so glorified “busy” in our society that we have forgotten to rest, to be peaceful, to lie down and let the gales sweep over us. Winter reminds us to be still and to await the return of longer days and songbirds, and winter is a good teacher if we allow it to be.

Finally, the last thing I would like to remark upon is how beautiful the world is. It is so very easy to become despairing, to lose hope, to feel lost. With climate change and the tar sands and the corruption of our government (among other things), it can become so tempting to throw in the towel and feel like there is no point in even bothering with trying to make the world a better place. The world is still very much a worthwhile place to be. There are so many reasons to hope. When I speak at universities or gardening conferences, people are always asking me about native plant restoration and things they can do to help the bees. I see young people give up their seat on the bus for an elderly person. I have seen young men gallantly hold open the door for women, and I have seen strangers offer up radiant smiles to me for no other reason than we are passing each other on the street. The sun still rises, and it is lovely. The full moon is as gorgeous as it has ever been, and the stars still shine on. The ocean still offers us the songs of whales and the forests still offer us moss covered rocks to ponder and contemplate. The world is a beautiful and hopeful place, if we want it to be. As you go through your journey this week and this winter, I wish you hope and beauty. I wish you peace and collaborations, and I wish for you the knowledge that you can make a tremendous difference in this world.

 

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On balance, gathering, and weathering the cold

Balance

At Dan’s staff party this year, we dined at an Italian restaurant where the champagne flowed freely and endlessly. It was the kind of winter’s evening where the ambiance was dark and intimate, the conversation bubbly and enticing, and the hours lost their definition.

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The next morning, however, I woke up with an excruciating headache.

This is something that rarely happens to me anymore,

I am too old for it, I have far too much to do, and it’s simply not worth the toll that it takes on my body.

However, I was able to look at my situation from two angles that felt utterly refreshing,

one being the decision that I would not waste a minute feeling angry at myself or regretful (what’s the point),

and secondly,

I was able to immediately recognize that I had understandably lost my balance,

my footing.

This festive evening had followed a few weeks of relentless work and preparations for Christmas, my business, and events we were hosting. I had often sat at my computer until 11pm and neglected my walking, my yoga, my meditation, regular meals, my peace,

in favor of emails and determinedly charging through my to-do list.

No wonder I had been driven to excess,

to the point where my body severely jolted me back to sanity and the much needed stillness of a day on the couch.

 

Balance, it seems, has been my lifelong lesson

and my worthiest of pursuits.

When I am comfortably in the flow, everything feels quite smooth and right.

I spend time with my family and friends and regroup with time on my own. I get restorative sleeps and spend enough time moving my body. I eat well but allow myself occasional treats. I work hard but leave time for play. I spend time creating and planning, but also get through the more mundane details of my work. I read and I write, I cook, and I play with my paints and felts. I listen to music and relish in quiet. I give but allow myself to receive. I dream but stay grounded. I am energized by the stimulation of people and culture, coffee shops and bookstores, but then I happily retreat to the hushed quiet of nature. I visit and share, brainstorm and question, but also trust and

I breathe and I breathe and I breathe.

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Balance.

My  New Year’s wish for you is the manifestation of your own sort of balance, however that may look,

not necessarily found in each hour or day, but in the more general stream of things,

 

and then loving gentleness with yourself, too, when you inevitably falter,

 

and begin again.

Gatherings

‘I was thinking back to the first night when we were all cuddled up with the fire going, getting ready to watch a movie and I had such a warm and secure feeling, like you do when you are a child and you are surrounded by people you love. It was such a lovely moment.’

This is an excerpt from the message my aunt wrote me to after our little holiday family reunion in Waterton this week.

Judy summed it up beautifully.

Family in its highest expression is finding that place where we feel safe and nurtured and awash in unconditional love.

My New Year’s wish for you

is that you may find yourself enveloped in moments such as these this year,

held in the very bosom of your tribes,

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and beautifully aware of the magical perfection of these times.

I am increasingly convinced that these sorts of gatherings will ultimately be looked upon as the most precious treasures of our lives.

Weathering the Cold

I am NOT a fan of the cold. I have lived in this great white north all of my 42 years, but still I rail against its winters. I curse the biting air, and resent my frozen extremities. I say again and again to Dan, ‘this is not the climate I was meant for.’ I force myself out into the weather, dressed in a ridiculous multitude of layers but I am still not warm.

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Dan calls this one, ‘Karen is frozen stiff’

 

I often will sink into my steaming hot bathtub up to 3 times on particularly frigid days, even just for a few minutes to warm up,

for the day, for the afternoon, for bed.

Yet,

 

this is where I live,

and there is undeniable beauty in the frost, in the icicles, in the stillness, in the blue tinge, in the low winter’s light that is almost mystical.

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And so,

I carefully bundle up once again and head out down the streets and sidewalks as my feet rip-rip-rip on the snow,

and sometimes I am not annoyed,

but am rather captivated and even delighted by the magic of this winter wonderland that many in our world will never get to know.

So,

this third and last New Year’s wish for you is that you may be brave and resilient and tenacious enough to withstand

the snow, the harsh storms, the pounding wind,

and the dark times when hope and comfort falter,

and that you are also able to find the beauty in wherever you are,

and that above all you have a home, a fire, a cup of tea, a soft blanket, a warm meal that eventually and surely

calls you in from the cold to bring you comfort and warm your toes.

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Happy, happy New Year my inspiring friends.

The best is yet to come.