Monday, April 20, 2015

Top of the World

Inuit sculpture in front of a building
My work took me to the top of the world last week. Flying over the stark frozen tundra and then landing in Iqaluit to the frigid Arctic elements felt like a homecoming of sorts; oddly familiar.
I had my boss in tow who was eager to see and experience all the far North had to offer.

The exquisite beauty of this place is borne from the life, art and spirit that has emerged and endured what appears to be a harsh, inhospitable environment. We were met with the smiles and shy nods of the Inuit people who hosted an influx of 600 to their tiny city of 6,000. We befriended the security guard named Israel who served more as our willing concierge than anything. He motioned to his uncle Lazarus (the interpreter for the conference) to ask where we could find Moses, the elder who made ulus. Lazarus figured that he was probably still at the deli having coffee with the elders, but offered to take us to his shop on the break so we could check out his wares. He did not disappoint. In amongst the metal dust and well worn grinders and tools we found more than ulus - we found pride of workmanship and friendship. We had an easy banter with our new friends and they sent us on our way with a happy heart - the lighthearted happy that comes with connecting with another human being on the most positive terms.

It was -29 degrees Celsius for most of the trip but the community was warm. I happily snapped photos with my phone as we moved about the city. And just maybe I was singing "I'm at the top of the world..." (in my head, anyway.)

 And now I share a few of them with you for your viewing pleasure.

Iqaluit Airport

View from my hotel facing the harbour
Walking about the city
Contemporary art -- he's on a cell phone!

Same sculpture from a different angle

Government building - art is everywhere

Hand made ulus

Sunday, April 19, 2015

I Got the Message

There are times in your life when you find yourself at crossroads or mired in strife or stress. It is tempting to slip into self pity or flirt with defeat. After all, it's not your fault that you've become the object of difficult times. It's easy to forget our power, who we are and surrender control.

And then there are times when the message you need most to hear (or read) lands right in your lap. My mom used to tell us that there are no accidents; and last week as I was running out the door to catch my flight to the Arctic, I grabbed a book from my "need to read" pile. It was Power, Freedom and Grace by Deepak Chopra. The first sentence of the first chapter read "There is a reason you were drawn to this book". And it was absolutely true.

I delved into the pages slurping up every concept and devouring the message that I was sure was meant just for me. It was good medicine and took me back to a period in my life in which -although more hectic and challenging - I seemed to float above the noise and lived more fully in the moment. I felt more connected to my source and attracted more goodness that I felt I deserved.

I was reminded that I need to provide space and stillness to hear that which comes from the deepest part of myself, to reclaim the power and control that is mine, to remember who I am and that I am capable of anything and everything. Everything I need is within me. I am creative. I am love. I am complete.

I trust that my life is unfolding as it should, and that every challenge is a test of my faith and an opportunity to evolve to my highest self. I got the message. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Thunder and Sun

Thunder is rumbling through the house. It's been raining for two days - the grey, misty, cold damp kind of rain. I shouldn't be surprised... April showers and all. But I am weary of it all.

It feels as though we've been living under a misty veil of stress lately - our lives consumed by work. It makes the days fly by; it makes life pass too quickly. And I don't want moments, days to be fleeting. I want to savour experiences; enjoy each moment and swaddle myself in the love and companionship of those souls I have conscripted into sharing my journey with me. 

I long for sunshine to chase the gray away. And I don't think it'll be long. The thunder has subsided. And the sun is always there - whether we see it or not. We just have to believe we'll see it shine again.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Perfect Order

from the outset doesn't
unfold in an orderly fashion or
take a direct route.
Rather -
It unravels -
distracting, disturbing and challenging us -
taking us on detours, places we need to go
to get the experiences we need
to learn and grow.
To evolve.

delivers pain and angst
pushing us to our breaking point
showing and reminding us
just how strong we are
filling us with joy and happiness
rich textures and dazzling colours.
What appears as utter chaos
is in fact perfect order
realized in hindsight or
With faith.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

To Life!

It's Easter Sunday. So much to celebrate! And I'm not just talking about the Cadbury bunny that is missing some essential body parts. The dust has died down after the Easter famjam; the leftover leftovers are nestled on the second shelf in the fridge, the folding chairs are folded and stored, far away family members are back home and my heart is as full as my belly. 
Me and the Sibs. Photo courtesy of LRC
It was a special weekend. Our family of twenty filled the house with raucous chatter, laughter and dancing.  Me and the sibs got down with Uptown Funk much to the horror of our kids. Or maybe it was the bunny ears... they really have to learn to loosen up.

We gathered for a family picture before dinner... kinda like herding cats. Just as hubby counted the shot down - a unison of "we're getting married" rang out. There was a clear second of silence before the ensuing chorus shrieks and screams. My eldest daughter is going to marry her soulmate. Another family first - a same sex wedding. The family swarmed the couple and cocooned them with good wishes and all the love they could muster. 

We live for these monumental moments! And it is not lost on our how special it is for us all to be able to share them together. I couldn't help thinking about how proud and pleased my mom would be for her namesake. 

We wrapped the weekend with an impromptu dinner with hubby's mom and dad. We missed them and got our fix. We drove home satisfied and contented with the world.

And so it was. Another life affirming, family centric weekend. And if I could raise my glass, I would toast - to life! It is indeed good.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Birthday Presence

Today I am fifty-five. Seems strange to write it; to see it in print. How is it possible?

I am the same age as my stepmother was when she moved here to be with my dad; as my mother-in-law (in heart) was when I first met her; and as my mother was when she got her lung transplant.

Birthdays cause me to reflect on my life, where my journey has taken me, and to marvel at the irony, excitement, and speed at which it passes.

Most importantly, it has me counting my blessings and the gifts in my life. I sat at the end of the table as hubby walked towards me with my favourite vanilla cake ablazing (adorned with NASCAR rings -- the only white cake they had) as a table-full of loving souls serenaded me.

I blew the dust off this neglected blog and gave myself a gift. I've missed my blogging, my search for the "take away" and gift in each day. My daily posting used to help me reset my compass, tell myself that which I needed most to know, and express myself.

At fifty-five I am disease-free - a little stiff and inflexible, but not on any medications stronger than the odd Advil. Added bonus - a pair of muffin toppers that defy camouflage and saggy bits on my face that don't defy gravity.   I have good friends and a huge loving tribe. I share myself with a kind, deeply caring man, have a job that is meaningful and fulfilling, and learn something new every day.

I am living the life of my choosing; of my own desire. It has provided adventure, taken me on detours, delivered surprises, and pushed my boundaries. It's been a physical stage for my spiritual development, providing me with the circumstances and challenges to teach me what I need to learn.

I appealed to my loved ones to donate to Good Hope as gifts and they all came through in spades, including my work family. I love that they so willingly support an organization that means so much to me, simply because it is so.

So today, on my birthday, my heart is full of gratitude for the privilege of growing old (a privilege not bestowed upon all) and I resolve to continue to squeeze every drop of living out of each day.

It's the very least I can do.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding Myself - Far Away

Here I sit, legs stretched out before me, cooled by the breeze blowing in from the open window writing a post to my blog on my faithful Surface. I am grateful for the WiFi that is supposedly included in our room charge; but that is mostly elusive.

I have to pinch myself. I am in the land of the red dusty roads, lavender blooming jacaranda trees and smiling, welcoming faces. In amongst the visiting, volunteering and exploring there has been time for reflection - something that was not in such abundance last year when I was here. And there is much to reflect upon. It makes me wonder if we must travel far to learn what is indeed inside us; to learn where we need most to go. Must we travel far to see ourselves as minuscule pieces of a whole?

When I travel here under the guise of volunteering, I am fully aware that this is really my post secondary education. I am learning much about this special place and the people who call it home, and I am learning so very much about myself and my place in it.

The people we eat our meals with at this bed and breakfast offer intelligent, stimulating conversation and we have covered the gamut of topics: ISIS, violence, war, social structures, religion and the role of the church, human rights and of course, sex.   New people come and go every day, people of different nationalities (Dutch, Belgium, German, Swedish, Italian, to name a few) and perspectives.

And today we are more than half way through our visit to Moshi. There are only a few days to finish up our projects with our respective groups and attempt to settle issues that can enable us to continue in a productive fashion when we return home.

I have many unresolved issues and unanswered questions... such as where do we international volunteers fit into the grand scheme of things; are we contributing to creating a culture of dependency and/or robbing Tanzanians of self direction; and how can we make sustainable differences and contributions to this spectacular country?

I don't mean to ramble. I guess I am realizing that we really aren't that special. But we are fortunate.