Monday, May 18, 2015

Slow Time

If all goes according plan, our lazy weekends at the cottage are numbered. But for right now - it is still ours to enjoy. We drove the three hours Saturday morning; Friday night after a very l o n g   work week would have felt rushed.

On the drive up north, I glanced up from my book occasionally and snapped my mental shots for posterity of the very familiar landmarks and roadside sights. The rugged, raw beauty of the steep granite rocks that flank the highway seem ed to usher us along on our way to our little piece of paradise. I wondered how many times more I would take this drive.

Saturday was a chilly overcast day - dead quiet on the lake. Hubby and I slipped our hoods (that's why we call it a hoodie) over our heads to keep the black flies at bay and headed for the dock. With not a neighbour in sight, the illusion of being the only ones on the lake was complete. We leaned back in the Muskoka chairs, legs stretched out and quietly reminisced.  The lake had delivered every hope and dream that we'd had when we bought it. Now we must let it go to make room for another dream. The chill in the air meant a fire was in order and Hubby stoked the flames until we turned in.

We awoke to the sunshine flooding the room. The weather was nothing short of perfection - clear blue sky, brilliant sunshine and 25 C temps. A gift. Perfection. And a first -- the first dip of the season in the frigid lake.

It's funny - minutes tick by slower; colours are more vibrant; songbirds provide the soundtrack; life is good at the cottage. Nature is a balm for the soul and a day at the cottage is like a mini va-cay. It occurred to me that we have to find a way to recreate the tranquility of the lake when we are away from it. To slow it down a bit. There are the same 24 hours in a day - whether here or there; the trick is to be in the moment, to be mindful of my surroundings, to drink it all in with all of my senses, and to take pleasure in living fully in the present. Slow time. That will be my new speed. And for all the time I've had immersed in nature, I am truly grateful.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Breath of Fresh

I was burrowed away in my office, juggling my seemingly endless to-do list listening to the raindrops pelt my window. With a trusty alibi, I contemplated skipping the lunch hour walk that I am committed to with our current workplace healthy walking campaign in full force. It was raining - no excuses needed!

Then - as suddenly as it started - it stopped raining and the skies cleared. I made like Clark Kent and changed into my super hero walking costume. I plugged my peaceful tunes in my ears and walked boldly out the front doors, leaving my bruised banana and sour apple behind. I started humming along with John Denver, "Sunshine on My Shoulders" (my favourite) - and I may have been singing too, judging from the strange look the lady at the bus stop threw me. I could feel the tingling of happiness creeping in,,,starting with my toes and moving up my legs. I broke into a slow jog -- maybe more of skip -- and the heaviness of stress and angst lifted with every step.

Maybe it was spring fever. Colours seemed more vivid and the air, a little fresher than normal. My senses were on overload and the world seemed to be sending me little messages. I couldn't help but feel cheerful as I walked through the pink tunnel painted with school kid messages.

It was only thirty minutes but it was enough to energize and relax me for the rest of the day. As I changed back into my office appropriate attire, I had a few words with myself - and promised to make moving a priority - all cajoling aside!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Dreamchanger

Five years ago Hubby and I went out on a limb; make a snap decision; and boldly bought a rustic cottage on a tranquil lake (that means alot to both of us) -- without even stepping foot inside. It was perfect for us, and we knew it instantly. After visiting the bank for suggestions on how to buy a cottage with no cash, and after three days of it being listed, we owned our dream pursuit.

Over the past five years we enjoyed every moment we spent in the cosy cottage, inhaling the kind of peace that only comes with being immersed in nature, swimming in the pristine lake and cherishing those quiet moments that inspire creativity.

But Hubby and I want something more; we want our tranquility to last past the weekend and we want to fall asleep and wake up to a chorus of birds chirping and crickets singing. We want to live in the country. So this weekend we listed our beloved Falconridge. And as if in support of our difficult decision, we were blessed with one of the most private and peaceful weekends we have had in two years. It was truly special and just want we needed. We worked hard to get the place in shape for showing. Hubby exhibited his Herculean strength in lifting the dock ramp and connecting it to the dock, and lugging the Muskoka chairs and canoes down to the lake. He admitted that he was grateful that this would be the last time he had to do it.

Then we exhaled. We reminisced about the wonderful, special times we'd shared at the cottage and then turned our focus to the future. It will be hard to let go of something so special, that had become a part of us, but we both agree - there is something exciting for us in the future. A new dream. And the pursuit of that dream will be thrilling and invigorating, just like all the rest. And that is what makes life so rich and wonderful. Life is good.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Stop the Presses

Photo credit: Theresa Brown

He wrote every day, religiously recounting his Arctic adventures, doing his best to recall details; to paint the colour and details in the story. And then he asked me to edit it. That was months ago. I would pick it up, peel through twenty or thirty pages, smoothing out the kinks, preserving the voice, removing random spaces and punctuation - and then weeks would pass. I had a myriad of excuses when he would tentatively ask me "how is the book coming along?". I was busy; work was crazy; I was travelling; I was tired at the end of the day; "I was working on it". But the truth was  - I felt terrible. I could see the sense of urgency he had about getting his book completed, so he could share. And I was holding him up.

So I put this little project of ours at the top of the list, and got it done. It's not perfect. There are some random font changes and a few typos. But the story he put to paper is all his - imperfect and real. And over the past months (maybe even years) that we have spent discussing and collaborating on his project, we have spent precious tine and shared special moments together.

The excited email that I got from him telling me how happy he was with the books, and his note of heartfelt gratitude -- priceless. And for all of that and more, I am truly grateful.

My dad is a prolific blogger. Check out his blog to read more of his adventures and musings: Peering Through a Porthole

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.