Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Back on Track


I think I am suffering from holiday hangover. We had a team meeting today at work and everyone was showing a little fatigue. Someone commented that we all looked a little puffy and pale - no doubt a product of overeating, under-sleeping and over-doing.  Ahhh - the holidays...

After more than ten days of sleeping in, 5:30 am came like a jolt of cold water on the face, and the first day back dragged on for an eternity. Second day went a little better; I awoke before the alarm, the shower heated up a little quicker and I even remembered to turn off the alarm system (even though it was speaking Spanish).

Lots on the go this cold wintry week. My pops is turning 80 and we're celebrating this weekend with a birthday famjam. Every birthday is worth celebrating, but 80 is a milestone! He told us not to bother with a bunch of gifts - he just wanted to spend time with the family. And so we will all gather to laugh with him; tell a tale or two and raise a glass to the best patriarch a family could wish for.

I'm on track with my "more time with family" resolution, as well as with "more reading and writing".

So much to celebrate. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Second Chances

I have a shamrock plant that was my mother's. She's been gone for almost twenty years so to be custodian of a living thing that meant alot to her, means alot to me. It's a finicky plant this shamrock. Over the years, on several occasions  it has wilted up, dropped its leaves and delicate white flowers, and done a convincing job imitating a dead plant.

We moved it from its spot in front of a window to another window in the sunroom so we could decorate for Christmas. It protested by stripping down to its nethers. Honestly - it almost made the dumpster but on close examination, some tiny plump sprouts were detected poking out of the soil. Close call. But we cleaned up the pot and discarded the dead leaves, gave it a good watering and perched it back in front of the window for the best sun exposure.

And it survived. And thrived!

So lesson learned. We have to seek the gifts - the tiny sprouts of hope - in adversity. Hope lives just below the horizon of the darkest day. You may have to look hard - but it's there among the debris.

Mom taught me this as I was growing up and I chose to believe that she was sending me a little reminder to nurture the delicate; care for life and lives. With love and light and time - anything is possible.

Thanks Mom.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Picture Perfect



The sun shone brilliantly in the sky today creating a rich blue backdrop for the snow laden trees. It was a sight to behold. A perfect day. 

I grabbed my camera, pulled on my snow boots and headed out to breathe in the cool and fresh! I was surprised at the amount of snow that had accumulated and as I tromped through our back acre it crossed my mind that snowshoes would have been more appropriate. 

The landscape changes with the seasons and shadows and light and I can't stop taking the same pictures to capture it all. Our attitudes and viewpoints also shift and change, impacted by our relationships, experiences, and choices. Funny how something can look so very different from another vantage point; a subtle shift in perspective can return a fresh result. 

Something to gnaw on as I dive into a brand new year. Sharing some of my captures from our property on this picture perfect day.








Saturday, December 31, 2016

goodbye hello


All in all it's been a good year - but then again, any year lived delivers a host of events, milestones and emotions - good and bad; happy and sad; but rich all the same. My only complaint is that with each passing year, they get shorter and shorter.

Like on the plane ride home from a long vacation, I can't help but feel nostalgic and reflective about 2016.

Personally I enjoyed my home life in the country, surrounded by trees, birds and other wildlife. The schoolhouse is finally feeling like home instead of as though I am visiting a B & B. The only thing missing are my family, especially my girls and parents. And that is not a small thing. It takes extra effort to get together but I cherish the time we carve out for one another. More family time is a priority for me in the new year.

Country life is not as convenient; everything pretty much involves a 10-20 minute car ride and when we get a hankering for exotic food, we have to venture beyond the local diner to the Japanese joint out on the highway.  The plus: along the way we get to gaze at horses grazing and frolicking in the fields and other soothing country scenes. First world problems!

My work life is good and getting better...or maybe I should say that I am getting better at my work! The challenge has been carving out time for exercise and rest and striking some decent work-life balance. But again, these are things within my control and it's on me to make better choices. My sedentary office job has helped add another 8-10 pounds for my knees to support. I am larger than I've ever been and it's become a health issue that can no longer be ignored. I am trying to take better control of this aspect of my life. Does that have a hint of "resolution" to it?

On other fronts, we had proof that the improbable and impossible are indeed possible and a reality. I was inspired by the election of our Prime Minister Trudeau and equally disappointed (understatement) by the election of Donald Trump. I am devastated by the resurgence in and public platform given to racism and bigotry and hatred. I am disheartened by the violence raging across our fractured planet.

But most of all I remain hopeful. I know at our core we humans are good, kind and resilient. We want peace and to live in a world that is more gentle and connected. And it starts with each one of us. How can we have world peace if we have discord in our families and personal relationships?

And so, as we show 2016 politely to the door, we do a light tidy up, catch our breath and then welcome 2017 and a year/world of new possibilities. I can make countless resolutions but at the very core of it all, I intend to live more fully, in the present, and give more of myself to others. #Move, #Love and #Give will be my keywords for 2017. Oh - and more reading and lots more writing!

Happy new year to all. Let's live it and love it.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Leftovers

Our family celebrations are behind us with a fridge full of leftover food to prove it. I made a delicious western omelette with scraps of ham and dinner was reheated lasagna from last night's family party. Eaten in the quiet and peace of a cosy fire, it tasted even better than the first time around.

The fridge is jammed, the shelves filled with plastic wrapped plates, cartons of cream, eggnog, and milk and the spoils of last week's dinner parties. I open the door, quickly taking a defensive stance to catch whatever may tumble out. I pour myself a final  glass of eggnog of the season, draining the last few ounces - two days past the "best before" date. It tasted delicious and  brought an official close to the holiday season for me.

I scan the room with the Christmas decorations and random bits of evidence of our festivities... bits of tissue paper from discarded gift bags and a stack of rogue cookie sheets and casserole dishes that have to be returned to their rightful owners. The walls still resonate with the din of the laughter and chatter that filled the room...and I can't help but reflect.

With my girls now full grown adults with spouses and spices of their own, corralling them all into the same time and space is challenging. But when we manage it, it is blissful. No surprise that as I get older I gain a greater appreciation for these precious moments spent with my girls and the rest of my family. We are a unit and when one of us is missing, we do not feel complete. When we gather together, we celebrate our unity and the comfort and peace that comes with experiencing belonging to something greater than ourselves.

In our midst this year we had our beloved Doris -- ninety-nine with no sign of slowing down. When dad made a little speech and mentioned that next year this time Doris will be 100, she nodded and grinned as she high-fived the crowd. So much to celebrate...

And so I relax on my comfy couch, glass drained with only granules of nutmeg remaining, bundled in my wool wrap enjoying the leftovers of yet another wondrous holiday spent with those who I love so very much. And as I reflect and savour every morsel, I conclude that the memories are almost as good as the first time around. And for all of that, I am eternally grateful.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Connections.



Wine glass is drained. Presents are finally wrapped and feet are up for a pause before bedtime.

The best of the pre-Christmas preps are the phone calls to reconnect. Sleepy voices answer and then perk up when they hear my cheery  "Merry Christmas". The calls are overdue - I've been remiss with many of my relationships. And as I dial, guilt almost derails the calls, but I push my embarrassment aside to make the connection. If not now - then when.

And then relief when the callers express happy surprise at hearing my voice; we pick up where we left off. The hesitation was for naught.

So as I sit here in the warmth of my cosy home, I must remember that around the world tonight, there are millions who are homeless, cold, and hungry - millions who are orphaned  or alone.

In hours I will be cocooned in the love of my very large, affectionate family, enjoying all the best that Christmas has to offer. For so many others this holiday season will offer no joy - just continued misery.

They will be top of mind and not forgotten. And my heart will be filled with gratitude for the family I am blessed with and the life I am privileged to live. I will not take any of it for granted.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day in Our Little Town

Leaves danced along the sidewalk, following me down our quaint little main street. I had the day off for Remebrance Day - so I wanted to do just that- pay tribute to the fallen. Our local paper showed that our local service was to start at 10:45 at the modest cenotaph at the end of town. Hubby didn't think many would be there as the population in our rural community is small.

As I leaned into the wind making my way, groups of people quietly emerged from each side street, a sea of crimson poppies, falling in step, joining the growing informal parade. 

We walked in silence until we joined the hundreds already gathered at the cenotaph.  "The White Cliffs of Dover" was being sung by a small choir huddled in a circle for shelter from the wind. Two young cadets stood at attention, guarding the memorial.

Then strains of "Hallejuah" drifted on the autumn air, gaining strength and momentum as others joined the choir. How fitting that Leonard Cohen be included in the ceremony. I could feel the lump in my throat growing... A handful of elderly men and women leaned on canes, some sat in wheelchairs, and a few proudly stood at attention, eyes fixated on the monument. I couldn't help but wonder where their thoughts wandered; what memories were they reliving? 

As the final names of the fallen were read  we were asked to sing O Canada. I couldn't work my voice around the swelling golf ball in my throat. Tears streamed down my face; I could feel the pride, pain and memories from the 95 year old serviceman beside me. When the Last Post played he saluted with his gloved hand and held his head high... his eyes glistening to overflowing. I wanted to hug this elderly man and acknowledge his service. But instead I stood silently behind my sunglasses.

When it over, one by one people stepped forward to pin their poppies to the wreathes encircling the monument.   And in that moment we were bonded in community and peace. And that is something I will never forget.