Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gifts From a Year

When I started writing this blog, I had hoped to reflect on each day and find the gifts therein. I mean, each day of life is a precious gift unto itself, and a day worth living must hold a take away - a lesson, an opportunity, an emotion ... something. I started off half heartedly but by last December I stepped it up and challenged myself to write - every day. And it was the best gift I could ever have given myself. I managed 345 posts. I vowed that no matter what else was going on in my life, writing would not be the thing that would be short changed. For the first time ever, I made it - me - a priority. And I am reaping the fruits of my labour of love.

This past year I have lived more mindfully, consciously ... seeking out the gifts in each day. Writing has given me a sense of freedom to explore and excavate my ideas and thoughts on issues - to express the deepest part of myself. I have learned much about myself - from myself.  Through my reflections and explorations I have learned what is important to me as well as what and who can bring meaning to my life.

I made my camera my constant companion, carrying it with me at all times. I noted and captured the colour and textures in everything around me and found beauty in the ordinary.

I lived more fully, in every moment and the most important thing I learned ... I write about that which I need most to learn, know and practice.

So 2009 was the year in which I gave myself the gift and luxury of daily writing and through that, I have learned more than I could have ever imagined. I will remember 2009 as the year I set my creative self free.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Post Note: I know from reading your blogs that many of you have suffered great pain, struggles and upheaval  this past year, and my heart goes out to each one of you. I am a firm believer that it is always darkest before the dawn and that the law of nature dictates that change is inevitable. So as I raise my chipped champagne flute filled with flat white wine, I toast that the winds of change and a new year will usher in hope and a peace and that there will be better times ahead. Thank you to all of you who have been a part of my year of self discovery and offered thoughtful words of encouragement and kindness. I could feel the heartbeat of humankind and universal love. Happy New Year! Let's affirm that 2010 will be a very good year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What's the Message?

I heard it from the kitchen. A very distinct, loud ticking sound. It was rhythmic - three steady, measured beats ... a few seconds rest ... and then three beats repeated. It sounded like a summons. I stood in the dining room doorway, head cocked ot one side, for a better listen. It was coming from the living room near the front window. It sounded like an animal in the house ... a big fat, oversized mouse (???) perhaps gnawing on the leg of the couch?  Where was Fritz the hyper, mousing schnauzer when I needed him?

I approached tentatively ... eyes quickly scanning for an escape/ safe route should a GIANT mouse leap out to confront me. Where to leap? How to protect my toes from being trampled by little, creepy mouse claws? (OK - even I think I'm sounding wimpy at this point). S l o w l y, cautiously, with stealthlike precision I tiptoed my way across the room and peered (hands covering all but my one eye) around the edge of the arm of the couch.

And there it was. A big FAT cardinal -- sitting on the ledge, fearlessly pecking the window. We stared one another down ... yet he continued. What was he trying to tell me?? I felt as though he was delivering an urgent message and I sensed his annoyance at my incomprehension. After what seemed like an eternity, I motioned to grab my trusty Canon - and I broke the magical spell. Off she flew (her muted colour was that of a mama bird) leaving me somewhat rattled and mystified. I turned to walk away and there was Fritz, looking just a puzzled as me - looking but NOT yapping.

It was a wondrous sight, yet I can't help feeling I didn't get the message -- yet!

OMG -- it's back again!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Not For Granted

I was just reading my tweets and came across one about the issue of sanitation - or lack thereof - in developing countries. It got me thinking about everyday things I take for granted ... things that would mean much to others who do without.
My list:
  1. shiny, private porcelain toilets that flush - not one - but four!
  2. a comfortable bed and fresh sheets - and a dog to keep my feet warm
  3. soap
  4. running water - not to mention hot water
  5. refrigerator -- and lucky me -- an ice maker
  6. a bowl for my milk and cereal
  7. central heat and cental air conditioning
  8. more clothes than I could ever wear out
  9. tampons
  10. electricity
So from now on, when I enjoy the comfort and convenience of any of the above mentioned blessings, I will do so mindfully and in full appreciation of my good fortune. With every flush I will reflect on the millions/ billions around the planet who do not enjoy the comfort or luxury of privacy, a smooth seat and magazine.

What do I have to complain about - really???  And that is my take away for today!

Sustainable Water Supply  & Sanitation for All People - is a cause that can affect billions of people. Check out the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), a global multi-stakeholder partnership organisation that works to improve the lives of poor people. The World's Longest Toilet Queue is taking place on 22 March, World Water Day 2010.  Join the online queue. I did!

Monday, December 28, 2009


In the midst of all the holiday bustle, we had an important birthday to celebrate. My MIH mother-in-heart is not a typical mother in law -- she is only 10 years older than me -- and feels more like a soul sister than anything. She was the bonus in my marriage to her son. I can hear you doing the math ... yes he is younger than me ...

We all went to see the movie It's Complicated that starred Meryl Streep in all her "older woman" glory. Of course that spurred conversation afterwards with all of us weighing in on our thoughts about beauty, the effects of aging, monumental birthdays etc. We laughed at the line in the movie where Meryl Streep, referring to her naked parts, tells her ex-husband  that "things look different standing up than when lying down". Aint that the truth!

When you are farther along the aging continuum, birthdays are somewhat bittersweet. The bitter part may be the official notification that you have consumed another year of life in your sum total - and are moving along the second half of your life. The sweet part is that it is also a reminder that you have lived another year, and are alive to celebrate another. Definitely a privilege not to be squandered - but celebrated.

MIH is a great example of someone who is forging fearlessly into the aging abyss.We agreed that neither of us had faced a bithday - or age - with dread or drama. In a few months I will turn 50.  Truthfully, I am excited. Many never get the opportunity to live to 50 and I am looking forward to embracing this new decade.

After the movie we went to my sis-in-law's for cake and coffee. How perfect was it that the birthday cake was lemon mousse ... sweet and sour and overall - supremely delicious and enjoyed by all!

So happy birthday MIH ... you wear the years like designer duds and prove that youthfulness and vitality are not measured in years but rather, are qualities of the spirit that are exuded. Thanks for another year of happy.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


It is half past noon and I am a vision in my new, neon pink and tangerine plaid fleece PJs - a practice that is generally accepted over the Christmas holidays. So far I've eatern several handfulls of mixed nuts, two teensy pieces of date square and a smidgen of carrot cake (really -- only a smidgen).  In a gigantian display of self control - I have resisted the temptation of the iced cinnamon bun that has my name written all over it. Later.

My kitchen table is covered with remnants of the leftover desserts, edible contents of our Christmas stockings, some random scraps of present tags and ribbon and an empty milk glass. [Note to self to move that tray of squares out of reach.]

Like a kid in toy store, I have been sifting through the treasures ... special books, organic creams, handsfree for the car, a seat to see Jersey Boys, and a special gift from hubby -- a netbook for blogging on the fly. Adventure Girl created a Christmas wreath adorned with Kenyan shillings for our trip. And to top it all off, we received donations to our school building project from friends and family - many of whom have little excess to share - yet they did. thank you 

My heart is full to overflowing. I have more wealth, abundance and good fortunate that I could ever deserve. And most of it has more to do with the country and family that I have been blessed to be born into. So many others have no such luck - they are deprived of hope and opportunity simply because they have been born into seemingly impossible situations. And that is why we must share. Those of us with - must share with those who have not.
We must all give a little, so more can have some.
I tried harder than ever to contribute, share and preserve. [Sidenote: I am proud to report that unlike other years, we have very little waste from wrapping, and many went home with tea towels!] And I will continue to try even harder.

And that is my take away from this Christmas.

[Update Note: Since posting time, I have consumed a few additional date squares, a molasses cookie and some stir fried Thai food. I wonder if one can spontaniously combust???]

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fast and Furious

Fast and furious. That's how the Christmas Hurricane arrived. We prepared for months, weeks and minutes up to its arrival and then when it finally rolled in - we gathered; we laughed; we ate; we remembered; we toasted our loved ones who were missing; and best of all, we simply enjoyed.

And then it blew over - quickly. For as we know,
Christmas does not linger, but the memories do.

I stole today - Boxing Day - for myself. And to an outsider, it may have looked as though I did nothing. And it would be true. I did nothing - consciously; deliberately; mindfully - to soak up every ounce of  serenity the day had to offer. Not a day wasted - but rather a day spent puttering, replaying, and reflecting. I am hoping that my blogger friends were fortunate enough to get some well deserved quiet time for themselves as well.

It is the calm aftermath of the frenzy -- the frenzy we love so much that comes and goes - fast and furiously!

That's right -- a green (soggy)  Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Eve of Ready or Not

Christmas Eve - the start of something wonderful.

The "kids" are in bed as I make this Christmas Eve post that I was determined to write. We had our family evening at my beloved in-laws and my MIH (AKA Mrs Christmas) had her place done up like a magical kingdom - everything sparkled in white and silver. Hubby's family is somewhat smaller than mine so it is usually a little quieter. Not tonight though. Lots of laughter and fun in the air ... just like we all hope the season to be.

The fridge is bursting - and the front foyer is catching the overflow. The wine is chilling on the back stoop (yay for sub zero temps). Stuffing bread is in pieces, drying out. The 26 pound turkey is languishing in the water filled sink to rid the last bits of frozen. The stockings are filled to overflowing. The breakfast platters are prepared and the coffee is set for morning. Best of all, the bedrooms are all filled tonight. My babies are home.

And for the first time all day - I am taking just a moment for myself to soak it all in. There is something magical about Christmas Eve that I cannot describe. Peace and anticipation. The calm before the crazy fun chaos of the morn.

But I am ready and armed with rum and eggnog. Bring it on!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I am overwhelmed by the generosity and giving hearts of people ...

I made an effort this Christmas to reach out and give wholly and mindfully. However they say that when you give, you get back tenfold. And I have found this to be absolutely true. I have been on the receiving end of such kindness. Over the past few months my friends and family as well as several of my blogger friends (you know who you are) have supported my dream of going to Africa, as well as raising money to build a Kenyan school . I am humbled by their expressions of love and caring. Thank you ...

I am overwhelmed by the generosity and giving hearts of people ...

And for this, I am eternally grateful.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rolling on in

Peace is restored! The festivities are well under way and it feels just the way it should with only a few days until Christmas (even if that means a little chaos tossed in for flavour). We have already had our first turkey dinner (but who's counting) and family gathering. Hubby's family got the ball rolling. Friends tonight, work colleagues tomorrow (I think I just popped a button) ... then the kids ...and sibs ... YUP! The Christmas snow ball is big and in motion - rolling right on through.  Unstoppable - and for that I am truly grateful!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Change of Plans

I'm runnng way behind! Was ahead of the game, even feeling a little smug. But oops- a setback!

Unexpected hockey game in a town hours away. Last minute Christmas preparations - cancelled - or maybe just delayed.

No energy to panic, I'm just staying the course. What gets done, gets done - the rest will have to wait - or won't.

To top it off - we're sneezing and coughing and burning through the tissues.

Lesson: Release that which you can't control! Embrace that which you can. Merry, *cough*  merry *sniffle* ...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Growing Up and Away

I am stashed away in my bedroom, computer open in my lap, Fritz sprawled across my legs. Kidlet is downstairs in front of a roaring fire with her boyfriend. Yup -- she has a real life boyfriend now. Her very first - the official memo that my baby is growing up.

Time is forever serving up new changes and evolutions. I can feel the cosmic shift and soon my universe will look quite different. In the next nine months I could very well become an empty nester - just hubby and the dog and I. The house will be quiet and cleaner! No more aromatic hockey bag lodged in the front foyer. We'll only need three litres of milk instead of nine every week. I'll probably only have to do 2 loads of laundry and a jar of peanut butter will last for months -- not to mention the ice cream! Kidlet's bedroom floor will reappear and there won't be any wet towels slung over the bannister to dry.

But for now, I still have my little girl here, at home .... in front of fire with her boyfriend. Time to unleash Fritz the yappy schnauzer for a recon mission.

Friday, December 18, 2009

It's the Little Things

It's the small things that can make a big difference sometimes. Like my car -- the best feature (in my humble opinion) is my seat warmer. Feeling a suge of heat on my backside on the sub zero mornings is pure heaven. Just like a steaming cup of strong fragrant coffee can be the perfect start to the day -- and finding there is no cream left -- not so perfect. Adventure Girl always says the devil is in the details -- mind you - she is an accountant -- and I think that is true in so many ways. It's the little things that can make the difference between contented and irate; comfort and discomfort; easy and difficult.

I guess that goes for making others happy as well -- small gestures can make a big impact. I had someone recently pay for my coffee in the drive through. The clerk said he was paying it forward - so I paid for the car behind me. Just the experience of having someone extend such a thoughtful gesture made my heart sing and fill me with warmth that lasted all day. I have learned that small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness can reap big rewards. I am off to put my thinking cap on ... and check my fridge for cream!

Thursday, December 17, 2009


We had a hypnotist at our workplace Christmas luncheon today. He was the entertainment. He managed to coax 6  volunteers he needed for the show from the audience (although he wanted 12). Most people were reluctant - me included.

It was fascinating to watch my coworkers respond to the hypnotist's every suggestion - no matter how silly. He had them pulling at their clothes and wiping "sweat" at his suggestion that temperatures were soaring into the high 30's (Celsius). Then he had them falling in love with the first person they laid eyes on so they could slow dance. Of course we in the audience were laughing hysterically at the sight.

But it occurred to me how incredible it would be if it were only that simple - to suggest a positive thought and have people respond so enthusiastically. So many things would be different. We would all be kinder to one another. We could have our hearts opened to and seek the goodness around us. If we started each work day with a suggestion that it was going to be a wonderfully fulfilling, productive day - it would surely become one! So we think - so we shall be. Positive affirmations have the same effect ... but some struggle with the concept. The hypnotist - in a few short minutes had the volunteers reacting and responding to his every comment.
Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.

- James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
I was taught at an early age to program myself with positive thoughts and imagery. I have an internal conversation with myself every day, and when I need it most ... my mother taught me to rephrase my words and wishes from "I want to be" or "I wish"  to "I am ..." . She explained that at first it may not be true at that moment but that if I kept affirming my desires and goals, they would eventually become a reality. The power of suggestion and affirmation are powerful practices and they work both ways (positively and negatively). Channelling energy into destructive thoughts become self fulfilling, so they have to be kept in check.

It works. Maybe not as quickly as a hypnotist ... but it works. Something to keep in mind when making up my "resolutions" for the new year. A list of affirmations of the version of myself that I know I can be - that I am - in the present tense:

> I give more than I get.
> I am generous.
> I am healthy and strong.  etc. etc. etc.

I am hopeful and optimistic - and affirmative!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Squishing the Hum Bug

The hum is all around me
Everywhere it seems – at work, in the stores, and on the street that I live.
Everywhere - but home.

It’s quiet here; there is no hum;
Everyone has gone – my mother, my loved one, my friend – passed or just moved on.
No one here – but me.

The holiday hum is getting louder
Someone is reaching out – a card, a hug and love – turkey with the clan
A Christmas wish – come true.

We all know that the holidays can be the best of times and the worst of times for those who are experiencing sadness, loss, upheaval or loneliness. The very best gift we can give is of ourselves – giving our time, and sharing our love and expressions of kindness and gratitude.

And it doesn’t have to cost a cent, shilling, peso, franc, mark, or rupee. Let's squish the hum bug!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting into Gear

Well winter -- you finally showed up...  finally.

As I drove to work this morning, at zero degrees Celsius it occurred to me that winter was stuck in neutral. It was mid December and there was no traction - no snow; no wintry ambiance; just England weather -- gray and damp.

I'm getting impatient. Green Christmas' make me blue (just a little). I took Kidlet to hockey in the city tonight and as we drove in, I could see the temperature steadily dropping. On the drive home we ran into black ice - a real adventure on a 5 laned highway. We picked the least travelled lane, kicked Benzie into 4 wheel drive and resisted all urges to brake. An abrupt segue into full blown winter!

When we pulled into the driveway - blanketed in a few inches of the white stuff, and minus 5 temperatures, I gave a silent apology ... winter is in low gear ... but gaining momentum.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Checked in

Well, everyone's been checking in - kind've like the pre-Christmas boarding pass. My one and only little brother called to see what kind of pie he should bring for dinner. He is the pie man for every family function. I don't see him often enough so every time I do is a real treat. My younger sister popped in for a Sunday morning - and we discussed the holiday plans, coddling a steaming mug of tea, beside a cosy fire. It was a perfect remedy for a dreary, damp day.

My daughter and I caught up last night with a nice long phone chat. She lives just far enough away that we miss the day to day contact that I have with my other two girls. We plotted our Christmas plans and ploys and of course dragged out some dusty stories from the musty memory sack for a few chuckles. Can't wait to have her home for a few days.

Faraway sister also checked in to tell me she loved the pictures of our Christmas tree that I posted on Facebook. She and her family won't be with us for Christmas this year so she's on stand by ... and it won't be quite the same - a little quieter and definitely more wine in the bottle! (Just kidding - it was a weak attempt to transfer guilt).

And I think I got my last call from my Pops tonight before he flies his snowbird self home for the holidays. I had to update him on the lack of snow, give a weather report, briefly discuss the prospect and  insanity of not passing  universal health care in the US, hear about his citrus crop, review the attendance for Christmas dinner etc (you get the picture).

So now I feel organized and set -  the gang have all checked in, our buffet is lined with sparkly, thoughtful Christmas cards, two parcels arrived in the mail  and my new box of cards calls from the coffee table for addresses. All a precursor for the good times to come.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

It's a Wrap

I am completely bundled into the insulating warmth of the season. I made yesterday a joyful one ... shopped for my loved ones, and enjoyed every last second I spent wrapping my treasures. The tree seems more contented now ... and the scene is complete.

Hubby and I stole a day for ourselves and I even wrangled him into watching a cheesy (AKA chick flick)  Christmas movie with me. I am not sure how I managed it but I seemed to have removed frantic and replaced it with contented. And that's a first for me.

After I placed the final gift under the tree and sat admiring my handiwork with the tea towels and safety pins, I couldn't stop the anticipation from creeping from my toes to my heart. What is it about Christmas that reacquaints us with the child in ourselves? I went to bed feeling more alive and joyous than I have a right to ...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fa La La and All That Bliss

In the spirit of inclusivity and celebration I would like to wish my Jewish friends and family a Happy Chanukah. I have a few daughters who are not technically Jewish (their mom - me - is not) however their father is, and they belong to a large Jewish family.

When my daughters were little we would light the menorah for the eight days of Chanukah and hang our handmade popsicle stick Star of David ornaments on our Christmas tree. Their bubbe and zaidy would give them little netted bags of chocolate gold foiled gilt coins and the girls would exchange Christmas presents with them. A cultural-traditional morph of sorts.

My kids and I were never a church going family (for obvious reasons). I was baptized in a Christian Protestant church and attended Sunday school when I was a child, but when I couldn't bring myself to utter the declaration that I accepted Christ as my saviour, and that he died on the cross for my sins - I wasn't able to be confirmed in the church and it ended my feeling of belonging in religion. I always loved the stories about Jesus in the bible -- he was my favourite person and I admired his loving,  non judgemental ways and wise words and teaching (which I still follow)  but I fell short of recognising him as a saviour. It wasn't a stretch for me to marry someone outside of my "faith" - because my faith and sprirituality was and is deeply personal.

I tried to provide an open minded, respectful environment for my girls so they could experience all they wanted from the veritable feast of religions, spiritual ideologies, and philosophies - that they may find what, if any, connected best for them.

And so although Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Christ, for families such as mine consisting of different faiths and cultures, it has become a season of peace; a time to reach out to others; a time to give to and help others; and a special time for our family to come together as one - and celebrate that we belong to something bigger than ourselves.

Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and other celebrations and festivals are a channel for joy, expression and unifcation of human spirit. Whatever the label -- dance in the light of this magical season and shine your love brightly!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Late Start - Sweet End

I woke up perky at 5 am. Contented that I had another hour to sleep, I closed my eyes for just a few more minutes. I broke away from my conversation with Bill Clinton and Einstein (crazy dream) to roll over and check the clock. Horrors! I slept in - for one of the few times in my entire working life. Bill was so charming and Einstein - riveting.  I bolted, showered, dressed and clumsily applied some war paint - all in eleven minutes. I had the commute to breath deeply and decompress but it got my day off on shaky footing.

It was a blustery, bitterly cold day today - I still haven't defrosted not my toes anyway. My hair wasn't washed, my toes were (still are) freezing and I had to pump gas without gloves. brrrr

The sweet crept in at the end of the day when I drove into the city to meet my lifelong friend J for dinner. We don't do it often so our visits are cherished tasty morsels. A few hours with J melts the chill and brings me home. We munched on health comfort food -chili nachos and sweet potato fries - and sipped our wine as we got caught up with one another. Sweet. As I drove home I had to chuckle that the day that had started out so frantically had ended so happily and peacefully.

Now it is a little late - so I'm off to bed so that tomorrow - I won't be ... a little late.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

First Snow

It wasn't much, but it did arrive. The first snow. And there is something magical about going out into the cold darkness of an early December morning and finding the evergreens laden with a thick blanket of wet, heavy snow. The moist fresh air inflates your nostrils ... and you want to take deep cleansing breaths. And silence. The snow brings a blanket of hush ... and stillness. All is calm and quiet ...

And then the snowplow roars around the corner dumping its full load at the end of the driveway. I look up and smile (through gritted teeth) at the driver and he gives me a wave. I wave back, with a finger or two and start cleaning off my car with a rubber skate guard (gotta find my snow brush).

And so it begins ... the long winter ... but it starts with the first snow.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Other Side of the Holiday Season

When I was folding up the paper bag from my newly purchased bottle of Pinot Grigio, the image of an elephant caught my attention. I thought it had something to do with Africa, but it turned out to be a message about drinking and driving. It was a sobering moment. It got me thinking about how holidays can be an unhappy time for families living with alcoholism.

Holidays and celebrations are often equated with drinking and for some, it means living with parents or spouses who start drinking early on - and keep on drinking until later on. Anxiety can start to creep in at the sight of the liquor bottle on the counter or the drinker having an early morning sip of some of  "the hair of the dog that bit them" (supposedly a cure for a hangover).

It got me thinking about how for many -- Christmas is probably a lonely, sad time of year. I am blessed with an incredibly large, loving clan which means the "small" Christmas gatherings we have every second year still guarantee at least 14 at the table. I have friends that do not have the benefit of a family of such size - and it reminds me not to take mine for granted. There are people who have recently received bad news or lost a loved one, and for them, Christmas may feel hollow and sad. My family had a Christmas like that in 1997.

My Mom passed away a week after her 58th birthday - December 5th. I had small children so needless to say, Christmas went on as usual - as normal as I could possibly make it. My sisters and brother and I did not come together as we traditionally would -- instead we spent quiet time with our respective spouses and children. I think we were all still numb from the funeral and the reality of the loss hadn't fully sunk in. I was writing funeral thank you notes at the same time I was making out my Christmas cards. Surreal.

With the economic pressures on people, the wars being fought, the families being separated, I imagine that this time of year will be a source of stress and pain for many. They need to be remembered; they need people to reach out in love to them; they need the gifts of understanding and caring.

So as I immerse myself in the Christmas joy that is mine -- I will reflect on and remember those who are wrestling with their own challenges, fighting the good fight - and it will deepen my gratitude for all that I have and  who I love in my life. And to anyone for whom Christmas won't be merry -- I will wish  you peace.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's Written All Over the Tree

Season of Love -- that's what Christmas is. Love. It runs rampant. We find ourselves reaching out to and reconnecting with relatives and friends. We renew our relationship with the pen and paper and that less than instant communication called snail mail - the kind that requires a stamp and envelope. We express our love more openly, signing our cards and tags with the four letter word and whispering it to the people who need to hear it. We seek out opportunities to give, contribute and help. Love. There are many ways to say it. I always say "nothing says I love you like dinner!".

So in this Season of Love, let's remember to give it, say it, mean it and feel it. L O V E.

Love, Lyn

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Putting on the Christmas Ritz

Another traditional ritual has been kept - sort of. My big girl came over to help me decorate the house for Christmas and Kidlet made it home in time to hang her favourite ornaments on the tree. For the first time, middle daughter Harmony was missing. It felt strange.

I can't complain though ... the tree decorating tradition had remained unchanged for 23 years, and now that my girls are grown ups, I can expect more "adaptations" - lots of good ones too I'm sure.

The tattered boxes that held the tree treasures were stacked three high. Each ornament has special significance - and each one has been a gift; I have not purchased a single one.  Our tree is no Homes and Gardens, but rather, an eclectic mish mash of homemade craft projects, Goebels china figurines, pictures of the girls, superheroes, brass bells, and angels all topped off with a linen angel to watch over us. We laughed in awe that Kidlet's homemade garland of macaroni and froot loops survived yet another year - now counting thirteen.

Each ornament is supercharged with the DNA of Christmas' past - one touch triggering a flood of images and memories. These monumental holiday seasons are emotionally charged and can deliver joy exponentially - the first time you experience it and then each year thereafter that these special times are relived and recounted.

So tonight, after a long day of cleaning, decorating and remembering, I sit here, fire blazing, tree sparkling and a row of Christmas stockings hanging from the mantel. Our home is cozied up and I surrender gratefully to the cocoon of peace and serenity invoked by my favourite time of year. 

It is my deepest desire that all could be so fortunate and full to overflowing.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Signs of the Times

I predict alot of Christmas themed posts in the upcoming weeks, so be forewarned. Not sure Gravol will cure nausea resulting from reading sticky sweet, sentimental, bleeding heart posts related to all things Christmas. I have no will power - I simply cannot resist. And why would I - with this magical season lasting a mere three or four weeks, I want to wring out every ounce of wonderful.

One of the upsides of being a blogger is that I have become more observant to everything and everyone around me. It has deepened my appreciation and gratitude, and inspired me to take notice of signs...

Yesterday as I ventured out for my inaugural shopping expedition, I was reminded that I was having a Canadian Christmas (whatever that means -- touques and beer??).  A station wagon drove by with a scotch pine strapped to the roof and I couldn't help thinking that it was a perfect sign of the times ... it was indeed that time of year.

Today was a great day to do grocery shopping. There were volunteers outside handing out pamphlets from Food For Life asking people to consider donating a turkey so an underprivileged family could enjoy a nice Christmas dinner as well. Coincidentally the grocery store was running a special that awarded a free turkey ($25 value) to anyone spending $250 or more. I filled my cart. We only shop twice a month so I didn't think it would be  a problem to spend that much. I stocked up on stuff, and bought extra stocking stuffers - even tea towels (for wrapping). When the cashier rang up the bill, I had spent $250.67! Talk about cutting it close! I was able to leave the store and hand over my prebasted frozen turkey to the charity waiting outside with a big refrigerated truck. Technically, the store donated a turkey on my behalf. It still felt good.

Tonight we had the first holiday gathering of season at hubby's uncle's place. We crossed the threshold into a wonderland - with decorating that  rivaled Homes and Gardens and planted us staunchly in Christmas. No excuse not to be in the mood now ... I love all of the visiting!

I have no right to ask for anything more, but I admit that I am praying for, affirming and singing for a white Canadian Christmas. Let it snow!

A few more signs of the times ...

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Started

It has started ... the magic of Christmas has started to sprinkle like fairy dust upon me. Today was my day off and I used it to start my Christmas shopping. I got up happily before dawn as I do every morning to get a jump on the day, and I took the freefall into the festive season. Silver bells blaring through the radio, and me singing right along with it set my mood soaring. A day immersed in our picturesque little town, chatting with volunteers and shop keepers who all seemed equally upbeat and joyful -- doesn't get much better.

I returned home, laden with parcels -- to mail -- my very first Christmas card of the season. Thanks Aunt Jeannette. A shiny gold envelope with a joyful card and message inside it bore a seasonal stamp. Now it was official!

And it didn't stop there ... the second I logged onto my laptop I got notified that our Milestones for Africa school campaign had received donations. Thank you to Sis 2, Adventure Girl, Shirlmeister, Carrie and Lola. I am so deeply moved by this show of generosity ... and I feel like I received early Christmas presents.

Day One Recap: Simply wonderful! Full of blessings and good cheer.  I am happy to overflowing. What did I do to deserve this life?

To all of you -- I send you love and gratitude.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Good News -- There Has to Be Some

I watched the news tonight -- a barrage of stories on murder, missing women and children, an arrested teacher, bus explosion, celebrity infidelities, gloom about the war and the anniversary of Bhopol disaster in which more than 8,000 workers perished. The entire 30 minute report didn't contain a single positive story.

What - nothing fantastical happened in the world today? I don't believe that for a moment. Not sure when news had to mean bad news. I think we need a daily dose of the spectacular; we need to hear the stories of the heroes and angels who walk the earth transforming the ugly into beautiful, fixing the broken and healing the sick. We are starving to be inspired and uplifted.

Thankfully social media - just like the blog I am writing - has liberated communications. I can simply turn to my "follow" list and read the insights of my blogger friends, my special community who can share and express their ideas and stories freely. And that, they do. Every day I read something that makes me laugh; that causes me to reflect; and inspires me.

And that is not just good news -- it's great news. Every day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just Joy

So I may as well come clean -- my goal of having all of my Christmas shopping done by the end of November is just that -- a goal -- one that was not met. Not a present has been got! I had what I thought was an excellent plan for peace of mind. It seems that the universe had other ideas.

Instead I will be out and about in the Christmas bustle, rubbing elbows with cranky, overspending parents, and passing by countless Sally Ann donation kettles as I smile apologetically - explaining that I have already given about twenty times already. It also means that I will be thrust into the magically decorated streets, nostalgic Christmas music blaring through outside speakers to wander and browse the sweet little shops on our main street. I will have no choice but to pause at the Coffee Grinder for a cuppa something hot and steamy or support my local economy by picking up some brownie cookies and cinnamon buns from the Blackforest Bakery. And I'll have to personally select international fair trade treasures from Ten Thousand Villages for my little family and friends. What's a girl to do besides keeping a pocketful of loonies for the kettle.

Can you tell I love this season and all of the crazy-busy cooking, shopping, cleaning, creating, decorating, sharing and visiting that comes along with it? Each day will be jam packed but as I decided a few years back, I will savour each and every task, and complete each with love in my heart. I will walk about with a heart full of gratitude for the large, extended,  loving family to share the holidays with, and extend my generosity to those beyond my own in this giving season.

No complaining ...just joy ... my new goal!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

World AIDS DAY: Hope for Africa

It's overwhelming really. AIDS is a pandemic of colossal proportion. And globally, women and girls are affected disproportionately. For those of us in Canada living a middle class or privileged life, the AIDS crisis can seem like a distant tale, happening in another galaxy - not in ours. That is only partially true.

Last night Kidlet and I watched a documentary, A Song For Africa that told the story of the Watoto Children's Choir of Uganda made up of youngsters orphaned by AIDS. The choir performs all over the world, helping to raise awareness of Africa's AIDS crisis.

Kidlet and I watched in awe as the sparkly eyed orphaned children of the choir swayed and stomped and danced their way through their music, their voices soaring .... such spirit. Such inspiration. Sheer heart and joy. We were witnessing the remnants of the AIDS crisis .... children without parents. They described in vivid detail how they witnessed the demise of their families ... or recounted their personal stories of being abandoned, or left for dead. We marvelled at how they could dig deep and express such joy despite experiencing horrific tragedy.

Today is World AIDS Day and I spent a good part of it reflecting ... Men and women must be educated about AIDS - how it is contracted and how to prevent getting and spreading it. African men have to learn that having sex with a virgin will not cure them. Women have to be equipped and empowered to protect themselves and refuse unprotected sex. Not to simplify - as I know that the issue is much more complex than I have described here. It can start with awareness, understanding and respect.

So today, I will honour those who are battling the disease; the children who have been robbed of parents; and the courageous, generous people who are waging war against this pandemic or caring for those who ill or have been affected. Bless you.

To end on a hopeful note, here is the choir singing I am not forgotten ... Prepare to be inspired.

Monday, November 30, 2009

What's Next?

There wasn't a single snowflake that fell the entire month of November (in my neck of the woods anyway). Unheard of! What is our Canadian winter coming to? But tomorrow marks December's arrival and the weather channel is warning that we may receive our first snowfall (albeit a light one) during the night.

I am excited at the prospect but ill prepared. Where did I stash my ice scraper? I can only use my credit card for so long - not to mention it takes me forever to clear the windshield.

Lights are starting to appear randomly on houses on our street (not ours yet or if). After years of white lights being in vogue, technicolour is making a comeback ... red, green, gold and blue. And you know what? I like it! It looks kind've retro and takes me back to my youth.

So I am bracing myself for December, Christmas and everything that goes with it. I predict loads of snow, famjams, shopping, cooking and cleaning and I am going to make sure I savour every last bit of it. I love the anticipation and possibilities of change ... a brand spanking new month.

Who knows what's next?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Living Legacy

I remembered. We all did. Cause we never forgot ... Today is your birthday. Seventy candles would have set your cake ablaze.

Instead you are forever fifty-eight. You will never be old and I think that would give you a somewhat smug satisfaction.

Your gentle words of encouragement, and unconditional, unyielding love lives on in each of us. We speak your name, recount your wisdom and your fiery, feisty moments - and laugh. You were cute when you were mad - mostly. And sometimes you were fierce.

Your diminutive frame belied your resolute strength, and towering power.You touched many with your quiet unassuming ways.  I want to be just like you, and try - every single day. 

I find myself wanting to say you passed before your time, but I'm not sure if that is really true. You passed before our time - we just weren't ready to let you go. But you taught us well and left us intact and ever closer.

We are your living legacy - your family.

Today there will be no cake, no fuss, no fanfare. Just a family quietly reflecting, nursing the space your left unfilled. I feel your love - but miss your hugs. And on this anniversary of your birth, I will say what I have said so very often before ... we had the very best.

Happy Birthday Mom.

More about my Mom

Saturday, November 28, 2009

LIfelong friendship

I wish everyone could have one -- a lifelong friend. A friend who has known you since you were a child; one who is keeper of your history; who has shared life's milestones with you. Someone who has borne witness to your loves and losses; shared your joys; and helped navigate through treacherous waters. That special person who you have experienced the depths of despair with -- who has been your angel and light - and you their's - in times of darkness.

I wish for everyone what I have -- a lifelong friend. And today is her birthday. Fate delivered us to one another and the universe has worked hard to keep us forever bound.

We have celebrated 37 birthdays together .. as little girls we dreamed of writing together, rooming together and standing in one another's weddings. We dreamed of having little girls (just like us) and being friends as old women. If we both make it to "old" then we'll have the list completed.

She is more than my friend - she is a part of my very being and possesses a piece of my "complete".

And so my friend who I love so dearly  - happy, happy birthday. My greatest wish is that we grow old together to swap medical mysteries and share seniors' discounts.

I've written more about J here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Party in the USA - Not

You would never know it is the infamous Black Friday - not from where I sit -  in my Detroit hotel room. laptop propped on my knees as Kidlet works on her essay. Canadians don't have this crazy busy shopping day so here I am, in the big ole USA, perfectly poised to pounce all over shopping deals. And yet I choose not to. Frankly I am afraid of the mobs; I am too impatient to wait to buy; there is nothing I need or want THAT much; not to mention I really do not enjoy shopping.

On the way to the arena at 7:30 this morning we could see malls packed chock full of cars. For once I felt like the lucky one - opting for an early morn cold seat rinkside vs a cold long line in front of Walmart or Target. Several of the girls on the hockey team had to hitch rides with other parents bacause their mothers had been out all night shopping. I admire their stamina!

So to all of you who endure the ritual (I think my Pops is included in that group) I take my hat off to you. But for me and Kidlet, this will just be another quiet Friday - no Blackness here - biding our time and enjoying the togetherness. On second thought, it could turn dark!  *smile*

Have a great weekend everyone.

Signing off from Motown

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Motown Face Off

Kidlet and I are taking a road trip. Look out Motown - here we come - an invasion of crazy Canucks weasling in on the American Thanksgiving. The closest I've ever been to Detroit was from across the river in Windsor...

So we're throwing Kidlet's newly sanitized, sterilized and aerated hockey equipment into Benzie (with a few cans of Fabreez for good measure) and heading to America. It will be four days of alone time with Kidlet - kind of - in between hockey games and team dinners ... and if I can convince her to take her ipod earbuds out. I think if I agree to listen to the soundtrack of every High School Musical movie I may be in business.

So if you are a hockey fan, and are watching the Detroit game Saturday night ... and you see a giant maple leaf waving frantically from a box, it'll be me! 

To all of our American friends, we hope you have someone special to spend Thanksgiving with ... and that your holiday is memorable. Just try not to gobble gobble too much - or you'll end up stuffed instead of the turkey!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Five Signs That Christmas is On the Way

Sure signs that Christmas is on the way ...egads  in a month:
  • the Tim Hortons cups are decked out in Christmas finery a sure sign if there ever was one
  • I haven't started my Christmas shopping despite my best intentions I must be comfortable in that wild eyed, frantic frenzied state of last minute shopper.
  • our outside Christmas lights aren't up yet where the heck did we store them last year?
  • but some people's are neighbourhood show off
  • a happy little tickle is forming in the part of my tummy where excitement lives
I just had to write something about Christmas ... cause I love it so - and I have to figure out a way to squeeze all of that anticipation and excitement into four short weeks. Stay tuned to be inundated ... *merry merry*

Monday, November 23, 2009


It's that month, that time of year
the invisible internal clock
keeps track of minutes and hours
leading up to the

After all these years it still seeps and spills
profound and utter grief
for all that we had and lost'
leading up to the

It's that month, that time of year
internal memory recounts
precisely what procedure, medication
you endured leading up to the

It's that month, that time of year
when I want to steal
just a moment to let down -
feel the impact, shock and awe,
head on.

It's that month, that time of year
a dozen years have passed
I speak your name,
I sing your song and still
love lives on.

And still, the countdown is on ...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

FAB Day in Every Way

Girls are FAB - that was the message today .... Pretty Sister was my date today to the charity event that my other two close amigos are involved in ... FAB Foundation. FAB - Fit, Active, Beautiful - has a mission to boost the self esteem and confidence of girls aged 11-13 years; they have started with a running program that encourages team building and goal setting/achieving.

The afternoon was billed as a ladies only luncheon and silent auction.  Known for my brawny athleticism (NOT) and love of food (YES), throw in a cause - and it was a no brainer!We arrived to a room abuzz with the chatter and laughter of women - a diverse, eclectic group of ladies - some groovin to the live Beatles Tribute band, some greeting one another with open arms, hugs and kisses and others just enjoying the electric vibe (akin to a big pajama party - without Twister).

Women like to help other girls and women. We get it - we've been there. We're daughters and many of us have daughters. We know the struggles with "self"  and  we also know that confidence and sound self esteem is paramount to being a happy, healthy girl ... and woman.

OK - there were a few men there -- some firefighters (fully clothed) posing for pictures with the ladies (in the name of charity), signing their calendars. Personally I found this to be out of place for the nature of the foundation,  but we had to laugh at how the dynamic of the room changes when men are present -- how women act. The ladies clearly enjoyed the presence of the firefighters and from what I could see, it was successful in raising money. I thought it would be more powerful to have the often overlooked female fighterfighters there representing "possibilities".

But who am I to find fault? The foundation has a noble mission and the founder is  clearly passionate about making the lives of these impressionable young girls better, and helping prepare them for the future. Bravo ladies! You warmed my heart and made me proud that I am your friend. You really are FAB.  Me? Fit, active, beautiful ... one out of three ain't bad!   *grin*

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Global Family

Yesterday when I got home from work I had not one - but two wonderful surprises waiting for me. I finally got word that I have been matched with a sister in the Women for Women sponsorship program. I applied over a month ago and have been anxiously waiting to get started. My application coincided with an appearance of the founder on Oprah - which translated into a huge interest in the program. I still haven't received the particulars but I feel good knowing that things are progressing.

The icing on the cake was the letter I received from the family of my new sponsored child, Genesis,  from Plan. The letter was written in Spanish and enclosed in an envelope they had crafted from a sheet of paper, bound with masking tape. Along with the rumpled photo of a cherub faced, dark eyed toddler, they enclosed a small white crocheted hat with Honduras etched in red pencil. They wrote that they hope I will think of them every time I look at it. I knew instantly that it would have a place on my Christmas tree this year ... and I will think of them.

It is no coincidence that I received these two reminders on the same day ... they were gentle nudges from the universe reminding me that there is great need in the world and that it takes so little to share, to make a big impact. It's true what they say about giving ... you get back more than you give.

You may be interested in my previous posts:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Gifts That Give Us All More

How did this happen? It’s November 20th already! I promised myself that all of my Christmas shopping would be done by the end of November so that I would be free and clear to really enjoy the festivities – famjams, visits, dinners – that I love so much.

As optimistic that I usually am, I’m not sure I’m gonna make it this year. I haven’t even started. I haven’t formulated my thoughts around what special gifts I want to make/buy/order for the special ones in my life. And it really has to start with the thought, otherwise you waste countless hours aimlessly wandering a mall, wide eyed and panic stricken or glazed over and zombie like. I’ve done both.

But not this year! Last year I decided to bring extra joy and meaning to my Christmas gift giving and vowed not to do anything without love in my heart – I imposed a "no complaining" sanction on myself. I focused on buying gifts that were either handcrafted, locally or Canadian made, fair trade, organic or made from recycled materials. I also gave gifts that keep on giving: Kiva microloan gift certificates, cows and goats from, water for African communities and education for Afghan girls. The website has a huge variety of ideas for Gifts that Give More and trust me when I tell you that when you hit that donate/buy key, you will feel a rush of satisfaction knowing that you just gave a second chance to someone who really needs it.

I didn’t buy any wrapping paper so I had a lot of fun trying to figure out how to disguise the gifts in creative ways (hello newspaper, coffee cans and tea towels!). I found joy in the journey and it was one of my most memorable holidays ever. I plan to do the same this year … Pity the one who gets pjs that smell like dark roast.

Actually – after writing all that out, I’m thinking that I may not have to leave the comfort of my couch! Just have to figure out where to keep that cow …

Do you have some sites or ideas for creative, thoughtful Christmas gifts? Do share!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


I hadn't seen her in more than 10 years but tonight when I met my old dear friend Red (guess what colour her hair is) for dinner, time and space collapsed and it was as if we had never been apart. My friend S set it up. In another lifetime - two decades ago -- we all worked together. Now these two women are accomplished executives and I get to say that I knew them "before they were ..."

For three hours we swapped work philosophies, updated one  another on our parents, our husbands and our children.
It was a little odd to cover ten years in such a short time. Our lives look quite different when they are condensed, with time and space removed. As I was explaining the twists and turns that my own life had taken, I started laughing ... it all sounded so sorted ,,, but as I explained, it felt so normal to live it.

Today when I was telling my work colleague about my dinner to reconnect with my friend, she asked me why it had been so long since we'd been in touch. I didn't have an answer. Sometimes life just happens.

Funny enough, when we saw each other after the passing of so many years there was no awkwardness; no excuses; no guilt. Just big smiles and hugs and instant joy and happiness at seeing one another again. I have S to thank for this little reunion. As we bade our farewells, we promised not to let another decade pass before meeting again. But even if it does, there is comfort in knowing that there is a special relationship - a special someone who owns a piece of my past.

It occurs to me that I have a wonderful life ... and some pretty special people in it. And for that I am truly grateful.

Thanks S.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Passing on Through

Maybe it's recent birthdays of my two older daughters; maybe it was reading this quote from The Prophet that I posted on my other blog, Soul Snax. Whatever the reason, I've been reflecting on my daughters, how I raised them, the kind of parent I was... and what it meant to be a mother to them.
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters
of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may house their bodies but not their souls ...
From the first  moments I was pregnant I had the acute sense that the life growing inside me was "on loan" -- not mine to own. I cherished the months I had my unborn baby to myself, knowing that in due time that baby would be shared with all who loved her. My babies were born, each with their own unique personalities  and I was surprised by this. I had the notion that babies were born blank slates, and that we as parents would be the influence in shaping them. That was only partially true. In some ways I felt that my babies were born intact with special aspects of them already seeded. My role was to nurture that which had already been delivered, to allow and cultivate them to grow into themselves.

They come through you but not from you

This is especially poignant. It is a good reminder that we are not parents to impose our own will, personalities and opinions on our children, but to help them develop free thought, perspective, evaluation and problem solving skills. (Easier said than done, for certain.) It is our job to love them and teach them about love and kindess ... and how to survive and thrive.

It's true ... they are merely passing through us on their life's journey. Just stopping in long enough to nourish and equip themselves before embarking on their own adventure.

And if we have played our part well, and loved them with every part of our being, then maybe, just maybe they will make home a frequent stopover on their life's travels.

They come through us - and back to us. But first we have to let them go ...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Rooting for the Underdog

Isn't it true? We love to root for the underdog. There is something that is heartwarming, that moves us to see people who are managing with a liability, disability or are going it alone. We want to reach out and elevate them; help them reach new heights and realize their dreams. And even if we can't help them, we  applaude their unexpected achievements. We celebrate their hard fought successes.

I think "the underdog" reminds us of our own frailities and insecurities. When we witness obstacles being overcome, ceilings being smashed -- the possible made possible -- we are filled with hope. Our own sense of "anything is possible"  is validated.

So I guess you could say that when we are cheering on the underdog, we are cheering on a part of ourselves. Make sense?

PS -- Inspiration for the post -- I was just watching Dancing with the Stars ...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Heeding the Call

The Africa dream is coming closer to realization. The itinerary was emailed to me and I have to finalize tomorrow -- then it's no turning back. Kidlet and I had some time tonight to get it all out on the table and reaffirm our commitment to a trip of this magnitude - both financial and adventurewise. It is just too expensive of a trip to take feeling indifferent or mediocre about it. Her eyes sparkled as I reviewed the details of the trip with her.

She told me last week that she felt Africa calling. I feel it too -- but even more than Africa, I feel time calling. My daughter is on the cusp of adulthood, about to leave the family cocoon to pursue her own dreams, embark on her on life's journey. Time is at a premium and I can't think of when next we will have an opportunity to share a life altering experience. There will be no distractions; we will have only one another to turn to, to converse with (in transit anyway). I am looking as forward to the long hours we will spend on the plane as much as any other part. Kidlet is so busy that I rarely get those quiet times anymore,  just to chat. I miss her, and having two older girls who have already left home, I have a better appreciation of how precious and fleeting this remaining time together is ...

Planning is underway. Excitement is growing to overflowing and I can barely believe that this dream is about to be fulfilled. Kidlet and me. Africa. It's calling -- and we're going!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Gift is You

you came to me when I was
very young
you changed me -
taught me things about myself
I never knew

you introduced me to
unconditional, infinite love
and I knew
we would be
forever connected.

I was  happy
you were born a girl
I wanted - with you
what I had
with my mother

thank you for
choosing me
from all the universe
to be
your mom

you are my
precious treasure
and on this day
I accept only the greatest good
for you

happy birthday cookie

Friday, November 13, 2009

Scenes from the Mall

Christmas is just over a month away. And a visit to the mall confirmed it! Special deals, Christmas glitter and the festive music of the season assault the senses the minute you step through the entrance. But for now it's all new and I am not yet season-weary, so I happily soaked it all in. Like most, Christmas is a special time of year, laden with rich memories.

In the US I think Thanksgiving kicks off the Christmas season ... but for me, I start gearing up after my eldest daughter's birthday. That birthday is tomorrow. Another reason to celebrate; another reason for a famjam; and another blessing to count.

Couldn't help but smile at the display of retro products - had to snap a shot to share.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Gift For Me

Last year around this time, I made a commitment to myself and my blogging; I gave myself the challenge and the luxury of writing every day -- to seek the gifts and the "take aways" from each day lived. Ever since I was a child I kept a journal, but my entries were sporadic and although writing was always my creative outlet, it was the first thing that got pushed aside when I got busy or distracted.

I wanted to see what would be revealed if I made myself available for writing each and every day. A year later, I feel satisfied with my efforts, the joy that has been expressed, and the fulfillment I have experienced. This is a gift I gave myself.

I recently gave myself another gift ... a return to reading. And I am loving it. Last Christmas I was given a stack of favourite reads and months had gone by without me making so much as a dent in them. Next to writing, reading is one of my favourite things to do ... and I realized that unless I built it into my daily routine, it wasn't going to happen. Simple as that!

So after finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns (simply wonderful), I delved right into Say You're One of Them. I am only half way through the book, but I am enjoying it so much that I don't think I want it to end.

I am learning how to give myself the luxury of guilt free time to do things that are important to me.
Gift in aging: free to be! Life is good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day of Remembrance

My office shuts down on Remembrance Day, so I used my time off the way it was intended ... I went to the  ceremonies at the town square where the cenotaph stands. As I looked for a parking spot, I could hear the faint strains of bagpipe music. I fell into line with the masses who seem to be coming out of nowhere -- all heading for the square. I could feel my throat tightening and emotion starting to well with every step that took me closer. The first sighting of the wizened, craggy face of a veteran, standing slightly hunched - proudlly at attention, white gloved hand on the staff of the standard he bore ... tears released. It's the faces. They are faces of survivors, men and women who have born witness to unspeakable horrors, and suffered great losses.

The parade of military, Canadian Mounted Police, provincial and local police, firemen and Scottish Regiments that solemnly marched behind the piper painted a colourful canvas that completely overwhelmed me. People dabbed their eyes with tissue as they passed. Collective reverance and respect -- and gratitude. It doesn't happen often enough. But today we stood still and silent as a community and refllected. I thought of the men and women who spent years in trenches, water up to their knees, who faced their "enemy" in hand to hand combat. I reflected on the waste and pain of war -- and how soldiers are called into service in our country to keep peace and help rebuild nations. I thought of wars being fought at this very second around the planet and of people who cannot lay their heads down at night without fear.

I bowed my head in silent prayer and respect. No matter how we may feel about war and the politics that go with it, we have to remember that it is our brothers and sisters (and their families) who carry the torch and bear the burden of service.

And today, my beloved maple leaf flew at half mast, her brilliant crimson cutting the gray of the day -- and she was as glorious as ever.

Je me souviens.