Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spooky Day

There's never been a better day to be a witch - and get away with it! Happy Halloween to all.

Can't tell what has me more excited:
  • Halloween,
  • turning the clock back and gaining one full hour, or
  • celebrating Harmony's special day with her.
Guess I have at least three reasons to be happy and grateful. I know there are a million more but these three come to mind ... now where did I park that broom of mine?!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Optimistic - That's Me

I'm an optimist. I always suspected I leaned to the glass half full side of things and now it's confirmed. *smile*  I took the life orientation test on Oprah's website (I told you I loved Oprah) and scored 24/24 on the optimist scale.

It seems as though some people are simply born optimistic or conversely, pessimistic ... always expecting the worse. I liken it to how you are wired. I am wired to expect the very best; when something bad happens, I get a strong sense that something good is coming right behind it. It is a wonderful, carefree way to live.

I think at times I have been optimistic to a fault (if there is such a thing). My "concern alert" is slow to go off when maybe it shouldn't. I can remember my husband working all hours of the night at the office, and waking up to find he wasn't home yet. It was only when someone asked me if I worried that I realized  I hadn't until that moment. He could have gone missing for a day before it would cross my mind to be concerned. When someone finds a sympton and goes to the doctor,  I never expect the news to be bad. I once had a huge cyst on my neck and once the surgeon told me not to worry, that even if it turned out to be the worst case scenario, he could fix it - I didn't spend a minute worrying about it.

Worry is counter productive -such a waste of time. Over the years I have gotten good at releasing that over which I have no control. I travel lightly with only a carry on - no baggage.  I trust the Universe.

I believe we can be rewired. We can learn new responses; develop new reflexes so that our first thoughts lean to the light ... to optimism. My mom helped guide me to this awakening when I was eleven. She pointed out to me that I complained incessently and rarely smiled. I told her that I couldn't help the way I was and she told that I could choose differently and become the person I wanted to be. She gave me books to read and little exercises to practice every day to gain a postive, optimistic attitude. Each day she would prompt me to tell her something good about my day.

When I used to tuck Kidlet in at night when she was just a tot, we had a little ritual. I would say "today was a great day"  and then she would yell, arms outstretched, "and tomorrow's gonna be another great day".

I suppose that is a big part of why I am blogging. I want to end each day seeking and documenting the take away - gift - in each precious day. And you know what? There always is one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

No Disguising Happiness

Halloween is almost here. The neighbourhood is draped in gauzy spider webs, carved pumpkins are set on the stoops and witches and goblins blow in the breeze from tree branches. Everywhere except at our place ... I just haven't gotten around to decorating so our house is pretty much devoid of Halloween.

Kidlet burst through the door tonight from work full of excitement. She was finally going to make it to her first ever school dance. No hockey, no other commitments, nothing to stand in the way of her budding social life. And the best part was that it was a Halloween dance. She got ready and into her Pebbles get-up in minutes and then door bell rang. Her two friends arrived to get into costume too and the giggle-snicker factor was off the charts. I wasn't expecting company so I was in my Hugh Hefner striped silk PJs - a great source of amusement for Kidlet as I attached her costume with duct tape. Giggles and smiles.

How refreshing to hear the flushed excitement for Halloween fill this house again. I managed to snap a shot of the trio before they left for the dance despite Kidlet's protests ... it's not the prom Mom.

And as they walked out the door I couldn't help remembering the five year old Pocahontas that bounced out that door, plastic pumpkin in hand in what seems like just yesterday. And it made me wonder how many more of times I would watch her get ready for parties and dances.

I decided to pocket this little memory and label it cherished.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Looking for the Light

It's shocking, and unfathomable - the rape of a fifteen year old child. That would be bad enough, but it gets worse - she was gang raped by 10 boys while another 10 people stood by and watched ... for two and a half hours.

The topic of Larry King`s show tonight was about how this could happen; he had experts talking about the neurological and societal causes of such horrendous crimes. All the talk about mirror neurons and emotional intelligence made my head spin.

It's shocking, and unfathomable. It`s pure evil. And we have to ask ourselves what kind of society we are becoming, and what kind to we want to be.  What made it OK for these  boys to assault - brutalize - and almost kill a young girl so brazenly, out in the open air, in front of an audience.

There have been similar acts of epic evil in history,  in the not so distant history and sadly, in the present. Genocide and acts of oppression and violence are the stark reality for many - especially women - around the world. Rape is an act of  power and when it is a widespread practice, it is a crime against humanity. That`s what this was -- a crime against humanity.

It is overt acts of evil like this that make us hang our heads just a little and feel a collective sense of shame; shame in knowing that humankind is capable of such violence and immorality.

And that is the complexity of the human race; we are capable of committing the greatest acts of evil as well as extending the most magnificent gestures of love, kindness and generosity. Might we use these reminders to embrace the light, and as inspiration to live to our highest good ...

And let`s whisper a healing prayer for the little girl who lies in a hospital bed tonight and who will have a long journey ahead, to heal not only her body, but her spirit as well...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Oh to Dance!

I'm addicted. I promised myself that I wouldn't get sucked in this season, but I did. I am out, openly admitting that I am a fan of Dancing With the Stars. Maybe it's because it gives a glimpse of dance not of our era; I don't know many men - or women - my age who know the fine art of waltzing, jiving or the polka.

We sit on the sidelines at weddings watching the other generation  twirl, swirl and glide smoothly as they cover the floor. Either that or we attempt to dance a slow song by gripping our partner and alternating between swaying and stepping in unison or bouncing up and down to the rhythm. What's a few bruised toes?

I can remember learning basic ballroom steps in gym class. Not sure the boys had dance in their cirriculum. My best friend Jill was the boy and I was the girl as we learned how to square dance, waltz, cha cha and foxtrot - all in sweatpants and sneakers. I think we even learned to "hustle". Poor Jill had trouble years later - she had learned everything backwards and how to lead - not follow. Maybe when I get the urge to dance, I should call her up ...

Kidlet and I are getting good at critiquing the dancers -- their form, energy and commitment. Maybe the biggest reason I like watching Dancing With the Stars - is that I watch it with Kidlet. It is one of the rare shows we both love and can share.

Tonight is the results show so I will close now and indulge my guilty pleasure.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Haze of Glory

With just a few days left in October, and our autumn about to to out in a blaze of glory, I can't resist squeezing in another post  about fall. Afterall, I owe it to my favourite season...

For us Canadians, weather plays a dominant role in our lives. We talk about it, think about it and complain about it ALOT. We have the Weather Network shortcut on our desktops; we tune into the weather forecast that follows our 11 PM newscast so we can plan how many sweaters we need to wear the next day or see if we need extra time getting to work. The same goes for our seasons ... they are always the top of conversation.

Autumn is special. It sneaks in as summer fades; its arrival - discreet. Then there comes the morning when you step out into the dark, damp chill to find everything covered in a dusting of frost.  Autumn is like a party girl -- arriving quietly and then bursting out in a flambuoyant show of personality and colour, fast and furious - and fading before the party ends. By the time the leaves complete their spectacular transition, you have but a few days to take the beauty in. You can't delay taking that shot you want to capture ... the magnificent foliage is fleeting. And that is why autumn is special. It teaches us to live fully in the moment and appreciate that which we have NOW.

Any day now, all of our trees will be bleak and bare ... but only for a short while ... until they are blanketed with snow. But that will be another post ....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Reading Vacay

I fed my guilty pleasure this weekend. I squeezed in hours of reading, not for business or self help, but purely for the pleasure of it. It's been a long while since I've given myself such a gift - probably since my last vacation - or plane ride.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is finished. It rests on the coffee table while I allow the story to sink in; while I silently bid farewell to the heroic characters that were alive to me, and who I grew so very attached to ...

At the risk of turning into a book review, I sing this book's praises (maybe I should just murmur its praises -- I can't even carry a tune). It was written by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner; both books were set in Afganistan. A Thousand Spendid Suns is a delicious epic about love, friendship, oppression, war, family and life in Afghanistan, told through the lives of two women. I shed a tear or two while devouring this book - and devour it I did. When I find a novel I thoroughly enjoy, I immerse myself in it, preferring to plough through it  - rereading favourite sections - in one or two sittings. After gluttonously consuming chapter after chapter, losing myself in the sheer pleasure of it all - panic starts to creep in .... I don't want the story to end. It's a contradiction to be sure.

Nothing relaxes me more than reading; my body is still and quiet while my mind is involved in another reality. So maybe that is the reason that I am ending this weekend on such a contented, laid back note.

So many many books - so little time. I just decided that I am going to indulge myself a lot more often.  And that is a promise.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Saturday Sharing

Happy Saturday!
It's another grey day here - thus the photo of the smiling sunflowers which I took a few weeks ago to bring some sun into the weekend.

I just took a hour to catch up on the posts of my favourite blogger friends and I  just read a post from Janine over at Sniffles and Smiles that I just have to share. Janine is a cancer survivor - but oh, so more than that. She is a wonderful, expressive writer - the kind that love and light just shines through in their attitude and in their writing. Tell me if this isn't one of the most beautiful descriptive yarns you've read recently ... it is called Untethered.  It isn't about cancer - it's about the bittersweet richness - the joy and pain - of this adventurous journey that is our life.

Enjoy the read and the weekend - and thank you Janine!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Comforting Day Off

It's my compressed day off and what's a girl to do?!
Well the weather is a typical blustery dismal day -- rainy and gray. So I  satisfied my urge for oatmeal cookies by baking some. Yup - just expressing my Betty Crocker side ...

One of the best parts (well maybe not the best...) of being a grown up is licking the bowl -- no one to share it with. As kids we used to argue over who could like the spoons and best of all -- the bowl. Usually my mom made two of us share that prize! So of course by the time I licked the raw cookie dough off off the wooden spoon, the spatula AND the bowl -- I didn't need lunch, and I couldn't even entertain the thought of it.

Meatloaf is baking in the oven and the residual smell of the cookies is still wafting. What a perfect way to spend a chilly day -- all cosy and warm, looking forward to comfort food. Lucky me - it's been a comforting day off.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Oh Oprah

I've watched the Oprah show for close to 20 years now. I've always been a fan and an admirer of her accomplishments - both as a professional and a woman. But the past few years I have found myself  feeling impatient and disappointed in Oprah. Not that I have any right to ...  Oprah has achieved the pinnacle of success and is probably the most powerful and influential media person on the planet. In addition to her TV talk show, she publishes a magazine, owns and hosts a satellite radio channel, develops education and charity projects around the world, produces movies, and calls Presidents of countries "friend". She's a shining example of someone pursuing and living her dream; she's a role model for a generation of women and girls.

And yet all of this is not apparently not enough. It still comes down to weight and body image. She talks incessently about this on her TV show. She has been forthcoming about her weight struggles and over the past decade of her roller coaster relationship with her body, she has reframed the issue and served it up in many different flavours -- health; self esteem; living the best life; being the best version of  yourself, and it goes on.

I can understand anyone wanting to be healthy and live an active healthy lifestyle. However in Oprah's case, she has lost weight down to the skinny several times and she seems to gain back to a full female figure. Maybe she was never meant to be a slim woman. She once said that to maintain her size 12 body (not tiny by any means) she had to run on the treadmill for an hour each day .... r u n.

My disappointment comes with the mixed message Oprah represents. If you are the most well known, powerful, successful woman on the planet and achieved a monumental body of work - and you still can't be happy with yourself because of your weight - it represents everything we (and the Dove campaign) try to teach our girls not to be.  I wish Oprah would be contented with her personal success and phenonmenal contributions to humankind and not focus on the one thing she does not have -- a slim body. For millions of women around the world, struggling with the many issues she discusses on her show, Oprah is an icon - a symbol of possibility.

But the message is clear --  no matter how successful you are -- if you aren't slim  -- it's not enough.

Perhaps Oprah needs to revisit the poem of her mentor Maya Angelou ....

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,

And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

[Excerpts from Phenomenal Woman, May Angelou]

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Back

It's been a strange autumn ... almost as though fall is holding back.  By now the streets would be lined with trees - leaves ablaze with crimson and orange. Instead we have indecision. One side of my street has stubborn trees fully green, while the other side has trees half dressed with yellowish leaves (and piles of shedded, dead ones). The usual blaze of glory is missing ... and in its place a whimpering retreat.

I think I am in the same state as autumn. On one hand I am so ready to leave summer behind and embrace the new cooler season - and sweater weather! On the other hand, I dread getting out of bed when it freezing cold outside (and inside) and going to work when it is still dark out. I haven't done anything outside to get the yard ready for winter. Petrified flowers and unpicked frozen tomatoes are still in their pots, the flower beds are full of remnants of this year's blooms and our shrubs and bushes need some serious trimmng.

So part of me is somewhat relieved that the warmer temperatures have returned and autunm is dragging its feet. Cause I am dragging mine!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Linked In

I am "linked in" - just like 45 million other people around the planet. For the benefit of anyone who isn't one of the 45 million, LinkedIn is "a fast-growing professional networking site that allows members to create business contacts, search for jobs, and find potential clients." In other words, Facebook for the grown up / professional.

It is a strange experience ... posting your profile only to receive a myriad of invitations to join people's networks. I invited some of my former colleagues as well as my friends who are on LinkedIn. The power of the Internet never ceases to amaze me. The very first day, I had a request from an account executive I worked with almost 30 years ago when I was the mail girl. I connected with my writing partner from university, with a woman who worked for me 20 years ago, and a list of other people from my work past.

What struck me most was the level of  accomplishment of each and every contact I have  ... impressive titles such as  president, vice president, director, general manager, CFO ... titles that denote success and status. I chuckled at my own - which pales in comparison. I can remember a time when I thought I was a PIP (pretty important person) and wore a nice professional identifier. But that was long ago and I now live a simpler life that is pretty much devoid of any such identifier or title. The woman in the suit no longer exists. In fact it makes me wonder why I even bothered to join a professional network; why I plunged back into a world I donated to Goodwill.

I am proud of the accomplishments of my friends, coworkers, and class mates. It reminds me that life is passing quickly and along the way, we all grew up - and are now growing older. It feels good to renew old connections and catch up with old friends.

So I guess I answered my own question; I am linked in - not left out!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Freeze Tease

This morning when I got in my car to go to work in the wee hours of the morning, the glowing green digits on the thermometer read -1 Celsius. A sober reminder that winter is waiting in the wings. It was only a teaser though, because it warmed up during the day and they are calling for more seasonal temperatures for the rest of the week.

I had to chuckle -- it was as if this dip into sub zero temperatures was a little reminder to get reacquainted with my ice scraper, dig out my gloves, and find my snow brush. It was a little warning - a drill of sorts.

So I will take it in the spirit in which it was given and make sure to wring every bit of warmth and sunshine out of these last weeks of autumn.  Now - off to dig out that stuff ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Post Notes

The weekend seemed to fly by as so often is the case. I had homework which I just completed ... I think I was channeling Kidlet. All of last week she was withdrawn, intensely struggling, juggling the myriad of responsibilities and activities she has taken on. And she insisted on going it alone. My words were of little comfort; my offers of help shunned. Shut out. That's what I was.

On Saturday when we talked the relief in her voice was evident. She had taken matters into her own hands and sought help. She now has a plan, the resources and the desire to work it. She has alot riding on this final year of school and we both know it.

She needs no reminders and apparently not my help. As she so earnestly told me, she had to solve it on her own. And she did.

But I am not wandering far, and I'm still here should she ever need me ...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Clamp Down on Breast Cancer

Don't give up hope. I love this message -- found in a Dove chocolate wrapper.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I am using this post to remind my lady friends of the importance of early detection. I had my own scare two years ago ...

 "I don't think THAT is supposed to be there."  Hubby had found a lump. I had trouble feeling it for  myself ... but after much prodding and squeezing, I found the offensive, hard, ball of terror. My knees instantly weakened, my breathing stopped - and I felt like my heart did too. For certain - time stood still. I processed the finding. After the shock faded, so did the fear. Years ago I had a similar experience when I found a lump the size of a small plum on my neck. It turned out to be a cyst. I didn't worry then - and I didn't worry with this new discovery. I was fairly convinced that it would turn out to be a cyst ... but I took immediate action all the same.

I went to my family doctor, a woman about my own age. After conducting a physical breast exam, she was unable to find or feel any lumps. I asked her for a mammogram. At 47, I had never had one, and there had been some breast cancer in our family history. She was nonchalant, and replied, "well, if you think you will feel better by having one, I'll schedule you a mammogram. I guess it couldn't hurt".

So off I truddled to my first mammogram appointment (the details of which could be its own humourous post), confident with the knowledge that I was being proactive and preventive. It's an odd sensation having your breasts sanwiched - flattened - between the metal clamps. The elderly, kindly technician smiled as she tightened the clamps and said, "let me know when you can't tolerate it anymore". She had explained that the flatter the breast, the better the result - so I bravely went beyond my tolerance and then whispered --"OK - that's as far as I can take it". Then she kciked it up one last notch. That little lady was a sneaky one, but I was on to her game.

I never imagined how good relief could feel until she freed me and invited me to take a seat while she reviewed the film. Admittedly, my knees were weak and the big black spots I was seeing was telling me that I was on the verge of passing out. Release came just in time. After waiting for about 15 minutes in my trendy gown, she emerged from the developing room to announce that we were going to do it again. Well, we ended up doing it three times over, and by the time I left with her cheerful, "now don't worry if we call you to come back in -- it's your first one and that is very common" - I was starting to get a little nervous.

A week later, I was called back in. We repeated the process and she explained that she wanted the radiologist to be present to get a good reading. I agreed wholeheartedly. Believe it or not, I was called back for a third time and this time I received an ultrasound. Fear was starting to creep in. I could see a mass on the screen. The technician is not allowed to reveal what they see, but there it was, as plain as day, and it looked like there was more than one.

A follow up visit to my doctor resulted in her telling me I was loaded with what they thought were cysts -- more than 20. Ironically she still was unable to detect any of them in the physical exam she gave me that same visit -- even after I tried to show her.

Needless to say, I fired her and went to my dad's family doctor. I needed to know something definitive here. After all that I had learned about breast cancer, I wasn't going to fall short of knowing what I was dealing with. I was mobilized by anger and frustration.

To make a long story not so long, I ended up having a needle biopsy and a few of the larger cysts aspirated to make me more comfortable. I had been referred to a breast expert and under his diligent care, I found out that I have dense breasts and am just loaded with cysts - but I do not have cancer.

I am one of the lucky ones but what I learned from this experience is something that I knew all along -- we have to take charge of our own health and insist on knowing what our symptons point to. I will continue to request mammograms every two years and conduct regular self-exams on my breasts. Early detection is key.

To all of the women who are living and fighting with breast cancer, I send you strength and hugs. Don't give up hope.

The Canadian Cancer Society  has this neat little gizmo called the Thingamaboob. It looks like a keychain made of different sized clear, pink beads and it shows  the different lump sizes that can be detected through a variety of breast-screening methods. Go the to the Thingamaboob website to learn more about the importance of mammograms or get your own Thingamaboob.

View the TIME: Breast Cancer Photo Essay -- prepare to be moved.

You may be interested in my post Waiting Room.

Friday, October 16, 2009

My Friend Friday

Ah Friday .... you're like an old welcomed friend. After a long week (even though it was only four days), I look so forward to you - my favourite day of the week.

Fridays at our office are quiet; the parking lot is half empty (many are off on their compressed day) and the staff who are there, seem more relaxed. Maybe it's the casual attire, sweaters and jeans. I forgo the headset and play my radio a little louder than usual. It's a day with minimal disruptions; a day to plough through the backlog; a day to breathe a little easier.

And the best part of all about Friday - is Friday night. Winding down, thinking, decompressing time. And that is exactly what I am doing now ... spending quality time with my friend Friday.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day: Climate Change

Today is Blog Action Day 2009 and we are trying to harness the power of social media to take a collective stance on the issue of climate change.

Action is needed to achieve a sustainable solution to our global climate crisis. Countries have to work together to limit greenhouse gases and build a clean energy economy, and in December world leaders will gather in Copenhagen to negotiate a global response to climate change. Let's hope our leaders will take the threat of climate change seriously and make the necessary changes to ensure the safety and health of future generations.

Optimist that I am, I can only hope Canada will once again take the lead as we did with the Kyoto Accord. What started out as a bold, brave initiative for our country back in the late 1990's became one of our biggest embarassments on the world stage - when we chose not to honour our commitments.

Canadian environment groups have formed KYOTOplus, a Canadian campaign to support an urgent solution to the global warming crisis - leading up to the United Nations meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark. You can sign the petitition on the website.

KYOTOplus will ensure Canada:
  • Votes in favour of extending and strengthening the Kyoto Protocol this December, 2009, at the meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark;
  • Replaces its current inadequate policy approach with a credible, urgent plan that brings down Canada's greenhouse gas pollution fast.
Whatever your political persuasion, as a member of the human race inhabiting this grand planet Earth, I am sure we can agree on one thing ... that it is time for us to put the health of our planet ahead of profits and wealth.

Happy Blog Action Day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winding Down

My snowbird dad will be heading south in a few days with my step-mom T and Doris, to winter in a place with sunshine and heat. We had a long phone chat tonight and I could feel the sadness welling up. I don't begrudge his leaving -- he thrives in the eternal summer. He gardens and plays golf all year long, his joints don't ache as much and the climate affords him an active lifestyle. No winter hibernation for him!

It's just that when they go, they leave a big space. I pass their house every day on my to work, and I religiously honk my horn. It's our little ritual - signalling our "I love you's" as we pass by. Often I would be in our garden and hear a honk from a passing car and I would stop and smile. Hi Dad. Dad's place is a regular stop off on my way home - for nice cup of tea, or a cold glass of wine if it is Friday. Even when I don't get over as much as I would like, there is a comfort and peace knowing that he is just down the street.

I know people who do not enjoy their parents as much as I do - nor are they as fortunate as I. For my relationship with my parents has always been a good one - grounded in mutual respect and love. When my mom was alive, we were very close and were there for one another. She was the heart of our family. After her passing, my dad stepped up and tried to fill some of the gap. I wasn't sure it was possible - but I was wrong. I am proud to say that our relationship has been continually evolving and he has become my trusted confidante. And I miss him when he is not around. Life is not quite the same.

I have lost a parent - and the gift in that (there always is one) was an immediate greater appreciation for the parent I had remaining. My heart goes out to those who cannot muster affectionate feelings for or don't have a loving relationship with their parents. I'd like to think that it's never too late.

So as the week winds down, it marks the winding down of another kind. The snowbirds will migrate south - only to return with the spring thaw,  to a clannish family who loves them very much.

And I will honk my horn as I pass the empty dark house.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free to Be

Here is why I love Obama ... if for no other reason than that his words lift us up, inspire and challenge humankind while offering a promise of hope for a kinder, more accepting, welcoming, inclusive society. The clip below is of a speech he delivered to a Gay Rights Group [Human Rights Campaign] October 10th.

By the middle of the address I could feel the tears. I could only think of the children and adults alike who are trapped by their secrets and their fear of rejection and ridicule, sadly, often by those who should love them most. How inspiring it must be for them to hear the President of  the United States passionately appealing to his people to create a society that is more just and inclusive. Hope is rekindled and the fires of equality are fanned.

People must be free to be themselves and live and love authentically. It seems archaic that in this day in age, in North America,  people must still struggle for the most basic of equal rights -- including the right to marry. I am an eternal optimist, and I believe that there will come a day soon, when the shackles of bigotry will be broken and all shall be free - to be.

You may enjoy these related posts:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stuffed and Contented

There are so many things rolling around my head that I would like to talk about -- Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, addiction, control, lack of control, goals, Me to We Day, hope, snowbirds .... so many things.

However tonight - after the end of a pretty much perfect autumn Thanksgiving weekend, I will keep it simple. Contentment is nicely settled in my bones and so is my gratitude. That's me tonight - stuffed, stuffed up sniffle, and contented. And I wish you all the same. Which reminds me ... where did I put that wishbone?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanksgiving FamJam

The food is wrapped and put away. The wishbone is drying on the window sill, the dishes are done, and our house has returned to its semi quiet state. Another Thanksgiving dinner has come and gone - and it was one for the memory book.

In addition to our entire family (except far away sister and her family who couldn't make it), we invited the grandparents of my oldest two girls to dinner. They happily accepted and bravely joined the chaos which is our traditional famjam.

I woke up with a nasty cold leaving hubby to prepare the meal. (Really - no excuse.)  He seemed happy to have his alone time in the kitchen - that is until he had to try to peel the rutabagas (he hates that they are so hard to peel,  the way they smell when they are cooking, as well as the way they taste). He basted the turkey religiously every half hour and coaxed it to a rich brown colour. Dad called the liver (not that anyone else was after it) and had it devoured before dinner!

Then the house gradually filled with the people I love and the number of conversations multiplied - and with that, the room got louder. Looking around the room at the animated, laughing faces, I was reminded of the number of people I have in my life who are so very important to me.

So in closing, I am going to list just a few more gratitudes ...

I am thankful that I was raised by wonderful, loving parents, and that I still have my father with me.
I am thankful for the love in my life - the love given and received.
I am grateful ... pretty much all of the time.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Giving More Thanks

Today was the perfect start to the Thanksgiving long weekend. We woke up to the kind of crisp, sunny fall day we all wish for, and decided not to waste it. Chores be darned! We did a quick vaccuum, sprayed some furniture polish about, swirled the toilet bowl brush around and called it clean. We headed out to a local country fall fair.

Cool air with wisps of wood burning mingled with the musky odour of manure. Row upon row of red, blue and green ribbons plastered on endless jars of jams, pickles, and preserves. Horse pulls, livestock showings and dairy displays. And happy, relaxed, people with families in tow, enjoying the simple pleasures of  their rural community.

We spent the afternoon, hand in hand, drinking in the rustic pleasures as we walked about ... before heading off to our first Thanksgiving dinner at hubby's parents. We ended our day in relaxed, quiet conversation with our family ... bellies full and contented  and hearts equally so.

I am grateful for
  1. the changing seasons that brings us new gifts.
  2. the peace that comes with each deep breath of fresh air.
  3. the loving, smiling faces that I sat across from at dinner tonight - and for the ones I will - tomorrow.
  4. cherry pie.
  5. the smell of turkey roasting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Giving Five Thanks

In the spirit of our Canadian Thanksgiving, I am dedicating my posts over the next few days to giving thanks.

I am grateful for
  1. living in love - swaddled and cloaked in absolute love.
  2. the three exquisite, remarkable young women who I call daughter.
  3. my big, loving family, pieced together funny, but that expands to include all -- my foundation.
  4. being blessed with a sacred circle of chosen family; my friends.
  5. the privilege of living in this socially responsible country, my beloved Canada.
To be continued ...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Weekend Countdown

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and I can't wait! I picked up the frozen friend my Dad is contributing to the dinner ... he has a few days to chill out and defrost before he gets baked (the turkey - not my dad). Brother is sticking to his tradition of bringing a freshly bought pie and sis is providing a birthday cake for her son  (we're celebrating his birthday at the famjam). Our dishevelled home will be cleaned up and organized (the hockey bag deodourized and stashed), and our quiet house will come alive with the sound of the girls' laughter and chatter, Fritz's frenzied, hyper dog antics and the clanging of empty bottles hitting the recycle bin.

Far away sis and her family will be missing ... so no need to cook the ham. The responsibility to consume all that wine now rests on but a few - and I'll do my very best.  I'll miss you sis.

The countdown is on ... long weekend, here we come!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


The rubber hits the road. Kidlet has a friend who needs help -- she and her adoptive parents have been having problems and they have asked that after she turns sixteen in two weeks, she leave and figure things out on her own. (Keep in mind this is coming from one perspective only ...)

Kidlet wants to save this precious little girl. She is outraged that any parent would disengage from their child and say things so terrible that they could never be taken back. I couldn't help her in the way Kidlet wanted ...

And boy did she let me have it ... my words came flying back at me ...
"When people need help, it's never convenient."
"We have to look after each other in this world."
"You are willing to go all the way to Kenya -- when there's a kid who is all alone who needs help, right here in our neighbourhood."

Kidlet told me that she wasn't accepting it -- that every kid deserves to be wanted and loved, and she would find a way.  The disappointment on her face haunted me all night. I decided that just because I couldn't do exactly what Kidlet has asked, I could figure out how we could collectively offer this girl the help she needs.

My eldest daughter is opening her heart and we are all coming to the table with solutions and options. When I called Kidlet to tell her the news, she started crying on the phone ... saying thank you, thank you. I reminded her that it wasn't a done deal yet ... but she didn't care. She is overwhelmed by the kindness of her sister and relieved by the fact that her friend has options. The first step will be talking to the girl's parents to gage the situation. We want to help - not help tear a family apart.

I am not sure how it will all turn out but I am proud of the determination and compassion shown by all of my girls. Now I just have to follow in their footsteps. That's what I love about being a parent - our children - how they teach us.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Day!

Take a bite out of today - make it a good one!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Got the Message

You know those little things - those series of tiny, seemingly insignificant little things - that happen to make your day simply great? The first song I heard this morning was Carole King singing "You've Got a Friend". (Great start to the day). Then I got a cheery "have a great day" from the window clerk at the Tim Hortons drive through - and she smiled so wide that I knew she really meant it.

Later in the day I received some glowing, sweet emails about the slideshow I did for Nana's birthday. Heartwarming.

As I was coming out of work today, apparently deep in thought, a funny looking little character on a bicycle with pizza boxes and a backpack on his lap, called out to me with, "Smile Miss! It's going home time". He had a big toothy grin and I couldn't help but smile back at him.

And to top it all off, when I got into my car and turned the radio to the satellite "Bridge"  channel, they were playing a (sappy) John Denver tune. How great is that?? (Am I hearing a collective groan out there?)

So you see - I had lots of messengers today - and thankfully - I got the message!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Birthday Remembered

We came to see you today. A break from your usual, mundane day. You hate living there -- you tell us that every time we see you. You didn't know who I was -- and although your face lit up when you saw her, you couldn't remember your daughter's name. Language has become jumbled, words elusive and life is just confusing. Frustration and exasperation is mapped across your face and every so often, your eyes go vacant, with only the flicker of fear.

Where has everyone gone? Nothing feels familiar and even your clothes are not your own. We remind you of the weddings and gatherings you have enjoyed -- we show you the pictures and the dresses you wore. You smile tentatively and ask, "Did I?"

Your daughter talks to you in her sing song voice, cheerfully reasuring you, recounting happy memories hoping to make a connection, as she methodically picks up your heaped clothes from the bottom of the closet. She reads the tidy stack of birthday cards to you and arranges the brilliant bouquet she brought you. She reminds you that it's your birthday and you look surprised.

Today you are 97 - and although you depend on a walker, you can get around unassisted.  Alzheimer's has a grip on you, and although it has robbed you of memories and blurred your reality, ironically it has softened your heart and made you more expressive and loving. Your daughter clings to every hug, kiss and "I love you"  - the affection for which she has waited a lifetime ...

Joy - that is what you wore on your face when they brought you cake with the single lit candle. You and your daughter made a joint wish and then blew out the flame. You told us you were so thankful that we came, and that the lunch was just wonderful.

When you walked us to the elevator and we explained that you couldn't come with us, you stood, eyes filling up as your disappeared behing the closing elevator doors. Your daughter wiped her eyes and commented that goodbyes are always hard.

We came to see you today - on  your special day. Happy Birthday Nana.
Thank you for reminding me that memories may be forgotten -- but people can't be.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time Squander

Adventure Girl came over last night for vintage wine-in-a-cardboard box and deep conversation. We were excitedly sharing stories about things that had us enthused about life these days. She was recounting a meeting she had with a seemingly ordinary young woman who is setting extraordinary goals to affect change - and is doing it. We commented on how there are remarkable people who seem to spend every minute of their time productively, and we feel a little shameful for squandering precious time. I shared my disappointment in myself that I have yet to latch onto a cause or initiative to which  I feel compelled to make a commitment. As it stands now, I am just one of those people who writes cheques to and follows causes that inspire me. That is easy giving. I haven't figured out the best way I can make meaningful contributions.

When I was a young, working mother of three, barely holding it together to get through what seemed to be whirlwind, activity packed, energy sucking days, I flamed a desire to give back. I remembered my college days of volunteering with mentally challenged kids and adults in a group home, and that fulfillment that was a gift to me. I yearned to recreate that experience and achieve that fulfillment once again. But simply put - I didn't have anything left to offer - nor did I have the energy.

Now I am on the cusp of being an empty nester - Kidlet will be heading off to school next fall - and that yearning to volunteer is stronger than ever. And that is because my time has come. No more squandering for me. I can feel the pieces coming together, and my destiny taking shape and becoming clearer.

I have alot to give back, and I don't want to waste a minute!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Women for Women ... a Sisterhood

It was overdue and today, I finally did it. I got me another sister!  After following Women for Women International for months now on Facebook, and reading the field blog, today I finally took action and signed up to sponsor a woman. Women for Women International helps women in war-torn regions  rebuild their lives by providing  financial and emotional aid, job-skills training, rights education and small business assistance.

When you go to the website and learn about the residual damage  and suffering that war causes and the hardships of the women who survive, you may find your throat tightening, and your eyes welling up. I dare you to watch a 5 minute video showing the horrific atrocities and burdens our sisters around the world shoulder - and not weep.  It is both overwhelming and inspiring. It reminded me of the bounty and abundance I have in my own life and I wanted to reach out and not only ease the pain of these resilient, strong women, but also connect with them. I have something to share, and even more to learn.

I should receive my packet from WFW any day and then I will know the face of the "sister" I am sponsoring. I can't wait to start. I have sisters and daughters and the opportunity to support women in need speaks to me.

This was the perfect way to bring light to this dreary, rainy, damp day. I am excited but more importantly, it has me thinking about what else I could do - what other changes I could make to have a positive impact on humankind and the planet.

Stay tuned and I'll introduce you to her when I meet her myself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Welcome October

Welcome October.
I've been looking forward to your arrival.
I hope you have brought crisp, cool air,
with the woodsy smell of fireplaces burning.
And that you have arrived with paintbrushes in hand
to create your annual masterpiece -
a brilliant pallet of firey reds and shocking oranges.
I will taste you in every bite of a hard, sour,
non quite yet ripened MacIntosh apple,
and every slurp of the hot squash soup I will make.
October, you put on quite a show
with your clear, deep blue skies, and chilly breezes.
And you are a hard act to follow.
So for now, I just want to say
Welcome October.
I've been looking forward to your arrival.