Thursday, December 31, 2009
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
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
- shiny, private porcelain toilets that flush - not one - but four!
- a comfortable bed and fresh sheets - and a dog to keep my feet warm
- running water - not to mention hot water
- refrigerator -- and lucky me -- an ice maker
- a bowl for my milk and cereal
- central heat and cental air conditioning
- more clothes than I could ever wear out
What do I have to complain about - really??? And that is my take away for today!
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Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
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.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
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 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
Sunday, December 20, 2009
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
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
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
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.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.
- James Allen, As a Man Thinketh
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Monday, December 7, 2009
So in this Season of Love, let's remember to give it, say it, mean it and feel it. L O V E.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
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
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!
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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.
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
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.