Sunday, May 30, 2010

Box of Chocolates

In the simple, wise words of Forrest Gump, "life is like a box of chocolates" - full of delicious surprises and goodness. This weekend was just like that - an assorted collection of delectables.

Spent most of Friday in Princess Margaret Hospital with a loved one as she received world class attention and breast cancer diagnostic care -- at no additional cost (shameless plug for universal health care). I teased her that first they would have to locate her boobs before they could diagnose them. I know -- sick, dark humour I shared with my mom, developed during the years of her illness. Funny enough, my loved one and I had fun together; we laughed at the impracticality of the hospital gown, the penned directions the doctors sketched on her breasts, the variety of footwear of the other ladies; and joked about the prison-like "bling" of the plastic, yellow bracelet. In short, we made the best of our time together.

Contrast that with a return trip to the city that night to see the Carole King / James Taylor Troubadour Tour concert. I had been waiting for this night since hubby gave me the tickets a few months back for my birthday. It did not disappoint. The audience pretty much knew every song and I was careful to curb my enthusiasm and urge to sing along -- except when James Taylor sang "You've got a friend". No one could hold back and the arena vibrated with the hauntingly beautiful chorus of the audience singing his words back at him.

I got hooked on their music as teen in the seventies. While my friends were embracing rock music - Styx, Meatloaf, Queen, Boston, Peter Frampton and other bands, I was rolling along in my own little singer-songwriter folk rut. I knew the music from my uncle who sang at every family get together. He could pull the perfect song from his inventory for every occasion. He  would say, "I've got a tune for you Lyn ..." and then with a twinkle in his eye, he would launch into Put another log on the fire, or lead the kids sitting wide-eyed at his feet in a rowdy rendition of Fox on the Run. Six part harmony with me singing dutifully "off key". Then we would wrap up our famjams with a sentimental sing song of Back Home Again.

The harmonies of many of the people who used to lend their voices to those sing alongs have been forever silenced, but the warmth and good feelings of those memories that fill my heart have stayed with me. Music has the power to do that ... stir up memories and feelings that we have linked to the period of time or events in our life to the songs.

Friday's concert was a trip down memory lane and left a perma-smile on my face. With hubby alongside I created another entry in the old memory book.

All this happiness and still the weekend had one more in store. Hubby and I had our dream of a peaceful retreat realized. I had a good feeling about it and for good reason. We aligned our vision and the stars aligned right along with us and voila! We have a quaint little cottage a few hours away with nothing but peace and potential in store (and maybe a little mortgage).

I never cease to be amazed at the wondrous possibilities that life has to offer. The tasty little tidbits mixed alongside with the bitter ones - but alot more good ones than bad. And it all starts with desire. Yup - life is like a mixed box of chocolates. Taste one - and if you don't like it, sneak it back and choose another!

Me being happy.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Waiting Room

The waiting room past the outer waiting room is full to capacity. Waiting room. It's where women sit, their offending breasts partially concealed by poorly designed hospital-wear. They sit elbow to elbow, focused intently on their outdated magazine, or the book they brought along for amusement - if there is any to be had.

Some, like me just sit staring - at the paled hues of the walls; at the posters cautioning that these procedures could harm pregnancies, and reminding us to turn off our cell phones. Everyone has their own technique for masquerading their fears, but the eyes don't lie.

The waiting; it's trying and terrifying. Boobs in vices, needled, squeezed, examined, scanned and then tested some more.

Old ladies; younger women; ladies in running shoes, strappy sandals, and flip flops. Breast cancer does not discriminate. Here, we are all ladies in waiting ...
I am not the one being tested; I am just along for support for my loved one.

You may be interested in a previous post I wrote:  Clamp Down on Breast Cancer.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


It was a record breaking day. Hottest May 26th since 1941. But I am not complaining - just stating the facts. Summer has barged in and is making herself right at home. She's planning to be around for a while and didn't waste any time heating things up to her own liking.

But the salty. cool waters of our pool lay in waiting, the open windows welcome the evening breeze and the fragrance of the lilacs hanging heavy in the air cues summer. Time to slow it down, shift to easy gear and take it all in. I measure my lifetime in summers ... it seems most of the adventures and highlights happened in those short two months that seemed infinite as a child.

So I am making lots of plans to wring every ounce of goodness and fun out of this summer. It's hot - and lots of good stuff is cookin'!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dream Pursuit

Dreaming ... there is something magical and exciting about wanting something so much you can taste it, and being in hot pursuit. That's hubby and I right now. The planets are aligning - we are of one heart and mind - and it is taking us where we want to go. We used to flirt with the idea of having a peaceful retreat ... I say flirt because it didn't seem practical or doable at the time. But experience has taught me that if you paint a clear picture, plant that seed of a dream deep in the belly of desire, hold faith in your heart, all things are possible - in their own time.

Hubby and I joined forces with this one and I feeling pretty unstoppable right now. Our dream popped into my mailbox last Friday night at about 11 pm. And when it did, I just knew it was the right one for us. I wanted to fly upstairs and lay it out for hubby, but I held off until morning.

S P O N T A N E O U S. We left Fritz with treats, stowed any reservations and hesitation we had, and went in hot pursuit of our dream. It was a day to remember and even though we are within tasting distance, I'll be just fine if this journey meets a bend in the road. The fun we have already had visualizing nights on the deck star gazing, snuggled around a campfire, canoeing around the islands, and chattering about the changes we would make have made it all worthwhile. Some people caution me to not get my hopes up, or get too excited just in case things don't work out. But I beg to differ. If the journey is the destination, then I  e n j o y  every leg of the journey ... the outcome is the icing on the cake.

No matter what, we're creating the life we want to live!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Perfect Day

Today was a keeper. Here it is in simple words:

Sister, sister.
Laughter, tears, hugs, goodbyes.
Road trip.
Do you know the way to ...
Possibilities unlimited.
Ice cream.
Dreams in pursuit.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gathering of the Clan

They are a spirited bunch, my clan ... "noisy and loud" some may say. But I like to think we are a cluster of excellent verbal communicators who lean to the passionate side of things. Okay, we're noisy. And today was no different. Doris was lucky - she could turn off her hearing aides, but I swear I spotted a few of the more reserved, less chatty members of the family slipping earplugs in.

But in an effort to defy my loquaciousness and writer's run on, I'll be brief. Today was simply awesome. As predicted, it rained for a good part of the BBQ and then settled on cloudy and overcast but it was of little concern. The burgers tasted great; the platters were heaping, the wine was flowing, the talk - flowing even more. There were hugs all around, speeches made, pictures snapped and the same stories retold (of course). And like fine wine they get better with every telling!

My clan. They're a wonderful group to have along on this most amazing journey that is my life.

I generally get people's permission before I post their picture on my blog. In this case I did not. So to my family - if there is anyone who is uncomfortable with having their handsome/beautiful mug up here, just email me and I will kindly remove it. And then you can accept my apologies.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Season Opener

It's the beginning of the long weekend, but my eyes popped open at my regular wake up time - 5:30 am. No sleeping in for me. I took the liberty of laying there another 45 minutes or so, just day dreaming and thinking about the day ahead.

Today is the season opener -- the first famjam of the season for my side of the family. Far away sis and her family arrived last night and my brother and his mini-me son are coming down from their place an hour away. Today will be one of those rare opportunities in which we will ALL be together. Twenty-one in all. That feat has become harder  to coordinate now that the kids have sprouted into adults with lives of their own. So today is a special day. My camera batteries are charging, the potato and pasta salads are made, and I have little to do but practice my happy dance and pick out which clean tshirt to wear. I keep things pretty simple.

The weather network is calling for a sketchy day - lots of clouds and chance of sporadic showers. Boo! And of course Sunday and Monday are expected to be sunny and beautiful. Figures. But no rain or clouds will dampen the fun and spirits of my tribe. Wine of course helps.

I gotta a feeling -- that today is gonna be a good, good day.

Proof Pictures to follow ...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dodging Bullets and Shots

As predicted, I got my articles written and submitted on time. I used to get myself totally worked up when I hit a creative block or was running on empty. But no more. My breathing stays even, my heart beats at its same old pace and I don't test my antiperspirant. No way. I live on - supremely confident in the knowledge that IT WILL GET DONE! No use sweating it.

My arm is a little stiff from the shots Kidlet and I got yesterday in preparation for our upcoming Africa trip. But the good news is that we are covered! Yellow fever. Typhoid. Hep A and B. Bring it on! The nurse warned us that if we get a reaction to the yellow fever shot, it won't hit for about five days. That would take us into our upcoming long weekend. Boo to that.

Anyway - just thought I would share the fact that I dodged another bullet; pulled that wabbit outta the hat - again. And all is well in my world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So it's a Little Late

Procrastination is the name of the game tonight, and for Kidlet too I think. I had a few articles to bang out and she - an overdue English essay. (Yup - I outed you Kid!) Procrastination and I go way back; we've been inseparable for as far back as I can remember.

I was the kid pulling the all nighters to get my essay done the night before it was due. "Shut off the lights when you go to bed Hon," my mom would say to me as she kissed me goodnight and left me to the cold and dark hunched at the dining room table.  I was the master negotiator, eking out a few days extension on the assignment, although that didn't fly in university. When my college roommate Jilly would be truddling off to bed, studying done, fully showered, I would be just starting to crack the books. She even put me on a motivational program. If I finished X number of pages by X o'clock, we could walk up to the Burger Shack for meat. I apparently thrived on the pressure or the clunk on the head it delivered.

As a professional, procrastination and I became somewhat estranged to my relief, and I cleaned up my act. But now and then I revert back to that comfort zone of mine that is organized chaos. And then again, sometimes the disgust builds to overflowing and I just have to regroup and organize. At work that means shaking the crumbs out of my keyboard (I swear I dumped a week's worth of nutrition out of that thing), tossing out my pay stubs from 2004-2007, creating a clear spot on my desk amongst the mystery paper, and stripping away all of my Christmas decorations from my cube. Yup - I am ready to roll.

So tonight even though work on the articles gave way to phone chats with my little brother and daughters, it will still be there tomorrow... and I will just have to pull a wabbit out of hat ... again.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekends Away

Another weekend over and gone before we know it. Like a big fat ice cream cone that should take forever to eat, no matter how much we try to make them last, they are finished before we want them to be.

Weekends are a welcomed respite from the working routine and this one was a good one. Family was the recurring theme; visits with the Polar Bear clan down the street and a birthday party for my sis-in-law. Good thing we all like one another! I know many families who are not as "engaged" or close as ours; many for whom this family stuff would be a burden or obligation, however I feel blessed to be living coddled in the cocoon of unconditional, ever-present love of many. I could never have predicted that so many of us would have ended up living a stone's throw away, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Weekends are over and gone before we know it but the good news is that plans are already in the works for next week's famjam - the extra scoop on the cone, with a cherry on top!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Smyle Notes

Little notes of happiness. Reminders to smile. They are all around us if we pay attention. Couldn't help but smile when I opened the peanut butter jar. Have a great weekend everyone - and remember - SMYLE.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Notes from the Field

As I have mentioned before I am involved with the Women for Women International program as a sponsor. What started as mild interest in this organization has grown into full blown admiration and respect for the work they do.  And in the true spirit of blogging, I have been following their field blog to gain insights and a feel for the situations facing women in countries of conflict. I just have to share it with you: Notes from the Field.

As I scan the vivid images and read the personal, accounts and impressions from the field officers from Rwanda, the Congo and other places, my curiosity is roused and the desire to learn more is stoked. I think about my WFW sister Monica from the Sudan and I try to picture her sitting in one of the programs offered by WFW. I wonder how she is managing and what her worries are. Does she know that people care about her and the many others who have survived the effects of brutal conflict?  My next big adventure I think will be to Rwanda; I have much to learn and I want to do it first hand, up close and personal. I have to experience it for myself.

But for now, Notes from the Field will have to suffice. And aren't we fortunate to have access and insight that we wouldn't otherwise have - the power and the gifts of blogs. I honestly think they can help affect change in this world.

Take 61 seconds and become inspired and moved; watch this video:

See my other posts about Women for Women International and my far away sister Monica.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Shocked and Crusty

Slightly shocked and kinda crusty .... that's me when it comes to the seemingly common sexualization of girls. Everywhere I look I am bombarded by images of young girls undressed in provocative adult clothing. When did the training bra get swapped out for "lingerie"? When did it become a badge of honour to proudly display our undergarments? And when did cleavage (and the ultimate push up bras it takes to create it) become a standard accessory? I get a knot in my stomach when I see mini-me stores like LaSenza Girl flogging sexy, scant clothing in cute little girl's sizes, perfect for clubbing. It's just wrong.

I like to think I am forward thinking, easy going and open minded but I hit a wall on the issue of teens dressing and acting  provocatively and overtly sexual. I think we have a generation being robbed of girlhood. What's the big rush? Having an eighteen year old in the house, I watch my share of MTV and other teen oriented shows like Gossip Girl and 90210, and I cringe at the sight of teens being portrayed as full on adults, in adult living situations. Kidlet still likes to watch Hannah Montana from time to time, but after seeing the newest Miley Cyrus video on YouTube, I couldn't help but wonder, 1) where are her parents?, and 2) what's the rush? She has her whole life to explore and express her sexuality, but for now she is just seventeen! I sound like a broken record these days as I overuse the phrase, "age appropriate". All things in their time.

When I was raising my girls I tried to give them enough latitude to express and be themselves, even if it meant fuchsia or blue hair, or a few random piercings. But we had boundaries. Basically they couldn't dress provocatively or in a way that would make them appear older than their years. But a trip to the mall or the nearest high school confirms it - we aren't in Kansas anymore. "Cover those babies up before you get a cold",  I don't scream. "Those stilettos are enslaving you, never mind that you are killing your back", I think but don't say. And of course, "your beauty does not reside in your boobs".

 So I guess it's official; I am getting old and crusty and am maybe slightly shocked. Just a little....

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Motherhood Gifts

You taught me things about myself I had never known. You introduced me to love that was absolute, unconditional and infinite.

You held the strings to my heart; when I first laid eyes on you, my thought was you could really hurt me.

I learned to give - completely, unhestitantly, willingly - and how to live for someone other than myself.

You are my most important accomplishment and the source of my greatest joys, happiest memories, and hopes for the future.

Motherhood, you  have bestowed upon me the greatest gifts in the world - my three precious treasures. And so on this Mother's Day, I am so very grateful for the privilege of being a mom.

You may be interested in other Mother's Day posts:

Mum's Day
Mother's Day Blessings
Mothers in My Life

One for One

They came! My yellow Portsmouth Cordone TOMS arrived and they are even better than I expected. I slipped them on and suddenly I felt a little livelier, a little lighter (yay) and kind of sunshiny! Yup - I am going to look so darn adorable bopping around in these rustic - but nifty little slip-ons.

I have been lurking the TOMS Shoes website for a couple of years now and I finally gave myself an excuse to order myself a pair. Thought they would be easy to pack and fun to bring along to Africa, and I saved some money by having them delivered from California to my Dad's place in Florida instead of to Canada.

TOMS is a truly remarkable company. They have a One for One business model that embodies social responsibility. With every pair purchased, TOMS gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need. One for One. And then they organize shoe drops and accept volunteers to go along for the experience. These shoe drops happen all over Africa and Guatemala and more. Companies like TOMS are the future for the betterment of the planet. They offer a useful product, provide meaningful employment and generate a positive outcome for children in need. It doesn't get any better than that.

Let's face it. $69 US is not chump change for a canvas pair of summer shoes ... but when you consider that you are actually purchasing two pairs, and helping a worthy initiative, it is a small price to pay. I am choosing to vote with my consumer dollars mindfully, and I think I"ll look cute in my TOMS doing it!
They really work at getting their message across ...
And you know where I'll be flying the TOMS flag in about 7 weeks.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Distant rolling thunder lays the bass;
a prelude to the lightshow.
Overtones of pelting rain,
staccato on the window pane.
Symphony of nature
each stanza singing solace;
lulling me to slumber.

And so I go.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Mother's Day ... How are motherless daughters and sons reconciling?

Avoiding the endless racks of cards - that are just too hard to read. Cringing or sighing at every Hallmark commercial. Tears escaping recklessly. Remembering, retracing, and wanting to feel that little piece of empty that is somehow comforting. A day reminding me of what I had, and still want.

A reason to count my blessings.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Return of the Snowbirds

It's a happy day. My dad (Polar Bear) and step-mom are returning today after more than 4 months in Florida. The family unit will once again be complete.

In a matter of hours their house will become alive again, abuzz with activity. The lawn will be perfectly manicured and the gardens tended to. Now when I drive by on my way home from work, I will most certainly be guaranteed a glimpse of my mountain man of a father tinkering in the garage, or working the earth.

It is a sight that never tires for me. It washes me in love and gratitude for the parent I have left. It triggers memories and flicks my happy switch. How wonderful at my age to still have a parent alive; better yet; one that lives down the street. And best of all - to have the tender hearted father that I do - the pillar of strength - the rock of our family.

This morning I dropped a pork roast off in the fridge and left them a welcome home banana-gram ... first stop on my way home tonight - the Poalr Bear den! My excitement is off the charts!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Facebook Findings

Facebook is a funny thing. With family spread from coast to coast it has been a uniter for our family. The west coast cuz is privy to the same trivial, day to day news that my daughter down the street is. We share the pics of the famjams so the ones who missed out, can still join in a laugh or two and the notes and teasings we post on our walls pokes the collective ribs of the clan.

I have limited the people I add to my Facebook account to my family, close friends and special work colleagues. It is not a collection of every human being I have encountered since birth. My guideline is simple: if I ran into that person on the street, would I update them on my family and whip out the kid pics? If so - they are added. Some peripheral people I knew distantly in school or in passing (in a small town everyone knows everyone - or thinks they do) invite me to add them - and I do - with limited access.

In addition to the people you may not be all too thrilled to reconnect with, Facebook can also deliver some wonderful surprises. In the past few months it connected me with a few special friends I hadn't seen since college years. It is heartwarming to browse their family pictures and see how their lives unfolded. As grown ups we can enjoy one another on a whole other level. A sparkling lady who had been one of my mom's dearest friends added me as a friend. She had spent many hours with us as children - not only did we play with her kids, but she also baby sat us so my mom could take night courses. She and my mom supported one another through the harried years of motherhood. She is now a grandmother and it is comforting to see her still perpetual wide smile shining through in every picture. oops ... tearing up here...

And then last week, my first work mentor we are talking 1981 here ... the man who gave me my very first promotion found my work Facebook account and contacted me. We had worked together at two different cable companies and he played a pivotal role in my work life. He is a kindly man with gentle brown eyes, an openly compassionate man who we dubbed the "hugger". We exchanged brief emails with promises to meet for coffee. Then on Sunday at my charity event, there was Mr. Hugger and his wife! We hugged  *naturally* and spent half an hour catching up - discussing his cancer journey, perusing the grandpics, chatting about old times. Fate had taken our reunion into its own hands - starting with a Facebook intervention.

So I guess I am trying to say that I am really enjoying the surprises and happy nuggets that Facebook has been dropping my way. Findings can be moving.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Simply Wonderful

What a spectacular Sunday! Temperatures soared above 25 degrees Celsius and the sun deked the splattering of gray overcast. I worked at a charity walk today to raise awareness of the impact of workplace injuries and fatalities ... a bittersweet event ... hope and exuberance tempered by an underlying sadness. Fulfilling.

As I drove up my street the happy bubbles were floating all over the car ... the apple blossoms were in full bloom and the humid air was heavy with their scent. Vivid greens, golds and fuchsia dotted the drive. Don't you think the first flowers of springtime are the best? After the dull browns and gray of a few spartan months, it is revitalizing to witness the return to life; everything awash in technicolour.

The icing on the cake was the bleeding heart in our back yard that was laden with "hearts". A walk about the garden and the pond - turning a blind eye to the healthy crop of dandelions - yields an instance dose of peace; the kind of peace that gives a stillness in the deepest part of myself. Nature has a way of doing that.

All in all - a Sunday to be appreciated and filed under "simply wonderful".

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Twilight Hours

Quiet time; everyone sleeps - everyone that is, but me. The house - alive with night time sounds; creaking, moaning and humming. An old habit formed as a busy parent, snatching remaining hours of the day greedily for myself after the last need was met, and the last babe deep in slumber.

Personal decompressing time.Thinking, reflecting and considering time. Mulling and writing - winding down and signing off. Closing thoughts of gratitude and setting my compass for tomorrow.

So with heavy eyelids and a contented heart I bid you all good night.