Saturday, April 20, 2013

Northern Reflections

When opportunity comes knocking -- you have to answer - ready or not. Last week I had the good fortune to travel to Yellowknife, a quaint, eclectic little town in Canada's Northwest Territories. I've been there twice before, but always cloaked in the dark of nighttime in a layover on my way to the high North to visit my Dad.   Of course it was a no brainer to leap at the chance to explore Yellowknife by the light of day.

So with down parka and trusty camera on hand, I landed in the tiny airport in which a huge stuffed polar bear stands poised over the baggage carousel, ready to pounce.

I had a day and a half to wander each and every street, alley and pathway in the crunchy, frigid north land  The north has its own brand of tranquility; the expanse of sky is wider and darker, brimming with starlight; the air is pure - turbo charged with oxygen; and there is a dead silence between sounds.

The town is friendly and welcoming with an unexpected Hawaiian-like aloha vibe. These people are well versed in going with the flow. Faces of all colours and cultures from far away places dot the citizen-scape. My cab driver explained that he was an engineer from Sudan who was driving a cab until other work opened up. The woman behind the check-in counter at my hotel was Philippino and expressed her envy of city shopping when I told her where I was from. When I asked if there were any Asian food restaurants  she laughed; apparently there is a booming Asian population and there are an abundance of Vietnamese and Chinese food restaurants. Who knew?

There is art everywhere, from professional polished bronze carvings affixed on buildings, to  grassroots flavoured, hand-painted scenes on garage doors.

As I peered out the plane window, with the frozen terrain fading into the clouds, I couldn't help thinking that this magical place is indeed one of the last frontiers; a mystery waiting to be discovered. Lucky me.

Here are a few captures from Yellowknife:

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Vibrating and Gyrating

In an early morning chat with a colleague, I was explaining how we are all just energy vibrating at varying frequencies.  I was encouraging her to seek her highest self and operate at a higher frequency, and assuring her that if she did so, she would find that she attracts "like" energy -- people, situations and things. hmm I am not sure why that came out of my mouth but it was a classic "we teach that which we most need to learn" moment. I needed that timely reminder of a principle that I have embraced all my adult life, and one which has served me well and been instrumental in me creating the life I desired.

I was overdue for an alignment and the reminders came aplenty! I was inches away from locking my keys in my car today after I made an impromptu decision to walk to the gym instead of driving, My bag was in the car and I got distracted changing my heels out for my sneakers and almost shut the locked door with my keys on the backseat. Phew -- dodged a bullet! Not so fast...

Hit the change room and was ready - water bottle in hand - to hit the gym when I realized that I had locked the security pass in the locker -- along with the key to the padlock dangling on the locker -- along with my car keys, cell phone and work security pass. Cr@p! I started to vibrate all right... Humbled and embarrassed, I found the nice maintenance man who had a nice big set of cutters and begged asked him for help. He assured me that this kind of thing happened all of the time. "Really?" I asked. "Actually no -- but I didn't want to make you feel any worse."

After I completed my sweaty two miles and changed back into my work clothes, a coffee was in order. (Hey -- I skipped the sugar!) A sweet little lady ahead of me in line was in the midst of being rejected by a clerk who explained that she didn't have enough on her Tim Hortons' card to pay for her banana strawberry smoothie. She looked perplexed and confused just standing there. I signaled to the clerk to fulfill her order which unleashed a frenzy of good wishes and gratitude. The lady almost cried; the girl in the line behind me patted my back and another yelled across the restaurant -- "there are still nice people in the world" -- which then triggered a chorus of agreement and nodding. Who would have thought two dollars could be worthy of so much attention. I left a little lighter and happier with a tear for that sweet little lady who seemed to be invisible to the clerk; her humanity disguised in a face of misfortune.

So on the last leg of my day's journey, a forty-five minute commute in torrential rain - after I set my car alarm off and couldn't get it to stop - I avoided being side-swiped by a car who didn't check their blind spot. Dodged another bullet.

It's been a long day chock full of major and minor mishaps, with wonderfully inspiring notes as well. I was reminded to seek the humour in, and release, that over which I have no control. And although I will try harder to vibrate at a higher frequency -- today I was merely gyrating -- and some days are just like that!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Got the Fever

Deep breaths. You can smell springtime... or is that optimism? This is an ugly time of year with the gray monotone landscape, naked trees and dirty remnants left from the snow. It's the dreary that will soon transform into lush, colour and fresh.  I drove into the city to see Harmony yesterday. Signs of spring were everywhere and the transition - just beginning.

Fresh laundry waving from the line; bikes freed from winter storage lined up and ready; and the parks vibrant with frisky dogs, sports teams and scampering kids. A few hours in the sunshine and  thrive of the city and I've got the fever. Bear with me... it is a seasonal affliction that will recede when the fragrance of lilacs and apple blossoms hang heavy in the air. Here a few captures from my weekend of visiting (note the humongous pancakes that our dear Doris wolfed down for breakfast - and then charmed the restaurant owners to the point where they don't charge her for her food!).

Doris and her Saturday breakfast at the diner

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aging, Death, and Winning

Over the past few years I've found myself with ample opportunities to spend time with people who were in the last years of living. I've observed; I've asked; I've listened;  It's been quite an education.

We're a funny bunch, us humans. The one sure thing in our lives is that we will die. Most of us don't know when or how we will end but -- pretty much as soon as we can fathom -- we learn that our earthly, physical life is temporary. And yet when we learn of someone's passing, we are shocked -- often followed with "why?". "He was so young". "She was such a good person..." Our denial runs deep.

People of all ages fall off every day -- some instantly, accidentally, intentionally, and others stalked by illness and disease. And if we are really lucky, and dodge the aforementioned, we have the privilege of growing old. If we get to be old, it means we've depleted and squeezed the maximum usage out of our bodies and completed this race we call life. We're winners.

And what is the prize for being a winner? Mmmm - tough question. Old people have suffered a lifetime of accumulated losses: parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, spouses, colleagues and friends. Imagine being the sole survivor of your generation in your family; not having anyone alive who remembers you as a child or at your youthful peak. Imagine that the people in your life have only known your wrinkles and ailments - and not the energy and accomplishments of your younger self. No wonder old people get cranky! I'm getting cranky just writing about it!

When we see an older person it's easy to forget that behind that crusty mask of age is someone with a lifetime of experiences; who flirted and courted and fell in love; who had dreams and hardships and triumphs; and who never imagined that they too would be old some day. And to add to the frustration, old people have a lifetime of wisdom to share - and a small audience who seek it.

In many cultures around the world and in our own aboriginal communities, old people are revered as "elders" -  mentors and living examples of deeply ingrained principles, values and teachings. I am fortunate that in my family -- my tribe -- there is a shared respect, responsibility and appreciation for our elders. We smother them with love and affection and take every opportunity to  express our feelings as not to leave anything unsaid. Come to think of it, not too much of anything is left unsaid in our family -- and that's a good thing!

So if I haven't depressed the hell out of you about growing older and old -- I suppose I am suggesting that you focus on that which you can affect -- your attitude towards aging and the aged. I for one have my eye on the prize and if I get the chance to grow old and a little crusty - I will be grateful for a lifetime full of all that I created for myself. And in the meantime, I'm going to make it my mission that the elders in our tribe are happy to still be in the race!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Tease

I am not sure if the temperature indicator on my dashboard is a blessing or a curse -  I mean, at sub-zero "springtime" temps, isn't ignorance bliss? I had to chuckle when I heard the radio hosts talking about the rumoured lynching of the groundhogs that had predicted an early spring. In our neck of the woods his name is Wireton Willie. But hey, can we blame these furry fluffballs if Spring has turned out to be a tease?

She shows up in living colour; pulls us in; flirts; toys with our weather sensibilities and then disappears. Hide and seek. She'll be back by the end of the week and after a few more grand entrances and flamboyant displays to satiate her need for attention, she'll settle down and stay for the season.

Spring is a short - but much anticipated - transitional season with only a small window of opportunity to make an impression.

So if you are listening Spring, we love you and want you back - for good. Enough is enough. Truly!