Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Music Plays On

Legendary folk singer/activist Pete Seeger passed over from this world today to join the celestial choir  of the universe. It saddened me but knowing that he lived out his ninety-four years so fully let sadness give way to gratitude.

The list of the songs he wrote and performed reads like a playlist of my life... songs woven in and amongst the mundane and the monumental. Goodnight Irene was one of first songs I learned to play on my guitar; We Shall Overcome was an anthem at our student protests back in the day when my classmates and I were "small c" communists; and Turn, Turn and Where Have All the Flowers Gone? were favourites at the sing-songs we used to end our famjams with, back in the day before our leading vocalists became angels.
"We all go to different churches or no churches, we have different favorite foods, different ways of making love, different ways of doing all sorts of things, but there we’re all singing together. Gives you hope.”   
- Pete Seeger
Thank you Pete Seeger for the joy and passion you inspired with your music, and for leaving this world better for having you in it.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Still Inspiring

Dr Martin Luther King has been gone for decades, yet in his absence, his words continue to inspire and provoke thought and debate. One man, great in his thinking, his challenges to, and expectations of, each one of us, and great in his gift of igniting our inner champion. There are so many beautiful MLK quotes, however I think the one below is powerful in its simplicity. Thank you Dr King.

Repurposed from Wayne Dyer site

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


There they stood posing, faces gleaming, proud and tall, in front of the few possessions they have and need for secondary school: a bucket, a foam bedroll, a small suitcase, and backpack. The directors of Good Hope had posted pictures on Facebook of the handful of students that were headed off to Pasua Secondary Boarding School in Moshi; a handful of students with dreams and determination and fortunate enough to have sponsors who want them to succeed. 

I studied each picture and face carefully, looking for clues and proof of their excitement. These children are not strangers to me. I learned their names, shook their hands, hugged them, and heard their hopes for their future. I couldn't help but invest. And that is exactly what I believe sponsoring an education is - an investment. There is no better gift than an opportunity to pursue one's dreams, and for these kids living in a disadvantaged neighbourhood in challenging home environments, it is a lifeline.

I couldn't help but remember how our car bulged with furniture, clothes and boxes when we dropped our kids off at university, and the number of trips to unload it. Quite the polar opposite for the Good Hope kids who travel light with their few belongings tucked into a tidy metal box, and the new bedroll and bucket that came with the sponsorship. Life is both simple and complicated in the Majengo neighbourhood in Moshi. The school and home environments are what we would call "minimalist" while the health and socioeconomic challenges are cluttered and complex. 

Our money has a lot of clout in developing nations and has much more impact than here at home. The amount we pay for a pack of chewing gum can purchase 5 notebooks, and provide exponentially more bang for our buck. 

I found a generous sponsor for my serious young friend David and when I assured him that his sponsor, as a successful entrepreneur, only makes solid investments, he turned to me and said, "And he is investing in me, right?" 

I see it as investing in humankind, world peace, and in self. And for that opportunity, I am truly grateful.

Good luck Abdi, David, Viviany, Calvin, Issa, Ibrahim, Christian, and Veronica. 

David looking so serious on send off day

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On Track

My entry card at the Y still worked but my body had to be convinced to participate. But after a few minutes of exercise, it got easier and I felt so much better. Not sure if it was an optical illusion, but my abs looked tighter -- even though I didn't do any ab work. definitely an optical illusion. Miles to go before I sleep...

I am so close to finishing my Dad's book for him, I can almost smell it. It's been a project half a year in the making and I am anxious to see it through to him holding its soft cover in his hands. He attacks each of his numerous projects with a zeal unmatched by anyone I know. I have catch-up to do in that department. He's a growing concern and tough to keep up with.

Harmony called last night and we talked for almost an hour catching up. While I was on the phone with her, Kidlet called, and a few minutes later, my dad. True to my word, I didn't bump Harmony for the others - I hate when people do it me. Got caught up with Kidlet on my way home from work today (yes, hands free), and then tonight as I spoke to my dad explaining that I had to cut our call short if he wanted me to work on his book, I received two more incoming calls. I can't resist the urge to talk to my family no matter how much stuff is piled up (point to dining room table still stacked with Christmas ornaments). Connecting is important and my lifeline to my loved ones. It's all about priorities, but for the next little bit, I think the book has to be king or (close your eyes Dad)  it will be the never-ending project. No worries; I won't let that happen. But for now, I am off to bed! Priorities people!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Detours and Bright Spots

I'll be honest -- last week was rough. I spent two days in bed sick with the flu, my energy level was an integer, and too much precious time was wasted. The house was a mess; I didn't make much headway on the Christmas pack-up and I fell behind at work.

On the flip side, I had loads of time to daydream, think, and make mental lists. I pursued a house that has been on my mind on and off for over eight years, and was finally able to cross it off my "want' list. Inside the stately country home, there wasn't a level floor or ceiling to be had, and hubby and I decided it was a project too big for either of us. And funny enough, I was okay with that. The outcomes don't dampen the joy we experience in following leads and dreams. After all, as the saying goes, "it's about the journey, not the destination".

Another bright spot is the work I have been doing with the Good Hope Support Organization, helping them with Facebook messages and their website. It keeps my connection with the Majengo neighbourhood in Tanzania alive and strong.

And now I have the finishing touches to put on the book my dad wrote about his teaching career. It has been a project near and dear to his heart and I am looking forward to the day that he can hold it in his hands, and that his grandkids can read his story.

Tomorrow is the start of a new week and my return to the gym. I've been away far too long citing excuses ranging from being too busy to forgetting gym clothes. The extra tire around my waist is proof of my negligence as well as my motivation to getting back on track. My pants will thank me!

I wish you are a wonderful week ahead. Who knows what twists and turns lay ahead... and that is what keeps life interesting.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


We're all talking about the weather these days; headlines in the newspapers, on TV, at work, and on my blog. We're experiencing the coldest temps and craziest weather in twenty years - apparently caused by a polar vortex - and it's not letting up. Polar vortex; sounds like something from one of those post-apocalyptic movies or something, but it's actually an Arctic cyclone that has settled and causing havoc all over North America. Now I feel so much better. I remember learning about the vortexes of spiritual energy when I was in Sedona but these polar swirling masses seem more sinister, and less friendly.

My car groaned and moaned before sputtering starting this morning, and it took 30 kilometres or so before the seat warmers kicked in. My butt was still thawing out when I got to work. Did I mention that the inventor of those seat warmers should get a Nobel science award? Or a peace prize? My car windows were frozen shut even after thirty minutes of being blasted by the defroster, and I had to open my door in the drive through to order my coffee. Awkward.

But tonight I am safe and toasty warm as I pursue long-held dreams. Many are not so fortunate. There is much to look forward to and enjoy - maybe a home with land; my dad's book; additions to the family; Kidlet and my sis graduating; and Fritz finally getting his long overdue bath and shave.

I am experiencing a vortex of love and good fortune more powerful than any big chill. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Polepole (pronounced poll-ee-poll-ee) is swahili for "slowly" and that is exactly what my approach to my Christmas cleanup has been. I made a little headway today -- stripped the mantels, banister and windows of garlands and stockings and rounded up the ornaments on the dining room table. I stumbled across my Christmas stocking, tucked away in the corner, still stuffed with chocolate bars and Nibs. This of course put a halt to the clean up efforts as I stuffed a few bars of KitKat and handfuls of Nibs into my mouth. Darn that stocking (or at least the chocolate in it) - it totally negated the sugar snap peas and fresh peppers I ate for lunch!

So there you have it. Progress is unsteady - but there has been progress. But what's the big rush anyhow? Next year I'm throwing an un-decorating party complete with Chinese take out as the carrot. For now... we have a stocking to empty!

Couldn't resist one more lighting... before the stripping

Piled high in the pre-packing zone - AKA dining room table

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Reasons to Celebrate

You sat back in your chair quietly observing your grandchildren and their spices (not-quite-a-spouse) sitting in a circle, engaged in noisy, animated conversation. I wondered what thoughts were running through your head on this special day; your birthday.

Were you amazed at the fruit of your union - that 38 years of marriage and four children could evolve into a family of almost twenty - each and every member, happy and well adjusted. Were you remembering birthdays that had come before? Friends and family that were; and those who are no more? Was your heart full with gratitude for the life you have created, and the life you have lived - and are living? Did you feel the warmth and love that filled the space when we gathered together - love for one another, and love for the cherished patriarch of our family?

I am not sure what lies beneath those blue eyes of yours, but I hope you realize how important you are to all of us. You are the very core of our family; our trusted advisor; our mentor and leader. You have carved an adventurous path and continue to inspire. And with your recent commitment to writing and blogging, you have left us footprints in the snow; that is for certain. And for that, and you, I am so very grateful.

Happy birthday dad.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

No Complaints

Tree is still standing, fully dressed. I didn't have the heart nor energy to tackle it today. It's a chore I abhor; and I gladly procrastinate.

I milked my illness for one more day and as a result, my backside is officially flat as a pancake and my nose, a flaky mess. The drugs have been good - dried me up like the Sahara desert, leaving me with just the fatigue and aches to deal with. I have been far too familiar with my couch these days and I fear I've left a permanent indentation. I'd had enough by 2 pm and rolled into the shower to scrub off my illness and shrug off the fatigue. 

It seems I've missed a few of the most frigid days this winter. The sun was bright in the sky but offered little warmth. After being inside for so long, the cold air and frozen nose hair were refreshing and a welcomed wake up call. 

And although many complain about winter and claim to hate it, I enjoy the contrasts of the seasons. Winter paints glorious glistening portraits and sends us indoors to luxuriate in the warm and cosy. It provides guilt free hours to reflect, read, and hibernate. The driving is horrendous but the ice and snow embody our Canadianism and are part of our DNA. 

It will be springtime soon enough and like the ornaments on the tree, our memories of winter will be packed away and long forgotten. But for now, I am reminded of the intrinsic beauty of the season in which animal, plant and human life slows down; the season that demands to be noticed, and in which peace is prescribed. And mostly, winter deepens our appreciation for the other three seasons! And for all four glorious seasons,  I am so very grateful.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Toning the Writing Muscle

My dad asked me if I thought blogging was on the way out - or already done. I told him that I thought so; many of my favourite bloggers haven't posted in months and I rarely get a comment anymore. Blog fatigue. I think the length and commitment of the blog has given way to the succinct 140 character quips and tweets. People are busy and want info served up in small tidy packets.

I get it. But it does not deter me. Because, wisely or not, I blog for myself. I blog to exercise my writing muscle; to express myself; to cause myself to pause at day's end and reflect. After all, any day worth living has a gift - a nugget of truth or wisdom. And I set out to seek the gift.

I have been blogging for more than six years now. I started this space to challenge myself to write every day. I accomplished that the first two years and sadly the number of posts reduced by half in each subsequent year. I waned. I let other things get in the way of writing and I missed it. Writing takes commitment and today I am renewing my vows, so to speak. My "muscle" is flabby (like so many others) but not for long! That's the beauty of time -- we can reinvent ourselves and start anew for tomorrow is a new day. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Seasonal Cold and Bright Spots

Kicking off the new year with a cold that erupted spontaneously and has me sneezing with such power and vigor that I'm sure they are registering on the Richter scale. Perfect opportunity to stay couchside and catch up on reading - books and blogs - and testing the strength of my high-end lotion filled-tissue.

It snowed most of the day and the temps were minus 30; if I had known I was going to end up sick I would have forfeited the shower and stayed in my pj's all day. I love those rare occasions of guilt free relaxation, when you can do whatever - or nothing - your little heart desires, and the kettles boils up copious cups of tea.

The empty crates stand stacked in the living room in the off chance I get the urge to deconstruct Christmas. No such urge transpired. However our beefy balsam fir is showing signs of dehydration so it's got to happen soon.

Through my watery eyes and cold misery I can still see bright spots to look forward to. I had a SKYPE call with Oliver, one of the directors of Good Hope the other night and from the first moment I heard her sing song voice saying my name, my heart felt lighter. The Internet connection wasn't the best however we managed to have a brief conversation and I was able to ask about the kids. This ongoing relationship with my Tanzanian friends is something I am going to enjoy this coming year.

And the journey to find a new home with acreage will continue, but we are in no rush. We'll enjoy the process of fixing up our house (replacing the 22 year old carpeting) so we are ready when our new home finds us (it'll have to be close enough to my family and work). One of my three amiga friends is turning 50 this year so a celebratory girls' trip will be in order. Hurry up and decide Adventure Girl.

So much to look forward to, lots to anticipate -- like this next sneeze. Fritz - pass the Kleenex!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Start

I believe in fresh starts, renewed commitment, and articulated dreams. A new year is like fresh sheets on the bed - familiar but unsullied. A clean slate. An opportunity to  create new history; to boldly expect the consummation of aspirations and desires.

A new year is a time to chart a course that will take you where you want to be, or at least in the general direction of your heart's desires. It is also a time of reflection; to adjust the pace and the race to change that which didn't work and navigate towards that which will.

But mostly a new year is a time for gratitude; gratitude for the bounty and quality in my life and the love and support I give and receive back - tenfold. For life is nothing if not about the connections we have and make, and the realization that we belong to something bigger than ourselves. And for me, 2013 delivered a kind reminder -- that when one hurts, we all hurt. And when one suffers, we all suffer. And when one we reach out to one another, arms outstretched, with love and comfort, we are truly living.

And so as I turn to 2014 with a warm embrace, I make myself a promise to give a little more, love alot more, and share as much as I can. Stay tuned.