Saturday, December 31, 2016

goodbye hello

All in all it's been a good year - but then again, any year lived delivers a host of events, milestones and emotions - good and bad; happy and sad; but rich all the same. My only complaint is that with each passing year, they get shorter and shorter.

Like on the plane ride home from a long vacation, I can't help but feel nostalgic and reflective about 2016.

Personally I enjoyed my home life in the country, surrounded by trees, birds and other wildlife. The schoolhouse is finally feeling like home instead of as though I am visiting a B & B. The only thing missing are my family, especially my girls and parents. And that is not a small thing. It takes extra effort to get together but I cherish the time we carve out for one another. More family time is a priority for me in the new year.

Country life is not as convenient; everything pretty much involves a 10-20 minute car ride and when we get a hankering for exotic food, we have to venture beyond the local diner to the Japanese joint out on the highway.  The plus: along the way we get to gaze at horses grazing and frolicking in the fields and other soothing country scenes. First world problems!

My work life is good and getting better...or maybe I should say that I am getting better at my work! The challenge has been carving out time for exercise and rest and striking some decent work-life balance. But again, these are things within my control and it's on me to make better choices. My sedentary office job has helped add another 8-10 pounds for my knees to support. I am larger than I've ever been and it's become a health issue that can no longer be ignored. I am trying to take better control of this aspect of my life. Does that have a hint of "resolution" to it?

On other fronts, we had proof that the improbable and impossible are indeed possible and a reality. I was inspired by the election of our Prime Minister Trudeau and equally disappointed (understatement) by the election of Donald Trump. I am devastated by the resurgence in and public platform given to racism and bigotry and hatred. I am disheartened by the violence raging across our fractured planet.

But most of all I remain hopeful. I know at our core we humans are good, kind and resilient. We want peace and to live in a world that is more gentle and connected. And it starts with each one of us. How can we have world peace if we have discord in our families and personal relationships?

And so, as we show 2016 politely to the door, we do a light tidy up, catch our breath and then welcome 2017 and a year/world of new possibilities. I can make countless resolutions but at the very core of it all, I intend to live more fully, in the present, and give more of myself to others. #Move, #Love and #Give will be my keywords for 2017. Oh - and more reading and lots more writing!

Happy new year to all. Let's live it and love it.

Friday, December 30, 2016


Our family celebrations are behind us with a fridge full of leftover food to prove it. I made a delicious western omelette with scraps of ham and dinner was reheated lasagna from last night's family party. Eaten in the quiet and peace of a cosy fire, it tasted even better than the first time around.

The fridge is jammed, the shelves filled with plastic wrapped plates, cartons of cream, eggnog, and milk and the spoils of last week's dinner parties. I open the door, quickly taking a defensive stance to catch whatever may tumble out. I pour myself a final  glass of eggnog of the season, draining the last few ounces - two days past the "best before" date. It tasted delicious and  brought an official close to the holiday season for me.

I scan the room with the Christmas decorations and random bits of evidence of our festivities... bits of tissue paper from discarded gift bags and a stack of rogue cookie sheets and casserole dishes that have to be returned to their rightful owners. The walls still resonate with the din of the laughter and chatter that filled the room...and I can't help but reflect.

With my girls now full grown adults with spouses and spices of their own, corralling them all into the same time and space is challenging. But when we manage it, it is blissful. No surprise that as I get older I gain a greater appreciation for these precious moments spent with my girls and the rest of my family. We are a unit and when one of us is missing, we do not feel complete. When we gather together, we celebrate our unity and the comfort and peace that comes with experiencing belonging to something greater than ourselves.

In our midst this year we had our beloved Doris -- ninety-nine with no sign of slowing down. When dad made a little speech and mentioned that next year this time Doris will be 100, she nodded and grinned as she high-fived the crowd. So much to celebrate...

And so I relax on my comfy couch, glass drained with only granules of nutmeg remaining, bundled in my wool wrap enjoying the leftovers of yet another wondrous holiday spent with those who I love so very much. And as I reflect and savour every morsel, I conclude that the memories are almost as good as the first time around. And for all of that, I am eternally grateful.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Connections.

Wine glass is drained. Presents are finally wrapped and feet are up for a pause before bedtime.

The best of the pre-Christmas preps are the phone calls to reconnect. Sleepy voices answer and then perk up when they hear my cheery  "Merry Christmas". The calls are overdue - I've been remiss with many of my relationships. And as I dial, guilt almost derails the calls, but I push my embarrassment aside to make the connection. If not now - then when.

And then relief when the callers express happy surprise at hearing my voice; we pick up where we left off. The hesitation was for naught.

So as I sit here in the warmth of my cosy home, I must remember that around the world tonight, there are millions who are homeless, cold, and hungry - millions who are orphaned  or alone.

In hours I will be cocooned in the love of my very large, affectionate family, enjoying all the best that Christmas has to offer. For so many others this holiday season will offer no joy - just continued misery.

They will be top of mind and not forgotten. And my heart will be filled with gratitude for the family I am blessed with and the life I am privileged to live. I will not take any of it for granted.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Remembrance Day in Our Little Town

Leaves danced along the sidewalk, following me down our quaint little main street. I had the day off for Remebrance Day - so I wanted to do just that- pay tribute to the fallen. Our local paper showed that our local service was to start at 10:45 at the modest cenotaph at the end of town. Hubby didn't think many would be there as the population in our rural community is small.

As I leaned into the wind making my way, groups of people quietly emerged from each side street, a sea of crimson poppies, falling in step, joining the growing informal parade. 

We walked in silence until we joined the hundreds already gathered at the cenotaph.  "The White Cliffs of Dover" was being sung by a small choir huddled in a circle for shelter from the wind. Two young cadets stood at attention, guarding the memorial.

Then strains of "Hallejuah" drifted on the autumn air, gaining strength and momentum as others joined the choir. How fitting that Leonard Cohen be included in the ceremony. I could feel the lump in my throat growing... A handful of elderly men and women leaned on canes, some sat in wheelchairs, and a few proudly stood at attention, eyes fixated on the monument. I couldn't help but wonder where their thoughts wandered; what memories were they reliving? 

As the final names of the fallen were read  we were asked to sing O Canada. I couldn't work my voice around the swelling golf ball in my throat. Tears streamed down my face; I could feel the pride, pain and memories from the 95 year old serviceman beside me. When the Last Post played he saluted with his gloved hand and held his head high... his eyes glistening to overflowing. I wanted to hug this elderly man and acknowledge his service. But instead I stood silently behind my sunglasses.

When it over, one by one people stepped forward to pin their poppies to the wreathes encircling the monument.   And in that moment we were bonded in community and peace. And that is something I will never forget.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Beauty in Transition

Living in a country with four seasons has taught me to appreciate change and find the beauty and opportunity in transition. The splendour of the autumn foliage is the opening act for the blustery winter to come. It takes summer out on a high note and leaves us wanting when it finally recedes and all that remains are stark, naked trees and the gray chill of November.

If we take our queue from nature, we could trust the transitional periods in our lives that may be tumultuous and even painful, knowing that it's something that we have to go through to get through it.

So for now we celebrate each precious remaining sunny, autumn day with long walks immersed in golden and fallen leaves and deep blue skies; and give silent thanks for the gifts that come with change.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Thanks - Giving - Revival

The fall fair has come and gone for another year. The maple tree  that guards the entrance to our home is ablaze with lively colour that defies the slow and certain death of its leaves. It's a gentle reminder that a year has passed since we moved into our country home.

We are living our dream, hubby and I, surrounded by rolling hills and farmed fields and nature that rivals that which we had at the lake. The air is cool and fresh and the stars spill out before us, with no light pollution to dim their lustre. There have been adjustments of hour commute, small inconveniences and miles, instead of blocks, from my beloved family. Paradise comes at a price.

I worried that the separation would weaken our bonds but I promised myself that I would make more efforts to strengthen my commitment to nurture my relationships and keep our family strong.

I need not have worried. Thankfully my family share a desire to stay connected and spend time together. They made the hour drive from the city on narrow country roads to create new memories. This house was just that until the walls reverberated with the laughter and chatter of our famjams. And now we have a home.

This Thanksgiving we shared notes we wrote about we were thankful for and the kids younger adults read them aloud (their idea). I asked my dad if he wanted to add anything, joking that his wouldn't have fit on the small scraps of paper. He beamed with pride as he said he was thankful for the love and interest his grandkids have for one another; that he enjoys watching them interact. And there was a murmur of agreement. Isn't that what it's all about -- building a foundation of love and security, a legacy that will continue to expand and strengthen.

I chose this day of Thanksgiving to dust off this blog and share my optimism and hope for the future. Life is good. Love comes first. Family is foundation so keep it strong. And dreams do come true.

And for all of the above, I am truly grateful.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother and Daughter and Mother and Daughters

I'm blessed. I am the mother of three incredible strong human beings. I am a mother of daughters. It's the shining achievement of my life... being a young mother who grew into a good mother.

And I had an excellent teacher; a mother who was more giving and unselfish than I could ever be; a mother who entrusted her children to make good decisions and small mistakes. And when I made big ones, she convinced me that I had everything I needed to make it right. She grew resilient children.
And I tried to do the same.

She once told me that when she brought me home from the hospital, her twenty-year old self laid my newborn me on the bed and cried, "I feel sorry for you baby. We're going to have to grow up together".

She shared. She was authentic. She was as strong as a warrior and as soft as a gentle breeze. She was a lady.

Mother's Day is not always easy but in a strange way the void of her absence is a comfort. I need to feel the space her passing has left. But I have also learned to make this day a time to cherish being a mother to the three precious treasures that are mine. And I can only hope that my mother would be proud.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Winter On Ice

We're teetering on the brink of February. Winter is half over and it feels as though it has barely begun. We're perched high on a hill on the escarpment so we've clung to our New Year's snow, however - being without snow tires - my one hour commute has been a breeze. On Friday it was a frigid minus ten Celsius and today the mercury rose to plus ten. AND our snow finally started to melt.

Hubby has been clearing the pond in the hopes of us being able to skate on it. And it seems that every time he does, the temperatures rises and the sun comes out to melt it.

I am enjoying the property through the seasons in its various cloaks and outerwear. It's the same place but looks completely different with different personalities. The same, but different. Just like life.
Happy February!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Post Christmas Procastination

I could hear it on the roof -- torrential rain in January. Fritz's persistent antics finally succeeded in coaxing me from beneath my cosy down duvet. His enthusiasm was short lived once he stepped out into soggy. He did his business in record time!

I surveyed the kitchen and sun room still adorned with festive garlands and Christmas decorations. As per tradition, my signature procrastination ruled supreme and I found myself facing the unpleasant task of deconstructing Christmas alone, just in time for Valentine's Day. I exaggerate but it's a ritual that I truly dislike.

By noon the springlike gray and thaw gave way to a blustery winter blizzard. Temperatures dropped below zero, snow danced and winds howled. Winter blew in to accompany me as I packed up delicate little decorations into well worn cardboard boxes and rolled garlands and lights into tangled tresses. Nice of you drop by, but where were you when we needed you?

Life is like that -- tranquil one minute and a blazing storm the next. You're never really certain just what's next in store. It keeps us on our toes and reminds us to appreciate the good times, for change is inevitable. The good news is that storms don't last forever and once they've blown over, things are a little cleaner and fresher, and optimism restored.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Going Nowhere Fast

The large red numbers on the clock radio signaled 5:20 - my usual wake up time. My eyes pop open ahead of the alarm whether it's a weekday or the weekend. But today was my day off.

The neat stack of "reads" on my nightstand, "unopened" Christmas gifts, beckoned. A day off and a full to do list ahead me -- and I chose a time out. It felt strangely indulgent but necessary.

I grabbed the stack and burrowed into the comfy couch with my hot mug of tea and fleece throw. I burned through We Should All Be Feminists, a short 64-page book by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie based on her TED talk. It made a compelling argument for feminism but I was disappointed by the "girlie girl" references that she used to describe herself - a woman who enjoys lipstick and wearing high heels (for herself - not men). Why do we feel the need to characterize these things as girlie?? Isn't girlie just things that girls do?

Next up - The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer. I was pulled in deeper with every page. I must have needed the message this book was delivering. In a nutshell, he expounds on the value of unplugging and connecting with the world around him, with no agenda or goal other than just "being".

Like the author, I have travelled the world, albeit not near as extensively as he. And as I have grown older, I have come to realize the peace and clarity that can come from simply being fully present and still. I find myself taking the same photos over and over - the same landscape with different dressing, finding subtle changes in hue and shadow,  new cloaks and colours. And maybe it's a perfect metaphor for life and perspective. And like magic, it was exactly the message I needed at that exact moment in time. My body relaxed, my creativity was released and I felt prepared for my day. I read this book in one sitting - probably too quickly - however I know that I will reread this over and over to fully devour every thought and concept.

After my indulgent time out, I bounced off the couch onto the treadmill and enjoyed a long, productive day off. I've denied myself time for reading for too long, which is silly because I know that reading has always been a source of relaxation and inspiration.

Today I was reminded that often the journey inwards can be more satisfying than going anywhere else. And it's alot cheaper! 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


It's been a day of heroes.

My dad is one of the most important people in my life. And today is his birthday. He didn't want to put anyone out with his "birthday being so close after the holidays" and all. I reminded him that it will always be that way, and that every birthday deserves to be celebrated. He insists that next year, when he turns 80, we will have a party. So this year, my sister and I took him for dinner, and simply, quietly, enjoyed his company.

It's a little tough having a super achiever for a dad. He is the gold standard by which I measure(d) all men. He's tall in stature and his love is even bigger. And on this day, his birthday, I celebrate the first hero I ever had.

And speaking of heroes, today I spoke to James Orbinski - one of a handful of personal heroes who truly inspire me. I was deeply moved by his book, An Imperfect Offering, and was inspired by his story depicted in the documentary Triage. He is a world class humanitarian, and better yet, he is Canadian. When we were looking for a keynote for a conference I am planning for work, I jumped at the opportunity to invite him to address our audience. He asked for someone to call him to discuss, and I won't lie, I could barely dial the number. And for a fleeting second I worried that he wouldn't be all that I envisioned. My worries were in vain. He was kind, humble, and engaging. And I was a babbling idiot. I called him the Forrest Gump of Canada and before he could contain that giggle, I blurted out that I couldn't me more excited if I were talking to Bruce Springsteen. Egads. It was an out of body experience and after hanging up the phone, I had to pinch myself. I should have slapped myself! 

So today I celebrate my heroes and count my lucky stars that I have positive, profoundly inspiring forces in my life. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Embracing Change - That Was and What Will Be

What a year it's been! If I had to pick one word to sum it up, it would be change. Everything changed in 2015. Virtually everyone from our tribe who lived within a kilometre of one another, moved. Four moves within six months. Our convenient daily contact has been tested and we're still navigating the change. My drive-by early morning sightings of my dad reading the paper, looking up as I honked have been replaced with early morning phone calls as I commute from the country into work. We keep our weekly dinner engagements and spend our special holidays together. But I won't lie -- it isn't the same as being just down the street from the people you love. Over Christmas my daughter thanked me and said it was a wonderful way to grow up. So I choose to be grateful for that precious experience and renew my commitment to maintaining the family bonds in other ways.

We welcomed a new member to the family and didn't lose anyone - reasons enough to celebrate! We maintained our Christmas traditions and added a few new ones. Our country schoolhouse is gradually becoming a home. The walls have soaked up the laughter and love of our famjams and I can feel this warm energy long after the last car has pulled away. If I listen very carefully, I swear I can hear the residual murmur of conversations and faint sound of giggles - remnants of our time shared together.

And even though I am full to overflowing with gratitude for the life I get to call my own, I have yet one more change to embrace - making my health a priority. So 2016 will continue to be a year of change - all good changes that will find me returning to the body that is mine and reclaiming my energy that I so desperately need to be able to do all that I want and need to accomplish. I plan to take greater control over various aspects of my life, and let go and trust more in others to get the freedom I've been missing.

This upcoming year there will no doubt be lessons to be learned and triumphs earned,  but it's going to be a good one. I can feel it.

One thing though that will not change is my gratitude for the many blessings in my life.

Let's all decide to make 2016 a great year; work for peace; have a giving heart; and seek the gifts in adversity. It's a fresh start!