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!