Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Love Prevails

He's moving quickly and the impacts of his frenetic signing of executive orders are being felt just as swiftly. It's a mess. Rights are in the cross hairs - women's health; newcomers; Muslims; Mexicans; non-governmental organizations serving vulnerable populations;affordable healthcare... But big business is the favoured child staring at deep tax cuts and deregulation. The stock market is happy but that only represents a tiny fraction of the population, and certainly not the disenfranchised, disadvantaged and people living at the struggling end of the American Dream spectrum.

The planet seems to experiencing a collective dim period right now. Chaos at the airports. Fear of government. Blatant expressions of racism and hatred and intolerance toward those are "different" and atypical.

And last night six people were shot in the back and five others injured - as they prayed in their house of worship. The unfathomable happened in Canada; an act of terror. And in solidarity, countries around the world told us they were with us -- the Eiffel Tower went dark; flags flew at half mast and the Pope and other world leaders condemned the massacre.

As I have been wired, I seek the gift in this slurry of adversity. And my heart fills up.

People are not having it. We've come too far and we don't want to go back. People are taking their shock and awe and anger to the streets. They are speaking out and protesting with messages of inclusion, indignation and social justice. We are not having it.

We are one world; one love. Love conquers all, and love will prevail.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Missing Barack

I remember the hope and optimism I felt watching Barack Obama being sworn in as president. A new first for the U.S. - a black president who seemed to speak for all who'd never had a voice. A man of grace and integrity with a vision that was inclusive and with values that, as a Canadian, were easy to embrace.

Kidlet and I watched the inauguration of Donald Trump from the cosy Italian restaurant. She wouldn't let me take her picture with the tv in the background...she said she didn't want a record of it; she didn't want to remember the day. We both teared up watching the Obama helicopter disappear into the gray horizon - and taking our optimism with it.

Politics aside, I can't ignore the growing feeling of despair I feel. It's as though I am witnessing the rollback of goodness and progress. I am sick and tired of the "anti" politics -- anti immigrants; anti undocumented workers; anti women's rights; anti human rights; anti climate change; anti media; fake news; alternate facts; smokescreens, trivial tweets and negativity.

I am thirsty for decency and civility from leadership. In a world in which we are tackling bullying and violence with our youth (and beyond), we see name calling and incivility from the top; base, petty bickering, all unbecoming of the leader of one of the most powerful countries in the world.

Fear is rising as the clamps are tightened in the United States. More than ever I am grateful to be Canadian where, so far, we are welcoming to the most vulnerable people in the world and feel a moral and social responsibility to protect and share with those who are in need. With arms outreached we encircle the weak, defeated and traumatized and offer sanctuary and social justice.

The world needs more than a little love. And it starts with each of us. I want my optimism back!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Worth Celebrating

Last year he didn't want to celebrate his birthday - being so close after Christmas (or so he said). "I'm turning eighty next year -- we'll have a party then". I pointed out that his January 5th birthday is always right after Christmas, and that would never change. But it seemed like a plan.

"No presents" he insisted. "There's nothing I need; I don't need one single more shirt or sweater. I just want to spend it with the family".

And so my sibs and I rallied our spawn and impressed upon them the importance of them clearing their calendars and making sure they attended. No coaxing required - they were all in.

And so we all planned. We set the date (the Saturday after his actual date), he booked his community clubhouse and then we cut him off from any further details.

We contacted his close friends and colleagues, some former students and family and invited them to contribute to a book we were putting together. Have you ever sat a funeral listening to heart wrenching, moving eulogies in which they express how much the departed meant to them or impacted their life? Eulogies and superlatives are wasted on the dead and funerals. Anything worth saying should be expressed to the ones who truly matter to us. And so we asked people to share...and share they did. We knew the greatest gift we could give him would be the knowledge that he impacted lives; that he made a difference and that he was heard.

The hall filled up with wide smiles; balloons hovered above; Jeff took his seat and the grand piano and the party unfolded. We laid our our potluck smorgasbord of lasagna, baked beans, pulled pork, chicken, roasted potatoes and veggie chili - comfort food prepared with love from loved ones. Harmony and hubby performed "I Understand" and we sang some favourite family songs.

And then the elder addressed our tribe. He told them of his humble beginnings and happy childhood. He reminded them that they came from good, strong, resilient stock that valued family and relationships above things. His kids and grandkids sat wide-eyed while he quietly spoke, hanging on every word. He still has that authoritative air about him...

Every member of our family was there to show him what he means to all of us. We celebrated him and reveled in the warmth and love that was palpable in the room. We all need more reasons to celebrate, and every birthday is worth celebrating.

And so we came together to celebrate our patriarch and in doing so, gave ourselves the gift one another; the collective strength, security and unconditional love that comes with belonging to a tribe like ours.

And for that, I am truly grateful.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Back on Track

I think I am suffering from holiday hangover. We had a team meeting today at work and everyone was showing a little fatigue. Someone commented that we all looked a little puffy and pale - no doubt a product of overeating, under-sleeping and over-doing.  Ahhh - the holidays...

After more than ten days of sleeping in, 5:30 am came like a jolt of cold water on the face, and the first day back dragged on for an eternity. Second day went a little better; I awoke before the alarm, the shower heated up a little quicker and I even remembered to turn off the alarm system (even though it was speaking Spanish).

Lots on the go this cold wintry week. My pops is turning 80 and we're celebrating this weekend with a birthday famjam. Every birthday is worth celebrating, but 80 is a milestone! He told us not to bother with a bunch of gifts - he just wanted to spend time with the family. And so we will all gather to laugh with him; tell a tale or two and raise a glass to the best patriarch a family could wish for.

I'm on track with my "more time with family" resolution, as well as with "more reading and writing".

So much to celebrate. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Second Chances

I have a shamrock plant that was my mother's. She's been gone for almost twenty years so to be custodian of a living thing that meant alot to her, means alot to me. It's a finicky plant this shamrock. Over the years, on several occasions  it has wilted up, dropped its leaves and delicate white flowers, and done a convincing job imitating a dead plant.

We moved it from its spot in front of a window to another window in the sunroom so we could decorate for Christmas. It protested by stripping down to its nethers. Honestly - it almost made the dumpster but on close examination, some tiny plump sprouts were detected poking out of the soil. Close call. But we cleaned up the pot and discarded the dead leaves, gave it a good watering and perched it back in front of the window for the best sun exposure.

And it survived. And thrived!

So lesson learned. We have to seek the gifts - the tiny sprouts of hope - in adversity. Hope lives just below the horizon of the darkest day. You may have to look hard - but it's there among the debris.

Mom taught me this as I was growing up and I chose to believe that she was sending me a little reminder to nurture the delicate; care for life and lives. With love and light and time - anything is possible.

Thanks Mom.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Picture Perfect

The sun shone brilliantly in the sky today creating a rich blue backdrop for the snow laden trees. It was a sight to behold. A perfect day. 

I grabbed my camera, pulled on my snow boots and headed out to breathe in the cool and fresh! I was surprised at the amount of snow that had accumulated and as I tromped through our back acre it crossed my mind that snowshoes would have been more appropriate. 

The landscape changes with the seasons and shadows and light and I can't stop taking the same pictures to capture it all. Our attitudes and viewpoints also shift and change, impacted by our relationships, experiences, and choices. Funny how something can look so very different from another vantage point; a subtle shift in perspective can return a fresh result. 

Something to gnaw on as I dive into a brand new year. Sharing some of my captures from our property on this picture perfect day.

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.