As 2016 ends, I realize I have a lot of work ahead of me. 2017 will be a year of change, of action for me.
This November hubby and I stood with the crowds at the Ottawa, Ontario War Memorial. On the 11th day, at the 11th hour, we fell silent with all gathered, both young and old, letting our thoughts, our memories, and our grief for the past, join and merge as one.
Our present day is saturated with such fear, for our present day, for our future, at times it feels overwhelming. This suffocating emotion rose, twirling, and mixing in the air around us that day, and the crowd, seeming to sense the fear, pulled closer, wrapping us in a cocoon of warmth. We were bumped, jostled and herded towards the barriers stretching along the street, muttering together our hymn of sorry, sorry as we smiled shyly with downcast eyes. So, Canadian, all of us.
The clanging of the flag ties against the line of poles behind us, sounded like a persistent drum beat keeping pace with our push forward. The echo of the gun salute boomed in the distance, the sound staying with us as the ceremony continued. The day was so bright, its edges sharp and distinct, imprinting each moment easily into memory.
All of us assembled at the Cenotaph understood why we were there, why we must remember. I caught a movement high above, on the roof of a building cross the way, police watching the crowd, there’s two more on the building right next to it. I turned and looked up the impressive height of the Chateau Laurier hotel, there too, on the very top balcony, there were more. A stark reminder, that all are not looking for peace in this world of ours.
I left Ottawa with my fear intact, it’s true, however my visit allowed me the remembrance I needed, plus I left a prayer behind for those we lost, coupled with a sincere promise that those who care, will not let history repeat itself.
Both my parents were born and raised in the suburbs of Montreal.
This month, I set off, with my sister in tow, to follow the faded steps of their past, looking for memories that were not my own.
We were prepared, addresses duly noted of houses lived and left, of winding black iron staircases artfully posed in the back ground of faded pictures, and a beautiful church frosted and trimmed with their wedding dreams. There was a secret thrill hidden deep in this trip, it was as if we were actually going to visit them once again.
But there’s an old story of best laid plans….uncertainty is its subject…the church, rock strong in the folds of black and white photographs, seems to have vanished…even from Google….and apparently in Montreal, 4th avenue is a popular name.
In the end, we added our steps to this city which I feel still holds the threads of our parents beginning years, and we made our own memories. We sat and posed on winding staircases that were not in front of where our Mom grew up, we snapped pictures of ourselves in front of hotels we did not stay in, and we laughed until we grew weary.
These memories I will add to those of my parents, because I think they would like that.
And next year, we will try again.
I tried to be mindful the other day.
I tried to look for silence, I tried to keep myself anchored in the moment, in order that I could appreciate the beauty that was happening in my life.
It’s difficult, as I’m sure you all know. It really is. And it’s not that I don’t treasure the amazing ticks of the minutes that tumble, giggly and screaming around me, because I do. But it’s difficult, to hold myself there, to anchor myself to the enjoyments that are surrounding me, in the present.
The mind, she just doesn’t stop. It pings from one subject to the next, crashing against thoughts that sprout unbidden against slumbering dreams not yet mature enough to appear. It is, without a doubt, exhausting.
So, as I mentioned, I tried the other day, in the early morning, when the house held less people, to relax ‘mindfully’ in the hot tub.
I sat there, floating in the warm water, attempting to become one with the sensation of calm serenity, I tried to become one with the insistent pull of comfort that only the hot tub could offer.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Water sounds please join me, sooth me, be one with me.
Water. Only Water. Breathe in, breathe out.
This could be a good blog.
No! No! Stop it!
Empty your mind.
All of this could be part of a blog. Couldn’t it? That would work, right? I think it could work.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Is it time to get out yet?
Wait! Did I pay that Rogers bill? Darn, I need to check that on the internet. I should have called so-and-so the other day, need to do that, can’t believe what so-and-so said at work the other day. Man, oh man, my back hurts. Will this water help the bags under my eyes? I should try cucumbers, or was it potatoes under the eyes. I think it clears the bags, or dark circles, which is it? Wonder if I can have a short nap before everyone comes today. The garden looks like shit, if I put some mulch around the trees will that look better? Maybe people won’t notice. I hate the bags under my eyes. I hate the serious cellulite on my legs. Why don’t men have cellulite on their legs? Is it only me that sees that as unfair? Is it wrong to be tired when I’ve only been up for less than an hour? Hey! Was that a hawk over there? That! Would! Be! So! Cool!
Breathe in, breathe out.
Wait! Is it supposed to be: Breathe out, breathe in? Is that the problem?
I do like the sound of the water.
Is that a bug?
I found myself on the bed, later in the mid afternoon, with my 10 month old grandson on my chest. He was sleeping, finally, his body held tight to mine, so exhausted he was earlier, that his little legs were folding under him.
Breath in, breathe out.
His chest breathing a pattern against my own, his arms, his hands, the dimples at the creases of his wrists, his elbows so dear, tucked close to me. I felt his hands twitching in sleep. I tried to slow my breathing, I tried to match his own, while tufts of his white blonde hair tickled my chin, my nose.
Never let this moment end.
There it is.
There I am.
I’m in the moment.
I guess I just had to wait for it
Observations on a motor bike journey
Have you ever wondered exactly how and when a dream begins?
At what moment, do we say: I want to be a doctor, a writer, or a hockey player, and really, truly believe in our heart of hearts, that is indeed who we will become?
And who believes with a deep rooted faith that is lost to many? Kids, that’s who.
Kaitlyn Melitta Young started playing hockey when she was five years old.
Now from the get-go, when she was on the ice, she gave it her all. She followed instructions carefully, always trying every move suggested, by the various coaches and parents who found their way on to the ice. But, if she was to be truthful, as most children tend to be, when she was away from the rink, her heart did not dwell on when she would return. And, if she was to open up, say to her Mom, as she normally did when unsure, she’d like to whisper her secret and tell her that maybe, just maybe, she laced up her skates every weekend, mainly to please her Dad.
Don’t get me wrong, Kaitlyn had been watching hockey since she was born—truly!—and she did enjoy the sport. Best of all, she loved teasing her Dad, by loudly cheering for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s instead of his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs; however the fact was, she didn’t dream about playing hockey.
Kaitlyn knew, as only the very young know, that who you will become, begins to take shape in your dreams. Problem was, no matter how hard she wished for it, there were no hockey players emerging from the clouds of her sleep.
The winter of 2016, when Kaitlyn was the ripe old age of six, everything began to change.
First off, she joined the all girls hockey team, The Clarington Flames in her hometown of Bowmanville, Ontario. She started watching the older girls on her new team intently, she started watching and learning. Kaitlyn began to look forward to the early practices and games, and suddenly, it was she who was telling her parents to hurry up, on those cold mornings when the stars hung clean and fresh in the sky.
And most importantly, her Dad took her one day, on an outing to Toronto, to watch her first game of the Canadian Women’s Hockey league (CWHL), featuring the Toronto Furies against the Boston Blades.
The Blades, being the visitors, had next to no one sitting on their side of the bleachers. Kaitlyn immediately decided to sit herself right there, amongst the empty seats, for she wanted to be their Number One fan for the day. Very soon, she caught a few waves and smiles from the young women on the team. As they warmed up, the goalie, Genevieve Lacasse, tossed one of their pucks over the glass to Kaitlyn.
Not long into the game, she positioned herself near the stairs, so she could run down the
steps and high five the Blades as they came off and on the ice.
After the game, the coach invited Kaitlyn to join them in their change room. As they sat together, they talked to her about their love of hockey; they spoke as if they’d known her
forever, as if she was one of the team. While they chatted, her puck, the one from Genevieve, was passed around, busily gathering all the signatures from each of the players.
That night, after waiting for so very long, Kaitlyn spotted her new friends skating with her amongst the curtains of her dreams.
And so it begins.
Kaitlyn began corresponding, through her Dad’s twitter account, with the Boston Blades. Her parent’s purchased a jersey with Sadie St Germain’s name and number on it, which was proudly displayed on the wall of her bedroom, near the treasured puck. After sending out pictures on Twitter, she was thrilled when Sadie replied with a picture of her own, showing her newly altered Number 5 jersey, with Kaitlyn’s name now replacing Sadie’s.
Her intensity continued, as she watched every minute she could, as Tara Watchorn, the Captain of the Boston Blades, played for Team Canada, during the Women’s World Championship.
Kaitlyn’s admiration for the team has not faltered, and she continues to keep in touch with The Blades via Twitter. It’s her account now really, this she was forced to explain patiently to her Dad. Her Blades, her friends.
Now, when she plays mini hockey stick in the basement of her home, she pretends to be first Sadie, then Genevieve, then Tara. She’s not playing alone any longer; she’s playing with her mentor team.
Dreams begin with the help of others. Mentors, and role models alike, plant the seeds of belief, and encourage the aspirations of the young, with regular care and attention, the growth is amazing! And so too are these women from the Boston Blades, who took the time out of their busy schedules to interact with my granddaughter, Kaitlyn.
They, I do believe, are the catalyst for her dreams to be.
It’s wonderful to see what can happen, when someone takes the time to show you the way. The after-effects will stretch far and wide, and I believe in the future, Kaitlyn will pay it forward.
…a fun story.
Blood seeps into the ground and I wonder how much more it can take, this world of ours.
The men cry, and the women weep, their sorrow dragging the wind down to whip their hearts until they too bleed.
Blood for blood, we grieve together.
The past rears its head, pushing slowly through the red earth.
There it is, the black hole of hate, wide and deep, it grows again.
And I am afraid.
One day I ventured forth…
…I was brave, and I was determined.
Oh, the stories I had heard, those stories, those wonderful stories—they carried me ever forward, but my strength she was not there and I failed.
Let me begin afresh…
Once upon a time, a day opened before me and I felt invincible, as if all my fear had been banished. That is the moment I remembered the stories: The right bra can do wonders for both your appearance and your self esteem. Get thee to a professional fitter. And finally Oprah’s input: Do your boobs hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? You need to rise up and get a proper fitting.
Rise up! Rise up! Join me in this cry, my sisters!
So I ventured forth.
Going into a change room can be, and usually is, a very excruciating process. I strongly believe that the women’s fitting rooms, like the cubicles that contain us at work, were designed by a man.
The moment you enter the room, you feel trapped, your throat constricts, your mouth goes dry, and you begin to gag as you notice how the lighting brings out only the worst in you, on you, around you. Lovely. Just lovely.
Do I really need a new bra? Do I? Is it worth the pain?
I continued on, clutching little bits of my confidence close.
I entered the fitting room, my heart open for a change.
The sales woman assigned to my case was a woman of substance; she filled the room with her feminine size and confidence. Her skin was the colour of a sought after chocolate sundae and her bosom was encased in, I’m sure, an official Oprah approved brassiere. How could anyone, much less me, doubt her?
She approached me without an ounce of discomfort. Examining my form with new bra attached, she quickly took control of the situation. Slipping her hand inside the bra, she efficiently positioned my girls into their respective cups.
“ Whoa,” I said.
“There,” she said.
We both looked in the mirror.
I’d like to say I heard the music, that I experienced a transformation. I really would.
But I would be lying.
The wide shoulder straps looked like seatbelts snapping me firmly in place, the lace netting embracing the front, reminded me of a sagging, soon to be replaced fishing net.
I thought of the terror I could inflict merely by hanging such a garment outside on the clothes line. A light summer breeze would—pardon the pun—give lift to the cups, allowing them to draw in an abundance of air, thereby initiating flight like a monstrous bird of prey. Its black shadow, exaggerated by height, would sweep over the fence, its tendrils reaching far and wide into the unsuspecting neighhood.
Brave boys, always curious, as boys tend to be, would sit atop the fence, their eyes wide with alarm, and a touch of disappointment, as the netting billowed and puffed.
“I thought,” one would stammer.
“…it would be like in the magazines,” finished the other softly. “But it’s not. It’s not at all.”
“Okay,” I squeaked.
I should have asked for a backbone while I was at it.
Why do I tell you this tale? Well, it’s time, my friends…to go shopping again.
Wish me luck.
Note: Thank you to http://thegraphicsfairy.com/ for the picture perfect illustration.