To open my heart,
To refresh my spirit,
To awaken my soul,
And to remind myself that sometimes I have to let go.
To open my heart,
To refresh my spirit,
To awaken my soul,
And to remind myself that sometimes I have to let go.
We are always seeking comfort.
We look for it in every minute of our day, every moment of our lives. It’s what we need, what we use to fuel us forward.
Even in the midst of our dreams we look for that touch of warmth that gives us a little bubble of pleasure. It is this pleasure that comfort brings us, that ignites our sense of well being, which in turn, lets us know all is well in the world, at least in our own little corner of the world anyway. And sometimes that’s all that counts.
Whether it be small or large moments of the heart, or merely the slip of a moment we spend sitting quietly in the shade, we crave the softness of what makes us feel good.
We all have a different lists I’m sure: puppies, kittens, that lovely spoon full of sugar that Mary Poppins sang about, clean fresh sheets, a hug from someone you love that makes you feel like you could just float away, the new book that promises hours of enjoyment, all of it adds up to a shiver of home comfort which allows you to power up for the next battle life may bring.
For me just the other day, it was…believe it or not…a peanut butter sandwich. There I was at work, starting to get a wee bit sluggish in the late morning, when I remembered what was on my lunch menu that day. I swear I wanted to high five myself! I was, truthfully, taken aback for a moment: I’m excited about a peanut butter sandwich…a peanut butter sandwich? Hmmmm, I thought. I wonder if that is a good thing or a ‘maybe I should worry about my life’ thing?
Nope, I decided there and then, it’s a good thing.
It was rather nice to realize that my life is not so tangled up in past, present and future worries that it has forgotten about the simple pleasures of comfort.
I’m liking that.
I must check the flyer again for the next sale of peanut butter.
There are days when I want only to only look forward, when I want only to run freely under the trees, through the rain, to the sun on the other side that is my future.
But then there are days that wear heavy on my soul and I want only to turn back. I want only to look with arms outstretched to the person I was in the days that have flown by. I want to look squarely at the past that holds me still, and instead of quaking in regret, I want to take that person I was by the hand and say quietly “Come with me. Stay with me.”
And together, with those words between us, we will walk away, with hands linked in strength, from that which we cannot change.
Of late I have been working diligently on introducing more colour into my life.
My wardrobe has for many years centered around the basic black ensemble. Now I would like to think of it as me striving for the ‘little black dress’ look…simple but stylish, but for many it just initiates the question: why do you wear black all the time?
So this spring I felt the urge to add a splash of blue, some pink, even a flash of magenta to my attire. Look at me people!.. I am stepping out of the box, broadening my horizons! I rather liked the fact that the colour magenta apparently assists in releasing old and outdated patterns of behaviour, thereby enhancing growth and personal development. Yes! That’s it! I am so there!
Or so I thought.
I was at work the other day freshly robed in a top newly purchased. The material seriously felt wonderful against my skin, and the light shade of pink definitely added some colour to my sun starved complexion.
On a bathroom break, I paused for a moment in front of the mirror to primp and preen a wee bit, to fluff my hair, check my make-up, and admire how the new top made me feel, made me look. Hmmmm, let me think, how does that saying go…oh yes: “pride cometh before a fall”.
Finally I grew weary of my own admiration (ha, ha, ha..) and exited the ladies room. I took one, two, maybe three steps tops into the hallway, when a co-worker approached me. That’s how quickly these things happen.
“Hey,” she said as she reached up and lightly touched my cheek. “Would you pay for an ointment that would get rid of these for you?”
I stumbled and felt the fall begin.
“The redness?” I asked nervously. My pale skin does tend towards rosacea, which does bring about concerns and insecurities, so perhaps, hey maybe, she was offering me a remedy. It could happen, right? Little did I know that another insecurity was soon to be added to my carry-on baggage.
“No,” she said. “The bags and the circles, here and there.” She pointed helpfully. “Oh yes,” she continued. “Do I have a product for you!”
I could hear the audible hiss of the air as it leaked slowly out of my bruised ego.
Was I smiling? Was I? Too much maybe.
The day just continued to tumble on down from there. For some strange, twisted reason I decided right after work that it was as good a time as any to go buy a bathing suit. Rubbing salt into the open wound that was my ego perhaps? Was I saying ‘oh yeah, you think that was painful?… wait til you see this?’ Again…maybe. I don’t know, I just don’t know. I am so confused.
Anyhow, the bathing suit immediately, like magic, turned me into a stuffed sausage, right before my eyes…a stuffed sausage with bags under her eyes.
The bathing suit went back the next day, the bags under the eyes, well, they appear to be staying.
And it leaves me to wonder, do people who think they look good every single day, ever, ever, have days like this? Do they? I think not.
The other weekend, one of the most recent ones where we had been blessed with the warmth of the sun, I was sitting barefoot on the front stoop, side by side with my eldest grandson Tyler.
My toes were delighted to be free of the winter imprisonment of heavy socks, boots and shoes, and I sat there pressing them against the warmth already gathering on the surface of the cement steps.
A good day my mind and toes agreed—a very good day!
And then it happened. It was so unexpected, and it really shouldn’t have been.
“Nana,” Tyler said. “What happened to your toe? It doesn’t look…right.”
And so it has begun I thought. I have come full circle. Me, who used to gasp in astonishment and muted horror at my own Grandmother’s toes—has become the old fart on the receiving end. My Grandmother, who was fondly known amongst family members as Big Ruby—this due not to her immense size, but rather in honour of her large capacity for cruelty—had, there’s no other way to put it, awful, awful feet!
For a period of time it was my job to clip the nails on those aforementioned feet. I truly believe there in lies the moment when I began my love-hate relationship with feet. But seriously, have you ever noticed that along with the oddly shaped appendages they sprout, feet also have the tendency to cultivate hair growth. Hereditary perhaps?
Mental note to self: don’t let the grand kidlings read my blog. There’s enough to worry about when you are learning to manoeuvre through the growing up years, without the added baggage of twisted genes donated by family.
I stared down at my feet. The toe in question, a baby toe, had run into problems through the years, and after an operation, its size had been brutally cut in half. In moments of fondness, I call it my spud toe, the rest of the time I just call it ugly. And don’t get me started on my big toes, let’s just not go there.
Don’t worry oh innocent grandson with the Harry Potter glasses, I thought as I joined Tyler in the activity of staring at my happy, but slightly maligned toes. I promise you will never be asked to clip or comb my feet. It’s the least I can do.
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?—-Mary Oliver
As mentioned in my post last month, this particular collection of words has stayed with me, and has truly become my flag to action, my push to create, to do!
So many times we proclaim loudly for all to hear, that one day, we will do that which we have always dreamed of doing, or becoming. We will learn to paint, run a marathon, start a small business, take an acting class, whatever it may be, it will no longer be a dream, for we will, by our actions, turn it into reality.
But life and its everyday battles can, and do, get in the way, and before you know it, time, that hasty sprinter that can outrun us all, has barrelled on by, leaving us coughing and sputtering in its wake. In what feels like a blink of an eye, five years has gone by, then ten, then twenty, and mouths agape we shake our heads and proclaim: How? How could this have happened?
I ran across a photograph the other day taken twenty years ago. After a very difficult transition in my life, I ran away with a close friend for the weekend, a long May 24 weekend nonetheless, to Paris, France. As I sat there on the steps of the Opera House in Paris, I believed with all my heart that finally the time had come for me to become the very best ‘me’ I could offer up. No more dreaming I pledged to self, it was time to start doing.
Twenty years ago. It feels like yesterday, and that is the trick that time likes to play on us.
Now becoming the very best a person can be, I strongly believe is a job that takes a life time, but I forgot to put time aside for what I loved to do best, which is writing. I let time scatter my empty pages, and I didn’t pay attention.
Well, I’m paying attention now. I promise.
As I made my journey from adolescence, to teen, to adulthood, I discovered that I was, and it seems, always had been, envious of those we call collectors. Whether it be crystal figurines, delicate, impossibly thin china cups, pens, watches, or even cake platters, it mattered not. I wanted to be part of the parade, I wanted to become one with the highly thought of, but highly diverse party of gatherers.
So it began in earnest, this quest of mine, this desire to become a bona fide collector. The problem that lay before me was wrapped up neatly in the focal identification question, a query any collector with any true inventory would know to ask: what did I collect?
I needed inventory.
I went on this quest with total enthusiasm, holding forth another question before me like a shield: How hard could it be?
As the years tumbled by, I continued my journey as I tried out various treasures: horse statues of varying size and weight, tiny blue Chinese vases I originally discovered in a store on Sparks Street in Ottawa, pencils…regular or art, both I favour, and my tried and true friends… books, books, and more books.
Personal Note: Do books really fall under the category of ‘a collection’? Do people who are not collectors per se just not own any books? I shudder at the thought and have to turn away. No books? Not possible! How could they live, how could they breathe?
And then I made a discovery, it was not an earth shattering epiphany, it was more a quiet moment of recognition. I sat here recently sorting through all the bits of paper that I seem to accumulate daily, all snippets of thoughts, of places, of quotes I admired, all hurriedly jotted down on paper big and small, fragments, like puzzle sections that when assembled, one against the other, told the story of what I must do.
As the jigsaw puzzle became clear to me, I understood that I am forever in search of those special words, words that when carefully placed side by side clearly shouted out for attention, clearly stated that I must stay focused on what I was doing, where I was going.
It is easy to become lost.
I found finally a treasurer of words that will stabilize me as I move forward, for I feel they, at this moment in my life, make me stand up and take notice.
Here are the words that are now part of my treasure chest: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?—-Mary Oliver
After all these years I have yet to fall in love with mornings, in fact, I struggle still to fully appreciate the early hours of a new day. Admittedly weekend mornings have a completely different flavour to them, as opposed to the work week, however neither will be found under my favourites.
I am able to tolerate weekend morns due to the fact they exist without the heart stopping peal of my nemesis the alarm clock. When I retire, or finally lay claim to that elusive winning lottery ticket, I will dispense with my night table clock. I may even have a ritual burning of said clock, and I will take perverse pleasure in watching its inner circuitry suffer irreparable damage.
I realize there are worse things than early mornings, but sometimes, while experiencing the weekly grind, I forget.
Recently, as life tends to do, I was offered up a valuable lesson in gratitude.
A long time friend of hubby’s was struck by MS…Muscular Dystrophy…about 10 years ago when only in his late 30’s. MS can progress slowly for some, but for others it can move at a heartbreaking rate. Hubby’s friend, a once tall and hearty man, has been left crippled with very little independent mobility. His world has shrunk drastically, leaving him to deal with a painful morning commute from bed to wheelchair.
Not long ago, he told hubby he would give anything to be able to rise in the early hours to don his trade uniform and head off to work. He had put in many years in the HVAC (Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) Industry and was proud of his license and his ability to earn a good living for his family. Now, he must depend on the assistance of others to dress, he struggles to stabilize his head movements in order to control his wheelchair, and finds it increasingly difficult to swallow.
Going back to work was the goal he wanted to strive towards, it was the dream he needed to believe would happen. This year he will let his license lapse.
Life is not always fair, and the cards we are dealt are not always what we want to see.
Suddenly we may find we miss that morning ritual called work.
Gratitude—something I must remember daily.
Sometimes the days are difficult
And the nights are too short,
and no matter how hard you fight, the gloom lingers.
a bear from someone I love, words from a sister, dreams of cobbled streets, and the whisper of creativity that continues to stir my blood.
Sometimes, it is enough.
When I was in my early teens, I huffed and puffed in denial, when my riding instructor insisted I needed to keep my mind on the task if I wanted to work with horses. The grumpy old man with his cap pulled tight over his head, proclaimed loudly that I daydreamed far too much. I remember well his voice, as it was carried on the back of his thick Dutch accent, and I recall thinking him far too old to understand anything.
Ah, the innocence of youth, so refreshing, and more often than not, so wrong.
It took me a long time to admit, that I lean naturally towards the tendency, to exit everyday life by tumbling freefall into daydreams. The fact is, I enjoy what these dreams offer me, which is only soft edges, and endless possibilities. I liken it to how a child tumbles with abandon into the beginning of summer, whole heartedly believing that anything is conceivable, and that every step leads somewhere promising.
Due to this predisposition to slip, without notice, into the realm of the day dreamer, I am not encouraged to ride bicycles by, or on, any roadways, or near people, dogs, birds, mice…well you get the idea. Roller blading is a no-no, swimming for short periods of time could be okay…maybe…and naturally, it’s a big loud NO WAY to any radical thoughts of learning to ride a motorcycle. It’s never really been a solid thought for me anyway, although admittedly I did, for a fleeting moment, wonder how it would feel to lean in tight with the bike as you round a curve, or a corner.
So in the motor bike world, that leaves me duly noted as ‘the passenger’. I have no issue with this label, as it rewards me with pockets of time to do what I do best….day dream!
On the May 2-4 weekend this year, which as you will recall, was rather early falling as it did on the 17th, I was invited by hubby to join him and his ‘biker gang’, a Harley Davidson group from Milton, to a long weekend run to Hawkesbury, Ontario. Hawkesbury is located on the Ottawa River, a mere bridge span away from the roads that wind up to the scenic ski area Mont Tremblay, Quebec.
Hubby normally takes these longer rides on his own, but this time I thought: Hey, why not? How hard could it be? All I had to do was put on some cool looking shades, arrange my face into the blasé expression one always sees on riders, and their passengers alike, and I was good to go! Right?
Why, oh why, do alarm bells not go off in my little brain when I casually throw around the phrase ‘how hard could it be’? You would think, after multiple past experiences, I would become slightly twitchy whenever I heard such words…you would think.
I followed instructions from the driver of the day, the aforementioned hubby, and layered myself in clothes, in order to keep warm, all the while trying to remain trendy. We left bright and early at 6 am to meet the pack in Milton. Now on the way, some worries did start to take flight when a tiny sheen of ice started to form across the bridge of my nose, but like a trooper, I merely adjusted my sun glasses and reset my aloof expression.
I could do this!
Eight bikes roared out of Milton with the church peaks of Hawkesbury the final destination on each and every GPS strapped to the tanks. Oh, and did I mention the route that was planned out by the elected road captain, the route that would take us, here, there, and everywhere, before we finally tipped a glass of ale in Hawkesbury, would take, ohhh, say about 11-12 hours of riding…give or take an hour or two? How hard could it be?
By the time we formed a nicely staggered line of bikes along the highway 40,1 piercing alarms were finally set off in my mind, but the sound of the custom pipes on each and every bike drowned out the bubbling panic.
Just past Oshawa, with the promising town of Bowmanville not far ahead, a distorted plan began to take shape. I could tell hubby to drop me off, just right over there, near the Fifth Wheel gas bar. I could, once my legs thawed out, crawl my way up through the gravel, to the restaurant, once there, I could call and beg my eldest son to come pick me up.
This plan could work!
I watched numbly as the Fifth Wheel slid by as if suspended in the chilly morning air. I had leaned over to instruct hubby regarding my brilliant escape, but my lips, my carefully glossed lips were frozen, moving only slowly now they smacked together like two ice cubes bonding in the freezer. I huddled in close to hubby’s broad back, careful to keep my wobbly head from crashing repeatedly into his own. “Help me,” I whispered. “Help me.”
I peered up through salt encrusted eyelashes to check the mid morning sky. Would the day fail to give off any heat? This, most certainly, was not the daydreaming time I had envisioned.
The sun above resembled more a painted backdrop than reality, its light was weak as it attempted to filter through the morning haze. Was that a circle rounding its fuzzy orb? Didn’t that mean something…bad?
I fought to hold on to positive reflections. Thoughts of summer—yes!—that was good! I would think of summer, with its tropical breezes lightly scented with coconut oil and chilled-by-the-pool cocktails.
With these lovely visions dancing in my head like sugar plums, I started thinking of my new leading man—Olaf, from the animated move Frozen. I do realize it seems rather odd, considering my circumstances, that I would focus on snow, much less a snowman—yes, yes, my celebrity crush is a man made out of snow, but I was not myself that day, and that is who I thought of.
As the wind whipped by my expressionless face I swear I could hear the music from the movie in its waves, and I caught the sound of my Olaf belting out his ode to the season of heat.
My teeth started to chitter and chatter—on my right side first, and then my left. I tried to recall the symptoms of hypothermia.
I squeezed my eyes closed as I grasped for my weak visualization skills. I pictured myself wailing, I mean walking, along the beach. I watched as I slowly crossed the sand with my feet bare, my toes reaching deep into its granular warmth. The picture began to stall, to crack, and crumble in my mind. My feet were not toasty and warm, they were freezing!
Olaf’s song had ended, his final plea for summer blown apart far behind me.
Who’s idea had this been anyway?
I stared at the back of hubby’s helmeted head. I had a driver, but this certainly wasn’t a town car.
I don’t want to play anymore! Stop the merry-go-round and let me off!
In reflection, I believe I started to truly wail at that point of great weakness. The other riders in formation—none of which had a passenger by the by—stared over at me with mouths agape, before they carefully distanced themselves from my open aired chariot. I didn’t care. I no longer craved membership into their group.
It’s funny, I haven’t been called back to participate in another adventure with the biker dude gang. Very reminiscent I have to say, of the Euchre party I attended once upon a time—tables upon tables filled with solemn faced players—and me. No future invitations forthcoming from that bunch either.
Humph—is it really, truly necessary to remember what is trump for every single hand?—seriously?