Beginning My Work

The beginning, for me, is a New Year, a new outlook. It’s a process of growth, a slow and steady progression towards a stronger soul, a stronger me.

Reflection is there at the beginning, splendid in its peak at the approach, or arrival, of fresh days ahead. Doors in my mind, and in my heart, are flung open, as I eagerly view the newly minted months stretching out before me. They are pressed clean these new months, their surface blemish free and unmarred by disappointment in self.

It can be a time of renewal.

I rather like the fact that the New Year leads directly into my Birthday month. Such celebrations, first Christmas, then the New Year, and then me. What better time to review!

Every year I am presented with, I treasure, trying always to give it the reverence it deserves.

I don’t always succeed.

Unchecked emotions, usually peppered liberally with fear, mark the pristine months I leave in my wake.

I can be—no, I am—my own worst enemy.

The months no longer whisper as they pass me by, perhaps they’ve grown weary of telling secrets to one who never listens. I should, no, I need, to pay more attention.

I lift my eyes, I’ve grown tired of examining the endless details of my worries, and there it is! I have reached Birthday number 59.

I have soft wrinkles on the underbelly of my arms now. They remind me of tiny waves skimming across the surface of a pond. The backs of my hands are spotted here and there, and those I can no longer claim as freckles. All not a surprise, but an adjustment.

I remind myself it is an honour to step towards my sixties. There are many who did not have this opportunity of age, and they too I want to honour.

It is a time of action. It is not too late.

So, I lean down and eagerly set about removing the chains that have anchored me.

I must guard my time selfishly. I must begin my work in earnest.

“I am going to change my life. I am going to do something that is important to me.” -Paulo Coelho

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When does it happen?

When is it that we forget how to dream?

When does that exact moment occur, when we look forward without first sending our dreams before us like trusted guides to follow? I like to think never, but I would be lying.

Dreams came easy when cloaked with the optimistic attitude of the young. Even during the tumultuous, ‘will I ever survive’ times of youth, dreams, aspirations of success, and possibilities bubbled through my mind, overflowing easily into my everyday life. Optimism whispered always to keep pushing, keep looking forward. The call was to chase those dreams, go after them with all you’ve got. Having those dreams to follow, told you that anything really, truly was possible.

But somewhere along the way, my dreams started to weaken, to fade into memories as opposed to possibilities. I can’t quite pinpoint when I started to mentally shelf first one then the other. I don’t know the instance when I felt too weary to push a particular aspiration forward. I wonder if soon, when I pause to peer back through the years, will I see, and recognize the litter of my dreams scattered and forgotten behind me?

I need to keep on, keep on dreaming, keep on pushing, because it is only when we turn away do dreams die.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

~DreamsMark Twain

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Yes, it’s true…

I like dreaming.

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The innocence

The innocence, the trust, with these words I see a child.

I sat in the early morning hours watching my six year old Granddaughter’s hockey practice.  Watched as the players gathered around their coaches like trusting little baby birds.

They pointed at their water bottles, the hockey gloves too cumbersome to grab the plastic bottles, the finger dexterity not there as yet to unscrew the tops loose themselves; instead they stood, heads tilted back, their faces lifted, partially hidden behind their protective helmet grill, open and trusting they asked and were received.  Slowly the coaches went down the line, offering the Eucharist of hockey as they gently pour tiny swallows of water into each opened mouth before them.

The kids know Mom and Dad are nearby in the stands, there are no worries thickening the air.  The coaches offer wise words and skate like pros; the children emit naturally an openness that says: You will protect me.  You will not hurt me.

The trust is heart wrenching in its stripped bare innocence.

When searching for the magic that is hidden in the folds of everyday life, this is what your eyes should seek, this is what your heart should wish to recognize once again.  Our purity of soul becomes pressed thin with the weight and responsibilities of our passing years; it’s an honour to be reminded once again of its presence.

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Letting Go

MountainsI went to the mountains

To open my heart,

To refresh my spirit,

To awaken my soul,

And to remind myself that sometimes I have to let go.

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Comfort

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.

 

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Sometimes…

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.

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An Eye Opener

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!”

Wait, what?

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.

 

 

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Another Promise

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.

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Twenty Years

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.

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