day 6: is it really almost -30C outside?

Lake Erie yesterday – brr!

 

Yes, yes it is. And that is why I am grateful for sweaters and scarves, in particular a beautiful thick sweater that came all the way from Ireland that I plan to wear today because I have been frozen since yesterday. I woke up at 2am last night, I think because it was so bloody cold. I was tempted to get up and find a toque to put on, but I just buried myself in the blankets instead.

Being awake in the dead of night for no good reason (like getting up to use the facilities or comforting a child who has just woken from a nightmare) is a unique opportunity to think. The “being awake” part is not being entirely awake and my mind just wonders and wanders aimlessly until it finds something to jump on. Sometimes these early morning/ middle of the night moments bring insight into something that has been bothering me. Last night was one such night… I am grateful for those moments.

I am also very grateful to not have had a sniffle since the winter started. *knocks on wood again and again* There are some nasty flus going around and colds that seems to swoop in suddenly and knock people out. Hopefully it is something that I will be able to avoid for awhile longer. I am in no mood to be sick. Plus, I don’t have time for it. Which brings me back full circle to being thankful for sweaters and scarves. I am going to go and put both on now.

 

today I am thankful for:

1. sweaters and scarves
2. waking up at 2am for no reason
3. not being down with a cold/ flu at the moment *knock on wood*
4. moments that allow me to see myself as I really am

 

 

day 5: bandages, sunshine and sitting at my new desk

Well, it is bloody cold outside. The thermometer says -21C and with the wind it is minus a million. I am still going out with my camera because the sun is shining today…. with an extra layer of thermal underwear on though!

today I am thankful for:

1. sunshine
2. that my body heals quickly (cut my hand yesterday on a broken glass but it’s healing nicely)
3. my new desk
4. warm clothes in layers and a good pair of boots to stomp around in the snow with

I have noticed how the concept of 30 days of gratitude is spreading… little lists are popping up here and there. I think that’s wonderful. I have never kept a gratitude journal before or kept track anywhere the things that I am grateful for. The practice of mindfulness and gratitude for me go hand in hand. I like the idea of making the practice more ‘concrete’ for a short period of time  (or however long it is meant to be) because then, I will be able to look back on the lists and appreciate where I was at that particular moment in time. Plus it’s just fun. It’s fun to be able to share a note about the things that make me appreciate my life. I know that it will help me to be kinder and more compassionate towards myself on those days when I am being particularly ruthless and am feeling low. There are only upsides in doing this as far as I am concerned.

Time to go out and enjoy the sunshine.

la

30 days of gratitude: rising to the challenge

I just wanted to share something that my friend Kathy Drue, who is a wonderful writer and keeps a beautiful blog called Lake Superior Spirit, shared with all of her friends on Facebook as well as on her blog. I came across her 30 days of gratitude challenge on Tuesday and jumped right on board. Here is the challenge that she has given us:

“I am going to post on Facebook (and elsewhere) things I’m grateful for–for the next 30 days. Anyone want to join in? (If you really want a challenge–post four things you’re grateful for each day. You’ll be grateful for 120 jewels in your life by February.”

So, since Tuesday I have been posting four things that I am grateful for each day. Coincidently, the challenge came exactly one month before my 41st birthday. I can really think of no better way of spending the next thirty days sharing some of the things I am grateful for each day. I decided to create a separate blog for my 30 days of gratitude because I would like to continue even after the 30 days are up.

Anyway, here’s a link to it if you are interested:

30 days of gratitude

thank you  😉

la

day 3: snow, coffee and writing my heart out

day 3… I am grateful for:
1. snow. I went outside this morning to find another two inches on the ground and everywhere. beautiful.

2. good coffee. Now that I have found the perfect grinder I never have a bitter cup thanks to a brilliant friend. (thanks again Andrew!)

3. that it’s Friday and tomorrow I will have a new desk to write at!

4. to have a head full of stories waiting to be written…

 

This morning I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow. About three inches fell/ blew over my yard and driveway. When I went outside the air was crisp and fresh, the snow soft and fluffy and everything was hushed because it was very early morning. I love fresh fallen snow when there are no footsteps, no tire tracks, no trail. This morning there was only one set of tracks that came through the drive – rabbit tracks, which means the hawk will likely be back this afternoon if it warms up. One of the commitments that I have made to myself for this coming year is to get a desk to write at (instead of having my laptop always perched on my lap. I was pricing desks out and was going to buy one this weekend, but now won’t have to. A desk that my father does not want will be coming to me tomorrow. I will be putting it to very good use. I am as grateful for the desk as I am for very good timing.It may seem a bit silly, but the other thing I am very grateful for is good coffee. More specifically, good ground coffee. I am not a coffee snob. I can’t tell you how to make a venti ½ whip low fat double espresso back flip that is at 150C or whatever. I just like a good cup of coffee. Simple cup of coffee with two cream, nothing else. I don’t like bitter coffee. If lights could have flashed and bells went off when my friend Andrew let me know about a burr grinder he bought then everyone could have seen how happy I was. It is always great when friends share something they find with me – especially when I have been researching a purchase to find the right machine for the job. The grinder was a Christmas gift to myself and I have used it every day since I got it.  It’s a nice way to start the day off.

 

la

 

day 2 – on a frosty morning

this morning everything was covered with the most beautiful hoar frost and a light dusting of snow. I wanted so much to stop my car and just wander around in the -15C air with my camera but sadly did not have time to do so (it’s the whole getting to work on time thing that I am dealing with… )

For day 2 of my 30 days of gratitude, I am grateful for the following:

1. being awake and outside when the sun rises and being able to appreciate that moment when the light hits everything.

2. my camera

3. patience and silence – two dear friends that I often neglect. I have been raging against you both for awhile now and I just wanted to say, I appreciate you, even though sometimes I want to punch you.

4. my body – even though you are aching and stiff this morning after yesterday’s workout, you are a trooper and doing 300m in 14min 36 sec after not swimming for a year is encouraging. I am going to push you even farther tomorrow.

day 1

today I am grateful for…
1. my daughters and their endless enthusiasm for life and laughter. you inspire me every single day.
2. my family because you don’t let me fall
3. my friends because you make me smile, and in some cases laugh a lot. You help me in more ways I can give words to.
4. my meditation class – teaching the class brings a joy that I can’t replace. I am happy to be sharing my knowledge and practice

found notes

I was just flipping through the apps on my phone, which I clearly don’t use some of them often enough well at least not the note app anyway. I found a list of notes that I have made myself… the last one was 273 days ago… yeah I know.

273 days ago: “Your coffee shouldn’t feel like a dare” – CBC Radio2 announcer Bob Mackowycz  on the day that Starbuck’s announced their pot sized coffee…. I totally agree.

372 days ago: “My heart ticking like a bomb in a birdcage”  – no clue at the moment who said/ wrote this, but I love the image that comes to mind when I read it.

389 days ago: “Never gonna give you up! Never gonna let you down” Neva gonna run around and desert you!” – Rick-rolled by my youngest daughter. Made me laugh out loud in the middle of a meeting when I realized she had written the note to me. Never gonna delete that one.

414 days ago: “What if we woke up one morning and the sun didn’t come up” …. I wrote this at 7:57 am. Not sure why this question was in my head – but it’s giving me a headache to think about it.

538 days ago: two song lyrics/ titles…. “What good is a mirror without a face” by Royalwood and The circle only has one said by Travis. both good songs now on my regular play list.

I like this app. Making a note to randomly add to it, and then forget that I have it…. in the hopes that one afternoon when I have no paper handy I will open it up to make a note, and rediscover the little gems I just found and more.

that is all.

la

walking through the lotus ponds

Today, I went for a short walk with my daughter in one of my favorite parks (Waterworks Park in St. Thomas). It was relatively quiet there – given that it is a holiday weekend, I was afraid that there might be a large number of people with the same idea … but luck was on my side. I am struggling with the death of my mother last week – and spending time walking through the lotus ponds helped to bring some moments of peace for me.

My mother lost her battle with cancer last Thursday, July 22nd. I stood at her bedside with my sister, and we held her hand together as she passed. It was a very sad and beautiful moment to share with my uncle and other family and friends who had come to stay with her on her last day. The funeral was this past Thursday. I stood for the family and paid tribute to my mother’s life – something that she asked me to do as one of her last requests. I was not certain that I would be able to read what I had written, but I prayed for strength (and several others prayed for me too which helped) and I was able to share. I am glad that I was able to do that for her. I hope that she was proud.

Now, as the intense emotions of past week are lessening, I am not busy each day with preparations for her funeral or going through her effects… grief and sadness have arrived in full force, and I am sitting with both of them openly. How can I not?

I have not written anything, other than my mother’s eulogy, in the past week or so. I don’t know if I can write anything more than this note now. The words will come again. Right now, I cannot erase certain images from my mind, and they are weighing heavily on me. Walking through the lotus ponds today, I hope I have found other images to soften the ones stuck in my mind.

taking each day one at a time.

– la

foundlings

I don’t have much to say this morning – remembering happier times and happier days than today. I wanted to share a foundling though instead. I have no recollection of when I wrote this down – it’s not dated, and is scribbled on a random piece of paper that I found in a book this morning. It is far more interesting than my day is.

question above breath
drawn circle
from concrete hand
explore which is embraced
remember the dark child
~

It’s a little random, but hey – it grabbed me. Just wish I could remember when I wrote it…. sometime in the last three months though. Of that I am pretty sure.

la

when the boat floats…

today is a blur – a massive flurry of emotion, worry, frustration, tears. Dying is a messy business for everyone and especially so when cancer is involved. My mother is in the final stages of what has been a long three years. Today the palliative care nurse said something to my sister that struck a deep chord with me. I was going in and out of the room while she talked with her. Getting my mother in and out of the shower, helping her to dry and comb her hair, make sure she had what she needed to take with her to the hospital. I came back into the living room at the moment when the nurse said ‘ don’t be angry with your mother, be angry with cancer’. I echoed those words hours later when I broke the news to my oldest daughter, who in turn surprised me by saying those exact words to me as I said them to her. Yes. don’t be angry but if you have to be angry, be angry with the disease. That was all I heard, because I needed to help my mother get her shoes on and then helped her to come out to sit and talk with the nurse as well. 8 hours later, she has been admitted again to hospital.

I cannot help but think of the story of the boat that becomes unmoored and floats down the river. Do you get angry at the boat for floating? Why blame the boat for doing what it does? So the rope becomes untied, so the river’s current takes it away. Who is to blame for that? It is what a river does, it is what a boat does. I am still crying that the boat is floating away from me. I am filling the river with my tears. But a boat floats. That is the way of things.

I suppose all there is to do is recognize that the river is wide and long, with enough room for my tears and anyone else’s. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I don’t know what the next moment holds. I do know that I am grateful for my family, more than I can put into words. I am grateful for friends. I am truly grateful for my daughters who are a surprising source of strength for me right now. They help me to be strong, strong when I feel like I am sinking.

Tomorrow is a new day. May it be filled with peace, love and healing for us all.

la

random mixed tape – press play

This morning I have been giving some thought to ‘culling’ some of my writing or rather reducing the number of where I post (or make attempts to). I think it would do me well to try to find some ways to make this space richer while at the same time de-cluttering my creative life (and life in general). One of my fledgling ideas (that I have started and re-started a few times) is around making random mixed tapes. This was (and still is) a passion of mine as a kid, in the days of the cassette tape. Yes, I’m old. I’m 40, get over it. Actually, I still remember when I first got a cassette player that wasn’t a reel to reel that my dad borrowed from work….

I kind of miss the days of the blank cassette tape. It wasn’t so long ago that I would sit on the floor of my bedroom, ear pressed to my old Sony ghetto blaster, fingers at the ready, waiting for my favorite songs to come on the radio. I still have the mixed tapes that I made then – with the lead in voices of disc jockies introducing the songs. They bring back a lot of memories from specific periods of time in my life when I listen to them now. Ok, I actually can’t listen to the cassette tape unless I dig up an old tape player but if I could listen to them now – I know that the songs would bring back memories. In fact, just reading the lists of songs that I diligently wrote out on the small cardboard inserts is enough to bring back memories.

Of course, I am not dissing the digital age. Now it is obviously much less labor intensive to make mixes. If I am feeling especially lazy or random I hit the old Genius or shake the shuffle to see what comes up. What the digital age has done for me is make it easier to inhale music. I figure I have been making mixes for the past thirty years, an average of at least 3 or 4 a week. Wait just let me whip out my iPhone to calculate just how many mixes that might be… an average of 6,240 mixed tapes in my life time so far. Now to be fair, in the past five years I have probably quadrupled the number of mixes that I have made. I have the piles of cd’s collecting dust in my personal library as proof – but as an average 6,240 is not bad. Oh and yes, I still have my old cassettes too.
Why do I love making mixes? I am certain I am not so different from anyone else – when a song grabs me or a number of songs bring me to my knees – I like to listen to them over and over. I also like to share them with friends, with family. In the ‘old’ days, I would even send them through the mail around the world to friends to listen to. I like to listen to them wherever I go. Eventually I have graduated from the cassette to the mp4 – and the feature on iTunes that allows you to share play lists with friends (not files just the lists) is one that excites me. Music is a way of existing for me – yes a commodity and a business – but as an avid listener, I cannot get enough of any of it.

My long time love affair with mixed tapes is one of the main reasons why I listen to CBC Radio 2 Morning and CBC Radio 2 Drive (and in truth to CBC Radio 2 in general). Playlists. On their website, in all its glory, sits their playlists from the day or previous days/ week. If I hear a song on one of the shows that I suddenly fall in love with driving over the Thames River – I don’t have to panic because I am driving and cannot use Shazam to find out what song it was. I can wait until I am safely home – go to the website and look it up. I have discovered and rediscovered some amazing and very talented musicians through these playlists. Many songs have become a part of my own playlists – and I am certain this trend will continue.

It isn’t even about just individual songs and artists for me either – it is how they all ‘go’ together within me, how they flow with my thoughts, life, cup of coffee and become the soundtrack for any given period in my life. The mix becomes a source of deep inspiration for me as well.  I will let my mind have free reign while listening to the mix I’ve put together. I give the lists a name and create a mock album cover for it: a title/ phrase that somehow ends up reflecting the mood/ overall tone of the collected music. I will use my own photographs, magazine bits to create collages, shards of poetry to fill up the blank spaces to create a ‘piece’. I will dig up some of the old covers that I have done for the cassettes another time – but here is one of my recent list covers. This list became the inspiration and soundtrack for a short story that I just finished writing a short while ago:


All Is Well
1. My Heart is An Apple – Arcade Fire
2. Les Champs-Elysee – Joe Dassin
3. This Time Tomorrow – The Kinks
4. Play with Fire – The Rolling Stones
5. The Space Between – Dave Matthews Band
6. Flume – Peter Gabriel
7. This Wheel’s On Fire – Serena Ryder
8. Crimson and Clover – Joan Jett
9. Moving – Kate Bush
10. Friday’s Dust – Doves
11. Stay or Leave – Dave Matthews Band
12. Here’s Where the Story Ends – The Sundays
13. In the Sun – She & Him
14. Running Up That Hill – Placebo
15. Baby Now That I’ve Found You – The Foundations
16. Feel It In My Bones – Tiesto (feat. Tegan and Sarah)
17. Colour of a Man – The Hidden Cameras
18. All The Same – Sick Puppies

~

There’s no strict schedule that I keep when it comes to making mixes. It depends entirely on the moment – and while I almost always make mixes for myself (ie. on my drive into work) sometimes, without realizing, the mix will be for someone. I enjoy that. For me that is when the music, all of it as a whole becomes bigger – bigger than I am, bigger than the people around me. Today was like that for me.

I will share today’s mix some other time, as this post is getting kind of long. Every once in a while, I will throw some random music that I love into the mix here.

Ok well, now I’m off to press play and have a listen to this mixed tape.

Happy day, Everyone. Happy day.
la