Cold, cold November – remembering those no longer with us


winter

 

It actually is quite cold here this morning, and it’s been snowing on and off for a couple of days now. Snow – frozen rain falling from the skies.  The song by Guns ‘n Roses,  November Rain, plays in my head. “And it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain”. It’s a song about relationship; about love and loss. Even though it’s a love song and the story about the struggles of two people in a romantic relationship, the ballad is so sad, so haunting – it brings back painful memories for me – not about a romance gone bad – but about loss, irretrievable loss.

November – Remembrance Day and recalling the sacrifices made in two horrific world wars. All those who died. All those who were irreparably wounded in body and soul…

November – the month my father died…

November – and remembering the day two years ago when I got that awful call – my brother was killed by a drunk driver.

November, a month I dread with its admonishments that life is fragile.

And realizing, yet again, that it is this very fragility that reminds us life is precious – so very, very precious! A reminder to live life with a grateful heart and to appreciate all the blessings that are given; that even though the earth may freeze, underneath the killing frost new life waits to bloom again….

 

Outgrowing fears


spider

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”
— Bertrand Russell

When I was a child I was terrified of spiders – any spider – not just the huge and hairy variety – like tarantulas, but even little bitty baby spiders. It took a long time to outgrow it.

On the eve of Halloween, I can’t help but think of scary stuff and things that goes bump in the night. We all know that fear cannot be reasoned away. Fear is irrational. I hate when people try to deal with anxiety by saying “there’s nothing to be afraid of”. Really? Do you have the power to get inside an individual’s head to see what they see, feel what they feel? No? Then stop trying to convince them their fear is silly or trying to rationalize it away. Fear cannot be banished so easily.

I know many people who really enjoy the whole horror genre. They like experiencing the chills that a good spooky tale invokes. I do not. I dislike being frightened because it taps into my anxiety and causes a stress reaction – it’s very uncomfortable. I have learned that stress is a toxin that can lead to health issues, physical, emotional, and mental. So, no thanks!

But I digress, back to spiders now. It took many years and an education on the benefits of arachnids and their place in ecosystems that brought me to a place where I could tolerate them. I especially liked the fact that they eat mosquitoes and other annoying insects.  My increasing comfort level with spiders was a very slow process, and while I have developed a healthy respect for these eight-legged insects, I am still not overly fond of them. Still, I will not kill them. I will go to extremes to capture them in a container and then release them out into the wilds. I think I have outgrown this particular fear! After all, spiders do serve a purpose, even when we fail to appreciate it.

“Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death.”
— Unknown

 

 

 

A little good news a.k.a. small blessings


I am often inspired by the patrons I serve at the library where I work. Often it is the little things, small and inconsequential to some, yet positive signs of love and care that make my days so fulfilling –  Like messages of hope, light, and love in my day.

We have a regular patron who comes often to borrow movies and games, and sometimes to use the computer. He’s a young man with many challenges and so-called disabilities. Often, he seems very sullen and unhappy. I don’t know his story or much about him at all. He gets frustrated easily and sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge to deal with him. But one day last week he came to the front desk with little packages of cat food, which he was trying to give to my co-worker. She told him she doesn’t have a cat, but I know another co-worker who does and I told him so. I then asked if he’d like me to give them to her. (He seems to especially like this particular person). “Yes,” he said. So, while he gives them to me he looks me in the eye and says “Happy Thanksgiving”. Now, thanksgiving weekend had past a week or more before, but I thought it was so sweet. I returned the greeting and he walked happily away.

I think it is the small blessings, the half-withered dandelion proffered by a small child; the wagging tail of a dog; the way my cat purrs; the smile of delight when I meet someone I haven’t seen in a while. All these and more are reminders that life IS good. And reminds me that no act of kindness, no matter how small, is without consequence. I am grateful for these small blessings – reminders that it is the littlest things that can make life worthwhile.

Bloggers!


Just a quick few lines as I have to work today. I just wanted to give a shout out to my fellow bloggers for keeping it real, and at the same time adding so much joy to life with your inspirational posts. I so admire your courage, your support, and your honesty. I have been moved more times than I can count by your encouraging words and bravery in sharing real life struggles and challenges. Yes, we may all be a little broken in one way or another, but we are also wounded healers. Thank you for bringing light and learning to a weary world. Wishing you all more blessings than you can count. Cheers!

Why I believe in human rights


Several years ago, I was studying journalism and as part of the program we students were tasked with creating and writing a blog – of which this is a continuation. I had decided to make the nucleus of my blog human rights. My instructor wanted to know why I chose that as the key reference point for my blog.

Now, I have never traveled outside of Canada. The knowledge I have gleaned about human rights and the abuse of same has totally come from books and newspaper stories and from people I have met. I grew up in rural Newfoundland, on Canada’s east coast, not a locale well known for human rights activity. However, I was also raised Roman Catholic and the emphasis on brotherly, sisterly love and the ‘golden rule’ was often preached at the school I attended as a child. Added to that was my mother’s faith and belief in the equality of people everywhere – regardless of skin color, religion, or nationality. I took these messages to heart.

When I was eleven years old the family moved to Ontario. I experienced “culture shock”, if you can call it that. I was horribly homesick. I missed my classmates, the sisters who taught me at my old school, and the ocean that cradled our island home and the trees that surrounded it. Added to these challenges was the horrid bullying that made going to school a miserable experience for me. Yet, I am thankful for it because I learned what it feels like to be judged on where you’re from and to be stigmatized and labeled. It made me passionate about speaking out for others who may be experiencing unjust behaviors based on the color of their skin, religious belief, or their nationality.

I also remember watching the television commercials that showed images of starving children and the abject poverty so many were living in, when I was just a child myself. It ripped my heart to pieces to think of children living in squalor and hunger.

I believe passionately in human rights; in the just distribution of wealth; that every person deserves dignity; that we are indeed sisters and brothers of millions of different mothers and fathers, but one human family nonetheless.

I am grateful to live in Fort McMurray, a city populated by peoples from all over the world. I may not have it in my power to change the world. But I hope I do all I can to make my little corner of the world a happier, better place for my neighbours, family, and friends. For “there, but for the grace of God, go I’.

The Conversation


The conversation 2

 

“Come, rest upon my petals here and tell me of your story.

Where have you been, My little friend?”

Said the flower to the moth

“I roam high above, where you can never go.

I visit plants and trees and flowers sweet everywhere I travel,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“Oh, to fly up high, to soar upon the winds.

To not be planted in one place, to see beyond the wall.”

Sang the flower to the moth.

“Aw, but you are treasured, for your beauty and your scent.

No worries about foes like birds that would eat you, if they could,”

Said the moth to the flower.

“There are pros and cons to every Life,”

Continued he to she. The moth thought to comfort her with his words so wise

And yet the flower pined and pined for freedom to travel far.

“It’s true, I am admired, and watered every day, but if you think me safe right here

You know not all my visitors,” replied the flower,

“For there are bugs that chew my leaves, And spiders everywhere. Not to mention

honey bees That feed upon my nectar.”

“Aw, so you serve this world,

Nourishing the pollinator,” the moth cried out.

“Oh silly moth, I know the truth – that you as well

Pollinate us flowers,” she answered,

“And so, you see, we have need of thee.

When you brush your soft, soft wings

Against my little petals, you do more than tickle me

Like some ethereal feather. And when you chance to nibble me

And drink deeply of my nectar,” she shyly whispered, “you too carry my

Essence to continue seed production.”

The moth stretched out his wings and proudly strutted his stuff

He thought about all the good he did and didn’t remember why

Venus flytrap chewed up his kind, that naughty, naughty flower.

It was because the caterpillar he once was did damage to her leaves

and ruined her every finery….

The flower knew this, but did not say, for his friendship she treasured

After what seemed a lengthy pause, the moth did once more speak

“We each do our part, to bring beauty to this world, and I will speak to north wind

And ask him when you’re ready, to blow your petals far above the wall so you can see

The wonders of this world,” the moth proclaimed.

And so, it came to be, that during summer’s warmest days the flower bloomed and blossomed. But in the fall the north wind kept his promise and lifted high her petals. She traveled far beyond the wall and lived at last her dream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruminating on Autumn


IMG_5487

Autumn is just about upon us. The days are growing shorter. As summer draws to a close I feel sad. Sad that I did not make the most of the warm season. Sad, I did not languish longer under the blue skies and hot sun. Isn’t that just life – to take the days for granted as though they are infinite. But like summer itself, life is short. We tend to take it for granted until something terrible happens. Perhaps that is the silver lining and the lesson in tragedies – they make us aware of the fragility of life.

I have been thinking a lot about my brother. He was killed when an impaired driver crashed into his vehicle in November of 2016. Sudden death is always horrible. It rocks your world and turns everything upside down. I know I am far from alone in experiences such as this. What is it about seasonal change that brings out such maudlin thoughts? And have you ever noticed that there are far more deaths in fall and winter than the rest of the year? Strange.

But I don’t want to be a downer. Chris was a very funny guy. I miss him. However, I will cease to ruminate on the sadness his death brought and focus instead on his many gifts. He was also very thoughtful and generous with a sunny nature. I wish there were more people like him.

Yet, we are all unique with precious gifts of self to offer. Whether we are artistic, creative, or just plain kind – we each have a gift to bring. My sister says she has no talent. But she’s wrong. She has a wonderful gift for helping people. She works in the psychiatric wing of a hospital in a fairly large city. She is well suited to her work as she is endlessly patient and forgiving, as well as wise and compassionate.

Whatever work you may do. Wherever you may live. I hope you recognize your talents, and that others do as well. I hope you know you matter and your life does make a difference.  I hope you rock this world with loving kindness and that you know kindness! Until next time – Cheers!

Summer: Family and time to celebrate


“For there is no friend like a sister in calm or stormy weather; To cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down, to strengthen whilst one stands.” – Christina Rossetti

“I have wonderful shelter, which is my family. I have a wonderful relationship with my brother and sister; this makes me feel that I know always where I belong.” – Jose Carreras

I am so excited. My sister arrives for a visit this evening. Summer is wonderful that way – for the ease of travel. My sister is a year younger than me and growing up we were always together. Even as teenagers we stayed close, often sharing the same friends and social circles. She is my best friend, confidante, and source of support. She is just wonderful!

I am also looking forward to family gatherings with my brother and his wife and family. Their daughter is also visiting. I have not seen her yet as they have been on a little road trip exploring other areas of the province. I can’t wait to see her and her hubby and children. Family – that’s what it’s all about, right?

I am grateful for summer days; for bar-b-ques and long walks with my friend; for lazy days basking in the sun; for time to spend with loved ones and opportunities to celebrate life!

Today, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I wish you blessings of love and light. Cheers!

“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

A shout out in gratitude


“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

A shout out to all the writers, photographers, poets, and artists of every stripe – I just want to thank you. I want to thank you for expanding my horizons; for making me think; for helping me dream. For all the times I have smiled, laughed, or cried, I thank you. For your camaraderie and support; for your friendship across the miles. For granting me a small peek into your lives. Thank you for your generous sharing and for your courage to do so. For helping me see places I may never get to visit, except through your eyes. I thank you for your humour that brightens my days. I thank you for your wisdom and compassion. I thank you for exposing me to new ideas and allowing me new insights into life. And most of all I thank you for affirming for me once again that humanity is wonderful and good. I am so grateful for the miracle of each and every one of you. Thank you!

Birth of a Sunflower


peeking sunflower

Deep within your green folds you grow

Developing, stretching toward the sun that warms you

Slowly you peek out at the August sky

Not quite ready yet to make your debut

Sneaking furtive glances at the sun

For whom you are named

And like the earth itself you follow the sun

Reaching on green stalk toward the warmth

Of your namesake in the sky

Even before you burst forth in all your glory

we wait in joyful hope

Anticipating your beauty

Your wide girth

And brown centre

That provides a subtle base

To your golden petals

Soon, soon