American Influence


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Here in Canada we are inundated with media message from our neighbour in the south, from news to movies, songs to magazines, business and trade, we are steeped in American culture. And it’s not bad, really. It just is. Canada is a huge country, but has nowhere near the population that  America does, nor even a fraction of its power. Many people around the world see little difference between our two countries. Yet, there are distinctive difference such as the idea of America as a ‘melting pot” where all cultures are assimilated into the dominant culture. Conversely Canada celebrates multi-culturalism and protects many rights and freedoms in the Charter of Rights.

I grew up in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. My home was on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland. During World War II the Americans built an air force base in Stephenville – a coastal town close to the rural area where we lived. My father worked on the base and often invited American friends to our home for a Sunday dinner.

When President Kennedy was assassinated my father wept copious tears at what ‘they’ did to ‘our’ president. This was repeated when Senator Robert Kennedy was murdered. American politics were often discussed by my Dad and his cronies. When I was a small child I thought we were American! Not hard to understand with frequent letters coming from my paternal aunt in Vermont and another in Detroit. In addition, the province had fairly recently joined confederation making it the youngest province in the country.

I was still living in Newfoundland when the events of 9/11 brought several planes to land at our airport. Stephenville boasts an international airport, the runway built by the Americans during the war. It was a very sad time for local people who had known many American friends – some of which maintained summer homes all over the island and continue to visit annually.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Canadian and deeply love ‘our home and native land’. But I fully recognize the huge influence the U.S.A. has had and continues to have on my country.

To ever be contained


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Words poured out on paper

Like water upon the earth

Left there to seep in

Or dry up and dissipate in the winds

It matters not if they are read

The point was to let them breathe

To uncork the bottle of my soul

To shake loose the chains on my mind

Perhaps they will be a comfort

Or perhaps a challenge

Does it matter?

Does it?

Thoughts swirl like snowflakes on a wintry day

Some are cold with bitter edge

While others carry all the warmth of a summer’s day

Words can heal; bind; loosen; hurt; comfort

But in the end, they are but one option

Of feelings too jaded or too flighty

To ever be contained

Oh, Green earth and oceans blue


Smoke filled skies resized

Sun peeking through the haze

Smoke filled air burns my eyes

Earth is aflame in many quarters

Forest, farmland, waters too are under attack

Lightening strikes and births a new inferno

My throat is dry; My spirit weak

What will become of life as we know it

When all is ash, what good our technology then?

While powers that be deny global warming

Tsunamis unleash terrible punishment

Floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes too

Pummel the lands of the earth

When all is said and done, what good the profits then?

Money is but an instrument to provide for needs

Needs, not wants should be the measure

But love of money births greed and folly

Oh green earth and oceans blue

I stand and cry these tears for you

Friday the 13th and all that nonsense


Friday the 13th …..  

“What the mind doesn’t understand, it worships or fears.” – Alice Walker

According to the Independent, the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th can be traced to the demise of the Knights Templar in the Middle Ages. Apparently, they cursed us all in retaliation for being burned at the stake.

Wikipedia attributes the superstition to a date hundreds of years before the Knights Templar – going back to the crucifixion of Christ when the number of people present at the Last Supper was 13. The site lists several other occurrences that contribute to the beliefs and superstitions involving Friday  the 13th.

Throughout the centuries this date is considered to be unlucky, especially when it falls on a Friday.

On the other hand, those born on this date are considered to be lucky. (I have no idea where that comes from.) I guess it’s all a matter of context, culture, and perspective.

Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing may your Friday the 13th be without fright, flight, or phantoms. Enjoy!

The Wall


“The last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you become the plaything to circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity…” – Viktor E. Frankl

The wall – an obstacle I cannot get beyond. There comes a moment in every life, I suppose, when we each are stymied by the wall. The wall of missed opportunity; the wall of misunderstandings; the wall of poverty; the wall of doubt and mistrust; the wall that is much like a steep incline where we are wearied by the effort of trying to mount it; so many walls.

And yet, are not most walls those of our own making? Did we not build them ourselves brick by brick? Or, if we did not do it ourselves, did we not contribute to their structure in some shape or form?

It is so easy to point the finger of blame, to avoid self-examination and accountability. Yes, I know there are some circumstances beyond our control. Sometimes the fates seem to align in such a way that we are well and truly trapped. But, for the most part, we do have a choice in how we live our lives – even if it is only how we respond to a given situation.

May we each be given whatever tool we need; meet whatever person we need, to dismantle the wall.

“Just as despair can come to one only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings.” – Elie Weisel

“There is meaning in every journey that is unknown to the traveler.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”  – Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Delightful Summer’s day


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Siting on the lawn swing

With my cat beside me

Clouds obscure the sun

in the garden

But my cat and I don’t care

What could be more perfect

Than siting in the swing

My fur-covered love beside me

Simply swinging our cares away

No cloud can darken this moment

A care-free summer’s day

The gentle sway chases away

All worries

And my cat softly purrs

As I stroke her fur

And keep on swinging

On this delightful summer day

“Psychic Vampires”


“Being kind, gentle, empathetic and helpful should not be at the cost of your own growth. Most certainly help others, lend a shoulder to the wheel when necessary but don’t ignore yourself in the bargain. Strike a balance, help others and help yourself too.” – Latkia Teotia

‘Psychic vampire’ – I first heard that term on a late-night radio program. It describes people who suck the life right out of you. I have known such individuals. People who are so joyless that they sap your energy and leave you feeling empty and exhausted. It can be so tiring trying to help people who are so entrenched in drama that it has become like an addiction for them. I feel for them, I do. At the same time life is short and I cannot afford to be swamped by the never-ending despair that certain individuals seem to be embroiled in. It makes me sad for them. Yet I know there is absolutely nothing I can do. It is as though they have a problem for every solution. And though the problems are not of their making they nevertheless seem to thoroughly enjoy the victim role. What can you do? Nothing at all, but pray for them, wish them well and move on with your own life. And that’s not to be unkind, but to realize that there are circumstances and situations beyond our control. I matter; you matter, and so, too, do the “psychic vampires”, I just cannot afford to allow them to siphon all the love, joy, and peace out of life. But I wish them well. I wish them the blessings of peace.

 

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Andre Lorde

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”  – Parker J. Palmer, Let your life speak: Listening for the voice of vocation

Thunder bolts and lightening…are they very, very frightening?


RAIN STORM at Sylvan Lake, AB photo by Carol Morrissey Hopkins

 

There is something magical and also comforting about a thunderstorm. You know the kind – the loud booms followed by the bright flash of lightening and accompanied by a hard rain. The raindrops fall like miniature bombs – big, fat drops that would have you drenched in seconds if you get caught outside in it. Storms like this remind me of how small and inconsequential we are – microscopic really.

Such a thunderstorm takes me back to my childhood when a noisy clap would send me scurrying to my bed to hide under the covers. I remember the sheepish grins of my siblings as we smiled with false bravado claiming, “I wasn’t scared at all!”. Thunderstorms tested our mettle and helped us learn it was really just a lot of noise, and, for the most part, harmless.

Still, there is something mysterious and dangerous about a raging storm – perhaps it hearkens back to prehistoric times when human kind were quite vulnerable and at the mercy of the elements.

Mother Nature can be volatile and ever-changing. Threatening dark skies coupled with wild winds still have the capability to make my heart come up in my throat. My pulse beats faster and I catch myself holding my breath.

Ah, thunder – a familiar old friend and simultaneously a terror to be avoided, if at all possible. Still, I would not want to miss the magic and the wonder. I sit on the front porch, sheltered from the teeming rain and watch Mother Nature’s display –  forever new and yet a timeless and well-loved re-run.

Later I fall asleep to the lullaby of raindrops splashing against the windows and falling upon the roof. I am safe. I am content.

The tormentors and the tormented


“When faced with senseless drama, spiteful criticisms and misguided opinions, walking away is the best way to stand up for yourself. To respond with anger is an endorsement of their attitude.” – Dodinsky

It is so easy to respond with anger to situations and circumstances that seem to be unjust and unfair. It is not easy to take the high road. It’s all fine and good to sprout clichés like “consider where it comes from”, for there is truth in that. Conversely, ‘it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease’.  I am torn between these ideas as well as the Christian admonishments to ‘turn the other cheek’ yet on the other hand, ‘do not sin by silence when you should defend”.

I try to bear in mind that each individual is coming from their own unique background and so have their own frame of reference, which I may or may not understand. Constructive criticism is a good thing, when it is, in fact, constructive and delivered in such a way that it does not attack the person. Too often, however, biting words are spoken – words meant to wound. At times like this I try to remember that the tormentors are also the tormented. After all people with good self esteem, the happy and content people, do not strive to feel better by inflicting harm or by destroying the reputation of another. It seems to me it is individuals suffering from low self esteem; from a lack of understanding; or from ignorance that tend to strike out to blame and maim.

There is a time to stand up and be heard. There is a time to bite your tongue and maintain silence.  I am praying for the gift of wisdom to discern which is best in any given situation.

Winter blues


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I guess I was too optimistic yesterday – I was reminded how cold it still is when I awoke to a freezing house because the furnace is not working! A repairman was here and is headed back to the shop. We are hoping the necessary part is in stock; otherwise it will be tomorrow before he will be able to repair it due to the fact that the part may have to be ordered from Edmonton. Oh joy, oh bliss – winter is having the last laugh even as the sun shines. On a positive note there is a wood burning fireplace we can use if it gets any colder. And we have a stack of firewood in the garage, so it’s not so bleak. And I do like sitting in front of a roaring fire (or at least I used to before the wildfire that swept through the city nearly two years ago). I guess I will find out if that’s an option. Aw life – your challenges are never-ending.