“Trust yourself. You’ve survived a lot, and you’ll survive whatever is coming.”

The above quote is from Robert Tew and although I prefer to trust in the Creator I believe we also need to trust in ourselves, or rather, trust that we do receive all we need through the Divine One when we are open and allowing the Creator to work in us and through us.

As I have written before, I work at the local library. The library is housed in a huge recreation and sports complex which is closed until further notice. Which means the library is also closed. I will miss the daily interaction with our patrons and with my wonderful coworkers. Initially I was worried and wondered how I would be able to pay the rent, bills, etc. but this morning I read a lovely email from our director assuring staff that we will continue to be paid for our shifts for the next two weeks at least. That’s a big relief. Governments have also assured us that they will be putting programs in place to help people through this financial challenge. We are so very blessed. Yet, I cannot help but wonder about the people in developing nations where health care systems are not as advanced as ours; where daily needs were a huge challenge long before this pandemic erupted. These thoughts are somber indeed. I cannot afford to emotionally stay with these thoughts for long. There is just so much going on and it is so anxiety-provoking. I may be misquoting here, but I think the Buddhist teaching is “Do not attach to suffering”. So, I will do my best to not worry and to trust that the Creator knows the suffering of all people, everywhere, and knows our every fear and anxiety.

Anxiety has become a way of life for many years. I have often written about my husband’s fragile health and the challenges before us now with Covid 19 have brought these worries to the fore once again. And yet, I have learned that the Creator is always at my side. I have been brought through so many storms; so many highly stressful situations and circumstances. And always, always, we receive all we need. Always I am reminded of the holiness and sacredness of humanity – the reflection of the Divine in each human being. The Creator has brought people into my life who have supported me in every way imaginable. So why should I worry about Covid 19? God really is in control and well used to our human frailty and constant doubts and fears. I think in these uncertain times it is more important than ever to remember the words of Christ: “Do not be afraid”.

Fear and stress release toxins into the body and can make us quite sick. Now more than ever we need to take care of our physical, mental, and emotional health and, perhaps, most importantly, our spiritual health. I have been told in the past that I am a very strong person. No, I am not. Any strength you may perceive is the Creator sustaining me and guiding me. May we all be strengthened. May we all receive the gifts of faith, hope, and wisdom. Be gentle with yourselves, my friends and stay healthy and stay safe.

And I was afraid…

“Feel the fear and do it anyway” has been a quote that has challenged me time and time again. Fear can rule your life, if you let it. From the fear of monsters and boogey men as a child to the adult fear of financial failure; fear of loneliness; fear of success; fear of failure and on and on it goes. Fear can keep you up late into the night. It can consume you, eat you up, and regurgitate an endless loop of anxious thought so you fear some more.

Last summer we moved into an apartment building. It’s a nice building with a beautiful view, but I had forgotten what apartment living can be like. It has been many, many years since I lived in one. For the past week or more a neighbor has been making an awful lot of noise late at night. I don’t know what they’re doing but it sounds like they’re moving furniture some nights, others it’s vacuuming the carpets and last night it was an all-out fight with yelling, screaming, thumping and more. I really had had enough. I thought about going upstairs to bang on their door. I didn’t. I was afraid. I mean, it could be a domestic dispute that was getting out of hand and there’s no way I’m getting in the middle of that!

Anyway, it got me thinking of all the ways fear has controlled my life, even as my mother’s voice urged me to “stand up for yourself”. I have trust issues, meaning, I don’t trust the person on the other side of the door will be receptive to my reasonable request to keep the damned noise down.

At any rate I did eventually handle it. It’s been quiet ever since but I have not been able to get back to sleep. It’s likely going to be a difficult day as I plow on through with my muddled brain.

A week or more ago there was a fire alarm – big fear initiated. My husband cannot walk up and down stairs (which is why we moved here). It was a reasonable fear and it was good because it gave us the chance to plan our exit in case of fire.

Alarms, false or otherwise kicks in that fight or flight response we so often experience in life. Fear can be a good thing, flooding our bodies with adrenaline when we need it. But that same stress response can lead to ill health if experienced too often, or if prolonged.

That quote is good. It is necessary to overcome fears to live a life that is satisfying and full. Yet, it is also good to do nothing at times, such as not putting yourself in a situation where you could be harmed. Sure, “feel the fear and do it anyway”, but only if it will lead to growth. Personally, I would prefer not to be socked in the eye by an irate neighbour!

Searching for the Silver Lining (again)

Some sayings just lend themselves well: “a stitch in time saves nine” and the like. But other sayings make me cringe on a very deep level such as “suck it up, buttercup”. I mean, I get it. Constant complaining and whining is annoying. But I hate the way that particular saying is bandied about rather freely, often without regard to the other person’s feelings. I loathe it. I try not to complain, I really do. This is a warning that I am about to vent a little bit. Please, stop here and read no further if you are experiencing more than enough stress of your own at the moment. I sincerely do not want to add to your burdens. Okay, if you choose to read on, you’ve been warned.

Before I get to that, another saying I love is “every cloud has a silver lining”. I believe that. Good things can come from the worst of circumstances. I am trying to find that silver lining in the most recent hit. So, if you follow this blog you know that this year has been filled with challenges for my husband and I. He has had diabetes (type 2) for about twenty years. It has led to a lot of health issues: heart failure and kidney failure among them. Last spring, he had to have emergency gall bladder surgery – surgery that required anesthesia and kept him in hospital for about three months. During that time his kidneys failed and he had to go on dialysis. In the weeks following his surgery his kidneys bounced back enough so that he no longer needed it. My how we rejoiced.

Unfortunately, his kidneys have worsened once again and we are now waiting for a spot in the dialysis unit to open up so he can receive this much needed help. I guess the silver lining is that dialysis exists to do the job his kidneys can no longer do. I am trying not to worry. I am praying that he can get back into the dialysis unit here in town – the alternative is having him do it in Edmonton which is a five-hour drive away. I am hoping his kidneys continue to function until that spot becomes available. It is scary. I am doing my best to have faith; to trust in the will of the Creator. Most of the time I can and do find strength in my faith, but I am feeling weak today. So, forgive me if I cannot “suck it up”. I am doing my level best not to get sucked into the black vortex of worry and despair. Hopefully I will have something more positive to share when next I visit WordPress. Right now, I am just sad and tired. I will bounce back. I will. And I will find more silver than cloud in this present challenge.

A very serious Sunday

I have been thinking much more serious thoughts of late – likely due to all I have been reading: about the death knell on democracy; about the climate crisis; about mental health issues, and so forth. Sometimes I just have to wade into those dark pools of human realities.

I like to keep things light, as much as I possibly can. But that is difficult when I allow myself to read all the doom and gloom. I worry about what we are leaving for future generations, because, let’s face it my generation, the “baby boomers,” are quickly entering our twilight years. Meanwhile the powers that be seem bent on operating like its business as usual while the planet seems to be rushing headlong into catastrophe or quite possibly total oblivion.

I was reading one article that discussed the responsibility of journalists to forego using the words “climate change” and instead to call it what it is – a full-blown climate crisis. Perhaps it is well past time we woke up to the reality of all the damages done to the environment in the last hundred years. Yup, it seems pretty bleak.

Then there is the whole issue of democracy and the war on media. Nothing is quite as simple as it seems – there is no black and white but many gradients of gray. Social media has made elections much more devious and based on character (or perceived character traits) of the candidates and, as Ontario illustrated in the last provincial election, platforms that are thin if there is any at all. We vote more with our emotions than with our heads.

And our heads have been inundated with social ills from overcrowded prisons to waiting lines in hospitals. Mental health issues are wide spread with little hope of an answer to the many plagues, such as depression, that abound these days.

I don’t know what to say about it all except that it is very worrisome. I’d like to stick my head in the sand until it all gets magically better. But magic is a mirage – much like the smoke and mirrors that is politics.

I do believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. At every turn in history when push came to shove the despots and tyrants never won – they may seem to in the short run, but in the long run cooler heads do prevail. Perhaps it takes a period of chaos or the imminent destruction of the planet for people to stand firm and shout out a decisive “NO”.

Please, let those cooler heads come to the fore now. May God grant us better leadership and more applied intelligence than we’ve been witness to in the past number of years. Please, God, let it be so.

Battling with myself

My mind overwhelmed with pain at the merest idea,

Tortures me with thoughts of you murdered

Or perhaps laying hurt and immobile in some dark, cold place

News stories read long ago haunt my memory

Taunting and sneering at my attempts to destress;

To let go of maudlin, gruesome images

and punishing thought that keep me reeling

With naught but the possibility

Of you forever gone

My cell phone held tight

Willing you to call, to touch base

Minutes tick by so slowly

It seems like time has stopped

An eternity spent in awful-izing

And what-if-ing

My sensible side stands and shakes her head

“Do not go there” she tells me sternly

“Wait, just wait,” she says “How silly you’ll feel …”

“Stay here beside me and hold my hand,” I tell her

“Tell me again about this senseless worry”

“And if the worst happens to pass…

Lend me your strength”

And so, the two sides go back and forth

The worrier who fears the worse

Battling with she who is strong and sensible and wise

And slowly the strength seeps in

And steadies the warped and worried mind

And my cell phone rings….

The Tyranny of Positivity

Negative Nellies – that’s the term people use to describe those embroiled in negative emotion. But is that fair? Are we judging people before we know what life is like for them? For example, my husband is very sick. Lately he has been battling a cough that makes it next to impossible for him to sleep at night, and consequently, me as well. He has a slew of health issues and is on several medications, which makes taking something for the cough problematic. Medications can interact with one another to make a bad situation even worse. It’s hard not to be negative when you’re sick and not getting the rest you need to recuperate.

And for me, lack of sleep combined with worry has made battling my negative demons even more of a challenge. Sometimes the societal demands to be positive when just putting one foot in front of another seems like a herculean task. Speaking for myself, it feels cruel. I am tired! So, can we cut one another a break? We don’t know what is going on in the lives of others. Can we set aside the judge’s robes and the demand for positivity?

Yes, positive emotions are easier to live with and a positive attitude is preferable to a negative one. Yet, we are all only human. Sometimes life is hard. Placing demands on people to be positive when we don’t know their situation or what issues they may be struggling with, is, frankly, inhumane in my view. Kindness and compassion will go a lot further to help people become more positive than the judgment and labeling of them as ‘negative nellies’.

Let’s be a little more gentle with ourselves, and with one another.

The Empty Bed

In the empty bed

Sound asleep I stretch out my hand

Seeking you, but you are not there

Panicked, I awaken to check on you

Aw, false alarm, you are merely answering nature’s call

I think of the day to come when you are no longer there

So many close calls, too many times, leave me anxious

Worry over that, which I cannot control, is a wasted effort, I know

But it is a hard road to travel, this path we are on

I try not to give it too much thought or too much energy

But in the dead of night, in an empty bed, it is hard not to dwell

On a life without you and what it may mean

Life has not been what we envisioned, nor what we dreamed

Yet, still and all, I would not change a thing

We’ve had many adventures, you and I

And in the end, we cannot know

Who will be the first to go

So once again I banish maudlin thoughts

And fight off macabre things

We are here now, you and I

And that means everything

The Seed


The Seed … 

Shadows dark and winding

Making inroads deep inside

‘Come, let the light shine

To chase the dark away, the woman said,

Worry not, she crooned softly

Let lightness soothe you’

And yet it is the shadowland

Where truth lays buried

Like a seed within the earth.

What knowledge does the black night hold

Or secret of despair?

I will worry not

When once I hold

The answers to my query

The seed buried deep within

Mother Nature’s womb

Will split in two and allow new growth

And like that strong green thing

That pushes forth toward the surface

To unfurl its leaves like praying hands

Open to the sun

I will hunker down within the shadows

And wait until I’m done.

Worry: a form of prayer?

I read recently not to worry because worry is a form of prayer that can be like a self-fulfilling prophesy. I can attest to that; whether my expectations are good or whether they are fraught with worry I pretty much always get what I expect. I’ve read a lot of books on the power of positive thinking and I do believe whole-heartedly in that – if nothing else it makes you feel good and feeling good is always preferable to feeling lousy. But the concept of worry being a form of prayer is a completely new idea to me. “As within, so without”, as the saying goes. So, in that respect I can see how worry can influence people, circumstances, and situations. People seem to be drawn to happy, confident individuals more so than those who seem to have a problem for every solution.

I am not a guru. I don’t have any answers. But I do know from experience that worry never helps anything. And as my mother used to say, “it all comes out in the wash”.

“Worry is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere”. – author unknown

And one more: “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.” – Swedish proverb

Fragility of Life

I woke up this morning and after my usual morning routine I opened Facebook. One of the first posts I saw was a news story about a wildfire burning approximately 120 km from here. I live in Fort McMurray and I was here when the wildfires swept through the city and caused an evacuation of about 88,000 people – many of whom never returned. Not a good start to the day (the news story I mean). It made me anxious. The next post I saw was about snow in Newfoundland, my native home. All I could think was I would trade the hot, arid weather we’ve been having for snow any time. At least I wouldn’t be concerned about a wildfire with that lovely white moisture falling from the skies. The weather network is forecasting rain on Saturday – just a couple of days from now. I hope we get a good downfall – one that really soaks the earth.

Last month I was reading news stories about flooding in various regions of the country and I guess those people would have been happy for the sun to come out and dry up all that excess water. Life is a funny thing. We always seem to want what other people have, but after the wildfires of 2016 I will forgive myself for that. There is still too much evidence of the devastation all over the city, so, yes, snow is preferable in my mind. It’s only May after all. Yet the temperatures have been in the 25 to 30+ Celsius range all week. I will be glad for the cooler temps promised for next week. Step outside our door and you will smell the smoke in the air – again, I dislike it intensely.

Still, I am a lot less anxious than I was a year ago, so that’s something. Last evening, I went to the funeral home to pay respects to a man we know who recently died. And to offer what comfort I could to his wife and my dear friend. Life is so fragile and so precious. Death certainly puts things in perspective. Fire, floods, earthquakes, etc. are part of life. So too is death – it comes to each of us and is our one and only guarantee. Today I hope to live my life in such a way that it is a help and maybe even a blessing for others. That is my prayer and my fervent wish.