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Showing posts from January, 2014

Skyward

A  bank of pale grey clouds bordered the eastern horizon, edged thinly with shimmering molten copper. And slowly, the tiniest, brightest, diamond peeked above the gleaming edge, growing in size and brilliance with every second.  The start of yesterday morning's drive to the city!

Today, driving home,  the western sky was an exultant symphony of turquoise swirled with peachy, puffy, back lit clouds. Just so much beauty.

And this afternoon a farewell party for our boss, who will before the weekend fly into that sky on silvered wings; bound for a far off land of brilliant colours, pungent scents, exotic spices, and the music of the sitar. He and his wife will meet the daughter of their hearts face to face at last. 

For months he has been distracted, impatient, and frustrated by slow moving bureaucracy, every fibre of his being longing to bring her home. When the word came at last that the paperwork was all in place, joy arose in our cold Canadian city and a celebration feast was called …

Sharing the Ride

It's been an exciting and nerve-wracking week, which on so many levels seems like a dream in retrospect.

The adventure began when Paul received a phone call last November, telling him that he was to be inducted into the Order of Ontario. He was stunned at the news and spent most of that day trying to process it. He felt unworthy of this recognition, our province's highest official honour.

In our almost 45 years of marriage, Paul's overriding characteristics have been generosity, compassion, leadership, and courage to speak out for justice and equity, even in the face of strong opposing forces.

Still, the honour felt overwhelming. This sense only deepened at the ceremony, with the other 25 new appointees to the Order of Ontario. We both felt humbled in the company of these men and women and yet, in talking with some of them, many came from humble beginnings, and were simply living out their destiny and calling in their respective fields, using their particular gifts for the…

Don't Take Yourself too Seriously

I still remember a long ago New Year's Eve. I was working alone in my office after most of the rest of the world had already gone home, and I was just finishing a few things before going out into the last night of the year.

I don't remember anymore what it was that I was so annoyed about, only that I was, at something that I was about to respond to by email. Suddenly, as I was about to press "send," I stopped, my finger poised over the mouse. Did I want the first thing someone read in the New Year to be a snitty email from me? Did I really want to leave behind a toxic trail from one year into the next?

Whatever I was so miffed about, suddenly didn't matter so much. I remembered something I'd heard somewhere--something about leaving behind a wake--or maybe it was about leaving fingerprints on people's lives! Anyway, I realized that just on the off chance that I might never be seen or heard from again I didn't want the last thing I did, to be unkind, eve…

Talk Less!

Time for another of the Life Lessons on my list. This probably doesn't qualify quite as an Exclamation Mark as it's still a lesson in process. It's something that I wish I practiced better than I do, even though by nature I'm a quiet person--and that is, talking less. I rarely regret  the things I didn't say. On the other hand I've lost count of the times I've wished I could just press the "undo" button on words that have popped out of my mouth in the emotion of a moment.

And at times that others come to talk to me, why is it that I think that I have to talk so much? Usually people already know the answers to their dilemmas. Talking it out helps them to realize that--if only the listener focuses on helping them think things through.

A professional coach once told me that she had the letters W A I T on the wall of her office, strategically placed so that she'd see them behind the person she was meeting with. The letters stood for:

Why
Am
I
Talking?

I …

Plan not to Plan

First, an addendum to my prologue:
These "Exclamation Marks" are on my own hands and I'm sharing them just for fun, not because I think they are the final word in wisdom for everyone; They represent "aha" moments for me, or what has worked in my life. They are also not written in any kind of orderly sequence or order of importance, which fits in with the first lesson I've learned, which is: Plan not to Plan This is coming from someone, who as you will know, if you've spent any time with me at all; has spent way too much time planning. And trying to fit more things than are humanly possible into a given time frame. And who never gives up trying to be better organized. I like being organized and I like thinking through what is most important to get on with, but that's not what I mean. I'm talking about those longer term plans. Goodness, even a week can go seriously awry, let alone five years. In one of my journals there is a page on which, at 36 years …

Life Lessons--Prologue; a word about Faith

After writing about my Exclamation Marks and saying that I would write about the life lessons they represent to me, I was suddenly struck with self doubt.
"What was I thinking, that I thought I had 'life lessons' to share with anyone?" I thought.
As I share the thoughts that did come to mind over the next little while, let me say that just because they are things I believe to be true or helpful, does not mean I practice them well, although I try!
I won't write about my faith as one of my life lessons as that would diminish it somehow. The fact of faith is intrinsic to who I am. There are lessons that I could and have written about related to faith. They are different to the context of my Exclamation Marks--although any sound lesson can find its root and be confirmed in scripture--the pages of the Bible. 
The underlying premise of my faith is this: God exists;  an active relationship with him is possible; he loves each and every human with a love that is inconceivable…

Exclamation Marks!

I remember many long ago conversations with my dear Aunt Agnes (I've written several times about her on this blog, and if you click on her name it will link to one of the stories.) She would often laugh at how old she "suddenly" found herself (she was 50 years older than me,) and yet how inside she felt just like the young girl she once had been. On her apartment wall hung a black and white photograph of a pretty young girl in a long skirt and starched white blouse, hair tied back in a large black bow. The twinkle in her eye had not changed a bit in the many decades since the photograph was taken.

Now that I'm in my sixties I so relate. There are parts of my body that just aren't what they used to be, but my heart and spirit don't feel old.

One day last fall I was driving somewhere when I noticed my hands on the steering wheel. I work my poor hands hard and they are usually sorely neglected in the manicure department, but it was the brown "age spots" …

Christmas Extended

We left for Florida the day after Boxing Day, and I came home this past Saturday evening to a Christmas tree still brightly twinkling, wreaths on the doors, and our front yard lit up at night like, well, a Christmas tree!

On my kitchen wall hang two ornamental gold painted metal card holders; one in the shape of a Christmas wreath and the other a Christmas tree. They are handy, because our many Christmas cards can be arranged in them, instead of falling off shelves as people walk by.

Every possible moment I've been listening to a lovely Christmas CD given to Paul :) by Brenda and Kevin: The Piano Guys--A Family Christmas. Since we celebrate Christmas with family on Boxing Day, I had only had one day to enjoy Paul's CD before leaving and I just can't bear to put it away yet. 

Now that the unpacking from our trip, the laundry and grocery shopping is done, the next job is putting away our Christmas decorations and tonight I made a good beginning.

When I got to the Christmas card …

True Friends Join You in the Crazy

It was the last day of baking to fill the Christmas orders for apple pie. I had taken the day off from my job as there were an unmentionable and impossible number of pies to be baked before the next morning.

My dear friend Irene also had a day off and was coming to help me by peeling apples. Early that morning she texted me to say, "I'm on my way. Don't start without me!"  
"Don't worry, I won't!" I texted back. And I thought, "True friends join you in the crazy."
She put in a solid 8 hours peeling and slicing and assembling more pie boxes while I rolled pastry and plugged away at assembling and baking pies. Another two friends were coming later; Susan and Kathy; and Irene didn't want to leave until they arrived. And I knew I was being handed from the care of one guardian angel friend to two more.
Kathy and Susan arrived after their own days at work. The peeling was all done, but I had many other things that they could do to help. We laugh…

Gifts

In the morning we begin our journey home from Florida--from the land of voices that fall like sugar on the ear with their soft, "Honey's" and "Y'all's." The people here have been just out and out happily polite and pleasant where ever we went--the epitome of "nice."

This time away has been wonderful way to start the New Year--a gift--from the journey down through the states, away from the frigid cold of a recent ice storm in Canada--to the simplest of things enjoyed together as a family. I have tucked away some precious memories.

One memory is the excitement of crossing the border with Tippy and Tori, who have never been out of Ontario, and the laughter inside the car because I wasn't sure at which exact moment we had definitely crossed the border and could start cheering.

The sheer beauty of West Virginia as we drove by the Appalachian Mountains was stunning.

Just hanging out with two of my granddaughters for so many days strung together was …

Surfacing into a New Year

Happy 2014 everyone! 

I am in Florida with family this week; a precious time of focusing on rest and relationship. I am with Brenda, Kevin, Tippy and Tori. Paul is taking care of Molson the dog and Hazel the cat at home in Canada.

This morning Brenda asked what goals we had for this year. As I pondered, gave up, and turned the question back to her, she gave me mine--"Write on your blog!" she said. And so I am.

I have some catching up to do since I last wrote on December 15.I had baked 55 pies at that point, since mid November, when I felt a "God nudge" to bake pies to raise money for the global, non-government funded branch of Christian Horizons, the organization I work for. 

To those who might read "God nudge," and not understand what that means, I can only say that it's not something that happens to me every day, but I recognize it when it does by an inexplicable inner "knowing" that I am supposed to do something. It usually makes no rational …