Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Shoulds" and acceptance

First of all, I'd like to say that I realize I should be cleaning my house right now. There are so many "shoulds" going through my brain at the moment, and a few "shouldn'ts" as well. But I have to figure out a way to get some things off of my chest without hurting the people I love. Sounds like a bit of a pickle...

There are times when you know what is the best thing to do. Times when it should be easy to say Hey, why don't we..., but you find yourself in a position where you are unable to speak your mind. Times when it should be obvious to all parties involved what the correct course of action is, but everyone is afraid to say or do anything that might offend another person.

Why do we have to pussyfoot around our concerns and emotions? Why are we afraid of others reactions? Why are people so easily slighted by true and honest sentiments? If I feel very strongly about an issue and can address the issue an a calm and polite manner, shouldn't I be able to do so?

I look at the mutt, sleeping next to me, and see such straightforwardness in her spirit. She is always who she is and is always honest with those around her. And in return the people in her life accept her for who she is. They acknowledge her faults and do not make excuses for her bad behaviours. If only life was that easy for people.

Perhaps it is. Perhaps I should take a more canine approach to life. Say what needs to be said and let others respond however they please. The people in my life will either accept what I have to say or they won't. If my crazy mutt can find acceptance maybe I can too.

But for now, I have to go and dust my house. 

Monday, July 23, 2012


I've been ignoring my garden lately which isn't like me, normally I take a lot of pride in it. But as I've mentioned before, it has been so damn hot lately, that I haven't had any motivation to do anything. Today, I decided I would get up early and go out and look after it because it's become pretty obvious that it won't look after itself. Surprisingly, it really was not too out of control and nothing that a little TLC couldn't fix. 
What I realized, once I got out there, was I needed some TLC too!  

Since this summer has been so abnormally warm we haven't done much lately, except sit in the veranda and enjoy cold beverages. We also haven't been to the lake in a few weeks and I don't think I realized how much I missed being outside with the bugs and the dirt and the sweat beading on your brow (all that good stuff). The important thing for me was simply being out there in the garden. And as Wendell Berry says:

One of the most important resources that a garden makes available for use, is the gardener's own body. A garden gives the body the dignity of working in its own support. It is a way of rejoining the human race.

I guess I take for granted how lucky I am, that I am able to escape the city and head out to the country.  Even when I was a kid, growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I went to my dad's house in the mountains nearly every other weekend. As a result, I was able to lose myself in the backwoods and that probably saved my life. I really enjoyed being outside and I spent a lot of my time by myself. I had my little forts and would hang out in the woods with my dog. I had my imaginary friends and I loved collecting salamanders for 'temporary' pets. It was a crucial part of me becoming me and I think it's something that many kids today don't get to do.

I look at the kids in my neighbourhood and my nieces and nephews and see that they don't spend time outside. Basically they watch videos and play video games and they text their friends, but I rarely see them playing outside. For example, even when my nieces and nephews are at the lake, it would never occur to them to go for a walk or to go exploring or say let's go see if we can find some berries to pick. When they get hot they will go swimming, but then it's back inside to watch a movie.  Thankfully, my littlest niece and nephew love to go on a nature walk with auntie, but the older ones - they just aren't interested. And it isn't just my in-laws, it's an epidemic.

Spending time outdoors is really important, I know it has made a big difference in my life. Hopefully, we going to the lake this weekend and I can recharge my spiritual batteries.

Let's go for a walk!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Keep on Rockin'

It's funny how music can bring you back to a particle moment in time. Today, for the first time in probably 5 years, I heard the song "Anchorage" by Michelle Shocked and it immediately brought me to tears. Later, out in the yard, the lyrics kept running through my head. I closed my eyes and felt the breeze and the hot sun on my face and - bam! - there I was, a brokenhearted, 27 year old crying for lost love. All of the emotions came flooding back and felt so real. The pain almost enough to break my heart all over again.

And then the phone rings and I am jolted back to the NOW. The 27 year old slips back behind the blinds and waits for her next chance to humble me. To remind me to not get too complacent in the life I have created. How did that young woman become me? What a journey she has been on and what a transformation has occurred. Of course that young woman has always been there, under the layers, but to have her rush out like she did was a shock. Pretty amazing stuff.

Music has been a safe place for me to land when things are rough. Letting someone else's lyrics cry out my pain and sadness has played an important part in healing my wounded psyche. I am tied to some songs and there are times I may turn away because the emotions are just too raw.  On a day like today, it was a joy to re-embrace the woman I was and be happy for the one I am becoming.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Last week was Thoreau's birthday and I read the following quote from him, and it has really stuck with me.
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
Over the weekend, Jim and I went to a friend's house for a BBQ and live jam. He lives about 45 minutes outside the city, on a few acres. Everyone was encouraged to camp, which we did, and that gave me the opportunity to explore his land a little bit. It's a nice piece of property and they have some beautiful gardens. I crossed through their tree line and happened upon a beautiful meadow. I thought to myself, this is the kind of place that I want to live. It looks like the perfect place for Jim and I to raise a couple of donkeys and goats, and maybe a few chickens. And besides - it's gorgeous!

As I lay in bed last night, trying to fall asleep, I was thinking about buying a farm and how Jim and I would make it work. Will we have to wait until we retire? Will I be too old then to work a small hobby farm? I mean, I'm not going to retire for another 20 years! So many questions. But then I caught myself and remembered Thoreau's quote.  I just have to keep moving forward and believe (believing is key) in the reality of my donkey farm. 

I know that spending my time and energy worrying, about what may or may not happen, is such a horrible waste of both. I still struggle with 'not' worrying, mostly because I come from a LONG line of worriers. I have to believe that this will happen for us and of course I have to lay some groundwork. We are doing our best to save some money, and are committed to living below our means. Yes, below and not within our means - we say below, because we make a conscious choice to not spend as much as we could. It helps that we are Winnipeggers - frugal to a fault! But both of us are on board with how we want the rest of our lives to pan out. (And Jim is finally warming up to my dream of donkeys - I introduce him to all that we meet - which makes me very happy.)

One thing I do know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that things are going to unfold the way they were meant to unfold. The universe has a way of working stuff out, otherwise how do you explain that decided to marry the old bear the day I met him?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Better Place

I stumbled across an article today about a man who created a beautiful tribute to his wife after she passed away. A farmer in England planted thousands of oak trees and created a glade in the shape of a heart. It truly is an amazing love story and what a beautiful way to honour someone so dear to you. I shared the article with Jim and the story really touched him. Touched him so deeply that he was moved to tears and held out his hands to grab mine. We hugged and Jim said he would do the same for me.

It is moments like these that reinforce that I made the right decision seven years ago, when I accepted his proposal the day we met. I am so lucky to have found such a generous, compassionate and loving man. He has made such a difference in my life and motivates me to be a better person every day. For a long time I was living a life steeped in negativity and bad habits. But when I met Jim, he saw something inside of me that even I didn't know I had. The poem that was read at our wedding continues to resonate - louder than ever before.

I love you because you
Are helping me to make
Of the lumber of my life
Not a tavern
But a temple.
Out of the works
Of my every day
Not a reproach
But a song.
I love you
Because you have done
More than any creed
Could have done
To make me good.
And more than any fate
Could have done
To make me happy.
You have done it
Without a touch,
Without a word,
Without a sign.
You have done it
By being yourself.

Over the years, I have struggled with letting go of anger and resentment and feel that I am finally making progress in that area. Jim continues to inspires me with his positive outlook and gentle nature. He has always encouraged me and the changes that are occurring in my life are a direct result of his support and love. I want to be the best person I can and I especially want to be the best wife I can be. And as fiber artist and blogger, Maria Wulf, said on her blog recently "I know it makes the world a better place." 

Maria, by the way, also serves as an inspiration to me. When I am getting stuck in old ways of thinking or having trouble sleeping I focus on the beautiful wall hanging I bought from her. It keeps me grounded and gives me focus. 

Laughing in a Sea of Donkeys

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's been really hot for about a week or so, keep in mind that I live in Canada and we don't "do" hot here. We've been trying to stay cool with lots of water and the ceiling fans on full speed. So far, so good.
The dog, however, is getting bored. I relented tonight and took her for a walk despite the temps. It's my favourite time to go for a walk because it is that curious hour of dusk when you can see into people's houses. I really enjoy catching glimpses into other homes. Observing someone washing the dishes alone in the kitchen, or sitting around talking with friends, even just seeing what they might be watching on TV is fascinating for me.
Tonight what I noticed is how closed up the houses were on my street. All the windows drawn and lights off. The only noise was their air conditioners humming steadily. Porches and pools were empty, everyone inside enjoying their forced air. PD and I wandered the neighbourhood, seemingly alone except for a rabbit and a late night robin. I picked some raspberries from the house down the street, which were amazingly sweet. (I actually feel bad for the berries - every year they are left to rot, even though the owners claim they want them). 
We kept on moving, enjoying the light breeze and when we got to the corner, I noticed something different. The old sign across the street had been refreshed. I have to admit, I am not sure what it used to say. I think it  used to advertise acupuncture and crystals. But the sign was in such disrepair that I believed it was for a defunct home business. Whatever the case might be, they have painted the sign and put up a new message for passers-by.

Having seen their handiwork tonight, I know that I will take their advice to heart every day. My hope is that the many motorists who pass by will see it and do the same. I hope they are not asleep and blind to the sign's simple beauty. Those of us who are already awake and believing, will smile and nod. I think that there are more of us than I first suspected.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Fringe Benefits

Last year I made the decision to change career paths and do something that I really enjoyed. I was fortunate to find a great job working at a neighbourhood doggie day care. I have always loved animals, especially dogs (and donkeys, but that is another story). There was quite a bit of a learning curve for me, but I think I have settled in and found my groove.  There has been an unexpected fringe benefit to this job, something that is becoming one of my favourite aspects of my job.

I spend a lot of time by myself when I am at work. I have some great co-workers, but the majority of my time I am on my own, except for the dogs, lots of dogs - some days there may be 25 or 30 that I look after. I play with the dogs, sing to them, dance with them and, of course, I talk to them. There is ample time during the endless rounds of fetch to go deep inside my head and mull over ideas or work out anything that may be bothering me. 

When I first moved to Winnipeg I found myself alone quite a bit. Jim was working and I was visa-less and unable to work in Canada. I tried to keep busy as best I could, but it was hard to stay upbeat. I had moved to a new city, in a new country, and didn't know many people. I had always enjoyed my alone time - but this was different, this was depressing. We had some hard times when we were newlyweds, I don't think either of us imagined how difficult it would be in the beginning. 

But things got better for us and the dark days lifted. Now I am able enjoy having time to myself, time to think and process and reflect. Sometimes the answers come to us easily and sometimes they need to be forcibly extracted from the detritus in our mind.  Either way, you have to be able to be alone in your own head to find out what is in there.

Whatcha thinking about?

Saturday, July 07, 2012

No Trespassing

Lately we have been listening to Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest album Americana
I happened to be walking past a record store (remember those? they were nice) on the day the album was released. Since we are planning to go and see Neil when he comes to town later this fall, I popped in and bought the CD. I hadn't heard anything about the album, so when we played it a few days later I was blown away.
Neil has really created something special this time. His dark renditions of songs we all grew up singing give you chills and get stuck in your head for a long time. In the past few weeks I have caught myself singing "Oh Susanna", "Clementine" and even "God Save the Queen". But the song that has grabbed me and spoken to me has been "This Land is Your Land".
I think we are all familiar with this old Arlo Guthrie song, and learned to sing it in school. I was surprised to find out that even Canadians have their own version. Hearing Neil's version, I realized I had never learned all of the verses.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I'd seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

"Nobody living can ever stop me." I have had to think about that phrase a lot lately. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation with irrational people. People who are so entrenched in their own belief system that they can not (and will not) see any other view but their own. People who are so blind to the truth that they will scream at you to "SHUT UP" rather than look around and see what is really happening. 
Over the past few weeks I have been in that situation a number of times and my response has been to let them rant and carry on instead of trying to reason with them. In the past I would have kept insisting that they were wrong and I was right, but no longer. My views and ideas have nothing to do with what 'they' think and believe. I can not control other people just as I will not allow myself to be controlled by others. It isn't always easy to walk away from situations like these, but it is worth it and necessary for self-preservation.

This land was made for you and me

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Wake up!

In my mail today there was a pamphlet from the kind Jehovah's Witnesses (too bad I missed them). I was about to just toss it in the recycling, when the headline caught my eye.

"Would you like to wake up every morning with happy, positive thoughts?" 

Yes, yes I would and believe it or not - most days I do. I am blessed to share my bed with my dear husband and a big old mutt. And every morning, every one, my dear hubby, Jim, says to me "Good morning, pretty, did you sleep well?". Not hard to be happy with that, is it? I know he says it because he means it and being loved so much by someone - in spite of all my flaws - truly makes me happy.

When we got married, almost 6 years ago, my father pulled Jim aside and warned him what I was like in the morning. I think the word my dad used to describe me was "bear". Jim took it to heart and was careful with me for a long time. Plenty has happened since we were newlyweds, but most importantly Jim has showed me how to be happy. How to be at peace with myself and to see that life is good, I am good and love is everywhere.

I may not always sleep well (and believe you me I don't) but I am responsible for how I feel in the morning. Ironically, last night I tossed and turned thinking of the blog. What was I going to write about today, was I going to post everyday or just when the mood struck me? All night long "what ARE you going to write about!!" When I woke up this morning (greeted by Jim's warmth and the dog's wet kisses) I realized that the blog would take care of itself and I could relax. I knew at some point the idea would come to me and I would follow its lead. What I didn't know that my inspiration would come from the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Well,  I am going to take a giant leap here and expose myself. I have been mulling this idea around for quite some time and have recently been encouraged by my favourite blogger, Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm. He didn't encourage me in a personal way, but he provides me with more guidance than I think he would ever expect. 
It seems that my brain is changing (some have suggested that this is due to perimenopause) and I am seeing the world in a new way. I feel quite at ease with myself and my life. I feel like things are clicking into place and making sense. Sort of like getting enough pieces of the jigsaw together to see the bigger picture and fill in the blanks.

Why have I felt (for so long) that I am not good enough. Certainly, I am not a good enough writer. Certainly, my photos are amateurish. My knitting is full of mistakes. My house is never clean enough. All of those things and more. We all hear the voices. It can feel quite confusing, all these voices coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once and telling us how to be, how to think and how to feel. And most importantly - how to feel about ourselves. But are any of those things true? and who decides what is good enough?

In the end, it all comes down to me. 

So, I have decided to let myself decide. 

My light in the darkness.