Sunday, December 31, 2006

Good-Bye 2006!!!

The end of the year. And what a year it's been! I feel incredibly blessed... Wish I could post a bunch of photos as a send-out but I'm having trouble with my blogger account (I can't log in on my own computer -- any suggestions for how to fix it?), so just this for now.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Expedition

Every year we venture down to the creek with hot choc in the backpack, pulling our lovely old European sled to collect branches from our cedar grove.

This is A&P "warming" their hands on A's pretend fire.

They each had to take their own backpack.
A's has her baby tagging along, of course.
And in P's? his bobcat.

This is our beloved, beautiful Penny.
She always accompanies us on expeditions abroad...

Annika pulling the bounty, Pedar eating snow... mmmmmmm

And the results of our labour.
All made from our own trees: hemlock, cedar, spruce, pine, fir, grape ivy.
We are so blessed.

Our door swag complete with a bit of whimsy (grinning reindeer balls. ahem! i mean bells! tee hee!).
It's snowing tonight. And inside the fires are burning warm...

I LOVE this time of year!!!

(We can't put boughs on the mantle as the fan blows up and they dry out in about 2 days creating a fire hazard... Tree is fine there though, doesn't get the heat blowing onto it. )

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Not so little anymore

I can't believe how quickly Annika is becoming a big girl... I have to admit it both thrills and scares me. She is such her own little person. She's delighted with braids today (she had an enormous knot in the back of her hair that looked like it might have to be cut out -- thank goodness for good leave-in conditioner/detangler!) and her new jeans she got from her Oma. She adores pockets, and these ones have SIX pockets! She's got little things in almost all of them...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Celebration with our tribe...

On Thursday we had a little celebration for Annika's 5th birthday, inviting our homelearner friends that we feel most comfortable with. It was such a delight. It just felt like a celebration is supposed to feel: comfortable, easy, fun, joyful, and like we didn't want it to end... We ate, we opened presents, we blew out candles, we sang, we cheered, we built gingerbread houses (out of graham crackers, which is NOT as easy as it looks in the Dec. issue of Martha Stewart!!!!!), and some of us sledded until well after dark. And here's the kicker: when I came back into my kitchen after the last guest was gone? Well, you could hardly tell I'd had guests! More like family (or how you wish your family was... ha! ha!) They'd washed every dish, put the food away, cleaned up the toys... so we could just relax and enjoy the aftermath of celebrating with people we want MORE of in our lives... So often when people come, Annika is left feeling overwhelmed and jittery and takes a long time to calm down. And, okay, me too. But not this time. We just cuddled on the couch with big smiles on our faces, feeling blessed to have such good friends in our lives...

What I've Been Working On

This is sweetP, the doll I've made for Pedar for christmas. It's from the Wee Wonderful's Archie pattern and was so much fun to make. Harder than it looked, though! Maybe because I chose for him to wear jeans, pleather shoes and have mohair! And I've always loved the way LoobyLu draws eyes, so I tried to do something similar. He's soft and cuddly and I hope he wears well. I love the way he's turned out. He'll be a surprise for Pedar under the tree. There is an Olivia girl pattern too, and I want to make one for Annika, but might have to be in the New Year when she can pick out the fabrics...

And today I worked on a couple of kiddie aprons made out of vintage doilies and dresser scarves. One is for Annika's cousin, Rane for Christmas, the other is a surprise for Annika. The DK kids cookbooks were highly recommended to me, so those are on the list as well...
So fun to have a little time to spend in my craft room!!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saturday Morning Music

Music is SUCH a huge part of my life, my memories, my moods... music is pure magic in my life.
I hadn't heard of Regina Spektor before, but I LOVE her voice. And love the last part of the video SO much. A must watch on this playful snowey Saturday.
I love weekends... We're off to make snow caterpillars outside. wanna come? fuuuuuuuuuuuuuun!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Photos from Annika's Saturday birthday party

Every year she chooses her cake. This year she wanted an igloo (she decided on this long before she found THE one in the Martha Stewart December mag.) She's SO fun to make things for.

p.s. that's the polar bear she made (on the far right) out of the marzipan. That's why the penguins looked so shocked -- "WHAT is a polar bear doing here in penguin land?!?!?!"

Playing catch up...

I finally sorted out how this new photo program works, so will catch up with a few photos I've been promising people...

Tree Fun

Getting our tree is one of our favourite things every year. We didn't 'believe' in Christmas when I was growing up, so now I'm probably the strongest believer I know in Father Christmas, the whole tree thing and everything else in between. Christmas has nothing to do with Christianity for me. I'll post about that later.
We planted a bunch of new trees this year. Annika did most of it and is very proud of them. She takes care of them like they're her pets. So cute!

The Kim's

I have been so affected by the tragic ordeal the Kim's faced. I can't take a deep breath when I think about them. I feel so achey and panicky and deeply sad. I can't imagine what they went through in those long days before anyone could rescue them... I can't imagine the pain they felt when the dad decided to go off to look for help. And I can't breathe when I think of the agony they felt when they heard he didn't survive.
I urge you to read Patti's post on this. And especially this amazing link. Maybe it will be just the words to keep one of us from facing similar pain.
And in the meantime, hug your kids, sit with them, read to them, appreciate your family, and never miss an opportunity to kiss your partner.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy St. Nicholas' Eve

This is the first year we've celebrated this fun day. We spent the afternoon listening to Christmas carols and baking gingerbread people. Then tonight we snuck out under the full moon and left them on a few friends' and neighbours' steps. It was SUCH fun! We giggled and hooted so hard our sides ached. We all LOVED sneaking around in the dark leaving goodies for people! Annika wanted to do the sneak at her cousin's house. So P and me stayed in the car while A snuck stealthily up their sidewalk. But her aunt saw something out the window and just as A had placed the package and was starting to stand up to knock on the door, her aunt's head appeared in the window. I've never seen A run so fast in all her life. Her eyes were as big as the moon and she ran down the sidewalk, RIGHT PAST the car and kept going! I was laughing so hard I could barely drive. Her heart was pounding and she had to be coaxed back around to doing the neck few sneaks. What fun. The only problem was the recipe I used (Donna Hay) was SO good that we ate far too many and ended up not being able to do all the sneaks we had planned...

Five Years Ago...

My world changed and I can hardly remember what it was like before I became a mother.
I just can't believe how blessed I am...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Update on weeP

So, we've been to see the pediatrician twice now, had more blood drawn from our wee boy than I knew was in him, had 7 x-rays taken and an extensive ultrasound and ??
Nada. We know he doesn't have a whole whack of scarey things, but we don't know anything conclusively as yet. A few of the blood tests aren't back yet, so there still could be something there. But I'm thinking there won't be. The biggest result for me was getting back the muscular dystrophy marker as normal. It was slightly higher than normal, but I was assured that it was still a "negative" result. YAY! And the pediatrician thinks his bones will straighten a good bit on their own once the femur heads rotate (normal development).
So now we're starting with a naturopathic doctor (Dr. DeMonte) here in town. Annika's tummy has been troubling her for about a year now (but getting much worse in the last couple of months) and this doctor says she has an infection in her ileocecal valve. Maybe Pedar has something similar? I don't know, but I feel SO much HOPE for both of them... That we'll all be feeling good and sleeping better in no time flat... I suppose I could have gone to her first and maybe saved some angst and worry? No, I don't think so. I think I had to do it this way -- see what the allopathic system could offer before going to the naturopathic. We've already had the "they put an electronic probe on her toe and now you know she shouldn't be eating wheat? realllly?" a few times. And I can look them in the eye and know that this is the route to take. With Pedar, I might have always been wondering if we'd missed something... I have so much peace in my heart, now, and hope in my spirit. It's like a huge load has been lifted. Aaaaah!
Thank you SO much for all your prayers and vibes and thoughts and blessings. I'm sure it was the miracle I was hoping for. xoxo

Learning the Hard Way...

I am spatially challenged, so even armed with a tape measure, I can't "see" what rearranged furniture is going to look like until I have it rearranged. My husband, being the engineer that he is, finds this beyond irksome. And so, I usually have to rearrange furniture on my own. In fact, in the 13 years we've been together, I think we've happily rearranged ONE room together, ONCE.
Guess what I'm doing today?
Yup. Rearranging. Beds, this time. Again.
BR made wee P his very own toddler bed this summer, and ever since then we've had troubles with sleeping arrangements. Annika has always been a very good sleeper, and happy to sleep in her own space and in her own room. Pedar wasn't quite sleeping in his own space just yet, but showing signs of willingness and desire. So the bed was made to provide him with his own space in their shared room, even if only to sit on to read or play with his cars. Annika was delighted with this new arrangement, having her wee brother's bed RIGHT beside hers. BUT! When that bed was empty every night, she didn't like it one bit. Pedar wasn't happy to sleep there right off the bat, and somehow just having the empty bed there made Annika anxious. For awhile we were dragging her little mattress into our room each night to sleep beside me on the floor. But that didn't quite suffice either, as she was 1 foot off the floor, and I was up on our big nest bed close to the ceiling, or so it seemed to both of us. And when we tried to bump daddy and sleep 2 kids and mummy in the nest, it didn't work either. Kids were bumping into each other and nobody was getting much sleep. So about a month ago, I retired (for now) the beautiful nest bed, that Brent made for us the weeks before Annika was born. I put the king mattresses on the floor, hauled up a single to go along beside, and we slept there quite happily, everyone sleeping better than we had for weeks. Well, except daddy. Well, and Pedar, who was going through his troubles with whatever it was/is, and Brent couldn't sleep alongside his tossing, turning, moaning little body. But wee P has calmed down considerably most nights, and so I am totally rearranging beds again. I am making our big room the "sleeping room" for everyone. I have put the single bed into the kids' shared room, moved their 2 little toddler beds into our room making more room to play in their room, which is now the "play room". And I'm HOPING that they will sleep happily in their own wee beds next to our big bed in our room.
Oh, but yes, the spatially challenged thing... I somehow measured out that we could fit a queen mattress alongside the 2 toddler beds, all side-by-side like, keeping our sleeping-in-one-big-bed feeling going. So I hauled the king mattresses downstairs, half the queen mattresss upstairs, and then realized that that didn't work. But not before I tried to squeeze them in on all 3 available walls. Urgh!
So then I asked Annika if she thought she could sleep toe-to-toe in her little bed (pushed with the footboard up against Pedar's footboard) with Pedar's, and she said yes! So now I have all this space and am taking a breath here before hauling the queen BACK downstairs and the kings back UPstairs...
But that's just how I am. If I hadn't TRIED it every which way, I wouldn't be convinced that it wouldn't work. And so now you see where BR's frustration comes in... He can just KNOW that it WON'T work in his head and doesn't like to oblige with the experimentation "just in case".
And what am I going to do if Annika decides she CAN'T sleep unless we're all in a line? I hear there's a great cabin in the woods somewhere closeby. I could sleep THERE! he he

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

two sizes too small...

I don't think I've ever hit the last week of November SO COMPLETELY uninspired before.
I'm usually all abuzz with ideas for Annika's birthday (on the 4th) and chomping at the bit to start Solstice and Feastmas celebrations (determined to take the Christ OUT of Christmas...). But here I am wandering around feeling empty and blah as can be, no inspired thoughts bouncing in my echoey head, and only slight jolts when I realize what the date REALLY is. I haven't even taken down our Autumn decorations, a subconscious effort, I'm sure to slow the weeks dowwwwwwwwn.
What's going on? Well, I think it has a lot to do with the huge energy drains that have recently occured. Plus unresolved holiday plans. I'm a plan-girl. We neeeeed a plan!
I'm definitely in need of serious inspiration. There are birthday plans to be drawn up, urgently! Baking to be started, presents to be made, presents to be bought, songs to be sung, lights to be strung, cedar to be cut and strung... Every year around this time I hear people saying "I just can't seem to get into the spirit" and I think really? that never happens to me! Yeah, well, never say never! It's happening and I'm thinking I'm eventually going to have to settle for panic in the place of seasonal spirit.
And maybe a good kick in the pants. Anyone? Anyone?

p.s. Here's a thought. Maybe the Grinch just needed some empathy? he he he

Thursday, November 09, 2006


I've discovered again how much I love squirreling away for winter... Each Autumn it surprises me all over again how much joy this gives me! This batch was pickles! Carrots (from our garden) and eggplant pickle/relish (also from our garden).
But as I've been preparing for long winter nights, my mind has been jarred into the reminder of the brevity of life. We spend so much time and energy wishing things were different than they are... our bodies and relationships in our 20's, our relationships and our careers in our 30's, and that's as far as i've gotten... but then before you know it you're 66 and dead. That's how old my uncle was when he didn't wake up from his sleep yesterday morning. At birth he had the same value as any other wee soul. His mother adored him just like she should...

But the first part of his life was to be one of chaos and the choices he made caused a great deal of pain... And that part of his life is what so many in his family remember. But there is more. Different. He died in an accident, had a profound experience, came back, and was a changed man, full of love and acceptance and full of the wonder of life.
It took me a long time to forgive this man, but forgive I did, and even formed a strange but quite beautiful relationship with him over the miles. When his brother died (my dad), he was SO happy for my dad. His own near-death experience left him excited for the day it would happen for real... and so... I don't feel sad for him. But just like in the beginning of his life, at the end he is a soul worthy of mourning and missing and loving... He left behind some beautiful photos taken early on in his life, and just a general feeling of unconditional love. This photo is how I'm imagining him on his new adventure on the other side... What a beautiful man, hey? And this time around the chaos inside his mind is gone, and he's just full of love and light...
Good-bye Laffing Wolfe. Thank you for the photos and the laughter and the insight and the hugs. I hope this winter is beautiful wherever you are and that you have all the carrot pickles you can eat. Give my dad one of your big bear-hugs for me. Thank you for loving me. I forgive you and I love you too.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oooooooooooo Oooooooooooo


My little girl is a veeerrrry scarey BAT and her wee brother is a scurrrvy pirate. Their dad is a scarrrey pirate and their mum is a very good witch... If we manage to get a family photo I'll post it tomorrow. I made some caramel popcorn it is soooooo yummy it's scarey! hee! Annika throws up when she eats supermarket chocolate, so I'm hoping this big bowl will keep her away from the junk... Hope everyone is having lots of frightful fun tonight...


Friday, October 13, 2006


Last night I put all the pieces of the puzzle together for my wee little Pedar and realized that something is very wrong with his legs. He's been falling a lot, refusing to walk a lot, people have started commenting on how knock-kneed he is, he's not eating well or sleeping well... Over the last few weeks I've easily found reasons and partial solutions for all of those things -- he's getting his eye-teeth and last molars, he's a cuddle-bug and I was so okay with him wanting to be on my hip all the time, and I took him to the chiropractor for an adjustment and the falling seemed to lessen... and my mum had knock knees, so I found his endearing...
But Pedar's Grandpa kept insisting that he was limping, questioning his gait, and last night I finally let myself really hear him. When I put all the signs together my world seemed to crash in around me. How could there be ANYthing wrong with my sonshine? No sleep last night as I lay with my tears and fears and regrets... I prayed out loud and found the sound of my voice so comforting. I forgave myself for my impatience with him, my trouble with his squabbles with his sister, and drove away all the fears and regrets that inevitably come on a dark night when there's no moon and only the sound of dogs howling and owls hooting... I worked my way through the darkness but still no sleep would come... I was grateful for the dawn coming through the trees and the stirring of the perfect little body snuggled up beside me...
So morning calls for action and I took him to our family doctor who first asked about the stress in my wee boy's life -- could he be being bullied at pre-school !?!? Said he sees these symptoms caused from bullying... And I felt relief as all the subsequent questions I could firmly answer with no... Virtually no stress in my boy's life. But then he checked him out and his words "enlarged spleen" and "enlarged liver" brought all my worst fears to the forefront. I spent the morning in x-ray labs and letting strangers stick needles into my boy to pull out his blood... and am left to wait for our appointment with a pediatrician and the lab results to come in... to know whether it's the "best-case-scenario" of a congenital abnormality of bone structure that will have to be coaxed back around with braces and physio and patience... or the "worst-case-scenarios" of bone infections or bone cancer...
As I wait, moment-by-moment struggling to release my fears and stay grounded in strength and courage and trust, I am continually deeply grateful to my wee boy's Grandpa who REALLY saw my child. He didn't just spend time with my boy, he was always really THERE with him, truly present. Wow. What a gift to all of us, that man is!!!
So? please light a candle for my boy and say a prayer for his perfect health and for an extra dose of courage for his mama... I'd be so grateful if you would... xo

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Other Side of the Moon...

When I feel adequate support in my life, I feel like nothing can stop me from living my best life. When I feel inadequate support, the dark side of the moon pulls me with a magnetism that leaves me struggling for my every breath. It isn't bad. It's just the other side of my life. But because I am such a pleaser, it is SO difficult for me to EMBRACE this other side. I want only goodness, only sunshine, only the me that has everything together and can get through anything. It is so difficult for me to accept the 4th Agreement and just accept that THIS is my best at this moment. That's where my peace lies just now: "Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret."
Every one of my struggles always comes down to my needing more support.
So this is what I'm looking at right now... what I'm manifesting... support in any and all forms.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Careful what you wish for!!!

I can't imagine ANYTHING more amazing to attend than THIS. Just this morning as I was pondering what BIG thing to manifest into my life (tell me you've watched The Secret by now??) And one of the first thing that popped into my mind was to meet Patti Digh! And then I got a few minutes to catch up on my favourite blog and ... How far away is Asheville??? Would anyone consider coming with me???

Grateful Sunday

I have been feeling this incredible power surging through me these past few days and must stop long enough to put it into words as best I can. It is sometimes so strong that I experience a sense of vertigo!??! I think the word that best sums it up is GRATITUDE. It blazes through me like a scent memory or the way an old song brings up a tidal wave of emotion, you know that feeling? Like when you met the love of your life and you'd be doing mundane daily things and then you'd suddenly remember that they loved you too and your heart would swell til it felt like it was going to burst. Yeah, that feeling. I can be sitting at a stop light when suddenly I feel this energy surge through me and it seeminly comes from nowhere. But when I catch my breath I realize that it is stemming from a universal one-ness type feeling of being incredibly, unspeakably grateful for my life. Of being totally, incomprehensibly, powerfully in love with my life. And it isn't the big picture that brings it on, it's the little things. And it's not always coming from the other in my life, but quite often just a deep deep gratitude for mySELF and for who I am! If my parents were alive I would be writing them great leagues of paper filled with lists of everything they did to bring me into who I am now. But their contribution stopped years ago and so I am for the first time really aware (and grateful!) for all that I have learned, all that I have been open to, all that I have endured, all that I have done to bring myself into WHO I AM RIGHT NOW.
I love that when I see an acorn I think first of planting it to grow another tree (oaks are one of my favourite trees) and then of drilling out the inside, popping the top back on with a bit of cork and making a little secret box out of it. See? Such a little thing, but it thrills me. I am grateful that I have a profound love of the earth, that I feel a steward of our planet, and that I am creative and believe in my ability to put fun things together.

When I pick DOZENS of tomatoes, a massive fist full of basil and a fresh onion out of my garden, and throw together a fantastic spaghetti sauce that nobody seems to be able to eat enough of... I feel a surge of gratitude that I love to garden and that I just DO it. People pop in to help us out with a project and I can put together a really lovely lunch in half an hour and they never want to leave. I feel a surge of gratitude that I am not easily overwhelmed.
I have chosen the most amazing support system for homeschooling my children ( which stretches me and moves me and inspires me and encourages me... And I feel grateful that I'm willing to explore the unknown and make decisions based on what feels right in my gut for me and my children.
I found out on Tuesday that I must attend a formal Gala event with my husband's company and at the same time realize that I have not had a haircut in 6 months, I have not so much as glanced in the mirror for longer than that, and I have not been shopping for the kind of clothes you'd wear to such an event since my children were born. I look at my support network and realize that I have not a minute to go out alone to quickly DO any of those things... I feel the sense of panic, but I can take a deep breath, pull out my tweezers, scrape the hard bits off my old make-up, pull out my blowdryer from the very bottom of my drawer, find a dress that I bought as a back-up dress for my wedding in 1999 (my mum was sewing mine and we weren't at all sure she could make it happen with just a 5 week engagement but she did! aaah! bliss!) and GO TO THE BALL, feeling like Cinderella must have: shocked that I can feel so beautiful in such short order, and not want to leave when the clock begins to strike midnight... surges of gratitude...
I feel so grateful that I truly lived my youth, traveling, doing the university thing, proving my worth and my intelligence and my versatility... So that I feel only the smallest twinges of need to prove anything anymore to the world outside my garden gates. I'm grateful that I had a career, that I was sought after by powerful business people... so that now I feel the peace of knowing that the most powerful contribution I can make is to really be present for my children.
And, more than anything, I continue to manifest the most amazing people into my life (I met 2 more just this week), the most powerful groups (my Empathy Circle, which I no longer feel like I could function without), the most healing conversations (I have not been the same since reading Julie's comment here and I'm hoping for another arena to fill my need for contribution from a very inspiring conversation on Friday)...
I feel this tremendous gratitude to the universe for the trials in my life, the love, the joy, the little things:
that there are such incredibly talented musicians in the world and that WE have access to so much of it...
that my children are thriving and learning and growing and teaching me ALWAYS...
that i'm not struggling with teachers and schedules and kindergarten peers right now...
that summer is NOT over for us because our year ends in December NOT in August...
for our pantry heavy laden with jars of freshly canned salsa, peaches, jams, jellies and juices...
that my husband loves my body and wants to jump my bones ALWAYS (hee!)...
that I am knitting wool sweaters for my children from my own alpaca's heavenly wool...
that my flock of lovely chickens are healthy and happy and laying the most beautiful assortment of rainbow coloured eggs...
that my gardens are overflowing with beautiful veggies, my apple tree's branches are nearly breaking from the weight of the organic apples, that every vase in my house is overflowing with zinnias and sunflowers...
that my home is cozy and welcoming and dirty enough to boost my children's immune systems... that I am healthy and inspired and living the life of my dreams...
that I AM WHO I AM and that makes all the difference...

What do you appreciate about yourself? What characteristics are you grateful for? If you were to write a thank you note to yourself, what would you say?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Nurture your Nature

Okay, so yesterday after posting about loving the body we inhabit... no no, loving the body I inhabit, I decided to make a big pot of vegetable soup. I have always despised vegetable soup, maybe because I really do think I've only had it in restaurants, where, let's be honest, I despise most soup. I AM a soup person, but my mum always made a meat stock for the background, and when I think of veg soup I think overcooked green beans, too much tomato in the background, too much black pepper (to try to cover up the ick, I'm quite sure), and some overcooked bean or grain or noodle. Ick.
But a new leaf has been turned in the vegetable soup department. I followed Tessa Kiros' (my ALL TIME favourite cookbook author) recipe for an idea of what to do and basically she said chop up all the veggies you have, cover them with water and cook for an hour! Easypeasy! So that's what I did. I chopped up: beets, beet greens, cabbage, yellow beans, potatoes, summer squash, zucchini, eggplant, onions, chives, sweet potatoes, and carrots, added some parsley and bayleaves, salt and a wee bit of pepper, and oh my GODDESS! the best soup I've EVER had! It's a beautiful pink base (from the beets), the mildest delicious vitaminiest flavour, and with the yellows and oranges and reds and purples... Beautiful!! Who knew veggie soup could be BEAUTIFUL? Even my children lapped it up like hungry little kittens last night! And today for lunch they resisted for just minutes and then I tossed in some of their favourite crackers and they were mewing for more in no time. And it felt SO good to use our own veggies to make the entire thing. Well, I did clean out my fridge which had a few odds and ends leftover veggies from our CSA delivery, and chopped around the rotten bits of the sweet potatoes I'd bought and forgotten about a few weeks ago... But MOSTLY all our own. Step 1 to living a healthier life was yum
yum yum! highly recommended.
Then this morning I read CJ's invitation to "go for a walk" and decided we were starting our daily walk today. So we hunted around for all the gear we needed, kiddies jumped into the jogger and away we went. Part of the Waldorf kindergarten idea book we're using is to take the same walk every day of the year, so my children can see the changes the seasons bring, greet the neighbours, and start to feel like it's their own. I was planning to start in September, but why wait? We started today. And what fun we had! I was puffing a little, pushing them up all the hills, but that'll get easier, and they LOVEd it. We went into the park (parked the jogger at the entrance as the trail isn't jogger-friendly, which is my plan to continue to do as long as we don't get snowed out) and after skipping along at a fast pace (kids felt like fairies in the rainforest -- how lucky are we to live here?!?!) for nearly an hour, we heard a BEAR up the creek! No mistaking those sounds. My wee P sensed it even before I did and before we heard the noises and instantly wanted "up". But when I heard the crashing I picked up my 2 and became the Amazon woman I've always wanted to be and raced out of there with one on each hip. So, step 2? Exciting!!! Maybe too exciting. I might have to plan an alternate route until the bears go to sleep in the Fall... eeek!

So? what are your thoughts on the ethnic body theory? It reminded me of when Marti went to the Ukraine for the first time and said this: "I felt like I blended in for the first time in my life." Interesting, no? We think we own our body and WE are in control... That it only takes a sufficient amount of self-discipline and courage to achieve whatever body we want... and then beat ourselves up when we don't look like the people on TV (who, let's be honest, are actually revolting-looking from a health standpoint). WHAT IF we learned how to WORK with our genes to live in a healthy strong body FOR US. Yes, indeed, what if ??? Comments please?

I must add that my friend also suggested that I hang out with more like-minded people so as not to be faced with body-image-crises in the first place... I agree. But these are my husband's people and I consent to a group party with them one time a year. Mostly I AM surrounded by my own tribe, but you know? It's good to be out "in the world" now and then to really get stetched and get thinking and learn some new lessons. This one will be big for me -- sorting out what holds me back from living in the body I THINK I live in (it's the invention of the camera that does me in -- I know, I know, some of you have mirrors -- they're banned from my house. he he Maybe that should be step 3? Invest in some wall-size mirrors?) hee
But back to the law of attraction. I was thinking of how to draw the energy to me that will enable me to make the necessary changes to transform my mind into accepting that my body is healthy and strong... What do you think of this, um, whatever it's called when you tell yourself the same thing over and over to get it into your brain: "I comfort myself with movement"? Sounds pretty positive and powerful, no? Because it's when I'm feeling stretched or drained or tired or ... in some way in need of comfort that I nurse on a flavoured (read creaminess and sugariness) coffee (and no, I don't make them myself, then I would KNOW what goes into them. eeek!) or race off to buy an M&M chocolate cake (quicker than making one myself! eeek!) or whip up some cream to dip almost anything high in carbs (are fingers high in carbs? ahem!) into...

I LOVE this quote by Christiane Northrup: "What we're all really looking for is the mother that few, if any of us ever had: a superhuman being with two ever-full breasts who is always there for us, meeting our every need and gazing into our eyes with pure unadulterated love, a being so powerful that she can protect us from all the inevitable discomforts and challenges of life, and soothe all our feelings of self-doubt, self-criticism, and self-blame. There's no such being. And the sooner we learn how to nurture ourselves, the better we'll be at being realistic role models for our daughters."
DAMN! There's no such thing? That's EXACTLY what I'm looking for! Who isn't?
Nurture myself. "I nurture myself with movement." ?? Will that work? Does it have to be something oral? "I nurture myself with green tea?"
This sounds a bit humorous, but really, it isn't. SO MANY of us are struggling with our weight, our strength, our health on that level. And NONE of us want to pass that onto our children on any level.
Who's next? Use the comments section! xo

It's all in the genes...

So the forum has begun! My friend Karen called to say that she thinks a lot of our body shapes has to do with our ethnic background. Her mum is stout, just like her slavic roots. Karen has an (albeit small) Amazon shape, conducive to the Norwegian roots that she identifies strongly with and has always felt strong and healthy in her body. I think of my mum in her small, fit body and think of her roots -- scottish, irish, welsh, english. Does that fit? I don't know. My dad's side are all Ukranian and ALL struggle with weight in a big way (literally). It's interesting to me that Karen identifies more with her dad's scandinavian roots, and also lives in that kind of body. I wonder what my children will identify with or inherit. My husband's roots are mostly Norwegian, his dad being pure (and has a fit, thin, wirey, strong body), and his mum being half English and being stout and round. I'm wondering if we don't crave the types of foods that we inherit with our genes. I LOVE dairy. Soup without sourcream? What's the point? Fruit without cream? Why? Crackers without cheese? No thanks. My favourite desserts all come with a big dollop of whipped cream. So what is that? English? Ukrainian? German? I had it all sorted out what my ethnic roots were, at one time, I might have to look into it some more.
And maybe by noticing what foods my children prefer, I can help them sort out which ethnic genes are strongest for them -- and hence what kind of bodies that may manifest.
I'm thinking if we KNOW that our roots will just naturally have us craving certain types of food, then we can leave room for those and not fill up on calories that don't satisfy us quite like our favourites. And then if we know what kind of body we tend towards, we can make up for it by choosing activities that will help keep us feeling healthy and strong.
Because here's the thing: I don't care a whit about "looking fine". I truly believe that beauty comes from the inside and it's more about being interesting than beautiful anyway. I truly do. Always have. What I AM concerned about, is that I nurture a STRONG, HEALTHY body that will carry me around lightly and easily and joyfully until I'm ready for the next plane of existence... And that I pass THAT legacy on to my children rather than a legacy of struggle with the physical body. More on this one please...

really love your peaches want to shake your tree

it's peach season. my favourite. we're eating them fresh off the stone, doused in whipped cream, and chopped up with the smallest stream of fresh cream poured over... any other ideas for getting the most out of these delicious specimens? pies are next on my list. yum. i love peaches. and love watching the juice drip off my childrens' chins and elbows... positively delicious...

Monday, August 14, 2006

Monday morning coming down...

Good Monday morning to you, or whatever time of day or day of week it is where this finds you...
I am feeling in need of a house full of my favourite people today, but my wee P has foot & mouth disease (i'm guessing by the blisters on his feet and in his mouth and his extreme neediness of being carried on mama's hips with her arms wrapped around him) and so there will be no invitations going out anytime soon.
I've been thinking a lot about the law of attraction recently and wanting to leak a little of it out of my too-full head...
Ever wonder why things tend to come in waves? I have. Like just recently I am being inundated with older women's bodies failing them. Not just my beloved Grandma's, which makes me tear up just thinking of her, but women at the gas station filling up their tank when plop, down they go and can't get up for the life of them... I look around at natural mothers... You know the ones, those mums whose primary archetype is the mother, who don't do anything in life as naturally as they mother... And I look at the ones I know well and wonder why it is that so few of them live in really strong healthy bodies. And I look at the mothers I know who struggle with mothering and most of them obviously take the time to care for their bodies in a big way. Do we somehow have to choose one or the other? Mothering our children or mothering ourselves? Last weekend I was at a family beach party where I was the only mothering-type. And while the other moms were doing little olympic size swims and waterskiing and flexing their well-formed glutes on the beach, I was wrapped in a towel with 2 little ones flitting back and forth to my lap, unsure of their interactions with these children they'd never met before. While I was busy mothering them, ensuring that they were having fun and feeling secure and safe, the other women were busy having their own fun and mothering themselves. Yet I know we CAN do both, because I HAVE seen it. Those of you who are reading this who ARE really happy and healthy in your bodies (and I know there are at least 3), can you share with us how you manage it? I know for sure that I want to grow old in a body that serves me. Yet I don't pursue that goal with any sort of passion.
And passion is what the law of attraction is all about, right? Fear and worry are passion. This is the part I'm just learning about. When I first heard this, I thought "oh come on, the universe isn't stupid! it can decipher what we're passionate FOR and what we're passionate AGAINST." But then comes the idea that the universe is just energy, and as such, whatever thoughts are strong are just simply energy put out there, whether they be desires for or against something. And the energy of the universe picks up on the strength and sends more of that through the law of attraction. So while I have been perfecting the art of manifesting the things and people and life I want...You know, by putting up pictures and saying it, and holding it in my mind... Little did I know that I was also manifesting what I did NOT want in the exact same way... By thinking too much about it, worrying, fretting, talking about it, being very passionate about all the things/people/life I did NOT want. So back to the failing bodies...I worry and fret a lot about my growing girth and pains in my knees and am very very sure of what I DON'T want, not realizing that I'm just attracting more of that. The harder I try to lose weight, the more weight I gain (duh! we ALL know that one by now). And we all know that It's not until we embrace our bodies and love every inch of ourselves, blah blah... that we actually get more of THAT -- bodies that we love. Okay, so to absolutely positively LET GO of the images I don't want. Stop seeing my largeness, start seeing the goddessness of my shape. Stop thinking about what I don't want to be doing, and just start doing what I do want to do. Right? Those of you who've managed this? How do I get there? How do I release my fears and worries and disgusts and and and... and hop over to the side of seeing/loving/attracting what I want? It's like I'm on one side of a chasm and it's only one step over to the other side, but the fear of looking down into that chasm is magnetic... So that's the answer then? TAKE THE STEP? and then another... and another... and another... Yeah, I've known that for some time. So let's go one step further. WHY DON'T I DO IT?? Why do I spend more time thinking about it and sorting it out in my H*E*A*D than I do just walking the walk...
Would love a forum on this one...
AND, in closing, before I rewrap my arms around my wee P, if you do nothing else today, DO READ THIS.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Forget Beautiful, go for Interesting!

Patti at 37 days has to be one of the wisest women on the planet. Every one of her posts alters me slightly, and when I think of all the people who are reading her blog, it fills my need for hope that the world is becoming a better place.
This post is a particularly wonderful one:

This Being Human...

The Guesthouse
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture...
Still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door, laughing
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whomever comes
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Rumi

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

sooooooooooooo much to be thankful for...

the incredible bounty from our amazing gardens
my husband home safe and sound with a box full of fresh ocean fish for us to eat
new delicious books to devour
the sweet memories of precious friends' recent visit
clean, sparkling windows inside and out!
time at the beach with my 2 beauties
time alone to haunt the thrift stores
beautiful fresh eggs to collect every day from my prized chickens
one chicken brooding on her nest! exciting!
the support of the incredible tribe i've manifested into my life
new pillows to rest our weary heads on tonight...
and oh! so much more...

Summer Fun

Sooo many posts have come and gone through my mind in the last 5 weeks. And there's really nothing I feel the need to say just now, but want to get back into posting, so here's a photo from my recent "fishing trip" to the lake with my lovelies. What a thrill it was for my girl to catch her first fish, and then two and then many. They died and got fed to the chickens, which made her a little sad, but she's got the bug now and can't wait to go "real" fishing with her daddy...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Don't should on yourself

I've had a major breakthrough over the past couple of days and needing to get it into ink. I've been journaling, but the inner wisdom has been coming at me too fast and furious to quite capture as yet... I have a feeling it's not quite through, but will put a wee post on to capture this moment.
For as long as I can remember, I've felt I should be something different than what I am. While I don't fault my parents for their parenting, and feel incredibly blessed to be raised in the loving way that I was, I know that the combination of my personality and the parents I chose resulted in this feeling of yearning to be other. I won't go into that, because it's neither here nor there (though is worth me noting to myself in an attempt to not repeat the process with my own babes) at this point in my life -- it's behind me and what I can change is my here and now attitude, not where I've come from.
And it's also worth noting, for my own sake, that because I am, by personality, a sponge to the world around me (are we all? i'm not sure) the culture in which I grew up as also played a large role in my shaping (duh! but bear with me, i'm going somewhere with this). Also, for as long as I can remember, I have been exceedingly uncomfortable with put-downs, gossip, and people being made fun of just for sport. This fact may also seem redundant (who among us is comfortable with any of that now, of course!) but this goes back to my earliest memories and I have never been one to join in on this sport even when I was in the catty-girl stage of grades 6 through 9. I have always felt it my duty to speak up in these situations and this has caused me a great deal of confrontation over the years. I don't include discussing a mutual friend with another mutual friend, as long as everything I say I would be happy to say TO that friend, and as long as the conversation is respectful to all parties... I see our negativities as simply the other half of our completeness and don't attempt to see ONLY THE GOOD in people, because I find this harmful in itself (which feels like another post altogether, but in essence, I feel that when we try to ignore the shadows of ourselves and our friends we start to become uncomfortable with that other half of ourselves and thus begins a negative spiral downwards of hoping nobody ever notices any of that in ourselves -- when it's just THE OTHER HALF of our beautiful selves! more on that, perhaps, at a later time).
But back to how our culture has shaped me. I believe that every time I heard someone judging someone else, I internalized that judgment against myself (and I actually believe that we all do this to some extent). I wasn't aware I was doing this, but the image of myself that I felt I should live up to became so perfect (thin, beautiful, sporty, smart, kind, good at everything, etc.) and so complicated that I could no longer decipher JUST what it was I felt I should be. This led to a feeling of frustration and deep-seated anger at not BEing able to hold it all together in the perfect way I held in my mind...
I went through a long stage of thinking that if I just visualized myself as the being I really wanted to be, then I could perhaps manifest this alter ego. After all, I had gotten quite good at manifesting all other manner of lovely things and people into my life, why not a new and more perfect ME?
Only, of course, I didn't quite see it that way.
But the other night at my NVC empathy circle, the wise sage in the group stopped me when I was speaking to correct my "yes, I should..." into a "yes, I could..." I glossed over it at the time, but it stuck with me. She simply said "I really try hard not to should on myself" and in her English accent the should came out as shit in the most beautiful eloquent graceful way.
It took about 24 hours and an honest, poignant, loving email from my seaJay before it all came together for me. I had written to SeaJay that my vision of my life simply didn't match my reality and was causing me deep anger and frustration. I wrote pages and pages, but that simple statement was the one she cut and paste and sent back to me. And so with the shoulding on myself ringing through my mind and that statement sent back to me, I got it.
My vision is not my reality. Period.
My reality is my reality. I am who I am. It is what it is. My relationship is what it is. My mothering is what it is. And that's all that matters.
I am me. I am not always beautiful or fit or clear-headed or patient or loving or kind or a good writer or a great cook or environmentally friendly or tidy or clean or gentle or healthy or considerate or a good friend or a wonderful mother or a loving wife. Sometimes I am. Sometimes I'm not. This is what I've always told my children. When Annika says to me "I'm so kind to Pedar, aren't I mumma?" I say "Yes, love! Sometimes you are and sometimes you're not. and I love you when you are and I still love you when you're not."
And so I am extending this love to myself so that I can heal my life. And in so doing I will be able to REALLY MEAN it when I say it to my children. Because anything we cannot give to ourselves, we cannot possibly give to anyone else.
And so last night in the darkness I reached over to my husband and told him firmly yet gently that I had decided to let myself go! There was a big silence while I smiled in the night at his confusion. Then I explained that I'm actually picking my REAL self up, but letting all the other selves who I've been struggling to be, GO. I am no longer going to try to be anyone but who I am. I am no longer going to should on myself and I asked for his help to remind me of this when things begin to get stinky again... as I'm sure they will.
And so today I've just been me. Not striving to be better. Not striving to be more. Just BEing me. When I'm impatient I don't should on myself. I simply state the obvious "goodness, Annika! Mummy is feeling really impatient right now!" and then I realize that I have an unmet need that I can choose to fill in any manner of ways. And I find a way to meet it. And tonight I will give myself a hug and a kiss and go to sleep instead of laying there wishing I could've been all the other mummies that I used to know I was supposed to be...

Hmmm. It hasn't all come out just the way it's fitting together in my mushy mind, so I'll think on it some more. But it feels good to be clear in some small but important ways.
So for now, join me: clear your own air. Accept who you are at your deepest level, remember "the most important thing" and stop shoulding on yourself...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Spring Cleaning

Oh! What a joyful feeling to have a fresh clean house! I've been rearranging furniture (in a big way) all day and washing walls and floors and windows... Things were SO dusty from all the construction we had building that retaining wall. But not anymore... All is sparkly and fresh now. I haven't been ready to do it until just today, but I woke up knowing today was the day and it's gone so smoothly! I did the kids' room which, of course, meant reorganizing and purging lots of stuff too. It looks SO good. I need to do my entire house but will settle today for "most" of the upstairs being done. WAHOO!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The view inside my soul...

"We don't own the earth. We simply belong to her and she will feed us as any parent would feed her children.... The [vegetables and fruits from my garden] teach me about the overwhelming, demanding, gorgeous love of [Spirit]. This is a love that places knowledge in our way, offering the chance -- which we must pluck for ourselves -- to grow up, with all the pain inherent in maturity. To be generous as earth herself is generous, and to share with one another. I believe [Spirit] was deeply proud of her rebellious daughter, Eve."
- Donna Sinclair
I have been contemplating the magic of VALIDATION the past couple of days and trying to get very clear on just what the word means to me. I want to say we all know the magical high we get from being validated, but the sad truth is that too few of us do...
I do. And I feel very blessed to be able to say that the feeling is very familiar to me. I believe that validation is one of our highest needs. And what it means to me is this: that someone who matters to me has taken the time to stop and quietly, purposefully, lovingly notice who I truly am at my deepest level. They've stepped out of their own world, stepped in to mine, they've taken a long look around the inside of my soul, and they've then given me the ultimate gift of reflecting the beauty they've seen there back to me. THAT is a beautiful gift. THAT is what makes our breathing come easier, our steps lighter, our laugh more joyful, our eyes more sparkly. It's so simple, yet so necessary. It's imperative to good mental health. It's crucial to healthy relationships. Children cannot grow up whole without it. Yet it's often the one thing that people regret NOT doing when they hear about the sudden death of someone they love. "Oh! If only I'd taken the time, the energy, the risk of telling them how beautiful their soul is..."
That was my regret on the morning of my brother's wedding in 1987 when I heard that one of my dear friends had been killed by a drunk driver early that morning. It was a very elaborate wedding. I was in the wedding party. I had just had my hair done for the first time in my life. My mum was a basket of nerves. My brother had already had too much to drink. I was wearing a bubblegum pink poofy dress and carrying a lace parasol in my white gloves. The scene was too incongruous with the news that I would never see my friend again. So incongruous, that my family had decided not to tell me until later. I was in a stall in the bathroom, and overheard the secret, tragic news. I cried off the mask of make-up that didn't feel right anyway, blew my nose as hard as I could into my pretty white hanky, took a deep breath, lifted my eyes and uttered this prayer:
Dear God[dess], help me never again miss an opportunity to validate the people in my life. Please tell Jodi, wherever she is, that I love her. And that I will never forget her."

And I haven't. Jodi had given me many gifts in our years of friendship, but the most precious one was that answered prayer. Starting that very day I began to tell the people around me what I loved about them, what I was grateful for because of them, and what I would miss about them if they were no longer there. And that love, extended, has come back to me one hundred fold. Validation is familiar to me. Thank you Goddess, I am truly blessed.

Which brings me to today.
I saw my dear friend sitting against the wall, a beautiful book in her lap, tied up with a white ribbon. Life has gotten in the way of my friend and I, and I was feeling the distance when I saw her sitting there, her new long! hair evidence of how much time had come between us. But then she reached out and handed me the gift of validation, tied up with a bow.
A lovely gift in my hand, but my heart feeling the deep hug.
Oh! WHAT a beautiful book! But even more so, what a beautiful gift it is to have a friend who's taken the time to step inside my soul, and in her own way tell me that she loves what she's seen... Just the solace my heart needed tonight after the exhausting (but wonderful!) past 2 weeks... I've been reading the book all evening (my children both fast asleep by 7pm tonight -- another gift!) and with each word, each photo, each quote, feeling the gift of a friend who really knows me and has reached out to hug my heart, giving me the gift of validation.

"I bind unto myself today
the virtues of the starlit heaven,
the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the whiteness of the moon at even,
the flashing of the lightning free,
the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks,
the stable earth,
the deep salt sea,
around the old eternal rocks."
- Celtic hymn
from "The Spirituality of Gardening" by Donna Sinclair

Friday, May 19, 2006

Like a herd of turtles...

We're going away for 9 days. I have to say, I despise going away. I LOVE my home and don't ever want to leave. I WANT to love going away, but I just don't. My gardens are planted and the lilacs are in bloom... There is NO place more wonderful to sleep than my bed and the hammock whistles at me whenever I go out the back door... I've let the dandelions all blissfully bloom on my lawn (they bring up iron from deep in the soil and provide tunnels for earthworms) and the yellow has all turned to lovely round fluff balls that my friend's children call "wishers" (and now we do too). It is TOO lovely here to leave!
The worst part, is I get quite cranky whenever I have to pack up to leave. I feel overwhelmed and stressed and panicked and agitated. And I'm wondering why? I've been like this my entire adult life. And I want it to stop. I want to be that person who puts on loud music and sings and dances and feels SO much excitement about a new impending adventure! I want to LOVE going away and the necessary packing that goes along with it. I'm trying to remember when I first started to feel this way... Were my parents stressed when preparing for a trip? I truly don't remember. We travelled A LOT by car and I remember them planning the route, writing RIGHT ON THE MAP with a bright red pen... I remember drawing the line down the middle of the seats at the veeeeeeeeery back of the stationwagon, marking my territory separate from my sisters. I remember making potholders out of weird nylon stretchy things and learning to crochet and playing license plate games. I remember staying with weird relatives I didn't know and didn't want to know every single night... But I don't remember the stress.
Maybe it's just as easy as deciding that I'm going to be different and then slowly working towards that goal. Today I've been pretending to myself that I'm not overwhelmed, going on picnics to the creek and having teaparties with my children on this supposed to be nothing but packing and getting ready day. And it's sort of been working. Except that I still haven't STARTED getting ready to go!
Okay, so that's my plan then. I'm going to put on some groovy music and just pretend that this is the adventure of a lifetime... I'm going to forget that we're going to visit relatives who don't "get us" at all, who feel it's their duty to try to teach us how to live properly... and pretend we're off to the SEA. The wonderful magic of the ocean... Who knows, with global warming maybe the sea has drifted as far East as Alberta...
wish me luck! xoxo

Friday, May 12, 2006

The most important thing of all...

Every Thursday for a couple of hours I get to sit in an incredible circle of wise goddess women. It is the most affirming hours of my week and I leave every circle feeling inspired to greatness.
Yesterday celtic goddess said this, in regards to mothering: "The very most important thing you can do is to love yourself so much that you can love your children for who they really are."
The words vibrated through my soul, bouncing off all the tender spots in my spirit before I promptly burst into tears. Why didn't someone tell me that before I had children? Why is it so hard to love myself? To really love myself. On all levels. All the way to my deepest core. I can love my children completely. Why can't THAT be the most important thing of all... Because, of course, it's not possible. It is simply NOT possible to love our children unconditionally unless we first hold equally unconditional love for ourselves. Otherwise there will always be something in our children that we are (often subconsciously) trying to change. And we ALL know that THAT is not in the vision we hold for our children (that we forevermore be niggling about, trying to tweak this and that in their little souls...)
So many of my friends wonder why their mothers are still trying to change them? My friends are incredible women, in their 30's and 40's, many of them mothers themselves, most of them evolved far beyond their mothers. Yet they continually get an underlying current of desired improvement from their mothers. And now we know why. Because of that one very most important thing...
Then another goddess friend of mine said "okay,so our mothers all made mistakes, but look at us! We're good people! Don't you think it's the striving that's ultimately the most important?" And I felt hope. I can strive. I AM striving. If striving were a sport I would excel...
So now I know the most important thing AND I have perspective. I can strive to love ALL parts of myself. All my shadows. All my weaknesses, ALL of me...
One of the things that I am struggling to understand in my children is that they are not always kind. Something deep inside me (emanating, you can be sure, from one of my own dark spots I am now striving to love) wants them to be always kind. It was pointed out that we can try to make our children be nice but we cannot make them be kind. We can inspire kindness but we cannot build rules around it. And the thing is, I don't WANT them to be nice. I want them to be real. And it was so clear to me that by doing anything around kindness (except modeling), I am instilling the desire to be nice. And anytime you TRY to be nice, you've already stopped being real. Kindness comes from the depths of your heart, from a place that is completely untouched by trying.
So then, what is my true vision for my children? It's pretty clear. That they love themselves so completely that kindness towards themselves emanates from the depths of their beings and thus spreads out to everyone around them... There is no nice in my vision at all.
So it goes without saying that that first has to be my vision for myself: to love myself so completely, to feel such depths of kindness towards myself that this same kindness fills my aura, drips from my fingertips and touches everyone around me (everyone, of course, being the population of the planet)... Not bad, hey?
What's your vision? For your children? For your own soul? For your life?
Happy Loving. Happy Striving. Happy Friday.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fresh start...

I LOVEd today. I woke up with such a feeling of rejuvenation and peace and calm. Part of it, is that the weekend was over and my little family did so much more than endure it. We had SUCH a good time. We talked a lot about the people whose lives we were celebrating and mourning. We had lots of cries and lots of laughs too. And last night Annika INSISTED that we have a wiener roast down by the creek. We were SO tired from the weekend of productivity (and wrastling our alpacas into the back of the pick-up truck for transfer to greener pastures...) that I really tried to talk her into having a nice safe warm soup of borscht instead. But she would have none of it. She listened so patiently and I used my newly learned NVC needs and feelings talk... And then she said "Nope. Your dad loves lilacs and I love lilacs. Your mum loves wiener roasts and I love wiener roasts and that's what we're going to do." I laughed HARD and away we went. It was such fun. The perfect end to the weekend. Brent and I had some tears together last night, remembering one last time. And then we snuggled and had lovely comforting sex and went to sleep. It was a terrible night, with Annika and Pedar both needing mama several times in the night. But despite all that, I woke up with such a sense of renewal and vigor. THIS is what it's like to live with death as my ally. To wake up every morning filled with gratitude at another brilliant day that I get to spend living my amazing life. WOW. I am SO grateful.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


The first year after the accident I made myself remember all the time. It felt therapeutic. Like I had to keep feeling it to get to the bottom of my anguish. Now I only require myself that I remember once a year. Today. May 7th.
We'd been in Vernon and didn't get home until around 8pm. I had flicked on the TV before bed to catch some of the news. There had been a fatality accident near Hannah, and I thought to myself "Imagine learning about something like that here. On the news. Oh God, it can't be happening to me." and I switched it off and it left my mind. We went to bed and were asleep when the phone rang through the house after 11. I decided to ignore it, thinking it was mum calling to see how our trip had been. Ten minutes later it rang again and I remember thinking "okay, mum. enough! it's late! i know you have Kenai (our dog) and I will call you in the morning." and again I didn't get up to answer it. Then my brother's voice rang out into the stillness of the night "Mary-Sue, you need to call me back immediately when you get this message." And just like that I knew.
The blood rushed out of my head and I lept out of bed crying "something's wrong. That accident WAS ours. Oh my God. Oh my God." And I ran to the phone and dialed his number, lightheaded and already nauseous. He answered right away and his words came out like bells ringing on a frosty morning, hurting with the coldness of the reality as it filled my ears and mind... "There's been an accident. Mum, Dad, Tyler, Silka and Grannie are all gone." And there was a terrible screaming sound and I realized it was me. My knees buckled and I sank to the floor. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. But then it all began to register. He hadn't stopped at Mum and Dad. Tyler? Silka? How could it be? He had just lost everything. Brent was beside me at this point. Holding me. He didn't know yet, but he knew. I was shaking uncontrollably and trying to stop the nightmare. "Oh Ken." I said. "Not Tyler and Silka! Oh! What are you going to do? What are we going to do?" He answered softly,"We'll make it. We have to." "What can I do for you?" I whispered. "Come down tomorrow." He said. And he was gone. I hung up the phone and wept. "No. No. No. No. No." I couldn't stop. I wept on the cold floor for what seemed like hours. Memories rushing over me. Memories of me as a child, weeping in my mum's arms, begging her not to die before me. Memories of just weeks ago, me asking dad what we were going to do with all his junk when he died... Memories of me knowing that I could never survive without my parents. Knowing that if something ever happened to them prematurely, that I would have to be with them because I knew I could not manage without them.
And then I went to bed. And my husband and I wept together. I didn't sleep that night. After he fell asleep I walked out into the night, looking up at the sky, waiting for my mum to come and talk to me. I knew she would. I heard a robin sing and I talked to it, but it didn't tell me anything. I went back to bed. I felt betrayed that I hadn't known, somehow. They had been dead for 12 hours by the time that phonecall came, and I hadn't known at any level of my being. They'd been gone for 12 hours and my mum had not come to comfort me!
Then I heard cooing outside my window and I looked out. I could see white birds on the front lawn. I ran out and there were five. Five white doves (I learned later they were actually pigeons that had inexplicably escaped their cage that night) on my lawn. But I wasn't very comforted. I knew it was them. I knew they were saying goodbye, but I wanted more.
That was the day I learned that I'd been left behind. The memory makes me lightheaded to this day. But working my way through that memory gives me strength every time. Strength in the knowing that I somehow lived through that. And nowI know I can live through anything... It's not the most important memory I have, by far. And not one that comes to my mind very often anymore. But just once a year, I test myself, to make sure I can still do it. Thanks for the company this time.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

comfort food on a day that's desperate for comfort...

I'm brewing borscht today. The smells fill the whole house and it smells divine.
It's my great aunt Olga's famous recipe, one I painstakingly wrote out as I grabbed ingredients from her before they got plopped into the big soup pot several years ago now. She had never measured anything and so nobody could repeat her heavenly beet soup recipe. She scrubbed up the beets and I counted them, she went to dump in the dillweed and I stuck my hand under to catch and measure what only her hand knew to add, and on it went for half a day as she slurped and added, me catching herbs to measure and revising my notes as we went along. And so it is that I can make borscht almost as wonderful as Tante Olga's:

Cook a chicken in enough water to cover it until the meat all falls off and the bones almost float to the top (I even used one of my own old faithful hens for today's broth -- she stopped laying awhile back and I decided it was time for my children to learn up close and personal where their meat comes from, another post for another time...). Separate out the meat, discard the bones (or pulverize them to put in your compost or dig into tomato plants -- this, being bonemeal) and add water to make the broth equal 8 cups. If you only have chicken stock and no meat to use (as in you're cheating and buying your chicken stock), add half a cup of butter.
Keep the meat aside.
Boil 3 to 4 large scrubbed (but not peeled) beets in the broth until they're a bit soft. This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the beets. You'll know they're ready when you run one under cold water and then squeeze it in your hand, the skin rubs off. At this point, remove the skin and chop them into smallish pieces (or grate them). Add them back in (beets will still be a bit hard), and add 3 cups diced carrots, 4 cups diced potatoes, 2 Tbsp dill weed (much more if it's fresh), 2 shots of tobasco (or 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper), 1/4 tspn black pepper, 2 tsp salt and 3 onions, coarsley chopped.
Cook awhile (20 minutes or so). Add 1/2 head cabbage coarsley chopped. Add meat back in.
Cook about one hour until all veggies are tender. Add a few Tbspn of lemon juice (to taste).
Serve piping hot with a large dollop of sour cream in each bowl (don't stir it in, the melding of the cool sour cream with the hot soup as you take a wee scoop of cream with each bite is part of the experience). YUM!

My Mother's Voice

Today is a sad day for me. My niece would have turned 16 today... sweet 16... how can my poor brother and his wife bear not seeing her blow out those 16 candles... And 6 years ago today I heard my mum's voice for the very last time. We had come out to Vernon for my sil's wedding shower and I had called my mum in the morning, as I always did when I was away. She was my anchor, my grounding cable. I would call her to hear her comforting, loving voice and it would make me strong enough to be authentic for another day amongst my inlaws. She was telling me that the prairie chickens were dancing out at her aunt Katie's and how much she wanted to go watch them. My dad wasn't keen to go (preferring instead to work in their amazing garden) and so I told her Go Anyway! Go by yourself! If you really want to do this, GO! And so she went. And my dad got caught up in the enthusiasm (he captured the dancing on video), and went along... It was Silka's birthday and she wanted to go too, and her brother, Tyler (who would be 18 now) and my sweet Gran. All five, off they went, with so much joy, I'm sure. They took sleeping bags and slept on the floor at Katie's (Grannie was 86 so likely found a bed, but knowing her, maybe not?!) At dawn they awoke and crept out into the prairies to watch the wild chickens do their mating dance... We have my dad's voice on the video, commentating on how exciting it was. We can hear the other 4 voices hushed but sounding so happy and full of joy. And then they were on their way home and that's when the world stopped and they all got off... Leaving us forever wishing for things that cannot be...
Like the 16 candles that should be lit today...
And the voice on the other end of the phone that should be calling me still...

Yes, it was 6 years ago this morning that I said "I LOVE YOU" for the very last time. People tell me I shouldn't commemorate this day, that it should be just like any other day. And perhaps it would be if my mum had been sick and had the time to tell me all the things she wanted to... to hear all the things I had left to say... But it was such a massive event. It took our breath away, and we've never breathed quite the same since. How can we forget?
My sil told me this week how annoyed she is that her parents (my children's grandparents) seem to be trying to pick up some of the slack that would've been filled by my own parents... how peeved she gets that it affects her. Her words were "It shouldn't matter if your children have one set of grandparents or ten, it shouldn't affect my children..." And so it is. Maya Angelou said "When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE THEM!" And so I am.

And I wish I could end it with that. I wish I could breathe in and out and let it go. But it pains me that she doesn't get that we are ALL connected. Not just that she is my children's aunty, and so their pain is in some small part going to affect her, but that we are ALL connected, like the mouse dealing with the mousetrap. And so the lesson I take is that any pain, any tear, any loss, any sorrow, anywhere in this world, affects me. The sadness I feel, the tears that are unexpected and unexplainable, the sorrow I feel deeply within me is not just from my own losses, but from all the sorrow that continues to happen every second of every day...
I miss you Silka. Happy birthday, sweet girl.
And mum? Call me!

Friday, May 05, 2006

We're all one...

Lately I've been feeling just how connected we are all on this tiny little planet and then I ran across this fable and wanted to share it with you...
A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package."What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.
Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"
The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."
The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers."
The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!" The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."
So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.
That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey. The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.
Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.
But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.
The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.
The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk. We are all interconnected in this journey called life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. Each of us is a vital thread in another person's tapestry -- our lives are woven together for a reason...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Missing memories...

So you're wondering why I don't have photos up anymore... wondering where my fabulous frame collection has gone... why the empty walls in my house when I've never been one for empty walls...
Me, the queen of photos, who always surrounded myself with photos galore... As far back as when I only had one side of a room as my own -- when every teeny wall space was jammed with photos, photos of people I loved and who loved me, celebrations and ordinary moments. There was that photo that everyone loved of me and my mum laughing so hard we couldn't stand up... the rare photo of my dad laughing so hard I could hear him snorting when I looked at the photo... My mum squeezing my dad's cheeks and squeeling with frustration and passion and intensity...
I can remember all of my rooms over my lifetime by the photos I hung on my walls -- corkboards filled twice over, mirrors with snapshots squeezed into the frame all the way around...
I grew up and the photos changed to capture the emerging memories of camel treks with mum in the Cholistan desert, hiking expeditions with dad in the Himilayas, graduations and boyfriends and new adventures.... Then the favourite photo of mum and I with our arms around each other like so many times before but this time me wearing the wedding dress she lovingly hand stitched.
But then the world stopped. Just for a second. And they got off.
And I stayed on.
And everyone comforted me.
"they're still with you. all the time now, they're with you!"
And they were. But there were no more memories to be made. No more photos to capture those missing memories.
My life continued on. At an even faster pace. I had my baby girl. And I saw them that night. Felt them, at her birth. But they didn't show up in the photos. My baby grew and began to sleep for hours at a time with a peaceful smile on her face and I knew they were holding her for me, rocking her so I could sleep. And I ached for a photo of just that. Mum holding my baby girl, tears in her eyes for all the love and beauty and preciousness of her. My baby grew more and I ached for a photo of my dad in his favourite chair, pushed alllll the way back, my girl perched on his knee being read to, hour after hour after hour... Then she grew into a giggling toddler and I more than once contemplated playing with photoshop, piecing old and new photos together to capture just one memory of my mum tickling her outside on the lawn, playing camel with her as she huffalumped around the yard, my babygirl squeeling with delight on mum's back... But those were just the memories of my dreams and there are no photos of dreams.
It's been 6 years since they left me. I guess one blessing is I haven't had any block against photos. I have thousands! Yes, thousands. All digital. I've even managed to fill four very large photo albums to prove to my two beauties that they were once babies. Albums, yes. Albums I can close up and walk away from. Pictures on the walls? You can't not see them. They stare at you, forever reminders of who's not in them.
But it's been 6 years (less 12 days). My life is so full... so blessed... so absolutely amazing. Yet I miss my mum and dad every single day of my life. And I KNOW they're still with me. But I'll never stop wishing I could prove it with photos... Because I'm the queen of photos. Still. And as it happens, my friend (who also happens to be my aunt) was just here and with the strong encouragement of another friend (who happens to be my cousin), we got that fabulous collection hung on the walls. Empty, sure. But they are a powerful reminder of how grateful I am that my life is NOT empty. My life couldn't be more full. And I have photos to prove it... And so! You'll be happy to know that I am busy choosing a few old favourites to hang alongside the living, laughing, loving NEW memories I am so blessed to be creating every new wonderful day...
Come by soon and have a look!

My new theme song

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying: “How to you do?”
Their really saying
“I love you”
I hear babies crying
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world. Yes
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.
Oh Yeah.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

how well do you REALLY know your mother?

I've been thinking a lot about who I AM and who it is that my children will know when they're grown up and thinking of me. Will they know me only as the conservative, well-intentioned woman holding on a little too tightly to control in her life? Or will they know me as I wish to be? How will they describe me to their soulmate before I've met them? Passionate? Easy to laugh? Always ready to play a game or a trick, eager to tickle them to the floor, wrap my arms around them for a too-hard squeeze at every opportunity... Will they know the me that loves to try new things? Or will they see me as stuck in my old ways... Will they see me as a rainbow of colours, of emotions, of passions? Or will they think of me in beige and navy blue... Who will they call when they want to plan a trip thru the crowded markets of Morocco? or when they decide to trek through Mongolia? Will it be me? Or will they think me uninterested in such alarmingly wild adventures... Will they connect me to the girl who studied wildlife in Kenya, sleeping in huts with mud floors? Will they see me as still the girl who rode camels through the Cholistan Desert for 8 days, sleeping under the stars? Or will they be disconnected from those stories, seeing me as anything but adventurous? They will know the stories of me diving deep into the Indian Ocean in my bikini, reaching deeper still deeper for the conch shells so big that I could hardly lift them to the surface... But will they see me as still being that person? Who will I be to my children?
I know wildly wonderful goddess women who I experience as being great big happy crazy amazing adventurous women. And I know their children. And I know that their children don't see even a glimpse of who these women REALLY are. Why is that?
I can't help but wonder how my children will know me when they are grown. And I guess I wonder if it doesn't depend on who I am to ME. Right now, as I raise them. Definitely something to keep in mind as I go about living my BEST life...
How would you describe YOUR mum? How well do you REALLY know her? Why not open your mind just a little wider, put away your small beliefs about her, open yourself up to the possibility of who she really is? I know she'll be grateful...