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...