From something very bad comes something very good

With the Covid 19 virus spreading globally all are asked to stay home and avoid public gatherings. Fortunately the weather has been clear so we can at least get outside and enjoy some fresh air. Yesterday was such a day and I took advantage by taking a nice long walk through my neighbourhood.

The first thing I noticed was the sound of childrens laughter. Behind me two young brothers pedaled on their bikes, chatting and giggling. A sure sign of spring, I mused, and I tried to recall the last time I heard the sound of children playing outside. It had been years, I realized.

As I walked on I passed a mother and her two teen aged daughters. I recognized them from a few doors down, and while I had seen one or the other on occasion, I had never seen them out together just taking a walk. They strolled along comfortably and I heard them talking and laughing. Clearly they, like me, just wanted to get out, and with stores, theatres and public gathering places closed, they had no choice but to find entertainment in each others company. It made me smile to see they were actually enjoying it. No phones, no tv, just good old fashioned conversation (with their parent no less!)

As I wound my way home I saw a neighbor out with her two young granddaughters. With day cares closed all were scrambling for child care so I presumed she was just helping out her children. The little ones were gathering sticks from the lawn and loading them into a wagon (clearly a make-work project aimed to tucker them out) while their Grandmother raked leaves. It was a sweet sight and I carried that warm feeling throughout the rest of my day, not giving it much more thought.

Later that night I found myself marveling at these sights all over again and it prompted me to consciously ask myself why. Then it dawned on me. I hadn’t seen children out ‘playing’ for a very long time. It seems over the years childrens activities changed from simple outdoor play to organized ‘play dates’ (usually indoors) and computer games. With tv, radio, and ipads occupied with news of the Coronavirus they were now forced to find entertainment in good old fashioned play. (Imagine that?) Teens no longer glued to their hand held devices were actually communicating with their families, happily. One family I know even pulled out their old board games and held a family games night. (when was the last time that happened?)

I know the Coronavirus is a serious threat but if it’s at all possible to glean something positive from it, it’s that it has forced families to spend time together. And in spending more time together we’re discovering that the simple things in life really are worth the effort. If it weren’t for the mandatory closures those teens probably wouldn’t have gone for a walk with their mother – they’d be in a mall or texting with friends. And those children playing outside would likely be indoors glued to the tv or a hand held game. Maybe one of the lessons we needed to learn in society is to make time for family. If stock markets can experience a ‘correction’, maybe society can too. Over the last 20-25 years we’ve drifted from spending quality time with our loved ones, choosing instead to isolate with our electronic friends.

Finding the road back to play, genuine play, is a good thing, in any situation. And while this frightening disease may well keep us in isolation with our families for months, it also means parents and children are home together all day, every day, giving us the rare opportunity to rekindle family time. (I believe it’s called. ‘making the best of a situation’)

My 90 year old father told me the deserted streets and mandatory confinement of this world event remind him of the 2nd world war. The only difference is today we can enjoy the company of our families safely in our own homes because the worst that can happen is that we die of boredom. (assuming we do not contract the virus…and we won’t if we all do our part and stay home)

Like everyone, I wish Covid 19 had never happened and my heart aches for those struggling with the loss a loved one to this awful disease. But for those who are only battling the isolation from public society, I urge you to take stock. We all have something to learn from this world event, and for many of us maybe that lesson is to return to family. I’m seeing the positive changes in families already. Could it be that from something so very bad, we’re finding something very good? I’d like to think so. I’m just sorry it took a global pandemic to put us on the path home.

Family time

 

Dreams

I awoke yesterday morning feeling unsettled. There was no reason for my agitated state, I just felt ‘off’, for lack of a better word; worried, scared, anxious, something. Over the course of the day I started recalling images and I realized I’d had dreams in the night that disturbed me, on a subconscious level. The images made no sense, some dredging up past memories, situations that I struggled with; situations I thought I had healed from. Apparently not.

Why are some dreams so vivid and what do they mean? And it seems it’s usually the unpleasant ones that are most vivid. You wake with a sense of dread, sometimes you can’t recall why; the dreams comes back to your conscious mind in snippets throughout the day forcing you to face….what? (I mean seriously, I already dealt with some of this stuff,,,,enough already! I’m ready to move on but my subconscious is telling me I can’t)

My mother used to have premonitions; dreams that foretold of a tragedy yet to occur, and to her credit I do recall at least a couple of occasions where her dreams were accurate. Her family have always resided on another continent. One night she dreamt her father was sitting at the end of her bed telling her not to cry, that all would be alright. The next day she got a call from her family advising her brother had passed suddenly at the age of 36. He had not been ill; there was no reason to expect him to die. In fact all her premonitions came in her dream state, and all were bad news. Can a dream deliver good news, ever? I can’t recall ever hearing about a lottery winner saying “I had a dream I won!”

I’ve had dreams where wild animals are involved, bears mostly, and no idea why. I live in an urban area, no bears for hundreds of miles. I’m not even in close proximity to a zoo. I’ve dreamt (most recently) of people and situations I’d like to leave in my past so it’s makes some sense that residual thoughts linger, but bears have played no role in my life, so what does it mean? On two occasions I dreamt of fire and when I woke I could’ve sworn I smelled fire, even rousing my husband once to check the house. (the 2nd time he told me I was nuts and went back to sleep but I wasn’t convinced and checked the house anyway. All was well but I’d rather be sure than end up a human shish kabob)

For years my husband had a recurring dream that he was walking down a long corridor and knew he was being followed. In his dream he turned and punched at the offender. Unfortunately, the dream was real enough that he actually punched me on 2 occasions. (There I was sound asleep, minding my own business, and bam, right in the chest! Needless to say I eventually convinced him that I could be scarier than his dream, and I was real. Not long after the dreams stopped, go figure)

The most disturbing dreams I’ve had involved demons of some sort; ghoulish creatures intent on terrorizing me. (I don’t watch horror movies, ever, of any kind. The last ‘scary’ movie I endured was 44 years ago and it haunted me for weeks) These dreams taught me something about my ‘fight or flight’ abilities,,,,I have none. I discovered when I am terrified, I become paralyzed and my first experience with this was when I was 12 years old. I attended a summer camp, one I’d been a part of since I was 4. There was a boys and girls side, each consisting of 6 small barracks that slept 8 apiece, and 1 large barrack that housed some 30-40 of the younger campers. The camp had been dwindling in numbers and this particular year there was only 3 of us placed in the smaller barracks in the woods. The rest were vacant. There had been a rash of trespassers from a nearby beach town causing some concern for the safety of the campers so we had counsellors on a 24 hour rotation walking the grounds at night.

On one such evening my roommate needed to use the washroom and since we had been told to go everywhere in pairs I went along, both of us in our pajamas. The washroom was about 100 feet from our barrack, all of which was surrounded by dense forest. Wandering back we heard the breaking of branches nearby and just as we approached the door of our cabin a leg stepped into view at the side. My roommate, Rita, immediately ran screaming towards the centre of camp leaving me just standing there, frozen on the spot. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t move. Eventually some sense spurred me into action and I followed but I was still mute and moved like a zombie.

Since then I’ve had a few seriously disturbing dreams, dreams of evil, images of demons, not recognizable people, and in all cases I was roused from my sleep by my husband advising I was moaning and calling incoherently. These dreams, much to my dismay, were vivid. I recalled my inability to speak so clearly after wakening and it would haunt me for several days.

One of my children suffered from childhood migraines, nasty bouts of dizziness and vomiting that would last for days. After years of this she confided in me that she knew when a bout was coming because the same people came to her in her dreams advising so. Not sure what to make of this, I mentioned it to my pediatrician and was startled to hear him say he was not surprised. He said children are very open to ‘other realms’ and as a result can interpret spiritual contacts more readily. And YES, this was a highly educate man of science. He was the head of Pediatrics and Child Abuse for a major hospital, and his wife was a child psychologist. He consulted with her and she confirmed what my daughter was ‘seeing’ in her dreams was in fact real. She confirmed my daughters premonitions were legitimate and likened it to seeing auras.

So how do we make sense of our dreams? Are they messages from our subconscious advising of unfinished business, i.e. is there a situation we are not dealing with on a conscious level. Are they simply irrational fears manifesting themselves in a way to test our reaction, or maybe, force us to face them? Or are they some form of premonition, a foretelling that our intuition has tapped into, and for some (the lucky ones) they are able to interpret them for meaningful messages.

I read an article recently that said we dream on average 5 – 6 times per night and our deepest sleep, the “REM” state is the period during which we dream most vividly. It also went on to say the REM state is when we dream most illogically, often wakening in a frazzled state. (Whatever it is, I don’t like it.) Sigmund Freud theorized that undesirable memories could become suppressed in the mind. By allowing these memories to be reinstated via our dreams, we are forced to ‘face our demons’, aka, deal with it. (If that’s true I had some pretty shady characters in my past….and I’d like to leave them there, thanks!)

Apparently we all dream regularly and most dreams are what we would classify as ‘disturbing’, but most of us don’t recall any of them. It has been said that 5 minutes after the end of a dream, we have forgotten 50 percent of its content, 10 minutes later, we have forgotten 90 percent, and 95 percent of all dreams are forgotten entirely upon awakening, and I think that’s ok, cause if dreams are only going to deliver bad news why would we want to recall them?

Wishing you only sweet dreams…..or none at all.

Dreams

Radio

I love my radio. It’s on all day at my house, even when I go out because I don’t like to return to a quiet house. Quiet unnerves me, and I find the continuity of radio relaxes me, so while I would happily give up my television, my dishwasher, my first born even,,,,,I would never give up my radio.

That said, I do not appreciate all radio. Musical taste is different for all of us and fortunately the radio stations I listen to have a good mix of music choices. They have their theme hours; Country, Celtic, Instrumental, or spotlight on a specific artist. If I like that particular artist or genre, I listen. If I don’t, I move to my alternate station knowing after a while that ‘theme’ will be over and I can return to my happy place.

My favourite radio station is a local one run by volunteers, retirees mostly (cause who else could volunteer to work for nothing?) and because there’s no pressure on them to ‘perform’ or ‘excel’ in their job, they exude a very relaxed manner. They laugh, they joke, there’s a lively banter that’s light and inoffensive. I also appreciate that they have the good taste to avoid certain genres like Crap, (oops, sorry), ‘Rap’, or ‘Barber Shop Quartets’ (just gag me with a spoon)

Sadly that does mean we have to make room for other less inspiring themes like ‘The Symphonic Hour’, (I bet the Conductor uses his baton to periodically poke players to keep them awake, and I’m sure the Bassoon was invented solely to drown out snores from the audience) or, God help me, ‘Tribute to Bagpipes’ (Mother Jesus, just blow my head off….who on earth decided wheezing through a pipe into an old sack was music?) But, to be fair, taste is a personal thing, so I reluctantly concede to those, and there are many, who worship the sound of a bagpipe. I just don’t understand it, but I would listen to 12 hours of bagpipes (it would be cruel and unusual punishment, for sure) before I would succumb to even 30 minutes of ‘Talk Radio’…..this is my true torture.

People are talking to us at work (unless you work in a library), at home, at school, in the grocery store, everywhere,,,,we are besieged with noise all of our waking hours  Isn’t that enough? Don’t you just crave something easy on the ears when your day is finally yours?

My husband is a huge talk radio fan (but he’s a good provider and he vacuums weekly, so I decided to overlook this flaw in his character). In fact, it’s all he listens to so you can imagine long rides in the car together can be pretty painful. (could it be I’m not as interesting as I thought I was?) He says he wants to be informed when he turns on a radio, so he is especially fond of podcasts. (they’re kind of like documentaries without the visual,,,,or like trying to count your eyelashes )  I, on the other hand, don’t want to be educated, I want to be entertained. It’s not that I’m stupid or disinterested, I’m just tired. I’ve spent the better part of my 60 years listening and learning, enough already. I just want to relax. (Croon me a little ditty)

Now I realize I am a rapidly shrinking minority. Talk show formats are all the rage and music is, sadly, taking a back seat in the world of ‘audio’ entertainment. Unless there’s a suggestive video to accompany the music, people simply aren’t interested, and I just don’t understand why. Isn’t your brain tired of being talked at? Aren’t you tired of having to process what you hear? (it would be interesting to see a study done on these individuals to see if they have difficulty sleeping) If our inner brain could gain control of conscious action would it say “could you keep it down out there, I’m trying to sleep”.

Maybe it’s simply a matter of application. When I’m being ‘spoken’ to I am very focused on listening, and that’s exhausting. Could it be that I need to listen less intently? (my husband tests this theory with me daily,,,maybe he’s on to something?) Maybe if they put these educational podcasts to music I’d find an interest. (or not, I hate thinking hard, it hurts)

Ok, new strategy!  The next time you start to ‘tell’ me something educational I’ll make an effort to listen but if I break in to a show tune when I’m weary don’t take it personally, and don’t take me for crazy. I’m just resting my brain.

Radio

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I was hosting a book club meeting this month and the host gets to choose the book for next month so I went to my local Chapters book store to scan the shelves for some new material. We’d already read a few books based around the 2nd world war so I was determined to find something different and this, I discovered, would be a challenge. There seems to be a lot of stories centered around the war. In fact, I was hard pressed to find one that wasn’t.

There’s mysteries, and horrors, of course, if that’s your thing. It’s not mine, so those were not a consideration. And there’s a huge section for romance but a review of those generally left me feeling like I’d wandered into a low budget soap opera. What I did find was that there’s a lot of crap that gets published. The story lines are weak and in many cases so was the writing style, and yet surprisingly, almost everything I touched claimed to have been on the New York Times best sellers list. Who are the judges of this esteemed list cause a number of these books really stunk!

Every romance is the same and the shelves are full of them. A poor helpless damsel gets assaulted by a wealthy land baron who’d just disembarked from a long voyage and after months at sea he’s feeling the ‘urge’ so he relieves himself on what he perceives is a local Doxie (some poor waif who wandered onto the docks by mistake) Halfway through the task he senses she was chaste and realizes not only is she not a Doxie, but she is quite enjoyable.  He decides to keep this prize and discoveries she cleans up pretty nice.  Now it’s amazing how in the turn of the century people bathed once a month and washed their clothes even more rarely but somehow this maiden always manages to smell like Hibiscus and a hint of lavender.  Her name too is always intriguing, Vixen, or Emerald, no Ruth or Blanche for our heroine. She always has flaming eyes and a heaving bosom that this knight can’t resist and they spend the rest of the novel in a love hate battle. He can’t stop thinking about her, she of him, blah, blah, blah, until eventually he begs her to be his Queen, saving her from a life of poverty and toil. The end, thank goodness, of a painful prose.

There’s always a biography. I like those. Some peoples lives are so very interesting. Unfortunately the majority of the biographies published aren’t. They embellish real life situations to make them more interesting and look for sensationalism because the reader wants to be shocked or surprised, right? Movin’ on.

History is out because it’s done to death. Everyone has a connection to someone who has had a real life experience during a major world event. We probably studied it in school already so why reread it with the drama of someone else’s family in it?

I steer clear of anything related to religion, psychology, or politics because they are too controversial, too intellectual, or to sleazy (in that order) for a casual book club, so it appears fiction is my only option.

I was surprised that I spent almost 2 hours scouring books, discarding most after reading the cover, and I have to say it again, because it so surprises me, there’s a lot of crap published.  Eventually I settled on a book about a young Japanese woman who falls in love with a sailor during the war, (you just can’t avoid the war themes) and the struggles they encounter just to build a life together. Devious family, prejudice, jealousy, and greed all contrive to make life difficult for the young lovers. Add a dash of mystery (to keep you intrigued), a sprinkle of historical fact (to make the choice legitimate) and a dollop of romance (to keep you interested)  and voila, you have a hit novel! Or so I hope. We’ll find out at my next book club meeting.

In the interim, if you’re looking for a good book forget the best sellers lists, you’re better off scanning the books people are reading on the bus or in the lunch room.

Read any good books

Sleepyhead

I’m a good sleeper, and I realize I’m lucky because far too many people have trouble getting a solid 8 hours of deep rest. My husband manages no more than 3 to 4 hours in a night, on a good night, and that’s not unusual. Most people I meet complain of an inability to get a solid night’s sleep so I truly value my body’s cooperation here. Quite honestly, I don’t know how people function without a full 8 hours of sleep every night, I just couldn’t do it. (I get 10)

Now my husband is sharp, witty even, and a clear thinker, despite his lack of sleep, so obviously sleep deprivation doesn’t affect us all in the same way. When I’m deprived of a good night’s sleep my thinking is foggy, and I’ve actually caught myself stuttering because I can’t get the words out clearly. In short, I turn into a vegetable; an incoherent turnip!

I love my sleep time and look forward to it. I even like the ritual of bedtime. After supper my husband cleans up (that’s our deal and since he does little else, I hold him to this) and I relax with some television. By 9:00 I head up to bed, my herbal tea is steeping and will be delivered eventually. I wash up and enjoy a little reading, while I sip my tea, then turn on the news, which invariably puts me to sleep….and there I stay sleeping soundly, and, (if my husband is to be believed), snoring apparently, until morning.

It comes easily to me and I’m not going to question why, I’m just grateful it does, but I do feel for those who just can’t seem to get enough mind rest. I suppose there’s a case for ‘active minds’; the events of your day simply linger in your subconscious keeping your brain awake, ever thinking.  But why is it some of us can turn it off while others can’t? (I can hear my husbands voice clearly saying ‘because you’re a dope and the rest of us aren’t’)

There are countless sleep aids on the market and when one is desperately over tired they are a God-send, but unless your chosen aid is a natural product there’s a risk of addiction and the last thing a body needs in addition to exhaustion is a chemical dependency.

Have you ever watched a sleeping child? They sleep without abandon; arms comfortably overhead, mouth open and breathing is deep, and when they awaken they have  a rosy cheeked glow and the rumpled hair that clearly says I’m rested and ready to play…..until nap time. (Maybe we need to spend more time learning from our children,,,they’re clearly doing something right)  

Studies have shown that certain foods contribute to drowsiness, those high in protein in particular because of the tryptophan, an α-amino acid found in proteins. So maybe we need to change our eating schedules – load up on eggs, spinach and salmon right before bedtime. Just don’t wash it down with a nice Pinot Grigio cause that’ll counter-act the effects of the tryptophan. (Alcohol is a stimulant…who knew?)  Apparently hot cocoa is the best night time drink but I’ll risk insomnia before I give up my nightly wine!

I guess at the end of the day those of us who easily enjoy a good night’s sleep are just plain lucky, and those who don’t are destined to be on an endless quest for the right sleep aid/routine. I’m just glad I don’t fall into the latter category.

I wish you a good night’s sleep, and long live the bedtime ritual!

Sleepyhead

Can I ask a stupid question?

My husbands’ answer when I ask this question is “Better than anyone I know”, but let’s ignore him for now.

I don’t claim to be a great mind. I did not win any scholastic awards at school, and I consider myself to be of average intelligence, but I am curious about some things.

For example, I was watching a recent news broadcast covering a plane crash. Their search centered around finding the black box which provides the details of a plane (or boats) last activity prior to the crash. The commentator went on to describe the importance of the black box, stressing its’ ‘indestructibility’. Now I’m no scientist but if a black box is indestructible, why don’t they just build planes and boats out of the same material and avoid the whole destruction in the first place?

And if we are all truly descendants of the seven daughters of Eve, how come more of us don’t look alike? I would expect to see a lot more “me’s’ out there.

And why is milk that’s gone sour bad? Isn’t buttermilk just soured milk?

If Dolly Parton stood on her head, would she smother?

If you truly could ‘have it all’, where would you put it?

If the disciples consumed the blood and body of Christ, does that make them cannibals?

If man, with his superior intelligence, can invent sophisticated polar orbiting satellites that can monitor the entire earth’s orbit and predict weather conditions, why do they rely on the appearance of a rodent every February to predict the coming of Spring?

And if we need seeds to grow watermelons, how can we be harvesting ‘seedless’ watermelons?

The list goes on and on because like all humans, I am curious, and curiosity is a natural and healthy reaction.  It doesn’t always cast us in an intelligent light, but it displays an ‘ever thinking’ brain. (such as it is)

Sometimes my curiosity takes the form of confusion because a situation puzzles me. Other times it intrigues me, prompting that ‘need’ to know the answer. Either way, it’s a good indication that my coconut is in working order, and the older I get the less I am self-conscious about asking what might be deemed a stupid question because I’m more interested in the answer than the reaction to the question.  And I’m fairly certain that I can’t be the first person to ask stupid questions. Some might  just think them too absurd to voice out loud, but I’d bet money they’d be all ears for the answer when someone else does!

So I will continue to pursue answers to what others might think are stupid questions, and when I get the answers that satisfy my curiosity I’ll move on to something more intellectual,,,,,, or maybe not…..because maybe ignorance really is bliss, and I’m in a happy place.

Curious

Excuse me while I swallow my words

While shopping recently I was browsing a rack of tops with a friend when I happened upon a particularly ugly (or so I thought) sweater.  Pulling it up to show my friend, I said, “Good God, look at this. Isn’t it hideous?”  As soon as the words came out of my mouth I saw a woman standing in front of me wearing that very sweater. (I still think it looked hideous) Needless to say, I was somewhat red faced. I crammed the offensive item back into the rack and moved on down the aisle muttering a quasi-apology. Realizing taste is very personal and unique to each of us, I was suddenly conscious of my habit of thinking out loud and it occurred to me that without meaning to, my opinion could offend another. Surely I can’t be the only person guilty of speaking their mind? That said, it got me thinking.

Is it really wrong to tell it like it is? I mean that same woman might have laughingly looked at my attire and thought it ugly. (She’d be wrong of course, but it’s a free country….) Or maybe it could’ve prompted her to rethink her fashion sense. Either way, isn’t it our very differences that make us interesting, unique even?

In another scenario, my husband and I were at an intimate dinner party, some years ago. During a discussion about various foods my husband happened to mention he loathed rice and had all his life. He went on to describe them as tasteless pellets. Well, you can imagine the look on several faces around the table when each was served an Asian stir fry on top of a pile of (the offending) rice. Most were completely unaware of the furtive glances between our hosts but my husband looked clearly uncomfortable. Needless to say he shoved down as much as he could, boasting about how delicious it was and how he’d been converted. (I still hear about his ‘sacrifice’ to this day) Now, like me, he had no intention of offending anyone, he simply spoke his mind. (had they served potatoes, this awkwardness could’ve been avoided)

Is it our subconscious that speaks without thinking or are we very much aware of our flippancies. And what are the repercussions of honestly speaking our mind?  I mean it’s not like it could kill you. (If uttering untimely or inappropriate things is truly the innocent result of the subconscious mind how is it Don Cherry hasn’t choked to death yet?)

I’ll admit there are times we regret having spoken out loud – we’re all guilty of telling it like it is on occasion but that can’t always be bad. No matter how carefully we choose our words there will always be someone who misinterprets their meaning. As long as we are open, honest, and sensitive to our delivery, we should always speak our mind because life is too short to hide behind our unexpressed thoughts, besides, speaking your mind clearly and intelligently can influence others to see your point of view. Not everything is seen as a criticism. (Ok, the sweater was truly ghastly but I suppose I didn’t need to voice it out loud)

That said, there are situations where tact and diplomacy must take precedence. If it’s constructive and adds value to a conversation, spit it out. If it in any way offends another, or halts an otherwise pleasant conversation, bite your tongue, cause nobody wants to hear it.

Me, I’m a work in progress. I aim to be engaging and open in any conversation and for the most part I succeed, but if I’m faced with a situation where my emotions get the better of me, biting my tongue might be too little too late.  Maybe I’ll try pulling my hair instead.

Excuse me while I swallow my words

Coming full circle

My children have all moved out and bought homes of their own and because they are in a growing mode and my husband and I are now in shrinking mode, it makes sense to pass along household items that are still of use and can be better utilized to a start-up household, so we offered out furniture, recreational items, and linens, now better suited to a growing family.

While sorting through the many videos and DVD’s we’d accumulated it dawned on me that my husband and I are no longer building a life, rather we are starting to wind it down. This was a startling revelation. For the past several years I‘d considered myself to be middle-aged but I realize now, that would mean living until I was 110 and that’s not going to happen, so I have to face reality. Truth is, it went by really fast.

When I hold my granddaughters I could swear it was just a couple of years ago I held their mother the same way. Has it really been 30 plus years? My only regret is that I couldn’t have slowed it down and if, at any time, I neglected to ‘stop and smell the roses’, it’s now too late because that bloom is now off that rose, and I can only hope for another opportunity to blossom.

After much deliberation I came to realize that opportunity presents itself every day, and this bit of wisdom only came with maturity. My life was so busy with jobs, and family, and car pools, and school…it all seemed like a blur and I fear I missed some wonderful moments because I didn’t take the time to really appreciate them, so focused was I on just getting through the days. Now when I look around, I see a host of special moments. Not all are mine, but that’s ok. I now see any moment as an opportunity to stop and reflect on its’ importance, and I’d like to think I now carry that lesson so that others can benefit.

If I can teach anyone younger, anything at all, it would be to make yourself consciously aware of each moment before it slips away. Take the time every day to find something beautiful in something very ordinary. It doesn’t have to be a lot of time because, as we know, life has a way of ‘getting in the way’, so choose your moment and make it count because once it’s gone it’ll never present itself in that way again. Look for the value in everything and everyone….don’t let a busy state hinder your path to growth.

There is a very distinct pattern to our lives and if I had to map its’ path it would look like a wagon wheel. We are all meant to explore, question, learn, and process; taking avenues off our core route to broaden our knowledge, and returning to its’ centre to continue on our journey. The results fashion our personal profile, and ignoring those ‘moments’ denies us our opportunity for spiritual growth….and yes, this too is a lesson that comes with maturity.

Better late than never.

Circle of life

The road back

I was out to lunch with some friends recently and the conversation around the table moved to spiritualism and organized religion, always a loaded topic but not overly contentious with this group. We are all diverse in our beliefs but harbor a healthy respect for each others choices. One friend in particular has always been adamant about her position as an atheist but her conversation this time surprised us all. She alluded to feeling a need to return to her church and was struggling with what she perceived as a betrayal of her own belief. For years she was confident and comfortable as a non-believer. Now, for reasons she herself can’t explain, she feels compelled to return to her faith. Her struggle was with ‘what changed, and why’?

In another scenario a young man enjoyed a reckless and adventurous youth. He studied hard but only because he knew he wanted a comfortable life. He partied harder, and eventually he either burnt himself out or had an epiphany, because in an overnight transition he found his purpose and made radical changes to his life, shocking friends and family. The medical career he’d studied for to maintain his luxurious lifestyle became his ‘gift’ to mankind. For reasons he could never explain he left his high rolling bachelor life and committed himself to God. He now provides medical relief in third world countries, trading in his sport cars for much need medical equipment and fresh water, and he lives, happily, in the most base conditions.

The angry career criminal who mercilessly commits crime after crime, because each time he did so hardened him and it became easier, now wants to rehabilitate and counsel troubled  souls to steer them away from the path upon which he once trod. When everyone else tried to put him on the right path, they failed, then one day he just forged a new path himself and never looked back.

There were no epic life events in any of these three situations that prompted the ‘ahha’ moment that suddenly struck with a life-changing realization that would alter the rest of their life story. In fact, in all three scenarios the individual knows not why they must move in another direction. They just know that they must.

I believe we are all meant to walk a specific path, the path that ultimately satisfies our purpose for being here.  For many that path is clearly marked and they do not stray. For others, that path meanders in a risky direction, taking unlikely turns and moving them further from their purpose. In youth we stray from our faith because it is the very impetuousness of youth that makes us question the status quo.  In maturity, long after we’ve explored other avenues, we return to our faith, if only to confirm it was meant for us after all.

For those of us taking  a ‘wrong turn’ in life, finding the road back comes at a high price but ultimately leads to safety, peace, and happiness, and very often those taking those radical turns can’t explain them. They just know it’s right.

Destiny required you to stray for a time, and the lessons learned during this brief hiatus are every bit as important as the need for you to return. The road back presents itself at just the right time and for the right reasons. Don’t try to analyze why, just take it.

The road back

New Immigrants

Watching my local news station the other night, I found myself interested in the story of a Syrian man who’d acquired his Canadian Citizenship. When interviewed he made a comment that piqued my interest and made me think. He is, by all accounts a refugee success story; settling in to a rural Nova Scotia town after fleeing Syria with his family, immersing himself into the community and determined to build a positive future, for himself, his family, and those who helped him.

Among the many humble comments he made in the interview, he also alluded to immigrants being perceived in past as something of a burden, draining an already tight financial economy and taking the jobs of locals, a perception he proved very wrong. His is the perfect example of the ideal immigration story. Over the past three years not only did he work to give back to his community but he also launched a successful chocolatier business that now proudly employs some 30 plus locals; a gift to this rural community where jobs are scarce.

My parents were immigrants, among the many after World War ll, who flooded North America. They arrived in Canada with two children, two suitcases and $57 US dollars. They didn’t speak the language and had no formal job training; the war took care of that, but they were hard working, honest, and determined to make a new life, a good life. Fast forward to today and I can proudly say that these two immigrants, like so many others who remain anonymous, built a successful life in their chosen country. They learned the language and after obtaining entry level jobs, both eventually reached senior positions in their fields, eventually retiring with a comfortable life.

This Syrian refugee, like my parents, like so many others, not only didn’t ‘take’ the jobs of locals, rather they created them for others. Immigration has enriched the very fiber of society, bringing us diversity, teaching us tolerance and acceptance, and uniting all mankind. And don’t even get me started on the food, the variety of restaurants, grocery stores, and traditional foods is a bounty enjoyed by all!

Immigrating isn’t easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. It takes tremendous courage to leave all that is familiar and start anew in a place where the language, customs, and traditions are foreign, and it’s especially difficult if the reception is less than welcoming.  (walk a mile in their shoes?)

Let’s embrace the diversity immigration brings because it makes us stronger, richer, and better as a people. And who knows, maybe one day we’ll even abolish racism, supremacy and hate.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Immigration