Sunday, 8 February 2015

Spiritual Hybernation

I am a Canadian girl. 

 I submitted this poem as an entry that won me this beautiful 'Canadian Girl' piece of art from an amazing Canadian artist.  I would like to say that it is one of my most prized possessions, but I am just not that possessive. Let me say this, I treasure this painting for many reasons, but mostly because of the beauty and strength in what it represents to me. This is my definition of a Canadian girl. I wrote it back in 2009.

A Canadian Girl is proud to be vulnerable. For if there is one single thing she feels certain about, it is the certainty of uncertainty.
A Canadian Girl seeks comfort in change. For she knows to stay stagnant would deny her of her independence.
A Canadian Girl is a dreamer. For she understands the nature of her restlessness.
A Canadian Girl wanders. For she has learnt that taking risks satisfies her wondrous yearnings.
A Canadian Girl reaches out. For it is in her nature to nurture.
A Canadian Girl politely declines her label. For a branding would undermine her integrity.
A Canadian Girl picks up a 'Timmies' on her way over. For she knew that you were a 'double double' the first day you met.
A Canadian Girl will replace her bedhead with her multi-coloured toque. For she'd prefer to share a pint and a smile than time in the mirror.
A Canadian Girl knows that carpets will get dirty...and will also get you down a snowy hillside. For she is playfully realistic.
A Canadian Girl will grasp a paintbrush in one hand and a hammer in the other. For her multi-culturalism has lead to great multi-tasking.
A Canadian Girl appreciates the 'little' things. For it is her sensitivity which breeds her insight.
This woman loves her country and all within it For growing up a Canadian Girl...

She is Free.

'Canadian Girl', A. Shay Hahn
We are in the midst of a typical Canadian winter. And although I have experienced 40 (or so) winters I still have not grown to enjoy them. Let me just say, they haven't gotten any easier. In fact, as an adult, they get much, much more difficult, especially as a parent. More winter gear can put a screeching halt on even the best thought out plan. I have just recently (and shamefully) succumb to parking the ridiculously over sized bright blue shovel upgrade right next to the front door. A personal 'outting' of convenience for all to see. Winters in Canada aren't cute (practicality wins every time but this could be my age talking).  I haven't worn high heels outdoors for a couple of months now.  My footwear must be able to withstand inches of snow and slush and uphold in freezing temperatures. My coat leaves room for layering. I walk around with a toque both indoors and out. I deal with hat head. My winter gear, much like my shovel must be readily available and up for anything, anytime. In the last 48 hours I have had to dig out my car numerous times, push a vehicle out of a snow bank while slipping and sliding to my knees, build not one, but two forts, participate in an intense, no holds barred, snowball war with my eight year old (yes, I won. It's a Canadian thing, don't judge) and I have gone out to shovel the walk and driveway too many times to count. Why the winter inventory of obstacles and the desire to share them you ask? All of this digging out has given me an awful lot of time to think. This past year has had a significant amount of struggles and challenges for me. And believe me, it has taken its toll. One could say that I have been stuck, buried even, within a ' winter' of discontent. It has snowed me in, often paralysing me.
Shovelling yourself out of a snowstorm is much like shovelling yourself out of a 'shitstorm'. It's cold and miserable. You often feel alone as you look at the enormous task ahead. Feelings of regret creep in as you argue with yourself about how it wouldn't be this bad had you started shovelling yesterday and just dealt with the snow(shit) as it fell. Cars drive by and splash slush on you. Plows plow you in as you stand sweat covered and proud, shovel in hand, solely bearing witness to the clean driveway and mountain of snow you have compiled as your once great feat turns its back on you in mockery...defeated as the snow continues to fall. We have surely taken on the disadvantage of ignoring natures signs that the seasons change was upon us. All of nature seems to stop dead in its tracks. The birds have no songs to share. The sleeping trees stand amid the wreckage, winters carrion. But, if you are willing to seek it, there is beauty to be found within winters grasp. The gift of owning a moment within the quiet stillness of a late night winter walk. The blinding inspiration as the sun and snow dance together in a divine moment of truce, creating fields of diamonds. The ease in which we are willing to help a stranger, reminding us that we are not alone.
When I stop to ponder this past year, I would say that it has been one of the worst of my life. But I would be horrendously wrong. My whole world has been turned upside down and inside out. I have felt completely exposed desperate in panic, longing to hide and isolate from the world in fear that they would see the ugliness in my coping, or lack thereof. I have been quick to judge. I have stopped searching for the beauty. You see, I am positive that God continues to work within me, through me. I have been turned upside down and inside out. I have been forced to plow through and uproot my life in order to cultivate it. I am a work in progress. God longs to till the soil of my life. He continues to uncover the enrichment of my spirit in preparation for the planting of new life which can only be found in new beginnings. I have buried my 'crop' beneath a bitter and frozen winter snow and forgotten about the prosperity that waits stagnant underneath. Working through the harshness of the elements is a necessary life lesson. And just as the seasons change, so must we. One thing remains, in the midst of this 2015 winter season, the 2009 Canadian girl still remains, and she will continue to dig herself into the hope of the next seasons promise.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Expressions of Love

  Oh, but how life can have its way with you. Pitching a variety of gusty challenges from the mound at a hundred miles an hour. Some suggest the secret to success is to take a stance and swing at the good stuff. Make contact, draw or strike, this is life.  But what do you do when you always seem to strike out?  What happens when you feel you are loosing? What then, when simply showing up isn't enough? When you are sure that you have nothing left and you fear you are drowning, you get right back up on your feet, dust yourself off and make a decision to give it everything you've got.  Decide to be all in.

   I have been really struggling and falling back into old destructive patterns at a rapid pace.  I found myself frantic, desperately sifting through the tools that I know I can rely on to keep me on track.  The things that usually keep me centered and healthy seemed to be just out of reach. I found myself in the eye of a storm of chaos.  I was having difficulty seeing outside of this old and unwanted familiar cycle I was being sucked back into.  A backdraft of negativity seemed to be closing in on me.  I have been praying non-stop.  Surrendering, only to surrender again. And it hit me today while I was driving.  I glanced over at a grown man smiling and laughing and rolling on the grass with his dog. And just like that, I was drawn into their moment. A stolen glimpse of pure love.  And that was it!  I knew that my mission for this day was to find expressions of love. Stay on task and dig deep. Expressions of love is love in action and it is EVERYWHERE.  Once I shifted my focus and opened my eyes, my heart followed.  I saw friends walking and laughing. I witnessed a man watching the sunset. I felt gratitude for the love from a patient friend and time offered to me from my sister.  I listened to birds singing and I couldn't help but to laugh as church bells rang in the distance.   When it seems like all forces are working against you, love.  Love nourishes and feeds our soul. Love is medicine. Open your eyes and see it.  Pick it up. Ingest it.  Invest it. Trust in it. Believe in it.
 When all else fails look for love.  Then allow love into your life. It will flourish and see you through your darkest hour. Love will help you face your fiercest opponents.   Live life as though all you have is love and the people you share it with.  Make the choice to nourish these relationships and embrace loves wealth.  Let that curve ball stare you down, then laugh at its attempted manipulation. You are love. Love is stronger than darkness, stronger than personal will and when you rely on it, you will make contact every time. Know this and you become unsinkable, undefeated. Love, did you leave it on the field today?

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Incredible Lightness of Being

Life reminded me today of the heaviness of it all. As my prayer list began to swell, I found myself asking the big question, 'why'? Why must life get so heavy? Why do we carry the load of our burdens with us until the weight threatens obliteration? The answer was simple. Must it? When people I care for are hurting, I want to help. I want to fix the problem and take away the hurt, naturally. But our burdens do not make us broken. We each have our own heaviness that we must purge. At forty years old I assumed that growing pains were a thing of the past. But assumptions can be dangerously deceitful.  Perhaps there is something I can do. I have often used the line 'Be the light'. But today it shone upon me a new meaning. Perhaps I can help lighten a persons load. Take away some of the heaviness for them. Offer an honest ear, a smile, a laugh. Go for a walk. Meet for coffee. Don't attempt to fix someone or something that isn't actually broken. Remind the people in your life of the 'lightness' of being. I bet you will discover that your load will also feel a bit lighter.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Attic Dwelling

'When God closes a door, He opens a window'...

I have heard that phrase a thousand times (okay maybe nine hundred). Heck, I've thrown it out there myself with empathetic pats on the back. It wasn't until recently that I actually understood what this statement meant.  And do you know what I did?  I opened that window and dove for my life.

   I had been lost, stuck in the same hallway for some time. Now, I was at a point where I wasn't even noticing other doors let alone checking to open them. I had checked out. Huddled in the same 'hallway', in the same corner, staring at the same wall. Stillness. But not the good, peaceful BE'ing kind of stillness. The kind that closes in on you. A frightening hollow stillness that forces your eyes shut. The kind that makes you so afraid, you want to run and hide. But where? The long dark hallway was my space. It's the only place I felt I had come to know. Was there nothing left for me? No more doors? No thing. Fear had taken me by the hand and lead me further and further into my numbness.
But every so often there was a burning, a tingling soft subtle whisper that tugged at my soul...'wake up...Wake Up...WAKE UP!'
And there amid the darkness, the echo of my thoughts create an internal stirring.

  Clinging to nothingness to stay afloat is tricky. It is only a matter of time before you start to sink again. Mere moments before suffocation and panic set in. But sometimes that is all it takes. One moment. One quick glance. One rescue mission. One life 'guard'.
  Someone saw the stillness in me. They recognized the calm before my sinking and they reached out for me. They shed some light into the darkness of my corridor. They took my hand and started to walk with me. God plants these people in our lives. These life 'guards', life 'savers' walk among us...they are us!
  You and I, we have powers, power. Please, please take this to heart.  YOU have the ability to change the very course of a persons life. Take notice. And then take action.  Offer an ear, a thought, a hand, a new perspective. Open a window. Be the light.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Battle Damage

My son was painting his Lego mini figs today and came to me to proudly show me his work. He explained why some of the paint looked scratched and wore off...this particular soldier had battle damage beginning to wear on his armour. I can relate. These past couple of weeks have proven to be some of the most difficult of my life. I fear I am also showing some wear and battle damage. I am tired...completely spent even. Body, mind and soul are drained. I am physically, mentally and emotionally raw. I feel completely turned inside out. My whole being is so drained I can't even fake it. My battle damage is exposed for all to see. This is me. For now. I will wear my scars for some time, for all to see. But if you can look past my wounds, and look deep inside, my eyes will explain what words never could. I am still here. Remember me? I have felt lost. I have been lost. But I am walking my path (I happen to be crawling through some rough terrain at the moment).  My eyes will show you that my heart aches, but she still searches for sun. They will remind you that for every ending an opportunity for a new beginning exists.  When you look at my eyes you will see what tired hope looks like. Look closer please. See me. Battle scarred and scared. Staring right back at you. I am not always strong. There is no need to be. Sometimes I am tired and weak. That is why I have asked so many of you for your love and prayers. I have needed an army of love. It works you know. When you feel you are drowning, arm yourself with love. Wear your battle damage for the world to see. Let them see you. For it is in your rising where you will inspire. Your freedom lives within you. It is yours for the taking. Dig deep until you get to the other side. Reach for hands if you must, but don't you quit. Dust yourself off. Find the light that illuminates your path. You are meant to shine. My son set his battle worn soldier up on his special shelf. He is aware that although this soldier appears to be  worn and broken, this was an experienced fighter. A soldier that has been to war and back. Someone who had a rough patch...a soldier that would continue his journey. Someone special.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Some'wear in Canada

I'm a relatively low maintenance individual. And yes, I have already been told that the self proclaimed 'low maintenance' women are actually ALWAYS the highest maintenance. I shake that s*%t off. It wouldn't be the first time I've broken the mold. Wanna know what is high maintenance? Winter!
  As a Canadian, I know I am supposed to be in love with the cold. I am supposed to appreciate the seasons. And I do, I really appreciate spring, summer and fall. I have always thought that I needed to participate in a winter sport (ski, snowboard) for me to appreciate it. I ice skate...does that count?
  Winter demands a lot of attention. The house needs to be winterized. The car needs to be winterized. We need to be winterized. My winter wear bin explodes when I unlatch it like the dough from a crescent roll casing. Coats and hats and mitts oh my!
  As far as I'm concerned it's all about the layering...and layering. Tights under pants, thermals under long sleeve shirts under sweaters under coats...wool socks under boot liners under boots...hats and scarves and gloves. Why am I STILL cold???
  If I could just 'tap out' for the winter I would. Blow that whistle already! I would spend these long dreary winter months fireside with blueberry tea, a stack of books and music. Now that could help make winter a favorite season.
  Someone once told me 'you gotta fake it till you make it'. So, I gear up and I grin and I bear it. Let's be honest, I'm actually not baring anything at all as I transform into a massive sumo wrestler sporting my tightly woven together masterpiece of winter wear...all of winters layers and me...I am Canadian.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

L ONE ly

Have you ever found yourself in a room, surrounded by friendly people and you still felt alone? Loneliness can be a cunning sneak. It will creep up on and invade you when you least expect. There have been times when I have been so overcome by loneliness I have felt paralyzed. Surrounded and wallowing in loneliness, I have found myself wadding in it, staring it dead in the eye, daring it to drown me. I have been overcome waiting with bated breath while loneliness poured itself into the depths of my soul waiting for someone, anyone to come and rescue me. I eventually get tired of waiting and come up for air.

  What causes loneliness? Sometimes you are lonely simply because you feel alone. You are feeling a lack of connection. You are longing for someone to connect with. You yearn for another who understands you. You want someone to SEE you. Sometimes, if you are lucky you meet that person. And then sometimes they leave and you find yourself left standing in that dark pit of lonesome again. Only this time, the once unfriendly waters morph into a non-forgiving sadistic quicksand that consumes every inch of us before we can even think about holding our breath. Yes, I have felt that lonely. Our loneliness for this person can send us on a wild goose chase as we desperately grasp at anything in an attempt to fill that void. We drown in the struggle, knowing deep down that they can never be replaced. This is why it is so important to appreciate the moments we share with the people that we connect with and cherish. We know this already. But life has a way of keeping us busy and ego has a way of tricking us into believing we have time.
Often, our loneliness is nothing but a self inflicted result from isolating ourselves as a defense mechanism. When we are hurt, heartbroken or disappointed we become self preservation architects. We attempt to protect ourselves from cruelties and hardships by separating ourselves from others, from the world. We build walls. We camouflage our hearts into the darkness of stone. We sign a declaration in blood stating that we will cease in making any connections. We want to believe love is for the weak. Constructing walls keeps people out, yes. But these barriers also trap us deep inside and will eventually lead to suffocation.

  The worst type of loneliness, the type that drowns, is the loneliness we suffer when we are missing ourselves. While we are kept distracted, busy with our lives we often wake to find that we haven't a clue who we are or how we got to this state. We wake to the realization that we are living life as imposters. This is the most deadly form of loneliness because it is the most difficult to recognize. We are more likely just to bow down and deal with the hand we were dealt. We feel it is our burden to bear and accept the consequences. If you can relate, it is time to wake yourself from this zombonic state of being. It is time to reconnect. It is time to shake it off. It is time for an adventure!
Waking up, especially to an earth shattering alarm is hard to do. It becomes even harder when you don't know what you are waking to. It is time to stop worrying so much about where we are going and appreciate where we are. Be here now. It is time to rediscover who you are. Look into eyes. Look directly into as many eyes as you can, including your own. Stop being a stranger trapped in a body. Look inside. You are not a stranger. What if you started looking at you and I, you and her, you and that guy over there...together...ONE. I am not alone, and neither are you. There is always going to be you and I if you open your eyes and see...we.