Tag Archives: spirituality

the gift of joy

The old adage “‘Tis better to give than to receive” has been spoken so many times.  I feel like sometimes it has no meaning left anymore.  In this world of materialism, of keeping up with the Jones’ despite what it does to our bank accounts or stress levels knowing the financial strain it places on us just to keep up.  The world we live in wants more and more.  Gluttony abounds.

For so many years, I would go and buy presents for myself (including when I was still married because my ex couldn’t make any effort to do anything for anyone).  I would wrap them and place them under the tree.  On Christmas morning, as I unwrapped these gifts that were labelled as being from everyone else, I would pretend to be surprised by the gifts.

I am no longer doing this.  This year, I have been forthcoming with my children and told them that I do not need gifts under the tree.  You see, my sons, knowing that there is not a significant other in my life and knowing all my family lives far away, they realize that there is nobody who can take them out to buy me Christmas presents.  Their father? I think he would sooner see me dead than help them buy gifts and they know it all too well.  They don’t dare ask.

So this year, I have invited my boys to join me in choosing a senior from the community who is in need of items.  We went down to our local London Drugs and chose a card together off the tree.  They wanted to choose a man, so we did.  Many asked for essential items such as deodorant or razor blades.  Our senior did also, but he also needs a blanket and would like some socks and such.  We have gathered up the items requested, and added in some chocolates, tea, and handmade men’s slippers.  I am currently making a new hat for the gift also.  We will together write our holiday wishes into a Christmas card, and when finished, we will take the package back to the store where they will give the gift to our senior.

The other gift I am giving myself is the gift to another single parent.  Being in the position I am, I know how sometimes the holidays can be difficult without extended family nearby, and to do all the Christmas stuff yourself as a single parent.  I am gifting a photoshoot to a single parent (maybe two, dependent on time), who has no family nearby.  The photoshoot is for the parent and their family.  No strings attached.  No contracts.  No expectations for ordering images.  The photoshoot is going to be done because it feels good to give something to someone else without any expectations.  The parent will receive all the photos edited on a memory stick and they can be printed or not, shared or not.  Totally up to them.

This, to me, is what the holiday spirit is about.  It isn’t about how much you get.  It isn’t about how much you spend.  It isn’t about outdoing the other parent in a bidding war over the children’s love.  It’s about integrity, compassion, and caring for those in our lives and our communities.  Christmas is about loving one another regardless of race, creed, personal preference.  Christmas is about harmony.  Christmas is about joy.

I believe this will be my best Christmas yet.

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living a good life

This has been a challenge of a week.  It’s been a week of pondering, and of considering the words spoken to me merely seven days ago, although it feels like it was a lifetime ago.

My father has cancer.  The big C.

Huge deal right?  Well, my mother had cancer also.  She spent a couple years in treatment, and her follow up appointments have all been positive, showing no signs of new growth.  All positive.  She’s not without her health issues, and the scare we had in summer thankfully was not a malignant tumor but still dangerous in its own right.  But I digress.

The words my father spoke left me feeling oddly at ease, even though we still do not know all the details of the severity or chances of survival.  I’ve had a good life.  I have no regrets.  I have done in my life what I aimed to.

Nobody likes to consider life without their loved ones.  I am not the exception.  My father came back into my life once my marriage fell apart.  My ex kept me from having a relationship with my family, so once he was out of the picture, they were there, waiting all those 20 years for me to come back to my senses.  I feel like I have just gotten my father back, so of course I have considered life without him once again.  I’m not ready for him to go.

My father explained some things to me, and I understand completely.  He is not afraid of death, and for the record, nor am I.  I do not believe it to be the end of our existence.  He has lived the life of his choosing.  He has done all the things he has wanted to do, he has no regrets in this life.  He has lived a good life, by his standards.  He was never rich in monetary ways, but that never mattered to him.  He was rich in much better standards.  He has a family he loves dearly.  He has friends who are family of his choosing that he loves equally as much.  He gives from the depth of his heart and would give what he had if it meant someone else could use it more.  Don’t get me wrong, my father is not a saint.  He is human, and in that, he has made mistakes.  He has made some choices that were less than desirable.  But in that, he is 100% human and we all know there is no one living on earth that is perfect by any stretch.

So I considered the words he spoke.  All week, and likely still will.  I know that he will fight for his life should he need to, but if it is meant for him to leave our realm in any short time frame, he will have no regrets.  He will not weep for the things he had not yet done.  He does live a good life that will be celebrated whenever that time comes.  But I still pray that time is not too soon.

life is lived in the mundane

I’ve pondered this statement all week. Life is lived in the mundane.  Such a simple statement that holds oh so much truth and wisdom.  Live is lived in the mundane!  We live our lives day by day.  Some constantly live in the past.  Others live in the future.  Who truly lives in the present?  My Buddhist side tells me to live in the present, to believe that it is important to be present and mindful in order to bring joy and happiness to our lives.

Life is lived in the mundane.

This is what it is to live in the present.  We should consider the daily joys of life.  The little things!  When we are constantly considering what went wrong in the past or how we could have changed our present if only we had done this, or hadn’t done that, we are not living in the present but rather living in the past.  When we are constantly looking forward to that next vacation or that next new adventure to get us out of the drudgery of daily life, we are not living in the present, but rather living in the future.  These things steal the joy from the now.

Life is lived in the mundane!

Consider today.  Consider where you are right now.  What joy is present in your life?  It doesn’t need to be expensive or dependent on anyone but yourself.  Find the joy in the now.  Life is lived day by day.  Be present in the mundane.  Find the precious in the every day.  Observe.  Ponder.  Watch the young and impressionable humans discover the beauty in a dandelion.  Relish those little conversations while stuck in traffic on your way to dance or soccer.  Breathe your lion breath in yoga practice today and really consider how wonderful it feels.  Meditate.  Dance.  Create.  Live.  Because one day you just might look back into the past to see that you never truly lived.

Live your life in the mundane.

 

 

ode to my grandfather

My grandfather was a very special person in my life.  Both my grandmother and my grandfather were key people in my early years.  I loved both my grandparents dearly.  My grandfather was quite an individual though.  Things I had not known about him I have been finding out so many years later.  My grandfather passed away ten years ago, and I thought I knew so much about him then.  He was an avid model train enthusiast.  He liked to garden.  He tried out new things, and even in his elder years, bought himself a computer and tried learning how to use it.  He did quite well at keeping up with lifelong learning.  An inspiration for me.

It wasn’t until recently when I went home to visit my parents that my mother told me how much my grandfather also enjoyed photography.  She told me about how he had his own darkroom set up in their tiny post-war house, and how he was always to be found with his camera.  Why hadn’t I known this when I was 15 and spending days in the school darkroom developing roll after roll of film?  I would have had something else to ask my grandfather about when we had those summerlong stays at their house.  Oh how much could I have learned from him then!

Still, knowing these things about him post mortem is so keenly interesting.  To know that somewhere in the genes, there was the key to that hidden door.  The one that opens up to the passions I have in life.

And I like to think my grandfather is watching me.  My spirit guide, watching over me.  I am sure he is smiling.  My grandfather was nicknamed ‘Bear’, I think by my father.  It is one of the ways I fondly remember him.  While out on the Worldwide Photo Walk yesterday, I happened upon this stone bear statue.  I have seen it before, but yesterday it seemed to take on a whole different presence.  It needed to be photographed.  And as I have been thinking of my grandfather so much over these past few weeks, the image spoke to me so very much.

So, The Stone Bear, the image featured this week, is dedicated to one of the absolute most important men in my life.  My grandfather.

make your heart happy

Everyone needs to take time to do what makes their heart sing.  Whatever that may be for you, do it.

My heart sings when I do what is authentic to my being.  Maybe I’m creating something..painting, writing, or photographing.  Maybe I’m roadtripping with the two most special young men in my world.

Whatever it is, don’t wait.

Don’t wait for tomorrow.  Don’t wait for next week.  Don’t wait until the ‘time is right’.  Tomorrow never hits.  Next week always gets pushed back.  The time is never right.  Make the time.  We live this life once, and none of us are getting out alive.  Create happiness. Live love.  Sing and dance in the rain.  Go hunting dinosaurs.  Look for stars and chase rainbows.  Leave a legacy that people can look at your live and know that you’ve lived it well.

Namaste

character, part 2

Last week I wrote about character, but the negative type. This week, I feel the need to balance it out with the positive. 

This has been a very challenging week. My furnace wouldn’t work, my boys were in a car accident on their way back to me, and various smaller issues seemed to rear their ugly heads all at the same time. 

First, I will say, they are ok. Sore, and whiplash, but nothing broken or needing stitches. My Physiotherapy team were amazing and had them scheduled within two days and took such good care of them. The receptionist, knowing how much trouble my ex has given me for other things, and knowing I wasn’t getting anywhere with him to get his insurance information (since he was driving), took the reigns and she managed somehow to get everything from him!  Blessings. My boys can get the treatment they need and I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to have to try and pay for it. 

Last weekend, it got pretty chilly here, and my furnace just would not start. It would cost me $200 just to have a guy come to my door, then at least another $80/hour to fix it. I just did not have the money for that at the moment. So the boys and I cuddled under blankets and we made the best of our situation.  When I got to work after the long weekend, I asked my colleagues if they could recommend anyone they trusted. That same day I had two professionals volunteer to come look at my furnace after work. Now, with having to get the boys in for therapy since the accident, I asked if we could wait for a better day so it could be done right after work instead of asking them to make an extra trip. And yes, that is what happened. By the grace of God, it was not a major problem. It took him about an hour to fix and he didn’t charge me anything for it. More blessings. 

Not all things in life go well. Sometimes it frustrates us, angers us, and sends us in a downward spiral. But, when we choose to look for the positives, we see these angels on earth who are there. The people who help us and look after us. Never take this for granted. These are the ones we treasure. These are the ones whose character shines brighter than last week’s example. These are the ones worth knowing and remembering. The ones that should be highlighted and thanked. Prayed for. 

So thank you to the Physiotherapy staff…all of them for making it easier for all three of us. Thank you to my colleagues and the ones who will give their time to help another. Thank you for all the good hearts and good souls in the world. They remind us that there is good out there and that we are not alone. 

find your tribe

Perhaps this is a somewhat cliché, or a rather trendy term, but I think the underlying meaning still rings true.  Who belongs in your tribe?  Who makes up your family, your friends, your community?  Who are those people that you connect with unlike any others?

Like minded people can be found everywhere.  The key is to have the open eyes, open mind and open heart to see them and seek them out.

Sometimes people see in us things that we think we are hiding from the world.  Perhaps its in a particular word or phrase we speak, or that subtle piece of jewellery that means so much that it becomes part of us.  Or perhaps is something less subtle, a simple energy that connects like minded souls.

This week I noticed many of these connections.  They come in all ages and sizes, gender, educational level, and  socioeconomic status.  They are found in different places too.  Work, the local coffee shop, the market, the little indie restaurant visited for dessert after the movies.

Who is in my tribe?  The earth lovers, the gardeners, the independent farmers, the spirited, the indigo children, the dreamers, the lovers, the compassionate, the empaths, the wise and the wistful…kindred spirits, those who have creativity, visions and dreams, the gentle souls, and those who have a deep connect with nature. Those are the people in my tribe, in my community.

imagine this

When is the last time you allowed yourself to run away with your imagination?  To get caught up in the inertia of fantasy?  Have we all become too grown up to believe in magic and miracles?  Has the time passed where we are allowed to dream fantastical dreams and wish for something more than the drudgery of daily life?

I’d like to think not.

This week, I met someone who shares the same philosophy as I have in this regard, and I assure you, just because we are all adults living in a very real and fast-paced world, there is still time to experience this.  It has left me with a dreamy state of mind.  A euphoric sense, and a fairly permanent smile on my face.

My advice to you?  Forget your responsibilities, at least for an hour.  Go outside and play in the garden with a childlike sense of irresponsibility.  Forget the bills and the work-related headaches.  Forget the challenges we are all presented with, just for an hour.  Dream, just for a little while, that perhaps there is more to life than what you see.

Perhaps you too, will find just a little magic.

spring

Welcome spring.  Welcome to new beginnings and change.  Welcome to the transformation and that feeling of morphing out of a chrysalis like the butterflies do.  Welcome to the beauty that we see or that perhaps that we cannot see plainly with our own eyes.  Embrace it and bask in it.

Today is Easter Sunday.  Whether religious or not, it is a day that many enjoy.  Whether spent rejoicing that He has risen, or taking part in the traditions of the Easter Bunny and egg hunts, Easter to me symbolizes growth and fresh beginnings.

I feel that my life is on the cusp of a new start, in some ways.  Perhaps in many ways.  Not that I care to get into details too quickly or prematurely, but I do feel that there are some things waiting for me.  Listening to the signs of the universe, there are things lining up.  I can read these things however I choose.  Opportunities arise all the time, but only when we are open to receive them, are when they come to fruition.  I have gone through a lot of difficulties in the past four years.  I have been broken down and beaten, metaphorically and literally.  I have had my strength and faith tested numerous times, and it has only strengthened my faith and spirituality more.  I have grown, and become who I am.  Who I was hiding all these years.  All the insecurities that have been pounded into me over the years are fading away.  Why?  Because I have learned to like me.  As I am.  I am responsible for my own growth, for feeling how I do.  Do you know what that does to a person?  It translates into feeling comfortable in one’s own skin.  This is revolutionary for me, something I have never felt.  It’s an incredible feeling.  I like me.  I like the me I am now.  I like who I am, who I have become.  I like the me that I am as an individual, not who I was forced, shaped and molded to be.  I have shed that skin, moulted like the outgrown skin the way a reptile does, and revealing a shiny new one that fits and feels so much better.

In this season of transformation, as the grass greens up and the flowers start to sprout out of the dirt, I hope you all feel the changes happening within you too.  I will leave you with one of my favourite and often used quotes to consider, a Zen Proverb:

May we exist like the lotus, at ease in muddy water.

beauty

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  Sometimes, if we take a step back and look at things with fresh eyes, we see things differently.  Things we never saw before.  Maybe we chose not to see them, or maybe we just couldn’t at the time.  Maybe something was blocking our senses that caused us to miss whatever it is we caught on that second time around.  Whatever it was, beauty really is all around us.

I took a mental health day away from work this week.  It was necessary.  Some things were building up that made it virtually impossible to manage all the weights that were pushing down on me. I spent time in solitude, meditated, and in self care during an extended massage therapy session.  I took a look at what was happening around me in my world.  Not the whole world, not the weights of the political forum or the war and conflict around the world and in our backyards.  Just my world.  What was pushing down on me?  What was I pushing back against? Who or what was I pushing away, and what was it that kept gently tapping on my door, ignoring my requests to leave me be?

Solitude is a wonderful thing.  Everyone needs a little time in silence, I firmly believe that.  Some things become clearer within that quiet space.  Not everything.  But nothing worth doing comes that easy, remember that.

When I woke this morning, I felt a greater sense of calmness than I have felt in some time.  It doesn’t mean that my stresses or stressors have gone away; they are still there.  In fact, even today, I have noticed twice that one of my stressors has been present.  I don’t have a solution to this issue as of yet, but it made itself known and while not contacting me directly, it left me to witness it.  A reminder that it still exists and to beware.  Beyond that, I have also decided to allow one thing that I have pushed away to gain entry into my life again.  That gentle tapping refused to go away, even with months of ignoring or even gruffness on my part to encourage it to leave me be.  I let it in.  I forgot how beautiful it was, or perhaps I am just now seeing it with different or more open eyes.  With eyes of a gentler soul or a more relaxed view.  I felt a weight lift off of me, perhaps felt a little more free or lighter, so to speak.

I noticed the beauty of spring today.  The melting of the small plots of snow, the rabbits changing colors back from white to brown, the songbirds in the trees playfully chasing each other around.  I noticed the flowers in the shops, ready for Easter celebrations.  It reminded me that renewal is occurring all around me and encompasses me too.  Take time to notice what is in your surroundings.  Notice the devoted love from your dog, the love from your friends or family, the buds forming in the spring trees or the grass greening up.  Notice your world and see the beauty around you too.

Namaste.