Tag Archives: gratitude

solstice blessings

Holiday Lights

Hello sun. Daylight grows from here on out, my SAD-ridden spirit happily acknowledges.

The days will grow now, and though I would have liked to have a lovely quiet snowfall over Christmas, it seems unlikely given the mild (and hence rainy) temperatures we are currently having.

Maybe it’s because the end of a calendar year is nigh, but this time of year has a virtual flag on it for me to spend a bit of time reflecting on what has passed and on what is to come. The little incremental changes that happen daily don’t seem like much until they are reviewed in retrospect. We do a lot and we only realize it when we look back at it from a distance.

As my friend Jill so eloquently shares in her most recent newsletter, this time of year can bring with it all sorts of stress right along with the revelry – if you let it – and how we celebrate is ours to determine.

Since our wee family broke up in 2009, our holiday traditions have changed too. Since then I’ve spent a few years celebrating with friends rather than what little remains of my family (my son often travels to be with his dad over the holidays) or at times on my own (by choice).

I’m not sure what these celebrations signify for me anymore. I don’t have the urge to conspicuously consume, and I just don’t have the means to generously give gifts anymore. In many ways this ongoing situation has forced me to redefine how I might show appreciation and still remain in the giving spirit of the season.

A good part of this year was spent wracked with worry, with striving. I have been in full survival mode, and it squeezes out any room I might have had for creativity. Scrambling is exhausting work, so sleep was always a necessary refuge (what it lacked in quality was made up for in quantity).

I wish I had the discipline to work through it all, to create despite not having the urge (or the energy, really) to. Perhaps it would have reenergized me in the end. Or maybe it would have been akin to planting seeds in fallow ground – too late to investigate that now.

This year ends tinged with hope. There is a roof over our heads. We will have enough to feed ourselves and to pay for the necessities of life (in great part because of the help we are receiving from others).

I am grateful for –

Family
Good friends
A caring community
Internet connectivity
Coffee
Chocolate
Consistent work
Eggnog
Memories to draw solace from
My creative muse
Sunlight
Possibility & potential
Everyday manifestation of the numinous
Opportunity to celebrate, always & everything

The rest of today will be spent cleaning up, doing laundry, experimenting with candied citrus and risen dough, making some lavender and thyme shortbread cookies. I have found that when life gets immensely complicated, the only thing left to do is to revel in simplicity.

Wishing you all love and the brightest of blessings.

mango-oranges and the essence of happiness

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I was out and about, walking the neighbourhood on this semi-sunny winter’s day. I’ll take a break from the rain where/whenever I can get it.

Home now – early afternoon and it feels like late afternoon, what with the “golden hour” glow. The days may be lengthening but it still feels like awfully short days.

There was a huge bear of a husky type dog parked out in front of Starbucks, and I couldn’t help myself – we visited. It’s ears and head were soft and smooth, while the rest was wiry and downright huggable. I’m glad it allowed me to spend some companionable time with it.

I’m getting ready to journal. I lit some white sage and waved it around the place, brewed myself a cup of coffee and I’m ready to start on some pages – or at least the first.

I’ve started with a quote from Thoreau (“There is no beginning too small.”), provided by Lisa Sonora Beam as the first of her free 30 Day Journaling Project. I have also sketched the three runes that I pulled the other day (kenaz, dagaz, nauthiz), as I contemplated this new year from its crest.

I’m feeling contemplative and feel the need to – well – contemplate. I’ve been out of touch with myself for a while. I need to reconnect.

I paid my rent. I picked up a bit of food.

It strikes me that I seem to appreciate things more when I have to consider (very carefully) where my money goes and what it is spent on. Like buying a mango-orange (because I’ve never had one before) and then cutting it up and savouring it, slice-by-slice, because I had to pull from the little I have to purchase it. I had to choose it in favour of something else. It’s sad that I must always be at the end of financial fluidity to grasp this… preciousness. Somehow, when abundance flows, the magnitude of my appreciation diminishes. I know that is my issue (perhaps not just mine but the world’s in general).

When I have, I seem to become desensitized and less grateful, or want else and more. When I yearn, I feel like I am missing out. But here, in this place of barely having but HAVING, there is the sense of fleeting and immense gratitude. Things taste better; feel stronger.

Again… if only I could hold this space when I am not so desperate, when abundance flows and I am still fully aware of the gifts, every single one.

Perhaps my chosen word for the year : FOCUS : will help me with this. Because focus connotes so much more than it’s meaning at face value and is applicable to much, from choosing projects, then working on them in a concentrated manner, to figuring out what I can contribute to the world and make a living from it, to… the delicate taste of a mango-orange rolling on my tongue.

I suppose happiness is not a constant – things ebb and flow and it is the way, but I think recognizing it when it’s there and holding space and appreciation for it when it happens, that is the key to it.

on being vulnerable and open

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Blogging has once again slowed to a crawl. Between fits of writing (both poetry and prose) and shooting the odd photo when I am awed by my surroundings, I also fulfill other functions: single-parent mothering, full time office working, part time (and very novice) yogining, friend being (to many, far and wide, and close), and occasional knitting. (That Hogwartz/Gryffindor scarf is creeping along slowly.) And soon to be (officially) a divorcée. Weird, this final severing. Such a huge chunk of my life tied in to this now defunct part of who I was and identified with, still searching to pick up the threads of where “I” left off and veered off from so long ago, in order to reclaim myself.

My ex-husband has been in a relationship with someone for quite some time now, and yet I continue to be alone in my life. Not because I don’t wish to share it with another, but because I wish to share it with the right person, and we just haven’t met yet. I also continue to nurse past hurts; it is surprising to me how long they take to heal. I wonder, sometimes, if they heal better when you let them show and share them with others, allowing them to be loved away. Still, I can’t seem to do that yet, even though I long to be able to do so, to be able to open my heart again to another.

I am happy, though, in this simplicity. Each time I look around me I appreciate what I have, the beauty that I see, in nature and in those whose lives cross with mine. I see kindness and humour and fearless vulnerability. And love. I am blessed.

Sunday softness

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Oh the softness of Sundays.

Summer is here. It’s got the scent and feel of alpine air, fresh and cool with a slight breeze and an echo.

The birds are squawking, the crows with their nasal caw, and others, tittering a staccato rejoinder.

The sound of a lawnmower is accompanied by the occasional shushing of cars and the tinny growl of small engine planes.

If my blind was pulled open, I could tell you whether the sun, which has been bashfully covering itself with clouds, was making an appearance today.

But I’m still laying here, wrapped in warm blankets and feeling the cool air stream over my arms as I write, not quite ready to rouse myself from this warm little haven, but considering it seriously, since breakfast must be made and served, and another day greeted with gratitude.

And the dishes await washing.

Ordinary Sparkling Moments

A special package arrived in the mail today. A little over a year ago, I volunteered to be a “Book Fairy” for Christine Mason Miller’s project to spread the message of “Ordinary Sparkling Moments: Reflections on Success and Contentment.” I write about my Book Fairy experience in this post (click HERE).

Anyway… back to now. A year has elapsed and I find myself struggling to find the sparkle in most everything. Or rather, it’s a daily chore for me to find the sparkle in the ordinary moments of my life. A relationship that I’d invested a year of my time in recently fizzled out like old ginger ale. What is left of my “professional life” is equally lifeless, and the fact of the matter is, it never had much life to it in the first place.

You see, it’s because like Christine, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I didn’t make any other contingency plans, and after my plan A fell through (through no other fault by my own), and so many other plans that followed never amounted to anything, I continue to want to be something I still feel I am not… not quite. I certainly make art, in some form or other, but I have never made a living at it. Instead I drift, much like a gypsy, from one job to the next, never finding a niche in anything because the truth of the matter is I just don’t fit anywhere, really, especially an office.

I’m quiet, and thoughtful, and slow, and reserved, mostly, but wild and brash in ways that might surprise those who have not seen that side of me. And I have a temper, too, and as I age, it is getting more difficult to reign in. And I get bored really quickly if I am not fully occupied, and have further come to discover that an eight hour work day is just too long of a time to spend sitting at a desk, in front of a computer.

So where does that leave me? I don’t know. I am still searching for some sort of balance between my extremely active mind, creative spirit and insatiable curiosity. Why… WHY was I born this way? It’s excruciating.

While I ought to be busy working out the details of what kind of data to input into a spreadsheet, my mind drifts to a million things…

It was sunny today, so I could smell the spring in the air. In my mind, I spent a portion of the day wandering the streets of Vancouver, feeling the sun on my skin and smelling the thickening pollen in the air. Amidst meetings and email replies and spreadsheet tweaking, my mind juggled several story ideas, alternately fleshing out both of them, watching my characters become more animated and alive as the day progressed. I envisioned myself tending to bee hives and harvesting honey. I saw myself straddling a potter’s wheel and throwing perfectly proportioned mugs, and carving faces and bees into clay to later become beads and embellishments. There were molded bath bombs made and ceramic boxes in which to store them, and the inkling of a logo developed, as well as an etsy shop. My mind never stops…

And yet… by the time the evenings arrive, after an hour long drive and preparing dinner, I am usually too bushed to start on anything. So the wonderful ideas that I’ve harboured all day become stored in my memory banks (or my iPhone notes) for when my energy levels catch back up with the rest of me. Some days I forgo the cooking (or slap something together very quickly) and decide that I must do something. So this evening, with the arrival of the book, and the fact that it was such a beautiful sparkling sunny day, I’ve decided to write a blog post. Long neglected blog that it has been.

Unlike Christine, and her desire to be an artist, I have never felt the need to inspire others in a tangible way. I have no need to encourage or cajole others into being their best selves. I can barely manage to do that myself, so how can I deliver such a message convincingly? I thought, for a while, that I ought to be a creativity coach, and do just that. But the fact of the matter is, my mind wanders far too much. I read five books at once. I have multiple ongoing projects (many unfinished), and flit from one thing to the next like the bees I so wish to care for. I frankly don’t want the responsibility.

On the other hand, if what I write manages to inspire someone else, simply by sharing my own experience or by telling a story, then I can certainly do THAT sort of thing. I don’t know what inspires others… what makes them tick. We are all so similar in so many fundamental ways, and yet so different.

A friend of mine posted something to her Facebook page today, this widget thing that shows you how rich you are compared to everyone else in the world, based upon your annual income. I was the 231,544,348th richest person in the world, based on my earnings last year. Well, that’s nowhere near the top, to say the least, but even though $73 could buy a new mobile health clinic for AIDS orphans in Uganda, my grocery bill for two runs me about $200 a week, not counting incidentals (like toilet paper, etc.). It’s all relative, isn’t it?

So anyway… back to the sparkling moments. Life has been so much something other than smooth sailing for so long. If life was a bed, I definitely woke up on the wrong side of it. Not that it hasn’t been good at all. No… some incredibly awesome things have transpired. My son, for instance, is a treasure. Some of my friends are the most amazing and awesome people I have ever had the honour to journey with. At times when I was the most disheartened, complete strangers have materialized to reinforce my lagging faith in humanity. And I’ve seen beautiful things -natural or otherwise- and lived in amazing places.

The funny part is that we always think someone else has it better than we do, and that our lot is by far worse than everyone else’s. We’re always the most hard done by, in our minds, in comparison to everyone else. The truth is, though, that we all carry burdens of one sort or another, and they are equally weighty in the end. And those sparkling moments? They’re hard to see, from all of the detritus that litters our lives, sometimes, but if we dig a little bit, we can usually find the gems shining through the rubble, no matter how much crap they’re buried under.

So… in gratitude of the gems… and the sparkling moments, one of which, on this day, happens to be the arrival of this most excellent book.

A State of Grace

I’ve been (albeit as-slow-as-molasses-in-winter slowly) plugging away at writing a novel this month for nanowrimo (see nanowrimo.org if you’re curious and have never heard of this month of crazy literary abandon).  I’ve also been working on several pieces that I want to enter into the North Vancouver Arts Council’s Annual Anonymous Art Show (my first time was last year–what great fun it is to see hundreds of 8×8 pieces of art work in all varieties of styles side-by-side in groupings on four walls!).

However, I’m distracted this morning by something that “bubbled up” and won’t let me rest.  Literally.  I tried to get back to sleep this morning, thinking that getting up before the alarm clock (which was set to buzz me awake at 6 a.m.) was just wrong and I turned over and attempted to fall back asleep but couldn’t.  And I couldn’t focus on either my novel or my paintings this morning, so here I am, with my tall mug o’ coffee, writing this instead.

The last several weeks I’ve been listening to Gregg Braden’s CDs (I have four of his books on CD) and yesterday I finished the final one, entitled The Spontaneous Healing of Belief.  Much of the material in these books is repetitive (to each other) and also not anything ground shatteringly new, per se.  However, coupled with the telling of his own stories and personal experiences related in them, they are such a powerful source of inspiration for me.  I listen to them and feel the field.. the interconnectedness of all things.  It puts me into a state of grace, which is, what I think, what we all strive for in our lives.

I read a Facebook post the other day in which one of my Facebook friends was discussing love… the different variants of love and which was better or worse.  He spoke of a man who had been a prisoner and was regularly tortured by his captor but who, under these horrible conditions, came to transform the hatred and resentment that he may have held toward his captor into love.  His captor’s relationship to the victim was also transformed by virtue of this love, and he was eventually released.  Now I’m not saying that we need to form unhealthy relationships with people just so that we can experience this dynamic (unless it is your soul’s will to do so) but that learning and understanding how to sink into grace is the key to happiness, and even love, perhaps.

This sinking into grace doesn’t mean giving up on any dreams or aspirations.  In fact, I think it enhances their potential.  It doesn’t mean that we are “settling” for something which is unsatisfactory for us.  It means that we are in deep gratitude for what is in this moment and we continue to move toward what brings our heart and soul contentment even as we give thanks for all of the things which are present right now, regardless of whether they are exactly as we might wish them to be.  As the Rolling Stones song says… you can’t always get want you want… but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.

The one thing that every “enlightened” soul seems to embody is a sense of immeasurable joy… it is a constant state with them.  They have tapped into this state of grace and are able to keep the line open and flowing, regardless of the circumstances in which they find themselves.  Sometimes we get in our own way.  I have been trying, ever so slowly, to get out of mine.

We are between Canadian Thanksgiving and U.S. Thanksgiving and so in this moment I am giving thanks for all of the things, sometimes perceived as good, sometimes not so much, which are manifesting in my life – now… yesterday… tomorrow… always.  I wish that each and every one of you discover your state of grace.

Taking down the tree…

It’s odd how even though you know that a relationship is over, being in the throes of the last dying vestiges of it are still difficult.  There is this immense sense of failure and along with it an equally intense sadness… not for what is ending but for what it could have been… its lost potential.  So it is firmly rooted in this emotion that I took down the Christmas tree this morning.  

I’d been putting off… not that I don’t normally take forever to do it anyway, but it was a thing that I was ruing even as it was being put up.  That moment was poignant in itself, each of the three of us knowing that it was the last time that we would be sharing this type of moment together.  In years past, especially the last several, only Gabriel and I participated in decking out the tree with ornaments, so I was somewhat surprised (though pleased) that Steve decided to join in.  

It’s been many months of “lasts” since we’d had our discussion about finally and irrevocably ending our relationship. I’m not yet sure whether this whole drawn out process is good or not. As with the deaths of my parents, my mother’s was sudden and my father’s was not (though it was not horribly drawn out, either), in both cases there was still an incredible sense of loss at the end, and a time of mourning, and though the process differed somewhat in both, the end was the same and equally painful and left me bereft. Perhaps this longer mourning period is good. Perhaps the opportunity to say goodbye to each familial habit… to notice it and remember it, in all of its facets, and then let it go… is a good thing.

I haven’t really spoken to Gabriel about this whole digestion process. I don’t know if he’s doing it as well, or whether we will get to the end of our time together and he will find it difficult to cope with the sudden change. Again the sense of failure engulfs me… and an accompanying guilt.  I’ve done the best I could to sort out this mess, with little help and support. I often wonder whether Steve’s inaction was something I should have paid attention to a long time ago… whether that was my cue to stop trying too, because no matter what I did after that point, it wouldn’t make a difference in the end result.  

I am grateful, though, for the learning process it provided. I’ve learned that I am a lot more tenacious than I thought I was… that I can think on my feet and find solutions to things that seem imponderable… that I really do love myself, even though I’ve spent so many years denying myself my own affections, simply because I thought others deserved them more.

There was a knock on my door a few moments ago, and a package dropped on my doormat. I opened it just now and see that it is a holiday gift from my friend Rita, who I’d not been able to connect with over the holidays but to whom I’d sent by way of Bonnie her gift from me. Again… I am overcome with emotion. Just last night, as I lay in bed contemplating the ache in my neck and shoulders, and feeling needy for a kind and gentle rub on the back (you know… the kind your mom used to give you to comfort you… slow, circular, right over the heart chakra area on your back, and just firm enough to soothe away the aches of the body and the soul), I thought it would be wonderful to get a massage (that I can’t afford right now, and haven’t had in ages). And… as I opened my gift, I saw that it contained a little sachet-ful of body care goodies, and a gift card to a women’s dayspa (where, incidentally, I used to work as a massage therapist before I went back to full-timing it behind a computer screen). I am so very lucky, because even though I can’t seem to maintain a relationship with a man, my friendships are golden.