Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Leader Board


A year in review. I am sure you are doing the same thing too as 2010's end is on the horizon, and the dawn of 2011 is cracking over the near future.

I took at peek at my vision board this morning...there were so many things I thumb tacked on there a year ago before things changed so much that I didn't know....didn't know what, you might ask? Why didn't she finish that sentence? Truthfully...for parts of this year...I felt like I didn't know anything anymore. 2010 turned into a year of reinvention, and it was without choice...I was pushed under the bus of reinvention, because everything I knew before February 13th, 2o10...was all I had EVER known. This meant, there was no room in my mind for boundary pushing, new ways of thinking...change. Then a phone call on February 13th, at 10:47pm broke my coocoon wide open...and there was no opportunity to return to the comfort of my confining chrysalis...the only chance for survival was to move out into the new world.

My vision board had words on it, that I didn't know at the time...how to fulfill. Some of them were:


Serving Opportunities

Adventure

Brave

Sleeping Peacefully (THAT didn't happen a lot this year...but I sure did enjoy it when it did).

Strong


I didn't know that any of those words would serve ME in a year of grief. I just didn't know what they meant...I knew I wanted all of those things...but it was abstract to me... it was a different vocabulary of my own language...or perhaps a foreign dialect altogether.

I am amazed at the reflection this morning...I am moved to deep emotions in this moment, because what I put out there this year, truly did return to me in wierd and wonderful ways. This is a true testament to me that what we focus on, what we repeatedly visualise, think about and have in our face everyday....my friends, it MATTERS. It matters because you can truly create your life according to the things you think about everyday...what you think is the biggest catalyst for opportunity and change in your life.

I didn't know in January 2010, that those words would propel me like a hurricane force wind in the sail of an aimless sailboat. Now, as I think about the words that will be at my back guiding me through 2011...I am thinking carefully about what I want December 2011 to look like...and I am thinking backward. Perhaps if I see where I WANT to be, the decision will be more mutual between destiny and myself.

So I challenge you to think about it my friends... what do you put in your mind everyday that affirms you? What words do you see that challenge your soul? How long will you think that your life doesn't go where your thoughts have already been?


Welcome to your life... where is your roadmap?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Life Guard


To guard a life. To bravely stand watch. To hold a post commissioned by an employer, but more often...by ones own choices and convictions.

To stand between the weak, and inevitable or predicted harm is a mission some care not to participate in. Their mission is avoidance of responsibility...of getting "too involved". The greatest rewards in life come from the most imminent risk. Jumping head first into a situation, like that of the skilled Life Guard requires intent...fiery on the inside of the soul...blazing with the assuredness that sitting on the edge of the danger is surely not an option.

When a Life Guard trains, they are required to memorize the following chart explaining why people drown. Interestingly enough...all of these points, are transferrable to everyday life. In taking on the guardianship for the weak and troubled...we are able to pull victims from a potentially fatal situation.


1. Lack of Education

2. Lack of Protection

3. Inability to Cope

4. Lack of Safety Advice

5. Lack of Supervision


Standing in, or with someone who is at a moment of vulnerability and brokeness, is not an act that requires the answers. It doesn't command explanation...it merely asks, in the gentlest voice, for solidarity and loyalty. It's like the guard on the tower. We are safer as swimmers because we are protected by the faithful eyes and razor sharp skills of the forward thinking guard. We know they are there if trouble should pull us under...but otherwise...they observe life on the beach, and stand watch...often in silence.

So, your words may be few to someone who is being pulled under by the riptide of circumstance...your actions may be swift and your words zero, in a moment of crisis. But know this... we are the guardians of each other. God has equipped us to be His grasping hands, and his swift to act feet... or His shoulder when there is nothing left to do but collapse under weeping and grief. Know there is immeasurable, eternal value to the sacrifice of those actions.


After all, my friend...you're saving a life.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

35


I have a birthday coming next week. Usually around a birthday, I contemplate the last 365 days, and agonize over things that should have been different, risks that should have been taken...words that should have been said, or maybe not at all.

In the past, birthdays have reflected regret back to me... I have always thought I should be further ahead in my life by having the status quo; an adoring husband, a beautiful house, 2 healthy kids a loving ginger coloured dog and a minivan. But this year...I have realised something pretty epic:

I'm not where I thought I would be, BUT, I am EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.

The changes that happened in my 34th year are substantial. I gained a new niece a month after my birthday...and she is pure joy wrapped up into a chubby, gurgling bright eyed little girl. She has the most beautiful spirit. I was one of the first people to meet her as she was welcomed to the light of earth on December 28th, 2009. I held her for about an hour soon after her birth, until my sister said to me..."Uh...can I hold my baby?" I have been smitten with that darling wee one ever since. Even at that moment, I had a private sadness...wanting, hoping for the day when it's my turn to be the new mom with the beautiful infant.

February spun my world into a tsunami size storm. The debris of losing Michael left everything irreparable. Nothing was or is the same...my existence turned into numbness and knee buckling grief. There is very little I remember between February and May, to be honest. I was swirling in a drain, just trying to find air...trying to not let the surge vacuum me under the tide of grief. Amazingly, a life raft overflowing with new friends drifted past me, and I found myself in the middle of something not short of miraculous. We are the M.E.L.B.'s...we are 14 women who knew Michael...we are honouring our friend everyday...we loved him, and now we love each other.

If I have learned anything in my 34th year, it is this:

Change is inevitable...resilience is a choice.

I took on a new role at work in May. I moved at the end of July. I got a new vehicle in September...my parents are moving out of my childhood home the day after my birthday. It's a lot...when added and divided by the weight of each event...to some, it would be overwhelming at the best of times. This year has truly shown me what I am made of. There have been moments of pure loathing and hatred towards the events of my life...and there have been moments where I have been washed with the cleansing and healing balm of gratitude and understanding....

If I die young, I had just enough time.

I won't be sorry.

I've loved...I've learned..and I have lost. My birthday this year will find me quietly contemplating my blessings..and the things I hope cross my path in my 35th year.

Great adventure...confounding love...much laughter, few tears.

MB...I'll do 35 up for both of us...don't worry, I'll make you proud. xo

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Storm Watch



A woman leaving a 22 year marriage. A young mother diagnosed with cancer. An aunt wasting away with an agressive tumour. A woman getting that phone call that tells her the father of her children has died.

What do all of these things have in common, besides being unthinkably sad? Unfair? Grievous? Painful?

These are all people I know.

A friend of mine has chosen to walk through the fire with someone. This girl has, in the last year or so, been diagnosed with cancer, has found her mother ravaged with the same disease, and is now in the beginning stages of wading into grief, as the father of her girls was killed in a car accident a couple of weeks ago. My friend expressed to me how helpless she feels. She asked me, "what do I say, or do...or explain to her about life? How do I dare to say life happens as it should...and that everything is working together for good?"

In a lightbulb moment, I responded with something that could only be a God thought, a divine revelation...clarity.

You don't have to do or say anything. You are the palm tree in the storm. Your purpose is to remain still..stationary, fixed. In this life we are different things at different times...sometimes we are the palm tree, sometimes we are the debris, and sometimes, we are in fact, the storm.

When a cyclone whips a life into disrepair...when it destroys familiarity, safety and faith...there is a refuge, and that is shockingly, at the middle of the storm. The place we know as the Eye in meteorological terms. In human terms...I believe it's the Soul. As Wikipedia explains:

"In strong tropical cyclones, the eye is characterized by light winds and clear skies, surrounded on all sides by a towering, symmetric eyewall."

The storm can rage all around...but there is a refuge. If the storm has beaten you past the possibility of faith...if the Eye inside you has been lost due to a tidalwave of epic circumstances, then might I challenge you...find a palm tree. Find someone with deep roots...someone who bends with the storm, but remains fixed, and strong and provides shelter for you.

Someone did that for me not so long ago...he caught me as I was defenseless against the elements. In a blink, he was gone. In a second my life is different. Today I am grateful for his friendship....and I am overcome with the lesson, " At the moment of your greatest challenge, is also presented your greatest opportunity".

Thank you Michael...I know who I need to be. xo



Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Post-It Project


It's been a long time since a post has gotten me out of bed...but here I am. I was awakened abruptly, often around 3:00am, not so long ago, with ideas...with stories...with lightbulb moments that dragged me sleepily to my laptop.

It's much earlier than 3:00am tonight...I have not been jostled awake by agonizing grief, or memories of a simpler life that sits comfortably in my peripheral...I've been brought here with an idea.

The Post-It Project.

I have an ungodly amount of Post-Its in my office. It's true. For some reason, everytime I order my monthly supplies from work to stock my home office...I order more. I have no idea what I am thinking. I haven't ordered any in a number of months now, because a brick of Big Bird yellow, sticky pieces of paper, caused a casualty. A stack of them, not yet opened out of the plastic wrap, tumbled off the shelf above my desk, and unforgivingly, and with great precision I might add...took the "G" clear off this laptop. NO room for repair...total massacre.

So, with all of these Post-It's...what's a girl to do?

Starting tomorrow...I will have a block of Post-It's with me, at all times. Each time I enter a business, whether it be a convenience store, a coffee shop, my dentist....a gas station...I am going to leave a message. I might hide it somewhere...maybe on page 137 of the latest Harper's Bazaar fashion magazine...perhaps on the mirror in a public bathroom...definitely on the back of a pack of gum, or on the handle of the gas pump I am using.

These notes will say affirming, thoughtful things to the recipient. I will never know who gets the message...and that, I think is brilliant. Perhaps I will quote Shakespeare, or maybe, I will compliment the shoes I'm not seeing...but, the intention will be to make someone smile, and to create a bright spot in their day to day, mundane activities.

So, don't be surprised if you start seeing yellow tabs on magazines at Chapters... or a hidden one found in the next cookbook you buy when you get to page 48...I'm determined to post some happiness into this world, one yellow square at a time.

Do you need some Post-It's my friend? xo


Friday, October 8, 2010

Who Are You?


Someone mentioned an interesting philosophy to me this week. It has entered my mind in quiet moments of reflection, and times when I am able to to contemplate just who I am.

We have all heard that in life, there are givers, and takers. But, in taking that concept one step further, the question raised to me was:

Are you a lifter or a leaner?

The tide of this human experience determines times where we are inevitably either the reliant, or subsequently, the relied upon. There isn't a single person who has been just one, or the other.

We can choose to be the student, or the teacher. I would hope, that at all points in this brief life...being a student ravenous for knowledge and experience would be a goal that is top of mind, morphing and adapting to a life out in front, not behind. Being a teacher to someone seeking an advocate and gentle guidance is more than being mindful of your role as a teacher...sometimes, the life you live in front of someone, a life lived on purpose, inspires one...or many to seek a life past their predictable horizon.

I have observed in the last number of months, that it is truly easier to be a nice person, than an unpleasant, negative one. Kindness is disarming...kindness defuses...kindness is acutely unexpected in our world. Pouring a glistening drop of belief into someones life, reaches far beyond the initial contact...it leaves a ripple mark, it instills hope...it activates a beacon deep inside a person desperate for a champion.

A positive attitude is contagious...and also needs to be protected with great diligence. Surround yourself with those who are likeminded. Build an inpenetrable border for yourself with people who uplift you...believe in you...and push you beyond what is acceptable according to your capabilities...as they urge you to stretch, push and grow personally, professionally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Find something everyday that you can say, "I don't know" to...and aggressively seek the answer. Know that as you are surrendered to leaning at different times in your life, that you are preparing, even in those dark, blurry moments for a call:

To be a well equipped, just on time, not late for even one second... lifter.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Is..


There is nothing that love can't endure. It stretches thin, it swells to fill...it absorbs all.

I have been thinking about the character of love today. Just what does it mean to me? What does it do for me? To me? In spite of my shortfalls?

Love is like a sponge to me. It's not really useful, unless it is absorbing, and being used to capacity.

Love, like a sponge, is an instrument to clear things up. It holds no limit, as it can be rung out, over and over again. Very little will cause it to crumble and lose its absorbancy, for it by nature, is a cleanser. It doesn't lose effectiveness with different spills...it consistently does its job, and clarifies.

If you have read even a couple of my posts, you will know that I am wading through the loss of someone irreplaceable. With this loss, I have for some reason felt a semblance of responsibility for the hearts of the grieving. It's a hard one to explain. Many times, and never moreso than in the last few weeks have I wanted to grab that sponge, and somehow sop up this horrendous, murky dark puddle of dispair. My heart aches with each beat, the loss scratches at my soul, preventing the opportunity for a scar to develop. My efforts to absorb grief, both my own, and others, has stretched me beyond what I thought I was ever capable of, or desirous of. With much discomfort and an unruly, restless soul...I have come to a conclusion:

We are qualified for the mission when love is the reason we chose to participate.

I loved Michael. I still do. Truthfully, I always will. Because I loved him, I continue on with what he thought was important. I absorb the grief of others, wring it out with compassion and understanding...and head back toward the swirling ocean of heartache...determined, to start all over again. I do this, because he did it for me. His way of loving me, of being that sponge...was to be an unfailing, intent listener. He carried my secrets, and I his. Now I CHOOSE to absorb the details of each person I come across...the beautiful, the hideous, the resplendent...all in a quest for understanding, both of myself, and that of the person sharing with me.

If you seek the character of love, might I leave you with a clear picture of its nature:

“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, never quick to take offense. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and endurance. In a word, there are three things that last forever: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of them all is love.”

May we strive to love beyond what is merely acceptable, to that which is extraordinary and pure. May we come alongside the broken hearted, the weak and the lost and gently take their hand, or put an arm of mercy around them. May we do it not for ourselves, or our own recognition, but rather, to bring the glow of grace into a life that has burned low the wick of hope.


Michael...I do it for you.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Reminder on the Path


A friend of mine shared a story with me not long ago. I loved the story so much, that I asked him if I could share it. It's a story that all of us are hoping will be the outcome of our life.

To be found.

My amazing, insightful and brilliant friend is on a journey right now. He is seeking truth...he is searching for peace, and I believe, he is desperate for meaning. Not just personally, but in the grand scheme of this whisper we call life. I see all great things layed out before him...layed out on a table. Some of those things are face down and are waiting to be discovered. Some pieces are upsidedown, and need to be set right again. A few pieces, I think..are fatally damaged. I believe those pieces need to be examined for what they were...and what they now are, and put away in order to allow a masterpiece to emerge.

My friend took a walk not long ago. He was meandering along the waterfront, not far from his home. He came upon an elderly couple stopped in the middle of the path. They were transfixed with one of those things we often overlook as one of lifes little miracles. A monarch butterfly had paused on the ground...and was gingerly flapping its wings...slowly...methodically...in a trance like state. He too halted his walk for a moment, to observe this lovely winged black and orange undercover angel.

As he carried on his way, I believe his mind was fine tuned for a not so random encounter. His senses were heightened for a moment predestined just for him.

He strolled along the waterfront, as he had many times before...and came upon a park bench that he had walked past on numerous occasions. This time..he took notice of the bench...and this time, the bench stood guard over a secret. Something out of the corner of his eye was tuned to something nestled in the grass at the back righthand leg. As he went to investigate...he found a brilliant reminder of how God finds you where you are.

A bracelet. Beaded with pictures of Jesus, and Mary... and various religious figures on an elasticated band. For a man on a quest to find God...to find meaning...I believe this was a clear message, gently whispered to a wounded soul...."I see you...I am with you...I want to be close to you on your terms".

So my dear friend wears that bracelet now. I don't know if he sees that story like I do...but I did assure him that it wasn't a mistake...not one second of that encounter was by chance.

I think of you often and with fondness SP...always when I see 88, when I hear a brilliant piano player...and when I think about the undeniable fact that life is continually coming together for all of us. Magic will fall onto your pathway always...and point you towards this one fact,

you're never so lost that you can't be found. xo

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Free Bird



Don't put a bird in a cage...for it is meant to be free. It is meant to flutter its feathers in anticipation of a journey. It will gently fan its tail feathers, give it's head a shake, and instantly ascend at its own whim. Don't take its freedom, and try to keep it a prisoner...for this goes against its nature as a creature of the breeze.

What things do you hold onto in a cage with a tiny little door? Do you open that door, just to feed the control you are trying to contain? Is it a relationship you can't let go of? Or, perhaps a past hurt or wrong that has caged you, and caused you to live your life inside of a world of mental bars?

Once again, a common saying has come to me in a radiant new light.

"If you love something, then set it free. If it is yours, it will return...if not, it was never meant to be".

I let go of something yesterday. While it was material, and in critical need of replacing...my heart told me to retain it for a time when I was better prepared to be at a loss. It would be nothing to most people...it would be a very exciting time for most everyone I know. However, it struck me with anxiety and complete aprehension.

I bought a new vehicle. My lease on my beloved Jeep is finished in November, and I knew I wouldn't be keeping it. Most people would think this was an exciting time...one of new opportunity, and of course, something shiny and more current to learn about, and park in the driveway. The caging of my excitement came because of this...

My Jeep is the first place I was with Michael...and it is also the last. So, the substitution of the Jeep for something newer is just one more step in the process of accepting the loss of him...the loss of us. On Wednesday, I actually grabbed the phone to call him and tell him about the new wheels...for a flash, life was as it had always been...and he was still here.

But as with a caged bird...or anything held too tightly, a funny thing happens. It cages you and holds you, as much as you hold it. You inadvertantly become obligated to the care and nurturing of the prisoner. Just as the bird needs to be fed and taken care of...so do anxiety and fear in order for you to sustain them. You must supply them with the necessary nutrition to survive, otherwise, existence isn't possible.

Or so we think.

When we open that cage door...or open our hands to the new, whether it be healing, forgiveness or understanding, we are instantly released...just as the inhabitant of the guilded cage is. While life without the company of the inhabitant of the cage is strange, and perhaps a little unsettling...it is best for the one who lives in the cage, and the one who decided it needed to be there in the first place. The release is like setting a bird free...and watching glorious emancipation stretch out its wings, and soar into the distance.

So, the Jeep is gone. I am stronger, and free in its release. I am protective of the memories I hold in the most sacred of places...but rest assured...there is no locked door on my remembrances of Michael...

for he is a Free Bird. xo

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Persolvo is Porro


Persolvo: this verb carries with it the paying or filling of an obligation or vow.
Porro: forward, further, next, in turn.

It sounds very romantic in the Latin. The concept is not new, and was first expressed in a play in Athens, Greece. The year was 317 BC. Humans through history have stumbled toward the beauty of this action...and that is, to Pay it Forward.

Pay it Forward. What does it bring to your mind? A cheesy movie with Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel, "I see dead people" Osment? Or does it stir recollection? One of an act of kindness that caught you bewildered, or just brought a smile to your face? Or does it provoke a memory of when you were the one who extended an unexpected kindness?

I think the easiest, and most inexpensive of acts, is a compliment. It's amazing to see someone light up for your recognition...whether it be a compliment about their appearance, a talent, or just because. If compliments were currency, I would certainly hope that we all have a surplus in our bank. One where we can deposit the ones we have received, but more importantly, spend on those who need one most. The exchange rate of thoughtfulness never leaves one with less than they started with, rather, it grows with each transaction.

While it is exciting to be part of this amazing ebb and flow in our life journey, I am of the opinion that keeping the acts you have participated in to yourself. I'd guess in the grand scheme of life, that kind of installment holds a much more precious value. Keeping it silent, I believe is the entire essence of the interaction.

Some people spend their lives taking. Never being secure enough in their own skin to extend any kind of sincerity to another. Puddle deep. That's what I call those people. Some people spend their lives wild with jealousy...I would rightfully anticipate, that Paying it Forward is the last thing on their mind. Or, of course, there are those so wrapped up in their own lives, and their own personal dramas, that they can't shift even a baby toe over the line of compassion, and to the recognition that there is more to this life than just them.

But then, you meet someone who blows the doors off of your Pay it Forward concepts. That person is sent to you, to show you that you can do so much more...you can BE so much more, if you will just pay attention in this life. That person is perhaps catching up...for years of being a taker...but is doing one hell of a job making a difference here and now, and...from now on.

Thankfully, Pay it Forward doesn't die when we do. It lives on inside the ones we love.

The movement continues...from Athens in 317 BC, to my apartment in September, 2010 AD.

Michael...we're off at it again...walk ahead of us, so we can follow your unquestionable shadow. May we Pay it Forward with focus and endurance...and may we make you proud. xo

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The BUFF and the Grenade


People never cease to amaze me. A great deal of the time, the things that amaze me are the brilliant things people do for each other. Sometimes, on the opposite side of that swinging pendulum, I am awe struck at the things people DO to each other.

Have you heard of grenades and landmines? Sure you have...ongoing war in Afghanistan, daily bombings in Baghdad..WWII. Grenades and landmines have taken on a new spin in recent months...but seem to deliver the same kind of damage as those used as fatal weapons.

A wildly popular reality show has quietly crept its lingo into popular vocabulary. These kids from a Shore somewhere south of NYC have created a new language. They have degraded human beings, specifically women into two categories...grenades and landmines.

"A grenade is a girl who is quite frankly, not hot. Not to say that the girl is ugly, but she just doesn't measure up to our qualifications of attractiveness. Basically, this girl is a bomb about to go off. A landmine is like a grenade but is usually thin or petite and you don't realise she is a landmine until you realise you want someone better looking". Pauly D.- Jersey Shore
(Btw...that quote needed to have punctuation and grammar corrected in it before I posted it. It seems Pauly D. isn't that bright).

Seriously? Are you kidding me? This is the kind of grading system we are using these days, and allowing our children to emulate?

The reason I am so fired up about this is this: an ugly guy I know dropped this phrase the other day. See...I used an old school word...UGLY. He could be a model on the cover of Men's Health Magazine, but to me? UGLY..repulsive as a matter of fact. (btw- he's no cover model).

Here is why...I read a blog tonight from a lovely, sweet girl who is on an amazing weight loss journey. I applaud her. I believe in her...I want her to be all that she has hoped to be. She recalled an incident while out with her thin girlfriends. She was innocently out at a bar...having a good night. She said she was insecure even in that moment, as these friends of hers don't struggle with their weight. A group of hot guys approached the table..and began to laugh as they got closer. When the girls asked what was so funny, the response was unbelievable..." Your table just proved there is a BUFF in every group of girls". When they inevitably asked for a breakdown of just what a "BUFF" is, this was the response.." Big Ugly Fat Friend".

I have NO words.

Words hurt. Words burrow themselves into your psyche, and paralyse you when you least expect it. She said this incident happened years ago..and she hasn't gone out again. To prey on someone unexpecting, and obviously different than the crowd is just cowardly..cruel, and should be punishable.

So the next time you see someone who isn't appealing to you...or someone who rubs you the wrong way..maybe think twice about what made them the way they are. Exercise your mind to think beyond their exterior, and to the person they really are. I'm trying...everyday...I hope you will too.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What I Love


I'm taking a break. I have disengaged from a popular social networking site...I'm taking a sabbatical from text messaging. I am taking some time to regroup, take the pressure off...and BREATHE.

Do you ever catch yourself in a moment...and realise, "I honestly don't remember the last deep, cleansing breath I have taken". I think that's a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Breath is life..shallow breath, shallow life? Perhaps. Or, in my case right now, too much going on, and seemingly not one second remaining for an extended inhale.

But let me tell you, when you turn off distractions, a funny thing happens. You mentally purge chaos, and find beauty in the small things again...you smile quietly to yourself when something catches your funnybone...or your heart..and all of a sudden..you feel like....

I'm back.

Today I love so many things. One thing that always grabs me, and shakes me, is how great Canada is. I'm not biased..this is the best place on the planet. Here are two reasons:

Last night I went to Dairy Queen with a friend of mine...we sat in the car and laughed, and shared our hearts. As we sat there, a black van pulled up beside us, and a mennonite family got out. A father, a mother, and 3 daughters. They were in simple, homemade, ankle length floral dresses...the girls and their mother had on Birkenstocks. The father looked like a minister...but then, I kind of think that all mennonite men look like ministers... like Reverend Alden from Little House on the Prairie. The ladies had white bonnets on. No matter their religion, or ancestry, last night, they were like the rest of us..and they wanted a Blizzard. There was zero risk for ridicule. I LOVED this moment. My friend and I sat and watched them from the car...it was a brilliant thing to be aware of. They weren't being judged, or looked down upon..they were just a normal family wanting ice cream on a hot summers night.

I am always caught with a grin on my face, when I see children of different religions, different sizes and different backgrounds playing together. Today I saw a very chubby, red headed boy with a milky way of freckles across his face, bouncing a basketball down the street with his friend. His friend was crazy tall, rail thin, and had luminous black skin. They were laughing and goofing around like only young boys do...and I was caught with a wildly, profoundly proud feeling in my heart...Canada is a RIDICULOUSLY awesome corner of this world.

I love that for some strange reason, babies and animals are drawn to me, and are comfortable with me. I don't know what that means. I don't know if it means I have a wild heart, and a calm soul? I just don't know. But I love that those most vulnerable seem to find security with me. My sister once called me the Baby Whisperer...funny that...as I don't have children.

I have learned intriguing things on my short writing journey. I am learning to keep my eyes open, and not just focused on what is right in front of me...but right out to my peripheral...to the blind spot. I am learning to listen closely...and to always have a story brewing in the back of my mind. Sometimes they simmer and bubble slowly, and sometimes, they wake me in the night, and I am powerless to them until I put them down, right here at the Passion Spill. Who knew? Writing holds one of the top positions on my, "What I Love" list.

Question:

What do you love?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Rabbit and the Median


I am wrestling with this post. I've been bothered all day about this one...but I know it needs to go out there...even if it's just for me to get it off of my chest.

Monday morning this week started very early. I was on the road at 6:45am, heading into the city for an event for work. I actually don't spite the occasional predawn morning when I have to hit the road...I drive east, and I see the sun come up. The world is quiet...peaceful and fresh.

As I hit traffic slowing down about 20 minutes from my home, (trust me, this is just the way of it...heading into Toronto in the morning is not for the faint of heart or the impatient) I looked to my left, as something unusual caught my peripheral. There, sitting on the hard, concrete median, was a rabbit. I am sure my face wound into an immediate look of perplexity and disbelief. It's face was intense...it's eyes darting against the fast moving traffic going westbound. This rabbit was trapped. I am sure it had crossed in the wee small hours of the morning, when there was little risk...when there was an open road, and no four wheeled predators to snuff out its life. The choice this wee furry one had to make now was one of three things:

1. Take a chance now..run into traffic, try to escape without being scathed.
2. Wait...wait all day if necessary. Wait until the conditions were the same as the time it crossed in the first place.
3. Travel east or west...try to find a break in traffic, or try to find a bridge. Even if it takes hours...the journey will likely ensure that life is preserved, even if its a rough and exhausting quest.

I haven't been able to get the parallel nature of this story out of my head...that damn rabbit has been haunting my mind for 48 hours. How often do we get into something, darting forward when there is little possibility for harm, to find that where we ended up is a very scary, unpredictable place? That place we ended up was new and exciting and a little risky...until the time crept forward, and brought out the eighteen wheelers, and all of the unexpected dangers we never thought about?

I tend to think...intuition is that thing you must follow. Your gut feeling is your road map. That your attempts to get to those new places, sometimes isn't a journey worth the destination. Of course, I am not saying to not try anything new...I'm not implying that meeting new people, and seeing new places isn't a worthwhile journey...but I think, if you were honest, as I am trying to be everyday...we KNOW what is right for us, and when.

Sometimes, we have to wait out the traffic until there is a safe crossing. Sometimes, we have to head in an unexpected direction to find a new path that will be unpredictable, but will be away from the traffic that gradually increased, until safety was futile.

I'd love to tell you that this story has a happy ending. But I saw that sweet rabbit this morning, lifeless on the side of the road....a casualty of choice. My heart sank, but I knew in my mind when I saw it there on Monday morning...this would be the unfortunate, inevitable end to the story. That rabbit didn't have the mindpower to think about it's choices, and how to find safety..it only saw traffic. We, as humans are blessed to have the wherewithal to think forward, and to choose from the multitude of options that lay before us. We aren't trapped...we can think things through..and we always have each other, if the lines are blurred and we need counsel.
So I choose, to be more mindful of my choices...more protective of my direction, and as always, to keep my eyes open for strange, unusual, heartbreakingly real lessons that will make me a better human being. Thank you God, for the rabbit...and the lesson.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Probability


Probability: A measure or estimate to the degree of confidence one may have in the occurance of an event, measured on a scale from zero (impossibility) to one (certainty).

I was born 12,696 days ago. I was born in Canada. I was born in Galt, Ontario. I am a firstborn daughter...I was the firstborn grandchild to my paternal grandparents. I was the third grandchild born to my maternal grandparents. I am now the oldest of 3.

The longer I live...as tomorrow will mark my 12,697th day on earth...I hear more and more frequently..."Wow..what a small world". I'm realising with age, that yes, the world is small..and the probability of occurances, head spinning events, and brilliant instants of syncronicity are less and less coincidence...and more and more an absolute certainty.

Why was I born in Canada? Why was I born in 1975? Why was I born a healthy baby girl? Why did I have 2 parents, and not a single mother? An estimated 360,000 babies were born in Canada the same year as I was. Which implies there were 360,000 possibilites of me being born somewhere else..to someone else....if you didn't believe in probability. I believe, God holds probability...and spins it into destiny.
Michael collided with my world..somewhere in the summer of 1986. The probability of that happening might have seemed remote. We went to different schools. We didn't have mutual friends. I WASN'T a cool kid. Like....AT ALL. I remember seeing him in the church parking lot, one summer evening after youth group. He was talking to my friend. I think he had a popped collar. We met then...it was brief. I heard different things about him through junior high as he was an enigmatic figure in my city... certainly better than Kirk Cameron, or any other teen magazine crush. He resurfaced in highschool. Once again...we didn't associate with the same crowd, so while we took a few classes together, we remained casual.

The probability of us becoming friends? If past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour? Slim to none.

But then we found each other in 2007... and we got each other. We laughed like those 11 yr. olds in 1986..we beared our souls like lifelong friends...and met each other at that exact point where life had brought us. His life had brought him to the other side of addiction..mine had brought me to very real confessions about why I am the person I am, due to things that are, were, and will always be out of my control. We went from 0-100 in every conversation... we always did. I had moments...even when I was sitting across from him, thinking..."how did THIS happen"?!

When Michael died...my expectations of probability died. I lost my belief in those things that are meant to be. I spun wrecklessly close to the edge of disbelief. But I knew in my heart...as I do now..the probability of peace and resolution? It's absolute. It may not be now...it may not be tomorrow...or next year..but I DO believe that one day, there will be more answers than questions. Even if it's not this side of heaven. I believe this, because Michael didn't lie to me. I believe this, because I believe in a God who has taken the guess work out of life. On a scale of uncertainty, to probability...I believe there IS beauty for ashes, we WILL dance among the ruins...and we will SEE it with our own eyes.



Will I see Michael again?

CERTAINTY.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Face Time




Saving face. Putting on a brave face. The face of a watch. Face time. What a varying range of descriptions for one simple, 4 letter F word. If you look up the word "face"on dictionary.com, there are 56 different explanations for the word. It goes from examples of the word as a noun, a verb, and an idiom.

To give something a face, is to give it an identity. It is recognizing individuality...it is admitting it's real.

Facing something without filters on...without a means of coping can be an excruciating part of the human journey. To face something, or someone with hands open, and the white flag of surrender blowing above your head is one of life's undesirable, fatal collisions. It's calling out the truth from its hiding spot. It's shining a light on a debilitating monster...it's being honest.

I have witnessed many things in my life. I have witnessed the irreverent waste of life itself, as I have observed on more than one occassion, the life of an addict. I have faced the fact, through much turmoil, animosity, and insane resentment that there is one hard and fast rule in life...you can't change someone. You are responsible for one persons happiness, health, direction and servitude..and that my friend, is YOU.

Facing all you feel, without a distraction, is the mark of a brave soul. It's not a meaningless choice. The resolute decision of an empassioned heart can move mountains...it can change the world. When life gets ugly...when your scars identify you for a time....when the healing begins...that's when the face of a situation grows more gracious. The investment in personal integrity increases authenticity.

Tonight I faced a road. An actual road that I haven't driven down in a very long time. It's been 3 yrs, and 4 months. The first 2 yrs and 10 months are irrelevant to the story, it's the last 6 that have marked my avoidance. I have been trying to remember every minute of time with Michael. I have been locking away all of the laughs, the cheeky off colour comments..and some of the most soul bearing conversations of my life. I have put them away for safe keeping... quietly facing them for solace, for reason...for flashes of relief from my flexing identity...I am the bereaved. I have avoided that road...because it feels like the last precious memory that I haven't gotten to. I have kept it there, on a winding country lane next to a sleepy golf course. I couldn't bear to think, that maybe there are no memories left....maybe I have recalled all of the great things that made him who he was...and who we were....and now it's gone. So I didn't go down that road, until tonight.

I felt this blog post coming on tonight...something about facing those things we don't want to. I was driving home, and hit a major traffic jam, and veered off the highway to take another route...and that route, took me down Ellis Rd. I grinned in silence as I realised...I have to drive that road...there isn't another way. So I did it...and I talked myself through it...I remembered a crazy night where we sat in the car, and watched the sun come up over the golf course...and I cried as I drove past the mist of that memory...and I cry as I write this.

The face has open wounds on it...desperate for healing. Desperate for time to administer a salve of acceptance and recognition...it was all real. I will continue to face things that hurt, not to punish myself, or to create more grief...but to do one thing...and that for Michael is this:


I will never forget you. xo

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sign Language.


I find pennies. I find pennies all the time. I find pennies, because I ask to find pennies...I don't find quarters, nickles or dimes...toonies or loonies...I find what I ask for, and what I ask for, is pennies.

Pennies are a sign for me. Pennies connect me to Michael. I actually think in my mind..."oh there you are", when I find one. I asked for a penny one night coming out of a gas station...I was having an insanely frustrating night. I was furious with anger and completely irritated, and I needed to vent. If it had been this time last year, I would have found Michael...I would have texted him saying how much my day sucked, and he would have sent back something cheeky. It's also likely it would have been scandalously inappropriate! It would have made me laugh, roll my eyes, and shake my head. But, now that he is gone...I ask for pennies. I found a penny that night...and it was from 1986. That is the year we met...we were 11. I knew he was still around...I knew in a second.

What signs do you look for? What signs do you ASK for? I believe we have not, because we ask not. I ask for signs all the time...the more wild, and outlandish, the better in my mind! Then I know for sure when they happen, that it hasn't been a mere coincidence...it has been the answer to the desire of my heart.

I am saddened when people say that a sign is a mere coincidence. I believe that time has been orchestrated...like a magnificent symphony. The parts don't just come in and out on their own. It is sometimes majestic and ringing...and other times, it whispers in your ear, and keeps time with your steps. Time allows you to be the transcendent solo sometimes...soaring and catching the wind, like a feather rising on the breeze. Other times, you find your part in the chorus...where being part of the whole just magnifies the greatness of the anthem. Time conducts you to those magic moments, where there is no choice but to believe, "that happened just for me".

So keep your eyes open...ask often for signs. Don't just ask for them when you feel you need an answer to something big in your life...ask for them everyday. I believe they will show up just to make you smile. I laughed out loud at a license plate in the parking lot of my new building last week...out of all the cars, in all of Ontario, to park across from me, the one that found me said, "MELBEE". (Michael's nickname at his workplace was, "MELB").

You never know when your actions, could be a sign to someone you know...or to a complete stranger. To the person who dropped a penny at the gas station today and decided to not pick it up? Thank you...I'm 100% confident that Mike slipped it out of your pocket, and left it there on the floor just for me.

Forever smooth Michael...I still laugh with you. xo

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hope Chest


I have uprooted my life in the last week. I moved house. I am taking on a new chapter, in a new place...anxious to find out how my story weaves itself and inserts me into new and exciting adventures and experiences.

Upon moving, I realised something about my Hope Chest. It has dutifully sat beneath my television for two and a half years, and all the while...it has remained empty. I don't remember emptying it out. The day the movers came to transplant my life from one place to the next...I realised that my Hope Chest would cause them little stress or exertion due to its bare interior and the musty echo of 4 walls and a lid.

My Hope Chest belonged to my grandmother. It still has some old newspapers in the bottom drawer. They are yellow and delicate with age, but I will never part with them. I don't know why she put them there...but my not knowing, doesn't change the fact that she thought they were worth keeping for some reason.

I felt drawn to look at the history of the Hope Chest, and this is one I liked:

"Early hope chests were handmade and often lined with cedar, a fragrant wood that helps preserve fabric. Many fathers built their daughter’s hope chests and spent hours decorating them with artwork, wooden mosaics, and other decorations. The hope chest was then passed on from mother to daughter, becoming a family heirloom".

Funny, that a father carved out Hope for his baby girl. I imagine that labour of love beginning early, so the collecting could start...the hopes, the dreams..the anticipation of things while unseen, were longed for..waited for.

I don't know if my Hope Chest will ever be something I take into a marriage. I don't know if my Hope Chest will be passed onto a daughter. I have long ago let those hopes and dreams find the wind, and scatter far from me...to possibly land somewhere in that place called the future. Perhaps this is why it has remained empty. It hasn't been carefully organized and stacked to protect precious cargo...because I don't fully believe that the collecting will settle into anything traditional and tangible.

So, my Hope Chest is a place in my mind. It's not a box passed down..it's not an heirloom...it's a checklist of sorts, that sets me on a journey to strive for those things that are achievable. I will toss in those things I wish to accomplish, now, later, whenever. Things like filling a passport before it runs out....growing an incredible garden...taking any one of my nieces to their first boy band concert...teaching my nephew how to avoid breaking too many hearts.

My Hope Chest will find its way to one of my nieces one day...perhaps they will find something random in there, and wonder why I found it worth keeping. I hope they honour me by saving it...whether it be a movie stub, a train ticket...a photograph.

And if hope is to be believed in, and expressed...I will strive to model this: don't put it in a box, and let it sit until it *may* become useful...use it...scatter it, broadcast it to the world...and when you hear the broadcast bounce back to you someday... recognize that you sent out the frequency, and remember to also believe in it yourself.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Snapshots of Fifteen


I found something this weekend while cleaning out a closet. It's the closet in my old bedroom at my parents house..the place I had all of yellowed Sweet Valley High books, cherished stuffed animals from childhood...dusty memories waiting patiently to be revisited.

I found some old photos. Not to be unexpected in a closet. However, these weren't photos I was in...nor was I present when most of them were taken. These were photos taken by a mother many years ago, of her sweet baby girl...capturing moments of her childhood, savoring the flitting and fleeting time when she was a safe, happy, vibrant little girl. There was the one that made me giggle even now, of a 5 yr old with the chicken pox...there was the brilliant snapshot of the blonde, pigtailed countrygirl on the back of a riding lawn mower wearing a white sundress freckled with strawberries.

These photos were given to me by the girl in the photos when we were about 12 or so. We had this silly idea, one summer afternoon in her parents basement, to trade baby photos of each other. We went through their family albums, and pulled out the ones that we liked. I still don't remember if she ever got any of mine. The photos ranged from her at 3 weeks old, right up to the summer of 1990, when I took 3 photos of her...because I was an expert photographer,don't you know. Funny, wannabe model photos, right down to the Kirk Cameron poster behind the brass daybed.

I was caught with short breath, and tears in my eyes when I saw these photos. While I smiled and fell back on the memories..I was slammed again with flooding emotion, and my grief as a 15 yr.old girl. That newspaper clipping beside the photos in the album, declaring, "Cambridge teens mourn the loss of Keri" took me back. I am 34 now...but in revisiting it all..I was 15 again, walking in the front door of my parents house after school..and having them tell me my vibrant, perfect partner in teenage crushes, and prank phone calls... had died that morning.

I wanted to lock the door of heaven from my side. I wanted to know her for my lifetime...not just my childhood. I wanted us to have a lifetime of memories, beginning when we were girls. To think of that now...we did have a lifetime of memories..15 yrs. is a lifetime for someone who lived life as brilliantly as she did.

I reflect on a scripture now, with much more insight, understanding and peace.
" For I know the plans I have for you..to prosper you, and not harm you..to give you hope, and a future".~ Jeremiah 29:11

God doesn't say, "I think I know the plans I have for you"..He says, "I know". It was no surprise to Him on April 5, 1991 that Keri would fling open the door of heaven, announce herself, and jump over a sofa into the expectant arms of Jesus. She is there...I can see it in my mind...I can hear her laugh if I listen..she's more than a memory, she is forever a part of me...her and I are forever 15.

I mailed the photos back to her brother today...I released the weight of the memory back to a sunny day in 1991, when my world spun out of control, and stood still..all at the same time. Maybe I have taken a step towards closure..or acceptance if you wish. I still see things that remind me of her...converse high tops...skate boarders, Garfield comics. But never moreso, than when I see teenage best friends...laughing, telling secrets...and being all of those remarkable things that fifteen brings. I hold back on telling them what I desperately wish to share..."remember every moment, what the laughter sounds like..what the butterflies feel like...how you feel like you own the world, because this moment in time, is fifteen year old magic".

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Roll Call of Gratitude


I had a busy day today...I spent the morning with new friends who I feel like I have known for a lifetime...and the afternoon celebrating the marriage of an old friend I have known since childhood. Tonight I will go out with some crazy girlfriends, and I will celebrate what today is to me...precious... and fleeting.

I drove away from my friends reception, put on a great album, and was suddenly overcome with emotion.

Why?

Because I am blessed. I am SO blessed. I sometimes feel like I might be more blessed than most...and these are some reasons why.

I have two sisters. They are incredible women...ladies..girls...and they are on the inside of my soul. They validate my existence. We laugh hard, we have lifelong inside jokes that no one else would get...and that to me, is magic. I'd take a bullet for them...I'd stand in front of a bus for them...I would and will do everything I can to stand firm between them and harm. Today, I am washed with love for them...for being in my life...for being who I need, now, then and always.

I have a Nicola. You don't know what it means to have one of those, unless you have one. She is my best friend. She has been in my life longer than she wasn't...and she is incredible. She accepts me...she cheers me on...she in some subtle way, stands as my protector. She is cooler than anyone I know...she is a rockstar, poet, wealth of knowledge, passionate, true to the core kind of chick. I am blessed...I am glad she belongs to me, everyday...more than I can put into mere words.

I have those girlfriends who get the glamour whore I am...Cara...Stacey, I am better for knowing you...you validate that being true to your passion is what life is about. You demonstrate what being lead by your heart does...it impacts your world in a unique, beautiful...faaaaaabulous way....I love you.

I have a Michael. He isn't here in body anymore..but he is still with me. He knew how to make me laugh when all I wanted to do was fall apart. He showed me the power of listening intently...and thinking before talking. Knowing him touched parts of me that I thought were fatally damaged...as he applied the balm of friendship. He hugged harder than most..he had a sick sense of humour, and he got me. I had him for 3 years...and through that journey, til the end...I knew he would stand up for me, cheer me on...and champion my sometimes fragile soul. Michael knew he couldn't leave me without a patch...without a means of coping...and so, in true Michael fashion.. he left his family to me. Right now...I find myself breathless with the gratitude I have to him for this. For all of the feeling lost I have experienced since he died...I have found twinkling reminders of him...never moreso than when I find Terri and Linda. The relief is inexplicable...someone still gets me...and gets what he was to me.

So in this very moment, my gratitude runs over...it swells in my heart, and makes me look at today, in this world...and realise that love has come my way more times than I can count. To quote the song I had a constant repeat on my drive home:

"Love only comes, once in a while...and knocks on your heart, and throws you a smile..."

Thank you for finding me my cherished people.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Time, Truth and Money.


I think we, as humans, have come up with a pretty novel idea. When we come up short on emotion, or come up lacking in things to say...we throw money at a situation. We buy people things to appease their anger and our guilt, we buy flowery cards as a way to say thank you, to mark a celebration...or to express what we can't put into words. It's a sad case when some bad, cheesy poet gets to tell your loved one how you feel.

When I think of all the things we waste in our lives on our brief little journey, the one that makes me most frustrated and impassioned, is TIME. That passing, steady, click click click on a clock. I would rather have someone waste my money than waste my time...after all, money can be made again..time is a limited edition, priceless thing, that you get to stamp with your original trademark.

“Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” ~Jim Rohn

If you were to ask someone who is dying, what they would like more of, my guess is, you will rarely hear, "more money". They will likely tell you about the things they had dreamed of accomplishing...the amends they thought they had time to make..the love they had always wanted to share with someone...but put off for a more appropriate moment.

And if money and time, are so closely linked in our expressions to one another...I feel it may be because of this...we don't want to - or don't know how to tell the truth. There is an ironic thing about the truth. Two commonplace quotes about it find themselves to be opposite when explaining its very nature.

1. The truth will set you free.
2. The truth hurts.

What to think? How does that work? The truth isn't always pretty. The truth is that finite, undeniable actuality, that doesn't sway. And if that is the case, yes, sometimes, it will hurt you. Sometimes it will more than hurt you...it will enrage you. It enrages me most when it has come in on the sly, as second hand information...and has broadsided the transparency of my trust.

The bottom line is this...and I hope you will agree. I would rather be hurt with the truth, than a mistruth. I would rather have all of the cards on the table, showing the hand I am being dealt, so I can make an educated decison on my next move. All of the money..in all of the banks will not alleviate, or justify the lack of answers, or the blanket thrown haphazardly over the discomfort of the truth.

The truth does indeed set you free...it unleashes the time you have wasted, and brings understanding...and even if it does hurt, sting, or blindside you, know this:

When money speaks, the truth remains silent.

So say what you need to say today...tell someone you love them....tell them how you feel, even if it's uncomfortable. Have that difficult conversation...there is absolution on the other side. After all, an itegral part of this great human experience is trying to understand ourselves and each other.

Come on...you know you want to.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Classroom


I hated school. I wasn't an academic. There wasn't a lack of ability, I just think I was the kind of kid who learned things differently. I seemed to always run into those teachers who thought the way I learned was wrong. Why didn't I understand long division in my primary school days? Why couldn't I grasp physics in my highschool career? Let me be honest with you...it's because I didn't care. I still don't care. The math that makes sense to me today, as an adult, is the math that's applicable to my life...to my job, the rest is swirling down the drain of my frustrated schoolgirl days.

But if I was to think about the things I did learn in school...I would tell you that Life has been my most valuable teacher. When Life stands at the front of the class, and requires an assignment from me, I know it is often just as frustrating and lengthy as trying to learn the periodic table in grade 11.

I know Life requires things of me that I don't want to do. I know Life holds me accountable, and grades my contribution. I know Life doesn't allow me to skip anything...it all must be learned. And when I am being that smart ass at the back of the class, acting like I know it all, and not paying attention...that is when Life detains me. That is when Life pushes back, and makes me aware of the consequences of my actions. And in a twisted way...Life can hold a grudge...it can be that teacher who will find you down the road, and remind you that you are where you are, because you made costly decisions way back when.

I had some great teachers, who reflect back how I hope Life to be taught. They gave when they didn't have to...they explained what they understood on the repeat button..knowing that the answer evaded me. They were patient, and considerate...firm, but clear on what their expectations were. They knew I could do better...and they told me so.

I hope I can look at my Life teacher, and be acutely aware of the person she hopes to shape me into being. I know that help will always be available, if I am humble enough to ask for it. I know I will never be without that which I need...because even Life has a boss...and that boss controls my income, my health and my destiny...right down to my final breath...at which point, I will graduate into a place where the value of my lessons learned, and my contribution will be weighed.

So maybe I did learn things in school. I don't remember much about the academics..but I do remember the hopes I had for Life...many of which, Life has brought to fruition. I know I learned how to stand up for what I believe...and for those who can't do it for themselves. I did that for 2 reasons...partially because I knew it was right in my heart...and maybe moreso because I detest the illusion of popularity.

So Life..I am glad I don't have to learn about you in a classroom. I am glad you teach me how I learn. I am glad you are patient with me...because you know sometimes I think I know better. I am glad you have taught me lessons with humour and have allowed people to walk alongside me, and show me how to do it right.

Life..I am glad you're in front of me...I'm up for the challenge. But please....if you want to teach me another math lesson, could it come by way of winning the lottery?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gold Rush


Have you ever noticed priceless artifacts considered most valuable in this world, are things marked with fragility? Priceless art is one unexpected spark, or a merciless flood away from being lost forever...Faberge eggs would shatter with a brief slip of the fingers...Ming vases would topple to a marble floor, and be reduced to shards...regrettably, ceasing to exist, if they weren't preserved and protected.

Or would they? Something interesting about how the Japanese look at damage...they carefully examine those things that seem irrepairable to the average person...and choose a new identity for the item.

"When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful". ~Barbara Bloom

The loss of something valuable to you is always a catalyst for emotion. It can bring to the surface uncontrollable feelings of anger, frustration, sadness and grief. The losing changes how you foolishly expected your life would end up...if you actually believed you were the one to control the compass. The loss leaves you with choice...even when it's the last thing you want to face.

It can be as trivial as the black sunglasses I lost...I didn't replace them for weeks, knowing in my heart I would somehow find them. They have never turned up...and I have replaced them. It can be the unspeakable, unbearable, gut wrenching grief of losing a kindred soul you're doing life with...the canyon is vast, no replacement is possible. The value dangling on the pricetag of that relationship reads, "IRREPLACEABLE".

It's astonishing...absolutely confounding to me, the sparkling, white hot rush of gold that has filled the edges of my grief since February 13th, when my sidekick Michael went home, in the warmth and glowing sunlight of dawn. The gash in my heart...the near fatal wound to my soul, has been infiltrated with the most mindblowing, brilliant, priceless gifts. Beauty has arrived to repair the broken...that which remains has it's own special trademark of magic.

Someone said to me early on in this grief journey, that I would be amazed at the gifts grief can bring. I was much too numb and bewildered in that moment, to absorb the statement. The loss is inexplicable..I thought. Rather, I still think it even now, at this very moment. How can anything ever be right again? How can I possibly do life without him? This isn't what we planned...this isn't how it's supposed to be.

But then...as I chose to make small moves towards connection...to those he knew and loved...the strangest thing happened. There he was. He was in our midst, all over again. He was in the brave laughter and actions of his friends...he was echoed in the mischievious giggles of his sweet nephews. He is in his amazingly insightful sister...right down to her crazy driving, and love of adventure and ice cream. He is in his Mother...and her authentic journey to figure this life out...to understand, and be understood. He is in his Father..right down to the afternoons watching Nascar and the devotion to the Detroit Redwings.

And he is in me...he is around me...and he is with me, all the time. His laughter echoes in my mind...his insight challenges me still, to be a better person...just one day, one encounter at a time. Those glistening gifts he gave to me, filled the fractures I was trying to mend on my own, and I am blessed to have called him my friend. Losing him has resulted in a goldrush if you will...a flood that doesn't damage the treasure, but fills it to perfection, maximising it's beauty, strength and value.

So, I am branded..I am trademarked...I am forever changed..I am a friend of MB.

Monday, June 14, 2010

It's Okay That


Sometimes I feel like I am trying to fit the pieces of a puzzle together, in order to allow life to unfold as it's expected. I know the edges are often assembled first, in order to create a border...a boundary of the internal contents.

The older I get, the more I realise...I have been trying to assemble this puzzle with Monopoly money...perhaps the tweezers from Operation...pie triangles from Trivial Pursuit.

Who knew? Life isn't a puzzle...there aren't boundaries, and there isn't a blueprint or a roadmap. Pieces don't need to be placed delicately with tweezers..they can be jammed in, pushed, twisted...manipulated..even turned over. The money doesn't make the puzzle any easier to complete. The pie pieces from Trivial Pursuit appear to be irrelevant.

So in my game, these are some of the rules...

It's OK That:

*I love deeply, completely, and eternally...and sometimes, frivilously, recklessly, and spontaneously.
*I will always follow my heart...even to my detriment sometimes.
*Music moves me to my core, and consumes me entirely at times.
*I have a crazy, sick, twisted sense of humour..and find it hard to tame at times..and when I find someone who understands it, I feel like a child all over again.
*I'm never going to be conventional...and that makes some people uncomfortable...but as long as I work at being authentic, I am fulfilling my destiny.
*I love shock value...like, I LOVE it.
*Being me is sometimes exhausting...and I wish I had someone to take on the world with.
*I love big hair..secretly...I want big ass country music hair.
*I love animals too much...so much that I don't want to have them..because I know I will have to be without them one day, and it's just too sad.
*I hold secrets to the grave...because they are between me, and one other person.
*I still cry for my childhood best friend, who has been gone longer than she was ever here.
*I hate mornings..a lot.
*I'd drive anywhere..for anything, as long as the company was good. So call me, and ask me to meet you for the worlds best: ice cream, coffee, cheese pizza, chocolate cake..conversation...I am so there.
*I am restless.
*I eat peanut butter out of the jar.
*I'm honouring the grief of losing my Michael everyday...but have no regrets about who we were, and how we ended things...it was all said while he was here.
*I say "I love you" to everyone...because I would rather come up feeling awkward, than regretful.


A glimpse. Some insight. A flash. All of those things have created a miniscule visual of who I am. My life puzzle is in the garbage, I am not doing anything delicately with the Operation tweezers... Monopoly money isn't my purpose or goal...

And the pie, well...let me tell you something about pie...if you tell me you know the location of the worlds greatest slice..you might persuade me to get in my Jeep at 2am, and come and experience it with you....why? Because the pursuit may be trivial to some...but it's one of my favorite parts of playing this wild game called Life.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The House


Comparing my life to a house? It might look like this:

When I became old enough, I knew it was time to set off into the mystery and promise of my adult life. I knew I had to set up a house.

Upon moving in, I found myself overwhelmed with the weight of my life. I had bulky, heavy boxes of the past...things that I wanted to store in the dark, musty attic and forget about, but instead, dumped in the front hallway, obstructing the door. I had the clutter of the present, shoved haphazzardly into cupboards and kitchen drawers, causing me to feel like those things of importance, that need to be attended to today...are just beyond grasp in the unattainable... and not readily available or easily retrievable. And finally...those bright velvet, jewelled little boxes...full of gleaming hopes and soul defining dreams...for some reason, these were the belongings I decided to stow away in the darkness of the rooftop rafters.

I chose to look at the walls as a burden to paint, instead of a canvas to be created. I often knew that I would sleep much more peacefully, if I would just climb the stairs...but was sometimes too lazy to move upwards to find relief. The couch was ok...but it wasn't where I was meant to sleep.

And those boxes..in the front hallway, that inhibited my easy access to the life outside of the house? I chose to step over them...day after day...and to be reminded of their contents with every glance, to be hurt all over again by the broken things inside when I would catch a sharp corner with a bare knee, or a baby toe. I chose to let them obscure the direct path of possibility, just on the other side of the door. Only I could open the door from the inside, to allow myself a formal introduction to a world that I can wrap my arms around, and identify as my own unique place.

The clean up began one morning...my house was well lived in by now, and nothing shocked me, until a storm blew open that front door. A violent, unforgiving gust blew through my home...and upturned the familiar. The boxes at the front door were obliterated, and the contents were spilled and strewn. The cupboards and closets were blown open..and the chaos of the present was tossed about into random corners and doorways.

As I threw up my hands in disbelief....I felt a strange release of my identity. Those things that had stood in my way, were exposed and identified for what they were... the useless, fatally damaged debris of a life freckled with sadness and misfortune. Those possessions of the present, that should have been put away properly from the start, would now require a place in my home where they work FOR me, not in opposition.

And just as the sweeping was almost complete...the remnants and rubble placed outside the door...the items of the present finding their new lot in my world, a shockingly beautiful thing happened.

Another surge of wind whipped around my house...and took the roof clear off. As I stood in confounded disbelief, and bewildering frustration, I saw things begin to fall. I saw those bright velvet, jewelled little boxes... as they fell in a circle around me. They did not break or shatter, or lose their precious contents...but they did reveal to me, that which I had long forgotten about in the dusty, ignored attic up above. They landed with lids open, and treasure exposed...and I realised this: my gleaming hopes, and soul defining dreams are always surrounding me...above, in front of and behind me, and are infinitely more accessible if I keep my house in order, and let the irrepairable, broken things stay where they happen... outside my front door.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Letter


I drove past a group of children playing this afternoon. They were lost in the sunshine of this glorious Sunday...laughing, chasing each other...living in the blink of their innocence. For some reason, in that moment, I felt like I was looking upon myself at that age...I was connected to the pure expression of their childhood. It was like driving past a filmstrip projecting my memories, and finding myself reflective on their boundless expectatations of life, love, and destiny.

What are the things I would tell my 11 yr. old self? Would that insecure little girl ever believe that this is who she became? Would I tell her that it all works out in the end...and that she is a remarkable, one of a kind, exceptional child of God? I would tell her so many things...

Dear Jenny~

Keep this letter...you will fall back on it for peace in moments of feeling lost. Sweetheart, you sure are special, there are some things you should know about the future.

There will be people who will come and go in your life...don't ever hold a grudge for the way someone will treat you in your youth...they could very well leave an indellible mark on your life in the future.

Love your parents...they have done everything to the best of their ability, hon. They have never maliciously tried to hurt you. Be kind to them, they are going to fiercely love you for all of their days...and that's what they are hoping you will pass onto your children. You will love them differently as you grow up...they will frustrate you, disappoint you...anger you....but know this: one day you will be a grown up, and you will see them as people, flawed, but committed to you as unto their last breath. They will teach you lessons on how to be compassionate and engaged in this life. They will teach you to choose responsibility for those who have less in this life..."to whom much is given...much is expected".

Love your sisters..and be thankful everyday for them. You're doing life together, because God ordained it...he constructed the fairytale of the 3 sisters. Sometime in the future, you will have close friends who lose a sibling...and you will choose to walk alongside them. Never end a conversation without telling them you love them, they need to hear it the most.

Don't let other people impact how you feel about yourself..I know that seems impossible, but God has put you where you are...and every person who crosses your path will teach you something. Even when they are cruel to you, and tease you, and try to make you feel less than...hold in your heart that this life is big...this world holds moments of magic that are for you, and you alone. Learn how to be a good friend by demonstrating protective loyalty towards those you love. Stand for those who can't stand on their own, not out of obligation, or in a search for praise...do it, because it is right.

Live in your moments. Look at the world, and realise it's all for you. Don't be afraid to feel overwhelming emotions....joy, exhileration, peace... anger, frustration, grief. These emotions all add to the complexity of your human journey...and no feeling coming from your heart is wrong. Don't doubt, or downplay how you feel....it matters...it matters very much, sweetie.

Remember the kindred moments you have with Keri. She shapes your childhood...she is in the brilliance of your glowing girlhood. She won't be around past your 15th yr....so be present in every giggle over a boy, stamp the memory of her smile in your soul...recall her glittering laugh and spirit when you want to mourn the loss of what seemed to be a flash of youth.

Remember how I said to not hold a grudge? Guess what? Mike Baskett will be one of your best friends. I KNOW...I sometimes don't believe it either. He will come into your life when you desperately need an ally...you will find each other at a time when you think the world needs to be figured out...and you will take that on together over many Tim Horton's triple/triples. He will save you in a way Jenn, he will see you for who you are, and you will see him. You will realize that 2 souls can find peace in each other...you will discover the peace in silent moments with a soulmate. You will feel safe with him...and that will restore things stolen from your little girl self. The night you both fall asleep on the couch at his apartment in Toronto in May of 2007....remember that...hold it close. Remember what it was to be with a man who had nothing but faith in you, and wanted nothing more than to be your close friend. This relationship will teach you so much Jenn. And in December of 2009, when you see his back turn to shut the door after a morning spent in church together...don't regret for one second that you told him you loved him....DON'T second guess that choice...it's the last thing you will ever say to him.

To sum it up sweetheart, strive for these things. Love God in your own way...don't ever try to fit the mould. Be real, it's what will bring you overwhelming peace. Love the people you are doing life with...and tell them often...even if you feel like it doesn't always land. "I love you" is NEVER regrettable. Be kind to yourself. Don't try to be someone else...and if someone doesn't like you, then they have afforded themselves a huge loss. Take on challenges with abandon...be fearless. Stand up for those who can't do it for themselves...legacy begins early.

I love you girl...your incredible passion for life is going to impact those around you...for all of the insecurities you feel now, mark my words, this world will never be the same because YOU were here.

Love,

Jenn with two n's....(Mike Baskett gives you that nickname...I know! He's so cute!!)

xoxo