Moving far into October, change is everywhere around me, inside and out. It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything, and there have been a variety of reasons/excuses as the case may be, but it’s time to start again, afresh.
When I last wrote, it was from the home I’d dreamed of living in on the Island I’d long dreamed of inhabiting. And for all the time there, although it was short in the scheme of things, I loved it. I loved it to my core! But that said, something in my core was amiss, and the work became figuring out what that was and finding healing.
It started almost a year ago in October, changes to my bodies routines that told me something was wrong. As the months went on, and the fall, winter and then spring passed, answers still eluded us. As everything I put into my body coursed right through it, my weight began to drop as did my level of energy and my faith that it was something minor I was contending with. I felt unwell...and that to me is not a common feeling. I was frightened to say the least.
In July, I found myself having another colonoscopy, this time with biopsies being taken, on the morning of the same day that we’d planned to start our trip back east to the Prairies. The trip had been planned all year...first of all our 40th MacGregor Collegiate High School reunion, to be followed by a week or so with family and friends before heading to Kenora to work at the 2018 Leadership Camps. I was exhausted thinking about it.
I’d warned Mark that I might not be able to do this year’s camps, as I really didn’t feel well enough to commit. The camps are high energy, high outcome events, where I knew the way I was feeling would be a struggle, but I did promise that If I felt up to it I’d be there. In the days back in Manitoba, I continually did begin to feel better, and come the last week of July I did find myself at the McGregor Leadership Camp, doing my thing...coaching, sharing stories, playing my music.
I indeed felt well enough to participate, but also knowing my limits and challenges had warned Mark that I would be sitting more activities out than I typically did. He was good with that. As a result, I had more time to myself sitting in the cottage staring out at Lake of the Woods. Sitting out on the dock, soaking up the sun and fresh air. Sitting, reflecting and awakening as it were.
By the end of the first week of camp I came to the realization that while working with and challenging our participants to be clear on their values and vision, so that they can begin living their own life’s mission, I was not being true to my own. I’ve done the work and I know that some of my own strongest values are Family, Relationships, Love and Honesty, and yet in knowing that I was living halfway across this vast country of ours. I was miles and provinces away from our kids and grandchildren, from my oldest and dearest friends, from the work that is bubbling inside me to be done. I was indeed living my dream of returning to the Island of my birth, spending time close to the ocean waters I love, embracing my love of adventure and creativity, but began to realize there was another way to be doing that!
We have always loved the Kenora area, being near the incredible body of water that is called Lake of the Woods. What if we explored that as a possibility that would give me more of what I needed in all areas of my life? More time with family and friends here, but still the quiet and solitude that I crave to be my best creative self? More time to be still in one place, instead of the hours spent covering the thousands of kilometers that separated us from our legacy....these children that are growing up before our very eyes at what seems to be the speed of light. What if?
I proposed the idea to Cecil, and the spark in his eyes told me it was a need he’d been waiting on me to awaken to as well, and the search for our next ‘dream home’ began. Like everything else in my life it seems, I threw what I imagined out to the Universe, and today, only weeks after the thought first crossed my mind, I am sitting in my new living room staring out the window at the glassy waters of the lake before me. I have been in this space for mere weeks, yet I am at home! I am loving each moment...the morning call of the loons. The eagle that regularly sours directly over the house. The chickadees the are chattering in the trees throughout the yard. Even the mink that came and greeted FeeBee and I on the dock while Cecil was out kayaking the day after we arrived here. I have found and been blessed with what my heart has been conjuring for years, and am more blessed and grateful than I can say.
My heart also treasures every moment that I was able to spend in Qualicum Beach. We’ve made amazing friends that will always be in our lives. I was able to get back to my music, writing and creativity in a way I don’t think I would ever have been able to had that move not happened. I was also able to detach myself from old pain and heartaches in a way that having stayed in place before the move would not have allowed. Another day I will write about the gifts of finding a place to hold space for yourself. But that day is not today.
And my health? Well the biopsies showed that I have been living with microscopic colitis for the past year. It can only be diagnosed through biopsy of the large intestine, but once diagnosed, can be treated with steroids to reduce the inflammation and get things back on track. I am feeling so, so much better than I did for the last ten months.
I now often ask myself, would I have even thought about this move had I been feeling well enough to live life the way I had been accustomed to? Probably not, and although my condition now has a name and a treatment available, I think it was also part of my body’s knowing that I needed to make change if I was going to be the Granny that I aspire to be. If I am going to share the legacy and the wisdom of my ancestors, the hopes and dreams they poured through their sweat and efforts paving the way for this life I am so lucky to be able to live, I need to be present for those that may most benefit. If I am to live my life in a way that is aligned with my values and vision of what this journey of mine will result in, this is where I will be best able to do that.
The stars have once again aligned to ensure that my path is well lit to best achieve my purpose for being. Life is an amazing, beautiful thing. Being clear on what it is that matters most, makes it that much more incredible!
I don’t even know where to start…because there is no beginning, and no ending to the story that is unfolding ….the story that is my life right now, right here…so how do I explain things.
As I shared with you in earlier posts, decisions were made. BIG decisions, that resulted in my beloved and I moving from our comfort zone in Manitoba, living life as semi-retired farmers…to our new life here in Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.
None of it came easily. In the course of six months we made six trips across the prairies to move what was most important to our hearts here to the Island that promised us we’d find a sense of home and belonging. Six trips!!! At times, I cannot even believe we have traveled that much in an effort to be stable…it becomes an oxymoron of sorts…jumbo shrimp..running to be still. It’s been just a little bit crazy, but crazy we are, so here we are, finally taking a moment to catch our breath now. But in the stillness, the questions continue to abound.
Our Qualicum Beach home is now all but established. Yes, there are nooks, crannies and corners that need just a little ‘something more’ to be right…something that our Kijiji shopping and chasing has not yet provided, but all the essentials of that which we’re content to call ‘home’ has been established. The ‘little things’ that are missing will come with time. Example…a lamp in the living room. Until tonight…4 months post-possession, I have not really found it a problem that we don’t have any lamp/ lights in our home…besides those which are hard wired into the walls and ceilings. But tonight…as my beloved wanted to watch an action movie…my heart’s choice was to just take out my ‘Stress Relieving Coloring Book” and well…Color…but because we hadn’t made that little inconsequential purchase of a lamp I couldn’t. Another reminder of the little things that have a big impact. We will get there.
Four months into our transition, there are still as many questions as there are answers. With that, I have found that I need to live in the questions…because I know the answer will come eventually…and if I strain myself to know it, I may push myself beyond what I’m able to appreciate and understand at this point…so I live in the questions.
Here are a sampling of them….
So…tonight, as I sit here on a lazy Sunday evening , my desire to reflect is as strong as ever. I think about the quote I read about "the comfort zone being a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there." Maybe it was just time to grow again.
This last couple of days have been the first that we’ve been able to just sit back and be without the need to travel east to clean up old business, or explore things here with company and friends. I’ve spent time out on the deck off the dining room that now has the beautiful ‘roof’ that our son Bill built when he came to visit with his family. As I listen to the sounds of the crickets in the distance, I love that I can sit and do that without the challenge of Manitoba Mosquitoes or West Coast rain…because that’s the way we’ve set things up. Intentional Paradise. I can sit for hours listing to the cricket in the distance…and just do that, without having to defend myself from the elements that would dictate …and ruin…my evening hours back on the prairies.
I am learning the benefits of just embracing a ‘Pooh’ day…spending time in the hammock that my beloved has anchored for me out in the trees beyond the yard…listening to the birds…and the insects…and the world go by…recognizing that yes, it’s a very good day…just because it is a very good day.
I am embracing the fact that I moved to this place because of its proximity to Spider Lake and all that that offered…and as I drove myself here on our initial move…Bob Seger was definitely singing ‘Let’s all Go to Spider Lake’…even though musical intellect says he was singing ‘Fire Lake’…that is not what my heart heard. So with that, I have finally given myself permission to just spend time at Spider Lake…with my man…with my camera…with my dog...in a kayak…and most important…with Spirit…make cruising those waters a priority. For no other reason than that the water is there…and so am I. What an incredible concept. What a gift, what a treasure of being.
So I will end things there for now…. living in the questions, and knowing there are no definite answers…. embracing the reality that that is okay. What I know for sure is that the answer will unfold when the time comes. For now, I know in my heart I have made the decisions to be here because this is where I am meant to be. The bigger reason for that is not for me to understand right now… but that’s okay. I know I am where I need to be, with who I need to be, loving all I am meant to be for now…..and that makes all of this perfect.
What questions do you find yourself living in at this time? What changes have you made that are leaving you a little afraid...a little nervous as to whether you're moving in the right direction in your life? What tools would help you to sort through those questions? Maybe I can help!
The #Future starts today, not tomorrow. How often do we forget that?
How many times to we put off doing the things that we most love, spending time with the people we most love, pursuing the passions that we most love believing that we don't have time today. Thinking that tomorrow the time needed will magically appear and we'll get at things then.
But the old saying goes, tomorrow never comes, and it's true isn't it. Tomorrow turns into another busy today, where the same reasons and excuses hold us back from doing what calls to our spirits.
With that in mind then, what are you going to do today, that will take you a step closer to the dream that lights the fire in your heart? What will move you in the direction of living a more full and passionate life? What you've always imagined your best self to be? You owe it to yourself to do something today...don't put it off until tomorrow.
It struck me this morning, in fact about ten minutes ago, that my own self talk and demands were causing my heart rate to rise and a certain level of anxiety to peak. I was rushing around the house (well, my version of rushing anyways :) ) having loaded the washer and the dryer, gone through the mental list of supper options, brushed my teeth and washed my face, and prepared my home office through my own series of rituals to get ready for my days start. As I reminded myself I had to settle down at my desk and tackle the next item on this week's to-do list, another part of my brain was complaining that I so wanted to write! In fact I realized I was beginning to feel angry that I had words in my head and thoughts on my mind that I needed to take time to get onto the written page, but by the time I finished going through the bills and emails and expectations of those on the other side of that computer screen, the energy and most likely the desire would be gone. Those ideas would be silenced for another day....and would likely moved on...because I didn't take the time needed to honour them and get them onto the written page.
Then it hit me, in the midst of the frustration of what wasn't going to happen, as i realized that there is not one soul here that is telling me that those are the things I must do first....except me! I am the one putting the pressure on myself about what needs to be done when and for who. I am the one that is prioritizing the needs and once again putting my own at the bottom of that list of priorities. I am the one that is saying what this day's accomplishments needs to entail for it to be successful. I am the one who is creating the frustration and the raised heart rate and the agenda of what needs to be done when. And with that sudden realization I stopped, turned around and left my office, grabbed my laptop and moved to my writing corner.
So here I am. And as I sit here, I have to keep asking myself why it is that I continue to do that to myself? Why do all of us continue to put those pressures of what is most important on our allotted time, when the reality is that feeding our spirits and our souls is the truly important work. Exploring what it is that is making us tick and feel joy and provide contentment and peace is the truly important work. What things will allow us to be our best selves and fulfill our highest purpose in this world as we continue on this journey is the truly important work. But it's not the work we do is it? It's not the work that we put first on our daily schedules or at the beginning of any list.
The truly important work is the work that we leave at the bottom of the pile, for when everything else is finished and we can tell the world outside we accomplished something that they can see as a 'result', while inside the work that calls to us lays dormant and unexpressed because all of our best energy and effort was put into the other stuff. Our creativity and our heart's desires are twisted into something else that allows us to do that which is expected by the outside world. Then, at the end of the day, when we finally do allow ourselves to move into the things we want to do, the time and effort needed to put that creativity back into its original form, the form that will allow us to grow and thrive, is too much work to be accomplished on this day. We are tired, and spent so we put it off until tomorrow, and instead zone out for the remaining hours of the days through getting lost in the television, or the surfing or whatever mundane actions quiet the frustrated spirit inside of us that is asking why it was hushed and put on hold yet again.
So this morning, instead of listening to the side of my brain that was pushing me towards that to-do list, I chose instead to listen to that little voice that was calling for me to pay attention to my heart instead. I am so glad I did. I feel my breathing beginning to slow again and my deeper self saying thank you, as these words pour forth onto the page.
Don't get me wrong. I know as well as anyone what needs to be done in a day. I know those bills need to get paid, that the chores need to be done, that the work that makes this life possible and affordable has to be taken care of. I know that family needs to be supported and loved and acknowledged. I know that. But what I have to remind myself of, and maybe you do as well, is that we have a choice and the control over how it is that we get those things done. I know I do...but I forget that, even with all my education, and experience and even my teaching others....I know that, and from time to time I forget. We all forget that the only one in control of us, our activities and our decisions is... well...us!
My scenario was that I told myself I have to do these things and do them now. After all, we had the time away embracing our desire to spend time on the coast, feeding our souls, so now that I'm home I need to put all that behind, buckle down, do the catch up work. Forget about what it is that I need to do to feel that same sense of peace and joy I feel when I can travel until what's sitting on my desk is done.
But that's crazy! I haven't spent the last years of my life making all I do portable only to be on lock-down when I return home! I haven't followed my passions for travel and writing and photography only to push it onto the back burner when I return to the 'real world' that is my life! This real world is my life, and it should be just as vibrant, and nourishing and spirit nurturing as time away is! So why do I not make it so? Why do I let it become mundane and routine and lost in a creative void instead of embracing the knowledge that this is it? This is the work of my life...sharing my experience, and my passions and my dreams from where ever I am at any given moment.
I know that maybe, because of the way I've worked to design my days, I have a different flexibility than another who has a more typical job that requires a daily trip to the office or another structure that provides the income that makes one's world go round. In that way it may be easier for me to go from my 'working' space to my 'writing' space with a simple spin on the heel. I'm 'lucky' I know, I've worked so hard to be this 'lucky' and I embrace it wholeheartedly. But you have choice too! Yes, you may have to be in that building from nine to five, and once you're home your energy for what feeds your soul is sapped... but what if you were to wake up a half hour earlier in the day and feed it then? What if instead of the radio on the commute to that place you listened to books or podcasts that fed that desire for deeper knowledge or learning? What if your lunch hours were spent taking care of your body and spirit in ways other than just feeding it...but maybe meditating, walking, yoga? Couldn't that be a possibility?
There are countless ways that we can work what's important into our days, but we have to do that. No one is going to do that for us. No one else is going to suggest that you put 'their' stuff on hold while you take care of your own. That isn't how this world of ours works I'm afraid. But that's okay, because we have choice and control and the ability to use it...but only if we decide to.
I feel so much better already! Now, when I head back to the 'other' room, I head back feeling content that I took time for me. I've had my moment, I can blow out the candle and let the incense burn itself out (some of my own writing rituals), reopen the blind and head into what also needs to get done, knowing that the voice inside me is content and happy that it was listened to. I can also remind myself that tomorrow I have the same choice. Tomorrow I can start my day with spending an hour on the guitar... or going through some of the thousands of photos I want to work on...or writing another chapter in a book thats living inside me. I can choose to make these things a priority. I can choose!
And so can you. Believe it or not, in this moment in time, so can you. It doesn't have to be a big, cumbersome all day event. It can be one little thing that lets that little voice of longing be heard.
What can you do today that will make your spirit feel listened to and supported on this journey? Maybe you should go and do that.
I found this video just at the perfect time, and it resonates to deeply with the things I'm feeling these days. My husband will tell you and confirm, that I am as guilty as anyone of multi-tasking...especially when it's just he and I. Why do we do that, why do we work so hard to keep connected with people and groups and causes around the world, at the neglect of the one who is sitting here right within reach. I know I'm not the only one, but I am the only one I can make change this habit.
We all find it so easy to get distracted. To keep checking for texts and facebook notices and instagram pictures...that we miss out on the connection that is right in front of us. To be Truly Me, I have to get better at that. This video was a great reminder to me to be more present especially here at home, where at the end of the day, it's where your presence is most valued, most appreciated and most remembered.
Take a moment to watch the video, then tell me it doesn't strike a chord! This season I hope more of us can commit to #GivePresence in our homes, our communities and in all places where we have an opportunity to make an impact!
WARNING: It does manage to drop an f-bomb, that I'd prefer they hadn't, because I think we can get messages across to people without resorting to that , but I do like the underlying message.
It started in December of 2012. I was on my way home from my training as a Passion Test facilitator, and had been doing much deep thinking about what was truly meaningful in life, or more specifically, my life. That can be a dangerous thing for me to do.
We were a matter of weeks away from Christmas, and I had yet to do my shopping, but I tend to put it off because I really just don't like it. It wasn't just that Christmas had become so hard with all the losses over the past few years...my parents, mother-in-law...most deeply my son. But as I reflected, it had been a long time since I'd enjoyed it. I remembered back to my days as a child, and in my twenties, and Christmas was so special. We would wait all year, knowing that then might be the time we received those things we wanted so badly. And that would be if 'Santa' was able to afford it, as it wasn't always the case. That was when we'd receive the new clothes, the toys, the crafts...and you played with and cherished them until the next Christmas came around.
But the world is different now. We've become so disposable, and so unwilling to wait for anything. What we want, we get, so that come the holidays there is very little left on the wish-list. Add to that how incredibly commercial it is with the push by advertisers that the wish-list has become so big, so expensive or so technical, that it becomes a financial burden for families for months to follow, and in some cases years.
I thought about our large, combined family. For years we'd get each of the grandchildren something useful, or smaller, clothes or a toy. Then because we don't see them as often, or don't know what their individual tastes are, we'd give each of them a card with $50 in it so they could go and buy themselves something. But as I thought about this habit on the trip home from San Diego, I became very sad, realizing that the habit was only widening the distance between them and us, as we never followed up on what it was that they chose to purchase, who they were becoming, if they even appreciated the money that was received. My heart told me it was time for change, to bring a different meaning to these large family gatherings, and a stronger connection to those we love.
There was another catalyst to my wanting to make change as well. Whenever I am away from home, I worry, as I'm sure many others do, that in our absence someone will break in. It's not that we don't have insurance to cover everything we have...stuff is replaceable. But what I always tended to worry about more was my 'treasures', those things I've held on to as the family historian, or the pack-rat who attaches so much memory to items, knowing that if someone came in and vandalized our home, those 'treasures' would likely be destroyed and they were not things that I could replace.
The final thing that had me thinking was that I'd spent the previous two years in the clean up of my parents estate spending days on end going through the boxes and shelves of a home that held our family history for four generations. With that came the sadness that so much of this 'stuff' meant something to someone. Of course there were things that were clearly valued that you could tell why, but there were more things that were kept for reasons we can't know, and there was a certain sadness of getting rid of someone elses 'treasures'. I learned much from that process, and several things came out of it. One being our new Christmas tradition.
I decided that year that from now on we all have enough 'stuff', and in so many cases we have way too much. I want to pass along things to our kids that have meaning, at least for me, and I hope that in doing that I can provide a deeper meaning for them in terms of what I value, but also what is now their history, as they are now part of my family. So I started that year, looking around the house at all of those things that I have my heart attached to, and began picking out one thing for each person in the family, our children and grandchildren. My husband Cecil did the same.
When we had picked out something for everyone, I then wrote each of them a letter to go with the item. I explained to them why this item was so close to my heart, who it had come from, how I'd ended up with it...any story attached to it that I wanted to share.
It was such an amazing experience, because as I wrote those letters and shared those memories, all of my lost loved ones gathered around me and became part of the celebration of all the wonderful memories I've had the privilege of collecting on this journey. In sharing the stories I was able to share them with my own grandchildren and they could begin to see the people that were so instrumental in laying the foundation of who I have become. My own grandparents, my parents, my son as well as Cecil's parents.
The second part of that Christmas's gift was creating a certificate for each of the grand-kids to fill out telling us what they would like to do in the next year with either their Grandpa, myself or both of us, that we could do together to create a memory. This part made me very nervous, I will admit, because we could have had 12 kids all say they wanted to go to Disney world, and we'd have had to find a way to make it happen, as we'd opened the door. But they didn't, instead we had wishes like going to a movie together, going put-put glow golfing, a camping trip in the summer, having manicures together, me teaching one to play guitar and a day of baking together.
I had been very nervous that they would look at this decision at our Christmas gathering and wonder what in the heck I had in my mind, passing along all this old 'stuff' and not receiving the expected $50 (which note to self, would have worked out a lot cheaper in the end, but we wouldn't be where we are now as a family). Instead, everyone felt it was our best Christmas ever, and the best part was it lasted so long into the New Year as we arranged dates to follow through on all that we'd promised we'd do together. That time spent together has created an entirely different connection, and I'm loving it.
One of my greatest memories is from after the day Haley and I had our baking day, making cupcakes for Grandpa's birthday at a campground in Kenora. The family knows I'm not a baker, but we did it, even though some of the cupcakes turned out a little dark you might say. She said not to worry, she's just put more icing on those ones. When we were done she asked me if we were going to do certificates again the upcoming Christmas, so I asked her if she thought we should. She said yes, that was the best Christmas ever. That coming from a nine year old was a compliment that warmed my heart so much, and so we did.
I love so many things about that decision. I love that we are challenged to keep that list in mind, and arrange our lives around making sure it gets fulfilled and the time we promised is spent. I love that when the kids come to my house now, they are looking at everything differently and asking the story behind things, engaging in a completely different way. I love that we are creating memories, because from where I stand now, looking back, I remember so little of the things that people gave me, but so much of the memories we made together. That is what I want for them.
Last year, to make sure everyone had something to unwrap, we got each of the kids a gingerbread house kit..the one year old right through to the eighteen year olds. I made sure that we had lots of extra decoration and had everything set up, so that after the tobogganing, eating, snowmobiling and unwrapping was done, everyone headed down to the tables in the garage and we spent the next two hours putting together those little works of art. The kids loved it, the adults had no choice but to help, and we as a family had fun...together. To me, that is what the spirit of Christmas is about.
Thanks for letting me share.
It takes time and energy to become who we truly are! In life, so many things can get in the way of our figuring that out..but the time comes in each of our lives where we need to be able to do that if we're going to live happy fulfilling lives that are authentic reflections of our best selves. These are just things I've learned along the way. I hope that they might help you in your own journey into being Truly You!