happiness

The Lord of the Dance

Years ago, when I was a little girl (and the dinosaurs were still around), my Grandma took me to a special event at her church. At that time she attended the United Church in Cochrane, and I loved going because of their music. Likely there also were good “after church snacks” which also was a measure I used to evaluate how good a church was.

The details of this particular Sunday are a bit vague (I wish I’d talked to Grandma again about this) but someone was there playing the Lord of the Dance music. It was a big deal, and people were excited about whomever it was that was presenting it (again, I wish I could remember). What I do remember is totally and completely falling in love with that song. Grandma bought the album (yeah it was that long ago) and I listened to it over and over.

40+ years later it still sings through my head on a regular basis. It makes me happy, it makes me want to dance, it makes me want to put down my burdens and follow Jesus.

Ok, that last one is a bit harder. It does make me happy, it does make me want to dance, it makes me look at my burdens and assess whether or not I’d rather carry them or lay them down. It’s hard when those burdens feel like they are part of who I am. But they’re not. So why am I carrying them? They’re heavy after all.

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happiness

In the Belly of the Whale

I had a very interesting memory show up on Facebook today. Apparently 9 years ago, the girl (who then was 6) made a picture of me in the belly of a whale.

Not too long ago I listened to someone say that often when God calls us, the first thing we do is hightail it out of town as fast as we can, and they gave Jonah as an example of what happens after that. No matter how we try to run from God, he finds us and brings us back, even if it means we have to chill inside a whale for a while to figure things out.

Now, I’m no Jonah, but I do believe that God has a plan for all of us, and if we don’t listen to Him, he will pester us until we finally listen and are ready.

God was calling me at this time, I was too afraid to hear it. This was only a couple of weeks after I was physically assaulted by my ex husband in front of my kids, and for the first time really acknowledged that my life was in danger. The problem with feeling in danger, or being in survival mode is it can be difficult to see clearly.

I wanted God to help me, I was angry with God, and I also was a little afraid of a relationship with God because I felt he’d really let me down. Not too long after this, my ex called our pastor and told her what a terrible person he felt I was. After he told me that he’d decided to call her because he knew that I liked her and enjoyed church, and that he wanted to make sure she knew exactly the type of person she was dealing with.

And so God became active in my life. The pastor called me and said she’d heard I was having a hard time. She asked me to meet her at the church office where she met me with open arms and love. That woman and her church picked up me and the kids and gave us a safe place to land and I will never, ever forget her kindness.

I’ve never met someone who loves God quite as much as my old pastor does. And I come from a family who is very connected to God, so that’s saying a lot. She had an active relationship with Him in a way I’ve never witnessed before. Although I was still kinda mad at God, I leaned into her love and belief and eventually I began to see God reflected the way she saw Him.

I still do a good job of running from God. Some moments are easier than others, but I’m learning to face the sun and enjoy the warmth of His love.

And now if I forget, I’ve got this drawing by my child of me trying to run away.

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happiness

Little moments of kindness

I bought a dresser on Marketplace yesterday. It’s actually a dresser I’ve had my eye on for quite some time but the price in the store was more than I was willing to pay. So, when I saw a gently used one for sale for 1/4 the price I was in.

Although I measured things carefully, when I got there I discovered that the dresser didn’t fit in my car. I discovered this after telling the boy we didn’t need to get a bigger car, driving for an hour, and my boy and the seller’s boyfriend carrying the heavy, solid wood dresser down two flights of stairs.

The guy was so kind about it, and gracefully carted the thing back up into his apartment. He then offered to take it to a nearby store for us to pick up the next day (today) so we wouldn’t have to deal with the stairs again.

Today we went back, and the friend who owned the store helped us maneuver it into a larger vehicle. When we were done he gave us some special moving straps he had and said they would help us get it into the house – and just to drop them back off the next time we were in town.

My heart felt full with these interactions. These people went out of their way to be kind, even when things weren’t going according to plan and they could have chosen to be impatient or frustrated. We commented how happy we felt after leaving them. With COVID we have so few interactions with people that the ones we have seem that much more important. I’m grateful that the vast majority of the interactions I have with others are really good ones. Most people are good.

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happiness

An Irish Blessing

I had to stop on the way home this morning and enjoy the beauty of the valley near my home. As I was admiring God’s creation I was reminded of this Irish blessing that I heard often as a child.

Traditional Irish Blessing

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm on your face,

The rains fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

May God be with you and bless you,

May you see your children’s children

May you be poor misfortune,

Rich in blessings,

May you know nothing but happiness

From this day forward.

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind always be at your back,

May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home,

And may the hand of a friend always be near.

May green be the grass you walk on,

May blue be the sky above you,

May pure be the joys that surround you,

May true be the hearts that love you.

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happiness

Leaf Peeping

Things in our part of Alberta are absolutely gorgeous right now. With the winds we get, one never knows how long the leaves will stay on the trees (similar to the blossoms in the spring), but at this moment it’s stunning.

The girl, the puppy and I managed to get out twice this week for Leaf Peeping drives. One thing mom taught me was no matter how much you love home, you need to get out once in a while. So we do.

It is good for my soul to get out in nature. And it’s hard to doubt the existence of God when there’s such beauty.

A season is changing, its’ time to let go of things and embrace what is coming up ahead. But even more, it’s time to embrace what is. This moment, this life, this love.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
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happiness

End of summer 2020

It’s a wrap. Just like that summer is over and we need to establish fall routines. This was a weird summer, it felt like both the longest and shortest one of my life.

The girl has her room almost finished, a couple more hours and I will never have to wallpaper again as long as I live!!

She also won a surprising amount betting on the Kentucky Derby with some friends of mine and used her winnings in a surprising way. She’s been saving for a few things she wanted for herself, but when we finished the big strips in her room yesterday she changed her mind as to how she wanted to spend it.

You see, her brother has been key in the great wallpapering adventure – as in he was tall enough to reach the high ceilings on the ladder and pretty much hung most of it for her (with out help). So when we were done she told me she wanted to use her money to buy him sushi (his favourite). We devised a plan to go to town for “girl things” and surprised him with sushi when we came home.

I was so touched by her act of kindness. She didn’t have much money, but she wanted to share what she had with someone she loves and who helped her out. Selflessness. Compassion. Love. Family.

Here’s to a great school year for everyone. There’s so much that is uncertain right now. Remembering to lead with kindness is key ❤️

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happiness

The family who wallpapers together….

Years ago, Grandma told me a story of her wallpapering the kitchen while Grandpa was working outside. Suddenly the ladder moved and Grandpa fell through the window, pulling her wallpaper down behind him. I thought that was a funny story and swore I’d never wallpaper anything in my life.

Then, about 25 years ago, my sister and I painted the living room and dining room of the house and it was a total nightmare but also an archeological dig. There were layers of wallpaper, and one layer of paint that had been done around furniture, finished off with a final layer of paint. We spent all summer on that project, and while we learned a lot, I think we were both happy at the prospect of never painting again.

Fast forward to 2020 and us being home all the time. The girl decided she wanted rid of the 50+ year old wallpaper in her room. I told her of my experience, but naturally she knew better (can’t blame her, I would have felt the same), and she pulled down her wallpaper to paint her room.

Well, the blue room had several layers of wallpaper under it, with the final one being stuck right to the plywood. We discovered a door and a window frame that had been covered up all these years. After a couple of months of pondering, we also discovered that there was no way in H E double hockey sticks we were going to get all the wallpaper off.

So, we ended up wallpapering once again.

Let me say, I have new respect for Grandma and all the times she wallpapered these rooms.

We’ve still got a ways to go, the corners are kind of a nightmare, but we are getting the hang of it, and pretty soon she’s going to have the best looking room!

Lately I’ve been aware of how important it is to not give up. I mean, give up on the things that aren’t serving you, walk away from what is hurting you, but omg stick it out for the things you want to accomplish. And we want to accomplish this room. It is a small symbol of how well the three of us work together, how we support each other, and how much easier it is to accomplish big tasks when you’ve got other people helping you out.

Some of the layers
It’s coming!!
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happiness

Dog days of summer

I’m sitting here with my puppy snoring beside me enjoying the last few days of summer before we start up with our new routines. This not so little bundle has brought us so much joy and love, I’m so grateful she’s in our lives. The latest thing is “barking at the foxes” which takes her and Bear most of the evening, and often part of the day. The foxes seem to respect their need for space, but clearly aren’t so afraid that they pick up and move somewhere else. I am selfishly glad for this as I love watching the foxes trot by, but grateful for the other less desirable critters the dogs keep away.

She’s so tired, poor baby

This has both been the longest summer (it’s been about 8 years since March hasn’t it?), and the shortest (I didn’t get out to enjoy much of it), but it’s been a good one for me with regards to getting grounded and learning about how I work and who I am.

I’m taking a mini course on Dharma by Stephen Cope during my break from school. I’ve long admired this man and have learned much from his teachings – you know how some people just explain things in ways that make sense to your soul? This is him for me.

Today I learned about Indra’s Net and I’m still trying to absorb the power and meaning of the story. But it’s made me think once again about my meaning in the universe, the reason why I’m here as me, what do I need to fulfill? What is my calling and what are my duties?

We also discussed Thoreau, whom I love, and how he found his purpose at Walden Pond which was pretty much right at home in Concord after failing to become a famous writer in New York City. One of the books he took with him was the Bhagavad Gita (which is what is used in my class).

I’ve had an interest in Thoreau since I was a teenager and I read Walden’s Pond in school. Never did I think one day I’d walk that pond, or continue to learn about Thoreau via yoga, but that’s what happened.

Essentially, the Covid time we are in now is my time at Walden Pond, it’s just here, at home, in Grandma’s kitchen. It’s been the perfect time for self reflection, figuring out who and how I want to be in the world. It will continue to be a process on my life journey, but I feel like I’ve taken some pretty important steps here. Because, if I know and deeply understand who I am, then no one can ever take that truth away.

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happiness

The Palomino Pillow

When I was a little girl, my grandma had the most beautiful pillow I had ever seen. It was all silk, black, with gold around it, and had this fierce looking palomino standing in the middle. It sat on her couch in the living room, a place where we were not allowed to go often. I used to sneak into that room, sit on the couch, look at the pillow, and dream of someday having a beautiful horse like that.

Those of you who know me, know that this dream came to fruition and his name was Pirate Gold – probably the best, craziest, most challenging, and most athletic horse I’ve ever known.

I had long ago accepted that this pillow would now only live in my memory. BUT as luck would have it, living in a house where no one ever threw things out has its benefits. Today while pulling out blankets that had been stored for decades, I found the pillow stuffed in the back of the closet.

It’s even more fantastically awesome than I remembered (and by that I mean it’s a bit gaudy, but still holds all those memories).

I feel sometimes like when we become adults we give up on our childhood dreams. What would my life have been like without Pirate in it? Dreaming of him brought him to my life, and he taught me how to be brave, how to have fun, how to be in the moment, and how to kick ass. I’m glad I didn’t know how to give up on dreams back then.

However, I’m discovering that it’s never too late to dig up old dreams and assess whether they belong in my present life. Going back to school last year for my Masters taught me that it’s never too late to create new dreams. Getting divorced taught me that it’s always possible to change the direction of my life and really decide who I want to be in the world and how I want to show up in it.

We all need our Palomino Dreams.

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happiness

The summer we ate charcuterie

About 3 weeks ago, while I was up to my eyeballs in my class, I couldn’t figure out what to make for supper. It was hot, I was tired, and I just didn’t want to cook. When the kids were little we used to have “cheese nights”, where we’d spend Friday nights in the kitchen, eating cheese and playing games. So I decided we’d have a “charcuterie board night” and we’d watch a movie while we had supper.

Well, charcuterie board night went over so well we’ve pretty much done that every night since. We are always on the look out for new things to add, and everyone gets to create their own board (plate in our case), and supper has become so much fun.

In the midst of everything else that is going on, Summer 2020 for us will remain the summer we lived on charcuterie boards. Simple, fun enjoyment as a family.

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