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Happy birthday Dad 

Today would have been Dad’s 75th birthday. I haven’t been home to celebrate a birthday with him since he turned 64, and now that I’m here, he’s not. Sigh. Because we celebrated the last 10 birthdays with him over the phone or on Facetime, I wasn’t sure how acutely I would feel him missing here today – that is anymore than any other day. Sometimes my brain convinces my heart that he’s just gone on a trip for a while and I’ll be seeing him soon. Denial, it’s a difficult cloak of protection.

Turns out I miss him quite a lot.

Dad loved going for walks. He was always trying to get someone to go outside and do something with him – walking, skiing, swimming – he just wanted to be outside. Today I wanted to honour his memory by walking along the ridge by our house – one of his favourite places to be. It’s actually one of the spots where we scattered his ashes, and a place where I haven’t been strong enough to walk along since.

Today I knew I needed to walk there. To go to the place that Dad loved so much and where he found so much peace.

I stood at the spot where we had scattered his ashes. I cried for a long time. Thank goodness it’s a beautiful, warm November day or my tears would have frozen on my face and that would have made a sad situation an awkward one as well. I stood and cried and looked out at the view and just let all my emotions flow. It was both really hard and really easy. I had a lot of clarity come to me in those minutes I stood there thanking Dad for all that he had given to me.

Dad was always so good about making sure that I knew that he loved me no matter what. I never had to worry that I would ever do something that would make his love for me falter in any way. As I go through life and realize that so much of what is called love is conditional it gives me an even greater appreciation for this pure and true emotion of love. What a gift to have, what a gift to give.

I stood there and thanked God for the beautiful place we live in. Dad wanted to spend eternity in the spots he loved so deeply and being there brought me such peace and comfort.

the view along the ridge where we scattered the ashes

I walked for a while with my Dotted Dog and her Naughty Puppy Friend before getting a text from Jacob that he was on his way. He walked up and joined us and we walked the rest of the ridge together.

It was so calm and warm. It felt beautiful to have the sun shine its healing rays on us while we walked and laughed over memories of Dad. The kids miss him so deeply, he was such an important force in their lives. 

Last year at Christmas Dad and I walked the ridge and for some reason decided to stop and take our first ever (and what ended up being our only) selfie. It was the last walk I took with Dad, even though I didn’t know that at the time. We had such a deep, spiritual conversation – I’m so thankful we had the time for those kinds of moments.

omg it was so cold that day

Jacob and I stopped at the same place today and took our own selfie in memory of Dad. I think he would have really liked that we were out there together remembering him. 

After I was back home, I was sitting at the table with Jenna talking about Dad. She leaned over and petted my arm and said “I bet you really miss him today”. Then she said “If it makes you feel any better, while you were out on your walk I went up to my bedroom and sang him happy birthday” and then she burst into tears. So, we sat at the table and cried for a little while. Then we found a video that she and I had made last year on his birthday wishing him a happy day. We cried some more. We did manage to keep talking through our memories until we found some that made us feel better. There are lots of good memories.

I’m pretty lucky because I had a Dad who loved life and loved to pull us into it at full force. Even when I’m sure he wasn’t interested in what I was doing he was always there to listen to me and to talk about things or to watch me do things (the hours that man spent at the side of a riding ring watching me go round and round on my horse. Both my parents spent ages in the heat or (usually) the cold watching me ride).

I work hard at continuing to walk through my grief. I miss him like crazy, but I know he would want us to jump into life with everything we have, without fear. I don’t want to deaden my emotions, I want to feel them deeply and breathe through the tough ones. If I don’t feel the sad emotions, I also won’t feel the joyful emotions. I am on this happiness journey and Dad has been a big part of that. I find happiness in new experiences and I find happiness in memories. As proof of that, my happiness moment today included remembering all the love and fun times shared with Dad, and also experiencing fun times with Jacob (and those crazy dogs) on our walk. There is more tearful happiness to come tonight as my sister and her family join us for a family supper at home.

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Yoga for the soul 

Discovering yoga was one of the best things that has happened to me. I consider myself very lucky because I have had wonderful people come into my life to guide my practice.

When we lived in Quebec, the mom of one of Jacob’s friends opened a yoga studio. She taught a wonderful gentle yoga class that was exactly what my body needed. She was so kind and welcoming, it made it such a safe and loving way to begin my practice.

When we moved to Rhode Island, my husband gifted me a weekend at Kripalu which was where I fell madly and deeply in love with how yoga made me feel. Kripalu yoga is exactly the kind of yoga I need to do. it does not care that I carry so much tension, or that I am not flexible, or that I am self-conscious.  It is slow and gentle, it is built on compassion, and for me it is very spiritual. The only other thing that has brought me closer to God is time on the back of a horse.

Sometime after I began my studies with New World Ayurveda, they started offering Healing Light Yoga Therapy. It was my first introduction to Asrael, who has become a very important guide and mentor. The sixth session of yoga classes began last weekend, and I was finally able to do the recorded version this morning.

It’s a pretty cool way to do a yoga class, she leads it online and we follow along at home. There is an amazing feeling of being bonded to the other people in the class even though many miles separate us. That energy knows no bounds. There’s a recorded version on their website so if you miss the live class (like I did) then you can do it at your own convenience.

I was thinking about what these classes have done for me. When I first started my anxiety was so intense I could barely function. I was actually really happy that the yoga class was online. Aside from the fact that it made it easier to fit into the day (with two kids and a busy schedule), being in the comfort of my own room meant that my general anxiety was lessened. Of course I was soon to discover that Asrael’s voice is it’s own kind of valium for calming my stress. My cat Ella agrees, anytime she hears her voice she comes and purrs beside the computer or the phone – which strongly violates her don’t let people know I like them rule.

Now I go for long periods (I mean usually days) where I don’t even remember that anxiety played such a huge role in my life. Before this it was an issue that had brought me to my knees and affected every single thing I did in my life.  A lot of factors have come into play to help with my healing – a big portion coming from my Ayurveda studies, my private sessions with Asrael, and these yoga classes.

I do practice my own breathing to calm and ground myself, but it so much easier for me to get to that groovy feeling when I am being guided. I was so happy today when I was lying on my mat and being reminded of how to take the big healing breaths.

This type of yoga is one that nourishes my soul. It feeds me on all levels and I consider it one of the most important parts of my healing and my growth. It’s not always easy, sometimes really yucky things get released, but it is always worth it. It may take a bit of time, but there is always a good feeling – right to the core of my being – that comes from these classes.

Today my happiness moment was lying on that mat breathing healing light into my soul.
Photo from the New World Ayurveda Healing Light Yoga Therapy site

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The digestive fire

  
Jacob: bwaahaaaa Jenna, I made your water gross. I put in mostly hot and then some cold so it’s a disgusting warm temperature. 

Jenna: that’s ok. That’s how I like it. 

Me: exactly. That’s how I do her water every morning. 

Jenna: yes. Because cold water isn’t good for you – right mom?

Me: right. It puts out your Agni – remember?- your digestive fire. 

Jenna: oh yeah. What’s your digestive fire do again?

Jacob: it ignites your farts. 

And then we all fall down laughing. It was my happiness moment, but I’m also happy that they have paid at least minimal attention to all of my talking about Ayurveda. Although like any good teenage boy, he had to turn the conversation to farting. 

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In Flanders Fields

  
The poem In Flanders Fields has always tugged at my heartstrings. I didn’t have grandparents or great grandparents who fought in the war, but I was brought up being very aware of the sacrifices that soldiers made for our country, and I have a great amount of gratitude. 

My elementary school did an excellent job of explaining Remembrance Day to us kids. They brought in soldiers who had fought and they told us their stories. They brought in holocaust survivors who told their stories and who showed us their tattoos (that visual was pretty powerful and has stayed with me all these  years later).  

In university I studied Canadian history and learned more about Canada’s role during the world wars. My appreciation for those who left and fought for our freedom grew, as it did for those who stayed and grew food (my family) or supported the war on the Homefront in other ways. 

During the time we lived in the states I got to know quite a few families who had loved ones fighting now, and I became very aware of the fears, love, pain, and pride that was felt by their families. 

This is the first Remembrance Day that the kids remember honouring in Canada. It’s been moving to see how it has touched them, especially Jacob. I am so happy and grateful to live in this blessed and beautiful country. I am grateful for all of those who have given their lives so we can live in safety and peace. My happiness moment. 

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The world is glittering 

Although I am more a warm weather person than a cold weather person, I love a quiet winter morning after a fresh snow. A close second to that is a crisp winter morning after Jack Frost has been out playing. 

My happiness moment today was my morning school commute. I’m always grateful that our drive is on my favorite road, this morning it was a stunning view with the trees covered in hoar frost. 

We had to pull over and breathe in the morning energy.  

 

I wanted to stop on the hill before home and take a photo. The whole field was lit up with glitter frost and the mountains were sharp and clear in the background. Unfortunately there was no place to pull off and I was being followed by a tanker truck, so I took a mental photo instead. 

The yard however made up for it. Sparkles everywhere while the sun shone happily down on us all.   

 
I am so grateful we live here surrounded by such beauty. It’s good for the soul. 

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Who has your back?

  
The past couple of years I’ve made a very focused effort to surround myself with the kind of people who have my back. I finally realized how important it is to have people in my life who hold me up and make me a better person. Its made me become strong enough to help others and have their backs too. It’s been amazing since I’ve made that my mindset how people who love and support not just me, but the kids as well, have appeared in our lives. 

Jacob has a teacher who is one of these special people. The three of us (with some help from the assistant principal) have been working hard to stop this Caillou name calling, bullying issue at school. Finally it seems we have some resolution. The kid has been moved away from Jacob in class, there has been no more teasing, things are settling down. 

This teacher has really stepped up and it is so impressive how she’s making sure Jacob feels safe and secure at school. I’m so glad she is there and that he was comfortable enough with her to reach out to her for help. 

My happiness moment today was when Jacob jumped into my car with a huge smile on his face. All the way home he chattered happily about his day and the things that happened at school. It’s been a long time since he’s been so carefree and light hearted about school. Warms my heart. 

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Sunday supper

It’s been years since Sunday supper was a thing in our household. A lot of the time it felt like we spent the evening preparing for the stress of the week instead of celebrating the end of the weekend. 

Since coming home again, we have had a lot more occasions to celebrate weekends, or Holidays, or sometimes just Tuesdays. 

Tonight we had an impromptu family supper up at my cousin’s place. It was more like a feast actually – roast beef (beef from the cattle they raise with tender loving care) and all the fixin’s. Easy and fun conversation around the dinner table with grandparents and aunts and uncles and parents cousins and kids. We had the  whole multi generational thing going on. 

We are so incredibly blessed to live where we do with the family and love and support wrapped securely around us. Being safe and happy in the arms of our home. My happiness moment today. 

Home is where my heart is.   

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Sushi party 

15 years ago when I was pregnant with Jacob we joined a birth and babies class through the hospital. For the first year after the babies were born most of us got together weekly for a baby group, we did baby swimming lessons together, and we had a massive baby’s first birthday party. 

All these years later there are two families that we have reconnected with. Tonight we got together for a make your own sushi party   

All the prep work was done by our gracious hosts before we arrived and all we had to do was sit, roll, laugh, and eat. It was a fantastic way to have a dinner party. 

We laughed and ate and laughed and ate and when we were too full to eat, we played Apples to Apples and laughed and played and laughed some more. 

There were tears shed, both from accidential wasabi overdoses and from laughter. 

What a great happiness moment. It is such a blessing to have friends back in our lives and to have people to laugh with.    
 

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The door to heaven 

Jacob has been struggling with his relationship with God lately. I think it’s partly his age, partly the grief of losing his grandpa, and partly learning religion in his Catholic school when he’s been raised Anglican/Lutheran. 

Yesterday we stood in the parking lot of Save On, looking at the sunset, and talking about it looking like the door to heaven opening. On the way home I had my own personal confirmation from the heavens that I was on the right path. Little did I know last night when I went to sleep that our sunset miracles were far from finished. 

Jacob woke up this morning as bright eyed as he’s been in ages. He told me that he hadn’t prayed in a long time, but before he went to sleep he had prayed for two things. He prayed to be able to talk to his grandpa one more time, and he prayed for proof that God was real. 

He said last night he had a dream that he walked over to my parents’ house and my dad was waiting there for him. They hugged and then Jacob asked his grandpa a bunch of questions about how he was doing, what it was like and other things. This alone makes me happy as my dad came to me once in a dream not too long after he died, and all I did was yell at him that if he could appear in a dream I wanted him back in real life. 

I’ve  had Jacob tell me the whole story several times today and every time it’s the same thing with the same small details. Like how God has a calm and gentle voice that makes everyone who hears him lose all their stress and worry. Or how his grandpa lives in a house exactly like his old one here and he still sees all the alive people in the house. 

There was a lot more, Jacob walked around the house with grandpa who explained to him how he was able to be there and not be there at the same time. He talked to him about heaven and about God. Jacob is in the process of writing all this down and I will let him tell his story in it’s entirety when he’s finished. 

On the way into school Jacob was once again telling me  his dream and he said I had my prayers answered.  I got to talk to grandpa again, and I now know for absolute certainty that God is real. 

  

What a miracle. I’m still processing it all. 

My happiness moment was watching The Book of Life this evening with the kids. We didn’t know what it was about, but it actually tied in nicely with Jacobs dream and celebrating the memory of those who have passed on. The kids both really enjoyed it, and I love hearing those belly laughs. 

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My Inukshuk. My path. 

The traditional meaning of the Inukshuk is someone was here, or you are on the right path

I spent some time today doing some energy work with Asrael. I always feel so much better after our sessions, but today seemed even more powerful. All things Ayurveda are helpful with my healing. 

Lately I’ve been working on the art of allowing  in my life. I’ve spent years either making things happen by sheer force of will, or denying myself things because I felt I didn’t deserve them. Now I’m learning to allow good things into my life. 

We spent some time today talking about this path that I’m on. I told her about all my doubts and fears and how even with those that  I have the strong feeling that I’m doing exactly what I should be doing. 

 I remind myself to have faith and to listen to that part of my soul that knows I’m doing the right thing. I can feel it, I just have to trust and honour it. I’m doing the right thing, no matter how  anyone else feels about it, or what that tiny voice of doubt says. What I’m doing is healing my soul and that has value. 

Tonight Jacob and I were driving home from school at sunset time. He told me how how school had been all lit up in the sunshine while there were clouds everywhere else. I told him how it was snowing at home. 

When we looked west there was a brilliant yellow sun shining bright and clear rays down on the foothills (by our home). I told Jacob it looked like the door to heaven was open and Grandpa was watching us. He agreed and said he could feel him around. It was like Dad had heard us talking this morning about how much we were missing him. 

As we drove on the backroad home the sunset changed into this 

   
 
An Inukshuk shining brightly in the sky. A sign from the heavens that I’m on the right path. This has been my year of miracles and spiritual guidance. I’m grateful I’m not walking this path alone. My happiness moment. My life. 

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