happiness

The lion king 

When Jacob was a toddler, his favourite movie was the Lion King. I can’t tell you how many times we sat together and watched Simba and his buddies. Then there were the hours spent reenacting the movie with little action figures. Help me brother was yelled countless times as Scar would fall off the couch or the table. Good times. I love the age the kids are at now, but sometimes I miss the little versions of themselves.

Jacob was home today (PD day made a nice surprise long weekend) and he spent the day relaxing and catching up on his things. I was working in my room and he walked in carrying Ella the FancyTail Cat. He holds her up and starts singing the Lion King song (who knows the words, the tune was right). Anyone who knows Ella the FancyTailed Cat would know that this was not appreciated at all by her, which made it all the more funny for her people. Poor Ella.

What was the true happiness moment though, was seeing my boy being more like his old self. He was happy and more carefree, finding the funny in every day situations. I’m so grateful that as our family stress is decreasing their joy and carefree happiness is returning (I’m sure the same is true for me).

We did a very powerful exercise yesterday on talking with and releasing our fears. It’s similar to the work I do with Asrael, but over the course of the weekend a lot of stuff had come to the surface. I was able to acknowledge things that are blocking me and causing me fear, and to either let them go or to work with them. It’s a tool that I definitely will use not only for myself but with clients as I move ahead. There’s so much junk we are all carrying, and it really takes such little love and kindness to help others begin to release it and embrace the bliss.

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happiness

The quiet times

Today was a beautiful day to welcome in spring. I couldn’t help but think of where I was a year ago today – both physically and emotionally – lots of big changes have happened this year. We were packed and ready to leave our lives in Roanoke, our flight home was a year ago tomorrow. Dad was in the hospital so sick, I was extremely grateful that we were getting home to spend some time with him. I had no idea how intensely emotional the upcoming year was going to be and all that it would bring for me.

It’s had a death,  devastating discoveries about betrayals in a marriage, a divorce, poverty, wealth that has come from within my soul, freedom from an emotionally abusive relationship, security of home, and the discovery that I am so much stronger and so much more together than I ever imagined.  Although it’s been difficult at times, I am grateful for the opportunity to have discovered these gifts that I can now carry with me through the rest of my life. It has made me a better friend, parent, and future partner.

While the kids had one of those golden moment afternoons where they played happily together for hours, I grabbed the dog and took her for a long walk along the ridge. I find such peace there, by the mountains, near Dad, along the trails where I used to ride my horses. It helps me to ground myself and remember what is really important to me. When I look at the things I really want in life, I have them all. Wonderful children – and close, open relationships with them, an awesome family surrounding me, weird and fantastic friends, and this crazy, happy dog (oh and the cats, don’t forget about the cats – I am one cat away from officially being the crazy cat lady). I know that as long as I keep doing the things that I love that everything is going to turn out just fine.

  

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happiness

What is love?

This past year has been filled with so many emotions. The pain and sorrow of losing Dad is still so fresh and there are a lot of mixed up emotions as I work my way through this divorce. 

One thing I do know is that love is the most important thing. I remember feeling in the last few weeks of Dad’s life that all that mattered at the time was love. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me through this year. As long as I’m reaching for love and for happiness everything will be ok. 

It’s easy to get caught up in all the negativity. Today I realized I need to be focused on all the love in my life. And there is so much. We are so blessed to be here in the folds of our family, surrounded by people who love us just because we are us. 

I have a deep love for the animals who are in my life, both past and present. They have always provided me with grounding, security, and the understanding of what pure unconditional love is. All of our pets are rescued and have had less than comfortable starts to their lives. Yet, they love us (and each other) with unfiltered purity. 

We have a beautiful home in which all of us – humans and animals – live with the secure understanding that the love flowing through will always be there – no matter what. 

Today I passed Abu and Aladdin cuddled up together on the couch. I looked at them for quite a while thinking this is what true, pure love looks like. They are so comfortable with each other, it’s difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. My happiness moment – witnessing a quiet moment of love between siblings.

    

      

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happiness

Play fetch with me

Ella the Cat definitely lives life on her own rules. She has a strict close but no touching law that she forces us to abide by. That means we are allowed to be close to her, but we can’t touch her unless she deems it to be acceptable. 

Today she decided it was a day to play fetch. She has many little stuffed mice, but her favourite is a little torn up purple one. Everywhere I went today she followed and dropped the mouse beside me, then looked up with her big eyes, ready to play. She truly plays fetch and runs after the mouse and then brings it back and drops it by me. 

I did 90 minutes of yoga today (yummy) and every time I turned there was that little mouse. Ella climbed all over me meowing as she went play with me!

I did house work and course work and that mouse showed up everywhere I went. 

I am so grateful we attracted her into our lives. She was exactly who we needed (she won’t admit it, but she feels the same).  

  

 Playing with her is very therapeutic, I have to just drop everything and enjoy her having fun. It made for my happiness moment today.  

  

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happiness

Sew it together 

My happiness moment today was being with Jenna and our multi talented friend Alysha while she helped Jenna with her Christmas projects. 

Jenna loves to sew and has been wanting to for so long. Now between her Grandma and Alysha she’s got some wonderful teachers.

This definitely falls under the it takes a village to raise a child motto as this is not a skill she will be learning from her mother. I am so grateful we have this awesome tribe of people around us. 

   

A bonus happiness giggle was when Jenna put down her almost empty glass of eggnog tonight and left the room. Ella the cat thought she was alone in the kitchen so she jumped up on the table and tried to fit her face in the glass for a little drink. When that didn’t work she stuck her paw way down in the glass, scooped up some eggnog and brought her paw up to her mouth for a little lick. She sat by the glass doing this over and over until Jenna came back into the room. Then she hopped off the table and pretended nothing had happened. 

Jacob and I were in the next room howling with laughter.  

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happiness

Be a part of the community, not apart from the community. 

For years we have been on the fringe of the community. Being an introvert, going out and meeting new people is not something that I look forward to, but when you are constantly the new person it’s a trait you have to develop. Even in places where I felt more settled and had more friends, I still felt a bit like an outsider. Perhaps if we had stayed put a bit longer I would have begun to feel more at home, but we were on the move pretty often.

Now that we are back home I notice that not only I, but the kids as well, feel like we are a part of the community. When we go out they see relatives and now friends as well and it gives them the sense of familiarity. Even though this was a “new” house that we moved to, it has so much family history that it gives us all a strong sense of grounding and belonging. I hear the kids talk about how they know they are home here and that they know it because so many of their relatives have also lived in this house.

No matter how independent we like to think we are, I believe that we all need a tribe of people in our lives to help hold us up in hard times and to help us celebrate the good ones. We have that here with family and old friends, but we also have that just by being in our community. I have been so touched by how many people have expressed concern for Jenna while she’s been sick these past few weeks. Those close to us of course keep pretty good tabs on her and are sending her well wishes all the time. But, there are people out in our community, in town, who are just used to seeing us out and about who also come over and express concern and love for her when they hear her coughing away.

The lady at our Save On came over and sat with her and offered her one of her cough drops and to tell her she hoped she was feeling better soon. She came to talk to me after and wanted me to know that she had offered it to Jenna just so I would be aware. I said I had been watching them, and how kind it was that she was showing such concern for my little bean.

Guy, the Guy from Guy’s Cafe spent a long time with us this afternoon writing down his home remedy for colds. He made her laugh and feel more comfortable, which was so kind because she’s so self conscious about her coughing away.

Even though sometimes it seems like we are one wave alone on the ocean, in reality we are all joined together by the depths of the sea. Ella (little miss close-but-no-touching) is learning this lesson as well. She has gone from wanting to kill her new brother and sister, to befriending at least Aladdin and accepting Abu (I think Abu and Ella are friends when we aren’t around though). Today I was sitting on the couch having my tea when I felt Aladdin snake around behind me and lie down. Next thing I knew there was a Fancy Tailed Ella in there cuddled up beside him. This is the first time she’s actually cuddled with one of the cats and it was so cute. Proof that we all need love from each other. No matter how much we think we can, or are told we should do it alone, we are better when we have a tribe of loved ones helping us along.

My happiness moment today is a celebration of being a part of our community. Having loved ones close by, knowing that we will look out for them and they for us. Life is good.

 

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happiness

All you need is love

Love comes in unexpected ways. I think that’s the beauty of it, sometimes it just pops up and finds you when you didn’t even know you were looking for it. Other times it’s a steady stream of emotion that has always been there.

We had love fall into our lives unexpectedly over the summer in the form of brother and sister cats Aladdin and Abu. They came to the Pet Valu in Cochrane to be adopted around the end of May, the same time Dad passed away. We were lost and sad, they were lost and sad… but we already had a dog and a cat who each would have been quite content being the only pets in the family.

Jenna pestered me all summer long to get these cats. I kept coming up with excuses, even though we would have to go visit them almost every other day. Finally towards the end of the summer I told her that if she didn’t fall in love with a cat at the SPCA camp she was going to that I would consider it. She didn’t fall in love at camp. If anything she fell in love harder with her black and white kitties and we had to go visit them every single day after camp.

One day at the end of August, Ella marched into the kitchen and dropped a mouse at my feet. We live in a very old house filled with good sized mouse holes and I decided that was that. Finally we had an excuse, we would apply for the cats. We were approved and before I knew it they were in the house. Ella was furious, any proof that was needed that cats are just mini lions she displayed for us over then next couple of days. Dottie just rolled her eyes and pretended it wasn’t happening.

These cats are so full of love. Abu is the cat Jenna has waited her whole life for. She carries Abu around all over the place and hugs and cuddles her all the time. Abu just sits there cuddled up into Jenna’s lap with a look of contentment.

Aladdin is more social and hangs out with me a lot, but also spends a great deal of time running and playing with Ella. Ella didn’t know how much she needed someone to love until love found her.

These two had to be adopted together because of their bond. And their bond is very apparent. They love each other. More than that they need each other.

My happiness moment today was when Jenna, and later Jacob came downstairs and told me that Abu and Aladdin were lying upstairs holding hands. I was rushing cooking supper, but I stopped and the three of us stood on the stairs for a long time watching them. We quietly talked about how much they loved each other and how sweet it was to see them lying there together.

It made me think of the power of love. How it  was strong enough to stop us in our busy lives to simply stand and witness it. How peaceful and calm it made us feel. How happy and grateful we were to be a part of it.

Love really is the most important thing. All you need is love.

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Security and confidence

Lately I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out my emotions on safety and security, and how that has affected who I am today. I have spent a lot of time feeling unsafe, or like there was a real lack of security in my life. It’s been something I’ve craved and sought after, but I often felt like I was chasing rainbows – hopeful, but uncertain that I would ever reach my desire.

With a lot of work, and a lot of help, I’m finally beginning to realize in my body and soul that I’m safe and that I can be secure. The fact that we are back home and surrounded with love and support of our people has played a huge role in that. Also though, I have been working like a madwoman to release all the old fears and misconceptions and grief I’ve carried along with me for too long.

All of our house pets have been adopted from shelters. They all have had some kind of abuse or neglect before they came to live with us, so they all arrived in the house with a lot of fear and a lack of security.



Over the years I have watched Dottie settle into (kind of) a more normal and calmer version of herself. She’s very attached to me – I am her security blanket if you will – but she’s more trusting and calmer than she was 8 years ago when she first came to live with us. Ella too has calmed into a more secure and loving cat. She’s gone from her strict rule of being “close but no touching”,  to sitting on my keyboard, purring, while I’m trying to type this blog.

Abu and Aladdin were the last members of our little tribe to join us. They both were pretty insecure and fearful when they arrived. They had good reason to feel that way too as their young lives had involved a lot of turmoil. 2 months later I’m seeing that they’re getting more secure and trusting with us.

Having faith and trust in the people (or animals) you live with with is so important. If we can’t feel safe and secure, we don’t have the confidence to spread our wings and fly, we can’t let our guard down and open our hearts to those around us. Feeling safe is, I believe, one of the most important things in life.

Today I was at Jenna’s teacher conferences. One of her goals is to be more confident in school and speak up for herself. I’ve watched how the kids are relaxing into life here and thriving with the sense of security that comes with having a strong support system in our lives. She’s so much more confident and brave than she gives herself credit for, but I was proud of her that that was one of her goals. Making sure we all feel safe and loved is what it’s all about.

My happiness moment today was hearing about what a great job she’s doing at school – how she’s part of the leadership group, how she’s making friends, how she’s starting to feel like she belongs there. My wish for my kids (and me too) is that they spend the rest of their lives feeling safe and secure and loved.

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Home with this cold… Passing time like sand through the hourglass…

Last Friday the kids kindly infected me with the brutal back to school cold that is making the circuit through town. I tried to get better over the weekend but instead got worse (and worse, and worse…)

I had appointments Monday and Tuesday I couldn’t do anything about, but  yesterday and today I was able to cancel all but the most critical things and spend some quality time on the couch feeling like crap and letting my body recover.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a quiet house to myself and not been busy doing the things that need to be done. I’ve discovered some interesting things in this time:

The Golden Girls talk about sex a lot. I don’t remember that from my youth, but it seems as though the entire show is about getting some.

Taking the vacuum to the window and sucking up the hundreds of flies that congregate there is very satisfying. I’ve developed a catch and release program only because I can’t figure out how to off them in the bag.

What was the plot of the movie Cake? I didn’t get it. I mean I mind of did, but I need the for dummies version to explain some things. I will watch any movie with Jennifer Aniston in it.

After 20 years I’ve started caring again (Lord help me) about the goings on in Salem. Kayla and Steve, Justin and Adrian, Jennifer, John and Marlena, Bo and Hope – they’re all back. Oh I love Kayla and Steve…. and maybe since Jack is dead – unless he comes back too- they’ll bring back Frankie for Jennifer  (I’m so ashamed).

While I can usually beat the kids – or hold my own- playing connect 4 on my phone, when I play the computer at any level besides easy it beats me pretty consistently.

The cats lie around and sleep a lot but the poor dog is bored and wants me to walk her.

Mostly I’m just grateful that I’ve had these days to recover and start to get healthy again.

My happiness moment today was as I was getting ready to get the kids up. The sun was waking up as well and when I looked out the east window I saw this:


Life is good, there is so much beauty in the world feeding my soul. That makes for happiness.

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The path of least resistance

Thanks to the incredible generosity of Jacob, Jenna and I have spent the day sniffling into kleenex and croaking through sore throats. The Great Cold of 2015 has officially swept through our house – hopefully to pass out just as quickly.The good thing is that we were all able to stop and rest and allow ourselves to get healthy again.

With this time on my hands today I’ve taken the opportunity (when not engaged in a Golden Girl’s marathon with Jenna) to observe how Aladdin functions in our house. His passiveness, or constantly choosing the path of least resistance is something I’ve noticed about him since the day he came to live with us. He came to us a couple of weeks after I’d gone and listened to a sermon by a cousin of mine on forgiveness. In this talk, she mentioned turning the other cheek and how it is possible to “win” a confrontation by being non-aggressive and non-confrontational.  I understood the concept, but still had some difficulty imagining it working in real life.

Until I met Aladdin. He is a real life lesson in how this is possible and how it works not only for him, but for those who engage with him.

One of his first confrontations was with Dottie the Dotted Dog. She has been well-trained by Ella the Cat that one does not chase the cat. She knows not to chase the cats at my parents’ house, but she was taught by the other dogs here (and her willing spirit) that the barn cats are fair game. When Aladdin came downstairs for the first time he was greeted by a very excited and curious Dottie. Her ears perked up and she bolted over towards him with body language that said cat, cat, I’m going to chase the cat. Run cat, I’m coming for you! Instead of running, which would have been my natural reaction, he simply lay down and rolled on his back.

Dottie didn’t know what to do. She bounded up to him and he just lay there, paws waving in the air, belly exposed. She stood and stared at him, sniffed him, and then backed away with a confused look on her face. The one and only time she’s ever tried to chase him – he ended it by being a pacifist and choosing the path of least resistance.

What the heck?? 
Dottie does not understand this at all   
 He does this wherever he goes. If something startles him instead of growling or hissing or running,  he stops where he is and lies down. He is not a coward at all. In fact I think he’s quite a trusting and  brave (not so) little guy. Both he and Abu had a rough first year and lived in a lot of uncertainty and fear (I know how devastating those emotions can be on a soul). Instead of being a fraidy cat or being an angry cat he just keeps living his life. He’s social and wants to be around us, so he comes out and hangs with us and deals with whatever that situation throws at him. He has decided that he trusts us and so he does, completely and whole-heartedly. I admire that, it takes a great deal of strength to just keep on being who you are and not retaliating to difficult situations with anger and fear.

By watching him I am learning how to deal with situations without using fear, anger, or aggression. He knows how to diffuse a situation by seeming to submit when in reality that is the last thing he is doing. When Dottie approached him it appeared that he submitted to her by lying down and rolling over. What he really did was gain his power in a non-violent manner by diffusing a difficult and stressful situation in an unexpected way. It not only stopped her from chasing him, but in the process he gained her (an my) respect.

I got to spend a lot of time cuddling on the couch with him (and Ella, who has also decided that since he just cozies up to her purring that she may as well be friends with him), while Jenna cuddled with Abu and Dottie ran back and forth. It was a good sick day and we are both feeling a lot better for the fact that we could take the time to rest and get better.

  
Happiness moment was lying on the couch cuddled up with cats and kid watching Golden Girls. As always I am grateful for the time I spend with them and love that the kids want to share their journey with me.

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