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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m sitting at the car dealership waiting for my car to get diagnosed – I’m pretty sure my battery is dead.
How do I know this?
On Wednesday I drove it, let it sit (turned off, in park, doors closed, lights off etc) for an hour while I went riding and then it was dead.
My lovely friend and riding instructor helped me jump it and off I went. Except that when I got home the same thing happened – dead car. So, in order for me to get here I had to call my cousin’s husband (poor man, he’s so good to us) and ask for help. He was unavailable so he sent one of the ranch guys over to give me a hand.
We are not supposed to have to do everything alone, I am so thankful for my tribe. They help keep me moving ahead.
It’s easy to find the negative and dwell there. But it’s not where peace and happiness live. The one thing I know for sure is that I’m not giving up on myself, I’m not giving up on my kids. But I know that to get through things we need to support ourselves, each other, and those around us. Really – a little kindness goes a long way.
These last few weeks have been a little rough. The end of May meant that it had been 5 years since Dad died and I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing him. Even more than I miss him for myself, I miss him for my kids – they still needed him.
It also marked 5 years since his funeral, which was the last time I or the girl saw Mr. X. The boy saw him one time a year later in a therapy session that went horribly wrong and neither kid has any contact with him at all since. My kids deserved better, so did I. Such is life.
But more than I regret what Mr. X won’t do, I miss what my dad was so wanting to give them. He wanted to be an active part of their lives, he wanted to provide guidance and love and protection. He wanted to see them both fail and succeed and watch how they learned from both.
My dad really was an exceptional man. He was involved in our lives, and he was a master at being fully present and doing what we were interested in. It’s a skill I admired about him, one that I strive for while I’m raising my family.
Now when I see sunflowers I associate them with Dad. I happened to be out on the anniversary of his funeral and came across a giant pot of sunflowers that was calling out to me to come home. So it did. Now when I look out of the kitchen window I am greeted with a bunch of bright sunshine-y yellow faces smiling in at me. It brings me joy and peace, and while I miss him, I know that he gave me all the tools I need to know how to get through things.
I know I can’t be that for my kids, but I sure hope his influence shines through in what I do.
Years ago, one of the schools that I subbed at had a saying that it wasn’t “practice makes perfect”, rather it was “perfect practice makes perfect”.
I had a riding lesson earlier this week and it was awful. He doesn’t like to bend, and when we get into it he throws his shoulder out, his head up, and I lose him to the outside. What that means is that as I get to one particular corner, he won’t turn, and tries to mow me into the end of the arena.
Now to be fair, he’s broke to death and about the kindest horse I’ve ridden, so I don’t feel like I’m in danger, but as we are barreling towards the end of the arena my brain has panic moments.
My panic moments are really what screws me up – I start messing around with the reins and that makes things so much worse. I get focused on the end of the arena, instead of focusing on where I am at that moment and what I can do to change things.
So this lesson…. what we ended up doing was send Melissa and horse into the corner over and over ( and over and over and over) with my instructor explaining to me in various ways what I needed to do.
What I did was get frustrated. Like so frustrated I wanted to just stop and cry. I was like – I’m 49 years old. I’ve been riding since I was in diapers aside from the years I couldn’t ride when I was married. Why the f*ck can’t I get this well broke, well mannered horse to turn the damn corner??? So my instructor proved to me that I was wrong and that in fact, if I kept practicing and working I could do it.
You see, my corner issue comes from a lifetime of bad riding habits that I’ve picked up. Ones that were helpful to me when I was riding less broke horses, but really are just getting in the way of me being able to have a good ride now.
Much like life. I have some old habits that I’ve developed that were needed to keep me safe when I wasn’t. But that now are kind of getting in my way.
It’s hard to let go of old habits. Particularly when they’re ones that were developed to keep you safe.
However, if I want to enjoy the horse I’m riding NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of riding.
If I want to enjoy the life I have NOW, I have to develop new, better, healthier ways of living.
And this is where perfect practice comes into play. Practicing over and over – whether it’s on horseback or in life. Practice, practice, practice to change the old habit and replace it with a new one.
Over and over, until the skill is mastered.
Then a new challenge will present itself and I will start again with that one.
The wild beast – as you can see he’s a gentle soul and omg I love him.
Mother’s Day can be a weird one for me. It’s my third one since Mom died and that still pings my heart a bit. As a single mom it puts stress on my kids to figure out how/what to get me. And with us staying home because of Covid, I’d decided to just have a quiet day at home.
Really, I don’t feel that mothers (or fathers) need one day to be celebrated. We should show our appreication to those we love every day of the year, and I truly feel appreciated by my kids.
Oddly enough, today was one of the best Mother’s Days I’ve had. I did a few hours of homework, I tried to do yoga and when my kids didn’t leave me alone I turned that time into “let’s clean the house and get chores done” time. We ended the day with a family supper and watching some tv.
The Christmas before Mom died I learned a lesson that I had only held as a theory before. We shut everything down and just spent the holiday together – me, my kids, my mom, and one of her caregivers. It also was one of the best Christmases I’ve had.
The lesson? I really don’t need more than those who I love near me in order to be happy. All of the other things are just icing on the cake. And don’t get me wrong, good icing is important – but it needs the foundation of the cake.