happiness

Little Abu

We had a health emergency with little Abu yesterday that put us all in a small state of panic (she’s going to be ok). Abu is Aladdin’s sister and littermate, they lived together with their mom in the abandoned house before they were rescued, to say she was bonded to him is an understatement.

Man, it was hard taking her to the same clinic where we let Aladdin go to his happy hunting grounds, I cried during her intake.

But you know, little Abu is a trooper. Besides the emergency, it turns out she’s in great health, and she won over the hearts of the kind people looking after her.

Abu may not have bonded with the other cats quite the way I’d have thought, she didn’t really need to since she had Aladdin. But, she has developed a strong bond with her two giant canine friends. I think they knew something was up because they both spent some extra time with her yesterday. It’s quite cute to see this little round ball of cat fur all curled up beside one of her dog friends.

The power of love is quite incredible. Us humans love Abu to bits, but our animals have these profound relationships with each other that I learn so much from.

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happiness

Opportunities for mindfulness

This week I am co-leading a group on mindfulness for my master’s program. Although the intention of mindfulness is to bring peace to your soul, I have been so stressed about leading this group!!!

My partner lives in China which is a challenge because of the 13 hour time difference, and so far I’ve been pretty much flying solo (although we did most of the prep work together).

Here’s what I’m discovering. The last 10 years of working on myself, including developing a (fairly inconsistent lately) meditation practice are really helping me. I know a lot more about mindfulness than I give myself credit for.

Also, I’m much more comfortable in the role of leader than I thought I would be. My years as a substitute teacher help me to be able to change lesson plans on the fly to meet the needs of the participants.

While preparing for these sessions, I’ve recommitted to my meditation practice and I’m noticing a huge decrease in stress over the last couple of weeks.

I feel that meditation and mindfulness helps me kind of reset my soul, which is a game changer when the anxiety or whirling thoughts kicks in.

I do a good job of talking to God, but not so much of listening. Meditation is my time to listen.

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happiness

Step into mindfulness

I’m co-facilitating a mindfulness group this week for one of my classes. I’m feeling thankful it’s on mindfulness as the closer we get to the start date the more anxious I get.

This preparation work has helped me appreciate how far I’ve come since the first time I attempted meditation about 9 years ago. I was so anxious, so stressed, and trying to calm my nervous system actually made more anxious. It was something I really struggled with for a long time, and still do in many ways. It’s so easy to fall out of the habit of practicing, when it really is essential for me to meditate every single day.

I can feel the benefits, it starts to create more space in my head, and in that space, there’s less room for anxious thoughts to roam. Learning to train my brain has been probably the most challenging task I’ve ever attempted, but the rewards in even doing it imperfectly are worth it.

For me, the number one tool in my mindfulness kit is my meditation practice. I know there are countless other methods to mindfulness, and I fully embrace many of them. But I need the moments of meditation to bring me to a quiet place so I can hear God talk. I do a really good job of telling God how I want things to be, but not such a great one of listening (mostly because I have an idea of how I want the answer to come and it very rarely shows up exactly how I want).

I’m both excited and nervous for this upcoming week. I’ve learned so much in the last year and a half and come so far – I had no idea how much this process would change me and I am incredibly grateful that I’ve had this opportunity to get to understand how my brain works a bit better.

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happiness

Precious friend, precious memory

Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a true friend arrive in our lives. I’ve had a “bonus cousin” for about 25 years who is this wonderful soul who not only married my cousin, but became like family and a true soul friend to me almost the moment we met.

Yesterday I finally managed to drag myself to the vet clinic to pick up Aladdin’s ashes. I had a long talk with myself and “self” agreed that I could handle the emotions of it and everything would be fine.

Self lied

I was doing really well as I was standing in line at reception, I even let a lady go ahead of me who was carrying a large feed bag. I visited with the doggies who were coming in, I felt ok.

Then it was my turn and I blubbered out that I needed to pick up my ashes and then awkwardly stood there and cried while she went to the back to get them. Interesting note, crying with a mask on is just a disgusting mess of boogers and tears that run rampant all over my face.

I got home, cried again a little bit, and then started making supper. As I was cooking the doorbell rang and it was this soul friend standing at my door.

She’d had a portrait of Aladdin made for me because she knew how much I loved him and how I missed him. I burst into tears, she got a bit watery around the eyes, and I blubbered away about how much I appreciated the painting and the love behind it.

The kids have suggested the portrait go in our “hall of fame” which consists of photos of all of my grandparents, and somehow a portrait of little Melissa (not sure how I made the hall of fame, but I’ve always secretly loved it).

I will never forget Aladdin, but I also will never forget the love that went behind this gift. I will treasure it forever.

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happiness

Mini spa day

The mountains called us yesterday and we answered. I can’t remember the last time we actually went out and did something, the weather was nice, and the highway was empty. It was the perfect day to head to Banff.

I love Banff, but it does have a tendency to get a bit busy – the price of a resort town – and the busy is sometimes what makes it fun for people. I, however, love the days when I manage to get there and it’s quiet like it was yesterday. The sun was out, people were smiling, it was just what we needed.

I’d run out of hand sanitizer, so we went into the Rocky Mountain Soap Company because it’s one of my favourite stores, but also because it’s their hand sanitizer that many of the shops use in Banff and I already knew my hands liked their product.

Because of COVID rules, only a few people are allowed in the store at a time, and we were there when we were the only ones (lucky us). The lady working brought us over to the sinks, showed us their hand cleaning products, and allowed us to spend some time giving ourselves a little hand scrub that ended up feeling like a mini spa day.

There was something about the wonderful smells in the store, and the quiet moment we had of washing our hands that was so soothing and relaxing. The lady working there provided us with such a calm environment it made me remember why it’s one of my favourite stores.

Then we wandered the streets of Banff, just enjoying being out of the house, seeing people smiling, the blue sky, and the mountains – I love our mountains.

It really was a perfect day. I’m so grateful for this life.

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happiness

Signs from above

I woke up this morning to find my facebook feed was filled with photos from last night’s Northern Lights. I love watching the lights dance across the sky, and usually get myself out of bed to see them when I know they’re out. Somehow, last night I missed the memo and was soundly asleep while the lights danced.

One lady took some absolutely amazing photos and I’d like to share them.

I see an angel, what do you see?
Here’s the rest of her pics along with her name for credit

The universe does some pretty cool stuff. How blessed are we that we are here to experience it!!!

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happiness

Aladdin

I can barely stand to write this, we lost the beautiful soul that is Aladdin over the weekend.

Within days of dad dying, the kids and I went into Pet Valu in Cochrane to grab food for our dog and cat. The girl saw this beautiful bonded pair waiting to be adopted and immediately asked me if we could adopt them. I said no, partly because we would then have three cats which seemed like too many (haha I had no idea what was coming down the line), and secondly because I didn’t want to make any major decisions while I was grieving.

For the next three months, at least once a week, the girl found one reason or another to take me into the store and look at her cats. I even put her in a camp at the SPCA and told her if she found ONE cat that she liked we would adopt it.

Instead I would pick her up from camp and go see Aladdin and Abu at Pet Valu.

One day, as the weather was changing, a mouse ran across the floor of our old house. On that day I agreed to pick up the duo and our lives changed for the better.

When Aladdin came to live with us, he didn’t know really how to “cat”. They’d been left in an abandoned house with their mother for God knows how long before they were rescued. He didn’t know how to cuddle, he didn’t really know how to accept love.

But he knew how to give love. And he gave it in spades. And as time went on, he learned how to cuddle, found his purr box, and learned to accept the love that we showered on him, in the same way that he loved us.

I had a strict “no cats in my bed” policy. But as soon as Aladdin came to live with us, he decided his spot was on the bed, right between my feet. That is where he’s slept for the last 5.5 years and now there’s a big empty space where he is supposed to be.

If the other cats got into spats with each other, he was the one who came running to make them stop. If one of us was sad, he would come and sit on our lap until we felt better. Wherever he went he radiated love.

Aladdin means “nobility of faith” or “servant of Allah” and so his name is fitting for the soul that he was.

I feel like none of the words I use to describe him do even the littlest bit of justice to celebrate who he was. I am absolutely gutted and devastated by the loss of this gentle fur ball of love.

Aladdin (in front) with his sister Abu
To say they were a bonded pair would be an understatement
He even taught prickly old Ella to love
And they quickly became friends
We had a whole “Aladdin crew” with Abu and Jasmine

I hope he knows how much he was loved.

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happiness

The Next 50 years

Yesterday I marked a half century on this planet. Incredible to me since I’m still trying to figure out how to be an adult, but there you have it.

Seriously though, I am so grateful to be here, to be healthy, and to be finally figuring myself out and learning to let crap go and enjoy life. I’m actually very happy to be 50.

I was reminded of how loved I am yesterday. Birthdays are the best day to be on Facebook for all the wonderful messages. My sister levelled it up one and had friends and family send her letters for me to read which melted my heart (and made me cry a little bit). She and her family also gave me a little robot, and once I figure out how to get it running (old age problems haha), I will be terrorizing my pets with it.

The girl made me a beautiful pendant out of rose quartz. The boy made me his (getting) famous Beef Wellington. A cousin stopped by with “holy crap you’re 50” signs and a present and some flowers. I had a lovely text chat with an aunt, and one today with a “lifer” friend (as she puts it).

I am so grateful for this life. I’ve promised myself that in this next chapter I will be the author of my own story. And I’m excited to write it.

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happiness

Christmas Eve 2020

This afternoon I had a lovely chat with an old family friend. For as long as I can remember our families spent Christmas together, and the season doesn’t feel right unless we touch base even though we’ve not been able to spend the day together for a couple of years.

At the end of our talk I told her how glad I was that she’d called and how it didn’t feel like Christmas unless we’d made contact. She agreed with me and said that was one of the beautiful things about this time of the year – we spend time with the people who we truly know and love and it grounds us and reminds us of who we really are and of what‘s important. I couldn’t agree more.

The monsters and I enjoyed our Christmas Eve tradition (without the church part) by having a fondue pig out and watching their favourite Christmas Movie – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

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happiness

Gingerbread Houses 2020

Gingerbread houses have always been a big deal in our house, which is not to be confused with us being good at decorating them. When the kids were little I found a great kit at the Whole Foods in RI that we’d bake and decorate, then later they made ready baked ones which made things easier. Those kits would get packed in our suitcase and travel home to Alberta with us so we could build with cousins and grandparents.

This year the boy had the Millennium Falcon, the girl had an Oreo cookie house, and I had a Troll Doll village. Just in case anyone is wondering, the Troll Doll village is the lowest quality crap house I’ve ever bought.

So, as I was struggling with my house, discovering none of the walls and roofs lined up, that some of them were missing from the box, and that the whole thing was made of such poor quality cookie it kept crumbling, the kids started laughing at my village. At one point I got so frustrated with a house that I may have punched it out (which felt great), and it ended up in the trash. When I was done, the kids announced that it looked like Santa’s crack village.

And that’s when things became fun. The girl made Christmas Trees that looked like the Pillsbury Dough Boy had diarrhea, the boy laid out Santas along the path, unable to get themselves home. Then the girl decided she didn’t want her Oreo house next to Santa’s crack house, so she started building a wall… out of Santas… to protect her home.

By the time we were done, the houses still looked like crap, but we were laughing, covered in icing, and quite pleased with ourselves. For me, this is the magic of the gingerbread house. We have very little skill, and rely on having good quality houses (not this year), and a ton of extra candy to create yards for our houses. But no matter how bad we are, or how bad the houses are, we laugh and truly enjoy the moment.

While the Falcon was easy, it was pretty plain
The crack village and the wall
Apparently this Santa is breaking in looking for candy

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