happiness

Where were you when you heard the news?

I was sitting in Tulip Room 2 with my girl waiting for a doctor appointment. I had left my phone in the car and was just sitting there when her phone buzzed. She looked down and casually said “the Queen is dead” and I promptly burst into tears.

A few minutes later we could hear two women talking about the Queen’s passing. We couldn’t make it all out but they were clearly upset and sharing some of their memories of her. When my doctor came into the room it was the first thing we spoke about and it turned out that it had been her processing the death.

Those of you who know me may remember that I fell madly in love with Lady Diana before she married Charles and my love and respect for the People’s Princess carries on today. I’ve also had a lot of respect and admiration for Queen Elizabeth. No matter the situation, she has always conducted herself like royalty, I’ve never heard anything bad said from her or about her (not saying there isn’t anything – but really if there is it must be fairly uncommon – her children are another matter).

Lately I’ve said that the only thing that would be worse than the Queen dying is him becoming king, and with that her becoming queen consort. Bleh. Mostly it’s just that I don’t like how they were dirty with Diana.

And it was pretty much the same thing my doctor said – she just said it with more kindness than I just did. Really upset about the Queen, but even more upset that she was going to now be called queen. Then we had a long and lovely talk about how much we both loved Princess Diana. Finally my girl understood what I was saying when I said that there were so many of us in my generation who loved the People’s Princess.

I’ve loved the Queen too – for all of my life. And I sure will miss her. I will miss her class and grace. I will miss the way she kind of reminded me of my Auntie Mary who is also gone, and who also made it to a lovely old age (95). I am grateful though that I was given the opportunity to process the information of her passing with an adult whom I trust and admire and respect. It was very meaningful to be able to share our memories of both the Queen and Princess Diana with each other.

God Save the Queen.

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happiness

Struttin’

This is first and foremost a happiness blog. 8.5 years ago in one of my darkest times I started looking for moments of happiness in my world. Sometimes it was really hard for me to find even one thing that made me happy in a day – often it was seeing Henry the Heron on my walks – but I made a point of continuing to seek a moment that brought me joy. Eventually my life started getting better and better. Then it got worse. Then it got better again. And so it goes with life. Up and down and sideways. But always back to happiness. My understanding of happiness has deepened and changed over the years, but at the end of the day – those things that bring a legitimate smile to my face are still moments of happiness.

Enter TikTok

Yes, I know- I’m too old for TikTok. My kids banned me from it for ages, just like they did with Snapchat. But at some point this summer TikTok found me and we have been friend ever since.

Good thing or else I wouldn’t know about 🎵corn🎵.

Even better (in my opinion) is Thumpasaurus and their song Struttin. Not only is their own video hilarious, but tons of other people are also posting their Struttin’ videos. And now every single morning the first thing I do when I get up is sit and watch a couple of Struttin’ videos and laugh and smile and then I’m ready for the day. Ok, sometimes I also watch some Corn videos, and that guy Max who spent all his money at Disney (gosh he’s funny).

Today I was able to make my own public happiness moment as Bear the Dog (who is very shy and generally stays off social media) gave me the perfect Struttin’ video. And so I have officially joined the world of TikTok as more than an observer – I am now a participant. Or I should say, Bear is.

https://vm.tiktok.com/ZMNKkGAgy/

This seems to be the only way I can get the link to work – but I highly recommend watching Bear strut (you need the volume on) for a smile.

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happiness

SIBO: Inflammation

Well the good news is I’m feeling much better than I have been – both during my horrid shake drinking episode and the weeks that preceded that. Unfortunately I’m still feeling pretty crappy – but I’ll take it compared to where I’ve been

I saw my naturopath the other day to assess were we are at and figure out what to do moving ahead. His concern is that I seem to still have a lot of inflammation. I agree- I can feel it throughout my body. And I’m so, so, so tired from all of this.

The inflammation part I am kind of curious about. I think I’ve had inflammation in my body for years- decades. And on a side note, I think I’ve had some pretty intense food intolerances that have periodically created inflammation as well as other things since I was a little kid. But I’ve had a few weird inflammation flare-ups in the last 20 years or so. After I had the boy my tailbone became so sore I couldn’t sit for 2.5 years. It was awful – I sought help everywhere you could think of and had some pretty amazing professionals on my side. But I couldn’t seem to get the pain to go away, until finally it did and I immediately got pregnant with the girl (no tailbone pain with her fortunately). Years later I had plantar fasciitis for almost 2 years – that was awful as I could barely walk. I worked for a long time with my chiropractor and eventually it went away too. Not too long after that, I developed a frozen shoulder and could barely move that arm for almost a year. But then I left my marriage and so many of those issues went away. I figured it was extreme stress that brought on many of my physical issues.

I still think a lot of this is brought on by stress. Life (thank Goodness) has been a lot more quiet the last couple of years, but I’m still processing and recovering from the shitstorm that we walked through and apparently that is also what my body is doing. I’m learning how to have a better relationship with myself, learning kindness, learning to rest (as opposed to sitting and stressing and calling that rest), and deepening my relationship with the Divine.

Whatever this is that I’m going through I feel like I’ll be a happier and much more complete human when I reach the other side- but damn this has been a long journey. I’m really grateful for all the people I’ve got in my life who share their love and support. I haven’t talked recently about my “tribe”, but I continue to feel very blessed and thankful for the people who God has put in my life.

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happiness

Sibo: ElementALL Biological Diet

I have the best naturopath. I had an appointment on Wednesday to go in and discuss the sibo flare up that I have been struggling with. It had been a good 10 days of pretty intense pain and feeling generally unwell, and while I had been able to go through the notes of past sessions and find a few herbs to help relieve symptoms somewhat I was still in dire need of help.

So when I got the call that my naturopath was sick and couldn’t see me that day I almost cried. I actually did start crying when they said the next available appointment was in 2 weeks. But instead of shutting down, which was my normal behaviour in the past, I told the receptionist exactly what was going on and asked if there was any way she could ask my Dr if he had any advice.

After the call I had a little pity party. Actually, it was like I split into two people – PityPartyMelissa and NewAndImprovedMelissa. PPM was all “see, this is why we never count on anyone for anything, everyone ends up abandoning us, you can never depend on anyone ever”. And NAIM was like “dude! The man is sick. You haven’t been abandoned, you know he will help you out. Something will come through and you will get direction about how to help make things better. Seriously, breathe and chill a bit”.

After about a half hour the phone rang and it was my naturopath, sick as heck, but who gave me thirty minutes of his time to listen and give me some advice about how to feel better. I am so grateful for the amazing people I have in my life who are helping me heal.

We decided that on top of the herbs I was taking he was going to put me back on the tincture of death, ADP (because it works better than the regular oregano oil pills I was taking), and….. start me on the ElementALL Biological Diet by Bioclinic. The idea with the elemental diet is that it’s pre-digested food and gives the digestive system a break as well as not containing anything that would feed the sibo bacteria.

It’s probably a good thing I was feeling so crappy because let me tell you, these shakes are not for the faint of heart. I got the chocolate flavour (and I use the term chocolate – and flavour – loosely) because my Dr said that the other flavour had a strong after taste of vomit. Yum. The smell of the shake just about dropped me to the ground. I have discovered it tastes much better if you can manage not to breathe while drinking. To me the after taste is kind of what horse sweat smells like but like if a horse had been swimming in a stagnant swamp before sweating. So it’s delicious!!

I am now a day and a half – or 5 meals – into my shakes. I cry a little every time it’s “meal” time, but I’ve been sticking to it and not having anything else. It’s easier because literally everything I was eating was making me so sick. Here’s what I’ve found: my headache is almost completely gone, my joint aches have significantly decreased, my stomach is still pretty angry but it has settled down a lot – and I’m apparently in die off mode now which means I’m staying close to the bathroom. But I’m feeling so much better. And best of all – after spending days and weeks not sleeping and feeling so anxious because of being tired and feeling unwell – for the last two nights since starting the shakes I have slept right through the night (which never happens) and my anxiety has dropped from a 7 to a 3. Which makes the fact that I am almost constantly fantasizing about eating piles of mashed potatoes easier to handle. I am feeling more connected to myself again, present in my body, and I am grateful for the fact that I have the resources available to me to be able to seek the help that I need.

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happiness

SIBO: Relapse? Never resolved? Frustrated

Things are not going well in SIBO land for me right now. It’s been at least a couple of weeks of pretty extreme discomfort (achy joints, headache, brain fog, anxiety, not sleeping etc) and I’ve finally decided that perhaps we never got rid of the sibo and with me introducing new foods it’s flared up again.

Now, by new foods I don’t mean things like chocolate cake (sob), or even things like potatoes or grains. It was things like Swiss chard, eggplant, asparagus, and olive oil – all things cleared with or suggested by my naturopath. I kind of blame the olive oil even though it’s supposed to be good for sibo but at this point I have nothing besides a hunch. I was doing well when I was using avocado oil, but when I ran out a month ago I switched to olive oil and it’s been a steady decline since. But there could be other reasons.

Of course it’s not just a weekend but a long weekend so I have to wait for my appointment with my naturopath until Wednesday. But yesterday I kind of snapped and decided to help myself because the pressure building inside me was becoming too much to take. By pressure I mean that it feels like I’m being wired with very uncomfortable electricity that just vibrates through my body giving me a headache and feeling of pressure that makes me feel like I’ll explode. And I’m sharing this in case there are other people out there suffering who have no idea what is going on or feel like they’re alone. Although I would never wish this on anyone, so I kind of hope I’m all alone with it.

I went to our local drug store – Two Pharmacy in Cochrane- and picked up some liver support, berberine, and oil of oregano, all of which I had been on before during the kill off phase. I bought a different oregano oil though and I think I’ll wait on that until I see my dr. So far there’s a lot less pressure but I still feel like crap. I’ve cut out everything besides hamburger meat, because I know meat doesn’t feed the sibo. And while i’m grateful for the cows that are healing me, damn I miss vegetables. But I have a lot of gratitude for those cows, they are healing my insides not to mention that my house and my life here was literally built because of cows, and I am eternally thankful for what they are doing for me. The fact that their lives were given to improve my health is not forgotten and I am constantly in a state of gratitude for that.

So I go Wednesday and find out whether or not becoming my own doctor over the weekend was a good idea. I don’t know what else to do- it’s not like you can go into urgent care and say that you feel like you’re dying because of sibo because it doesn’t show up on regular tests. But damn, it does kind of feel like you’re dying. And that’s not me being dramatic, it’s bloody awful. I can’t believe I ever used to just cram food in my mouth and not worry that it was going to debilitate me.

But this will eventually be resolved and I’ll feel like I’m back on track with my healing journey. Actually even though I feel like crap I still know I’m on my healing journey. I’ve come so far, and so much of this is just using intuition and stepping back and allowing God to be present (that and a lot of crying and trying to bargain with God for my health – but those aren’t probably as helpful as the first two).

Blessings

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Dad’s Photos: Annora Brown’s Crocuses

I love this legend. This was the reason why I started bringing in the flower books to the hospital when Dad was so sick. I was trying to remember the story but was falling (very) short. I felt so badly for dad who had gone to so much work to put together all of these treasures so that we could remember what he taught us forever. So now this story to me is more than just a beautiful legend, but a treasured memory of time with my dad.

Blackfoot legend retold by Annora Brown, photos by John Ramsay.

This is the painting dad is talking about. It hangs on the wall in the kitchen behind where I’m sitting and I enjoy looking at it every day. To me it captures exactly what an Alberta spring looks like. It has hung here for as long as I can remember, and while Cherie has a copy this original is also hers and one day will hang on the wall at her place.
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happiness

Thinking of Grandma

It was 18 years ago today that Grandma left us here and returned home to God and to be reunited with all of those who had left before her. I will forever remember her last weeks as some of the most difficult, but also some of the most beautiful moments I’ve had in my life.

It was important to Grandma that she return to the ranch and that she not die in a hospital where nobody knew her. My parents and uncles and aunts arranged for her to come home to her house, and they set up a hospital bed in the living room for her.

Probably what I remember most is how the family gathered. It seemed like the house was full of her children and grandchildren – all of us eating, drinking tea, and sharing stories. I’ve always felt Grandma’s heart in this house, but never more than I did during that time.

There was even a moment – one that I call the “I’ll love you forever moment” where she wanted to join us all in the kitchen but was unable to walk from her bed. My loving cousin Ryan picked her up the same way I’m sure she had picked him up countless times when he was small, and carried her into the kitchen, gently placing her in a chair, so that she could be part of the fun. When I would read “I love you forever” to my kids I always burst into tears when the son carried his mother because of this moment. It was so simple and beautiful.

Dad called me at work when she died. Somehow they let the call go into my classroom so I got the news while standing in front of my students. At the time I was teaching mostly kids who had been labeled with behaviours so extreme they were not allowed into regular classrooms. I can’t think of a better bunch of people to hear the news with – most of these kids knew sorrow. They were so good and kind and all of them said something nice to me as a I grabbed my things and left for the ranch.

When the boy and I got out there (he was almost 3 at the time – I’d grabbed him from his dayhome) the house was much quieter. My uncles and aunts were there, grandma was still there although her soul was already dancing in heaven. My aunt headed out to the field for a quiet moment and returned with crocuses – it’s very early to have them here on April 5th and we don’t really get them here at all anymore. I remember we all just sat there, sharing stores and supporting each other. My other aunt knew Grandma well enough to know that she wouldn’t want to go out with her hair all a mess so she sat down in the living room at the bed and redid that fabulous updo that Grandma sported for as long as I could remember. Another beautiful act of kindness and love.

I have learned a lot about how to love and how to grieve from my family. And a lot about how important it is to have faith. I have faith that Grandma is in a better place that is filled with love and joy. I hope she looks down on us living here in her home and knows how grateful we are for the space, and for the memories that live within these walls.

From Grandma’s Kitchen has been a series of stories and photos that was created here in the kitchen she loved so much, but really it is has been a way for me to honour one of the greatest, fiercest, most loving and faith filled people I have ever known. This home was a place of refuge for me when I was younger, not because of the building but became of the home that Grandma created within these walls. She taught us all the importance of family, of loving each other, and of loving God (and also of cows and to always dress and act like a lady).

Grandma I am so grateful for all the gifts you gave me- I carry that wisdom deep in my soul. You are missed and you are loved.

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happiness

Indra’s Net

I woke up at 3am today. Lately I’ve been doing lots of waking up at 3am which means I must be hella stressed. Usually though when I wake up in the middle of the night I lie there and stress about the problems of the world, while lately I just lie there and think about God and where I fit in the universe. Much lighter thinking haha.

This morning (is 3am morning? I feel like it’s still deep night time, or when I was younger it was time to come home) I woke up to a vision of Indra’s Net. Perhaps I’ve been feeling very disconnected lately. I think Covid has a lot of us feeling disconnected and confused. Alberta in particular seems to be filled with anger, confusion, and chaos as we are being divided between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated. While I am one of the vaccinated, and strongly believe in it, I don’t like how we are fighting with each other when we would do better to work together.

So anyway, with that I’m feeling a bit separated and confused and waking up to the image of Indra’s Net was kind of perfect.

Indra’s Net is a spider like net that spreads infinitely in all directions. In each “eye” of the net, or where the threads join together, there is a beautiful jewel. Each brilliant jewel reflects every other jewel, which are infinite in number, and every reflected image holds the image of all the other jewels. Infinity to infinity, whatever affects one jewel affects them all. Everything contains everything else, but at the same time every individual jewel is not hindered or confused by the other jewels.

I love this idea because I often get hindered or confused by the other jewels.

In his book Hua-yen Buddhism: The Jewel Net of Indra (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1977), Francis Dojun Cook wrote,

“Thus each individual is at once the cause for the whole and is caused by the whole, and what is called existence is a vast body made up of an infinity of individuals all sustaining each other and defining each other. The cosmos is, in short, a self-creating, self-maintaining, and self-defining organism.” (Source here)

Instead of thinking that everything is part of a larger, collective whole, the idea is that everyone is the larger, collective whole, but also simply themselves at the same time.

I find this idea so completely abstract that it actually makes perfect sense to me. And I love the way it allows me to see how we are all connected. What affects one of us affects all of us. We are one being working together, but we are also our individual selves with the freedom to choose who and how we are. Some people I find it easy, and a beautiful privilege to think of being connected with, and some make me want to cut their jewel out of my beautiful web. The challenging ones are probably the most important ones as they probably reflect some unhealed aspect of myself. If their behaviours didn’t trigger something in me, who they are and what they do wouldn’t bother me and so I know there is more internal work for me to do in those areas.

Hopefully the 3am wake up time comes to an end soon, but until it does I find gratitude in the comforting thoughts that are coming to me during this time.

Namaste.

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happiness

The Garden at Braeside (Grandpa Taylor’s Garden) part 3

I have to admit that this story didn’t end the way I imagined it would. And like many real life stories, the unexpected turn was a wonderful one. Reading this made my heart so full and so grateful that this man was my grandfather. I really wish I had been able to get to know him better, he was a man with a very kind heart.

He mentions that this story was written for Cindy to illustrate, and that she was doing it for some class assignment. He also mentions that there should be copies for us four “younger cousins” – did anyone ever see the illustrated book? I’d love to see what she did with it. It has been a real joy to get to hear Grandpa’s voice as he tells this story. If any of the Ramsay family would like a digital copy please let me know and I’ll email it to you.

By the time he was 10 years of age, Ralph had become a bookworm. His Grandpa Taylor had a huge library, and Ralph would spend much time in there lying on his stomach on the carpet pouring over the beautiful books. Some of these books were the great big family bible, and copies of Shakespeare’s plays, printed in large books with lovely illustrations. And there were the noble stories of the round table, and the knights of King Arthur.

These books planted many new ideas in Ralph’s mind. By this time also, Ralph knew a lot about halloween and it is about this particular halloween that this story is told – from his grandfather he knew how little boys and sometimes older boys too, played many naughty tricks on their neighbors. Some of these tricks cause trouble for the persons on whom they were played.

As the time drew closer, Ralph came up with a Halloween idea all his own. He gathered together a group of 4 or 5 other small friends around him and suggested a different kind of trick for them to play. It happened that a few days before Halloween, Mr Scott had received four chords of firewood dumped behind his house for burning on his stoves. At this time, wood cut from trees on the nearby farms was the cheapest means of heating a house during the colder months of the year. Mr. Scott had arranged with a farmer to bring in a wagonload of wood. A chord of wood usually measures 128 cubic feet. And while this doesn’t mean much to you, it might mean something to your mother and father. And for stove firewood the sticks would be about 14 inches long and a chord of wood when piled would be about 4 feet high and 8 feet long. The wood was neatly split and ready for the stoves but was thrown in a heap on the ground and had to be first piled to keep it dry and protected from the rain and the snow.

Ralph knew how difficult it was going to be for Mr. Scott to pile all that wood with all his aches and pains. The weather was turning colder and there was more rain. Ralph could tell from Mr Scott’s face at times how much he was hurting. Ralph’s suggestion to his friends on that halloween was that they sneak over behind Mr Scott’s house after dark and pile all his wood for him in neat piles. That way it would be much easier for him to get to it when winter snow came, and it would be all piled and ready.

His friends agreed to his plan. After it was dark, and they were sure Mr Scott had gone to bed, Ralph and his followers made their way as quietly as they could around to the back of Mr Scott’s house. They worked and worked in the night until they had piles of wood all ready to surprise Mr Scott when he woke up the next morning. Naturally all the boys were curious to know what Mr Scott might say the next time he came over to work in Grandpa Taylor’s garden. And of course Ralph was more interested than anyone else. When Mr Scott did come over to Grandpa Taylor’s to work he looked curiously at Ralph as if he suspected that Ralph might have had a hand in what had happened. But he didn’t say anything, nor did he ever mention his woodpile to Ralph. Yet Ralph noticed that from time to time there was a difference in Mr Scott’s attitude towards him. He ceased to be so cross, and was much friendlier than ever before.

Ralph would often look up to catch Mr Scott looking at him as if to say ‘did you have a part in piling my wood for me?’ Ralph would look him right in the eyes and smile. He experienced a very nice feeling about doing something for someone else, without being asked and without expecting anything in return. His reward was a warm feeling inside himself, and the hope that God might have approved of what he had done. This was the beginning and the first time perhaps, that Ralph and his friends consciously gave away something of themselves – a gift of their work to someone else. For Ralph this was the beginning of a practice which later on became a habit. He called it “Investing in People” and it brought him a lot of happiness.

The end

So you can see who it is I’m writing about, I’ve included a photo of Grandpa that was sent earlier this year though our “cousin chat”.

Grandpa in New Liskeard or Twin Lakes circa 1925
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Skipping Assembly, New Shoes, School Stress (FGK 33)

I was quite a ways into this letter before I realized who it was from. Before I throw my aunt too far under the bus, I’d like to say that compared to some of the teenage naughty school behaviour, hers is really pretty innocent. For example, the year my parents made me go to boarding school on Vancouver Island they had a Terry Fox Run and I think we had to go at least 10k. We were to run up the Malahat (seems super safe right?) turn around, and come back. I was with a group of kids who thought it was total BS and had no desire to run. We made it to the turn around spot and spent the entire time back to the school trying to hitch a ride. Fortunately no one actually stopped to pick us up or goodness knows where we’d be now! I never told my parents that story, so if there are sudden rumbles of thunder and lightening tearing across the sky today, it’s just them reading my blog in heaven!!

I miss my aunt a lot, reading these letters reminds me of how when I was younger and went away to both the boarding school and University of Lethbridge she consistently sent me letters to remind me I was loved. The letters I received were not nearly as hilarious as the ones she sent mom, but I suppose then she was an adult, I would send much different letters to my niece than to my sister. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for her because of that, and reading these letters to mom is like reading a letter she would have sent to a good friend of hers. It makes my heart smile. This is also the closest I have ever heard her use “bad” language. It’s nothing like my “bad” language, but that’s like comparing apples to pineapples.

Assembly period Tues

Dear Marg

I have just gotten into trouble I think. Five of us girls, Sheila Stephen, Evelyn Heinrich, Rita Holms, Pat Mrstik(?), and myself were sneaking up the stairs with the intentions of skipping assembly, and guess who was talking on the phone at the top of the stairs, that’s right Mrs Stevie. We kept right on going. Wonder what’s going to happen.

Yesterday Barbara and I went into the library to study during assembly and guess who walked in but mr Schula. He never said anything.

5:40

Well Mrs Stevie hasn’t said anything yet. I was just in her room buying stamps and it wasn’t mentioned.

I bought a pair of shoes today, black suede shoes. They haven’t got the toe out so I hope Marsh is satisfied.

Two of the girls from the college ran for the Teen Queen for Calgary. There as one from every high school. Anyways, one of the girls that lives in the dorm (Irene Stowell) won and the other girl from MRC got second, so we feel pretty happy. Irene got a real Hudson Bay coat and then tomorrow she’s going to Edmonton to compete against Queens from all over the Province.

I saw Aunt Irene, Heather Scott, Gina (?) McDougall, Mrs armstand, and Mrs Charlie Robinson. Aunt Irene is getting another baby! Honestly!

Must get ready for supper

Love Sheila C

Wed

Dear Marg

Went to assembly this morning for a change. Bored silly.

I have to read a take the minutes at the Council meeting today. Marilyn’s Modeling at a fashion show.

Love Sheila

8:15

Mum came in after 4 and went into speak to Mr. Collette. Wonder what they talked about. Then she took Marsh and Wayne downtown and they had supper out. Doggone that meeting anyways!!

Talked Marsh into going to the dance at Glendale so I’ll be able to wear my new shoes.

I sent in a request on Hospital Hour for you so you’d better listen. Don’t know whether you’d like it or not. You’ll have to hear it to appreciate it.

Must get to work.

Saw Anne Monday. She might come out during the latter part of the Easter Holidays.

Thurs 12:20

Dear Marg

Boy am I ever mad!!! I was under the impression that all the biographies for the yearbook were in and even written out, now I just found out that only half of them were in and some lost them. Gad. What a mess!!

Sure have a lot of studying to do. Exams next week you know!! Where does time ever go!

Marilyn and Peggy are eating ice cream. Slurp Slurp

4:10

Dear Marg.

I have just disgraced myself. In French this afternoon I was reading a part out loud and I couldn’t say ‘monsieur’ finally I got the giggles and I couldn’t say anything. I felt like crawling through the nearest window. Another girl had to finish. The teacher just laughed and thought it was a great joke thank goodness. Still haven’t got those GD Biographies.

Must get to work

Love

Sheila C

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