On Being a Mother

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I had no plan to become a mother. No preconceived idea that this would be the penultimate experience of my life. Mostly, I was terrified of the thought that being a mother meant passing along my foibles, faults and follies to an innocent child.

Why would I want to do that?

In fact, if asked whether or not we wanted children, my then husband and I would reply an unequivocal, “No.”

And then it happened. The thing doctors had told me probably was impossible, wasn’t. I became pregnant.

In my newly formed precariously pregnant state my doctor told me I needed to go to bed. For three months.

My friends laughed at me. Is your doctor crazy? No way can you go to bed for three months. You’ll be miserable.

It was the first of many life lessons my unborn child taught me.

No one decides how I go through each experience of my life, except me.

I could choose to be miserable. Or not.

I chose to fall in love. To lie in bed and savour every moment of new life growing within me and to cherish life around me.

In a journal entry from that time I wrote:

I think about you often. I wonder what will you be like. How will you enjoy entering the world?

You’re very quiet inside me. Your movements are graceful and serene. I imagine your tiny arms and legs, your body suspended, floating in my waters. Yet, sometimes, I can feel you soar. I can hear your body as it ripples across mine, quietly evolving, experiencing the joy of life, protected within my womb.

I can feel you. I am with you. You are with me, where ever I go, whatever I do. We are one in this journey. As you grow and develop, my body grows and develops. As you move, I move. As I move, so too do you.

I mold myself around you to protect you yet must leave you room to grow. For grow you will and I shall have to let you go.

Yet, this journey we share now will bond us for all time. For I am your mother. Mother to you, child of my body. And though I shall never own you, you will always own a part of me.

That was 1985.

My first daughter was born on June 19th, 1986.

Today, I have been a mother for almost 29 years.

I would not change a thing. I would not erase a moment, turn a different phrase or take a different step.

In this journey of my life, I have done things I want to remember forever, I have done things that, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I cannot forget — and ultimately do not want to because, regardless of what I have done, I have been and will always be, my daughters’ mother.

Being a mother is at the heart of my being present in this life.

Being a mother has taught me what it means to truly, madly, deeply love another, unconditionally, without any expectation of their loving me in return. Loving another is not about getting love back. It’s about creating an enduring circle of love and choosing always to stay in its flow, in darkness and in light.

Being a mother has taught me to trust in the power of my own body to create life and to be life-giving.

It has shown me how deeply I can love, how completely I can surrender, and how absolutely powerless I am over another human being. It has taught me humility.

On June 19th, 1986 I became a mother.

Being a mother has been, and continues to be, a journey into the heart of what matters most to me; to know myself, in all my many facets, and to love myself in every way I am present in this world so that I can be present for those I love, in love, always.

Thank you Alexis and Liseanne for giving me the gift of being your mother. You have taught me that love is always the answer because in your lives I have found my heart’s song. It is a song of Love, forever and always.

 

The Wishing Tree

Pinterest is an amazing place! Filled with ideas and photos of things to create, do, wear it was my ‘constant counsel’ while planning our wedding. Everyday I would scroll through pins of wedding ideas looking for inspiration. And I found lots!

One of the ideas I loved was the ‘Wishing Tree’.

An alternative to a guest book, the Wishing Tree is an invitation for guests to share their thoughts and ideas with the Bride and Groom on marriage, life, love, family.

Anything they wanted to share, they were invited to do so on cards and hang their messages on the Wishing Tree.

In a big urn by our front door I had several long natural-coloured twiggy sticks that I thought would work well for our Wishing Tree.

I also had a couple of cans of Krylon’s Mirror-finish spray paint which I was using for the doilies I painted for underneath the centrepieces.

On the afternoon before I left for Naramata, I laid the twiggy sticks out on large sheets of plastic on our back deck and began to paint. Fortunately, it was a hot, sunny and windless afternoon. I also painted the clay pot I’d bought to hold the twigs as well as the wooden hearts I’d purchased for which I had not yet figured out a use. 🙂

When I was finished and everything was dry, I wrapped the twigs up in bubble wrap and packing tape.

Imagine the look on C.C.’s face when he saw the long package and all the paraphernalia I had created for the wedding and heard my request he fit it in the car for me. 🙂  (4 big tubs containing 18 centrepieces wrapped in bubble wrap, 2 big plastic bags of giant flowers I’d made for chairs and other hanging places, multiple strings of lights, 15 heart lights, filler materials for the centrepieces + candlelights. 4 picture frames with various messages plus 8 easels. 1 large wooden canvas for art project. Several meters of blush and silver fabric for draping and anything else we thought we might need it for. Several smaller tubs of craft supplies and odds and sods. wooden wine box with my bouquet. wooden wine box with pot for Wishing Tree…)

It won’t all fit, he said. Don’t forget you’ve got my golf clubs as well as TW’s to bring, your suitcase, my suitcase, Alexis’ suitcase and the suitbags with the outfits too. C.C. was coming a day later with my youngest daughter as my eldest daughter and I were going early to scout out the venue and spend some quality time together. His kids were arriving the day after that along with several others in time for Friday’s Wine Tour.

I know, I replied. But… and I rhymed off several people who had offered to transport materials to the wedding for us. (Thank you AJ and JD, KV and RB and JT and JT!  You helped make it all happen and kept harmony flowing between C.C. and me.) All you have to do honey is get the tubs and frames and stuff I don’t take over to them before you come! I added with a smile.

The long and short of it is, everything arrived at the venue without mishap, C.C. and I kept smiling and we are now married!

On Saturday morning, I set up the Wishing Tree and was grateful for the 3 extra bags of (just in case) marbles I’d brought as well as the painted wooden hearts. They worked perfectly to hold the branches in place in the silver pot I’d painted. I’d also packed some extra pink wicker baskets and again — a perfect solution to hold the card stock I’d created for guests to write their wishes on as well as the pen. Bonus, some of the painted hearts worked great as a writing surface because the only table available for the tree was wicker — and it was not very smooth!

FullSizeRender (51)It is perhaps one of the biggest lessons of an away wedding. Stay flexible. Be prepared and don’t worry about having too much stuff! There’s always a use for it you never anticipated!

Oh, and have really good friends and family willing to cart it all for you!

As to the Wishing Tree — what a wonderful gift we received in the words our friends shared. From a co-worker who once kicked in a door for me (now that’s another story for another day) hoping C.C. will kick in doors for me too, to advice on having SEX often, to always communicating, to always laughing, to always watching each other’s backs, the cards are a delightful reminder of the fun, laughter, joy of our wedding and the people who shared the day with us.

When we shine, we truly are magnificent

When I was a little girl I wanted to be like the sunshine. To shine and radiate and make everyone all around me feel warm and bright.

And then, I grew up.

In my growing up years I listened to what others had to say about me. The good and the bad, (mostly the bad) and I told myself not to be so silly. Egotistical. Ridiculous.

 

How could I be like the sunshine? I couldn’t even shine bright enough to see the light in my own heart, how was I going to shine so others could see into theirs?

We become what we tell ourselves. Our lives are a reflection of our inner-most thinking.

I lost my light and carried on with living.

When I met the man who wanted me to die for his love, I was just healing from the first relationship I had had since my daughters’ father and I had split up. Knowing I needed to give myself time to breathe after the break-up of my marriage, I didn’t date for a couple of years. And then, I met Sam (not his real name) and fell deeply, passionately in love.

He was perfect.

Except, he was also bi-polar, older than me, very religious and a recovering drug addict. Oh, and did I mention somewhat OCD?

I am creative, impetuous, spiritual but not a follower of one religion. I can be very scattered/cluttered in my own environment and, at the time, I was the mother of two not yet teenage daughters. His were in their 20s and living their own lives.

It was not a relationship built on similar goals and dreams and desires and ways of living.

Sam loved me as I was. He also wanted me to change to fit into his lifestyle. And truthfully, I wanted him to change too.

We struggled to make it work for 2 years until I could no longer deny we were not a match made in heaven, but we sure could make life hell for one another if we stayed together any longer.

I broke off the relationship and a few months later met the man who would promise to love me ’til death do us part, and then got really busy making the death part come true.

I was not ready for love, I told him.

He disagreed.

If it is real now, it will be real in six months, a year, let’s take our time, I said.

I don’t have time, he told me. I am dying of a rare heart disease and will be dead by Christmas if I don’t get a transplant.

And I believed him and I kept falling. Hard.

I thought I was falling in love. I thought I was on the road to happily ever after.

I was lost.

Until that morning of May 21, 2003 when a miracle drove up in a blue and white police car and I was given the gift of my life; a gift I had to choose to honour, cherish, celebrate and love every single day if I was to heal and grow and reconnect with my daughters and help them heal from the pain and agony and turmoil I’d precipitated in their lives through that relationship.

I am blessed.

I have found myself on the other side of that darkness. Found my light shining brightly within.

I have learned the power and strength and endurance of my human spirit.

I have stepped off the edge of my disbelief that love is not true and discovered I have wings to fly free of darkness into the light of knowing, Love is all around. Love is always the answer.

This May 21st will be 12 years since that morning in May when I stood by a river and prayed for release, to end it all, to stop the pain and horror of my life. On that morning in May when I was given the miracle of my life, I had no idea how beautiful, wondrous, amazing life could be. I had no vision of the future.

Today, I do.

My dream has come true.

Today, I know that when I shine a light on the love that flows continuously within and through and all around me, I create a world of loving kindness all around me. I become the mirror of my thoughts and actions.

Today, I know that I am a wondrous woman of worth, a beautiful human being of light and love. Just like you. Because, I am you, you are me and when we shine, we shine so bright all the world can see our magnificence reflected in their eyes!

 

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We the people have spoken. It’s time for change.

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The ballots were cast. The votes counted. The political landscape of Alberta is different today than it was yesterday. Than it has been for the last 4 decades.

Yesterday, Albertans spoke with every ballot cast.

Yesterday, they said “Enough”.

Enough cronyism. Enough political opportunism and corporate favouritism. Enough of the dynasty.

And like an addict craving one more hit, I could not draw myself away from watching the results on TV. I could not get enough of each political pundit’s viewpoint, the colour coded results showing riding after riding falling under “The Orange Crush”, as media have dubbed the National Democratic Party (NDP) and its charismatic leader, Rachel Notley. I couldn’t quit watching images of cheering crowds chanting “Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!” and the deafening silence of the defeated who had nothing left to say except, “Good-bye”.

Good-bye Progressive Conservatives (PC).

Good-bye Jim Prentice. Your leadership has failed. Your hubris undermined you and the party.

Fear of the unknown is an irrational being. This morning’s headlines are littered with references to economic collapse, departure of business, killing off of the “Alberta advantage.”

What the headlines and politicos forget is, we are resilient. We are entrepreneurial. We are creative.

The NDP are untried, and inexperienced. No one is sure what they will do once they take up the reigns of power. No one knows how they will respond to the financial crisis the collapse of oil prices has brought to provincial coffers, and to the economic fortunes of our province.

What everyone does know is the people of Alberta are still the same people they were yesterday. We still value hard work, stick-to-itness and working together. We still value each other, being good neighbours, taking care of one another. We still value fair pay, fair play and fairness in all our affairs.

The difference today is, political change is here to stay.  The status quo has been shaken. The balance of power not just tilted but turned upside down.

With the undoing of the conservative juggernaut that has gripped our political landscape with such totalitarian control no one could foresee the fall of the mighty PCs, there is much unrest amongst those who man the ivory towers and pump the oil and gas that fuels our economy. Where will they go to curry favour? Who will they cosy up to gain political currency?

Uncertainty fosters creativity. It generates new ideas, new ways of doing things, new roads to explore. While the path may be untrod, the future unknown, there is much that we can count on today.

Today, spring blossoms are bursting forth. Grass is turning green. Dandelions poke their heads up from cracks in the sidewalk and along roads and ditches wild flowers are showing their colours. Wheat fields are being ploughed and in the heart of every Albertan beats the hope that this change will bring new growth, new ideas, new possibilities that will bring us closer to creating a great province, for everyone. Not just those who fill the coffers or hold the purse-strings but those who stand on the margins watching the Alberta advantage miss the mark.

Today, the possibility of every Albertan getting a fair chance at change, shimmers on the horizon, calling each of us to continue what this election has shown so clearly. When we speak up, when we raise our voices together and cast our votes, we can and do make a difference.

Sometimes, change can be scary, but a world where change never happens, is even scarier. And with the PCs, change was not on the agenda.

Now it is.

Now, what we must do is keep our voices strong, keep speaking up and keep ensuring our leaders work for us, not the party. We must keep working together, keep building new paths, new ways of being a province where every voice counts, every voice is heard and every voice makes a difference.

We the people have spoken. It’s time for change.

 

Creating an image of love

 

I am always in awe of how people, when given a chance, can be creative.

At our wedding, we wanted to create ‘something’, that represented family, its many facets, colours, elements, members. We wanted to show how our family was coming together. Two parents with their four children, and all the tributaries flowing into One.

Pinterest has lots of interesting ceremonies couples use to show this — sand poured into a jar by the bride and groom; knots tied in a rope, shells added to a dish, names to a figurative tree. The ideas are many and varied.

As an artist I wanted something that reflected not just family coming together, but the creative uniqueness of each of us and how we all contribute in our own special way to the whole.

We decided to do a ‘paint pouring’ ceremony at the wedding.

Pouring paint can be messy. An acrylic pouring medium is added to the paint which can make it very fluid. Once poured onto the canvas its natural desire is to flow everywhere.

That wouldn’t do at a wedding.

We needed something that would flow but would still be thick enough when poured to hold most of its form so that it wouldn’t run off the edges of the canvas onto the floor or people’s clothes. Cactus Arts, one of my favourite purveyors of all things that feed my artistic needs, sells a French brand of paint that was perfect: Pebeo paints are thick, opaque and in some colours, metallic or iridescent. Their ‘flowability’ can be controlled, even when pouring medium is added to them.

Jerry with Judy - pre wedding
Jerry with Judy – pre wedding

Which is why, on Saturday morning of the wedding, when Jerry W. a dear friend arrived at the venue to ask if he could help, I immediately gave him the task of mixing paint. Joyfully he tore off a big piece of plastic to cover his clothes and set himself up in the ‘paint pouring’ corner to complete his task.

An Image of Love
An Image of Love

Later, after C.C. and I had finished the first pour and then our children each had added their colour to the mix, we invited all our guests to join in and help us paint a picture of love and family.

It was spectacular! All through the evening, people poured and laughed and added their special and unique mark to the painting. Some went back to add another mark or came back to see what new element or idea was added.

What began as just an idea turned into a beautiful representation of love, family and friends.

We are delighted. Once I’ve added a resin to the surface to protect it we will hang it in our living room where it will be a beautiful reminder of not just our wedding but of everyone in our lives who add such beautiful and vibrant hues to create the circle of love that is our life.

This is the PDF of the poster that stood on an easel beside the poured Painting

 

And the chairs moved and the sun shone.

IMG_1177Planning a wedding is a delicate balance of trying to plan for everything and anything, while constantly having to give up control of needing to have it perfect.

Planning a wedding outdoors means perfection cannot even be on the agenda. The weather is its own element, with its own agenda and its own whimsy. You cannot control what it does, when it does it or how. You can only prepare for every eventuality.

On Saturday, April 25th, the rain that had threatened all week became a reality. It fell. All around. All morning.

The valley was shrouded in grey glowering darkness. Misty clouds floated above the surface of the lake, raindrops danced upon the waters.

It was beautiful but it was not what I wanted.

At nine, when I arrived at Bench 1775 Vineyards to help set-up, I was not willing to concede defeat. “Let’s wait until mid-morning before we make the final decision,” I pleaded with Natalie Winsa, our wedding planner. “Of course,” she agreed. “Let’s wait.”

Waiting didn’t make a difference. The rain kept falling. The temperatures were downright cold.

My daughters arrived to help. “You’re going to have to do the ceremony inside,” they cautioned me.

I took a breath and decided it was what it was.

All set up inside...
All set up inside…

“Yes! Let’s set-up inside. It will be different than I imagined but it will still be beautiful.”

And we began the task of creating a space of beauty within while outside the rain tapered off but the skies remained gloomy.

We’d planned on being finished by noon. By one, we were not yet done. Alexis my eldest daughter set the alarm on her phone. “We have to be out of here latest by 2 mom,” she advised me.

“Of course,” I replied as C.C. and I draped fabric over fishing line wire to disguise the corner where all the ‘extra stuff’ was hidden behind the DJ.

TZ, who had been working on beautifying the tent, wrapped the final guy-wire with silver mesh, hung the last whimsical flower I’d made on the centre pole and strung the final silver star. TW swept up debris as his daughter Victoria helped place the final centrepiece.

Alexis’ alarm chimed at 2. “We have to go,” she announced.

I was still waiting for the weather to turn. The rain had stopped but the clouds still hung low. “We have to go, mom. It will be beautiful.”

I knew she was right. The room where we’d set up the chairs for the wedding looked beautiful, as did the tent where all the tables were set.

It’s just, I’d really, really wanted to get married outside, with the lake waters shimmering in the sun and the view expanding out behind us.

We drove back to Therapy Guesthouse to get ready. TW practiced sabering a bottle of champagne and we clapped and laughed as the bubbles came frothing out.

Alexis did my makeup while Ross Tabalada, our amazing photographer, took photos. C.C. and his son T floated around for awhile until we banished them to the downstairs.

The tradition of not seeing the bride until the ceremony runs strong amongst our daughters.

And I just kept smiling and getting ready and practicing letting go of wanting the ceremony outside.

At 4:55 we were ready to leave for the ceremony. C.C. and his son TC had already gone before us. It was just the girls and me, and TW who was driving us over.

My phone pinged.IMG_6569 A text. I looked at the screen. It was just emoticons. A heart and a whole bunch of suns shining.

I text back. “Move the chairs please. Outside.”

And so, the clouds pulled apart. Blue sky appeared and sun streamed through the gaps.

And the chairs moved.

It didn’t matter if the air was still crisp or the clouds hung low upon the horizon. Right where we stood, the sun shone and the breeze felt fresh against my skin as C.C. and I, surrounded by our children, family and friends vowed to love one another, forever and always.

It was perfect in every way.

The many views of Love

We are home. Husband and wife. Married.

I didn’t think ‘being married’ would really be all that different than living together. I thought it would just be a formal/legal kind of thing that didn’t change anything.

I was wrong.

Something did change. Shifted. Moved. Tilted. Expanded. Deepened.

There is something different in this place called husband and wife. Something deeper. More solid. Stable. Safe. Complete.

I am surprised. Awed. Excited.

I am home.

The entire week at Therapy Vineyard & Guesthouse was amazing. Natalie Winsa, our host and wedding planner made it all so carefree, so fun, so beautiful! Her partner, Kasey Alladin, ensured that everything we tasted, from the Friday night snacks at the Open House to the wedding buffett not only was delectable and delightful but visually stunning too. And the team at Bench 1775 Winery were amazing. While Sonya, Aaron and crew aren’t actually responsible for the incredible views (Thank you Universe!), they definitely did everything possible to ensure we could savour the vistas from every point of view no matter where we stood on one of their decks or in their tasting room.

Surrounded by incredible scenery, long vistas across the lake and billowy white clouds above, no matter where you stood at our wedding, every view spoke of friendship, family and above all, Love.

There isn’t a single thing I’d change. Not a single moment I’d re-do, except of course, I want to experience it all again and again!

I’m still savouring. Still processing. Still breathing into the beauty and awe of it all. So rather than put words to my feelings and thoughts, I’m sharing photos from our wedding most of which have been provided by the amazing Tamara Z. Thank you Tamz. Your thoughtful ideas on how to capitalize on the views and space and your help in setting up made everything a perfect dream! Between you and Tim W. Sr. this girl never had to worry about a thing! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Enjoy!