Belonging around the table.

Heading west as the sun rises.

We were 21 adults gathered around the dining room table(s) this year for Christmas. At one moment, while standing on the kitchen side of the island, I looked out at the guests gathered in our home and my heart whispered with a contented sigh, “Yes. This is Christmas”.

Gathered around the table, we shared a meal, toasts, tales of Christmases past, of Christmases hoped for, remembered, cherished. We laughed at stories, new and old. It didn’t matter if we’d heard them before for it wasn’t the story that made our hearts warm with remembering, it was the storyteller.

And as in Christmases past, we went around the table and each person answered the question that was written in their name cards. “What is your favourite Christmas memory?”  “What are you most grateful for in 2019?”  “If you could create a charitable organization, what would it be?”  “What historical figure would you want to include at the table?” …

We gathered around the table on Christmas Day to share a feast and to feast on that special brew of friendship, family, community and the ties that bind us.

And throughout the festivities, our home was full of voices laughing, chatting, calling out each other in the familiar way that only those who have known one another a long, long time can do, and get away with. Because, no matter the calling out, it is the threads of familiarity and love that weave our hearts together in a magical tapestry of lives enjoined across time and space, moving always closer to the heart of what matters most – belonging, community,  family, love.

Three Valley Gap – looking east.

And now, we are in Vancouver to share another Christmas with our eldest daughter, son-in-love and grandson. It is a special celebration.

Rogers Pass

As we followed the highway west, driving through plains and rolling hills into foothills and the Rockies, through towns and mountainsides festooned with snow-covered trees, I said a prayer of gratitude for my life today and those who fill it with such joy and beauty and love.

After a few days here, we will spend New Year’s Eve on Gabriola Island with my middle sister and her husband and then, we’ll take the long and winding road across Vancouver Island to my favourite place on earth, Tofino where my beloved and I will spend a few quiet days listening to the waves crash against the shore, wander the beaches and sit by the fire.

Yes. This is Christmas.

This is the table where we belong. Where family and friends gather.  This is a joyful celebration of life, of friendship, family, love and new birth to come.

Yes. This is my blessed life.

I am so grateful.

Namaste.

 

And so… this is Christmas

The table is set, the turkey awaits stuffing. The vegetables are prepared, the cranberry sauce ready. Beneath the tree the presents are wrapped and waiting for the household to stir.

And I sit in the quiet of this Christmas morning and breathe deeply in the peace, hope, love and joy that fills my heart, spilling over into the air around me.

Hark the herald, angels sing
Glory to a new born king

The sun has begun its ascent, the days are lengthening and the earth continues on its orbit, its path decreed billions of years ago in a cosmic blast that shook the universe to its very core and set our planet a-spinning.

And over 2000 years ago, a mother and father huddled together in a tiny stable and witnessed the birth of their child surrounded by the lowing of the animals who kept watch.

The story of the Christ child’s birth has lived throughout the years. It touches all our hearts, Christian and non-Christian, believer and non-believer. No matter if we believe He came to earth to ‘save our souls from Satan’s power’, or if he was simply a powerful prophet, or just a great man whose story has survived the ages, His birth represents the power of love to create peace in the world and to restore our spirits as we celebrate the miracle of life.

Christmas is a time to celebrate. A time to rejoice, to dance in the light of day’s lengthening shadows, to sit in awe of a child in a manger and a child whose eyes are wide in wonder at the twinkling lights and gifts beneath the tree.

It is a time when we are connected in love to the miracle of one child’s birth long ago that reminds us, every year, that we too are miracles inspired by the act of love that ignites our journey of life – in all its limitless possibilities.

What a miracle Christmas is! 2000 years ago a child was born and from His birth has grown this night where the world stops, and takes a collective breath as we join in a song of love, faith, hope and joy.

This Christmas, as I reflect upon my life, I am reminded, once again, of the power of love to heal, to make peace and to create miracles. And that is the true meaning of Christmas for me. A celebration of birth, of life, of love. A healing. An awakening. A miracle that wraps us all in a never-ending circle of love.

Whatever your celebration — Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodi day, the Fast of Ramadan, the ancient sabbat – or a family-centered gathering, a Blessed Holiday to each and everyone of you. May your spirits be light, your hearts full of love and may your world be filled with the limitless possibilities of the miracle of your life as you live each moment, filled with love, gratitude and joy.

 

_____________________________________

My daughter sent me the most lovely gift… the link to this beautiful song that speaks of what Christmas means to me.  may you know the joys of being with those you love, gathered around a table, sharing a meal, time together and LOVE.

Mt. Engadine Lodge Revisited

The snow started falling Thursday evening and kept falling and falling all through the night, the next day and Saturday.

When we drove away after the ploughs had cleared the road to Mt. Engadine Lodge, it was still snowing.

Saturday Morning

The world around us looked like a picture-perfect Christmas card. Fir trees laden with snow. Misty, mysterious clouds clinging to the mountain tops. White blankets of snow covering the ground, shrouding bushes and everything else in its pristine whiteness.

I went into Mt. Engadine Lodge to help out in the kitchen again for 3 days.

This time, my beautiful friend Jane joined me as my ‘Sous Chef’. She chopped and chatted, keeping the kitchen filled with her delightful presence as I baked and stirred and cooked and coerced the ancient oven to behave.

It was a delightful time filled with laughter, creativity, deep conversation, shared moments and the fun that comes with the familiarity of an almost 40-year friendship.

I am grateful.

Through the kitchen window.

The Solstice has passed and the earth has turned on its journey towards the sun.

The anticipation of the ChristChild’s birth shimmers in the air filled with the mystery and the majesty of this story that has held reign over the Christian world for over 2,000 years.

Bells ring. Children laugh and play in the snow. The sky is blue and freckled with white fluffy clouds drifting by in leisurely disarray.

From Where I Sit Today

A squirrel digs into the freshly fallen snow for the pieces of bread and nuts I scattered. He dashes across the lawn, his mouth full of the treats he’s uncovered. With one leap, he clears the fence, landing with aplomb in the bushes that line the river. Snow drifts to the ground and with a hop, skip and a jump, he scrambles up a tree. Leaps from one bough to the next landing on the branch of the tree behind. Quickly he darts down the branch and disappears into a hole in the tree’s trunk.

A special bottle to share after dinner is served, the dishes are cleared and the day is done.

He is home for Christmas.

May we all be home for Christmas this holiday season. May our hearts be full with treasured memories of Christmases past and the joy of being surrounded by those we love gathered around tables laden with delicacies of the season.

May we know peace, love, happiness and joy.

May your Christmas be blessed and bright. May your heart be filled with joy, contentment and peace in the New Year!

Merry Christmas everyone!

__________________________________________

My Guest Chef days at Mt Engadine have come to an end. Fortunately, J received his work visa back and is once again cooking up a storm at the Lodge.

What a wonderful opportunity to be gifted a chance to fill my bucket list and my heart with the experience.

Thank you everyone at Mt. Engadine Lodge for filling my heart with such beautiful memories. Your incredible graciousness, kindness and support made the experience one I shall treasure dearly.

 

The Creativity Angels: What does it mean to create?

As I move into final stages of our Christmas dinner planning, I have been working on a series I’m calling The Creativity Angels.

Their substance is being formed out of a string of salt dough ornaments I made for above our fireplace.

They began as a happy accident.

I had made salt dough hearts for my creativity workshop in November and decided to make some Christmas specific ornaments as well.

One of the things I made were angels I painted and then strung on ribbon and beads. Each of 9 angels has a word painted on the back. Each word relates to my perspective of the creative process and the birthing of an idea into substance.  The words are:  Faith. Belief. Commitment. Courage, Compassion,  Strength. Joy. Hope. Love.

The angels look delightful hanging on the fireplace mantel and inspired me to create more for gift tags.

And then the magic and mystery of the creative process began to spin itself into something more…

In working on them I’ve continued to breathe into the birthing process as I’ve delved into the question:  “What does it mean to create?”

What resonates deeply within me is that like birthing of a child, the creative process can be ascribed 3 sections:  Curiosity. Commitment. Creation.

Within each trimester there are 3 stages:

Curiosity

  • Inquisitiveness – don’t settle for status quo
  • Questioning – keep questioning your biases and beliefs
  • Exploration – explore ideas, thoughts, feelings without judgement

Commitment

  • Be steadfast – don’t give up just because it feels hard.
  • Be strong – failure is an invitation to keep going, keep digging, keep exploring, keep being in the process.
  • Stay the course – if something doesn’t look like you expected it to turn out, it’s not because it isn’t working, it’s because you’re creating the path as you go — and new paths are vital to creative expression – and you’re not done yet.

Creation

  • Accept all – Creation is a process. Stay open within the process. There’s no such thing as ‘bad’ art, writing, dance, music. There’s just what is appearing as you give way to what is asking to be brought into form.
  • Be kind – Do not judge yourself harshly. Do not condemn your work. Accept everything you do as an important and vital piece of your creative journey. If it doesn’t ‘please’ you, keep going (and be kind in how you talk to yourself about what you’re doing – your brain does not discern between thoughts that are unhealthy for you or ones that are healthy — it believes it all).
  • Give grace – Your creative expressions are a reflection of where you are at in that moment. Encourage yourself to keep going with words of loving-kindness. Celebrate each step and allow the process to guide the birthing of your expression into the world.

Yesterday, I completed painting the 27 new angels I’ve been working on – most of these will be for gift/name tags but 9 have been designated for another string of Creativity Angels. In the process of painting the angels, the framework for The Creativity Angels began to take form as an idea gestating into form.

I am staying with the process. Allowing the evolution of the framework of The Creativity Angels to be born without my forcing it into substance.

Like birthing of a child, I cannot push it out into the world until the time is right. What I can do is allow its framework to slowly become visible, like a pregnant belly growing towards the denouement of the child coming into this world.

I am excited.

I am filled with anticipation. With joy. With possibility.

And just as we cannot know the future of the children we bring into this world and can only do our best to create the space and environment for them to thrive, I am holding space for The Creativity Angels’ life to become rich and meaningful. In the journey, I am letting go of expectation and falling with grace into the creative process and all that comes with birthing an idea into substance.

Namaste.

 

 

Mother Nature: Defiant in the face of adversity

As the days grow shorter and the cold settles in for the winter, the river moves more slowly. Once a frolicking dance of water rushing towards the east, it slithers along its course in a smooth sinuous dance of water and light flowing together. In the middle, between the two abutments that hold the pedestrian bridge up above the water, an ever-widening island of ice is forming.

Winter approaches. Snow covers the ground. The trees stand naked on the river’s shore.

The river runs cold. The river runs deep.

The sky is dark and gloomy. Morning has not yet broken.

I sit at my desk, looking out as daylight slowly creeps across the sky. I am warm and cozy inside my home.

And then, for just a moment, I take my eyes from the river and sky to glance at what I’ve typed and when I look up again, the horizon is awash in rosy pink and golden hues dancing across the sky.

I sit in awe of nature’s ability to fill the world with beauty in just one breath.

Amidst all the inexplicable and often horrific happenings in our world, in spite of the dire news that fills our newscasts with all the things we humans do to destroy each other and this planet we share and call our home, nature continually defies our senselessness with acts of beauty.

Thank you Mother Nature for opening the morning with such grace and beauty. Thank you for reminding me that no matter how far the world seems to be spinning off its axis, no matter how dark the skies or turbulent the waters, spilling warm inviting colours all over my world creates a more inviting place to be. Thank you for showing me how a warm inviting smile, a graceful dab of laughter, a sprinkle of tenderness and kindness can push away the darkness and let the light of day shine bright.

Morning has broken. The river flows deep. My day has begun in beauty.

May we all live this day like Mother Nature. Defiant in the face of adversity. Continually overpowering darkness with light and ugly acts of violence with loving acts of grace. Let us all be fearless in our desire to create beauty in the world.

Namaste.

___________________________

and PS — if you’re wondering…. Beaumont is still asleep in bed with his dad!

 

 

 

 

 

We Interrupt This Blog For A DawgPaw Post

We interrupt regular programming on this blog for a Special Announcement.

This blog is temporarily under the control of a 4-year-old (almost 5!) Sheepadoodle named Beaumont.

His human is still in bed. Still! And he has taken measures into his own paws to get his story told.

We will return to regular programming tomorrow. (When ‘she’ gets out of bed!

________________________________________

Psst!  It’s me. Beaumont the Sheepadoodle.

I’ve had to sneak here onto my mom’s blog because she has (once again) not posted on my blog on Sunday!

I mean, really. What’s with these humans? Can’t they tell time?

Come to think of it, if they can’t do math, how can they do time?

Like. Seriously. They’ve got this weird formula for dog years that uses x7 to compare a dog to a human. When really, a dog’s age isn’t about how old we are. It’s all about how wise and by a dog’s calculations, we are a gazillion times wiser than our human counterparts, no matter their age.

Take my blog posts for instance. ‘She’ thinks it’s okay to miss a Sunday when I know, it’s not. My readers have expectations of me and she keeps letting them down, and everyone knows, it’s not wise to let humans down. They’re fickle that way. Let them down once and, well, given their penchant for distraction and immediate gratification… well let’s just say they’ve got the attention span of… a human! Short. Temperamental. Easily distracted!

Not like us Dawgs.

We’re loyal and steadfast.

We don’t go find some other human to amuse us just because we’ve been disappointed (again) by your human frailties.

No. We stay true. You can count on us to be there in every kind of weather, in your every kind of mood.

So… back to my blog.

She missed Sunday.

Again.

Says it’s something to do with being tired.

You ask me, I think it’s more about being human. You know. That attention span thingie. She’s got Christmas on her mind and well, let’s just say, the human mind can’t think more than one thought at a time.

Not like us Dawgs. We can think many things at once and still, never lose our focus on what matters most. — Doing everything in our power to bring happiness and joy to our humans.

Like the pic of me with the ball in the bed.

I know. I know.

She’s got some rule about no balls on the bed. (She also had a rule about Dawgs on the bed but I fixed that one real fast. Know what I mean?

Right. So. Back to the ball on the bed.

It was just a hint. Like you know, the way advertisers put images of nachos and cheese and all sorts of foods you know you shouldn’t be eating because you just had dinner but there you go, jumping into your car, racing to the grocery store, raiding the junk food aisles without a thought to your arteries or waistline.

Short attention span. Am I right?

Forget about the diet. The gym. The promise to yourself to eat healthy. You saw those folks on the screen looking beautiful and svelte eating all that junkie stuff and wham! You’re hooked.

Well, the ball was my attention-grabbing trick to get her to get up and stop feeling so sorry for herself and play with me instead.

Well folks….

To find out what happens next, please join me on my blog:  Sundays With Beaumont.  (It’s way more interesting than the touchy-feely human stuff she always writes about!)

All you have to do is scroll down to the red highlighted line to pick up right where you left off here!

I hope to see you there! Just click on the link — Sundays With Beaumont.

 

Mt Engadine Lodge. A Taste of Heaven.

Kitchen window view

Exhausted. Exhilarated. Tired. Happy. Proud (I actually did it! And survived as did the staff and the guests!)

After two days as the ‘guest chef’ at Mount Engadine Lodge, I’m feeling content. Mellow. Weary and energized. I want to keep cooking. Just not in quite such a high-stress (to me) environment!

The stress isn’t because of the work environment or the people — they are all incredible. The stress was because I put a lot of pressure on myself to make it ‘perfect’ and, I was working in a new environment doing something I’ve never done before — be in charge of a commercial kitchen for paying guests, preparing breakfasts and dinner on a schedule that met the high standards of the Lodge in providing guests with a special experience with exceptional surroundings, service, care and food.

No small order.

And I managed to serve it up!

It was an amazing time thanks to the team at Mt. Engadine. They were friendly, accepting, supportive, kind, patient (and believe me that was a necessary ingredient for this newbie who had no idea where things were or how things ran in the kitchen at the Lodge). Tony. Andrew. Jenna. Bianca. Helena. Francoise. Mark. Cornelia. Leschak. (And if I’ve missed you I apologize. It is my tired memory cells. Not you!) Thank You!

It takes a special someone to be able to work in a remote mountain lodge. You have to be independent. Willing to work and live 24/7 with your teammates. You have to appreciate and tolerate differences and be willing to seek value in all things and people. You have to be both introvert and extrovert. Able to create your own little bubble of quiet amidst communal living which is also your workspace, and able to get along with both fellow employees and the public.

The staff at Mt. Engadine do it all with grace, laughter and a whole lot of fun!

My two-day sojourn as ‘guest chef’ at the Lodge was wonderful thanks to the team. Because believe me, while I might cook at home for our dinner parties of 10 – 20 people, it is a very, very different experience in a commercial kitchen in a backcountry lodge where the food experience is as important as the outdoor one.

The pressure is intense. Particularly when you don’t know where many things are and, in particular, how the ovens work. The stove is a black looming castiron monster with 10 burners (most but not all of which light up) and two massive ovens, both of which have their own temperamental ways of heating up. That Moffat stove has sat along the southern wall of the kitchen for over 3 decades. It is a…. (hmmm let’s call it a delightful antique… that has its own rules of operation which seem to change hour by hour.  If the oven in the kitchen at Mt. Engadine could speak I am sure it would regale you with countless stories of Soufflés risen and fallen, bread baked golden and bread baked blackened.  Roasts cooked to perfection and roasts charred as dark as the mountain night, simply because, in the moment, the oven decided that’s the way things should be cooked.

Distance definitely does make the heart grow fonder. Memories of my adventures working with that stove and its ‘peculiarities’ make me smile this morning as I sit at my desk typing.

I didn’t have much time for typing while at the Lodge. I didn’t have much time for anything else other than cooking — Not because there wasn’t time to go for a snowshoe or fat bike ride. There was.

But, my mind was so consumed with worrying about planning,  prepping, preparing, presenting food, I didn’t have room in my head for thoughts of getting out to enjoy the outdoors.

And that’s okay. I don’t regret spending most of my time in the kitchen. I was having too much fun. And, the antidote to my worry was to prepare, prepare, prepare while holding myself mindful of being present in the moment, savouring al it had to offer.

Which goes to show that worry and fun can co-exist, as long as you don’t let the worry override your enjoyment of whatever you’re doing in the moment.

For me, that was made easy because of the staff at the Lodge. I knew that whatever came out of the mysterious workings of the oven would be okay. Because the staff would help make it so.

And so it was.

I just spent two days cooking at beautiful Mt. Engadine Lodge. Surrounded by soaring snow-covered peaks, the crystalline stillness of winter-shrouded air and the exquisite environment the Lodge creates for its guests (and staff) I feel grateful for the experience and blessed to have had it.

It was a blast!

And now… I’m going back to bed!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.