Category Archives: family and friends.

In the tenderness of the dawn.

It is my most favourite morning of the year.

That first morning when I enter the living room and turn on the Christmas tree lights for the first time of the season.

Normally, this morning doesn’t arrive until after December 9th (my birthday). But, originally my sister was to have been here this week, and as C.C. and I are leaving to visit our grandson and family right after Christmas, we decided to deviate from tradition and put the tree up early.

Which is lovely.  As I write and reflect and look out the window at the world slowly awakening, the beautiful reflection of the lights shimmering on the tree has been added to my view.

How blessed I am.

My youngest daughter and her partner came over last night and joined us for dinner and in decorating. We laughed and shared stories and my daughter threw in the occasional comment about my tendency to want to ‘over decorate’. “Less is more” just doesn’t seem to align with my vision of Christmas.

When the last ornament was placed, and the angel carefully set upon the treetop, we all agreed, Vincent is a beautiful tree (And yes, he has been named after the artist in celebration of creativity, passion and all the vibrant colours of the world.)

It is in the decorating of the Christmas tree I feel the movement of our family tree the most. My eldest daughter and C.C.’s daughter both live in Vancouver now. C.C.’s son is on a U.S. tour with his band, leaving just the four of us to do the honours.

It was lovely and sweet and filled with moments to cherish and while holding the slight bittersweet tang of missing those we love who have over the years always been here to decorate.

And that’s the thing about this special time of year. It isn’t about gifts wrapped under the tree, or rushing from store to store to buy that perfect something someone may or may not want. It’s about family and friends gathering together around a tree, a table, on a skating rink, a toboggan hill, a walk through the woods.

It’s about time spent laughing and teasing, telling old stories we’ve heard countless times before but that still ring true with the sounds of love and familiarity that imbue their spirit.

It’s about one of the ‘kids’ finding the tackiest ornament (the one I swear I’m going to relegate to the garbage bin every year but just can’t seem to do it) and placing it in a very visible spot on the tree because you know, I’m going to hate it there! (And yes, this happens every year and I always feel the warm glow of love in its happening.)

It’s about Love.

Sharing.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Missing and longing too.

Because it is at this time of year, along with the loving of time together, I feel the absence of the ones I love, who aren’t here, the most. Whether they have moved away or have left this physical world for places beyond my ken, there is always that mushy place in my heart that has the sweet, tender aura of absence.

We decorated the tree last night. I sit at my desk this morning, it’s lights a shimmering glow in the window before me.

The river flows. Traffic moves along the bridge. The sky is dark.

Nat King Cole sings Christmas music in the background.  Dawn light will soon creep into the dark, gently tucking night back into the envelope of day that lies in waiting just beyond the horizon.

We decorated the tree last night. My birthday has not yet come and gone, neither has my beloved’s who celebrates his the day before mine.

Possibly, in decorating the tree before our birthdays this year, we’ve created a new tradition of when Christmas appears in our home. Perhaps, this will be a new way of stepping into this season of Peace, Hope, Love and Joy that will lovingly embrace the ever-changing landscape of our family tree.

The tree is lit. My heart is light and just a teeny bit achy. All is well with my soul because deep within me is the tender knowing that, no matter where the ones I love are, they are always at home in my heart. I carry them with me always.

 

Mountain Magic at Twin Falls Chalet

Twin Falls from a distance

When my daughters were young, I imagined sharing mountain time together. Of hiking and skiing in the backcountry. Of getting away together to places far from the maddening crowd, where Internet and cell phones did not interrupt being present in the presence of being together.

This weekend my youngest daughter and I created magic together on a trip into the backcountry to Twin Falls Chalet, a remote mountain lodge run by the irrepressible Fran Drummond.

It was a weekend of pure bliss. Of time to kick-back, relax, spend time with my daughter, and to push myself physically. It was also an unexpected gift to fall in love all over again with being in the mountains.

I had forgotten. Forgotten how mountain time, especially in the backcountry, is restorative and rejuvenating. And in this time of my rejuvenation post leaving the formal workforce, it was a welcome and much appreciated respite.

Beginning of our hike into the Chalet

The hike into Twin Falls Chalet is not a cakewalk, but it is beautiful. It’s just over 8 kilometers with about a 300 metre elevation gain to the Chalet. Lots of switchbacks and lots of views that take your breath away. (Our second day we hiked the 10km trail – up to the top of the falls (another 350 metres elevation gain) and then hiked along the Whaleback down to Marpole Lake and back to the Chalet — exquisite!)

Arriving at the Chalet Friday evening felt like finding Hansel and Gretels cabin in the woods, without the mean old witch stoking the fire.

Instead, you stumble into the Chalet to be greeted with a warm welcome and offer of coffee by its proprietor, Fran Drummond, a tiny speck of a woman with 82 years of life under her belt and an attitude that goes on into forever.

As my daughter and I were hiking out yesterday we talked about Fran and her incredible attitude. There’s no ‘end game’ for Fran. There’s just ‘the game of life’, and one she sees herself playing with every bit of her being until her last breath in some distant future. Fran sees herself going and going and going, continuing to run the lodge, which she’s overseen for the past 57 years, with the same passion and vigor she does now. She’s feisty, determined, stubborn and did I mention opinionated?

Sitting down to an incrediblely hearty and delcious meal at the large family style table includes Fran’s recounting of stories of her years spent hosting dinners and guests at the Chalet as well as her work in the oil patch as a librarian for a major oil company and a trainer. It also comes spiced up with her commentary of Parks Canada, how Canada is working (or not) and what the government, on every level is doing wrong (with a few rights tossed in with the same elan as the Amaretto she’d liberally sprinkled over the fresh peaches she’d hiked in earlier in the week that she served for dessert on Saturday night along with fresh baked Butter Tarts straight out of the wood burning oven). Fran is that unique ingredient that makes the stay at Twin Falls so enchanting, invigorating and fascinating.

At one point Fran told us that she was considering running as an MP for the PC party but she wasn’t sure she could take 4 years of living in Ottawa. “Why would you want to?” I asked.

“Because Canada’s not working,” she replied, nodding her head and giving us her mischievious grin and laugh. “Everybody’s got a responsibility to make it right and I can’t just give up.”

Giving up is not in Fran’s books. And, even though Parks Canada is looking to shut the chalet down at the end of this year for a major overhaul next spring that will see it out of operations for 2020, Fran is determined to fight them to the bitter end.

Having spent the weekend amidst the rustic and magical environment of Twin Falls Chalet listening to Fran share the history and lore of the area, I believe her. She will not give up.

I spent a weekend in the backcountry with my youngest daughter. It was a beautiful time spent connecting and communing with nature.

It was pure Love in action.

I forgot my reading glasses — which made reading and writing challenging. I also didn’t take in any paints and only had a ball point pen to work with.  it was kind of fun and challenging!

Home again. Home again.

I am home.

We left Gabriola Island on the 10:05 ferry Saturday morning and began the journey back. We had intended to wend our way through the Okanagon but grey skies, rain and C.C.’s Interclub golf game Monday afternoon gave us pause to reconsider.

We drove through in 2 days.

I am grateful we did.

I am ready for home. Ready for routine. Ready to settle in and ease into for this next phase of my life.

As we drove my mind wandered to thoughts of ‘the future’. What does it look like? What will I do? What’s in store?

It is inevitable that my mind does that. Leap into future planning, future vistas.

Home isn’t just a place to be. It’s the place where I live my life, day by day, moment by moment.

I like structure. I like knowing what I’m doing, what’s ‘supposed to be’ happening next. And while I am still committed to my ‘unplanned’ summer, I feel the urge within calling me to look into out there, on that distant horizon for ‘what happens next’.

I am resisting its call and looking within instead.

Peering deeply into myself to feel the ebb and flow of creativity as it crashes into the shores of my desire to be present with all that is when I stop pushing and pulling and trying to make ‘what is’ into something I want it to be.

For now, I shall be spending time preparing my workspace. Clearing out clutter. Setting up my studio to be a space that infuses each day with creative spark and inspired curiousity.

There’s a fair amount of ‘grunt work’ to be done.

Since moving into this house a year ago, I have not tackled the back storage room where all my boxes of art supplies were loaded in by the movers.

On the road as we drove…

There is no rhyme or reason to the placement of the room’s contents. And, because the move out from our old home was so fast (the sale included a 14 day possession date), a lot of my supplies were simply loaded into boxes without a plan. The movers didn’t label what they were packing so now I go on the adventure of discovering what is there. What is needed, and what is not.

I’m excited!  Stampede is on and I don’t have to dress-up and play cowgirl. I get to revel here at home as I create my ideal studio space in which to paint and draw, write and contemplate, create and grow.

Yahoo!  I may not be out kicking up my heels, dancing to a two-step, but I shall be dancing with the muse as I unpack and explore what happens next in my studio space.

_________________________

And…. I created a video of C.C. and my stay on Gabriola. It was a delightful time!

Island Life. Slow and easy does it.

The View From Where I Sit

Island life is a slow, easy pace. The biggest decision of my morning here at my sister and brother-in-law’s on Gabriola Island is whether to have coffee on the north deck or the south.

Decisions. Decisions.

This morning, I added one more decision. To take the seaplane from Silva Bay to the south terminal in Vancouver, (20 minutes + half hour transit) or, two ferries (4+ hours).

Seaplane won. Simple. Direct. And bonus. I get to spend the day exploring the beaches of Gabriola before returning to Vancouver.

This trip is unplanned insofar as my schedule is determined by my daughter’s needs for childcare as she settles into a new job and juggles work, family, and a nanny 3 days a week.

Tomorrow, Thurlow, my grandson, and I will spend the day together.

Colour me excited!

It is the most precious part of this trip. To spend time with him without adult supervision (I’m hoping my daughter doesn’t read this as she might get a little perturbed by my suggestion that time with my grandson is all about being a child at heart!) 🙂

Before I left for Gabriola on Monday, my grandson and I walked to the park at the end of their street for playtime. Apparently, an hour walk was a bit longer than my daughter anticipated. When my phone rang and I answered, she advised me I needed to get back.

But he’s not ready to leave yet, I told her.

She suggested I pick him up and carry him home.

I don’t think he’ll be happy about that, I replied.

I didn’t pick him up but we did manage to wander home in time to meet the nanny.

It is perhaps one of the greatest joys of being a YiaYa. Not feeling the pressure and responsibility of time, schedules and disciplined structure. It’s why I like my name ‘YiaYa’.  There are no-no’s where my grandson is concerned!

And on this trip, there is no need to create a schedule — other than to coincide with what works for friends and family whom I may be visiting. C.C. is looking at flying out for a week to visit friends on Vancouver Island. He’ll fly home and I’ll continue on my journey. Or he’ll drive back with me.

That’s the plan. And that’s the beauty of the plan. There’s lots of room for change!

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

The Sacred Nature of Waves

From my journal yesterday:

I sat by the ocean and wept for the joy and beauty of being alive in this moment right now. My tears flowed into the sea and the sacred embraced me and this ordinary experience of being human opened my heart to the awesome beauty of our shared humanity.

We are all capable of greatness. We are all part of the light and darkness of being human.

Where we walk, how we walk is our choice. Let us step lightly on this sacred planet.

I leave this paradise of Gabriola Island tomorrow to return to Vancouver where I will spend a week with my grandson, daughter and son-in-love. And then… the script is not completely written. I shall take the ferry to Vancouver Island. Visit friends. Wander the island.

Unscripted. Unmapped. Unwritten.

Such a joyful, beautiful time to refresh, relax and rejuvenate.

I am so blessed.

The Bucket List

A morning visitor

I am sitting in bed at my sister’s home on Gabriola Island. The view is stunning. The morning fresh and dewy. A deer walks past the window. And then a racoon. A squirrel bounces up a treetrunk. An eagle soars overhead.

Morning rush hour has arrived.

Two years ago, my sister and her husband moved to their island home on Gabriola. It is their own personal paradise, their home filled with treasures, a reflection of their eclectic lives.

I arrived yesterday afternoon via float plane. One of my favourite ways to travel. It feels so in the moment, so close to the sky and the sea. So personal.

Ryan, the pilot, has been flying for Gulf Island Seaplanes for 13 years. There’s not a day when he hates his job, he told me. Sure, there are days when he doesn’t want to get out of bed, but once up and at work, he’s reminded of how fortunate he is to do what he does, and live where he lives.

The Islanders

Like my sister and her husband, living on Gabriola Island is a dream come true for him. A bucket list kind of thing.

It’s a relatively new term, ‘bucket list’, coined by screenwriter, Justin Zackham for his 2007 movie of the same name.  He had a list of things he wanted to do before he ‘kicked the bucket’. Having a hit movie was one of them.

While visiting with my daughter and her family in Vancouver she asked me what was on my bucket list. It’s not something I think about a lot, I told her, the list of things I want to do or see before I die. Mostly, I want to live my life fully each day, experiencing life’s juicy moments with uncensored joy.

Love in a bucket seat

Yes, it would be lovely to see the Taj Mahal. The Great Wall of China, but even more, it would be good to know I have lived fully. Shared love. Spread kindness. Savoured each moment.

Where I do it is not as important to me as how I live and with whom.

And that’s where my bucket list lives. Not in places or things to do but in the heart. My heart.

And when my heart is full of time spent with those I love, my bucket list is full.

Namaste.

 

 

33 years and I’m so in love.

Alexis aged 2ish

I remember the first time I heard my daughter cry. She was still in the womb. The doctor had just cut me open to bring her into the world and she cried before they could lift her out of the protective cocoon of my body.

I remember the feeling of my heart leaping out of my body, of wanting to still her cries, of wanting to hold her forever, to never let her go, to always keep her safe.

And I remember how helpless I felt in that same moment when I realized I couldn’t stop her cries, couldn’t keep her within my body forever. That this was the challenge I would face for the rest of her life, to love her and to let her go.

I remember thinking that my job as her mother wasn’t to stop her from growing but to create safe places for her to experience life, in all its complexities, ups, downs and sticky places too.

I remember realizing that life is its own journey and that the greatest gift I could give her would be the confidence to navigate hers independent of the lifeline of the umbilical cord that had connected us for those 9 magical months I held her safe within my womb.

And I remember the pain of having to acknowledge I was not all powerful over her life, and couldn’t, shouldn’t, mustn’t be.

I remember when I realized that even though she was separate from my body she would always have my heart, always be a part of me. That I was forever changed because of her presence in this world. A presence that was made possible because of the mystery and magic of this evolutionary process called birthing life.

That moment of hearing her cry inside the womb was 33 years ago this Wednesday. I heard her cry at 10:38pm. And, ever since that moment, I have experienced the incredible joy and fear of being her mother.

Joy because she is so miraculous, so magical, so incredibly unique and special and wondrous.

Fear because I cannot protect her from all harm. Cannot prevent the world from invading her life in ways I cannot conceive of, in ways that will challenge her, stretch her, break her, and ultimately strengthen her.

My eldest daughter turns 33 this week. In the 12,037 days that she will have been on this earth come June 19th, there is not a moment that I have not given her my heart, given her my love or wanted only love, safety and joy for her.

And while I know that I have always wanted only those things for her, I also know I have been the cause of pain, confusion, fear, anxiety, loss, separation in her life.

It is all part of life. Part of being a parent. Part of giving birth to a miraculous being of light and love; to want only the best for her, and to have my humanness be the cause of her pain.

Alexis turns 33 this week. I am so blessed to call her my daughter. To witness her journey from infant to child to teen to young woman to mother.

Becoming a mother was more than just bringing a child into this world. It has been the most excruciatingly beautiful journey I have ever had the privilege of experiencing. It has been a journey of unprecedented joy, of incredible love, of finding myself beyond the realm of who I thought I was as I became what I never imagined I could ever be, a mother and a grandmother.

I am so blessed.