Night skies and fortunate eyes

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I am spoiled.  I live in the most beautiful part of Ontario that offers an abundance of stunning scenery, unending lakes and breathtaking landscapes.  There are moments that I’m sure I take it for granted but most of the time I remind myself how fortunate I am to be living in such a paradise.

starry night

And with all of the beauty that presents itself during the daylight hours, the sun pulls up the blanket of the horizon and the night-time emerges to share its splendor. The nocturnal winter creatures echo their cries into the vast blackness and the stars tentatively begin to dot the evening sky in their familiar patterns.

The spectral portrait of twinkling lights is awe-inspiring and, if the skies are clear, it is something we are lucky enough to see every night. I forget that city dwellers are not as blessed because their sight lines are lost in a jungle of concrete, street lamps and high rises.

Looking back a few years I was fortunate enough to be in Toronto in August of 2003 when the lights went off across the Eastern Seaboard.  Yes I said fortunate and I was in many ways.  I was staying with friends at Yonge and Sheppard and was to meet more friends for dinner at Yonge and Eglinton.  I was supposed to take the subway but was short on time and took a cab instead.  It escaped my attention through the first few intersections that the street lights were extinguished and, as we sailed through block after block, we began to assimilate to the slowing of traffic and the lack of store lights.  The city was getting dark. Had I been taking the subway I would have been trapped in a blackened metal tomb as opposed to looking in wonder at a bustling city slowing to a crawl in almost complete darkness.

The barbeque dinner was fun and certainly memorable but the most remarkable part of the night was the masses of people on the sidewalks staring up at the night sky after the sun had set.  The stars that I see on a regular basis were seen by so many eyes for what seemed like the first time.  They stood in complete reverence and the sound of silence descended on a city known for its bedlam and pandemonium.  The constellations brought peace to a city of calamity.

Strangers on the street that may have passed each other numerous times without a second glance were now sharing a small piece of the sidewalk, but not only that, they were sharing a small piece of heaven.  Those stars, no matter which province, which country or which hemisphere we are in, connect us.

That Eastern Seaboard blackout was a moment of serendipity – a fortunate accident that allowed many to gaze upon the panorama of stars that would otherwise be oblivious to them. It seemed to bring a sense of peace and fellowship to a city so bent on individuality and alienation.  I didn’t know that in that moment under the same starry sky that I sometimes take for granted that I could appreciate my life that much more. Since that fortuitous experience I make it a point to look at those stars as often as I can.

On the nights that we are fortunate to have a clear sky, I always take a moment to stand in the darkness, regardless of the temperature, and wish with childlike abandon that I will see a shooting star. Carpe noctem – seize the night, seize all of the wonder it has to offer and make sure to wish on that falling star.

What would your wish be?

 

The Miracle of Life

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Winter seemed reluctant to release its hold

as the Earth yearned to welcome Spring.

The sun’s rays massaged the ground and the trees.

A warm breeze whispered,

playfully tickling the branches on its journey.

The smell of wet soil rose to greet the morning

as the familiar songs of new life began to play

their symphony of rebirth.

For just a moment, I was an instrument in that orchestra.

The sun kissed my cheek,

as happy to see me as I was to feel its warm embrace.

I was comforted by its nurturing essence.

But Mother Nature’s heart is frozen,

her resolve, stoic.

Her icy talons hold Spring hostage in their death grip,

encasing it in a cold and lifeless womb.

The new blanket of snow

wrapped so tightly, ceasing the flow of life,

suffocating the season.

But at the core of her being, she is a mother.

Her heart will fill with a need

to birth this new life,

to nurture it and watch it grow.

She will proudly watch Spring take those first steps

and her heart will warm once again.

~~

Written for the Speakeasy at Yeah Write.  I was more inspired by this prompt this morning after waking up to 8 cm of fresh snow!!  We were SO close to it all being gone.

speakeasy-logo2

hang on — there’s rules:

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A few drops in the bucket

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Even if you don’t have one of your own, you’ve undoubtedly heard of “The Bucket List” concept.  It’s a list of things you want to accomplish before you leave this world.

Some people, like myself, err on the side of caution and have seemingly mundane ideas like writing a novel or meeting The Tenors (which I was able to cross off my list in December of 2013).  A friend of mine has a few crazier ideas and one of them is to get shot.  She is not seeking a fatal death-blow but she wants to be grazed by a bullet to understand the sensation.  Crazy?  Perhaps.  But regardless of the lunacy of its contents, a Bucket List is a worthwhile thing to have.

Life is short and thinking of the things you want to accomplish or participate in is a very grounding way of keeping motivated.  And it doesn’t have to be something you come up with when faced with the possibility of the end drawing near.  A Bucket List can be created to keep you stimulated to just live your life to the fullest.

Pure-Bliss-Yoga-bucket_list

(image credit: pureblissyoga.com)

That bucket can be a driving force in helping you succeed in the areas that you would never have previously challenged yourself.  You could decide to learn yoga, take a new course to expand your education, sleep under the stars or jump out of a perfectly good airplane. Your Bucket List is your own.  Nobody can tell you what to wish for and they certainly have no authority to coach you on how to achieve those goals.  Some may want to change the world and others just want to alter their own world.  There is no right or wrong.  You make the list, you create the rules, and it is entirely up to you to follow through and slowly cross the items off your list and fulfill the journey you created for yourself.

Whether that list is designed because the end of your life is looming closely or because you simply want to set some goals in your life…..see it through.  That list was created from a desire deep within yourself to see an idea to its conclusion. Just remember to keep filling that bucket and don’t ever let the passion that fueled the driving engine behind those bucket contents ever run out.

What’s in your bucket?

How three minutes may change your view on kindness

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Facebook is an overwhelming aspect of social media.  Timeline’s are inundated with nonsense, Farmville and game requests are sent at alarming rates and too much personal information is given away like candy at Halloween.  But every so often a little gem of humanity seeps through the cracks and makes me appreciate the sharing of information.

The video below is one of those rare gems.  I watched it twice because the message really plucked some emotional strings in the orchestra of my life.  I have always been a firm believer in treating others as you wish to be treated, in paying forward a show of altruism and allowing others to benefit from your tenderness and understanding.

Every action in life creates a ripple effect.  Whether that ripple effect is as visible to the naked eye as a drop of water in a pond or is so infinitesimal that it is unseen by the human eye there is always a reaction.  A little bit can go a long way and that ripple may spread further than you could ever imagine.

waves on a shore

I hope you will take the three minutes to watch this video created by a Thai insurance company.  Its message is heart-warming, emotional and eerily accurate.  One drop of human kindness could change the tides in so many oceans.

 Unsung Hero Video

 

Me, myself and I

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“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

~~~

It is a terrible thing to have to admit I still have the winter blahs in April.  The ground is still laden with mud-speckled snow, the mercury is still dipping below zero at night and, although the sun is trying to warm the earth, winter still has its death grip on spring.

Perhaps the overwhelming winter weather and extended season has been the cause for my hermit-like habits over the last five months.  Or perhaps with each calendar year that passes I am less excited about dressing in less than comfortable clothing and venturing out to brave the elements.  Regardless of the reason, the majority of my evenings are spent at home enjoying my own company.  Callaway is always there with me, but her conversation skills are still somewhat lacking.

hermit

(image credit: alpinequest.com)

I am a big fan of spending time at home.  I have no trouble passing the endless hours of those cold winter nights because I am comfortable enough in my own skin to enjoy the time alone.  My neighbors are close enough if I ever need help, but at enough of a distance that my sanctuary can still remain tranquil and remote.

In the summer, when the resort is in full swing and there are over 100 people on the property at any given time, it is comforting to know that I will find that same solace within my four walls or ensconced in my gazebo when I go home.  The many leaves that grow create a canopy of shelter so I feel even more hidden than before.  It is true bliss.

Spending that time alone helps me refuel and prepare for the barrage of stimulation I encounter when I leave the sanctity of my shelter.  Sometimes solitude, for me, can be the best companion.

How do you feel about spending time alone?

 

 

 

Night breezes seem to whisper

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Dreams

(image credit: panktimehta.blogspot.com)

I have always been fortunate when it comes to dreaming. Not only do I have very vivid dreams splashed with a vast array of colors but I also retain most of my dreams in my waking moments.  Last night was no exception to those rules.

Last night I dreamed of my mom.  It is not the first time she has been in my dreams since she passed a couple of weeks ago but this dream was the first time that she was the main character in the night-time production of my subconscious.  During the wee hours of my REM sleep we were able to have a conversation.

In the bizarre circumstances of my dream she had already passed away but when I was the only other person in the room she would become magically reanimated and we would talk at great length.  When others entered the room she remained still, not a word escaped from her lips.  When I awoke this morning, rather than feeling perplexed I felt deeply comforted and peaceful.  I don’t recall many of the words she uttered to me in my sleep but I do feel a great sense of warmth and a feeling of relief that she is content on the other side.  She no longer carries the chains of the physical limitations she endured with her illness and, finally, she truly feels fine.

Have you ever received messages in your dreams?

 

 

Is there a right way to write?

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When I began to really delve into writing poetry and short stories I was more comfortable writing in long hand.  It freed my mind to truly compose the ideas, the rhymes and the drama, and felt much more like a natural flow from brain to hand to ink to paper.  The archaic version of computers we had at that point did not lend much ease in the writing experience since it was a behemoth that was no more moveable than my car.

In the bygone days of my youth (I make myself sound 100 years old), when I began to read voraciously, I would always have a pen and paper handy to write down any words I found challenging and words that I was excited to use in my writing.  It went on for pages.  I still have those pages and, although they are now collecting dust in a storage bin, they still remind me of my hunger for words.  My hunger now is much more easily satiated.  With the ease of Google, on-line dictionaries and thesauruses I no longer have to put the word to paper and look it up in a bound, hard-cover dictionary.  I even have a dictionary in my Kindle should the need arise to define a foreign word.

Nowadays, I’m sure a chimpanzee would have much more success with that foreign writing object we call a pen.  I used to have beautiful handwriting and now the things that come out of the pen slightly resemble a modified version of shorthand.  (It would be far more beneficial for me if it were shorthand since I currently have no clue what I’ve written!)

shorthand

(photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org)

With the ease of the digital age I use a voice recorder if I am overcome with inspiration.  Random thoughts that used to be scribbled on scraps of paper are now stored in my phone for easy access.  My calendar is on my iPhone and so is my shopping list.  Even with my creative stream, that long steady flow of blue ink has been replaced by the gentle tapping of the keyboard on my laptop.  I have finally been able to train my mind to tune out the incessant clicking and it no longer derails my train of thought.

What do you do?  Do you still give the ink a chance or are you a slave to your keyboard?

Owls and butterflies and long-winded sighs

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There are signs everywhere.  I’m not talking about the three-dimensional signs that guide us to our destination or give us information, but the signs that are sent from spirits to let us know they are still with us to help us on our journey of healing.

My friend Sandra passed away in May of 2003, very suddenly and far too young.  Her knowledge of my likes and dislikes was astounding and each time she would learn a nugget of information about me it was stored in her ever-expanding cranium.  She knew when I needed comfort and when it was okay to push my buttons.  Since the day I received the horrible news of her untimely passing, every so often I hear a strain or two of a particular song, faintly at first but I know the tune and where it came from as the notes are processed in my brain.  I have been in the grocery store or at a restaurant when the unmistakable bars of “The Girl From Ipanema” hover around my head and pillage my ears.  She knew how much I loathed that song and that is her way of letting me know she is still with me.  I release a loud sigh when I hear it to let her know she got me again and I can vaguely hear the sound of her infectious laugh.

My father passed away in 2006.  He and I both loved owls.  My Grade 10 art project was oil on canvas and I chose to paint an owl for him as his Christmas present.  I now have that painting hanging in my kitchen.  Over last few years I have had a Barred Owl perch itself in the tree that hovers over my deck.  It will sit on the same branch for hours at a time and seems quite content to be there and do nothing else.  I have had some lengthy conversations with my dad while that owl holds its spot and it seems to listen to every word I say.

Last summer my mother and my sister-in-law released butterflies in my dad’s memory.  It was something my mom had always wanted to do.  Since my mom’s passing on March 7th of this year the butterfly seems to be emerging from its cocoon in many aspects of my life.  Almost every sympathy card I have received is adorned with a butterfly.  The card attached to an arrangement of flowers I received has a butterfly in the top left corner.  The song “Dog and Butterfly” by Heart came to mind today and I haven’t heard that song in decades.  And today, while typing the phrase “there are signs everywhere” into Google, one website grabbed my attention over every other one listed and I clicked on the link.  The picture below was the one featured on the site.

Butterflyinthesky1

Now,  more than ever, I know the spirits of our loved ones stay with us.  It gives me great comfort to know my mom is sending me the message that she is okay on the other side.  It doesn’t diminish the pain of losing her presence from my every day but it does help to know that she is able to talk to me in a way we both understand.  And when summer finally arrives, clawing its way to the surface through the snow and frost-laden ground, I will be waiting for those butterflies to emerge from their cocoons and remind me that life, even after a beautiful creature disappears, does morph into something just as beautiful and ethereal.

 

Forget Me Not

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After my first breath I was placed in her loving arms and it was there I would always find the most comfort.  She was the first one to hold my tiny hand in hers and the first one to calm me as I cried.  She gave me life and now the only thing I can do is celebrate her life.  My mom passed away on March 7th, 2014.  I thought words would flood my brain to help release the pain of losing her but none would come until now.

forgetmenot

You left us in the early hours,

so peacefully your spirit would roam.

Through a gentle wind and the rising sun,

He called to take you home.

A ladder was built for your journey to light,

each rung meant to make you content.

While bathed in the glowing light of rebirth,

you gracefully began your ascent.

Loving arms awaited  you there,

curling you into their embrace.

Heaven welcomed an angel back home,

 rejoicing her love and her grace.

You leave behind your spirit and joy,

in those who loved you each day.

While our days will be saddened by the emptiness we feel,

we know we will see you someday.

~

Jane Eleanore Nairn – May 21, 1940 – March 7, 2014

Questions that beg the question

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People are nosy.  No, let me rephrase in a more eloquent way - people are inquisitive by nature.  No, I was right the first time, people are nosy.

I’m sure every single person on this revolving planet has a few people in their life who ask the most unprovoked and personal questions that are really none of their business.  It takes us off guard when it happens, but we do our best to maintain some composure before responding.  It never ceases to amaze me that people feel so compelled to ask for information that is quite obviously not for public consumption.  If it were, we would not repress the desire to shout it from the nearest rooftop.

What aberration of human nature makes people so interested in obtaining information that has no relevance to them whatsoever?  It is reminiscent of being back in school and being able to boast “I know something you don’t know”.  Clearly, if they were supposed to know,  they would.

My friends and I have had the same discussion on several occasions and it is a subject that we deliberate on at great length.  I’m sure I’ve been guilty of being nosy as well, I’m not presenting myself as unblemished, but I’ve also learned to recognize that part of myself and stop asking questions that are quite obviously beyond my security clearance.

I have also experienced the opposite side of that fence and had people impose questions on me that were outwardly challenging and highly personal.  Before gaining the upper hand that I now possess I would stumble, quite inarticulately, searching for a response.  Now, without losing the eye contact they seem so boldly willing to hold, I simply ask “Why do you want to know?”.    Color drains from their face more rapidly than a sun sinks into the horizon.  They are suddenly and unwittingly speechless.   They feverishly work to find a suitable retort that will explain their abandonment of common decency and their attempt to invade my personal privacy.  Most times my question abruptly ends the interrogation.

A phrase so simple, yet so effective will put them on the defence and put you back on the offence.  Stand your ground – you don’t have to tell them any more than you want them to know.