There will be no ringing, merely a silent welcome

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The end of the year is nigh. As the clock slowly discards the seconds and minutes of 2013 the mad preparations begin for those who want to ring in the New Year with a bang. Parties are planned, the guest lists are set and the decorations are waiting to be boldly displayed. The party hats are silently waiting in a corner soon to adorn the heads of the anticipated drunken guests and the blowers will soon be filled with alcohol saturated saliva. The song Auld Lang Syne will be warbled, some syllables will inevitably be missed by the inebriated choir, and some words will be hysterically incomprehensible.

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This year, once again, I am following a beloved tradition that I started a few years ago – I will welcome the new year at home with no loud music and no intoxicated visitors. Like Valentine’s Day, for me New Year’s Eve is a holiday that I cannot seem to celebrate with the same enthusiasm as others. January 1st is certainly a new beginning but it really is just another day. It does not wipe the slate clean going into that New Year but brings with it all of the memories and experiences from the previous year. I do enjoy embracing a new calendar year and do think about the potential that the year ahead may embody but I choose not to begin that new calendar year with my arms wrapped around a porcelain vessel while popping Alleve like Tic Tacs and drinking more water than a camel that bypassed every pond in the desert.

My New Year’s Eve is quiet, contemplative and subdued. My New Year’s Eve is filled with twinkling lights, rich harmonic voices and the company of my four-legged fur child.

The beef tenderloin is in the fridge, the extra-large uncooked shrimp are in the freezer and an aged Shiraz Cabernet blend that I have been saving is awaiting the countdown on December 31st. This is my perfect New Year’s Eve. This small piece of solitude and reflection before the beginning of a new year is my favorite way to welcome January 1st. There are no noise makers, there are no obscenely drunk people pin-balling from random pieces of furniture and there is no making excuses for leaving early before the big countdown. This is bliss.

After setting up the candles and starting The Tenors ‘Lead With Your Heart DVD’, I will open up the wine and remove the crystals. I will graciously let it breathe on its own for about 20 minutes before I assist in the process and begin giving it mouth to mouth for about three hours. I will let all of the bad moments of this past year remind me of the lessons I learned and I will let the good moments bathe me in a euphoric feeling that I will carry with me into 2014.

Happy New Year to you all and may 2014 be the best year yet!!

The least important days

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Life moves at a million miles an hour and so many times I feel engulfed by its pace and overwhelmed by the many things I have to balance on a daily basis. It feels like several days attack me all at once but I have to learn to step back and change the pace of that onslaught.

There are always two days in every week that I should learn to ignore – yesterday and tomorrow.  They always weigh heavily on me and distract me from today.  I focus too much on what I didn’t accomplish yesterday and think forward too often about what is waiting for me tomorrow and I forget to live in the present.

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(image courtesy of babydearlyn.blogspot.com)

I need to embrace each day as an opportunity to live life to the fullest and accept whatever challenges may face me on that one day.  There is no sense in worrying about what tomorrow will bring because I will never be able to truly know that.  And  there is no point in reliving yesterday because it is over.  I cannot change the past.  It will reflect itself in my present, sure, but I can choose how much power I give to that reflection.

I need to lay yesterday to rest and not consume myself with thoughts of tomorrow.  My favorite saying (and my email address in short form) is Carpe Diem – Seize the Day.  Life happens and there is nothing I can do to stop the moving freight train of time.  I can only choose how I ride that train.  I can look out behind me and see where I’ve been, I can look ahead and ponder where I am headed or I can embrace the vibrations of life flowing through the train and live in the moment. The choice is mine.

Today, I am making the conscious choice to forget all of the things I didn’t accomplish yesterday.  I cannot go back and do anything differently.  Today, I am making a concerted effort not to think about tomorrow and what lies ahead.  Today, I am going to live only for today.  Carpe Diem!

You are not a tree

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I am fortunate to be able to say that I am happy with my life.  I enjoy my job and the people I work with, I love my little house and the privacy it affords me and I love living in Muskoka.  Not everything in my life has been picture perfect but that awareness empowers me to alter the things in my life that are not working and follow the path that I envision for myself.

So many people I encounter don’t seem to have the same luxury of being able to say they are content in their own lives. They seem to radiate negative energy and the lessons that are presented in their lives become more of a burden than a learning experience.  The “glass half empty” attitude fills the room and stifles any potential for that glass to be filled again.

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With the impending shift in the calendar, the welcoming of a New Year and possible making of resolutions, we have to remember that we are not trees.  We are not rooted so deeply into the soil of our lives that we are unable move and make a change.  We are not permanently stuck in one spot for the rest of our lives, able to only move in one direction.  We are afforded the freedom of being able to make a change in our lives whenever we feel the desire to alter our destiny.  It may be a daunting task to uproot yourself and start over but, when you flip to the other side of that coin, what could be the lesser of the two evils?  With change always comes doubt but happiness will always trump fear.

Give yourself permission to do whatever it takes for you to be happy.  Put down some roots but if the place you have planted yourself smothers your potential for growth, dig up the roots, plant yourself again and start over.  You have to give yourself the opportunity to flourish and, if that means beginning again in a different location, trust that your happiness is worth the effort and do whatever it takes to find that perfect place.

Plant your feet and blossom but leave room to uproot, branch out and grow.

Stories of Christmas

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Another Christmas has come and gone leaving us with more great memories for the scrapbooks in our minds.

My sister-in-law kidnapped my mom from her new home and Christmas Eve was spent standing in a sub-zero temperature to watch Santa Claus go by on the fire truck.  This has been a tradition in our family since we moved to our small town in 1976.  This year, however, was the first year that a Command Post vehicle followed behind the fire truck in case Santa became thermally challenged.  I’m sure somewhere in his mind the Ho-Ho-Ho evolved into Ho-Ho-Holy S*&t it’s cold up here.

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Once again we went, as a family, to church but this year there was no fear of having to don a Shepherd costume and stand in front of a crowd.  Roles had been pre-assigned and we were able to sit in our pews and enjoy the performance. The three Wise Men this year were comprised of an older gentleman, a seven-ish year old and a stand up comedian, turning their show into a couple of wise guys and a very confused child!  Hilarity ensued and our hearts were definitely light allowing us to forget the frigid temperature outside and the fact that the heating system inside the church couldn’t fight off the cold.

Christmas morning welcomed us with a beautiful sunrise and a temperature of -30C but nothing could slow the pace of gifts being exchanged and paper flying.  Although we had decided a few years ago not to exchange Christmas gifts, my brother surprised me with a CD of my grandfathers dialect stories that had been converted from a vinyl album.  It was an amazing gift and one that I will treasure.  My nephews ventured off in their own directions, one wearing his new blue tooth headphones and the other jumping into a new book and devouring the words.  My brother headed for the kitchen and, even after five cups of coffee, I still managed to squeeze in an hour and a half nap before enjoying the turkey dinner my brother and family created.

After pushing our chairs back to let the turkey settle, we listened to some of my grandfather’s stories as a family.  My youngest nephew had listened to the recording so many times he could recite bits of the stories and my oldest nephew punctuated the end of a conversation with one of the best endings to one of the stories – “so long, fat ass”.  His timing was impeccable and there may or may not have been some cheesecake remnants sprayed onto the tablecloth.

It was agreed that my mom would have another sleepover and, one by one, we began to assume something reminiscent of a reclining pose.  My 13-year old nephew was a sitting duck on the couch when the tickling began.  The musical sound of his laughter filled the living room and, after exhausting all my efforts, I finally heard the three words that every Aunt longs to hear – “Stop, I’m peeing.”

I hope you all had a Christmas celebration that will leave you with stories of your own to pass down over the years.  May our hearts continue to be light and may we feel this same Christmas spirit throughout 2014.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

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With the barrage of holiday movies on television and the impending calendar date of the actual Christmas celebration just around the corner, the many images of Santa Claus, old and new, are generously scattered throughout our channel selections.  Animated versions of the benevolent being as well as the portrayal of Kris Kringle by well-known actors give us abundant opportunity to delve back into that childhood fantasy that all of us once had.

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Each portrayal of Pere Noel allows me to travel back in time and dip into the well of innocence I had as a child.  It lets me live in a simpler time when life was less complicated and everything seemed magical.

Santa Claus embodies the spirit of happiness and giving.  His cherubic face symbolizes unending love and perhaps it is that feeling of love that keeps the spirit of his message alive in my heart.  Santa Claus may not have a genuine physical presence, or more feasibly the cynicism of my adult life disallows me from seeing that presence, but the true message of his existence still flows through my veins.

Perhaps the North Pole is that idyllic peace of mind I am wrapped in when I allow myself the child-like happiness that I inexplicably only allow myself to feel this time of year.  Sure, I’m generally a happy person throughout the rest of the year but there is a more youthful quality to my happiness during the Christmas holidays that I wish I could capture and recreate on a more frequent basis.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  He lives in our hearts and will continue to exist there as long as we believe in the magic of happiness.

I Hear Only You

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Another poetic duet with my dear friend Sage Doyle.   Please click the link to his page and treat yourself to some of his other writing.

***

Amidst the calling wind I turn

to find you there, bating

the imprints you left behind

as you found your voice

~

I watched you follow that cry

churning in desperate circles

chasing the sound you had forgotten

remembering when your voice was strong

~

It was then that I began to fall

if only for the reaching, the sound

of my own echoes were of remorse

the recall of these discrepancies

~

I search for your hand

to steady me and  hold me as I fall

stronger than any voice in the dark

the errant sounds land heavily on my heart

~

It is this restitution which I embrace

in order to continue on, calling along the way

while you become the stronghold,

the stage of my convictions

~

I seek and hold the dulcet tones

those symbols of your existence in my reality

those things that hold me true to who I am

and that voice that draws me to you