The most authentic version of me

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Aging is a funny thing.  When we are young, we think we have the world by the balls.  We are confident to the point of being cocky.  To some extent, we feel (or felt) like the world owed us something.  But as we watched the calendar pages keep turning, we realized that life is merely leading us to the place where we were meant to be.

If I were to be honest, I would tell you that, deep down, I always knew I was meant to be the person I am today but somewhere along the path I took to get here, my direction was circumvented by my distorted illusion of reality.  I let others opinions weigh far too heavily on the perception of who I thought I was and it altered my trajectory for a number of years.  Those outside voices did more to define me than the voices I should have listened to that were coming from deep within myself.  I always knew who I was, I just wasn’t confident enough to give her a chance.

Today is a different story.  Perhaps is it different because I am two years away from being fifty.  Maybe it is different because I have finally created a sense of self that is directly related to the person I see in the mirror.  And conceivably, it is different because I have quelled those outside voices and listen only to the voice in my head.  Regardless of how I got here, I have arrived at the place where I feel most comfortable being the person I know I was meant to be.  I make no excuses, I apologize to nobody…..I am simply me.

 

 

 

Always

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“Nothing is more sad than the death of an illusion” ~ Arthur Koestler

trees

His face was etched in my dream,

and it seemed like he waited for me.

Every night as I drifted into sleep,

he was there, eager for me to be in his realm.

His hand would reach for mine

and we would lose ourselves in a world

where time stood still,

where anything was possible,

where we could be together.

He was my forever.

But my forever changed,

minutes shifted,

seconds were altered,

and what once seemed like reality

slowly devolved into fantasy once again.

Where once he was my future,

he quickly became my past.

And in my last dream,

there was no hand to hold my hand.

His smile no longer reflected mine,

and my illusion of always

changed.

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A place in the woods

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cabin

There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,

and my mind has been known to roam.

There are four walls and a roof that wait for me,

and long for me to call it my home.

The mass of buildings and lanes of traffic

are replaced with hills and trees.

The soothing sounds of Mother Nature’s lullaby

truly put my mind at ease.

I am homesick for a place I’ve never seen,

a place where my heart is replete,

a home where my soul is understood

 and a home where I feel genuinely complete.

The barren land beckons, the rolling earth lures,

I hear it calling my name.

I know when I finally find this haven

my life will never be the same.

I will shed the layers of the pretense I’ve lived

and genuinely feel at peace.

I will feel naked among the rocks and the trees,

and my life will have found a new lease.

There is a place in the woods where my heart is free,

and my mind has been known to roam.

I hope to one day discover this place,

and forever call it my home.

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Life in a snow globe

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I have come to the long-overdue conclusion that January is my least favorite month.  Although I think winter can be a stunning portrait of Arctic beauty, January seems to hold some sort of malice for those who live in colder climates.  Looking at the picturesque view of the snow clinging to the trees, with the backdrop of a clear blue sky, makes it slightly more bearable but with that beauty in the forefront the beast stealthily lurks in the background.

Skies become overcast and scattered patterns of flakes stipple the grey sky.  They fall, lightly at first and in swirling random patterns, hypnotizing those in their path with their ethereal beauty.  But the flakes are unending.  They churn in the wind, they seem to multiply before they hit the ground and, as the mercury drops, they are frozen to their place.  Individual patterns of snow and ice combine to create the tomb of winter.

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But I retain a modicum of hope.  We are one-quarter of our way through the month.  The days are becoming longer and January will soon be followed by the shortest month of the year, leading us into the beginning of the month that births Spring.  And with that turning of the season comes the promise of warmer days and easier nights.  I look forward to the days that the air doesn’t hurt my face.

 

Long stems and deep thoughts

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fresh-flowers

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It is not often that I buy myself fresh-cut flowers.  I sometimes peruse the selection at our local grocery store and every now and then will splurge on a pretty arrangement that catches my eye.

As I stood in front of the floral arrangements yesterday, I heard a voice over my shoulder say, “Go for the plant basket.  I never buy fresh-cut flowers, they just die.”  That one sentence didn’t engage my writer’s brain until I got home and really thought about it.  It stayed with me all night and I have been replaying that comment in my head over and over again today.

I don’t want to miss the opportunity to have a bright bouquet of flowers greet me in the morning just because I know they are going to die.  I want to be able enjoy the allure while they are still full of color and charm.  I want to give them a chance to see how long I can make them last.

Longevity is subject to limitations but there are always ways to fight the inevitable.  And who knows what opportunities you may be passing up if you only focus on the outcome instead of the journey?

 I think I will stop and buy myself some flowers on my way home tonight.

The true spirit of giving

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This afternoon I received an email from a stranger.  It read:

“Greetings from Dwight.  We were touched by your wonderful crockpot idea to help your food bank. We have decided to make a donation on your Go Fund Me page instead of buying gifts for a few family members.  Thanks for helping Muskoka families in need.”

Over the last couple of weeks, some friends of mine who are very supportive of Dollars for Dinners have been mischievous little elves and have contacted some local media outlets to share the story of our crockpot meals for our Food Bank.  I can only guess that this lovely woman heard the story on the first radio interview and contacted the station to get my information.

After I wiped the tears from my cheeks, I smiled.  What a wonderful gift from one family that will help create meals for several other families who are struggling.  That is what the spirit of the season is about.

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But when the holiday season is over, when the Salvation Army bells fall silent, when the donation Kettles are gone and the spirit of giving seems to be packed away with the extra wrapping paper and bows, that is the time that we need to remember those families who need our help.

The end of the holidays does not signify the end of the hunger or the need for a helping hand.  We need to keep the true spirit of giving alive and well and keep that glow in our hearts, the glow you can only get from helping others, burning all year long.

 

 

When the past slaps you in the face

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It is a very rare occurrence when my emotions take me by surprise.  I am usually fairly in tune with them and I can feel them bubbling gently below the surface.  But last night on my way home from work while driving past my mother’s old house, the same house I drive by every day on my way to work and again on my way home, the emotion stored within my walls hit me like a ton of bricks.   Last night I glanced at the house, as I do every time I follow that familiar road, and I burst into tears.

I don’t know where the tidal pool of emotion came from but suddenly I was flooded with images of moments that had become important memories in my life.  Christmases, birthdays, family gatherings and quiet nights spent as a family were at the forefront of my brain.  Lingering snapshots of magical kisses witnessed by only the walls upstairs slowly transformed themselves into moving pictures to replay those scenes.  That house, the building others would only see as walls and a roof, was my home.  It was the vessel that helped create and store some of the most precious moments of my life.

And I do the same with my childhood home.  Every so often I feel the pull to drive by and just look at the house that began our journey to becoming locals in this town.  It was home to my family and a welcoming second home to many of our friends.  It witnessed great happiness and great sorrow, but it was always filled with love.

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Although there were many happy times in our second home, there were also moments of great sorrow.  Those walls echoed my overwhelming grief in May of 2003 as I told my parents through hysterical sobs that my best friend had passed away unexpectedly.  That roof sheltered both my parents as they battled their illness and those walls protected them for as long as they could.  That structure, that old building that is seemingly unnoticeable to passers-by, will forever have a large part of my history carved into its frame.

That architecture will always be a part of me.   And each time I drive by and take the time to trace the outlines of those walls I will always have an affinity to its design and purpose.  It is said that we need to let things go to be happier but I feel the need to embrace those things to stay connected.