Some trips down Memory Lane

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I don’t profess to know much about history.  I spent more time trying to avert my eyes from my high school History teacher’s unpleasant gestures and I unfortunately did not absorb any of the assumed knowledge he had bestowed upon us.  Instead, I doodled, wrote poems and passed notes to my friends.  I narrowly escaped with a passing percentage from my tenth grade scholastic year because of the embarrassing grade I received from that History class but my outlook on the past has recently changed.

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I have been asked to help with a project for our local library.  They would like to create a book that details the photos and the memories of our senior residents, learn what brought them to Muskoka and what the area was like when they first arrived.  I knew I would enjoy the journey but I didn’t know how much I would love it until I did my first interview on Wednesday.

This area has been home to my family for many generations.  I have been fortunate to live here for most of my life and have many photos and stories of family members who walked these paths long before my grandparents were born.  It has been a part of  my soul for longer than I have been on this Earth and I now get to hear stories of how Muskoka has been the love of many other people’s lives.

My first interview was with a delightful 82-year-old woman who was born in Cork, Ireland.  She moved to England with her family after the war and bravely left the safety of her home to move to Canada with a friend when she was 23 years old.  As I listened to her detail the moments of her life, I became absorbed in her words as she described her passion for her early days as a cottager and subsequently as a summer resident.  Her words moved me.  I felt the same strong emotion she did as she described how she felt more than fifty years ago when she first came to the area.

Perhaps history is subjective.   The stories of our past may be told in different ways but they will always hold a special place in our heart.  I am looking forward to joining a few more of our long-time residents on their journey down memory lane.

Do more of what makes you happy

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The weekend had arrived and I had my to-do list all mapped out.  Saturday would be the day of chores since Sunday was going to be our last “chop fest” of the season for the food bank and I would be too busy shopping for groceries, making labels and prepping the kitchen.

As luck would have it, Saturday turned into a spectacular day of weather.  In the cooler hours of the morning, I had my hair cut, took my garbage to the dump and ran my errands in town.   I arrived home knowing that my list of chores had not been completed but when I saw the sun shining on my deck, my list of chores suddenly changed, as did my outfit.  I turned off my heat, opened all my windows, donned some shorts and a t-shirt and went outside to bask in the sun for as long as I could.  As fate would have it, my neighbors chose to embrace the day as well and burn everything they wanted to dispose of and the smoke penetrated every ounce of air I was trying to breathe.  My dog and I quickly made our way indoors and wistfully closed the windows.

I stood inside, my head going back and forth from my vacuum to my laptop and I surreptitiously neglected my remaining chores.  I opened my laptop and sat down to write what would end up being over three thousand words for my book.  My dog was still shedding, my carpet looked like my dog had exploded, more dust had settled on every surface in my home and my dishes were still waiting to be washed but I didn’t care.  I deferred the menial tasks to concentrate more on the things that truly make me happy.

My vacuum will still be in the same place on Monday.  My dog will still be shedding and the dust particles will still be dancing in the light that filters through my windows.  But just maybe, those words that flowed through me today would not have waited for me until Sunday or Monday.

Do more of what makes you happy and do it often.  Life is much too short to spend it doing things that don’t truly inspire you and make you feel like you are living your best life.  I spent a great deal of my past living for others and now it is time to put aside the things that can wait and focus on the things that consume my thoughts.

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.

 

 

 

The day in between

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March 8th had never previously had a profound effect on my life.  It had always been a day like any other.  But three years ago, that day marked the separation between the calendar date that my mother and my father passed away.  Although the losses were separated by almost 8 years, the fact did not go unrecognized that the dates of their individual passing almost overlapped.  March 7th was the third anniversary of my mom’s passing and March 9th will be the 11th anniversary of losing my dad.

Time is a funny thing.  Had those moments not occurred within less than 48 hours of each other, eight years later, that single day on the calendar would go by inconspicuously.  It would still be a day like any other.

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But today has become a bridge – a connection that holds the memories of both my mom and my dad in a splendid moment of happiness between the two saddest days of our lives.

Today is the day when their laughter is heard and the thoughts of their smiles are etched in our memories.  Those moments shine above the heartbreak of their losses.  Today is the day that will hold us in its embrace, allowing us to live in the contentment of how wonderful life was when they were both still with us.  And today is the day that we can stand on top of that bridge and not feel the pain of loss on either side.

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One thousand and ninety six days

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Three years ago today, March 7th, was the worst day of my life.  I woke up to my cell phone ringing at 7:00 am and the voice on the other end of the phone told me my mother had passed away in her sleep.  We knew she had been ill, but she had been having a great week during the week leading up to her passing so her death came as a shock.

There are still days I get excited to tell her about something that happened and mindlessly reach for the phone to call her.  I’m sure that will never  change.  Below is the poem I wrote and read at her celebration of life.  I miss you mom.

You left us in the early hours,

so peacefully your spirit would roam.

Through a gentle wind and the rising sun,

the angels called 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

 

Do the thing that makes you happy

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We were busy chopping vegetables and chatting as women do while we prepared more freezer crockpot meals for our local food bank.  The conversation hovered over several topics, after peeling and cutting carrots there were some offside comments made about tiny orange hands and the laughter was abundant.

And then a comment was made that we all talked about but I thought about more and more on my drive home.   When she was younger,  the daughter of one of the women had asked her dad, “If you died tomorrow, would there be something you regretted not doing.”  That really stuck with me.

I have been pondering my past and my present and was extremely contented to feel that, if I died tomorrow, I would be extremely happy knowing that I have lived a good life.  I have made mistakes and learned from them.  I married for the wrong reason and got divorced for the right one.  I have always given 110% to everything I do and I have come to understand that doing things for others is the thing that makes me truly happy.  That should have come as no surprise to me since my career in Hospitality has been about taking care of other people.

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Some people spend most of their lives searching for happiness but that euphoric feeling is not as elusive as some believe it to be.  Do the thing that makes you happy.  If you love to read, read.  If you love to play golf, play golf.  If you love to do macrame, do macrame! By doing the thing that makes you happy, you have a much better chance of being happy.  Sure, life likes to throw in a curve ball every now and then to keep us on our toes but life doesn’t run us, we run our lives.

I am who I am and I where I am because I chose to do the things that makes me happy.  And if I cross over and am asked if I lived a good life, I will smile proudly and say “absolutely”.