Finding time in this busy place we call life can be draining. I want to find time each day to Be Still, and recognize the many gifts God has blessed me with. Family, friends, and a beautiful island I call home.
Have you had one of those days, when deep down, you know what you need to do for a better you…but you just can’t seem to find the motivation to make that first step?
Today was one of those days. I was up early (as usual), put on my comfy leggings, and consciously put on my sneakers instead of my flats. Be prepared. My coach says “Be Ready…that’s half the battle” . Be ready, at a moment’s notice to jump back on that path to a better you. I had Dial a Ride clients this morning, so had to go “all the way” to North Head 😂, anyway. I was tempted to just go straight to the lighthouse, skip the helicopter pad today. It’s too windy. It’s too cold. It will be really cold up there. You missed the sunrise, so the view isn’t going to be that spectacular. You forgot your water bottle. Your tummy is rumbling because you didn’t grab breakfast. Just get to the lighthouse and you can turn right around and head home.
Self-talk can be so harsh, can’t it? My feet seem to have a mind of their own sometimes…habit says turn uphill, not straight ahead when you get the keeper’s house. Before I knew it, I was standing on top of the cement path. It was certainly breezy. Before I knew it, I was heading further away from the lighthouse, out to the very tip of the peninsula. The trails down there are very narrow, and a little more challenging, but I made it. Looking back, I purposely chose the longest, twistiest path back to the lighthouse. Jump over to the foghorn. Then I spotted it…the first of several painted rocks little Harper had left yesterday. I had come prepared with a few rocks of my own to trade. Thank you for the motivation to keep going, Harper.
Just Keep Moving. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Just climb those steps like you own them. Just get to the top. Only stop to enjoy the view from where you’ve travelled. And just be kind to yourself. Just for this day.
I look back on my Facebook memories today to see if there are any clues of what life was like before. None. Although today was noted as one year anniversary of World Heath Organization declaring the world pandemic of Corona Virus, here in New Brunswick, on this date, our first presumptive case was announced. It wouldn’t be until three days later, our own world would start to shut down… Friday the 13th.
I’ve been watching my Facebook feed all week for clues… memories… of what life was like BEFORE the pandemic. I didn’t find a lot. We had some snow; not much. The deer came to visit in the yard. I made an early morning trek out to Swallowtail.
Then I would be enjoying Art Club, as we waited for our teacher, Carole Forbes to return from her winter vacation and resume classes. I would be doing volunteer work with Dial a Ride, Food Bank and Toast Cart. I had just started my Life Coaching business, and holding Creative Art Therapy classes & small group sessions. We would be enjoying Monday morning Ladies Bible Study (WITH singing!), and 40 Days of Prayer at CLC.
Dalton and I made a short trip to Fredericton for March Break; I enjoyed a painting class at NB College of Craft & Design. We visited the Beaverbrook Art Gallery with Auntie Joyce for the Emily Carr exhibit, and visited with my mom at DECH.
Various friends had been traveling South for March Break, and the Nova Coronavirus was really hitting Europe. Precautionary travel advisories and restrictions were starting to pop up, and seep into our daily lives, whether we were traveling or not. Our nursing home and school district, amongst other organizations would start restrictions if you had travelled to certain countries. Friends were stuck in Hawaii, frantically trying to avoid airport closures and look for a way home. Entire cruise ships were being turned away at ports.
Shopping for toilet paper, hand sanitizer and flour would be amongst hottest grocery store purchases. Forget Storm Chips!
And here we are. Week 51 State of Emergency. We cautiously accepted Dr Theresa Tam’s announcement “no reason to be overly concerned in Canada”, but by March 2020, we would be hearing her recommendations of social distancing and face masks. We would meet Dr Jennifer Russell and welcome her into our homes on a regular basis.
And we would learn to go about our everyday lives in a new way.
We learned to watch for arrows, space ourselves 6’ apart, wash our masks daily, wash and sanitize our hands an insane amount of times, schedule our lives around 2:30 news updates; we learned how to Zoom and FaceTime when we were expected to “Stay the blazes home”. We booked appointments and bought groceries behind plexiglass, and answered a barrage of questions regarding symptoms and recent travel at many public buildings. We learned to celebrate from a distance, and not always together at the same time. We learned to prioritize friendships with a Steady 10, then 15.
But sadly, we also learned to love differently. I learned how to love differently. I learned I couldn’t just pop into the hospital to visit an ailing friend, or even my dad after surgery. I couldn’t just pop in to visit my dying mother in a nursing home. I learned I could enjoy lunch with my sister over Zoom. I did learn I have friends who can help me make those visits happen, regardless. We learned to cry as a nation with a neighbouring province when tragedy hit, and I had the privilege of sitting with a remarkable poet from that neighbourhood and listen to her grieving heart. I learned I could drop off fresh bread (no covid lessons needed, I already had that skillset!) on an elderly friend’s porch, and chat through her kitchen window. I learned we could sing Happy birthday with a choir from Fredericton, North Head, Scotland, while on my couch on Hill Road. And I still sing badly. We learned we couldn’t sing in church; but no one could see my lips repeat 10 000 Reasons for my heart to find. We were told to keep 6 feet apart, but we couldn’t stop that 6 year old’s tiny arms from swinging around my waist. We couldn’t stop that grieving man, standing in front of his mother’s casket, from reaching out and squeezing tight, and knowing that all you had to offer in the moment was a prolonged squeeze in return.
We haven’t lost heart. If anything, maybe we rediscovered it.
Good morning! Happy Friday…and to many of you, happy Friday before March Break! When I was working at school, this day was an incredible milestone in the year for me. It was a reminder of all the things we had gone through since September, all the accomplishments, as well as all the struggles. Like the seasons, winter is coming to a close, and subtle hints of spring are starting to appear. For me, the school year was actually about to accelerate, as graduation preparations would start to take up most of my days, and nights. Much like climbing Mount Crumpit, though, a whole lot of energy was taken getting to this point, and it seemed like the finish line was still off in the distance. Yet, March 1st was like a major turning point. Once March Break arrived, you could descend that mountain, and in no time at all, you would be at the end; June would be here with barely a blink of an eye.
The last couple of months have been challenging, but I’ve been determined to find those things that bring me joy, no matter how small. I found my snowshoes again. I picked up my watercolours again. I learned to make Ramen Noodles … far different from my traditional comfort food soups. I took a couple of online workshops, and started preparing for an online ladies retreat.
I was surprised yesterday by a delivery from my favorite flower girl. Auntie Jo-Jo arrived with a sweet arrangement from the Library Board. I have been on the board for the past three years, and struggled with renewing my stay. I tentatively said yes back in November, but after all the stressors of December and January, I was regretting that decision. Don’t get me wrong…they are a great group to work with, and I greatly value all their programs for island families. My head just didn’t have the space. Thank you, for your show of appreciation. It certainly looks like spring!
I decided to stop in Thrifty’s for a minute. My new rule to live by, is I’m not allowing myself to bring anything IN the house, unless something LEAVES my house. I was feeling pretty good about taking a couple of boxes last night for the Curling Club yardsale. So I felt I was safe to stop in the second hand shop. My great $3 finds were a “new” glass jar for beach glass, and an awesome “new” book. Literally.
I met up with Darlene at her shop. I had wanted a couple of specific stones, but my under $5 purchase was much more valuable to my spirit that day. When you walk into Presence Boutique, a sense of calm immediately comes over you. I love how Darlene always greets me with love, and welcomes my soul with her nurturing heart. I needed that. I took my time looking though new stock. So much to see. I’m not in a hurry to leave. I found what I was looking for, but then spied a beautiful agate geode wind chime. And in my favorite colour. I was immediately transported to a lovely spring day when my windows could be opened up and I can hear the gentle clinking of the crystals.
I was excited to bring home my treasure… but I had a problem.
In my excitement to unpackage it from the carefully wrapped bag, the strands got tangled. And, just as life, I wanted to see it hanging in the morning sun, but couldn’t slow down. What a tangled mess I had created, despite Darlene having wrapped it carefully, gently. Lovingly.
Why do I do this to myself, time after time? So many beautiful pieces I want to take in, and experience each and every one for their unique beauty. So many details to learn. So many things to share.
I sat for a good thirty minutes, gently weaving and untangling each individual slice, nervously laying them out as they became separated. I started to lift them up, but quickly realized I hadn’t put the hanger up yet. Slow down, Heather. Enjoy the process of preparing, just as much as the end goal.
There always seems to be a never ending pile of chores to complete. This week, I don’t want to tackle any of them, let alone complete them. I just want to gently untangle some things, and sit in His peace.
I woke up as usual, 6:03am, and transferred to the couch for my morning routine of checking emails, devotions and recipe searches. Tomorrow is Kiddo’s birthday, and as usual, he gets to choose his birthday supper. This year is a bit more challenging… Ramen and dumplings! I’ve never made such a dish before, but I’m up for it. Surely, if he could make himself a traditional Japanese dish, I could come up with something.
As Philip comes downstairs, looking out the window above the tree line, he quips “it’s going to be a nice sunrise! you aren’t going?!” “Well, no, what makes you think it’s going to be a nice sunrise? There’s no hint of color” Our little exchange didn’t convince me I should go check it out. I couldn’t see the potential of that rosy-gold start to the day.
Philip left for work, and I kept peeking to see if there was any change in the skyline. No, nothing. My head started spinning with the long list of tasks that needed to be done today. I need to call the hospital to check on my dad, who just had surgery yesterday. I need to check in with my long-time friend Mary, who just lost her dad, yesterday, but is stuck in her Toronto condo. I have customer orders to finish sorting and get out. I need to clean house so the grandparents can come for birthday supper. I need to grocery shop for said supper. Bonnie sends a quick message to tell me of the next covid update news conference at 1:30. I want to go for a walk, but I really don’t have time until the weekend.
Then I start getting down on myself because I don’t have time. I can’t see any free space on the agenda page. A little voice tells me to just go jump in the jeep…just go see.
But it’s cold. I don’t want to get dressed for the day yet.
I see the glow rising on the treeline.
Just start your day.
Just go and see.
I grab my sweatshirt, thankful for polar fleece PJ pants, find my mittens and zip up my jacket. I grab my phone, and start out for the Marsh… I can see a beautiful sunrise there, just as well as from Swallowtail. Sort of. The “check fuel” light comes on, (I ignored it yesterday) and the gas pumps aren’t open yet. I admit defeat, and turn in the neighbour’s yard, returning home. I’ve run out of gas twice on this road, and I’m determined to not give Andrew Jones the satisfaction of helping me out a third time, especially if he was on his way to Rotary Breakfast. I sit in my yard and argue with myself again. Just go. You can go get gas right after, and pick up the few groceries needed at the same time. Just go and see.
Suddenly, my radio switches to my iPad, and For King and Country starts in… a Christmas song, but a message that could be played any day…
I started down the road to the parking area, to be met with heavy equipment, ready to do road repairs. The most recent storms have wreaked havoc again. I am reminded of the many roadblocks that are literally being thrown at me today, threatening to block this incredible view.
As always, I’m glad I came.
I needed to see this. Now I can see how my day should start.
Tuesday, we had a lovely snowstorm. The kind that snuck in overnight, and had perfect timing to close schools in our region. But it also shut down power on the island. We lost ours early, around 6:30, and with the exception of a little blip near noon, which only gave us a false sense of hope, we didn’t see power returned until 3:30 or so.
I have come to expect power outages in winter, so we are usually prepared. Jugs of water sit in the garage throughout winter. Wood is carried in and kindling split for the woodstove. I get a pot of homemade soup ready. Even if we manage to keep power through the day, we are ready to shrug off the chill. Dalton has become pretty good at being prepared, too. His biggest fear for a storm day is losing internet! I am sure we would survive without it, but having data allows us to check in our family members at least, when our cordless phones prove useless. We watch the NB Power site for updates on when we might expect the power to return. Estimates were off, and frequently updated, changing the time continuously. As long as it was daylight, I could still knit. Hubby chose to nap. Soup could simmer all day on the woodstove..
There really wasn’t anything unusual about this snowstorm. It was just daily life as a Canadian in Winter.
Some of this morning’s conversation at church was around how we had weathered the storm. I did come to an interesting conclusion. None of us weathered the storm the same. I know…shocker, eh?
Although I knew different parts of the island got their power back at different times, I had assumed we all lost it at the same time in the beginning. I soon learned Dalton really had only been without power a short time. His day was only interrupted by a few blips here and there. We carried on with our day by candlelight, but didn’t suffer any real inconveniences. How had I missed that? How could I have been so insensitive to think we were all weathering the storm in the same way? Our perceptions of the storm and how we were coping were quite different. Forgive me for being so self-righteous…but how many times in life have I assumed everyone will get through this in the same way, just because I am? I acknowledge all the hardships and inconveniences the storm may have caused, but maybe I have a different level of resiliency. Or just plain tolerance. I reached out to various friends, and tried to make the best of the day. Helping people find a bit of cheer. It goes without saying, we sometimes assume others are doing alright, because they don’t speak up and say they are having a hard time. I confess, I didn’t speak up and say, “we didn’t have power for almost nine hours, and it was hard”. I survived. Others did too, because their day wasn’t hard, even if I thought their day may have been tough from my vantage point.
The next day, after the storm, I was quite surprised to find the front of the island didn’t have very much for snow. Most had been cleared away by the rain. Another shocker, right?! Dalton was very surprised at how much snow we still had in our yard. He hadn’t checked in, assuming we had power all day, like him, and received little snow. He didn’t imagine we were impacted by the storm. Again, perspective. As Gene Guptill would say, shaking his head, “oh my!, oh my!”
You know what’s coming tomorrow? Another snow storm! I was out hiking in the cold all afternoon, so tonight I enjoyed a warm bath and cozy jammies. I don’t have soup made. Yet. There is firewood and water ready. We may or may not lose power. And it’s ok either way. But I hope you weather the storm ok, whatever it looks like for you.
It has proven to be a very busy week, and as much as I would like to say, it was through no fault of my own; but it really was.
As always, I awoke early. Actually I’ve been sleeping in most of this week, and waking at precisely 6:03 for the third morning in a row. Each day, I mentally go through the day’s MUST do list, before I get up. I’ve pointedly given up on “To Do” lists, as I never have a problem filling my days with things to do. And invariably, most of them get done, at least within a couple of days.
I usually manage to find a couple of extra things to add on to make life interesting. I’ve gotten pretty good since retirement at only adding things I want to, and not so much what others want. I don’t do New Years Resolutions anymore, but there have been a couple of things pop up that I decided I wanted to find space in my Happy Planner for. Online Fitness workshops. Virtual Meditation retreats. Creative challenges, #the100dayproject. Oh yes, reorganize my crafting space.
But I must focus first. Focus, girl, focus. I need to be reminded.
This morning, as I was watching the sun come up through the trees, I stepped out on the porch in my Jammies, to breathe in the crisp air. To focus.
I love sunrises at Swallowtail, as you know, but I don’t relish frozen steps…54 of them…in the dark. I don’t mind the cold. This morning, I was content to just take it in from my porch. It kinda felt warm. ish. And I love seeing the ice crystals and soft overnight snow on the evergreens. When I decided to take a couple of pictures, I was looking at the sun coming up through the branches. My lens had a hard time deciding which to focus on…the sun, or the Christmas lights. How similar is that to me, us, I thought. I could choose to try and focus on the sun off in the distance; but then the lights right in front of me become blurry. Or, I could focus on the bright green color of the bulbs right in front of my face, but then I miss the rising glow. 🎵The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning. It’s time to sing Your song again.
I had just read a news update on Orange phase becoming our new baseline. Yellow phase is not on the horizon, so to speak, any time soon. I knew there would be angry responses when I posted it on my Facebook wall. It all depends on your focus.
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me Let me be singing when the evening comes 🎵
I can’t change it. You can’t change it. I can can change what goes on the Must Do list. So I must choose Joy, right? It doesn’t mean it will be easy. I’d like to keep things in perspective, and think this pandemic is just a short portion of our life line. Just a blip. But sadly it isn’t for some. My heart goes out to those who can’t see the sunrise this morning. Or can’t focus. And my heart goes out especially to a friend travelling out of province to be with her brother in palliative care. To her, family time right now is much less than a blip. I’m glad they will focus on what is truly important, and make it a FULL blip.
For the rest of us, it’s one more day. One more week. Actually, Week#47 of State of Emergency. Red phase. Orange phase. Yellow phase. Does it really matter? Am I focussing on what is most important? Are we living our days fully?
🎵And on that day when my strength is failing The end draws near and my time has come Still my soul will sing your praise unending 10, 000 years and then forever more
I just happened upon this website this morning…and it’s just about everything I’ve been secretly striving for, just haven’t been able to say out loud, or fully put into action. I live by the words Be still; taking time to stop and appreciate what God is trying to say to me, in my everyday life. I’ve also tried to intentionally become less busy, and only choose things that bring me joy; give me life. I never want to be the person who says, “I’m too busy” to do something my heart yearns for. Busy isn’t something we should be proud of…it’s exhausting and wears us down. It isn’t a badge of honour to display to our friends/colleagues, in hopes of more recognition, or a pat on the back. I want to change my mindset, so if someone says to me, “yeah, your so busy all the time”, and treat it as the greatest insult ever.
I have a couple of friends who reply every time to my casual inquiry “How are things in your world today?”, with the long list of things that filled their last 24 hours, and what has to be done in the next 24; then complain how tired they are. I might even snap out of it and admit it was me at one point in my life. I’m trying really hard to get past that.
So, even though I am not one to make new year’s resolutions, I do seek vision for my life. Dalton and I have been doing a lot of walking this winter, and I totally enjoy my informal Walk & Talk group activities. I recently took up the online virtual walk/run challenge, St Francis Way, mainly because, although I am not catholic, St Francis is the one saint that I always revered.
Although there is some question as to St Francis actually writing this prayer, I have no doubt he lived his life by this example. It is said he enjoyed long walks, and is the Patron Saint of those that care for nature, plants and animals. I would love to spend one of my afternoon walks at the Anchorage with him; can you imagine the conversation?
Sarah McLachlan’s beautiful rendition of Prayer of St Francis is so lovely. Did you know this hymn was sung at Princess Diana’s funeral? Another lady I admired, and so very fitting of her and all her humanitarian efforts.
So, all this to say, I want to become unbusy, and lead a life busy with that prayer. A couple of friends have commented on my Facebook selfie posts, and how I seem to be enjoying my outdoor adventures of retirement. EVERYDAY is an adventure, and I definitely want to find one everyday. (And for those of you, including dear hubby, who make fun of me and my selfies, I’ll have you know, it paid off yesterday… one of the online courses I am taking challenged us to post a pic with our introduction…and I WON! I can sure use that Amazon gift card!!)
So where will your adventure lead you today? Drop a comment and let me know