Rest Easy, Dad

On Father’s Day this year, as per usual, I waited until after church to call my dad and wish him a Happy Day, since I couldn’t be there in person. This was the tradition we had… I would go up river in a few days, as I was usually tied up with Baccalaureate, which always fell on Father’s Day. I would take up a few books I had collected for him; usually autobiographies of politicians or business leaders that I thought he would find interesting. Sometimes, I would find a historical drama I knew he would enjoy, or a local New Brunswick story. Often, he would find a gas card tucked inside. I knew as a pensioner on a limited income, life wasn’t always easy for him; especially with increased trips into “town” for medical appointments. I would do my best to find Ganong’s pink peppermints or a can of cashews as a favorite treat to go with it.

When Mom was alive, the tone of my weekly calls would change when the phone got handed over to Dad. With mom, the conversation centered around how the dog was doing, or what she was making for dinner. Sometimes, I would secretly wish Dad would pick up the phone first, as it was always easier to talk to him.

He would always ask where I went walking this week on my Walk & Talks. He asked how sales were going. He would ask about my most recent Red Cross escapade, even when he couldn’t understand why there weren’t enough people to help out, or why that wasn’t somebody’s job. He never really understood my drive to volunteer, as that wasn’t something we grew up with. Once I got to university, I quickly learned the importance of volunteers, especially in the helping professions. This seemed quite foreign to a tradesman, who believed you must always help yourself, and not rely on anyone else. That was one of his life’s mottos. Always do your best, and always do it yourself, especially if you are capable. He was very proud of me for pursuing post secondary education; having never completed any himself. Instead, he would learn more from the school of hard-knocks, and was adamant “the system” didn’t understand real life. This would sometimes prove challenging for him, when “the system” wasn’t easily navigated, and he needed help (even if he wouldn’t admit it). He questioned why I wasn’t able to figure it out, as an educated person. Some things, they just don’t teach you in school, Dad. He was equally proud of my sister, when she went on to get her degree. My brother gained his respect, as he took over the business in the construction trade. Yes, he would question why “Squirt” had to do things the hard way, not really being so different from his own way. But my baby brother was just like him, even if he chose not to admit it. I admire him for that, even if I begrudgingly have to look up to Andre’s 6’ plus frame. He’ll always affectionately be my squirt of a brother who followed his own path, and continues to do so now.

This past June, my brother was the one to call me from Prince William, instead of Dad. He had gone up to visit dad for Father’s Day. My brother had taken over the family business, and he was a couple of months into his busy season with housing startups, so it was a good excuse for a Sunday drive. Dad seemed to understand we three kids had our own busy lives, more so than Mom ever did. Dad always appreciated us taking time out to call, or better yet, to visit, and he would make a point of telling us he was glad we called. My brother had just got off the phone with my sister, and told me they were just loading Dad into an ambulance. Dad had been acting strange since he got there, and like my sister, I immediately suspected a stroke. Later that day, he was taken to Saint John, and underwent an emergency surgery at midnight. He went back to DECH in Fredericton a couple of days later, after the surgery hadn’t gone as hoped. I spent a couple of days under a shroud of the unknown. My brother was passing along “things haven’t changed” updates, as the eternal pessimist (or realist; I’m not sure which). I found it very difficult, especially as the eternal optimist. I only told a few people who were close to me, as I was so frustrated with the “nothing has changed” news. I didn’t know how to get my thoughts into words. I had to make a trip up to see for myself.

And no, nothing had changed since Father’s Day.

My sister sensed the urgency and made a quick trip home from Skead, ON, over the Canada Day weekend. Dad would doze in and out, sometimes being cognizant of our presence, recognizing key words or phrases we would drop. There was no meaningful conversation, but I continued to pray something would trigger. My only real experience with stroke victims had been my mother-in-law. With rehab, and a very supportive family, she had worked through it. We really didn’t know how Dad would make it through this, or how long we were looking at. Not much later into July, I started changing my beliefs to that of the pragmatist. After a family meeting with Dad’s doctor, we knew his quality of life had drastically changed. He would never be returning to his home in Prince William. We also knew, this would not be what Dad wanted. Right up until days before he had his stroke, Dad had been shovelling earth, and doing yard work. We knew it gave him a reason to get up after Mom passed away, and all I could do was offer gentle reminders for him to take a break in the extreme heat.

Sense of purpose…that is what it came down to. My parents grew up in a generation where hard work gave you that purpose. Workaholism was instilled in each of us three kids. “Taking life easy” was unheard of. I personally thought it might have something to do with a genetic predisposition to ADHD, that made us not able to sit still for very long. As I sat by Dad’s hospital bedside, I began to see things differently.

Last week, while sitting there holding his hand, I watched his laboured breathing as he slept. I started to wonder what surroundings he was aware of. Was he cognizant of the days my brother spent sitting close by, rarely missing an evening after a long day of work? We know he was aware of my sister introducing Gerry to his father-in-law, after all these years. When Dad was asked what local establishments Sherri should take Gerry to, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind when he managed the words “Acorn” and “Kings Landing”. The word “Yes!” was clear as a bell, when I asked him if he wanted me to go get Dalton to come in for a visit. Was Dad becoming more frustrated being confined to a bed, as the days went by? It was interesting how each of us three siblings had our own selection of key words that we could trigger something deep in the recesses of Dad’s brain, and hopefully a positive memory popped up. The human brain is a phenomenal organ, with so many complicated synapses. It all came down to these past few days of telling his body to Be Still. Be still and rest.

The back of this picture reads
“For Paul, Taken toward Long Creek Road before the dam flooded, NB”.

I believe this picture was given to dad by my Grammie Cole (we had relatives in nearby Harvey and Pokiok). It hung in our house ever since I can remember. I was always drawn to the dark, wood-carved frame. Looking back, I know my dad was drawn to the actual location. He had worked on the Mactaquac Dam, when it was being built in the mid 60’s (when I was born). Prince William and Longs Creek were always dear to his heart. Although we lived in nearby Hawkshaw for a short while, most of our childhood was spent in Fredericton. We were not surprised to hear Dad had purchased a lot on the Saint John River, and eventually it would become home, much to Mom’s displeasure. She hated the isolation, every bit as much as Dad enjoyed the tranquility.

On my last visit to “the Camp”, I found the picture hanging in Dad’s bedroom. It spoke to me more than ever before, as my fingers followed the wooden detail. Dad had finally found his place to rest, despite the many hours of unnecessary landscaping. This place on the river indeed offered tranquility.

Up along the river, Prince William
Along the tranquil shores of the Saint John River

When I returned to DECH on Monday, Covid protocols were back in place, and I gowned up, put on those fancy blue gloves, donned a face mask and shield. What would Dad think of my latest get-up? I thought back to the days when the staff would have to spend their whole work day like this, getting no rest, even at the end of the day. Yes, it was for my safety, but oh my, how it tampered with the most basic of needs, including human touch. Dad didn’t wake in the last few hours, being given constant pain medication, and resting comfortably. He hung on for seven weeks, attesting to his stubborn nature. (Ok, we all may have inherited that, too!)

Rest easy, Dad. The pain has ended, and you’ve earned this final time to rest.

Being still

My life mantra became Psalms 46:10, especially as I was closing in on retirement a few years ago. I really needed to know that I could learn to be still, and see more of God around me. I really needed assurance that on this small island I call home, I can just look around and see His beauty all around me…whether it was in the beaches, in the trails, or especially in sunrises at Swallowtail. It was in those still, quiet moments I began to reunite with my God, the creator of all that is good. I was also starting to learn, I needed to get away from my hectic life so I could recognize the simple things that make my life better.

At the time, it seemed “Be Still and Know” had become a commercial cliche; a talisman to bring about change in one’s life, as one author described it. I would see it everywhere I turned. Despite the commercialism that was becoming attached to my (MY!) verse, it still speaks to me everywhere. When I take a stroll across Stanley’s Beach, or sit for a moment on a bench at Bagley’s Trail, all I need to do is breathe in those simple words, and I know without a doubt, He is in control, and I will get through whatever life puts in front of me. But I know it is so much more than that. God is all around, and sometimes it isn’t about getting through the hard stuff to get to the other side. Sometimes it is about moving forward WITH Him, and knowing His infinite power, love and grace…then I can look around with Him, and be able to say He will be honoured, He will be recognized for all His greatness. “Your name is great, and Your heart is kind!10 000 Reasons

I also love Mark 4:39, https://www.openbible.info/topics/be_still Jesus knew when to be still. Even when surrounded by crashing waves, He reminds us just to have faith. That’s not always easy, is it? Even in the midst of a severe storm warning in February, we have learned to prepare. We make sure there is extra water, there is food that won’t require refrigeration, there is extra blankets. We know we will get through the storm, even if it hangs on for days. But it is the unexpected, that catches us off guard. We might have things stockpiled “just in case”, but it is life’s storms that catch us off guard, that we aren’t prepared for.

One of the memorable teaching moments I took part in, was the Assets-Building Conference in St. Andrews. It stressed all the things in a young persons life we can help develop; things that lead to greater resilience, and in turn success in life. It is very beneficial for young people to have role models and people who care. Team sports, individual learning experiences, opportunities to learn independence, and so on. We all know people who had a harder time getting through life with Covid. We sure didn’t expect that. Did they have things in their back pocket, that helped encourage resiliency, and survival? Does FAITH help build resiliency? I’m pretty sure it does. I’m very certain, learning to “be still” helps us be prepared to withstand anything.

But sometimes, it is just hard…so hard.

Those who know me, know I don’t sit still for very long. I am always on the go. Dalton teases me when people ask me how retirement is going…”Retirement? What retirement?” I finally figured out in my mid thirties I must have adult ADHD. When Kiddo was young, I blamed it on the Brown side of the family. What a shock when I started thinking it might have been passed down to him on his maternal side!! I would learn how very important it was to Be Still. As my faith grew, I knew Psalms 46:10 had to be part of that. I learned if I didn’t listen to my body when I needed breaks, I became agitated and started forgetting things, and eventually I wanted to hide away from people, and have my mini meltdown. In a day or so, I could come back out, take a few more breaks to the beach, immerse myself in my devotions and be all right again. Then this verse hit me.

Not just once, but twice!

In the same day, same morning, in two separate devotional emails, within an hour of each other. I like to refer to them as “Rafiki Moments”. If you are familiar with one of my favorite Disney movies, you’ll know the conversation between wise Rafiki and young, naive Simba…Simba has much to learn!

Why had I not seen this verse before? I’m always asking God to give me “eyes to see”. The King James Version reads “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” But notice this other version. New International Version, it specifically tells me to be still. Exodus 14:14. He is already taking care of my worries. He’s got this. I just need TO BE STILL! I am not really a worrier by nature, as I trust in my faith as much as I can. You tend to do that when you have kid who survived leukaemia. The Lord was certainly fighting for our family. Silly me, still tends to worry about little things, and maybe that’s why I’m a control freak. But I am trying, and I confess, I am human.

Let it be noted, this day, June 18, 2022, I, Heather Brown, recognize I need a break. My Happy Planner was filled with all kinds of wonderful things; thing I chose not to say No to…and why would I? I enjoyed meeting various Ukraine cats and our own Ukrainian family as they arrived for the first time in Canada. I enjoyed seeing an old friend for supper at Sunrise Seafoods. I met a lovely couple on the ferry and got to be an Ambassador, complete with my copies of GM maps I never travel without! I subsequently met them repeatedly on our island. I had a successful market morning, seeing new and old friend and learned of their own faith backgrounds. I spent countless hours on all my devices trying to figure out a computer glitch, AND NAILED it on day three!I met a great lady whose job is to make wishes come true. Then I met this incredible Wish family, and got to tag along with Dalton, who showed them our beautiful island, even in the pouring rain. How could I say no to any of that?

But today…

Today there is nothing being filled in on that happy planner. I am going to stay in my house, and do the bare minimum. I have full intentions of sitting in my Gethsemane on the back deck, and soak up all His goodness. I may not answer your email or phone call until later, so don’t take it personally. I’ve already had two customers arrive for orders, one delivery man drop off an order, and one very important exciting phone call from my sister (even if she made sure I couldn’t order a Boston Crème this time!). The local rabbit is enjoying the backyard as I sip on my rhubarb punch, sit back and prepare for a catnap amongst the songbirds. Yes, He is fighting for me, but for right now, I only need to be still

Paying forward best Wishes

I had written a few weeks back, about meeting Sue and discussing a future Make a Wish child’s trip to Grand Manan. This is the blog entry, if you missed it.https://beingstillnow.wordpress.com/2022/05/20/just-wishing-you-were-here/

The day finally arrived. All we knew, was Danielle was hoping to stop on Grand Manan before making her way to the Highland Games & Scottish Festival in Moncton. We were feeling pretty lucky, and proud, as Grand Mananers to say the least. Dalton was feeling pretty blessed to be able to meet her, and be part of this journey. I was very excited for him.

All kinds of memories came flooding back to Dalton’s own Wish Trip, twelve years ago. He had wished to meet Toby Keith. It didn’t matter where. He just wanted to meet his country music idol. I remember being fearful back in grade 2, and wondering what his teacher Carolyn Cook would think, if he just started belting out Beer for my Horses in class! Crying’ for me was popular the year of the Wish trip, and always brings a tear, as Toby sang about his own friend Wayman Tisdale, passing away from cancer. After the American Ride tour, Dalton wasn’t sure what to think of all the drinking songs Toby was becoming famous for, especially Red Solo Cup . Now Toby has come full circle, announcing this very week he had been dealing with his own cancer diagnosis from last fall… Toby Keith and stomach cancer

The day we were about to meet Danielle’s family, we sat in the Grand Manan Museum parking lot. We were both a bit nervous; wondering if this family from the Ontario city would appreciate our small town. We knew a bit about her illness and family’s struggle, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was feeling well enough to take on this adventure. I remember the naps that were needed in the Toronto hotel, as Philip took Dalton’s friend Darren out on an afternoon excursion. What if she was a bit stuck-up, and thought our museum was lame? Would the weather improve at all? What if her family was indeed made of sugar, and couldn’t handle being outside in the rain?

Thank you, Danielle, for squashing every one of our preconceived notions!! I won’t go into many details at this time of her family’s past, but suffice to say they have all had their own hardships to deal with and overcome. I always knew Wish Trips were for the entire family, and unless you’ve been through such a journey with your child, you would never understand the true level that meets you on. It really is a time of healing for everyone; not just a mere vacation.

Mayor Bonnie Morse was the first person Sue (Make-A-Wish) met with. I’m so grateful Bonnie put Sue in touch with us, and Dalton could share his Wish Trip adventures with. This mom was so excited for him to meet another Wish Child, to share experiences with. I am so grateful he got to be included in this adventure, and act as part tour guide!

Grand Manan welcomed Danielle and her family with huge open arms. Not surprised, for a single moment! Our wish trip to Toronto was made up of incredible landmarks (Molson Amphitheater, Toronto Zoo, Blue Jays, Casa Loma, Canada’s Wonderland, etc), but it was more about the people we met…the security guard at Toby’s concert that wouldn’t let us get near Trace Adkins; the couple who growled at folks standing in the boy’s view (and after invited us to THEIR restaurant for free lunch!); the punk rock chick at the food court, the life long friends at Childrens Wish! So many great people we met along the way.

The family was overwhelmed with island generosity in form of a gift basket, full of island treats. They were so surprised a business would open up on a day they were closed, just for them to enjoy treats and trinkets. Thank you, Tim & Gayla at Newton’s Mercantile !

We weren’t sure how they would take to sightseeing in the rain. Pouring rain, at that! It was so great to watch this family, not only take to our local treasures, but how they obviously looked out for each other. Even when mom was ready to sit out certain adventures, big brother would coax her out to safe spaces, so they all could be part of something so much bigger. You amazed me Chris, it was clear you stepped up to be the caretaker, and will continue to look out for everyone. It was great to see you smile, and feel the freedom of our wide open surroundings.

Matthew, I loved to see you laugh! I never once saw you treated as the annoying pain, only little brothers know how to be! you are definitely a member of something special, and bring joy to all around you!

Again, they were surprised (as were we!) when The Wellhouse Cafe stayed open late for us. Thanks to Trapped, Independent Grocer, Pettes Cove Gifts, and Coastal Transport, as well! After some late lunch, I wondered if the fog would allow us a chance to see Swallowtail. From the parking lot, and even from the steps, that would be a resounding NO! The fog and mist (alright, rain…and downpours!) didn’t stop anyone, though. Mom stayed in her vehicle, and had to depend on our crazy pictures, as we understand not everyone is cut out for the 55 steps, the crazy bridge (and I thought the CN tower’s Glass Floor in daylight was bad!), the hike up to the helicopter pad! I convinced the kids no trip out to the lighthouse is real, unless you have pictures as proof!

Danielle’s “little brother” offered encouragement when needed, and she may have surprised even herself when she got to the other side. Now to just make it to the Lighthouse!

Proof they made it!

Who knew how much fun foggy cliffs and loud foghorns could be? Ok, Dalton and I knew, and were happy to share. Thanks gang, for your willingness!

We kept telling the family about island specialties, and NB treats. For such a quick trip, lobster would be best saved for another day. Maybe Shediac, on your way to Moncton?! Thanks Sherri…I did remind them to make sure they tried donairs and garlic fingers before they headed back to Ontario. I was pleasantly surprised to find Sussex Golden Ginger Ale at the The Old Wellhouse Cafe.

My favorite picture of the trip… Danielle and Dalton, just two Wish Kids relaxing, and enjoying life as it should be..carefree, and filled with special people we meet along the way!

Kristin; we are so glad you brought Sue, from Make-A-Wish to our island. I know she is a kindred spirit, and I have no doubt in my mind God orchestrated this whole thing. What special people to cross paths with?! There were just too many common threads to ignore, and I get Godbumps thinking about them. I feel so blessed to be part of this Grand Adventure. Thanks, Danielle, for choosing us!

Think we all slept well that night. Fresh air is good, and outdoor activity is good, but dry pajamas and Walter’s Post Office Pizza is grand! Post Office Pizza

When waiting on the Lord…

I’m looking back on a day that will forever be etched in my memory.

I joined the Canadian Red Cross a few years ago, gladly taking on the roles with Emergency Response Team and Personal Disaster Assistance. At the time, CRC was just getting started on the island, and being able to help with housefires and personal floods seemed like a couple of areas we could be most beneficial to the island. It was a good way to get introduced to the volunteer organization, while still working full time. I loved how you could be involved as much as you wanted, or as little as you wanted. Over the past six years, it was great to work with others, both on and off the island, in various training opportunities. It was great to have others pick up on your strengths, and point out other roles you might like, or should consider within the organization. I held back, thinking “once I retire…”

Once I did retire, I started picking up more training. Then Covid hit, and like so many other things, learning went virtual, and surprise, responses went virtual. I was happy to start courses as SWB…Safety Well Being Responder, and happy to be able to be able to reach out via phone to help people. CRC also adapted their training, and offered a wide range of course offerings on line. They were worth pursuing for my own personal growth.

I am now trained as an SWB with CRC…Safety & Well Being. I joke it is like a guidance counsellor for the Red Cross. Perfect! Like many of the jobs with CRC, you have to be flexible, and the job description is ever changing, depending on the situation at hand. You mainly have your eyes open for people’s safety, and personal accessibility. You are ready to comfort and guide, in times of traumatic events. You look for community resources that can assist in building resiliency when a person may feel at their lowest. It is a perfect opportunity to serve.

I started thinking about deployments., and talked to hubby about possibly travelling (locally) to help others. It was/is a pretty great learning curve, especially for this Homebody, who isn’t ready to travel to far off places (yet?)

I read a pretty great quote from Ann Voskamp recently. “When waiting on the Lord, do what waiters do…serve.” SERVE. I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to head after I retired. I knew I still wanted to be in the helping field. CRC allowed me that opportunity on a volunteer basis. I delved in and started taking courses in Life Coaching, to supplement my skill set as a retired Guidance Counsellor, and to supplement my retirement income.

I just kept praying God would put me right where I needed to be, at just the right time, in the right place, to serve in whatever capacity He felt needed.

My latest opportunity to serve, came this past week. I had the opportunity to travel to Moncton, and work with the Red Cross at the airport, as Ukrainian people came to Canada. I had recently been to PEI with Red Cross, and I still remember the morning we arrived for a shift, with news Ukraine had been attacked in the early hours by Russia. As I watched the news later that night, it still seemed surreal. Many of us Canadians were not necessarily being affected by events across the ocean, unless we had family in the area. We watched some of our fellow CRC volunteers begin to fret, as they did actually have family members in the area. Maybe we did know people, or maybe not, who were directly being affected. In the days and weeks ahead, we watched the devastation closely on tv.

I soon began to hear of friends that refused to watch the news. I have always been interested with current events, so continued to watch. I kept my mental health in check, with various distractions while in PEI, and when I returned home, I continued to look for ways to serve. Some people just wanted to shut out the negativity of Covid, and now war. I get that, but I also know others who are totally oblivious to travesty right here in our own back yard. I’ve always admired those that travelled on far off mission trips, whether it was in Haiti or Africa, but what about the people right here in Canada…New Brunswick…Grand Manan…? Growing up, I often felt like the true giver, who experienced true sacrifice, had to go to a foreign country to serve. Surely, truly selfless acts couldn’t take place in your own hometown?

Lately at church, Jon has been speaking on what it means to love our neighbour. We can watch the devastation from afar, and we can add victims of war and trauma to our prayer lists. We can change our Facebook profiles to reflect our thoughts and prayers, but what are we actually doing to love our neighbours? What am I actually doing to serve? I’ve been thinking about the word SERVE a lot lately. I have lots of volunteer activities on my monthly calendar; but I was careful to choose activities that wouldn’t require a regular commitment each month. Since I retired, I really wanted to help on-the-fly instead. I’ve guarded myself, when being recruited for Boards. I’ve spent lots of times on various Boards since moving here. Back then, it was a great way for this newcomer to get to know our community. I don’t regret any of it. I enjoyed my time with the Museum, the Curling Club, Community Reach, the Library. But now, I’m more interested in digging in and helping people first hand, not just behind the scenes. I didn’t want to just get caught up with the beaurocracy and red tape, let alone an “obligation” to help.

I was ready to help in my own backyard. Time and time again, I’ve seen opportunities where enough volunteers could not be found locally. Right here in the Maritimes! So, off I went to PEI with 10 other NB volunteers, to serve. Just to help out with Covid vaccination clinics. It was a great experience, helping so many people, and especially being able to help out with Children’s Clinics. I have no experience in Healthcare, but I do have a bit of experience working with children! 30 years in Education gave me more than enough background to serve. Plus, I met other incredible volunteers.

Most recently, a call came out needing help with an upcoming flight coming into NB…full of Ukraines fleeing a war zone, I pray none of us will ever know. I knew Tanya had a personal connection, but never really got to know her. It makes me happy she married Grand Mananer Peter, and how she/they have become instrumental, along with others, in bringing a Ukrainian family here to our community. An opportunity to SERVE, in our own backyard…while helping across the miles.

Filling out my paperwork in the Dieppe hotel. Back into Moncton for some training before the flight arrives.
So happy I found Tanya, just outside the Red Cross station at the airport. Countdown was on…our newest GM family will be here soon.
Peter finally showed up! Ready to fly the new family “home” after they got registered.

Helping out with that June 7th flight into Moncton, had to be one of the most memorable moments of my life. I was to be on the lookout for trauma-stricken faces. What must it feel like to come through those doors, facing a safe new country and its welcoming people? Doors closing behind you to a war-torn world you never knew existed up until a couple of months ago? Everything you owned, packed up in a couple of suitcases? Then the cat carriers and dog crates? I was thankful to be able to offer some comfort in these moments. I was thankful to be able to pet a beloved fur baby, and having people in the line behind them recognize me as a cat-lover, and open their carriers as they approached for me to gently welcome their dear little friend to this country, as well. I know the value of a pet, in terms of therapy and self care. Knowing some of these people were bringing with them the one soul that truly understood their fears and reservations. What these little pets must know inside, what they have endured themselves as bombs went off in their neighbourhood. I pray they can continue to bring their owners peace and comfort.

Global News article covering the incoming flight.

I keep thinking back to Jon’s reminder to look around our own neighbourhood for ways to help. I think of Ann’s words to look for ways to serve, while we are waiting. And I think to myself, What a wonderful world, and how blessed we are to be living in this country.

My most important Mission to date. THIS is what true freedom looks like!

Come in out of the fog…the rain…the cold

Have I told you how much I love sleeping with the window open, through the summer months? Well, I do! Earlier in the week, I had opened a few windows, to get some fresh air going through the house.

The only downside, is that big ole birch tree, just outside the bedroom window. Oh yes, I’ve mentioned how allergic I am to birch trees, in particular. Hubby had come up and complained how cold it was in the room, after having started a fire so he could watch his game in comfort. Surely this rain and dampness can’t go on. June is just around the corner, as I was so rudely reminded yesterday, by a friend, no less.

I’ve been in a slump for a few days now, and trying so hard to rise above and move forward. When I get in one of my slumps, I start to question every move I make. Even if I’ve made the same moves a hundred times before, putting one foot in front of the other. Still, I carry on. With June in the near distance, I’m reminded of things in my Happy Planner that will need attending.

I’m sure the weather has been playing a big part in this slump. I find it hard to put that one foot forward, especially when it’s drizzly and foggy. It’s like an invisible force shield that keeps me from moving forward.

This morning in the dark, I started hearing vehicles go by. Usually that indicates folks heading to the ferry. Or maybe, the guys are starting to head to the wharf. I don’t have a clock in the room, so I’m using my internal clock. It’s still dark-ish; I don’t see a hint of dawn yet. I don’t have a watch on to go by, or any device to give me a clue. (You might be making fun of me, but I have this personal hang-up about electronics in my bedroom, of any sort). Philip will bring his work phone to bed, only because he does get random calls once in awhile, where he has to run down to the school and check the alarm that was going off. Yes, that happened a couple of nights ago at 1am, but that wasn’t my excuse tonight.

I got up and fumbled to the bathroom. I stopped at the house phone, to discover it’s 4:32 am. My first thought…why is there so much traffic! (5 cars is a lot of traffic in this rural back road!). I go back to bed, and toss. Then turn. Then concede, and make my way to the couch downstairs. Maybe I’ll just fall back asleep.

5:02am. I am awoken again, by the loudest, most shrill songbirds…EVER! Don’t they know, the sun isn’t even up yet? They can go back to sleep. But their babies must be hungry, because the whole family is up now. Even hubby is up at this hour (a very rare occurrence). He fumbles to the front door and gently opens it. “Do you hear that?”. Yep. Now he complains he fell asleep and missed the final score of the game, and makes his way to the coffee machine. Even he is awake now…unreal!

5:12am. The songbirds seem to be settling. Papa must have thrown a pillow at their alarm, but now I hear the gentle coo of the mourning doves, and wait for mama to throw the next pillow.

5:41am. “Why aren’t you heading to Swallowtail? There’s some colour out there!” Just another reminder why I can’t put one foot in front of the other.

Thanks. For nothing.

5:46am. The other songbirds in the neighbourhood are waking up. Another car heads up island. Must be ferry crew.

Will this be the day? The day I finally can put one foot in front of the other? I sure hope so. And I see the hints of sun rising through that annoying birch tree. Yes. It is here. I am getting over that slump. At least, that is what I am convincing myself this day, and this day forward. The sun will keep shining for me.

Easy like a Sunday morning

Just wishing you were here…

It started out just one of those uneventful, Spring days. I didn’t have anything in the Happy Planner until later, so when hubby suggested I tag along on his weekly work trip to White Head, I didn’t see too many reasons not to. Today, the WHES kids were having a Food Sale, including lunch items. It didn’t take too much convincing, and we were soon driving aboard the ferry, enjoying a “sparkly, diamond day” on the water.

White Head are crazy supporters of their kids!

After lunch, we had some time to kill before the next ferry, so we went to check on my dream house. Each trip to White Head, I have to drive down to make sure it is still there, and look to see if a for sale sign was suddenly put up on the lawn.

No such luck. I love dreaming about afternoons spent on the wrap around porch, and access to my very own private beach. After all, that’s what wishing is about, isn’t it? Creating all the possibilities in our mind, just waiting for the perfect opportunity.

We headed over to the lighthouse, before our boat came in.

That is when I got the phone call!

The lady introduced herself, and said she was down with her friend, Kristin. The irony was, Kristin is a White Header, living in Saint John. She was on my island, playing tour guide, and I was on her island, playing tourist. The lady tells me she had just met with our lovely mayor, and Madam Bonnie suggested she connect with me. While we were talking, I get a text from Bonnie, saying she gave my number to Sue, from Make-a-Wish. My head is spinning as I am watching the waves crash against the shore, and I am sorting out the randomness of this day; so outside my boxed in, pencilled in, typical day in the Happy Planner.

(This is why I never get anything done in the run of a day…Serendipity steps in, and BOOM, I’m headed down a bunny trail)!

As we chat, I think how nice it would be to meet up with her, and more importantly, for Dalton to meet up with her. Sue tells us of a young lady who wants to make a trip to Grand Manan a part of her Wish Trip. Did you hear that? GRAND MANAN!! Coming from the big city, to small town Grand Manan. She wants to come next month, so they are just scoping things out for her. I recount how several years ago, Dalton had his wish come true, by leaving small town and heading to the big city of Toronto. Now I know Dalton has to meet this lady. His heart, like mine, continues to be grateful for Children’s Wish Foundation (Now Make a Wish).

Dalton got to meet his fav country singer, Toby Keith in Toronto.
No, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.

Turns out, they will be on island until 7pm, so I can pick up Dalton after school. Why don’t we meet at Newton’s?!

What a splendid visit! There was some talk of the activities that should/must go on the itinerary. There was some talk of how laid back our Island is, and how small Kristen’s school was. There was some talk of how scrumptious Skor Shortbread is here at the cafe. And there was some talk of other Children’s Wishes we were connected to, including Graeme’s camera. When the conversation switched to Dalton’s IWK buddies, and their various wishes, a moment of silence came up as we sensed Matthieu’s presence and the retelling of the Gaming System and Halo, and all those memories of his long-gone friend. There may have been a tear or two, but also a smile that was inevitable, as we remembered the fond memories of special people we have met on this journey, including organizations that did their best to make life a bit brighter after some pretty dark days.

We all traded contact info, and promised to connect on Facebook. We had just met a new friend, and you could see the anticipation Dalton had at the prospect of another new friend who had gone on a similar journey. Thoughts of that warmed my heart on so many levels. The more we spoke, I just knew, this was something more than serendipity; more than just a passing moment in time. It was something truly beautiful and left me with “Godbumps”.

There were a few laughs over shared battle scars, but also stories of health emergencies and living on a small island. Klaus, another whispered prayer of gratitude went up your way today.

How long is your scar? how many stitches? How many plates? 🤦🏼‍♀️

How nice to have the chance to gather! Looking forward to the next time, folks! There so many interesting connections we shared and uncanny coincidences, that undoubtedly brought us to this very moment in time.

No doubt in my mind!
Until next time…

Once upon a time…

I grew up appreciating home made things; whether it was crafts or cooking. We didn’t go out to restaurants much; there really wasn’t extra money around to do that very often… so it wasn’t until later in life that I would learn to appreciate fine dining and gourmet foods. As long as it didn’t include mushrooms. Many a fine menu has been ruined by the very word mushroom, or truffle oil. Maybe having grown up with canned mushrooms was part of the problem. My sister has the same issue with canned peas.

We would both like to claim we are NOT picky eaters, we just recognize mushrooms, and peas for that matter, have their place. On someone else’s plate. (Yes, I’ve been known to fling a few onto Dalton’s plate, once the waitress leaves. I’m not sure where Sherri’s peas went, though?!)

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my mom’s biscuits. I don’t have many memories of my Grampie Rosborough, as he lived in Detroit, and passed away in my teens. I do remember how much he liked Mom’s biscuits, and would always love it if she would bake them if we were visiting him. They were especially good warm, with baked beans, and then the following morning, cold, spread with homemade jam. Strawberry jam.

Mom never taught my sister and I to cook. The kitchen was her domain, and few were allowed in. She was proud of her cooking, but sadly, Sherri and I were usually banned from the kitchen. It may have had to do with our failure to clean up well, after. But I think we both grew up feeling incompetent in the kitchen, never being shown how to do things correctly, or with patience. I always envied my friend Jenn, who is a great cook. I was jealous of times she and her mom would prepare food, especially canned goods and preserves, and times the “women-folk” in her family got together at the local community center, and do the Christmas baking. Sandra, I am so grateful for the summer you tagged along on Dale & Jenn’s vacation, and we made fruitcake together. Dark fruitcake. Yum.

Maybe it’s just a Hallmark moment, imagining what that would be like. My sister moved out of the house before I did, and I still treasure that first year we got together, and did some Christmas baking in her small apartment. I love getting the photos now, of her and my niece Jordan, getting together to do Christmas baking.

I still enjoy Christmas baking, but don’t do as much anymore. Partly because I’m watching my weight and sugar intake. Partly because I don’t gift it out as much. Partly because the pandemic has changed the last three years of holiday gatherings.

I do wish I could learn to make mom’s biscuits like she used to. She had a certain knack for it, but never shared that. I called her once, asking for the recipe. She would say things like “a tsp or two of this”, or “mix it until it feels right. Or looks right. You’ll know when”.

But I never did. I never witnessed what it was supposed to be like. So I guess I never learned to get them right. After awhile, I gave up, and found a new recipe I really like, in Company’s Coming. Now it is my go-to recipe. They aren’t big and fluffy like hers; they’re just different. And taste pretty wonderful with homemade jam.

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking of gardening, like so many others. The hint of sunshine after a couple good days of rain, gets one thinking of the best crops, and the ones we would most likely have success with. For a few years, Philip and I enjoyed planting our own garden. The last year we did, we had just moved into this house on the Hill. We enjoyed a few fresh vegetables, but the final straw was when we were so patiently waiting for the corn to be ready. As were the raccoons.

Yes, we enjoy living in the woods. I need to repeat…over and over!

Now, we eagerly await Jenn and Dale’s annual visit, with fresh corn from Maugerville.

Planting season also came at the time my work at school was ramping up, and I was spending far more time after school, and in evenings on graduation and scholarship preparations. Year after year, it was getting more challenging, and planting a garden just wasn’t worth it.

Maybe it is just because I am growing older, I get just as excited to visit the Pumpkin Patch on the mainland, and don’t miss the labour of love our own garden provides. It wasn’t too long ago, I would delight in a box full of fresh produce and berries, sitting on the counter, ready to be prepared and cooked into preserves and jellies or jam. I now envision how much work that is; with little satisfaction in return. I don’t gift these treats as much anymore. And I no longer raise my eyebrows in shock at the price of homemade jars. I take much more delight in seeking out friends who sell their jars for the rest of us to enjoy, and appreciation of the work they put into it.

I was a bit saddened this morning when I thought about the idea of never making a batch of jam again. What did this passing phase mean? What was it that I really enjoyed about that time spent in my kitchen?

I think a big part of it was self reliance. To be able to blanch the vegetables in preparation for the freezer…to enjoy in the colder months ahead. To be able to process the berries and have jars ready to pop into gift baskets. To bake six loaves of brown bread at a time (because that is what Hazel Zwicker’s recipe yields, and heaven forbid I only make one or two at a time). I didn’t have to go out and buy something that was created in a factory, with whatever chemicals they deemed necessary. Pioneer Woman meant more than a brand name on a set of dishes. But maybe deep down I needed to prove to myself that I was actually competent in the kitchen. My kitchen…where no one would tell me I was doing it wrong.

Dalton never really took an interest in the kitchen as he grew up…other than scoffing down the plate put in front of him…but I made sure he could create some simple dishes, to get by while in college. Teaching him how to make chili in grade 8 sure paid off. I’m impressed with the Ramon soup he pulls off on his own, and the sushi he mastered, from trial and error. But he also knows when someone else’s home baking tastes pretty good, and appreciates their efforts when he picks up Jocelyn’s cheesecake, or Caroyl’s dips.

For now, I’ll hold onto those few sacred recipes I had to figure out on my own, and eventually, hope I get the biscuits right!

Obligatory post

Here it is…the obligatory Mother’s Day post!

I have so many mixed emotions about Mother’s Day. Please don’t judge me! Being judged as a mom has to be one of life’s hardest hurdles, isn’t it?

1. Hubby generally does not do anything special for me that day, “because you are not my mother” (but I get to tag along in any home cooked celebration meals!)

2. I stopped picking up gifts/cards for my mother in law, “because hubby should be doing something for his own mother, not me”. I’ll save any gift ideas that made me think of her, for her birthday, because she hates it when I do something I am told is totally unnecessary for her at Christmas.

3. I would pick up a simple gift, usually of plants for the deck, when my mother was still alive, because I think she appreciated them. I wanted to give her a little bright spot in an otherwise troubled life. Just please don’t look for the Hallmark card that oozed of all things that reminded me of what our mother-daughter relationship was not.

4. I usually send a text message to my aunt this weekend, acknowledging my gratitude for her being a mom to me when I needed it most, and couldn’t find it with my own mom.

5. I won’t be surprised if I get an email/text from a certain young woman who treats me as her second mom. My job as guidance counsellor often saw me reaching out to some young people who needed someone to talk to from the “outside”, or had some troubling times when their own mom couldn’t be there for them. I was honoured, and at the same time still saddened. I also acknowledge a few special women who stepped up …no FELL IN the role of Dalton’s “second mom”, when he just need someone to be there who is outside the situation. I guess that’s where my aunt also falls.

6. I like to be spoiled, or at least acknowledged, on Mother’s Day, because I am a mom. Dalton’s Mom.

I think I may have written before about how much I treasure my role as Dalton’s Mom. It has been my favorite job in my whole life. I’ve tried my best to be a good mom, but confess I failed at times. Those times, were when I tried extra hard, maybe because situations dictated it. Times when we sat in IWK, when all that mattered in the world was letting our boy know he was cared for, and we would hold on and protect him in any situation life would throw at him. Those times that to this very moment, still bring tears to my eyes. Tears for the little boy we met that had a struggle with two moms caring for him…his biological mom, who couldn’t seem to find space in her heart to let the new stepmom care for that shared treasure. Tears for the little girl at the end of the hall who was being cared for by her dad, trying his best to compensate for the mom that walked out on the family years before, let alone just trying to make ends meet for her and her siblings. Tears for the young lady who fought, but lost her battle with determination and a sense of humour, that were no doubt inherited from her mom.

Looking back, I so admire the smiles on a mom’s face. Those smiles usually reflected a special relationship that only a mom knows. I know…few dads step in and take that role and share that smile, too. But those smiles open straight to a heart and soul of women who would give anything to protect their child, and know when to lift and push their child to be the best they could be. I admire the smiles that some days were forced, because mom was experiencing sheer exhaustion, heartbreaking pain or utter defeat when they felt like giving up.

This weekend, let’s be on the lookout for Mama smiles… and if we don’t readily see them, look for a way to boost their day so they are reminded themselves of the things they will smile about the relationship with their own child.

Thanks to all the wonderful women in my life who I watch bring smiles to all our children. You are so loved and appreciated.

I’ll love you forever, I’ll love you for always
My “other” kid!
“My kids”
Elaine, you are such a beautiful mom to so many of us xo
The strongest mom I know xo Love you, Sher
No words. Just love.
I love it when my boy comes to church with me…or is it when I go to church with my boy?!
Auntie Joyce and I at the Anchorage
So proud of this guy for always pushing on
One of our last visits with mom at Shannex

Why didn’t I slow down sooner?!

Every day it seems my calendar has filled up, and everyday it seems I find myself looking at the day ahead and seeing that has filled up as well. Through no fault of my own?

NO! Every bit is my own fault. Every single time. And when I have down time, I spend it planning, scheming a future calendar page. If one page isn’t full of “doing”, it’s full of planning or organizing “doing”, for maximum efficiency. I’ve mentioned before how challenging I find it to have a “nothing day”. I so desperately want a day for nothing. A day of just being, not doing.

I think.

I am so grateful for the life I have, where I don’t wake up each day and merely breathe for the next twenty four hours. What would a day like that even look like?

I typically wake up by 5:30-6:00am. The past week, I haven’t slept well. I might attribute it to the full moon. Or I could blame it on the vehicles that started driving on Hill Road at 4 am. Wow. Someone has a really early start to the day, so I better not be complaining. One particular morning I counted SEVEN vehicles drive by our house between 4 and 5 am. Then I remind myself I’m living in a fishing community, and I’m grateful families are able to support themselves. And I’m grateful I get to enjoy some of their bounty.

I sometimes question, what will happen if/when the day comes I do NOT enjoy getting up. Will the day ever come that I cherish sleeping in more than I yearn to see the sunrise? I have sadly been feeling that way lately. I still get up early, but I have little motivation to get off the couch and go. Philip must have noticed it, too, as lately he comes down the stairs announcing the colours of the morning sky, certainly more for my benefit than his.

This morning, after getting the update on shades of pink and orange. I grumbled, and turned back to my morning Wordle challenge with Karl. I lost, so I hope to redeem myself with my daily Heardle challenge. Again, I lost. My competitive nature doesn’t bode with this sad state of affairs.

“Looks like some shades of red, too, from our bedroom window!” I hear from the other room.

Yah, yah. I actually know it will be a good one, since we have a storm coming, and the clouds will make it great. I get up, find some socks and pull my winter coat on over my pajamas. As I’m tying up my winter boots at the kitchen table, he laughs at me, “You don’t HAVE to go, you know?”

“But what if NO one else gets up this morning, and everyone else misses the greatest sunrise ever?“

And to myself…”What if I miss the greatest sunrise ever?!“

I trudge out the door, without even grabbing a bite to eat. I pull my jacket collar up around my ears more, and decide it will be too windy for Swallowtail. As I drive up the Hill, I decide the colours will be just fine at the Marsh today. and it will be a lot less windy.

I pretty near froze standing at the lookout, and wondered why I didn’t grab my mittens. I stayed long enough to see the 6:36 miracle, and hung around for only a few more minutes. I decided a breakfast burger and smoothie from Ma Mêre’s (new coffee shop), will hit the spot before I head home. I slowed down for a young deer, cognizant of the vehicles approaching from behind me. I purposely hit the brake lights, just as #2 and #3 pop up from the ditch and cautiously make their way across from Lee’s driveway.

They seem to know how to start the day… very slowly!

When I finally got back home and settled, I continued with my morning routine; reading Henri Nouwen’s daily devotional. It got me, right to the heart.

Maybe today isn’t about having an empty calendar. Or even being still. Maybe today, it’s about having a rested heart. Or better yet, a heart at rest. A heart that is open and ready. Sometimes that heart is wrapped up in an adventure. And sometimes that heart is wrapped up in a cozy blanket on the couch, as the wind blows through the trees.

Weathering the storms

I’ve always loved a good storm. My couch sits in front of our living room picture window, so I have an awesome view when a snow storm hits, against the backdrop of a wall of fir trees. It’s one of my favorite places to be; wrapped in flannel jammies I was gifted for Christmas, and hot chocolate in a mug that was also gifted from a good friend.

Today, I got thinking how we all handle storms differently, based on past experiences or level of preparedness. Our resiliency can make or break us. It can prepare us for the next crisis.

I rarely go out in a storm. I rarely have reason to; Although, I do enjoy getting in my Jeep and heading to Deep Cove or Southern Head to watch the crashing waves hit the shoreline.

Again, I am inside, and sheltered from the storm.

Back in January, I headed to Prince Edward Island for my first deployment with the Canadian Red Cross. I remember specifically contacting my CRC person, to see if I should start out a day early, with news of an impending storm. She assured me it wasn’t giving too bad, so I would be ok to wait, or even go a day later, if I felt the need. She had no idea the magnitude of winds here on the Bay of Fundy. I could easily envision a couple of days of being storm stayed on my Island, trying to get to the other Island, just because of wind.

All I could think about was how some people have no idea what it means to feel the true power of a storm, unless they’ve experienced it first hand for themselves. In her “here and now”, the potential ramifications of the storm might only be a couple of hours. I knew, strong winds could not only shut down our ferry service for one trip, it could easily mean it would be down for a full day, or even two. As it turned out, I made it to the mainland on the only trip that ran that day. That part of the storm was behind me. I would stay ahead of the storm all my way to Moncton. Once I hit Port Elgin, the storm was coming quickly up around. I thought I had missed it, so I was a little caught off guard. But it is Winter in the Maritimes, and I should not be surprised.

Did I mention how much I hate winter driving.?

No…REALLY hate winter driving.?

I can sit cozy and warm inside, protected from the elements and quite enjoy the storms around me. When I hear of a potential storm in the forecast, I am pretty well equipped with my own emergency plan in place, with extra firewood, food, water, candles and blankets. I look forward to time I don’t have to go anywhere, for anything.

We actually had a couple of unexpected power outages this winter before I left. We had everything in place. We set up “camp” around the wood-stove, and managed quite well. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, actually overheating from all the blankets and heat of the fire.

A colleague asked if we had a generator, implying that was the only way to be truly prepared for a 72 hour emergency. No, we do not.. we have everything we need if the power is out for an extended period of time. Storms are more of an inconvenience, than an actual emergency for us. We did call and check in on Kiddo, and the in-laws, but as it turned out, they got their power back before us, by several hours.

Again, an inconvenience, but not a crisis. We would survive.

As I got to the end of the New Brunswick highway, and ready to cross Confederation Bridge, I realized I had nothing in my arsenal of weapons to prepare me for this crossing. Logic told me, like on the ferry, if the weather was too dangerous, it would get shut down, and you just wouldn’t be able to cross. I reminded myself, it was just an inconvenience. But I couldn’t remember when I saw the last hotel, and pulling over on the side of the road was not a wise choice. I would just have to muster on. Surely, the sun was shining and the beautiful island was waiting just on the other side of the bridge. That’s how it was the last time I came over, right? Ok, so that was in the month of July, many years ago. And I wasn’t the one driving.

How bad could it be?

As it turned out, it was the scariest moment in my life. I’m not normally one to let anxiety get the best of me. I do not succumb to the idea “Well, maybe you just aren’t praying hard enough”. I’ve gotten though other storms in my life. Surely, God would get me through this one.

I started looking back on other storms. The worst, undoubtedly, was our time at IWK with Dalton, when we were confronted with the idea we might lose our only child. What got us through? The prayers of a whole community. The support of a medical team that has been down this road before. Reassurance from my sister Sherri, “he’s going to be ok, Heather”. And most recently, my Auntie Joyce, “you got this, Girl!” My faith in God, that no matter the outcome, He was in control, and would get me to the other side.

How ironic, as I headed to Cows country!

The wind picked up, my Jeep started to sway. There was no one behind me (I wonder why?!). The two or three transport trucks I came upon were swaying. Quickly I reminded myself, “if it was really all that bad, they would have closed the bridge”. That was of absolute NO conciliation at that moment. My knuckles were white, and I was fighting back tears. I could picture God holding on to the Jeep, and driving it through effortlessly, like a Matchbox car we pushed through the sandpile as a kids. He was in control. And then I heard my aunt say again, “You got this, Girl”. I finally saw the sign up ahead, directing to me to pull over for Covid testing. I had made it. Now just to make it to Charlottetown.

Get ready to brace yourself again. The snow was blowing everywhere, cars and trucks were pointed in various directions along what I think was the side of the road. Snow drifts and whiteouts made it difficult to see what little signs there were, or where turning lanes were. I entered the destination in my maps app, and slowly continued on. Someone mistakenly told me my hotel was only about 15 minutes from the bridge. I reached my destination much later, only to find out my hotel reservation had been cancelled. That anxiety kept creeping in. God, I can’t hear you right now, and the tears are preventing me from seeing you clearly.

Once I got settled in my hotel room, at the right hotel, just a couple of blocks away, I called Philip to let him know I arrived…safe, but certainly not sound. I collapsed on the bed and let the tears flow, then messaged a couple of people to let them know I made it.

The bridge closes at 100km/h winds…
we are only seeing 95km/h when I went through!
Apparently, it is only a 12 minute drive on good days.
This day, it took me 35 minutes.

Greasy as fried chicken!
At least the blowing snow was subsiding.

This week was our first Sunday at church without restrictions… I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm… Jon played one of my favorite songs; the verse I had been singing back in the hotel room that night. We never know what storms we can overcome, if we never leave the shore, or get through that first one.

I made it home. I made it though that storm, just as I am sure I will make it through the next one.

Getting back to “Normal”

Every now and then, I get a little overwhelmed, and I feel like everything is spinning. I love to find a quiet space, and stand on an imaginary compass. I take a couple of minutes to just rotate on the center point, taking a couple of minutes to peer in each direction.

I’m searching. I’m not sure what for. Then I turn to the East. And peer.

Then South. And peer.

Then West…and peer.

And lastly, to the North…my favorite…and peer.

I love winter, especially in the woods, so naturally, I have an affinity for the North. True North makes so much sense now.

I came across this definition …”True North is your inner sense, or your calling, of what you want to accomplish in your life. It’s a combination of your values, your beliefs, and your purpose. It keeps you on a straight track that’s true for you. And it’s different for every single person.”

The reality is, as I turn, I have no idea really where my compass should be pointing. I follow my nose…Southern Head is that way…North Head that way. So I’m sorta close. it must be safe for me to step out. A lot has happened since Christmas, mainly with a new adventure with Red Cross. Since I returned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been trying to reboot, back to my “regular” life. Seems like the perfect time to create a new “normal”, and to slowly jump back in, carefully crafting what is really wanted, or needed.

My Facebook memory from one year ago today, was this Henri Nouwen quote I had posted. It seems to me, it is exactly what I needed to revisit on this very day.

“MY verse!
“Be still and acknowledge that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). These are words to take with us in our busy lives. We may think about stillness in contrast to our noisy world. But perhaps we can go further and keep an inner stillness even while we carry on business, teach, work in construction, make music, or organise meetings.

It is important to keep a still place in the “marketplace.” This still place is where God can dwell and speak to us. It also is the place from where we can speak in a healing way to all the people we meet in our busy days. Without that still space we start spinning. We become driven people, running all over the place without much direction. But with that stillness God can be our gentle guide in everything we think, say, or do.”
-Henri Nouwen”

This morning I listened to last week’s posted sermon that I had missed since we were away. Jon’s message reassured me that life really is about our relationships, and the conversations that take place when we reach out. Listen to Jon’s sermon here… https://youtu.be/jwUssau1fSg

Then take some time to ponder, just as I will.

But I think I’m on the right track. Stay tuned… it may take me a few days!

Be Still and Listen

Psalm 139:23-4

(Disclosure: Exposing my heart; please don’t judge me…save that for my Maker)

Several years ago, our family went to Canada’s Wonderland, and I remember Kiddo, being nervous about some of the rides. I confess, I am not fond of roller coasters. I have never had any interest in going to Disney World, mainly because I just don’t enjoy such rides, so I could totally empathize with him for not wanting to go on any of the big thrill rides, either.

Well, we did finally agree we could go on the Scooby Doo Coaster together, even if we weren’t sure, as we held on tight at the top of the first hill.

But guess what? We survived, white knuckles and all.

Our province has been on quite the roller coaster ride over the past couple of weeks. The Covid regulations keep changing; even when we reached “Green”, we were never really sure how green was different from orange or yellow. Now we’ve returned to Mandatory Orders and State of Emergency, and the colour wheel seems to have totally disappeared altogether.

We’ve been on this ride before, but we seem to be experiencing it differently this time. The thrill is gone!

This week, I got thinking about how we have been reacting. We saw the nastiness Stateside, as we watched the American election. Some of it raised its ugly head through our own recent election. False news and conspiracy theories started to jade our outlooks.

How have we judged people through Covid?

How have I judged people through Covid?

Does our attitude towards people change once we get to know them on a personal level? My experience with Restorative Justice tells me, of course our attitude will change, when we hear a person’s story, and we take time to hear their heart.

Throughout this pandemic, I learned people’s resiliency to isolation and lockdowns can vary greatly.

Yes, I’ve been judgemental.

No, I’m not a judgemental person, or so I thought.

Did I judge people differently throughout the pandemic?

Sadly, yes.

The widower living alone, who came to lean on social outings such as the monthly Seniors Dinner, and visiting friends at the Nursing Home was greatly impacted at the beginning of the pandemic. How did I treat them? I baked extra treats and dropped them off. I sent random greeting cards to shut-ins. I treated them with love, even if I didn’t understand the depths of their situation, or the scope of their loneliness.

I was impacted, too, when many of my volunteer activities came to a grinding halt. But I jumped for joy, at the very thought of being told I had to stay home for weeks on end. I had been given a chance to explore online classes and revisit favorite crafts and hobbies. How did I treat my extroverted friends who were forced to cut down their social circles? I scoffed when they whined and complained on Facebook about not being able to do this or that. I was certainly not acting very Christ-like, now was I? Especially as a retired guidance counsellor, I should have been more cognizant of the toll on their mental health. Why was I judging someone else’s level of resiliency?

Most of us managed to reach the Green stage unscathed. Or maybe not?

Many of us had indeed faced loss and disappointment of some sort or another through the last 18 months. It wasn’t a competition. It was just life. Hopefully, we didn’t keep a checklist and judge each other’s worth or value, based on how many things they could check off…

✅Loss of a parent or close family member. (We didn’t judge their reaction; we reached out with a caring heart, even if we were told not to hug)

✅Loss of wages or even jobs. (We didn’t judge, we found a way to help make their life a little easier, with a gas card or box of groceries)

✅Loss of social interaction, or visits with people we love (We didn’t judge the sudden lack of visits; we learned to use Zoom and FaceTime)

✅Loss of in-person volunteer activities (some gave up, only wanting to assist in person. We didn’t judge; we learned how to reach out long distance through a central coordinator, and still meet the mandate of our agencies)

✅Restricted access to public gathering spaces. (We didn’t spew hate at them; we learned to explore the great outdoors of our beautiful community)

✅Loss of indoor physical activity programs (We didn’t get angry at the massage therapists and yoga instructors; we took up Virtual Run challenges and zoom classes)

✅Enforcement of wearing masks, that NO one could say they enjoyed. (Instead, we embraced the cottage craft seamstresses that made us personalized masks)

✅Musical acts lost revenue with cancelled concerts (We didn’t spew hatred at the venues and touring companies; we embraced online Friday night kitchen parties)

My thoughts and reflections this week?

How much has our attitude changed since we entered the beginning of the pandemic, and even the Green stage this summer?

How much has MY attitude changed toward people in difficult situations?

I’ve never been much on politics, but do have a strong sense of civil responsibility. I was privileged to be part of elections for three different levels of government over the past couple of years. As an employee, it was imperative I remain neutral on any issue, candidate or political party.

I must say, remaining neutral in the public eye, is very different from showing disdain and downright disgust at the kitchen table. I had to catch myself a few times, reminding myself these are human beings that feel they are trying to make a difference. Yes, my judgemental side was coming through.

Don’t mix politics with religion, they say. Religion is not the same as spirituality, they say. Church and State should remain separate, they say.

Pray for our leaders, 1 Timothy 2:1-2.

I’ve been doing more of that, in these unsettling times.

We recently extended an invitation to our MLA, Andrea Anderson-Mason, who was on the island for a public meeting. The regulations for faith community were kind of hazy on the GNB website, so our church was just hoping for some clarification.

It’s easy to pray for Andrea, as she prayed with our group. Dr. Russell and Minister Shepherd always get added to my daily prayer list. But I caught myself…it should be easy to pray for the leaders we don’t agree with and admire, as well. Of course, our Premier will get the prayers of the praying people. Minister Cardy, has seen much hatred, especially in recent weeks, as school policy keeps changing.

I shall pray harder for this man.

I like how Andrea, a lady of faith herself, stated as Christians, we should be choosing our battles. Is our battle going to be with government? Or is our battle for a greater cause? A cause for unity and peace. Indeed God only knows.

The most recent restrictions announced have stepped up yet another notch, with masks not being enough. Vaccination is not enough. Now proof of double vaccination is not just recommended, but now REQUIRED in public places, including church.

Although I don’t usually announce my beliefs publicly, I was getting frustrated with anti-vaxxers. I viewed them as inconsiderate people who were putting our most vulnerable people at risk. People I care about. My mother-in-law, who has had issues with pneumonia, can not risk being exposed to Covid. She has barely gone out in public for over a year. It is our responsibility to protect her.

So, our family has all been double vaccinated.

My father has spent weeks in hospital for a major surgery. Covid prevented us from being able to visit him. Again, FaceTime to the rescue. He is presently awaiting another surgery…and it has been delayed too many times, as our health care system is being stretched to the limits. Increased covid cases tying up hospital resources are preventing him from getting his surgery, needed for better quality of life.

Yes, I’ve been angry with those not willing to get the vaccination.

You don’t have the right to put these people, and so many more at risk.

Then I remind myself of my RJ roots.

Listen to their stories. Listen to their hearts; just as I hope they listen to mine.

Am I treating those of us that are vaccinated with a “Holier than thou” attitude? It has already been proven the vaccinated can still be carriers, and can still catch the virus.

Shame.

Shame on me.

Shame on us.

Some are scared. Some have genuine health concerns, reactions, etc. Some are young. Some don’t understand the past generations that felt the same, but got their polio shots, as a sense of civic duty.

Some are my friends. People whom I dearly love.

They aren’t treating me with disdain for getting the shot. They are doing what they feel they can to protect us, by wearing a mask, distancing, and limiting their public activities.

And they are praying for me.

We could be far less judgemental when we know and care about the people in our lives, who are also making difficult decisions for themselves and their families.

The same can be said about the local businesses and organizations that have been put in a difficult position of having to ask to see proof of vaccination and ID. Whether it be restaurants, the ferry cafeteria, churches, curling club or community center. No one likes the idea of having to turn patrons away. We all pray this will be over sooner than later. I’m truly amazed, here in our small community, at people who want to take up their axes to grind; against our neighbours, the very community members who have struggled throughout the pandemic to serve us, and provide for us. People that have invested in our community (whether they are Islanders, or people from away), to make this a better place, yet are still floundering to stay afloat. Fines for refusing to follow the rules can literally sink some of these places. Bless you, for making our community a safer and better place. You deserve to be protected, just as our community members do. The battle is with our government, not each other. Don’t let this divide us.

Have we forgotten how to be kind since the beginning of the pandemic?

The night of Andrea’s public meeting, was also the night of Peter Cunningham’s presentation at the Museum, “Disappearing before our eyes”. I erroneously thought her meeting would be filled with negativity from angry citizens. I was torn, as I wanted to go to both and hear how Grand Manan would be impacted by the latest announcements…yet knowing Peter’s would touch my spirit.

I’m grateful to a woman who represents us in the legislature with a caring heart, and listens to people’s concerns, and understanding small community life.

I’m also very grateful for a man from away who is very much part of the Grand Manan community; who also listens with his heart, and captures the stories of our community.

Thank you both, for reminding us of the strength of our faith on this island.

Have we forgotten how to listen and care for our neighbour, regardless of our differences? Despite our differences?

Be still. And listen.

Come and Stand in the Stillness

It’s been awhile.

I have been writing blog posts in my head all summer, usually while out on a walk deep in the woods. I kept working towards another virtual challenge and medal, but I never slowed down long enough it to actually put those words to print. Even lately, I caught myself not even taking time to go to my favorite places, to slow down, reflect, meditate, and pray.

All those things were still happening, except the slowing down. Reflection, meditation and prayer time came in short little spurts here and there. And now that September has arrived, I look back and wonder, like the rest of you, just where DID summer disappear to?

July 2021. Premier Higgs and Doctor Russell started encouraging us to race to the magic number of 75. August, New Brunswick Day, would be our day to celebrate, after so many days of celebration and joy had been taken away from us.

August 2021. We finally finished chasing surgeon and physio appointments with Kiddo. We celebrated with a day trip full of movies and popcorn. My sister would be able to get home to the East Coast, for the first time in six years. We celebrated with all things east…namely donairs, and lobster. And more lobster.

September 2021. Time to go back to school. But “Green” isn’t really green. And people are seeing red, and forgetting the kindness and compassion we were so desperately seeking throughout the pandemic.

A summer of freedom.

A summer meant to slow down and enjoy life.

A summer that sped by in the blink of an eye.

We were supposed to be feeling differently now. I was supposed to be feeling rested and relaxed after the carefree days of summer floated on by. Instead, September’s calendar started looking insane as it filled up quickly, and oozed into October.

I needed to get walking, walking for ME again. I needed to take in summer sunrises again. I needed to walk on the beach with gentle waves and salt air. September has afforded us a couple of lovely days to sit in the sun, and breathe in, exhale. One thing on my calendar I was really looking forward to, was Zoe Culbertson of Seaside Meditation… she was doing a Home Retreat, and I was determined to carve out some time for it today.

Slowly, it was coming back to me; despite the frantic technology glitches I was being confronted with. That always seems to happen…I am a perfectly capable woman with adequate computer skills, set to navigate new opportunities, and bam! I slide into the new situation with a disillusioned sense of confidence, and I end up wasting far too much time when my laptop/iPad/cell (in that order) didn’t do exactly as I told it to.

So, long story short, I was looking out the patio door, listening to Zoe’s guided movement meditation, after I lost video, when I saw it.

It. First the pile of screws..

Then the pile of lumber, that has been gradually growing smaller and smaller.

I was reminded, it has been two summers now, that larger pile was sitting in the back yard. A simple trip to Kent’s had turned into a broken leg, several weeks of sick leave, followed by weeks of physio. (Do you see the family pattern here?!) I was reminded how that extension off the kitchen had a spot for the BBQ, but not really safe enough to hold friends or family, unless drastic steps were taken.

But this morning, I saw something different.

There was peace.

And there was a reminder of the need for a quiet, gentle, compassionate kindness.

Come and stand in the stillness.

Thank you, Zoe! We need more people like you to show us the stillness.

Check out Zoe’s Facebook group at Seaside Meditation

Be still: I’m melting!

I love The Wizard of Oz . It is hard to imagine the classic from 1939 still being around. Such a classic, such truths of human kindness, struggles and triumph.

The Wizard of Oz video clip… there she goes!

I hate heat. This week has been awful for me. I still can’t figure out why people appreciate it so much. We have had a few days of heat warnings, and yesterday we hit 38 degrees in our yard. I know we will have more, but this was the worst yet. Why do I hate it so much? Probably the number one reason, is having the energy zapped right out from me. I hate the feeling of not being able to get things done. And this week has been an especially busy one, between Customer Appreciation Night, anniversary and birthday celebrations. I had planned a family bbq supper…silly girl. I had things nicely started on the grill for surf and turf…but we ran out of propane mid way through. That was actually a relief… I could get off the deck, and finish things up inside. Hubby has recently discovered cannoli cakes at the Independent Grocer, so I had planned to pick one up for him. Zip. Absolutely no birthday cakes of any kind. Too bad. And I certainly wasn’t going to heat the house up by turning on the oven, even if it was his birthday. Sorry, Philip!

But alas, Newton’s Mercantile to the rescue! Peanut butter ice cream cake it was! Don’t you love it when Plan B turns out better than Plan A?!

Anniversary and birthday celebrations behind us, next on the to-do list was the start of Kiddo’s physiotherapy summer regime. I dropped him off, and headed off to do some customer deliveries. The dark clouds were moving in quickly, and the thunder had been rumbling most of the afternoon. Thinking I had time, I zipped out to Long Eddy to watch the storm and light show. It was pretty incredible. Then I get interrupted again; Kiddo’s appointment was cut short, as the power went out. So much for a little breather!

Heading down island, we witnessed a beautiful rainbow, reminding us of God’s promise of better days ahead. Just slow down long enough to appreciate them.

Our mid-week break is our bingo night. Or should I say, “give-the -Curling -Club -your -weekly -donation”. Power was still out, and all over the island, not just North Head. Bingo is cancelled.

Hmmm…my Youversion app just popped up a notification… a friend has started a new Bible study … “Addicted to busy: Recovery for the Rushed Soul”. Well, if that isn’t a subtle sign, I’m not sure what is!!

When I got home, I was reminded it was the last day of the month…which means any of my business orders must be submitted before midnight. So I turn on the data, sit by the window offering the most daylight, and get set to work in the dark. I finally got them done by 10pm…now my bedtime. I am grateful the power came back on, but our bedroom ceiling fan still offered little relief. The thunder boomers of early evening didn’t give as much reprieve as hoped.

So, I am melting. And I am being forced to slow down. I am being reminded of Judy Garland putting out one fire, to rescue the Scarecrow, and inadvertently causing another tragedy, as the Wicked Witch slowly disintegrated to a puddle.

I am grateful not to be living in British Columbia, where record-breaking temperatures have plagued the area, and now forest fires are breaking out of control. Town of Lytton under evacuation order

I still have much to be grateful for, and my troubles are minor. But I still need the reminders to slow down, and Be Still every once in awhile. I’m off to see the wizard… well, not quite…but we are off to the movie theatre tomorrow for our first cinema experience since 2019! This calls for a double hitter AND exorbitantly priced popcorn and snacks; because it is a week worth celebrating.

And I won’t melt in the theatre!

Guided Wellness Excursions

Great time to explore, and take time to Be Still

I am pleased to offer a new service, as an extension of my Life Coaching, starting week of June 20th, throughout the summer.

🥾🌿☀️🍎
GUIDED WELLNESS WALKS
Nature Therapy has been around for many years, but has only recently been recognized for its value in personal health and wellness. Appointments will be made for individuals or partners.

$25 registration each, payable before hand, includes:
🥾approximately 1-1.5 hours; easy walking trails around the island. Wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a sweater.
🌿time for reflection, meditation and mindfulness activities. Discussion topics led by participants, and your comfort level. Take home activity provided for personal reflection and optional follow-through
☀️flexible times to suit your schedule (lunch breaks/after work/early evenings). Also dependent on weather/tides.
🍎refreshments; water and a light snack. *Please advise of allergies

🚗Transportation can be arranged, if needed, for a nominal fee

Looking forward to getting out with you and enjoying summer on Grand Manan!

On a Wing and a Prayer…

Do you know where the expression “on a wing and a prayer” comes from? I’ve used it over time, without really realizing it’s origins. I got the “prayer” part, but wasn’t sure about the “wing”. When I looked up a definition, this is what I found from writingexplained.org …

Definition: Relying solely on luck to get out of a difficult situation. This expression originated during World War II. It appeared in a film called The Flying Tigers in the year 1942. One of the pilots in the military had lost one wing of his plane, so he was trying to land using only one wing and a prayer.

A couple of weeks ago, I had to travel for a medical appointment. As it involved getting eye drops, it was recommended I have a driver, as my sight would be altered for 3-4 hours. I was thankful hubby was able to take time off work for me.

We haven’t been travelling much lately, throughout the pandemic. Our days of heading to the mainland “for fun” seem to be in the distant past. Medical appointments are the only excuse, as of late. We tacked on a couple of “necessary” trips to Indigo, Michaels and No Frills… which says a lot about the necessities of life for our household!

What we had forgotten, was the necessary careful balancing of time management; especially for a Friday afternoon. We left the city in time to make it to our 4:45 ferry reservation.

Then came that sinking feeling of coming down over the hill, seeing the compound jam packed, and noting the time of 4:47pm. Razzen-frazzen! So, of course, we were told to go to the Standby lane.

I was tired after a long day of driving about, and going for medical tests. My vision had been improving over the past few days, but motion of the Jeep along the highway was not a comfortable feeling. I told Philip to cross his fingers, and say a prayer. He’s the kinda guy that would cross his fingers instead of saying a prayer; I’m the kinda gal that would say a prayer instead of crossing my fingers. That’s how we roll. He said “It ain’t happening!”…. he meant getting on the ferry; as opposed to the prayer. I think.

Someone’s prayer worked. But it was a tight squeeze. This is the kind of load we see in peak of summer, with cars being left behind. It was Mother’s Day weekend, but couldn’t imagine so many people travelling home, along with a few transports.

So we made it; on a wing and a prayer.

The following Wednesday, Kiddo had a mishap at work, and ended up with a double compound open fracture to the arm. Needless to say, he was in a lot of pain, and our small hospital wasn’t equipped to handle it. So, off to the Saint John Regional Hospital by air ambulance, thanks to Atlantic Charters.

Two wings and multiple prayers!

Kiddo and I made this flight once before, nearly twelve years ago. Although we knew his injury was serious, and would likely involve surgery, it was far less frightening than the last trip, where the fear of the unknown laid before us, and the beginning of his journey with leukaemia. Both trips involved a whole lot of prayers, from a great support network. We are so grateful for the exceptional teams of healthcare professionals, and air service from Atlantic Charters that work together in emergency situations for our island.

EMT accompanied us to Saint John airport, where we were transferred to another ambulance. Thanks, Marc!

A day later, we were headed back home, with Philip at the wheel again. Kiddo’s left “wing” will be out of commission for the next 30 days, much to everyone’s dismay. The good news is, he is a pretty tough guy, and has survived a lot worse. Just more “battle scars” to add to his collection.

After we made it back, “wings” kept popping up everywhere. I’m sure God was sending me a message. Carolyn, one of our strongest prayer warriors’ favorite verse kept coming to mind. Isaiah 40, verse 30, reminds me how we all stumble and fall, but like Kiddo, he marches on, faith unshaken.

Sunday afternoon, I was really looking forward to some down-time. I had settled in nicely to my zero-gravity chair on the deck, ready for a catnap in the afternoon sun. Kiddo was inside, resting comfortably with Netflix. Hubby and Eliott were about to head out exploring. Ahh, peaceful bliss. I was invited along, but was trying to resist; I was enjoying the deck. He was quite persuasive, as he knew this amateur bird watcher was intrigued by the idea of possibly spotting an owl that had been seen out the Crabbe Road. But what I found, was just what my soul needed. At first, he looked as if his wing might be injured, but we later decided he was just drying off in the sun. He flew off with much grace and ease. I’m sure someone else with an injured wing will rise up, just as easily, given time to heal.

Immature eagle spotted in the middle of nowhere!

Just this past Monday, I had an appointment at St. Joe’s for further tests at the Eye Clinic. Driving along the highway, guess what I caught a glimpse of? Yes, a beautiful eagle soaring high.

He gives strength to the weary, and will renew their strength. So grateful for His promises.

Praying for you

I’ve been doing a lot of praying this week, and have a wonderful group of friends that I keep on “Speed Dial”, when I am requesting prayers for a situation, or a person I care about. After a conversation with one of my prayer warriors, I got thinking about how hard I find it to pray for myself.

I feel it a real privilege when someone seeks me out specifically, asking if I would pray for them. I am honored they trust me with their heart, and inner most fears and concerns. I never really looked at myself as a Prayer Warrior, perhaps because there always seemed to be certain people in the community I immediately thought of, or their role in church gave them the unofficial title. Then there were some older people, usually ladies, who seemed to have a direct private line to the Creator himself, and I felt like their prayers held more power for some reason. A couple of sweet ladies have such quiet, earnest prayers, I could listen to them all day.

Two of my very favorite Prayer Warriors 💕

I know some of this is just my theological past coming out, and today, I recognize my prayers have just as much power. In some faiths, I understand the prayers of the priest or religious leaders have historically been given more power. I am thankful I know I can pray for any situation or person, with literally all my heart and soul, thanks to Jesus. The first time an online friend reached out to me, and called me a Prayer Warrior, I was immediately humbled. Of course, I will. That may have been the day I took my prayer time even more seriously then ever before.

But then when a personal health concern popped up unexpectedly this week, I struggled to reach out…my prayer request remained “unspoken”. I know my team will step up to the plate and offer prayers, knowing the important thing is, that God knows each request, even without words. Even I can just quietly ask “You know what I need Lord, and You know my heart”.

One of my friends challenged me, right up front, when I shared details later…why was I being hesitant and secretive when I first called on my Prayer Warriors?

Good question. My reply was I think I just needed to wrap my head around the situation, and know what to ask for. Why can I go on and on with my request for a friend, and give God lots of detail like he doesn’t know already; yet I settle for just a basic sentence, the bare minimum, when the prayer is for myself?! Perhaps it comes back to my own pride, and not being able to ask anyone for help very easily. I need to figure out how to do it on my own first. Thank you, Michelle, for calling me on it…making me re-examine myself. I had another friend scold me years ago for not asking for help. Admittedly, she could not do anything about the situation, but she could pray. She, above all, could and would pray. But she also reminded me that by not asking for help, I was taking away the opportunity for them to be used by God to be a blessing. Who did I think I was?! I’ve learned that lesson, Rose. Thank you. She is always a blessing, always reaching out to others. Having worked with young people my whole life, I love to help others reach out and be a blessing, as well. But, man, isn’t it hard to be on the receiving end sometimes?!

One of my favorite scenes from the Bible is when Jesus left the disciples on the shore to wander off down the beach by himself, to pray. Perhaps that is why I enjoy my solitude walks at the Anchorage and Stanley’s beach…I know He will meet me there. I just need to learn to talk more, and not be afraid to ask. I am accepting those prayers graciously from friends, but why is it so hard to ask God for help, to spell out my requests precisely? I’ve gotten pretty good at leaving the prayers open-ended, “Thy will be done”, and I’m a great listener. Usually.

So, God, I know you’re listening. I heard you Sunday morning when Pastor Karl asked, “give me eyes to see”, and I know you heard me when I asked you to show me the lesson in all this.

So, I will just keep asking, and ask you to help me be a better Prayer Warrior for myself.

Competition. I’m done!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot on my last few walks. It has been a little more challenging since I recently started working, and I find myself reflecting on the days I was working at school. It wouldn’t have been unusual to put in ten hour days as a teacher. Actually, it would have been more unusual to NOT put in ten hour days. These days I’m struggling to get the laundry done, and other household chores. Saturday night entertainment was spent at the grocery store, deciding on which package of pork chops would be the best deal for the week ahead…especially since I wouldn’t be home to cook suppers, and have to readjust my menu planning yet again. But that entertainment had to be confined to an hour, because the store would be closing soon.

But somehow, when I was teaching, everything got done. Well, most everything. Most of the important stuff, anyway. I guess it has just been a bit of a shell-shocker this month, because I refuse to admit I can’t get everything done I want to. (No news flash there, eh?!)

So, one of my Covid activities, has been Virtual Walking challenges. I’ve set my sights on various medals with differing distances, and have accomplished several smaller ones. 5-10kms seem to be no problem, but then I got intrigued by some longer ones. Now I’m struggling to keep up, because of my work schedule. I have tried getting out before heading to the office, which is an enjoyable way to start the day, but it takes me away from “valuable” time at the dishwasher or laundry room. I know “this too shall pass”, but when Dalton and Karl have both passed me enroute virtually, I’m beating myself up!

As I was adding things to my Happy Planner earlier this week, this card fell out. Yes, I definitely needed reminding. How many days do we spend competing in our head against the expectations of others? But even worse, competing against the expectations we set for ourselves? Everyday, I see reminders around me of things I “want” to be, things I “should” be doing. And at the end of the day, I often reflect on what I need to change or do differently. But this week, I gently reminded myself I really am doing the best I can.

But even that last sentence makes it sound like I’m competing again. As if I am “settling”. As if, not meeting my expectation, means I am failing. I really need to be still, and remind myself I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Be Still, Be Kind

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.