The Sound of Silence

The Ice Storm of 2013 has come and gone. The freezing rain tapped angrily against my window all night and kept me awake off and on until dawn. When I awoke groggily in the pitch dark to get Zachary to an early hockey game, it looked like a fairyland outside. All the power lines were coated with thousands of tiny frozen droplets and the trees looked as if they had been painted with ice by an indulgent artistIcy Power Lines

Unlike thousands and thousands, we did not lose power. Even though I was ready for at least 48 hours of blackout if necessary, it turns out that it was not. Between the ice storm raging all last night and the hives that are keeping me up night after night with the itching, I am not sleeping very well.

By the time Zach and I got home from hockey I felt backed-up with fatigue. I informed the household, including my poor hubby who is suffering horribly with pneumonia, that I was closed for business, off-line, and unavailable. With my pronouncement clearly communicated, I lit all my beeswax candles and settled on the living room couch with my Kobo.

The kids were in the ‘man cave’ playing video games when we lost power at around 2:00 this afternoon. It is always such a shock when the power goes out. There is this sudden realization that we are absolutely and completely dependent upon electricity to cook our meals, boil our kettles, read our books and play our video games. Being the adaptable creatures that they are, though, the kids quickly found things to keep them busy on the third floor and the house went quiet.

As I lay in the welcome quiet I realized that it was not just any old kind of quiet. It was complete and utter silence. No hum of the refrigerator, no low level vibration of the lights, no furnace whooshing on and off at indeterminate times, no TV blaring, no music, no kettle bringing yet another batch of water to the boil.

Quiet, hush, silence, calm, stillness, peace.Quiet Tree

Stunning!

As easy as electricity makes our lives and as much as we depend on it, I have to admit that I was disappointed when the power was restored thirty minutes later. The furnace came back on with a roar, the printer beeped and whirred loudly, the kettle picked up where it left off, and so did the television.

Well, for thirty blissful minutes I got to bask in the Sound of Silence…and it was truly heavenly.

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The Smile

I met my childhood sweetheart, Andrew, when I was in Senior Kindergarten. Looking back on Primary School class pictures, he was the cutest little curly-haired blond cherub you have ever seen. He had a smile that was a mile wide and a personality to match.

As we grew, Andrew matured into the kind of young man that every parent hopes their daughter will bring home; warm, kind, respectful and smart. Andrew and I were an ‘item’ in high school and my family, including my beloved grandparents, adored him.

Smile,-and-the-World-smiles-with-you!-Long-Sleeve-ShirtsOne of the things I loved about Andrew was his eternal optimism. And, even though he got teased mercilessly by his buddies for it, his favourite maxim was; ‘smile and the world smiles with you, frown and you frown alone.’ Andrew gets teased to this day for sticking so steadfastly to that saying but, honestly, it still warms my heart.

Andrew and I dropped the romantic aspect of our relationship years ago and have remained good friends. He is married to one of my favourite people in this entire world and they have an absolutely beautiful family. I was out for lunch with his family a few weeks ago when they all teasingly chimed in on Andrew’s maxim. He got a delightful blush on his face and I caught a fleeting glimpse of the little boy I knew forty years ago in kindergarten. Just as cute. Just as endearing.

It is a week before Christmas. As the mother of three kids and a business winding down for the holidays I am on maximum overdrive.

HurryI had a million and one things to accomplish today and when I awoke at 5:30 this morning, the word ‘hurry’ flashed across my brain. After dropping Zach at school, grocery shopping, playing hostess to a meeting at Simon’s office (because he is still so ill with the flu), driving home and putting away groceries, I had to race Max up to the orthodontist to get his bottom braces on. And then race back home to feed Michael some lunch and head downtown for a field trip at 11:00am.

By the time I had dropped Max, my blood pressure was probably fairly high and the word ‘hurry’ was even more urgent and insistent than it had been five hours before.

I was waiting to pull out of the parking lot at the orthodontist when I noticed a very elderly woman slowly making her way down the sidewalk. All I could think was; ‘oh man, I hope I can pull out into traffic before she makes it to my car. It will take her a full minute for her to get out of my way. I need to hurry!’

Well, of course, the traffic was heavy and she made it to my car. I was blocking the sidewalk so I needed to back up so that she could pass. She was waving frantically at me but I wasn’t sure what she was trying to communicate. Perhaps it was; ‘get that bloody little red car off the damn sidewalk and out of my way.’ Or maybe it was; ‘don’t worry, I’ve got all the time in the world and I can wait.’ Regardless of what she was trying to communicate, I wasn’t in that much of a rush that I couldn’t let an old lady pass by on a wintry sidewalk. So I backed up.

As she walked past my car she turned and flashed me a smile that was so wide, so delightful and so beautiful it actually took my breath away. She shone her light on me so brightly it was almost blinding. I beamed right back at her and we had one of those miraculous ‘love-in’ moments that always seem to come out of nowhere and are gone before you can really register their splendour.

As I watched the slow progress of this beautiful human being who had been put so serendipitously in my path this morning, I marvelled at the delicacy of human interaction. If she had snarled at me and shaken her head as she went by, my day of hurry and bustle would have been that much harder. That kind of interaction would have put me off my game and made me feel wrongly accused and bitter.

But instead, she reached out to me and shared a beautiful piece of herself. She reminded me that I am never in too much of a hurry to connect deeply with a fellow human being. She made me feel loved.Loved

As I pulled out into traffic with a smile in my heart, my old friend Andrew flashed into my mind’s eye. And what I realized is that I had listened but never really heard those words that he had spoken so often and that belonged so much to him.

Smile and the world smiles with you…’

Andrew’s words came to life for me this morning. So now, rather than a pithy little saying, those words have a deep and resonant meaning.

And as I drove my little red car on to the next part of my day, I wondered how many other lives that beautiful old woman is going to touch simply because she chooses to smile at the world. And I wondered how many lives I can touch today and tomorrow and the next day as people are roaring around from place to place trying to get way too much done in far too little time.

So now, in this crazy week leading up to Christmas, I have been gently and lovingly reminded that this season is about joy, family, celebration, connection and love. And it is also about a smile from a stranger to remind me that I am never too busy for a miracle.

A Radical Act of Love

As this year is slowly winding down, I am gently taking stock of my life. I have had an abundant, productive and prosperous year. I am absolutely delighted with the way my business is building and with my fulfilling and rewarding professional life. I am also deeply thankful for the resources and opportunity to care for my health in a brand new way. And I find myself standing in appreciative awe of the balance in my dynamic family system.

Life is good.Life is Good

This ‘state of the union’ has finally given me the opportunity to care for my health in a whole new way and to decide how I want to live for the next sixty years or so. Simon, as always, is deeply supportive of my new self-care initiative and I feel the freedom to do what I need to do when I need to do it (this past week’s retreat is a perfect example).

Energetically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally I am learning to care for myself in a way that feels deeply resonant.

To exemplify this new self-care initiative, I mindfully planned this past week of retreat, rest and detoxification. My plan was to kick it off with a visit to my Naturopath, Dr. Carissa Doherty. From there I was heading up north for a six-day retreat. Feeling rested, rejuvenated and detoxified, I was booked to go back to my Naturopath for a 45-minute IV treatment which would take my recovering health to the next level. And finally, today, a visit to my energy practitioner in Kitchener to tie a big red bow around the whole week.

Well…the week hasn’t exactly gone according to plan.

I cut my time up north short because I was so utterly exhausted from not sleeping, my IV was cancelled yesterday and the appointment that I drove 90 minutes through very slippery and wintery weather this morning for was also a no-go. We got our wires crossed somehow and I was at the wrong location.

ClosedAs I stood in the hallway outside the office in Kitchener I started to cry. I felt alone. I felt disappointed. I felt vulnerable and I wondered why these doors of self-care and nurturing were closed in my face.

Yesterday was a pity-party that I worked hard to pull myself out of. Today, standing outside a locked door after a long and tiring drive, was heart-breaking and I just didn’t have the resource to do anything but surrender. Well…surrender had me weeping right there in the non-descript hallway of a 1970s office building in downtown Kitchener.

And, wouldn’t you know it, all I had in my pocket was one balled-up old Kleenex from God-knows-when.

It only took me a few minutes to realize that blubbering in the hallway was not getting me anywhere and it was time to face the return journey. As I dried my eyes with my one ridiculous Kleenex, I decided that I would find a washroom, a cup of Starbucks tea and a bookstore for my sister’s birthday present on the way home.

And, what is the one place I can do all those things, you ask? The friendly neighbourhood Chapters bookstore.

A little segue here…if you have not had a chance to read my blog post entitled, The Wonder of Second Circle, this next bit might not make perfect sense but please bear with me and hopefully you’ll get the gist.

I checked in my car mirror before heading into Chapters and decided that, with my glasses on, I didn’t look like I had been recently weeping in the hallway of a local office building. After using the washroom, I enjoyed browsing the copious cookbook section for my sister’s gift. And, as I browsed, I stayed in a very comfortable First Circle, remaining closed-off from everyone around me and not inviting connection from salespeople, fellow shoppers or even the blaring Christmas music in the background.Christmas Frenzy

I found the gift that I wanted and headed up to the counter to pay. I was met by a delightfully friendly and enormously Third Circle sales clerk who bellowed at me from behind her 100-watt smile; ‘ho, ho, ho, and all the best of the season to you! Did you find everything you were looking for this morning? And, don’t you just love Bruce Springsteen’s version of this song?’

Now…I know that under different circumstances I may have jumped up into Third Circle and joined the vivacious sales clerk in her holiday spirit. But today, I just felt like I had been hit by a truck. I fumbled my way through the transaction and bid a hasty retreat. I felt so completely closed-off in my First Circle that I wasn’t sure I could brave another interaction at the Starbucks counter for my tea.

I decided that the comfort of a hot drink for the snowy drive home was a necessity, so I dug deep and braced myself. As I approached the Starbucks counter, I hesitantly passed over my travel mug and quietly asked for a Refresh tea. And, to my great relief, from an absolutely connected Second Circle, the Barista looked deeply into my eyes, smiled gently and said; ‘sure’.

And while his voice only said ‘sure’, his Second Circle said; ‘are you okay?’ And it said, ‘you are not alone’. And as he passed my tea across the counter it said; ‘you are loved’.

That young man will never, ever know the impact he had on me today. He will never know that I desperately needed that deep Second Circle connection at that moment. And he will never know that he got me home safely and with a heart quietly soothed from the love he offered so tenderly.

The Radical Act of love, kindness and gentle compassion that I experienced this morning is exactly why I was inspired to write this blog. Each and every day we touch each other’s lives in ways that we will never really know. We have the capacity to love each other, to touch each other and to heal each other simply by being open to vulnerability and to connection.

Thank you for reading and for being a part of my journey.

You Are Loved

 

Serendipitous Jiggling

I am a great believer in serendipity. I am intrigued by it, often humbled by it and deliciously delighted when it knocks on my door.

When I arrived up north three nights ago for my lovely retreat, I called the fancy local Scandinavian spa and booked a 90-minute massage for Monday morning. I didn’t connect with the woman I spoke with on the phone and was left with kind of a hoity-toity feeling about the whole experience. Not to mention the fact that the massage was going to cost an arm and a leg and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the Scandinavian Baths by myself.

So…following intuition, I called yesterday morning to cancel my massage and felt wildly relieved. I was also a little disappointed because I did want some pampering while I am up here.

That’s where the serendipity comes in…

Riversong OasisAfter my walk down by the lake yesterday I wandered up into town to browse the shops and get warm before my walk home. Not far off the beaten path I stumbled into a brand new wellness studio called Riversong Oasis. What initially pulled me in was the logo of the studio; the yin and yang, the shamanic-looking character with the flute and the water trailing off into the distance.

I recognized instantly that I was being guided to Riversong for some reason and allowed myself to lean in and follow along.

I was met by two lovely and down-to-earth women and ushered into a beautiful space that spills out onto the Thornbury millpond at the back and has a gorgeous view of Georgian Bay out the front. Big windows, lots of light and natural wood attracted me immediately and I thought; ‘this is where I can get a massage’. However, when I looked around I noticed odd-looking gym equipment. All I could think was; ‘oops, I’m in the wrong place’ and ‘how can I get out of here quickly’? Just as those thoughts were floating through my head, the manager, Pam, asked me if I had ever heard of Vibration Therapy, which, I told her, I had not.Riversong2

Pam told me that Vibration Therapy was created for the recovery of astronauts after extended zero-gravity stays in space to address the loss of both muscle tone and bone mass. Apparently, this therapy has become mainstream in the physiotherapy, chiropractic and fitness realms.

Pam (and her buddy Linda) proceeded to tell me about the health and fitness benefits of what they laughingly call ‘jiggling’. As I watched Pam climb onto one of the jiggling machines all I could think was how totally weird it looked and I wasn’t sure if I was repulsed or intrigued.

As I watched Pam jiggling away and describing this type of therapy I was still not sure what was in it for me. That’s when she hit me with the benefits of Vibrational Therapy on lymphatic drainage and detoxification.

That’s what I was doing there…detoxification.

I have to back up a little and describe the past three nights of sleep I have had since arriving here on my retreat…itchy, scratchy and going insane! I am in the throes of a brutal eczema and hives flare which, as my Naturopath keeps assuring me, is the toxic load in my body which, at this point, is unable to find another way out and is dumping into my skin. Let’s just say, it’s pretty brutal and I have not slept past 2:30 in the morning since I arrived. And, at 2:30 this morning it was so bad I thought I was going to go off the deep end with the scratching!

Back to Riversong Oasis…

As Pam was describing the benefits of ‘jiggling’ and detox she saw my eyes light up. It was then that she pointed to a beautiful wooden infrared sauna in the corner. Being well-versed in the health benefits of the infrared sauna, I went from mildly interested to absolutely intrigued. By the time I left Riversong, Pam and Linda had me stocked up with my personal detoxification kit; a bag of hibiscus tea, a bag of Himalayan bath salts and a jar of Sole (water saturated with Himalayan Crystal Salt which is used first thing in the morning to balance electrolytes and essential minerals in the body).

I also had an invitation to return the following day for a ‘jiggling’ session and a sauna.

When I arrived today I met the genuinely warm and delightful owner, Allison. She and Linda got me started on a machine and it was a hoot. They were also ‘jiggling’ and we giggled and laughed our way through the three short beginner sessions they programmed for me. I can only liken it to the feeling of jumping on a trampoline- you just can’t help but feel joyful and young. After that I had a 45 minute sauna and left feeling sweaty and wonderful with a wide open invitation to use the facilities while I am up here (at no cost as I am using the free trial membership).

As I sit here drinking a pot of hibiscus tea by the fire, I am feeling deeply appreciative of serendipity, intuition, kindred spirits…and, of course, ‘jiggling’!

Smile

The Journey

It’s here, it’s here! It’s finally here! The full permission that I have been waiting for!

That’s what the first day of December means to me…decorating for Christmas. This first day of December is full permission to haul out all the delightful, fun, whimsical, tacky, precious, corny and adorable Christmas decorations that we have accumulated over the years and get down to the business of transforming our everyday living space into a sparkly, shiny Christmas wonderland!christmas-balls1

I have a serious objection to decorating too early and I would have to say that Starbucks is among the worst offenders. Even before the last Jack ‘o Lantern has flickered out, Santa’s Christmas elves visit every single Starbucks in town and barf Christmas all over them. I mean, seriously, who wants to start thinking Christmas when there is all that delectable Halloween candy lying around in those wonderfully bulging bags?

The first of December just feels right somehow.

We were out late at Simon’s fabulously fun company party last night and even though I did not make it to bed until 1:00 this morning, I awoke at 6:00 thinking…Christmas tree! We have been having the big debate in our house this year as to whether we were finally going to cave in and buy a fake tree. The traditionalist in me loves the smell, the feel and the energy of a real tree. The more practical side was all for setting up a tree (with lights included, no less) in mere moments.

Max’s vote was for the fake tree because he hates having to help dispose of the tired tree and all its falling needles when the festivities are over. Michael’s opinion was that it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without the smell in the house and Zachary emphatically announced that Christmas was ruined if we went fake.

When all the votes were in, we decided to go with a real tree but the stipulation was that we were going to get a fresh tree from a farm and not a supermarket special. The logic there was that we didn’t want a tree that was cut down in September to sit around in some warehouse to get moldy.

Christmas Tree FarmSo, regardless of the very late night of revelry and a less that restful sleep, at 6:00 this morning I couldn’t wait to get started. I crept down quietly while the house slept around me and Googled Christmas Tree farms in the area. I found one that was not only a relatively short drive away but was also open at 8:00am. And with lots of stuff to do today, I needed to get the Christmas tree crossed off my list early.

Zach and Simon had hockey and Max elected to spend the morning in bed so it was up to Michael and me to pick the perfect tree for Christmas 2013. As we set off together my frame of mind was; ‘let’s get this done as quickly as possible so that we can get on to the next thing’. We were only a few minutes into the drive when Michael started to spin tunes on his iPod. And, knowing me as well as he does, his choices were all songs that I love. Before long, I could feel myself relaxing into the moment as we travelled along the highway singing at the top of our lungs.

As I drove along the rural concession roads to reach our destination, it struck me how absolutely happy and content I felt being with my son, singing songs together and going to pick the perfect Christmas tree. Suddenly, I was no longer on an errand that needed to be crossed off the list. I was on an early morning journey of togetherness, fun and love with one of my favourite people in the whole world.

It was just after 8:00am when we pulled into a fairly sketchy-looking Christmas tree farm. If it weren’t for the sign informing me that I was in the right place I would have thought that we had somehow stumbled upon some old man’s run-down family farm. The elderly man who greeted me had a heavy accent and a weathered face with an almost cherubic glow. I informed him that I had come for a freshly cut Christmas tree and that I wanted a Balsam Fir (because my Google research earlier in the morning had informed me that the Balsam Fir has an ‘excellent scent and good needle retention.’) He gave me an almost startled look and pointed to the ground at his feet and said; ‘I must have known that you were coming…here is your tree.’ I leaned out my window and saw a beautiful freshly cut 6-foot Balsam Fir all wrapped up and ready to go.

Michael, who believes in serendipity as much as I do, looked at me with an adorable grin and said; ‘mommy, it’s as if we were supposed to be here and this is our tree.’ I agreed absolutely and paid the old man in cash. He helped me load the tree into the van and within 10 minutes of arriving, we were back on the road again and, once more, singing our hearts out.

As I sit in my living room and write, the distinctive scent of a freshly cut Christmas tree is wafting delicately around me. As I inhale the heavenly fragrance I feel as if I am lost in some sort of vortex of suspended time. The smell is so reminiscent of the forty-five Christmases that I have spent, I feel like I could close my eyes and be any age and that this could be any one of those Christmas seasons.

When I open my eyes and ground myself in this moment and in this Christmas, I see the beautiful tree that seemed to choose Michael and me so serendipitously this morning. And I see the journey we took to bring it home. I see the singing, the mysterious old man and the deep connection I felt with Michael when we were both so delighted with the magic of our early morning encounter.

And in closing, as the holiday season really kicks into high gear, our beautiful tree gently reminds me  that even errands that need to be crossed off of the lengthy to-do list have the potential for magic and wonder…if I can just slow down enough to drink them in.glossy-christmas-tree-widescreen-703825