Thursday, December 29, 2011


Sometimes it sneaks up on me. I am minding my own business, planning the day, going to yoga, knitting, cleaning up, and it just is suddenly there. Those around me, those who love me, and perhaps even those who don't, want to know what is it about. Is it them? Is it someone else? Am I mad? Did they do something to upset me?

I don't know. It just is there. Heavy and auspicious, the tears just hovering behind my eyes. Maybe I need to eat something? Low blood sugar? Fatigue? No, that isn't it. Hip openings at yoga? Maybe. But then what is it I am holding so deep in my body?

Doing something for another helps. Helping my husband de-clutter the computer room helps. Vacuuming helps.

So does crying. So does having a bubble bath with candles. I think I just need to take care of me for a few minutes. Just a very few minutes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

So here I sit. The husband and son are out finishing their last minute shopping. The daughter is sleeping. The house is quiet, except Sarah MacLaughlin Christmas album playing softly in the living room. The tree is up waiting to be decorated; boxes strewn about the living room. The pieces of the creche are unwrapped and waiting to be placed.

I gave my mother this creche piece by piece over many Christmases. The camel still bears the price tag - $.79 from Woolworths. The creche came to me after my mother's passing. I am so happy to have it.

I am often reminded of two sayings from two of my favourite Christmas television shows. From the Grinch - "Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe, just maybe it means something more." And from A Charlie Brown's Christmas " And lo there were shepherds abiding in the fields, watching their flocks by night..."

I avoid the stores and shoppers and madness of this holy day that has become so commercialised. For me it truly is about the magic of Christmas and about that story that began 2011 years ago. For me it is simply about family, and being with those I love.

I watched the Nativity Story last night. It was so beautiful. So simple. So true. There are people in our midst that need our love, and support. Sometimes these people are family. Often they are strangers.

There are people in my life who are lost, and who feel unappreciated. There are people in my life who are experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. There are people in my life that are lonely despite being surrounded by others. There are people in my life who are at odds with the world, or with themselves, or with others.

For all of these people, for all of us, I believe there is a stable. There is a stable that keeps us safe and warm, and although it is not a mansion it is filled with love. Sometimes we all have to experience many doors being shut in our face, many hearts turning away before we realize the warmth, the stable, the shelter, the forgiveness, the love, is simply within us.

The Christmas story is a simple story. Mary and Joseph were simple people. The shepherds were simple people. Even the wise men were simple people. And because of this simplicity they were able to take part in a simple story. All the nonsense that now surrounds them, and the birth of that child, cannot take away from the simplicity of it all.

A child was born to bring love, peace and forgiveness into the world. If we let it, this story can bring love, peace and forgiveness into our hearts.

So to all of the people in my life, and all of the people in this world I wish you Peace and Love and Forgiveness.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Address Books

I decided this weekend to buy a new address book. It became apparent while checking addresses for Christmas cards that the time had come. Firstly because the book is very old and tattered and swollen from a time long ago when it was left out in the rain. Secondly because it is not very up to date...

Leafing through was nostalgic, and not just a little sad. Many, many names in that book are for people who have no forwarding address. At least not one that I know of. My mother, my aunts, my husband's cousin, my son's beloved violin teacher, my friend - all have gone across the threshhold of this life, to somewhere other.

And then there are the divorces. The places where a spouses name has been crossed out. Sometimes another name written in.

There are the old addresses of my children as they have moved from here to there. University dorms, little rental flats, sublets.

There are the names of friends I have simply lost touch with. Would these phone numbers still work? Would they remember me?

There were pieces of past jobs - the women I volunteered at La Leche League with, the names of teenaged mothers I supported, the colleagues from a Family Center I helped start up.

There are names of singing teachers, therapists, and neighbours who have moved on. Well either I have moved on, or they have.

There are lists of all my daughter's high school friends as I tried to be a good mother and know where she was and who she was hanging out with.

There are notes made because no other paper was available regarding breastfeeding questions and concerns that came to me via the telephone.

And yes, there are names and addresses and phone numbers that are there, and have remained unchanged for decades. There is stability amidst those water stained pages.

There is a part of me that doesn't want to let this old book go. I think that is why I am writing this blog, so I don't forget those names.

There was also a note to read a book: A heartbreaking work of staggering genius. I will get on that too - one can't ignore such signs.

Shannon, Sidney, Lisa, Daniella, Jocelyn, Sierra, Janine, Connor, Kiyo, Danielle, Jaqui, Alice, Oma (Joan) (Mom), Auntie Georgie, Aunt Joan, Gorge Harbour, Mr. and Mrs. Jack, Aunt Jean, Fran, Stacey, Wallace, Evelyn, Dan, Lorraine and Nelson, Shauna, Mike, Sylve, Gary, Rosemary, Norm and Violet,Veronica, and Lynn -this one is for all of you. Wherever this life or the next has taken you, may you be at peace.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

56 going on 28

Sometimes I have to be brave. Sometimes I have to forget I am 56, achey, chubby, and an introvert. Sometimes I just have to let it all go.

So, four times I went to the ticketmaster site and searched for a ticket to see Prince in Vancouver. I kept talking myself out of it.

Fourth time - I pressed go! Me. Alone. 2nd Row. On the floor.

So there I was. Me. Alone. 2nd Row. Feeling somewhat conspicuous, but excited

And then? The concert started and I was up. Cheering, clapping, singing along, dancing. Oh, yes, I was dancing. For 2 1/2 hours. Dancing, hooting, singing along. And, at times merely feet from Prince himself. It turns out, no-one was sitting in the front row, so as the concert started we all moved up. And of course then when it started we stood up! And there I was dancing and singing and clapping right in front of the stage, as close as the security would let me be. In fact most of the night I was only a few inches away from this lovely, smiling security guard. I think he was a Prince fan too!

Two and a half hours of forgetting my sore legs, sore back, forgetting I have a chronic illness. Just forgetting. And being in the moment. Remembering other Prince concerts - when I was pregnant with Ellen sitting with my sister, when I was in the same arena as my sister and her son, but they were sitting somewhere else, when I went to the Orpheum, alone, in the fifteenth row, and he did an acoustic set on the piano.

Remembering road trips to Vernon, with my kids, singing along to Little Red Corvette, and Money don't matter tonight. Remembering working out at Fitness World with my earphones in, singing along to Sexy Mother f***er.

Remembering the first time I saw Purple Rain, I was only a few weeks pregnant with my son.

So, really, Prince and I have grown up together. But, last night, I felt 28. It is nice to grow up with someone and still feel as young as you were when you first met them.

As I left the concert last night I caught the eye of another woman, about my age. I smiled and said "Now we go back to our real lives".

Real life. I am glad the Prince concert was part of it last night. So glad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

About a boy

There is a boy I know. He is fourteen. His pain is palpable. He is anguished. He can't sleep. He doesn't eat. His father has let him down. Again. His mother is busy trying to make a better life. His family loves him. He loves his family. He is so sad. School is not high on the list of 'things to do'.

He is smart. Really smart. He is kind. He is funny. He is polite. He usually doesn't get his homework done on time. He says he doesn't know why. He says when he sits down to do it he feels like he is going to die. I believe him.

I love him. He will, God willing, be a strong, good man when he finishes growing up. I worry for him. I worry about him. And yet I know there is something so profoundly good about this boy.

I watched him do something today, something for others, that he likely would not have chosen to do on his own. I am writing this so I remember today. So I remember the next time his homework is late, or he misses the bus, or he forgets his assignment, the next time I am tempted to be cranky at him for 'letting me down', that he is a boy struggling with things boys shouldn't have to struggle with. He is boy who, despite his string of bad luck, put it all aside today to do something for people he didn't know, with people who needed his support.

Today. He shone. He shone as only a fourteen year old boy could. He shone from the inside out. And he was radiant.

So I wept today. Because he was beautiful. Because his life sucks, and yet he showed up. Because I know he is a good soul, and I believe in him. Today I want him to know I believe it will all be okay.

And, as you are reading this, maybe you can pray to whomever, or whatever you pray to that this boy will make it. I don't want to let him down. I don't want any of us to let him down.

I pray he sleeps well tonight. Tonight he deserves to sleep well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I don't think our culture is very good at saying good-bye. Not the simple good-byes from one meeting to the next, or the harder good-byes when the end is final. I also don't think we are very good at good-byes when someone we have worked with for a few months, or for many, many years leaves their career, or their place of employment.

When my husband was retiring after 28 years with a company the company sent him an email and told him to purchase himself a gift for $700.00 and submit the receipt to them.

Of course, this same company, on his 25th work anniversary, sent him a catalogue and told him he could pick any gift on certain pages, and if he wanted it inscribed he could choose what the inscription read. Personal, eh?

Until I was in my 30s the only funeral I had ever attended was my father's. I have no memory of it. I have limited memories of the reception at our house after the funeral. I left for an island right after the funeral. My mother thought it better to get me away from it all. I never got to go to the hospital to say good-bye to my father. There is no blame in this statement. My mother made this decision for her and my father's reasons. I didn't agree with their wishes, but this was not for me to comment on. It was not my decision. I was seventeen.

When my mother was dying I tried to have a conversation with her about her death. I tried to say good-bye. It didn't work. She didn't want to go there, and I didn't want to force the issue. I still remember the last time I saw her. She was sitting on the porch of the care facility. She was sitting in a chair, having a cigarette. She looked so tiny, so frail. I think I knew as I drove away that this would be our last good-bye. I didn't do it very well.

My mother had raised me to know that 'she didn't do funerals'. For years I recited the same mantra. Then a 10 year old girl at our school died. I decided that I did 'do' funerals. They are important - they help us support the survivors, they help us cry and acknowledge our grief. They give us comfort. They acknowledge a life - whether it is only a few months, or many decades. Since that funeral I have been to many others: a friend's tiny baby, my son's violin teacher, my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, a son of a colleague, a teacher at my children's school,a mother in our school community, a friend from La Leche League, my aunt's, my husband's cousin, and my friend's son.

I am still not good at saying good-bye, but I find such comfort in these gatherings. I wish there had been a funeral for my mother. I wish I had been more 'awake' to my father's funeral. I wish saying good-bye wasn't so hard.

I do believe these good-byes are only temporary, but still they seem so permanent. All of these funerals remind me that a time will come when I might attend the funeral of a sibling. Funerals remind me that I may attend the funeral of my husband of 35 years. God willing I will not have to do what my grandmother did and attend the funeral of one of my children.

These are difficult thoughts. But, I think this is why saying good-bye is hard. Because there are some people in our lives we literally can't bear to have to say good-bye to.

So airport good-byes, collegial good-byes, holiday good-byes, daily good-byes are hard. Because we never know when those simple daily good-byes become permanent. We just never know.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Saint Nicholas

Another last today. The last time Saint Nicholas will visit this class of students. He has come for eight years. Every year he reads a short poem about each student stressing their strengths, their challenges, their current situation.

They always listen to his words with rapt attention. What will he say about me? Does he really know me?

In all these eight years, never once, have they questioned where these verses come from. They may suspect I write them, but no-one says it aloud. Saying it aloud would spoil the magic, and even fourteen year olds can believe in magic.

They were as excited this year as they were in Grade One. Maybe more, because now the rhythm of the season has been with them for eight years.

Saint Nicholas has been coming to my class for eight years. He and I have become great friends. He is a great man, and he is patient and kind, loving and jolly.
It is quite the festival, and his naughty companion, Peter, brings cookies and oranges for us all, and we have to be careful, because sometimes Peter does silly, mischievous things in the classroom that we don't always discover until later in the day.

So, for ten minutes today, my Grade Eight students suspended dis-belief. They put aside their sleepiness, and malaise, and contrariness to allow themselves to be swept up in the magic of Saint Nicholas.

December at my school is one magical event after the other: weekly advent assemblies, Saint Nicholas, Santa Lucia, Cascadia Fairy Tale and the Shepherds' play.

And, singing. Lots of singing.

I love December. Thank you, Saint Nicholas. Your visit is always the true beginning of my Christmas season.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I should have made that call

It has been a year since Lorraine died. She was a woman I worked with in the early 80s at Metro Transit. We both worked in the operations office. I had left teaching (I was too young, the public school system too inflexible), and clerical work was something I was good at, and I had tenure at BC Hydro from all the summer and winter jobs I had to put myself through university. But, this story isn't about me, it is about Lorraine. Or, maybe it is about how sometimes we let our own insecurities get in the way of true and abiding love.

Lorraine had the greatest laugh. She was probably, hands down, the kindest person I will ever have met in this life. She had married Nelson, a man 20+ years her senior and they loved to travel in their little camperized van. Nelson had lost both his arms in an electrical accident before Lorraine met him. She met him at GF Strong where he was recovering from his accident. Lorraine was there visiting a friend recovering from another accident. Accidents brought them together. They formed a friendship, and finally Lorraine proposed to him. He didn't have the nerve to propose to her. He thought she couldn't possibly love an old man who didn't have any arms. He was wrong. Lorraine could love.

They never had children, but they always had a dog. Lorraine would walk that dog for two hours every day. One hour in the morning, one hour at night. During their camping adventures they fell in love with Rock Creek. They started to buy land there and when Nelson retired, Lorraine retired too, and they went to Rock Creek, built their dream home, and settled into that little community. She skied, walked her dog, and worked for the local newspaper as a journalist.

Even after I stopped working at Transit she and I would keep touch by having dinner every month or so. On one of those dinners she shared that she was going for a biopsy. Breast Cancer. She had a mastectomy, chemo, recovered and continued with her life. We continued our dinners, sometimes with our husbands, usually just the two of us. Writing this I just remember her huge smile. She was always smiling.

We wrote letters, exchanged Christmas cards, kept in touch as best you can when you live far away.

And then it was August of 2007. My husband and I had bought a truck and camper and had spent the summer in the interior of BC. One afternoon we stumbled upon Rock Creek. We were having lunch and he suggested we should call Lorraine and Nelson.
I didn't want to. Why? Because I weigh more than I did in the early 80s. Because I was 25 years olders than I was in the 80s. Because I was worried about what she would think about me. What was I thinking? I know Lorraine would have hugged me, and greeted me, and made me tea. But, I didn't make the call.

That Christmas I received a letter that her cancer had returned, that she was finishing chemo and, although tired, heading to New York Times Square with her niece to see the Ball drop at New Year's. I called her,but only got her answering machine. She called back and I wasn't home. She said she found it hard to talk on the phone, she would get too emotional. We exchanged a few long emails. Catching up. She always wanted to know how my kids were doing.

Then last fall I started to get emails from her friends. Lorraine was dying from her third fight with breast cancer. This time she would not win. The emails came daily and I sent some emails that her friends could read to her.

She died on December 1 last year. So I have been thinking about her alot the past few days. I wish I had made that call. I wish I had hugged her one more time. I wish I hadn't been so vain and stupid. I wish I could hear her laugh and see her smile one more time.

God willing, I won't make that mistake again.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Silence is Golden, so they say. But for the children that have no voice I imagine silence is anything but golden. On Wednesday my Grade Eight class and I vowed to be silent. To give our voice to the children who have no voice. For the children that are kidnapped and trained to be soldiers. For the children who live in war ravaged countries and have no say in the political regimes that keep them there in the absence of peace.

So, we were silent. At 8am students started to filter into the classroom. Into my candle lit, advent classroom. We shook hands in greeting as we always do in the morning, but no words were exchanged. It was peaceful. Our eyes truly meeting each other. No words were needed. We were here. Together. And we were safe in each other's company.

We started the morning by playing four Christmas songs in four part harmony on our recorders. It was stunningly simple and stunningly beautiful.

Then the class settled into their main lesson work, their geography work. This project entailed bringing with them a list of 10 or 15 items they use, eat, or wear daily and where they were from. They were assigned to make a world map, and to place little flags on the map where their objects came from. As the silence grew, the map filled. We are in economic brotherhood with Cambodia, Bangladesh, Africa, Australia, Europe, Mexico, China, Japan, Montreal....well, you get the idea. All these people in the world that grow, cultivate, sew, manufacture things for us to use. It is mind boggling. And we never get to say thank you. Our appreciation is silent.

This class of 12 students worked silently until 10am, when we had to get into the school bus, or cars to head to a rehearsal. This too, was all done in silence. We were rehearsing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves which will be performed at the Kay Meek Performance Hall on December 13. We are performing this with the Cascadia residents who are handicapped adults. We rehearsed in silence. They were so patient and gracious with these adults who have such struggles and yet are so profoundly happy and peaceful, and, for the most part, silent.

Then back to school for lunch. Silence. Then they went off to their afternoon classes. Silence. It was powerful. And it was hard. There were a few times I started to speak - to greet someone, to make a suggestion, to answer a question. But I persisted - right up to bedtime. I got alot done on the silent day. Talking takes up alot of time. Without talking I had time to get to a myriad of 'things' on my to-do list.

We raised 150.00 for Free the Children. I donated 10 dollars for every student in my class, and a parent matched her child's donation - and, of course 10.00 for me. So, that was good. It felt good to be less selfish, less "me", more reflective, quieter. We all commented the next day on how much we got done! How comforting the silence was.

Silence is Golden. My class is Golden. It was a Golden memory of this, my last year, of teaching this grade eight class.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Take Care of the Light

Today is the first day of advent. I attended an advent festival at our school today. Twenty-five Grade One children walked a spiral of evergreens in the darkness heading for a single candle flame. In their hands they carried an unlit candle nestled into an apple. They light the candle at the top of the spiral and then as they walk back out of the spiral they place their candle on a golden star somewhere within the darkness.

This festival of advent is a metaphor for each of us to carry the light within us in these dark months of winter. Whether or not you are a Christian, this symbol is a powerful one. Sometimes there is so much darkness around us. We have to each carry light. I watched these small children today: so serious, so solemn, carrying their small candles, lighting them with care, taking such care to keep them lit as they found the place to set their candle down safely. It was an inspiration. Sometimes I don't think I take care of the light. Sometimes I walk too quickly, and don't notice the flame flicker and die. Sometimes the flame starts to gutter, and I give up on it, when if I had just been patient, just waited a little bit, it would have glowed to life.

I love advent. I love the darkness in the morning, the candles in my classroom, the singing, the quiet, and the anticipation of the holiday season. It is a busy time with four advent assemblies, shepherds' play, saint nicholas festival, santa lucia festival and winter choral concert. It is hard to imagine that in between all those festivals I will also teach geography and math and painting lessons.

But, I will, because, after today, after seeing those little children lighting their candles, I will carry all those lights. Tomorrow I, too, get to walk the advent spiral. I wish everyone a moment of peace and light in the darkness of winter. I wish for them to carry that moment through the Christmas season. I wish everyone took as much care of their candles as those Grade One children did today.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Opposites Attract

Fourteen motors spinning! 104 magnets, 28 nails, 280 feet of copper wire, 7 - 6volt batteries, sand paper, 12 feet of wood, 14 shish kebab sticks and some yellow, red and black electrician tape. Oh, and 13, Grade 8 students. The classroom was an electro-magnet factory for three morning lessons. And a couple of lunch hours and recesses too! It was a delightful end to our Physics block - with everyone being successful. I am always so nervous about teaching Physics, but I can count this one as one of the most relaxed, and the most fun. I also think they learned alot about hydraulics, aero-dynamics, magnetism and electricity. Can't complain there.

But when you work with magnets you learn that opposites attract and like poles repel. Attraction is of interest to 13 and 14 year olds. The thought you might be attracted to someone who is different from you is a scary thought. The thought that the people who bug you the most are really the most like you, is equally scary.

I said that they may be a neat freak, who loves to socialize, and go to restaurants and they will fall for a recluse who loves to cook, and leaves his socks on the kitchen table! - oh wait, that might have been my story :). Except I am not a neat freak - I just don't leave socks on the kitchen table.

Anyways, suffice it to say it was food for thought. And, it is true, at least for me. Melancholics kind of annoy me. I totally understand them, but still. Sometimes they should just suck it up and get on with it. (Note to self: are you listening?)

And, as it always is, one block ended today, and a new one starts on Monday. So, tonight I was already leaving Physics behind and browsing through my World Geography notes. I like to do this block via the economic realm. Where do all the things we use, eat, wear, buy, and want come from? In my daily life, who are all the people that, in one way or another, support me, by either harvesting the sugar that I like in my afternoon tea, to picking the cotton in my comfortable cotton bra?

I bet some of them are just like me. I bet some of them are just the opposite.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


I think I am drowning. This is how it feels. The waters are closing over my head and I don't think I have the energy to kick up and break the surface. Except drowning, they say, is peaceful. This doesn't feel peaceful. It feels dark.

I wrote this at 7:45am this morning. But, then, and still, I had to go to school. So, I did, shedding a few self-pitying tears on the way. Then, into the school, a dose of Pasaflora (a homeopathic dose for emotional upset), and into the classroom to begin the day. We started our day doing some Bal-a-vis-x ball exercises, and after 30 minutes I was feeling better. Not great, but better.

I had a good main lesson, teaching single, parallel, and serial circuits, and then went to Rona with my (long-suffering) husband to purchase the necessary supplies to make electro-magnetic motors with my class tomorrow.

Back to school by 12:30 and then meeting with a colleague at 1:10. I was still drowning, at least in the metaphorical sense. But, she lent me some moral support (water wings?) and swam by my side, stroke for stroke, for 90 minutes. We got alot done, and I felt better after. I felt like I was floating, and the tide was beginning to carry me to shore.

I made the decision, out of self-preservation, to skip the faculty meeting and head straight home after school to build the proto-type of the motor. Dear husband beside me for moral support.

3 hours later, motor complete, and running, and fresh quiche (made by afore-mentioned husband) out of the oven onto my dinner plate. Hmm, maybe I could even begin taking a few tentative strokes to shore.

And then, ironically enough, I spoke to my brother tonight. My brother, the long distance swimmer. He talked about how he needed help to get into his wet-suit. So, even though swimming is a solitary exercise, he still needs help to prepare for the swim. Hmmmm. I think there is a lesson here for me. I have to ask for help. I don't have to 'swim' alone. I don't have to succumb to 'drowning'. There are people to help me put on my wetsuit. There are people who will watch from the shore to make sure I get back. There are people who will row beside me, and sometimes even get in the water and match me stroke for stroke. And, there are people to feed me when I get back to shore.

When I get back to shore, and put my feet once more on dry land.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Yesterday was one of those days filled with experiences and memories. It was our school's Christmas Faire. Yes, our school can call it a Christmas Faire. It is a wonderful experience filled with puppet shows, children playing stringed instruments, children singing (that would be my grade 4/5 choir), candle dipping, candy apple eating, wreath making, and lots of chatting and hugging and as we browse through two market places of hand made gifts. It was a beautiful day - cold and sunny, and for the first time in 22 years I felt so at home there. It was ironic, because this will be my last year as a staff member at the faire. In the future I will be one of the many alumni students and teachers that come back bringing young family members - great nieces and nephews, or perhaps grandchildren. Brian and I ran into friends who have known Brian since before he and I were married, they had sent their children to the Vancouver Waldorf School in the early 80s, and there they were with a great niece in tow.

In the middle of the day my husband and I drove down to Hastings and Gore to the Union Gospel Mission. I had my car filled with warm items for the downtown eastside homeless residents. I had four huge green garbage bags filled with donations from our school's Peace Assembly. Walking up the steps, passing by many homeless people, lugging in my donations is quite the experience, going from a faire where we all have so much, to a place where they have so little. And yet, everyone was in a good mood. People held the door for me, greeted me, hugged me, blessed me. It was surreal. The workers were ecstatic. They were down to one small bin 1/3 filled with toques and scarves. Here I was with bags full of hats, mitts, coats, blankets, scarves and SOCKS. Oh my God, they loved those socks. They went on and on about how socks are something they really need! So, after being showered with thanks and love, I headed back to the North Shore to work in my school's open house and then to put my classroom back together (it had been the cookie house for the Faire).

So then I was home for my after faire ritual. I make a cup of tea, and cut up my carmel apple and eat, sip tea and relax. It is lovely.

After a couple of hours we met friends of ours for dinner. It was at the restaurant where my husband and I had our first date. These are friends we met 34 years ago when she and I both were first year teachers in MacKenzie. It is a friendship I cherish. It can be months between visits and we all take up where we left off, chatting, laughing, sharing, and enjoying the company that is comfortable and loving.

I am a great believer in the number three. A priest friend of mine once said she was a trinitarian. I think I am too. At our school, in grade one, we spend two weeks talking about the quality of numbers. What is one? What is two? A teacher I am mentoring asked me for some ideas about three. Of course the famous one is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, but you can't use that in a classroom setting. The Three Kings? probably not. Mother, Father and Me? Well, this isn't always useful, especially when now for many children this is not their family constellation. The three bears? Three little pigs? Well, you get the idea. Me, myself and I? I know, too cerebral.

But there I was yesterday. The perfect quality of three. Faith, Charity and Love. Perfect.

Friday, November 18, 2011

restless legs

I think I have developed restless leg syndrome.  I have always had, what some affectionately call, dancing feet.  My feet are always on the move - it sometimes drives my husband nuts.  But lately, since September, I have noticed this crawly, gripping, annoying weird feeling in my lower legs that demands I move them, stretch them, or shake them out.  It's an awful feeling.  It is a feeling that I used to only get on long drives, or long airplane rides, when I was really, really tired.  Now, I get it all the time.  Well, not all the time - but all the time in the evening and when I go to bed at night. 

I have 'googled' it, and it seems that they, the infamous they, don't really know what causes it.  It is probably fatigue, or lack of some vitamin or other.  I am taking lots of supplements these days, and they are helping with my energy level and mood, and I have a new migraine remedy that seems to be working - I haven't had one for a couple of weeks now.  But this leg thing is kind of crazy making.  It is like I have bugs crawling up and down the inside of my skin.  Ick!

So, what is the metaphor for this.  Time to move on?  This is my last year teaching full time - at least that is what I keep telling everyone - and it certainly is my last year for a while, a year or two at least.  My husband and I are cleaning out the 'stuff' of 30 years and thinking of putting our house up for sale - so moving on in more ways then one. 

I am working on my bucket list - I have added calculus to it.  And selling my stamp collection (maybe I am a millionaire and I don't even know it).

So restless legs, yeah, it's trying to tell me something.  Maybe it has something to do with the pilgrimage I want to do on the Camino?  I am worried that with the new movie that is out, The Way, the journey will be filled with people trying to 'conquer' the distance.  Why do I care?  I will be doing it for my own reasons, and others for there's.  Sometimes I can be so judgemental.   I have to work on that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Remembrance Day

I have been thinking about this all day.  I have to tell a story for our 'Peace' Assembly tomorrow.  We don't call it a Remembrance Day Assembly for all sorts of political, inclusive reasons - and besides we weren't at school on the 11th, so....

Anyways, we ask the students in Grades 5 - 8 to bring donations of warm articles of clothing - mitts, toques, gloves, blankets, scarves to donate to the Downtown Eastside via the Union Gospel Mission.  Then each class shares an appropriate poem or song. 

My class is reciting "They are all children when they sleep, There is no war in them...."  but that is besides the point. 

The point is that my grandfather, my father, my uncle, my aunt, and my mother all served in the 2nd world war.  My Grandfather also served in the First World War, my uncle did a variety of peace keeping missions after WWII.  He was a career soldier.  My father was buried alive during the war.  I believe his wounds were deep for the short life he lived after the war.  But, that too is beside the point.

And, although we use November 11 to remember those who died in the war, it seems to me that November 11 is the moment of peace.  It is a remembrance of a truce, an agreement not to fight anymore.

Where I work we could use an armistice of sorts.  We could agree to not fight anymore.  We could agree to a peace.

On November 30, and this is what I will bring to the students tomorrow, November 30 is a day for the Vow of Silence.  To be silient not for 2 minutes at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, but to be silent for 24 hours.  And by being silent, no texting, tweeting, emailing, facebook....well you get it.  To really be silent.  To be silent to remember the children that are exposed to, or involved with war without their consent.  For the kidnapped child soldiers,  for the children for whom peace means nothing to them. 

What would that be like - a school taking a vow of silence?  I don't know.  But I would like to find out.  I am trying to get my grade 8s to buy in.  And tomorrow I will try to get grade 5 - 7 to buy in as well. 

Maybe if we didn't talk all the time, or tweet, or text, or facebook, we would realize that the world could be a peaceful place.  It has to start somewhere.  Let it begin with me.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


I have been sorting through stuff for the past few days.  A lot of stuff.  We have lived in this house for almost 30 years, and we brought stuff with us when we arrived here.  A house full of stuff. 

Some of it I can let go - a broken ceramic box, a jewellery box an old boyfriend gave me, the cat perch, a foot brace from a long ago battle with plantar fasciitis.

But, the masks of my children as teenagers, their school work, drawings, baby shoes, baby sun hats, photographs.  I can't let those things go.  I don't want to.  Because even if I only look through them every few years, they bring back memories.  My son and I spent some time going through his school box this weekend.  He was sorting out things to move out.  To leave home.  Again.  And there he was - sitting on the couch wearing  the yellow gnome hat he had made in kindergarten.  There we were looking at pictures of school friends.  Laughing.  Both, I think, feeling a little sad that he was moving to his new place, but knowing it was right. 

We also spent about an hour sorting coins, rolling pennies, nickels, dimes - and challenging each other to find the oldest coin.  He won - 1934 american penny. 

Because there are always treasures to find in boxes, under beds, in closets.  In this messy, cluttered, little house there are many memories.  Not always the tidiest of lives but ones filled with love.

Because there is my daughter's little blue sun bonnet, and I can see her face under it, as clear as 22 years ago.  And there is my son's hornby island hat, and I can see him sorting rocks on Carmichael beach 24 years ago.  All those years ago. 

So, tonight, my husband and I are sorting.  Papers, bills, wills and estates and parents lost.  Finding photos of ourselves as wee ones.  Finding remnants of jobs long gone, and sometimes finding memorabilia we have no recollection of.  So much stuff.

So, I am cleaning house.  Metaphorically.  Literally.  Paradoxically. 

Because there were moments I wish that my study was still my son's bedroom, that the guest room downstairs was filled with my daughter, and not just her stuff.  That the pictures of my father, and his sister were not just pictures - that there was still time to mend broken hearts with my mother.

My life isn't the stuff I have.  The stuff I have isn't my life.  But somehow we are inexplicably connected.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Taking crazy back

I have been listening to a podcast called Taking Crazy back. It is about how our culture treats people with mental illness. It is very powerful.

I suffer from clinical depression. I was diagnosed in my early 40s, but clearly it was someting I had lived with since my late teens. I had tried therapy, exercise, prayer, diet regimes, and just 'sucking it up.' There were days and weeks on end when I couldn't get out of bed, and my stomach was in knots all the time. Maybe it was ulcers? Maybe it was co-workers? Maybe it was diet? I tried being a vegetarian. I gave up coffee. I cried. A lot.

Then I started taking Paxil. This was around the same time the book came out called "Prozac Nation." People on SSRI's were criticized for taking these designer drugs because it was 'in', or'cool', or because doctors forced them on patients due to influence from pharmaceutical companies.

Today on the podcast were lots of examples comparing mental illness to diabetes, or cancer, or heart disease. Nobody would tell someone to not seek treatment for those illnesses. But the stigma around depression is all around.

For years only my family knew I was on anti-depressants. In the last few years I confided in a few close friends. Now, here I am blogging about. I want people to know. Depression is an illness and it needs treatment. Sometimes alternative treatments work. Sometimes homeopathy and naturopathy works. Sometimes therapy works. And, sometimes it doesn't. For me, medication works.

And, that is not to say that the medication doesn't have side effects. Although the new medication I am on, Effexor, has less side effects. It is not to say that I wish I didn't have to be on it for the rest of my life. It is not to say that I don't try every few years to wean myself off them. It is not to say that they don't change my personality - that they flatten my out. But I do know that if not for this medication my quality of life would not be what it is. My relationships would not be what they are. I may not have ever been driven to suicide, but the thought would occasionally arise that I could understand why people may choose that option, because living with un-treated depression is, in many ways, like being dead.

Years ago, I discovered my maternal aunt suffered from depression and was on lithium. Years after I discovered my brother was on SSRIs. My mother was hospitalized in her 30s for a mental breakdown. Hmmm. Family history? You might say so.

So, why am I writing this? I remember when I first was diagnosed and first put on medication it was a struggle. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I didn't want anyone to know. But, then, the clouds were lifting and things were getting better. Still, I wished I had a cast on so people knew I was in the process of healing. So maybe they would cut me a little slack, like they would for someone with a cast. People sign casts. Nobody signs my pill bottle of SSRI's.

I have been at meetings or lectures where people making sweeping, judgemental pronouncements about people on anti-depressants. I didn't say anything. They wouldn't know how many people like me were in the audience, and how deeply we were hurt and mis-understood. People rarely make derogatory comments about diabetics, or people on thyroid medication, or cancer patients. People do make derogatory comments about people on SSRIs.

It is time for that to stop. It is enough. Sometimes medication is needed. Sometimes I just need everyone to understand I am doing the best I can, and my medication helps. Sometimes, what it really is, is that I need to understand I am ok, and I need this medication to continue to be ok.

Sometimes what it really is, is that I need to be less judgemental towards myself. I need to be kinder to myself. I need to forgive myself.

It's a beginning.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I was on my way to the border when I heard on the radio that the Port Mann bridge was shut down. I should have immediately exited at Deer Lake, but I don't make decisions quickly and it passed by as the traffic slowed to a crawl. I crawled my way to Gaglardi exit and I kept thinking, I don't know now to re-route over the Patulla bridge, and I certainly don't know what to do once over it. What to do? What to do?

Well, I got turned around and decided to head over Knight street and through the George Massey tunnel. Despite some rush hourish sort of traffic it was going quite well, until I missed the turn off and realized I was heading for the Alex Fraser Bridge - me and everyone else who was trying to get into Surrey.

Anyways I persevered and finally ended up at the border two hours after I left home. At first I was upset, scared, sad, frustrated and then I thought.....someone died on that bridge today. I will get where I am going, albeit a little later than I planned. That 51 year old woman who died on the bridge today is on a whole different journey. I spent much of the drive thinking of her, and wishing her soul Godspeed.

So often I feel inconvenienced by another's need, experience, temperment, joy, anger. Being in relationship with others can be inconvenient. Sometimes they need to talk when I don't want to listen. Sometimes they need to vent, when I want to babble and be silly. Sometimes they want to laugh when I feel like sobbing. Sometimes we just don't fit.

But other times? We fit beautifully. We reach out and someone is there. We cry and someone has a kleenex. We laugh and someone joins in with breathless, tears rolling down the face laughter. Sometimes we need to sit in silence, and we are with a companion who is comfortable to do the same.

I heard today that the reason humans have lost their ability to be clairvoyant is because we are going 7 times too fast.

I am going to try to slow down.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

All Souls' Day

Today, as I do every November 1, my class and I sat quietly remembering people and pets we have known and loved who have died and left us behind to remember them. It is a quiet, reverent way to start the day after the excitement of Hallowe'en.

I had a picture of my friend's son, Michael, and their dog, Diesel. I lit a candle for them and also for my friend, Lorraine, who died of breast cancer last December. We took turns going to the front of the room and lighting a candle and speaking the name of the person who had crossed the threshold - those who have led the way for us back to our spiritual home.

It was moving, as it is every year, but even more so watching these 13 and 14 year olds standing up, lighting a candle and speaking the name of a loved one, or loved ones.

It was powerful. Everyone spoke. Some spoke twice. Powerful.

And then, after a half hour or so they were back to being 13/14 and talking about silly stuff, chatting while they worked, while I marked, while we continued on with our lives.

For our lives continue. In the face of loss and grief it continues. We laugh, cry, fight, eat, fuss, and generally carry on. We carry on.

I love this class. Even though I was cranky today, for a number of work-related reasons, I hung out amidst their noise and bustle, because I love them.

I realized tonight that my first class, the one I had for 4 1/2 years was really just the preparation for this class. This class: seven of whom I have had since grade one, two since grade three,one since grade four, two since grade five, and one since grade six. Four boys and nine girls - I have taken to sitting the boys, one in each corner of the desks arrangement - it brings balance to the classroom. Sometimes they retreat to their corners, sometimes I send them there. I feel like a referee at a boxing match - go to your corners!

Anyways, it's fun. Noisy, and fun. We are in a Physics block right now learning the laws of fluid mechanics. It is helpful to learn these laws. They seem to settle us. They are constant. When unpredictable things happen - when young men and women die - I can fall back on the laws of Physics to get grounded.

Physics is something I can count on.

My love for this class is something I can count on.

To Michael, and Lorraine, and all the other souls that passed this year - I wish you godspeed, and I promise to remember.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I was looking for a poem about water to start my Fluid Mechanics block with my grade eight class. Look what I found by Pablo Neruda:

Everything on the earth bristled, the bramble
pricked and the green thread
nibbled away, the petal fell, falling
until the only flower was the falling itself.
Water is another matter,
has no direction but its own bright grace,
runs through all imaginable colors,
takes limpid lessons
from stone,
and in those functionings plays out
the unrealized ambitions of the foam.

The first time I heard of this poet was at a funeral. A funeral for a 33 year old man, my son's beloved violin teacher, and his fiance read this poem:

Sonnet XVII

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way than this:

where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

So this is what the internet can do for us. It can start out as water and turn to love. It can start out after a long day of prep, while my love, my husband, cooks a wonderful Sunday dinner. And then, I remember this poem, and think, it is time to stop prepping, time to turn off the computer, time to pick up my glass of wine, and join my love for a few hours before bed.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Quitting Facebook....sort of

This facebook thing is interesting. It is also a bit creepy at times. I have decided to only have family, or far away friends on my facebook. It is interesting to work with people and be friends on facebook. I mean, I see them every school day, and we chat about this and that. Maybe without facebook we will chat even more about different things we want to share, in person, rather than in a status.

I used to have facebook friends that never interacted with me on facebook. Well, that is odd. Even when I messaged them and asked questions that required an answer they didn't contact me. Hm.

And nobody phones each other anymore. "Do you want to go for tea?" "Lunch?" "Movie?" Is it any wonder I feel lonely at times. Even with 108, or 48, facebook friends. Sure, I know their horoscope, or what you-tube clip they think is funny, or sad, or shocking, or even where they went on their holidays. But, I don't know what my relationship is supposed to be to all that. Is it just water cooler talk? Something to pass the day? Don't I have better things to do with my time?

I have three friends who write blogs. I check their blogs often to see what is going on. This is much more satisfying then a 140 character tweet, or a quick update status.

That being said, I love facebook for all of the above things related to family. It seems I never get to see my family enough and I love to see where they are travelling, what their scrabble move is, and yes, even what they had for dinner. It makes me feel closer to them, even though we are already close. I get to see my great nieces growing up even though I only 'see' them a couple of times a year. I get to kibbutz with my nephews, and brothers, and sisters, and it is all good. All good!

So, if you are a friend I see for lunch, or dinner on a regularish basis, then I don't need to be your friend on facebook, cause we are already friends. In real life, we are friends.

I have only made one exception to this rule, well two really. One is a friend, whom I see often, but she is really like family to me, and I love all the silly things she posts about her two wonderful kids. The other is the mother of my niece-in-law. I consider her my extended family, but facebook just doesn't have a way to recognize our family relationship. Stupid facebook.

So, when I want to know how someone is doing, I will pick up the phone, or even send them an email. Something more personal then 'like' as a comment on their status. I recently saw an acquaintance post on his status that he had just attended the funeral for his brother. Five people 'liked' his status. Wtf? Really? What does that even mean?

So, that's it.

And, while we are on the cell phone isn't always on.....if you want to reach me - call my home number. It has voice mail and everything!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

13 colonies

The title of this blog is what I am supposed to be studying/prepping for school tomorrow. What am I really doing?

Playing online Mahjong solitaire.
Deleting non-active friends from facebook.
Writing this blog.

In one word - procrastinating.

I have had a headache all weekend, and tried to sleep all day to no avail. Hmph!
So, I will be heading into school tomorrow without my prep fully done, and with not enough sleep.

On the bright side I have some new things to bring the class based on a Bal-A-Vis-X training I did on Friday and Saturday. So that is good.

And, I did get outside for a few minutes today to admire the fall colours being set off by the sun low in the sky. It was stunning.

And....not so inspired with this blog at the moment, so.....a quick mahjong game, then I am grabbing the crossword and heading to bed.

I know, I know, more procrastinating.....but I won two solitaire hands in a, good for me!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Etheric drain

There is a life force around each of us. It is what we have in common with the life force around the plant world. It is our growth force, our healing force, our energy force.
This force is regenerated when we rest, eat well, exercise - take care of ourselves.

These first few days of my new year have been exhausting. Well, actually, I started the week exhausted, but kept telling myself I could push through it. I can't.

I am bone weary tired, but facing a hectic weekend, busy week, and lots of prep and marking to boot. I don't see any respite until after the parent/teacher conferences on November 7/8. Then I will have five days off.....but the lead up to it is crazy.

Training tomorrow and Saturday until 6pm.
Prep on Sunday.
Teaching (duh)
Hosting a guest at school on Tuesday including taking him for dinner.
Wednesday - play rehearsal (hmmmmm, should I be a shepherd, or an angel?)
Thursday - dinner with two school friends.
Saturday - DAY OFF
Sunday - prep
Monday - Halloween!
Tuesday - All soul's day
Thursday - drive to Seattle for conference
Friday - conference
Saturday - conference
Sunday - SLEEP
Monday - parent/teacher conferences
Tuesday - parent/teacher conferences
then.....FIVE DAYS OFF!

To add to this I am not sleeping well these nights, and I have had three migraines in two weeks. That is crazy for me. At the worst I get two a year. There is this niggly thought that it is somehow connected to my eye surgery. Probably not, but still, the thought lingers.....

And, to top it off, I feel like the 'extra' work I am taking on at te school is too much. Too, too much.

I arrived home at 7:15 pm today in tears, those hysterical, can't talk through them, tears. Thank God Brian had a good dinner and a listening ear to talk me down. And, there is Vampire Diaries...... although it is probably bad form to thank God for Vampire Diaries. Just sayin'.

Anyways, I am sad, and mad, and tired, and frustrated, and probably a number of other emotions I could name once I sort myself out. I find working with my Grade Eights is easy and predictable. The adults in my life, including me, not so much.

So, I am going to make some chocolate chip cookies, have a hot bath, and cuddle up in bed with a good book.....maybe tomorrow will look better.

Or, just maybe, I will have to say what has been on my mind for won't be easy, but at some point I have to put myself, and my health first. Listening to this, I know it to be true. I do come first. In this case, I do come first.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I am turning 56 tomorrow. If you are an anthroposophist, or interested in biography work, 56 is a big one. The end of one 7 year cycle, and the beginning of the next one. It is auspicious that I am graduating my class, and retiring in my 56th year. Many biographers have noted that often a touch with death occurs in this year in the form of a life threatening illness. Sometimes that illness results in death.
This is not a maudlin thought. It is what it is.

A biography course I took once said that 56 is where you decide whether you need to trim the sails. From 49-56 you are steering your own boat, or just lying on the raft being carried along. Either way, at 56, you might need/want to change course.

I don't want to just raft. I want to row. Perhaps I want to trim the sails abit so I am not going too fast. I want to feel the resistance of the water against my oars and the soreness of my muscles from the exertion of a hard day's row. The 7 year cycles are:

0-7 growing into the physical body
7-14 developing the habit life
14-21 developing the feeling life
21-28 developing the ego
28-35 mirror resolve of 7-14 -vocation related
35-42 mirror of 0-7 is the world good?
42-49 Mars period - recapitulation of 14-21 and 21-28
49-56 what is the world asking of me? mirrors 7-14,28-35
56-63 what do you want me to do, and can I do it? mirrors 35-42 and 0-7
63-70 free from past life karma (whew, can't wait to get there)
70-77 ....

It is interesting to me that my husband is always the 7 year cycle ahead of me. We are in lock step one cycle apart (interesting, that my sister and I are also in this lock step. And her husband is in lock step with the 7 year cycle ahead of her). Another very good friend of mine is in lock step one cycle behind me. I don't know what the significance is, but it is significant.

I know that as the physical body starts to give way, the spiritual body gains momentum. Heading towards the threshold that we all must cross one day. I am heading into this new journey with strength, resolve, good will, and thankfulness.

Eight years ago, at this very time, around my 48th birthday I received that tap on the shoulder. I am not mortal. Everything I read (and I read alot), said that often 7 years after diagnosis was a crucial time. I know that then was then and now is now. I know that people like me are diagnosed much, much earlier than in the past. So, really, I kept telling myself, the 7 years doesn't mean anything. And, still, it was lying there before me. And so were the questions. Should I take another class? Will I see my son and daughter marry? Have children? Will I, in fact, die before my husband? Again, these are not maudlin thoughts. They just are. Thoughts

But, here I am. Healthy, good, normal blood counts. Really, although no one will say it aloud, in remission. Good enough for me.

56. This year is going to be exciting. Different. Challenging. Promising. Scary. I am leaving on a strong note. I can feel it.

There are still new adventures, and I am re-reading my biography notes so that I can prepare myself for the journey ahead. I am beginning to trim the sails, set a new course, change tack.

The Sun on my face, the horizon ahead of me, my life companion by my side.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

hello? Is anyone there?

Sometimes this is how I feel. Like no one is home. Like I am not at home. Like no one gets me. Sometimes this is how I feel. Lonely.

I have no reason to feel lonely. My loneliness is self-inflicted. My loneliness stems from not feeling understood, or more precisely, from wishing others would understand. Maybe these two things are one and the same. I don't know.

I do know that I wish those around me would take responsibility and act, well, like grown-ups. But, then, I know that grown-ups have often disappointed me in their actions so clearly that is not the answer either.

I guess what I really want is that people take responsibility for what is bothering them. And, yes, I am listening to myself here, too. But still, it has been a day of people telling me about things they are worried about, or pissed off about, or upset about, but they won't DO anything about it. I am tired of talking and listening to the same issues over and over. Speak up. Write a letter. Tell someone that you are 'mad as hell and not going to take it anymore'.

Maybe it is because I am teaching about revolutions and trade unions, and listening to the idealism of 14 year olds. When they are mad about something they let me know. I like that. They let me know.

So, I am letting myself know. You don't have to take this anymore. Draw the line in the sand, and stand your ground.

And, really, while I am writing this, all I can think about is my dear, dear friend whose blog said today - My son is dead. Every day she lives with those four words.
I have nothing to complain about that begins to compare with those four words.

I need to call her tomorrow, email her tonight, and make a date for tea. I need to put everything into perspective.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

He was a buddhist. I am a christian.

It has been so interesting reading the wonderful editorials about Steve Jobs this past week. Without fail it seems to come up that he was a Buddhist. And, it is always presented so that we are to infer that all the good he did could be attributed to his spiritual beliefs. I have no problem with that. What has caused me to wonder is that when a good Christian man, or woman, passes on people don't say - He was a Christian. And, if they do, people often snicker, or smirk, or make some unkind, unchristian remark. I am certain if Steve Jobs had been a Christian he would have been just as good a human being.

Granted, there are Christian people, or people who call themselves Christian, that I wouldn't trust at all. But, I also know some Buddhists that aren't so nice either. It is interesting to me that we want to paint a whole mess of people with one Christian, or Buddhist brush.

I am a christian. Note, the little 'c'. I follow the teachings of Christ. The teachings are pretty simple. Love God. Love your neighbour as yourself. I can also totally get with the Buddhist eight-fold path: Right view, Right speech, Right intention, Right livelihood, Right effort, Right deed, Right Mindfulness, Right concentration. Of course I believe those 8 paths could be summed up by following Jesus's two. But, that is really neither here nor there.

However, what is relevant, to me, is it is not so 'in' to be christian in 2011. I can also imagine it is not so 'in' to be Muslim in 2011 either.

So, maybe I am being too hard on the biographers of Steve Jobs. I would be proud if my obituary read: Mary-Anne Taylor. She was a christian. Just sayin'

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Today I shepherded 11 grade 8 students towards making thanksgiving soup for 200 people. We do this every year. Every class brings harvest vegetables, the Grade 4 class reaps the rewards of their Grade 3 garden, and it all comes together into the soup pot. We all squeeze ourselves into the school hall, invite some special guests, and share a meal together. It is noisy, and cheerful and festive. Every class does something in preparation.

Grade One and Two collect leaves and pinecones to decorate the tables. Grade 3 and 4 make bread and cookies. Grade 5 washes the dishes afterwards. Grade Six clears the tables. Grade 7 sets up the tables and place settings. Grade 8 makes the soup, and prepares the platters of sliced, buttered bread.

For two hours my class worked in the school kitchen. They chopped bowls full of onions, leeks, garlic, potatoes, carrots, celery, turnip, kale, and red cabbage. They worked with such good will.

Such good will. So, I wish you all a Thanksgiving full of good will. I myself will sit down with 13 family members. We will squeeze ourselves into my little house, and be thankful as we gabble and gobble! We are a noisy bunch. This year the girls are out-numbered. 3 to 11. But my sister, niece and I are up for the challenge. Three feminists. They haven't got a chance!

So, I am thankful. I continue to be thankful for the joy I am experiencing with my class and my colleagues. I continue to be thankful for time spent with my husband and son. I an always thankful for early morning talks with my daughter via skype, or facebook, texting, or the good old-fashioned phone. I miss her. But, she will be here to help even out the numbers on December 10. Only 2 months away.

Thanksgiving is my sister's favourite holiday. She has made it one of mine. All those Burton women's bums bustling around the kitchen (and yes, Arwen, you are a Burton and not just by virtue of your bum). We will be thankful for the little house full to bursting with many generations. Stories will be told. Piano will be played. Hopefully a few guitars will be brought out. Maybe even the accordian!

So, wherever you are on Sunday (or Monday), I hope you have a moment of love, and thanksgiving. As a friend of mine said just yesterday "What would it be like if each one of us decided that we want to be the very best that we imagine human beings are capable of being?"

I am thankful I can strive for such an imagining.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

all alone, just me and the bathroom

Another busy, productive and good day at school. Then home to an empty house. The boys have gone camping. I don't have any prep, so the evening looms pretty free.
Of course I have to make dinner (mac and cheese?), and I have to watch Survivor, but other than that I am pretty open. Until the thought hits me. My brother is coming to spend the weekend, arriving tomorrow around noon. Oh my god! I have to clean the bathroom. No, really. I HAVE to clean the bathroom. And probably change the sheets on the guest bed. Oh, and the kitchen floor probably could use a once over.

But, what am I doing. Knitting. Well, technically, I am writing this blog entry, but I was knitting. And, I am thinking about the floor, and the bathroom. Really.

I am so good at procrastinating. Especially the stuff I don't like to do. Prepping, I actually like. And marking, I actually like that too. Even spending three days looking for one song for a colleague. I like doing that, especially when I succeed. (Which I did today.....I found the song I have been looking for for three days. Yea, me).

But bathrooms. No. I hate cleaning them. Although I love having it clean. Hmmmm, pardox, no?

So, now I go into the deal making. Clean the bathroom, then you can enjoy Survivor, or X-Factor. Yea.....

Wash the floor and then you can knit two rows

Throw the sheets in the wash, and then you can curl up in bed with the novel on the bedside table.

See, I can make deals. I understand delayed gratification. I know I will feel better when the chores are done. Really, I will feel better.


Ok, Ok.

I'll get right to it.

As soon as Degrassi is over.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


I am beginning a history block with my class tomorrow. Revolutions. Industrial, French, American, Russian. Interesting that in Canada we don't have a Revolution in our history. A Rebellion, yes. A Revolution, no.

So why is that. In a dictionary entry I saw that rebellions and revolutions start out much the same. An organized uprising against the status quo. Then it went on to say that a rebellion is a failed revolution. Hmmm. That's interesting.

In teaching teenagers I think it is very apt. It is important that they rebel. It is necessary for them to rebel. But, we don't want them succeeding, and running the show. Not until they are adults, and then they can run their own show.

There are so many revolutions to talk about. And then the sexual revolution, the technological revolution,scientific revolutions, religious revolutions.

Oh my goodness, where to even begin. Well, probably I'll start with the revolutions in Libya, and Egypt....and then get their ideas, and we will go from there.

Freedom. Equality. Personhood. The rights of the individual vs. the rights of society. A battle that has been raging for centuries, millenia, since the dawn of humanity, and perhaps, even in the angelic realms.

It will be interesting to hear the 14 year old perspective, don't you think?

I will keep you all posted.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Migraines and dark thoughts

Why is it so hard to write when things are good and positive, and so easy when things take a turn.

The turn, the other shoe dropping, was a migraine aura ten minutes before the end of class yesterday. There I was, helping a student with base-8 math and I could barely see the page because of the wavy lines.

So, migraine medication, and home to bed. Except this time, the medication didn't stave off the headache, so hear I am after a restless, painful night, still with a headache. I know, you are all saying, and why are you writing on a computer screen?

Maybe I am hoping if I write down the bad dreams that plagued me all night I can return to bed, bad dream free.

And so, the dream. Me against my colleagues. All of them in one circle and me on the outside. A very good friend of mine telling me to shut up. Another good friend telling everyone I wasn't even a 'trained' waldorf teacher. Everyone squeezing through a small opening to an inner room, where my stuff was, and I couldn't fit through the opening. (What would Freud say about that....a field day, I think). Trying to drive a barely operable vehicle full of garbage, across newly seeded lawns and flower beds. Dead ends. Wrong turns. Getting into spaces I couldn't get out of. As I write this down it really is a picture of what is transpiring at my school right now amongst the faculty in light of the way raises were assigned this year.

So, even though I am exhausted, and headachy, I am up having coffee and tylenol, because who wants to stay in a bed full of those kind of images.

I am trying hard to hold my equanimity at school. Mostly I am succeeding, especially if I stay in the comfort of my classroom with 13 lovely, crazy students. I am getting tired of the A tells B, B tells C, C tells D, and then D tells Mary-Anne. Really? A couldn't have spoken to me directly? Really? What are we 12? Really? My Grade Eight students behave better than that, most of the time.

And speaking of my Grade Eight students I had a lovely pot-luck dinner with 7 of them last night. Headache and all, I had a great time. And then I picked my son up from his restaurant so we could chat on the drive home. We have been missing each other. So, yesterday wasn't all bad, by any means.

And now that I have written down the dark thoughts, the light is shining through again. I can focus on what is really important - Brian and I, and our future.

As I head into by 56th year I need to start taking care of me and what is truly important. I need to keep working on my list of things to do when I retire. So far my list is:
1) Organize photos
2) Learn French
3) Learn to belly dance (don't ask, I dreamt this too)
4) de-junk house
5) sell said house
6) volunteer somewhere (downtown eastside?)
7) Camp. Alot!

And so, today, once I get rid of this headache, I will spend the day with Brian, school free!

Thursday, September 29, 2011


Today, at a meeting, we got through the whole agenda. A first in a long time, for this particular meeting group. Agendas. Sometimes it is hard to get through one without hearing implicitly, or explicitly other agendas. Sometimes the agendas coincide. Sometimes they clash. Sometimes they don't seem real. Sometimes they are so blatant they just have to make me laugh. Sometimes they are so disturbing and damaging I am not sure what to do next.

I, too, bring my agendas to the table. Sometimes they are prepared. Sometimes? Not so much.

Sometimes I just wish we could all put our cards on the table. "I am afraid for my job." "I am afraid I am not doing a good job." "I don't like you, or trust you." "I want to trust you, but you keep giving me reasons not to." "I want everyone to have faith in me." "I want people to value me." "I want everyone to speak their truth." "I want everyone to do what I want." "I don't want to make a mistake'" ,or, my personal favourite, "I want everyone to get along, without any conflict." Ya, Mary-Anne, good luck with that!

And then, the whole idea of working with consensus. I would really like to do that, but it seems that this would take alot of time, and it seems decisions always need to happen quickly. Too quickly for our own good. Although today, because we took time, and revisited decisions we had delayed from last week we easily reached consensus. That felt good. I would like more training in consensus decision making. At least if it appears that I can't just make everyone do as I want! Consensus decisions make me feel more enlivened, more invigorated, more content.

But, we are human beings, with our agendas, our subjective viewpoints, our fallibilities, and our striving.

Our striving. We are doing our best. As long as we are striving, and in conversation with each other we can get through agendas. The explicit ones and the implicit ones. And, if we make a mistake, we can apologize and try to fix it. And, if we can't fix it, we can learn from it. We have to learn from our mistakes.

That should be number one on all our agendas!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday. Check.

Sometimes I wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. Things are just going so well in my classroom, and it has been three weeks. It is just so much fun to teach right now, and prep seems relaxed and easy. Everything is just flowing.

So, when will the 'fall' happen.

Don't know, and don't really care. I am basking in the goodness of it all right now.

Basking. Like a mud shark. Or a marmot. Yeah, a marmot. Warm and content on a rock in the sun.

Take all the pictures you want. Remember this moment. This moment will not come by again.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rain on the roof

Home from a wonderful, calm, relaxed weekend in the camper. Rain, good food, beautiful mist on the ocean, companionship, and campfires. Last night awoken by a huge windstorm at 3am, and then rain on the roof of the camper.

When I was diagnosed, Brian asked me what I wanted to do. "I want to camp with you and hear the rain on the roof of our camper".

Another prayer granted.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Learning to Fall. I read this book soon after I was diagnosed with Leukemia. Learning to Fall. Quite a different experience than learning to walk. Although, learning to walk does involve learning to fall. Learning to Fall is about letting go. Learning to Fall is one of the first lessons when you learn to down hill ski. Learn to Fall so you don't hurt yourself. Learning to walk involves throwing yourself off balance and then catching your balance. Learning to Fall involves letting go and believing you will be caught. Sometimes you are caught by the ground, sometimes by loving arms, sometimes by a stranger. Learning to Fall means trusting that someone, or something will catch you.

Learning to Fall means learning to live with Grace, and Faith, and the belief that it will all be okay.

It will all be okay. It has to be.

So today, was a good day. I had a lovely cup of tea with some colleagues in the middle of a potentially stressful day. I shared dinner and a glass of wine with a friend of mine whose life has changed and possibilities are endless. I painted dragons with my class. I tilted at windmills. I had my buddha seat today. I don't always have that, but today I did.

And at the end of it, I read the blog about a mother grieving for her child. No mother or father should have to grieve for their dead child. It is not the way it is supposed to be. And yet, sometimes the way it is supposed to be is not the way it is.

So my friend, too, is learning to fall. She knows there are loving arms to catch her before she hits the ground, and she knows that if those arms should fail, there are others to pick her up.

Learning to Fall. September 22, 2011. First day of Fall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

cheerful and stupid

I know, I know. I have used this quote before. Sometimes in the midst of other peoples' anger, and mis-trust, and unhappiness, I just act 'cheerful and stupid' and I purposefully don't acknowledge their behaviour, or their mood.

Maybe it is a preservation tactic. Maybe it is how children of alcoholics cope with tension in daily situations. I don't know, but I do know that I can make a choice.

I can be a thermostat, or a thermometer. I can allow others to influence my mood by their mood, or I can set my own mood. Sail my own ship.

Sometimes people behave badly. Sometimes people disappoint each other. Sometimes people are just down right mean. But that doesn't mean that I have to reciprocate the behaviour, or always be on guard for disappointment.

I can choose to do my best. Breathe. Surround myself by good friends, good colleagues, good situations.

I am so in love with my class of 13 grade eight students right now. They are silly, and fun and good willed and hard working. They are delightful. I am spending alot of time in my classroom with them. It is fun just to be in their presence, around their antics.

I have a number of wonderful colleagues. It is so interesting that, as it has been in all my jobs and professions, I always get along better with my male colleagues. Their friendship is warmer somehow. It seems more 'true'. I don't know if that makes any sense, but there are more than a handful of wonderful male colleagues that support me, make me laugh, make me think, converse with me (not at me), and whom I trust. Yes, that's it. I trust them. I know they would be there for me if I needed it.

I am working hard on my resolve and I am working hard in my classroom. I am working hard on my administrative tasks. I am doing a good job. I am doing the best I can.

I am happy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


I am spending ten minutes a day, first thing in the morning, journalling with my Grade Eight class. I am using Natalie Goldberg's book, Old Friend from Far Away. Today the exercise was write everything you know about Jello. 10 minutes. Go!

First of all, who knew we all knew so much about Jello? Second of all, you could hear a pin drop for 10 minutes. This is the fifth day of pin-drop silence in Grade Eight. Gotta love that!

Then, we discussed their homework. Their assignment? Read Rocking-Horse Winner by DH Lawrence. They came into school bursting to talk about it. "I didn't like the mother", "My Dad was so happy you assigned this story", "Mrs. Taylor, I am so glad you assigned this story, I really enjoyed reading it". "Mrs. Taylor, I didn't get it, it was confusing", "It was disturbing, a boy his age riding a rocking-horse", "I thought the whispering house was disturbing", and we were off.

After a discussion of the story we talked alot about horse racing, and tote boards, and odds (a mini math lesson), handicapping, and gambling. It was so alive and exciting in that room today. I segued into talking about another favourite book of mine, "Man o war", and at the end of the period a overheard a student saying, "I am going to read that book!". Such a wonderful day.

And, it continued. I got prep down, emails answered, agendas prepped, feathers unruffled.

I headed home after this brilliant day with the thought, "I am probably going to get a migraine". It is not that I am melancholic, it is just that often my euphoric moments precede a migraine.

So far so good. I have been reading, and casting my Grade Eight Play. I am awaiting a wonderful dinner that smells amazing bubbling on the stove (thanks, dear husband). I have my knitting to get to after dinner.

I am just happy. In every respect. Happy. Me. Who would have thought it?

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Ok, day three done. Well, technically it is day 2 1/2 but who's counting. Oh, right, I AM!

I just got home from a lovely parent evening - the first of the year. My parents are great. They are the kind of people I want to be friends with, and hopefully when I graduate this class we will be. That is something to be grateful for.

Being grateful isn't so easy this week. School has had some hard moments in the collegial realm, but I am holding fast to my resolve. I think I will have to announce my resolve aloud soon because otherwise people don't seem to get where I am coming from. If you want to kvetch to me about someone else, don't. Go kvetch to them. Ahhh, not so easy.

My class is great. My prep is going well. But, boy, late night with the Board last night, and faculty meeting and parent meeting tonight, and whew! TGIF! No kidding.

I feel a bit sad about this being my last year. Not because I don't want it to be my last year, but what will I do? Well, camp for a number of weeks, perhaps months, but then what? I do feel that this year is my time to pass the torch. Let others step up to the work of running a school, let others fight the dragons, let others swim upstream for awhile.

Me, I am going to float for a bit. Imagining myself in the waters of Grassy Point, or Whaling Station, or Hague Lake. Doing my best, putting myself first. At least for a little while. Just a little while.

I am worried a good friendship is going to suffer this year, going to be lost. I am not sure what to do, if there is even anything to do. I just wish it didn't have to be so.

I don't have a large of number of really close, tell all your secrets to, friends. Well, actually I don't have any tell ALL of my secrets to friends. But, that's ok. I do have friends that have known me for my whole life, or darn near it. I have new friendships that are just beginning to form, and that is lovely to realize. I still have, in my life, the possibility of making new friendships. But still, it is sad to realize some will be lost where there are so many lovely memories.

So, melancholic me, should put herself first, and go to bed. I am reading "The Help", and realizing how lucky I am to live with the advantages I have. Still, going to bed early will be putting myself first. So, off to bed. Tomorrow things may look less dire, and more hopeful, and, well, just different.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And so it begins

Up at 5:30. I had a weird dream about the opening school assembly. Grade One wasn't there, the High School came in very late. My colleague's students were unruly, and I couldn't even find my class. I was trying to give my opening address, and NO ONE WAS PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO ME! This is probably the equivalent of realizing you are naked in the school hallways.

So, I am up, and looking forward to the year beginning. This is my last year - at least for some while. I have already started my list of 'What I will do when I retire'. First on list - organize my photos. I tried to find some pictures I took of the London Globe Theatre 5 years ago, and I had to look in four places before I got lucky. And, when I got lucky I found a whole basket of unfiled photos. Oops! But, I digress.

So, today I will stand in front of 13 students in this my 13th year of teaching at this school. Coincidence? I don't think so!

And as far as my resolve, I think I will have to let faculty know what I am up to, or not up to, as the case may be. There have been a few uncomfortable moments as I deflect gossip or unkind comments. Really sometimes we are no better than those teenagers. Sigh

But, the school looks beautful, my room looks beautiful, and even my board drawing looks beautiful (Globe Theatre, no less). Soon it will be filled with beautiful thirteen and fourteen year olds. (and no, that is not an oxymoron).

Wish me luck! I am off....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

September 1

It slipped by again, as it does. It is not that I didn't think about him on Thursday. I did. I stood in front of his picture on my school desk, and thought lovingly about him. I didn't cry then. But, I am now.

I think, for me, September 1, is the most profound date in my calendar. I still remember my mom waking me up that morning, early, to tell me he had died. I remember lying in my bed thinking that all my prays had been of no use. I remember thinking as I lay crying that it just couldn't be.

I was seventeen, and I loved him so much. He was not the perfect father, but to me, he was the man who loved me fiercely, and in the two years he spent dying we became closer and closer.

He was the center of my Grade Twelve year. And although he wasn't able to come to my graduation, and I wasn't able to dance the father/daughter dance with him, he was there. He was always there. He is always there.

He was funny. He had a horrible temper. He was imposing. His hugs were huge. His presence comforting. His eyes were unlike anyone I have every seen. He was, quite simply, my Dad.

Often after school,in his last year, the two of us would sit in the living room, alone. I think my brother and mother were off to swim practice. I am not sure where my younger sister was - perhaps babysitting. But he and I were often alone. Sitting. Sipping sherry that came out of an oak keg - a keg I still have. Talking about life and love. He was there for my first broken heart. He was there when I was accepted into University. He was there when I got my first job. He was there.

I still have the last gifts he ever gave me. A Mickey Mouse watch for my 17th birthday. The Complete Works of William Blake for Christmas a few months later. He inscribed that book "Because it is Christmas, and because I love you. Dad"

My daughter was born on his birthday. He would have been his 65th birthday. That was a gift he gave me also.

So, September 1st has come and gone. The flowers have been sent to the church as they always are this time of year. He was a devote Anglican. I continue to honour that.

Thirty eight years have gone by, and yet it still seems like yesterday. I imagine that the next thirty eight will pass with me missing him just as much.

So, Dad, this one is for you. I will love you forever and always.

Your daughter,

Mary-Anne Burton Taylor

Friday, September 2, 2011

what a difference a day makes....

With some trepidation I entered into a meeting yesterday, and voila, everyone arrived, we sat down, got to work, had a great meeting, and the mood that had existed a few days ago has dissapated. Consequently the rest of the day was very productive.

I am in the classroom now getting ready for Monday. Thirteen students. Thirteen thirteen and fourteen year olds. H E L P (insert Sid the Sloth voice from Ice Age here). Actually I am excited and looking forward. The classroom is taking shape, and I am throwing out stuff that I have carried around for eight years (well probably truthfully twelve). Simplicity is my motto this year, Simplicity (for me) and independence (for them).

I am starting with a Life and Times of Shakespeare block and taking the class to Bard on the Beach the second week of school. I am still pondering my class play this year. I am thinking Cyrano, or Charlie Brown, or, yes, maybe even Shakespeare. With a small class, casting can be difficult. Suggestions?

Also, I want to do a short story block this year, so any suggestions of Grade Eight short stories would be helpful. Ok, this blog is starting to sound like I am asking you dear readers to do my work for me.....

Let's see, what else. Oh yea, I am happy as I write this. Happy is good. I told a colleague that my motto this year will be 'cheerful and stupid'. You have to listen to Joy Brown on the radio to understand this reference, but it basically is a way to 'behave' when others around you are behaving badly. Or, when there is the potential for personal conflict. When I am nervous I tend to babble on aimlessly trying to diffuse tension. So, this year, less babbling, more breathing, and with my Thumperism in my back pocket (If you can't say anything nice....) I will face the days ahead.

It is already making a difference. At least for me.

So, September is here, one hurdle met. Bring it on!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

not really about baseball at all

In good resolve I send the light.
A pitch ill-timed,
hitting the dirt,
too close to the batter
Dust covered intentions.

a poorly timed swing.

Where is the re-play,
the slo-mo,
the play-by-play
so I can see where it all went
so terribly wrong.

In good resolve I send the light
not wavering on my ability
to play the game
but wondering
how long the
season will last.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Intent and Resolve

My first test regarding not speaking to a third person about an issue I have with another individual. Without going into details I will tell you it was a powerful moment. I have spent my summer ruminating over something an acquaintance of mine has chosen to do. It involves her children. It has bothered me all summer.

A few days ago I found myself, judgementally, telling a friend my 'opinion' about it all. And, well, you probably guessed it, I had never spoken this face to face with the person involved. So....

Next day I see her and ask for a few minutes of her time. I explain that I have been carrying around something about what she has been doing, and that I clearly had an 'opinion' because I had felt it necessary to share my 'opinion' with someone else. I shared my worries and thoughts with her.

It was amazing. We had a wonderful heart to heart. I got the back story to her decision. A decision that is not easy for her. I left feeling connected to her and her life in a much deeper way. She thanked me, for coming to her. Wow! Now there is a lesson.

It is not easy, especially with certain people where I realize there is a habit of 'nittering'. I am afraid that some friendships will have to change, or be lost, and they are good friendships.

But, that said, I also feel so much more in control. Even at home, sometimes I find myself starting to tell my husband something, then I realize he isn't the person that needs to hear this, and often, really, no one needs to hear this, or that. It is sometimes just petty junk.

So, I am breathing deeply these days trying to speak out of integrity and resolve.

Someone said yesterday 'We are intent driven people, and our intent is powerful. When we think or speak badly of another person we can actually make that person sick.' I know this to be true. It happened to me years ago when I was working on the Mission Reserve. I was unwell, struggling, and a first nation friend of mine said 'You have bad magic coming at you. You need to re-connect with your spiritual practice to protect yourself.' I did, and I got better. Another powerful lesson.

I once heard at a lecture that whenever we think poorly of someone that thought becomes attached to the person in the form of an elemental being. Can you imagine what that would be like? He also said we can reclaim this thought, by sending a good thought towards them, a ray of light.

So today I will be sending light out. Because if I don't my world will become a darker place.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Year, new resolve, day two.

Ok, I am back at work. A few hours on Monday to settle in, a few more hours today to prepare to facilitate the welcome back Faculty Meeting tomorrow morning. A few people were around. Lovely hugs, and smiles, and sharing quick holiday anecdotes.

The school looks great. New paint job, some lovely renos....I am positive that this can be a good year. And I am practicing my resolve about the gossip, nittery thing. So far, so good. I have twice been in conversations where I simply said, "I am not going to do that', 'I am not going to go there'. Sometimes aloud, sometimes to myself. And it is good. I am feeling good.

Tonight I am off to Pilates with a dear friend. Neither of us have been for a long while, so it should be 'interesting' to say the least. Another of my resolves, to go to yoga/pilates at least 3x per week.

And walking, to get ready for the Camino next fall, perhaps, in a year, more or less.

So, you see, I am a teacher, and for me the start of school is like the start of the new year. Resolutions, new beginnings, promises made to myself, a fresh slate.

I had tea today with a current student and an ex-student. Lovely, sharing holiday stories, catching up, hugging, alot!

I saw my daughter on skype today with her lovely haircut, her new tattoo, her amazing smile. She is so beautiful. Inside and Out.

My son called and he is flying home on Friday. It has been just over 3 months since we left him at the airport, and I will be so glad to hug him tight to my heart.

So, all is as it should be. I am feeling strong. I can do this. Jack Layton's words are guiding my way

"My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we'll change the world.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The first day home after almost six weeks on the road I was at a loss for what to do. Once the laundry was done, the camper cleaned, the second what? I didn't want to start into school work yet. Not, yet. So I decided to clean out my email box, and that lead me to reading all my blogs back to the beginning, and then letters I had written my daughter, and she had written me.

These letters started when she was heading off to university, to live in residence. Only up the hill to SFU, but still it seemed so far away. Many of the letters are short and silly and verifying this and that. But a number are heart-wrenching. Even as I write this I have tears finding there way down my face, and as I sat at the kitchen table a few days ago it was the same.

They were the letters about broken hearts, broken promises, apologies, and sometimes misunderstandings. They were the letters where we could speak truths that couldn't always be spoken in person. At least not then. They were the letters of a young woman finding her way in the world, and a middle-aged woman trying to help.

These letters are a gift. Even though they are digital, and not tied up with ribbon in a cedar chest. They are a gift.

I have similar letters from and to my son as he travels the world trying to find his place. I have many, many letters from and to my husband when I have been travelling without him, or he without me. Those letters are full of love. I have letters from my sister filled with such understanding that it is little wonder she is my best friend.

And they are all saved on the computer. But that doesn't seem right. So, I will begin the process of downloading them and filing them in order and perhaps, even, wrapping a ribbon around them.

Those letters tell a story of a woman and her family. A woman loved by her family. A woman who loves her family fiercely. A woman who sometimes has to read letters that could break her heart, but they don't because she knows that the relationship that has forged that trust has wrapped her heart in such a way that she could bear it.

These are letters full of love, honesty, trust and wisdom on all sides, and they should be saved in the truest sense of the word.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

perfect endings - Bliss

I spent all day Tuesday reading a book. When I say all day, I mean ALL day. I started reading as I chased the sun around the yard with my morning coffee, and finished my book about 5:30pm. Bliss.

Then we made supper, and headed down to the beach to watch the sunset. I put on my bathing suit, but wasn't really intending to go swimming. However, as soon as I got to the beach the tide was up, the sun was glowing, the seals were splashing, and I just walked right into the water and floated away. Bliss.

After my swim we sat and watched the sun almost set, and continued to watch three seals splashing. It was quiet. And beautiful. Then we headed back to the camper and started a fire. Just a simple fire. No guitar. No talking. Just burning all the random pieces of wood that were around the fire pit as the sun set and the stars came out. Bliss.

To bed. Crossword puzzle, podcast of Q. Bliss.

After we locked up the cabin this morning, we headed for the ferry with no idea when it would be leaving and how long a wait it would be. Got to the ferry slip. Ferry was just arriving. Probably the eighth car in line. Ferry loaded us. We were off. Next ferry, next sailing. We were off. Drove the lower road - no traffic, and arrived at the terminal at 2:15. We were boarded on the 3:10. Home by 6. Bliss.

All day I have been feeling good, peaceful, relaxed, happy. Bliss.