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On Remembering Dad

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Oftentimes September 20th comes at me by surprise. I wake up one morning and suddenly it’s here. This year is different. This year I’ve been watching it approach, anticipating its arrival, waiting to greet it like a guest stopping over on a long journey.

Maybe it’s because of the work I’ve been doing around the energy that September is ushering in, bringing awareness to any unfinished business or unresolved intentions in my life. Letting go of them once and for all, applying dedicated discipline and persistence towards practice and completion. Cleaning out material possessions I no longer need. It feels right and good, like I’m expanding my lungs with a deep, baby-bellyful breath.

Or maybe it’s because I’ve been contemplating grief a lot these days. Grief long hidden and unexpressed. Exploring what grief looks and feels like, turning it over, feeling it in my hands, probing with my fingers for any nooks and crannies where grief can hide like infinitesimal grains of sand. We, in the west, aren’t practiced or comfortable in the ritual of grief, either outward or inward.

I thought I was well prepared this year for the coming of September 20th, the twelfth anniversary of my father’s death. We siblings have our own small ritual to mark and honour his death and it begins with a morning email from my oldest brother with the simple subject line, dad. For me, this exchange of emails always brings me back to that day in the hospital when we all gathered around his bed one last time, his spirit in the room but no longer within his body. The string of time folds in and I am both here and there at the same time. And always I’m surprised.

This year I’m in the best place possible, in the peace of Hollyhock, immersed in the loving, holding space of my Art of Spiritual Guidance community. We’re beginning our second year of training/instruction/practice (it’s all these words and a hundred more) and I’m drawing the Home of my Soul. I have a handful of crayons and pencil crayons and a large piece of paper in front of me. It’s full of promise and potential and suddenly I’m filled with incredible sadness. It spills out of my eyes and stops my hands. Around me the air rustles with crayon strokes and the papers fill with beautiful, colourful images and my sadness is tinged with guilt. I’m not doing this right. I’m not grateful to the gift my soul is giving me. I can’t draw. I can’t…

I sit back with my sadness and sigh three times, letting go of my judgements, both around my drawing ability and around my sadness. Then I pick up a rose-red pencil crayon and begin writing instead, my words creating the images, enticing me to remember what my hands cannot draw.

And then I remember. Today is September 20th, the day my first spiritual teacher died. The home of my soul remembers and gives me the gift of sadness, a sadness that draws me inward to the source of my healing. Today is a day to sit with my sadness and be okay with that, because I know that this too shall pass. I know that on most days I remember my dad with great joy and delight. I know that even as I type my last word here, the sadness will leave and the joy will remain.

As my brother wrote this morning, “Yet, on most days, and particularly on this day, I only remember the infectious fun, joy and intelligence that Dad imparted to all of us.

That will always remain alive.”

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The Summer I Turned Fifteen…part 2

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I’m not someone with a clear memory. I don’t know if it’s the head injury, hormones or if my memory has always been murky. I wish I could reach back at will and replay remembered conversations like so many of my high-school girlfriends can. Instead it’s like they’re talking about a movie everyone has seen except me. And I’m in it.

Maybe memories are like that, murky from swimming so long in the swampy pond of emotions. Maybe they’re like prisms, reflecting back whatever journey I’m on in the present. I turn them and hold them up to the light and the story is filtered through whatever facet I’m examining. Like the summer I turned fifteen. The teenage years are full of slingshot moments, so that minute-by-minute childhood innocence is left so far behind that it seems impossible to ever have been one. A child.

It seemed like everything changed the summer I turned fifteen. Or it had already changed. Slowly, all at once. We were a family and then we weren’t. At least, not in the way we were before. Centrifugal force spun us together and then spew us apart. Father gone. Mother mostly gone. Children no longer children except one. Living alone together. This happens sometimes in the aftermath of divorce. This happens sometimes when a mother is left to raise four teenagers and a confused, angry little boy. The summer I turned fifteen I had a sort of freedom born from centrifugal force.

 

 

 

 

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A Grandmother is Born

Bebe

Forehead to forehead
I breathe a metronome
Lay my hands across her back
In the small space between

A flowing of the feminine
A calling from Isis
A gathering of women
Both felt and unseen

Hour after hour
She rocks on her knees
As day becomes night
And night becomes day

I dance with my daughter
To the songs of the sacred
And the prayers of the Holy
In a circle of ancestors

Meskhenet awaits
A labour of creation
The birth of a Mother
And first breath of her son

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Loïc Paul Riverin – born December 4, 2015

**Photo credit (last two) – Michelle Lim**

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Hidden Treasures

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Where has the summer gone? I’m finding it difficult to stay present in the stillness of today when my tomorrows are lined up like soldiers marching into battle. I long to return to my ten-year old self when the summer days stretched endlessly in front of me. Time is elastic and perceptions shift.

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I have a house at the lake where my family gathers. This year my Colorado sister and her family camped their way here pulling a trailer, which they nestled neatly under the trees once they arrived. Once again I have my sisters beside me, if only for a long weekend.

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My younger sister, my older sister and me…and Lani the dog

On Saturday we three sisters drove along the narrow, winding country road into town for supplies for the weekend, stopping at every garage sale sign along the way. Who can resist a garage sale? You never know what you might need.

IMG_3382We stopped and poked about and did a lot of visiting. We found a few books at the first garage sale, bought an almost new rice cooker for $5 at the next one and found hidden treasure at the last stop.

When we five ‘kids’ first began gathering our families together each summer, we rented tiny rustic cabins on the Shuswap Lake close to the small town where we grew up. My mom would drive out to spend the day and my dad and step-mom stayed at a B&B close by. It was a great, big, messy, wonderful memory-making time.

I can still clearly see Dad sitting in a chair under the trees eating a mango and watching the grandkids play. I’m sitting beside him and as I reach for my own piece of mango he says, “There is no greater joy on earth than watching all you kids visit and laugh together.”

I smile back over at him, happy that he’s happy.

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Now I know what he meant. I watch my own adult four children as they talk and laugh together. My heart grows bigger than life itself as I watch their relationships grow into deep friendships. I have an experiential knowing of what my dad was teaching me fifteen years ago.

The last garage sale my sisters and I visit is at the top of the driveway. Long tables are set up end to end, their surfaces covered with a sundry and assorted bric a brac. Boxes filled with books and larger items cover the floor, leaving narrow aisles for walking and browsing. One sister kneels at the books and a second sister heads directly to the back. Im wandering through the middle, idly picking up one thing and then another when I spot the hidden treasure.

My heart does that expanding thing as I pick it up and a frisson of recognition flows through me, leaving me tingling. I’m holding a simple pottery spoon rest decorated with my dad’s signature glaze. I don’t need to turn it over to see his stamp to know that my dad’s hands made this.

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Of course we have to buy this! To find a piece of his pottery at a garage sale along a remote lakeshore road almost 900 km from where it was made is mystically magical. Serendipity.

The seller smiles and hands me back my money with the spoon rest, “It belongs to you.”

My dad’s spirit sits and rejoices beside me at the lake. It’s the next best thing to sharing a mango with him.

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The Summer I Turned Fifteen….part one

The summer I turned fifteen was the summer when Darla and I were best friends. She went to Shuswap Junior High and I went to J L Jackson, back when there were two Junior High schools in town and long before they tore down Jackson to make way for an empty lot. Gone, now, is the original first High School in town.

I remember the wide wooden stairs with the thick, curved balustrades that went from the first floor to the second floor, the basement lockers along the dark, dungeon-like hallway, the second story double-hung windows along the front of the school that opened wide to let the air flow in and let the students hang out. We were just beginning to use seat-belts in cars so no one much thought about how someone might jump out of a second story school window, even when that window was really three stories high.

The summer I turned fifteen I had my first real full-time job working as a car-hop at the A&W Drive-In just outside of town along the two lane Trans-Canada highway. I couldn’t work for Parks and Rec like all of my other friends because they’d just introduced a new rule that limited the hiring of siblings to two, and my older brother and sister were already lifeguards at Fletcher pool. I think someone got tired of the monopoly the Johnson, Davidson and the Taylor families had on the local lifeguarding and swimming teacher jobs and decided it was time to do something before we took over the world. Either that or they saw me coming. I took it personally.

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Meet Yogi Ninja Bear – NaBloPoMo Day 6

This is Yogi Ninja Bear….

A hard recovery....

A hard recovery….

Doing what all good Ninja’s do after a morning spent chasing birds and tennis balls and tearing the cotton stuffing out of…pretty much anything that has cotton stuffing for internal organs.

photo (17)This is Bailey, you’ve met her before, in a glamour shot taken just after the ride home from the bird chasing adventure.  Bailey is Yogi’s aunt, so to speak.  A role she sometimes just barely tolerates.  It’s hard to maintain patience and compassion when you’re niece keeps eating your favourite toys.

photo (16)This is where Yogi likes to spend her downtime – in front of the window painting that features the nibbling squirrels.

Hiking the East Coast Trail

Hiking the East Coast Trail

This is what Yogi likes best – being outside doing anything…

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Most especially with her favourite people on earth….John and Kate.

 

 

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Rambling Thoughts and Random Photos

My son bungee dropping. Random Photo to pull you into the text although it has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is written... :)

My son bungee dropping. Random Photo to pull you into the text although it has absolutely NOTHING to do with what is written… 🙂

So here’s the thing.  I’ve been neglecting my blog…you might have noticed.  The more I didn’t write the bigger the not writing grew until it became a behemoth sitting on my shoulders, pinching my neck and paralyzing my fingers.  Even now I can feel the numbness creeping in, backspacing, deleting and editing before the words rest on the page.

The perfect photo must be found to match the carefully constructed sentences.  The writing was pushed aside while I spent hours scrolling through hundreds of photographs.  Hundreds of unsorted, unorganized photographs.  I longed for the days before digital cameras.

Slowly I realized that writing had become a chore, heavy lifting required.  I left my blog posts half-written, lying around like lost socks gathering dust on the floor between the washer and dryer.  I cleaned around them, sorted and resorted papers and magazines into first one pile, and then another.  Other people’s words cluttering my mind and clogging my inspiration.  I dance around the words but can’t feel their music.

So I have a plan.  A drain-cleaner of sorts.  I need to begin writing again, to let the song of the story sing through my fingers.  Make mistakes.  Use bad grammar, ugly metaphors and let my ugly duckling turn into a turkey.  I Desire to write more and to rediscover my joy in writing.

My Intention is to write everyday and use this daily deadline to help strengthen my Will.  Desire, Intention and Will all lead towards Destiny.

Let this be your head’s up that the Optimystical onslaught is about to begin!  And know that my feelings won’t be hurt if you hit the delete button without reading because I’m doing this for me (aren’t we always, though?) to clear my clogged arteries, although your support and encouragement will be received with loving, open arms 🙂

My open-heart surgery will be called Rambling Thoughts and Random Photos and with luck and persistence, there will be plenty of blood spilling onto the page…

Btw – My official start date is November 1st.  Not because I’m lazy (although I am) or because I’m a wee bit afraid (although I might be) but because I’m heading out of town on Sunday for two weeks at a healing/meditation retreat.  Ommmmmm….

Random Photo #1 - My mom with Suki (aka Little Cat) and Bailey

Random Photo #1 – My mom with Suki (aka Little Cat) and Bailey

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October 9, 2013 · 3:06 pm