Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Every reason in the world to be happy...let's do it!

My friend Fred Khonje shared this on Twitter yesterday. Do you like it as much as I do?

I've been thinking a lot about happiness lately...mostly about why, when I have every reason in the world to be happy, and yet at times, I make the choice for misery instead.

Why is that? These 6 tools are what I am going to use to boost my happiness quotient in 2012. They're practical, commonly known, and the picture makes me feel whimsical! 

As 2011 closes and 2012 dawns:
gelukkige nuwe jaar سنة جديدة سعيدة Godt Nytår Gelukkig Nieuwjaar happy new year masaya bagong taon heureuse nouvelle année glückliches neues Jahr Buon anno 幸せ新しい feliz año nuevo chúc mừng năm mới

Sunday, November 6, 2011

...a brief brush with culture and a need for more.

I've sent the email and created a Facebook note. I've told the people in my life what I'm doing, and somehow, hitting the "send" button caused my trip to Haiti in February to assume a completely new reality.

This trip is, for me, the culmination of years of longing to serve. I promise to tell you all about it in another note (maybe even today!). This one, however is reserved for some reflection: in particular, reflection on why this trip means so much to me.

I've spent time overseas, and have seen a few places in the world. Not unlike many others who have traveled extensively, the places that changed me most were the places most unlike my Canadian home.

I'd like to tell you about three of them:

An orphanage: rural South Africa. Spring 1998.
I don't remember much, other than the girl. She was about two years old, but was the size of a seven month old infant. Standing in her crib, hands gripping the rail, with a tear flowing down her face, she had me. I was captivated.

I crossed the room towards her. She was perfect, tiny, beautiful, and abandoned. My heart was bursting with a desire to hold her, so I asked one of her caregivers if I could pick her up. Of course, they said yes. Babies can never be held enough.

I put my hands under her tiny armpits, and lifted her from her isolated crib prison. As soon as I did, she reached to hug me around my neck with all of the strength that her little body could muster. As soon as her hands could reach me, she clung to me, and I clung to her.

Holding her was a paradigm shift. How could she be abandoned? Was it AIDS? Did her parents hope that leaving her would mean she might have a better life? Did they really just not want this gorgeous little creature? 

There were no answers forthcoming to me. All that I knew in that moment was I had connected with a person who needed to be loved. She had urinated and her sleeper was drenched. I noticed but decided that holding her was worth it.

She smiled. It was almost as though the touch of another person gave her joy. The feeling of gratitude I felt was sublime: how is it that I could have been in this moment, able to give joy to someone who needed it so much? Clearly, my time at that orphanage, with that little girl, was divinely planned. I have never forgotten or regretted smelling like baby-pee and I still treasure the way that she hugged me.

That orphanage schooled me about a few key life-lessons: that touch is vitally important to develop as a person, that very little effort is required to give someone joy, and that a part of my own heart could be left with a person who I had absolutely nothing in common with. Other than being part of the human race.

I've never seen her again, but I know that I will meet her one day. I hope it's in heaven, where her earthly body doesn't suffer malnutrition and her earthly heart doesn't break with hurts that no child should know.

I wonder if she looks like the little girl in the picture above? I hope that she has a smile today too.

A marketplace: Luxor, Egypt. December 1999.

Marketplaces are also known as bazaars in Egypt. There are rules here: they dictate how to barter, how to finalize a deal, and how to walk away. I knew very little of this when I arrived, and walked away with something far more important than rules.

I was walking through the streets of Luxor with Lisa, a new friend from Australia. Lisa was gorgeous - tall, blonde, and strikingly beautiful, with features that seemed to be admired by all male (and many female) Egyptians. She had encountered her fair share of gropes, seductions, and attempts at converting her to the Muslim faith for the purposes of marriage.

We were there during Ramadan, a holy month of fasting for Muslims, and during the day in Egypt, there was no food to be found. The call to prayer rang out at intervals - I think we heard it twice as we strolled the miles and miles that connected vendors set up to sell you the newest, greatest, and most touristy of wares.
Lisa wanted a t-shirt. I wanted a McChicken. 

I wasn't going to get my wish, so I went along with her into the stall of a man selling t-shirts.

We had learned a rule of barter from our tour guide: if you bargain, the first price you offer is the lowest possible price you can possibly pay. There is no going back if they agree to your original price. Note to selves, Commonwealth girls: lowball.

What he failed to tell us is that bartering in Luxor rarely produces quick results, but what it hopefully will produce is a relationship.

We sat for what felt like an age. We were offered tea and engaged in conversation in broken English and phrase-book Arabic. Lisa and I struggled, but were committed to getting her the t-shirt. After all, what better gift to share with her loved ones back home than a t-shirt wrought by a tough battle?

The battle wore on, and suddenly we realized that what the shop owner was really doing was not fighting us or trying to disrespect our desire for a quick purchase. What he was doing was engaging in a centuries-old custom of establishing a relationship through of bartering. It's a win-win: You make an offer to him, he makes an offer to you. Yours is low; his is high. You don't agree, so he offers you some tea. If you understand the process, you accept the tea, sit with him talking for a few minutes before the next round of offers are put out there. If you don't understand the process, you might get frustrated, fear his motivation, or leave abruptly. All of which do not serve the real purpose of the process: building relationships. If you are willing, continuing the bartering process just might.

We sat. We listened, we asked questions, and we finally agreed on a price. An hour later, Lisa and I walked out of the shop, a little wiser, a little poorer than intended, in possession of the coveted t-shirt, and something more: an tiny understanding of how Egyptian culture works. A treasure.

A family home: Nanacatlan, Mexico. March 2002.

Who wouldn't love a bus-load of people coming into a tiny, isolated Mexican village with a cargo of gifts for their children?

As our group from Samaritan's Purse descended the perilous mountain road and got our first glimpse of Nanacatlan, we didn't wonder if these people would be thrilled to have us here. We couldn't possibly: there were hundreds of children sitting in rows in the large town centre field, waiting excitedly for us to arrive. They were barely controllable, with their teachers issuing mild reprimands for stepping out of line or causing a disruption. Parents milled around and visited nearby. Everyone knew that today, something great was in store for them.

We were late. It had been a rough and terrifying drive in, and our vehicles were somewhat less than reliable.

The shoe boxes were distributed. Children played with each other and with our team. They shared the contents of their boxes, and they smiled knowingly that they had received something more than just a gift: it was hope.

Our "job" was done, and I started to walk. The village was tiny, and the homes were basic. There was no money here, and the families eked out an agrarian living, raising livestock, chickens, and growing corn. I sought solitude, a moment to pray, and thank God for the way that He had used us on the trip. I begged for an opportunity to be a blessing, and that He would bring blessing to this community.

As those words made their way from my heart to Him, I looked and there was a woman peering out of her doorway. She was shy, so I smiled. She came out a little more, and waved me into her home. I was hesitant; here I was, walking around a village by myself, and I hadn't told any of my group where I was going. I had left on a whim. Was I safe? Could I trust her?

I decided that I was safe and that I could trust her. I walked forward into a house with a dirt floor and very makeshift furniture. Everything was in that one room, even the kitchen, tucked into the back corner. She spoke no words of English (in fact, most of that village had absolutely no exposure to English), and I spoke only patchy Spanish.

She pointed. I saw the shoe box on the table. The seal had been broken, but all of the contents were still inside, packed carefully back into the box. 

I imagined her story: she was the grandmother of a child who had received a box. Upon getting the gift, the child played with its contents and then brought home her treasure to her grandmother to show. Then she went back out to skip rope or play tag, just like children do.

As I sat there making up my own story, a little girl walked into the room. She was about 8, and she didn't speak any English either. She just kept saying "gracias," a word that I was well familiar with. I hugged her and kept saying "de nada" to try to communicate how I felt that I had brought her very little, but that experiencing her village gave me so much more.

As I was about to leave, the older woman came to me with tears glistening in her eyes.
"Gracias, muchas gracias," she offered, before crumbling into tears.

I had no more words. I could hardly contain myself, so I smiled, with tears glistening in my own eyes. A joy that I couldn't explain poured into my soul, and I bent low to walk through the doorway.

I walked away from that house, looking back to see a sobbing grandmother and a smiling child, and I waved, knowing that my life was changed because of those brief moments that we shared.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Not just an amazing vacation - a vacation full of amazing!

Everything about this vacation has been I wanted to list a few really cool things. I'm pretty thankful!
  • Energy to do the drive in one day. We had planned to stop in Kamloops, but were full of energy, so we continued to Vancouver on our first day! This gave us an entire day in the city to have sushi for lunch, visit Granville, a hopeful trip to see raccoons at Prospect Point, and a superb dinner with friends. Could not have been a better day to start our holiday.
  • A surprisingly lovely hotel. The Georgian Court on Beatty in Vancouver. Highly recommended. They have a fantastic hot tub and spa area.
  • Vancouver sunshine. Even in late October, we got to see the sun. I love that city!
  • First on-first off the ferry. A minor pleasure, but made for a great way to start in Victoria!
  • Cafe Mexico. As much fun with my family as it was with my friends, and the food and service could not have been more perfect.
  • Lunch with harbour seals. Fish and chips at Barb's in Victoria were made better by the fact that the seals wanted some too.
  • 6 hours of dancing on heels. My feet were so sore, I could hardly walk back to the hotel! Need to wear the heels more, and the laughs made the pain totally worth it!
  • Seeing a bald eagle sitting at the top of a dead tree beside a bridge. Randomly cool. And I almost missed it. The binoculars brought him right into my vision, and I've never seen a more majestic bird.
  • Point Defiance Zoo (Seattle). There was almost no other human life. We saw baby cloud leopards (adorable!), a walrus (he was HUGE!), and a Sumatran tiger that was awake, out, and wandering. I have never seen a tiger that active in a zoo before.
  • Mount St. Helens. Need I say more? One of the most surreal experiences, and again, there was no one there. We took the detour, and stood where a geologist lost his life to the volcano in 1980. The mountain is amazing, still steaming, and just a little terrifying.
  • Carl's Jr. I have never eaten here, and it's been a quest for us for a couple of years. It wasn't worth the wait, but is worth a mention because we triumphed!
  • Getting a room for a second night in Hood River. Expedia claimed there was only room in the inn for us for one night. The front desk said otherwise. I love this town. So much. Spending a second night here is awesome! Especially at our favourite hotel - the Hood River Inn. It's a Best Western, but the best Best Western we've ever been to. We will always return here!
  • Beer cheese soup. A brewery is bound to make great beer cheese soup, but this stuff was out of this world. Thanks, Full Sail Brewery!
  • Alpaca wool. It's so soft! I want to learn how to knit so that I can make something with alpaca wool. Can anyone teach me?
  • Glass apples and pumpkins. Could this be the start of a new love-affair? Glass-blowing was fun, and I am rapturous about the process. I've wanted to do this for years, and Blaine made it happen for me. I am anxious to spend more time in a glass studio.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On graduating from university

Two years of work are complete. I walked across the stage last Friday, and have spent the last 5 days thinking about what this means to me.

Please allow me break it down:

1. I finally completed something all the way through! My mom and dad will appreciate this one the most, because my entire growing up years were trying new things, but never mastering anything. I'm proud because this was something that I set out to do, and I did it.

2. Graduating university was an entirely dependent experience. Each of my classmates brought something to my experience that would have been impossible without the structure and plans of the Royal Roads program. I depended on my family and friends to be understanding and supportive (which they totally came through on!) while I neglected life to study.

3. I didn't have to neglect that much of my life! The program was totally geared towards people like me (need to keep working!), and the workload was rarely unmanageable. That said, if I was like many of my other classmates who tried to juggle class, children, work, exercise, and health, I may tell another story. My prayers are continually with Maria - of whom I am exceedingly proud - she graduated while battling leukemia. If I ever think my journey was difficult, I only need to think of her, and I reconsider.

4. If success can be measured by the relationships that one builds, I am blessed out of my socks with success. Not only did I get to know people in this program, I have added to my repertoire of "best friends," and know that my network has grown, not only with professional contacts, but with people who care about me and about whom I care deeply.

5. Walking the stage was meaningful, but it was nothing in comparison to another weekend with my cohort-mates. What I will always remember is their faces, the laughing, and the hugs. Walking across a stage to receive a piece of paper could never trump the value that I place on those people.

6. Sarah was right: even though it's expensive, just purchase the frame at the time that you graduate. I know that when I get home, the last thing I'd be thinking about will be trying to figure out how to frame that document. I'm grateful because my in-laws bought it as a graduation gift for me, so my degree will look very professional, and will make me look very important (just kidding!).

Although I didn't graduate summa cum laude, I did walk away from my university experience with knowledge about communications, a renewed desire to keep learning, a collection of friends with varied backgrounds and geography, and an appreciation for how my support system played a huge role in this degree. I wish I could have put everyone's name on the document. You all deserve it as much as I do.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Following the Shepherd and Paying the Piper

His body is now back to dust, in a pasture where the sheep graze. Look closely: that's them in the distance - white dots trimming the green grass.

The sky is cloudy, and the wind is blowing. We stand with our faces to that wind, taking handfuls of his ashes and watching what is left of his body fly on the wind. I know that his soul is smiling - he's at home.

His body is home in Scotland, and his soul is home in heaven. I hear his voice claiming this experience:

"God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to Your word, you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction."

"Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I'm not afraid when you walk at my side. 
Your trusty shepherd's crook makes me feel secure."

"You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. 
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing."

"Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I'm back home in the house of God for the rest of my life."

Psalm 23, Message

Oh, the way that peace enters my soul as I stand there. I sob, wishing that he could be there too, but smile, knowing that he truly understands a God that chased after him every day of his life.

I'm the DJ. My iPhone rings with a rich squeal of bagpipes playing, "Going Home." My eyes fill with tears.

My uncle Rick, with a strong, clear voice, offers these words to the wind:

Paying the Piper (Linda Hatfield)

Ages ago,
in the heathered highlands
of a far off land,
a piper played –
the wailing notes of his
somber song
echoing off the barren hillsides
the minds and hearts
of his countrymen.

So deeply the sad notes
imprinted on their souls
that none could forget
their tune,
and those that tried
were sure to feel their
painful tug
if ‘ere they wandered far.

But life was harsh,
and as the years passed
those who carried the song
in their hearts
suffered battles and
as they built a nation
hewn of courage and sacrifice.

Centuries later,
life was gritty and raw, and
a restless young lad
of seventeen
ventured out
far across the ocean
to seek his fortune
in a city of the same name as a
windblown island meadow
in his homeland.

There, he met a bonnie lass,
in whose heart a different song
was buried deep,
and together they built their dream –
with three strong children
and a career whose gifts
were a modern home and
a comfortable life,
far from the soot and scarcity
that had once
burned his body and
stung his pride.

But the song –
it hadn’t gone;
it hunted and haunted,
and softened by the years away
he followed it back,
challenging the ghosts
of his past
and embracing the long lost
stories of land of his birth.

And so it grew
his interest and admiration
for the land of his forefathers,
and he came into the twilight of his life
with a strong sense of self
and a clear understanding
of his place and purpose.

And when the moment of truth arrived,
so suddenly, yet expected,
he calmly agreed to
pay the piper,
singing his song
loudly and proudly
as he was carried gently away,
returning the song
to it’s home.

And the song, it plays still;
it’s calling him back,

and in Drimmie its notes
will settle and rest
at last, on the soft heathered hills.
I have the song in my heart too, Grampa. All of us do. We found it here in Drimmie where you left it, and it resonates in our souls as we think of you.

Coming Home

I sit in the garden of a home that my Grampa considered to be his second for the last almost 20 years. Blairgowrie. His favourite place in the world. 

I feel the same. It's my second home, and one of my favourite places in the world.

Earlier, I wandered through the woods, noting that it's impossible to ignore the extravagant beauty that has been left for me to discover. I am grateful. Home should be beautiful. I search for familiarity and find it.

I wander and wonder. How is it possible that my soul can also feel so at home in this place? I am peaceful. I rest, taking in the wonder that is Scotland. With a wet boot and a place to sit in the middle of a river, I find something to treasure here: my family.

There is a slight sense of longing: I miss Blaine, and I wish that he was here in this place with me. I also miss Grampa, for the last time I saw these sights, he was beside me.

But I have something new too...kinship with people who have known me my entire life, and whom I have known their entire lives. Seven people between whom are undeniable bonds, even more strong than just simple family ties. We became a family here.

And some new family members: Charles and Sue Collings. I met them in 2000, and felt like I was reuniting with family as I greeted them again. They loved Grampa, and he loved them. They offer that same love to all of us, and we take it, with pleasure! What a blessing to live in their home and be in community with them for a couple of days.

It might seem weird that the places in Scotland that I found treasures were not the places that I was checking off on my checklist. They were the places where relationships took top priority, where meeting people meant more than meeting history.

I have so much more to say.

To be continued...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Orchids...what next?


I have this gorgeous phalaenopsis orchid that is about to finish blooming. I know that it will bloom again, but I don't know what to do once the flowers all fall off.

To those of you out there with botanistic expertise: What do I do with it now?

Counting sleep

My life comprises big events that I can't wait for. Just ask my mom and dad...they wanted to buy me a licence plate that said CANTW8! Someone in Nevada clearly has the same problem as I do!

There's always something exciting around the bend. Two for me to lose sleep over today:
5: sleeps until I leave for Scotland
36: sleeps until I'm a university graduate

I'll find something new after that...I always do!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 a bike.

I'm finished school - what is my problem? Am I not supposed to be excited, have tons of free time, and be ready to embrace my new career?

If only.

What I feel is exhausted, overworked, and lacking in any kind of vision for what my new career is. I see so many people doing things that I still feel inadequately prepared for in the communications world, and then I wonder...

What will it take to get my passion back?

A friend of mine shared a quote on Facebook this morning: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ~Albert Einstein

I've been at a standstill. My life has revolved around my job this summer, and when I haven't been there, I've been wishing to be asleep. Blaine told me the other day that it's time to start doing some exercise each day, and he's right. My life is out of balance because I'm at a standstill.

There are many things I wish for this fall: I'd like to get more organized at home, take on more of the household tasks that my husband always seems to get done, read more for pleasure, learn Spanish, walk and swim, and go back to church regularly.

Those are the verbs of my life - the actions that will help me to balance and enjoy my life much more.

And riding the Big Bike tomorrow will be a good reminder to me about how important that balance really is.

How do you balance your life?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Silversmith

There was a group of women in a Bible Study on the book of Malachi. As they were studying chapter 3 they came across verse three, which says: "He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." This verse puzzled the women and they wondered what this statement meant about the character and nature of God.

One of the women offered to find out the process of refining silver and get back to the group at the next study. That week, this woman called up a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work.

She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities.

The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot then she thought again about the verse "He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver". She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined.

The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.

The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silversmith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh, that's easy. When I see my image in it."

If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until He sees His image in you.

Author Unknown 
Photo credit:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I wish I could heal the hurts...

But, I know Who can! These words are not mine, but I love them. They are some of my favourites ever put together.

For those who hurt today:
Oh, why you look so sad? 
Tears are in your eyes
Come on and come to me now
Don't be ashamed to cry
Let me see you through
'Cause I've seen the dark side, too

When the night falls on you 
You don't know what to do
Nothing you confess 
Could make me love you less

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you 
Won't let nobody hurt you 
I'll stand by you

So, if you're mad get mad
Don't hold it all inside
Come on and talk to me now
Hey, what you got to hide?
I get angry too
Well, I'm a lot like you

When you're standing at the crossroads
Don't know what path to choose
Let me come along
'Cause even if you're wrong
I'll stand by you

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you 
Won't let nobody hurt you 
I'll stand by you

Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you

And when, when the night falls on you, baby
You're feeling all alone
You won't be on your own

I'll stand by you
I'll stand by you 
Won't let nobody hurt you 
I'll stand by you

Take me in, into your darkest hour
And I'll never desert you
I'll stand by you 

c. Tom Kelly, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Steinberg (performed by the Pretenders)

Photo credit:

Saturday, May 7, 2011's a scary thing to manage.

New revelation: I always choose photographs of myself that I think make me look hot, smart, fun, adventurous, etc...

In case you don't believe me, check out the plethora of profile pictures on my Facebook. My most recent is posing with a statue of Albert Einstein, for crying out loud!

The funny part is, I don't think I'm very photogenic. I rarely like a picture of myself. So, I posted one on this blog to show you that I'm not totally obsessed with making myself look good.

Here's the explanation of this photograph:

My husband and I were on a whale-watching trip in Puerto Vallarta when he took this picture. I dislike the fact that my mouth is gaping like I'm trying to catch a whale with it.

But, even posting it makes me feel a little more human and a little less image-conscious. So there it is for you. I hope you still love me, gaping and all!

Here's to Mom

What do I say to a woman who:
  • wanted me before I was born
  • gave me life
  • changed my dirty diapers and still thought I was cute
  • nicknamed me "Mousie," which sticks to this day
  • kept me safe me through childhood (except see below)
  • accidentally burned me on occasion while curling my hair
  • introduced me to faith
  • let me drink pop on holidays
  • made me eat when I was a teenager (this is a really big deal to me...I avoided an eating disorder because she noticed) 
  • taught me how to make a mean mac and cheese
  • helped me survive heartbreak more than once
  • gave me the one required piece of information so that I would know that I was meant to marry Blaine ("He's just like your dad was when he was that age")
  • lets me tell her anything, even when it's crazy
  • tells me the truth, even when it's hard to hear
  • showed me that I want smile lines on my face because hers is so beautiful to me
  • is my best friend
My favourite song, What I Really Meant to Say by Steven Curtis Chapman, conveys it...this is just a little of it:
Even though these words come from deep inside me
There’s so much more I don’t have the words to say

What I really want to say
Is what the sun would say to the sky
For giving it a place to come alive
But my words get in the way
Of what I really want to say

Te quiero mamá. Usted está en mi corazón comienza.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Election Rant 2011

I have not enjoyed the idea of going back to the polls. I am committed to voting, because it's part of my duty as a citizen. But I really don't want to.

Here is what I would like to say to our political party leaders, if I could:

Stephen Harper: It's two days from the election and attacks on the other leaders is unnecessary. You're leading in the polls and you have some room to promote the Conservative party, rather than bashing the other parties. Your commercials start out so positive, and I would really appreciate if they stayed that way. I like you, but am still not sure that you should be our Prime Minister - especially if you have such a hard time convincing a majority of Canadians that you should.

Michael Ignatieff: It's time to see this election for what it is. You played the game and lost. I don't care about the whole American thing, but I do care about what you will do, and all I am hearing is what everyone else isn't doing. It's time to develop a platform. Make it good and act with integrity, and Canadians will believe you. Choose to act opposite, and we'll see right through you.

Jack Layton: I'm impressed with your ability to sway the Quebec vote, and that almost makes me want to vote for you. I also appreciate your charisma and passion for this country and think that you would make a really good Prime Minister. If it wasn't that you were prepared to form a coalition with a party that wants to separate a part of our beautiful country, I would probably be on your side. I'll think about it for a couple of days and see if I can get over that.

Elizabeth May: 2 words: SOCIAL MEDIA. I really wanted to vote for you in this election, but with 4% popular support for your party, it feels like I'm throwing away my vote. I haven't heard much from you, and I wish that I had. I would highly recommend hiring a communications expert (pick me!) who can help you get the young Canadian population engaged using social media. Your platform is awesome, and I totally support it. We need people to hear about it. Instead of railing about being excluded from a debate, get back at them by trying a new tactic. It worked for Naheed Nenshi in Calgary!

Gilles Duceppe: I'm sure that you are a really nice person. Unfortunately, I can't see you as any kind of option for Prime Minister because your party doesn't have a candidate running in most ridings. For that reason, I'm out. Just because Quebec has as many seats as they have doesn't mean that your party can or will adequately represent the needs of all Canadians.

To all of you: Whatever you do, and whomever wins, Canada is like a family, and managing it is just like managing a household: You have money coming in, and you need to decide about how you want to spend it. You can spend more than you have, but it's not recommended because it will end up costing more in the long run, and it would be tragic to pass debt onto future generations, rather than wealth.

I think I know who to choose in the next two days. But even if I don't, I'll still be voting.

Whether I like the fact that I have to vote again or not, the voting process gives me a voice that I would otherwise not have. And that's why Canadians have gone to war and brought freedom to this that I can have a voice. I'm pretty proud of that. And I really love Canada.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A glimpse of eternity...

Grampa died last week. I know, I'm late in writing this but the words just have not been flowing.

This is him as a youngster in primary school:

Cute. It's hard to imagine him being the child who would grow up to be my Grampa.

Grampa. It's weird, but he was never "Grandpa" in my head. He was always "Grampa." Not sure why. Not sure if it matters. But when I think of him in my mind, G-R-A-M-P-A is how it's spelled.

I am sad, because I won't see him again on this earth, but I also feel a bit like a kid caught sneaking candy because I know something. I'm going to see him again in heaven. He's probably laughing if he can see this, because I'm sure I had my hand in the candy jar at his house many a time as a little girl, and it was probably him that caught me. I was scared of him when I was little. Except when I heard the "Candy Man" song, and lined up in front of his chair with the other grandchildren and dogs to get our Smarties. We sat in a semi-circle. Grampa sang. I can't remember if he actually ever sang words, or if it was just the da-da-da-da-daaaaa. I should find that song on iTunes - it might actually have words!

Last Monday night, with tears in my eyes, I laid my head on his pillow beside his, and held his hand. I whispered, "Please find me when I come to heaven, okay, Grampa?" thinking that it might be the last time I saw him again alive.

Blaine and I went home, and I was prepared to make a middle-of-the-night trip to the Foothills Hospital at the news that his breathing had slowed and his time was short.

The phone call didn't come. So, we went back to the hospital on Tuesday morning, and sat with him. I kept counting the seconds between his breaths, scared that the time was becoming too great, and the last one would come, but all the while knowing that his body was too tired to continue trying much longer. When the last one came, I had reached 12 seconds, and heard my mom say, "He's gone." I felt like I could almost physically sense his soul leaving in that moment.

It was 08:45 on Tuesday, April 5, 2011, just 20 days short of his 81st birthday. And did he ever make good use of those 29,545 days. For one thing, he's a reason that I am here today.

He came to Canada as a spry, adventuresome 17 year old Scot. He was ready to make his mark on the world, and he ended up doing that with a successful career as a landman in the oil and gas industry. He also made his mark by marrying my wonderful Gramma, and having three fantastic children - my mom and two uncles.

Life with Grampa wasn't always rosy, but it was almost always funny. Because he was so smart, he always kept us laughing with his quick wit, and great sense of humour.

He was generous too. His favourite kind of generosity was sharing his life with us, and he was liberal in doing so. One of my best memories is a trip I made with him to Scotland in the spring of 2000 (it's hard to believe that it was almost 11 years ago!). He invited me, and as a typical mid-twenties, I thought I could come up with my own fun more than wandering around Edinburgh with my old granddad! Little did I know that he had a lot of fun up his sleeve. We went to the Edinburgh Castle, he took me to a shop where we dressed up in Scottish clothing and got our pictures taken, and he introduced me to my Scottish passion. He showed me his history (the tenement that he grew up in, his Grannie's house, his school, the park, and his vacation sanctuary).

Plus he gave me money to continue the rest of my trip!

This week he's gone from earth, but not from our hearts.

He met Jesus last Sunday night. And not at some kind of revival or crusade. He met Him in the quiet of his hospital room, after my mom asked him if she could pray for him. It was a request that he had denied for so many years, and that night he said, "Yes."

So she prayed. And he found peace. That's why I have peace, too.

Grampa, we are going to have such a good time doing the Whitson walk, and laying you to rest in your favourite part of the world - Blairgowrie, Scotland - in September. I know you must be smiling about it as we make our plans. In fact, you probably have the Internet in Heaven, and are already planning our trips for us. I'll be looking forward to that 20 pound note you'll leave under my pillow ;).

I'll always love you. Forever.

Friday, January 7, 2011

one of my favourite songs of all time...

i am unwritten can't read my mind i'm undefined
i'm just beginning the pen's in my hand ending unplanned

staring at the blank page before you open up the dirty window
let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find
reaching for something in the distance so close you can almost taste it
release your inhibitions feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
no one else no one else can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken live your life with arms wide open
today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten

i break tradition sometimes my tries are outside the lines
we've been conditioned to not make mistakes but i can't live that way

staring at the blank page before you open up the dirty window
let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find
reaching for something in the distance so close you can almost taste it
release your inhibitions feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
no one else no one else can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken live your life with arms wide open
today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten

feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
no one else no one else can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken live your life with arms wide open
today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten

staring at the blank page before you open up the dirty window
let the sun illuminate the words that you cannot find
reaching for something in the distance so close you can almost taste it
release your inhibitions

feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
no one else no one else can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken live your life with arms wide open
today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten

feel the rain on your skin

no one else can feel it for you only you can let it in
no one else no one else can speak the words on your lips
drench yourself in words unspoken live your life with arms wide open
today is where your book begins the rest is still unwritten

the rest is still unwritten
the rest is still unwritten
"unwritten" lyrics by natasha bedingfield
photo credit

On P90X

A couple of years ago, Blaine and I were watching infomercials in our hotel room in Cannon Beach, Oregon.  That was my first introduction to Tony Horton, and a workout program that he created called P90X.

It seemed like a good idea, so when we returned home, we ordered it, and proceeded to do absolutely nothing with it for 2 years.

I've never been clear on what the P is for. I know that the 90 is for 90 days, and I think that the X is because it's extreme.

(I could probably google it and find out, but I feel like putting some guesses out there.)

Here are my guesses:

1.  P is for "pain." P90X is a really hard workout, and it really hurts the next day (or two!).
2.  P is for "push yourself." You certainly do that, with a trainer like Tony Horton coaching you on DVD. Or then again, maybe you don't have to. My dad does the program, but he calls it P180 or P270X depending on his feelings that day.  That said, he has a six-pack and plays hockey three times a week. Oh, and did I mention that he's almost 60? He can stand to push himself less than the average human being.
3.  P is for "proving yourself." Maybe it's less about pushing yourself, and more about proving how much you can do when you set your mind to it.
4.  P is the initial of Tony Horton's first girlfriend, Penelope. Okay, that one's not likely, but it was my guess. For the record, I have no idea if Tony Horton ever dated a woman named Penelope.

After two years, we finally decided to make use of the DVDs that were taking up room on our shelf, and I have learned some tidbits about myself since we started in November. First, I love having a workout partner in my husband. He never gives up, and when I work out with him, I challenge myself more than when I'm alone. No doggin' it for this girl when her man is nearby. Second, when I like what I'm doing, I overcome. Obstacles, boredom, frustration, muscle soreness, and whiny-ness. Overcoming is important. Third and finally, I don't have to be a slave to all of my cravings for delights of the patisserie. It is possible for me to resist baked goods (although Christmas didn't prove that), and I triumph when I do. The scale and measuring tape prove it.

To P90X.

24 weeks...

Imagine this: a little girl with hands and feet and lips that have only developed for 24 weeks, instead of the standard 37-40. She's perfect and beautiful...and alive!

Years ago, a baby born that prematurely would not be able to survive. But today, because of the study of neonatology, and the extremely skilled care-givers that provide the medical interventions that these little ones need, they have a chance.

Today, I want to thank those medical professionals who care for our youngest citizens.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Carpooling...a 10 minute joy on each end of my day

Blaine and I carpool sometimes.

I don't stop enough to think about how fortunate I am, but carpooling with my husband caused me to make a list yesterday:

1.  I live and work within 5 kilometres. I like being close! And I like avoiding the crazy traffic that defines Calgary at rush-hour!
2.  My chauffeur...I mean, a little further in the same direction as I do. How perfect for carpooling!
3.  My work schedule is flexible. Although it varies, I have lots of options.
4.  We have two reliable vehicles. It's silly that one sits in the garage on winter days that we ride in together, but it sure is nice to save a little money on gas!
5.  I like talking to that husband of mine. He tells me funny stories, and he's always happy. How did I wind up with him?
6.  Blaine helps me to keep on track when I'm exercising. That has nothing to do with carpooling. I'm grateful anyway, otherwise, I wouldn't be almost halfway done P90X!
7.  Sprocket is really excited when we both get home at the same time. Now, is that because he likes us so much, or just really needs to go out and do his business?
8.  Lastly, carpooling gives me 10 minutes of joy at each end of my day. It's like I start and finish my day with something good!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Donated inspiration

I was afraid; afraid to put my thoughts in words, afraid to start over after failing to keep my commitment to write on this blog; afraid that nothing I wanted to write about would be interesting, creative, or unique.

I've been fighting myself. Each passing day, a voice told me to write. I wrestled those thoughts with reasons (excuses) like: "I'm a busy person right now," "I have nothing important to say," and "I've just spend weeks working on a research course, and I have absolutely no inspiration for creative writing left."

Today, my will to fight those thoughts is gone, and I am armed with a new resolve. Call it a New Year's resolution. Or maybe not. It's a fight with my fear.

Three inspirations were gifted to me in my fear and blank mind. You'd think I was given a trip to Hawaii for how excited I am about this.

Deanna's Donation

"Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart." ~ William Wordsworth

I wish my last name was Wordsworth. Now, don't get me wrong. I love being a Walker, and I wouldn't actually change it. But, there's something about a master wordsmith with the last name of Wordsworth. It's so brilliantly appropriate.
I feel like a master wordsmith in my heart, after reading that quote. My heart breathing, not only onto my paper, but into my life, too. My heart is so full, that breathing it into words should be simple. 

I'll start filling today. Thanks, Deanna! 

Heather's Donation

close your eyes...imagine your favourite werther-loving instructor...and think "free writing". go! :)

I've written about my favourite instructor before. Carla has completely changed the way that I think about writing. She's changed the way I think about my life. Instead of being someone who walks through life, I can be a person who observes through life. She's a story-teller, and a master. She loves Werther's candies, and she liberally bestows them on students who she delights to reward! 

My eyes are closed and I can taste the Werther's right now. Thank you, Heather. And thank you, Carla.

Beth's Donation

The Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way you went until you came to this place (Deuteronomy 1:31).

Opening my Google Reader this morning to catch up on my blogs, Beth Moore donated this to me. This is true. I have been carried right to this place and moment in time. I have been carried by hands that are compassionate, nurturing, and kind.

We have been created for such a time as this, and 2011 is guaranteed to be a year of miracles.

Cheers to conquering fears. That's a miracle in itself!