Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Because we could all use a little calm right now

There was more bad news on the covid front in our part of the world today so it seems like a good time to share some beach photos.  There's something so soothing about ocean beaches. The combination of salt air, crashing waves, and wind on our skin connects us with whatever it was that created so much beauty. Keep believing and stay safe, everyone.







Saturday, January 23, 2021

Happy New Year 2021

As I look back at 2020 and, in particular, my post from a year ago, I'm reminded of just how far our world has shifted. And, though the pandemic still rages, and far too many are dying prematurely, I somehow feel an odd sense of optimism. Perhaps, because folks in our small corner of the world have done a relatively good job of pulling together to respond to covid-19 - which makes me more optimistic we can do the same to address the environmental and other crises we face. Or perhaps because so many have demonstrated strength, courage and compassion in the face of challenges that were unimaginable a year ago. I'm not sure, but in any case I cling to that small flicker of positivity to keep fear and anxiety at bay on the darkest days.

My word for 2020 was "lift" and my intention for the year was to work on lifting my own spirts and those of others so we'd all feel more optimistic about the future and our prospects for fixing our ailing planet. Looking back, I can't say I often succeeded in lifting anyone's spirits, but at least I did what I could to "flatten the curve" and support family and friends grappling with the impacts of the pandemic. 

As we head into 2021, I'm keeping my intentions modest, in line with my word for the year, which is "healing". What I primarily have in mind is healing myself physically - given my body's been more cranky than usual lately - but also my heart and my head. There are a few relationships I'd like to heal too, and of course there  are many aspects of our world in need of restoration as well.

Most years I set myself a few challenges in January to establish new patterns that will assist me in fulfilling my intentions. This year, I've set just one, which is to do 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. I always enjoy her online classes so am hopeful I'll complete the challenge but, in any case, the effort should get me doing yoga a little more regularly. 

The only other challenge I've set for 2021 is to be kinder to myself. For example, I'm giving myself permission to do whatever exercise feels right for my body rather than trying to follow a particular workout schedule slavishly. If the sun shines and I feel like running, I'll run. If I feel more like going for a walk or dancing in the attic or playing tag with the dog, I'll do that instead. And I won't beat myself up about my choices. 

The same goes for other things - like reading, writing and photography. Last year, I intended to read at least one book a week, which should have been easy to do, given we were stuck at home for the better part of 10 months. As it turned out, I did read a lot, but mostly online articles and documents associated with my various volunteer gigs rather than books. In 2021, I'll try to read more novels and short stories but, if I don't, that's okay too. 

The same goes for other interests. I'd really like to spend more time on writing, photography, quilting painting, etc., and will certainly do my best to make that happen, but I'm not going to panic if it doesn't. 

I suppose my 2021 intentions will seem unambitious to some, but 2020 was a reminder that nothing we have today is promised for tomorrow - not our health, our homes, our communities or our loved ones. Given that, my first priority this year has to be looking after myself, my family and friends, my neighbours and the planet. I'll get to the rest when I have the time, energy and inclination to do so. 

In closing, very best New Year's wishes to you and yours. And here's hoping that by this time next year the worst of the pandemic will be over and we'll be well and truly on our way to healing ourselves and the planet. 

Namaste!

Saturday, November 7, 2020

God bless America!

It's day 7 of NaNoWriMo so I really should be working on my novel, but I can't get on with it without first taking time to reflect on what happened in the US today.

Even before the dust settles, there will be some who argue the election of Biden and Harris as President and Vice-president doesn't matter all that much - that a Democratic administration will do little to address the challenges the country faces, let alone it's troubled relations with the rest of the world.

They may be right, but I hope not. 

It seems to me something real has shifted in the US. For the first time in decades, millions of Americans reached across their differences, linked arms and voted - not just for Biden and Harris, but in support of one another and to protect the integrity of their democracy. 

I don't know whether things will be different in the future - whether AOC Democrats can work with Biden Democrats, let alone Romney Republicans, to find ways to move the country forward - but I hope the last four years have at least brought home to them just how dangerous and destructive it is to forget their duty to govern for the benefit of all Americans - and not just themselves and their friends. 

Bless Biden and Harris for taking on the challenge of cleaning up the mess DJT and his minions have left behind. And bless Americans for not giving in to cynicism and despair - for once again demonstrating faith in the promise of their country. For all its failings, the United States remains a beacon of hope for millions. 

The road ahead will be difficult, so I hope they will take comfort and courage from knowing so many of their fellow Americans set aside their differences for the sake of the country and one another. I hope too that they understand just how many outside the US are anxious to support and encourage them as they set out on this new path. 

Congratulations to Biden, Harris and everyone else who worked so hard to make this day possible. We are all deeply in your debt.

A Canadian friend

Friday, June 26, 2020

Pandemic life: Three long months and counting



I've started a couple of posts since the pandemic hit Nova Scotia in mid-March but haven't got round to finishing them - largely because the drafts felt too negative or whiny somehow.  Here's the most recent effort:
What I've learned from the pandemic: 
People's grasp on reality varies widely - even when they listen to exactly the same news reports - based largely on what they want to believe and what they see directly in front of them. 
The human capacity to normalise both good and bad stuff can't be overestimated. We are masters of avoidance and self-deception, and largely unable to come to grips with our own mortality.  
Greed, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other blights manifest in endlessly creative ways.  
Even low levels of anxiety take an enormous toll when they go unrelieved for months. I no longer remember what it's like to wake up without a sinking sense of dread. 
Grief and guilt at being one of the "lucky ones" is sometimes more painful than fear. 
See what I mean?

It's not that there isn't plenty to be angry, scared and upset about. God knows, reading the news these days feels a lot like reading dystopian science fiction.

And it's not that I feel particularly obliged to be positive all the time. I don't. In fact, I often wonder whether all the memes, websites and self-help books flogging positivity are sponsored by people who'd prefer we not think too hard about the root causes of what makes life difficult for many of us.

I guess it's because blogging feels a little pointless. After all, if we're nearing the end of human life on the planet because of climate change, the coronavirus, and corrupt and incompetent governments around the world, what's the value in me sharing my few marginally coherent thoughts on a blog or anywhere else? It's not as if many people are going to read them.

But then I remember why I started this blog in the first place - which was, to motivate myself to think - really think - about what I ought to be doing with my life.  Twelve years on, I'm not sure I've made much progress in that regard - though the fact I'm pickier about the topics I tackle may mean I've learned something along the way. 

As I write this, I'm sitting on our back deck at the end of what's felt like a long tough week. A moment ago, a robin caught my eye as it flitted across the sky to perch briefly on the lowest branch of a massive white pine that grows just behind our house, before dropping back to earth to resume his search for a pre-dinner snack. In the foreground, there's a small cluster of daisies swaying gently in the afternoon breeze. I'd like to tell you that all I hear is birdsong, the wind in the trees and lapping waves on the riverbank, but the truth is the road past our house is a busy one so those natural sounds are too often drowned out by cars and trucks roaring by.

Still, I'm glad there are so many birds visiting our property these days - where it's relatively safe for them, as well as for bees, butterflies, and other critters. In the ten years we've owned this place, we've never used pesticides, and are now working with a local company called Helping Nature Heal to begin transforming it into something even more environmentally friendly - a micro-sanctuary - by re-wilding most of the lawn, reintroducing a mix of native plants, and protecting and planting more trees. The project was inspired in part by a documentary film entitled The Biggest Little Farm and in part by a couple of books I picked up at the library, including The Living Landscape.

When we started, the space in front of our house was a dreary bit of ground dominated by an overgrown spruce tree and mostly covered in moss. With the initial work done, we're already seeing positive changes. For the first time in years, I caught a glimpse of a firefly the other night, and we seem to have a wider variety of birds and butterflies than in the past. Added to which, there's the joy of watching newly planted shrubs, trees, and plants settle into their new homes. Here are a few pics of the work done by HNH in the area we now refer to as "the Meadow".






So far, the biggest changes have taken place at the front of our property, which folks see as they drive by, and I have to say it's amusing to watch their reactions. Last week, a young man pulled into the driveway to ask if we'd like to hire him to mow.  I said, "No, thanks, we're letting the grass grow on purpose", which I could see puzzled him. Others appear just as bemused and intrigued by it all. It's not a typical approach to landscaping for sure. And its not exactly neat and tidy, which is just as well since, outside my veggie beds, I'm an intermittent gardener at best.

Whatever the outcome, I'm glad we're using this pandemic time to make a small peace offering to Mother Nature.

So that's it for today, friends - a few rambling thoughts to let you know I'm still here trying to work out what's worth writing about. Hope you and yours are safe and well, wherever you are. Love to hear how you're coping through the pandemic.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Worth Reading: City of Girls


Image result for city of girls 
I stayed up way too late finishing Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls before I went to sleep last night.

Mulling it over as I climbed the stairs to bed, I realized I found most of the characters and much of the plot completely improbable. Why then did I stay up so late to finish it?

To begin with, because it contains an assortment of wise and insightful passages like this one:
"When we are young, Angela, we may fall victim to the misconception that time will heal all wounds and that eventually everything will shake itself out. But as we get older, we learn this sad truth: some things can never be fixed. Some mistakes can never be put right -- not by the passage of time, and not by our most fervent wishes, either.

In my experience, this is the hardest lesson of them all.

After a certain age, we are all walking around this world in bodies made of secrets and shame and sorrow and old, unhealed injuries. Our hearts grow sore and misshapen around all this pain -- yet somehow, still, we carry on."
And this:
"This is what I've found about life, as I've gotten older: you start to lose people, Angela. It's not that there is ever a shortage of people -- oh, heavens, no. It is merely that -- as the years pass -- there comes to be a terrible shortage of your people. The ones you loved. The ones who knew the people that you both loved. The ones who know your whole history."
And I couldn't help but fall in love with the main characters, who, despite their many flaws -- or perhaps because of them -- radiated love and compassion for those around them. It seemed to me the story was one long lesson in the giving and receiving of grace - something the world could surely use more of.

Of course, since it's a Liz Gilbert book, all the earnest stuff is packaged in a rollicking good story, set in a intriguing time and place, lyrically told, which makes it perfect reading for a long winter's night by the fire, or lazy day on the beach. Highly recommended.