This page will allow you to check out previous articles that you may not have been able to get to when they were first published. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Have an awesome day and thank you for reading.
The Friendly Island of Saint Maarten is located in the Northeast Caribbean Sea, approximately 300 kms east of Puerto Rico and was devastated in September 2017 by a merciless hurricane. It was ravaged by 200 mph winds. For days, I watched from the safety of my home as Hurricane Irma swept through Saint Maarten among other Caribbean Islands. As a result of this vicious hurricane my husband and I were not able to visit this picturesque island in 2018.
On March 1 of this year we were able to hop on a plane and head back to Saint Maarten. The island and its people are still recovering and rebuilding. The French side of the island, as I understand, was the hardest hit and as much as there is still construction going on around the island, the French side suffered more damage and has more work to do from a rebuilding standpoint. It wasn’t until May 2018 that people were allowed to come back to the island. Due to the time of year we travel, it was unfortunate that we weren’t able to vacation on the island last year because we have come to love the island and the people. In all our years of coming to the island we have never had a bad experience. The people and sunny days have us going back as often as we can. Had it not been for people that I used to work with, I doubt we would have ventured to this island in the first place.
As we boarded our plane on March 1, we weren’t sure what it would be like at the airport, let alone the island. I had high hopes that the recovery process was well underway and that life for the people of the island was back to somewhat a normal daily pace. I can only imagine what it would be like to rebuild after such a devastating natural disaster. It is during trying times that one hopes that everyone pulls together for the greater good of everyone. And what amazes me is flying into the airport and people, for the most part, carrying on as if it were just another day on the island.
The Princess Juliana Airport was extensively damaged by the hurricane and as much as they are allowing planes on the island, the airport is nothing like it used to be. When we arrived and after we had disembarked from the plane, there was one entrance for everyone to go through. Arriving on a Friday, there were many people but it was calm as compared to those arriving on Saturday. There was one line to file through to get to the custom officials unless you were in a wheelchair or had small children. If that was the case than you were then sent through another line but as much as there was only one line, things progressed fairly quickly. There was also only one conveyor belt for all the baggage. I was glad when we finally made it outside to the glorious sunshine beating down on the island. Living in Canada I was glad to be away from the crazy weather we had been experiencing at home to arrive on an island that had sunshine as an everyday occurrence.
Due to the regatta taking place when we arrived, the drive to the resort took longer than usual but it gave us time to relax after the long plane ride. It some places it was obvious to see where damage had yet to be repaired and there were a number of boats still land logged and based on the time that has passed, I don’t see them ever moving. To imagine that wind could pick up these boats and carelessly place them up on rocks or land, amazes me. We get fairly strong winds at home but after what I saw on TV, what we get could be seen as a casual breeze. Yet when you are in the middle of it, you hope for the best and get very excited when it finally stops. But to imagine 200 mph winds, I can’t and I certainly wouldn’t want to be in the midst of such winds. Each moment, never knowing whether you will make it out alive or anyone else for that matter. To Mother Nature, everything would have been a play toy and ended up wherever she saw fit. I figured the cost of moving and repairing these boats is probably another reason they lay where they do today.
What truly brought home the extent of the damage was what remains of the first hotel we ever stayed at on the island. The Great Bay Resort was down the road from where we now stay. From what I could tell all that remains are a stretch of rooms where people stayed. The rest of the hotel is gone, whether it was due to the storm or torn down for safety reasons. Gone was the buffet area and swimming pool, in their place, beach and nothing else. The building that remains and the beach area have been cordoned off by fencing. I did take some pictures but feel the pictures don’t truly represent what happened, you have to observe it firsthand. I simply can’t imagine such devastation or how wind could reduce a building to rubble. A hotel standing tall and elegant one day and destroyed the next and no amount of what man could do, was enough to prevent its collapse.
The resort we now call home, also suffered damages but the repairs have been so well done that you wouldn’t know that there had been a hurricane. One of the updates they have made is to the pool area that is right outside our Casita. Where there used to be one pool, they now have three. Each on a different level and along with the one on the top level there is a very large hot tub. They have also installed a swim up bar, what more could one ask for? Some of the palm trees had been uprooted and where they could, they have righted them again and have two by fours propping them up and those destroyed were removed and in some cases new ones planted and in other areas, only flowers and low plant vegetation remain.
Some of the staff we knew from our last visit are no longer at the resort. It was great; however, to see some familiar faces, those who had decided to remain and who remembered us from our last visit in 2017. The new staff were also awesome and I look forward to connecting with them next year, when we return. For those we remember and who are no longer at the resort, we will never know if they moved onto to new jobs or have left the island altogether. But regardless, I wish them all the best.
As for the French side of the island, we were told there are still major repairs going on. We stay on the Dutch side and we didn’t notice a lot of damage. Most of the stores are open and if I noticed anything, it was the lack of foot traffic. As much as there are cruise ships that still come to the island, there weren’t as many people in the downtown area as there has been in the past. This is an island that depends on tourism and hopefully, the amount of tourist who came to the island in the past will continue to come back in the months and years ahead.
On one of our day trips we drove through Maho, the side of the island where the airport is located to visit with friends. The main street isn’t what it used to be and some of the stores have closed. It didn’t have a lot of stores to begin with and now it looks more deserted. There are buildings under construction as well as others buildings being repaired and then there are those that show no signs of ever being repaired. The Blue Mall, on this side of the island, from what I could gather, is no longer open but based on reports that has more to do with the economy than the storm but still, it is unfortunate that the area isn’t thriving more. Like Philipsburg, hopefully as time goes by, tourism will provide the influx of money required to build the island back up again.
In 2020 we will be heading back, once again, to vacation in Saint Maarten. Of all the islands I have been fortunate enough to visit over my lifetime, I love this island the most. If you haven’t had the chance to visit, I recommend it and I know the tagline ‘The Friendly Island’, truly fits the people of this island.
It’s Friday morning and since last night I have been reflecting on the word ‘commitment’. For the second time within the last week, this word has come to me in powerful ways and because of that, I have followed its request.
To say I have been a hundred percent committed to activities in the past would be a lie but as of last weekend, there has been a shift in my attention to it. A couple of weeks ago I started getting up at seven a.m. on Sundays to attend a Mastermind Webinar. The first weekend was easy. I set my alarm, got up before it did and got ready for the call. Last weekend, my alarm went off, I saw that it was still dark out and had more than a few moments of, ‘I don’t want to get up’. I figured it wasn’t a big deal if I didn’t get up. I wanted to stay put in my warm bed especially because I don’t sleep well at night. As I’m lying in bed, out of nowhere from deep within my head I hear, ‘GET UP’, followed by, ‘be committed to something’. Well, I got up. Took the dog outside and then settled in for the call.
I rationalized that even though I had to get up for the call, I knew I could go back to bed an hour later if I wanted to. I didn’t but the option was there. There must have been a part of me that knew I needed to attend this call and be with like-minded people who are positive and know that everything and anything is possible. By attending I learned from others and I got to share an experience that had happened to me earlier in the week. I shared that I had chosen to look at something negative in a positive light even though it was an event I didn’t need in my life right now. By the end of the call, I knew getting up and participating was the right thing to do and I told my husband while we are away on vacation, I will be tuning into these calls. I don’t want to miss any new ideas or concepts and I want to be connected to others who understand me and my dreams.
Then yesterday, I had to commit again. I was fortunate enough to have someone who was willing to let me use their store for an author night. A night for me to share my poetry and my author journey. I believe in November we agreed on the February date and I started promoting the event on Facebook and Instagram. My Facebook posts were shared by others and I also went to the local papers and listed the event online. I did my due diligence to promote the event.
When I awoke yesterday, there was a message waiting for me on my phone, wondering if I still wanted to do the event as the weather the previous night hadn’t been great and there was the possibility of more snow last night. I have to admit, I was torn, for you see, I don’t like bad weather and the event was quite the distance away from where I live. I called my husband to see what his drive had been like earlier in the morning, as well, I reached out to a friend of mine to see what the weather was like in her neck of the woods. The report came back good. I had also been sending my requests to Mother Nature to ensure that yesterday was a good weather day, she complied.
Now I had to make a decision. I watched the weather report on TV and they indicated it was going to be a good day, yes there was the possibility of light flurries or rain later on but nothing major. As I sat in the rocking chair, up came the word commitment again. I realized that I couldn’t cancel, nor did I really want to. So I sent a message back saying I was coming. I got up, got organized and then let the rest of my day play out as it needed to. Around eleven I sat down and went over my notes, made updates, printed them out again, had lunch and started to get ready. I left the house shortly after four and was on my way. Due to the time of day, the traffic was heavy but I had lots of time, no big deal. I made one stop along the way and arrived at my destination just after six.
When I arrived, I was greeted by Elizabeth and Danielle. I took about ten minutes, got my bag unpacked and then went back to chat with the ladies until seven. Well seven came and went and no one arrived. I would have to say a part of me was disappointed because I wanted to share my journey with others and inspire them to follow their own journey and do what they love to do. At the same time, even though no one showed up, I got to spend quality time with people that I have met in the last little while. Up until last night, Danielle and I had only chatted on Skype, so it was great to meet her. Elizabeth and I had met before, but this time we got to talk about random things and I got to check out her store which is filled with beautiful art. At some point, it is my intention to open a store similar to hers.
At seven-thirty, it was decided I would leave. There was no point in staying as no one was coming. I packed up my books and art and headed home. As I drove home, I thought about what had occurred. I wasn’t upset because I knew I had done everything I could to make this event what it needed to be. I had advertised, I had prepared and I had shown up. I made the commitment to be there regardless of what happened. I had remained committed to the event and knowing that I can’t control what others do or don’t do, I felt good.
So as much as I have, yes, replayed this event in my head and realized it would have been great to have others come out for my author night, I have nothing to feel bad about, because I showed up. And even though it was just the three of us, I had a great time.
There have been other times in my life when I haven’t been committed and would have jumped at the chance to not show up. Yesterday; however, just like last weekend. I did show up and I am really glad I did and I am going to keep showing up because one of these times, when I least expect it, my world will be changed in extraordinary ways. And by showing up, I can go to bed with a clear conscience and that is powerful. I can’t control what others do but I can certainly control what I do.
In doing some research for a speech I was giving, I found that we are born with only two fears. The fear of loud noises and fear of falling. Yet I can honestly admit, I have more than just these two fears. What I have decided to do is learn from my fears or look at my fears and decide if they benefit me or not. If a fear does not benefit me than I need to let it go.
Some people have referred to fear as false evidence appearing real and others have said that if we are having a bad dream and someone or something is chasing us to turn and face it and it will go away.
This article is about some of my fears. With some of them, I have learned valuable lessons and understand now that there is no benefit to having them. There are other fears that still hold me. I understand that I must learn from these fears or recognize there is no benefit and let them go. If I do not learn from them then I risk not moving forward and doing what is most important to me. I now understand, where there is no benefit to a fear, I need to let it go.
The first set of fears are ones that no longer hold me as they once did.
Spiders, I don’t like spiders (insert smile here). Yet last summer they taught me a valuable lesson. Have you ever taken a close look at a spider’s web and noticed how intricate and beautiful they are? I was fortunate enough to have a sea of webs to look at and what I noticed was that if a web was destroyed the spider would keep rebuilding. This tiny creature that I fear taught me perseverance. I thought to myself, how can you fear such a tiny creature that has taught me such a valuable lesson? I now look at them with wonder.
Heights, I am not a fan of climbing up ladders. I am; however, totally cool flying 30 or 40,000 feet in the air to fly off to some sunny destination. My fear of ladders is related to not liking heights and yes the fear of falling; however, I now look at ladders as having the potential of taking me to some beautiful places. Places I hadn’t noticed before. If I start one rung at a time who knows how high I might climb and where I might go. This new way of looking at ladders helps me to control my fear and appreciate that they may lead me to places where the view is better than standing on the ground.
Death, a lot of people fear death, I do not. For you see I am guaranteed that I am going to die one day. And for this reason there is no point in fearing something that will happen. I don’t necessarily know when or how but I do know I am going to die. If I am honest about the how or when, I would have to say the how scares me more but again, I am going to die so I am not going to spend my time worrying about it. From what I understand it is beautiful on the other side and I for one love beauty and peacefulness.
Now, let’s talk about the fears that I am learning from but still haven’t given up. I recognize that I need to let these fears go but in some ways they have had their grip on me for a very long time and that is making it harder for me to let go and yet in my heart, I know I have to let them go.
Social events, I am not a fan. I am very uncomfortable walking into a room full of people I don’t know and there being an expectation that I talk to any of them. When I was growing up, I was taught to be seen and not heard and only speak, when spoken to. My parents had many parties and we went out quite a bit and guess what happened, I would stand in the corner of the room and watch. I guess you could say that was where I learned to observe people. In some ways I wish I had a better grasp on observing people because perhaps then I would have learned something I could have used when I got older. Not speaking up while I worked in the corporate world didn’t serve me well and it doesn’t now as an entrepreneur. I need to be able to walk into a room and chat with people, find out who they are and what they do. If I don’t speak with people, I may be missing out on a very big opportunity because these people may know something or someone that could help to propel me forward in ways that I never imagined. There is also the possibility in sharing what I know, I may be able to inspire someone else who may have also been taught a lesson as a child that does not serve them now. The new understanding may take them places they never imagined. I have to let this fear go because I know it isn’t benefiting me or others.
Public speaking, is a fear for many people. It still is for me but it is definitely getting easier. In 2015, I joined Toastmasters, not because I needed to learn how to speak, I had a father who was an English teacher who taught me how to speak but remember they didn’t teach me how to be comfortable speaking to others. Toastmasters has taught me to feel more confident speaking in front of others about what I know. I have also learned how to engage and inspire others. I understand the importance of speaking from the heart which makes my time in front an audience easier. As much as I don’t fear public speaking like I used to, I still have to take deep breathes before I speak and trust that what I have to say is relevant. Of the three fears that scare me the most, this is the one I have dealt with the best. I am learning to love speaking to an audience and the biggest reason is because it allows my voice to finally be heard.
The last fear I want to talk about is following our dreams. How many people do you know that get up in the morning to go to a job they don’t like? I would go so far as to say, how many people do you know who go to a job they hate? The statistics indicate that most people don’t like their jobs and the only aspect that means something, is the pay cheque. Sad but true. Our dreams are important and we need to focus on them, even if it is only for five minutes a day. They deserve our time. I decided my dreams were important and that when I die, I don’t want to die with my dreams still in me. In 2017, I left the corporate world. I gave up great pay, benefits and vacation time to follow my dreams. I knew I had to walk away. I wasn’t happy anymore, the stress had gotten to me and I didn’t know how to deal with anything. I questioned everything I did and didn’t trust my own knowledge. So one Thursday evening, while alone and in total silence, I made the decision to walk away. I can be totally honest and say there are days when I wake up and wonder, ‘what have I done’. It all rests on me now. I am the boss, the administrative assistant, the jack of all trades when it comes to what I do. It is scary for me and yet, I am no longer stressed, I love the creative world I am now living. My commute, is thirteen steps down and I am happy. I have met some wonderful people in my travels and am learning more each day and that everything is possible. Yes, I am still scared because some days I question my decision because I am not where I want to be and yet, within me there is a knowing that I am on the right path. On those days when I think of throwing in the towel, I keep moving forward and doing what I love so when I get to the end of the day, I feel accomplished. There have been people tell me what I can’t or shouldn’t do and these people have lead me to others who do believe anything is possible and I know anything is possible because if things weren’t, we would still be living in caves. I look at great inventors and they tell me that anything is possible for without them believing, we wouldn’t have the technology we do today. It took an idea and the will to move forward with the ideas that prove, anything is possible. I believe in what I am doing, even though some days I am scared. I look forward to kicking this fear to the sidelines and each day, I walk down those thirteen stairs and do what I love, I know that I am.
Ladies and gentlemen, my research taught me that we were born with only two fears. I am working my way back to just those two.
(Note: this was a speech I gave for Toastmasters and wanted to share with you. May it inspire you to look at your fears more closely.)
A stage is laid out before you. Curtains closed. You close your eyes and the noise around you becomes louder. With careful perception you turn down the volume to the sounds immediately around you and turn up the volume on the noises that permeate from the stage.
You can hear the shuffling of feet and murmured words of those setting the scene and moving furniture around. As you focus your hearing even more, you can hear a woman rehearsing her lines but no matter how hard you try, you are not able to make out her words. Your mind tells you, ‘all in good time, right now you must allow her the privacy of her own thoughts, she will share with you when it is time’.
Your mind leaves her to be as it goes about picking up more of the sounds that surround you, even the thoughts you have running frantically through your own mind. The many things you didn’t do before heading to the theatre, the many things that will be there for you when you leave.
With eyes still closed, you slowly turn down the volume on all the noise that surrounds you and even the tenacious conversations that are running around your head and by turning down the volume further, on the air you inhale the sweet scent of jasmine. You become focused on the sweetness. It isn’t too sweet or too strong, yet it is enough to take your soul outside of the theatre and to a beautiful wooded forest. A place of tranquility. A place where life has been left undisturbed and the animals reside in harmony and peace.
You feel your lungs expand as you take in a deeper, fresher breath of air. Your ears open to the sounds of birds chirping and a waterfall cascading down a tiny mountainside. In your imagination everything is vibrant in colour. It is a peace that your inner self knows exists and a place your logical side wishes it were right now. You inhale a few more times and as you take your last deep breathe the sounds that your mind had quieted for you are now becoming louder. The play is about to start and your mind does not want you to miss a moment. It tells you to pay attention to those who will stand on the stage and share their story with you. Stories meant to enlighten.
You open your eyes as the theatre lights go down, the stage curtains are drawn and there on the right side of a sparsely furnished stage stands a lady dressed in Victorian clothes. You feel your breathe deepen as you watch in anticipation this beautiful woman. She stands almost perfectly still, her only moment is her head as she looks around. Then she begins, ‘It all started so innocently, I was born and yet when I leave here tonight, it won’t be under the power of my own steam. For you see mine is a story of love, tragedy and dreams never realized’.
Wine, one of my favourite past times. Nothing beats a well-chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio while visiting with family or friends or sitting at home at the end of the day unwinding. And yet, as much as I love my wine, a couple of weekends ago, I realized there was something more important that I needed to appreciate. I can admit I drank too much and because of the wine consumed, I lost out on some pretty special memories.
Christmas and New Years are great times to celebrate and yet, I haven’t always remembered all the events and conversations I have been involved in. With my new career, I have been taught the value of knowing my why. Why I am so passionate about what I do? My art and my writing bring me to life. With my art, I get to create beauty in multiple colours and when it comes to my writing, I get to spin words into beautiful thoughts and images. I believe that others feel my passion when I speak about what I do. Now, you may wonder how I went from drinking wine to my art and writing, well that is easy. Similar to my art and writing, I needed to understand my why for cutting back on the amount of wine I drink when out visiting. I’ve learned that once you know your why, it makes it easier to make the changes necessary to focus on what is important.
Until a couple of weekends ago, I wasn’t fully sure of my why and because of that I didn’t feel a need to cut back. My ‘other’ why reasons weren’t strong enough and I guess to be totally honest, I enjoy wine, so why give it up or cut back. It was a family gathering that made me realize the next day, my why. I didn’t wake up the next morning feeling bad, nor did I wake up feeling great but that really wasn’t the issue for me, the issue was what I missed out on from a conversation and catch-up point of view. There were things I simply didn’t remember. I could blame it on my age but in all honesty it was the wine that caused my memory lapse.
The ride home and that afternoon of laying on the couch, gave me time to think. Time to understand and finally appreciate my why in regards to cutting back on the amount of wine I drink, especially when I am out. I don’t want to forget the conversations with others or the memories being shared about those no longer with us. Those special moments you want to remember, so they can be shared with others at a later time. I had finally found my why.
There is so much we have to celebrate, memories to cherish and when I thought of this it made me realize, I don’t want to miss out on the memories or the conversations I am having with others. Those moments, I can’t get back, those moments I have not remembered in the past. All I have is now and I for one want to be able to enjoy what each moment is giving me.
In the past drinking has brought me solace but it has also brought me pain. I don’t want the pain anymore, I want the memories. I understand drinking to help you forget what isn’t going right in your life, but as I get older, I know it doesn’t solve anything. And it was time for me to make a change and look at wine differently. After we got home the next day, I said to my husband that what I wanted for Christmas this year, was to remember it. He didn’t understand, nor should he because he wasn’t fully aware of my thoughts and yet it made total sense to me.
I no longer want to miss out on the really good times in my life, for it may be those really good times that I can use to get me through the not so good times. Yes, I still want to enjoy a great glass of wine, but now, in the back of my head, I think about my why. What I want to remember, how I want to be involved in great conversations and know that the next day, it won’t be a blur.
I share this with you because I know, there may be others, in this vast world of ours, who may overdo it this holiday season. I have no idea what goes through the minds of others when they wake up the next morning and can’t remember what happened the night before. But the memories, the good ones, to me, they are worth remembering and if I let the wine be my favourite than I have the potential of missing out on those truly important life events, both happy and sad that deserve my attention.
To each and every one of you, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and I for one, plan on remembering all this holiday season brings my way.
On Saturday, I learned of the passing of someone I had known when I worked in the corporate world. An individual who I held in high regard due to the knowledge they possessed but more to the point because of how they treated me. I always felt better after chatting with them especially if I had made a mistake while doing my job. People make mistakes and sometimes you need to talk to someone who gets it and doesn’t leave you feeling bad at the end of the conversation. This individual was one of those people. She also was an avid supporter of my dreams and what I wanted to do. She was excited about my future even though I still wasn’t sure where I was headed or the direction I wanted to take in my life. I always had the ideas but I wasn’t taking the time to manifest them.
As I sit and write this article, I am in shock as I wasn’t aware of her illness and something tells me, there weren’t a lot who knew. After this individual retired, I kept in contact and often sent cards. When I found out she had passed away, the Christmas card I had created for her had already been sent. I quickly reached out to her son to let him know. It was important to me that he know and could let his dad know that I had no idea his mom was sick when I sent the card. He thanked me for letting him know.
I still haven’t come to terms with her passing but in a conversation I had with a couple of other people this weekend, I once again realized how important being happy and doing what we love in life is vital. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave the corporate world but it was the right one. My happiness is more important than money. Waking up every morning and doing what I love is more important than money and although I am not making millions at this point, I have a smile on my face each morning. I can’t say that was the case when I worked in the corporate world.
I have taken on a new way of thinking since leaving the corporate world and I have a knowing that everything will be fine. I can’t explain it, I just know. And then when I get news of someone’s passing, it makes me realize even more how important our own happiness must be. I often hear people say they don’t have enough time or money. It appears to me that we focus more on the negative in our lives verses being grateful for the blessings we have in our lives, even the small ones. We tend to get lost in the wrong things, at least I can honestly say I have and now as much as I have been lost in the past, I now seek out those who have a new positive perspective on life, those who know there is more to life than the little box that we tend to live in.
I have said to people in the past, I don’t know how much time I have left and I don’t, because I wasn’t given an expiration date when I was born but now when someone close to me passes away it reinforces my need to be happy and not waste time on that which doesn’t make me happy. Sure, there are going to be things that go wrong, my husband and I had such a situation last week but I still have that knowing that everything will be okay and that I, along with everyone else deserves to be happy and doing what we love if only for a few moments each day.
My friend, thankfully had a few years of living a retired life. She will be greatly missed and I for one will remember the many phone calls to talk about work, my dreams and her vacations. May you rest in peace my friend and I look forward to my next glass of wine being in your memory.
Many years ago, when my parents still lived on the farm, my father would gather together the men he served with during the Second World War. These men were his family as much as we were. My father served in the navy and although I don’t know a lot about his time away, I do recall the respect he had for each and every one of his navy mates. I remember the sadness when he found out another one of his shipmates had ‘crossed over’ and with my own father having passed away ten years ago, I have no idea if any of his shipmates are still alive today.
Remembrance Day is very emotional for me. Each year I watch the tribute to the brave men and women that served our country and those who continue to serve our country, so that I and millions of others can walk safely down the streets in our communities. As the cameras capture the veterans’ still with us, I see pain and sadness in their eyes, a pain and sadness I hope I never have to experience.
A recent episode of NCIS dealt with an individual who had served his country and went to the NCIS headquarters because he was admitting to killing one of his mates while serving overseas. However, the other part of this story, he had been awarded the highest honour available to an individual who has served. Being the elderly age he was, the team went about reconstructing what happened because they didn’t believe he had killed his mate and they didn’t want to see him in prison or stripped of the award he had been given. As the show progressed I couldn’t help but cry. I can’t imagine being in a situation where you watch the people you have come to know so well be hurt or worse yet, killed in battle. The story ended well, and this soldier did not lose his medal.
The only story my father told that I remember, was an incident when he had almost been swept overboard on the ship he was on because he hadn’t tied himself off. As I understand, when you were on the ships during bad weather, you were to be tied off so that you didn’t get swept overboard, thankfully for my father, one of his shipmates was able to secure him before anything happened.
We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who served during the World Wars and to those who continue to serve our country for our freedom. Their stories and their pain deserve more than a moment of our time. For me, saying thank you and being silent for a few minutes each year, will never be enough to repay them for their sacrifices.
I will end with a poem that I wrote many years ago as my way of saying Thank You.
We were young men and women when we went off to war.
We left our families behind but soon new ones were formed.
There were times when we shared in the sweetness of victory, while other times we succumbed to defeat.
Not all of us came home, some of us left our spirits to wander the battle fields years after the others had left.
For those of us who were lucky enough to survive, the years passed and lasting friendships prevailed.
Reunions were held to remember those who once walked tall and proudly beside us.
For those of us remaining, our memories are all but bitter sweet.
In tribute to our fallen brethren, we speak of happier times.
We shall never, in all of our remaining years, forget those we left behind or those of us who carry on.
For no matter how tragic the war or the scars we carry with us, our freedom and that of our nation, made our Sacrifice, one we could endure.
On Saturday I participated in my first vendor event and as much as I didn’t make a lot of money, I did gain valuable experience. The biggest take away for me was knowing how you want to organize your space before you show up. I didn’t walk in with a plan and there was only an hour to set up before the doors opened. I should have been better prepared. So lesson number one, understand your space and know where everything is going to go before you arrive. Shortly after arriving, I realized I had more art work than the space provided. The benefit to the extra items is they can fill in the holes as other items sell or allow me to switch things up as I participate in each event. And yes, I do have other events coming up.
I walked into Saturday’s event with no idea how things would go or how best to do anything. Call it a massive learning curve. As we were setting up, I took note of how other vendors set up their space and displayed their items. I attempted to have flow to mine but after looking at a picture taken, I could tell items weren’t spaced or placed properly. Where I lacked in organization, I did not lack in colour. One thing to know about me is that I love colour and with the art I do, it is difficult to avoid colour.
I took a journal and pen with me because I was sure that I would learn from others and wanted to take notes so I didn’t forget anything once I got home. I also thought it might be an opportunity to write. That didn’t happen, after all it was an event that had a lot of little children walking around in cute costumes so I was more into watching them than writing.
Another valuable lesson I learned was to let the organizers know the amount of space needed. Not only did I need a table but I also had two stands that came along with me. One for my artwork and one that was a banner for my book. I knew when I arrived and found my table that where I was located was not going to work. I was fortunate enough to be moved to a spot where the only person I had to worry about tripping over my stand was me. Thankfully that didn’t happen. I will be notifying future event organizers of the space I need so hopefully they will be able to accommodate me. The best place for me is along a wall or in a corner where the only person I have to worry about tripping over something is me.
One thing I truly liked about the event was the fact that no one else had items similar to mine. As the organizer said to me towards the end of the day, my pieces are unique, one of a kind. Each painting with its own feeling and there is no reproduction. The colours may be the same and that is where it ends. Each acrylic pour has a life of its own and that is one of the reasons I love doing them. Having a multitude of paint colours to work with doesn’t hurt either.
My first event was four hours and that didn’t include the time needed to set up and take down after the event and I am truly grateful for the help I had. My husband offered to help and I am not sure how the set up would have gone without him. Now having this first event under my belt, I truly understand the need to be organized, especially when it comes to setting up the space.
Moving ahead I will know the layout and have a way of hanging items easily and effortlessly in case I don’t have an extra set of hands. Had I been alone on Saturday, I can only imagine what might have happened with the set up and my stress levels. I did my best to stay calm but I can say with all honesty that there were moments when I wasn’t sure of anything. I am sure I am not the only one who has felt this way when doing their first event.
Since this event has ended, I have received great ideas on set up, I will take time to scour the internet for other way to make things flow and will be much more prepared for the next event.
Today, I start unpacking, learning, organizing and creating more pours for the next event. What I love about my journey is that I am getting much better at putting myself out into the world, not only to promote my poetry book but my art work as well. I am happy and following my dreams. What makes this journey even better is that I am learning from each experience which in turn keeps my levels of stress down. With each step I take, I am realizing my true potential and that I am able to do things that I never thought possible or ever saw myself doing three years ago.
My dreams are important and the only way to become more confident with what I create is to be out among the masses letting the world know who I am one event and one book at a time. And to all my family and friends who sent their best wishes, I am extremely grateful for all your support. It means the world to me and I will carry your thoughts with me to each event. All in all this was a great experience. I met new people, got lots of positive feedback on my work and know that with each event I do the Universe will provide me with new opportunities to learn and grow.
In life we sometimes comment on not having enough time. We comment on how busy we are and think we don’t have time for ourselves, let alone anyone else.
At a recent Toastmaster meeting someone was asked what they do in their spare time. They commented that the didn’t feel they had any ‘real’ spare time and yet, the more they thought about it, they realized that some of their daily activities, were activities they enjoyed and were done in their spare time, time up until that moment, they didn’t think they had.
It got me thinking about how I use my spare time. I often think that I should be working during my spare time and not taking time to do what I enjoy. As an individual who isn’t working at a nine to five job anymore, I have more moments of feeling guilty when I am not writing or doing my art. For instance, I watch television and think, ‘I really should be downstairs completing a writing or art project’. I think about it, and yet stay sitting. Occasionally I will bring something upstairs to complete as long as it doesn’t mean half my studio comes with it. I sometimes like having noise around me when I work as a means of having company and the television works. I do have a television in the basement but I only have videos to watch and they are limited, at this point, in number.
But what about spare time? Have you ever taken the time to consider what you do in your day that you could actually consider spare time? Time where you are doing something that isn’t related to your job or being available to someone else? Before going to work, do you enjoy a cup of coffee with the morning paper or go to the gym. At lunch, do you go for a walk, window shop or read a good book? How about after work? Do you take time to relax in a hot bath, work on a hobby, or visit with a good friend or friends? How would you respond if someone asked you what you do in your spare time? Would your automatically respond and say, I don’t have any?
As I think about spare time, I wonder about the things I work on, the writing and art. Perhaps these are moments of spare time for me because I love when I get totally creative. When words flow like water or the painting comes to life as the colours meld together. Perhaps my spare time ends when I have to cleanup, because although necessary, isn’t a lot of fun but it is a task I need to complete. Some people love to clean, is their spare time spent cleaning?
This topic truly gave me something to think about and I believe it got others thinking as well or perhaps it didn’t and they couldn’t see anything going on in their daily lives that would be considered spare time. It all comes down to perception and I know that is different for everyone.
So here is my challenge for you. Next time you tell someone you don’t have any spare time, is that a true statement or do you really have spare time but have forgotten the true meaning behind the words? If you have, I recommend you take a moment and think about your day and see if there isn’t at least one thing you do for yourself in your spare time. Let me start the ball rolling, I go outside and walk around our property. It is a beautiful way to get exercise and come up with new things to write about.
This is only a small sample of the beauty that surrounds me each and every day.
As a member of Toastmasters, we have a section of our meeting dedicated to Table Topics. This is an impromptu speaking moment where the speaker has one to two minutes to talk about a topic or question that they don’t have time to prepare for ahead of time, unlike a speech where you create, practice and present.
At our last meeting, I got the question, ‘If not now, when’?
I have to admit it was an interesting question and I took a moment to think before giving my response. As individuals we think one day or someday when it comes to doing things that perhaps scare us. Is it the right time? Do I have the money? Will others support me and the list goes on and on. Time passes and we wonder, how would my life be now, if I had done then what I had truly wanted to do but didn’t because I/we were waiting for someday? I’ve learned there really is no right time for anything and that if you want something, to put it on the back burner until the time is right, may lead you to the time never being right.
Over a year ago I walked away from a corporate job. A company I had been with for twenty eight years. I was close to retirement but instead of staying, I decided to leap and land wherever the Universe decided I needed to be. My husband supported me in my decision and then the task of finding my way became my number one priority. I started to do lots of reading, I took some courses and emerged myself into things I had never tried before. My ultimate task was to go after my dream of being an author. A dream I have had since the age of thirteen but it was a dream I hadn’t seriously gone after before. Who was I to think I could make it as an author and was there going to be anyone who would be interested in reading what I wrote?
Today, as you read this, my first book, ‘In This Moment of Freedom’, has launched internationally on Amazon. I am now a published author. It is still surreal to me and I haven’t quite reached the level of excitement that I would like to. I attribute the lack of excitement to the fact that I have been deeply immersed in getting ready for today and also because there is still more work to be done in order that I may reach more people to let them know about me and my book.
I realized after some months of contemplation that I couldn’t do this on my own. As much as I am a talented writer, there were other skills needed that I neither had nor really wanted to learn. There were; however, others in the world who had the skills and were more than willing to offer their expertise. I didn’t initially jump on board, I had my doubts and of course the end cost played a role but then ONE DAY, I decided, with the help of my husband to reach out and go for it. If I hadn’t reached out and joined forces with others, my book and being author would still be a dream. I would still be sitting in my studio trying to figure out what to do and how I was going to become an author. Time wasted sitting and thinking about one day or someday and the big question, was I worthy of having author status?
The journey has been challenging but well worth it. I now know what to do in the future when I publish my next book, and yes, there will be more books. It won’t be as scary the next time because I have a road map on what to do and I definitely know who I want to work with. Never give up good people.
So the question, ‘If not now, when’? Well, now is all we have. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Fears, well, we were only born with two, the fear of falling and loud noises. You will always find someone who can help you, but you have to be willing to look for them and trust them. Intuition comes into play here, you know, even when you don’t think you do.
Perhaps a year ago, I knew my time had come to get off the bleachers and onto the author field. I needed to trust that the right people would be there to help me and that the Universe would keep me calm even when my ego doubted everything I was doing. There have been some speed bumps and I appreciate that there may be people who don’t like my writing but even still, if all I have is right now, then I am going to love everything I do, right now. I am going to trust that I am exactly where I need to be, and that the right people will continue to come into my life exactly when needed. So the question ‘If not now, when’, truly is now.
I don’t want to die with any regrets and I know whatever I do and wherever I go, my audience will follow, just as I will follow those who need me to be part of their audience. We weren’t meant to leave our creative talents to one day or someday and although I waited fifty two years to let my creative talents fly, I am proud to be able to say I have finally allowed myself to ‘Fly Be Free’.
Yesterday I was out and about doing some shopping and found that people are in such a rush that they don’t take the time to smile anymore. Now keep in mind I don’t truly mean everyone but there are a lot of people that don’t smile. The world today is spinning faster and faster and as a result people don’t take the time to share their smile with those around them.
When I was growing up, I will admit, I didn’t always see the bright side of the coin and that I probably frowned more than I actually smiled. Having said that, I have learned a lot over the last few years and that everything that I bring into my life is a result of my own actions. I have also learned that I can’t control others and therefore it is totally up to me to decide whether I want to be happy and smiling or sad and frowning regardless of what others are doing.
What I have noticed is that a lot of people in the service industry don’t smile at the clients as they are checking out or leaving the store. As part of my ‘growing’ I now attempt to engage people in conversation when I am out and about and especially when I go into stores and smiling has to be part of my process and yet it can be awkward to be smiling at another person who is more concerned about getting me through the check-out and out the door due to the guidelines they need to meet.
I have often thought that if I owned my own store, one of my requirements would be, smile, let the client know they are important to you. Take the time to smile at them as they are checking out and don’t worry if they don’t smile back, by smiling you will in some way or another brighten the world around you. I would want people to feel welcome and know that they are important to me and my business. After all, without the people, there are no sales and without any sales, well I wouldn’t be in business for too long. Smiles are free so why not share them with the rest of the world? There is a saying ‘time is money’, not sure it is something one should apply to the service industry. I guess it would depend on what is important to you and the supply and demand of what you have to sell.
I love walking into stores where the sales staff smile and treat you with respect and want you to know you are important to them and that it isn’t about how much money they will make or how quickly they need to get you out the front door.
I still struggle at times to smile at people when I am out and about but I am definitely making more of an effort and it helps that others have told me what a beautiful smile I have but I believe all smiles are beautiful. In thinking we needed to have a National Smile Day, I checked out the internet to see if there actually is such a day and we do in fact have one. According to Wikipedia it is held on the first Friday of October every year and was coined and initiated by Harvey Ball, who created the Smiley Face in 1963. This year National Smile Day is October 5th. I believe this calls for me to put a reminder in my calendar so I don’t forget to smile, not only today but especially on October 5. Are you with me?
The word ‘moment’ took on a new meaning for me many years ago. It reflects a period of time that isn’t defined and it is one of the reasons I choose to use it in the title of my book. For you see, my book was created and then pulled together in many different moments.
The poems were written over a few decades, all coming to me when they needed to. Some reflect a personal time in my life and others truly created themselves, I was just the messenger. I remember some of the moments very clearly, I even remember the weather that enveloped me. Other poems and how they came to me, I no longer recall and nor does it matter, they were simply poems that needed to be conceived.
Our lives are a series of events, taking us down different roadways. Some we understand and others we may not, but that is what life is all about. Our travels are based on the choices we make and each choice teaches us something about ourselves and our lives.
I have had beautiful and not so beautiful moments. This moment of freedom is one of those beautiful moments and I know it will not be my last. I still have many words, stories and poetry to write, all with the ability to inspire my soul.
Our dreams are important. That is why I have spent so many years writing. I only wish I had found the courage and the trust within myself to publish my first book sooner. My writing deserves to find its audience. It was never meant to be hidden from the world.
So let us Fly Be Free together, as we grab hold of our dreams and go on many magical journeys before we say goodbye, to this life, forever.
I captured this beautiful moment exactly when it needed to be.
In May of this year, I wrote about the ten year anniversary of the passing of my father. Today, I honour another man who passed away ten years ago today, my father-in-law. The irony of it, if one can call it that, is the fact that DC passed away two months to the day after my own father. A sad year, especially with two wonderful men passing away so close together. I do trust they are having a great time visiting in Heaven with the other marvelous people there.
I always found my husband’s father to be quiet and although he didn’t say much, I certainly remember his smile, a smile I will never forget. I love remembering the simple things about people, their smile, personality or how they cared for others. There were times while Tom and I were visiting his father that Tom and I would take verbal shots at one another, DC watched and grinned but said nothing. I remember one time in particular and when I close my eyes, I see him standing in our kitchen, saying nothing, simply smiling. He, like others knew that Tom and I were meant for one another. How grand it would have been for him and others in the family to be with us on the day we got married, but in my heart, I know they were.
Following his passing, I was given the honour of writing on the back of his memorial card. I remember going outside and sitting on the front stoop of my sister-in-law’s house, with pen and paper in hand, and within a half hour, the words needed had magically appeared. The words reflected what he meant to me and others. Before I began writing this article, I went searching for those words but could not find them as I had hoped to be able to share them with you.
And although I don’t know what I wrote what I do remember, was the respect others had for DC. I will be totally honest, I didn’t fully understand what the word respect meant until his funeral. The outpouring of love for this man and support for his family was amazing. As I recall there were three different visitation times and each one had people lined out the door of the funeral home. I had never seen anything like it before and the word respect took on a totally new meaning for me.
I remember the day of his funeral, being back at his house with others, remembering and celebrating his life, standing on the deck with Tom and realizing we were meant to be here. That day, the decision was made to move from Guelph to Melancthon. Our, his house holds special memories and I know when we first moved in here, his spirit was close by. I now stand in the kitchen and remember, a beautiful man, with a wonderful smile.
DC loved his family and community. Not too long ago I was talking with someone who mentioned that DC would go out of his way to chat with others when he was out and about in town. The story told brought a smile to my face. There are some people who grace our world and when they are no longer among us, their memory continues to surround us in love. I will continue to cherish the memories and we will continue each year to plant red geraniums in his honour and that of others at the cemetery. I visit the cemetery from time to time because it comforts me and because it helps to keep me close to my own father who is buried in St. Catharines. DC’s love and that of others will surround me no matter where I am but there is a different type of closeness when I go to the cemetery. I can’t find the right words to explain it now, but it exists and that is all that matters to me. In memory of my father-in-law, thank you for all the memories and your beautiful smile. Till we meet again. I love you.
There is a rule where I live, you wait until the May 24 weekend before planting anything outdoors. For most city dwellers, you are lucky for your plants are two to three weeks ahead of mine. The same rule applies to our vegetable garden. We can try planting earlier but it isn’t a wise decision. To the north, one can never be sure of the weather we are going to get. Like flowers, if you plant the veggies too early you aren’t guaranteed that Mother Nature won’t surprise you with a rough rain or snow storm.
We normally wait and this year, we missed planting by two weeks. We are glad we did because we got bad weather after the May 24 weekend. Others who had decided to plant earlier had to replant. When the time was right, Tom used the rototiller to work up the ground. I haven’t learned how to use it and Tom does a great job so I have left it with him.
With the bad weather out of the way we went about planting our vegetable garden. I suggested that we plant some vegetable in cycles, there are only two of us, and I didn’t want to end up with too many all at once. In previous years we haven’t been able to keep up with how fast some of the vegetables were growing and golf size radishes and baseball sized beets aren’t all that great. Well as much as I didn’t want all the seeds planted that is what happened and now we are trying to keep up with the radishes and the lettuce is a close second to getting beyond the point of eating. We are doing okay at this point; however, I’m not sure how much longer that will last. I will admit we have enjoyed some of the fruits of our labour and along with the awesome vegetables are not so awesome weeds.
Weeds have the ability to grow under any circumstances, dry, wet, cold, they don’t care. As a result one can spend a lot of time pulling weeds. This is the first year we have had them under control, well better control than in the past years. So far this year I have been spending a fair bit of time in the garden pulling the weeds. They tend to grow in clumps between the rows and around the plants themselves.
I don’t mind pulling weeds after a good rain or after I have watered the garden because they are easier to remove but the problem is that they grow quicker especially if the rain is followed by hot sunny days. The combination is great for the weeds and some days I feel they grow better than the vegetables. What is even more frustrating is when the weeds are taller than the vegetables and that adds to the misery of pulling weeds.
When it comes to weeding, I start with those who have decided it is great fun to wrap themselves in and amongst the vegetables. While pulling weeds this weekend, I had to be the most careful with the carrots. I didn’t want to pull out any of the young carrots but I know that there were a few that got yanked out right along with the weeds. I gave it my best shot knowing there are going to be causalities.
I was fortunate that the weeds that had grown in amongst the vegetables were easier to pull than those in between the rows. The weeds in between the rows were more stubborn to pull because the ground around them was so dry. As much as I tried to pull the roots out of the ground, in more than a few cases the roots are still firmly planted beneath the dirt while the tops of them ended up in my weed basket.
I decided this year to toss the weeds into a basket in order to transport them to another part of the property where I don’t care if they grow. I have to admit that some weeds were pulled and discarded on top of the soil. I was hoping that the sun and dry weather would wilt them to the point that they will never grow again. This works for vegetables but the same can’t be said for weeds. Like cats they have nine lives. Give them a good rain and they bury themselves back into the ground and come up again. Some days I wonder if I would be better off growing a weed garden and enjoying those verses a vegetable garden. Who knows, they might be tasty and nutritious and surely there has to be more than one variety that we could eat!
This year I have had some help with the garden. Kamera is trying to help by taking the weeds I have pulled out of the ground and running with them onto the lawn. She rolls around with them and tries to eat them. If only she would spend time in the garden pulling them out of the ground instead of leaving the back braking work for me. I have come to the conclusion that I need a vehicle that I can sit on that will carry me up and down each row. Yes, I am getting older and my body isn’t appreciative of what I put it through. I have a number of stances that I use while in the garden. I rotate in order to keep my body happy. If you are younger than me and laughing right now, carry on and get back to me when you reach the tender age of fifty-one, with fifty-two closing in and tending to a rather large vegetable garden where the weeds are aplenty.
I love my vegetable garden. Everything tastes so much better than what I can buy in the grocery store. We are all natural. We do not use any type of pesticide. The garden grows as natural as one can get it to. The flavour is amazing and even though the weeds leave so much to be desired, I wouldn’t trade my vegetable garden for anything. Over the last few years we have enjoyed fresh vegetables and have also been able to share with others. Weeds are weeds and I will deal with them the best I can because the end result of our vegetable garden makes it all worthwhile it and now that I have Kamera to somewhat help out, it makes it that much easier to bear.
My backyard in early spring. It is not only weeds that grow in abundance.
We humans are blessed and cursed with many emotions. I have dealt with many. Nothing new here but why is it that we keep some of our emotions bottled up or buried deep within our souls? The emotion of laughter is genuinely accepted and even encouraged. The emotion of anger, although not encouraged is one that is also often seen. But what about our other emotions, sadness, guilt, hurt or fear for example? What do we do with those emotions? Well, if you are anything like me, you hold them in and do your best to deal with them on your own.
I decided to write about this topic because on many occasions I have buried my emotions deep within and I also know others who have as well. I know that feeling, having sad thoughts, wanting to share and not knowing how to reach out or who would want to listen. Because I haven’t reached out and talked to anyone, the same emotions keep coming up over and over again. I think to myself, if I don’t want the same thoughts repeating, what would make me think anyone else is going to want to listen. And I then I say to myself, just get over it. A bit brutal in my thought process but I was never taught to how to express myself in a healthy way. I saw happiness and anger growing up, but the other emotions, no, so I didn’t know how to deal with them. As a result, I don’t know how to express myself. I often wonder what would have happened had I been taught to talk and express how I was feeling, I might have been able to move on quicker. Instead, I have many things that linger and hold me back.
So why do we as humans, crush our emotions and push them down? Where was the idea born that it isn’t okay to cry, that we have to be strong all the time? For me, the answer lies in the environment I grew up in. I learned from those I came into contact with. Perhaps at times, not showing emotion has been practical but many times, it hasn’t. Do we fear that we won’t be able to help, that it will make us uncomfortable or that the pain another suffers is too much for us to bear? For me, I don’t need you to stop the pain, I simply need to know that you will be there to give me a hug, tell me it will be alright and things will get better and I know they will. And I know this because things always have, even though in that particular moment I feel like my world has spiraled into the ground with no hope of survival.
I am the type of individual who doesn’t like to see anyone struggling or feeling that they have no one to reach out to. I believe I have the type of character that people feel they can share how they are feeling. They won’t be judged and I feel honoured that others trust me enough to tell me how they feel. I may not have the answer but I can listen and sometimes that is all anyone needs. I have times when I want to talk but I don’t know who to go to. I know part of my logic comes from the fact that I learned that I was expected to deal with whatever life threw at me, no matter the pain involved. When I cry, I am usually alone, battling my way through the pain, trying to find answers and always wishing I was strong enough to let someone be there for me. I do know there are people out there for me but asking and letting them see me emotional is very difficult. Yet, imagine how much better I would feel if I opened up, instead of having the mindset that others would find me weak. The thoughts that travel through my mind are more detrimental than if I simply reached out and talked to someone.
There are some people who feel we shouldn’t complain or focus on what isn’t right in our lives. I don’t totally agree, if we do this, we are simply pushing our thoughts down only to have them resurface again and again. Wouldn’t it be better to express our thoughts in a safe environment, deal with them and move on? I appreciate there are people who complain because they seek attention and yet another part of me feels this isn’t always the case. To say our lives are intricate, is an understatement. We need to be able to reach out to people we trust, who can help or offer positive words and thoughts to help us through our difficult times without fear of judgement.
I remember one particular Christmas morning when I sat in my parent’s garage smoking a cigarette and crying because I was on my own. A long term relationship had ended in the fall and when Christmas arrived, I was still hurting. I didn’t know who to share my feelings with, so I sat in their garage and cried. I didn’t want anyone to see the pain I was feeling so I dealt with it on my own. I wish I had been strong enough to share my feelings with another person, perhaps then that Christmas wouldn’t have been so hard. Each situation in life is meant to teach us something and with each situation we have to decide, do we want to deal with it now and move on or continue to carry the pain long term. Considering some of the pain I have carried around, I wish I had dealt with it and moved on. I deserve to be happy and in order to do that, I have to be willing to reach out, no matter how hard that is and some days, well, I still attempt to deal with life on my own.
If we continue to hide how we feel, what are we teaching future generations? One isn’t weak because they break down and cry. If we weren’t meant to have the emotions we do, we wouldn’t have given them. I have seen some very strong men cry and still think the world of them. It’s okay to cry, not sure why any generation has ever thought it wasn’t. We need to be able to share our emotions in safety. Had we been taught that it is okay to show our emotions and speak about what makes us sad, we would be better able to deal with life?
In my world I need to be more willing to share my emotions. I want to be able to learn from all the curve balls thrown at me in order that I can move on. I want others to know, I’m here and that I will help them as best I can, even if only by listening. I want to be able to show more than just the emotions of happiness and anger. I want to know it is safe to cry in front of others with no judgement. I no longer want to deal with everything on my own because there will be moments in my life that I need a shoulder as well.
Be kind to one another and lets teach the younger generation that there are other emotions and we shouldn’t be afraid to express them, because there will be events in life where a good cry and a safe place to talk about what is going on is all that is needed to move on to the next step in our lives.
The year was 1995, what a cliché, ‘the year was’ but in all honesty the year was 1995 and I was going on a trip of a lifetime. I had been to a few exotic locales when I was very young but nothing after that until my trip to England. When the opportunity came up to go to England I jumped at the chance. To go to a country filled with history, cobblestone roads and castles, count me in.
I had seen many pictures of England but seeing it in person was a dream come true and one day I will return. I was in awe about everything, well except the long flight. The flight took 6.5 hours, the plane was small and although I had a window seat, it was nearly impossible to get comfortable because of the inadequate leg room. I may be short waisted but I have long legs. Sleep was non-existent because I couldn’t get comfortable and I am not one for sleeping on flights at the best of times. Because we left in the evening, I had no chance to sleep until the following night in England. After we landed in England, I nodded off a bit in the car ride to my friend’s parents place but not enough to deal with the lack of sleep.
Their house was nestled in the English countryside of Northallerton. The grass in England is the most beautiful emerald green and the countryside has acre after acre of open fields divided by stone walls and hedges. Sheep are in abundance. I did manage to see cattle and horses but not in the numbers of what we have here in Canada. There are beautiful mountains and although the weather didn’t always co-operate, I did manage to catch a sneak peak of them.
During our trip I was taken around the countryside and I got to meet family and friends. The houses in England are very different from Canada. I remember feeling like I had been transported back to the sixties. The houses were sparsely furnished and the furniture and fixtures reminded me of the furniture my parents had when I was a little girl. Each entrance into a room had a door and when you were in said room, the doors were closed, unlike home where there may be doors on specific rooms but we aren’t ones for closing the doors, unless intentionally, whereas I found in England they were closing the doors. Having said that, no doubt when we have visitors from England they probably think we do some interesting things as well. That is what makes finding out about different cultures so neat.
The pubs were especially fun. We visited a very old pub called the Wellington Heifer. When I walked through the door, I felt like I had been transported back a century or two. The ceilings were made of wooded beams, the furniture was made out of cherry or mahogany wood and the burgundy seat covers and curtains were made out of velvet. Although we have pubs in Canada, they don’t compare to those in England.
The night we visited the Wellington Heifer, we met up with people Joyce knew. Steve was the local butcher and Chris did extensive travelling. It was night of laughter and drinking and there were times when I had no idea what the conversation was about because I couldn’t get past their accents and by the way I love the English accent, sigh. When I wasn’t sure what was being said, I simply nodded and smiled. I am sure I got compliments on my smile, it has won many a men over! It was after all what attracted my current husband or so he’s told me.
The beer, well, I am not one for English beer. I prefer my beer ice cold and I am definitely not one to drink ales, especially dark ales. As I didn’t think they would have Canadian beer, I ordered an English beer and although it started out bitter on my palate by the time I got to the end of it, it was tasting rather good. Having said that, my journal indicates I only had one. Odd for me because I do like my beer and when I am not drinking beer, I drink wine. As for dinner that night, I had lasagne which in England is totally different from what is made here. It didn’t appear to have tomato sauce in it but there were onions and red peppers throughout. They didn’t put as much cheese on it as we do but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Now when it comes to scenery, the churches, wow, I could spend pages writing about them. The stone work, the size, the history, each one had me mesmerized. Even though some of the churches were not in good shape, it didn’t matter to me because they were all beautiful in my eyes and those which weren’t fairing so well, conjured up many story ideas.
One church in particular that was beyond impressive was in York. The York Minster, is the cathedral of York England. Big doesn’t even begin to describe the size of this church. The building of this church started in the 13th Century. The church houses vaults of past ministers and various other people as well as some royalty. When I was there in 1995 they were in the last stages of renovating the church. The pictures I took back then, do not do it justice.
One of the places we visited on our travels was Scarborough. Here we got a great view of the North Sea. One of the spots we visited had posted signs in regards to water that came up and over a retaining wall. It truly was a site to see. I don’t recall having been anywhere else in my life and seen such waves and there were people who intentionally trying to get wet. Not my idea of a good time but it worked for others.
While in England, one has to visit London and we did. In my journal I wrote, ‘We headed into the madness that was downtown London. I thought Toronto was busy but after being in London, Toronto is not even close. The people in London doubled the number of people in downtown Toronto’. While in London, we saw the typical attractions, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Parliament Buildings and some very impressive statues. What I found most interesting was when the clocks struck five, London shut down. It took me a while to notice but as we wondered around, the streets were becoming more deserted. Joyce explained that the shops close at five o’clock, unlike home. It was almost eerie with how quiet the streets became.
The idea of writing about England popped into my mind as many of my article ideas do. The next time I go to England, I will travel to places I didn’t get to visit when I was there in 1995 and this time I will have my digital camera with me verses the 35 mm camera I had in 1995. I will take the time to see more castles, churches and any abandoned buildings that may be dotting the countryside. I have always loved history and I know this is one country that has plenty. If you ever get the chance to go, I highly recommend it. And I am sure there will be something that catches your eye and will have you wanting to go back a second time.
Scarborough by the North Sea
On June 9, I was at a writer’s event in Eden Mills. Eden Mills is a small village outside of Guelph Ontario, nestled in a valley, away from prying eyes and unless you are adventurous or know the beauty of this little village, you might totally miss it. When I was growing up, my father drove through Eden Mills often. As the years passed, the frequency dwindled and when I got my licence, I didn’t have any reason to drive through this quaint village, and if I did it was simply by chance. Even as a writer, I have yet to attend the Writer’s Festival held here every year. Perhaps this fall I will as a guest and one never knows, one of these fine years maybe as a speaker. Yes I can dream and I hope you do the same.
I found out about this particular writing event from a friend of mine. I have been fortunate enough to have her in my life for the past year. She is a writer herself and has kept me posted on local writing events. I wasn’t sure I would go to this one, as is typical with me, I hum and haw about events such as these. Do I want to take time out of my weekend to attend, is the drive going to be worth it. You see I live an hour away from Eden Mills and although driving time isn’t a worthwhile excuse, there have been times when I have allowed distance to dictate my decisions. After a day or two of bouncing the idea around, I ordered my ticket. Although I had no idea what to expect, I knew I would benefit being around other gifted writers where I could share my writing and feelings in a safe environment, it would also allow me to spend time with my friend.
This wasn’t a typical writing event where you took something you were already working on or started on an idea you had. The point of this writing was to explore your feelings and get them down on paper. We had a number of exercises using different props to get our thoughts flowing. The first exercise included candles and music. We were left to write about whatever came to mind. We could remain at the group table or go to the adjacent room and write. As it turned out, the adjacent room was an old church. From the inside, short of the pews and organ, one might not know it had been a church, from the outside, the aged stone walls gave it away as having been there for a very long time, longer than I have graced this earthly planet.
When I found out that we could go into, what is now called, the sanctuary, I jumped at the chance. Old buildings, their history and stories attract me but they also comfort me and when I can, I embrace them as I did on Saturday. One thing I know for sure is that I am truly an old soul, a part of me knows I have been around this world before. And perhaps in that previous life I had a connection to old buildings. These old buildings with all their beauty open up my mind to incredible visions which I can’t get onto paper fast enough and for that I am incredibly grateful.
The music and the setting allowed me to write from that place of inner knowing and to be one with myself. No worries, only writing and letting my true feelings flow. I wouldn’t have to share my writing if I didn’t want to and this particular piece, I did not want to share.
I love writing from a place of safety and recognizing feelings and thoughts that have followed me for far too many years. Thoughts that serve no purpose but thoughts that have guided me through my life and left me in tears and frustration at the end of some days. What was interesting about this piece was the fact that I was seeking approval but questioned, if I didn’t get it, did it really matter? As I write this article, emotions well up in me, as I think about my need for approval after so many years. A moment of wanting to know if the people who are most important in my life, are proud of me and yet knowing, all that really matters is if I am proud of myself.
Other writing that day involved using pictures as a way of expressing an event or why we were drawn to the picture, taking words on magnets and putting them in whatever order you wanted to create a poem or using ten memories of your life and arranging them into a poem. The most significant exercise for me involved a writing prompt. The prompt included a few short sentences to give us an idea on what our writing should be about and see where it took us. As I thought there were only three, I decided to choose the one that represented being a lioness. My short passage revolved around a character I came up with many years ago. It was easy to write and this piece I decided to read. What I didn’t expect as I was reading the piece, were the emotions that came to the surface. Imagine writing about being a lioness full of power and strength, a strength you have never felt in your lifetime and then reading your words aloud. I can remember the moment when my real emotions came to the surface. I could feel myself weakening at my words. At that particular moment, the power was in my writing, not my speaking. As I write this, I am still trying to figure out why the emotions came to the surface as they did. Is it a fear to recognize my power around others or the fear of taking action, action that I have never taken before but that I knew needed to be taken at that particular point in the story? The moment I wrote about, has the potential of becoming reality but if I can step into Camilla’s shoes, the strength I have always wanted may come to light, but can I be so sure?
By the end of the day, I realized my memories of past events need to be put to rest. Repeating the same thoughts over and over have only brought me pain and kept me stuck. I am looking forward to my next writing event. Whether I get to explore my feelings or write about a world long ago, the best part is being around people who share your passion, inspire you and listen without judgement to your words. Yes, I need more of this, so next time a writer’s event is suggested to me, I will be quicker to say yes and I know my soul will thank me for it.
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