Monthly Archives: July 2014

Housewarming

It is an interesting phenomena that official housewarmings seem to go with buying a new place, not with renting one so nothing formal marked my move from an apartment to this townhouse where I have room to set aside a space for my art, to have an extra bed or two for my grandchildren and to sit at a table with someone to share a coffee or tea. The warming comes, instead, each time someone comes to share the space with me.

P1070757cThe first housewarming occurred the day I moved in. My special friend, David came down from his home up north. My son drove over from Alberta. My son-in-law and daughter helped move boxes and my other daughter met us after work to share a visit and a meal in a local Chinese restaurant where I am on friendly terms with the staff. Having them around me made the house a home even before the boxes were unpacked.

In the next weeks, boxes were emptied and things began to find their home in the space. The rush of finishing school and a two week trip out of province kept me from having others in for a time. David came to share a play and help pick out a piece of furniture, but other than that I shared the space only with myself. It was a time of my own settling in and finding the space my own.

P1090044cThis past weekend my house was warmed once more as my grandchildren had their first visit. Toys scattered across the space, kiddie couches sprawled out in the living room, a new mattress in the office waiting for the love seal fold-out frame that would give that special bed for the little ones. My rickety chairs were reinforced with new child friendly seats welcoming for the many visits I hope they share with me here.

P1090272cDuring my granddaughter’s nap, her big brother put his mark on the place by helping me build a two drawer IKEA dresser so each of them can have their own drawer here. It is not a fashion home, but instead has games and toys shelved and stored, ready for the visits of little ones who are important to my world.

Wednesday they joined me again. In the afternoon my other daughter and her special other came by as well. Watching her fellow sprawled out on the floor playing cars with my grandson was a special sight. Having those moments to visit with her was a joy.

It doesn’t take much to warm a place. The presence of loved ones, room to explore the arts and other interests that make life vibrant, neighbours who show an understanding of shared space by helping each other. This is my celebration. The joy of it is, it does not have a time frame. It is something that I can celebrate over and over with each new guest who enters this space.

 The laughter of children
warms the heart and home.
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Interlude of dreams

DSC09914cIt is the interlude between. The images and action rouses me to the edge of wakefulness. Shadows of events fade into questions or knowing before my mind drifts into the quiet of dreamless sleep. I wake, knowing that my life is at a place of quietness because the images don’t last past those first waking moments. They are the secret language of my inner self sorting through the events of the day, settling the mementos on the shelves of memories, new icons to play a part when life brings moments needing a language that can cross the barrier to the waking self.

I remember a time I needed to know. I felt a hollowness within, wondering if I was an empty shell, if beyond the surface of duty and roles was an empty house with nobody home. I felt the lesions of hopelessness scaring me and dreamed them as a person who could not speak or show emotion, a person who seemed to have no mind, no direction. I called the person a He. His disfigurement was nothing I could identify with and I wanted to keep him away from me. And then I woke and the image of his lumpy lesions left me with unrest.

And then another night I dreamed again only this time, I was face to face with the same person. I reached out and lanced one of the boils and as it cleaned out the shape of the face began to change. It was not a he at all. I was looking at a mirror of how I saw me. The task ahead of cleaning out the things I saw as disfiguring my spirit seemed daunting. There was a hopelessness that walked with my dogged determination to keep taking the next step. Could I ever find an end to the dis-ease I felt within?

So I dreamed again. We were walking out on a large stone dissecting a stream into two channels. The sun was warm and the sound of rapidly moving water was a white noise lightly pierced by the peals of laughter from the children jumping on the rocky shelf. Suddenly looking downstream I saw danger. Huge pieces of stone large enough to shake that surface were pummeling down the stream. I tried to cry out, to warn the children of the danger but the sound of the water muffled my cries. I watched in horror as the huge stones smashed against the rock. I watched in wonder as the children kept playing, oblivious to the onslaught that should have cracked the stone or at least caused it to shift under their feet.

“They are only pumas stone.” The words jarred me from my sleep. Pumas stone, the light airy stone from a volcano that is so full of tunneling holes that it is far lighter than it appears. I woke with a knowing that those lesions in my spirit were like that pumas stone. They looked bigger than they were. The healing, though it would take years, would not be impossible. What I saw with my mind’s eye was tunneled with possibility and hope that would keep them from having the weight to hold me down or to cause irreparable cataclysms in my life. Healing would happen.

Such is the power of sleep. It quiets the unrest of our waking self so that, if we choose to listen, we can hear the other voices in our spirit that just might have what we need to move forward in our life.

There is a Psalm that speaks of the blessing of sleep. When my heart is most at unrest, sleep is the place that lets me hear, and in hearing, helps me heal.

To the Young Woman I Met

P1080957When I first met you, your smile sparkled as you sought a way to show off the teeshirt advertising the play you just saw. Your enthusiasm and uninhibited willingness to try something new was a brightness in the day. You left me with a smile on my face as you walked away. How I longed for the days when, like you, conversational patter had come so easily. But then I went on enjoying the memory of that moment as I shared my own smile with others.

The day we sat down to talk you surprised me by revealing that the beautiful young woman I see does not see herself as beautiful and special. Sharing a bit of our stories, you asked me how I had made peace with my life. I did not pretend to have it all together, but I can’t pretend to regret my life either. I am still growing. I still have moments of unrest. There is still healing that is in process in my life, but I am at peace with where my life is at.

P1070676So I told you I would write you this letter about some of the ways I have made peace with my life.

1) I don’t expect anyone or anything to save me or to do the hard work for me of healing. When you wait for others to do it for you, then you resent what is not done. You feel let down and alone. If you can look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are enough, that you can heal, that you are willing to have the patience with time, the honesty of self-acceptance and the strength to face the things that hurt, healing begins. When I take the responsibility for my own joy in life then whatever I receive from others can be seen as a gift instead of a requirement.

2.) I am thankful for what others bring to my life. It is hard for me to let down the control of my outcomes enough to let others in and to let others help me. It is not easy to release my independence or to accept the word of others that they might come through with the things they DSC09388boffer to do. I have to raise the mirror to my own humanity and face how my own desires to do for others sometimes outstrip my own ability to carry through in order to accept that others may want to support me in ways as well. I will read the signals wrong. We will all make mistakes. But in it all, through giving the benefit of the doubt and through recognizing that a kindness shown is a gift for both giver and recipient, I connect with others. Each connection in turn opens me to the next one.

3.) I accept that the past influences me. I let myself dream toward the future. But I am learning to live in the moment I am in. I am learning to let this be enough just as it is. I am learning to accept and own my feelings as my own and to know that no matter how uncomfortable the feelings of a moment might be, they will not stay that way forever. Yet, I am learning not to take the responsibility to change my feelings. I am learning to take the responsibility to listen to them so that they can teach me what I need to know in that moment of time. It is only in owning my moments that I will live beyond what is past into what is to come. What I do with the moment I live counts.

P10801004.) I am learning that I am what I need to be to live my life. I don’t have to wait for some magical moment or some planet-aligned sequence of events. I don’t have to wait until I have achieved some level of fame, the perfect body ratio, the circle of friends I do long to have. All the things that can be someday are possibility. But their presence or their lack does not decide my life. I am free to make my life what it can be because I am everything I need to be in this moment to move into the next one.

No, it does not fit the social expectations of all that life “should” be, but a life based on “should” is a life that is waiting, not a life that is being lived. I have chosen to live, to grow, to be the person that I am. I have chosen to accept myself as a person in transition without expecting to arrive at some predesignated destination where everything will finally be happy ever P1080429after. I have chosen to live in my todays.

And because I have, I was privileged to have those moments of sharing with you, those moments of seeing beyond the mask you have learned to wear to hide the ache you have within. I only hope that the moments we shared enriched your life in some way.

I know you have enriched mine.

It’s No Surprise

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She is living a dream from childhood. Today is the final show for this year’s theatre festival. Her play has been nominated for an award honoring the best 10294452_10152346439310091_4593152265505484908_nnew play shown at the festival.

I remember when she shared with me the first edit of the script. In the months that followed, the content remained the same but the timeline morphed to create the experience viewed in the past two weeks. Four characters, a director, a stage manager, light technician and assistant manager brought the story to life. Many of the faces were familiar — people who have become connections through the years she had begun to realize a dream that was such a part of her she almost didn’t recognize it for what it was.

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Friends on stage and in life

From early in life, she loved stories, people and drama in an ever shifting order of priorities. She blames some of it on me. Her brother had the kind of active curiosity that would get him into scrapes before he could even walk. When she joined our family just short of his second birthday, nursing time would also be the time I would read him stories. Where some people find comfort in food, she has told me, she finds comfort in books and ties it to that time before she was even fully aware of her history.

didn’t stop there. At one and a half when I helped with the script work on a children’s musical, she came along with me since her older brother would be in the choir and needed to know the songs as well as a 3 and a half year old could. Megan played quietly behind the piano until P1090231cthe practices got under way. Then she decided a game of peek-a-boo with the choir was in order. A few giggle spurred her on and soon she had the whole group laughing. Figuring out the cause I picked her up and took her to the back of the room where I was watching. She happily played with a hat under the table for about 5 minutes. Then, with the hat jauntily posed on her head she made a dash for the front of the choir where she began to dance around. Needless to say, her dad got elected for babysitting duty during the rest of the practices.

P1090236cMegan loved dress up of any form. Perhaps the first year role as doll to her cousins on their visits helped there. My trunk of clothes played multiple duty as the girls would come and make their plays including Megan and Ian in the drama. When later we moved away from them bringing the trunk came along, the plays continued with Megan including her brother, her friends and her little sister in her scripts. The life size rag dolls had roles as well in the dramas that formed the play at home complete with mimicking cadences from familiar voices. I know I cringed more that once when I would hear my own tones a bit too realistically for comfort.

P1090237cShe brimmed with stories and songs. When given a tape and taught to press the buttons on the machines, the merry sound of stories and songs filled the air. When she would run out of material she would continue in rhythmic gibberish until she found her next idea. During those times, our main conversation was “Mom, turn the tape! I’m done!”

Halloween was a favorite time of year. For that day she could become whatever she dreamed of being. With sewing machine and second hand clothing or a piece of bargain material, I would create the costumes, Sometime in elementary school she also took over her own costume design starting with the year she was the secretary with the typewriter box for the treats.

HowhardisittostandontwofeetcShe participated in choreography books in middle years, used her classmates as the stones in a presentation about Stonehenge, was a part of drama in high school. Yet when beginning university her dreams focused elsewhere. The theatre company at her university brought her back to her dreams. In the end, her major became her minor and Megan graduated in theatre arts.

The Fringe and her group of friends found their center in those days. She has never looked back.

Tonight she will find out whether or not the award will come to her. I chose to write before that moment because this is not about the award it is about the girl, a woman now, who is finding her dreams and, in so doing, bringing pleasure and thoughtfulness to others.

It’s no surprise. She has always seen life as a treasure to unwrap — and a story to tell.

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* To give credit where credit is due, since most of my involvement in her theatre life is from the audience seat, the adult pictures of her are from her cache of pictures taken by others.

Update: No, she did not win the award. Her only comment when talking to me about it was how much she liked the play that did win.

 

Okay, That does it!

I couldn’t believe it. The rumbling sound of the garbage truck roused me from my revery. My first garbage pickup to be responsible to have my bins out for and I had missed it, and on a hot summer day. I groaned as I leaped up to see if just maybe it was the larger truck for the nearby apartment. It wasn’t.

I ran outside to look. How could someone have done this to me? I had only been in my home a little over a month. The first weeks I had still had the garbage bin at my apartment building. The past weeks I had been on a vacation. Now, I was finally really settling in here and I had the time wrong for when to put out my bins!

But there they were, set in place. One of the neighbors I am just starting to know must have understood. Without a word or an expectation they did this mundane job for me.

I think I know who would have done this. They are the same people who picked up my mail for me while I was gone. Our schedules have so far differed enough that we have hardly talked but they have still given small kindnesses.

Even though after 4 months of getting to stretch out over the parking spaces, they now have to clear two of the spaces for me, both families that share my lot and the building our homes reside in have been friendly.

Now this.

Small kindnesses go a long way to making others feel welcomed and valued. Without that sense of caring, space is simply space.

That does it! I think this townhouse is starting to feel like home. I only hope I can find ways to return small kindnesses to my neighbours.

It feels like home

I didn’t know what to expect. After having only lived here two weeks while finishing the school year and unpacking boxes, I left for a trip. For 19 days I would travel to Northern Manitoba, across country to Edmonton Alberta, fly to Victoria, B.C., ferry across to Vancouver, fly back to Edmonton and drive back to northern Manitoba where I would collect my car and come back home.

Leaving my vacation behind I felt unsettled driving back to my city. How would it feel coming back to this place that hasn’t yet developed the familiar lines of my space/?

I found myself worrying about what bills might have come in while I was away. Would I have late fees to start my time in my new place? Would the incessant rains that have fallen while I was away flooding areas just west of my city have caused any havoc in the basement? Worries tried to whirl in my brain until I reminded myself of mindfulness and the reality that all I would find when I got back wouldn’t be anything I could deal with until I got back.

For the time being, the sun was shining but it wasn’t so hot that I was roasting in my non-air conditioned car. Yes, I had to roll up the windows when I would slow neat the side of the road. The dark shadowy “bull dogs” swirled around my car like a tornado of hunger. I had heard they bite and I didn’t want first hand experience with that.

Then there was the construction that slowed down my return. All well in good. The drive gave me time to transition forward. Leaving my friend behind in his home up north and not having that surety of familiarity when I got here made it easy to take it slow.

I needn’t have worried. My hyper vigilance had left a credit in one bill for my apartment that was transferred forward to my new address. The other  ended up being due today so with a quick strike of a pen I was up-to-date. Things were in place ready to move forward when I got here.

It’s quiet though. The sound of the vehicles rushing by is my city stream. I don’t really hear it as more than the sound of life around me. There are no other voices to listen for, no conversations in this space. The silence pillows my mind in peace.

Yes, I loved the time with others in the past weeks. I look forward to the busyness of my volunteer shifts at the local Fringe Festival in the coming weeks. I hope not long will pass before I see my children and grandchildren again and for visits with friends to fill the days ahead. I look forward to Dave coming for a few days. His room stands ready.

But for these moments, my body sinks back in my chair while my fingers dance their familiar steps on the keyboard. I have yet to sort out all the corners of the town house that now holds my possessions and my hopes of what I  can make of it. That is okay. I have many tomorrows to figure that all out.

For now, it is a time for resting and reflecting. It is easy here. It feels like home.