Forget-Me-Not

It’s All Been a Blessing – Guess Who I Am Talking About

A Special Convocation

In the spring of 2004, a special convocation was held in Vancouver where Honourary Degrees from both Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia were bestowed on three Nobel Laureates, who had all won the Peace Prize. The recipients were the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Shirin Ebadi.

It was a week long event with enormous gatherings of 30,000; smaller gatherings of 1000 and one special gathering of 300, where the Dalai Lama made an appearance.  My Mother was one of the lucky ones, along with my sister, a few friends and myself. We all received the white scarf, his blessing and a memorable moment for a lifetime. My take away was: “Never resist a generous impulse,” and “My religion is kindness,” which is the same religion as my Mother’s.

I was thinking of the Dalai Lama as his 85th Birthday was this week and I had recently watched a documentary  about him (which I highly recommend) called In His Own Words. It is wonderful and  I hope to show it to my Mother, later this month.

It brought me back to that extraordinary week in Vancouver 16 years ago, where we also met many other amazing teachers and writers representing all of the wisdom traditions.

It’s all a Blessing

Rabbi Zalman Schachter, was one of them. He  wrote the book, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, amongst many others. Several of us became interested in his warm and enlivening concepts, to turn ageing into a meaningful, lively and joyful time of life while passing on wisdom to the younger generation.

Rabbi Schachter wrote a blessing that my Mother loved and loves to this day. She keeps it out in plain sight so it is readily available.

I dedicate this blessing to my Mother who has showered us with blessings for 100 years. And to everyone, doing the very best they can do with challenging situations. You all have my highest admiration.

  “Whether the golden sun warms you to the core or the bitter cold wind stings your face, it is all a blessing. Whether you are surrounded by pleasure or immersed in toil and strife, every moment is a thing that carries boundless beauty and possibility.

Take each moment as it comes to you and give your best to it. Resenting the pain will only make it more painful, and hoarding the pleasure will only prevent you from experiencing its joy.

Give your attention and your energy to where you are. For when you truly appreciate the value of where you are and what you have, it opens you up to a world of possibilities.

Move beyond your own arbitrary judgments, and things that were once difficult and intolerable can become far easier to bear. Consider that much of what makes something difficult is the way you think and feel about it.

Rather than seeing yourself as enduring something unpleasant, see yourself as contributing your very best to a challenging and energizing situation. Rather than waiting for something better to come along, take the initiative and find a way to make something better actually happen.

Every moment is a truly unique and valuable blessing when you see it as such.”

Rabbi Zalman Schachter

Notes:

Note 1:) Rabbi Schachter, was the author of many books, a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, an innovator in ecumenical dialogue and a revered as well as a controversial figure in the overlapping circles of his life.

Note 2:) My Mother’s strength is  “to take the initiative and find a way to make something better actually happen.”

Note 3:) Speaking of my Mother, (as hinted in my title today)  she is in the hospital until Monday, July 13th. I am flying out on Sunday and we will be together with our family bubble, until the end of July on beautiful Gabriola Island. Is that not happiness!

Note 4:) I appreciate you dear readers. You are simply the best. Many thanks and the warmest of wishes. Take care of yourselves and make the most of everyday. Remember to allow lots of time for beauty in your life. We need that now, or so it seems to me.  See you next week. Trudy

A Few Poems For my Mother

Wake up call

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

by Rudyard Kipling

Gusty and Warm

I saw the season’s first bluebird

this morning, one month ahead

of it’s scheduled arrival.

Lucky I am

to go off to my cancer appointment

having been given a bluebird, and,

for a lifetime, having been given

this world.

By Ted Hooser – former US Poet Laureate

Notes

Note 1:) Claudia Zoe Bedrick , the founder of Enchanted Lion Books in the US, is an immense poetry-lover. She became besotted with poetry early and has remained bewitched for life. She tells her story like this. For my 8th birthday, my dad gave me a book called Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle: a book that now sits on my teenage son’s shelf. His inscription: Stories are a meal. But poetry is a glass of water, perhaps even a single drop that will save your life. At the age of eight, I didn’t fully understand what he meant, but I came to, and have ever since thought of poetry as water: essential, calm, churning, a vortex of light and shadow, refreshingly cool, pleasingly warm, and sometimes just hot enough or cold enough to jolt, charge, render slightly uncomfortable, and bring one fully, deeply to life once again.

Note 2:) Here is a beautiful Ted Talk on Nature Beauty and Gratitude I posted it over a year ago but it is always inspiring to watch.

Note 3:) I truly enjoyed this classic French song, by the Laval Youth Choir in  Quebec. The song is about friendship, and how we need each other to help see us through our difficulties. And how we can warm each other’s hearts with our tender caring of each other.

Note 4:) Thank you for your good wishes for My Mother. I pass on every one. Everyday, her emails arrive bearing some good news, along with the reality of life with a broken hip at 100. Thank you once again for stopping by here to read this blog.  Stay safe and enjoy everyday. Warmest wishes, trudy

You Already Won the Lottery

A Story:

One of our family members who lives in a prairie city in Canada, called me the other night with this story. It goes like this:

“I was in the lineup at the grocery store where everyone talks to everyone else, even when social distancing. I had an older man behind me, and on impulse I picked up two lottery tickets, turned to him and asked:

Do you think these are lucky?

He paused, looked me straight in the eye and said this:

‘You are young,  beautiful and you look healthy. You have already won the lottery.'”

Yikes, she said, it was like a whack on the side of the head. I will never forget those words.

And here I am, telling you now, because they contain such wisdom. I will not forget those words either.

Now this. My Mother is in the hospital with a broken hip. She fell Sunday evening, was operated on Monday afternoon and is now recovering from it all. The worst part is the physio as it is excruciatingly painful. The second worst part is Covid 19 since my sister who lives nearby is not permitted in to see her. Have I mentioned my Mother is 100?? Only kidding. I have told you at least 100 times. Third worst part is I am 4600 KM away and even if I got on a crowed airplane I cannot see her. Fourth worst part is her hair. “It’s a disaster, she said. “Please tell the family not to video call me. I look a wreck.”

I am now sounding a little cavalier. But this scenario is no joke and it is actually horrible for my Mother. She had recently bought a beautiful, sturdy, burgundy-coloured walker, with a comfortable seat. It seemed the answer to an occasional wobble when walking outdoors. And it was a place to sit for a breather. She believes she tripped over one of the wheels, when turning to place a bag of delicious Sonoma Valley, Washington State cherries,  on the counter. Is that not ironic?

Let me tell you a little more.

This morning, I received an email from Mom to send out to my extended family.  (my sister was able to drop off her I-pad with the concierge yesterday) This is what she wrote.

“Thanks to all of you for your heart warming messages. It is so thoughtful of you. I am being well cared for. The best thing about the hospital is the heated blankets, especially on a cool rainy day, like today. I am grateful for all your support. Everyone is exceptionally kind here and I love you all very dearly, Eileen, Aunt, Mother, Grandma, Friend.”

So, in spite of the pain, her vulnerability, her loneliness, and the fact that she is going through this with no family member in the room, she refuses to give in to self pity. She can cry. she can ask for what she needs. She can say no to what she doesn’t want. But she will always make sure she notices the way she won the lottery: her family and friends; the medical team; her iPad so she can write an email and the warm blankets. These too are part of her reality and they don’t get subsumed by all the “what if’s and if only’s.”  She is a realist with a wide angle lens.

 “If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella Use It.”

This week’s Webinar  at Wellspring Calgary is called “If It’s Raining and You Have an Umbrella, Use It.” Sometimes it rains and there is no umbrella. Or maybe the umbrella leaks or blows inside out with a gust of wind. There isn’t always an antidote to our pain and suffering. But if there is something to be done, it’s best to do it. My sister and I have now found an advocate in the hospital,  for our Mother. We can’t be there but we know that Heidi is now paying attention to Mom and cares about her. She is our umbrella. And Mom takes the pain medication and does the dreaded physiotherapy. They are two things she can do to restore her mobility and interdependence. And her learning to use an iPad when she was 90 is paying off in spades in this last decade. Consequently, she called me to night on audio face-time. I asked about the physio. “It was horrible,” she said, “but I think it might have been a teeny bit better than yesterday. I’ll try and keep going for now and reassess a bit later.”

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”- Mary Anne Radmacher

Notes:

Note 1:) Heidi, our wonderful advocate told us today that Mom met every surgical marker on time. “None of  us can believe she is 100. The entire floor is awestruck. Her mind and reasoning are  fully intact and no different than our own. How can this be, she proclaimed? And she is so kind to all of us. We have simply fallen in love with her.”

Note 2:) This day, where we woke up once again, is the lottery, don’t you think? When we sit up, look around, and take it all in, we are bound to see that we too have already won the lottery.

Note 3:) Thank you, thank you, dear readers for continuing to read my blog. You are a gift in my life. Stay safe out there and enjoy your precious lives. Take nothing for granted. Give away all your best words to those you love, while you can.

Note 4:) The deepest bow to my Mother, for her courage, love, humility, steadfastness, and grace under adversity. She is my inspiration. The pink dogwood in the banner is for you, Mom.

 

Break the Mirror

Break the Mirror

In the morning

After taking cold shower

—–what a mistake—–

I look at the mirror.

There, a funny guy,

Grey hair, white beard, wrinkled skin,

—–what a pity—–

Poor, dirty, old man!

He is not me, absolutely not.

Land and life

Fishing in the ocean

Sleeping in the desert with stars

Building a shelter in mountains

Farming the ancient way

Singing with coyotes

Singing against nuclear war-

I’ll never be tired of life.

Now I’m seventeen years old,

Very charming young man.

I sit down in lotus position,

Meditating, meditating for nothing.

Suddenly a voice comes to me:

To stay young,

To save the world,

Break the mirror.”

Nanao Sakaki from the book, Break the Mirror, Blackberry Books

 

I love this poem.

When I was going through chemotherapy, I found it disconcerting when I saw my face reflected in a mirror. Who was this person? Where was the one I recognized as me? It was more than the absence of hair that bothered me. Rather, it was something about my eyes. I couldn’t see myself there, which I noticed after the first round of chemo and more so as treatments continued. I remember questioning myself: Whose eyes are these? Is this me?

In the beginning, after my hair fell out and my head was shaved, I made a point to look in mirrors. I didn’t want to be startled by myself or be afraid when I caught a sudden glimpse in a mirror. I quickly adjusted to my loss of hair, but it took months for me to spot my spirit, which was no longer reflected in the mirror. At that time, I knew someone who had a transformative holiday when she spent an entire summer on a boat. It was not the boat that was significant but the fact that the boat had no mirrors. For two full mirror – free months she was intact, whole, and good enough. She declared it a highlight in her life.

I am not suggesting that we break our mirrors, but I too learned that I am not just what I see reflected back at me. Maybe we all could use a mirror break from time to time. May we all learn to look at ourselves and each other, beyond our skin and hair and see the true nature of what lies beyond them.

A deep bow to Sakaki, for this poem. Nanao Sakaki died in Japan at the age of 85. (1923-2008)

Notes

Note 1:) This poem popped into my mind tonight and truthfully, this is the way I often write my blog. I discovered this poem in 2008 around the time my hair was coming out and I put it on my old Joyful Wrecks blog immediately. The last time I reprinted it and with permission, was in the ToDo Institute Quarterly, Thirty Thousand Days.

Note 2:) I zoomed into Wellspring Calgary today for another joy-filled and gratitude-filled webinar encounter with members, staff and volunteers.

Note 3:) On my daughter’s block we had a lobster porch party tonight. This is an old neighbourhood in the Glebe where most houses have porches, and those porches are loved even more during this time of Covid-19. It was great fun, excellent lobster and all I had to do was show-up. That was happiness.

Note 4:) Thank you for stopping by. I wish I could greet you in person but I am grateful and honoured to meet you here once a week. Stay safe and enjoy your life. This is not a contradictory statement. Both are possible. Warmest regards, Trudy

Optimism of Uncertainty

Howard Zinn

Historian Howard Zinn (1922 – 2010) wrote in an article for The Nation, in September 2004, called The Optimism of Uncertainty. His words hold promise for today as well.

“An optimist isn’t necessarily a blithe, slightly sappy whistler in the dark of our time. To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. “

I resonate with these words of Howard Zinn. I have no reason to doubt him, because this has been my experience of life.

I continue to encourage everyone to balance our media consumption with  sunrises and long lingering sunsets. And, don’t forget full moon viewing. This latest one was called a strawberry moon;  my favourite, amongst a few choices, on the list.

Strolls, beautiful music, gardens, talks with favourite people, children, laughter, naps, and of course your serious work and obligations too. I just don’t need to remind anyone of those things. We already have lots of practice.

This is also a time to rush slowly, (if you must rush at all) don’t you think. Keep your eyes peeled for moments of beauty, joy, insight and wonder. Best to take nothing for granted.

Generosity and kindness is everywhere.

Take heart. Please always ask for help when you need it.

 

Notes:

Note 1:) Last Friday night the Zoom call with my Japanese friends was so much fun. It was wonderful to see them all and be together in a zoom room. We will happily do it again. Thanks Yoshie and Nancy for your teamwork.

Note 2:) For any Leonard Cohen fan, I posted a link to The Anthem, from his Live in London tour in 2008. He was 74 and took up a demanding tour, with no rancour, having lost almost all his fortune to an unscrupulous financial manager. “I have several people who count on me,” he explained, “so I need to make up these losses.” I love this entire performance and want to share this one song with you. The Anthem

Note 3:) Thanks Rob, for the photos.  (Vandusen Gardens Vancouver) I love buttercups and poppies, especially this unique red and white one.

Note 4:)  Trusted Resources for Unlearning and Transforming Racism on gratefulness.org

Note 5: ) Thank you all for coming by. You know that I appreciate you and I never grow tired of telling you so. See you next week. Warmest wishes, Trudy

 

If I Diminish You I Diminish Myself – Archbishop Desmond TuTu

In 2004 I had the great gift of spending a few days in Vancouver, listening to the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. In summary, it was a profound experience and for all the wise words I heard, I took away the following:

  • “Never resist a generous impulse.” Dalai Lama
  • The concept of Ubunto, “to be human we need other humans.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Ubunto

Today, my friend and colleague Patti Morris posted this explanation of ubunto on her Facebook page. It seems to me that this week I need not add any more words to the millions of words out there. Words can be used as gifts and as weapons. These words are a gift.

“In my culture the highest praise that can be given to someone is “ubuntu” … a central tenet of African philosophy: the essence of what it is to be human … People with ubuntu are approachable and welcoming; their attitude is kindly and well-disposed; they are not threatened by the goodness in others because their own esteem and self-worth is generated by knowing they belong to a greater whole … No one comes into the world fully formed … We need other human beings in order to be human.”  – Archbishop Desmond Tutu

If I diminish you, I diminish myself.

Poignant words from Martin Luther King from 53 years ago.

For those who are telling me to keep my mouth shut, I can’t do that. I’m against segregation at lunch counters, and I’m not going to segregate my moral concerns. And we must know on some positions, cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” Vanity asks the question, “Is it popular?” But conscience asks the question, “Is it right?” And there are times when you must take a stand that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but you must do it because it is right.


We can all learn from these people of wisdom and action.
May you all be safe and healthy and may we all grow in awareness of what is needed now.
I will see you next week. With appreciation and love, and sorrow too, Trudy

Zoom Challenge from Japan

I am a sporadic facebook user, although I have worked at paying a  little more attention since Covid-19. After a busy Wednesday, I took a quick look through FB, and much to my delight I saw this message directed to me from the Mont Blanc Project in Japan.

Canadian Rocky Mountain members use zoom to challenge a meeting over the ocean with you.

I immediately accepted the challenge and will start the zoom ball rolling with my friend and translator par excellence, Yoshie.

Many of my readers read about this adventure, last July, when this special group of mountain climbers arrived in Calgary from Japan. They came to hike in the Rockies and spend a day at Wellspring Calgary.

It was so delightful for me, Nancy Wright, and all the wonderful members, volunteers and staff at Wellspring Calgary to get to spend time together, with our Japanese guests. You can read more on my blog and I will link to the posts, in my notes. In summary, it was full of joy from beginning to end.

For now, a reminder of their inspirational purpose:

to demonstrate to themselves and others that you can live an active, purposeful and joyful life while ageing  and while experiencing serious illness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The timing seems perfect for three reasons:

  • I am thinking everyday about old friends
  • I had a call this week with one of those precious friends
  • An intention to make time to follow through, by getting in touch and staying in touch

I can testify to my delight when I heard the voice of my friend and immediately saw her face in front of me. And we were not on zoom. And I felt that small and unexpected leap of joy when I spotted the zoom challenge to Trudy on FB.

Our friends and family make our lives worth living. Old friends, scattered across the globe and new friends whom we are lucky enough to meet in our 70’s. Dear  friends and family who are part of our everyday life. And for me, all the wonderful people whom I have had the privilege to meet, through my life’s work, including right here, on this page.

I have been thinking so much about the question, “what matters most?” And the answer changes at different ages and circumstances for each of us.What matters most to me is not the same as for my 14 year old granddaughter or  the 31 year old who has just received a diagnosis of cancer.

This has nothing to do with comparison and everything to do with our life stages and contexts. It is worth it, however, no matter your age to consider the question. And then take a peak to see if you are acting on and with “what matters most.”

Don’t save your best till last. Be bountiful with your words and actions, while you can.

Notes

Note: 1) Yesterday on my walk with Rowan at 7:15 AM he said, “Nana, let’s say what we like about each other. We can go back and forth. If one of us repeats what the other one said, they need to say a second thing on that round.” And so it went, walking along the canal, with flowering trees and hundreds of tulips  and beautiful flowers in bloom. Telling each other what we like about that person. What a way to start the day.

Note: 2) Here are some links:

A joyful music video put together by the cast of the Broadway Play, Beautiful.  It made me smile and a tear welled up over the incredible response from the entertainment and artistic community to brighten our days and cheer us on. Thank you!

Links to blog posts with my/our Japanese friends:

The Mont Blanc Effect

The Universal Language of Generosity

Harvard Study (80 years of continuous research on the role of relationships and community in healthy and happy ageing) 

When the study began, nobody cared about empathy or attachment. But the key to healthy aging is relationships, relationships, relationships.” — George Vaillant

Note:3) Find the beauty everyday.  It is always there even in the midst of grief and sadness. 

Note: 4) Thank you for dropping by. I appreciate you all, dear readers, more than you could imagine. Hugs all around, Trudy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty Is In the Eye of the Beholder

Is it a weed or a flower?

When I was a girl, about the age of my youngest grandson, who just turned 10, I came upon a field of beauty. I was on my way home from school and  took a slightly different route. To my surprise, I saw  a big field of yellow flowers. As I came closer, I stopped in my tracks to admire all that beautiful yellow stretching out in front of me. The owner, caught my eye, and I called out to ask if  I could pick five flowers for my Mother. To my happiness, he told me to go ahead and pick all the yellow flowers I wanted. Although I didn’t want to take advantage of his generosity, I gathered up a good bouquet and hurried home.

My Mother kindly placed the dandelions in a beautiful short vase and as happy as I was, my heart sank, when I later overheard an adult use the word, weeds. “Dandelions are weeds.”

So the question is, when is a weed not a weed?

There are two points of view:

Wikipedia describes a weed as a plant that is considered undesirable in a particular place.

Ralph Waldo Emerson described a weed as a plant whose virtue has not yet been discovered.

Consider the lowly dandelion. Imagine my surprise, 35 years later, when first visiting Austria in the spring, and seeing untouched fields of dandelions, in the orchards, especially the wine fields. It appears that the dandelion has a more favourable image in Europe, and in folklore medicine was considered a reliable tonic, amongst many other things.

All of these memories returned this morning, during a beautiful walk in the experimental farm gardens, with my 14 year old granddaughter. We rounded a corner, and in the next instant, was a field of gold. She kindly joined me in my enthusiastic praise for the humble dandelion.

Two hours outdoors in the warmth of the sun did wonders for our spirits. Walking amongst the  flowers and trees and meandering the many pathways through the Arboretum provided the perfect backdrop for our easy flowing conversation about the world we now inhabit. The subject matter included loss, disappointment, hopefulness, laughter, possibilities, and  beauty. When we were ready to leave we were refreshed and enlivened.

“What is it about the garden that makes it such a place of healing? Perhaps we project hope into it each time we set foot into this place. ‘How wonderful this new plant will be, next season, when it comes into its own.’ we think. How truly amazing that anything will survive because it is too cold or too hot, or there is too much or too little rain. And yet survive it does…” Marjorie Harris

Of all the things we can do right now I think getting outside is top of the list. Whether we are sick, healthy, young or old, if we can possibly manage it, I hope we all do it. It is easy when ennui slips up behind us to ignore the things that we love to do. Things that will make us feel better and more alive.

And Now Our Heroines of the Week

We have all been clanging pots, for our front-line heroines and heroes, in our own communities, and you will see below why this is important. They all deserve special mention and I will name just two this week.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, Chief Medical Officer, for the province of British Columbia in BC was honoured this week, for being the authority behind North America’s lowest death rate during this public health crisis. “…she was able to galvanize the public across the province…set into motion rapid mobilization and  containment and became one of the first in the world to develop a test. She was the scientist to lead the effort and had the authority to issue instructions. (she did this with persuasion, not a stick) PS: she is also the first to caution against complacency, at this time of opening up. We still need to hold the line. Excerpt from Bloomberg Press

Dr. Melissa Umphlett, a pathologist at Mt Sinai Hospital in NYC received a special tribute this week  from the Chairman of the Hospital and her colleagues.   I am delighted to claim a familial relationship, with Melissa, since she is my cousin’s fiancee. (well, closer than 52nd cousin once removed :-)) Still, we are proud and grateful for Dr Melissa and Dr. Bonnie, along with the worldwide cohort of  medical, scientific and entire team of front line workers, we have come to count on. Melissa’s almost sister-in-law, sent me a copy of the award. I think it is important to sing the praises of these tireless workers and I am happy and grateful to do so.

Notes

Note: 1) If any of you. dear reader, have a shout out for someone, please send it on to me. When Melissa was asked about the award she said this: “On the days when I can leave work a little earlier, and get to hear all the cheering from the balconies, although it can be emotional, it is completely energizing. It is less about the recognition and just really, really nice to hear everyone cheering and being happy for those moments.”

Note: 2) This photo of the rare Himalayan Blue Poppy was taken in Vancouver on Monday, by my son Rob, at the VanDusen Gardens. I love the blue poppy and thanks to my Step Father I got to grow them for a few years in my garden on Gabriola Island.  This beautiful and unique flower arrived at the perfect time to pay tribute to these two leaders.

Note:3) Is it a weed or a flower? Is it better or worse? What will our new normal eventually look like? What if this or that happens?   No one knows for certain. We won’t be going back to what was, because life moves forward. Change is a certainty. The door behind our old normal is closed and as a series of new ones open, we will adapt.  I am of the mindset that there will always be moments of joy, love, kindness, opportunity and significance. “Let’s cultivate a curious and flexible mind. A mind that adapts itself to changing circumstances.”   From Morita Therapy

Note: 4) I received such lovely comments and emails this week, and I appreciate them so very much. Please know that you can ask for things too. I would love to hear what you think and do and what you wish I would do here. We learn from each other. See you next Wednesday, and in the meantime, take care. Enjoy your days. Warmly, Trudy

PS It is Thursday afternoon and one of our readers sent me this lovely photo of a dandelion, taken two days ago. He couldn’t post it in a comment so I am doing it here. You will need to click on it to see the light. Thank you GM

Here Comes the Sun

It is evening time in Ottawa on the 13th of May and the sun is shining in my window as I settle down to write a few lines. Lots has happened this week with different provinces, states and countries opening up in a variety of different ways. I wish us all well as we venture forth with awareness, intelligence  and fortitude.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, CMO of British Columbia, suggests we stick to a small and consistent circle whose contacts we trust; short visits, unless you are outside, and no sharing of food or drink. Don’t change that circle up over the coming weeks but commit to protecting and caring for each other. And please continue to stay home as much as possible.

Sounds like sensible advice to me as we monitor what happens, and also encouraging that while we wait for the vaccine we can already have a little more freedom.

I have a new poem:

The Raincoat

When the doctor suggested surgery

and a brace for all my youngest years,

my parents scrambled to take me

to massage therapy, deep tissue work,

osteopathy, and soon my crooked spine

unspooled a bit, I could breathe again,

and move more in a body unclouded

by pain. My mom would tell me to sing

songs to her the whole forty-five minute

drive to Middle Two Rock Road and forty-

five minutes back from physical therapy.

She’d say, even my voice sounded unfettered

by my spine afterward. So I sang and sang,

because I thought she liked it. I never

asked her what she gave up to drive me,

or how her day was before this chore. Today,

at her age, I was driving myself home from yet

another spine appointment, singing along

to some maudlin but solid song on the radio,

and I saw a mom take her raincoat off

and give it to her young daughter when

a storm took over the afternoon. My god,

I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her

raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel

that I never got wet.      – Ada Limón 

There is something about a poem that can sum up in a few words  what may otherwise take a book or more. I am filled with gratitude and  appreciation for our poets. And for all those who have cared for us.

And I am indebted to all of you, dear readers. Tonight I will bid you an early adieu and remind all of you to do your best to get enough sleep. That too is one of the important ways we can take care of ourselves right now. As important as sleep is I know too many people who are sleep deprived and have not been able to solve the sleep koan so I don’t like talking about it for fear of creating more anxiety. So, do the best you can. There is lots written on sleep hygiene seek help when you need too. Should anyone want some resources, please don’t hesitate to contact me by email.

Notes

Note 1:) Here Comes the Sun by the Camden Choir in the UK

Note 2:) Thanks to my friend Janice for The Raincoat. She is my poem guru.

Note 3:) With warmest thank you’s and appreciation for all your kind notes and comments.  Keep  on washing your hands and don’t touch your face. We aren’t out of the woods yet. Take care of each other. Warmly, trudy

 

 

 

Fresh Strawberries at Midnight

Aldous Huxley wrote the novel “Brave New World.” Toward the end of his life an interviewer asked: “Dr. Huxley, perhaps more than anyone else alive, you have studied the great spiritual traditions of the world. What have you learned?” Huxley replied, “I think we could just be a bit kinder.”

 

It is interesting how life goes. After my Mother’s 100th birthday bash I said that I would stop talking about my Mother. However, this week my friend and colleague Barbara, from New York, wanted a zoom visit to talk about my Mother and the role she played in my worldview.  We invited another newer friend as the three of us had been working on a webinar, The Gift of a Long Life.

During that conversation I was asked for some examples of my Mother’s kindness. And without a second thought I told them this story.

Fresh Strawberries at Midnight

It was June and it was strawberry season. It was also the season when I was finishing up Grade five and my new best friend, Peggy Jane was finishing grade six. We were having our first sleepover at my house and I was happy. Peggy and I were kindred spirits who explored the world through books, and imagination and here we were in my four poster bed surrounded by Vogue magazines that my New York aunt gave to my Mother each year at Christmas.

None of us were really interested in the fashion.  Mother considered my Aunt a little  frivolous to give this magazine as an annual gift to a housewife, in a small Nova Scotia town. I, on the other hand, loved it. My friend and I pored through the treasure trove of the back pages, reading every word about the boarding schools in Switzerland and France and other parts of Europe that sounded perfect for us. (side effects of being voracious readers)

As the clock inched close to midnight, the two of us laughed and talked about the schools we would choose, the books we loved, the diplomatic and literary careers we would one day have. We both felt the ease of kinship and simple joy that only two young enthusiastic girls can have.

Our contentment, however, was suddenly interrupted by the sound of my Mother’s footsteps on the stairs. Peggy Jane looked at me, concerned, assuming my Mother would be angry that we were still talking and laughing after midnight. To her surprise, my Mother knocked on the door, opened it, and presented us with a beautiful white tray laden with small sandwiches made from homemade bread and filled with freshly picked and mashed strawberries. There was a single rose in a crystal bowl on the tray, linen napkins and a glass of milk for each of us.

“I thought you girls might be getting hungry,” she announced and to my friend’s amazement, she placed the bed tray between us and went back downstairs.

I remember, still, how my heart was full of happiness and pride to have a Mother so kind. Years later  I met my friend who had a successful career as a national librarian. She had travelled far and wide throughout the world,  and she reminded me about that night and how it had become one of her most treasured memories.

As for me, I felt happiness deep down in my bones as well as in my heart and fully knew in that moment that I had won the Mother lottery.

Of course Mother’s Day is coming up on Sunday and I am one of the lucky ones who still has a Mother at 73. This is amazing in and of itself. So I used this lovely visit with my friends, as an excuse, to tell this story. Thank you!

Notes:

1🙂 Here is a pertinent and fun piece of music for you from Vancouver with vocalists from other choirs too. Phoenix choir.

2:-)Be kind; be calm be safe – Dr. Bonnie Henry 

3:) And enjoy your new freedoms. Here in Ottawa, as of today,  we can sit on the grass in the parks.  (not on a bench and no play structures or sports) No gatherings of more than 5 and still physical distancing if not from the same household. And we can kick a ball around. This is all worthy of celebrating. Let’s work to keep this going, by doing our part.

4:-) We are opening up but not going back to normal. Our diligence is needed even more than before. With spring in the air and a weariness of this unnatural way of living, it is easy to forget how important a role we all play, in keeping the Covid-19 tide at bay. To keep opening up will require our cooperation. Hang in there.

5:) Thank you all for showing up here. I will see you next week.