Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Life's Perspective...It's All How You Look At It

As always, I've been too busy living to blog regularly.  I grab a few moments here and there to write in the blog.'s all how we approach things.  I could complain that life is too busy and I'm constantly running here and there.  But by complaining, I would actually be detaching myself from enjoying each and every small moment.  I sent my son off to university and then I've started my teaching year.  I have a few less students at the moment, but I'm alright with that.  I could complain but instead I'm looking at the extra time that I can work in my garden or learn some new skills.  I have plans for that extra time.  I'm not going to fill it just for the sake of being busy, but I'm hoping to learn how to sew a quilt.  I'm also using some of that extra time to take a creative writing course online.  I would also like to return to learning how to paint on canvas.  Over 20 years ago, I took some oil painting classes and I enjoyed it.  I liked the paintings that I created.  As I've raised my children, I haven't had the time to paint and perhaps now may be the time.  I look at how my time gets filled and revel in the experiences. would be so easy to miss a breathless moment as we turn away or grumble about our existence.  I even enjoy the mundane task of hanging laundry on my line outside.  Especially at this time of year when the days are shorter and getting cooler, it takes a full day for the laundry to dry on the line.  So as I stand on the patio hanging my wet laundry, I listen to the birds and I enjoy the crisp, cool dampness of the morning.  I find it a very peaceful way to start my day.  There are so many little moments in our days that we miss if we grumble.  As I stand on the patio hanging laundry, I could be fretting about how much I have to do that day.  I could be so preoccupied with the worries and "lack of time" that I miss the wonderful birds singing and the peaceful calmness of the early morning.  I think the one thing that has stuck with me the most since returning to good health, has been the ability to live in the moment fully and enjoy whatever goodness is in that moment.  Sometimes it is hard to find that kernel of goodness but it is always there.

Perspective.  This past weekend, we were busy travelling and doing things with my daughter.  She had an opportunity to be a film "extra" in a movie being made 2 hours from our home.  We jumped in the car and made the trip.  We spent 11 hours in a room waiting for her to be finished her time on set.  I could have used this time to clean and do any other myriad of chores and duties at home.  Instead, I decided to enjoy an outing with my husband and daughter.  I was able to do some word puzzles that I normally don't have time for and that I enjoy completing.  I was able to work on my current homework from my creative writing course.  I was able to read a book that I've not had time to pick up.  I was able to observe some of what happens behind the scenes in film making.  It was an interesting day but it all depended on which perspective I chose to see it.  After a long day, the next morning we had to be up and out to take my daughter to a photo shoot.  Again, I enjoyed each moment to the fullest.  On our way to the photo shoot, I saw a sign that tickled my odd sense of humour and shared a laugh with my husband much to my daughter's disdain.  Oh well...that moment of humour has come back to be a private chuckle between my husband and I throughout the last few days amidst our busyness.

I'm not always able to see my days through "rose-coloured glasses", but I do know that I much prefer the days that I wear them.  Perspective is a mental exercise that is beneficial to making life full and abundant.  I'm constantly reminded of my mantra while I was sick..."One breath at a time, one moment at a time, one step at a time".  On difficult days and in difficult times, this helps ease the pain and suffering.  It can also help flip my perspective to a much happier and fulfilling view.

So let's take on the day and see how our perspective can be flipped to help us enjoy it more.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Making the Most of the Weekend

In our climate, the coming Fall season means shorter, cooler days with more cloud cover.  So yesterday was a glorious sunny and somewhat warm day.  This was forecasted so on Friday night my husband suggested that we go for a day long motorcycle ride on his 1980 Honda Goldwing and take advantage of the few remaining days of Summer.  The last time I was on his bike, my back paid for the trip with major pain.  My husband is fairly new to owning a larger bike, so he was unaware that the shocks in the back needed to be filled up with compressed air.  Now that he knows this, he decided to take me out for the day which included a picnic lunch.  I made egg salad early yesterday morning (Sat.) and my hubby made sandwiches and packed us some snacks and water.  We climbed on the bike and took off for the day.  What a fantastic day it was!!  As we went over bumps, I didn't feel them like before.  Hubby obviously figured out the rear shock thing.  I love the feel of the wind in my face!  I love travelling in the open air and smelling the various odors that assail my nostrils as we travel through the countryside.  We ended up visiting Wolfe Island for the day.  We've driven around the island a couple of times since we've lived in the area but always with our van.  Yesterday's experience was totally different especially with the big wind turbines spinning lazily around overhead.  I loved seeing Lake Ontario to our right and farmland on our left.  Deep within, I am not really a city girl.  I love the peacefulness and silence of the countryside.  We meandered our way along the various roads and ended up at Sandy Bay Nature Area.  Off came our helmets and leather jackets.  On went our hats, out came my camera as well as the lunch bag that my husband hefted over his shoulder.

We followed a gravel and woodchip combination path as it gently twisted and turned through the area.  It started off with forest and meadow like terrain.  As we kept walking along through the dappled shade, we realized that we must be in a more wetland environment as we saw numerous frogs leap from under a feet into the foliage at the side of the path.  We also startled several garter snakes ranging from long, thick adult snakes to small, thin young snakes.  I was very pleased to capture some of these with my camera which is only a digital point and shoot variety.  We met young couples and playful families along the trail as we walked along.  This trail was very easy to navigate.  What a surprise it was to walk around a curve in the trail to find our feet in the soft white sand of a sand dune.  I stopped to take a picture because there ahead of us, through the foliage of the trees and sand grass, winked the sparkling water of Lake Ontario.  This view took my breath away!  After taking my picture, we continued on the trail over the sand dune and down onto the beach.  There are signs all over warning people to stay off the sand dunes as the supervising body is trying to re-establish the grass that is native to sand dunes.  There was also a sign pointing to a nature viewing platform.  This caught our interest and on we continued.  The platform ended up being a wooden bench placed at the base of a sand dune.  We sat down and enjoyed a quiet lunch.  We were the only people on the beach!  As we ate, we looked out over the water and enjoyed the waves rolling rhythmically onto the beach.  Way off on the horizon we saw a lake freighter making its way out into the deep water of the channel.  Then I noticed a driftwood tree on the beach.  It was on its side as if it had tumbled down off the sand dune or else maybe it had been washed ashore at some point.  What was interesting about this tree was that the roots were up in the air.  Obviously a couple of roots had re-rooted themselves into the sand because there was bright, healthy foliage in various places of the tree.  This tree was a combination of living branches and dead, bleached driftwood.  After our lunch, we continued walking further along the beach.  It was cool and windy but what a wonderfully exhilarating way to spend our afternoon.  Eventually we turned around and returned to the path.  It was time to leave and go back to the bike.  On we hopped and we returned to the roads.  We finished our time on Wolfe Island with travelling along the various roads, arriving at dead ends and eventually making our way to the ferry to return home.

As we waited for the ferry on the dock, we met up with one of my daughter's old teachers.  What a nice chat we had as we travelled across Lake Ontario on the ferry.  When we reached home, my husband and I sat out on our patio and enjoyed a beer together.  I was chilled from being on the bike, but it was a relaxing and serene ending to a glorious day.  This was a beautiful gift from my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.  We also enjoyed a wonderful impromptu evening with our friends as we were all at "loose ends".

I awoke this morning to the beginnings of a nasty sinus cold.  My daughter has had it for a few days and I had been nursing her through it the last part of the week.   I had wanted to attend church this morning but that didn't happen.  I was very lethargic as I tried to get up.  I ended up drifting off to sleep again.  My plans for today had been to get my laundry done, clean the bathroom and start trimming the hedge.  Some of the laundry has been done but the rest of my "to do list" is being put off.  I am spending my day quietly on the patio listening to the breeze blowing through my grape vines and the various birds chirping away in the neighbourhood.  I'm drinking lots of tea with lemon and honey as I sit quietly and rest.  I had hoped that I would not catch the virus as I constantly washed my hands with hot soapy water and used hand sanitizer throughout the week.  I have even been wiping down the various surfaces with rubbing alcohol in an effort to avoid the bug.  Oh well, now it is time to enjoy resting.  This has allowed me to work on this post for my blog today so there is always "a silver lining" in our days.

It has been a wonderful weekend and as I end my post, I can smell the ham and split pea soup that my husband has been cooking since this morning.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Changes and Transitions

Where has the time gone?!  My last month has been jam packed with getting ready for changes and transitions.  Not only in my household but in the garden.  I've picked my grapes and made grape juice, I've been busy picking up the pears and apples that are falling off the trees fully least that's what I tell myself.  Most likely they are riddled with ants, wasps and other creepy crawlies.  I like to keep up with removing them from the yard because they really do attract the wasps.  However these pears and apples also give food to the squirrels and birds who frequent my yard.  It is fun to watch the squirrels pick up the apples/pears with their front paws and then sink their teeth into the fruit just right.  Then they scamper off and either run along the top of the chain link fence to another yard or they use their other escape route of scampering quickly up the tree trunk to a branch far above.  Then you either hear the rustling leaves as they leap from one tree to the next.  Sometimes you even see the branches bending and shaking as they land on the next tree.  The squirrels manage to do all this with the fruit in their mouth! It looks comical and always brings a smile to my face.  The birds also are enjoying pecking at the various apples and pears on the ground.  Sometimes the birds are responsible for knocking the fruit off of the trees.

The other changes in my household have been in the human variety.  My father-in-law has come for his annual 4-6 week visit.  At the same time, my son was preparing to go off to university for the first time.  We had lots of fun shopping for the various items that he would need to live in residence.  My basement was loading up with boxes as they were filled, taped shut and labelled.  My husband and I went with him to his new city (4 hours away) to watch him try out for the varsity baseball team.  He was guaranteed 2 days of tryouts and then each day after that there were cuts made.  We couldn't very well leave him and return home until we knew he had made it through the first few cuts.  As it turned it out, he survived the first round of cuts but was cut in the second round.  So after spending 4 days away, we returned home for 2 days and then packed our son up on Sunday, September 1 to return him to his new city and move him into his residence.  My father-in-law made the trip with us and helped settle our son into his new home.  The process of getting him moved kept me busy so that I wasn't dwelling on how much I would miss him.  When I did have nostalgic moments and some full emotions inside, I reminded myself that it is the job of parents to raise their children to become independent and ready to leave home.  I would comfort myself with the fact that I've been successful in raising him to leave and start this next phase in his life.....on his own.  Two days after he was gone, I went into his room and just tidied up a little after I had stripped and washed his bedding.  I came across a report card from high school and I put it in his "school days album".  This is a booklet that my grandmother gave my son when he was just a baby.  It has pockets for every school year from Preschool through to University.  As I put the report card in its proper pocket, a small t-shirt fell out of the book.  It was a t-shirt my son made in his Kindergarten class when we lived in a small village.  There were his hand prints on the front.  Oh my!! They were so small!  Each child in the classroom had their names printed on the t-shirt including the teacher's name.  What a keepsake!  As I looked at this t-shirt, my heart filled with love and memories.  The years have flown by!  I find myself trying to adjust to this new change in the household.  I find my ears listening for my son's feet to hit the floor in the mornings as he jumps out of bed.  I'm still listening at night to hear him thump across the floor of his room as he goes to bed.  I find myself just....listening.  Life is changing.  I'm still in transition.

The summer is over and I'm back to work.  How I enjoyed my summer!!  I rode on the back of my husband's motorcycle.  I travelled and spent 2 glorious weeks with very good friends in PEI.  I've enjoyed my backyard in the early mornings and in the late evenings.  But now it is time to go back to work and look forward to the school year.  There are students to contact.  There are old students who have moving on to the next stages in their own lives.  There are new students to take their place.  New parents to meet and new schedules to adjust to.  Changes and transitions.  These are not always easy for me.  Change and transition is good as it shakes us out of our complacency and our comfort zone.   Or maybe I should refer to the "comfort zone" as the proverbial rut that we find ourselves in.  Whichever term I use, it is still a change and riding through the transition to the change is difficult at times.  I find myself facing insecurities and doubts until I've travelled all the way through the transition to the point of being settled into the new schedule of changes.

I like having family come to visit.  I think that extended family is important for our children to know and see and I, personally, like having family around me.  For me, there is always a time of transition that I go through as I have people come and go.  I find this hard to explain but I'm going to attempt an explanation.  It is like doing a dance and as one person is added to the mix, I have to learn a series of new steps and get used to the new dance.  As one person leaves, I have to again learn a series of new steps and get used to the new dance again.  This always takes me some time to adjust and get comfortable with the "new dance".  As I look back over the last month, I've arrived home from a holiday to adjusting to the new dance steps of being home.  Within 2 weeks, I had to adjust to more new dance steps with family arriving which is a good thing.  Within another 2 weeks, I had to adjust to another new dance as my son has left home.  One week after that, I was learning the new steps of a new teaching year.  I have navigated through all these new dances in a short period of time by focussing on one day or even one moment at a time.  Sometimes I don't handle the stress of  change and transition particularly well.  I don't know if we ever truly learn to handle stress well.  All I can do is try my best.

In amongst all these changes, I've enjoyed many moments.  I've visited a vineyard that produces one of my favourite wines.  I've seen my husband's cousins and extended family at a wonderful family BBQ.  I've enjoyed shopping with my daughter.  I've enjoyed some fabulous meals and conversations with my father-in-law.  We went out to a favourite restaurant one night when my son was still home.  The warm memory of my son and daughter sitting across from me sharing some laughter will always be imprinted in my mind.  I will remember the warm afternoon sitting on my patio with my father-in-law as the two of us sorted through the grapes that we had just picked.  Life has been busy with changes and transitions, but overall it has been a great time.