Saturday, 11 April 2015

All quiet on the blogging front

It seems that once again, I have fallen off the edge of the earth.

And once again it also seems that I am starting over or at least I worry that I am or will have to. 

In the middle of December I became unemployed.  This development forced me once again to examine my journey, with an immediate need to decide upon a new direction or path.  Like most people I have spent hours looking for a job, combing postings and applying for promising opportunities.  Unfortunately, I remain unemployed. 

Unlike when I was unemployed in 2008, I do not feel trapped or desperate.  I do however feel time.  I perceive that time has placed restrictions on my available choices and I question whether these restrictions are real or have I invented them because I am afraid? 

What can I mean? 

Next month I will be 40. 

I have worked in office management / administration since 1999. 

Should I go back to college AGAIN or do I need to attend university?  Do I need to improve my skills and gain certification?  Or should I / can I just return to a career in administration?  Or should I strike out and dust off dormant dreams of a career that taps into my creative and artistic ability?  Or should I try to incorporate my social service, banking and administration skills and try something else?

I will be spending my early 40s starting over, no matter what choice I make.  So, how much do I want to risk? 

My reflections, purpose and decision remain unclear....

Until next time,

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sunday Baking

    Channeling some nostalgia and happy memories today...

    I can't remember a time I have not baked. Donuts and bread with Gramma Smith, always using her hand-made tin scoop. Blueberry muffins, french toast and dark chocolate cake with my sister. Pies and buttermilk biscuits with my mom.  

    So, today I baked Kaladar Blueberry Muffins for a snack. My sister and I have made so many batches of these it is a wonder there are any blueberries left anywhere along Highway 7 from Kaladar to Sharbot Lake.  

    Mom bought me a bread book after my Gramma Smith passed away, because I had mentioned I wanted to use Gramma's flour scoop and bread pans. Mom and I used the book and made bread once years ago. My mom loves to bake and share recipes.  I am baking some bread this afternoon, so that I can share my flour escapades with her. You will see Gramma's scoop and bread pans being lovingly used once again.

    I wish mom and sister lived closer so they could share my baked goodies...

    My loaves weren't even cool before my husband and I were sampling.... they were a hit!

    Until next time, 


Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Hello again!

I have not posted in quite a while, but the journey continues.

I have been contemplating and fighting with the concept of permission.  I am sure that sounds funny coming from someone pushing 40, or maybe it doesn't.  Maybe my struggles aren't just mine, but are those of others or even possibly yours. 

I am of course referring to giving myself permission.  "Permission to what?" you might ask. Hmmm, well....

Permission to be, do, think and act as I choose rather than.... than according to the expectations, demands and wishes of others or in response to a situation.

Do you ever find yourself compromising and re-prioritising to the point where you lose where and who you are, what you want and get so frustrated with the situation that you wish you could just withdraw from everyone and everything?  Shutting people out so that you don't have to respond and risk being exposed to the situation, because ultimately you don't want to respond, participate or further entrench yourself?  Wanting to be present, to contribute and, and, and, to the point that you can't say "no" or "no, thank you" or "I need a minute" or "perhaps I am the wrong person" or "I am not interested" or "I don't feel like it" or "I am tired" or "I have other plans" or "something is more important right now", or, or, or, or, saying whatever and however you truly feel, but not doing so because you feel or perceive or act as if everyone and everything else comes first.

Permission to not anticipate and react or plan how to react before something unknown unfolds, doing so before you know if you are needed or must be involved or have an answer or will be required to answer. 

Permission to risk defining and then getting what I truly want and need.  Acknowledging exactly what it would mean to have it or get it. 

Permission to risk, period.  Security, safety, peace and harmony can be comforting, but they can also be the chains that bind.  Bind you to or prevent you from places, people and things.

Permission to be less than.

Permission to give myself permission, to give it or withhold it from others, as I chose.

Permission to be present, to withdraw, to be involved, to stay out of it, to stay, to leave......

When I was younger I had friends, great friends actually, that knew me, saw me - the true me and felt my presence in their lives and I felt theirs in mine.  Along the way, we lost that connection.  Over the last several years, I have sought them out to reestablish those connections.  Giving myself permission to do so without the guilt. Guilt that I grew or moved away or they did or both or neither - no reason defined, necessary or worth being considered.  Just being o.k. with reaching out and hoping that I would meet receptiveness, openness and reciprocity.  This happened with my best friend, Brandy.  She has often said that we can still finish each others sentences and are able to be as we always have, while being who we have become.  G, I am hopeful. 

It was a leap of faith to reach out after so many years.  To not build expectations or anticipate disappointment.  To just do and be.  There are times that I am sitting in conversation with Brandy and it is if I am watching from afar.  Thinking where have the years gone, but at the same time, feeling nothing has changed.  Laughing and feeling how I keenly felt laughter's absence and now feel its reemergence in my life - to laugh with no thought or consideration, other than enjoying the experience and the content of the moment.

Permission seems like such an empowering concept, but can also feel like an inviting trap with a door that slams shut with biting teeth. 

As always, I question, question, question and ruminate.  Chewing over and over and over and over the thoughts, concepts and ideas that swirl in my head.  Challenging opinions and actions, trying to decipher are they mine or have they been formed, guided and demanded by someone or something outside of me?  And if they have, how do I feel, in agreement, coerced, restricted, and, and, and...

My point is, the freedom to chose and decide in my life comes with so much baggage.  Exercising that freedom frequently comes fettered and with a lack of ease.

Such a heavy post for so early in the morning, but here it is.

Until next time,

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Defining me

Do you ever get the sense that the universe is smacking you in the face, saying, for !#&!-sakes, wake-up and live your live!

Wow, that was quite the opener after months and months of silence!  But that is how I feel right now, but let me back up a little.

As I have mentioned before, probably too many times... I have been working to bring my vision for my life in line with my reality for some time and to move past the ideas that swirl in my head way too often and that again, all too often, I let define what, when and how I will do, see, respond, participate and react.  Even when I feel I am trying to move forward and honestly feel that I making progress, all of a sudden it hits me - YOUR ARE NOT MOVING, YOUR ARE STUCK!  OPEN your EYES!

Most recently, I finally hit a wall and in the process I tried my best to stand up for myself and step-up to say that something was unacceptable.  This is something that I find very difficult, to allow people that I don't trust, or won't allow myself to risk trusting, to see and understand how vulnerable I truly feel and am.  To ask for something and risk rejection, are not things that I routinely do.  I much prefer doing for myself instead or just not acknowledging that there might be other possibilities.  To risk finding that what I am perceiving may not be all of what is occurring, because I may have been letting my perceptions cloud my vision.  Why?  Because somehow in letting someone do something for me, to let someone know that something hurts or that I feel let down, I have to acknowledge that I do not feel worthy of their effort and that it means that I am not capable, all on my own.  

As a result my actions, standing-up for myself, some things are beginning to change, specifically the things that I found unacceptable. But also in the process I learned that again, I am not living up to my goals for my life.  I few people brought this to my attention in the last week.

Someone, whose opinion and friendship I value greatly, spent some time, well a lot of time really, this past week helping me to see that I continue to isolate and insulate myself from people and then make excuses when I do not feel a positive connection with people.  It took a lot for me to see it, as it always does, that at times when I feel most vulnerable and probably would be best served by reaching out, I shut out people.  That I can't expect things to improve, unless I contribute all that I am.

Then when arriving at the second of my three annual stitching retreats yesterday afternoon, my friend Judie asked me "have you been posting on your blog lately?"  She has said before that she enjoyed reading my posts and I have to admit that in my mind I feel uncertain and wonder why?  What I talk about on my blog is,,, well,,, well, it is not what I would deem enjoyable.  Thought provoking maybe, but enjoyable?   So, when I responded that I had not, she asked why not?  I thought for a minute.  I thought of doing what I normally would when asked a question that if I answered honestly would expose my true feelings and open me to judgement.  And what would I normally do?  Evade, make a joke or tell a positive white lie to avoid telling the truth.  But with the fresh insights gained from my friend, I answered her honestly, "Because I felt I was whining and bitching too much".  Which is how I always feel I seem when I speak honestly and openly about my feelings and experiences. The look she gave me spoke volumes, at least to me. I am not sure of her words, but what I understood was that she completely disagreed with my assessment of my blog postings and that I needed to rethink my opinion. So, why is it that I seem to see things so differently from everyone else?  Why is it that I anticipate rejection and find acceptance, expect negativity and find enthusiasm?  Why do I feel this invisible yardstick pressed against my spine, that no matter how straight I stand and stretch and contort my body, I am just not able to measure up, that it just isn't enough to be me?

There were some new stitchers that joined our January retreat this year.  Not long after I arrived, one of them, J, asked for my email address, phone number and asked if I would like to get together sometime in Ottawa?  I immediately felt shy and wondered and questioned in my mind how she could immediately know, want and ask to spend time with me.  We did not talk a lot, but later in the evening when she was talking to my friend Lesli, I brought over a chair and asked to join them.  Shortly after Lesli left to stitch, J and I continued to talk for more than an hour.  I learned that J, similar to me, had left a job she felt trapped by, had worked to overcome significant barriers, made amazing changes in her life and I could clearly see that her success and contentment shone from her face.  In listening to her tell of her accomplishments, I saw my own journey in a different light.  She spoke of set-backs, falling flat on her face and the absolute joy she experienced in doing what she loved, on her terms.  She spoke with confidence and gave no indication that she hesitated in sharing, or felt that she was or would be judged.  And she did all this within moments of meeting me.  

I thought back to the first retreat I went to.  Arriving at the TimberHouse and then immediately taking my bags to my room and literally hiding in the bathroom for 10 minutes telling myself, "You can do this" "You can do this"  Slowly meeting everyone, asking and answering questions and trying my best to get comfortable.  I thought about how there was no way I would have felt that I could ask anyone for their personal information, "what if they don't like me?"  "what if they feel I am too pushy" "they already seem to be friends / have friends in the group, so how can there be a place for me".  The amazing thing was, by the end of that first weekend retreat, I had a place in the group, I was welcomed with open arms and was accepted and had contact information from my new stitching acquaintances.  Before I left, every single woman hugged me and told me they hoped I was able to come to the next retreat.  These acquaintances have developed into friendships, with confidences, laughter and warmth shared.  Each retreat that I have went to, I have opened up more, shared more and learned more.  The only barriers have been the ones that I have put up, because they certainly have not been put there by others.  Slowly those barriers have ceased to exist to the point that in November I fell asleep on the couch, in a room with 20 stitchers.  This would have been an impossibility in the past.

Then I shared with Sharon, her sister Debbie and Judie that my magnifying mirror was broken and that I would have to contact Ann, the owner of Knowledge and Needles, to buy a new one.  Sharon, who lives nearby, immediately said that she may have the piece that was broken at her house and that I could have it.  Sharon got her purse and despite my protests, she got ready to go to pick-up the piece I needed from her home.  I have shared many wonderful conversations with both Sharon and Debbie and have felt nothing short of true acceptance, interest, caring and their willingness to share their experience and insights for my betterment.  Despite this, the idea that Sharon would immediately drop everything to leave and get this for me, made me uncomfortable.  This is just crazy, her actions are exactly what I would do, I would never think twice and would enjoy doing it, but it took Debbie saying something like, "really, just say thank you.  She is going to go, no matter what you say.  Just say thank you"  So that is what I did.  I am still thinking how I could show Sharon how wonderful her gesture made me feel.  But why do I feel this compulsion?

Then finally, someone recently endorsed my skills twice in the last couple of weeks on Linked-In.  In some respects, this concept along with the idea of asking for professional references makes me uncomfortable.  Compliments make me uncomfortable.  In looking at Linked-In tonight and the profile of a friend that I lost touch with many years ago, that I reached out to at Christmas, I happened upon a video link about the worlds ugliest woman.  Watching her, letting the fact that for years she wanted to "scrub the syndrome off and that every morning she woke up disappointed" sink into my consciousness, it moved me to write this post.


 Her statement "what defines you" followed by "brave starts here" summed up the last couple of weeks for me and the journey that resulted from my desire to be confident and accept me on my own terms.

This journey started by me quitting my job, then some time later sending an email to two complete strangers and gaining a community of wonderful, lovely, talented and successful women, going back to college and starting over once again from the bottom, to me realizing this weekend that I am finally starting to define me on my terms.  That even though I fall on my face, fail to see what is in front of me and learn the same lessons over and over again, I am moving.  It is just that my movement is not in a straight line.  My path winds, twists, turns and snakes and with each new turn, helping me to see is doesn't matter.  It doesn't matter where I end up, where I want to be, just that I am going.

Until next time,

Friday, 27 September 2013

Pumpkins for Cathey

This post is dedicated to Cathey of Pumpkin Patch & Co.

Because of Daffycat, I was introduced to Cathey tonight when I got home from work. 

I have read through Cathey's posts, learning about her determination and commitment to love and be present for her DH, DS and family, while giving her all to kick cancer's ass! 

As I said, I only discovered Cathey blog today and I am awe-struck.

All that I can hope is that, along with everyone else that is sending her hugs, sending up prayers, and sharing their hearts with Cathey, in the hopes that the caring and the loving thoughts being sent to her will help sustain her, that my picture of my little man Punkin (Pumpkin) will reach her.

Happy Blogoversary Cathey!!!!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Taking it all off....

ok, ok, I am imagining where I have lead your thoughts with the title of my post,,,,

All I can say is....

please just imagine the really, really big grin on my face right now...

so big that my dimples are deep enough that if you wandered too close, you would fall in and drown.......... LOL!!!

Ok, ok, let's get this post back on track

Thoughts back on the straight and narrow, if you please ;-)))

.... and just for the record, I am not referring to my clothes.  What I am referring to will become evident if you stick with me and read this post.....

Many months ago I posted about what I dreamt of achieving in 2013.  There have been many times that I have meandered off the track so far that I felt lost in the wilderness, but as seems to be the case with me, somehow I find myself working my way back to the middle of road and hopefully a little more in control than after this last foray into and through the wilds.  For how long I can remain in control, well,,,,,,,,,,,, that remains to be seen.

Obviously someone much wiser and more successful than me walked a very similar path because their saying, and not one of my own, comes to mind.

"Two steps forward, one step back."

Oh for goodness sake, JUST WHAT IN THE !x?* am I blathering on about now?

Well,,,, for the last several months I have been focusing on my wellness.  I took very, very small steps at first,

trying to remember to drink something other than coffee and Coke Zero every day

feeling like I was a winner for eating lunch everyday before 5:00 p.m.
considering I routinely eat breakfast by no later than 5:30 every morning, this was a really good thing because all too often I was not eating again until the very late afternoon or even the early evening - 

hiking more often

....and then I jumped in with both feet seven weeks ago.

I keep nattering on about this journey that I imagine I am on.  A journey to establish my confidence on a firm foundation, to be the person I imagine myself to be at my very core and to sweep away all the stupid ideas in my head that have seen me create boundaries and expectations that have nothing to do with how I truly see things and want to live my life.   

So, what did I do? 

Welllllll, after many months of playing with the idea, I sought out and am paying very accomplished and competent medical and fitness professionals.... this point most people would be entirely justified in completing this sentence with:
  • to kick my @#$
  • to chastise me
  • to lecture me
  • to scare me with medical test results
but how I would finish it is parent me. 

To mentor, encourage, motivate, educate, reinforce and help me to build and sustain my ability to monitor, control and moderate my calorie intake, exercise levels and coping skills.

At first, as with any major change, I felt overwhelmed, disoriented, frustrated, sorry for myself, and believe me I could keep going on and on explaining the myriad of emotions that I felt battered me around.  I am also sure that how I felt is not news to anyone, given that many people have tackled even bigger changes / challenges, in the face of greater opposition and certainly with less support than I have experienced. 

However, it certainly didn't help matters that just a couple weeks into this process I made the decision that coffee had to go.  Considering how much I love my coffee and how often I indulged, I am sure you can imagine the sense of loss I felt.  I felt and continue (although less and less as the days pass by) to feel as if someone swiped my crutches out from under me and left me without the support I had grown to depend on and at times so obviously needed. 

But, by now, going into five weeks coffee-free I can definitely see an improvement despite the cravings that continue to nag me.  So, despite this nagging desire for a reaaalllly good cup of coffee, I am sticking with it.  I may on occasion in the future enjoy that really good cup of coffee, but for now I want to kick my dependence, let's face it, addiction, out the door.

Hmmmm,,,,, I am thinking of that really hot cup of coffee that awaits me in the dining room of the Green Mountain Inn in Stowe, Vermont.  I am imagining the wind howling outside the paned windows, seeing the snow as it is swirled, lifted and blown out over the peaks that surround that little village.   Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........... 

Ok, ok, OK!!!!  I am back on track now, promise!  I will stop dreaming of returning to Stowe, at least for right now.  I will leave that dream for later... and the thoughts of a coffee.

So, how am I doing? 

I struggle with how to evaluate my progress and am really trying to avoid falling into the traps that I have in the past.  Because let's face it, this is not my first time in this particular rodeo....  I have tried many times, following many programs and have not maintained those hard-won achievements.

With seven weeks completed of my first 22 weeks,

my clothes feel much looser

I am tracking everything I eat

Anymore, I rarely experience the swings associated with excessive caffeine and sugar consumption

I am losing weight on the scale

I am attending weight classes three times per week AND

my muscles are less and less sore with each class I attend

and the weights I am using are increasing, from 3 lbs up to 20 lbs in some cases 

Now, I just need to start working on those stitching goals...

I have some progress and finishes to share, but I will leave those for next time. 

Until then, I hope you are enjoying Summer, stitching up a storm and contemplating your next adventure.

Until next time,


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Sucker for an underdog gets heart ripped out and is late for high school reunion.... and other silliness

Do you ever get the feeling that you step out into the light and things just happen...?

This week, yesterday morning have been like that.  But let me start at the beginning....

Many months ago, I committed here on my blog (that I sometimes pay attention to) that in 2012 I would spend more time with friends and stop letting the stupid ideas in my head stop me from doing what I really want to do, but frankly, somewhere along the way had lost the guts, hutzpa, gumption, you name the term, to do.  To start saying, "damn what other people think, want or expect, I want it, so it is going to happen, RIGHT NOW!!"

So, with this in mind I accepted an invitation to attend my kind-of 20-year high school reunion, from one of my best friends from high school, Jennifer or Jenny, as I have always known her.  I say kind-of, because the reason for the event is that a fancy-dancy new high school is being built to replace the one I attended (as did my parents) that was built more than half a century ago.  And in the near future this old high school will be torn down.  The nostalgic as well as the practical parts of me question the logic of tearing it down and re-naming the new school as Granite Ridge, but I will leave those decisions to others and focus on some things that have been happening recently. 
I have frequently complained that I struggle to maintain a work-life balance (which is of course, mostly my fault, but we won't try to analyze, play the blame game nor say anymore about this, ok?), but this week this imbalance served a very useful purpose.  If I had not worked the hours I did, I am sure I would have backed out of going to this kind-of event,,, "I'm tired"  "It is a long-drive, really, two hours each way, why do I want to do that (we won't mention how much I love to drive my car,,,, sunroof open, window down, tunes on - very loud of course... and the opportunity to go antiquing on the way home, no, nope, no,  not going to mention any of that)"  "I haven't seen anyone in 20 years"  "I won't recognize anyone"  "It will be just like walking into every high school dance that you went to, remember what that was like,,,,!?" ,,,you know the drill.  All the insecurities anyone would face in going back to a place and seeing people that you have been out of touch with for 20 years - some that you really, really regret having lost touch with and the others,,, well, let's just say that they likely never missed you and didn't think of all that they did and said in quite the same way that you did back then (oh, to have been part of the in-crowd and been popular, sigh).

Back to work-life balance and living in my shell or choosing not to....  after working with many people this week to see that our college's annual graduation ceremony was a success, I could have said, "I have been around enough people for a while" and probably been entirely justified in saying so and avoiding any more gatherings for at least a week, at the very minimum.  Especially considering that I jumped in and was front and centre at the graduation ceremony Friday night - instructing and directing people, letting my fun-loving, loud side shine bright and true, sitting on stage, under VERY bright, hot lights in front of 600 people.  Let me say that again, 600 PEOPLE.   If I think back to the 11 year old who having stood up in front of her entire public school of 175 kids (getting a sense of how small a place I grew up???) and immediately following the delivery of her speech about Martin Luther King, Jr. swore that she would never, ever, ever, evvvvvverrrrrr grace a stage EVER AGAIN, at some level I have to feel very proud of her for having made it onto that graduation stage for the 3rd year in a row.

But with the success of Friday night under my wings, no, I didn't say all these things to myself yesterday morning and I didn't text my almost life-friend long friend Brandy (another one of my commitments for 2012, to spend more time with her) and make another excuse why I just couldn't be somewhere as I have so many times in the past.  Instead I reminded myself, how I felt at my own graduation ceremony two years ago, when I was one of the graduates walking across the same stage that I sat upon Friday night, accepting the student of the year award, mingling during the reception afterward and then I replayed how I felt Friday night.  I can assure you, how I felt two years ago was nothing at all like Friday night.  Friday night, I felt like I belonged in my skin, wore a dress I almost talked myself out of buying and wearing and instead, in the end said to myself, "Who cares, I love it - so put it on, shoulders back, head up and walk out and meet what comes."  And you know what, what came was wonderful!  I was tired by the end of the evening, but I was myself the whole time, every single minute.  I hugged more people than I have in years, laughed freely and felt like I was a part of something.  I have to admit there were some rare moments that I questioned all that I had left behind and no longer do, but those quickly fell away and I was left with a sense of contentment.

So, yesterday morning my cheeky, teasing side came to the fore, with my colleague on the receiving end.  All I can say is, be careful encouraging me to show my sense of humour, you may wish it had remained hidden ;-)))  But anytime my funloving cheek comes out, combined with my daily fix of blog-reading and eBay surfing for BBD patterns and dancing around to the tunes playing while picking up and tidying the house, inevitably I lose track of time....

See, now I am rambling off course with my story -- there is a point, I promise, so please stick with me!! 

So, I am 30 minutes to an hour late getting out the door yesterday morning.  I lock the door and walk to my car and before I get the door unlocked, what do you suppose I hear???  wuuuuuuuuuuf.  I don't have a dog, so there is no reason why I should have heard this and luckily stray wuuuuuf's are never heard on my property.  So, I turn around and beside my house sits what I can only describe as a miniature Doberman Pincher.  Instead of getting in my car and driving to the kind-of event, make it on time to meet my best friend Brandy, her sister Tisha and her two daughters and their mother Judy, what do you think I did?

"Ohhhhhhh, come here sweetheart"  "Ohhhhhh, you poor little thing"  This ensued for 45 minutes......  In the end, the only way that I could get this poor starving dog to realize that I had left food and water at the end of my laneway was to drive up the road and good dog that he was, he followed my car, all the way back over my pot-hole ridden road (lots of rain this week hasn't kept our gravel road in the greatest condition) to my house.  Then I sat in my car, in the middle of the road, at the end of my laneway (no, I couldn't get out, because every time I tried that and I had tried it many times, he ran for the hills) and speak to this poor, starving dog like a child, trying to convince him to see the bowls of food and water sitting just feet away.  In the end, after circling my car for 10 minutes, he found the food and from the way he looked and ate, I am sure he had not had a meal in a very, very, very long time.  His poor little tail tucked under his body, skittish movements and tendency to run down the road told his story, as did the little blue collar hanging loosely around his neck. 

Poor, poor puppy

This poor dog is not the first stray that has crossed my path and hijacked my plans.  There was the day I walked out on my way to get my hair done and a baby robin sat defenseless on my front step, alone and pathetic and really, quite ugly.  I am sure the staff at the Wild Bird Care Centre in Ottawa were amused to hear a young woman frantically calling to ask if they would "save this baby and could she bring it in right away?"  But, they were gracious, understanding and calmly explained that I could take the flea-infested, squawking, jumping baby out of my house and put him back where I had found him as this was natural and they would guarantee me the parents were watching from a near-by tree and would be bringing worm care-packages regularly to the little guy until he learned to fly and fend for himself.

Then of course, there was my cat muffin, I won't bore you with that story again (but if you must, it was posted on my blog previously) or any of the other stories of strays, we will just leave those for another day.

So, very long story short, working too many hours, having a great time, letting my cheek come through, combined with a starving dog meant I showed up to the kind-of event an hour late, an hour later than I had repeatedly assured my friend Brandy would be the very latest that I would arrive.  Well, she and her family kindly stayed to see me and then they left for the day in Ottawa.

I was alone at this kind-of thing.  Did I leave?  I mean, here I was in a crowd of people, all these STUPID ideas swirling in my head???

No, I stayed and saw two of my other best friends from high school.  Kay and Jenny are now both married, wonderful mothers that I have seen and spoken to rarely over the last 20 years.  They made high school bearable for me.  Kay and I, friends since public school, the budding artists, constantly in the art portable using whatever was at hand to express ourselves, oil paints, chalk paint, watercolours, pastels, pencils, crayons,,,,, Jenny and I, laughing and giggling and not caring what people thought.  We were just happy.  It is easy to build a life in which you go about your day-to-day and you lose the sense that people are truly glad to see you, glad just to be with you.  Today seeing my old friends, exchanging hugs, news, laughs and a few tears, that sense returned - it was just wonderful.

L to R: Kay, me, Jenny

And then,,,, seeing Miss Tourney as she was then and now Mrs. Hurley, my first high school art teacher.  I had to stop myself from crying when I gave her a hug yesterday.  She really took me under her wing back then, never seeming to grow tired of my interest in art history, my constant presence in her space and encouraging me to apply and do what it took to travel everyday for 6 hours once I was accepted, so that I could attend an intensive fine-arts program in Kingston for a year and a half.  Leaving behind all my friends and classmates, many that I had known since kindergarten and all that was familiar and comfortable to study and pursue my passion in the city.  To ride the city buses alone, make friends and get my heart broke for the first time,,,, and so much more.  She also had encouraged me to join her and lead a group of Brownies.  I also have to credit her with introducing me to cross-stitch - looking back I am sure the dragon that I remember her stitching more than 20 years ago was a Teresa Wentzler.  I am just sorry that I was so distracted that I didn't ask her to have our picture taken.

Earlier in the day, I had only driven away once the dog had eaten and after speaking with a neighbour who stopped her car to talk to me, while I waited in my car, parked in the middle of the road.  She called to find out that the city would only come pick-up the dog if we caught it - which was impossible as he had by that point found a spot to hide and let his huge meal digest and was nowhere to be found - which considering that I live a rural area is relatively easy to do.

Then late in the afternoon, to top off the day, I came home having worried all day about that poor dog.  Imagining that what I fed him was not good for him, that I gave him too much and I had only made him sicker by letting him eat so much, that he would go out onto the main road where the speed limit is much higher and get hit by a car........ 

So, what did I see as I turned onto the dirt road to my house, but two young men in a parked car, with the dog circling and circling their car - looking a little rounder, with fewer bones visible.  I stopped to speak to these young men and was surprised and relieved that they were considering how they could catch the dog and how to help him.  We spoke for about 10 minutes and then when I pulled in my laneway, I was met with another wonderful surprise.  Beside the garbage cans that had been emptied during the day was an empty beef soup can that someone had opened and added to the food that I had left out for the dog.  By this point, there was little left in the huge bowl that had earlier in the day been full and also subsequently been topped up by a neighbour.

This morning, I looked out the window and say that the food bowl was again empty but I could not see the dog anywhere.  My husband just came in and told me a neighbour had managed to catch the dog.  I am so relieved and happy that the little fellow has the hope of being cared for and loved by someone.

So, once again what have I learned?  Let it flow and see what comes.

Until next time,

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A warm spring breeze

The weather has been changeable this morning, with sleet, wind and rain, with clouds swiftly pushing their way east, the sun and blue sky peeking through the moving banks of clouds.  It seems to fit my mood lately. 

Lately I have been hearing a lot of grumbling about how long Spring is taking to get here, how awful the weather is, it's too cold, too wet....  I have to admit, the days when the sun remains hidden, especially when one day follows another and another or I have worked all day only to emerge to find the sky grey, dark, wet or even inky, I too feel the absence of the sun and yearn for how its appearance at this time of year can instantly lighten my mood and my step. 

But looking out my window this morning, I can hear and see the warm spring breeze blowing from the north-west.  I can feel the promise of my gardens, imagine how it will feel to wake early and hear the birds singing outside my many windows and see them jumping across the lawn in search of a meal, I can see the red buds forming on the maple tree outside my craft room / studio window and sense how those maturing leaves will sound in the late spring and summer, how they will flutter in the breeze and bounce back after the rains that are sure to come.

Cornell Plantations, part of Cornell University
Ithaca, New York

Cornell Plantations

road-side hollyhocks
Waupoos, Ontario (near Picton)

Cornell Plantations
Cornell Plantations

I was recently looking back at my New Year's post (well, that is what it was supposed to have been, but as usual I only managed to post it as the days in January were winding down...) and thinking about what I had said I wanted for 2013.  Planning how I could achieve the things that I want so badly and how I would feel admitting, that as usual, things had not gone as I have dreamt or planned or said.

And in reading that post and contemplating my life, I started to think about acceptance.  This concept began to rattle around in my mind even more after watching an ad that many friends have posted recently on FaceBook, here is the link: Dove Beauty Sketches

I tend to be generally sceptical and at times even bordering on hostile when viewing ads, maybe it the sense in me that I am being sold and I know it, that someone is elegantly or roughly thumbing my emotions for an outcome that benefits them or I feel that how they are selling their vision denigrates someone.  So, in general I tend to avoid ads - which is fairly easy considering I almost exclusively watch public television (I know, I know,,,, I am a geek ;-)))  Anyway.... before I watched this ad, in the last several months I have been noticing that I have been seeing more and more things in the media and in society in general that point to a lack of acceptance. 

I consider myself to be an equalist, I am not sure if that is even a term / movement like a feminist or represents anyone else's view, but I choose to claim it.  It is from this perspective, that feel that I am or should be equal to anyone else, no better, no worse, but like the women in Dove's ad, I feel that what I am, what I offer, what I give are never enough. 

I will admit that I have felt or perceived at times that my gender has influenced and determined outcomes, so I am aware that I may have a biased and potentially even warped view.  But when I see ads like this, watch programs or read articles about the declining status of women's rights and place in society, I become concerned. 

There have been times in my life and career when I have been called a Bitch or bitch was used in a sentence to describe how I could be perceived.  When this has happened or I hear other women referred to in this manner, I question, "If I / she were a man, would a similar pejorative term or his gender play a role or enter the conversation?" 

I am sure that I am not unusual, when things like this happen, I begin to question my value, my contributions and of course start to ask "What did I do wrong / am I wrong in my opinions, conclusions or are my behaviour or actions really out of line or is something else at play here?"  Inevitably, I continue to question, question, question and immediately or eventually begin to moderate my behaviour so that it is what I see as more acceptable and consistent with society's norms and expectations of a woman.  I start to become less and less direct, freely offer my opinions less often unless they are directly requested, rarely attempt or engage in conversations / discussions in a free flowing manner, become more and more unsure of myself and become more and more deferential, falsely collaborative, seeking to downplay my ideas and present them in a way that makes the other person feel as if they are their own and more likely to be acceptable, thus not claiming my own potential and contributions.  I am not for a moment suggesting that collaboration, sharing and team work are not my aims, because I would much prefer these as the status quo, but through life I have found and learned the hard way that when and if I communicate and behave in these ways, which are as much a part of who I am as all the things that I feel have contributed to me being called or referred to as a bitch, inevitably, the response is that "you didn't get the job because you lacked confidence" or I am unheard, unconsulted, ignored and invisible.  I don't want, need or expect everything to be what and how I want it, I just would like to feel that I am part of the conversation and the outcome. 

I know a blog post won't change society or anyone's opinion(s), but I felt moved to share my thoughts on this.  There have been times that I have read posts on FaceBook and blogs recently or heard in conversation the age-old message, that says keep "deep" things private and hidden from view or if you can't be perfect or are not a professional, don't bother trying because I am just not interested in seeing / hearing about what you do.  All I have to say to this is, I think they are wrong.  I think those are the views and attitudes that make us, as women and also as men, expect things that just aren't possible and mean that we shut out, ignore or avoid people, places, things and experiences and don't or can't hear what is so clearly being said, just because we aren't perfect and can't be perfect.

If I look too closely and question too deeply, I will not publish this blog post.  But I know, that if I choose acceptance, there must and will be others that will too.  You may not agree with me, you may judge or you may think why can't she just post about her stitching, shut up and get on with it?

But, I know that acceptance will come, I know because every time in the past several years when I stopped questioning and jumped in, it turned out better than I ever considered within the realm of possibility.  That when I stopped telling myself to shut up, don't say that, don't go there, you're wrong, and all the other things I did to stay in my place, whatever and wherever that was, that acceptance waited when I was willing to let it flow.  That when I shared the things that make me the most uncomfortable about me or my experiences through life, my opinions or what I do and think, I found that I wasn't Chicken Little and the sky didn't fall.

My stitching posts will come, as will posts about flowers, sunshine, animals, hiking, friends, family and anything else that touches my fancy. 

I hope, I say that a lot don't I....  but I do hope that the day will find you stitching, laughing and being just who are you, accepted, loved and fulfilled.  But most of all, I hope that if like me, you are stuck, troubled or just plain sick of winter and what this spring has been so far, that the sight and sound of warm spring breezes will swiftly push off the burden and leave you anticipating what is ahead and around the corner.

Cornell Plantations


Green Gables Heritage Place
Cavendish, Prince Edward Island

Until next time,

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Finding my comfort zone

Last week I travelled and flew to Florida for the first time. 

I was to take part in the four-day Annual General Meeting being hosted by the company's president with all Directors from all our campuses in attendance - about 120 people.  I had been dreading this trip, but knew I had to attend, no matter what I thought or said to the contrary. 

I grumbled and complained and planned how I was going to get out of the social events --- I bought a new backpack and filled it to the brim --- my IPod, 4 new stitching projects, 2 books, my camera --- and what did I do with all this?

Almost nothing....

OK, so I did manage to read two books (planes, waiting rooms and in bed are all great places to read new Jane Green and Emily Giffin novels), listened to my IPod on the plane until the battery died and hurriedly took a couple photos of the area immediately surrounding the Sheraton Sand Key Hotel in Clearwater Beach.

But the craziest thing about this trip is that I never even took my stitching out of my bag. 

Why is this the craziest thing...

Well, I worked a lot of overtime in the weeks leading up to the meeting to ensure that everything was taken care of while I was out of the office and also so that I was set up for month-end.  Working in financing, month-end can't wait and with only a couple of days in the office after my trip before month-end, I knew things would be hectic when I got back.

Anyway, back to crazy,,, before my trip, there I was getting home really late every night and what was I doing after I got home?  ...spending hours late into the evening...

selecting the projects I wanted to take,
picking out all the required threads and fabrics and then swopping out the ones I didn't like,

as this was my very first international flight
and at the start of the trip would only be my fourth time in an airport to board an airplane

researching TSA and CATSA restrictions on scissors and needles,
measuring and re-measuring the scissors' dimensions,

reading and re-reading all the rules and restrictions,
spending time printing and packing copies of them, 

packing duplicates of everything - one in my carry-on and another in my checked suitcase


starting every project I was planning to bring,
so that an agent / guard would not think I was bringing home new stash from a LNS in Florida.   

Finally at the Ottawa airport on my way through security I had to open my checked suitcase because the guard wanted to see what the very large item was in the bottom of my case - luckily he was satisfied and did not make me leave my portable OTTlight behind.....  hmmm, again, it was never even turned on....  Like I have said before, shame-faced Annie makes another appearance.   

Like me, do you sometimes play mind games with yourself to accomplish things that you don't want or are afraid to do? 

How crazy is it that I spend hours over several months leading up to last week's meeting stressing over meeting strangers, psyching myself up for the business meetings and the need for me to contribute and planning how I am going to avoid joining any of the social activities...

imaging walking into that first meeting, 
feeling completely like a fish out of water, 
thinking of all the ways that I could embarrass myself or someone else..... 

I will let you imagine all the scenarios I came up with....

If you are like me,
I am sure my crazy ideas and fears would seem entirely logical
and in some cases might also even be based on previous social blunders and bumbles.. 

But if you are not like me,
I will spare you the extent of my insanity
and the head shaking that will, I am sure, ensue after you read my crazy notions.

So, I am sure you are asking yourself, so what did she do? 

The first thing I did was walk into the kick-off meeting and be hugged by several of my colleagues that I had previously met (I had only met these ladies once before, but they literally welcomed me with open arms).  I never expected such a warm welcome and those greetings set the tone for me and made it so much easier for me to jump in...

Then at the first social event / mixer of this trip, held that evening on the beach under two big white tents as the sun set, I deliberately avoided the Directors from my campus, finding several people that looked like I felt.  We chatted, ate dinner and laughed until it was time to go to bed.

I would love to say that all the events and social mixers were easy, but they weren't.

The next morning, I walked up to three people I had not met before and asked to join their table for breakfast.  Needless to say, anyone looking too closely would have seen a very warm, red-faced girl, but the people at my table were too gracious to mention anything.  It would have been so, so, so much easier to stop at the tables where colleagues from my office sat, but I had to avoid even smiling at them as I walked by for fear I would either join them and avoid talking to people I didn't know or just find a to-go cup and container and go have my breakfast by the pool...

Things obviously improved and I can honestly say I had a great time.

I spent time..

walking along the beach barefoot with the surf splashing against my legs,
with some of my colleagues and also by myself

I lounged in the sun 
being a redhead with very pale skin that burns all too easily,
this is something I usually never do 

I danced until the end of the last song played at the Gala dinner, 
it has been too many years since I have done this --
dancing alone with the music blaring from my stereo at home just isn't the same 

Enjoyed several iced alcoholic drinks by the pool
Again, this something I don't normally do,
having made the decision in college that given my family's history and predisposition towards addition, it was not a great idea for me to indulge

I have not changed my perception of alcohol
as it relates to me and my family,
but I did see that I am capable of socialising with people when they are drinking
and that one icy cold Mudslide or Pina Colada does not make me an alcoholic

I said several times to my colleagues that on this trip I did everything I said that I wouldn't. 

If I think about that statement, it is not so much about saying I wouldn't, it is more about thinking I couldn't. 

As with so many experiences and events in my life over the last several years,  I am constantly seeing how far I had grown from who I am at my core.  The journey back, living and being as I am and not as others expect me to be, is certainly not over and has been a bumpy and long one.  But as I have said before, I am constantly surprised and touched by what happens and how it feels to just be me.  To let go of ideas of who and what I should be, to not second guess and wonder how I appear and to just enjoy being in the moment.  Acknowledging that I have insecurities and inhibitions, but they will not limit me, unless I continue to give them permission to do so.

Just for the record, I didn't dance on the tables.... 

I was tired on Saturday when I got on the shuttle bus for the trip back to the Tampa airport, as 2 hours of sleep after dancing the night away at the gala is definitely less than my usual weekday norm of 6.  Unfortunately, a missed connection in Charlotte meant a detour to Philadelphia and an additional 12 hours of travel time.  The cold that I thought I had left behind in Ottawa, caught up with me last Sunday as I got off the plane and went through customs, has been dragging me down ever since.

So, today has been an aimless day, with the exception of this post and winning an eBay auction for a copy of BBD Sunflower House. 

Off I must go to earn my keep - washing, vacuuming and cooking are all on the list for this afternoon, well early evening now. 

And then,,,, hopefully I manage to stay awake long enough to get in some stitching time. 

I also hope I will find / make the time this week to share my progress on BBD Kind and True and my new starts.  But more importantly, to connect with everyone that has reached out to me through my blog and catch up with everyone's posts. 

Until next time,

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

The simplest things....

If you could boil your life down to the simplest things and keep only those things that bring your joy, contentment and fulfilment, what would you keep?  What would you leave behind?

What would be on my keeper list, in no particular order....?

Crafts, and if I were forced to choose just one.... cross-stitch

Road trips in my Mini, that have to include history and hiking

Baking and Cooking

Reading a great book


My camera

Reflection, solitude and creativity

My country home, with my gardens and a wood fire to warm me in Winter

A great cup of coffee

Bird feeders overflowing with feasting birds
Mourning Doves
Blue Jays

The promise of a new day, heralded by the dawn

So, what's on your list?  Do you, like me, seek the challenge of a new project or the opportunity to learn something new?  Are you soothed and brought into balance by nature? 

A doe and her fawn are constantly on the move,
seeking safety and sustenance in the forest of the
Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary

Black-cap Chickadees
AMAZING that they have the courage to land on an open hand

and come back again and again.... and again
The herd on the move, pausing to return my interest

Until next time,