Thousands of Possibilities

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There is almost nothing more sacred than a tree. If you are ever feeling down-hearted and blue, I have the perfect remedy for you, take a walk within the woodlands. Strolling through a forest grove will still the loudest torment in your heart. It’s even scientifically proven, through a study conducted by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Studies at Japan’s Chiba University. Their research suggests that dawdling through a wooded environment lowers concentrations of cortisones, lowers pulse rate, lowers blood pressure, and has a positive influence on parasympathetic nerve activity. Even more importantly, they found compelling evidence to suggest that regular walks surrounded by trees boosts the immune system as well as a general sense of well being. It seems logical, right? Like brushing your teeth every day will prevent tooth decay, a walk in the forest will prevent the erosion of body and soul.

As for me, I’ve always loved the trees, and I enthusiastically recommend a touchy-feely approach. Once you are wandering among the towering timbers choose a tree that appears more inviting to you than any other. Then lean with your back against the roughness of the bark or wrap your arms around its expansive trunk. Close your eyes and open your heart allowing your worries to slip away, and then visualize its branches extending upwards into the sky, limitless and free. There is simply you and a tree. Imagine the roots beneath your feet fingering down into the earth, stretching and reaching, searching for the stability to hold itself upright during the most powerful of tempests. Fathom the persistence of the tree as it pushes its roots deeper still, twisting around rocks and threading through rigid clay.  In a sense, it’s teaching you how to weather any storm. It’s telling you to reach for those things that stabilize you and make you strong. And then, after you are securely anchored in your life, offer shelter to those who are not.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The creation of a thousand forests is in one Acorn.”  His statement is a profound truth, and I do believe, there is almost nothing more sacred than a tree— except for you.

The creation of a thousand possibilities lies within you.

Loving Misery

Thank you.

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Dear people, I appreciate your existence,  you are continually adding dimensions to this world through either positive interactions or negative ones. A balanced life conducts both. We are an amazing species which is complicated and special, our lives are a varied experience of opposing dynamics. For, how would we ever know darkness if we never saw light? How would we ever know joy if we never felt sorrow, and how could we ever appreciate health if we never suffered through sickness?  Encountering and reflecting upon oppositional events brings depth and wisdom to one’s consciousness.

Just imagine? Whenever you have an interaction with another person you either lift them up or add to their misery. The choice is always yours. This opportunity is etched into every communication whether you are driving in traffic, standing in line or writing a comment on someone’s Facebook page. The decision as to how you relate to the next person you meet is always yours. Are you building bridges or ripping them down?

So there you have it, I simply wanted to remind you, to behave however you like today. It really isn’t up to me, or anyone else whether you present yourself as Happy, Grumpy, Dopey, Sexually-frustrated, or Grateful. You, have all the freedom, and you better use it while you have it, because it won’t be long before the liberals decide your emotions are racist too. And on that note I will take this moment to genuinely thank the darling grumblers and scuzzballs and dagger eyed devils in the world; their diversity is appreciated and defining. They’ve shown me exactly who I don’t want to become.  

 

Dreams Come True

 

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The thudding rhythmic beat of the hooves is music to my ears. The momentary pause as man and beast soar over the jump is grace in action. The competitors make it look simple. They gallop around the course in a collected manner and then spring up over the jump. I’m not sure the audience can fully appreciate the hours of practice and training that goes into the presented teamwork of horse and rider. This is a dream come true, it is the riders dream come true.

I attended the Nations Cup At Spruce Meadows held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, on September 9, 2017. It wasn’t only an outing to enjoy the beauty of the equestrian sport but it was a small reunion between a few Equine Studies college friends, and myself. We hadn’t been together in over ten years. So what better way to reconnect than to horse around at Spruce Meadows? Yeah, it’s a groaner.

The horse is an instinctual animal that has survived for hundreds of years by living according to it’s fight or flight instincts. I reluctantly add that by nature’s choosing, horses are creatures of prey. In the wild they are hoofed grass eaters subject to the laws of the hunt. The weak and slow of the herd are meals for packs of roving wolves, the henchman of the bush. Most horses choose flight over fight. Unless they are cornered, and then watch the kicking, striking, and biting commence. This fact alone should add to your admiration for all who sit astride a horse in hopes of controlling the outcome.

I’ve had the pleasure of horses in my life since I was a naive little pea pod on the vine of life. (Such a bad metaphor, no comments from the peanut gallery.) I have been tossed, trampled, struck, bowled over, bit and kicked by horses. I know through painful and personal experience that horses are not just instinctual beings, but are emotional creatures as well. They form strong bonds of companionship between other horses, and given time and trust, between people as well. Horses are sensitive to emotion. They sense fear or hostility in a person by simply being close to them. They don’t need the demonstration of trembling hands or a rough brush, to know a person can’t be trusted in that state of mind. This means, for a rider to be successful, they must be calm and confident, even in the face of their own personal fears. The trust between horse and rider must be like the trust between a flying trapeze performer and their partner who catches them. There can be no hesitation, or doubt, timing is everything. Welcome to the Spock Academy for hopeful equestrians.

Now lets add to the mix, the fact that horses actually do have ideas and desires of their own. Sometimes a stallion would rather be mounting a mare than leaping a fence. It takes a strong hand to guide a stallion to a rider’s whims. Sometimes horses are having a bad day. Maybe they miss a stable-mate, or are feeling lazy, like they would rather just lie around the pasture. It’s a whole different ball game when a sport includes a non-verbal teammate.

 

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Ultimately show jumping is communication between man and beast, for the jumper to be successful the horse must want to jump. Somewhere inside them there is the desire to soar. And as I watched the jumping events it is clear to see the horse trusts it’s rider, and the rider trusts his horse. The horses responds to the encouragement and challenge from their director to jump fences they wouldn’t jump on their own.

It’s bloody amazing. The professionals in any sport can make the task look easy. The teamwork in show jumping seems effortless, and therein lays the magic. It is the slippery fricken magic of appearance. We don’t see the in behind scenes of hard work, or countless hours of practice and failure. We haven’t seen the riders struggle to maintain a positive outlook through their feelings of frustration, doubt and fear. If these show jumpers can trust their horse, who by nature are a creature of fight or flight, to go over jumps for them time and time again. then I do think you can trust yourself to accomplish whatever dreams you can conjure up in your limitless mind.

You got this. Oh yes. Damn right you do.

An Absence of Sun

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Welcome friend, it’s come around again, we have officially entered the seasonal shift when morning light has attained a later state of being. These days, when my alarm sounds out, and I battle to pop my peeper’s open, I am greeted by a dungeon-like darkness. The only thing missing is the shackles. And to be truthful it’s not the pitch-black mornings which bothers me the most. It’s the possibility that crude creeping creatures might be hiding in the lightless space. That idea quickly ignites my imagination and brings to life the horror of unexpected slippery touches, bony grasping fingers, and weird grunting noises… And then I remember, my husband is away at work.

And so it begins, the return to the dark and dismal rise and shine time. The absence of the sun has throttled the very breath out of my fun loving demeanour. I find myself prompted to drag the life size skeleton, Mr. Bones from our garage and have him sit beside me on the couch. We lean in towards one another, fleshy humerus to naked humerus and listen to the top ten hits of funeral music. We silently mourn the death of my chirpiness, although to be frank, Mr. Bones seems quite unsympathetic to my current state of being.

I glance out into the blackness of the early morning hours, and summarily decide the stars are grieving too, as they are veiled by a thick coverlet of clouds. The only light in the room is the orange glow from my Himalayan salt rock. I could turn on a real light but that would interrupt the mood. And in all truthfulness, I’m not quite miserable yet, I’m simply setting the scene. I figured I may as well wait and see what happens, after all, misery loves company. I ruminate for a while longer, and soon realize it’s not coming. Misery has snubbed my overture. I drag Mr. Bones back to the garage, and set him on his sled with his sunglasses positioned over his empty eye sockets. His day won’t get much worse than it already is, and at that bright thought, I feel myself smile.

Paddleboard For Peace

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I’ve been contemplating the world from my secluded slice of heaven for a while now. Our lake invites a reflective state as you can see from the photo above. My daughter’s dog, Mica enjoys a good paddle on the water, and I am happy to oblige. My hubby occupies the other board and he struggles to keep up. I revel in the fact that I am faster than he. On land, he is the fleetest of foot, his legs compare to the stilts of a caribou running in front of a wildfire. If he strapped on skis, he’d be akin to a bunny on steroids. If you give him a pedal bike, his legs spin in a blur like the roadrunners in the Looney Toon’s cartoons, “Meep Meep, try to catch me.” So I admit, I practically glow with satisfaction when I look back on him as he wobbles in my wake. He blames it on his weight and the length of his paddle. I, however, patiently tell him, “Your paddle is fine. It’s the way that you use it that counts.”

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Anyway, my grand dog Mica loves to go cruising on the lake with me. She is oddly at ease, sometimes she stands up, and sometimes she sits down, and then there are times she lays across the bow like the July playmate in a Playdog magazine. She trusts me. She believes  I will do my level best to keep us afloat, and so far we’ve done well. We are two different species cooperating for a successful experience.

The contemplative nature of steering across the lake has caused me to toss around the notion that the most troublesome of the world leaders should be required to paddleboard. It should happen on a remote lake in the middle of nowhere. They should be instructed to ride together and then switch up partners taking turns at being the paddler, and then being the passenger. It would be a good teambuilding experiment. It might instigate a sense of trust— no rocking the boat on purpose here. It would be an excellent time to remind them of the beauty of our planet, and how well an ecosystem survives when there is little to no manipulation from human kind. Maybe all leaders should heed the words of Mother Teresa,  If you want to change the world, go home and love your families. (love your people) Just imagine if everyone stopped throwing spitballs at each other, and went home to hug their family and pet the cat?

Out here on the lake, I see no imaginary lines determining countries or property. It looks to be open access for all. On the water, the voice of the wind speaks gently to the trees, and the willowing cry of the loons echoes in the dusky evening light. We see the fish leap and land with a splash causing circles to ripple outwards. The dragon flies glimmer and sparkle in the fading glow, as they dip and dive consuming mosquitos that would feed on our blood. Out here there is a sense of freedom, and a definite detachment from the over populated parts of the world. As we sweep along on the wrinkles of the lake there is no phone by our hand, and no call to be judged or judge. Our hearts are open and our minds are free.  Our particular section of the world is shaded in splendiferous colors and glows offers abundant hope for tomorrow.

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What You Do.

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We all begin at the same place, as wide-eyed innocent children, full of wonder, exploring our amazing and magical world. More often than not, it’s the people and the expectations from our culture around us that banishes the sparkle from our existence. We begin to give our attention to what everyone else wants for us as opposed to whatever we might desire. It happens through dogma and brainwashed beliefs. It’s taught to us when our sponge-like minds are ready to soak up knowledge like water from a sink; be normal, work hard, and don’t fool around. Society wants typical, well-behaved, tax paying citizens. Don’t listen. I dare you to ignore the propaganda of all news related feeds. If you want to read something worthwhile, read psychology books, so you can become familiar with human thought processes, and as a result you will find the clarity to live your own future.

I’m here to remind you that living within the constraints of society’s ‘normal’ is soul sucking. It leads you into the robot factory. Rise and shine, eat, have a big poop, go to work, eat, work, come home, eat, watch TV or play video games. Intermittently, you will shop and buy stuff you need; food, clothing, and toilet paper. Much of the time you purchase extra hogwash you don’t really want, or need. Usually, it’s because the television recommended the product, or a fashion magazine demanded you to buy it to remain en vogue.

Let me ask you, what did you do last night? Did you do anything that fed your inner spark that leads to feeling alive? Or did you simply zone out in front of the television while it brainwashed you into new purchases that will max out your credit card? Listen, I don’t want to be a nagging voice. I’m pretty sure you already have one of those. I simply want to say, you are potential incarnate. Don’t settle for where you are, or you will find yourself on autopilot sporting a vapid stare.

Let’s pause for a second my confidante, consider the fact that our bodies are simply blood and bone with some muscle and gristle thrown in for good measure. Consider also, that we are all on a continuous path to the compost heap. Looking at those facts, I have to wonder why we get stuck in the robot life? Why don’t we have some fun while we are here? As a matter of fact, why not have a whole heap of fun? We don’t need to be so serious about our lives. I seriously think we need to drop all the frowsy faces. As a matter of fact I’m going to insist. I’ve changed into a kickass desperado. I’m a brigand with a black balaclava on, fighting for fun. I pump  my 12 gauge shot-gun and fire it into the air to wipe away the vapid stares and frowns faces. “Listen up folks,” I shout. “I’m taking all your frowns. You figure out how to put a smile on your face without using money, because no one goes to the grave with all their stuff. The pyramids are closed for business.” A ray of light shines through the blast hole in the ceiling, dust drifts down like the sparkles from a diamond. I rip off my balaclava and stand in the glittering glow like a fairy godmother in the sunlight. “Tick tock, my friends, the compost heap is near. Decipher what brings enchantment into your life before the clock strikes twelve.”

One last bit of useful advice, ignore all your shoulds, coulds, and woulds that will undermine your ability to create your chosen life. You know what I speak of, I should do that. I would have done that. I could do that. Should, would and could are words that will hold you back because they attached to the energy of a big fat BUT. Speak no more buts, instead, ask yourself; what’s holding you back? Why are you hesitating? How can I make my dreams come true? Grab a hold of your desires today. Begin your plan today to manifest the best life you can imagine. Keep in mind however, that I am not condoning acts of self-mutilation or murder.

 

A Good Life

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Alvin Richard Mitchell  May 12, 1940 — August 2, 2016

“That was when the world wasn’t so big and I could see everywhere. It was when my father was a hero and not a human.” — Markus Zusak

My dad, Alvin was born into a family as the oldest of two children. During his early years he excelled at annoying the crap out of his younger sister, Shirley. Yet, somehow despite the fact he was a shit disturber, he remained the apple of his Mom’s eye. He adored his Mother until the end of his time. “She was a great woman,” he would say  emphatically. “A hard working woman —And boy could she swing an axe.”

He was raised to be a tough farmboy, who wasn’t allowed the luxury of using excuses for unfinished work. As a result of his upbringing with high expectations he became a determined individual. Al was always up for a challenge. He went straight from the farm fields, and right into the oil patch to earn his livelihood as a rig hand. Then when the jobs on the rigs slowed for spring breakup, he joined the Navy on a whim. He became the ships signalman. He travelled the seas from San Francisco to Singapore. On shore leave in Victoria, B.C. he met his future wife, Gail. Then shortly after, Alvin’s father, Walter, injured his leg in a farming accident and was unable to work. Under those circumstances, Alvin was given a compassionate discharge from the Navy in order to return home and run the family farm. Once Walter’s leg was healed he went back to farming, and once again Alvin found himself looking for work. It didn’t take long before he was hired on through the forestry as a timber cruiser, and once again his amazing work ethic led him into a position working as a Forest Officer for the Alberta Forest Service.

During the next five years, at separate intervals, Alvin became a proud/confused father to three bouncing/ squealing baby girls. During this time, it was with great pleasure that Al took night classes to earn his pilots licence. Eventually the trials of continually dealing with people within the rules of a bureaucratic government job took its toll, and he escaped. He bought the family farm from his father, Walter. He worked the land and raised cattle for many years until he became too cranky and fed-up to handle one more day of cow shit and tractor exhaust.

Alvin retired to British Columbia, with his second wife, Gil, to a life of fishing, curling, and golfing. He even had the occasional game of ‘Why the hell did I play ball? I can hardly walk‘, with a slow-pitch team called the Brew Crew, in Robson, B.C.

It’s funny, my Dad never considered the possibility that cancer might snuff out his life. I’m not sure why he hadn’t, after a lifetime of smoking he should have known the big C would be the logical result. Oddly enough it didn’t take hold in his lungs, it took root in his bowels. They operated, and then treated him with chemo and radiation. He toughed it out. As time went on, I knew for a fact that he would have preferred a bolt of lightening, rather than the long drawn out treatments, making him feel sicker than the illness itself. It was a shocking experience for him after a lifetime of good health.

When the cancer came back, it sapped his strength, and ate his body. The damage caused by the sickness angered Alvin, “I look like a goddamn concentration camp victim,” he would say. And he did. I could have learned every single bone in a humans skeleton on his ravaged body. Yet, Dad still breathed.

The vibrant man of action that I had known all my life was now replaced by a ghost of what he had been. He was a mere shadow of his former self, and he spent his final days staring out the window, and watching the river flow along. I could see in his wistful gaze, that he wished for the strength to toss in a hook and snag a fish one last time. In the confines of his living room, the constant drone of the television sounded; hockey, golf, curling, and of course, both the morning and nightly news, for both Alberta and British Columbia. And then for some bizarre reason Alvin choose, ‘My Five Hundred Pound Life’ as a short term favourite. The fragility of a human life had never seemed so clear for this man who had once sailed around the world. Now, confined to his living room by his illness, it was there in that small space, where he found comfort in small things. He sat in his recliner, sipped on his coffee, and pulled deeply on his cigarette. They were the only things he had the strength to do.

I asked if he had any regrets. If there was anything he would have liked to change about his past life. I watched him ponder that question as he inhaled another lungful of smoke. “No,” he said as he paused tilting his head, and tapping the ashes off his ciggy. “Well— I don’t think so,” he replied in his gritty voice. “I’ve had a pretty good life.” He nodded slowly. “A pretty good life.” And then he offered me a grin, weathered and worn. The familiar smile that all his friends and family loved, the one that invited you to smile along. And of course a person would. That was Alvin, that was my Dad in his final days. Gil’s cinnamon buns for breakfast, a good cup of coffee, and his smoke. He was a simple man, satisfied with the abundance of ordinary things. Nothing fancy for him in his faded flannel, thread bare, plaid shirt, his favourite attire— with, of course, a pocket to hold all the lighters he would inadvertently borrow when looking for a light.

It’s a painful process watching your Dad whither away. He was my hero when I was young. I thought the sun choose him to shine on all day long. I remember being a bobbling child and following his light around just to feel it’s warmth. He walked with giant steps, and towered over all things. He was the most handsome, athletic, brilliant Dad that anyone could ever wish for. I felt bad for all the other kids with ordinary Dads.

As age often does, there came a time I saw my Dad as a mortal. He struggled, but he did the best he could. He taught us the basics to succeed in life. First and foremost, he instilled a strong work ethic in his girls, Holy Hannah, the work ethic was strong. Later in life Dad said, “I know I was hard on all you girls, but it’s important in life to do a good job, it shows strong character.”

Growing up on the farm our Dad taught us how to drive, disc, rake hay, give a strong left hook, hammer, paint, shoot, fish, and run the grain auger while keeping body parts safe. He taught us to skidoo—but I missed the lesson on avoiding trees. He taught us how to dance to the oldies, the jive, the twist and the two-step. I may have kicked my sisters inadvertently. He schooled us on poker, and how to lose the entire contents of your piggy bank at poker. All great lessons.

When he became a grandfather, he literally beamed when spending time with his grandkids, a sunflower would have been persuaded to swivel on it’s stalk to follow the light in his heart.

My Dad died at the age of 76. He was the oldest, young-hearted  person, I ever knew. He will forever be missed. For such a slender fellow he sure took up a big space in plenty of hearts. God, Bless him.