Old Wounds Heal

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Melancholy is common, and probably even more common these days. This meandering affliction has flitted in and out of my life with an erratic flow, mostly hidden away as a secret despair. And within those months and even years I felt utterly exhausted and completely incapable of succeeding at any task. Yet, somehow, I pushed through, numb and only partially engaged, fat with anxiety. I seemed to be on auto pilot, unable to take control, my lifetime of gaffs and blunders were the only memories I’d play, over and over like the relentless refrain of an old song stuck in my head.

As I grew older, my list of botches grew longer and longer. And then, when people confided to me with their own troubles, I found myself automatically adding them to my own litany of unravellings or downfalls to solve.  A ridiculous notion at best, as though I could fix their problems too. Soon, in any conversation I found myself begging in a silent voice, “Please don’t ask anything of me with your expectant eyes and anxious energy for I cannot carry your burden too.” And in reality, I’m sure if they knew what I was thinking, they’d have thought I’d lost my ever-loving mind, and replied, “But I haven’t asked you for a thing.” And deep-down, despite my exaggerated sense of responsibility, I knew this to be true. As a middle child from a dysfunctional family, I was always trying to make it better for everyone else because that was my job. I was forever on guard, reading a rooms emotion, either trying to defuse the bomb before it exploded or running before it did. Focusing on others to maintain a smoother road of life absolutely crushed my ability to manifest a clear future for myself.

Celebratory events with family and friends which were intended to be easy and joyful, were a form of stilted play-acting in an attempt to satisfy the expectations of the group. Despite the good-humoured grins and laughter thrown around like money in a casino, my smiles were consistently hollow and my laughter forced; a pittance at the penny slots. My feelings became non-existent. The space inside my heart reserved for warmth and caring had long iced over, and in actual fact, the slow pulsing core of my being felt more desolate than a prairie field in the depths of winter; icy, rigid, and filled with emptiness.

Those were the darkest of days. Today, the sunlight pours down creating dancing shadows on the ground, my smile is an expression of my heart, my future unfolding as I choose. This is our one guarantee in life, everything changes. So, if you are feeling that your life is pointless, overwhelming and beyond repair, believe me when I say it is not. We live in a world of opposites; up/down, rich/poor, cold/hot, happy/sad, and on and on. Nothing is stagnant. All around us, every day, everything transforms, including you.

Please remember that spring comes; the grass greens, the sun shines and the gofers in the burrows foster little ones. I, for one believe in you. And maybe you are thinking, how can you believe in me? You don’t even know me, and I reply, “It’s because you are human that I believe in you. I believe in the power of your heart, of your love, of your forgiveness, of your kindness. I believe in your creativity, in your tears and in your future joys. I believe in the contrast of who you are. Even the most evil-minded individual holds the capacity to become giving and loving. It is in our potential to become; to evolve. We falter, we fall, we bleed, we lash out and we learn. If we can be strong enough to accept our pain without blaming the world or those around us, we grow. Our power lies in the love we give, not in the love we hold in our hearts. The love in a smile, in a letter, in a devil’s food cake. Human beings are magical creatures because they are capable of overcoming. Let us overcome.”

Follow the Leader?

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Life begins in a womb, or in a room, depending on your view, I suppose. But without a doubt, we all exist as the result of a big bang; the merging of two completely separate things; an egg and a sperm, and then lo and behold, out of this unification pops a brand new energetic being. Unlike baby lizards, which hatch from an egg and are completely independent at birth, eating ants, flies and small worms, brand new people are utterly incapable of doing anything except crying, flailing and losing their poop. And some people continue this type of behaviour well into adulthood, which isn’t to say those people won’t ever change, because they can. Humans are capable of advancing their position in life through self-determination, unlike a lizard, which will always be a lizard.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit unnerving comparing people to lizards, it puts me at risk of having a raging reptile or a pissy progenitor on my doorstep. I’ll put a pee-pad on the landing. Now, back to my weird, and over-simplified comparison, the most obvious difference between a human and a lizard is that people have a desire to determine their own path in life and can actively plan towards attaining that goal. In essence, we try, we fail, we try, we fail, we try, we succeed and we grow—remove the pee-pad. Whereas, lizards simply live in the moment fulfilling their own needs; eating, drinking and fornicating.

Furthermore, as a non-lizard species, we have the unique ability to use introspection to hone our personal progress and develop compassion for our fellow human beings. If we cut beneath the superficial mask we wear for appearances sake, each individual soon comes face to face with their own inner workings, including their deepest fears and most vile inclinations, in doing this time and time again, everyone eventually discovers we are all capable of doing dark deeds in difficult circumstances. This revelation leads us to find empathy for those who struggle. The idea of compassion doesn’t exist for lizards, they simply view the smaller lizards, the less powerful lizards as a source of food to fill an empty need.

The progression of any society is intricately linked to the empathy the people display for their own fellow man. I came across these paragraphs in a book, the words buried themselves inside my heart and mind, irretrievable shrapnel from an explosive idea.

Hammer cocked, a round in the chamber, finger resting lightly on the trigger, I drew a bead on whoever walked by—women pushing strollers, children, garbage collectors laughing and calling to each other, anyone—and as they passed under my window I sometimes had to bite my lip to keep from laughing in the ecstasy of my power over them, and at their absurd and innocent belief that they were safe.

But over time the innocence I laughed at began to irritate me. It was a peculiar kind of irritation. I saw it years later in men I served with, and felt it myself, when unarmed Vietnamese civilians talked back to us while we herded them around. Power can only be enjoyed when it is recognized and feared. Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those that have it.” .

This Boys Life: By Tobias Wolff

This scenario gnaws at the reality of our time. Do you think the leaders of today promote self-determination, fearlessness in the face of adversity and compassion for others, or do they actively participate in shaming, name-calling and enjoy the predatory feeling of having their finger on the trigger? Will the babies born today be encouraged to live their lives to their highest capacity as a human or will they be limited to the barest minimum like a lizard?

Historical Love and Savagery

Happy Valentines Day! My original intention for today’s blog was to compose uplifting flowery prose which might inspire love and connection. However, as I delved into the complicated and muddled past of this whimsical day of adorations, I soon discovered there was nothing whimsical about Valentines Day. Its curious beginnings have been studied by various historians sifting through the dusty realms of the past, but unfortunately, rather than locating a precise origin, the beginnings are vague and incomplete. According to some, our designated day of love began with animal sacrifice and ended with a lottery in which young virgins were raffled off. Other chroniclers surmised February 14 was named for St. Valentine, a Roman priest, executed for secretly marrying young lovers against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, and thereafter was named the patron saint of lovers, epileptics and beekeepers.

If you find the history of Valentines Day tragic, I would agree, but that said, haven’t we done something amazing? We took a historically horrific day and turned it into a day to express our love for our families and our friends. Each time we gape at our history with distress in our heart it’s an opportunity to revisit and become aware of the tribulations of the past thereby creating a brighter future.

Let’s consider the years of 1933-1945, when Adolf Hitler, the German dictator sought war and hate instead of peace and love. His leadership was directly responsible for the deaths of six million Jews and five million noncombatants. Many of those died in the concentration camps, and thousands of deaths were attributed to medical experimentation by Nazi doctors. During Hitlers war campaign the rape of innocent women and children were common occurrence, and he actively persecuted homosexuals and people with disabilities, and went as far as authorizing a euthanasia program for disabled adults.

Today, we look back and wonder how this devastation could have happened, the survivors tell us it occurred quite gradually, it began with a propaganda campaign, a stealthy layering of words resulting in a slow twist of the mind. The government sponsored media used radio, newspapers, posters and flyers, to dehumanize their fellow Jewish citizens and dissidents. Eventually they considered those people enemies that needed to be dealt with, debate was not allowed, disagreeing voices squashed and demonized.

“The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little ones but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”

Adolf Hitler

Around that same time period from 1922-1953, Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, became responsible for over six million peoples deaths and perhaps as many as nine million if you take into account death by starvation and concentration camps for dissidents. A historian, Norman Naimark, penned the book, Stalin’s Genocides, to illustrate the dictator’s horrific deeds.

“In the process of collectivization, for example, 30,000 kulaks were killed directly, mostly shot on the spot. About 2 million were forcibly deported to the Far North and Siberia. They were called ‘enemies of the people, as well as swine, dogs, cockroaches, scum, vermin, filth, half-animals, apes. Activists promoted murderous slogans: “We will exile the kulak by the thousand when necessary— shoot the kulak breed.” The kulak class were farmers. ‘The destruction of the kulak class triggered the Ukrainian famine, during which 3 million to 5 million peasants died of starvation.”

Norman Naimark

It’s ugly. It’s terrible to read, and it’s difficult to consider those times, yet if we turn away from the bloody history of our world we dishonour the pain and suffering of the dead. A forgotten history is a repeated history. Out of all the mass murdering leaders of the 1900’s, the Chinese communist leader, Mao Zedong, reigned supreme at killing his own people. His rule led to the deaths of 45 million people. Forty-Five Million. Rodgers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team can hold 20,734 people for a concert. You would need approximately two thousand-one hundred and seventy Rodgers Places to hold all the bodies that Mao Zedong was responsible for killing.

“Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors by herding villagers across the country into giant people’s communes. In pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivised. People had their work, homes, land, belongings and livelihoods taken from them. In collective canteens, food, distributed by the spoonful according to merit, it became a weapon used to force people to follow the party’s every dictate. As incentives to work were removed, coercion and violence were used instead to compel famished farmers to perform labour on poorly planned irrigation projects while fields were neglected.

A catastrophe of gargantuan proportions ensued. Extrapolating from published population statistics, historians have speculated that tens of millions of people died of starvation. But the true dimensions of what happened are only now coming to light thanks to the meticulous reports the party itself compiled during the famine….

What comes out of this massive and detailed dossier is a tale of horror in which Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962. It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten kilogram stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – punishment for digging up a potato.”

-Frank Dikötter

People are complicated creatures, our egos and fears sometimes lead us into unreasonable actions. In the 18th century around twenty percent of all woman died from the Black Death of childbed. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, sought to solve the reason. Fairly quickly he established that the mid-wives had a much lower rate of mothers dying after childbirth than the doctors, therefore he concluded the mid-wives must be doing something different than the fully trained doctors. After spending time observing the mid-wives verses the doctors, he eventually came to the conclusion that the doctors did not wash their hands between seeing patients and delivering babies. In short order, Dr. Semmelweis instructed his staff to begin washing their hands and cleaning the instruments between patients, and in response the rate of Black Death in his delivering mothers dropped off dramatically. Incredibly, the other doctors did not immediately follow his solution and actively shunned and mocked Dr. Semmelweis’s suggestion. It took years before hand washing was implemented and in the meantime many more woman died.

History holds so many warnings in the crotch of its bloodiest years. Looking at history we can see, the first sign of a government gone astray can be found in the wording used by their media and its leaders. It utilizes disparaging language, singling out a particular group through blaming and name calling. Cultivating emotion through the use of certain phrasing is a the most powerful tool a leader can use in addressing its citizens. It can either bring people together or drive people apart.

“We all know people who are deciding whether or not they are willing to get vaccinated, and we will do our very best to try to convince them. However, there is still a part of the population that is fiercely against it.

They don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and racist. It is a very small group of people, but that doesn’t shy away from the fact that they take up some space.

This leads us, as a leader and as a country, to make a choice; Do we tolerate these people?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Do you tolerate me? Do you think I am racist and misogynistic for making a personal choices for the only thing I truly own on this earth—my body? Dividing citizens has never proved a peaceful path into the future. Love and unity is the only way to move forward. Consider this, ordinary civilians are not the instigators of an oppressive and tyrannical society, however, through fear and manipulation the majority of citizens do grant their leaders that power. Our history is being decided now. I am an unvaccinated healthy citizen on the side of freedom— love me or hate me, it makes no difference to me, I still consider you a potential friend and ally in a world that seems to have gone over the edge. Happy love day to you.

Unearthing Information

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Good day, my fellow companions sharing in this grand adventure of life. I have a confession to make. I used to be the most over-trusting, easily deceived, green as grass, rural dweller that you ever could meet. I assumed all professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and cheese makers were equally effective and proficient in their job. I had no clue that a little research goes a long way. Talk about naive. I mean, I was once a Girl Guide, I should have taken the motto, ‘be prepared‘ more seriously, but I think I was a bigger fan of the stylish uniform than being prepared. Long story short, I have aged into the understanding that a quality investigation into anything relating to your health and welfare is critical to a great outcome. And, if you know me at all, you know I have a story to illustrate this point, and no, it’s not about a cheese maker. However, if anyone one has one of those stories, I’d be absolutely giddy to hear it.

A few years ago, my friend, Brenda and I were on our daily walk. It was mid-summer; the towering grass growing in the wide ditch swaggered within the rush and wane of the wind and a hint of wild mint from a pond beyond the willows wafted through the air. We strode side by side without saying a word, all talked out from our previous kilometres, tiny beads of perspiration sparkles on our faces and the heat of the day hangs on the road between the ditches. A sudden movement to my left snatches my attention, a fluffy bear cub rears up near the edge of the road and contemplates us with obvious curiosity. My breath halts as a huge black mass rises up from the long grass behind the cub. My eyes widen and my body trembles in alarm. Brenda hadn’t seen them yet.

I grab hold of Brenda’s t-shirt to get her attention. “Stop. It’s a bear,” I say, huffing on each word. My knees weaken, running into a mama bear with cubs was not on my bucket list. Brenda’s eyes bulge as she takes stock of the imposing bear and her three cubs now romping unpredictably through the grass.

Thankfully, this bear and her three cubs had been sighted in the area a few days earlier and I had taken the initiative to sit at my computer and search this question, ‘What do you do when you run into a mama bear and you are about to drop a deuce in your drawers?’ Instantly, I received a list of websites about bears, none about poo. I read about five or six articles to get a wide variety of advice. The national parks had excellent information but there were also some educational personal accounts. The unanimous point in all information was DO NOT RUN. Then I opened another window and searched, “How to remove poo stains from panties.” So, according to experts you can mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with one-liter of water in a spray bottle. That said, I should have checked my sources, because squirting the bear with vinegar solution only enraged her further.

Kidding.

The bear stood about a camper length away, like an average fifth wheel, not a tent trailer. It seemed as though we stared at that bear for hours before we made our move but in truth it was closer to a second. And in that second, it was impossible not to take notice of the sharpness of her claws and the whiteness of her teeth. Who was her dentist? As we huddled together, I swear our hearts weirdly synchronized and we pounding out the drum beat of ‘Run Run Run,’ by the Who.

“What do we do?” Brenda asks, voice quavering.

Do Not Run, I thought. “We need to look as non-threatening as we can, look at the ground,” I say hoarsely, my mouth drier than a salted mummy. “Back away slowly.” We move in lockstep, a stealthy retreat. The sow shook her head clearly agitated, clacking loudly. Obviously she is trying to decide who to eat first, juicy Brenda or dusty Deb. In one swift move she drops down and takes two powerful strides toward us, head bobbing, ebony fur rippling in the sunshine. Then she rose up again to her full height, clacking fretfully.

We continue backing away, calmly and quietly— kind of quiet. Whispering, “Oh my God, oh my God.” A rattling holy phrase. The bear hoverers on her spot, eyes unblinking, nostrils flaring. Bren and I back down into the ditch nearly disappearing from the bears sight into the sparse shrubbery that lined the road. We duck behind a wimpy looking willow; the sturdiest tree of all. The bear sways trying to see where we are. I search the ground for a weapon of some sort, just in case; a weighty branch to be swung as a club or a sharp-ended stick like a spear. There is nothing. Only twigs. I could poke her eye out.

Then Brenda leans into me. “I think she’s leaving.”

I look up and peer through the leaves. Sure enough, the mama decides we are not a danger and she and her cubs lope off in the opposite direction, up an incline and into the deep bush.

Looking back, I should have failed my online bear psychology degree. Having done the research, I knew that Brenda and I should have been carrying bear spray or wearing a bear bell to announce it was dinner time. But at least I was able to move through my fear and use some of the tools I learned to minimize the possibility of a bad outcome. After all, we are all in charge of our own outcomes. So today, as in every day, I wish you the clarity of mind and clarity of heart in any decision you make. Oh yes, and by the way, the vinegar and water solution really does works.

Ushered Into the Program

Ushered Into the Program

Imagine this scene multiplied a million times over.

Are we being deliberately limited by what we hear and see through the mesmerizing transmissions on our TV?

Imagine this scene repeated endlessly.

Are we the ones choosing the planning of our time or are we led down a path of someone else’s design?

Imagine this tool being used trillions of times a day.

Do we control it? Or does it control us? Do the apps within its programs feed your need for approval one day and then smash your ego into smithereens the next? Does this device empower your sense of accomplishment?

I am not against technology. Technology optimizes the workplace and is invaluable in staying connected with family and friends. That said, I have to ask, do you think technology can be a substitute for the active experience of spending time with flesh and blood people? Do you think it can take the place of the heat of a tender embrace? Or the sultry sweet scent of flowers after a rain? Or a walk along a beach with a loved one serenaded by the roaring of waves crashing down upon the shore? Or the snorting laughter shared during an outing with old friends? Take a pause, close your eyes and remember those days; remember the energy; the realness.

Now, just imagine, dear ones, what could we accomplish if we all remembered our flawed yet marvellous humanity and we began to use our precious time for appreciating other people instead of tuning into the program. What would happen if we envisioned the world as a healing circle of compassion and day by day, interaction by interaction we built each other up instead of tearing each other down; a world threaded together by connected hearts instead of wifi. So many possibilities.

Do you know the real difference between humans and computers? Humans feel. We experience desires and dreams, and with those desires and dreams we are capable of freely determining our own destiny. Now I ask you, are you a human or a program?

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.

Moments Undone

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The stillness was tangible. The trees stood captured in the moment, frozen in the hush of a mild winter day. A single bird brought color to the pureness of the stark scene, it’s movement tamed to a twitch of feathers and a silvery song. Within these few seconds the world is at peace, and any who paused reflecting on the scene would find an unexpected calmness steal into their hearts. Life outside humankind’s sprawling territory is simple, untainted, and most of all unpretentious. Nature offers no hidden agenda, or striving shows of bravado, or judgement upon who you are. Nature is a gift to each and all whether murderer or saint. The Earth offers acceptance. A holy place where stress crumbles away like hoar frost falling from the trees on a tranquil midwinters day. Yet mostly what nature offers is a moment undone, a glimpse of life without the boundaries of scheduled time. It offers ultimate acceptance in these days of  incessant publicized turmoil. Take the time to find a moment undone.

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 that offers an abundance of hope for tomorrow.

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