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Archive for the ‘personal & meaningful’ Category

Back to Writing


I was surprised to see I hadn’t written anything in my blog for two months.  I have been learning to post to my other website http://www.yourinvisiblebodies.com instead of writing here.  Because Lisa Francis updated that website to a new host, I have had to learn new procedures to write posts.  I am happy with the outcome, but it has taken a while.  Now that I’m here, I don’t know where to begin.  I have begun writing again. I am working on a one-woman play, a monologue from a woman who has recently retired.  I call it Mona, for now at least.  That has been fun to write, but also emotionally challenging.  The bards say “write what you know” so I have done so, but I also added “what you imagine” to the script.  Time will tell if it is accepted for the Knox Just Acts Play Festival in February 2013.

At the Kerby Centre this morning, after my exercise class, I told a colleague what the theme of the play is: a recently retired woman wondering what her purpose was in life.  She grinned mischievously, “Yes, I’ve heard there are people like that.”  She has probably been retired for at least 15 years, but shows no signs of being purposeless.  There is a lot of wisdom among senior women.  I look forward to our coffee conversations after exercise class as much as I do the aerobics!  Life is good indeed!

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                I am not being rude toward my church.  I am simply using an abbreviation to summarize my belief in the future of the United Church.  On the weekend of June 1st-3rd, I attended a Conference of the United Church.  It is not my first time to a conference; that was BC Conference in Victoria in the 1970s.  ANWC, which stands for Alberta North West Conference, is a huge area to represent: nine presbyteries from Southern Alberta to Northern Lights in the Yukon and Northwest Territory.  Ministers and lay people from every United Church in this region gathered for four days at SAIT in Calgary.  We filled a gymnasium with song, prayer, discussion, and joy.  We wrangled with constitutional issues and parliamentary procedure as we restructured our paid Conference positions to address the reality of declining financial contributions from local congregations.  I don’t think the majority of people attending the United Church have any idea of what Conference is or does.  For most of us, which includes me up to now, ANWC means a remote body that collects money from us but doesn’t have any impact on our faith.

Not true.  Not a bit.

 I used to read “IN CONTACT” in the United Church Observer to discover what was happening within our region.  I didn’t know that full-time paid positions were necessary to ensure that IN CONTACT was even written, or that Conference staff were providing support to congregations and ministers and lay people throughout the year and throughout the region. I didn’t know that Conference elected people to attend the General Council of the United Church of Canada.  Local people complain about dues to presbytery, conference, and general council.  They don’t know what they do, so they  don’t pay the fees.  They choose other priorities instead and forget their responsibilities as employers.    Presbytery and Conference seem remote, rather than the accessible and necessary structures that ensure communication and support to individual churches within its area.  Interestingly, of the 16 paid positions in Conference, all but three are filled by women.   By the end of the weekend, we passed a vote to reduce 16 positions to 8.  Three of these were full-time, others part-time.  Much of the work of Conference is conducted by over one hundred people serving on eighteen different standing committees.  Now we will need even more volunteers.  Coordination of services will be more challenging. 

Besides the major discussions and vote about restructuring (downsizing), we also passed two motions to carry forward to General Council. We asked that Diaconal ministers be given the right to administer the sacraments as part of the responsibilities they undertake at their Commissioning.  The second motion was that General Council develop strategies to take action with all levels of government, the business community and non-profit organizations to address child poverty in Canada.  A third motion, regarding boundaries of Conferences (especially ours), was defeated.

Two of the more emotional tasks of Conference are the Commissioning of new ministers, and the recognition of ministers who are retiring.  Comparing the new ministers to the retirees, I have concluded the future of the United Church is Female, Fun and Faith-Filled.  We welcomed five new ministers, all of whom were women.  We thanked the retirees, 13 men and 4 women.    This fact, more than any other, showed me what is happening in my beloved church.  We elected a new president, a passionate woman who spoke to our hearts about living and working in faith.  We are declining in numbers, but we are not disappearing.  We are more focused on mission, the mission of living our lives as Christ would have us live.  We believe in God and we are not alone.  We sing with joy of renewal and thanksgiving, and we welcome all to the table. 

Stephen Lewis said a few years ago that he believed the only way out of the mess our world is in would come from women.  He said that it is the women, especially the grandmothers,  that are persevering with hope and solutions.  He asserted men are stuck in traditional thought patterns and have forgotten to listen to their soul and higher power.  Women will lead the way.

In the fifties, most people in Canada attended church.  At that time it was part of the culture of being an adult that drove people to attend church.  For men, volunteering at a church was a good way to meet people and establish themselves in the community.  It was good for business, for church attendance  added to their credibility and reputation.  For women, the church offered community, support for children, and active volunteering in activity-based charity. Two generations ago, most women worked at home as full-time mothers, rather than work at jobs outside the home.  Families were more able to live on one salary because housing was more affordable, and the gap between rich and poor was not as large. The social gospel of justice-based initiatives impelled many United Church members into elected political positions at all levels of government. Both Catholic and Protestant churches thrived.  The 1970s saw a decline of those  churches  matched by growth of more evangelical ones. Despite the growth of those churches,  today many fewer Canadians attend  Christian churches.  Support for tithing, or even donating financially to a church, is dwindling.  Young families are not replacing the number of aging and deceased members.  Finances are tight.  Stuck with buildings that are too large for present numbers of members to maintain, congregations struggle with decisions to close, sell, amalgamate, or restructure.  It’s not an easy time.  Finances drive too many topics of discussion.  Our faith sometimes is forgotten.  The numbers of members have dwindled, but the reasons why members still attend church differ from those of two generations ago.  Church attendance no longer results in prestige within society; often churchgoers are received with skepticism and distrust of motive.  People who attend the United Church now are motivated by something much stronger than the desire for prestige.  I believe those in my faith community are driven by deeply-felt personal experiences, even though they may seldom talk about them.

At Conference, we talked – and talked.  We debated in table groups and in general session at the mikes.  We sang, prayed, clapped our hands, ate, drank, and celebrated being together.  We were not alone.  We celebrated.  For some people, it is a concern that fewer men are drawn to ministry.  For me, that doesn’t matter at all.  It’s been my experience that women have always worked harder and longer than men, with more conviction and less griping.  We manage money better and we don’t grow up with feelings of entitlement.  I truly believe, as stated above, that the future of the United Church is Female, Fun, and Faith-Filled.  We are in good hands.

 

                 

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Last week I was interviewed by Rita Sirignano for an article on Mothers Day, which will appear in Swerve on Friday, May 11.  Her original intent was to feature me, a member of Calgary Raging Grannies, in a side-bar to show that not all grandmothers fit the stereotype.  However, a few days after the interview she told me I would be part of the main article, not a sidebar.  I am curious to know what she will write.  We had a great talk about grandmothers, and when I learned she still has a teenaged son living with her, I wondered if she was reluctant to claim an older label when she is still actively parenting.  Rita is close to my daughter’s age, so I shared  my daughter’s thoughts on being a grandmother.  It was easy to just press the email button on my iPad and send her the notes.  Rita and I enjoyed our talk, but now I wish I had shared other thoughts.  While I agree with my daughter about what she said, from my 75-year-old perspective, I have a societal view of grandparenting.  I’m sure that grandfathers react the same way that I have.  At this stage in life, I doubt that gender differences matter.

What else I could have said to Rita:

The connection between grandparent and child is so primal it must be part of our hard-wiring as a species. In 1986 I was totally unprepared for the joy and automatic outpouring of love that I felt when my son-in-law phoned  to say that my oldest grand-son Riley was born. I took time off work and drove 11 hours to visit them, and to be there when my daughter came home from the hospital.
Since then I have 2 more grand-sons, and my step-granddaughter has 3 children whom I regard as great-grand children.
If the connection between grandparent and grandchild is so primal it must be to ensure the survival of the species. What does the grandparent provide that the parents don’t? Definitely more love. Support for the parents when they can’t do it all. Extra time and attention for the child. Another set of eyes to watch wandering steps. Another pair of hands to pick them up, change their wet clothes, dress them, care for them when they fall. The grandparents don’t replace the parents at all … Far from it. Hopefully they fill in the gaps.
The line between grandchild and grandparent is like the vertical threads in the fabric of life – the fabric of our society. The horizontal threads are present time parents and situations, adding color, variety, pattern and picture. The vertical fibres hold the people in place. They lend structure and support, keeping everyone together. We learn who we are by interacting with our world. Interacting with older generations affirms who we are at a cultural level, helping to form our identity. When we know we are connected by blood we are more secure in our knowledge of who we are. That may be why children who are adopted feel a need to find their birth parents. It could be that at an unconscious level they do not feel part of the lineage of their adoptive family. A sense of difference may pervade the adoptee.

Wait a minute.  That may not be true at all, for many people feel disconnected from their blood relatives. When I was ten years old, my sister told me that I was adopted.. I believed her, for hadn’t I always felt different and alone? Perhaps identity is only a part of the search for meaning as we grow and ask the eternal questions: “Who am I? Why am I here? what does my life mean?”

For  grandparents, those questions disappear when the grandchildren enter our doorways.  These blessed little people fill our hearts and our souls and we know who we are.  We are the way-showers.  We are the connectors.  We are their adoring fans.  We are part of the ever-widening circle of life.  Thank you, Riley, Jesse, Faellen, Ben, Dillan, Justin, and Ashlyn.  With you, I am whole.

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Since writing the last post about using Social Media, I have become more diligent at going to my Facebook page, plus my three writing groups on Linked-In, and occasionally my Twitter account.  I prefer to just post websites and emails that I find relevant, and want to publicize.  Writing a blog requires more thought and time.  I’ve spent time working on my novel this past month, which is very satisfying.  When I went to Kelowna to stay for a week with my son’s family, I worked on my book while Ben was at Kindergarten.  That got me going again, and I’m enjoying the re-writes.  Feedback from a few friends advised me to try changing parts to third person POV, so I’m revising it extensively.  I managed to take time yesterday morning before a friend arrived for coffee, and completed 10 pages!  So I can do it; I just have to stay focussed.

Last Sunday I attended the Seed Event at the Convention Centre in Calgary.  It was wonderful.  Eight different speakers presented their knowledge and unique perspective on how we can prepare for living in the future. Sequoyah Trueblook opened the proceedings with prayer and chants.  David Wolfe shared tons of valuable information on nutrition, which led to long line-ups during the break for reishi & chaga mushrooms, chocolate, and healthy drinks.  AnneMarie Collette talked about her Peace Education curriculum in her classroom and district in New Brunswick.  Hon. Manmeet Bhullar talked about Truth in Politics, sharing his own journey of service which has led him to become one of our province’s youngest and most outspoken MLAs.  Elisabeth Fayt moved me deeply with her stories of Spiritual Leadership: At Work and in the World.  Gerald Celente amused me with his Bronx accent and blunt opinions about economic and political trends.  After the dinner break, Adam Dreamhealer guided all of us as we learned more about spiritual and energetic healing.  Then Deepak Chopra ended the day with an inspiring talk.  What amazed me about all these speakers was their ability to talk 30-120 minutes without referring to notes, keeping the audience of >2000 awake and alert.  Well, almost alert.  The guided meditations that Adam and Deepak led were wonderful, but I had difficulty opening my eyes after Deepak’s.  I’ll go on-line to www.uend.org to see if the podcast of Deepak’s talk is ready to download.

Thank you to the people involved at uend.org for organizing and delivering such a superb day.  I hope you receive many visits to your site and that your donations to end poverty worldwide get a big boost.  My mind and heart are expanded since participating in this event.  It’s all good.

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Merry Christmas, 2011


 

According to a recent  article in the Globe and Mail, the word for 2011 is tergiversate.  It means to vacillate, to change opinions, to change direction.  When I read this I struggled with the word and the concepts, but by the time I finished the article I was laughing.  So it wasn’t just me who experienced 2011 that way? !!

There must be many of us who lived 2011 bouncing between the horns of a dilemma.  For me it’s been deciding where to live.  I knew I was ready to sell my house and downsize to a condo. Where? In BC with family? Stay in Calgary with friends and familiar activities?  I eventually chose Calgary, despite being quite certain earlier that my destiny was in Kelowna.  How could my intuition be so wrong?  This whole year has been like that.  I have felt certainty in decisions, then changed them as new information arose.  Not unlike my responses to the Occupy movement.  The occupiers also have tergiversated, and now look for new ground – physically and psychically.

My realtor and I were amazed at the number of offers on my home that fell through – SIX! I became used to living with less as half my possessions were stored in a Big Steel Box for half the year.  I sold much at garage sales and on-line, feeling lighter and freer as possessions left.  My book, Your Invisible Bodies, has been in the hands of two different graphic designers.  The first one tergiversated and left the project after the proof needed changes.  The second one works slowly.  I have had to learn more patience.

My lovely condo meets all 10 criteria I gave my realtor.  I live at the highest point in Calgary, behind the ski jump at Canada Olympic Park.  Where I walk the views are fabulous! My new address is 2110 Patterson View SW, Calgary, AB. T3H 3J9.  I am very happy here.  I like curling up by the gas fireplace on cold December mornings.  I’ll be in Prince George with Lynne, Leo & grand-kids for Christmas, then spend a few days in Kelowna with Bob, Dina and Ben before returning home to Calgary for the New Year. 

May 2012 be a year with fewer fluctuations!  I pray the wild swings of 2011 will relax into peaceful quiet living with focussed growth.  I am old now, at 75.  My cat is only 2.  She joins me before the fireplace.  All is well.  I am blessed, and I am grateful to Spirit for guiding me through 2011.  My Christmas wish for you is that Spirit and Love will enfold you as you grow and live. 

 

 

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Since my book Your Invisible Bodies is once again being edited for another print run, I have the opportunity to make a few changes.  Lisa Arsenault, my current graphic designer, found a great photograph of an apple cut to show the core as a star.  I have written this text to accompany the photo.

The first time I saw the star inside an apple, I was surprised.  I was an adult and had always sliced an apple from the stem down.  I had no idea that if you cut an apple across the middle, you would see the core in the shape of a star. 

This showed me that when I do the same action over and over again, without thinking of other possibilities, I don’t learn anything new.  To cut the apple crossways is to think differently.  Testing a different possibility always brings new learning. 

Besides, the beauty of an apple is not its outer appearance.  You have to bite into it and eat it  to receive its goodness.  What is inside a living thing matters more than its outside.  It is the whole apple that feeds us.  The next time you eat an apple, pay attention to it and be grateful. 

What has made me so happy today is that I have a reason and timeline to write, rather than just pack boxes.  I’ve been working steadily at the packing, sorting, chucking, and cleaning.  Only three more sleeps until I move into my condo.  I don’t know how I have accumulated so much stuff.  Even though I feel the pressure of getting everything complete before the move, I have missed writing.  Fortunately I have my journal beside my bed, so use it every evening before sleeping.  Writing the text for the additional photograph has been a blessing.  I have meditated on the picture for >30 hours, so today it came together easily. 

Now I’m going to go upstairs and eat an apple.

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Male and Female Created She Them

At Lower Kananaskis Lake rocks of all shades, shapes and sizes challenge the walker. Craggy granite boulders rise amidst smaller rocks, many of them schist pieces split by winter’s grip. Speckled granite, grey limestone, striated feldspar all reach with jagged edges and ponderous presence.

She walks purposefully over the rocks, her ankles twisting then righting. At water’s edge she sees a cleft boulder, its sides split in three large chunks. Into its centre V she places rocks to create a stable base. This is the first stage. She searches for one large rock with a smooth side. She places it atop the base for the second stage.

She looks around and finds a large grey rock with two flat sides. She adjusts the fledgling tower to ensure no rock wobbles. This is the third stage. The fourth rock wasn’t large or stable enough to support future levels so she finds a similar one and places both side by side. This platform now supports a fifth rock, a piece of sandstone with two flat sides. Sixth comes a cube-shaped rock that definitely moves the tower up a notch. Seventh is a round rock. The eighth rock is wedge-shaped and leaves a gap. She plays with the balance point and moves it slightly. Ninth is another wedge-shaped rock to complement the lower one. The tenth rock is rusty-coloured and round. It sits precariously on the ninth, but she secures it well. The eleventh rock is smaller than her hand. She places it on top. The tower reaches to her waist.

She rests. She knows it is good. She photographs it from several angles. The tower of balanced rocks stands at water’s edge, a marker for those paddling on the lake.

She stirs, restlessly eyeing the shore. A black rock the size of her head is marked with a large white spiral on one side with a band of white opposite. She takes it toward the tower, but this new rock does not belong there. It is too large, too heavy, too special to be one of eleven rocks standing as a sentinel. This rock needs its own space.

She finds a less cluttered patch and places the spiral rock in its centre. Three feet out she builds a ring of stones to spread protectively around the centre. She raises the rock by placing a larger rock beneath it. Now it is easier to see. She places a flint shard between the spiral and outer ring. The shard bows to the centre. Quickly she places other narrow pointed rocks within the inner ring. It is complete.

The balanced rocks would guide paddlers to the shore. The spiral rock and ring of stones show mother earth’s riches, and would guide travellers to the core.

It is good. She rests.

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Well, the buyers financing was approved, and on Friday, five days ago, my realtor called to say the deal went through.  We made plans to go condo-shopping on Saturday.  We would have gone that day, but I had an appointment with an oral surgeon to remove the root from a tooth that had broken off.  Since the tooth took priority, and I had to wait 3 weeks for that appointment, I wasn’t going to cancel it.  I did send Marilyn another list of condos I wanted to see on Saturday.  Thank goodness for realtor.ca.  I was able to look online and do virtual tours, limiting the listings to where I wanted to live and in my price range.  If you haven’t used realtor.ca to help you with a move, do so the next time you need to house shop.

Something I did do while waiting for the dental appointment was tackle the flower beds.  I also turned the compost box out and moved compost onto the bare patches in the front lawn.  Since people were coming to live in the house, the lawn and flower beds need attention.  Yes, this is why I decided to move.  I’m tired of doing lawn work. So this is a huge hurdle.  My house is sold!  I sent an email to most of my friends and family to announce the move, and asked for their prayers and thoughts to help me find the right condo.

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I have had three offers on my house, but none of them have closed.  The last buyer  cancelled, after signing the offer, and it was subject to financing.  He did not have trouble getting the financing, apparently.  He listened to his friends, for some reason.  Both the realtors are angry and frustrated at this.  Me too.  It is stressful putting your house up for sale.  It is stressful having to have it clean and tidy whenever I leave the house.  It is stressful having an offer and then looking for a condo that is affordable where I want to live.  It is even more stressful when buyers renege on their offers.  This has happened three times to me now.  Is it the house itself?  Sure it is an old house and has a below-standard height basement.  But this is a fine house for short people like myself.  Oh well.  Is there a spiritual message in all of this for me?

Perhaps the message is that I am not in control.  Or it could be that I am simply meant to stay here indefinitely.  It is a lovely house; comfortable, clean, roomy, bright, warm, ideal for my cat and me.  The reason I want(ed) to sell it is because I am tired of doing all the yard work and house maintenance.  Oh well.  I’ve been doing it anyway, because it needs it.  I want the house to look good, not only for a potential buyer, but also for me.  I have to live here until it sells.  This morning I ate my breakfast at the patio table in the back yard, enjoying the sun on my back and a slight breeze.  The grass is short (cut last night), the weeds aren’t too bad, and the poppies are in bloom.  It was a wonderful feeling.  I can be quite happy here for another year (or two or three even).  Before I move all my boxes and furniture back from being stored by Big Steel Box, I will paint the bedroom.  I’m tired of the yellow.  Light green comes to mind.

I will leave the house on the market for one more week, but till then I plan to relax and enjoy being home.  I had a super time in Kelowna last week, where grandson Ben celebrated his 5th birthday.  I’ll have pictures up in the next post.

I am not in control of my destiny.  I can’t make someone buy this house.  I am in control of how I react to outside factors.  Spirit sustains me, and helps me see how fortunate I am to have this lovely home.  I’ll stay here now.

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It's official now

I took this photo at 8:00 a.m. today, after shovelling a foot of heavy wet snow from the walks.  The snow will deter potential buyers from visiting for a few days.  Rabbit tracks show where the wild hares have checked out their feeding spot below the spruce tree.  I put more food out after I shovelled.  No tracks led to their usual hiding spot under the cedar shrub, so they must have shelter elsewhere in the neighbourhood.  I’m sure the hares will find the food soon enough.  This snowfall is the biggest all winter, and it’s April 3rd.  Too much already, and much too long a winter!

Is it any wonder I’m ready to move into a condo?

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