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Sunday, 8 October 2017


I had the pleasure of taking these two cuties to Ripley's Aquarium this weekend. As we wandered around looking at the exhibits, it dawned on me that this place was more than just a venue to look at sea creatures, it's a microcosm of the ocean... but more importantly, it is a microcosm of life.

A large group of people above the water contains the same variations as the creatures we marvelled at in the tanks: they were many different colours and species; some fish travelled in schools while others travelled alone; some creatures worked together to better the environment and others were just there because they literally had nowhere else to go.

When this shark swam by, I was like, "Look at those teeth!" then, "Yeah... too bad people who are predators don't have their sharp whites out there like that so everyone knows up front who they are and what they are about." Don't worry... I said it to myself!

"What about the baby sharks?" You ask.  I have to admit to finding them cute but Athena almost touched one by accident when she reached into a tank to pet a stingray. The baby shark was swimming underneath and slipped out just as her hand came down. Human sharks can be like this also...hiding in the shadows then slipping out at opportune moments looking all cute and safe. "Don't touch the shark," the Aquarium employee shouted, startling us all. Thank God for his warning. Even when we watch for danger we don't always see it right there, hidden in plain sight.

We were patient and waited. When the coast was clear, we did pet the stingrays. So smooth and cool to the touch and much like many people I know, safe to hang out with if you don't ruffle their feathers but trigger their defences and you'll know it when they sting you.

Jellyfish too though they don't have to be triggered... they are just always going to sting you, no matter what, if you get on their wrong side, which is well...just about every side.

If you think the Aquarium lesson ended when the exhibits were over, we had to exit through the gift shop, a place full of shiny things designed to catch your eye but which on closer inspection prove themselves to be mostly junk. Rather than grab at the pinkest, cutest or shiniest thing, if you take your time to search, you can usually find something of substance and value hidden amongst the rubbish. I set out to encourage this...

But then I remembered that she's NINE! Unicorns, the tooth fairy and Santa exist... I am still almost always right. I remembered that my bed is the comfiest place for her to sleep and she hasn't realized that she really is too heavy to be sitting on my lap. So I bought the stuffed seahorse with the hearts and pastel colours that made her voice rise two octaves when she talked about how much she loved it. I also bought her a handful of candy from the bulk station just because I wanted to see her smile her crooked smile and skip her crooked-legged skip all the way back to the GO station. I bought them for her friend as well because I know the only thing better than having one happy nine year old is having two.

I filled the empty shopping bags with their discarded jackets, balancing the weight of their baggage from a pace behind. I watched their free arms swing while their others clutched the seahorse tight to their sides, the stuffed heads bouncing in their little-girl grasps and smiled inside knowing there is still so much time before she understands even half of this - thank God.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Danger! Keep Out!

Many North American cities experienced flooding this Spring. I have watched the news reports, silently horrified for those affected and the homes full of loving memories which have been lost. On a recent visit to the docks in Port Dalhousie, I noticed this sign and a truth about who I am hit me.

I wouldn't dream of walking over or around the barriers to explore how deep the water is. I am not tempted to wade up to the fence to see what's going on.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I obey signs. I don't ignore or walk past "danger".  I handle packages marked as "fragile" with care. I assume that the people who place the signs do so with integrity and the intent to keep me safe.

As much as I am an outside-the-norm person when it comes to making independent life choices, I am a conformist when it comes to obeying some signs...ok, a lot of the signs.

Somehow it is also true that I do not obey some of the most important signs...the ones given to me by people about themselves. Instead, I do what I would call puzzle people out. When I see a "Do Not Touch" sign posted in a person's personality I want to poke at it to see why it is painful. A "Do Not Enter" makes me wonder what scariness lies behind the closed door.

One of my favourite quotes from Maya Angelou is: "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time."  Yet I don't. I can't. I hold out believing that whatever has caused them to react, behave or say the things they have can be healed with love or overcome with understanding.

I don't want people to hurt. I want them to be who they were before whatever it is that changed them changed them. I know that person is still in there, vulnerable but reachable. Catching occasional glimpses gives me the encouragement I need to keep trying.

I have heard it said that you can't change a person. I think that's only partly true... we can't change the experiences people we meet have had but we can offer them a safe place to reveal themselves without judgement and that, in itself can be life changing.

Monday, 22 May 2017

The Ugly Duckling

Paddling on the water, I spotted this array of birds and asked myself: When is the last time you were willing to be mistaken for The Ugly Duckling?

What happened to the me who was comfortable planting herself in an environment full of seemingly different others? How did comfortable come to mean similar?

Why did I need these birds to remind me that it isn't a problem if I am mistaken for an ugly duckling, it is only a problem if I try to be so much like them that I forget I am a swan.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


I love water, the way it moves, looks, feels, and adapts to whatever contains it...

As many hours as I have spent watching water move, I have spent watching its calm surface reflect everything hovering above it.

I enjoy watching the birds skim its surface, looking for fish or cooling their wings. I like looking through its freshness, curious to discover the sand, rocks and life which lay beneath.

What I like best of all though is the movement formed when elements, such as these two send ripples out farther than my eye can know.

For me, the ripples are reflective of life and how the smallest, least significant-seeming decisions echo forth. Ripples are soft and gentle. They are noticeable yet they neither detain nor disturb us. They may even enhance our enjoyment of the water.

Other ripples, we call waves. Waves are big and loud. They can be seen coming a mile away. The can make us leap with joy or make us panic. They can rock, tip, deafen and sometimes engulf us. Waves change us. They leave us wet, staggering, they can turn us wrong side up, can obscure the light. In the midst of a wave, we lose sight of everyone and everything around us, making it appear as though we are alone. Waves change our perception, our orientation and most often, they carry us back to a place we had already journeyed past, causing us to travel through territory we thought we had already conquered. Some of us seek them, their energy and excitement...

Whether ripples or waves, no creature can move through water without creating a disturbance... not the smallest bug and not the best swimmer.

The same is true of life. No matter what you do or how hard you try, you will not make it to the other side of it unnoticed. You do not have to be a wave-maker. Ripplers will be seen, will be loved, will make a difference to someone just as these two made a difference to me.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

A Walk in the Woods

Though the soles of my shoes are soft, my footsteps land heavy in the silence, telling them I am coming to invade their solitude in search of my own.

Overhead, birds call out. I imagine them warning trees that they will be coming to briefly perch.

As if to create the illusion of sisterhood, the few dry leaves from last season which cling to the branches quiver in the same breath of cool wind which causes me to draw my jacket tighter.

High above an airplane flies; a metal container of people who like me choose movement over sitting still. Even as the emotional equilibrium I seek proves elusive, I earnestly pray they reach their physical destination.

Cloaked in the shelter of these mostly naked trees whose fallen leaves still warm the awakening earth, I relish the thought of being invisible to any eyes which might be straining through the small windows in search of familiar landmarks.

Nearby tree branches are studded with buds which stand promisingly perched, tips hopefully exposed to the sun waiting more patiently to discover their potential than ever I have.

These tightly bound leaves I envy. Patient or not, eager or not, in short order, they will likely be supplied with everything they need.

For me, however, time comes daily supplying me with dreams which may never be fulfilled, hopes which sometimes die before they settle in my heart and an assortment of experiences from which I bloom, then die, then bloom again.

From these I must divine who I am and for what purpose I have come.

The wind picks up. I walk on until my cold hands can no longer clutch the jacket closely enough. As I step from the woods, a familiar face allows its mask of concern to give way to a smile.  I cross half the ground between us before I realize I am no longer cold.

Sunday, 9 October 2016


It's hard to believe that today this beautiful little girl of mine is eight. I look at her every day and know my life has a purpose. Know there is a God.  

I was in a marriage which in spite of its beautiful beginnings had started to suck at my soul. One night, as I lay in bed I prayed a prayer I remember still: "God, if there is any other soul meant to enter this universe through me please send it now. I can't hold on much longer."

Shortly after, I found out I was pregnant with this one. Though her birth added strain to an already strenuous situation, it also added joy, much love and laughter.

A few more years of struggle would pass before I left but when I did, I left with four little souls that the universe will use as it needs to. 

Athena is sensitive, kind, loving, creative.  She is joy personified. I love the twinkle in her brown eyes. I love that her body can barely contain the spirit within. She says the unsayable. She thinks the unthinkable. She questions the universe in ways that make me think hard. She feels a deep connection to the universe and to God.  Though her head is always in the clouds, she is rooted in love in a way that gives her the confidence to be who she is. 

She is a living reminder that prayers get answered. A reminder that I need to remain open to God's purpose. A reminder that even as love changes, it can create beautifully wonderful things. 

There is a reason that she was born Thanksgiving weekend. 

Happy Birthday Athena and Thank You!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Living Dead

On a canoe ride in Cootes Paradise this week, we stopped to enjoy a picnic under this tree. I love trees. I am drawn to them. They inspire me to explore deep thoughts and emotions. As we sat I was not surprised my mind turned as it did.

More interesting to me than the limbs that thrive, are the dead ones. The ones that still cling to the trunk, some longer than others, evidence of the time and energy invested in their growth before their lives were terminated.

Even though they are dead, as the limbs age, rot, then are torn away from the trunk by a gust of wind or under the weight of winter ice, even then, the tree long thought to have dealt with the loss of life will find itself healing anew. Ten, twenty or fifty years from now the wound from the loss will never heal so fully that one who sits under it won't be able to see where the tree has been wounded.

Still, the tree grows majestically. It reaches it's thriving limbs out across the water. It drinks deeply. It provides oxygen, shade, food, shelter for wild life as well as for the pair of us looking for a place to catch our breath; feed our bodies; renew our spirits.

As my thoughts continue on to myself, I consider the number of ideas, dreams, and relationships that had to die in order for me to grow. Like the tree, the remnants of my abandoned things either cling to or have wounded me. I wonder how much easier life would be if my wounds and yours were worn externally or at least openly.

When we climb back into the canoe, I rest my hand on the tree, feel its strength. I glance back at the tangled bare limbs, thank them for their nakedness. In the moment we push off from shore I am deeply grateful for the beauty, for the truth. I look at all the places the tree tried to grow; tried and succeeded for some time before failing.

I see life. I see me. I see you too.