Lessons of Life

Life has a funny way of teaching us the lessons we are here to learn. I think the past five years there were many stepping stones to the platter of lessons I have recently been blessed with. I say blessed like it’s a gift because quite honestly I look upon all things as gifts. Sometimes they are not gifts we would choose for ourselves, like opening a parcel with a nasty sweater at Christmas. Still gifts just the same. I have unwrapped a few unwanted gifts as of late. I won’t go into great detail due to the private nature and those close to me but to generalize the situations for the sake of soul-searching and allowing a connection with others that may possibly have recently opened a similar gift.

 

 

As a parent, I have been given the lesson of stepping outside my comfort zone. Not just the daily run of the mill parent craziness. Children are a supreme blessing in my mind. Swirling around them in constant motion are many things; love, chaos, frustration, joy, laughter, among so many other beautiful things. Sometimes though, a ripple in the smooth surface depicts an undercurrent that threatens menacingly. The demon reared its ugly head in my child’s life as Anorexia Nervosa. It was a slow and steady build up that went undetected by my cautious eye only to attack with a vengeance like an unexpected sucker punch. I struggled within myself originally, laying blame in my mind where I could. That route was fleeting as I stepped outside myself. This wasn’t about me and how I felt. This was about my child and how they processed things. The alteration to my thought process has allowed me to become the support structure this fragile Being needs. Simply, compassionately, I remain strong in the notion that I need to be the rock when my darling is feeling at a loss. There are those around us that still want to lay blame, find the root cause, or dissect everything to bits. I feel the process is about gaining back self love and control in a positive format. To know that love from those around the sufferer is unconditional. To be strong for them when they don’t have it within themselves to be.  There is a long road ahead to health and wellness for my child. It’s an all-encompassing disorder. Treatment is multi-faceted. To say I wish my child never had to deal with this is an understatement. However, taking this one day at a time makes this lesson a little easier to deal with.

 

 

Too often I hear people complain about their weight needlessly. Who truly thinks a thigh gap is remotely sexy anyway?  Don’t get your knickers in a knot if you are naturally thin and have a thigh gap. That’s a totally different thing. I’m referring to young girls (or boys) that starve themselves for this look that is not natural to their physique. It breaks my heart to see people think so poorly of themselves as to deprive themselves senselessly of proper nutrition. Learning to love and accept our bodies at their natural weight and shape is a practice in self love. We are all constantly bombarded by utter ridiculousness for the sake of industries to prosper at the peril of making us feel bad about our outer shell. Looking good is important for self confidence but being healthy makes one look fantastic! I don’t know about you but looking fantastic due to great health pummels the heck out of a mediocre “looking like everyone else” or not enough energy to do the things you want. I struggle when people ridicule others with differing figures. It matters not whether its an obese person calling a slim woman a bitch or an average built person being condescending to someone of heavier stance. Having hit many different weight points in my lifetime, I realize that every body shape and weight deals with some sort of stigma. When we stop ridiculing and scrutinizing others, perhaps we can all go a little easier on ourselves. Lets all just aim for healthy!

 

 

 

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Birds of March Break

Oh, March Break, how I love thee. There is nothing more wonderful than trying to conjure up ideas for keeping children occupied so the phrase “I’m bored” never need be spoken. I live by the comeback my mother used on me and my sisters when we were growing up. It sounded something like this, “If you complain that you are bored I will find you something to do”. It usually involved cleaning something or some equally sigh-worthy chore. I rarely hear the term “I’m bored” anymore. Thank goodness…it is highly irritating. Scratches on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard.

I refuse to sign my kids up for all sorts of expensive ventures to keep them from getting bored. Isn’t part of being a kid learning to play? Is that even a word in most kids vocabulary now? We parents are so freaked out about our kids getting dirty or hurt that we hover over them constantly.  I smile inside when my kids come home covered in mud, grass stains or wet from exploring in the creek nearby. They are washable. Don’t get me wrong, I have boundaries that need to be respected but I also think that children need to know that it’s alright to not have an adult dictate what is fun constantly. We adults tend to sign them up for anything that comes along just so they have something to do. There is, of course, the exception of young children when both parents are working outside of the home. Day camps and other structured activities become a necessity in this case. I have been fortunate enough to have been able to be at home with my children but not without making sacrifices to do so. Let me tell you, being a stay-at-home mom has been the hardest thing I have ever done. From the outside looking in it looks like a breeze but it is quite the opposite.

Hanging out and being silly with their friends is at the top of my list of things I like to see my kids doing. When kids spend time with their friends they gain a sense of belonging outside of their family circle and begin to blossom with self-confidence. The sound of laughter from kids is one of the most enjoyable sounds I can think of. OK, the coffee grinder in the morning is a close second.

One of our local shopping malls has had a free educational activity every day this week for all ages. Yesterday was a demonstration by the Ontario Raptor Conservancy with a show about birds of prey. I was going, kids or no kids. I stated that I was leaving at 11:45 am and whoever wanted to join me must be in the car. Works every time!

The man who was giving the demonstration was excellent. Sir, whoever you are, thank you for an engaging experience that kept not only the little kids sitting on the floor riveted but you had me hanging on your every word as well.

If you know me personally (in the real world), you know that I am terrified of birds. Honestly, I really can’t explain my fear. Walking by a parrot on a perch leaves me holding my breath for far too long and walking sideways – no eye contact! I am intrigued by large birds of prey for some reason though. They are incredible creatures. We were only able to view the first half of the demonstration sadly since daughter’s friend wasn’t feeling well so we headed home. The two birds that I was awestruck by were the Turkey Vulture and the Barn Owl. My photos are seriously lacking and I apologize. I was using my Blackberry since I forgot to bring the better camera. Of course, the man beside me had the super-dee-dooper camera with gigundo lens and kept giving me the sideways look. I hope he managed to get some incredible pictures of these beautiful birds.

Let’s start with the Turkey Vulture. The wingspan was impressive to say the least. I believe the speaker stated the wingspan could be six feet across.

A co-worker (and friend) and I joked during the summer that we must be moving too slow when we looked up and saw Turkey Vultures circling overhead. The term “look alive” was never funnier than at that moment!

To learn more about the Turkey Vulture click on the link here.

Turkey Vulture                       Turkey Vulture                  Turkey Vulture

The other bird of prey that captured my heart was the Barn Owl.

Barn Owls in southern Ontario are now critically endangered due to lack of prefered habitat. There is only one mating pair left in the wild. We need to start allowing naturalization of grasslands to give these beautiful birds a place to thrive again.

For more info on the Barn Owl, see this page.

Barn Owl                           Barn Owl in flight

In my mind, these are the interesting tidbits that together make up a great March Break. I’m sure all of the people there that were spellbound by the demonstration would agree.

These types of performances are a great way to bring attention to the importance of these magnificent birds in nature as well as what the Ontario Raptor Conservancy does.

In case you were wondering, none of the birds present were from the wild. They have all been raised in captivity at the conservancy and are used to being with people.

The conservancy also rehabilitates injured birds and releases them back into the wild.  It was uplifting to hear of a group doing so much to help another species and doing no harm.

Time well spent, I’d say.

“We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us.  When we see
land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and
respect.”   ~Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am going to veer off my Festive Mode momentarily and jot down a few of my favorite things. It seems appropriate to this time of year.

A Few of My Favorite Things:

wonderful hiking terrain - escarpment

wonderful hiking terrain – escarpment

– without a doubt, at the top of my list are my children. That goes without saying, though.

– unsolicited hugs from my children. There is nothing like the hug of your own child that is infused with love, trust, and adoration to make you realize how much you impact another Being.

– laughing a good, deep laugh right from the belly. Laughter is so rejuvenating.

– standing with my face to the gentle breeze, closing my eyes and just feeling the sensation of the wind on my face and in my hair.

– a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summer day. Or a sumptuous glass of red wine while sitting by the fireplace on a cold winter’s night.

– the smell of fresh-cut grass.

– aloo gobi. The thought makes my mouth water….mmm…

– great tunes cranked up loud!

– the plant world. Truly fascinating.

– Brussels sprouts

– water. Fresh, clean water

– baking

– Get Clean products. The ONLY cleaners I allow to enter my home because they are safe and work like nobody’s business (check them out via the link to Live Love Be Green at the right side of this blog).

– my phenomenal family and friends. I love that we have a mutual respect for each other’s individuality. There is no need for us all to be clones of each other!

– Glorious coffee. You make my morning.

– muscles. No explanation necessary. (I felt it necessary to add this)

– the different terrain in the area I reside. Rocky escarpment, lakes, forests, vineyards and orchards, to bustling city. I love the contrast and the unique beauty of each.

– the Christmas and holiday season

Of course, there are many other things I could add to my list because this world offers so much bounty. However, I must stop somewhere! These are just a few of the things that make each and every day a bit brighter in my world. No, I don’t consume aloo gobi every day but honestly, I could.  I reserve the cold beer to occasional consumption which allows me to enjoy it even more when I do have it. I try to amalgamate most of these things into my every day.

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“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.”  – Charles  Spurgeon

Stepping Stones

This week has been one filled with  many stepping-stones for my family and myself.

We have celebrated two graduations and endured a few personal challenges along the way. Changes in life are an essential part of the process. The process of bettering oneself, the process of growth (physically, emotionally, and spiritually), and the process of learning to accept these changes whether good or bad and recognizing  them as part of your process. Change can be difficult or enlightening depending on your perspective.  Finding the correct perspective is the key.

With the graduations of my children to the next phase of their journey, my heart is wide open and joyful for them. I feel my Inner Mother wanting to feel anxious (or sad?) that they are growing so quickly but I instantly flick her off of my shoulder. There is absolutely no need to feel any semblance of loss that my children are no longer babies. There are those that wish they could keep their offspring as infants or toddlers forever…not me. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed each and every phase my children have grown through. I make sure I revel in the little things with them. Celebrate the small stepping-stones just as much as the large ones. I don’t feel as though I have missed a moment because I have enjoyed each and every second I’ve spent playing, laughing. storytelling, and witnessing their “light-bulb” moments, to name a few.  Whether it be the first time my son rode his bike without his training wheels or when I watched as my daughter kicked and punched the bejeebies out of a heavy bag while practicing Mauy Thai combinations. These moments don’t need to be relived if we are present (not just physically)  the first time.  These are the stepping-stones of life. There is no need to cling to days in the past, wishing for more…I am living in the present, hoping my kids are too. With experiences and joy in each day, I hope they are learning the ability to be appreciative of the moments that shape them and find fulfillment on their life journey.

Moving forward with their education, my children do not hesitate or long for more time within the walls of their past schools. They are looking forward to new adventures in learning and a change of scenery. I am excited for them. They are experiencing life as it is meant to be experienced…as they want to live it. I will never force my children to participate in things they have no interest in; other than school, of course. Such as take music lessons or playing sports for me or any one else. I give them the choice to make their decisions about how they want to spend their extracurricular time. Kids need time to just be  kids, not have to perform to some unwritten standard that creates unnecessary stress or resentment into their forming minds. They also need to learn the essential tool of decision-making. Yes, obligations are a fact of life and those are not optional. Things such as helping around the house, cleaning up after yourself and not just lying around doing nothing constantly. I love to see my kids laughing and just being silly with their friends, experiencing intense hilarity in things that really aren’t that funny. Laughter is definitely the best medicine for so many things, and the craziness of life makes it essential in my mind.

As my loving and amazing children move forward on their path, I find myself smiling from ear to ear. I feel no need for blind pride, thinking my children are better than anyone else (although I love them more than anyone else). I feel intense, crazy love knowing that I have been blessed with them being a part of my life.

So, not only am I celebrating my son and daughter’s personal stepping-stones but my own as well. These experiences shape our life paths, making us richer in spirit.

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”    -C.S.Lewis