Sunday, 11 December 2016

A Celebration of Spirit

I love this old photo of my dad, my aunts and my uncle. My dad is the oldest one in blue. Look how serious they all look! I think that was typical of the times because you usually don't see such serious expressions in today's photos. It is a sharp contrast to the more recent picture of them all together in front of the tree at my aunt's where they are all smiling happily. My dad was usually smiling the widest in family photos. Nothing made him more proud than his family.

I am missing dad something fierce lately. He loved this time of year. He found so much joy in the simple things. He loved his trees- he had multiple! (I wonder where I get my obsessive love for my Christmas tree from!?) He loved to decorate. One of my favourite childhood memories is when we would spend the night at my grandma's at Christmas time and on our way home, dad would drive us all through the neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights on all the houses. Family traditions were so important to him.

When his health was failing he urged me to carry on our family's Christmas traditions. I'm sure my response was something along the lines of "obviously, dad" (more like "ooooobbbvvviioouusssslllyyy daaaad!!!" -complete with an eye roll, I'm sure). I didn't like him talking about life after his death. I didn't want to hear it. But I knew in my heart what I had to face. Last year as I shopped for his Christmas present, I had a sinking feeling that it would be his last. I paid for his gift with tears in my eyes.

This year my sisters and I plan on putting his tree up in his memory and decorating the basement as he would have done. It brings me comfort to know that we will be keeping the Christmas spirit alive in his honour. The truth, is that his essence is still here... and in a sense, he hasn't gone far. We will celebrate with him in spirit and although it's not quite the same, dad would have wanted the season to remain merry and bright. I can almost hear him whispering "Merry Christmas, sweetheart."

Merry Christmas, dad. 

"and when the sun
descends the clouds,
the light of stars
shall keep"



Sunday, 20 November 2016

Yule Tree

the spirit of the season
is a glowing altar
in the corner
of our living room

a temple of folk-art and fir
and fragrant body
a tangible heart

Monday, 14 November 2016

Tantrum Moon

Back strapped to the black
Of a midnight throw
Tantrums ease the restless moon
Wake from silent worlds of endurance
Obedient, by nature

The moon climbs
She climbs
The deepening skies
And she opens
She opens
Her swollen brown eyes

Back strapped to the black
Of a tired song
Moonlit exposure
Lights on her tongue
And the memory of tears
Escapes in exhale
Into the naked field
Thoughts run on end

The moon climbs
She climbs
The deepening skies
And she opens
She opens
Her swollen brown eyes

Back strapped to the black
Of the tantrum moon
And the blue wind carries
The memory of tears
And the bright night spots
Her lover's grave
Still visited and adorned
By his faithful slave

The moon climbs
She climbs
The deepening skies
And she closes
She closes
Her tired brown eyes

My Journal- 2003
Written in the mountains, many moons ago

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A Working Man: A tribute to Leonard Cohen

(For Marc, on his 48th birthday)

A Working Man
- By Leonard Cohen

I had a wife and children
I got drunk on Saturday night
I went to work everyday
I hated the rich
I wanted to fuck a college girl
I was proud to be a working man
I hated the assholes
   who run the revolution
The ones like me will win
We do not need words
You are all on your knees
Looking for the lost nipple
We stand here
We are already above you
Soon the law will be ours
Soon you will experience our mercy
I have no friends
I have no class
There is no we
I had to play on your social illusions
   to get your here in the middle of the night
Dip your flags in the blood
Light your torches
The women are waiting
   in high-buttoned white dresses
Your dignity is restored

We don't give a shit about all this so don't try and threaten us with hints of a New Order. The beings that hover round this table have already overthrown the world and shoved it back up your asshole exactly the same as it was before.


Happy birthday to the man
Who is more than a working man
More than a father
More than a friend
More than my man
   who means more to us
(down here)
 Than could ever be known

So eat, drink and be merry my dear
   (my dear, my dear)
Because all that is clear
Is that you are here



Stranger Music
Selected Poems and Songs
By: Leonard Cohen

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Fresh From The Farm: Healthy Fundraising for Ontario Schools

I don't know about you, but the election today has got me spent. At the time that I write this, I have not yet tuned in...but in time my friends- I will be right there with you (I think!) I probably speak for many of us when I say that I will sleep much sounder once this is all said and done. But what better way to calm some presidential anxiety, than by cooking a "Farm Fresh" root vegetable soup! Cooking is good for the soul. The scent of the vegetables roasting in the oven is soothing my senses, even as I type this. As long as I have a  good batch of soul-food ready to go, I'm confident that I will be just fine, no matter what the results.

We placed an order with "Fresh From The Farm: Healthy Fundraising for Ontario Schools" and our order came in yesterday. In it we received a couple pounds of carrots, sweet potatoes and onions. To my delight, it came with a great recipe for a 'Roasted Carrot, Squash and Sweet Potato Soup.' What a perfect way to use up all those veggies...and I didn't even have to go looking through google!

I started by preparing my veggies, and I was just loving the way they looked in the bowls, along side my autumn arrangement and my fruit bowl (currently stocked with our 'Farm Fresh' order, along with lots and lots of ginger root). I just had to take some pictures.

Following the recipe, I tossed the veggies with some oil and spices and then prepared them for roasting.

Once my oven was preheated, I threw them in and instantly my home was filled with the most sensational aroma. The combination of these foods are truly delightful and suited for this time of year. I will say that I had to leave out the squash portion of the recipe, as it turned out that my squash was not ripe enough for cooking, so I added in some more sweet potatoes. By the time my veggies were roasted, my appetite had been kicked into overdrive because of the aroma so I had to make a quick snack, using the last apple from our apple/pumpkin picking at Great Lake Farms. I sprinkled them with some cinnamon and voila- a delicious snack to hold me over until the soup was ready!

Finally- tadddaa! I worked my batches through the blender first and then with the hand-held blender. I had to add more water and spice to suit my taste but it was a tremendous success. I topped mine with parmesan, some greek-style feta and with some freshly ground pepper and sriracha. It was DIVINE. One of the best soups I have made to date! Trust me on this one.

For the complete recipe, place your 'Fresh From The Farm' order today, and support your local schools. Supporting local farms for the sake of our children's education is always a good call, if you ask me!

Happy soup-ing!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Shhhhhhhhh (A perspective: be a quiet advocate for change)

The approach I am working on in my life, both on and off screen is to be a quiet advocate for change. I've learned that you don't (always) need to be ranting and raving to evoke change. Is silence always the answer? Hell no. Sometimes we need to speak up and shout out. Do we ALWAYS need to speak up and shout out? Let me ask you this- does yelling get you far with loved ones? Not really. One of my new favourite quotes is: "and I say to my heart, rave on" by Mary Oliver. I love this because our hearts can and do rave on...everyday.

And our words WILL rave on, like it or not. And both our hearts and words have tremendous power to evoke change... but one approach I find, which works, is raving from the heart- ESPECIALLY when you are at home (irony- home is where we tend to decompress but where we spend the most time on social media and social media is not very relaxing these days). Raving from the heart is quiet. It is calm. It is powerful. When you are passionate and upset, what works? Using social media as a venue to dump your anger and venting for the sake of venting? This whole election has got me so exhausted. I don't even have American friends on my feed so even if I did want to sway a vote, I'm not sure I even have a single Trump supporter in my feed (scratch that, I don't- my friends are too smart) so why would I rave about him unless I was in the States, at a poll, in a picket line or joining some political forum in real life where I could actually cast or sway a vote? I get it, some people love politics and it is their thing. I hate politics and I don't even understand them and I was one of those non-voters for years. Didn't think my vote for the green party would matter. Have I been a registered voter for the past multiple Canadian elections? Of course...I'm a grown ass adult now and I'm just as passionate about our First Nations communities and my country as the next person with half a heart/brain. But I hate to break it to you friends, and I really try not to sound condescending when I say this, but we aren't voting in this election and Trump is already winning by getting you so upset and you are advocating for HIM when you dump his bs onto the next unsuspecting friend/victim. The police at standing rock are also winning when you post pictures of their bruised and swollen victims. Did that victim consent to their image being spewed all over social media? Is feeling shocked and defeated the message they want out in the world? I bet you not. I bet you they would like the time and choice to decide how they are represented in defending themselves and the earth. They need time to heal and then get back up and fight the good fight. You are doing those victims a disservice by posting that image of them at war.  They are peaceful warriors so give them their peace and respect them. They deserve your utmost respect. Be humbled they have taken a rubber bullet in the face for your water, don't exploit them further. Let them do it for themselves and let them decide if it is okay to share. That is why I have only posted about the buffalo tribe descending into the protest. It is peaceful and powerful and we need to see and hear more about their buffalo medicine and their traditions, beliefs and culture. We do not need more anger and more war. Now that is winning.

Do I want to be made upset when I am looking to chill on my phone- no. Do I want to see abused animals on my feed, no. Do I take it out on my passionate friends who have the right to say and post whatever the hell they want? No. Is it their fault I am so sensitive? Nope. What do I do? I adjust my settings and hide disturbing images and choose not to engage in discussions that I disagree with and I turn off notifications for threads I am done with. It works. I tried to quit facebook because of this election and it didn't work- I love social media and it is my outlet too and I will use it however I please. But we each have our own right and responsibility to exist and create safe spaces...and the term "safe space" isn't fluff. People throw around the word 'trigger' now as a joke and there is a real backlash toward people being too pc. Newsflash- people become sensitive and defensive for a reason. We live in a trauma infested society. Most people's lives are touched by trauma in some way and there are very few safe places to talk about it and I promise you from personal experience, facebook is not the place. A therapist's office is! Your home should be. Your best friends home is. Your community is! Get out there and be the change you want to see in the world and heal yourself. Safe spaces are literally everywhere EXCEPT for the internet.

I am a communicator in every sense of the word (hence the blog). Always have been, always will be. I have boxes full of writing from my childhood and anyone who knows me well would agree that I communicate best through type and the written word. If you ask anyone who REALLY knows me (my partner and best friends) will tell you that I am an advocate for children. I do it in my work, most days. Do I use social media as a platform to advocate for children's rights? Yes. But I choose to do it in a positive and enlightening way. Do I post pictures of starving or abused children- is too upsetting for me even though I also agree that our starving and abused children need us and I don't need those disturbing reminders- I already know. When I was little I watched those commercials and I cried. I wore beaded bracelets and named the beads after each child killed in an act of terror. I prayed for them when I heard about war on the radio and I cried watching talk shows when they talked about missing and murdered children. I wrote in to newspapers when I was 14 to tell cars to stop to let me take my sister to school because I feared for her and her friends lives. But I was a scared child. Being exposed to all that did not really make me stronger it just set me back. I lost more nights of sleep and more brain cells to stress than I would like to count and that was even before the internet.

I am an empath (empathy overload) and your words and your images effect us. I have been known to care too much, burn out too quick, take it home with me, and blow out my own candle. And so this is why I write to you, fellow warrior and fellow empath- because we are the most powerful people around and we tend to be the quietest. We make our change through meditation, prayer, ritual, education and self-regulation, self-care and self-love. We know how to calm down. We have done the work (we have been doing it for years, maybe lifetimes). We hate to be told to calm down, but for me... I need it.

I try not to get defensive when those words come my way (from the right person and ya...that applies to my man and my best friend and that is about it) because we all need that. Someone calmer, someone wiser, someone in the right frame of mind to tell us "shhhhhhhhh. Shhhhhh! It is okay. You are okay. Everything is ok. You are going to be fine. Hush now." Sound familiar? It should. It is how we were calmed from the very beginning from our wise, all knowing mothers/fathers/grandparents and caregivers. As an early childhood educator I have found very few techniques that actually calm the raving child and "shhhhhhh" is the single most effective tool I've got when a child is beside themselves upset. It works. Give it a try. Calm those beautiful babies and children in your life...but most importantly, calm your beautiful self. You are doing the world a service. Never underestimate the power of your calm.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Hawk's Scream

It's patio hot now in early November, or early summer? You wouldn't know. I'm tank top clad and stuffy with cough/cold, I can't even name the illness for the season: summer cold, fall just don't know. I look down on our neighbourhood: bustling hive under the bleached-out sun. Artificial period. If you don't have to work today, you're having your coffee outside beside the construction site. It's heavy with dust and the noise assaults my senses- yet still they sit. Oblivious is bliss. I go out for groceries and walk by the work. I'm almost offended. The mid-day sun is too high and too hot for construction. In the summer it wouldn't matter, but this isn't summer. At work there is construction too, for months now the entire perimeter of the school has been ripped apart and now they use a massive drill, like they are extracting oil from the church. What ARE they doing? The children are so accustomed to playing in the sounds; sirens and diggers excite them, and they never know what to wear. Ragamuffins in the yard dressed in mismatched seasonal clothing shouting: "I'm too hot, can I take off my coat!?" At home, the restaurant across the street has a patio that has been packed every night since april with fire pits a blaze and the rockin' band til 11. From our apartment, it has become a silly masquerade...for the costumers, it's a great first time show. "Business is booming. It has been the same line-up of songs for 8 months now. They are still out there, huddled around the fire. They will be out there until winter, I swear. I want to move to the country." I wait. I wait for hibernation. For the first time in my life, I'm settled into a nest of domesticated dreams and I agree with the cold. The muted colours comfort me. I love the muffled blankets of leaves and the soft-edged scenes. The air is too brisk to linger long and the snow will force us still. But now. Beautiful day, anyway, I suppose and it won't last long. Tune-in. Look around. Look at our paper-crisp, spring potted grass and the bare-naked trees clinging to the last of their burnt-out leaves. Look up. Expansive blue: beach-like sky. Listen! A cry? A hawk flies overhead, and swoops down so low I can see the opening of it's hard-beaked mouth. Fire engine-red calls over me and the scream echos down the street.

I welcome it's noise.