Friday, 11 November 2016

New Perspectives on Remembrance Day in Canada

This week I give thanks to my ex-husband, Douglas Dutchession, for serving Canada in war. This week has really shifted my perspective on the military and in living in Canada. Six years ago, when my marriage fell apart due to the stresses of separation, I was really angry at the military. After Doug served in Afghanistan, things were hard (my son was still a baby), and even harder when he returned to a toddler and coping with his PTSD. I didn't want to celebrate Remembrance Day. Celebrate!? I didn't buy poppies in November. I didn't watch parades. I didn't want to think about the military and a war that ripped my family apart.

While Doug was away, I was in complete denial of any sort of feelings of fear. In order to NOT feel the fear, I became super mom, and I worked constantly. I cleaned like crazy. I shopped for dogs, cats, furniture and houses...anything to distract me because I didn't ever want to entertain the idea that he could possibly die.

I suppressed my feelings, stuffing them down deep. I lived a long time thinking I was fine. And then last year for the first time, I could really listen to the Remembrance Day sermon at church and cry, feeling the pain of our loss. This year I was able to buy and wear the poppies, listen to the sermon with perspective and be okay. This time I found myself able to smile, and honour what we had, what he had done and there were no tears. I was finally healed. And I am happy with my life as it is in Canada now.

When Reverend Tim Raeburn-Gibson preached about how "no soldier comes back from the war unwounded," that really hit home for me. Yes, that was true. Some wounds are emotional, instead of physical. He and his wife, Kimberly used to live behind a house where a vet lived with PTSD, and there was lots of noise, cursing, drinking...they wondered what kind of family lived there? Then he met the guy at a funeral, and he confided in Tim and told him about his PTSD, and how they had healed, the kids were doing better now, and he and his wife got counseling. They were doing better now. That family was one of the lucky ones.

So I thank Doug for serving in war. He did his job, the one he promised to do, and he was very brave. I could never have done what he did. And people like me are lucky that people like him are willing to put their lives on the line. As a pacifist, I would like to think that all disagreements could be settled with words, but I guess I can see how that is sometimes not possible. And that's why we have police officers too...many unsung heroes putting their lives on the line everyday.

But to conclude...I have new perspective today. Now seeing Trump get elected in the USA (where I was raised) and all the horrible violence in the American news, stuff with kids and schools.... I think, yeah...I am really glad I live in Canada. It's a really good place to live!

Today, after living here 11 years, I have decided to become a citizen of Canada. This living situation is no longer temporary for me. My home is Canada now. I feel that sense of pride now when I sing "O Canada," like I have never felt before. And I feel thankful for the veterans who helped make Canada the country it is today: free, peaceful and beautiful. In the past, I have often dreamed of returning to Virginia for the beautiful weather, but something has shifted in me. There is more to life than ideal climate.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Embracing the Bumps and Bruises

Recently, I made a really big mistake. Unthinkable really. One of those moments that stops us in our tracks and makes people (especially life coaches) ask "what kind of example am I setting?" As a yoga teacher, I am constantly challenging myself to be a better person, and put aside the ego part of me which includes feelings like pride and embarrassment.

So, the mistake? You want to know what it is, don't you? I dented my back bumper. It happened in a parking lot in Blue Mountain and it was one of those situations where it is mutual responsibility. I backed up not knowing the truck behind me was going to start backing up at nearly the same time. When I went out to survey the damage, I was initially so relieved. I had not damaged his truck at all. So, I went to knock on the window of his truck, and two big burly men came out to greet me. I admit it, I was intimidated! Darnit. I shrinked at this moment where I had every right to ask for name, number and insurance. I remembered a situation in the States (where I am a citizen) and the insurance companies would not contribute anything since it happened in a parking lot.

So, I let it go and questioned myself. How did I let this happen? It was a moment of distraction on my part. But why was I beating myself up? Because I knew deep down I didn't want to drive my van anymore looking the way it did. I feared the judgment of others. But really, this attitude was shameful. I was a practical person. Right now all my money was tied up in my house and it didn't make good financial sense to repair the dent. But the thought of driving it around town was mortifying! And I had a really good van. It was a Toyota Sienna that was so dependable. I had taken very good care over the 12 years I owned it and it would continue to run well for me. It was comfortable and had lots of room for our bikes, toys and camping gear. It took us on long comfortable journeys.  One day when I was playing Monopoly with my kids and the subject of bumps and bruises came up. My son suggested that we ditch the van and buy a neighbour's car, an Old Alero, of same year, but only $975 and no dents! I immediately thought, "of course not!"

And then it hit me, I was that van! I had a couple bumps and bruises myself. I had at least a couple failed relationships that were embarrassing. But deep down, if people could look beyond the mistakes they would see a heart of gold! I was responsible, I took care of myself. I did all that inner work that makes me the kind of person that is in it for the long haul and offers the kind of quality a potential partner would desire for those long journeys in life.

So this wasn't about the dent after all. This was about my pride and my ego. And as a Yogi, I could see that the Universe had presented this situation in my life to challenge me more. This was about self love. The love we have for ourselves translates to the love we can offer to others.

So here was the important question? Could I put myself out there again and know that people could see past the outer shell? And the answer to that question is very simple. As soon as I could. When I reached a point that I could say, honestly can I drive that dented hunk of metal around town and know that I might be judged, but remember the people I care about won't change their opinion of me. Then the good ones, the people that matter, would show up in my life, and the opinions of the rest would fall away.

We must embrace our bumps and bruises in life. My daughter recently got a couple bad ones falling form the monkey bars. She came down hard on her back, and it scared her. Two days later she got our there tried again at a different playground and fell again bumping her head. Returning to school the next week, she started to shy away from the monkey bars making excuses why we should return home immediately. So, I told her what I would tell myself and my clients, "you got to have courage." The best thing is to get back out there and try it again right away. And this is the perfect illustration to relationships that hurt us. Some are heart-wrenching coming out, and shake us to the core. But that's life. If we don't get back on the monkey bars of life, we don't invite the love in again and we cut off a whole chunk of life's pleasures that create balance, harmony and great satisfaction.

We must take some risks, and know that things are going to happen along the way. That might even lead to a scrape. Most heal completely with time. Occasionally, one leaves a scar. Many people will surprise us and be pretty understanding and compassionate. That vulnerability that you put into your next relationship will translate to a place of acceptance and the more we can accept the imperfections in ourselves, the more we accept the imperfections of others.

I have reached a place in my life where I am no longer searching, just waiting patiently, becoming the best self I can become, and I know that will continue to be a journey. There was a lot of healing done. I had come a long way. There would be more in the future. Those bumps and bruises were inevitable. Darnit. But, that's what makes me human, and I was looking forward to a LOT more adventures in my future.

P.S. Once I learned the lesson, I found a rear bumper on Kijiji for $99 and a generous friend who was willing to install it for free. Life is good and it keeps getting better. Just continue to have faith. Everything works out in the end.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Reducing Clutter without Nagging

Looking for a way to manage the clutter of children dumping random things around the house? I found a way to empower my children on the road to self-regulation, and it saves my voice! And no nagging keeps me in a higher vibration (better feeling space) therefore better able to manifest what I want.
As I walk into the room and see the clutter I make the following statement, "oh, look at this. Okay, I will just add these things to the list." "My children immediately perk up, what list, what things?" they want to know.
THE LIST is a piece of paper with all the items that must be cleaned before screen time begins. They each get two hours of screen time a day and this includes movies, time on the tablet, or playing video games, but they understand this is a privilege.
I have two children, but I just make one list. And I have experimented with keeping the list mysterious. Encourage them to think more. So I go into the living room, for example, and write, "books, DVD, puzzle, hair accessories, pieces of paper." So this way there is no blame or competition, They simply figure out what they are responsible for and cross the items off the list.
In trying out this exercise, I notice a sense of accomplishment in my son, definitely a future list maker! And I discovered that my daughter was really unaware that she was leaving so many items around the house. It was never in a space of laziness, so she seems to appreciate the reminder.
I have found this technique to be a huge success, and very beneficial the week before school starts. Try it out and let me know how it goes. I love your comments and feedback!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

In Our Kitchen (from a 18 year-old point of view)


I knew that the clean, quiet atmosphere wouldn't last when I walked in our kitchen Sunday evening to study for my biology test. Nevertheless, I sought the company of family around me. So I settle on one wooden Hitchcock chair and opened my biology book to chapter ten, Cell Reproduction. Just as I started to memorize the stages of mitosis, the obnoxious theme song to "All Things Considered" blared from the radio and interrupted me. Although I knew the atmosphere of the kitchen would only become noisier and disruptive to my concentration on biology, I remained in the kitchen wanting the comfort of having my Grandma and my mom near me performing the soothing rituals of Sunday dinner preparation.

The kitchen was dim when I entered so I snapped on the fluorescent lights and examined the room. The harsh lights shone on the warm yellow linoleum. The small, cozy kitchen was painted antique white with one wall covered in emerald green country wallpaper and a coordinating border of roosters and egg-filled baskets. The countertops gleamed white with an outdated gold glitter. The dark brown Melmac cupboards and drawers were carefully closed, but this organized atmosphere would remain only seconds longer.

My mom entered the kitchen abandoning a relaxing afternoon catching up on this week's pile of newspapers and snoozing on the sunny living room sofa. She wore a maroon sweat suit trimmed with navy and white stripes and two mismatched slippers, one a flowered bootie and the other a bare toe slip-on. Her tousled chestnut curls formed a soft framework around her heart-shaped face. Behind subtle wire-framed bifocals her turquoise eyes glanced around the room returning her dreamy consciousness back to reality.  My mother emptied a thawed package of round steak and fixed a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. After she dipped each steak in the flour mixture she sizzled them in a frying pan.

My grandma pushed herself out of the comfortable rocker where she watched the afternoon football game and roamed into the kitchen after Mom to assist with the dinner preparations. When Grandma arrived, four modest sized potatoes perched on the counter waiting for Grandma's industrious preparations. Grandma snatched the potatoes eagerly, desiring a job to entertain her impatient hands. After washing them, she peeled off its ugly skins into a garbage container attached to the inside wall of our cupboard door.

Mom's eyes brightened excitedly as she approached her favorite stage of dinner preparations. She scrambled through a large drawer jam-packed with kitchen utensils to find her prized possession, the meat hammer, one she used more for musical entertainment then cooking purposes. The musical concert opened with Mom's untrained voice singing, "I love you, a bushel and a peck." The performance grew more intense when she added the skilled rhythm of her meat hammer. A satisfied smile sneaked upon her lips as she performed.

The same smile didn't curve my father's lips as he strained to hear his favorite television program, "Motor Week." Instead, his eyebrows narrowed in frustration, as he sauntered to the TV to increase the volume. (There were no remotes as of yet). This rebellious action unfortunately would only cause Mom to sing and pound louder.

When my Springer Spaniel, Cinder, woke from her afternoon nap to the sounds and smells of dinner preparation, she perked up her curly black ears and inhaled the delicious aroma of meat and gravy. After the dog arched her back and rose to her feet sleepily, she followed her nose to the cooking food. As usual, Cinder marked her post directly beside Mom where Mom was now slicing bananas for a fruit salad. The dog began her begging exercises by raising her eyebrows and enlarging her big, brown, sad eyes.

Pitying her act, my mom nearly always surrendered to Cinder's flirtation. Cinder panted desperately as she leaped on her back paws to view the scraps. Growing more hungry, she cleared her throat with a low growl to engage Mom's attention. Impatiently, she articulated her desire in loud yelps. Mom finally gave into her antics and threw her a few slices of banana, a snack Cinder enjoyed immensely.

The meat sizzled in the frying pan. The delicious aroma tickled my nose and made my stomach growl with anticipation. Grandma drained the cooked potatoes and mashed them vigorously to a fluffy perfection. Mom added milk to the meaty flavored crust which lined the frying pan making the same gravy my Grandma made for her family in 1920. After I cleared out my studying materials and set the table, Mom and Grandma served the meal.

The family scrambled to the table to taste the pleasurable results of Sunday evening preparations. The tender seasoned meat melted in my mouth and satisfied the aching empty space in my belly. My taste buds did a dance of appreciation. My heart, and stomach, would always reserve a special place for those delicious Sunday dinners.

Thursday, 31 March 2016