Nourished by Nature

I think I am a bit nature obsessed sometimes.  Which actually puts me in my ‘happy place’.  I would definitely consider myself an extrovert, although I didn’t always feel that way.  My memories of my ‘youngen years’ is that when my parents took us to visit friends, I always preferred to hang out with the adults.  I don’t know if I was dreaming about what it would be like to one day be one… or if I was just unimpressed uncomfortable getting to know their friend’s kids.  I preferred sometimes to just observe; and sometimes I was just bored out of my mind, but none-the-less, when I think back to those moments in time I remember feeling like the ‘odd man out’ many times.  So, it could be that I ‘matured’ into an extrovert or became conditioned into one, or innately maybe I always was one.  I look back on all of the networking events I have gone to throughout my career, and I am usually quite ecstatic to just delve in there head on, make some connections, chat with people and find a common ground, but mostly, I just plain –  find people fascinating.   I love hearing their tales.  I love learning about their lives; where they come from, where they’re going and what makes them tick.  Typically an extrovert will become energized being around people… which makes perfect sense, because I do have difficulty winding down after a social event.  But I have always craved the quiet contemplation that nature offers me.  I love being surrounded by trees, the rhythmic rustling of their leaves, and listening to the water rush over the rocks; what an interesting dance it does over time as its gentle strength smooths away the rock’s hard rough edges.  I love the peaceful tranquility my soul feels when the sun warms my face, and how the moon embraces me in the dark of night.  That is powerful.  I think what I have realized about myself is that a group dynamic gives me a temporary rush of adrenaline, which can be exhilarating (kind of like being on stage, which I enjoyed immensely before adulthood kicked in), but my mind and soul can only feel truly nourished and rejuvenated by nature. IMG_2168
Photo Challenge Number 17, taken along the bike path on the Ottawa Rideau Canal in Ottawa.
April 2016

Pretty Parcels

Photo Challenge Number 15bd collage resized

I received so many lovely tokens of affection today as I celebrated another year… Beautiful and funny cards, sweet and overly generous gifts from special friends and family, and kind and genuine wishes sent my way.  Every day I count my blessings, and today was no exception; and I made sure to call my ‘ma to thank her for ‘having me’, as I do annually.

When I returned home from work today, there was another special package waiting for me; this time from my dear cousin Boomdee, who is an incredible inspiration and was full of encouragement for me to start this blog a few years back.  ♥  Birthday card resized

Her kindness shines through in everything she says and does with her positive and genuine spirit that she shares with the world; and how special she makes those in her world feel. 

And as you can see, there are even uplifting words of hope and optimism  incorporated into the tiniest of details in her custom creations.

Our dads were brothers, charming, handsome, kindhearted… close in age and the best of friends.  And although neither of them are with us any longer, I like to think that they are secretly smiling down on us.  Happy; knowing that as adults, Boomdee and I are not only connected as cousins, but also in friendship.

 

Market Munchies

It was a gorgeous +21°c in Ottawa today, so I ventured out with my ‘pack’ to do our favourite Sunday morning activity and walked over to Landsdowne Park where we poked our heads into the Winter Market at the Aberdeen Pavilion.  Mouks got his favourite cookie from Art Is In Bakery, which has a delectable assortment of squishy wholesome breads and flavourful goodies, and I opted for the addition of a healthy loaf of their ‘Crazy Grain’ bread, which does not disappoint! 

As we were running low on roughage, we nipped over to the Roots and Shoots kiosk and picked up a few bags of spinach, enough to make even Popeye proud!  Big D knows one of the Roots and Shoots crew through Phat Moose; Ottawa is a city with an abundance of cyclists and his shop is a hub for meeting some really interesting peeps.  For a number of years now we’ve been getting a 1/2 share  order throughout the summer and fall to bulk up on local farm fresh produce.  It’s amazing.  Plus… they also send out an email letting us know what’s in our biweekly drop, and even offer up some seasonal recipes.  And this year Big D has included some floral blooms in the bunch!  ❤

Photo challenge number 14, highlights a small section of the interesting architecture of the Aberdeen Pavilion where the winter market is currently housed; though I suspect it will soon move into the square outside the doors, for those scorching summer Sundays that Ottawa is renowned for.  aberdeen pavillion collage 3.png

Lucky 13

Today’s photo challenge is number 13… which coincidentally is Mouks’ present age, but thankfully not yet his foot size!  I am not quite sure where the time has gone, but Big D and I try to savour the family time we still get to spend with our young man.  Today we toted around town on our bicycles and made our way to the bowling alley where Mouks plays in a league.  The season is over, but he’s got one final tournament, so we thought we’d get some practice games in.  It’s our usual haunt, and offers up some good old fashioned fun!

Bowling polaroid

 

Behind Closed Doors

There is so much beautiful scenery in Ottawa, and many stunning homes along the Rideau Canal.  On any given day, there is something to appreciate and admire.  When I was a young gal my imagination circled around fashion, house design and decorating, which I guess is where my passion for all things ‘designery’ really began.

My dad was a very talented finishing carpenter, and I remember going to the job site with him on a number of occasions, where he showed me how to install spindles, baseboards, towel racks and toilet paper holders, and it is where I practiced the ‘art of sweeping’, though I will admit, I far prefer the vacuum.  I think he showed me these things for a number of reasons; to encourage my independence, build my self-confidence and to have someone who could do the mundane tasks so he could focus on his custom creations.  I cherish those memories. They nourished my appreciation for design and for the time I was able to spend with him.  Still to this day, when I walk by a house, my imagination wanders… and I wistfully dream of what is behind that closed door.

Fittingly, with these special memories etched in my mind, today’s photo challenge #11 is of a stately front door along the canal, which I was drawn to because of it’s lovely architectural elements melding so cohesively with its surround. Sometimes, it is the smallest details that can make something special, and what we may dismiss as the insignificant moments that can create such warm memories.

Front Door

A Moment to Paws…

It’s ‘National Pet Day’…. and for my photo challenge #9, there is no finer subject that our dear sweet dog, Friday.  She is the subject of many photos, an abundance of cuddles, and is the ‘Smackiland therapy dog’, offering warm hellos, sad good-byes, many laughs and much love to her pack.

She is part ‘Catahoula’ (which is the official state dog of Louisiana) and all love; she is mischievous yet well-behaved, unless she comes across a squirrel, rabbit or other such furry creature, and then, well, all bets are off.   I wrote a blog post about her many moons ago, which you can read here, which also includes our incredible gratitude to the many amazing, kind and generous people who rescued and loved her on the long journey to our door.

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A is for Alphabet

I have an affinity for all things pretty… including fabrics with textures, patterns and intermingling colours.  I have always loved fashion, and I have a great many memory of Saturday shopping trips with the Bobs (a.k.a. my ma) and my Sistah.  We’d scour for great deals and load up on fab finds.  Both my ma and pa had a great sense of style, with a multitude of clothes and shoes to choose from on any given day.  I remember the vast array of my dad’s wardrobe with his Harry Rosen suits, me stuck polishing his alligator shoes, and he demonstrating the art of the double windsor knot.  My mom, who detests wearing the colour green, for some reason had this hat that I vividly remember, that looked like a pale green sheer skull-cap with the lightest white and chartreuse organza petals.  I distinctly recall a flashback of the back of her head (hair tucked in), while she wore it on a car ride to church on the dusty dirt road in the old cream coloured Ford Mustang.  I desperately wish I had a photo of it for today’s photo challenge #7, but I only have my memory for this blast from the past.

My photo today instead, is of my ‘alphabet scarf’… a cute little fun find I picked up on a road trip to Hamilton on our way to visit the eastern branch of the perogy clan; when mom was up for a visit from Edmonchuk a few years ago.  As you can imagine, shopping is still one of our greatest past times and to this day, we continue to bond over a great deal on cute gear.

letter scarf re-sized

 

 

Words of Wonder

I have always loved and adored the written word, and poetry in particular has always felt very moving;  like the image of tall grasses dancing in the wind.

It has been a number of year since I was so very fortunate to visit my Uncle Paul at his cottage on Chandos Lake, Ontario.  While I was growing up in Alberta as a young girl, he had already been living in the St. Catherine’s area, so I wasn’t able to see him often.  But when I moved to Ontario many a moon ago, I would visit when I could, and wait with bated breath as I clung to the words he shared of his youth or quietly ponder life as we stared out over the lake in silence.  His blue eyes, so reminiscent of my mom’s would sparkle with mischievousness as he relived his tales, and I would feel a special connection to home.   I don’t recall sharing my love of poetry with him, but I remember what a kind and loving gesture it was when he gifted me this book, and how he instinctively knew I would cherish it.  Unfortunately, he is no longer with us, but I will always look back with fondness and gratitude for those moments in time I was able to spend with him.

Candian Poets book

Photo Challenge #3

Below is a poem from this book, written by Norah M Holland, a poet from Collingwood, Ontario. I thought this fitting, in my melancholy moment recalling memories of Uncle Paul… and seeing as our sweet Oreo (who sadly is also no longer with us) would accompany both Big D and I on our trips to the lake, it seemed applicable.

The Little Dog-Angel

High up in the courts of Heaven to-day
   A little dog-angel waits;
With the other angels he will not play.
   But he sits alone at the gates;
‘For I know that my master with come,’ says he:
‘And when he comes he will call for me.’

He sees the spirits that pass him by
    As they hasten towards the Throne.
And he watches them with a wistful eye
    As he sits at the gates alone;
‘But I know if I just wait patiently
That some day my master will come,’ says he.

And his master, far on the earth below,
    As he sits in his easy chair,
Forgets sometimes, and he whistles low
    For the dog that is not there;
And the little dog-angel cocks his ears,
And dreams that his master’s call he hears.

And I know, when at length his master waits
    Outside in the dark and cold
For the hand of Death to ope the gates
    That lead to those courts of gold,
The little dog-angel’s eager bark
Will comfort his soul in the shivering dark.

Rascally Rabbits

My young work compadre & I, thought we’d try shaking things up a bit, so as 2015 drew to a close, we feverishly sat down to come up with some fun (and some not so fun) challenges for 2016.  Each month, we draw a new dare ‘challenge’ from the Tim Hortons cup atop of the credenza (yes… the cup is clean).  For April, we selected a “photo a day”; and so, here is my April 1st photo (yes… a bit late, but I was recently preoccupied blogging about a far heavier subject).  This however, is a wee bit o’fun, as the Fromage (my nickname for her, because all those who are in my close circle seem to eventually get one from me) and I make an attempt to finally follow through on one of our challenges; though we are in fact ahead of the game as ‘blogging’ has been started again, but not yet drawn from the cup!

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While chillaxin’ on April 1st with Tante Hosé… we popped over to Chapters, so she could get her Starbucks fix, and we meandered through the aisles… self-help, fiction, children’s literature, and the fun trinket section at the cash, of course.   I came across the display of the very endearing book “Guess How Much I Love You”, which I read to Mouks nightly when he was just a wee lad.  And it is a fitting title accurately depicting how much love there is between parent and child, and beautifully illustrates how much my heart overflows with love for my fella.  I have the sweetest memories that I hold dear of the warm snuggles and animated words as I read this aloud to him.  There is something so peaceful and mesmerizing about the story…. and it warms my heart how it’s not until Little Nutbrown Hair thinks he has stated that loving Big Nutbrown Hair “all the way to the moon” is as far as you can love someone, and he is satisfied, and lulls off into a contemplative sleep… that Big Nutbrown hair then quietly and gently whispers, “I love you all the way to the moon…. and back”.  ❤

 

The Footsteps of My Past…

Blog Quote

It’s been 3 years since my last confession…. (Well… since I’ve posted to my blog in actuality, as blogging seems to be my confessional of choice).   Since that time I have lost and regained about 30 pounds and found myself caught in what can sometimes be described as the mundane everyday hamster wheel of life; though I feel it is more accurate a scenario portrayed within the spinning thoughts of my own mind.  I have looked at various ways to reacquaint myself with the old ‘me’, and in full disclosure I admit that some of the old me is best left to the past, though we are all a work in progress.   But, I would love nothing more than to once again walk in the shoes of the carefree and expressive ‘me’ of long ago.

A number of years ago, when I sat down to write my first blog pages, I also wrote a healing short story about a painful memory from my past, which still remains sight unseen to others.  A memory that had once upon a time been selectively shared with family and close friends; a net which became wider and wider and slowly captured a larger audience as my inability to stay quiet became inevitable.  My hurt and silence was like a kettle of water on a low boil that would eventually whistle loud enough for others to hear, and, if unacknowledged, it would spill over and blow.  This written account of events was not publicly declared, as it was pages from my life that also caused grief and probably some embarrassment from a tight lipped and relatively private extended family tribe.  It’s a story of inappropriateness pushed on a young girl who did not have the adult capabilities to fend off her perpetrator.  Granted these unwanted sexual overtures from this heinous monster (which is a more than fair and very accurate description) were not as severe as perhaps some other poor child’s accounts may have been in similar circumstances, but they were in the very bold truth… a fact;  Traumatic, Terrifying and Criminal.  And I am not trying to trivialize what happened, (to you, or in my own mind) but there are instances of abuse that can be far more graphic and horrific in nature.  These memories I have though, unfortunately belong to me, and have repeatedly traumatized me throughout different stages of my life.  And, at various points over the decades the realness of them comes back to haunt me at odd and unexplained moments, even within the waking hours.  Engulfing me in fits of anxiety, rapid heart beat and the ever present memory of feeling trapped as I did as a young girl; hiding in a bedroom alone in the darkened night during visits to the farm, shielded by a thin chenille coverlet, with the flecks of dust floating against the faint light from under the door and praying to a god I wasn’t sure existed, as my aunt peacefully slept in the room next to mine, utterly and totally oblivious to the monster she lay with.  Vivid memories are heartbreakingly recalled as I stifled my cries and begged with my heart that the stench of his vulgar whiskey breath and rough calloused hands would no longer come within my reach, and despairingly I remember the struggle(s) to push him off of me and his deep menacing and evil laugh when I was finally successful enough to do so.

Over the course of the years I tried different approaches to deal with my anger, hurt and bewilderment that someone could in fact inflict such undeniable psychological trauma to a child who carried only joy and innocence.   But to such beasts, that must be the mass appeal; a gift that can be stolen from their prey.  As an adult, I sought counseling after full blown panic attacks and agoraphobia and thought I had beaten the burden I carried.  Later, again, years down the road I worked with a life coach, after noticing the various ways I was self-sabotaging aspects of my life.  She encouraged me to write a letter to the molester, which I did.  (I very deliberately refrain from the term ‘my’, as it represents the bonded connection which he sought through his abuse, but was never entitled to.)  It was not a letter of forgiveness, because it is unforgivable.  It was a letter forcing him to acknowledge what he did, and to transfer the burden and shame where it rightfully belonged.  And, in the act of writing, the realization became clear that there was no one to blame BUT him.  That my aunt was most likely also abused in some way shape or form, and that there was a naivety of that era, where trust in others was very easily misplaced; his opportunites to abuse being a testament to that.  Though I admit, such realizations offer no comfort on the dark days when my heart feels heavy.  The option I weighed was to send or not send the letter, though I don’t believe I was ever really reluctant to do so, and therefore I recall very deliberately posting it in the mail, and the act of ‘letting it go’ in the hope of finally finding closure.  To this day, if it was read aloud to him as he lay ailing in his nursing home, I will never know.  I don’t know if it was found among his belongings after he finally died, because no one dares speak of it.  I don’t know what it feels like to be blood related to a monster; to be embarrassed of a father or grandfather who could inflict such deliberate and calculated abuse upon someone.  And for this and many other reasons, I give thanks that my own family taught me what real love means.  I know him only as a non-biological uncle that had a pattern of abuse throughout his own life, who inflicted vile and wretched hurt unto others in a variety of menacing and cruel ways during his lifetime; which still does not allow me to offer pity upon him.  It is continuing hurt though, that still lingers at times…. that it cannot be openly spoken of freely.  That the reason for my hate and disdain of him are not fully acknowledged by those who know it, but do not speak of it.  The reasonable part of my brain, tries desperately to convince myself that silence is instilled to spare my feelings, but in actuality it does the reverse.  Silence is painful for me.  It is silence that breeds shame, and the spoken truth the key to its release.  If his memory and name, (which I can barely stomach to utter aloud, and seethes out between clenched teeth) “John Tatarin”, remains untarnished, and the pain he inflicted remains unspoken, it does not accurately reflect history.

I am thankful daily though, for the ears that listen when I need them to, for those who acknowledge the trauma it inflicted upon the child who felt scared and alone and unable to cope.  And from the memory I hold of the person who tried to protect me at the very beginning of the torment; my heart will forever be connected with theirs and full of gratitude and love which overflows from my soul.  In our own way, we must all learn the art of our own healing; how to continue to forge ahead with the memories and feelings from childhood, with the coping mechanisms we now have as adults.  And it’s a very fine balance; one that we must ‘train our brain’ to do.  We are no longer living in that moment in the past, but just remembering it;  though with the act of remembering we can inadvertently conjure up the feelings we had whilst of that  age, where time stands still.  Sometimes we lose our way, when we become enveloped in that feeling… but within ourselves we have the ability to find a way out of the hurt.  Through tragedy can come a deep understanding and protectiveness of others, which my soul carries – and it’s the side I often share with the world.   And, as I take this moment in time to once again heal my broken spirit, I look for ways I can reconnect with the joy I carry within, as I walk along my path ahead.

It is my hope that these written words do not cause hurt or angst to others, but that the sentiments shared find their way to help understand the healing process that can be associated with traumatic events; that PTSD can manifest itself at unexpected times, in unexpected ways and that support can vary between individuals.

This is only a small piece of the puzzle that makes me ‘me’… albeit the most challenging dimension, and my own story keeps unfolding, sometimes with different layers: hurt, grief, love, laughter, joy.  Thank you for walking with me a while, as I regained the courage to retrace the footsteps of my past…