Monday, May 31, 2010


I have a drawer filled with Tupperware and it's cheap knock-off cousins. I'm sure you have one too. All those containers have to end up somewhere. The drawer itself is a mess. I have tried many times to organize it but alas I am not the sole inhabitant of this abode. So, the Tupperware gets literally thrown into a drawer by the fridge anticipating whatever delightful culinary left-overs get dished into them. As much as containing the containers annoys me, the plastic mountain is very useful.

Humans, in general, are really great at containing and compartmentalizing everything. Everything has it's place and we like it that way. Books on the book shelf. Toys in the toy box. Clothes in the closet. Cars parked in lots. Papers in a filing cabinet. Canned goods in the pantry. Children in desks. Adults in cubicles. Everything and everyone doing what's expected. We have excelled greatly in our organization, order and structure of both inanimate objects as well as our lives. This system of containing things has spread into our thoughts, beliefs and feelings more than we realize. So much so that when life gets messy and the compartmentalized aspects of our lives get dumped out we can't make sense out of the chaos. I think it's because our containers rarely touch each other. Our container of faith does not touch our container of reason. Our container of love does not touch our container of social activism. Our container of grief does not touch our container of vulnerability. Our container of compassion does not touch our container of self-preservation. Our container of justice does not touch our container of pride. This is unreality. No wonder we are often in a tailspin when the poo hits the fan or when we are faced with something out of our control. We have not practiced opening our containers and creating something beautiful in the mixing bowl of our lives. This takes work, creativity and a letting go of ways and systems that have bound us and have reduced our ability to impact. It is an embracing of chaos, which might sound scary but is ultimately freeing.

When I stopped trying to contain the Tupperware containers in my drawer, I felt free. They are a big, happy disaster and when I see them all hanging out in there I have a picture of how every part of my life needs to connect and touch the other parts for it make sense. Faith and reason holding hands. Love changing poverty, cancer, AIDS, the environment. Sharing grief and pain with people who have been there. Feeling the cost of giving of ourselves for someone else. Start dumping. Make a mess! See what happens.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Is True Life...

Here's a poem for a rainy day. I wrote this many years ago and thought I would share it with you. Would love to hear what you think true life is all about.
Is true life....
In the complexity of roses
Or the simplicity of daisies?
In plain black and white
Or vivid illustrations?
In a homogeneous script
Or a personalized notebook?
In a cold douse of reality
Or a hot bath of dreams?

Is true life...
In just three simple wishes
Or a single kiss goodnight?
In a monument of stone
Or a fraction of light?
In nine essential nutrients
Or eleven herbs and spices?
In the struggle of a woman
Or the innocence of a girl?

Is true life...
In all we understand
Or the intrigue of mystery?
In a distant horizon
Or a place called home?
In a heart unscathed
Or one that's been broken?
In unwrinkled perfection
Or the laugh lines of character?

Is true life...
In the bliss of ignorance
Or the wealth of knowledge?
In Versace ballgowns
Or flannel pajamas?
In the frame surrounding
Or the picture inside?
In the memory of history
Or the hope for tomorrow?

Is true life...
In the dirge of those forgotten
Or the first cries of new birth?
In rare, untasted delicacies
Or chicken soup for the soul?
In the breaking of the dawn
Or the stillness of the night?
In knowing all the answers
Or asking endless questions?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Canadians are politically correct, polite and duplicitous.

I am Canadian.

I had a conversation with a friend from Holland, who now lives here in Canada and who is also a Princess Diana look a like, the other day about how strange it seems to her that we have been taught to cover what we really think and feel with the blanket of political correctness. In my experience with Dutch people, they are direct, honest and don't beat around the bush. If something's on their mind, they say it and get it out there. THIS is refreshing to me! I can see how crazy we, Canadians, must seem to them. At the risk of possibly offending we have become dishonest. Was that the intention of playing nice? Dishonesty? We become different people when in different environments. Master chameleons, blending in instead of standing up for what we think, feel, believe, and are passionate about. The result? Duplicity and mediocrity. People who are different or who approach life honestly, with real emotion and passion, in our minds are weird.

Last night I went for a walk with my kids. After taking only a few steps I had a small stone in my left shoe. I left it there on purpose. Why, you might ask? Not because I enjoy self-inflicted pain or because I thought it may be an enjoyable experience to walk a mile down the road with a rock in my shoe. I did it to feel. Feel something....anything.






I think one of the results of our duplicity is that we have become numb to what pain feels like and when we feel even the slightest hint of  it, we shut it down and we fill that space where pain is supposed to be felt with things like food, shopping, drugs, entertainment, diets, alcohol, exercise programs, achievements, possessions, travel, and money. Pain must be avoided at all costs. We cannot be honest about either our pain or the ways we numb it because there are not to many people out there that will listen or care. Real people have real pain because that's real life. Pain is shocking and messy. If we had the freedom to let out the hurt, the doubts, the disappointments, the anguish of life's real problems without judgement, life would have hope for a lot more people. You have pain. Can you feel it? Can you be honest about it? Every person you know has pain. Can you listen to it without judgement? Can you encourage them to feel it?

If you can't, put a stone in your shoe and walk.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Yesterday I was reminded of a silly game that my Mom and I used to play in busy, public places while we were waiting for my Dad. We spent a lot of time waiting for my Dad (he likes to talk a lot) so this game kind of evolved as we played and as we got more into it. My Mom and I became chronic people watchers out of sheer boredom. This game took people watching to the next level; interaction with the people we were watching. The sole object of the game was to get people passing by to smile at us by smiling at them. We would get one point for every smile, an extra point if someone actually talked to us and a landslide win by me if I got a phone number from a cute guy (that never happened!!)! So, you sit there with a crazy grin on your face, looking a little, or lot, "simple" and let the games begin. Crazy and kind of foolish, I know, (there are crazies out there!) but I enjoyed this game. It was challenging, interesting and had a vulnerable element because eye contact and smiling go together!  Babies and kids were the easiest to get points out of. Women and senior citizens being more of a challenge. Men and teenagers being the hardest eggs to crack. I remember talking with my Mom about the people and what we thought was going through their heads as they walked past and saw us smiling at them like they had something on their face or their fly was undone! We would analyze why people wouldn't smile back, never taking it personally if they didn't but just wondering what those people were really like. You can tell a lot about people by how easy they return the gesture or if they even notice two crazy people trying to break into their world with nothing but a smile.

I've heard it a million times about how it takes more facial muscles to frown than to smile but have never been into smiling because of the facial work-out. Smiling is just a wonderful thing to do, especially since I am also a famed "crier". My smiling balances out the crying!! A smile, a smirk, a grin, a simper can say so many different things. Even a half-hearted, slight, turn-up-at-the-corners-of-a-mouth communicates something. As does the frown! If we knew what our face was communicating to people would we be surprised? I imagine having a video camera trained on my face for an hour and wonder what that camera would capture. How often do I crack a smile? Once or twice? How often am I looking displeased? I think probably a lot....that's my 'Mama means business" face'. I have the frown wrinkle to prove it. How much of the time am I just neutral, not communicating anything? If I knew what my face was telling the world I think I would be playing the game more often and would be making that simple gesture of joy and cheerfulness a part of my daily repertoire.

If you've never thought about what your smile is saying, think about it the next time someone is grinning their little heart out at you! Smiling invites people, even strangers, into your life for a moment. The thing that you may never know is what that moment may mean to them.


(Tres important side note: I'm officially hooked. This whole blogging thing is super fun. I'm pretty sure I could write everyday but my house would be even more of a disaster than it is and my children would be eating peanut butter sandwiches for the rest of their lives!! That said, thank you for reading. It is so awesome to know that really special people are reading this blog. Thank you for your is great too!)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Life requires skills. Some skills are learned, some are common sense, some are inherent. (The word 'skills' always makes me giggle. I think of Napoleon Dynamite and "nun chuck skills".) The more skills you acquire the better you can survive whatever crazy thing life throws at you. I have been creating a list for quite some time of all the skills required and knowledge needed for a day in the life of me as mother, wife, and friend. Some I have mastered, others not so much, but I am a work in progress. Maybe you can relate to my list of Things a girl should know...

1. How to change a tire on the side of the road.
2. How to sing a couple of lullabies.
3. How to read a map without GPS assistance and actually get where you need to go.
4. How to bake and decorate a cake that meets the critical approval of a five year old.
5. How to laugh at PMS and other unfortunate but realistic happenings!
6. How to cook an edible turkey dinner and get it all on the table at the same time.
7. How to make a paper airplane that actually flies.
8. How to identify a nit and an adult louse....ewwww!
9. How to both entertain children while driving and keep your husband sane.
10. How to produce important documents from wherever they may have been placed, out of thin air and at any given moment. Note: Every document is important at some time!
11. How to plant and care for a garden.
12. How to fly a kite.
13. How to iron a shirt, a dress, and pants.
14. How to back seat drive without being too obvious.
15. How to forgive.
16. How to dance, if not gracefully or skillfully, with enthusiasm!
17. How to bake bread.
18. How to tell a good story without the word "like".
19. Know where to go when you need a good cry or a good laugh.
20. How to make an excellent pot of coffee or tea.
21. How to use a drill and other power tools.
22. How to throw a party where your guests have fun!
23. How to walk in heels.
24. How to give a massage.
25. How to tie up skates.
26. Know the birthdays, anniversaries, special days of your in-laws.
27. How to get to the emergency room...safely.
28. How to find good deals.
29. How not to complain.
30. How to throw a football.
31. Know the words to "O Canada".
32. How to bandage a wound.
33. How to change a diaper ...anywhere.
34. How to write a thank you note.
35. How to give and take a compliment.
36. How to get through a formal dinner without looking like a bumpkin!
37. How to take care of a pet.
38. How to be two places at once.
39. How to get stains out of clothes.
40. How to hang a picture.
41. How to cut the hair two year-old in five minutes or less!
42. How to use a "bear banger".
43. How to find time for yourself when you need it.
44. How to make grumpy kids and husband laugh.
45. How to be sympathetic and caring when you don't really feel like it.
46. How to make a fire and roast a marshmallow.
47. How to buy a great, thoughtful gift.
48. How to write a letter without using a technical device.
49. How to create something scrumptious without ingredients from a box or can.
50. How to share and enjoy the beauty of LIFE!
This list is fluid and organic. It is ever changing and morphing as I practice and hone my skills and as the needs of those around me change as well. All of this to say that skills are important but my greatest skill will be the mastering of #50. If I can inspire and encourage others to truly see that this life is beautiful and worth  living, I have succeeded!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

X-ray Soul

We have this friend, Jonathan, he's from North Carolina and he's an arborist. Doesn't that just sound so interesting? It kind of rolls off your tongue in a nice, smooth way... arborist. Arborist. For those of you who like saying that word too but don't know what it means, I'll give you the definition a la Lisa: a guy that knows tonnes about the care and maintenance of trees and who can "safely" trim, prune, and/or cut down a tree without it landing in your living room. (Think I could get a job with them there dictionary people?) Anyway, Jonathan is coming over in a little while to cut down two huge poplar trees in our yard. One is completly dead and the other looks healthy but is rotting on the inside. That is the tree that intrigues me. It looks so healthy with baby spring leaves all over it but soon it will be dead and crashing into our house! How can something that appears to be thriving on the outside be dying on the inside?

If you could somehow get a hold of Superman's x-ray vision for a day and look deep into people's souls, I am pretty sure that you would see soul "rot". Soul "rot" being the things that people carry around on the inside that is sucking the life right out of them. Anger, sadness, lonliness, bitterness, hatred, and rejection are all signs of this condition. Yet people appear healthy on the outside. They go about life but it's just hollow. They don't smile much. They don't sing in the shower. The sunset is just another sunset. The glass is half empty. Nights are long and sleepless. Everything is stressful. Being with people often aggravates the symptoms. I know this disease afflicts everyone, myself included, at times. But what's the treatment?

Something I have learned is that sometimes the simplest things can be the best medicine. Soul "rot", for the most part, is a selfish disease. Somehow I think that I deserve to feel the way I do and that I can take out my frustrations on those around me. The cure is to serve, to think about someone else and get my mind off my own junk! When we can see someone else's struggle and think of things we can do to alleviate it, we are getting rid of our own soul "rot" too. Funny how that works.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm hording sparkly moments
And storing them away
So I can run them through my mind's eye
On any rainy day

My chest of treasures overflows
And crowds out the sleepy haze
That longs to lead me into forgetful slumber
Far from this happy place

Baubles of laughter
Sapphires of embrace
Chains of friendship
Pearls of understanding
Rubies of kindness
Emeralds of beauty
Diamonds of faith

Entranced, I finger each gem
And tuck them into my fleeting memory
Where if only in this sleepless vapor
I have cherished today

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Virgin Blog

The first time...
Am I nervous? check.
Am I intimidated by all the amazing bloggers out there? check.
Am I ecstatically excited? check.
Am I hoping that more people than my mama will read this? check.
Should I get on with it? check!
Do I have anything to say? hmmm...

Rock Star....
I was at a get-together awhile ago and all the people that were there were asked this question; "If time and money were no object, what would you be doing with your life?" Most people talked about going to amazing travel destinations and spending more time with their loved ones (very important stuff!). I said that I would be a rock star. That got a laugh. I think most people thought that I wasn't serious.... but I really was. It's a dream of course.... but it's also a culmination. The end product of years of practicing and sharing my musical talent, an outlet for the songs that I've written, and a purpose for this crazy head of hair! Why can't I? That's the question that has plagued me since. Why can't I? Why I can't is the reality that's been kicking me around. At 33 years old, with 2 young kids, the mountain of reasons why I can't seems insurmountable. Here's the partial...
I am too old
I'm not good enough
my family needs me
I live in the sticks!
I don't have connections
Would anyone come to my show?
This list is so lame to me. At 80 years old, will I regret it if that mountain was never attempted? So, I write, I compose, I edit, I scream (definitely for "rock star" practice), I live (that's where the songs come from) and my husband is finishing the basement so we can record album #2! Rock stardom, to me, is my attempt at disciplining myself and my art and working towards something.
Will anyone care that I have attempted to climb my mountain? Maybe not anyone but myself. But, at 80 I will say, "I was a rock star!". It may not be in the classical definition of all that entails, but it's about using my gifts, my life to try something that seems out of reach, to do it! Really do it and say something important along the way. What's your impossible dream and what are you doing to climb your mountain?