Friday, August 31, 2012

Life Choices

A beautiful young woman
I am extremely sad.
I normally blog about the lighter side of my life, but today I need to express my frustration, my anger, and my deep sadness. I  am an emotional roller coaster of emotion the last few days, and I am a wreck. 

A couple of days ago my niece was admitted to hospital.  Overnight her condition worsened and she was placed into the intensive care unit (ICU).  Late into the evening the next day she was flown to the University Hospital in Edmonton after her condition continued to deteriorate to the point that she required life support. It didn’t need to be this way.

She is in her thirties.
She is a mother.

She is a wonderful person with a bright smile and a kind heart.

She is an alcoholic. 

My frustration stems from feeling helpless. My anger is from wishing she had made better choices, and my sadness, is acknowledging that she is powerless against the disease, which is alcoholism.  This is a disease that is preventable. And it only makes life look hopeless.  

Alcoholism has plagued my family for as long as I can remember.  The difficulty for me is watching while my family wage their personal battles with alcoholism . The battle is sometimes won, but not always.  The battle continues as they fall victim to it again and again.  It is one day-at-a-time practice and the goal being to never give up on sobriety because there is always hope and a new beginning. There is always another day, never give up. 

There must be so much pain. When did all the pain begin? Was it because of residential schools? Was it the loss of our indigenous language and traditional lifestyle? Is it intergenerational trauma? Did it escalate after we tried to mask the pain, which created more pain? Did it have to do with racism? Low self-esteem? When will it end?  

I admit that I don’t understand it.  I don’t appreciate what it's like to walk in their shoes. I don’t know what it feels like to crave that drink in spite of what it means and how it will impact us and the people we love most.

What I do know is that it's not a fight you take on alone.  The truth is people are hurting and in pain. A pain that is hidden behind smiles and laughter.  A supportive loving and compassionate system is the only chance to win this battle. It takes a community.  Family.  Friends.  People who can help you face the difficult truth.  

Most importantly you must love unconditionally.  And by that I mean you need to demonstrate your love not by encouraging them to join in the “party” thinking that after "a few" you'll not be hurting anyone.  But rather by being there for them when they are sober.  Being there for them when they are weak.  Being there to listen. And being there to say the hard truth while letting them know that their life holds value. 

In happier times!
My niece is fighting for her life.  She is demonstrating with her life the very real possibility where this lifestyle could take you.  If, she makes it through, she is going to need support because she can never have another drop of alcohol for the rest of her life.  Which on the whole is not a bad thing.  If she doesn't make it, this will be a terrible tragedy and a huge loss for our family. 

Still, either way, if you have this problem, I challenge you to make a commitment to her that you won’t follow her into the lifestyle that had her in her prime end up in the hospital fighting for her life.  If you can do that, perhaps her tragedy will not have been in vain. The cycle of alcohol and drug abuse, including prescription drugs, must end. 

Follow Up April 3, 2012

I am pleased to write that she is living a great life without alcohol.  Life is not easy, but without alcohol she has one less complication. Newly engaged, and enjoying everyday, feeling blessed, and is making the best  of her second chance in life. She has two beautiful grandchildren.  Living life and helping out with her mom who has dementia.

When you see her, give her a hug and let her know she is loved.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday's What the Heck / Where has the Summer Gone

Here we are, already it’s August 3rd with only 32 days before school year begins for some of our children. 

In Ottawa the weather thus far is amazing… if, that is, you’re not a plant or an animal who enjoys this hot draught weather. In all things there should be balance. But the weather has been extremely hot and dry. Yup, beginning in June the temperature has barely dipped below the 25 Celsius and coupled with below levels of rain made this one of the hottest summers ever.  In fact, Ottawa has had a drought level 2 for most of the summer.  I’ve never seen the Ottawa River this low before.

The pool covered with cement dust!
For me, the frustrating part of this summer has been waiting for the pool repairs to be completed.  

The target date for completion was by hubby's birthday in mid June.  As I write this post, the concrete having been poured yesterday, the men are doing something out there, not sure what, other than making a lot of noise with a saw and spewing clouds of fine dust everywhere, including into the pool (not sure why they didn't cover the pool). How long is it going to take to clean the pool, I wonder as the layers of dust settle on the pool surface.  

Friday before another long weekend and we are without a swimming pool, and once again, the weather is expected to be hot. In fact, according to our national paper, Ottawa public health issued a heat warning as the forecast called for humidex levels of above 40 Celsius on Saturday and Sunday. Whew! 

On the bright side, can't wait for next week when the pool will finally be done, leaving us with the balance of summer and perhaps even the fall of pool time.  

Meanwhile, thankfully, we do have air-conditioning!

And a river!

And, I bought a new vehicle! Now, hubby can have his car back. And I must say hubby gives it two thumbs up. That means a lot  because, he, of course, has great taste in cars. You can read about his car here
my new ride!

A Range Rover, Evoque is a dream car. But I didn't buy the special edition Victoria Beckham one!  Still, I am stoked and immediately it called for a road trip. So, off I drove with Andrew to Montreal, where he was taking a two-week summer course.

Simply the best cake!
Montreal is fantastic!  On our first evening there we ordered in from room service and Andrew had the best chocolate cake ever. Of course, in the following days he  had compared other chocolate cakes from around Montreal, but nothing measured up to this one. 

I enjoy the friendly people, the scenery, and going to all the places we went to last summer. My favorite, place was “Café Smoothie” in Pointe Claire.  Each day after Andrew was done for the day we would slowly drive along the beautiful lake to Cafe Smoothie. He would have a mango smoothie, and I, would have fresh carrot and apple juice.  It was yummy,  but I think I'm turning a shade of orange. LoL!

Andrew got into reading the Hunger Games while we were in Montreal.  After he completed reading chapters, we would listen to the audio book up to the point he had read, in the car (a good reason to drive around in my Evoque!). Admittedly, finding any excuse to drive around was not too difficult.

I think the reason summer appears to go faster than any other season is because we do different things in the summer.  We change our routine. We do things we enjoy, like hanging out and visiting with people, sleeping in, and this summer watching the Summer Olympics.  The energy of the olympians is so inspiring! 

Taking my time by being present, savoring each and every delicious moment.   My app for meditation is insight timer, which lets me know I'm not meditating alone. The design of the app is  insightful providing information on who is meditating with me world-wide.  No matter what time I meditate, I know I'm not alone.  It also keeps stats of my meditation times, and allows me to journal my sessions. I love this app!  

I hope you are all enjoying your summer too! 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pool Recreation

Pool under construction!

When we returned from in NYC the first week of July of this year, I thought that we would be experiencing more temperate weather.  However, the heat wave has not diminished one iota.    Each time we step outside away from the air conditioner, it feels like we are walking into a hot oven.  This heat is suffocating me.  

I can’t imagine how people who have difficulty-breathing, and with asthma cope with this blistering heat. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday’s What the Heck! Be Spontaneous!

A boat ride is perfect on a hot day

Out of the blue my big sister, Mary, called and said she was coming to visit. Really??? I said, with a note of skepticism.  Who could blame me, after all her last visit was over twelve years ago.  I’ll be there this week, she added.  Right on, email me your time of arrival and I’ll pick you up at the airport, I said cheerfully.  Oh my, I was so excited, but then again I didn’t want to get my hopes up!

The day before she was scheduled to arrive I still wouldn't let myself believe she would be coming.  That night she called and said “I’ll be there at 6 pm tomorrow”.  Whoa!!! She was actually going to visit us!!! I had to get my butt in gear and clean my house, even though my housecleaner had just cleaned.  I quickly realized that I would be cleaning all night.  Therefore I called my back-up-cleaner (see why here) who, lucky for me, was available the next day.   I also, had to call my handyman to do a few things around the house, touch ups and stuff.  I changed the light bulbs and wash all the towels so they were all soft and fresh. There was a flurry of things to be done before picking her up at the airport.  I took the day off from work, and although I wasn't planning to take my holidays, yet, I decided to take time off for her visit.

Then she called to say she missed her first flight.  What??? I spoke to her that morning hours before her flight and she was packed and almost out the door.  What happened, I asked?  Apparently, she decided at the last minute to grab a muffin and didn’t hear the final call.  They called three times but she didn’t hear and the plane left without her after they removed her bag.  And, all I could think of was, YES!  That muffin may have cost her $150 in change fees. But, missing her plane gave me a few more hours to prepare for her visit.  Everything was perfect when she arrived, I think.

My son, Andrew had an appointment in Montreal.  He suggests we go to New York from Montreal.  It is only a short drive, he says, and we all know Andrew loves NYC.  What the heck I thought, this would be a wonderful experience since my sister had never been there.  And besides the pool still was not completed. Hubby went on line and made reservations for us at the New York Helmsley Hotel. It is closer than where we stayed before which is across the Brooklyn Bridge at the Marriott Hotel.  I suggest hubby fly down to meet us Friday night after work (some of us can’t just take time off!)  He agreed. Now to find a place for our dog, Bohdi, on a long weekend, which we did!  He was excited to stay at Tails andTrails Country Pet Resort.
The Fort William Henry Hotel

We decided to take our time driving and stopped over night at Lake George, a picturesque lakeside resort.  We stayed at a lovely hotel, The Fort William Henry Hotel.  There is much history in lake George and we enjoyed a lovely evening there. The next day in the parking lot we met a guy who is a ghost guide who said that there are several ghost in and around the hotel.  Thankfully, we were leaving, yikes.

Mary, first night in NYC @Osteria Laguna!

I really got to appreciate the in car GPS, which made driving in NYC a snap. We arrived in time for dinner, which we had at Osteria Laguna Restaurant directly across the street from our hotel.  You know what it's like when you first arrive at a place you're excited about, everything taste amazing. Osteria didn't disappoint.  My insalata caprese was simply delicious!
New York from Empire State Building!
Of course, we tried to do all the tourist stuff we could in the three days we were there, and had a wonderful exciting time.   However, nothing made me more excited as when we found a place that made fresh green juice and smoothies on Lexington, which is just around the corner from our hotel.  I so missed my fresh juices. Score!!!  We also, went to Hell's Kitchen flea Market  where I bought a lovely zen singing bowl. Yeah! 

Porgy and Bess
It was difficult, but we even managed to get some tickets on Broadway to the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, which was playing at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.  Andrew wanted to see Harvey, but we couldn't get reasonable tickets.  With only a limited time, it was too bad we missed it because andrew is a fan of Jim Parson from The Big Bang Theory. 

The only complaint, if I could have one, would be  that we decided to visit NYC in the middle of a heat wave, (36 Celsius) made walking in this heat not pleasant!  

But what is summer about, if not to be spontaneous, huh?  It's a good thing Andrew didn't pinch my sister every time she said, pinch me, Andrew! Otherwise, she would have been black and blue. lol. All in all, this impromptu trip is one to be treasured.  

Not quite Thelma and Louise, but we had a blast!
Thank you, Mary!!!        

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Friday's What the Heck/ It's About Time

 I often ponder in advance the subject of my next blog.  This time, I got to thinking about why I blog. At the end of the day, I hope to achieve by blogging a collection of stories, memories, which I am completely grateful for. 

Indeed, it goes without saying that I enjoy blogging. But more importantly as in my title “My Magnificent life” it clearly is about my life.  My experiences. My musings.  My interest. My opinions.  (I just realized that, I, a person who strives to avoid attracting attention to myself, have devoted an entire blog all about me! Ironic.) That is enough about me. :)

May was a busy month. My mom celebrated her 93rd birthday and it leads me to contemplate the issue of time.  Not old age, nor the balance of life and death.  But in particular, about why time appears to speed up as we get older, or is it just me?  I remember, as a child each summer day seemed to go on for an eternity and that was okay with me.   What happened? When did our perception of time change?

For me, suddenly one day I noticed, days became weeks, and then months.  Time just began to collapse into a blur.  Trying to hold on to the minutes before they vanished is impossible. It is like pouring water on hot rocks; it sizzles, vaporizes, and is gone.

And, in a nutshell, that is why it is nice to be able to go back and read my past blog posts.  Blogging is my way of capturing snippets of my life, which if left to chance might disappear into the abyss.  Usually, I'll pick a quite time at the end of the year to pick events from the  previous year. More often than not, a smile will grace my face but sometimes tears too as I go back into time and read various posts.  It is a glimpse into my life, souvenirs of the good and bad. 

That said, already, I feel like I’ve done a whole summer’s worth of activities and it’s not yet the end of May. 

When the family gathered in the same city earlier this month for my mom’s birthday party, this presented a perfect opportunity to spend an evening with my five beautiful sisters.  This was a rare occasion because it seems that someone is always missing at family events.  Reconnecting and reminiscing about time past and celebrating current successes produced precious laughter.   Moreover, big sisters keep you real.  Lol!  (An interesting observation, my brothers don’t seem to make an attempt to get together.  Is this a male thing, I wonder?) 

The following day, a huge birthday party!  I admit being a bit of a control freak (read, bossy!) and I was somewhat taken a back when I discovered no one was in charge of coordinating the event.  How is that possible, no boss, I thought? How will people know who is responsible for this or that and what type of food to bring, this being a potluck an all?  And, it didn’t help my state of mind either when the wild meat for the soup was delivered still frozen and unprepared at 1 pm.  Yikes!!! 

In the end, it all came together like magic, everyone pitched in and did what needed to be done and brought perfect yummy dishes.  I have an awesome family!  

Mama (as she is known to everyone) had no idea what we planned as she had a small party on her actual birthday.   She entered the Friendship Centre and was greeted with an explosion of applause and happy birthday sung by everyone!  Clearly, by the look of her it was a major surprise.

As a gift to her I created our family tree.  It was an amazing process for me researching seven generations of family. As I read the research reports, I imagined the era of that individual person. I was especially blown away when I wrapped my mind around how much has changed in the world. Particularly, our technology! I tried to imagine what my great, great, grandmother would think if she knew I was researching her lineage on a computer, viewing it later on an ipad and sending electronic files on my iphone to the internet in real-time so those who could not be in attendance would feel like they were part of the celebration.  In terms of time, this progress is but a wee blimp in the history of time, and yet to my mom, it is real science fiction.

When printed, the descendant report was over ten feet long with 258 people and 93 families.   I can’t imagine how mama felt knowing she is responsible for a community hall full of people, not to mention those who were absent! Interestingly, her mother was an only child.  How awesome, huh!

May is a month for family birthdays, and another birthday surprise for my dear special young ladies.  Thinking up surprise is what I really enjoy doing but sometimes I collaborate with someone and in this instance I needed Jenelle’s help. It was killing her to keep the secret I know, but so worth it! What do you get a budding contortionist? Well a contortionist dream holiday, that’s what!

Later, on the  May long weekend, on a gorgeous sunny day, we attended a small intimate wedding at a beautiful historical venue. 

My bias to be sure is small weddings, and this wedding was perfect!  The bride looked as all brides do on their day, absolutely radiant.   Apparently, the groom said to his bride as they were planning the wedding,” A maximum forty people and if one extra person is invited, the wedding would have to go on without me.”  The bride must have taken him literally because there were no more than forty people in attendance.  Well, that we knew of anyway.  Because apparently this historical building had a resident ghost who is known to make an appearance each day at 2:30, but no one at the wedding actually saw her.   

Finally this week, I completed (actually I co-coordinated the riverfront landscaping) including a spot for late night bonfires at the cottage.  It looks spectacular! 

Wow, this was a hectic month! It’s no wonder time appeared to whiz on by quick like lighting.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday’s What the Heck / Habits

Learning Life: Slaves of Habits

Click on the link below this picture to read some interesting questions we can asks ourselves about our own habits. 

I’m back!  Did you miss me? 

When I decided to give up facebook for lent I had no idea it would result in also giving up other social networks like twitter, google+ and blogs. 

Giving up facebook was more difficult than I imagine. Although, it is not because the information is so compelling that my life would be incomplete without it. No, it is because it was a habit.  Pure and simple it was just a habit.  As you may have experienced habits can be a real chore to change, and you must really want to change to succeed. 

Like many of us I begin my day with a ritual and for the most part I don’t vary far from it.  Some of us begin our day with a cup of coffee and read the paper, others go for a run, or  brush their teeth and shower first thing.  Whatever our morning ritual it, becomes who we are. 

So, in the initial days of giving up facebook I found myself after my meditation heading straight for the computer and start to log into facebook.  This had been my practice for so long that I was doing it automatically.  It was clear that In order to avoid going to facebook I had to change my morning routine.  I suppose that I could have just avoided signing in and still be at the computer. However, I found that social media was becoming so entwined that I could not go to one area without being dragged into facebook somewhere along the way.  That is when I decided to avoid it altogether.

I changed my routine and my world exploded! Crazy huh! I must admit I was lost the first few days, standing in my living room saying to myself "now what?".  But it didn't take long before one thing lead to another and my free time was all consumed with interesting new things.  

This is a bit of what I was up to in my spare time while avoiding social media sites; 

Ø  Became 90% (raw food) Tried new recipes!
Ø  Enrolled in a four week Jay Kordich Juice Course
Ø  Read 3 books each over 900 pages
Ø  Watched 4 seasons of Madmen
Ø  Watched the first season of Game of Thrones
Ø  Designed a new kitchen
Ø  Designed and began landscaping waterfront
Ø   Began my mom’s family tree. I have identified 243 people, 92 families, and posted 320 pictures in the database

The interesting thing I found is that by not I logging on to these social networks I actually changed this habit so effectively that I had little interest in going back to it.  And, although I accomplished so much I admit I missed reading my blog roll because I enjoy reading about your experiences too. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's What the Heck / Meaning of Life

On our Lane

Some people, no matter what, will stick to a position either for or against religion with the same singled-mindedness they accuse each other of having.  There is nothing wrong with walking the middle path. 

I’ve admitted that I was raised Roman Catholic in other posts and that in recent years I’ve questioned following blind faith.  I like to think that I have an inquiring mind, and my quest is to find answers with an open mind and heart.  Thus this is my journey, to search for the meaning of life by questioning.  I know, some questions will not have an answer, but that doesn't mean I should stop searching, does it? At the end of the day, you give your life meaning by how you live it. Life is a journey, and at every corner I welcome surprises as I walk the middle path picking up nugets along the way.  Sometimes I even return to traditions that have served me well in the past.  Nothing wrong with that! 
Like for example, lent. Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2011 to Holy Thursday marks the Christian lent period.  Although I don’t observe most Christian traditions I do follow lent because it's been a childhood practice that works for me. Besides, lent gives me satisfaction when I successfully complete the forty days. 
That said, I give “lent” my own purpose and meaning, which for me means to improve my personal spiritual practices by being introspective.  To that end, I make sacrifices of things that for me I see as indulgence. One year, I gave up chocolates, another year it was coffee, always something not too major but something that was hard to give up. Giving up something that you enjoy places greater focus on the action and fosters appreciation for it, not only that, but it helps you be more present. Traditionally it is a time of fasting and reflection, which still holds true for me today as it did when I was younger.  

Another reason I like lent, although not always an easy task, is I more often than not keep my resolution for the forty days.  I think, one of the reasons it works is that it has a realistic time line.  Unlike New Year’s resolutions, which starts January 1st but has no definitive end making at least 90% of participates quit as soon as the bubbles in the champagne are flat. The other reason it works, is that I require a realistic goal, so nothing too daunting or serious.   Heck, maybe it is just the guilt embedded in me as a child to keep to the resolution.  Whatever the reasons for my success durning lent, as long as it works, which it does, I'll keep doing it.  Best of all at the end of lent there is a celebration, a renewed life, embracing life and moving forward.  

This year, I am giving up facebook!!!!  There.  I plan to use the time I would be spending on facebook for meditation and reflection.  To be sure, there are more serious luxuries I can give up, but this actually helps me focus on more meaningful things in my life.  You wouldn't believe how much time is wasted on facebook until you're not doing it anymore.  big sigh!  

Since I started lent these are some of the comments I've heard…

  •     Why don’t you give to charity instead
  •      Why don’t you volunteer
  •      Why don’t you do something more Christian
  •      I gave up Christian practices years ago
  •      Lent has no purpose, look what the church has done in hiding sexual abuse

Normally, I don’t mind people’s suggestions and will take it in stride.  But in this instance they missed the boat entirely.  The purpose for “lent” according to my version anyway is to give up luxuries and indulgences, in effect, it is to make sacrifices.  I do this because it makes me a better person and to contribute to society in a meaningful way.  And you might add, how is staying off facebook accomplish this?  Facebook really is all about snooping into people's lives, right.  Pure indulgence. We check “friend’s status” to read about what they are doing, who they are seeing, or why they broke up with someone, get in on the gossip, etc.  Basically, I am snooping into stuff I have no business knowing about, or would know about anyway if we were such good friends.   Don't you agree?

Since being off facebook a number of friends have emailed me and we have had a “real conversation”!!! 

People who are so vehemently oppose to religion are failing to see that by using this particular tool borrowed from Christianity,I really am standing in integrity to impact the people around me in a positive way.   Ironically, isn’t that all we strive for in this world, peace, love, and acceptance?  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Princeville Kauai 

It's memories of waking up to the sound of the ocean that gets me through the long cold Canadian winters.  Can't wait to return to Princeville.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday's What the Heck! Everything can be Unhealthy

Green Smoothie
natural unadulterated raw food
Somedays I feel like I am navigating around land mines (foods that are not healthy enough / or that are harmful) when making healthy food choices for my family. It seem like no matter what, someone has something negative to say about food choices we make. What’s up with that? 

Over the last year and a half I’ve been for the most part eating a significantly healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, and more often than not, opting for organic. 

And because access to information is at the ready, I am frequently researching new recipes and health information online. Imagine my surprise when I came across Dr. Esselstyn's website.  In reading his list, it would appear almost everything I’ve been eating appears to be “bad” for me. It almost made me want to go out and buy some junk food! Almost.   However, he does avocate a plant base diet which I'm all about these days.  But he lost me when he says that green smoothies are bad for you.  And his diet regime is far too restrictive, especially, if you don't have heart disease.  

Although, I am not one for having everything I read influence me,  it did make me think.  But I quickly decided that anything you eat can be bad for you if you have an extreme diet. Duh! Given my philosophy, which is moderation and nothing too extreme I don’t believe my present diet is cause for worry. In fact, I’ve never felt healthier.  It's all about balance, right? 

But others, have taken his opinion more seriously and have changed their diet accordingly, like this particular foodie blogger.  A pity really, because juicing and having green smoothies are on balance good for you.  Don't take my word for it, read Victoria Boutenko's list of health benefits  of green smoothies.  My journey into juicing and green smoothies began after reading the many books by Victoria and other people who ascribe to this lifestyle.  What strikes me about this group is that they all look so vibrant, happy, and healthy.   

Still, one thing missing is I haven’t been doing consistently, or virtually at all, is exercising.  I can summon all sort of reasons why not, but, the truth is I am just plain lazy.  Ironically, try as I may, I can’t find a darn bit of information that says it’s bad for me.  And all information available overwhelmingly recommends exercising regularly.  I’m beginning to think there is something to this exercising thingy.  Hmmm.

Recently, I came across an amazing yoga teacher, Tao Porchon-Lynch who at 93 years old and looks fantastic.  I am so amazed by her vitality that she has inspired me to start yoga.  The best part, no equipment is required (Not that I don’t have any equipment you know, as I do.  But it is downstairs soooo far away!) .   I see myself first thing tomorrow morning rolling out of bed onto my yoga mat (which I have to dust off since its been sitting in my closet behind closed doors out of sight.) to begin a few basic positions. After all you got to start slow, like I said, no extremes. I will work my way to standing on my head eventually.  Anyway, that is my plan!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It' Always a Beautiful Day

My morning drive
Sometimes I can't imagine anything more beautiful than the rising sun. And now and then, when the traffic permits, I stop, and take a picture. Follow The Sun  by Xavier Rudd A great song to listen to while thinking about your day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

It Happens for a Reason? Bullsh**

North West Territories  
Do you believe the natural universe operates under a grand scheme for your personal wellbeing and benefit?  

Not me, I don’t believe that there is an omnipresent Being who creates situations in our life for some unknown purpose to be revealed at a later date.  It feels like narcissism.  Why would a particular person’s life be so important that a deity would intervene?  With billions of people on earth, how does this work?    

In fact, it is drives me mad when I hear the expression, "it happen for a reason."  That expression does not make sense to me.  Of course, most often than not, this reference is faith based. Making this is a tricky subject because it is complicated to have a practical discussion based on reasoning when faith or religions are taken into consideration.  That said, this blog post is for contemplation only and not a commentary on religion.   

If we look at life through the lens of  "Natural Law” life would make sense.  After all, we could not get more organic than the human being.  We human beings are not separate from the natural order of the universe.  And furthermore, we fortunately have the ability to reason.   Therefore, we should be consistently questioning our worldview. 

Still, I believe all logic is thrown out the window when using the term “it happen for a reason”.  It is in my opinion used as a coping mechanism that results in a detachment from responsibility.  When we say "things happen for a reason" we are really saying we are not in control of the event.  Thus, we are transferring our responsibility to an omnipresent Being who we believe has a plan for our life.

Questions for Contemplation

  •   Why would  an omnipresent Being create a specific situation in life, be it good or bad, with the motive to  be revealed later?  
  •   Why would it matter to an omnipresent Being  what happens in an individual’s life?  Would an omnipresent Being care if you got a raise, met your soul mate, and or got fired?  
  •  Does the saying “Things happen for a reason” apply to animals?  
  •   Are there only certain circumstances where “things happen for a reason”?  How do you distinguish between circumstances where this applies?
  •  Are certain people exempt from “things happen for a reason”?
  •  Are “things happen for a reason” only for negative events?
  •  Why would one person’s life be favoured over another?
  • Do you really believe it happens for a reason when someone you love dies, or is injured? What reason???
 A friend once told me, “So much in my like is going wrong at the moment. I must have done something really bad to deserve this.  But it must be for a reason, huh”!  That could not be further from the truth. And it didn't happen for her personal growth, that I am certain. 

The truth is life happens and sometimes bad things happen to good people. It has nothing to do with how one lives their life, or to teach a lesson, or to build stronger character.  Simply put, life happens because of cause and effect.  For every action there exist a resulting reaction.  An earthquake, which results in a major loss of lives should not translate to "it happen for a reason".  The only reason for the tragedy is the earth's plates shifted. 

Next time something happens to you where you are tempted to say “it happen for a reason” look at what happen without attaching judgment to it.  Things happen in the course of life and it is not personal.  Sometimes it's luck and other times it's unlucky.  Lesson here is to always act reasonably and mindfully. Certainly, in life, things occur that can’t be explained at that moment.  Later, after reflection it may become clear to you.  Does that mean it happened for that reason?

Life happens, it doesn't happen to you because of who you are, or as part of a master plan. The only master plan is the one you create for yourself.  Things happen and you give it reason and meaning. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's What the Heck! Chivalry

Is chivalry dead? 

Sadly, I think it might be if recent actions by Captain Francesco Schettino after the tragic cruise ship Costa Concordia accident is any indication.  I understand, he had a duty and responsibility for the safety of the passengers.  Still, if he had any sense of chivalry he would have done things differently.   

What happened to the notion of women and children first?   

I know, some of us are thinking of Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, pilot of flight 1549 that landed safely in the Hudson River after an emergency. How can we compare the two captains!  What with Captain Schettino taking leave of his senses  after running his ship aground.   “Everyman for himself” seemed to be his first and only thought following the accident.   

The two could not have handled the situation more differently. Both captains had an emergency situation that involved the safety of many lives. Captain Sully remained on his wrecked plane as it floated precariously on the river.  He not only went to the back of the plane, he did so twice to satisfy himself that no one was left behind.  I can't imagine how terrifying those minutes were as he walked  waded waist deep down to the back in darkness. He emerged as a hero.  On the other hand, as luck would have it Captain Schettino was one of the first to reach safety by taking a  accidentally tripping and falling into a lifeboat.  However he got to safety there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that he abandoned ship and in doing so not only did he brake the law, but he disgraced his country in the eyes of the world.  

I could not help noticing that Captain Sully is older than Captain Schettino. Could the obvious difference in age be the contributing factor as to why the two captains acted so differently under pressure?  I don’t mean inexperience.  I mean, the generational difference.  Because I have no doubt that had the accident occurred years prior, Captain Sully would have reacted in exactly the same way as he did on that fateful day on Hudson River.  It is called good character.  I think, more and more of the younger generation of men lack good character and a sense of chivalry. To-be-sure, not all young men are lacking the chivalry gene,  and those that are chivalrous should be acknowledged. 

Some would argue that feminism killed chivalry.  I would disagree, although the subject deserves it's own blog entry.  Suffice to say, chivalry has more to do with basic good manners and compassion rather than taking care of the fairer sex.     

The standard we hold for captains is much higher than our expectation of the average Joe.  Indeed, this is sad commentary on our society.  There was a time in our society when there would be no question that in a dangerous situation, women and children, would be lead to safety first.   

We should be teaching our sons to be mindful of those around us by demonstrating through our actions good behavior. Start small like opening the door for someone behind you.  What about looking up from your electronic devices to give up your seat on the bus for an elderly person, a pregnant woman or a parent with a small child.   It’s about raising the bar and expecting that no matter the situation that man will do the Right thing… the Chivalrous thing. 

It boils down to the “code of chivalry” … society needs to pay attention to Captain Sully's example.  But it begs the question, if we are not doing our duty as parents, where are the likes of people like Sully going to come from? 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Silence can be Golden

On my way to work! 
We live with constant noise.  In our modern world we would be  hard pressed to find silence anywhere, including our homes.  What with our furnace fan going off and on, our electrical appliances humming,  and the tick tock of a near by clock, all these sounds produce white noise of which we are for the most part unaware.  Until it is taken away.   Then we have silence, and we notice it.

Even if we are in deep sleep (REM), silence will wake us up. It's interesting how when we are used to these noises we sleep like a baby.  But take away the sounds and we wake up discombobulated.  What's wrong? Why is it so quite?

I am tucked in nice and cosy under the duvet dreaming of sandy beaches in faraway places.  I stir sleepily, then  I become aware of the silence and the darkness of the bedroom.  I look towards the direction of the dresser for the clock, it is shrouded  in blackness.  Immediately I know the power is out.  I reach for my ipad on the night table to check the time, 4:03 am.  I was not too surprised that we were having a power outage.  Especially with freezing rain throughout the previous day and over night, there was a high probability for it to occur.  And of course,  it had to happend when hubby is away on business.  This is the joy of country living, which is just  a bump in the middle of the night.

I should have turned over and resumed sleeping, but I couldn't.  This silence, is not normal and it puts me on edge.  I wake up.

Thankfully, we are prepared for these occasional power outages. Although, we  hubby still needs to get a new battery for the generator.  Anyway, in my night table is a flashlight.  I make my way to the kitchen and light an old fashion coal-oil lamp.  I debate if I should make a fire in the fireplace and then decide against it because I would be leaving in a couple of hours anyway.   I sit and enjoy the quietness. Then it occurred to on me that this is a perfect time to meditate!  Pure Silence...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Friday's What the Heck! Public Washroom

Why is it so difficult to find public washrooms that are clean and disinfected? 

I’ve been on a serious green smoothie binge (48oz per day) and drink at least eight cups of water per day since January 1st.    When you read that sentence what is the first thing that comes to mind?  No, not that!

Yikes, I REALLY must GO! 

When I leave the house I have to plan when and how much I drink because we all know that liquid in means liquid out, right!  Especially since I have a daily commute that takes me on the road at least a couple of hours twice a day.   The issue is not the availability of public washrooms. I have no difficulty finding a public washroom.  In the city, almost every block either has a Tim Horton’s, a Second Cup, or a Starbucks.  Sometimes all three are within eyesight.

My issue, however, is that I detest public washrooms.  Really, I would ratter hold it until I get home.  Although sometimes that is impossible given how much I am drinking lately. As soon as I see the “washroom” sign my bladder, which seconds before was “okay, I’m okay,’ suddenly is bursting and I need to go immediately! To be clear,  it’s not the “act” that offends me, after all, we all do it.  

My quandary with the dreaded public washroom:
  •       When you really need to go there is always a waiting line for the ladies washroom
  • ·      No clean place to put your purse or bag
  • ·      Why do all washroom door open into the washroom
  • ·      With everything automated, why are the doors not automatic
  • ·      People who don’t wash their hands still have to pull on the handle to exit
  • ·      The first washroom I pick is usually too filthy or not flushed
  • ·      Check the toilet paper before you sit down, more often than not it is empty
  • ·      Check the seat, sometimes it looks like it was used by a six year old boy, gross
  • ·       Automatic flush either flushes at an inappropriate moment or not at all (But there is a manual flush button!)
  • ·      The automatic tap at the sink is never hot enough or too short a duration to adequately clean
Finally, and just as important, to me anyway...I have a fear of being locked in the washroom. 

What’s your position on public washrooms?  Do you avoid them like the plague, bring your own toilet paper, and or, seat covers? Do you touch the door handle on your way out?  

Would you pay an attendant a user fee? 

I gladly paid a pretty zloty to a washroom attendant to visit a clean public washroom, even as a student in Warsaw, Poland.   At least they always had toilet paper and were continually cleaning the washroom.  It was during Communism when everyone had a job.  With our current economy, It might not be a bad idea to implement such a strategy.   Therefore, I decree that hence forth all public washrooms ought to have an attendant!   Not that I'm for Communism you know.  And not that there is anything wrong with that.  Just saying.  

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