Friday, May 30, 2014


My daughter’s kindergarten class is studying the life cycle of the butterfly this month. She raced home to tell me the caterpillars had arrived in the mail, and the children of room 10 are anxiously watching as they eat their food and grow big and fat, a la Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. She knows, and tells me with great authority, that once the caterpillars are big, they will build their cocoon. Then they will “transform” into butterflies. “This takes time, Momma” she told me emphatically, when I was asking about the progress.

She’s right, transformation takes time. Why then, do we so often get discouraged and frustrated when our efforts to lose weight, get in shape, improve our marriage, learn a new skill, become better people or parents do not lead to magical results over night? Why do we curse and bemoan the fact that we are unable to reach our desired state immediately, or sooner! I work with therapy clients who make the monumental decision to create a significant change in their life, and together we make a plan and a course of action and off they go. Next session they return, often discouraged…“Nothing feels different yet”. In a matter of days they have lost the motivation, the transformation has not yet occurred so they assume their efforts are useless.

In nature we trust that transformation will take place, and we expect for it to take time. The seeds we plant do not yield the crop the next day, the blossoms of the tree do not produce fruit NOW! The butterfly doesn’t immediately emerge from the cocoon the caterpillar builds. Time to trust that if we wish to transform ourselves, that too will take time.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The dishwasher and I

I’m not one of those people who say they like to clean their houses. Truth be told, I don’t even believe people when they say they like to clean their houses. But I am someone who likes to rearrange the clutter, and stick the piles of papers and toys and stuff that accumulates in our household into a spot. We have a lot of baskets around our house, and I fill drawers with bits and pieces of our lives (which drives D crackers, but it works for me). I like the act of putting things into a place, sometimes it is even the place where they are supposed to be.
It turns out, the one household chore I like is unloading the dishwasher. I was thinking about it today as I yet again took the clean dishes out and out them in their places. It is the one time, for a brief moment, when everything is where it belongs. The clean plates and cups and utensils return to their homes for a few hours until they are needed once again, and the dirty dishes that lived on the counter, with the bits of food stuck to them, get nicely tucked away into the machine to be cleaned. It is a process I repeat far too many times in a week, since with a family of five there is a constant rotation of clean and dirty. Good thing it gives me some pleasure to step back after closing all the cupboard doors and shutting the dishwasher.
I feel the same way some nights, waking up after everyone is tucked into their beds, especially the nights Liam is with us and not at his dad’s. I sigh a deep sigh of contentment knowing everyone is where they are ‘supposed’ to be, snuggled in their rooms, all under the same roof. It doesn’t happen nearly as often, now that our kids are growing, that we find ourselves all in the same place. Tonight I’ll have Kate with me at Finn’s basketball and D will go to Liam’s late game. Not until close to ten will we all be in the same house. And once we are all home, and the doors are locked and the lights are turned out, I will breathe a sigh of pure joy. It won’t happen for much longer, that we five will share a home. The kids will grow up, and likely (hopefully?) eventually move into their own homes. So I enjoy that feeling now…and know if nothing else, I can always replicate that sensation when I unload the dishwasher!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

a love letter to my city

Dear Calgary, my beloved native city.
I sit transfixed as the flood waters rise and the damage exceeds all expectations. I ache for the 100,000 residents displaced, for those whose homes have literally floated away. I weep as the pictures of the Saddledome are shown, as the 101st Calgary Stampede is called into question. I look to the west and south, to friends in surrounding communities who are suffering. I have lived here and loved living here nearly my whole life. I was born here, gave birth to my children here. I've struggled through the impossibly cold winters, relaxed in the sun of the glorious summer days. And now the water rises, and carries away with it the hopes and dreams of so many, in so many different ways.
Calgary, I'll be here for you. I'll be here to rebuild, to reclaim, to recover all that we have lost to the waters. I'll continue to sing your praises, to wash the mud from your streets, to support the lost and the aching. I'll be here to help you rise up again, to reclaim your spot as one of the greatest cities in Canada and the world. I'll pour my blood, sweat and tears into helping your citizens recover, your festivals to shine, your Stampede to celebrate. I'd do anything for you, my beloved hometown.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Parenting joys!

Yesterday we took the boys to see the Blue Man group. D and I saw them on our honeymoon, and were eager to share the experience with our sons (daughter a bit young still). It was as good as I remembered, and the boys really enjoyed it too. As often happen when you have kids, I experienced the whole event on two levels. First I was present myself to the experience…loving the way the show shares such a positive message and brings amazing energy to the audience. And then, I was able to sink into the the joy of watching my sons have that same uplifting experience. They both had huge smiles on their faces, they laughed out loud, they participated with the rest of the audience (though the self conscious almost 14 year old did hold back a bit), and I know they’ll remember this for a long time.
I think that is one of the definite gifts of parenthood, the share the fabulous aspects of the world with your children. I love feeling my heart soar twice as high when I am with them…totally doubles the joy. So happy to have those opportunities. Same thing happened a couple of weeks ago when I watched one of my favourite movies (good old “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”) with my eldest. He was laughing and really into it, and again, my happiness was at least doubled.
There are challenging times as a parent…no doubt about it. But those moments of shared happiness and pleasure, they make it all worthwhile!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring is here

It’s spring! And even though it has been an incredibly mild winter (save for a week or so), I am anxious for green grass, buds on trees, and warmer temperatures. I think the worst thing about this time of year in Calgary is how dirty everything is. The roads are full of gravel left over from the snow removal system, the grass is brown and dusty, the melting snow exposes all kinds of litter and trash that remained buried over the winter months. We need a good rain to clean things up, warmer days to bring back some moisture and colour to the environment. So welcome spring…I for one am ready for your time of renewal and fresh starts. Bring it on!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The gift of winter days

As much as I complain about winters in Calgary, and as tiring as the snow and cold and bundling everyone up to head outdoors can get on my nerves, I have to say I am thrilled it is a cold and truly blustery day today.

We had to venture out this morning…dance class, skating lessons, the bank and a trip to the library, but now we are home. At the library we got a collection of movies for the kids and us, oldies but goodies like “Back to the Future”, “The Four Seasons” with Alan Alda, and a “Looney Tunes Collection”. Now that we are back home, we have the fireplace on and I’m sipping a cup of Mint Mojito tea and we are settling in for the day. The kids have put their pj’s back on, and I’m preparing to do the same. We have a roast beef marinating ready to pop into the oven in a few hours, and there is even a Flames game on Hockey Night in Canada tonight. It is the perfect combination of factors, a clear invitation to relax, chill out, be together as a family.

We never get afternoons like this when it is warm out. You can’t cuddle up under a blanket in front of the fire if it isn’t a real wintery day. So when I count my blessings and fill out my gratitude journal tonight before bed, I know that I’ll be listing cold winter days as one of the things I am thankful for! Thank you Universe!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The last week or so has been a crazy one, which explains why I haven’t stopped by and posted anything here for a bit. The truth is, I have started a couple of new and very exciting ventures, and I haven’t taken the time to sort out a new routine. For a couple of days I was feeling as if I was being spun around in the dryer – perpetual spin cycle. It can be fun and exciting, but also exhausting after awhile. I spent a couple of days walking around literally feeling dizzy – mimicking the spin cycle analogy perfectly. I have spent the last two days trying to get grounded, set my feet on solid ground again. I thought I’d share a few of the tips I have used to support myself in this process.

1. Drink water – a lot of water! I know now, after paying attention to myself, that when I drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, I feel more energetic, and more focused, and I am significantly less stressed out. I have a large mug of herbal tea first thing in the morning. Then I fill a one litre water bottle with a quarter of a lemon and water – and drink it throughout the day. Makes all the difference.

2. Spend the time making a plan. I am not by nature a particularly organized person, but if I focus and pour some energy into the process, I can create a lovely routine and plan that I can follow. And when I have that plan in place, I am able to relax and go with the flow – which is much more my personality. But the plan has to come first, I have learned this over the years. Some of the key things I plan are a week of meals for the family, I make lists of what tasks I need to do and exactly at what time I will do them, and I create a daily routine that allows me to get all the things I want to accomplish completed.

3. Have a massage. I went yesterday morning to have a massage by the amazing Lisa. I could only squeeze in 60 minutes, but it was 60 minutes of pure heaven. She was able to work out the knots in my body, while I lay in peace and worked out the knots in my head. THE BEST FEELING!!

4. Find a song to motivate and inspire you. I’ve had several theme songs over the years, some are an anthem for a particular year or two (like Love Inc.’s “You’re a Superstar” from February 1998 to June 1999), and some get me through a week or even a day. The last few weeks it has been “100 years” by Five for Fighting. Puts things into perspective for me, gets me paying attention to what really matters! Love a theme song!

Those are my top 4 tips for getting through the crazies! There are lots more ideas and tips I use, but those are the foundational pieces. Next time you’re in spin cycle, give them a try and see if you and your life stop spinning!