Friday, December 22, 2006

And we're off...

I'm hopping a train in a couple of hours and will be spending Christmas with Hubby's side of the family. It'll be a full house at Mum-in-Law's, complete with two excited little girls on Christmas morning. Our nieces (3 and 6) will certainly add that all-important level of squeal & giddiness to the day. I'm looking forward to it!

Of course, whenever we're with one side of the family, we're not with the other. That always brings a bit of sadness to the season as well. I'll be thinking of my Clan in New Brunswick and trust that, at some point, they will have a drink and sing a song with me in mind!

What a blessing: to have to decide which side of the family to spend Christmas with. As I spoke to my friend John-from-the-street yesterday, that fact became clear. He has five siblings and and a son - and he has lost touch with them all. And yet, he smiles, offers cheerful greetings to passers-by, and shares what little he has with his buddies. I think maybe there is my Christmas story this year - finding God-moments where you least expect it.

To all who pass by this blog, here's wishing you all the best of Christmas and continued blessings in 2007. Take a moment to turn up your speakers, sit back for a moment, and enjoy this musical Christmas cheer.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's all relative...

Like most of us, I'm a sucker for a white Christmas. Looks like I may have to use my imagination this year... There are benefits to this unusually warm December weather though. It's been good for running - only two sub-sub-zero runs so far! Those travelling early have fared well - here's hoping it lasts for the weekend. And I'm sure the relatively balmy temperature was much appreciated by the kilted bagpiper wailing "Tidings of Comfort and Joy" on the corner of Sparks & Metcalfe.

The fact is, we get what we get. And we make it what we make it. Mayswell make it good!


Monday, December 11, 2006

A visual meditation...

I have discovered the antidote to this mounting frenzy of consumerism that I have been experiencing of late: Into Great Silence. This film was a visual feast and a balm to my restless soul. I've been feeling disconnected from the season of Advent. In fact, Advent started two Sundays ago and I didn't even notice 'til this past weekend. I usually use this beautiful season as a time to slow down and to reflect on what the story of Christmas represents to me today. Advent: a time of waiting... but what exactly am I waiting for?!

Into Great Silence allowed me to slow down and set my ego aside for a while. It was a wonderful meditation on time, rhythm, discipline and - of course - silence. This documentary (if I may even call it that) brings us into the daily life of the Carthusian monks living at their motherhouse, La Grande Chartreuse, in the French Alps. Professing to a life of prayer & solitude, these monks are nonetheless living a life of intentional community.

The entire film was shot by a single person who lived and worked with the monks for six months. He was not permitted to use any source of artificial light. The effect is stunning. It reminded me of the value of keeping it simple - therein lies the beauty. And I think I was all-the-more touched by this film because of my recent decision to attend a 7-day Christian Meditation retreat in Tuscany next July. This retreat at Monte Oliveto Maggiore has been on my "wish list" ever since I first heard of it. God willing, 2007 is the year my wish comes true!

So, if you find yourself getting caught up in all that Christmas is NOT, treat yourself to 160 minutes of pure peace & simplicity. Here's hoping Into Great Silence shows up at a theatre near you...


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another milestone...

How can it be that almost two weeks have gone by since my last post?! It seems that, despite all my efforts to slow down, life still streams by in a blink. Two weeks, made up of individual moments, made up of memories, made up of moments...

I've had a birthday since my last post. I have a child-like sense of excitement about birthdays. I don't shy away from it, but welcome it as another milestone reached on my journey. On my birthday, I was on the fifth day of a 5-day course. I flipped my nametag over and wrote: "It's my birthday... Hugs please!" It worked. Amazing what happens when you actually ask to have your needs met. :-) On one of my birthdays of years past (sometime in my late 20's), I changed my answering machine message. If you had called me on that day on reached my machine, you would have heard: (cue the music) "Happy Birthday to meee, Happy Birthday tooo meeee... Happy Birthday, Happy Birthdaaayy... Happy Birthday tooo meeee. Please leave your good wishes after the beep." (beeeeeep)

Celebrate life... it's better than the alternative.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Getting energized...

We've lived in our Little White House (LWH) for over three years now. Yesterday, I figured out how to program our thermostat. It's not necessary to rush into these things, y'know.

Speaking of energy-saving measures, have you visited The Bulb Blog lately? Project Porchlight continues to brighten my day with its energy, its humour and its simple message: Change is within reach. Saving the environment is as easy as changing a light bulb. BTW, Porchlight's blog is up for 2006 Canadian Blog Awards. They're nominated in 3 categories: Best New Blog, Best Group Blog and Best Business Blog. They'll be getting my vote!

Shine on, friends.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Our NYC Marathon Story: Epilogue

EPILOGUE: A story in three screens.




Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Our NYC Marathon Story: Chapter Four


Walking appears to be an art form in mid-town Manhattan. Just like the last time we visited, I was impressed by the well-honed choreography involving pedestrians & vehicles. It helps that streets are primarily one-way, so you need only concern yourself with cars/taxis whizzing by from one direction. The ongoing dance-at-the-intersection has a rhythm, a cadence to it.

Combined with NYC's fine subway system, I found it quite easy to get where I wanted to go as a pedestrian. No need for driving. No need for taxi cabs. Sometimes, all I wanted to do was walk 'n gawk... and there was plenty of opportunity to do that too. Our hotel was just blocks away from Times Square, so we walked around there on most evenings. On race night, we opted for dinner & a movie in Times Square. Hubby was quite tired and couldn't guarantee that he'd actually stay awake through a Broadway show!

Walking also turned out to be a good post-race day activity. On Monday-after-the-race, Hubby & I walked around Rockefeller Square and eventually made our way to Central Park. I wanted to go to Strawberry Fields and see the IMAGINE mosaic. By then, we knew our time in NYC was coming to an end and we were grateful for another beautiful day weatherwise. Check out at the hotel. One last lunch in Manhattan. Hail a cab and off to the airport we go. Farewell NYC - thanks for the memories!


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Our NYC Marathon Story: Chapter Three


You know what they say, when in Rome (or NYC)... shop! And, amidst all the running around, I managed to do just that. This was my second visit to Manhattan, and I knew that I couldn't even afford to buy a hairclip at any of the stores on Fifth Avenue, so I focussed my shopping energy elsewhere.

A couple of months ago, I read an article in the local paper about shopping in NYC on a budget. One specific place the author mentioned was The Market NYC - a weekend marketplace where young designers can rent a table/stall and sell their stuff. On Saturday afternoon, with Hubby opting to stay at the hotel to "save his legs", I headed off to The Market to "spend our money". :-) Again, three cheers for the NYC subway system; turns out that my destination was a single train ride away.

Located in NoLIta, just to the east of SoHo, there lies a non-descript building just bursting with creativity. I must have spent almost 2 hours, just looking... and touching... and trying... and looking s'more... And yes, there were a lot of affordable items! I walked out of there with a gorgeous coat - it's like it was made for me! The perfect combination of fit, finesse & funk... I love it and I feel sexy & fine when I wear it!! I spent the rest of the afternoon roaming the streets of SoHo and marvelling at the sights and sounds and slowly made my way back to the hotel.

The next morning, as I watched Hubby walk to the bus stop at 5am, I noticed people setting up tables on Sixth Avenue, right in front of the hotel. Didn't think much of it until I walked out the front door later that morning to discover six full blocks of vendors, both sides of the street! Oy. I almost didn't make it to the race on time! It was a feast for the senses - colours, smells, sounds, textures... beautiful. Of course, it was total excess - cheap consumerism at its best/worst - knock-offs galore. And I ate it up. My socially conscious self seemed to have stayed behind in Ottawa. :-) I managed to spend the last of my cash on a few items: a cap to go with my new coat, "real" italian leather gloves, a genuine Dolce & Gabana knock-off handbag for my sister, a couple of gift items... All in all, great fun!

Interestingly enough, the other store that gladly accepted our credit card was Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. I believe this is where my socially conscious self was able to redeem herself. :-)


Monday, November 13, 2006

Our NYC Marathon Story: Chapter Two


Oh yeah, the race. The very "raison d'être" of our trip to NYC. Race day started very early for Hubby. Runners were being bussed to the start line from various locations around the city. Our hotel was only a couple of blocks from one of these bus pick-up zones (at 42nd & 6th), so Hubby was able to squeeze in a few more minutes of sleep. It's all relative though - that meant waking up around 3:45am instead of 3:30am. Busses started leaving around 4:30am and it was suggested that runners target a 5am departure. Did I mention that the actual start time for the NYC Marathon was 10:10am?!

I considered going to the bus stop with Hubby to see him off, but that would have meant getting out of bed, putting on clothes, walking to the pick-up location, walking back to the hotel, peeling off the clothes and climbing back into bed. When I stopped to think about it honestly, only the last item on that list really appealed to me. Sooo, I ended up watching him walk over from our 18th floor window. :-) I'm not a parent, but I felt what I imagine a parent might feel watching their child leave on the first day of school. Weird. There was Hubby, wearing his brand new sweats (that would keep him warm during the long wait ahead in his corral, but would later be tossed onto the road as the race began), carrying his race bag and excitedly walking to catch his bus. I was nervous for him... excited for him... proud of him... all those emotions without even being fully awake!

I was pretty much on my own from that point on. I had considered taking the subway to Brooklyn in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Hubby, but I wasn't at all familiar with the area and wasn't sure where I would pop up when emerging from underground. I decided to stay within my comfort zone. I watched the race start on TV. The local NBC affiliate had great coverage starting at 9am.

As I watched the start, it dawned on me that, although Hubby & I had confirmed that we'd meet up in the designated Family Reunion Area, we hadn't been very specific. His last initial fell somewhere within the "I - P" 4-block span... but we hadn't chosen an exact location. I got the brilliant idea to make a sign that I could hold up while walking through the crowd. Luckily, there was a Staples one block away, so after a quick stop there to buy bristol board & markers, I started crafting a sign that I knew only he would understand. (As it turns out, the family reunion area was so well organized, even within the ranges, and Hubby & I found each other within about 10 minutes of his arrival. Then again, maybe it was because of the sign after all!)

By this time, Hubby had started running... I had signed up to receive email updates every 5km; that way, I knew where he was on the race route. I headed off to 1st & 63rd, just after the 25km mark. I became part of what is known as "the wall of noise". After crossing the Queensboro Bridge (a.k.a. the 59th Street Bridge) in complete silence, runners turn north onto 1st Avenue and are greeted by thousands of cheering spectators lining the street. I waited... and I watched... I know Hubby ran by while I was there because of the email updates I was receiving. But try as I might, I didn't see him. I kept on scanning the hundreds of runners that went by, looking for the cap that I thought he was wearing. My brain was in overdrive as it scanned and eliminated hundreds of faces.

Once I received notice that he'd crossed the 30km mark, I knew I'd missed him, so I headed back towards Central Park and tried to find a spot on 59th St., just at the bottom end of the Park. There, the miracle happened. I saw him!! He was on the other side of the street, and I yelled his name as loud as I could, but to no avail. But, against all odds, I saw him. "Good Man.", I said to those around me, and off I went to the next stage: the family reunion area.

I decided to take the subway to avoid having to walk through a gazillion spectators. The map clearly showed that the B train running along Central Park West would drop me off exactly where I wanted to go. What the map didn't say was that the B train wasn't running that day due to maintenance work on the tracks. Sigh. I spent close to 25 minutes waiting for a train that would never come. I approached two of New York's finest, and asked them about alternate options. They pointed me in the right direction and I hopped onto the D train. I reached my destination, finally, and after only 15 minutes or so, found my Hubby. Oh happy day!

It took Hubby approximately one hour from crossing the finish line to his arrival in the Family Reunion Area. After waiting around a bit longer to connect with a friend who had also completed his first NYC Marathon, we headed back to our hotel. Upon entering the lobby, the security guards and the front desk staff all broke out into applause! It was quite a moment...

Hubby was pretty psyched. He has already received numerous emails from friends & family following his progress on the web. He sat down in the hotel lounge to send out a few emails... I went for a quick shop (topic of next chapter :-)) and we opted for an evening in Times Square: dinner & movie. All in all, an unforgettable day.


Saturday, November 11, 2006

Our NYC Marathon Story: Chapter One

I was trying to think of a clever way to pack our entire NYC story into a single post. Not gonna happen. So, over the next few days, I'll focus on four distinct themes: Running, Racing, Shopping, Walking. First up:

Thanks to a surprising decision to join a learn-to-run group last April, and to my commitment to this new-found practice, I was able to join Hubby in a wonderful event that took place on the Saturday: the International Friendship Run. I didn't know what to expect, but I certainly didn't expect this!! Thousands upon thousands of runners representing a virtual United Nations of runners. Fittingly enough, the run started at the actual United Nations Headquarters building! We arrived, two lone runners decked in red & white with the word CANADA splashed across our back, amidst a sea of French runners singing La Marseillaise.

Suddenly, we heard: "Look! There are two Canadians!"... and that's how we met Heidi & Sylvia, two energetic sisters from the Vancouver area. Obviously, we Canadians weren't too organized as a group, and we were happy to become a clan of four. Slowly, other red & white clad runners arrived and we began to gather mass. One runner had a tall pole with a Canadian flag, and he became our beacon in the crowd. At one point during the run, someone started singing O Canada. Next thing you know, we had ourselves a rousing rendition of our national anthem going. Running AND singing at the same time?! Man, I'm in unchartered territory here...

I enjoyed seeing how runners from other countries dressed up for the occasion. There were a couple of "sumo wrestlers" from Japan, as well as runners in kimonos... A bunch of Dutch runners were hard to miss in bright orange wigs. But mostly, people were simply wearing their national colours.

The run ended up being about 4km and finished in Central Park. That's when the exchanges started. People who couldn't even speak the same language were pointing to each others running shirts with the universally understood raising-of-the-eyebrows to say "Wanna trade?!" Hubby & I weren't too sure how to go about this and just walked around watching. Then two guys approached us. They were from Brazil and we traded the sweaty shirts off our backs for two equally sweaty shirts from the Maratona do Rio de Janeiro. Hubby also got a brand new Brazil cap in exchange for his old faded Canada cap. Not a bad deal for him! As for me, what will I do with a man's large long-sleeved running shirt?! :-) Oh well, at least Antonio's wife will look sharp, running on the streets of Rio, in her new CANADA shirt.

All in all, quite an amazing experience... The NYC Marathon really does have quite an international flavour, and we tasted it for ourselves on a crisp Saturday morning, on the streets of New York. Hope you enjoy the pics!

Our Canadian contingent of two...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A story waiting to be told...

One weekend.

One Race.

37,000 Stories.

This one is ours... Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A New York Minute...

One minute, you're pulling up to the departures entrance at the airport at 4 am; next minute, you're back home wondering how the heck you managed to fit all that stuff in your suitcase! Oh, and by the way, wasn't that a great weekend...

Our trip has come and gone, in a New York minute. First of all, a HUGE shout-out to Hubby for successfully completing the NYC Marathon and for blowing his personal record OUT. OF. THE. WATER!! It was his first time breaking the 4-hour mark and break it he did - his final time was 3:33:25. He has trained really hard since his last marathon in May. He is 23 pounds lighter and quite obviously fitter & faster. Way to go, Babe!!

I'll post more info in the days to come, as well as a few pics. Just wanted to let you know that we're back... we had a great time... and all is well. We survived New York City and can't wait 'til the next time!


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

All Saints... and then some!

As children all across the continent are nursing a sugar hangover, many people take this day to celebrate All Saints Day. My friend Mark, of Mad Chatters fame, once suggested browsing through an old edition of Lives of the Saints, just for fun. While on retreat at Stillpoint, I found a 1958 copy of "The Saints: A Concise Biographical Dictionary". Rarely one to miss an opportunity for idle amusement, I decided to follow Mark's suggestion. Here are a few things that caught my attention:

Antony of Padua - patron saint of lost possessions and one of the few saints whose name I've actually invoked - was Portuguese, not Italian, and his real name was Fernando.

St-Crispin is one of two patrons of shoemakers. He is said to have preached the gospel in France and to have mended shoes in exchange for bread. (My great-grand-father's name was Crispin. I don't think he did much with shoes, except wear them out. )

St-Donald (8th c.) - After his wife's death, his nine daughters formed themselves into a religious community which he supervised. (Sounds downright dysfunctional to me.)

St-Eustace is the patron of hunters. He is said to have been a Roman general who was converted while hunting. He suffered martyrdom by being roasted in a bronze bull. (Talk about bad Kharma.)

St-Galla (6th c.) - Although her doctor warned her that unless she married again, she would grow a beard, this young patrician widow persevered in her resolve to become a nun. (You go, girl! Don't let the threat of facial hair keep you from pursuing your dreams...)

St-Leocadia (early 4th c.) the patroness of Toledo (Spain, not Ohio!) is said to have died there, imprisoned by her faith during the persecution of Diocletian. (My great-grandmother's name was "Léocadie". I wonder if she knew she was named after a saint?!)

Needless to say, there were a gazillion more "biographies" listed in that book. Some had paragraphs dedicated to their successes & suffering, while others had barely a complete sentence. The only common thread that I was able to find was that they were all Christian and that they were all dead... dead because they were Christian.

My family story holds that my first ancestor to set foot in North America in the early 17th century was martyred for his religious beliefs. Try as I might, I could not find his name in that book.

Peace to you on this All Saints Day...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Coincidences? I think not!

I moved into a new office today. Just as I was getting settled into the other one, where I've been since June, I was told last week that I'd be moving to a different building. After unpacking boxes and trying to get organized for most of the morning, I decided to go downstairs for a late lunch. My new building has a beautiful atrium - complete with waterfall - and several quick lunch deli type places.

As I walked through the atrium, I spotted a good friend I hadn't seen in several months. She, too, had recently moved to the vicinity, just a half-block away. "Coincidence" #1.

Nancy was munching & chatting with another woman and I popped over to say Hi. She looked at me with a somewhat shocked look on her face, and looked over to her companion. I glanced over and was equally stunned. I was looking at my sister! "Coincidence" #2.

I joined them and we started to catch up on news. Nancy shared that she had just finished a half-day training session to become a fire warden in her building. Five minutes later, a fire alarm rang throughout the atrium. "Coincidence" #3.

We looked around wondering if we should exit the building. In light of her recent training, Nancy suggested that perhaps we should. We headed over to Bridgehead Coffee House across the street. As we headed towards a free table, someone cried out my name. It was Giacomo, a work-related acquaintance from my former job. "Coincidence" #4.

I hadn't seen Giacomo since the spring. He took a five-month leave of absence from his job in order to complete a solo trek in East Africa. For stunning photos and a journal capturing his journey, check out his website. I've always enjoyed working with Giacomo. He has a great energy about him, one that - in my opinion - inspires people to want to follow his lead. Upon returning from his 3-month trip, and taking time to just be, he decided to resign from his position and nourish his passion: community radio. Hear him on Monday morning's Special Blend on CKCU. As he shared this news, I glanced over to my sister, who is currently on a one-year sabbatical to simply be and to explore her own life's calling. "Coincidence" #5.

Every single moment in this series of events was fully dependant upon the previous moment. The web of inter-connectedness was strong! I was not looking forward to moving today... yet as a result of that decision, I connected with three beautiful souls in a way I couldn't have possibly planned on my own. The Universe really does take care of its own. We need only be open to the possibility of "coincidences".


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rattlin' & Chatterin'

Q: Why don't skeletons like the cold?
A: Because the wind goes right through them!

I daresay, I'd have to side with the skeleton on this one! I should have expected nothing less as I ran the Rattle Me Bones 5Km run this morning. Brrrrrr... Wind warning in effect - gusts in the range of 50 - 70 km/hr. Windchill of -4C. They could have easily called it "Chatter Me Teeth". :-) Still, I managed to shave a few seconds off my personal best. I'm pretty pleased with that considering that, at one point, I couldn't really tell if I was even moving forward!

Next Saturday morning, I'll be running with Hubby in the NYC Marathon's International Friendship Run. It's described as a "leisurely 4-mile jog" starting at the United Nations and finishing at Tavern on the Green restaurant in Central Park. Here's hoping there will be no rattling of bones or chattering of teeth on that run...


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Start Spreading the News...

In exactly one week from now, Hubby & I will be in Manhattan! Hubby is one of 50,000 crazy people running the NYC Marathon on November 5th. I will be one of the estimated 2,ooo,ooo crazy people standing there watching them! We fly out early, early Friday morning and will be there until Monday afternoon. Since the focus of the weekend is the race, we haven't really planned a gazillion things to do. We'd like to just go, take in the experience and see where the Spirit leads.

We'll be staying at a fairly new hotel in a central location not too far from the race finish. I fully expect to do a LOT of walking and riding the NYC subway system. I'm hoping to do a bit of shopping, and maybe I'll even use the ladies room at Sak's Fifth Avenue or something. Lord knows that a flush is pretty much all I can afford to get there! :-) The one place I am hoping to check out is The Market NYC. It's only on weekends and, apparently, new up-n-coming designers are known to sell their wares there. Focus appears to be on jewellery and handbags. Could be dangerous! Since Hubby won't be up for walking a lot on the day before the race, we'll probably head out for one of the neighbourhoods where he can find a coffee shop with high speed internet, and I'll head out on my own for a bit - credit card in hand...

Anyway, best laid plans and all that stuff... Who really knows?! I'm just excited about what lies ahead!


p.s. I cut my finger yesterday. I was thrilled! Perhaps you'll remember an earlier post where I shared my discovery of these... :-)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Images of Stillpoint...

I thought I'd share some of my favourite images from my retreat at the Still Point... I don't know what it was like in your part of the world, but the weather that weekend was perfect. Enjoy the view!


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Writings from the Still Point - Day 3 (again)

Last summer, Friends of Stillpoint had a new statue of Mary, Mother of Jesus, installed on the grounds. The space is wonderfully designed and it has become a new favourite of mine. Backing onto the river, the grotto offers a peaceful place to sit and pray and just hang out. Today, as I gazed at her beauty, the following poem came about...


O Mother Mary, what have you to teach? Your world is of the old!
Your time is past.
Your day is done.
Your legacy is cold.

Have you never known what you must do, though that was not your will? Have you never had to accept a thing? To swallow a bitter pill?!

O Mother Mary, Woman of Serenity, Be with me...

Have you never brought changes to your life, be they big or small? Have you never wondered if you had what it took to face the world at all?

O Mother Mary, Woman of Courage, Be with me...

Have you never wished you could take their pain and make it go away? Have you had to learn that was not your job, but that God would guide the day?

O Mother Mary, Woman of Wisdom, Be with me...

So now you see we're not that different; we're not so far apart.
My time is now.
My day is here.
I am woman of your Heart.

(written while basking in the warm October sun and the radiating Peace of Our Lady of Stillpoint...)


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Writings from the Still Point - Day 3


I've added a new element to my spiritual practice here at Stillpoint: running. I ran 5km (+/-) on Friday and probably 3.5 - 4km today. The 10:1 intervals are still working well for me. I run based on time, not distance, but I'm starting to get a wee sense of how far I can run in a given time.

I've recently been introduced to the concept of a spiritual practice as any activity that helps me grow in effectiveness and usefulness to God and to my fellows. This definition really appeals to me because it recognizes my desire to be of service to others, yet it allows plenty of room for self-care. In fact, it demands it. How could I possibly be of any use to God - or anyone else - if I am unhealthy, uncentred, low in energy or (insert other symptom of dis-ease here)?! The priority becomes clear.

This awareness came to me as I was running: I am keeping my body fit, which in turn allows me to maximize my efficiency and usefulness to God. Running as a spiritual practice - it just fits.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Writings from the Still Point - Day 1


I never thought I'd be grateful for an exhausted battery, but as my digital camera displayed the dire news, I realized it was a blessing. There I was, standing in one of my favourite places on Earth (tiny dock at Stillpoint) at my favourite time of the year (fall foliage), and rather than letting go and enjoying the moment, I was desperately trying to own it... to capture it so that I could have that moment again and again. And as the sun began to set over the Madawaska River, God sent me a text message: Warning! Battery Exhausted. Momentary confusion - is She talking about the camera... or about me?!

Then the lesson in that moment became clear. God was telling me: "Put the camera down and experience this gift that is before you. Don't grasp. Don't clutch. Don't hold on. I am a God of Abundance and I won't leave you wanting."

So I stood there and watched the sun make its way to the other side of the world. And when there was nothing left but the sharp scent of dusk, I realized that my own battery didn't feel quite so exhausted. Funny, that.


Makes me want to SHOUT!

Well, seems we have linking problems once again... I've sent an email to Hoops&Yoyo hoping they can get their techie guys to tell me what the heck I'm doing wrong! But they're in Europe right now, so it make take some time. In the meantime, you can go to the Hoops&Yoyo homepage and select the NEW! read our blog heading from the left menu.


Shout-out Loud...

The coolest thing ever... I got a shout-out on the Hoops&Yoyo blog!! Check out the post for October 5th. I've often wondered who these people were - and now I know they are people like me with wonderful friends like Claire. Merci Claire - t'es trop fine!

(Obviously, I'm back from my silent retreat... I have a few "paper blog posts" to add as well as several photos. I'll be posting these over the next few days.)


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Countdown to Silence...

In exactly 48 hours, I will be surrounded by Silence. Blessed, sweet silence. I didn't go on my biannual silent retreat this past spring because I attended an amazing workshop with Richard Rohr instead. As a result of that decision, it's been almost a full year since my last visit to the Still Point.

I'll be there for 4 days (minus an hour or two). I can't think of a better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to spend this quiet time with God-in-Nature... my silence boldly proclaiming my prayer of thanks-giving.

Interestingly, the evening before heading off into the Silence, I gather with my fellow Mad Chatters - this wonderful group of friends who are determined to revive the art of pure & simple conversation around ideas (as opposed to other people). I wonder if I'll be tempted to cram in 4 days worth of talking!! :-)


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

More Porchlight...

I noticed in today's newspaper that Project Porchlight is being featured on Citydesk at 6pm on Rogers Cable TV (channel 22 in Ottawa). There were several TV stations at yesterday's launch at City Hall, but there was only a passing reference on CJOH, and I missed it on A-Channel. I'm looking forward to seeing what more extensive coverage might look like.

Interestingly, I very rarely read the weekday paper. Guess I was meant to see this today.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Into our own hands...

I caught the last bit of The Great Warming (Episode 2) on TVO tonite. This 2003 production is a 3-part documentary that chronicles how we humans have drastically changed our environment and the impact that will have for generations to come.

I was struck by a segment on how the Louisiana marshes are disappearing and - especially - by comments regarding New Orleans' vulnerability to massive destruction in the face of a powerful hurricane. Remember, this was produced in 2003. How prophetic. I wonder what else we're not listening to...

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the dire predictions. I suspect that's why so many political leaders and decision-makers turn a blind eye. Like Al Gore says in An Inconvenient Truth, if people in positions of power acknowledged what the world's best scientists know to be true, they would have no choice but to act. They would be faced with a moral and ethical imperative.

Soooo, we can wait for this inconvenient truth to be acknowledged by the high mucky-mucks, or we can start by taking things into our own hands. We can, for example, change a lightbulb.

That's right friends - Project Porchlight is at it again! Following on the heels of last Fall's successful Ottawa South campaign, Porchlight is going city-wide. Be on the look-out for staff & volunteers wearing bright green jackets handing out free compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Say thank you, and change a lightbulb. Waiting is pointless.


Monday, September 25, 2006

A PB Kind of Day...

Hubby (black cap)... Brother-in-Law (blue cap)... and me!

Each of us running a personal best (a.k.a. a "PB") at the Steve Hall Memorial 5 & 10K race on Saturday morning. What a great way to start the weekend!

I'd better be careful though. I'm beginning to look like (gasp!)... a runner! :-)


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Prayer... for reading the newspaper

I don't read the newspaper on a daily basis. Too depressing. On weekends, I'll browse through it, look at the pictures and speed read the articles that catch my attention. More often than not, I'm skipping the news-of-the-day and being drawn to the more indepth stories. I guess that's why I really appreciated this little gem from the Spirituality & Practice E-Newsletter that appeared in my emailbox late last week. I guess I'm not the only one who sometimes finds it difficult to carry the burden of what the media insists on calling "news".


God our Governor, our Judge, our Peace:
the pains of the world snag my heart,
and its turmoils trouble my mind.
There is much I wish to help
but cannot change.
There is much I grieve in the actions of others
but cannot control.

I rest this globe in your hands.
I trust it to your will, your justice, and your love.
I cry to you for its people in their distress.
I pledge to do my part, in my time and place,
to bring your reign near.
I release all I cannot help into your mercy
and into the hands of sisters and brothers
I do not know.

Give me a quiet mind, a spirit of hope,
and an energy of love
for the work and the rest to which you call me.

Give me the humility
to live gracefully with my limitations,
but without despair.

(from Simple Prayers for Complicated Lives by Jennifer Phillips)

Saturday, September 16, 2006


This past week, I had the opportunity to hear not one, not two, but three amazing speakers share stories of passion & inspiration. (Translation: prepare for a long post!) Thanks to a special health & wellness week being offered at work, I was able to attend these talks that fed me in a way we don't often find in the workplace - they fed me spiritually.

On Tuesday, the Honourable Senator and retired General Roméo Dallaire spoke to us about mental health and the devastating effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is a tell-it-like-it-is kinda guy and his experience in Rwanda - and his own struggles with PTSD - are harrowing. Admittedly, I have his book but haven't had the courage to read it. After hearing him share his story so honestly, I feel the least I can do is bear witness to it and seek out its deeper messages.

On Wednesday, two more very different stories! Pierre Lavoie is a professional triathlete and the current world champion and age-group record holder for the Hawaii Ironman. His talk on developing a "Winning Attitude" was all one would expect from a world class athlete. However, his story took on an unexpected and much more personal tone when he spoke of applying all he had learned as a competitive athlete to his real cause & life purpose: raising awareness & finding a cure for the rare genetic disease that claimed the lives of two of his young children. He described himself as "un simple gars d'usine avec sa boîte à lunch" - a simple factory worker with a lunchbox - but it was obvious he was telling us that we all have the capacity to do extraordinary things with our ordinary lives.

Finally, La passion selon Marcel Leboeuf. I had never heard of this guy and didn't know what to expect. I figured he was some guy from the motivational speaker circuit who'd written a book on "passion". My first clue that he was probably something more was when I arrived to an packed room and struggled to find a seat. Who was this guy?! Turns out he is a well-known actor in Quebec. He has starred in many popular French television series like Virginie and Watatow. Since I don't watch those shows, I was clueless. In a way, perhaps that was a good thing! I had no preconceived notions of this man and I was quite taken by his humour, his love of family, and yes... his passion. (Note: Kudos to the interpreters who attempted to simultaneously translate his presentation! No easy task... :-)) Marcel Leboeuf's message is that each of us is called to live our lives with passion, no matter what we do in life. Furthermore, by the way we live that life, we are called to share that passion with others. He's certainly doing his part.

This week at work, my spirit was fed. I needed that.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Bit O' Sunshine...

Just getting back from the movie theatre after seeing one of the most refreshingly funny films I've seen in a long time. Little Miss Sunshine is absurd... poignant... hilarious... quirky... brilliantly acted... The casting was perfect. The actress who played Olive, Abigail Breslin, reminds me of a young Kirsten Dunst, except less precious and more real. What a wonderful way to spend the evening. Thanks Sis!


Sunday, September 10, 2006

September's Charm...

September (...) joyfully flaunts its crimson independance of spirit. Finally, a month wildly overgrown that wilfully ignores the reigning culture of excellence to which we're all addicted and vividly, unselfconsciously embraces imperfection.

No surprise we love September, with its brilliant, uncombed red hair and its showy love of imperfection - listen to what your newly invigorated sense of possibility is telling you. Pay attention to the thrilling imbalance of warm days and cool nights - that's where to look to find yourself - not in the trimmed hedge and sharply delineated lawn of summer, but in the irregular incidental beauty of untamed roadside grasses, in idle orchards of random asters. - Elizabeth Kelly, editor of Hamilton Magazine

I copied this from a newspaper column on September 2, 2000. It's as appealing to me today as it was six years ago. Elizabeth Kelly, whoever and wherever you are, thank you for capturing the unique essence of my most favourite month. Bring on the fiery hues of imperfection!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Weekend of Wonders...

How do you choose highlights in a weekend of highlights?!!

Was it the road trip itself - quality time spent with my sister as we sped down the highway towards New Brunswick?

Was it singing with my mom, accompanied by four talented musicians on the guitar, mandolin, banjo & bass?

Was it sitting around the fire listening to my aunt & uncle sing the songs they've always sung, their rich harmonies reaching deep into my soul and plucking the strings of my memory like a finely tuned instrument?

Was it playing fluorescent frisbee under a blood red moon? Or maybe running around the field at midnight with sparklers, yelling like a mad-woman along with six other kindred souls?

No, wait! Perhaps it was attending a reunion of descendants of my great-grandfather Crispin Gallant and his wife Délima, and standing alongside my mom & my sister as the only representatives from my Mémére's side?

Then again, could it be meeting and spending time with my parents' broad circle of musician friends? Beautiful & ageless...

I suppose it could also be discovering Le Vieux Québec at night, and rediscovering it anew in the light of day, on the return trip. Could that be my highlight of highlights?

So many to choose from - and many more beyond those listed here...
Sorry, can't be done! Suffice to say that the highlight of my weekend was... my weekend. :-)


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Happy 80th...

Life. Is. Grace.

Borrowing a statement from his good friend Dorothy Day, Paul Harris used these three simple words to sum up his life. His life thus far, that is. By this, he explained to those gathered to help celebrate his 80 years, he ackowledges that his life has been a series of gifts... gifts from God. And like all gifts, he feels deeply that they are meant to be shared.

Therein lies the beauty of my friend Paul. He is Grace. He is pure gift and I feel so grateful that he has wandered onto my life path.

At his party, I chuckled when I saw the newspaper clipping about a young man from Toronto who hitchhiked to Quebec City in the dead of winter to witness the funeral of Cardinal Villeneuve, Archbishop of Quebec, in 1947. Leaving with nothing but extra socks, a spare shirt and 12$ in his pocket, it took him 3 days and 2 nights. As the story goes, he had 5$ left when he finally reached his destination.

This is the same young man who, later that year, announced to his mother that he was off to Combermere to meet a Russion Baroness that he had read about in a book. Assuring her that he'd be back for supper, he ended up returning home six months later.

Raising a family... establishing a successful career... So much to celebrate! Paul's current passion lies in sharing the teachings of Christian Meditation. He has authored many books on the topic and is sought out by meditators from around the world for speaking tours. Friends from near & far pay him tribute today...

I am fortunate to be one of those friends from near. Life is indeed Grace. Happy Birthday Paul!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Guaranteed Giggles & Broken Links...

It appears that giggles will have to wait! Hallmark web site is having technical problems and none of my links in the post below worked. So I've disactivated them - for now. You'll have to come back soon and experience hoops&yoyo for yourself!

Guaranteed Giggles...

hoops&yoyo crack me up! I first discovered them as Hallmark e-cards and ventured onto their website... There is no end of fun with them!!! They offer a lot of useful stuff too - whether you're looking for advice on proper Opening a Door etiquette, or how to politely blow your nose in the workplace. Or perhaps you'd prefer to simply follow their blog to keep up to date.

Whatever your preference, if you're looking for a bit of stress relief, spend some time with hoops&yoyo - they're a source of guaranteed giggles!


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Un-adult-erated Joy...

- Hello.
I'm going camping!
- Really? Lucky you.
Yeah. I'm going camping with my friends.
- Good for you... Have fun!
Yeah. I will.
- Bye.

The exchange lasted only a moment, but it has stayed with me. I was walking to cool down after my run yesterday and the little boy was playing in front of his house. He boldy engaged me in conversation, obviously unable to contain his excitement.

When is the last time I was so excited about doing something that I shared it with a complete stranger? Not surprisingly, I can't remember. I suspect that, if I did such a thing, I'd get that look... the one that says "Yeah. OK. Whatever. Wierdo."

Too bad. The world might be a better place if adults allowed themselves to share their joy - and simply accept that of others, without judgement.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Attention Intention...

It's Friday morning and I've decided to give a spiritual intention to my day. Since I've been feeling somewhat scattered and unfocussed these past coupla days, I've chosen "Attention".

Spirituality & Practice is a thoughtful, accessible online resource that allows me to bring Spirit into every aspect of my day, including my time at work. Today's chosen practice of Attention calls upon me to be in this moment. To walk with eyes & heart open to what is right in front of me.

May we all walk in such a way...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The shape of gratitude...

Gratitude comes in all shapes & sizes... This past weekend, it took the form of a small group of friends sharing time on the shores of Bennett Lake, near Combermere, Ontario. Every summer, my friend Paul extends an invitation to the members of our small Christian Meditation group to join him at his cottage. In fact, it's an invitation to paradise...

Saturday was as close to perfection as I can remember being. Quiet solitude reading on the dock while others napped or hiked... a boisterous game of frisbee-in-the-lake followed by a leisurely swim... a journey-à-deux by canoe around the lake... silent group meditation... a wonderful meal prepared by many willing hands... conversation-under-the-stars of spiritual paths and, in the end, how they all come together. How we all come together. I had the pleasure of having a screened-in porch as my "bedroom" and slept with windows wide open to the sounds of the night. Night as God intended.

The visit was short, but oh-so-very-very-sweet. Admittedly, when I got back home on Sunday, I had trouble adjusting to the noise & activity of the city. I found myself in a foul mood. Luckily, that passed (as all things do), and I was left with a reminder of how important nature is to my spiritual and overall well-being. As much as I love my home & neighbourhood, it is in re-connecting to simple pleasures and experiencing nature with all my senses that I tap into true peace - the presence of God.

Sitting silently in a canoe, on a lake so calm I was losing sense of what was up & what was down, the gratitude was palpable, yet entirely inexpressable in that moment. Words were pointless. Today, I offer up one of my favourite prayers, by Dag Hammarskjold:
For all that has been, Thanks.
For all that will be, Yes.


Friday, August 18, 2006


"I'm worried about my finger. Does it look infected to you?"

John (of no fixed address) shows me his swollen index finger, the handy work of a bicycle chain gone awry. I scrounge around in my purse and pull out a small bottle of Purell to help disinfect the obviously punctured skin. I also slip him a band-aid to help keep it clean. He promises to drop into a medical clinic to have it looked at - a much better alternative then his original idea of heating up a needle himself, and bursting the bubble slowly building up near his knuckle.

Today, John shows me his strapped up hand. Indeed, infection had started to set in and the doctor put him on a round of antibiotics. I was grateful he had a place he could go to for proper treatment. But what truly made me smile was the band-aid holding some of the gauze in place. A pretty, pink Hello Kitty band-aid. :-) Now, there's a man who's secure in his masculinity!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pleasures - big & small...

BIG: Spending oodles of time with Hubby on Aug. 5 & 6 at the Canadian National Track & Field Championships. The weather was perfect. The athletes were inspiring. And Life was as it should be.

SMALL: Buying Hello Kitty Band-Aids, just because... I wore one on my heel even though the blister was pretty much gone. :-)

BIG: Celebrating my Acadian roots with Sis on Aug. 15th and marching in my first tintamarre in years. Turns out the musician playing at the bar was from our home village in New Brunswick!

SMALL: Getting a bunch of free perennials from my neighbour and planting them. All. In one small garden. Next spring should be a revelation! (If they survive the winter :-))

BIG: Planning & delivering a short workshop to a group of teachers from across Canada. Although the experience was brief, it reconnected me with what I love doing. I was in the zone! What a great reminder of why I left the management level...

SMALL: Enjoying waaay too many cheats on my diet - with a special nod to Miss Vicki's Roasted Red Pepper chips and to Rolo Ice Cream. Yum.

BIG: Being able to sleep with the windows open, being caressed by a fresh breeze...

SMALL: Loving my new haircut!

I could go on... but you get the picture. Life is good these days.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

PPJP Post-script...

Turns out that, after all these years, Sis & I have a different understanding of what PPJP stands for! For her, it stands for post-purchase justification process, not post-purchase justification period. Huh. Who knew?

We briefly tossed around the idea of calling it PPJPP (post-purchase justification process period), but in the end, we agreed to leave things as they were. She has her word; I have mine. It's all good. The important thing is that we're there for each other during those precarious purchasing moments. Thanks Sis!


Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Welcome to my PPJP...

I did something very out-of-character today. Moi, Mlle Consignment Shop Shopper, dished out an exhorbitant amount of money for a single article of clothing. Yes, it was on sale. Yes, I will get a lot of use out of it. Yes, it's gaawwgeous, and therefore made me feel equally gaawwgeous. And yes, I feel guilty.

Welcome to my PPJP.

The "PPJP" is a sister-thing that we came up with; it stands for post-purchase justification period and usually lasts anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. We are a product of our clothes-shopping upbringing: sensible, frugal, Sears catalogue. As adults, we've had to unlearn those old patterns and allow ourselves to spend, spend, spend on clothes - clothes that make us feel good and make us go "wow". Clothes that say "I'm worth it!" But there is an emotional cost to that unlearning, and it's called PPJP. It usually expresses itself in a phone call to the non-purchasing sibling, explaining all the reasons the purchase was valid and necessary. This phone call was duly initiated as I exited the shopping centre.

Today, I even jumped over the pre-PJP phase. This is an occasional occurence where I call my sister before I pull out the credit card in the hopes that: a) she'll talk me out of it, or b) she'll support me in my decision and I no longer have only myself to blame. But alas, not this time. I presented the plastic, hugged my new green crushed velvet jacket, and complimented the sales girl on her selling skills. I'm on my own on this one.

And so, for the next day or so, I get to look at the jacket... touch the jacket... wear the jacket... and tell myself - and anyone else within earshot - that it is indeed, a good thing.


Thursday, July 27, 2006

You know you're still asleep when...

You know you're still asleep when...'re in the shower shaving your legs, and you realize you're using "curl enhancing hair-styling cream" instead of shaving cream. They really need to come up with more bottle shapes. Different product & purpose, different bottle shape. Is that too much to ask?! Sheesh.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Post-east coast post...

I've been back in Ottawa for just over 48 hours, yet it already seems to be fading away. The salty scent of the water... the harmonious melody of my mom & her sister as they sing the songs they've always sung... the infectious sound of my cousins' laughter... the comforting taste of my mom's chocolate chip cookies... the scents & sounds of my roots. My home.

Two years is too long between visits - there's simply no reason to let it go that long. Lesson learned. Memories fade too quickly...


Monday, July 17, 2006

East Coast Post...

Greetings from sunny New Brunswick... We've been here less than 48 hours and I already feel like we've been on vacation for a week. Sunny, hot, breezy weather. Been to the beach twice already (including sitting through a thunderstorm as it swept by). Went running along the water. I'm grateful that my folks live so close to Kouchibouguac National Park.

I haven't been home for two years. There really is no reason to let it go that long ever again... This morning, as I was having breakfast (fresh berries and sesame toast) outside on the back deck, I was marvelling at what a beautiful set-up my parents have. This is the same house I grew up in (for the most part anyway) yet I never appreciated it in the way I do now. I suspect that's pretty common... Mom & Dad go about the upkeep of the property with dedication & pride. My dad is putting the finishing touches on the new deck he just built - by himself. He did a great job!! As someone whose favourite tool is the phone (to call the handyman-for-hire, of course :-)), I'm so impressed. Wonder why I didn't inherit that ability?!

All for now - I hope to post again before the week's end. We're planning to go to PEI for an overnight stay, then it's off to Tabusintac for my maternal family reunion - the one I haven't attended in five years!! Should be fun...


Friday, July 14, 2006

Travellin' on the cheap...

I've just come back from China... or so it seems... thanks to our friends Chris & Kathy, and the wonderful magic of blogging. For the past two weeks, I have followed them on their trip to China, and their journey to parenthood. It's so amazing that they were able to share this experience with us on a daily basis. Who knew their new life with one-year old twin girls would afford them so much free time?! :-)

Now, I wonder where I'll go next? Perhaps Ireland... or Scotland... Whaddabout Kathmandu? Or p'raps I'll simply spend the day commuting in London, or seeking adventure in a NYC taxicab.

Today, the world is truly at my fingertips.
And tomorrow, the road is at my feet. NB, here we come!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Random observations...

On my way to the bus stop this morning, I noticed a single shoulder pad on the road. Can't help but feel for the poor woman, stuck somewhere between the 1980's and the 21st century, as she goes about her day - with one shoulder bigger than the other.

As I was looking out the bus window, I also noticed the high number of cars on the road with a single occupant. Can you imagine the impact we could make on climate change if a law was passed stating that all vehicles required at least two occupants in order to be on the road? Even if it was only applicable during certain hours of the day, say from 06h00 - 09h00 and again from 15h00 - 18h00, the effect would be phenomenal!! If you still don't believe global warming is a world-wide emergency, go see An Inconvenient Truth. Run, don't walk, to a theatre near you. Open your eyes, ears and heart, and I dare you to not care after seeing this film... Be sure to stay for the closing credits - you'll learn what you can do to make a difference. It can be a simple as changing a lightbulb...


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Perfecting imperfection...

In a Navajo rug there is always an imperfection woven into the corner. And interestingly enough, it's where "the Spirit moves in and out of the rug." The pattern is perfect and then there's one part of it that clearly looks like a mistake. (...) Perfection is not the elimination of imperfection. That's our Western either/or, need-to-control thinking. Perfection, rather, is the ability to incorporate imperfection! There's no other way to live: You either incorporate imperfection, or you fall into denial. That's how the Spirit moves in or out of our lives. (Richard Rohr)

I remember reading something like this many years ago, and it struck a chord. I came across the story again recently and felt the need to record it here. My name is jag, and I'm a recovering Perfectionist. I grew up excelling at whatever I did, yet only doing what I knew I could excel at. As a result, I missed out on a lot of potential accomplishments and just plain fun. I also spent a lot of time looking for other people's approval of my "perfection". My name is jag, and I'm a recovering Approval Addict.

I'm happy to say that, in the past several years, I have worked hard - one day at a time - to break out of these patterns. They'll always be a part of me, but thankfully they no longer rule my life. I think that's one of the reasons I've embraced Yoga and Running so fully. I'm allowing myself to be not-so-good at it, and I'm making room for progress. I'm learning that there is a lot of satisfaction in seeing myself improve, bit by bit.

Freedom comes with admitting that I am perfectly imperfect. And, dare I say, I can't remember when I've felt or looked better! I'm right where Spirit wants me to be...


Sunday, July 02, 2006

Two. Seven. Nine.

Hi Friends... Happy Canada Day + 1! Hope your celebrations were wonderful, wherever you may be.

I started the day by running my first official 5k race - and I posted a personal best! :-) Wearing bib #279 and finishing in 34:16, I'm very pleased. I had no particular goals other than to 1) finish, and 2) improve upon the unofficial time from my Fun Run a couple of weeks back. I accomplished both!! It was especially great (and helpful!) to have Hubby run the race with me - for him, the 5k was a "cool down" after running his best 10k race yet. Congrats!!

I enjoyed seeing how people really get into this, both runners & spectators - even for this relatively small race. Residents would sit on their front lawns and cheer us on... a few of them held up a water hose offering us a much needed cool spray of water to run through. I got a real kick out of watching the "Tot Trot", a short run/trot/walk/waddle for toddlers and kids under five. Too cute! Each one received a medal, which for many, hung down to their knees. :-)

My Canada Day afternoon was pretty relaxed, catching snoozes as we watched the Tour de France. In the evening, I headed downtown and met up with Sis to catch the fireworks. Amazing stuff! People as far as the eye could see.... Admittedly, we positioned ourselves off the Hill for a relatively quick exit; I just can't handle standing still in a bottleneck of thousands upon thousands (upon thousands) of people converging through a gateway anymore. Been there. Done that. And the very thought of it started to make my heart pound in a panic. Thanks to Sis for understanding and agreeing to move to a more "open" area. (Although "open" is a generous word downtown on Canada Day night!! :-))

I gotta say though, all this pales in comparison to the excitement of my friends, Kathy & Chris, who, as we were celebrating our national holiday, were in China meeting their new twin daughters! Congrats to the new parents!!


Friday, June 30, 2006

Mistaken Identity...

Twice this week, (ie. more than once!), I was asked if my sister was my daughter!! Oy. Now there's a way to put the ego back where it belongs...

It's true, the people who asked only got a quick glance at her. And my sister looks quite young - she has a youthful demeanour and fashion-sense. Appropriately youthful, IMO. And, perhaps if I'd had a child when I was 14, one could mistaken her for my daughter, but come on - my daughter?! Needless to say, my sister got a great laugh out of that, especially since the usual question we get is: Which one is the oldest? (That would be me - by seven years.)

Luckily, I have a healthy sense of humour and will use this incident to incessantly tease my co-workers... and my sister will no doubt bask in the memory of that moment... and I will go to my hair stylist to get that cut n' colour! :-)


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Running Tourist...

I'll be starting off this year's Canada Day celebrations in a completely new way this year. I've signed up to run a 5K race in Kanata. This time, it's a real race, complete with time chip and a finish line to cross - God willing, of course!

I'm still keeping up with my 3 X week runs, focussing on the 10:1s. Today's run was a sweltering one! Soooo humid... However, as I was doing my post-run stretches, I took a moment to appreciate how lucky I am to work downtown. Today's route brought me around the Centre Block of our Parliament Buildings, following through to & along the front lawn of the Supreme Court of Canada, circling back behind Parliament Hill along the Ottawa River pathway and finishing up at the Ottawa Locks of the Rideau Canal. That's where I stopped to stretch, looking across the River towards the Canadian Museum of Civilization.

As far as city downtowns go, this one is pretty impressive... and impressively pretty.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Producing excitement...

I waited with anticipation for the delivery. It was getting dark, but I was told it could be as late as 10pm, so I distracted myself with menial tasks as I waited... and waited... It was only 9:15pm. The minutes danced by and, around 9:45pm, it arrived.

I opened it and my pulse raced. I chatted with the young man who delivered it and could see that he understood my excitement. He knew. Enjoy! See you next week.., he said. Oh, I will - and thanks again!, I responded, and carried it into the house. I set it on a chair in the kitchen and looked at it. I took in the colours and the textures... I reached in and touched... I paused and smelled... and I even tasted.

I've been searching for this exact type of thing for some time now. And here it was - in my kitchen. Because I'll be getting one every week now, I know it is but a beginning... Who knew one could get so enchanted & excited about this?!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hard wired...?

Could I possibly be wired to win?? As a life-long non-athlete, I've often wondered what it was that made others so drawn to sports or exercise. Why not me? And yet, at a pre-screening of a new movie being created for IMAX, I'm told that my brain can be trained to lead my body to accomplishments I can't even imagine.

I guess I experienced that for myself as I completed my first 5Km race earlier this month. When I first started learning to run, that goal was simply beyond my grasp. As I huffed & puffed my way through 2 minutes of continuous running during Week Two, I remember commenting to Hubby that I couldn't imagine running 10 minutes without stopping. He gently reminded me that I didn't have to; my goal for that day was two minutes, not ten. Without consciously knowing it, my brain was learning to cope with this new activity. And today, I can run 10 minutes without stopping.

I can take that personal experience, and multiply it many times over to imagine what professional athletes - such as those competing in the Tour de France - go through. And as for the "why not me?"... I guess that's where the heart comes in. I s'pose it all depends on your heart's desire. And mine simply has its gaze directed elsewhere...


Thursday, June 15, 2006

The urge to dance...

I was at Westfest this past weekend and found myself noticing people's bodies. More specifically, how their bodies (and mine) spontaneously move in response to music. Same music, yet different movements.

On Saturday night, a couple of hundred rain-soaked heads bopped to the sounds of Skydiggers & Cash Brothers. All bopping, but not always to the same beat. Some people double-bopped, others up-and-down bopped, while some side-to-side bopped... and then of course there were a few who stood freakishly still.

Then on Sunday morning, I listened to two local kids playing rock (electric guitar & drums) and watched a little girl in the audience, surely no more than two, dancing with complete abandon. No matter how heavy the music got, she found her beat and danced. Full body, moving primarily in rythmic circles.

I was reminded of the primal power of music and its intimate connection with our bodies. In so many cultures, this relationship remains spontaneous and natural. Not so in our uptight western world. We seem to have relegated dance and free movement to our dance clubs & studios. It's why we look twice at the free spirit who allows his or her body to fully embrace the music. Am I looking with disdain? Or with envy... Oh! to be an adult who can watch a 2-year old girl dance, and see in her a teacher.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ending... and Beginning

Sunday, June 4:
Well, it's official. I finished cleaning out my office this afternoon. Tomorrow, after close to 20 years working in the field of Heritage Interpretation, I will be starting off in a new career direction: Organizational Learning & Development.

Surreal. I don't think it's sunken in yet that I won't be part of that crazy, dedicated, creative and fun-loving group of co-workers. It'll be weird for them too. Of the 25 or so staff members, only one - our director - has been there longer than me. For everyone else, I've always been there. I have to admit, I had a lump in my throat as I closed my office door for the last time. Surreal.

I'm taking a couple of days off, then on Thursday I start my new job. I'll still be working for the same organization, which is great. I get to start something new, but in a familiar environment. I know I'm excited about it, but I just can't seem to tap into that excitement right now. I'm just sad to be leaving my co-workers... They are really the ones that have kept me motivated over the past year or so. It's been more difficult to get excited about my work lately. When that feeling starting coming on stronger, I knew it was time for a change. I swore I would never "quit & stay".

And so, onwards & upwards - the beginning of a new era for me...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A year in the life...

This month, I celebrate one year of blogging. I can hardly believe it! And to mark this prestigious milestone, all I can think of is what a pain it's going to be to calculate the tip at the restaurant once the reduced GST kicks in. "14% of $17.50 is... aww, #*!@... pass the calculator, please!"

I totally forgot it was budget day today. So much for being plugged in just because I work for Parliament!


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's not easy being green...

Apparently, I am Kermit.

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone knows it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

How do you rank on The Muppets Personality Test?

(Thanks to Uncle Zio - a.k.a. Miss Piggy - for this...)


Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Today's poem from Spirituality & Practice really struck a chord... especially the very last line. Enjoy!

Love after Love

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

--Derek Walcott

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Holy Saturday's Gift...

"Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds light, so when we are in sorrow, then this light is nearest to all of us." - Meister Eckhart

"Help us to be the always-hopeful gardeners of the spirit who whow that without darkness nothing comes to birth, as without light, nothing flowers." - May Sarton

It's Holy Saturday and I'm trying to see how this part of the Easter story is relevant to me today. The expression that comes to mind is "sitting in the unknown". I used that expression this past week as I tried to understand my growing impatience & intolerance regarding my job situation. I became very aware of how I am trying to force a solution. I am not trusting that I need to keep doing the footwork, while letting go of the outcome.

Sitting in the unknown is awkward and uncomfortable. And I think therein lies the relevance of Holy Saturday for me this year. That day between the death & resurrection of Jesus represents all that is unknown. It is a time of confusion... I can just imagine the disciples saying: "What the...?! I thought he was going to save us, and now he's been executed in the manner reserved for the worst of criminals?!! What gives?!"

Of course, since we know how the story unfolds, we could say in hindsight that it represents a time of waiting. Hence the Vigil traditionally held on Saturday evening. But personally, I don't think they were waiting 2000 years ago. They must have thought it was all over. All they could do was grieve their loss - and in secret no less (except for the women), lest they be accused of being one of the Nazarene's followers. They must have been mired in self-doubt, wondering if they had been led astray. This scenario seems more realistic to me.

So, perhaps today is a time to practice being OK with sitting in the unknown... in the self-doubt... in the mystery. Today can be a lesson in acceptance. Acceptance of what is, as it is. Easier said than done...


Friday, April 14, 2006

What's Good about this Friday...

"There's an old saying: You can't have Easter without Good Friday. Many people today express the desire to have an open heart, a loving heart, a compassionate heart. Well, how do you open your heart? Usually, it's broken open. Jesus on the cross breaks your heart. He breaks it open. You can't look at the crucifixion without having an experience of compassion. Only a heart broken open — one that can have compassion for those who suffer — can truly appreciate the new life represented by Easter." - Sri Eknath Easwaran

Although I'm not a regular church-goer these days, I've always been drawn to attending Good Friday mass. As I grow along my spiritual path, I find there is something powerful about acknowledging the pain that we are all called to experience at some point in our life. The beautiful thing is that, in the context of the Easter story, we acknowledge it, but we don't stay stuck in it. We recognize it as a stepping stone to greater understanding... to growth... to resurrection.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Check the headlines...

I thought for sure it would make the front page when it happened, but apparently the fact that Hell has officially frozen over is buried somewhere deep in the local paper. But it must have happened, because just around 12:30pm today, I found myself running. Just running. As in, running for exercise. Stretchy pants... t-shirt that wicks... the perfect running shoes... Yep, Hell has frozen over.

I joined a beginners running group at work. The timing was convenient and it's free, thus eliminating my usual excuses. Today, we ran for one minute, walked for one minute, ran for one minute, walked for one minute... (repeat 10 times). Funny how we perceive the passage of time differently, depending on whether we are running or walking.

As I reported to Hubby this afternoon, the experience - one I thought I would never embark upon - was not a negative one. And so, there is always hope... :-)


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Thoughts on Love...

"Humans do not want a God of love, because a lover always makes demands." - Richard Rohr

I've been thinking a lot about Love lately. Not the romantic kind, but the divinely inspired kind. At a workshop, I was once asked what gift was I holding back from the world. My answer was easy: Love. Some days, I just don't think the world is ready for the kind of Love I have to give, and I self-censor. Such arrogance. Who am I to hold back on sharing the very essence of God? That's when I know Fear is guiding my decisions.

Over the past several years, I have recognized and known a God of Love at work in my life. And Richard Rohr is right, such a lover does make demands. No longer can I hide behind excuses that I am not good enough... or that I have "sinned" and am therefore unworthy of God's Love. Every day is an exercise in acceptance of who I am. As I am. I am God's beloved and She is mine. And with that come more demands... The demands that the acceptance extend to others, for they too are God's beloveds. Exactly as they are. Not mine to change, or to fix. But simply mine to love.

Some days, my desire to be close to God is palpable and I know He is waiting... calling... For me, Holy Week, and its powerful stories, is a time of remembering what Love can be. The drama of fear, acceptance, rejection, death, life, love... it's all there.

Although my Lenten journey didn't start out the way I had planned, it continues to carry me along a spiritual path. My literary companions have been Richard Rohr and Joan Chittister, whose words never fail to affirm, enlighten, inspire and challenge me.

Here's wishing you a blessed Holy Week - in whatever shape or form you choose to live it.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Just a question of time...

Am I the only one who totally forgot to spring forward last night?! I decided to sleep in until God woke me up, which She did around 9:30 am this morning. It's all good. I'm easing into my morning routine and it suddenly occured to me that I'd forgotten to do something before going to bed. Suddenly, it was no longer 9:30 am, but 10:30 am! Damn. I'd just lost an hour.

But, did I really? Hubby corrected me earlier this week when I commented on the fact that we'd be "losing an hour" this weekend. "No we're not. We'll still have the same number of hours - it doesn't just disappear, y'know." Spoken like the true creature of logic that he is. Got me thinking about time... how we define it, how we use it, how we abuse it. How many times have I heard (and said) I didn't have time to do (fill in the blank...). Truth is, we always have all the time there is. It's what we do with it that matters...

My train of thought has been hijacked. I just received an email from a friend letting me know that a mutual acquaintance lost her baby on Thursday at 24 weeks. What wouldn't she give for more time in the life of her baby girl? I'm sure losing an hour this weekend is the least of her concerns. Losing an hour. Losing a life. There's nothing like perspective...


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Living Lent-like...

"Lent begs us to empty our lives of the trivial and the superficial so that we can come to the things that last -- family, prayer, rich ideas, concern for the globe, the mind of Christ for the human condition." - Joan Chittister, OSB

I can't say I've been living very Lent-like lately. For the past several years, I've relished the arrival of Lent. It all started with a priest who joyfully declared "HAPPY LENT!" at the beginning of an Ash Wednesday service. He daringly proclaimed that Lent could be an exciting, meaningful and growthful time. More than simply giving up some trivial thing like chocolate or chips (gasp!), I vowed to use this period to strengthen my commitment to a God-driven life. I would make time every day for spiritual reading and reflective journalling. Giving up meat on Fridays was a concrete way to remind me to live with awareness. For the past several years, Lent has indeed been a happy time.

Something's different this year, and I need to let that be OK. Like a good Catholic girl, I'm feeling guilty. I suspect Jesus had precious little time for self-centred guilt... and I'm pretty sure I've never seen guilt preached or praised in the Gospels. So I pray for the willingness to let Life flow, according to God's will. Thy will, not mine.

Do you think God's will for me includes Baked Lay's Sour Cream & Cheddar potato chips?!


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sharing the blogger experience...

Just here showing my friend Paul the inner workings of "the blog". Paul is very interested in this and I hope (someday!) to see a blog from him. He is an accomplished writer and published author who has lived - and is living - a fascinating life. Hope to see you here soon Paul!!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Olympic Fever...

There's a part of me that is happy the Olympics are over. Maybe now I'll get my life back! Yes, it was my choice to sit there and watch our Canadian athletes put in their best results ever, but it became downright addictive!

I think my favourite moment came yesterday as I sat on the couch watching Clara Hughes give a gold medal performance in the 5000m speed skating event, tears streaming down my cheeks. The look on her face when she registered that she had won was priceless! My worst moment came as I was cheering for Canadian ice dancers Dubreuil & Lauzon only to see Marie-France go crashing to the ice in the last seconds of their brilliant original dance. I gasped, stared at the TV screen in disbelief and marvelled at how quickly Olympic dreams can disappear. Did I mention the tears streaming down my cheeks there too?

As a non-athletic person, I stand in awe of all athletes who show such determination & dedication to their goals. I'm not a very disciplined person so I can't identify with what drives someone to push themselves in the way that Olympians do... but I certainly can appreciate it and thank them for 16 days of pure adrenalin!

On to Vancouver 2010!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Family in cyberspace...

My Oncle Joe just got a new computer.

I received an email from him yesterday via our family e-group. Seems fitting, since yesterday was the 7th anniversary of a Yahoo!Group that allows the direct descendants of Arthur à Johnny Savoie (see above photo: Arthur on left, Johnny on right) to regularly keep in touch despite the thousands of miles that separate us. Cousins, aunts & uncles are spread out over three provinces. Seven years ago, we began an experiment and over 3000 emails later, I feel as close to them as if I'd never left my home province.

Did I mention that Oncle Joe is 81 years old?! Father, grand-father, great-grand-father... he is the figurative patriarch of our fun-loving, musical Acadian family. And he continues to be the hippest octagenarian I know!

Way to go, l'oncle Joe!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Viewing pleasure...

I have recently discovered a place where they let you borrow videos and DVDs for free! It's called a "public library". :-) I used to think it was solely a book borrowing place, but I'm into my third straight week of discovering films & documentaries that I wouldn't have picked up elsewhere... Whether a documentary on American anti-war activist Eugene McCarthy, or a heartwarming film about a terminally ill boy, his mentor and the search for a blue butterfly, or a visual feast with photographer Jim Brandenberg as he is being Chased by the Light, I have been thoroughly challenged and entertained.

For those who may wish to follow this path, I offer this experience-based word of advice: the Library people prefer it if you return the video tape at the same time as the case. Apparently forgetting the tape in your VCR and returning it two weeks later gives them a bit of extra work. Ooops.