WE ALL HAVE WRINKLES

“People in glass houses should not throw stones.”

rocks

A friend had a truly horrifying experience recently and I give thanks that all are OK. Sadly many others, instead of showing love and support, feel it is justifiable to criticize and place blame.

Why is it that people feel it is OK to judge, bully and shame others who are vulnerable? On social media, personally or with rumours.  Why continue to traumatize those that are already hurting?

Stop throwing rocks at those who are already vulnerable please.

Before people go and start saying nasty things maybe they should first stand and look at themselves in the mirror.

See those wrinkles? We all have them; regardless of your age.

Each wrinkle has a story line.  Some stories are what the universe has thrown at us, when life has unexpectedly gone sideways.

More of those wrinkles are a result of the stories we ourselves made up. Our very own blunders and errors in judgement.

NOBODY is immune to making mistakes. We all have faults.

We will all slip up again… and again…. and again…..

Lets just hope that all those slip ups have small consequences and do not end in tragedy. It is also said that mistakes are the best opportunities for learning. Lets build resilience, not shame. By throwing words and turning our backs on others, we all lose. Show support and assist others to recover from adverse events.  It is then that we ALL have the opportunity to gain wisdom.

So when you look in the mirror remind yourself of the story behind each wrinkle. Sure, you can try to hide the wrinkles.  The wrinkled story may be disguised behind botox or redirected at others with cruel words. Regardless, the wrinkles will always reappear. Botox cannot hide all our years of aging.  Regrets will aways come back to get you in the end.

We are all spinning on this green and blue spaceship together. Nobody gets out alive. So why not try being kind. As Mary Ann Evans; AKA, George Eliot said,

“What do live for, if not to make life less difficult for each other?”

If you walk away from your reflection and you still insist on throwing rocks, make sure you first open the door to your own glass house. If you keep tossing, eventually your own house will shatter, and you will find yourself surrounded in broken glass.

Hoping that others will show compassion and help you rebuild again.

RAW & EXPOSED IN INDIA

DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING
Have Expectancy. Not Expectations.
Expectancy is the emotional knowingness that you have changed and therefore your physical reality will follow suit.
Bashar

In 1992 Gene and I spent 2 months in India. We loved India and how her people opened our eyes and hearts to a side of humanity we did not know existed. We came away more whole in mind and spirit. We wanted our boys to see the diversity and energy of a world that is so very different from ours.

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27 years is a long time. I knew India would not be the same. A society made up of a billion people, who have arguably the most diversity anywhere, could never be constant. When we were planning this trip we thought long and hard about including India in the itinerary. India is a world of incredible wonder, but it comes with many challenges. After much deliberation, we decided on 20 days in India. Delhi, Agra, Jaiselmer, Pushkar and Ranthambore. A triangle trip of tigers, camel treks, Wonders of the World and spiritual experiences.

The essense of India still remains. The color and charisma of India continues to stimulate and push personal boundaries. Watching the world of India is mystifying, intoxicating, stimulating, obnoxious and thrilling. With so many worlds colliding on the streets you leave exhausted and spell bound. However, I underestimated the phenomenonal change that India had gone through during this time.

The difference is that now you are watching it through a haze of pollution and with the sounds of thousands of motorized vehicles and honking horns. It was a game of chance every time you stepped onto the streets of India.

Pollution created stunning colours midday

In the past 25 years India has gone from a population of 888 million to 1.3 billion. With an incredibly fast growing middle class (it has essentially doubled in the past 8 years), there is more consumption, resulting in more pollution. The air is thick, litter is everywhere and the incessant honking of horns leaves you rattled. Cows, pigs and dogs that are seen feeding on the refuse and plastic that is constantly thrown on the streets.

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There are still millions that remain trapped in poverty. It is not as overt as it was many years ago. However, there are still so many that do not have running water or the guarantee that they will eat each day. Too many still have limited opportunity just because of the caste they are born into. There is a shift for equality happening, but slowly. Read more here.

Garbage has had a 2000% increase in 5 years. From 400 tonnes in 2010 to 8700 tonnes per day in Delhi alone. New Delhi is the most polluted city on the planet and it is hard to imagine as I choked on the toxic air, that anything is being done to mitigate this. The day we flew out it was 934 on the Air Quality Index. Schools have closed and flights have been cancelled due to toxic levels and a haze as thick as pea soup. A few years back a “garbage slide” spilt through its walls killing 2 and injuring more. You can find more here and here.

The Indian government is making efforts but the infrastructure remains in its infancy. There is still few treatments for solid waste and proper garbage disposal. Instead of counting yellow trucks while on the train, we played count the number of people defecating in the fields and rail tracks. Sad, but true. But where else are these people to go when government’s efforts still have a long way to go to provide proper education or infrastructure?

India is a country made up of such diversity, thousands of years of social norms, and shifting demographics. Change is happening quickly. It would be extremely difficult for any government to keep up with the ever increasing demands on resources and infrastructure needs.

Those of us who live in developed nations cannot judge. We play a big role in the decay of our planet’s health. We are just fortunate that we do not have a population of over a billion, so it is easier for us to turn our backs to our own mess. We have the knowledge, yet rarely make choices to mitigate our impact on planet earth, as well as our own health.

We were met with beauty and wonder, But also a little too much adversity this trip. Sadly, India challenged us so much that we cut our trip by half. Watching my children become so sick that it actually hurt my heart. We had taken precautions, but everyone of us still fell violently ill. No one was having fun being stuck in a hotel for five days, fighting off dehydration.

Good health care remains an issue for the masses in India. I did not want to find out what our options were if my kids became so dehydrated that medical intervention was needed. My children’s health is first priority. Both my boys have no reserves. They are humans riding chicken legs. Being a nurse can sometimes make things worse. I know how bad things can get.

I love being in control…. I felt completely out of control and it was frightening. At times I felt trapped.

We had to keep postponing moving on to the next adventure because one of us was always too sick to travel. After too many days in an Agra hotel room, our fingers and arse holes were crossed that all were healthy enough to travel the 6 hours by train to get to Ranthambhore. But no it was not to be. It was my turn to fall ill.

We did eventually make it to Ranthambhore. After the tiger safari, we made the family decision to leave India 10 days early. Travelling even further away from an international airport became not an option. The boys were still pecking at food and I could barely keep anything down.

The air pollution played a considerable role in our decision to leave early as well. We had hoped that leaving Delhi to the smaller cities we would find the air more pleasant. Only mildly so. Even in the smaller populated cities, the burning of wood and cow dung left a constant haze that continued to tax our respiratory system.

It is also now much more difficult to get around. Trains are booked months in advance. We ended up cancelling two train trips due to being ill. We hired a car and driver on two occasions instead. First was a ride from hell. Car started smoking an hour into our trip and the driver was just plain nuts. Frightening when you are stuck with this lunatic in a smoking car for 6 hours. The second trip was slightly better. Car was well maintained and our driver had all his faculties.  Just be sure to take their cell phone away first.

The roads do have designated lanes but no one pays attention to them. The only rule is to keep your eyes forward. That bus that is barrelling up 1 inch beside you is not your issue until he is within your frontal vision. Don’t worry about shoulder checking when verring into oncoming traffic. Not necessary, have faith that everyone will get out of your way. Except that bull lying in the middle of the road. He rules the road.

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Strangely, it all seems to work. Driving in India should be designated as another Wonder of the World.

Even though India left us physically and mentally exhausted, she still provided us with opportunities for personal growth and discovery.

We visited the Taj Mahal and stood in awe of this Wonder of the World.

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A visit to Ranthambore left us with smiling hearts to see so many creatures living in their natural habitat.

We met beautiful people who were genuinely concerned for us as we became too ill to leave a hotel for 5 days.

My boys learnt that grit, faith and a whole lot of love can get you through overwhelming adversity. India pushed all our boundaries in many ways. My children met every challenge with courage and curiosity. They remained strong in spirit through it all and I could not be more proud.

The lack of infrastructure left us even more grateful for home.

The constant stimulus found in the streets of India brought a greater appreciation for diversity and we learnt that having faith can turn a harrowing experience into a joy ride.

The pollution and litter left us all questioning our own footprint on this beautiful planet.

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Graveyards were an escape from the chaos. I appreciate that the Indians do not hide the reality of our mortality.

India was wondrous and frustrating. Challenging and beautiful. India also has me looking inward. It’s not always easy to be honest and true to your weaknesses.

I am much older and softer now. Travelling with my kids made me over protective perhaps. The idea of not being in control in an environment that is lacking quality health care produced too much fear for me to accept. I was finding myself becoming critical and ethnocentric. Something I never wanted to become. I could have and should have done more research. Our experience 27 years ago was clouded by a veil that both Gene and I chose not to lift. I am disappointed in myself for my lack of insight and judgement in taking my kids to the most polluted city in the world. Although it was our entry point into India, we very possibly might have had a different experience if we went to Goa instead.

Although I am sad that we did not have the trip we had hoped for, India has illuminated my strengths and weaknesses. I am still processing and reflecting on my experience there. Many mixed emotions clutter my thoughts. India left me raw and exposed. Sometimes it is these experiences that are necessary for further personal growth. Challenging my own expectations of what I wish to see in myself.

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However, what I do know for certain, is that I am thankful we left India when we did. When we stepped off the plane in Bangkok, the intense tension I was holding onto just slipped away.

It took a week in Thailand for my oldest to completely recover. My boys are once again healthy. Laughing and free to play as children should.

Nothing makes my heart sing more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE IN SALZBURG

 

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Salzburg was even more romantic than I remembered. It is easy to imagine a young woman being swept off her feet in such an enchanting place. The cobbled streets are narrow and have many hidden enticing alleys to explore and discover. Couples are mingling and sipping wine outside the numerous small shops. The fortress provides a spectacular back drop against the baroque architecture. Salzburg’s “Old City” is a World Heritage Site as this vibrant city should be cherished.

It is here 27 years ago that I met my husband. In the International Youth Hotel on New Years Eve while dancing on the tables. After a few dates of sharing apple struddle and skating under the stars, I was invited to join him and his best buddy, Doug. To continue travelling through Europe in their VW van. Gas was very expensive then, due to the Iraqi War, so to this day Gene says it was because they needed gas money. May be true, but gas is now cheaper and I am still here.

Much has changed in the past 27 years.

After exploring Europe’s back roads for another 3 months, the van broke down in Portugal and it was time to return home. I went back to my small prairie town and within a week I had bought a one way ticket to the west coast. Never to look back.
We travelled more, went to school. Graduated and formed careers that provide us with the means to live a life of comfort and adventure. Both around the world and in the mountains of our beloved island. Bought a house in a community we love. We married in our backyard 11 years into the relationship. We now have 2 wonderful boys that inspire us to stay young and remain curious.

 

Love has been glorious.

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But not all the time.

There are the amazing views as you stand on the mountains’ summits together, but there is also the deep dark valleys and canyons where it is easy to get lost.

The moments when you are so in love you feel like your heart will burst. Then the dark days where you wonder what the hell happened? As with any adventure, there is struggle and strive. It is all too easy to focus on the hardship and get lost in the cold dark valley. To be fogged in having forgotten your compass. Sometimes it may even be necessary to get lost in order to appreciate the beauty that can be seen above.

Either way, it is vital to find your heart’s map and climb out. Sometimes you may need to be the leader, climbing out first and providing the anchors for your partner. Or you may be the one holding onto the end of the rope. Letting your partner lead the way. Dig deep, persevere and look for the strength that can be found in your spirit. Hold faith in yourself and that of your lover. Show compassion. Find that place in your heart that promotes love and growth.

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In my career as a nurse I often care for elders. Many being married for 50 years plus. I always ask, “what is the secret to a lasting marriage?” I have been given many an answer.

“Have common hobbies.”
“Never go to bed angry”.
“Go to bed angry.”
“Laugh often.”
“Always allow for a second chance.”
“Hold hands everyday.”
“Go on separate vacations.”
“Beer and buddies.”
“Be honest.”
“Friendships that support.”
“Talk.”
“Kiss and hug often.”

There is no one answer. A couple must find their own glue that will bind them together to support a lasting marriage.

Things that matter take effort.

First ask YOURSELF what your own needs are? What can I do MYSELF to fill up my own cup? Take care of your own inner spirit. Don’t expect that someone else will or can do this for you.

Then ask your lover what their dreams are? Truly listen and support them in the ways that they ask of you.

Manage expectations. Be realistic.

Remember no one is perfect. Including yourself.

Together, make a nector list. The accomplishments and life experiences that have made you both who you are independently and as a unit.

Then make a bucket list. Determine how and when you will achieve these dreams.

Check in often. Communicate.

Never stop believing in yourself or your partner.

Life is not always easy, and a lasting marriage is not either. Nothing is constant, and nor should individuals be. If one never changed, life would be much too mundane and boring. Staying curious and striving to better one self should be a life long goal. This includes encouraging your partner to be the very best person they can be. To show compassion, understanding and forgiveness. To promote change. To listen and support the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with.

Keep hiking and climbing. Break through the clouds. For there is always another summit to climb where you can stand together. To soak up the glory that can be found there.

To look back at what has been with admiration. Hold those memories close and find strength in them.

To look forward with joy and wonder. To dream. Holding hands.

Forever cherishing one anothers’ hearts.

Just maybe we will be back to Salzburg in 2041. To celebrate 50 years of love.

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WITH LOVE

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We are now sitting in the Vancouver airport waiting for our flight to London. Boys are bursting with excitement. I have those butterflies that often come with being in an airport.
It was a busy week getting our lives packed into 4 carry on backpacks. Sadly the monkey was having a dance party causing a few nights of lost sleep. But she is quiet now we are more than ready for our journey.
The only niggling feeling I have is for my folks. I shed a few tears after they dropped us off at the ferries the other day. They have health issues that often accompany those who enter into their 80s. They are doing quite well and aging with grace. There is however, always the possibility of the unexpected. The years have added up for them and every day is a gift.

This one is for you Mom and Dad.

THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.

I would not be where I am today if it were not for you. Your love and encouragement has been unconditional. We have not always agreed on things and at times the road was rocky. But your love never wavered. I may not have always listened, but I was always watching. Thank you for being great role models.

Thank you for always believing in me.

It is said that one can not truly understand a parents’ love until you become one youself. Having children of my own, only now can I know how a heart can be transformed. At times the love is so intense that I feel like my heart will burst.

Having the responsibility of nurturing my own children I can appreciate just how difficult this can be. Raising children to be a productive member of society is no easy thing. Many times I wonder if I am polluting their minds more than I am promoting growth and independence?

I tested my Mom and Dad on numerous occasion. I can only hope that my own children will not give me as many grey hair as myself and my brothers caused for our parents. Yes brothers, I will not take blame for all Mom and Dad’s grey hair or lack there of. Remember, you were my role models growing up ;o)

Last time I was in Europe was in 1991. I was on a 6 month trip with a girlfriend. She left to go back home after 2 months and I kept travelling. Due to some unexpected events and lack of easily available communication (there was no internet and at times, no phone lines too), my folks became concerned and thought something adverse had happened. I had just arrived in Budapest after being in the mountains of former Yugoslavia and I had this strong urge to phone my folks. I contacted them just hours before my Father and brother were about to board a plane to Paris. Coincidently they had Interpol looking for me as well. A scary time for my folks.

They worried then, and they worry now. It is part of being a parent. As soon as you have children your heart is now forever walking outside of your body.

Mom and Dad, keep your worry in check. The world can be a big scary place or a playground for learning. We will be smart and be safe.

“There are only two lasting bequests that we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots, the other, wings.”

Johann Wolfgang Von Goeth

Thank you for the roots to keep me grounded and the wings to let me fly.

MUCH LOVE TO YOU TODAY AND EVERYDAY.

 

 

NOTE TO SELF

I chose the word AGLOW a few years ago to describe who I would like to be.

AGLOW in all capacities. To be aware and give respect to all the thoughts and emotions regardless of the happiness, joy, sorrow, or frustration that they may hold. To be grateful for all of life’s experiences; good or bad. To embrace the moment and the sentiment(s) that it encompasses whole heartedly. To be curious and explore for a deeper meaning. For without embracing the experience fully, how can I learn and grow from it?

To radiate with a whole heart at all times.

No, I will not be successful and I will become unconscious often. I will stumble and even fall. But I will continually ask myself, how aglow are you? Its my trigger to come back to self and be grateful for all life’s’ experiences.

To embrace the now and be AGLOW. To illuminate with love and gratitude.

The following was what I wrote to myself at a time when I needed a boost. When life seemed hard and I was not at my best. I thought a little letter to self  would help in the healing. It did.

I love myself.

I love my spirit.

I love my mind.

I love my physical form.

I hold deep gratitude for the numerous years of daring opportunities.

THANK YOU for the intellectual, emotional and spiritual power to create everlasting relationships, a meaningful career and the ability to explore the world.

I have born two wonderful boys and continue to nurture them with love and compassion. I have loved unconditionally, created a lasting marriage and a connected community.

This body and spirit have and continue to take me on many adventures. Climb mountains, wade rivers, run, hike, surf, bike, ski powder, dance, row, skinny dip in alpine lakes, chase children, wrestle, love, tickle, walk, jump, meditate, and hug many.

I have and will continue to allow the space to be vulnerable, be strong, have courage, think, create, change, forgive, love, grieve, bleed, heal, scream, sing, cry and laugh.

Sure I am soft in some places, saggy in others. Dimply here and wrinkly there. Ache and creak on occasion. Forgetful, angry and frustrated at times. Not always on my best behaviour. I have been hurt and sadly have hurt others.

I still remain grateful for all of me. Each ache, each wrinkle, each grey hair holds a memory of what has been. Life’s inescapable suffering will stretch my spirit. Each time I step out of line, there is space for further growth. My beauty and strength hold the dreams of new adventures yet to be.

I love my body. I love my mind. I love my spirit.

I love my life. I love myself and all that I encompass. For without all of me, I would not be unique. I would not be me.

Press play and listen with your eyes closed. Better yet, dance with your eyes closed. Be inspired. Then sit and write, embracing all your treasures and your flaws with deep gratitude.

“EMBRACE THE GLORIOUS MESS THAT YOU ARE”  Elizabeth Gilbert