Sunday, May 20, 2012

Leafy Life Lesson

Ten minutes ago, a solar eclipse began its process in the sky here in Toronto and other cities along this longitude.  I decided to experience this astronomical event alone, meditating the wonder of such things while I listened to some peaceful music, Reflections of Nature, Zen and the Art of Relaxation.  The sun is low in the sky now, but has not yet set. The lake looks cold and  blue, the sky is clear, a few sailboats linger about before heading in to dock for the night. 

I am continually inspired by nature, the tree canopy below my window, almost full in its fresh lush spring leaf.  I picked a maple leaf off of a tree today, just to hold it and admire its newborn perfection, the perfect points, the almost translucent green delicacy of it.  Year after year, the same trees budding out and forming these stunningly beautiful individual works of art by the millions.  We take them for granted, all these leaves, as they start out so fresh-faced and hopeful before they are battered with wind and rain and the heat of the mid-summer sun and sometimes they war against more than the elements.  They fall victim to insects, or disease and if they are lucky enough to make it to autumn, they begin to darken, dry out and crinkle. 

But just before they eventually fall from their mother branches, most of them gather up the strength for one final show of beauty and resilience.  They wow us with a show of the most spectacular colour, holding on now for dear life.  "Look at me!  Look at me!  It has taken a life time for you to finally notice me!"  And we do.  We notice.  We spend October in awe of these now elder leaves, breathing in the heady smell of ones already fallen, crunching beneath our feet as we pass under the trees that start to drop them.  Brilliant reds, golden yellows, deep oranges. 

Artists paint them, photographers capture them, small children jump and play in the raked piles of them.  Their life has had meaning.  They have brought joy to all those who notice them, to those who appreciate them and they will knowingly return in their next lifetime to do it again.  They fear not the falling.  They accept it as part of the journey.  They were the lucky ones to survive what life dished upon them.  They reached their goal.

If we were to ask these leaves - "Was it worth it?"  Was it worth the strength it took to hang on, to battle the elements, resist the disease, suffer the insects chewing through bits of your perfect symmetry?  I think they would wonder why we would even ask such a question as they softly fluttered to the ground, back to the earth whence they came, on their next journey to feed the earth, knowing another generation of leaves just like them would return again in six months, nourished by these, their fallen ancestors.

"But wait, was it the journey or the destination?", I would want to ask them. "What was the best part?" And they would reply, "without the journey, there is no destination...and a word of advice, their voices would echo as the breeze lifted them, carried them away...the journey goes quickly, don't miss it."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crossing the Finish Line.....First!

TIME! I just don't seem to have enough of it these days.  Can't remember when I felt so stretched.  I don't know how some women do it; women with several kids, a full-time job, volunteer work, all of that.

I work full-time, have one kid, don't volunteer and only try to say yes to invites that I really want to accept.  I have learned over the years how to say no when it means I will risk becoming exhausted or left with no time for myself.  This is the time that is being snatched away from me lately.  The all-important time to myself. 

It cuts into my work-out time.  This is not acceptable.  I worked really hard to get in the shape I am in now, which is nothing out of this world, but I am at a comfortable level of fitness, weight and good health and I want to keep it like this.  As soon as my exercise routine is disrupted it is only a matter of days before I start feeling sluggish, unmotivated, fat.  Nine days have passed since I last lifted a dumbbell.  I already feel less toned.  I have been flat out sick with a head cold and have had little energy other than to drag myself through my work days, missing only one half day at the worst of it.  It is amazing to me how quickly the deterioration can begin.

So, today is a day off and I had a meeting cancelled this morning which gave me a chance to write a quick blog before I set off on a good long hike along the Humber River and lunch with a friend.  Wonderful, glorious, precious time for myself and with a friend.  These times are really appreciated so much more when you are clamouring for it and declaring it more important than chores or other less soul-feeding activities that are hovering around in the back of my head nagging to be tended to.  Screw it.  My mental and physical well-being are way more important than scrubbing my toilet or vacuuming the crumbs around the floor of my kitchen island. 

I had dinner last week with an old friend who I only see every few years and when we get together, we catch up and it is like we never had any time pass in between.  She said something to me once she heard a detailed account of the last couple years of my life which has stuck in my head for days now.  She said,

"Deb, this is how I see your life.  The word no is just a speed bump on your way to yes."


I thought about what she said.  And the more I thought about it, the more her analogy struck a chord with me.  I suppose it means I am determined.  That is true about me.  I don't even like the word no.  The word no to me is like a gauntlet being thrown before me.  It made me recall several instances in my life where it was life-changing for me. 

The time I got a decline letter from Ryerson University when I applied to get into the Journalism program there in 1982.  I was devastated.  No bloody way, I thought.  This HAS to happen.  It is what I had my sights on.  We will see about this, I thought.  I called the Chairman of the Department.  He agreed to meet with me.  I pleaded my case, sold my attributes, convinced him I was worthy.  A week later, a new letter arrived.  I was in.  My friend was right.  That decline letter was just a speed bump.

More recently, I was declined by another landlord for a condo lease in this building.  He did not see me as a good tenant for whatever reason.  Once again, screw you buddy.  I found another BETTER space several floors up and that landlord thought I was fine.  No one was keeping me out of this building. 

Another time, a professor at Humber College declared the first day of classes that he never gave perfect scores on papers.  Really?  We will see about that.  It nearly killed me buried in research, but I ended up with 3 perfect 100% papers that year.  Ask me anything about the History of Furniture and I will likely have an answer.  Or, I could break out the 1000 pages plus that I turned in that year and look it up.  I still think I should make a coffee table book out of all those pages. 

Am I competitive?  Is that it?  My mother thinks so.  My tennis opponents think so.  My kid brother thinks so - just ask him about every board game, every tennis match, every race.  I play to win.  I am a much better loser now than I was at 8, but I still try to beat him and celebrate when I do.  We both do.  It's fun, we have fun doing it. 

I suppose I should sit back and analyze this about my nature and sometimes I do ponder it and try to figure out how much of my ego is involved.  As I mature, it matters less and less, but I have a sneaky suspicion that there will always be a little part of me that wants to compete. Nothing like a good solid fist pump between friends.....right bro?

Winner take all.....most of the time anyway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just Love this Poem.....

I stumbled across this today, and I just want to share it with all of you.  It is by J.L. Sanders.

Other Paths

There must be other paths,
More winding, tangled
Into sweet nothingness,
Sleeping hidden, overgrown,
Darker, deeper
Rock bound paths
Misted and rain drenched,
Where with one mishap,
You might stumble,
You might slip,
If you are lucky,
Into a real life.