Sunday, December 19, 2010

Supplemental installment...

YIKES!  Still working at the Christmas biz - lottsa stresses - financial and otherwise - resulting from "THE MOVE" November 30th.  Too tired to know if I am coping or not - just gotta keep chugging along. Puff, puff, pant, pant.  BREATHE.  Need a couple of pairs of extra hands to get the work done today and tomorrow and Tuesday.  Not sure what happened to my goal of living a 'balanced life' ??? - gone the way of the Dodo bird for now, I fear...

Meanwhile, h
ere are a couple of pics - Took a brief walk to Wilson Falls yesterday... The generation plant building seems to be gone from the landscape?  Was it demolished for the increased generation project?  Wow, I loved that old red brick building - it reminded me of something out of war-time Britain.  I look forward to getting caught up with you all over the holidays with many pics and stories to upload soon.

Festive Wishes to you all...
Thanks for walking with me on my footpath today.


Muskoka River

Muskoka River - Looking North

Wilson Falls Generation Project

Saturday, November 20, 2010

WK 32: Living life's seasons...

Note:  December 2nd:
Sorry there are no new pictures to show you!
Lost my USB camera cord during the move & can't upload any photos!
Coming soon!

Well folks, I'm a couple of days later than usual posting the photos and blog. It's been a busy week trying to get Christmas cracker orders filled and organizing a move of my home and business. But never too busy to snap some photos! The ones this week are taken from a hike through the South Monck Trail the beginning of Wk 32.  It was a beautiful fall day with all the colours of the forest floor reflecting the warm sun.  It's kind of a sad time of year some people would say but I also find it comforting.  Nature has dropped a warming, protective blanket of leaves over the landscape to prepare for the winter sleep.  Just imagine all the plant and insect life lying underneath, resting, sleeping, waiting for the surge of spring to push all the energies of life back up again toward  the heavens in a few short months.

We are incredibly lucky, I think, in this country to experience the four seasons. As I approach my 60th birthday, I feel in sync with nature's calendar and place myself on it somewhere towards summer's end.  It's a relief to me and an education to see the continuum of my own life reflected in the seasons. I feel less afraid, comforted even, by the rhythm of nature as I begin my older years.  I can let go of the fear of life's end one day and rather feel instead the joy of being alive in the moment. 

Another event this week that makes me think of life's seasons: Today, I had to dis-inter my old feline buddy, Grendle, and take her to a new and permanent resting place where she can lie undisturbed.  She lived with me nearly 20 years, the best kitty-friend a person could want.  She was the chief greeter for nearly 10 years at my stationery shop in Toronto and she moved north with me experiencing one town after another - sometimes adventurously, sometimes with trepidation - until we finally settled on beautiful Bracebridge where she passed away a couple of Christmases ago.  After such a long history, I couldn't just leave her behind in the ground when I move for someone else to dig up and discard.  So, she is headed this week to her final home and her long winter's rest.

Well back to the cheerier business of 'Cracker Central' as my friends call it.  I love my job and I just love packing up the boxes after the crackers are filled.  The last thing into the box is a Christmas card with a holiday wish for every customer.  These folks who order year after year have become my "Christmas Families" - I have come to know the names of their family members - even their cats and dogs.  Some even write to me at Christmas to tell me what new pets has been adopted into their homes.  It's a business with lots of personal connection, high spirits, colour and sparkle. It's an honour to be part of hundreds of family celebrations. How lucky can a person be to get paid for doing the job they love.

That's the blogging ramble for this week.  Hope you are well, busy, happy.

Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this week.


This weeks photos are here:
And, should you be interested, the crackers are here:

The weekly health report will return after Christmas.  I am still walking daily and have made tremendous gains in lowering the blood pressures!  I hope this encourages any of you who are considering taking up walking, hiking.  10,000 steps a day is not so very many as it turns out.  Just walking to the post box, the pharmacy, around your living quarters and a round a couple of blocks and you've taken positive steps to improved flexibility, a sense of well-being and better health. I enjoy the walks and hikes.  I hope you enjoy yours too!

A reminder - you can view all 30 pluse web albums at Picasa:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wk 31: Visioning a new home ...

Muskoka River Reflection at Taylor Road Bridge

I was reminded yesterday as I took a series of river 'reflection' photos, that a lot about our life and how we live it has to do with what we SEE, how we SEE it and with whom we SEE it.  Not only our eyes but our minds, hearts and souls SEE all that is going on and how we interpret it.

2 1/2 years ago I had to make an unexpected move from my home in Gravenhurst. The owner's son had lost his job and was returning to town in need of a place to live - so I was toast and on the move yet again. I had only lived there a year and I was very unhappy about having to move so soon again.  I knew I had to find a new home quickly but I couldn't SEE the new home in my mind and, more importantly, I couldn't SEE getting 'THERE' from the 'HERE' where I was at the time. The time taken away from my business while I looked, the $1,000 to pay movers and relocate services, all the work of packing when I was barely even feeling settled, having to do all - find a place and pick up packing boxes - without a car and without any family up north to help - well, you get where I where I was and how I was feeling at the time..

And now just 2 1/2 years later, I am yet again, facing an unplanned and most unwelcome move over the Christmas holidays.  While working through this mentally, financially, emotionally, physically, I recalled a visit I had with the friend of a friend in Gravenhurst just weeks before I found my current home.  The woman is a psychic and I have never visited one and, in fact, wasn't that time either but she had a dear apartment available that she wanted me to see.  She called it her 'chalet' and sitting off alone in her back yard and beside her swimming pool that's pretty much what it looked like.  It was absolutely perfect... but it had NO plumbing!

Anyway, I sat down with this wonderful sight-full and quirky woman for a tea and a visit.  She asked me about things and suggested I write down everything that I was looking for in a new home.  I acquiesced because although I didn't see how it was going to help, I figured it wouldn't hurt either, now would it?  I wrote my list... sunny, near water, big work space, close to the post office, a garden, and a place that worked for my kitty pal, Grendle.  And it had to have ladybugs.  Somewhere.  I looked at the list and passed it over to my psychic friend and she immediately said, "It looks like you will be moving to Bracebridge". 

What?! At this point I figured this had to be all nuts because Bracebridge was the LAST place I wanted to live!  But within a couple of days I had confirmation of an apartment in, yes,  Bracebridge no less.  I moved to town.  Sure enough the river was only moments away as was the post office.  There was a big work room, and Grendle enjoyed her last 5 months of life in the sunshine under the skylight.  And, there were ladybugs in the garden.  So it all came true.  Every bit of it. As Helen had told me to SEE, to vision.

Now here I am in the middle of my busy holiday cracker season, working 18 hour days til Christmas eve.  With reduced income expectations this season due to all the stress and the time that has been required to deal with what's going on. And, still I have no car. Still there is no family up north to help with this all.  Though, thankfully, there are a few new wonderful friends in my new town of Bracebridge which I have truly grown to love.

So, I have been remembering my psychic friend and I thought, well, it worked well last time, why not try visioning my next new home?  Maybe I can SEE it if I really try. Maybe I have learned a thing or two about what needs to go on 'The List'.  It follows below:

But first, I have two favours to ask of you all.
2) And PLEASE SHARE THE VISION with your friends, neighbours, colleagues - anyone you can think of. I have a hunch that if enough people can SEE my new home list then this vision WILL materialize.  Someone will know someone that knows of someplace available.

~ on the river on Wilson Falls Road
~ country kitchen
~ ENORMOUS workshop room with built in shelves for my cracker/card biz
~ pine trees
~ garden for veggie growing
~ room for a dog or kitty
~ bath tub
~ friendly neighbours to share coffee with
~ LONG and STABLE lease
~ decent landlord who appreciates me and whom I can appreciate
~ the money and time to make it all possible
~ good health to enjoy it
~ and work enough for the next dozen years or so while the cracker biz develops into a small, enduring cottage industry which can remain in town long after I’m gone.

Thanks all!  I am off with some friends this afternoon to walk the South Monck Trail.  Will check in later this week to tell you about our walk in "Today's Trail Notes".

The Photos this week are a little different and all about 'Reflections'.  They were all taken at the Taylor Road Bridge over the Muskoka River.  They spoke to me about 'SEEing'.  YOU can SEE them here:

If you are enjoying the blog or have some other thought to share, please leave a note below.
Maybe there is something or somewhere you would like me to photograph for a future blog?

Have a good week everyone ~
Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this 31st week of the Project. Gillian

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wk 30: What I saw on my way to the shops this week.

The Images that caught my eye
on the way to the shops this week are here:

Life is busy in every way and the blogs will have to wait until Christmas now.

Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this 30th week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

WK 28: It's a glorious autumn day in Bracebridge, Ontario

It is glorious here in Bracebridge today.  The sun was strong and warm.
The town was flooded with dozens and dozens of friendly tourists -
many with their hands full of ice cream cones!
Several stopped to ask me things about Bracebridge which I thought was really neat.
There are still beautiful leaves and brilliantly coloured shrubbery everywhere.
There were kayakers out on the Bay and several photographers.
Folks were just drinking in the sun's rays and the beauty of it all.

This week's photos are in large format and my take a minute or more to download.
If you have trouble seeing them, let me know.

They can be found here:

If you missed it last week, you can still enjoy the 3rd annual
"Muskoka Fall Colours Slide Show" - here:

Have a good week everyone ~
Thank you for walking with me on my footpath this week.
The Blog and health update will be on hand next week...

Cheers, Gillian

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Muskoka Fall Colours Slide show

The 3rd Annual Muskoka Fall Colours slide show is ready to view. 
Please share it with your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
And thank you for walking with me on the trails this holiday weekend.

Friday, October 8, 2010

WK 27: Hiking the Trails

There is never a shortage of new and interesting things to look at
- no matter how often I hike the same trails.

Muskoka is beautiful - Nature is magnificent.
Hope you can lace up your runners and join me soon.

Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this week.


The Photos are HERE:

The 3rd Annual Muskoka Fall Colours Slide Show is HERE: 


The new  Muskoka Trails 'Map Clips' are available.
You can buy them at Muskoka Bean on Manitoba Street for just $5.

The Clip Book contains trail maps for 6 Muskoka Regions - each page is plastic protected, features a map, access points, parking locations and items of interest. Each trail also features a "Volkssport Rating" to indicate the walking difficulty.  I don't know if I particularly agree with these ratings for Bracebridge.  One trail which I find especially easy, is rate 5E - the most difficult level but another trail that I believe to be the hardest in town is given only a 3E.  So maybe some of this is subjective!
Anyway, these attractive Clips can be handily attached to your back pack.
(They also sell pkgs. of Trail Mix to benefit the Muskoka Trails Council)

For more information, Twitter here:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

WK 25: Art Enlarges the Language of Observation

"[Art] enlarges the language of observation" - so says Canadian painter and sculptor, Gathie Falk. Certainly photography does. Sometimes I don't really see what's in a photo until after it has been taken and I look into it as the observer-participant.  Once I found a bright scarlet ladybug I had missed when snapping a picture - another time when I had forgotten my glasses, a finished photo revealed a fat raccoon sitting in a tree which had totally escaped the notice of my unspectacled eyes! But it's more than just the obvious that we see. Photos zoom into the details and reveal layers and nuances we often haven't the time or even maybe sometimes the inclination to notice. And it is this act of framed observation - a snapped moment in time - which reconfigures our perception of what we think at first we are seeing.  It prompts 'second sight' revealing what we hadn't seen before - offering us a completely refreshed insight and focus. Sadly, we miss a lot as we rush about our lives. Whether taking a photo, painting a picture, arranging flowers, washing the car, cooking a fabulous meal - taking  the time to look closely at what is in front of us and noting all we can see reveals much both about the object viewed and about ourselves.

I couldn't get out to take many pics this week due to a rhum foot... but on Wednesday, lame limb or not, I  plan to be on the trails taking as many photos as possible. This looks to be the optimum autumn leaves weekend coming up here in Bracebridge.  I welcome all of you to try to make the time to come up and take in the fantastic vista.  For those of you can't come, I invite you to find a tree or even a single leaf near your home. Make a close inspection - with your mind, your emotions and your soul. What do you see?

and Thank YOU for walking along with me on my footpath this week.


The Photos for Week 25 are HERE: 

Monday, September 20, 2010

WK 24: The first pedometer walk went well...

Wilson Falls Road - Part of the Trans Canada Trail.
If you begin walking at Taylor Road and River Road here in Bracebridge 
and continue onto Wilson Falls Road up the Trans Canada Trail until you reach the Falls - 
and then make the return trip, that is just about the 10,000 heart-healthy steps some walking and health sites recommend per day. Unlike most of the other hiking trails which feature forest floor surfaces, Wilson Falls Road can be walked along almost every day of the year and so it will be my winter exercise of choice most days.

Almost all of the wildlife I saw this summer including ducks, deer, beaver, myriad birds including a mighty heron, raccoons and something else in the river I couldn't identify - an otter?, were located along the Muskoka River at Wilson Falls Road. I hope you will all give this diverse and very beautiful walkway a try if you are by this way!
Let me know if you do!


This week I stubbornly maintained focus on exercise, eating healthy and continuing to find a work/living balance in my life even while navigating through the busiest, nerviest part of my work year.

The rain has been fairly persistent the past week, but finally today the trails dried up a little and it was possible to get around the muddy bits. After saving up my Shopper's Drug Mart 'Optimum Points' for awhile, I took them to shop for a Omron Pedometer to help measure the distances walked in both km and 'steps', the percentage of those steps which were walked at a quick enough pace to be considered aerobic exercise during each hike and also the number of calories consumed. The burned calorie count is personalized on the pedometer by inputting one's body weight and it can be further manually adjusted according to age if that's an interest.  It is the distance - number of steps and km - that I am using it for mostly as another means of being aware of a balance between calories in and out -- and time away from work!

The first pedometer walk went well. I checked the 'steps' function a few times to make sure it was recording accurately which indeed it was. The light-weight gadget attaches easily (though not firmly enough, in my opinion) to the waste band or pocket or can even be attached to a purse.  The measurement at the end of the hike was dead-on and I was glad to see that my favourite trail - Wilson Falls Road - provides just the right number of walking steps to fulfill the 10,000 being recommended by many today as a healthy amount of daily walking exercise.  This is on top of the ordinary walking which varies depending on what we do throughout the normal course of the day. Obviously we all have different levels of health and walking distances and the benefits of that are going to depend on our own personal make-up. Some folks walk enough in their jobs and have little need of further walking during their day.

So that was step two this week to keep working on health.  Step one was just simply making the decision to get out the door each day!  Sometimes that is far harder than taking the actual walk which I quite enjoy - once I get out there!.  When set into a work 'groove' for the day, I get a bit obsessive and don't want to firmly put whatever the project is back down on the desk and drag myself out of the chair to grab the back-pack and shoes. The thing that seems to work is to remember how enjoyable it feels being out walking in nature, along the river and in ear-view of the birds. And every walk, there is some little surprise to behold.

Decision three had to do with food and portions and where and how I eat. Eating good healthy food has never been a problem for me. I am almost entirely a vegetarian with a few eggs and some fish thrown into the mix. I eat lots of beans and many varieties of them along with grains. This is my food of choice and certainly no sacrifice at all. But, some days, portions are. Especially when the workload is heavy and the hours are long. So one thing I am doing is to make eating a separate daily event - even if it is a brief one - instead of grabbing whatever and chowing down in front of the computer, the printer or the TV. And to ensure the meal is even more enticing and the portions are reasonably sized, I have decided to spring for a very special handmade dinner plate. It is smallish and square; a beautiful ceramic piece  decorated in a fine-art, understated sort of way. I have promised myself that when I finish losing the next 15 pounds, I am going back for a soup or fruit dish by way of reward!

None of this is easy.  This is the hardest time of year to lose weight, exercise and maintain health.  There is just so little time in a day and from the moment I fall out of bed 'til it's time to turn the covers back down again, it is work, work, work - right up until about December 23rd.  And because it is getting colder, the body seems to say more often - 'feed me, feed me, feed me something warm and comforting!' And then with winter coming on, there will be a heavy coat to get into and heavier still boots to lace up... it just all takes a little more effort.  But after a summer of regular walking, exercise and eating well, my endurance has increased, the weight is down a bit and so are the blood pressures. Nothing's perfect but it sure is improved. If I can make it through the busy season coming up - basically just 13 weeks - then I will finally be on the way of having achieved a lifestyle change and can be assured that walking, good eating, and a healthy life balance are taking root. Enjoyment of the maturing years has so much to do with health -  none of us want to spend those years in a chair - or worse still, in a bed!

Cheers, everyone. I hope you too, are getting out to enjoy the lovely fall weather. If it rains, then try walking round malls or just take an umbrella with you.  But do stay off the slippery forest trails which can be muddy and dangerous.

Thanks for your company and walking along with me on my footpath this week,

Supplemental photos of a downtown Toronto visit this week are here:
Page 1:
Page 2:

The crackers if any of you are interested for Thanksgiving are here:

PS:  The new  Muskoka Trails 'Map Clips' are available.
You can buy them at Muskoka Bean on Manitoba Street for just $5.
The Clip Book contains trail maps for 6 Muskoka Regions - each page is plastic protected, features a map, access points, parking locations and items of interest. Each trail also features a "Volkssport Rating" to indicate the walking difficulty.  I don't know if I particularly agree with these ratings for Bracebridge.  One trail which I find especially easy, is rate 5E - the most difficult level but another trail that I believe to be the hardest in town is given only a 3E.  So maybe some of this is subjective!
Anyway, these attractive Clips can be handily attached to your back pack.

For more information, Twitter here:

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Supplemental Photos - Toronto

 Toronto Wired

The usual 12 photos of Bracebridge will be posted likely on Monday.
Meanwhile, here are some taken in Toronto
while I was waiting for a medical appt.

Here are the page links - hope you enjoy them:

Toronto Page One
Toronto Page Two

Old City Hall - Details

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Wk 23: I have birthday-promised myself...

Thank goodness for these corduroy-like walkways
which help us over the boggy parts of the Trans Canada trail.
Sometime, about the first week of August every year, my nerves start jumping about in raw disorganization and a million 'To-Do' lists visually conjure up from the frightening jumble that's stuffing up my brain.  And every year I run out to the nearest "Back to School" sale to load up on a fresh supply of Hilroy exercise books into which all these lists get transcribed. A blue book for supply sourcing; the pink book for creative ideas, the green book for financial matters and the encouraging, cheery yellow one for everything else. I live under the ever-hopeful expectations and impression (mistaken?) that if I can only get it all written down in neatly organized, numbered columns that a way to figure it all out and to get it all done ON TIME will become clearly evident.  And, I will be able to breathe again. 

This is the start of another holiday season at GillianCrackers. It is always a nervy, stressful time.  There is much to do, create, buy, produce, stuff, wrap, roll, tape, cut, print, weigh, ship, stamp, record and pack. There are new cracker styles to create, paper suppliers to find, new puzzles to devise and holiday candy to source.  And then there are the dog and cats to think of because, being an ardent animal lover, I like to make Christmas and crackers special for them too. The production end of the crackers is huge and boxes of supplies and activity packs and chocolate are everywhere - stacks of paper boxes which need filling with cut, sized wraps; unfolded paper hats (all hand made) and puzzle sheets awaiting folding stare petulantly at me from shaky make-shift shelves stacked to the ceiling with holiday components - rather uncertainly and everywhere - all reminding me there is much work to be done. The puzzle pencil and the cello bag supply boxes have reached empty and I am reminded (once money is found!) they must be reordered. SOON. And then there is co-ordinating the efforts of others involved - the 'cracker elves'.  These are the folks who help me source supplies, handle late out-of-country deliveries, supply specialty items like this year's handmade (in Muskoka - YEAH!) pewter tree ornaments or the artisanal chocolate truffles which give the crackers their special Victorian-England holiday touches. And then there is the headache of financing (unsuccessfully again this year) the seasonal 'start-up' costs which has never as a result to date 'started-up' on time so I am always a couple of months behind from the get-go. The clouds of stress build and hover like some kind of looming doomsday storm about to break at any moment. Ohhhhh, I have a big, big headache.

Some of the prep work gets done in January when everything is still fresh in my mind from the preceeding months and when there is a ton of feedback from my wonderbar customers (God bless 'em all!) who send in their completed 'customer satisfaction/suggestion' surveys. At that time, ideas for the next season form and take shape for fun new cracker varieties for the next season.

But it is in dear August when the dramatic start of 'nerve season' begins. I mention all of the preceding because, as many of you know, I am trying very hard to live a more healthy life, lose pounds, lower blood pressures, build muscles. And for all this to become a 'habit-for-life'. Nerve Season is the toughest time of year to get through - physically and emotionally.  I start to eat.  And eat and eat and EAT!  And then eat some more. And sadly with so little time available (the normal 10 hour working days having turned into 16-18 hr 'holiday' season days by mid July), I find it harder and harder to get out for any kind of walking let alone a peaceful, energizing hike on the trails. I'm sure many of you with pressured jobs and schedules can relate.

And so, last week, while not surprised, I was dismally dismayed to see the scales creep up 2 pounds already and my blood pressure was again through the roof. This cannot happen. It WILL NOT happen. I turn 60 in just 20 weeks and I have birthday-promised myself that I will be a healthier person going into the next decade. This is a soul-promise and it can't be broken no matter what. It is very hard though with so little time to eat well when working such long days. Instead of taking the time to make vegetables and fish, I end up eating bread and anything that doesn't require cooking. Including looting the Christmas Ghirardelli chocolate supply. (And, as I keep telling my Swiss-Canadian chocolate-loving friend, Diana, I don't even LIKE chocolate!) This year though I am GOING TO LICK THIS. I have made some pre-emptive strike changes, filling up a freezer given to me by friends Diana (same one) & Wray (thanks so much, guys!), with multiple varieties of 'whole-food' soups, stuffed green peppers and other healthy, portion-sized entres all made in my own kitchen with controlled nutrients and calories. It will all be so welcome when the pressure gauge turns up a few notches by October 1st.  The harder thing to plan for is exercise - finding the time, the energy, the will to get out onto the trails.  So I sat myself down Friday and delivered a stern admonition: Life is short and getting shorter - To live it well, to the utmost, to squeeze every last little bit of enjoyment out of whatever years remain, health is essential. I resolved Friday that a daily short walk and at least two longer weekly hikes are a continued must. MUST. I really enjoy them and after 8 months they are almost an ingrained habit - it's just a matter of being given the self-permission to get up from the office chair, leave the holiday season work on the desk despite the awesomely growing piles, grab the backpack and. go, GO, GO! 

Yesterday I enjoyed a soul-refreshing, body-energizing hike along the Wilson Falls Trail and the Trans Canada trails - both the northern and southern Muskoka River  routes. The fungi were ablaze with deep reds and golds, a few trees are already dressed in autumn glory, the summer birds are leaving replaced by jays and other feathered friends who winter here. I gathered up acorns - abundant all across the forest floor - for my backyard chipmunk friends (I don't think they like them though!). The trails stretched ahead for 8 or more miles and I walked and walked and walked all the nerviness out of my brain and legs and enjoyed every little minute of living in the moment.  And there were surprises; most notably the sudden flight of a mighty heron taking off as I passed by his perch. My legs feel like velvet today and my head is clearer. And I am ready to tackle the seasonal work-load and challenges. For today, at least. I know I can get through the holidays with health, trimming pounds not adding them, lowering blood pressures not raising them. Like the "Little Engine who Could", I CAN do this!  I CAN, you betcha. Cross your fingers and toes for me and ... stay tuned.  Sigh.

If you enjoyed this week's blog, please feel free to pass it along to friends, colleagues and family or anyone who may enjoy / benefit. 
Have a great week everyone.

Thanks for walking along with me on my footpath this week.

This photos for Week 23 are HERE:

The Holiday Crackers, if you wish to follow their progress, are HERE:

Wk 22: Rain and more rain...

Garden Fence - Front Street, Bracebridge, Ontario
Lots of rain during Week 22 of the project and the pictures had to be gathered slowly and one at a time over the course of the week - in between the raindrops!

The Photos are here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Week 21: A Time for Everything

The fullness of summer has peaked and the certain signs of autumn and looming winter are upon us here in Muskoka. It is a very beautiful time of year. The ducks are all grown up, bigger, more confident and very handsome indeed. Summer's flowers and shrubs and fruits and nuts have all made the most of their opportunities to flourish and renew the landscape, feed wildlife and fill our eyes and souls.

I have never experienced such a 'flash' of a summer before. It was barely a blink between the first signs of crocus and the change to autumn golds and reds. Where did it all go? This year of reflecting on aging adds intensity to the change of seasons for me. Trying to find where I am in the changing cycle and seasons of life and making peace with that - finding joy in that and hope. And acknowledging responsibility too. I feel so utterly responsible not to waste any days or minutes. Not to squander whatever few talents I possess. Not to wish so much for tomorrow that I lose sight of today. To share and pass on what I can. To listen to young people; to encourage. To be honest with myself and others. To develop unfeigned, clarifying humility. To find something worthwhile within, no matter how meager, to give back to the earth and fellow beings and God each and every day.

At various times in our lives we come to grip in different ways and varying depths with the finite nature of our being. I remember only too well in my early 30's when the truth of death - my death - hit me. I immediately mentally shoved both feet on imaginary brakes. I was absolutely gripped with fear and anger and could not face this news. The ultimate cry of the ego - "how can I possibly no longer exist?" I remember asking God - pleading more like – ‘just give me some time to do the couple of things on my list so I can feel like I have truly lived’. And God did give me that time and I did accomplish those things. And life went on and my understanding of it in relation to death deepened. And I began to realize that the end of life marks not the end of choices but the beginning of some very significant ones that we must make if we are truly to feel peace and live to advantage, meaningfully, generously.

Such as? Well, for me it means choosing to live whatever years I have left within a conscious framework. Aging but not growing old in my mind or heart or soul. Remembering to laugh and play, to notice things and learn, to remember, to tie up loose ends so I can relax and dance on in life without worrying how long it might last. It means still having future dreams and working very hard to achieve them but living every day in the moment. And taking time each day for reflection - no matter how busy, there is always time for some stillness - a short walk, a few moments to watch the blue jays and the chipmunks, take pictures, read poetry, just gaze off into the horizon or watch other people go about their day. Time to talk with God. And to listen.

Thanks for walking along with me on my footpath this week.

Week 21:  The photos are HERE.

Sometimes I just feel bowled over by the nature of life and this was one of those weeks.  I hope this doesn’t sound gooey and syrupy but honestly I don’t think I have ever felt how precious the moments are in a day.  Or what opportunities there are within each day to create and use/develop whatever little talents God’s graced me with.  It hit me like a brick a couple of days ago. Musn’t squander. Will continue to make mental space free for breaks and keep walking, walking WALKING whenever, wherever I can.
  Walked 6 glorious miles on the trails yesterday. Lost another pound this week and the BP is pretty good.  124/85.  Getting there.
Soul Connection:
  This week the soul connection was with autumn and ‘life’.  Every turning leaf and ripening berry reminded me of life’s changes. Life lives to survive and ensure successive future generations.  We thankfully can leave most of that work to nature.  But how that future is molded is up to us and the decisions we make and the generosity and commitment with which we live out the days allotted to us.

A Time for Everything:

There is an appointed time for everything.
And there is a time for every event under heaven.
A time to give birth, and a time to die; 
A time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill, and a time to heal; 
A time to tear down, and a time to build up.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; 
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; 
A time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; 
A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; 
A time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate; 
A time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Words about walking...

Week 20 of the Bracebridge Photo Project

My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.  
~Aldous Huxley

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.  
~Henry David ThoreauAfter a day's walk everything has twice its usual value.  
~George Macauley Trevelyan

I dream of hiking into my old age.  
~Marlyn Doan

 No city should be too large for a man to walk out of in a morning.  
~Cyril Connolly

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
 ~John Muir

Walks.  The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird.  
~Jules Renard

The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet.  
~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," 1841

If you are walking to seek, ye shall find.  
~Sommeil Liberosensa

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk.  
~Jacqueline Schiff

We live in a fast-paced society.  Walking slows us down.  
~Robert Sweetgall

The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking.  The walking is good to time the movement of the tongue by, and to keep the blood and the brain stirred up and active; the scenery and the woodsy smells are good to bear in upon a man an unconscious and unobtrusive charm and solace to eye and soul and sense; but the supreme pleasure comes from the talk.  
~Mark Twain

[Hiking] is the best workout!... You can hike for three hours and not even realize you're working out.
~Jamie Luner

The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.
~Frederick L. Knowles

The photos for Week 20 are HERE.

Have a great week everyone...
Thanks for walking with me on my footpath this week.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Week 19: It was Christmas and it felt so cheerless...

I looked inside my fridge tonight and I was hit by the bounty of full shelves of fresh fruits and vegetables. I always feel a little guilty when I have so much food in there. I know all too well what it's like to do without food. With my artsy bohemian lifestyle and its on again off again income, keeping anything in the cupboards or the fridge some days is a real challenge. And there have been such days that particularly stand out in mind. I remember one Christmas nearly 35 years ago when I had nowhere to go that holiday and no money and no food - there wasn't so much as mustard in the fridge or even a cracker. I spent the day working in a neighbourhood convenience store which sold all sorts of speciality cheeses and deli meats and good coffees. They needed a little extra help and all that day long customers came in to buy little things they had forgotten and then leave to be on their way for Christmas dinner with family and friends. Some left little gifts of wine and other things for Gus, the owner, so there was much holiday spirit in the store. But at the end of the day I had to leave without food. My pay wouldn't be ready for a time; I couldn't buy even bread to take home that Christmas.

It seared an impression into my heart and soul. Strangely, I am not really sure why or what bothered me most that day. I was hungry, that's for sure. I did feel badly that it was Christmas and it felt so cheerless without family or friends or presents or treats. Yet it was nice to greet the happy people coming into the shop. I don't think I envied people their families to go to or the food they could afford to buy - I don't think that deep inside I really do covet what other people have and maybe I don't have in this life. But the experience left me with a very strong sense of kindred connection with people who are alone, who are hungry, who are afraid or without whatever it is that might be important to them.

People can be alone in so many ways - through loss, jobs, confinement, poor health, political oppression, cultural pressures, mental illness, imprisonment or just the quirks of individual personalty - life circumstances we choose or have foisted upon us or just may plain happen without warning. Single parents can be so alone, the elderly and the very young as well. Even in marriage, one can feel very alone at times. And in just as much variety people can be without - food, shelter, love, freedom, work, safety, medical care and drugs.

And now when I see that full fridge I think about all this and then just feel frustrated because still my life is challenging and there isn't much energy or any financial resources left over at the end of each day to help anyone else - to help them feel not alone, to help them get what they need to live. Even though I feel greatly sensitized through my own life to other people's need for help, there is, most days, so little I can do. So, I guess one thing over the oncoming years is to keep improving my own situation so I can reach out to others. For now it all leaves me feeling a little mad at God. You wouldn't believe some of the conversations we've had about this.

I guess the 'unblogged blog' had it's stopper popped open temporarily tonight. I can't promise a regular weekly blog right now. I need to write privately some days. However, this year "before-turning-60" is a very strange and changing one and there are so many things going round and round and ROUND in my head. And some of them might just end up here - occasionally - if they seem fit to share. I'll let you decide that.

Thank you for walking with me on my footpath this week. Gillian

WEEK 19 :: 12 PHOTOS: The images aren't terribly inspired this week - It was very hot and humid and I seemed to be going out in the blazing sun or too late at night - both conditions producing less than desirable results...But, though they may not be food for the eyes this week, hopefully food for thought at least. CLICK HERE.

BBPP Weekly Health Check:
Going a little crazy with cracker work for Thanksgiving/Hanukka/Christmas etc. Every year it gets more involved and detailed and a bigger operation. I love my customers - especially the repeat ones. They all write lovely notes and updates every year. It takes days to answer them all but it is a wonderful annual tradition to work through the first days of the holiday season here at the studio. It is so important to balance this with exercising and taking the time to cook properly. I'm almost 60 and these life changes are for life.

Body: My legs are itching to get out onto the trails. The humidity and the huge annual August workload have made time precious. Hoping to find a few hours real soon to go back to South Monck. Weight is holding steady. BP is also holding - doing quite well actually.

The Artist Soul: Well, this has to be the duck connection again. They are pretty much grown up now. I can only find 4 out of the 7 the past week. I'm wondering if some have gone off on their own or if they have come into harm's way. They continue to race across the river whenever I am there. It's such a thrill. They clamber right up on shore. I don't feed them as I understand this is not good for them and I am even a little worried about cultivating a friendship and this may take the edge off of their necessary wariness. Hunting season is, after all, not far off. I can't bear the thought of that.