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.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Unblogging the blog.

Folks there is no blog this week. Well actually there are two. One is an honest one about my experiences over the years living creatively with depression; the other is a funny one called: “If cleanliness is next to Godliness, I am headed south for eternity”.  Now if it were me reading someone else’s blog, I think I would go for topic two and give number one a definite pass. But that is not the type of topic that deep down in my soul, I need to write about just now or over the coming months of this project

When I first started the blog, it was to write and share about my life while improving health and exploring feelings as I move into the ‘senior’ years.  It’s very hard, harder than I expected, to write honestly each week.  And being honest, writing authentically is the one thing I promised myself from the very beginning. What I have found is that I have shifted in focus and become more concerned with entertaining readers.  This isn't a newspaper column; it's a personal journaled journey about a shift in life and making and accepting life changes. With no feedback really that the writing is being useful to anyone other than me, I have decided for now to keep the blogs private.  I am getting back on track – writing seriously each week without feeling the need to entertain anyone. Maybe some day there will be reason to share these weekly jottings with you all.  But for now the courage to do so quite honestly fails.

The good news is there will continue to be right up until next April 2011, at least 12 photos to share with you every week.  I hope you enjoy them! And "Trail Notes" as well - observations on walks in nature throughout the week.

Thanks for listening to my ‘unblog’ blog this week.   Please do continue to check in to see bits of beautiful Bracebridge caught in photographs.
Thanks for walking along with me on my footpath this week.