Years ago, we
acquired a second-hand 4,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a castle in Scotland.
For years it sat
on a shelf in the basement, and my Dad was always going to put it together, but
we didn’t have a table or board big enough as the box said the puzzle was 57 x 38
Then Dad passed
away in 2003, and still the puzzle sat on the shelf.
Numerous other (smaller)
puzzles were completed over the years, yet that 4,000 piece one never moved.
Finally I decided
it was time to do something with it. On
January 13th of this year, my niece and I took it off the shelf. After measuring every possible surface, we
started putting the puzzle together right on the floor in a corner of the
In the beginning, I
had a bit of assistance from my sister and niece, but I completed the bulk of the
puzzle myself. All in all, it took me
just over two and half months, but with my health challenges this year, that
was actually stretched over ten months, and the final piece was put in on
November 12th (photo, below).
stopping at our house would comment on the progress (or lack thereof) and say
that they couldn’t do something like that because they didn’t have the patience.
Yet, it isn’t
really “patience” per se that is required.
Like any task in this world, it is love and enjoyment of the task that
keeps a person going, and whether you are a “journey” or a “destination” person. I really enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles so the
task was not daunting - in the sense of impossible - as I knew I WOULD finish
it, and it is the challenge of the puzzle, not the completed puzzle that I get
the most enjoyment from.
The puzzle has now
been taken apart and boxed up again so it can be passed onto someone else for
them to enjoy.
This is also a
good time of year to remember that the Christmas season is a journey to enjoy,
not a destination to reach and check off a list. We wonder why life is going by so fast, could
it be because we rush through our holidays and milestones in order to reach the
Sigh, it seems
there are some misconceptions and rumours floating around about me that I need to clarify.
First, I have not
quit the newspaper. Which should be
obvious as I am still the contact person, and I still write a blurb for this
spot every issue.
That said, I have
had to make changes in how I go about putting the paper together, and, the
biggest change of all, is that I have had to get help with the twice-monthly
deliveries as I am just not able to handle the physical effort on my own. Even though I have had help, I have been
along on every trip, in the car, giving directions.
doesn’t look like this situation will be changing any time soon, and, as I can’t
always find someone available to spend the day with me, I can’t guarantee that
I’ll always be able to get the print issues out to the communities in a timely
manner. The paper will be available
online for sure.
Second, I AM
getting better, but “getting better” does not mean that I am cured, totally
healthy, or that life is now back to normal.
FAR FROM IT! All “getting better:
means at this point in my life is that I am not loudly knocking on death’s door
any more. Thank goodness! I still need loads of rest, I still need help
doing things, and I am not supposed to have any stress - though I still haven’t
figured out how to get around that one as just having a chronic illness is
stressful enough, besides the stresses that result from not being able to do
what you want, or need to do each day.
I was told that I
have been like a gas tank that is so empty and dry there aren’t even any fumes
in there. When I rest, and manage to get
replenished, I act like I have a full tank, when in reality I may only have a
few drops of gas, which are quickly used up.
Until I can get my tank filled up again, I am going to be limited as to
what I can do on my own.
Third, just because
I am smiling doesn’t mean that everything is sunshine and roses in my life,
because it is NOT! I smile, because I am
at heart basically a very happy person, and because smiling is the one thing I
can do that doesn’t stress me out, or exhaust me within 10 or 15 minutes. While there may be a smile on my face, the
tears are a mere blink away and can fall at any time - and they do fall.
My life changed in
the past 5 years, and nothing is the same.
When my sister and
I were younger, our house was hit by lightning one night. The lightning hit our TV aerial and travelled
along the wiring, into the house...an outlet cover was blown across the room,
but the most freaky part of the whole thing was that the lightning went horizontally into our metal TV stand just
above all the LPs storied on the bottom shelf before it changed direction
sharply and went straight up into the TV.
As a consequence of
getting zapped, our colour TV became a black & white TV, except if we
watched black and white movies - which always appeared in bright vivid colour. Other than the quirk of the coloured vs black
and white, and the odd loud snap and crackle when you least expected it (and
the house was totally silent otherwise), the TV was fine so we didn’t get a new
one, until it finally did bite the dust.
YEARS of watching the TV, and knowing that if we saw black and white it was
really in colour, and visa versa, you’d think we wouldn’t have been surprised
when we were able to watch shows and movies the way they were meant to be.
The first time we
popped in the old John Wayne classic “Angel and the Badman” (VHS) to watch on
our brand new TV we were sure that the TV, or the VCR, or both, were broken as
the movie we were viewing was definitely black and white, and not in colour as
it had always been every other time we viewed it. (It has since been updated in
colour and newer releases on DVD are almost all in colour).
We even scrutinized
the video case in sheer disbelief to discover that the version we had was in
fact a black and white movie. As we sat
there watching the movie we could remember the colour of each and every outfit
and item of scenery, as well as the vivid blue of the sky!
Even though we had
known in our minds that what we had been viewing before had been altered as it
was being seen on a (for all intents and purposes broken) TV, that had been our
“reality” for so long that when we saw it through a new lens (TV), it took a
while to adjust.
As we make the
transition to the season of winter, many of us just don’t feel the urge to move
or exercise. No need to feel guilty as
this is a part of the natural cycle we go through, as do most mammals in our
northern region, as our bodies slow down to conserve energy during the cold
winter months of hibernation.
Since humans don’t
hibernate we need to maintain some level of activity, even in winter , in order
to stay healthy.
But, how much
activity do we really need? Articles,
websites, books, and newcasts abound with various recommendations ranging from
a mere 5 minute walk daily to an hour of intense activity daily.
I recently read
where NASA discovered - almost by accident - the condition that causes the
greatest ageing and illness on our bodies is weightlessness (i.e. zero gravity),
and the closest earthly equivalent to weightlessness is sitting or standing
because gravity isn’t working on our bodies, other than to keep us earth-bound.
Therefore, the best
“exercise” is one that moves our bodies through gravity - not so much
horizontally, but vertically, such as jumping and climbing. Now, before you get too winded just thinking
about that, the easiest way to move our bodies through gravity is to stand up
from a sitting position and sit back down.
Doing that a minimum of 32 times during each day will do more for our
overall health than most exercise.
How would you
describe the course of your daily life?
included at times) would say it is a roller-coaster with dramatic ups and
sometimes even more dramatic lows, with twists and turns, and unexpected
moments that turn you completely upside down, but the biggest feature is that
there is no speed control as you barrel along gong faster and faster.
Others may describe
their lives as a spiral which turns around and around, but you have no idea if
you are going up or down, or both directions at the same time.
description is the hamster wheel, where you feel like you are running as fast
as you can but you’re just spinning the wheel and going nowhere fast.
And, we’re all
familiar with the “so many steps forward, so many steps back” version - another
one I’ve used often - which can either have slow forward motion or backward
motion depending on which side of the equation has the larger number of steps.
This summer I heard
that it is healthier to live our lives as a lemniscate (aka sideways figure 8
or the infinity sign ∞). It is the natural motion that bees, as well
as other insects and animals, follow.
The lemniscate is a
balanced symbol - there are no extremes, left and right are equal, one side isn’t
longer than the other, the distance to the top and bottom are the same as from
the middle to the outer sides, and while it appears that one is going over the
same territory in a never-ending (infinite) loop, each time is different as a
greater degree of balance, calmness and clarity are obtained.
Walking in the lemniscate
pattern provides a great meditation for mental, emotional and physical
relaxation. It is a pattern that just
comes naturally to young children, so why do we forget it as adults?
lemniscate with your finger over your heart, or around your eyes (circle each
eye and cross at the bridge of your nose) is healing, calming, and it relieves stress as it brings
balance to the body and brain.
How well are you
able to handle change in your life?
Okay, now be TOTALLY honest - how well are you able to handle change in
your life? If we are honest, most of us
resist change of any nature with every fibre of our being.
We are entering a
time when things are going to change for some communities. Elections are on Monday, October 16, and the
results will mean that changes are on the horizon. Maybe the changes won’t be big, or overly
dramatic, but there will be changes nonetheless, and the more we are able to
accept them, whatever they are, the better.
Incidentally, I can
tell you some people can’t seem to handle that after ALMOST 16 YEARS, I updated
my picture that goes beside my words. If
you can’t handle a small change that doesn’t affect you personally, how can you
handle changes that do? And quite
truthfully, I have changed (aged) in those years, and I’m not 28 any more. ;)
It seems whenever
elections of any nature, or level of government, come up, suddenly there are
serious personality clashes that didn’t seem to exist before, and opponents do
all they can to discredit the others running against them.
So, it should be no
surprise that we are seeing a number of politicians getting into trouble of
some form or another, with the most recent being Strathmore MLA Derek
Fildebrandt. What makes his situation a
bit more “severe” is that he was part of the Alberta Tax Payer’s Federation
prior to being elected and is accused of activities similar to those he used to
criticise other politicians of doing. Some
of his constituents feel betrayed and have adopted a “how the mighty have
I don’t know Derek
personally, nor do I know all the ins and outs of the situation, but rather
than a case of the mighty falling, to me, it is just another example of how
easy it is to criticize from the OUTSIDE when you don’t know exactly what’s
going on INSIDE, for him and us.
To some degree, we
are all guilty of this. We think we can
run the government, or our local community organizations, much better than
those who are currently doing the job. We
think we have the answers to fix our family’s, friends’ and neighbours’ lives,
solving all their problems, whether we’ve been asked for our advice or not.
While, it is true
that an outside perspective can give valuable insight and clarity, and provide
answers that those in the situation are too close to see, more often than not,
those outside are missing vital information that only those on the inside are
privy to, information that makes a significant difference to the situation at
Nomination Day for
municipal elections is just around the corner, and if you are called to run, I
strongly encourage you to do so. However,
it is very important that we have individuals running for our municipal
councils who are willing to do the best for our communities, not individuals
who think they can come from the outside and “fix” whatever they think needs
fixed. What we see from the outside is
merely the tip of the iceberg of what is happening.
Last week we
experienced a solar eclipse. For some
locations in the United States,
it was a total eclipse, here in Central Alberta the sun
was only partially covered, yet at the peak of the eclipse, there was a
noticeable dimming of the sunlight.
While we are now “enlightened”
enough as a society to realize that an eclipse is not a catastrophic event that
means the world is about to suddenly come to an end, I noticed, leading up to
the actual eclipse, lots of comments and concern expressed about the various “shadow”
events occurring around our world in the past few weeks.
One thing that the
solar eclipse showed us, is that while the moon may have covered the sun for a
moment in time, it had no effect on the sun at all. The sun continued to shine brightly that day
and didn’t dim or hide itself. The moon,
nor clouds for that matter, can really prevent the sun from shining. Any dimming or hiding of the sun is only from
our PERSPECTIVE, it doesn’t in any way reflect reality. No matter how dark the day, or even how dark
the night, the sun continues to shine ceaselessly, and manages to appear yet
again in our sky.
And, it may appear,
from our limited perspectives, that the “shadows” are getting bigger and bigger
in our world, however, we can’t let that discourage us, or cause us to become
so fearful that we stop bringing love, kindness, and compassion to all those we
encounter on a daily basis. The shadows
only dim us if we choose to let them. What
is going on around us should not prevent us from bringing our best selves, and
best efforts, forward. If anything, it
should encourage us to shine even MORE brightly.
I was reminded last
week, and shared in conversation with others...the brighter the light shining,
the bigger the shadows, so all the shadows are showing us is proof that we ARE
shining brighter and brighter as we each bring more light to our corner of the
And it is the light
that holds the true power, not the shadow.
I once had a friend
express that she was glad to know I got angry after I’d totally erupted in a
public venue. I, on the other hand, was
surprised that she would even consider that I DIDN’T get angry, because I most
certainly do, and I definitely express it, though not always publicly, yet just
often enough to get me into trouble.
As well, I found
some of the reactions to my recent makeover to be in that same category. One person actually said they were surprised
to see me wearing a dress?!?! Now, THAT
should NOT have been a surprise to anyone who knows me in the slightest!
So, why these
reactions? It seems to be a case of
people only seeing me, or interacting with me, in a particular setting or
circumstance. Or, else they just aren’t
Just because you,
in particular, have never seen me angry, doesn’t automatically mean I don’t get
angry. Just because you, in particular,
haven’t seen me wearing a specific item of clothing, doesn’t automatically mean
that I don’t. And, more important, just
because you, in particular, have seen me act or dress in a certain way, doesn’t
automatically mean I ONLY act or dress that way.
While we humans are
multi-faceted, our interactions with the people around aren’t always. We tend to make assumptions about what we
think we know about others, and then it is so easy, and very tempting, to look
at them as equivalent to cardboard cut-outs - in a static state, never changing.
We often do this with people we have limited contact with, but we can even do
this with close family members.
But, life doesn’t
work that way. We have many sides and
aspects to our personalities that may, or may not, be expressed depending on
the situations we find ourselves in. As
well, we are always changing - even if we don’t think we are - and we bring
those cumulating changes into each and every interaction we have with the
people around us.
As much as we think
we know the various people in our lives, we may not know them as well as we
think we do.
What side are you
on? Are you sure? Do you even know?
There as been a
lot, and I mean a LOT of media coverage of late surrounding Omar Khadr, who,
let me remind you, is a Canadian citizen who, as a minor, ended up in a war
situation and survived. Truly, that is
his ONLY crime - he survived the war.
Now, no matter what
your personal feelings are about him and his situation, I would also like to
remind you that there was a war going on, and Omar was fighting for the wrong
side...or was he?
That is where
things get tricky, and we don’t like to admit that life isn’t as black and
white as we portray it, because that REALLY shakes up our sense of right and
A war means there
are two (at least) sides fighting each other.
So who is the enemy? We say it
was the other side. But….
Not so fast. The Canadians, Americans, and British were
not fighting on home soil, so they were foreigners. We were interlopers in a conflict that was
already in progress. Plus, how many
local civilians did our armies end up killing, even by accident, because it was
a war situation?
Hmmmm, that almost
sounds like it could be a definition of an enemy, doesn’t it? Because it doesn’t matter what side the
soldiers are fighting for, or what justifications are used (fighting to impose
our values on others doesn’t mean our values are right, or are even wanted by
others), to a local civilian, the soldiers are the enemy if they endanger the
civilian’s life, the lives of family and neighbours, home, and livelihood.
In a war situation,
which is horrific beyond belief, there are too many casualties, and untold
destruction, caused by both sides. Soldiers
on all sides are merely doing their job, and fighting as they are trained to do. One side is no more completely innocent than
the other side is completely guilty.
So, either EVERY
single soldier, of every rank, on BOTH sides is punished because they are ALL
guilty of fighting, or...none are.
Because, at the end
of the day, there are no winners in a war.