I was so impressed by the photo Karuna posted at Living Learning And Letting Go and especially the information she added about Egrets. Karuna shares “… that cattle trust the egrets so much that they will even allow the birds to remove flies and other insects that are located near their eyes.” So I decided to write a poem about these birds.
lying on the grass
under a blazing sun
not knowing its intention
a fly sits on my eye
surely this would not be fun
another fly walks along my nose
just when I was to have a snooze
by then my blood pressure rose
incessant sounds around my nose
the buzz buzz buzz buzz
kept me wide awake and on edge
my tail had not the privilege
to swat these measly intruders
closing and opening my eyes
did not faze the annoying critters
out of compassion
an egret then approached me
studying my unwanted guests
then suddenly attacked
these aggravating pests
giving a one and a two
swat here and there
“Thank you!” I mooed
“for taking such good care
scaring off each pest
so I can finally rest
and slip into my dreams”
wading in a shallow river
not a fly there nor hither
only butterflies and egrets
painting my world just perfect
I left for work earlier than usual today.I had farewell and birthday cards to purchase (since I’m still the birthday lady) and if I arrived in the city early enough, I might have gone to my eyewear place to return my sunglasses and ask to remove the bi-focals…I can read fine without glasses but since the nearsighted lense prevents me from reading, I usually have to put my glasses on my head to read.But I tried it for 3 weeks, tried driving with them and nope, hate it.It was a frivolous expense but since it was my last year of insurance since I turn 65 this year, I decided to splurge on eccentric frames.
Anyway, I got on the bus at about 12:30 and I noticed an alert from CNN on my phone. I usually just read the headline but it said LIVE- INAUGURATION and then more about Mr. what’s his name. You know if you replace the U in his name to an O in French it means “mistake”.
Well, curiosity got the best of me and I logged on just as the speech had ended and I saw Barack and Michelle Obama escorted to the helicopter…sad sad sad moment indeed!! Of course, I wept on the bus; people looked oddly at me but probably thought I was some old crazy lady.
It rained in Washington today and I found it fitting, don’t you?Have you ever noticed on Good Friday even if it is a sunny day, around 3:00pm. it seems to cloud over?Funerals as well, I feel it is fitting for it to rain.Well, today the angels, old souls and Mother Nature all wept and it was fitting.
That is all I have to say, Emma.I am starting my 3 days weekend and I want to relax a bit.There is a lot going on at work and don’t necessarily feel like telling you about it tonight. It is 1:00 am and I just arrived from work…time to watch a funny sitcom on Netflix and finish the last chapter of The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho in bed.Nite, Emma.
I seem to be at a loss for words this morning.I read and think and read some more but my muse took off for warmer climates, I think. Yes, well, I don’t blame her actually.Last week we had frigid temperatures minus 20 but now it is so lovely at 1 degrees with newly laid snow. Usually come February many people take off seeking the hot sun by the ocean.
Although I grumble about the cold sometimes, I would surely miss the end of winter, in March when one can actually smell spring around the corner.The melting snow, the sky seems different and people look a little dazed filled with hope.
I guess I will just have to wait to see if my muse is just pouting somewhere and comes back to write a haiku or two. Until then, I will enjoy my slow walk to work and observe how nature has adorned the city.
My son, my first born, was not an easy person to get to sleep.I think I rocked him to sleep until he was about four. And nursing…phew!! every 3 hours and it would take him 1.5 hours each time.Yep, he liked to stay in Mommy’s arms alright.
I suppose I was more patient about this because I took hours to get to sleep as a young child and have always struggled with insomnia. But he just was afraid to miss out on something. He wasn’t scared just nosey (smiles) especially if there was company.Being my first child, I know I probably gave in a little too long but I still don’t regret those times…they grow so fast.
His little sister, now, she was the complete opposite.As a newborn, I had to wake her up to feed her and nursing took maximum 10 to 15 minutes.He did NOT dawdle at the breast and once done, she wanted to be out of my arms.She just did not like to be held long if I was not nursing her.But she always needed to see me wherever I was.When she was tired she whined a little and fussed and rocking and cuddling did not soothe her…just “let me be in my bed, already!”When there was company as young as two, she would take off to her bedroom and go to bed even if we had guests and a great excuse to stay up later.
My son was very demonstrative and it was easy to figure out his needs; as for my baby girl, you had to learn to read her.She would not even cry in public…no, siree, she would stomp off to her room, shut the door and cry privately.
As early as three, however, she started getting night terror and her anxiety started then.Sometimes she would call me into her room because her heart was beating so fast and it could last as long as an hour…I would just cuddle with her (yes, after she was about three she accepted the cuddles), and I would stay with her until she fell asleep.Sometimes she would wake up and cry to me there were monsters in her room I would ask her to show me since I only had adult vision and children see monsters better.She would point to her closet and near the window and I would wail my arms and punch the air (which were the monsters of course) and continue until she would tell me I had done a great job to rid of the monsters.
The song I chose that put both my children in a good mood In “Put the Lime in the Coconut” and of course I chose a Sesame Street Video.They really loved this one.
I also chose this song because my daughter would play this when my grandson was a toddler and they would both dance to the song…truly, they were connecting so often with music.I have fond memories watching them jive.
Did you know?
In North American culture
compost is recyclable
especially south of the border
appointed writers are dictated
cajoled and manipulated
circling cyber in a frenzy
passed along as newsflash
CNN and NBC, FOX and ABC
blast a flash
we the people watch and see
CTV and CBC
may word it differently
at least they let the people rest
so they can watch
Hockey night in Canada…
discrepancies and fabrications
ludicrous to the other nations
continue to flash as confirmations;
elected orators report endlessly
their newsworthy confabulations
a streaming line from CNN
below our screens become a stapel
haunting households to no end
Fortunately the world wide web
opens up doors to other nations
people share and learn first hand
how families suffer degradations
and some that could be better managed
by “we the people” and all the wild west
mesmerized by misinformation
and others form another model
they saw once on the television
their head sinks deep into the sand
ignore their leaders’ constant deception
like news they C filled with BS
that spreads like fire across the land
Eventually some see the light
despite virusal social media
like meningitis and leukemia
festering in those feeble minds
those fingers race upon their keyboards
`cause lies and tricks that do extend
fighting, killing, maiming friends
masked as foes, cannot afford
to hurt so many innocents
merit so much more
in this cruel world
brave soldiers using pen and paper
keyboards and electronic measure
like Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlet,
Pierre Le Corf and Tim Anderson
Donna Nassor and Daniel Wirt
and umpteen more that`ll give their shirt
so they can share the untold narratives
our system here just fails to give.
Today I read a few true stories
some broke my heart
and make me worry
what kind of world
with such technology
continues to spread day by day
and not hold leaders
I know not answers
to solve this problem…
I then have chosen
to live with passion
and try to model
life of compassion…
the helping profession
is all I know
and prayer and hope
is how I cope.
it’s a sad sad world
filled with so much suffering
Babel at the very core
tongues that wag
but no one listens
it’s a sad sad world
Death greeted him
took him in her arms
death relieved him
took away painful things
death soothed him
ending all his sufferings
death escorted him
along that never ending lane
meeting up with souls again
never to be forgotten
especially his loving son
Rest in peace, Walter…may you find peace and tranquility with your parents and long awaiting Greg.
filled with age-old suffering
soliciting genuine attention
reaching out for consolation
where no one can trace them
narratives of sobbing tales
addicted to the soothing voices
using death, it never fails
the listener offers other choices
‘til storytellers hangs up
having filled their sorry cup
with tales from dusk to sunup
filled with loads of empathy
often leaving listeners empty
often leaving listeners empty
tired, aching, incapable
feelings that take time to heal;
takes a special one to deal
with such a deed day after day
afternoons, evenings too
and nights are surely underway
daytime’s multiplied by eight
as silences do translate
to piercing cries of dire straits
their pain and woeful agony
unfold slowly through the night
hearing with a subtle ear
but listening with a caring heart
sad stories told
the calls unfold
storytellers start feeling hope
listeners teach them how to cope;
it takes a special caring soul
to work like this and still feel whole
compassion is the magic key
to care for others as much as thee
compassion is the only key.
I have worked in a helping capacity on the phone since 1979 in a voluntary capacity as well as remunerated. Some were identified, others were not but were traceable and others were anonymous and untraceable. The unidentified and anonymous calls are the ones that leave you with mixed feelings. Sometimes you feel relieved the caller’s voice turns a tragic, dangerous or hopeless situation to happy, safe or hopeful state. To hear the tone of voice change like that tells me I may have helped make a tiny shift even for the briefest of moments, makes it all worthwhile.
baking for change
stir a secret recipe
adding fixings that range
rising to a degree
never really ever
ready for the decree
searching for results
or win lose
only wounds that need healing
delusions no longer standing
all on bended knees
asking what have we done?
no time to point fingers
mae culpa mae culpa
to one and all
not all but one
to one and all
Hopeful aftermath (Tanka – Senryu)
sentiments and politics
paths of polarity
travelling side by side
travelling side by side
empathy and understanding
meet at the middle
a presence of absence
exists in the waiting
a thing of departure
that lives within hope
in the ache for return
a thing solid and stout
as the summer tree
felled for the firewood
wanted by winter
a tangible emptiness
stands in the space
of what recently was
but which no longer is
in the chair where he
lived and endured
all those difficult years
sits the substance of
yearning to have him
returning a need with
dimension and weight
such is artifact hunger
comprising the wait for
beginning of something
for ending of nothing
a desperate desire for
reprise of a yesterday
fulsome again with
good wood and good
blood in appreciable
bones of extravagant
shimmers and shines
as a mocking affront
to the logical lucid
acceptance of loss
for she has neither
stomach nor spleen for the…
I decided to add this as my response to Song Lyric Sunday. It is a song I have posted recently but ever since I have heard it again since early December, I get this same message. Yesterday I decided to let go of barriers that prevent me from sharing a bit of myself…and stop worrying about being judged.
Listening to Al Green’s lyrics totally inspired her. For the first time she listened to these same words she’s played for years but today, she heard a different meaning. Not willing to share with anyone in case they would think she had lost her mind…in case they would say she was going to too many retreats to see her Guru, Amma, has somehow washed her brain and she was thinking only of compassion and The Great Spirit.
No, she could not share with her family and friends…but she was bursting with so much love…
speaking to her
for the first time she felt,
that warm glow inside
speaking to her
professing His Love
for the first time she felt,
she will never ever
be alone again
that warm glow inside
love so pure filled with grace
fed her soul
There were times she was distant although she believed, she was led astray. There were times she felt empty and that glow was missing for many years. How beautiful to hear this song and feel her skin tingle, her heart so light filled with such a pure love only babes must feel when mothers nurse them.
despite her absence
He would never give up on her
pledged His endless love
Feeling blessed with this divine unconditional love that nurtures her abundantly.
Sitting here in the dim light of the afternoon, freezing rain falls on the street and all I see is greyness. Perhaps it is in honour of the dead. Perhaps it is a day of rest, my last day of my holiday vacation. Today, he died thirteen years ago in the early hours of the morning…just a few hours passed midnight. His last breath was long and laborious…scary…the death breath. I heard it for the first time. He was not conscious and yet he seemed to have resisted. The fear of the unknown maybe held him back. Or was it fear of karma? Who really knows? Who am I to judge? And actually, how dare I judge!
I am sitting here with a book on my lap, my loyal feline friend sleeps beside me and I read a few pages…my mind is chaotic and unquiet. I awakened with a migraine and dizziness. Perhaps it was tiredness, but of what? Having a few people over for dinner? Celebrating the engagement of my son? Or was it the guilt and sadness that my daughter was not present? Perhaps it is a bit of both.
I sit here surrounded by memories. I washed the last few porcelain pieces of my grandmother’s dishes by hand. The dishware seems too fragile and worn to put in the dishwasher. The floral pattern reminds me of my father. His mother’s dishes remind me of times passed long ago. The dinners with Nanny and GrandPa and sitting up straight as a child meant to feel totally uncomfortable at the dinner table. Listening to my grandfather talk with his thick Welsh accent, making jokes that we all had to chuckle afterwards having not really understood the punch line but well-rehearsed since he repeated the same stories over and over at each visit. My father’s demeanour was so different at these occasions. He had a forced practiced smile and laugh. My mother’s eyes wide open as if she could hear better if she opened her eyes wider. Her English not as fluent as she thought after listening to her father-in-law speak with his accent. I was just a child and wanted to ask my mother why GrandPa mumbled so much and had so much spittle on his lips when he talked. But did I dare? Nope, there was an unwritten rule here that said, “Behave or elese!”
At the end of each visit, while we were putting on our boots and coats, I remember seeing Mom and Dad in the doorway listening to Grandpa and Nanny whispering comments to them. One could feel the tension; to try and cut through it was like cutting through a frozen block of butter! As I was older, I always wondered what my grandparents were saying to my parents to make them feel so small and inept. That was the look they had and I did not like it one bit! My parents were my heroes! How dare these old people that I saw about 3 times a year diminish the powers of my parents. I will never know. Even as an adult I never dared as my mother or father. My mother would have said something negative about them being too critical of my father.
My father would never say anything out of loyalty. But if he was to talk to his sister, the venom that came out of his mouth was mindboggling. I was always stunned at how my aunt had a different view of my father. We all had our own individual perceptions and we each had our unique experiences with Dad.
But today is in honour of my father. He made amends with many family members before dying and I was fortunate to be with him his last days up to the last breath he took. As he passed on to another sphere, my daughter had just announced she was with child. I knew it had to be boy before she ever passed an ultrasound.
As I put the dishes away in the china cabinet, I looked at my great aunt’s set. She was my grandmother’s sister. We all loved HER more. She was so loving and affectionate. Of course she was not married and did not have a man like my grandfather to live with. She did not have to raise two children BUT she was there every step of the way with her sister…united they were in hovering my father, protecting him from hardships. Dad was blessed and cursed in that he was deprived of learning from his mistakes at a young age which only made him suffer more in his old age. Poor Dad, he was so alone the last two decades…too much time to think. But why am I saying, “poor Dad”? Those last years were perhaps his opportunity; his blessing to re-evaluate his life and make amends with is Creator. I hope so, sincerely do.
This is the last hour of the last day of 2017.I am sitting quietly at home with my best feline friend (bff) and reading a book by Jodi Picoult, Picture Perfect.I don’t normally go out New Year’s Eve and the times that I have I must confess I had mixed feelings about the whole outings.For the most part, I was happy to be with friends, for the other part, I did not appreciate being among acquaintances and strangers, ringing in the new year among people who drank a little too much.
I remember celebrating with friends years ago when I was married.At the countdown, feeling nervous, hoping to be near my partner so we could be the first to wish each other a Happy New Year.Then there was the awkward circulating among acquaintances and a few friends not knowing really what to say that has not been said over and over. “Wishing you a happy new year and health” or “Wishing you all the best and a baby in the new year”…I kid you not!That was a very common wish for young married couples.Then we would all eat too much rich delicious Quebecois food and leave a few hours later.Often there was a snowstorm and the drive home was long and silent.The silence was partly being too tired and the part was anxiety driving on unplowed country roads.We lived in the country in those days.
Being the last day of the year, we often reminisce over the past year on what we have experienced, endured and mostly, have survived.Being the last day of the year does not mean the new year will be any different but it is nice to think that we may have a fresh perspective having lived through some tough times.It may even shed some light on how to approach things differently…wiser ways to manage our lives coming the new year.
In less than an hour it will be the first day of a new year.For a few seconds, after the countdown, it IS exciting.There is hope and desire to push forward and appreciate life more…people who matter more and to continue improving ourselves.
Since I was a little girl I have been saying, “Please, Lord, help me be a better person.” I think that saying is still relevant today.On this first day of 2017 I hope to be a tiny bit better than the last day of last year.Happy New Year everyone!
This is the time when one thinks back on the year that has just passed. For some they may feel they have barely survived this past year, having struggled through many difficult passages and obstacles.
For others it feels like a chore mixed with very brief moments of light to make them smile. Perhaps it is the giggle of their child, or watching an old lady with a hunch back hanging onto the arm of an old man with a cane…watching them shuffle in the mall together, giving them hope.
Some have had a year filled with pleasant surprises…a child has learned to walk, another has made his first goal, a daughter copies you when you put on your make up and whispers in the mirror next to you, “I want to be beautiful just like Mommy!”
Teenagers are faced with a rollercoaster of life mixed with raging hormones and still have to try and concentrate in high school! Imagine a woman in menopause or a man in mid-life crisis trying to learn new things and cope with an ever-changing body! Now add to that, personal strife and home
life that can, for some, be challenging!
There are children and youths of all ages as well as adults who may be passing through difficult times before walking into the realm of a new year; they may be missing a loved one…a sibling, a parent, a grandparent or a spouse either through death, separation or moving far far away. One cannot shake off the grief, the loss and pained memories of this loved one. And one doesn’t! His or her memory walks along with them, stepping into the new year. That person is smiling and laughing when they are happy and weeping when they are sobbing.
Some may find solace in a higher power and an afterlife that comforts them, thinking angels and the Great Spirit have welcomed a new member into their paradise. Others are lost and confused and are not too sure, yet, the memories still hold strong and carry one over to the next day and so on and so forth, day after day, month after month.
remembering sting of loss and regrets untold narratives
Time is often their sole consolation. In time the sting lessens, but the memories of “what was” still keep them company and warm through the cold winter months of January and February. The blossoms, however, are also figments of these memories in springtime turning into new promises. Hang on to some of those memories that soothe you and let the March winds eventually take away any disappointments.
Perhaps someone has promised to be there for them and “life” got in the way, leaving them bereft and empty but mostly disappointed and alone. That may also be an opportunity to depend on one’s own strengths and reach out to different acquaintances, slowly turning them into real friends.
Relationships change as one grows just as their needs do. As a single person, their perception of the world is so very different. As a couple it shifts and blends and as a parent it opens up to a whole different world…someone else matters just as much as they do! One now focuses not only on their individual needs but more importantly on the wellbeing and happiness of their children who are a part of them. Children help them open their eyes to another sphere. Children allow them to grow and open their hearts to “others”. Let’s face it! It is rewarding to give, is it not? And through some of these challenges in life, one also learns to look beyond the people who have received from you and find comfort when someone “new” gives to them…take it, for this is also blessing that person’s need to give.
Change is the only thing one can truly count on in life and with it comes other kinds of losses. It could be the end of a career, a promotion, the end of a relationship or moving to a new home or city. Despite the positive and wonderful aspects of any change, there is still a letting go of a life that was. Embrace it, look at it and only then can you adjust and welcome these new life changes.
untold narratives lost in the wind silenced locked in the heavens angles singing ballads
Wishing you hope, faith and peace in the new year for you and yours.
I do not usually believe in New Year’s resolutions because anytime I feel forced to do something I usually stop doing it eventually. I also feel it is something very personal. When we make it public, sometimes people nag after you and that is surely no fun!
The person who promises to go to the gym 2 to 3 times a week, the person who tells the world he or she is quitting smoking, the person who decides this is as good a time as ever to commit to eat healthy, or to eat less, or to stop gossiping, stop being negative, get to work fifteen minutes earlier every day, be kinder to family and friends and the list goes on.
I often ask my the Great Spirit to help me be a better person, a more patient person. That seems to have been my mantra since I was very little but again, it is such a personal desire that trying day after day means something…being judged by your peers seems to take the specialness out of it and it becomes a chore…an obligation. We were born with a free will, so why do we put ourselves through such torture on January 1st? I know that I stopped doing that a long time ago.
Now today I walked to the post office after purchasing gift cards for my cousins. The post office was closed at 15:30! The note on the door said it was open but nope, door was locked. This post office is a 10 mins walk from my place. Well, I wasn’t going to allow this to stop me from sending my gifts express, so on to the bus stop I walked.
I got off a bit sooner to walk a ways since it was so mild for this time of year at only 2C. After mailing the gifts, I decided to have an early supper or late lunch…it was 16:15 and it is quieter at this time in restaurants…so on to walk about 1 km to Dunns which is known for its smoked meat. By the time I was seated, I remembered that processed meats give me migraine, so I did not want to chance it since I was getting up early the next two days to stay with my grandsons. So fish and chips it was…as I was waiting for my order, I thought to myself, “I think I want to make this a weekly habit…to treat myself to a meal at a restaurant. Yep, why not make it a NY resolution.” So there you have it.
Since I am still working and I do work hard even if I love my job it takes a lot of a person. So yes, I will treat myself. When I retire I may not be able to afford such luxuries so why the heck not, eh?
When I arrived, I noticed another “seasoned” woman sitting a few tables away from me…alone. When I left she was still seated there writing something. I would have normally sat longer if I would have brought my book or tablet to write poetry. I also like to eat my meal at one place and an hour or so later stop at another place for a coffee and sometimes add a dessert too.
I walked another kilometre to a fruit store afterwards but it was closing, so I took a bus home and stopped at my little Asian grocery store and picked up a few things…including a big bag of fortune cookies for the grands.
I had to text my upstairs neighbour when I got home to ask her to limit her 3 yr old son from jumping around passed 10 pm. If she could limit it outside my bedroom area. At first she was a bit defensive, “What do you what me to do, tie him?” Well, I did not respond because the jumping goes on until 2am which is actually not okay in apartment living. I don’t normally bother with it when I am working as I get to bed late and get up late. So it normally works out. And, I know she has no clue what it sounds like when she is walking heavily over my head…it is a sound no white noise can muffle…I do keep an air purifier on High for the white noise but thumping just skips over any sounds.
Last night they had guests and the jumping and thumping over my poor head just pushed me to set my tv in my bedroom and bring my laptop there along with my book and I hibernated there. I may continue doing that for the next two nights so I can be up early to drive to my grands. My daughter is nice enough to leave me her car at 7am so I can drive there before 9. Yes, she knows I am not a morning person…well, who is when they work until midnight most nights?
I am relieved the mild weather will continue but just hope the snow does not get too heavy…yes, they say snow in the forecast…yes, I know it’s winter but I am a chicken driving on slippery roads in a car I am not accustomed to. So pray the snow is light, Emma.
Life offers opportunities
sometimes they just feel like tests
meeting at the crossroads
one path’s a thruway
another’s a winding deathtrap
one is filled with bumps,
and curves and hurdles
but are they snags
or more lessons to be had?
it almost feels
like the Great Spirit
is watching from above
waiting to see you pass
these tests with flying colours
He knows of what you’re capable
He knows the stuff of what you’re made
and He should, after all
… He created you just the way you are
rough around the edges
the rest is for you to refine
the choice is yours
even if they’re not so fine
and so easy to abhor
there is no cross to bear
punishment of your forefathers
but karmic consequence
indeed for this you may wince
yet actions sometimes breed reactions
results in satisfaction
or just plain dissatisfaction
life may seem complicated
appear confusing and unrelated
busy like the time just flies
then reaching golden age
and busyness slows down
to catch your breath
yet time seems to disappear
with empty nest and hollow rooms
echoing old fairy tales
now it’s time to invest
in your own spiritual growth
remembering all those lessons learned
from long ago
applying them to daily lives
breeding hope and compassion
ingredients to a life of passion
heed the past of lessons learned
greet with humble satisfaction
Thinking of a friend, who lost his dad last month…
We hear of endings
the last time
that last moment
no warnings of “firsts”
first New Year
and many other firsts
who would have known
the last would turn full circle
to the first
being as tender as that last day
bittersweet in many ways
ingredients of woe
are recipes of grief.
how to separate sorrow
from blissful memories?
it’s not planned
like an old hoodie
fitted like a soft duvet
feeling like a heavy blanket
struggling with the heaviness
heavy simply means
fond narratives of a past
heavy really means
such an collection which to sort
time does lighten the quilt
weaving only heartfelt stories
every shade and colour
securing them with bonded yarn
strong and lasting scripts
to all far away
and those who are near
skating, sledding and snowshoeing
swimming, cycling and sailing
shoveling and cross-country skiing
walking, jogging and gardening
laughing, dancing, and eating
praying, chanting and communing
begging, starving and suffering
a time to spread cheer
and compassion for many
who are actually right here
spare change is a start
papers fill bellies plenty
and smiles warm the heart
Happy holidays to my readers
and friends far and near
“There is plenty of reporting about what is going on in Aleppo, but there are very few reporters. In today’s Liberty Report we are joined live from Syria by independent journalist and researcher Vanessa Beeley for some rare on-the-ground reporting.”
I will start with a photo of an area where I studied for nine years part time before I got my degree at Concordia University.
I love doors. I was so excited to see this prompt because since I started blogging I take pictures of doors everywhere especially in Montreal where there is a mix of old and new. I work in the Mile End which, in my days (70’s) I used to call le Plateau but it is really slightly above le Plateau by a few streets and next to Outremont.
I have many photos but will share one more for tonight. This was taking on my way to work last year on rue Julien which is parallel to rue St Denis. We had had a snow storm the day before the day after it is always so pretty.
I look forward to checking out this prompt every week…those photos Norm posted today surprised me seeing Montreal streets in winter.
Kim heard her step-father’s old clunker coming down the road. “Quick, Dez, let’s play hide and seek” and she ran into a closet in the stairwell of the basement. The door was half the size of a regular door. The original owners of this old farmhouse must have built it there. It had four rows of shelves and barely enough room for her and her mini-schnauzer. Her parents never noticed this closet. Kim had stored an old blanket, pillow, granola bars and a bottle of water. Oh, and an old chamber pot that she found in the attic…just in case she was stuck here for a long time.
“KIMMY!!! Where the hell are ya’ ?” he bellowed in the kitchen, stomping with his dirty work boots traipsing dirt all the way to her bedroom. She knew her mom would be home in a few hours and she would sneak out when her step-father was in the barn feeding the pigs. Her mother would have thought she was just out for a walk picking daisies in the field.
“You’re such a romantic, honey!” she would say beaming at her with love. Kim could not break her heart telling her the truth. Tom was so gentle and kind when her mother was there but turned into a devil when they were alone.
“Maybe I make him into this monster,” she would think, “He keeps saying I do this to him.”
She remembers those times before she discovered her secret place.
that stench from his skin
so distinct and foreign
garlic and beer
reeked from every pore
even before he was near
that stench so akin
time and time again
that growl when he lay
beside her in the day
before she came home
demanding the unsaid
gestures in her bed
she was bashful at first
so shocked and numb
fear froze her body
threats stopped her heart
made her spirit depart
running through an open field
butterflies and daisies
in a world that healed
her face gave a look
of blatant apathy
deceiving yet convincing;
those were the days
before discovering ways
to escape such disgrace
in her very own secret place
Kim never missed a service at St Patrick’s Church on Dundas on the first Friday of the month. She enjoyed being among so many people from all walks of life. Some came during their lunch hour to get a break from work; the vast majority were Asian as the church was located in Chinatown. Her two favourite parts of the service was wishing peace to each other just before the Eucharist. She felt connected to everyone at a moment when they would receive her other favourite part, receiving Communion; this communion of the body of Jesus made her feel like she was glowing with grace.
As Father O’Donnell gave his blessing, some people rushed out and Kim guessed they had to get back to work. She took a sick day once a month to enjoy this day. It was sad that she had to call it “sick” when, in fact, it was a spiritual health day but what do you want to do?
Entering her apartment, she petted her Siamese cat, Anya and sat down with her book enjoying the scent of sandalwood. (183)
I couldn’t sleep Sunday night so I started watching music videos from around the world. Music has always impacted on my moods, so to choose a Feel Good song was not easy because there are so many that make me feel good. You know when you finish work and you are driving home and your mood is so so because you’re tired and maybe be planning on what to make for dinner if you have a family. Then you turn on the radio and that song starts stirring neurotransmitters in your brain and your energy starts to pick up, your shoulders start to sway and you are playing the drums on your steering wheel! I love when that happens, don’t you?
For this theme, I chose this music video although there were so many I watched that got me stamping my feet and swaying my shoulders. I am sharing it with my daughter-in-law as well as this will certainly turn her Monday from blue to bright red! She is from Santiago, Chile and I know she and my son will appreciate this song.
I love hearing the sounds all come together from all over the world, don’t you?
Walking to the catch the bus on this windy brink day, I was so disappointed, waiting at the light to cross a busy boulevard seeing my bus on the other side of the street…even if I was daring, I could not managed to slide across the six lanes of traffic in the dark like that. So I decided to walk a bit further thinking I may as well have dinner at a restaurant and relax and then screw waiting in the cold for a bus. I’ll Uber it home. I am only 2 km from home but in the dark and cold winter night, it may not be wise to walk with my heavy backpack and two grocery bags filled with goodies I purchased for Christmas treats.
The wind had picked up and as I approached the strip mall with a line of restaurants, I realized I walked the wrong way. Only a bunch of restaurants that did not seem comfortable for one person to sit and relax
So I started walking back and ten minutes later I see a bus stop and Google Map says my bus should arrive in ten minutes. Oh, I may as well wait and bring my purchases home then go to a restaurant near my home. Fifteen minutes later I check on my transit app and it gives me a different schedule than Google Map!! I would have wait another 20 Minutes. Screw that!
I walk over to one my favourite restaurants and it is not too busy…it nice and the light is dimmed. I sit in a booth away from a crowd of partners…jazzy Christmas music is playing…now this is more like it! I order an Italian draught and decide on the steamed mussels served in a rose wine sauce with shrimps from Matanne\YUM!
Okay, I get that I was a bit frustrated but boy oh boy am I rewarded. I am in fish heaven right now. Even the mayonnaise aside the frites is homemade, delightful! A perfect meal. With all that soupy sauce and shrimps, nothing better than dunking a few frites here and there. Does it show I love to eat!! I do enjoy it for sure.
I did some laundry, dusting and vacuuming before leaving so all I have to do is wash the kitchen floor tomorrow. The tree is up as well as decorations. I feel like Christmas now. I bought some treats for a few friends including my neighbour upstairs, a few French books for Yahia so his father can read to him (he is taking French classes in January so it will be good practice for Daddy and fun for his son) and a few extras for my grandson. It is amazing the things you find you cannot purchase when you don’t have a vehicle. There was a huge Trolls colouring book I wanted to get for my colleague’s little girl…her name is Emma, by the way. That’s right, just like my you dearest, Emma. I chose your name after she was born because my other journal for years used to be to Emily which is very very private. Now don’t go making that pouty face again, Emma, I tell you plenty too.
I do still have to wash my hair…oh, yes, and touch up my roots to hide my wisdom (chuckles) but maybe I will do it tomorrow since it is my last day off. I am feeling mellow and filled with lots of love right now. I know I could have invited family over but they are all busy working tomorrow and preparing for the holidays too. I like my solitude, Emma, and do enjoy coming to this nice restaurant and relaxing …I am talking, sort of, to you. (Smiles)
I’m actually typing this at the restaurant…I have to, so I can take a breather from eating…cannot eat this savoury meal too fast now.
OMG!! The waiter just told me the dessert is chocolate cheese cake!! With a cuppa café. Okay, I am in dessert heaven now!!
Gotta post this on Facebook too now with the photos, the waiter was sweet enough to give me the password to wifi. He speaks English with a lovely accent too. I always appreciate when waiters try to speak in English although I spoke fluent French at first but may had slipped in a few expressions in English and when they switch like that I speak to them in Franglais. We have come a long way here in Québec since many servers would refuse to speak in English about 25 years ago. Now it is just nice…live and let live, I say.
I had the weirdest dream last night. I felt I was watching a movie of two adult sisters driving around with their kids. One sister did not have children and I think that was me. The other sister had a young son about my grandson’s age (10-12) and he was in sports. I was visiting my sister. In her driveway, she had a broken down car on concrete blocks, one new white van and an older blue van we had been driving in to visit…get this…our mother!
Mom still lived in her house…she had come back to life (snaps fingers) just like that! Roger, her husband was not in this scene.
I remember going back to my sister’s place and we were talking in the kitchen. I said, “Gee, we don’t visit Mom much. We seem to be so used to have her dead that we forget she is alive again.” (I know totally bizarre!!)
So we piled into the car and went on to visit her. I was thinking in the dream how I did not have the habit of calling her every day for just a few minutes to say hello and wish her a good day. I never got into the habit of that. My mother always wanted us to be independent and not feel we had to check up on her all the time. Oh, we spoke on the phone but not every day.
When we got to Mom’s house, we asked her if she should contact the government to start getting her pension every month since she was declared dead, we worried how she could live in her house like that. She did not seem worried. She just shook her head and calmly said, “Oh no worries, that would be a lot of paperwork for nothing since I don’t know how long I will be alive still.” That was so not like Mom. She was so scared of dying and never talked calmly about dying.
When I started waking up…I must have been between dream and wake up …like alpha state and I was thinking. How could she have come back to life? How could her body have been intact like that since she was cremated?
Now I think about it and realize this was my daughter and me. I think I miss her and talking to her now and then. I think I spoke to her more often when I lived 6 hours away. I know she is busy running every day of the weekend bring the 3 boys to hockey and working full time. But I miss just a 5 minute check in now and then. I only get a text message if she wants to bring my grandson over. And that is about every other month or more.
Come to think of it, my daughter has a white SUV and her partner has a blue car. She did scrap her other blue car last year in January. Okay this was definitely a message from mom to talk to my daughter about my missing her and wanting to check in on the phone now and then… What do you think, Emma?
I think the dream was my way of. thinking through this a bit more. But it felt so real that Mom was alive…maybe she was visiting me to encourage me to talk it through with my daughter. Mom had such a great relationship with her too.
One week to Christmas and I cannot believe how fast this past year has gone by! I have not even decorated …not at all! I bought some nice gold lace ribbon and may put up my tree and decorate it with lights and ribbon and only one colour of ornaments…I will see. Even if the family does not come over for the holidays, I think Yahia upstairs who is 3 may find it nice to look at since Christmas is something he does not celebrate.
I got home at midnight last night and texted Yousra, Yahia’s mother that I would drop by to get my hug from her. She gives the nicest, longest and tightest hugs! I ended up visiting for a few hours. She stays up very late most nights especially when her husband is working on the taxi (Uber) weekends…and this weekend is one of the busiest with parties and everything. And yes, her son is still up playing and pulling me here and there to play with him. I am comfortable with his mother enough now if I do go to bed earlier than usual on weekends or if my grandson is over and he is in bed early, I text her to tell her so she quiets her little guy. They sleep in late into the morning and sometimes until noon and frankly I prefer the quiet in the morning since I work late shifts and need to sleep late too. So it is a good arrangement.
I used to find it hard when I had migraines weekends but I know I can text her to ask her to keep the noise down after ten or eleven at night.
It is not a good sign since yesterday I have had a headache and this morning I woke up with one again…hopefully going out for a walk later will help to get fresh air. I have to get some things too at the hardware store. I want to put plastic in all my windows to keep the heat inside. I had suggested it to Yousra in the Fall and she did it and what a change in the heat. Our apartment building looks nice but it is not well insulated. With this cold it was 20C in the living room and 16C in my bedroom…cannot get it warm enough and since we heat with hydro the bills soar this time of year.
I still cannot get over my visit or dream with Mom!! It does put me in a good mood when I dream of her:)
For the greater good! We hear that from the mouths of the military, government secret service and lawmakers. Laws, policies and procedures are thought about, scrutinized for the greater good of the mass.
Workplaces often take on this same approach. And why not? It makes sense when you are focussing on the “end result”…the initial goal. Most companies strive to meet the needs of their clients which makes sense. How do they meet the needs and satisfaction of the employees who serve the clients? It is a very difficult feat. You cannot please everyone all of the time and sometimes you will get grunts and groans. So be it.
Like a friend who used to work for Chapters On-Line years ago; it was basically a call centre and there were icons above her screen turning green (meaning ready to take a call) then if she did take a call it would turn yellow after 5 or 10 (not quite sure, it has been a long time) minutes and then red after 15 minutes. The red icon was actually alerting her to hurry up with her call as there were others waiting on the line. I don’t think I could handle that kind of pressure. We could see from another source on our computers if there are other calls waiting but I don’t look as I know it would be in stress me and I need to concentrate on each call.
In these call centres such as Chapters and I imagine phone companies and any service centres are faced with the same issues. They have to ensure the service is covered and scheduling meal breaks is essential. That makes sense. I guess it is when you have minor/short breaks of 10 to 15 minutes, I find difficult if there is no discussion with employees. A break, after all, is when you need a breather…after a long call for example. I would find it more acceptable if when we feel like going on a 10 or 15 minute, we simply ask the supervisor or check on the floor to ensure there are enough people on the phones.
I wonder if it is the fact that some employers seem to fit each person in a slot that suits the needs of the client or is it the loss of freedom to choose, to have any say in some decisions that weighs on the heart of some employees? I think the latter may have some bearing on the possibility of discontent.
What happens when there is discontent? Well, yes, some people leave and if they do, they may have already been holding on to the door knob for a long time and any change may be that push they needed to leave. That’s fine.
But what about those employees who seem to comply most times? What happens to the persons that understand and believe one must always meet the needs of the client, yet, there is never room for slight adjustments? Do those persons still perform to capacity? Do these persons still have the passion? Or do some of these people feel their spirits slip away slowly?
Since this is the time of year of many annual performance evaluations, yearly bonuses, hopes for a raise or promotion, I had these thoughts this morning. I was reminded when I worked for a steel corporation for CEO’s. I hated this time of year. In November one of my bosses would be so demanding and succeed in getting the worse out of me and the performance evaluation would be at the end of December. I, of course, would remember that I had lost my patience a few times with the demands of said VP. And felt quite lucky to get my 3% raise since women did not get big raises compared to men then. Boy oh boy, those were the days. Thankfully I no longer work in an environment like that either.
Back to call centres, factories and production lines, sales offices and service centres… imagining feeling like this…
feeling like a blob
on a petri dish
human needs get muddled
with a goal
feeling like a blob
on a petri dish
dozens of breathing beings
once upon a time
“Gee, I wish I knew how to bake a really special dessert for my boyfriend’s birthday.”
“Well, I know of a few pretty good recipes I’ve done with the cook at my dad’s restaurant.”
“Really!? Could you show me one that is really exceptional? I want to impress my boyfriend.”
“How about Crème Brûlée?`”
“Gee I don’t know what the heck THAT is but it sure DOES sound exceptional and foreign.”
“Okay, so how about I bring all that you need to make it Saturday and we can make it just before he gets to your place.”
The following Saturday afternoon around four in the afternoon, Danielle arrives at Sandra’s house with a box filled with all the fixin’s of Crème Brûlée.
“Turn on the oven, because it won`t take too long to make this…” Sandra was so excited. The dining room table was already set for two with scented candles as well.
Everything was ready. The cream custard was in the little desert bowls and all that was left was the “Brûlée” part…Danielle sprinkled the sugar over the cream and then she got ready to add the pièce de résistance just as Sandra’s boyfriend walked into the kitchen and ran over to Danielle, shouting:
An act of kindness is the best duvet to keep you warm on a cold winter night (minus 12C here)
ends a perfect day
savouring a bowl bliss
body and soul quenched
spiced with compassion
What a way to end a perfect weekend! Her grandson’s visit and sleepover, to his basketball tournament, returning home to nap from such an exciting day. Awakened by her loving neighbour with a seafood bisque served in a blue ceramic bowl …her favourite colour!
savouring each spoonful
feeling the love.
Her grandchild is tucked in, after an evening laughing playing cards and watching Netflix; he’s resting up for a tournament tomorrow morning. How silent the place feels all of a sudden. She had not realized just how quiet her home was…lacking life without her children. One gets used to the quiet not realizing what one is missing sometimes.
She is not a religious person. She likes to think of herself as spiritual on one level, believing there is something greater than we can even conceive out there in the universe (except for the great minds who have risen to such a level of consciousness). She was raised to believe in God, Jesus as her brother, Mary as her mother. Such a foundation formed in a child’s mind usually stays…it had stayed with her. She still recites the Hail Mary from time to time; she still crosses herself when she passes a hearse or on-duty ambulance.
She feels there is beauty even in darkness. There is ugliness even in beauty. It does very little if you have hurt someone or made mistakes that impacted on others, if you do not first acknowledge it. That does not mean to live a life of guilt. Guilt is like a barometer, measuring moral good and bad. Oh, you know when you have crossed that line! You feel the twinge in your gut telling you “uh-oh, what have I done.” You may continue on that same path, but I have a sneaking suspicious once you are “aware” of its ugliness, it will never be the same…never be as joyful…never ever will you be able to reach bliss.
Like a person addicted to heroin who first experiences that pure high…nirvana, he calls it and every other time he shoots up, he is chasing that same feeling which he never will achieve. Imagine if for once, just once, you achieved such a high, a pure white light of consciousness of feeling uplifted and serene just by meditating or chanting your favourite prayer or mantra! Now that would be something to chase…what a beautiful goal in life.
What feeling do you get when you give someone something without ever owing them anything, without they`re asking for anything…just because you want to give?
The other day she was rushing to work and stopped to pick up a bagel and cream cheese…it was cut in half and she took one out to eat quickly before getting on the Métro. She passes a young man, who she often sees at the same spot begging for money. She had not gone to the bank to get any money since her trip, so she handed the bag with the other half of the cream cheese bagel and simply said, “Please, it is still warm…” and left.
Last night coming home after an extra long shift, a caller grieving her grandmother kept her on the phone an hour later. The teen did not understand how grief can make you so depressed, unfocused and now she was doing so poorly in school.
The counsellor hoped she had managed to help her understand what she was going through was a natural, although painful, process. The problem is sometimes too many teachers as well as adults were not privy to her situation and too many are just not comfortable with “death”. One teacher told her after she had explained why she had missed so much school… she had been visiting hers dying grandmother and she was late in handing in her art projects, “Well, the last two you handed in were shit! And that is no excuse.”
Listening to this youth share this, she felt a blow in her solar plexus at such a hurtful and ignorant response from a professional…an educator of young minds!
She told her, “Although I do not want to justify her hurtful response, many adults are uncomfortable with death and dying. They often refuse to say the word “dead” treating it like a 4-letter word. Western culture seem to struggle with death and all react differently. All the more reason yo might consider talking to a trusted adult such as your guidance counsellor who may need to inform and educate some of the staff at your school.” The youth said she would think about it and felt relieved knowing she could call anytime, 24 hours a day if she was upset or could not get to sleep.
Leaving her work, she felt sad for this teen who was brave enough to reach out and kept weeping throughout the phone call. How courageous she was to show her true self along with her pain. When she was asked what she would have liked to tell her grandmother before she died, she said, “I already told her everything I needed to tell her before she passed.” What a fortunate girl to have opened her heart to her beloved grandmother like that. Her pain is not from guilt but from mourning such a deep loss.
Walking towards rue St-Denis at midnight where it gets a bit tricky to cross the street, she stands at the centre of the street on a block of cement not to get hit by the oncoming cars and waits patiently. An off-duty ambulance stops and waits for her to cross the street. She felt so blessed…what a beautiful gesture, a selfless act! It gave her such a nice warm feeling walking home at one in the morning. What a lovely way to end her day/night.
Amma, (Mata Amritanandamyi) is an Indian Guru, a saint, Divine Mother, a deity, who believes in Love and Compassion. Thinking of the death of John Lennon today, December 8, 1980, she cannot help but be reminded how he believed, modelled and sang about peace, compassion and love as well. Amma chants, Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu (May Peace and Happiness Prevail).
It snowed today
snowing petals like white flowers falling from the sky
John Lennon wrote a song in January 1970 and this particular song was recorded the very next day. Apparently, this is something quite rare. It is said he repeated the studio recording three times and that was it…it was ready. Surely he was also blessed at that moment writing about peace…not condemning necessarily those who do wrong because after all, we may have a chance in another life to do good. She believes that it is often in this same lifetime we are given an opportunity to change our lives around. She saw it with her father, with her maternal aunt…people who had led a life of greed and hurt many people along the way. The last twenty years of their lives, they became better persons…they suffered illnesses, suffered loneliness and isolation but their attitude in life turned from bitterness to a state of satisfaction and fulfilment.
“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality”(John Lennon)
Here is that famous song, the late John Lennon composed and sang 46 years ago:
Instant Karma by John Lennon
Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you right on the head
You better get yourself together
Pretty soon you’re gonna be dead
What in the world you thinking of
Laughing in the face of love
What on earth you tryin’ to do
It’s up to you, yeah you
Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together darlin’
Join the human race
How in the world you gonna see
Laughin’ at fools like me
Who in the hell d’you think you are
A super star
Well, right you are
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Ev’ryone come on
Instant Karma’s gonna get you
Gonna knock you off your feet
Better recognize your brothers
Ev’ryone you meet
Why in the world are we here
Surely not to live in pain and fear
Why on earth are you there
When you’re ev’rywhere
Come and get your share
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Come on and on and on on on
Yeah yeah, alright, uh huh, ah
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
On and on and on on and on
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Well we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
Yeah we all shine on
Like the moon and the stars and the sun
The alarm of my roommate went off at 5:30 am and I wondered if I should get up as well to get ready for meditation. I knew the next two day would be long, so I went back to sleep…so did my roommate. She had seva at 6:00 to help in the kitchen but she was too tired. At eight I jumped in the shower to get ready to listen to Swami Amritaswarupananda (also known as Swamiji) at nine o’clock. Amma arrived afterwards and her stories truly moved me. Sarala was telling me how Amma has spoken to her when she had gone for Darshan but I have never experienced this. I was telling her about a mantra that I chant and always around the fourth or fifth refrain, I feel such emotion in my throat, I cannot speak. I have to take a few moments to cry and then I can continue chanting the mantra. It is the Gayatri Mantra. I have purchased several versions of it, performed by Deva Premal and I chant along with her. Sarala suggested I ask Amma why this is happening. I did not feel comfortable since Amma is so busy hugging thousands of people. Plus it was not an issue that troubled me, I was just curious. I felt that perhaps the mantra is helping me release some pent up emotions.
I have found many answers to questions just by listening to Amma speak and today she did just that. After Swamiji’s talk, Amma arrived and shared this story. A few women who were sharing a room with another devotee in her ashram were complaining about how she is always angry and did not get along with the other women. Amma had a talk with this woman and asked her why she was always angry. The woman said when she was a child she had seen her father shoot her mother.
Amma told her by living with this anger towards her father it made her think over and over of the loss of her mother but it also kept her in that terrible moment in time. The devotees all felt so much compassion to this devotee and she no longer held on to her anger. I was so moved by this and started crying.
I could not help but be reminded of the sixteen year old boy who called our helpline last week crying in such pain. He wanted to join his dead mother and twin brother. He missed them so much. He found his mother one morning in her bedroom…she had taken her life. He was only eleven years old. Two years later his brother was killed in a car accident. He kept crying with grief and after an hour of talking, he agreed to get help…stop the cycle of suicide, is what he said. He promised to tell his auntie, his coaches and his maternal grandmother how he was feeling so they could support him.
Thinking of this story and many I have heard in the past sixteen years confirmed that I am exactly where I should be. It feels right to continue doing what I do. And even when I will reduce my hours over time, I want to continue working in the helping field. I am nearing 65 and I don’t know how long I can continue working here but when that ends, I want to continue volunteering. I was filled with so much emotion when Amma shared the story of the devotee and when I thought of my callers, I wept, not of sadness but joy for loving what I do.
I went for a walk before dinner. I was chasing the sun as it was setting beyond the mountains but the closer I got the less I saw the mountains. It was rush hour as I could see people rushing to catch the bus. I was thinking of my mother as the anniversary of her death was approaching (Dec. 2nd). The darkness seemed to come suddenly.
looking down on me
behind floating clouds
looking down on me
twinkle in her eyes
That evening Amma served us our dinner and I am always moved by her kindness and swiftness. You have to be very quick to grab your plate when you get near her! We are so many eating at the same time as well, so we look for places to sit to eat. I sat on the floor next to this lovely young woman who is a psychotherapist. I am always amazed at the people I bump into with shared interests.
This evening I went up to receive Darshan and I knelt on my knees. This was the first time and I was so pleased! I wonder if that is why Amma gave me two chocolates with my flower petal. Amma finished Darshan at three in the morning and we all sang, clapping our hands hoping she would dance and she did. She has the biggest heart in the entire world. She was certainly tired after such a long evening and yet she still gave into the whims of her children, dancing for several minutes. By the time I got to sleep it was well past five and up at seven to get breakfast.
This was the last day of the retreat and I didn’t want to miss one minute of it. Sarala and I talked about getting our tokens later in the evening to motivate us to stay up all night. Tonight was Devi Bhava and it was going to be a beautiful evening and long long night. I did not know if it would lead into early morning like what I have experienced in the two Toronto retreats ending after nine in the morning but I was prepared to perhaps nap a few hours after midnight.
During meditation this morning, I found that I always had the urge to cough after saying OM three times. I did not want to use my inhaler and lose my concentration in the meditation; I kept concentrating and visualizing Swamiji and Amma were telling me I can do it and to slow my breath and let it out much slower this time. After a few minutes, I no longer felt the need to use my inhaler.
Another achievement! For me it is an important one because when I talk for hours on the phone with youths I find myself coughing late in the evening about an hour or so before my shift ends. I will try to talk softly throughout my shifts now and at a more controlled rhythm. I am sure it will take some practice but I am relieved I found a way to manage this better. Lately, I was getting worried about continuing my shifts and being asked to work shorter ones with my inability to stay on the phone lines for long periods of time. It is as if my throat and lungs get too irritated. How amazing is that, now that I found a way to master this better?!
I wore a scarf I purchased the night before. It was really a piece of Amma’s sari she has worn in the past. They had several sizes. Small was small enough to cover a baby’s crib; medium was long enough to use as a scarf and Large was long enough to wrap around several times. I purchased the medium. They had dyed the fabric a pale blue and added crocheted white flowers along the edge and sparse here and there. It is to remind us of a visual that Swamiji leads us in a meditation…to imagine white flowers like snow falling from the sky. I feel like I have Amma close to me with this lovely scarf.
I changed into another tunic for Devi Bhava. I had purchased it with a scarf at a Toronto retreat and never had a chance to wear it. Having Amma hug me tonight would be blessing it as well.
After lunch I did my two hours of seva by sitting at the entrance checking to see if people going into the hall had a wrist band that is given to registrants of the retreat. People from the public were already trying to enter at one in the afternoon!! There were seats near the door and they were all sitting there waiting even if they were told it was not fair that they wait here when others would be in a line by the elevators at five in the afternoon. I saw them later and they managed to sneak ahead. I suppose many will do things they may not be accustomed to to be near Amma.
I have a hard time however, with the pushing, shoving and people trying to sneak ahead only because it is so against what Amma represents. Where is the compassion when devotees are trying to get ahead of another person or persons? I know, I know, we all become like siblings trying to be the first to see Amma. And when she is looking in front of her at her devotees, so often we feel she is looking only at us. “Look! Amma is looking at me!” we all think.
That night Sarala and I kept noticing Amma’s gaze and it truly looked like she was looking straight at both of us. (smiles) We giggled at that thought. I loved being with Sarala who answered many of my questions on behaviours and customs I was never quite clear on. She bought me a CD of the Thousand Names of Divine Mother so I could practice listening to it to learn how to pronounce the words. How kind of her!
We were getting sleepy but refused to go for a nap. We knew we would not pass for Darshan until very late in the morning but it was as if we knew we would not see her for a long time and wanted to be in her presence for as long as we could. And yes, we had amazing seats too!! Of course the singing was another reason to stay. I received Darshan after five in the morning and yes, I knelt down again!!
Now, would have been a good time to nap a bit as there were many people left waiting to receive Darshan. At about nine in the morning Sarala was worried she would not have time to pack her suitcase in time to get to the airport. We both ran up to our rooms to pack up. My roommate was still sleeping and I made noise to wake her up so she could come down to see Amma.
I changed clothes in case I would have to just grab my bag later since check out was at noon, and went back downstairs. By the time I returned to the hall, the chairs were already removed, and people were standing, dancing, clapping, singing and still there were people in line…it is such a bittersweet time. Sweet to see everyone filled with joy. It was almost 10:30 by the time Amma stood for long moments looking at all her children…this is the sad part knowing she will soon be leaving but moving to see the love she holds in her heart. We feel it and see it in her eyes.
As I went to leave the hall, I saw a line of people and asked a woman what this was. She told me to step in line next to her because Amma would be passing by here to leave the building. I have never experienced this before. She told me to reach out with my hand in case Amma touched our hands walking by. A few shorter people wanted to get in and I let them go in front of me since I am so tall. The woman next to me told me to stop doing that so I could have a chance to have Amma touch my hand. I was so excited and thankful that this woman was giving me this gift. Amma walked by, touching people’s hands. She was too far for me, so, I stretched my arm a bit more and she touched my fingers! I know this may sound silly but it felt surreal. I had been weeping because she was leaving earlier but that slight touch grounded me somehow.
I would have liked to run up and shower but I wanted to see Sarala off. I waited for her at the front entrance. She texted me she was taking a quick shower and then running down to go to the airport. I suggested she try Uber Pool like I did and she would certainly save a lot. When she arrived five days ago, she paid $20 for a taxi form the airport. With Uber Pool, I checked with her and she was quoted $7.00…quite a substantial saving! She can relax later at the airport and have a nice lunch before taking off.
My plane was not to leave until seven in the evening. I was hoping to walk around the city and go to a coffee shop and write down my reflections of the past few days. When I went up to my room, my roommate, Kamala arrived at the same time. Isn’t that interesting that these two people that were near me throughout the retreat have names that sound so similar, eh? Kamala said she still had to complete her seva which was to help clear out the volunteer’s room of food and dishes. I told her I did not think I could go as I was so wiped having not slept in two days. It was 11:00 and I suggested we both take quick showers to wake up properly and then go. I ended up feeling compelled to help her since she had to leave at one in the afternoon to go to the airport and I had all afternoon free. When I got there she was pleased. When she hugged me to thank me, I knew I was doing this for Amma.
I am pleased I went to help out and met amazing people who worked selflessly for four days. I thanked the man who organized everything. To have enough food especially for this last night…all throughout the night, for the hundreds and hundreds of extra people was amazing! I helped organize sorting and packing the leftover vegetables and food in Ziplocs that one volunteer would donate.
I went to a coffee shop near the hotel afterwards and jotted down some reflections. I was too tired to walk around the city again and left early for the airport. I figured it would give me a chance to pass through security when it was not busy and rest there.
Needless to say, taking the red eye is not always a good idea. I had a layover in Vancouver for over two hours and we left at 23:20. The sky was pitch black safe for one star that I could see from the aircraft.
showing the way
away from rain clouds
poised and confident
showing the way
on our flight path
away from rain clouds
behind closed doors
I thought I was saving time by traveling at night but by the time I arrived in Montreal at 7 in the morning the following day, and at 10:30 I reached home I ended up sleeping almost 24 hours to recuperate. Even catching up on REM sleep, I would find myself back in the hall, singing, hearing the drumming and harmonium. It was like stretching my experience one extra day.
Just before we landing in Montreal, I admired the sky…the horizon slowly getting brighter…so enchanting.
Light as a feather
saunters on a bed of waves
Light as a feather
saunters on a bed of waves
with His grace
only Divine ears hear
I managed to get a direct flight to San Francisco from Montreal, so I decided it was a sign. I had to stop over there before going to San José to a retreat. I had thought of renting a car and driving along the coast and staying at a B & B in Santa Cruz and visit Monterry the following day. But then I thought, I needed to rest before the 3 to 4 day retreat as I knew I would be up late and up early not to miss a moment of seeing Amma, Mata Amritanandamayi. So I decided to stay near Fisherman’s Wharf and visit around there and just enjoy being by the water.
The flight was fine and there was a free seat in the middle so I was able to stretch my legs. The man on the aisle was originally from Montreal and travelled for work every two week from San Francisco. He loves the city too much to come back to Montreal. Frankly, I don’t blame him. The weather is so lovely in San Francisco and such a beautiful city…IF you can afford to live here that is. The gentleman suggested I take Uber pool to get to San José rather than bussing it. I am so glad I checked it out and since I am a first time user, I get a huge discount and the trip cost me only $38. from Fisherman’s Wharf to The Fairmont in San José!
I arrived after 22:00 at the airport and had reserved a shuttle to get to my hotel. I was starving! It was really 01:00 in my body and I am a late night eater. By the time I got to San Remo Hotel a quaint old hotel which is a 5 minute walk to the Bay! This was the first time staying at a hotel where you share showers and baths but I did not regret it. On each floor are several showers and at another end of the hotel claw feet bath and shower and antiques everywhere. The place is truly well kept and for the price and being so close to the Wharf, I was truly pleased. AirBnB was charging me a lot more to stay in the area and I still would have been in someone’s private house. The San Remo had coffee, tea and snacks available all day for tenants. There were quaint alcoves by windows on each floor with an comfortable chair and antique bookshelves (with books included) if you wanted to get out of your room to read. The plants and antiques as well as old photographs gave the place charm.
There was a sign on each floor asking people to keep voices and phones lower between 22:00 to 08:00. I found it quieter than a hotel actually.
Most of the restaurants were closed near my hotel and so I started walking towards a 7/11 to pick up a few snacks. I stopped to ask two young men in front of a Pizzeria for directions and one said he would fire up his stove to make me fries as he thought it would not be safe for me to walk towards the bay, there would be too many homeless people there at this time. I went anyways and picked up some yogurt and juice. I was touched that these young men were so hospitable though and hoped I would run into them again to thank them.
The next morning it was raining, so I came prepared with a long raincoat with a hood and a rain hat. I had treated my new Doc Martens with mink oil before leaving and was not worried. I was so excited to get by the water and remembered some spots I had visited the first night with my friend years ago. We had sat by Pier 39 to watch a sunset. I didn’t think I would see one tonight but I was intended to walk the streets, eat a crab bisque in a bun and even take a cruise around Alcatraz and The Golden Gate Bridge.
I started with eating, a huge priority and got a seat by the window. I ate at Boudin’s Bakery. On the second floor it is a quaint Bistro. I felt I deserved this and wanted a nice quiet place to journal my thoughts. I had not quite mastered typing on my new IPad yet and poetry does flow nicely with a pen.
The rain let up for about half an hour and I decided to take a one hour cruise. I had missed doing this on my first trip here. I knew the weather would not allow me to take the sunset catamaran sailing cruise so this would have to do. I get seasick on boats (but not on catamarans as long as I stay atop) so I climbed up to the top deck. I was glad I thought of bringing my gloves as well in case it got too cold and windy. I can still touch the screen of my phone or IPad to take photos with these gloves….I did appreciate it when we approached the bridge and it was raining more by then. How I love the water. It felt really grand to see the sights and listen to the history on my headset during the cruise.
Despite the weather there were lots of tourists. Of course, when I planned this trip I had not realized it was American Thanksgiving weekend. Well, I did not plan this but Amma did. How appropriate for her to make her last stop on her tour this weekend. I am thankful I was able to get the time off.
I was tempted to get a fresh water pearl necklace for my daughter for Christmas but with the exchange rate, I knew it was way beyond my means. It was still nice window shopping. I did stop at spots where there were other cruise ships. I do love boats and took several photos. I had to resort to my IPad by now as my phone had died. Fortunately, I had just purchased a portable charger on Black Friday before leaving. That did come in handy a few times on my trip, never having to chase an electric outlet…just plug and go.
I finally made it to Ghirardelli as I had intended to stop here for my desert I did not have at lunch! Rather than go into Ghirardelli I found a Retro diner and had a chocolate (but of course) sundae! Yum!!! I have to say that every place I had coffee…just regular coffee, was always so good and strong. Back home, normally you have to ask for a dark roast or order an espresso. I remember on my first trip how I had appreciated that coffee was always good wherever I went.
By now I was getting tired but still wanted to walk. My coat was getting so soft from the wet I was feeling a bit chilly but stopping at a shop now and then helped to stay warm. Walking back slowly towards the hotel I was on Larkin and Beach Street and I saw paintings of a child through the window. I recognized the eyes from a movie I saw a few years ago Big Eyes. I wondered if it was an exhibit or a gallery.
Walking in, I gasped at all the paintings in three rooms filled with Margaret Keane’s art! The gallery owner said he has managed this gallery for twenty-eight years, well before that movie. I would love to order a print from here. I did not want to buy anything on this trip since I had little space in my luggage. But oh! to be here was such a joy!! So many of Keane’s paintings remind me of some of the youths that phone us on our crisis line. Of course, her later pieces are not so sad but they are all striking. Margaret Keane is 88 years old and still paints!
Well, that just about tied a bow on my trip. I walked slowly to get back home taking different streets checking out the cafés. I also wanted to see if I could climb Lombard Street but it was getting dark and the streets and sidewalks were wet, I thought it was be wiser to forego this dream. I had driven down this street 14 years ago but it’s just not the same.
I changed clothes at the hotel and rested a bit with another hot coffee provided by the hotel. I knew I would soon fall asleep if I did not get out to have dinner, so I went back out. I stayed close by this time, picking up a few snacks at a Safeway to bring to the hotel at San José. I knew the late nights and early mornings when all was closed, some good “sharp cheddar” and crackers might tie me over until the next meal.
Across the street was that Pizzeria called GoodFellows (I guess that would explain all the posters with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro) and I knew now where I was going to have my dinner. I ordered my dinner at the counter from one of the young men who I’d seen the night before. They recognized me and served me. Right after my meal was served, they had ended their shift. I was pleased I had arrived early enough to see them again. Another 8 kilometers in my body and I was soon asleep before eight at night! I am a night person and work late shifts, so this was quite unusual for me.
At four in the morning I could not get back to sleep, so I read a bit, showered, packed my bag and was out the door at eight. It was sunny and I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather before leaving for San José at eleven. I walked up Lombard Street which the bottom of that street was only ten minutes from my hotel. Oh boy!! It is a good thing it does not snow here. I cannot imagine cars driving, people trying to walk up or down. I could only think of streets in Westmount or Côte des Neiges back home which are steep hills but nothing in comparison to the streets of San Francisco.
Walking up the street was harder than the actual crooked part of Lombard Street since there are steps in this section. I was so excited as I reached the top and started walking down towards the water. It was so sunny and nicer to take photos now. I face-timed my son and turned the camera towards the water so he and his girlfriend could see Alcatraz and the steep street leading to the water. My son told me I may be stuck with a hefty bill since I was roaming in the US now and using up perhaps too much data. I was fine. I had purchased an extra $$ daily to roam freely and use my regular data. Now that was a smart move!
I had breakfast by the wharf and it was now time to get to the hotel to call for my ride. This was my first time riding with Uber. My driver was really nice. He and his wife moved here two years ago from Russia. I love talking to taxi drivers. He said he collected money from other countries, so I gave him a $5 bill which is a lovely blue. I would have loved to give him a toonie but did not have any and he already had several loonies. When I tipped him at my arrival, he did not want to take it. I told him it the other bill was a gift for his baby his wife was expecting soon.
I arrived too early to check in at The Fairmont…what a swanky hotel that I could never normally afford…thank goodness I was sharing with a roommate. I was impressed by the architecture in the city and told reception I would leave my bags and just walk around to soak up the sun.
Across the street was a park filled with Christmas decorations, trees and there were rides further along the street. It was Christmas in the Park.
As I walked further away from the hotel, I was saddened to see homeless people. I know there are homeless people in many majour cities. I find in beautiful cities like San Francisco and San José where there is so much glitter and pizazz it hurts to see such extremes…very rich and very poor.
I remember talking to a man at the retreat who was from the area, about this and he was saying how software engineers may earn over $100,000 a year and yet the technicians earn $13/hr. How sad is that?! Here we are trying to raise our minimize wage in Québec to $12.00/hr and trained workers are paid not much more. He was such a nice man. He helped me translate some words of chants that night. I could not get over how descriptive and moving the words were once I understood them.
Registration was 15:00 and I settled in my room and went down to register, so I could stand in line for a token for Darshan. The man behind me told me I was permitted to get to a faster line since it was my first retreat this year. I did not feel that was fair to others, so I waited. By the time I got my token, I met a nice lady who had the same number as me and we were together most of the retreat thereafter. Ah ha, that is why I was not to get to the fast line! It was meant for us to meet. Such a lovely person who is originally from India. I considered her my mentor as well. This was my first time attending a retreat without Karuna who has been a friend and mentor since my first retreat in Toronto in 2014,
Sarala is such a kind, interesting person to get to know. She does not like winter either. She lives in Vermont, so her weather is similar to ours in Montreal. Later during the retreat she mentioned her husband may have a job opportunity in Seattle. I hope he does. That way I will see her when I visit next spring…hopefully. I love when things seem to fall into place like that.
We had dinner together and I was fortunate to receive Darshan before midnight. I was asked if I could kneel and I hesitated and they did not take a chance and offered me a bench as I have done most times due to a bad knee. I was determined to try the other days. Sarala has a bad knee too and she says she does not decide until she gets there and knows that Amma makes things happen as they should. I loved to hear about her devotion for Amma. Her family had visited her with her mother at Amma’s ashram last year. I love hearing stories of devotees…how they heard of Amma and they all have amazing and touching stories that warm my heart.
By one in the morning I could not stay awake. I usually stay up until Amma has left but being up since 4 in the morning and having walked 12Km!! that day, I had to find my bed. My roommate had already arrived and was sleeping. I never got to meet her until the following afternoon.
I have not written or read much but have caught up on Karuna (LivingLearningAndLettingGo) posts on her sojourn in India. It keeps me in the mood I’ve had since my return from San José. Reading her posts on her sojourn in South Kerala, India feels a bit odd seeing the photos of lush gardens and listening to the snow plow outside my window.
Yesterday I still could not find the CD of The Thousand Names of Divine Mother a friend gave me so I searched on YouTube and you’ve got it, Emma, I found it along with the names following the recitation along with an English translation on the screen. It was nice to hear devotees responding on this link. It felt like I was back at the retreat. This morning I did find the CD and popped it in my cd player after I had finished visited Karuna’s blog.
I might have to download it to my IPhone for times I am away at work…unless I start my day with this. I cannot imagine learning these words by heart. I truly admire those who do. My roommate in San José said she recites them by heart and since the US elections feels even more compelled to recite them. I can only imagine the unease for many Americans. Change is scary and I have to admit that one this side of the border of US are also quite concerned.
Whenever I am worried about the world, friends or family, in the past few years I chant Om Lokah Samasta Sukino Bhavantu , Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti It’s a nice way to start my day as well when I finish chanting my mantra, I end by chanting happiness to the world and hoping I can contribute in some way to that happiness. I am also referring to my work, before I start a shift wishing joy to all the youths who reach out to us and for those who have not,yet, had the courage, to those I pray for their safety.
“May all the beings everywhwere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that hapiness and to that freedom of all.”
Tomorrow I am back at work, well, sort of. It is our annual Professional Development Day. I don’t know why they keep calling it that. In the earlier years at our national centre in Toronto it was a full day where counsellors came together and received interesting clinical lectures with a lunch and discussions. The uniqueness of this day was that all staff from all shifts including weekend and night staff were there. It was really nice to meet colleagues from other shifts. And then slowly it changed to team building and self-care.
The Montreal office always had the latter since they were rarely privy to customs in Toronto. And it was always about self-care and team building but many times on a very personal level. I don’t relate with that many in our Montreal office on a personal level. The few I do are very spiritual and compassionate and I feel blessed to know them.
It is a much smaller group here as well. I don’t feel requires the same type of team building as Toronto. I guess with writing my thoughts and haiku here almost daily, I don’t feel the same need here.
I have not attended in the past two years. One year was only days after my mother passed. This year, I can hardly give another excuse, so I will attend but asked not to attend the Christmas dinner. The clinical director is aware I am weary of toxic whining and my focus is the children and youths who reach out to us…period. He said he would be mindful to put me in a group of positive people. I found out today my supervisor is on my team. I am pleased. His father just passed and I feel so connected to him this time of year. He is my son’s age and his father died at the same age of my father. He read from the Book of Death to him when he was dying. Such a beautiful experience (even if sad) he and his sister experienced helping his father pass on.
My work has always driven me despite any climate changes at work over the years. I think when we lose focus on our purpose, we start declining in our capacity to help. I don’t feel like preaching at work but I do try to model a good work ethic. When there are some discussions or complaints about some work changes I try to turn it into a more positive twist.
Change is constant and rather than resist it, we must embrace it. It is a sign that our organization is growing. As for the needs of youths…that has not changed, only the medium they may use but their issues are the same. And I am so proud working on a helpline that allows a youth to call anonymously and not fear being watched or traced. We allow them to keep that control when sometimes their lives have been uncontrollable, at least reporting can be if and when they feel ready. In the meantime, we listen, we care, we believe and we explore ways to stay safe.
A great way to start my day tomorrow will be having lunch with my daughter who works downtown about a fifteen walk from where I will be meeting my colleagues later.
After a four day (3 night) stay in San José, I am on my way back to Montréal. I know the day and night will be long since it is 12:30 and my flight leaves only at 19:00. My roommate tells me she needs help to clean up the volunteer staff room as they are eating now. This was part of her seva (“selfless service” in Sanskrit). I said I would try to go and help her but I was so tired, having not slept all night. I came to check out and realized I forgot my raincoat in the room; by the time I got my coat I decided I wanted to see how I could help in the Volunteer Staff room.
My roommate came to hug me, thanking me. I told her to go to catch her flight and I would stay as long as they needed me. The lady in charge told me to start with, “You must eat first. Help yourself to anything and then you can help.” I made myself a humus sandwich with hot pickles and cucumbers…yum! I told the lady in charge how well organized the retreat was and especially for Devi Bhava where there were double the amount of people. She pointed to a man near the window and said he organized this. So I went over to thank him. Truly, to organize the meals and the last night where a thousand or more people were eating meals and continuously munching throughout the night and never missing any food to serve us, was a miracle. Really! How could they know? How could they calculate to always have enough food and always that delicious Chai that is the best in the world (thus far for me as I have not traveled much. But there is always just the right amount of milk and sugar).
I got to speak to several volunteers and feel privileged to have met these people who had given so much of their time selflessly. And I was happy to help organize what to do with the leftover food…not to waste it. So I suggested we put all the leftovers in ziplock bags. One volunteer knew of a place to donate it. A homeless shelter was out of the question as they do not take any food that has been opened. I kept looking at the vegetables and what a great gumbo soup one could make for several families!
I called for a ride to the airport and was on my way much earlier but decided I might be able to nap at the airport. I was surprised how close the airport was! I got to security within minutes.
But, with only two hours sleep in 48 hours “j‘ai sûrement les nerfs à fleur de peau” …I was flustered when passing through security. The officer asked me to unlock my suitcase starting going through my dirty underwear, examining my flat iron as if it’s a miniature rifle and scanning a box of vanilla instant coffee I never opened and purchased in San Francisco, I was breathing in and breathing out to stay calm. (Yes, I get it that they have to be careful!) But still, to have my suitcase opened in public in front of men waiting to pass through and Only a teenage boy and I were put through a microscope. Yeah, I guess I need a few hours shuteye and venting with you, Emma, helps.
So I am sitting in front of the window watching the planes zip by. “Boy, for a small airport it sure is busy!! I decide to take a short gander to the newsstand to get a bag of chips and a cola. “6.25$”,the clerk asks mechanically and too quickly, if I want a bag he will have to charge me 10 cents! I ask him to repeat but he blurts out the exact line and speed with that robotic voice. He appears to be losing his patience and I sense he is frustrated that I just don’t get it. I apologize for having to repeat but it is difficult to understand because he is speaking too fast.
By now I am ready to speak with a very thick French accent as my excuse for not understanding. Sheesh, this is an international airport! Why would he assume everyone is fluent in English?!
Yeah I am tired. As for San José, it is definitely a pretty city with beautiful architecture although I do love San Francisco. (Will share my brief stay there later)
By the way, I took my first Uber trip from San Francisco to San José and today to the airport . It is a service I truly appreciated in the USA. I am not sure I will use it in Québec though…Taxi drivers here have to pay a license of $35,000 a year to the government to operate and I feel compelled to support our drivers here.
I had not started eating my chips yet I could hear the crunching of someone eating them behind me. After each bite, the man was licking his fingers…each bite! I was ready to walk over to him and either offer him a napkin or smack him over the head. I did neither. I started humming a song and concentrate on that sound.
On a positive note, I was chatting with a woman by the Air Canada gate. Telling her my experience at the newsstand and why I was a bit flustered with little to no sleep. She said she slept a few hours too and then she explained She was at her first retreat. Yep, Amma has a way of connecting those beads together. It was nice to connect with another devotee on my way home to Canada.
I arrived at Vancouver Airport at 21:00 and my connection to Montreal was not until 23:20. Seven hours to go until I was on home soil.
Walking through customs is an example of what our world has become…I don’t know why they bother to put humans to simply direct us right or left to the digital stands where we are to scan our passport, scan our declaration of what was purchased and print it out to give along the way to another human being who decides if we passed or not. I passed! I felt bad for an Asian couple ahead of me who needed a human since the form we filled in is in English on one side and in French on the other side. Their long flight just got prolonged that much more. I hoped that Vancouver was their last stop. I had another seven hours until I would be at my last stop.
The lovely woman I spoke to earlier told me that time would fly by faster than I would expect. I was sure hoping so. I was getting more grumpy and hungry. It felt so weird to be away from the environment I was for the past three days with chanting and singing with periodical moments of quiet and meditation. Imagine a hall filled with hundreds of people, talking, laughing, chanting and singing and falling completely silent after that first OM. A cough here and there and no other sound can be heard. That is truly amazing to see how people from all walks of life come together in moments like this…all understanding the same language.
I kept walking towards signs indicating the gate for my connection and as I went down one floor and then up another floor, I noticed I was being led to the exit to leave the airport. Uh Oh!! Could this mean I would have to go through security AGAIN!
I sat down a moment to loosen the laces of my Docs to be ready to take them off. I am getting even more agitated by now. How can they manage on a busy day if you have to go through security when people have connections?
By the time I got to security, I asked them that question. Of course they explain the regular “script” that for security and I pass by the exit, blah blah blah! I was so tired and grumpy I wanted to cry like a baby. I was upset they did not answer my question I had asked how they managed when the airport got busy. “Oh”, one officer said, “This is just the evening and night shift because we do not have someone to lead people through another area.” Wow!! So to save $$$ why not just put the burden solely on the travelers. Sure that makes total sense!
I was close to tears during the entire process of getting my plastic bag of liquids and gels out, my boots, coat, hooded sweater etc. It is not busy at all and when it is over I ask if there is a place to sit down so I can put my boots on. (Every other place I noticed there was a long bench for that purpose). It is far from the area and I am feeling rushed. I know I am just too tired and not quite myself. One officer who seemed more in charge as he seemed to have an air of authority and one who could make decisions. He was kind enough to bring me my back pack I thanked him, whispering I was just so tired. Whispering, because I was ready to have a crying fit. Lack of sleep can certainly affect a person’s psyche and leaving a place filled with love and compassion, saying goodbye to Amma is like saying goodbye to my mother and never knowing when I will see her again. Even though I know I can always feel her in my heart, the first hours and days after leaving her presence has this affect and surely not just on me.
Speaking of Mother, the 2nd anniversary of Mom’s passing is tomorrow, December 2nd. I think seeing Amma has helped to get through this period.
I finally get all sorted out and am looking for my passport and it is still on the counter next to the officer…good thing I noticed! Sheesh!!
By the time I get to the gate, I notice they are already boarding!! Gee, I guess, time did go by much faster than I realized.
I finally get to the gate and notice a Tim Horton that is open. Oh, did I mention that most stores were closed at this time at this airport? I guess I was just assuming it was the same in all cities but I guess on weekdays it may be different. I really do not travel much so each airport is a new experience for me.
I decide to have a cup of soup and jot down some thoughts on my iPad. It is 22:45 now and I walk up to the gate and am pleasantly surprised to see some people already boarding. I was glad I had chosen a window seat ahead of time so I could lean my head on the side.
The flight was quiet. I slept most of the way which made the flight so much shorter.
One hour before landing I kept watching the sky waiting for the darkness to lift slowly. I knew I would see the sun rise or at least some line of colours in the horizon. And I did…the last half hour of the trip was silent as I am sure I was not the only one looking at the Universe wishing us a good morning in such warm colours.
Arriving Montreal airport at 7:10 means heavy traffic and so I am looking around for a spot to rest and have breakfast. I am searching for a place near the exit so I can just catch the express bus when I am ready. There is construction going on these days and I could blame my getting lost on this. Whenever I follow “arrival” signs it takes me to stairs and I cannot find an escalator. Hmm, so I continue to the other end of the airport and ask a woman at a kiosk selling something or other, my brain cannot even register what. She says the stairwell I saw earlier is the only place since they are under construction.
As I walk back slowly to that section, I ask a man who is cleaning the window of a store. I asked him first, if he speaks English or French. He responds with a sourpuss, “French”. I only asked because there are many people where French is not their first language and some speak English better. Clearly, I had offended him. He did not want to answer my question when I asked if he knew if there were escalators to get to “arrivals”. He said he did not know and I should just look at the signs. I look at him a bit stunned that he is so grumpy (I wonder what his excuse is…maybe he needs a hug but his attitude and way of speaking to me is hurtful, probably because my skin is not thick enough to hear typical separatist die-hards) I suppose the look on my face seems to have a huge question mark as he sticks out his chin as if to say, What do you want? All I could manage in perfect French, was, “I do not dare ask you anything more, thank you, since you are being far too rude.” And I push my luggage away from there. I stop at one spot to check the time and curious as to how much I have been walking since I got off the plain…3 km already and I am still not out of here! Well, this is a wonderful way to get some exercise I suppose!
5 km later, I have managed to reach the exit door where I can take a taxi or bus. FINALLY! I suppose when you have not slept much in three days, one’s mind goes back to a toddler’s. Yep, that’s exactly how I felt…missing my mommy to get me home safely.
I notice a Tim Horton’s near the exit and order a bagel and coffee. That too was another experience but I will stop whining…enough already, right?
I get outside and ask a man who calls taxis for people where do I get the 747 bus. He indicates the section and I walk there. It is clearly written to wait here and yet I see a bus further up. I am tempted to walk over there but decide to wait. There are two men waiting there and we start talking. They have just arrived from Egypt for two days only! Tomorrow they have a second test to pass in dentistry and they are to return right after the test tomorrow. Wow!! They will have one more test to pass in December to see if they will be accepted in the dentistry programme at McGill University. (Now I am feeling ashamed for being so grumpy!) They ask me questions about the weather here. They find it terribly cold today and yet it is unusually warm at only 6C and last week it was -2C and snowing. I suppose it could be the humidity that makes it less tolerable.
The bus arrives twenty minutes later and the driver tells us to wait at the other end where I had seen the bus earlier! Yes, I missed the earlier bus. Perhaps it was meant to be. I was able to give these men some information on Montréal and Québec.
The bus ride to downtown was slow due to traffic even at 9:30 in the morning! With the rain, and the swishing sound of wet pavement, I kept dozing off. Once we arrived at Lionel Groulx Métro, I knew it would not be long before I would catch my bus home at Bonaventure. By 11:00 I was finally home.
My bed beckoned me. My cat, Bette, kept meowing and probably telling me off for leaving her for six days. So I start unpacking and decide to do two loads of laundry before resting. Before noon, I am napping with my Bette purring loudly next to me. I wake up now and then but my body screams at me to close my eyes. By the time I look at the time, it is 2 in the morning!! I missed my son’s text asking if I was home at 16:00.
I get up to drink some water and get back to sleep until 11:00 this morning! Wow!! I slept almost 24 hours. Waking up with a migraine and I am surprised how great I felt near Amma. Never a headache or any sign of migraines.
I am finally starting to feel human again…time to look over some of my notes from my trip and perhaps submit one or two posts.
Emma, I will tell you more about my trip later when I have had a real meal…butternut squash and quinoa stew sounds like good comfort food.
Depression can mean many things. We tend to overuse that word meaning, sad, moody, down in the dumps and wiped from work or school; all these last moments to days or weeks but depression is not quite the same thing.
I remember seeing the face of depression when I was a teen for the first time. I observed the grey tint to her face, the emptiness in her hazel eyes and that consistent pout. Of course, what did I know at thirteen? I thought there was a cause and that was the effect. One person causing a broken heart, which in turn turned those hazel eyes into depression.
And yet, I know now that it is far more complex than that. Yes, a broken heart is grieving a love that one had. I like to call all grief a “necessary depression”. And that sadness can conjure up old wounds and…
Years ago, she took painting classes as a prerequisite for art therapy. She’d never had an art class in school and was not sure what to expect. The teacher would put on music and ask the students to simply let the music move them. She was always surprised three hours later when she was asked to clean her brushes, the class had ended. Three hours passed like fifteen minutes. Using the creative side of your brain seems to stop time.
melodies of strings
transported to the heavens
guiding brush strokes
My best meditation, if you want to call it that, is when I am walking. I start by looking up at the blue sky and sun reflecting on the snow, adjust my sunglasses as the glare blinds my blue eyes and I walk. I start chanting my mantra 108 times and if my mind is still chattering, I chant another set. And then I am in a magical zone.
(c) Clr ‘157Amma, Mom, GrandMaman
Amma smiles at me
departed spirits appear
Amma smiles at me
departed spirits appear
removing my fears
feeling their presence
blessing my day
Our host , Chèvrefeuille, writes a very moving post at Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, about friendship before continuing on to the lesson in The Pilgrimage on acknowledging friends and support around us.
In times of sorrow or personal strife, I have found solace in my solitude, my writing and my readers. The latter have become friends from afar, who have read my words and “got it”, felt it and embraced it.
I love this passage we are referred to on friendship:
[…] ‘Once, a poet said that no man is an island. In order to fight the good fight, we need help. We need friends, and when the friends aren’t nearby, we have to turn solitude into our main weapon. We need the help of everything around us in order to take the necessary steps toward our goal. Everything has to be a personal manifestation of our will to…
Walking along the narrow path through the mountains, we feel a soft breeze. Cautiously, looking over my shoulder from time to time, the journey seems much longer now that I know I must meet up with a huge challenge.
scanning high and low
even the clouds seem daunting
demons etched throughout
scanning high and low
sniffing the air around me
danger has a scent
even the clouds seem daunting
fear listens attentively
danger has a growl
demons etched throughout
imagination running wild
gets the best of me
Travelling long distances is something new for her. She would travel far to get to one destination only and come back. But now she travels and sometimes takes detours to get to a destination. The time to be there is vague…she tries not to depend on tight schedules. She knows somehow thy will be done. Perhaps some of her guru’s philosophy is rubbing off on her. She knows she has to learn her way and though through guidance, mantras or prayer, readings…these are simply tools to help interpret life around her….the one she was blind to.
faith keeps her from falling
mindful of her goal
que sera sera
faith keeps her from falling
more lessons to be learned
sitting or standing
She was raised with a strict Catholic upbringing. She remembers her Grand-Maman beading her rosary…