PUTTING ON ROSE TINTED GLASSES

John Lennon’s song Happy Xmas (War is Over) plays constantly in my head. It’s probably because they play it during every break on TV over the holidays. It’s for a good cause, I suppose, appealing for help for the Christian Children’s Fund. How much does it help? It’s hard to know. You give with trust that they do the right thing. That’s how I gave to World Vision for many years. It was easy. Write a cheque. Put it in the mail. I would get periodic updates on the child I was sponsoring. Then I stopped giving, not believing in what I was doing.

It’s not a good feeling – losing belief that there is a quick fix. The war is not over and the children still go hungry. The homeless sleep in shelters or on the street. Such is our world. Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. I do not mean to be melancholy. I am not. Just tired, feeling hung over by our frigid temperatures of the past week. I am feeling more peaceful and content than I’ve ever been for a long while. Maybe it’s because I’m not fighting the world. I am not fighting myself. Acceptance of things as they are crept in.

I hope you’ve had a Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Let me put my rose tinted glasses back on just for a day or two. It doesn’t hurt to be rosy and be of good cheer. So put on your party hats and get the blowers ready. Don’t have any blowers? Do you know you can  make your own?

TO A NEW BEGINNING

Today is the coldest day of the year. Saskatoon, one of the coldest place in Canada with temperature of -37 C this morning. With the windchill, it felt like -46 C. We were beaten out by Meadown Lake with their -39 C and -49C with the windchill. Brrrr! It was a very good reason to change our routine. Sheba felt no urge for a morning walk. We did not push. It was good to stay in and put that soup pot on again. It is still simmering its goodness and humidity. It’s good to listen to nature and do as it dictates.

I haven’t always been this wise. I like to fight nature, the system, myself and everyone else. I HAVE to be strong. Not too long ago, I heard that click in the universe. A voice spoke to me. Give it up. I finally heard the message. It just doesn’t matter that much. I don’t have to prove anything. Nobody cares. Life is a stage. We are all players. I can write my own script. The play will be over soon enough. I can play my part, give a graceful bow and exit. There you go!

Life can be fun. No need to take everything and everybody to heart. By all means it can be serious. For sure I should take it seriously, but not as much when nothing matters. I should not scoff at everything and everybody when everything does matter. It’s that damn scale. It’s tricky to balance it. But balance it you must. Things go smoother when it is. Meanwhile chin up, eh. The year is coming to an end. A new one will be starting. How will you begin? Cheers!

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT

Another bitterly cold day. It’s a fast brisk poop run for Sheba and me. I wonder where our world is going. In the news, seeing the homeless in Toronto and the starving, sick children in war torn countries bring tears to my eyes. I am sitting warm, fed and in my home with excesses. How can I feel right with all I have? At least it made me feel better about my simple Christmas. It was the right way to celebrate.

I am reminded by Caroline Myss this morning of this special time we are living in. Our world and its myths are changing. We have to change the way we see everything. You have to listen to her speak to understand. It’s beyond my ability to explain. I understand a bit of it. Each time I listen, I understand a little more. I am aware this is an extraordinary time in history. I am in awe. I don’t want to waste it, moping and helpless. I don’t want to look back and regret. Oh, I could/should have done something! If only….

So here I sit, in my special hour, tap, tapping away – for enlightenment, for comfort, for vision. I know that I am in a special time- that space between real and energy time. I am aware that we are multi-sensory. I feel the energy around me. Some people give off a powerful presence when they enter a room/space. You’ve felt that, haven’t you? I have. Maybe it’s their body language or facial expression but it’s like an aura surrounding their body. It’s makes me want to back away or rush forward for an embrace – depending on what they give off.

I have been receiving ping backs for awhile now. A thought, idea, an awareness will suddenly pop right in front of my face. I can almost touch it. The first time that it happened, I went: Oh my goodness! No, I don’t want it to be true. But it was. And I was sad. I’m okay with it now. We all possess this ability. It’s just that some of us are not paying attention. We are not listening and we never will. That line jumped right out of Don McLean’s song, Vincent. Oh, how thoughts weave in and out of my mind!

 

What am I doing if not wasting time, moping and sobbing? It’s really nothing special. I do rave and rant here once in awhile. There is not enough time to mope.  I am slow as a slug. I haven’t caught up to the speed of energy yet. I like to press ENTER like on my computer and things get done. I don’t function that way anymore. No more flash in the pan. Now it’s the slow layers of paint that I put on the canvas, the painstakingly slow learning of stitches, programs, and functions of my new Bernina sewing machine. Otherwise it won’t go. It’s no more speeding down the highways of life. I’m processing. I’ve been rewired and rebooted. I am awake, if only a little.

PURPOSE, PROJECTS AND FOLLOW THROUGH

The day/life is much easier with purpose. It gives you structure and a starting point. It’s the catalyst that pushes me through the starting gate and onward to the finish line. I’m in a better frame of mind. It’s reassuring that I am not always pooling in my puddles. It only seems so. Once more the sun is shining on me, literally. I have to take off my sweater. It’s that warm.

The words feel more fluid in the warmth. They are flowing with ease from my fingertips. I am at ease in this moment with Sheba sleeping beside me. The sun feels so warm, the tea so good. I close my eyes, inhaling, exhaling..living. I give thanks of gratitude to the wisdom of people like Viktor Frankl, Caroline Myss and Professor Guy McPherson. McPherson, a biology professor believes that climate change from our heavy footprint is destroying our planet beyond repair. Even so, we should not despair. He advises:

 “I encourage people to pursue excellence, to pursue love, to pursue what they love to do. I don’t think these are crazy ideas, actually – and I also encourage people to remain calm because nothing is under control, certainly not under our control anyway.”

Those words resonate with me. I am in pursuit of those goals the best I can. They are my torch on gloomy days, beckoning onward or to sit and rest awhile. I need heroes and cheerleaders to coach me along the way. It’s one thing to get started and another to follow through to the end. I’ve had a bit of practice. It’s easier every day. I get up, dress up and show up the best I can. Some best are better than others. That’s how it is.

What are my pursuits in concrete language? The biggy right now is mastering my new Bernina computerized sewing machine. It would have been wise to do some checking. Too bad I didn’t read this blog before. No matter. I have no buyer’s regret. I have a vision of using it as another medium for my artwork. I was inspired by images of free motion embroidery. They popped into my head one day. I can do that, I said to myself. I trust my instincts and ‘feelings’. So off to the Sewing Machine Store I went.

I’m not off and running yet but it is out of the box. After hours of watching tutorils on YouTube, I’ve bobbined and manually threaded the needle. Haven’t mastered the automatic threader yet. I can turn it on, off, navigate some of computer screen and use the straight and zigzag stitches. Not exactly flying or embroidering but still pretty awesome. I think I’ll go and hem my pants now. Be back tomorrow with more progress – I hope.

 

THE FLUTTER OF WINGS AND FAIRY DUST

After lunch is a always the hardest time for me. There is freshness and momentum in the morning. You wake up, get up, dress up and show up. There’s an expectacy. The day is beginning. There is a promise in the air, a building up and then the unfolding of things. Now lunch is had. All that is left are the dirty dishes, the leftover soup and noodles to put away. Sheba is acting up, wanting attention and her supper. She is always an hour early. She gets a reprimand. I settle in my chair with my dandelion tea. I need a bit of Vitamin C and soothing. No sun in my room today.

I’m not really whining. It’s my inhale and exhale in my own safe space. It’s my own way of navigating through the labyrinth of life. Others’ exhale echo back with their ideas and wisdom of how to be, how to do. Sometimes their echoes are comfort, hugs travelling through the air. It is amazing. I’m feeling better already, comforted by their presence. I have been hearing their advice, guiding me through this holiday season.

My guardian angels have been hovering around me. Can you hear the flutter of wings? They stop my thoughts when they wander in the wrong direction. They silence my words in my mouth before they cause harm. They gently steer me into doing good things rather than hurtful ways. I am covered with their fairy dust.

Sheba is fed. The dishwasher is going. Somehow my pile of dirty pots and pans are washed and drying. The soup put away. The floor vacuumed. We are ready for our walk before it gets late. I am glad when it’s over and done with, especially in winter. I try not to short her even when it is cold. She loves the snow and is friskier, rolling in it.  Today is considerably warmer than yesterday so we do an extra block.

On difficult days, I try not to think of that word. I’m becoming my mother. I have asked her if she has hard days. Of course! She retorts. But I don’t use those words- hard, difficult. Strike them from your vocabulary. Just do. So that is what I do. I do this, then this, and so on and on….till it’s all done.

STAYING ALIVE BLUES

It’s that flipping time in the afternoon where I feel the lowest in energy. I just want to sink into my loveseat and bask in the sunshine. I want to close my eyes and not think about doing. But here I am, sitting in front of my keyboard. I’m trying to tap myself alive. Now I got that song Staying Alive playing in my head. I’m trying to strut in my chair like the Bee Gees. Whatever works! Have to be resourceful on lazy days. Or I could just give in and be lazy. Nothing wrong with that except that it will be harder to climb out of that hole later. So here’s to strutting and staying alive, however I can.

My dishes are stacked in the sink to be dealt with later. I want to sit here in the sun while it’s shining. It’s warmth is making me sleepy. I still got one eye opened. I’ve got my cup of tea. And Sheba’s barking on cue. No danger of falling asleep in front of the keyboard. I bribe her with a rawhide chew. It works like a charm. I have no magic charm on this cold Boxing Day. I just got the good old the day after blues. But not seriously. I feel a little like an over inflated balloon with some air out of it. Slightly deflated if you want to call it that.

It’s the accumulation of the year, the ups, downs and the mediocre. I feel much like a kid who is bored saying to his mom, There is nothing to do. Only I have too much to do but I don’t want to do it. I’m feeling kind of rebellious and pouty. It really doesn’t do me any good at this age. Not when I am the adult. So what I do is a little of this and that in between my pouts and struts. The hall and bathroom are vacuumed. Sheba is placated for awhile. I’ve worked a bit on two little art projects.

In an hour is the fur baby’s supper and her walk after. Maybe I can stir myself to deal with the dishes now. Then there’s the dining table to be tidied. I need to read the instructions on how to operate my new million dollar Bernina sewing machine. I’m not ready to lose interest already. I’m better than that. Aren’t I? But dang, it’s hard to stay alive!

 

LETTING GO, BE DARING, BE NEW

December 25, Christmas Day. Sunlight streaming in. I’m cozy as can be – tap, tapping away on this cold day. It’s only -26 Celsius now, up 2 degrees since 7 am. I’m looking a little tired, bags underneath my eyes and my hair is not up to par. Well, it’s not quite combed. I’m out of practice doing selfies. It looks like the cyclamen is growing out of my ear. I’ve left things slide. My hair could use a cream rinse to put in some shine. I need lots more moisturizer to rid those bags. And you should see the diningroom table.

It goes to show some things never change. It can be a comforting or provocative thought. You can count on consistency or dependability. You are not surprised or blown away constantly. On another train of thought, I see that I am who I am.  If someone doesn’t like me, it doesn’t matter what I do, they will not like me. It’s really none of my business. I really love these witty truisms. It’s obviously true. It says nothing new or interesting. It’s time to walk away. I will save myself a whole lot of energy and time giving up trying to be someone else for someone else. It’s a lightbulb moment if I ever saw one.

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Now I’m at day’s end, just before bedtime. I’m taking a few moments to gather my thoughts on this holiday period. I’m secretly pleased. Now you know, too. I’ve had a very good Christmas. I’ve taken a step towards new rituals for the Season. I’m not saying it’s the correct and only way. It’s different for me. Mostly I just stopped doing the ‘usual’ – running around looking for the perfect gift, putting up a tree and decorations, baking, etc. It did make me feel uncomfortable at times. But isn’t that always with doing something new?

It’s not for everyone. Not everyone wants to simplify Christmas. Some people really enjoy all that goes with the season. I respect their chosen ways. And I am not saying that I will repeat the same action next year. Things are ever changing, me and my feelings included.  The old way of doing things don’t work for us any more. I have to be willing to let go of them and be open to try something new. Grow with the times, the bells chime.

O HOLY NIGHT

I feel guilty sitting here, tap tap tapping on this 24th day of December – Christmas Eve. By all accounts aren’t I suppose to be busy cooking up a storm, celebrating and partying? At the same time, aren’t we supposed to observe the reverence of Jesus’ birth? To confuse the issue more for myself, I am Chinese. I was not born a Christian but to a culture of ancestor worship. Sometime and somewhere in my life, I saw Jesus on the cross. I followed that vision and was baptised in the Catholic Church. But I heard Buddha calling me also. I listened and liked what I heard.

I am confused but I don’t feel too bad about it. I’ve been listening to too many voices. I heard all their sayings and beliefs. Now, I know the best voice is my own. I’ve bathed in too many’s experiences and feelings. They are not my own. It’s time to shed them. Time to step into my own waters, my experiences and feelings. It is time to don my fineries and see how they fit. Will they wear well?

O Holy Night has been my favourite Christmas Carol since I was a little immigrant girl in Maidstone. It was before I was Catholic. I heard it sung by Susan, an older neighbour girl. She lived in the railroad station house across the highway from us. I thought her voice was heavenly. It was so pure and clear like that night. It is still my favourite. I love the beauty of the music and the lyrics. Whether or not I believe, it does not matter. How I celebrate or not does not matter as long as I am true to myself, as long as I am enjoying what I am doing and not hurting another.

 

EVEN THOUGH

I’m sitting here, feeling blank, not knowing where to start. I wonder how I got here. Where do I begin? At the beginning, of course. But where is that? This morning I went to my exercise class even though I didn’t feel like it. There are so many things that I don’t feel like doing – like putting up a Christmas tree or any other ornaments. And I haven’t. The only thing I have is a poinsetta that was given to us. Oh yes, the cyclamen with its red blooms looks very festive, if I may say so. It was a fine model for a painting. It sat very still for me. Then there’s the neighbours across the street. Their picture window is strung with Christmas lights. I get to see and enjoy them. I am not lacking in Christmas cheer even though I’m a bit of a Mrs. Humbug.

Last night two images popped into my head as I laid in bed. It was the moments before sleep overtook me. The first image was when I was a child in China. It was New Year’s Eve. I was in bed. Downstairs my mother, grandmother and ‘aunties’ are making and cooking pastry. I could see them tending the fire, feeding in more straw and twigs. The second image was of when we were in Ghana. Again I was in bed in the loft of the lodge. The ocean waves are washing in and out. The lighthouse light flashing across the window opening. I am feeling safe, warm and content in all these places as I am drifting off to sleep.

Our present times are uncertain and difficult. So much confusion and violence. But when have they not been? It seem so much more now that we are in the energy age. Bad news travel at a blink of an eye and a snap of your fingers. I am easily influenced. I soak up the negative like a sponge. Even though sometimes I can’t help but feel hopeless and despondent, I still have a little spark in me. That little spark keeps me going like the Eveready battery. Despite myself and even though I’m a bit of a Scrooge, I’m like that Little Drummer Boy. I’ll keep playing my drum.

BECOMING MY MOTHER

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Daylight hours here in Saskatoon = 7 hours 43 minutes. In other years my mother would be making glutinous rice ball soup. She made two kinds – one with a sweet sauce and one with a savory soup of vegetables, meat and spices. I prefer the latter. It’s a process. It’s another thing she has given up with advancing age and declining health. I have made the effort once. It turned out not bad. I should make it every year as the Chinese do celebrate Winter Solstice. It would have been a comforting thing on a gloomy day. I would be carrying on my mother’s tradition. I can still do it on another day.

More and more, I find myself becoming my mother. I hear her voice and laugh in mine. Sometimes when I am moving, I feel as I am her. Maybe those traits were always in me but I’m just recognizing and acknowledging them now. I don’t know any young woman who would want to be their mother. I remember having many mother/daughter disagreements and fights. I was reading books like My Mother/Myself by Nancy Friday. I wish I still have that copy but I’ve tossed it thinking I’m done. I was wrong. A daughter is never done with mother/daughter relationships. Great that I found it in the library system and have requested it. It will be interesting reading from my now vantage point.

We have no more fiery encounters. We have both mellowed and respect each other’s abilities and individual rights. She can no more order me around than I could order her. Equals at last. She still like to tell me that I am sloppy and bad tempered like my father. Also that she can still clean better than me. That is true. But she’s also said that my sticky rice was pretty good and that I am making pretty good art.

It’s all good at this stage in our lives. Those difficult days of struggling to make a living are behind us. We have reached Gold Mountain at last. We have climbed its slippery slopes and reached the Promised Land. We are living our best parts. Happy Winter Solstice!