I’m sleepless again. After wrestling unsuccessfully with the mattress, I decided to give it up. So I’m here, sipping my Orange Pekoe tea, trying to tap myself into ease and sleepiness. It is about the enigma, the woman next door again. I tell myself that there is clearly something wrong with her. Yet she has enough wits about her to run a business out of her house and a talent to irritate the hell out of us.
The frustration comes from not finding a solution/resolution to the problem. It’s difficult to conduct a conversation, never mind to enter into a negotiation with someone who makes her own rules/laws. Who does not allow you a voice at all. Who talks/yells over what you have to say. Who lies. I guess she could be called a bully.
What has she done this time? It’s the same thing – her obsession that she has rights on our property. She doesn’t like how we do our yard. She planted little spruce trees on our property next to the raised bed that she doesn’t like either. She ‘weeds’ and digs little trenches to ‘drain’ rain runoffs on our property. Somethings are just too small, petty and too tiring to fight over. So I had been ignoring all this before. Then she doesn’t like that we use woodchip mulch because it is a fire hazard. We mulched under our cedar trees adjacent to her driveway. Whatever we use, she would push, scrape back when we’re not aware. So we put up some low wire fencing along the trees to prevent her from doing that. We used black (dyed with vegetable oil) wood chip thinking that it’s the colour of dirt and she wouldn’t see. How can anyone object to that since it was on our property and with a fence to keep them from her driveway?
Of course she would see and object. Today I found the posts pulled almost out and the wire netting laying flat on the ground, the mulch pushed back. I took photos. I am not sure as what to do. I could report this to the police as this is clearly vandalism, mischief and destruction of property. But I’ve been dealing with this kind of stuff from her for years. She is ‘something else’ as one could put it. She clearly has a bead on me and knows what gets my goat. She is very clever in this way.
I’ve also been getting smarter about myself, how I let people push my buttons. I don’t like how bodily reactive I am. I don’t like how the blood and thoughts rush to my head and I can’t think anymore. I can only feel – the cortisol coursing through my system and the feeling of helplessness. I’m here taming my thoughts and adrenaline. This is not a bitch session nor a tell-all. I’m trying to find some peace. I’m trying to find some love and compassion for the woman next door. It must be terrible for her to be so obsessed about me, my yard and whatever. Don’t we all need love and compassion?
I want to end on a positive note with a video of Daniel Champagne. We saw him perform live at the Bassment the other evening. He’s travelling across Canada. If he comes to your town/city, do go and see him. His guitar picking and music are out of this world. I came away from it with total body relaxation. I suffer anxiety and high blood pressure. It’s hard to explain but I suffer a hundred deaths of fright getting my blood pressure check. It’s difficult to feel confident about how well controlled it is. I’m always high at the doctor’s (white coat syndrome). The last visit a couple of weeks ago, I registered a reading of 180/90. Eeeek! I’ve come down since then, desensitizing myself each day by taking it regularly. My reading after coming home from the concert was 108/79. Music is good therapy. I have to listen and attend live concerts more often. Forward, ho!
It is strange how books find their way to me. It is as if they know that they hold the knowledge I’m seeking. You know I’m a serious girl. I’m always pondering about the universe and the meaning of life. I wonder about what is love and hope. Are they verbs or nouns? Can you hold them in your hands and examine their nature? If they’re verbs, how do you go about loving and hoping? Would you get anywheres hoping and loving? Or is it just pining away?
I know I think too much. It would be good if I could lighten up and just live and be happy. Maybe I should heed one reader’s advice and ‘start filling a jar with notes of things you are happy for‘. And what would a gratitude list do? Don’t I have to do some other stuff besides? Is it not like Facebook’s rhetoric? If you believe this, if you are my friend, etc. etc. copy and paste. What does copy and paste accomplish besides that and getting a whole bunch of people copying and pasting?
I know, all I am doing is asking more questions. I offer no answers. Putting the questions out there is valuable. They’re food for thought, stimulous. Wait, what about the books? you ask. Yes, the books. They’re the two latest ones I’ve read. Strange that they both landed on me at the same time. Both contained the answers I needed. The first one was Home by Toni Morrison. The second is Mercy by Jodi Picoult. Strange, how some books get ratings. I loved both books but Mercy got a lot of bad ratings. Perhaps the subject of mercy killing and a cheating husband doesn’t sit well with female readers. It sat very well with me. Made me look at love and forgiveness from many sides. Both book made me feel hopeful again. They’re both fiction but you know what they say about truth and fiction.
James Last’s music has been playing in my head today. It has been dormant all these years but my angel must have popped a coin into my jukebox. Strains of Love Must Be The Reason and the Wedding Song (There Is Love) are playing nonstop in my ears. Clearly there is a message for me. Love must be the answer.
I got it, my sweet angels. I have been listening. I heard the flutter of your wings, your whispers in my ears. It is better to love than hate. My mind and heart are cracked open a little. I will try to let in possibilities. I will try to let in light and softness. I’m letting go of control and judgement as much as I can. I will try to stop the narratives in my head. They are not always true. Sometimes they are the whispers of the devil.
Yes, love must be my answer. It’s the crowbar that opens my heart and mind. It is the doorstop keeping it opened. It is the devil’s bane. Let love flow into me to start this new year and help me throughout the year. I do not want to dwell in the valley of the shadow.
Why does a leaf turn its rays to sunshine;
Why does the dawn come to endless night.
Why does a road that unwinds so steeply
In what so true of such strong and right.
Love must be the reason
Yes, love must be the reason
Every heart can fly in a cloudless sky
On the wings of love.
Season for all season
Yes love must be the reason
Just one boy and girl Can raise up the world
On the wings of love.
Why does the sea take the weary railroad
Into its arms like
a child of hope.
How can a tree rest beyond forever;
Hand touching hand least gone along.
Love must be the reason
Yes, love must be the reason
Every heart can fly
In a cloudless sky
On the wings of love
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.
I think too much. Today, I’m thinking about the place call home. Where is it for me – the China where I was born, Maidstone, Saskatchewan where I took grade 1-12 or here, in Saskatoon, where I have lived since?
Was it Thomas Wolfe who said you can never go home again? It’s true. On a trip to Hong Kong, I tried to speak Chinese to the store merchants while shopping for souvenirs. They could not understand me. My travel mates told me to speak English for heaven’s sake. I was crushed. On another trip to China, I tried to find my way back to my home village. No luck for various reasons. On my return home, my mother informed me that our cousin laughed about my clumsy Chinese when I tried to talk to her on the phone. More crushing. It’s not for lack of trying but lack of appreciation by others that I couldn’t find home.
Is home a place then? I spent most of my formative years (12) in Maidstone. I always refer it as my hometown. But is it home? We owned the house we lived in. My father and his cousin owned the Rex Cafe they operated together. I knew the teachers and most of the kids in school. The year I finished grade 12, my family moved to NYC. But even before the move, I sensed that we were really not part of the fabric. We were one of the 3 Chinese families in town. We had the cafe.
My parents didn’t belong/participate in any community groups or activities. My mother had only a spattering of English. I had never felt the aloneness and separation of homelessness till that end of that summer. I came back to Maidstone to pack up for going to university in Saskatoon. We had not yet all moved. My father was still in the process of finalizing the sale of the house and cafe. My grandparents were still in the house. But already I was feeling gone and invisible. It was as if the town had shifted and filled in the spaces we once occupied.
For me then, home is not so much a place as the warmth of feelings, the rushing arms of a welcoming. Home is the moment that Sheba runs out the door, tail wagging and squealing with delight after just a couple of days away. She gallops back and forth, unable to contain her happiness at seeing us. We watch her antics, misty-eyed and hearts full – owners and dog sitter. We were all home in the moment of pure love.
We should all be like our pet dogs. We were gone for just 2 days. It could have been weeks. When we got back to pick up Sheba at the sitter’s, she was beside herself with happiness. She ran out the door and galloped around Carol’s front yard. Back and forth she ran, kicking up her heels like a donkey, squealing with delight. She let us know that she was so happy to see us.
Why can’t we be like that, not afraid to show our feelings. If you care about someone, don’t hide and be coy about it. Show your appreciation. We might say and do all the right/polite things, but our body language gives us away. Let me tell you, there’s no mistaking Sheba’s body language. She loves us and she’s not afraid to show it.
Sheba has taught me much in our lives together. Love transcend many boundaries. You cannot measure love in the dollars or sense. Love touches you in that special space inside. And she surely has touched us there.
A change of pace, a change of scene is always good for the soul. It breaks up the routine. It breaks up thoughts. You can’t rely on the same old, same old. You are forced to see something different if not differently.
So here we are in another city, in a hotel. In recent days we’ve experienced the loss of family members. That alone has changed our lives forever. Our days are somehow never going to be the same. The thought makes the losses unbearable and the memories all the more precious.
I see those moments frozen in time. It is as if I could reach out my hand and touch those people. I can almost hear their voices and laughter. So I have not lost them really. I still have had the experience of them in my being. They are still part of who I am.
I am a little sad but I’m also full of their love and my love for them. So really I am happy after all.
The thing is beginnings are always hard. You know that. You circle and circle, filling in, wasting and passing time. Then you get sick of the nagging, weighty thing dragging your butt down and down. So you sit down and begin. So here I go with my tap, tapping for the day.
Arriving at acceptance of things as they are – that the earth has 10 years less 2 days to survive, have set me free – maybe not completely but a bit more. Why? There’s no time to lose/waste/mope. I saw my purpose which is to enjoy the time left. Thanks to Professor Guy McPherson’s advice, I’ve decided that excellence, love and what I love to do are worthy goals to pursue. I was already on that pursuit with my year of doing different, but now I have a clearer vision of it.
In the presence of our recent dramatic climate change, it is difficult to ignore impermanence, that our earth will not be here in another 10 years – less 2 days now. Given that premise, nothing matters anymore and everything matters still. A contradiction I know, but for me it holds much truth, wisdom and comfort.
The nothings that don’t matter are the things outside of me, the things that I have no control of – what others think and do, keeping up with the Jones and Smiths, etc. etc. etc. The things that matter are the things within me, the things that I CAN control – how I speak, how I behave, how I choose. I choose to make my life matter, to take an interest, to find what makes me smile. I choose to live in a way I give back to the earth as well as harvest from it. I choose to pursue excellence in body, mind and spirit. 10 years less 2 days is still worth pursuing.
It’s another morning, another day. Snow has fallen during the night. The yard is bathed in white and sunlight. The night has been good for all of us. Our bodies and minds are rested. This morning the egg does not look so lonely on my plate. Our stomachs are sated. We are content.
It is not a bad thing to acknowledge our bad times. It is not a bad thing to vent. It is not showing our weaknesses, our failures but showing our humanity. If I can share my vulnerabilities, maybe you can share yours. We can learn from each other and build a bridge between us. Our planet can be a lonely place these days. We hide behind our fences and facades. We dare not trespass on each other’s backyard. It’s yours. It’s mine. Can we make it ours?
April is a good month to extend yourself by reaching out or within. It is the month of spring, the greening of the earth. It is a time for germination of seeds and ideas. How can we love ourselves and each other more? How can we plant more seeds for love?
“I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation And the only explanation I can find Is the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around Your love’s put me at the top of the world”
Funny how photos trigger words and snatches of songs in my mind. That’s how I’m feeling looking at this picture of Sheba – on top of the world. The Carpenters got it perfectly. Sheba exemplifies perfect love.
No matter how long or short I’ve been gone, she is always exuberantly happy to see me on my return. She is never cross with me, except when I try to trim her nails, clean her ears or brush her undercarriage. But she forgets when it is over and never holds a grudge. With love like that, how can I not be on top of the world?
So what if I’m greeted by snow and grey skies first thing this morning? They will pass as all things do. So I am not feeling quite perky and ready to conquer the world but this, too shall pass. In the meantime, it makes a good excuse to cuddle up with my tea and book and just enjoy the slowness. Wars and battles can wait for another day. For today, I am happy sitting on top of my world watching Sheba play.