Monday, July 19, 2010


The constructs of one's living can be well designed to show and conceal at once.
To live with, among and around others and yet be unknown.
Presently absent, absently present.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

i believe

I believe.
I believe in love.
I believe in God, who actually IS love.
Please don't cringe.
I will not thump you with anything or throw preachy barbs in your direction.
I will not talk in any way that is unfamiliar or odd.
Here's some of what I don't believe.
I do not believe in a celestial Santa who metaphorically sits me on his knee and listens as I rhyme off everything I want or think I need.
I don't believe in a Grand Receiver who has no mouth, no words, only ears to hear as I ask and ask and ask.
Nor do I believe in a puppeteer, who pulls my strings for his own amusement.
I certainly don't believe in a mean, punishing deity who finds satisfaction in smashing me with heavy hand.
That's not love.
That's not what he's like.
I don't believe that God is aloof or haughty, 'up there' removed, unfeeling.
I believe his feelings for me (and you) are so deep that there is no adequate measure to describe. He is not all ears, or all heavy hand but all heart. All heart.
Big, beautiful heart so full, if I could only understand it would be my undoing.
I hear him when children say profound things.
I hear him in beautiful songs and in distressing sounds.
I see him sitting on a park bench, half clothed, matted head hung down.
Calling out, stirring up compassion within me.
I call God 'he', but I'm not sure if gender tags are even appropriate when describing this beautiful being.
There is no room in my mind or heart for a God who 'watches us from afar'.
No, I have no room for such a notion.
He is not far.
In fact is very close and as present as the unseen molecules whirling around me and the invisible air I'm breathing. He inhabits atmosphere, he's at home in cloud filled expanse of sky.
He's at home with me and knowing me still has only love in his heart.

I could not believe if I thought that belief in God meant checking my brain at the door, forsaking questions, wearing blinders or becoming hermetically sealed off from 'dirty' society.
It means none of those things. There is no judgmental finger wagging. There are no laws except for love. It is the only one.

You know, I feel for us all as we grapple with genuine spirituality, which is our very own life's breath.
Not the spirituality of self help, of paid for predictions or of exotic cultural magic.
Not the spirituality of incense and ommmm, of secrets, of levels.
Not the spirituality of setting intentions, of aligning chakras.
Not the spirituality of flirting with darkness and engaging powers which ought not to be engaged.
I mean the spirit of truth and life.
The one we are all gasping for in all of our selfish and reckless pursuits.
and we breathe so shallow, and we have spiritual apnea.
Some of us have stopped breathing all together.
We cannot live if we stop breathing.
I can't live.
You can't.
I believe this is true.
If I didn't, I wouldn't say it.
I believe.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

who are you?

A kid doesn't know what time is really like.
It seems so stretchy and long.
I didn't know how to inhabit time when I was young, I only knew how to wish it away.
I was in such a hurry to grow up.
It crawled for me.
I was always kicking at it, trying to make it go faster.
I don't do that any more.
Days pass, weeks, months. Is time speeding up now that I don't want it to?
I'm a mother of grownups.
I'm a grandmother.
I'm thinking of retirement planning.
My decades of memories are becoming more like a series of fading vignettes.
I'm a bit shocked that I can recall decades.
Sounds like such an elderly thing to say.
I remember turning 10, riding in our car, hearing my mother say: "You're going to be a whole decade old."
It sounded pretty impressive. I was on my way.
My grandson will turn 10 in a few months. I wonder if he'll be impressed?
It seems odd that I have a grandchild who's getting into the double digits.
When his sisters follow suit I suppose I'll just feel old.

I used to look in the mirror and make faces, make myself look like a skeleton by jutting my lower teeth up over my top lip and widening my eyes scarily. I'd poke around to feel the bones of my eye sockets, play with the cartilage in my nose.
Now I look in the mirror and I put my index fingers on my temples and pull slightly up, to see myself 20 years ago, and sigh when I release my fingers and gravity brings me back to the present.
I stare at myself and wonder "Who are you? How can you be that same goofball kid"?

I certainly don't feel like that kid who used to say 'goodie' when I was happy,
until Valerie Sitnik quietly told me, while sitting next to me on a school bus trip, that I shouldn't say that word any more.
Am I the child who sat and ate dog toothed violets on our front step, or cried when David John Miller threw her beautiful doll down the sewer?
I ride kilometers at a time on my bike, but I have not forgotten the older neighbourhood kids taking me to the top of the street, telling me to sit on my new two wheeler and pushing me down the incline.
I'm the little water baby who walked to the outdoor pool every chance she got and became so darkly tanned that adults would say "My, aren't you brown as a berry?", which I found odd, as I knew of no brown berries.

Watching the moon landing in 1969 on our little black and white set didn't seem a big deal, just another thing to watch, like "Let's Make a Deal" or "Big Al's Cartoon Roundup". I still remember chewing on an oxo bouillon cube because I thought it was chocolate. I can see myself wearing my souvenir wooden shoes from Holland outdoors to play, not caring that they hurt my feet, shredding the soles to splinters. Lurching around Emerson Street's sidewalks in my clunky metal roller skates, turning key tied on a shoelace around my neck. Going from 'baking' doll sized pastries with a 60 watt bulb in my turquoise Easy Bake, to making cakes and pies from the "Five Roses" cookbook at the age of 9, with full stove operating privileges. I remember what a punchy and shovey older sister I sometimes was. Sorry sisters, I was such an ass. I also remember us watching for Nana walking toward our house to babysit us after she finished work. We always hoped she'd have a National Bakery box in her hand, holding it by its string tie, swinging with the rhythm of her steps. Donuts always, our favourite, chocolate glazed.

Weird to think that I grew up so fast that by the time I reached grade 8, bus drivers questioned my use of student tickets and people would shut the door on me at Halloween, shaming me for trick or treating at my age?!
I have an unfortunate memory of being centered out by a loud family friend who, as if seeing me for the first time in my friend Starlene's family kitchen, said: "WOW! I see your training bra broke training!"
After which all eyes went right to my ta tas and my face turned crimson, but nobody was looking there, so they didn't notice.
It was me, that awkward girl, who was embarrassed to wear home made clothing when everyone else wore Lee jeans from Thrifty's, who had no self confidence, blushed with any sort of attention and 'dumbed down' my vocabulary so I wouldn't be made fun of.

It must have been me who was that moody, make-up obsessed girl, dousing herself with Love's Baby Soft and abusing her hair with Sun In and excessive straightening sessions over the bathroom sink. Yes, it was. Always feeling older than everyone else at school, driving that stupid Dodge Omni, with its ridiculous steering column that vibrated like a jack hammer when i applied the brake.

There was also the idiot who walked home from school, with a cigarette hanging jauntily from her fingertips, when her father happened to drive by and catch her. Thankfully it was all about being a poser, so vile and nasty. And thankfully he didn't tell her mother, for if he had she wouldn't be alive to write this now. She's the student who told her high school english teacher that Oedipus Rex was distasteful and didn't want to participate in the study of it, and was sent to the principal's office, to be told 'study or fail'. Both me. Idiot and supposed conscientious objector.

At 15 I met this boy at music camp and knew I would marry him, I don't know how, but I did know this as fact. It made me feel special the way he held doors open for me, walked on the outside of the sidewalk to protect me should any car suddenly go beserk and jump the sidewalk and try to flatten me. How could I not love someone who was willing to be flattened by cars in my place?
This boy proudly introduced me to all his friends as 'my girlfriend' and stared at me with lovely eyes and pronounced me beautiful as I walked toward him in white lace.

Together with that boy - who bore the same name as my elementary school, like God was planting my future husband's name in mind while I happily skipped on the tarmac at recess - we grew up.

I can still see myself as a newlywed, trying to impress my new husband with my cooking, causing us both to gain 15 pounds;
sharing our little attic apartment in a blessedly ghost free century home,
and shoehorning ourselves into our room at night.
Having two cars we couldn't afford to put gas in.
Labouring in the front room, writing my contraction times down on a piece of scrap paper, watching Jan and Dean in concert on the tv.

We had beautiful daughters who went from kicking my innards to riding two wheelers, to driving cars, to independence, when my back was turned.
I can still see Rob, walking the floors at night with our colicky babies, shushing them and holding them close as he paced around the rooms.
I thought to myself even then: "Don't wish this away, it'll go fast enough."
I see our 2-year-old daughter at Victoria Park, running happily toward me with her golden hair bouncing, calling "Mama! Spin me around!!"
I see us putting a candle at our twins' grave that first Christmas after they had passed, praying it would stay lit despite the wind and cold. . and seeing the next morning that it had miraculously melted into a pool of wax, burned right to the quick.
I'm on the deck, putting together our youngest girl's 'big wheel' as her reward for becoming fully day and night potty trained. It looked great and it didn't fall apart!

All those years of diapers, first steps, sloppy baby kisses, pudgy hands picking up cheerios, learning to read, tooth fairy, report cards, girl guides, birthdays and lessons, summer camp, Christmas trees, sunday school, graduations; all swirled together as emotions and boxes and cartons of keepsakes, videos of trips and school plays, photos of bad haircuts I gave them and the tacky clothes I dressed them in. I have this montage of mother memories. Cleaning puke and being peed on. Braiding hair and applying bandaids. Baking cookies for their class and volunteering on school trips. Chasing two girls out from inside the clothing racks at the department store and reading "Sooki, the Saggy Baggy Elephant" before bed for the two hundredth time. It doesn't seem that long ago, but it also feels like eons.

It's funny how one's concept of 'me' changes and yet is always true, reaching back and stretching forward. Time is elastic. Who am I? I am the kid, the lovesick teen, the adult; all those things at once, integrated. I had a Nana and I am a Nana. I was a kid and I have kids and grandkids. I am a wife. I am an employee. I am a tax payer,a home owner and a road weary driver. I even feel myself lapsing into 'senior citizen like fits of temper', as I cluck my tongue at things like loud motorcycles, young male drivers blasting rap so loud I can feel it thumping in my gut, and middle of the night mailbox tippers who wake me up with all their hollering and swearing. I wonder if becoming easily annoyed and crotchety is a middle ager's rite of passage into the 'golden years'? Geez, I hope not. Save me from stereotype.

I'm still not much wiser in this whole area.
Time is time.
It's still slippery and stretchy,
seems to speed up and slow down.
It doesn't change.
But it changes me.
I don't know yet if I've learned how to inhabit time,
but I've learned not to wish it away.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Feels like i sit on this pendulum that swings widely from angst to revelation
and back again, over and over.
I don't like the back again part.
Who wants to go back, when there's forward waiting?
Why don't I jump off at revelation and stay?
I think I'm getting there and I become somehow assured that the years have been working their 'growing up magic' on me,
then I make a misstep, a gaffe,
and feel like an awkward 10-year-old who knows nothing of wisdom
and everything about being foolish
and i learn from realizing I have lots to learn
about people,
about life.

Sunday, February 07, 2010


age is playing hopscotch up and down my spine
and silverishly creeping at my temples.
she is settling my inner jumpiness,
a little bit anyway.
she's confering wisdom
which i take in sips,
when i really should take gulps.
no wonder it takes so long
to learn
how to live.

i have thought of age in such negative terms,
all the things it takes away. .
independence, dignity, continence
yes, I've thought of it as a
of thoughts
but as much as she seems to take away,
she also gives
experience and knowledge

age seems capricious,
far too stingy with some
and way too generous with others.

no rhyme
no reason.
just mystery.

it is no hardship really
to pay the toll
that age exacts
in exchange for
the messy sweetness
of being

i know
i should be
infinitely more grateful
to breathe,
and feel and
think thoughts.
know love
feel that reassuring thump
in my chest.
because there's no telling
how long.

i need to come
to a detente
with age
she will not stop for me
she will not,
my lifelong companion.
i try to erase all traces of her
with hair dye
and barbells.
i stick out my tongue
at age.
but age just grins back
at me through
my own laugh lines.
and says
"You know I'll win".

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A bit of interesting news. .

A little something to think about when we shop at Dollarama, WalMart, well, anywhere really.

China overtakes Germany as biggest exporter

10/01/2010 12:09:11 PM

CBC News
New trade figures show that China has overtaken Germany to become the world's top exporter.

According to data released by China's customs agency Sunday, Chinese exports surged by 17.7 per cent in December, compared to the same month in the previous year.

Exports for the last month of 2009 were $130.7 billion, raising the total for the year to $1.23 trillion, ahead of the $1.20 trillion forecast for Germany.

Last year wasn't easy for China's exporters as the global economic slowdown cut demand for the country's goods.

Every month since late 2008, the government has reported export figures lower than they had been a year earlier. Then in the last few weeks of 2009, the trend reversed.

China's gross domestic product expanded 8.9 per cent in the third quarter of 2009, up from 7.9 per cent in the second quarter and 6.1 per cent in the first, buoyed by $603 billion in stimulus spending.

China surpassed the United States as the biggest auto market in 2009 and is on track to soon replace Japan as the world's second-largest economy. China passed Germany as the third-largest economy in 2007.

I'm excerpting Chapter 1 page 24, "Even Them, Even Then?" Brad Jersak's book "Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who Speaks". You can order this on Amazon, and I really, really recommend it if you are wanting to have an authentic relationship with God, improve on the relationship you have with him, or begin one with him. I am re-reading this for the third time. Maybe I don't retain information very well? Well, that may be true, but the book is that good. There are familiar references to Bible characters (for those of you who haven't read the Bible, there are books, chapter and verses for you to look them up).

" In theory, those who are most repentant, most obedient, most holy should hear God's voice most clearly and most often. Those who live to please God and submit wholly to his Lordship should get the best 'reception' as they tune in to his voice. Oddly, neither scripture nor experience support that theory. God's voice calls us to repentance, obedience and submission; those who hear and obey are blessed. But those are the results of hearing him, not the pre-conditions. If I can't hear his voice until I'm obedient, what am I obeying? And how obedient do I need to be for him to talk to me? Or how disobedient before he stops talking to me? If hearing God's voice was conditional upon my behaviour, the relationship would be a formula revolving around me and my performance. "Good people hear - bad people don't". That's the very religion Jesus opposed. Getting right with God is always and only a response to the grace gift of his voice.

Certainly there can be a famine of hearing when hearts are unrepentant, but that doesn't mean God is not speaking. As a band called "Out of the Grey" once wrote, "He is not silent, we are not listening." But the Lord has ways of catching our attention, even while we're plugging our ears. The danger of refusing to heed God's voice is not that he will resort to the silent treatment. Rather, we are warned that he will begin to speak more clearly and more forcefully, which is not always a pleasant experience (remember Jonah?). You can hear his voice as an ointment that heals or a sword that pierces. In either case, it will bring freedom and life when we finally listen.

When the prodigal son was still wallowing in the pigpen of his rebellion, he came to his senses and resolved to repent (Luke 15:17 - 18). Why? It was only because the voice of God graciously spoke to his heart. When Hosea's unfaithful wife had left her husband, forgotten the Lord and chased after multiple lovers, God said "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." (Hosea 2:14). In fact, most of the prophetic words in scripture are negative, not because God is generally grumpy, but because his love compels him to keep speaking to his wayward ones until they return home. If I read men like Jonah and David right, whether we are following God perfectly or running away feverishly, he graciously, relentlessly, even indiscriminately continues to speak! No wonder the poet Francis called him "the Hound of Heaven".

I've met a number of men in prison Bible studies who shared that it was while they were still in a stupor of a heroin trip or in the despair of prison lock-up that God visited them, spoke to them and saved them. I've heard the testimonies of women who, while still working the streets in East Vancouver, heard God's voice inside, warning them about which men would beat them and which were safe. God spoke to them even then, even there. Does this offend you? Why not let the scandalous kindness of God hearten you instead? On your very worst days, while you are still kicking against his will (Acts 26:14) God continues to broadcast his words of love, comfort, warning and promise in your direction. You will hear him and when you do, just see to it that you don't heard your heart."

The remainder of the book has very practical exercises, to help you know God, help you learn how to 'tune in', listen to him. . . for real.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ode to a Canadian winter

Winter, I feel that I must tell you something.
Since I have long since lost my sense of wonder with snow fort building,
eating icicles and tobogganing,
I have come to find you pretty much intolerable.
By the way, lots of us Canadians feel the same way, though I certainly don't speak for all those who have fallen under your frosty spell, who think they've befriended you, I see right through you and your wiles, Winter.
I will not gush about your beauty.
Not today. Today I am determined to tell you exactly what I think of you.
Spring is gorgeous and fresh, liberating.
Summer though sometimes smothering, is so much more easygoing and mellow,
Autumn, though lovely is always overshadowed by you.
Then, once the distracting niceties of Christmas and the new year are
used up and worn out,
We remember what you're really like and we don't want you.
Because you suck.

You take away our carefree and spontaneous feelings.
There is no more 'quick' about anything.
Everything takes longer . .
getting ready to go out
doing errands,
There are layers to put on,
This takes time.
We have to shovel snow.
We scrape it off our vehicles.
This is just annoying.
Your ice is slippery and you lash at us with your frozen rain and whipping wind.
You're so cold.
I don't like you.
In fact, the older I get the more I can't stand you.

You take away fun.
You make my nose run.
You make my teeth clack.
You make me wheeze when I breathe.
You make cycling mostly impossible,
(for which I despise you)
You take away the gorgeous sunshine and you substitute
brooding clouds.

You make getting into and out of the bath and shower unpleasant.
You make our rooms cold.
and our bedsheets freezing.
You breathe on the blankets.
You make furnaces a necessity, which only pleases the gas company.
You make us shut our windows and doors.
You turn us into homebodies.
We don't want to go out in you.
You always wear out your welcome.
Most of us only tolerate you for that 2-week interval between Christmas and New Year's,
by which time we are thoroughly sick of you and want you to go away.
But you stay
and stay.
You stretch out your icy fingers and smite our lovely plants.
We raise them up and you take them out with your sparkly blanket of death.

You cause us to slip and fall.
You turn our roads into skating rinks.
You turn walking the dog into a frantic, frozen gauntlet.
You are the father of all potholes, which are born every spring,
making driving less like straight lines and more like an obstacle course.
Turning our other 3 seasons into prolonged bouts of road closures and repairs.
You turn our eavestroughs into breeding grounds for ice daggers.
You turn our beaches into frozen wastelands,
and you squash our memories of warm sunshine.
You take away our picnics and barbecues.
Yes, even that feisty fireball seems to rise and set behind your curtain of ice.

You drive away flocks of birds, butterflies and senior citizens.
Who, in their infinite wisdom, avoid you like the plague
they all know
you suck!

At some point I'd like to fly, or at least drive away from you and your ice grip.
Become a stereotype.
A snowbird.
Top up my out of country health insurance.
Hide from you in the land of Dentu-Cream and support hose.
Get a wicked tan.
And laugh in your general direction.