If Not Now, When?

We’ve talked about the day, the things that go bump in the night, about possibilities and about nothing. We’ve made French Toast and eaten it with blueberries and strawberries. FrenchToastWe’ve had a cuddle in our cozy blanket to warm cold feet. We’ve researched building a Lego helicopter from the Batman series. It’s not even 9 am yet.

He’s made an Ent, Treebeard. I think he got the creature better than Peter Jackson and his designers. His Ent has presence, even though it’s Lego. EntI’m not allowed to make the helicopter. I am allowed to search for pieces. But only if he can’t find them. As he works he tells me stories. About how his baby brother doesn’t like protein. He’s apparently a breadosaurus. About kindergarten and his yoga class and how he’s going to be a hockey player (he is Canadian). About how he is going to move back to Victoria to see his friends. Maybe. But he likes winter. Maybe he won’t. About how he is going to live with me when he goes to university so I can sort his Lego for him (hidden agenda?).

There are things I could be doing. Do I want to? No, in a blink he will be 12, then 18, then 25. When I’m 90 I may not be able to sit on the floor with him. So I am going to hang out and listen. Because, if not now, when?

More Simple Things (with The Next Ones)

They dance with me in the kitchen, turning round and round and smiling huge smiles. One hums along to the song I sing, a song from when my kids were their age. Another time they sit, as if in circle time and bounce and sway, one on his knees and one on his bottom. I’m writing this down in detail. I want to remember this special moment and visualize their little faces. We are too busy singing to take videos or pictures. Then the song is over, I have to make another one up. They don’t care. It’s a song. We have maracas and jingle sticks and a rain catcher that almost sings by itself. The next time they come we’ll make maracas of our own. Their Mom says their daycare is going to start a music class – they will love it.

We don’t get to spend time with them on our own very often because life is so busy for their young family. Even their parents don’t get to spend as much time with them as they like so weekends are precious. But they’re renovating so we can have these greatly loved 18 month old twins at our place.

boysinthesnowWe go outside in the snow and they are so small they can hardly walk in all their snow gear. But excitement! There are squirrels running on top of the fence and lots of birds at the feeders. Then they discover there are stairs up to the deck! Another new skill they want to perfect. So we stair climb. And when we get there there is snow to play in and we can see over the fence and wow! people walking their dogs (another favourite thing – dogs).

MaxthelittleI think this age is my all time favourite (secret: it always was). They understand enough to let you know if there is something they want or need. They are so very loving, trusting and so much fun! The world hasn’t kicked them around too much yet.  They are genuinely happy children. They have enough vocabulary to delight and there are a million things to teach them. They are interested in everything: books, food, birds, the squirrels, Auntie Michelle and her dog who are visiting too, what’s in my cupboard, especially what’s in my cupboard. Pretty much everything  is their favourite. They remind  me of this:

Dog'sDiaryOne notices everything: he saw me putting trash under the sink. When he wiped the (very) excess humus off his fingers after snack #4, he walked over and put the tissue in the garbage. After I complimented him on his helping skills I guess he thought he’d earn some more points, so he went and got the garbage out, thinking he would like to sort it for me. I thought on the other hand that a distraction might be a good thing. More dancing anyone? Or a book? Booksphoto Or let’s play with some of Dad’s 35 year old trucks, or maybe playing in the box  from Grandma’s birthday present would be best of all. How is it that boxes are so much fun? J was not at all pleased when his turn was over.


These two give instructions. They tell me when they’re hungry (always)!  (Side note: I would suggest their parents don’t buy too many clothes in this size. It won’t last long.) They take me to where their soothers are and indicate that it’s nap time. “Are you tired, J?” He nods his head and looks for his soft, soft blanket. At 3 his Dad used to ask if it was his nap time. They settle in in a strange room like it’s no problem at all. They have travelled but not without their parents so I am honoured to have this much trust. But it’s also a huge responsibility.  So when they sleep too long I find myself creeping around to see if everything is okay. It is, so it must just be that all that dancing tired them out.

Sunshine Journals: A Tool in My Cancer Journey

Life throws things at everyone that are hard. It may be depression. It may be illness. It may be grief and loss. In my case being diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer that posts a mere 30% survival rate was really hard.  Let me tell you about one of the things that helped. The problem with ovarian cancer is that it’s “the disease that whispers”. It sneaks up on you disguised as indigestion and other supposedly innocuous ills. I wanted to pass this lovely idea along because I’ve been seeing so many women with ovarian and other kinds of cancer struggling.
This is one thing that I think really helped me to focus on the positive and prime my attitude towards the good things. Just after I started treatment I had a conversation with the one daughter who was not living in town at the time. She was going to school and couldn’t be around. But her suggestion lit up my life and made a change for the better. All I had to do was do it and then return to it over and over.

“Make a sunshine journal”, she said. We like journals and books so I had a journal or two hanging around. I filled up several and still collect the things that go in them. The one above is the first one. It won’t close anymore. Here’s another.
If you don’t have anything appropriate there is likely a local book seller nearby who has journals, and a friend or relative who is aching to help would be happy to pick one up and probably give you some fodder for filling it. It doesn’t matter what you put in or how you do it as long as it makes you smile. If it makes you happy it can go in, if not out it goes! This is for uplifting, not the opposite. Not maybes or ifs but what you love and want to keep in your life. What you enjoy. Mine are a bit eclectic and a bit messy, just like me. But every single item in them makes me smile, even now, years later, I can just feel my heart lifting when I leaf through. MountRundleDusk
StonehengeI cut and pasted photos of mountain, ocean and other scenes that I knew and loved. I copied snatches of poetry. I rewrote meaningful messages. I pasted in cards (only the happy ones). One of the best was from my oldest daughter. bestcard There are pressed leaves, pictures of flowers, tickets to events that made me smile.splash I was still able to be fairly active. My chemo knocked me out for about 2 or 3 days every 3 weeks but after that I thought I was doing really well. I worked and went out to events. By comparison to the chemo days I suppose I was doing well but looking back I was in fairly dismal shape. All that tells you is that it gets better and it can be overcome!


So between sessions along with other things (which will be in another post), I put things in my first Sunshine Journal. And looked at it over and over.


cropped-Mount-Baker-and-islands-frieze.jpgMake a list of what you need. Give it to a friend who wants to help but doesn’t know what to do. One thing I learned is that people desperately want to help and it is a good thing to let them. Giving them something positive to do is good for both of you. It is amazing how helping other people helps you. Scrapbook stores have lots of ideas. Magazines that have things that you love are good. The internet is a wonderful source. You will notice how you start looking for positive and happy things to keep and put in your journal. This will carry over into your overall life and you’ll find that you are more oriented to looking for happy things. One other thing. This is yours, one of the healing tools in your repertoire. It can be private; you don’t have to share it unless you really want to.

(A side note: Much later after I was booted out of the oncologist’s office and told that she never wanted to see me again (loved that!) we decided to move. In downsizing and sorting things out a lot of small things that could have been trashed went into the latter-days version of the Sunshine Journal. So I have been able to keep things that make me smile from many periods of my life.) The next photo is a haiku given to me after my hair grew back. It came back in white and I quit dying it.


Here’s my Sunshine Journal list:

  • A beautiful journal – it can have lines or not; you don’t have to use them. It doesn’t have to be expensive. One of my best is a plain purple scribbler, but it’s beautiful. Or it can be a recycled binder. Beauty can be added by adding photos of favourite things or creating collages or using scrap booking stickers and quotes.
  • Glue
  • Tape: Double sided tape is great for cards and clippings and photos.
  • One really nice pen
  • A few coloured pens or pencils (I like writing in different colours.)
  • Stickers, if you like them. Some lightning bolts and a few stars are always useful! And I like letters. Makes me feel like I’m a creative medieval monk.
  • Some pieces of good paper, smaller than the journal pages that you can write affirmations or poetry on. Or you can use coloured paper, or you can print things or buy cards. You can also just write directly in the book.

Whatever gives your spirits a lift will work for you. Let me know how you do. Did it help to bring some sunshine into your life?

A Word in Midwinter

It’s the deep midwinter and the beginning of the New Year. I had neglected to “find” a word for the year, not through intention but more because of lack of focus. In fact focus almost became the word. I recently read a post about deciding not to make “resolutions”, which never survive, but to make “commitments”. Often we make resolutions because they are things we feel we should do. A word or a focus provides a better vehicle for reminding us of the things that our lives really need at the moment, and returns us to making the commitments for the right things for us, not just the popular things. And as I sat in a chilly parking lot waiting happily for a flight to arrive, the word arrived.

It is “CHOOSE”. Not choices, which would send me off again in many directions, unfocused again. I need a verb, an action word, even if the action is at least partially mental. Some changes are needed and when I have settled on the appropriate choice(s) I need to figure out how to implement what ensues, thereby setting myself up for a great year and another adventure in life. Right?

choose for web
Pronunciation: \ˈchüz\
Function: verb
Etymology: Middle English chosen, from Old English cēosan; akin to Old High German kiosan to choose, Latin gustare to taste
Date: before 12th century
transitive verb
1 a : to select after consideration; b : to decide on
2 a : to have a preference for; b : decide
intransitive verb
1 : to make a selection
(Meriam Webster Dictionary)
Main Entry: choose
Part of Speech: verb
Definition: pick, select
Synonyms: accept, adopt, appoint, call for, cast, co-opt, commit oneself, crave, cull, decide on, designate, desire, determine, discriminate between, draw lots, elect, embrace, espouse, excerpt, extract, fancy, favor, feel disposed to, finger, fix on, glean, judge, love, make choice, make decision, make up one’s mind, name, opt for, predestine, prefer, see fit, separate, set aside, settle upon, sift out, single out, slot, sort, tab, tag, take, take up, tap, want, weigh, will, winnow, wish, wish for
Keep Calm and Choose
I particularly like the implications of some of the synonyms: winnow, commit oneself, settle upon, select. All positive words, all action-oriented. Wish me luck in this 2014 year! Have you chosen a word or a focus or a commitment for 2014?

As a postscript, that quiet time at the airport was a chance for meditation to slip in. I know meditation clarifies things. Another reminder to choose to make time for that.