Feeling both excited and vulnerable, I begin this blog. Recent events have left me feeling that there are no more reasons to wait.
When I left teaching almost 10 years ago, I knew that it was time to leave even though my career in education had been short. I felt other forces pulling at me, vying for my time and energy.
I re-married, had two children, and navigated the role of step-mother. I also became very involved in supporting my husband’s career. We extensively renovated our home.
During this period as well, my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and died quickly.
This last event, in particular, brought me to me knees. My mother and I had been very close and my grief was intense.
After mom’s death, a very good friend and I became certified to teach a ‘Grief Recovery’ program. This program not only helped us both heal personally but we enjoy guiding others through a process that works.
Tanya and I are also becoming certified in the study of ‘Thanatology’, the study of death, dying, and bereavement. Experiencing deep loss urged us both to delve into the complex subject of death.
My days are full, but still I ache to figure out what’s next for me. Tanya is now furthering her studies at the University, but I need to figure out my own path. My youngest, George, is now in school full time and I am ready to expand.
Recently, Dan and the kids and I were in Waterton National Park on what felt like the last beautiful summer day. It was calm, and the sky stretched out as a clear and perfect blue. Together, we climbed the very steep trail up to Bear’s Hump and then stood at the top surveying the town and lake below.
As I write this now, it feels as if that is where I am still, standing at the top of a peak with the last ten years spread out before me.
What a beautiful ascent it has been, though so difficult at times. I have taken thousands of steps to get here yet I have been so focused on watching my feet.
Now, whenever I take the time to pause, I can’t help but notice that I have three beautiful children, a husband who loves me, a supportive network of friends and extended family, bountiful food on our table, and a lovely home.
What a stunning view.
A charmed life in troubled times.
Three formidable men that I know died this summer. All three were men who lived largely and held great passion for their families, their work, and their communities.
The third man, Jack Layton, was of course a man I didn’t know personally but his death seemed to have impact in our country on a legendary scale. Regardless of anyone’s political leanings the immense sadness over his death looked like a public expression of grief over lost hope.
“So let us be loving, hopeful, and optimistic. And we’ll change the world” he had written in his last letter.
Such deceptively simple words but there is was, rekindled amidst tragedy, hope.
I love a beautiful funeral, and Jack’s didn’t disappoint. Afterwards, I sat in our backyard and felt something click inside me, once and for all.
It is now time for me to get to work and start looking up and around, rather than down at my feet.
I realize that this hardly means that I now know what I am doing with my life – but no longer do I believe that I am headed towards some dramatic end destination. Rather, I feel suddenly and fully ready to engage in a process. I have an entire room of non-fiction books on a multitude of topics, all with a noticeable common thread. Every one is about “living well”, whether that applies to taking care of our earth, mindful parenting, coping with grief and death, creating art with kids, journaling, living a spiritual life, and on and on.
My commitment is to stop buying the books and start living the pages by seriously and playfully delving into a creative and messy exploration of a multitude of topics and write from time to time about what it is, for me, to create peace in my home, in my family, in my marriage, in my own heart, in this life.
This is, after all, what I think about and who I am. It is time for me to write about it because it is what I have to give.
Our schools, though doing their best, struggle to reach. They can’t do it alone. When I left teaching I felt that in general terms we are not educating our children in the ways that will ultimately matter, though so many teachers heroically try. Caring for our earth, fostering critical and creative thought, and building peace, empathy and meaning can be difficult and ambiguous areas to address. We can’t measure results in these areas and covering curriculum while meeting a wide range of needs takes up the bulk of time and energy.
Just this week I read an article in our local paper by Bonnie Lee. She writes about our current economic situation, comparing the global financial crisis to what happens when a family is struggling with addiction. In her conclusion she reminds us that we are all connected and states, “A new story of human thriving needs to be told to reconnect with what makes us human – connections with each other, with life’s meaning and higher purpose, and our precious Earth. Is there hope? Is recovery possible? That discussion involves not only the powerful, but all concerned citizens as we collectively re-map our path.”
This is what I believe with every fiber of my being, but I need to figure out what that looks like in a real everyday life. I want to try and re-write this new story, believing that peace really does need to begin at home.
So as I move through my days, I am proposing to be mindful about finding ways to teach my own children to re-create and re-imagine our world for all of our benefits as I begin to scatter some seeds. In my house, on my street, and in my own community, I commit to finding, discussing, and implementing ways to build peace, empathy and love. We’ll see what takes root.
Whether it be through smaller or bigger projects or simply through the common acts of moving through a life, my intention is that a garden of unpredictable beauty may be planted and flourish.