Wistful

I learned of the death of a high school friend yesterday. I discovered how, even for someone you have not seen in decades, some friends carve out a little space in your memories and nestle into your heart in deep ways. His obituary reflects the person I knew and remember, celebrating his soul and soulful qualities. It also gives the smallest glimpse into the challenges he faced in his life. Another high school friend described him as “that boy”. He was “that boy”. I wish his path could have been easier, but it was his path.

Last night, as I paused Shadow and Bone on Netflix and stood on the landing of my stairs, looking out the window onto my street, I felt wistful. I longed for the days of being a parent of teenage boys when our house was always full. Full of life. Full of energy. (Also full of challenges but those are stories for other days.) There were days I had no idea how many kids, or who, were in my house. Grocery bills were staggering. I cooked for them. They learned to cook. They all helped out when asked. They supported each other through a lot of challenges and most of them are still friends, a decade or so later.

Adventures

Life ambles along. It brings us all that shows up in the soul journey. We don’t always stay connected in the world, but there are threads of connection that never go away. There are people nestled in the vastness of our hearts who have carved their names into our memories in ways they will never disappear, even when our paths no longer cross, even when death intervenes.

Hope and Despair – More Than A Year In

Just when we thought we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, darkness and despair have descended yet again. So many metaphors come to mind: the wind taken out of our sails, it is darkest before the dawn, the darkest hour, dark night of the soul.

Just as vaccines are rolling out and hope is on the horizon for many of us, variations of Coronavirus are showing up around the world. India is making headlines for the devastation being wreaked by the virus and the inadequate ability to respond which is leaving people dying, not just in hospitals but in the streets. Other countries are also struggling, even while others are enjoying success like Australia and New Zealand. The tide in the US has changed dramatically with clear leadership and the dedication of resources to combatting spread and ramping up vaccinations, and they are not out of the woods yet.

Across Canada, cases are rising, hospitals are in chaos and frontline health care professionals are exhausted. In Nova Scotia, after being down to no or few cases for months, we are having the highest number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Last year, most of these cases were in long-term care and now they are the result of community spread. Locked down again just as plans were made for opening up.

Defiance of vaccines, mask wearing and social distancing competes with people advocating for as many precautionary measures as possible. Misinformation, both deliberate and uniformed, competes with science, medicine and public health guidelines based on sound research and evidence based results. Almost everyone I know personally is signing up for vaccines as fast as they become available.

It is easy to get lost in a sea of desolation. I am fortunate that my family is close by, we all take precautions and we do get to see each other, if not as often as we might like. My partner and I live in different countries and are separated by more than a border right now and have been for the majority of the pandemic. We are not young. These are precious years. My business was just beginning to return to some in-person work, which is sorely missed in my world.

The tides can turn fast, though. If you, like me, seem to be moving through quick sand to get up in the morning, begin your day, attend to your tasks, to find joy, we have to remember the light is at the end of the tunnel and, even if it is hard to see, it’s not as far off as it seems in the moment.

Here are 14 reminders of things to do to keep moving through the days, toward that light at the end of the tunnel:

  1. Above all, be kind and compassionate to yourself. You are doing what you can. Things are getting done, even if slowly.
  2. Be kind and compassionate towards others – family, friends, neighbours. Most of us are doing the best we can.
  3. Reach out and connect with your family and friends – including new ones. Commiserate together. Laugh together.
  4. Let yourself feel what you feel but try not to let it overwhelm you. Not easy some days and for some people not easy at all.
  5. Grieve the losses. The people. The ability to be together. The freedom. All of it. There is so much of it. Acknowledging our grief and our sorrow helps us be still or keep moving or discover whatever it is we need to continue.
  6. Look for things that make you laugh. We are allowed to laugh, even in the dark days. And laughter is good for the soul.
  7. Get outside – walk, sit in a garden, in the woods, on the lawn, on your patio or balcony. Even just open a window. Breathe in fresh air.
  8. Take care of your body. Hydrate yourself. Drink water. Lots of it. Eat as well as you can in these days. I live alone. Getting motivated to make good food is not always easy but I do what I can on the days I can. Exercise. Breathe.
  9. Meditate, if it is in your practice. At a minimum, sit quietly with a cup of coffee or tea and invite yourself to be present to that moment.
  10. Take a break from the news (says she who listens to CBC radio a ton).
  11. Listen to music that lifts you up.
  12. Use social media to lift your spirits – not drag you down. Find the groups that inspire, the people who provide hope. Spread those messages as often and as far as you can.
  13. Read. Binge on Netflix. Play games. Just give yourself permission.
  14. Allow the future to motivate you – when you will see loved ones again, be able to travel, move more freely without the fear of the virus at every outing.

I know it’s hard. It’s why we have to turn our attention to the little things. They keep us going. And, above all be kind – to yourself and to others.

The Anniversary of Dad’s Passing and The Year that Disappeared

One year ago today I got the call from a resident at the hospital saying that dad had had a restless night, his oxygen was low, they had moved him to a private room and I should get there as soon as possible. I notified my children, my brother and my partner. I got in the car and the tears streamed down my face the whole drive to the hospital. This was the moment we had anticipated, literally for years. I have written before that dad tiptoed up to the edge of death many times, looked over, shook his head and said, “No, not yet.”

This time, there was no going back. He (and I) could not envision how he was going to continue to live at home with any semblance of satisfaction. He couldn’t go to his workshop in the garage. He couldn’t go down the stairs to where he worked on his Bluefin Model. He had so many health issues over the decades. His pacemaker and many medications were keeping him alive as long as his will to live prevailed.

It’s been a strange year. The year of the pandemic and shut down where time disappeared in a vortex. I carry the memory of clearing out his house during the months of March and April, of feeling that his guidance was in every part of what happened. The stories of people and connections that have carried on beyond those days, new life long relationships forged.

My dad comes to me in dreams every week, often several times a week. My mother often comes with him, which was not so much the case before he died. I think perhaps she was with him more often then and they are together now.

I feel his absence during the storms when we would check in with each other to see how things were and what was being taken care of. I could imagine how difficult this pandemic and US politics would be for him to comprehend. When I have traveled, I imagine his concerns for my travel and his relief when I am back home.

There are moments when grief overwhelms me, the tears flow just as they did that morning, a year ago, when I drove to the hospital. Not because I wish he was here now but because of the great, unexpected love that was between us. I was his person. The time I spent with him has been filled in other ways. His and mom’s presence are in my house along with the few items of theirs I have incorporated into my home. I carry them everywhere in heart and soul.

This morning, I lit dad’s candle in front of Mother Mary with a candle and matches from his house. I lit another candle for my mom. I put out coffee with Bailley’s in cups from dad’s house for them both and Jerry and I drank a toast to the two of them. In my mind’s eye, I see them as they might have been when they met in the late 50s – young, beautiful, slim, in love; wearing the clothes of the era. With spiked coffee and mom smoking a cigarette. Dad was an avid smoker until he quit in the 70s to save his life. In my vision, he is not smoking even though it is from a time when he would have been smoking. My mother was a social smoker. She would have a cigarette with her coffee, when a friend dropped by for tea or with a drink, at a party. She pretty much quit when dad did but in this vision she is smoking a cigarette, laughing and joyful. Trust the symbols that appear.

Their impact on me and my life is indelibly imprinted on my heart and soul. I will forever cherish all my relationships in my lineage and it will always influence the relationships I want to nurture with my children, their partners and extended families, my own grandchildren and my partner.

Smiling this morning, along with the tears.

Hope and Despair and the Promise of Tomorrow

Someone in my circles posted yesterday, asking if anyone else was having difficulty finding words to share in these times. The answer was a resounding yes from many of us. Last night, in my deep dream state, these words came to me: hope and despair.

I imagine these words were also relevant in that first Christmas as Mary and Joseph looked for a place to stay, to give birth to the baby Jesus. A side note: the fact that I am not a church goer was obvious when my two oldest were young, whispering to each other in front of the nativity scene, saying, “That baby has a bad name.” So, it is kind of ironic I find myself referencing that first Christmas, but it is 2020.

2020 has been a year with all the feels. Anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, delights, joy, love. Also, at points, the absence of feelings. Nothingness. Like the monochromatic days I wrote about earlier this year. Most of us have discovered we can move through it all. Some days are full of activity and outcomes. Some days, we just manage to get out of bed and have a cup of coffee. Some days, it is enough to know we are loved and we love, no matter how imperfectly that might be.

While time has disappeared into a vortex and it is already Christmas Eve morning as I write this, we have not disappeared into that vortex. We are still here. While not everyone is still physically here with us, they are in our hearts. They are present whether we know it or not. For me, my father who died in January is a constant presence along with my mother who died in 2012. Regularly in my dreams. Likely inspiring this writing this morning. My father prayed to Mother Mary regularly. His statue of Her still has the unlikely place on a side table in my living room. A tribute to him and his faith in Her. Also possibly what caused me to think about that first Christmas morning as I woke today.

Tomorrow holds a promise. Not just tomorrow Christmas Day, which for some holds as much or more sorrow as joy, but for the many tomorrows that flow out of and through time. The promise we will still be here. The promise we will keep putting one foot in front of the other, literally and metaphorically. The promise that we will find the moments of peace in times of chaos and uncertainty. The promise that 2021 may hold more hope for us individually and collectively. My partner, Jerry, and I look to the coming year with a hopeful eye. We will grow. We will expand. We will rise above and prosper.

That is my 2020 Christmas wish for you – to rise above, to prosper, to hold your loved ones close in your heart if not physically in your hugs, to continue to find your way, to stay hopeful for tomorrow and all the tomorrows that follow. Sending love, peace, joy to each and every one of you, from my family to yours, from my home to yours. Merry Christmas.

You Can Cry If You Want To!

2020! Christmas. Unlike any other I have experienced. Thanks to Coronavirus, the spread of it, illness and deaths because of it, precautions we take to reduce the spread and try to keep ourselves from contracting it – for ourselves and our loved ones. For everyone I know, this means smaller family bubbles for the holidays. And this makes me sad. Deeply, profoundly sad.

In 2011, I wrote this post describing Christmas as the season of amplification – of joy and of sorrow. It was the last Christmas my mother was alive – just barely, in long term care because of dementia. Emotions are always present in our lives if we have lived a minute. Every year of life this becomes more so as life’s experiences continue to accumulate.

This is the first Christmas without my dad. It is the first Christmas since we’ve been together that Jerry will not be with me for Christmas. The first Christmas my whole family cannot gather in one place. It’s been a year, as consultants, that all our client work has been postponed. Travel stopped. It’s all still disorienting.

Yet, we’ve been re-imagining our business during this time, opening new explorations and looking to the future. A vaccine is on the horizon. Next Christmas will look different again – hopefully in more ways we celebrate rather than mourn. In the meantime, my house is decorated. The tree is up. Jerry and I have a tentative plan to be together for a month post-Christmas.

I continue to reflect on my experience and how to move with and through the unusual holiday season. Here are 10 thoughts on how to do this.

  1. You can cry if you want to. Encourage the tears. Let them flow. A good cry is healthy.
  2. Laugh. You may not feel much like laughing, but laughter lifts the spirits, is good for the soul and is also healthy. And, it’s okay to laugh, give yourself permission, even as the world is different than it used to be. Watch funny movies, remember funny events, read books that make you laugh.
  3. Connect. Bubble with the friends or family you have chosen to bubble with and spend time with them. Reach out to other people you care about. Text. Phone. Video call. Think particularly about the people you know are alone or suffering even more than you. There are some who have no one to bubble with.
  4. Find or create comfort for yourself. This could be food, books, movies, music, traditions you allow yourself to carry out even if you are alone or have a smaller bubble. Decorating my tree with my small family bubble was one for me. Making gingerbread cookies to share will be another. Wrapping myself in a blanket to watch a movie or read a book brings comfort.
  5. If you are buying Christmas gifts, shop local. It’s always a good idea and never more needed. Support local craftspeople, artists and shop owners. And make donations to people in more need than you.
  6. Support a local restaurant that offers take out. Buy a meal for yourself and buy one for someone else if you can.
  7. Allow yourself to revisit all the beautiful memories of other holidays. Sink into them and let them wash over you. Last year, my dad was not well. Jerry was here and we spent a lot of time in Lunenburg with him – including bringing Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and other family festivities to him over a 2 week period. We knew it might be his last. It was time well spent and makes me smile. There are so many more memories that make me smile – decades of them.
  8. Take care of your body. Sleep. Exercise. Walk. Eat reasonably well.
  9. Take care of your mental and emotional wellbeing. 2020 is a time when anxiety, depression and emotional balance have been extraordinarily challenged. Then add in the stress that can come with the holidays. Reduce the things that cause you increased anxiety. This might be putting yourself on a social media diet. Or taking medication. Or deciding not to do a particular thing this year. Last year, for me, it was a decision not to do gingerbread houses – a treasured tradition for me for more than 2 decades. Not doing them this year either. Do or don’t do whatever else will contribute to your emotional and mental well-being.
  10. Look to the future. Next Christmas, hopefully, we will not be talking small family bubbles but be able to gather in our extended family and friend networks again without fear of spreading a virus. 2021 brings a promise deeper than our usual New Years. We couldn’t have anticipated that 2020 would be the shit show it has been, but the future holds promise.

For those of you who have lost loved ones in the last year, I send love and compassion. To those on the front lines of battling coronavirus, I send gratitude. To everyone masking up, washing hands, trying to follow arrows in stores and keeping your contact with others minimal, thank you. We’ve got this. We just need a touch more patience and willingness to be disciplined in our behaviours.

Doorways, Thresholds and Portals

My home refresh project has brought me to the entryway of my house. I am having a surprisingly emotional experience as I prep the area for painting.

There are threads that have been woven from the third floor hallway, down a stairwell to the main floor, with the next stage down to the bottom stairwell to the front door. It is part of the magical energy I have been building in my home for years now.

These hallways and stairwells pass by rooms, some of which have already been refreshed, reordered and refocused with the remainder on the summer 2020 to-do list. As each room is taken apart, it is put back together, somewhat to significantly differently. The entire energy – and dare I say identity – of the house is shifting.

Doorways. Thresholds. Portals. Who and what passes through. Who and what is invited. Who and what is discouraged or even barred from passing through. Because it is my home and boundaries are important. Coherence is essential.

Doors opened and closed. Literally, figuratively and metaphorically.

Thresholds crossed daily with little thought about them. Other thresholds requiring intentionality.

Portals that open vast new worlds of transformation or that open the threshold between the visible and the invisible, known and unknown, seen and unseen worlds.

Practical magic. Being a conscious, active participant in my own life and my future. Allowing myself to want what I want without self-judgment, self-recrimination or self-censorship. Relying on my own moral authority and my ancestors, guides and guardians for guidance.

It’s been a full 10 years. I had planned to paint this year anyway. Started last summer with two rooms. With the disorientation and disruption of being grounded due to the Coronavirus, there is a different sense of urgency and compulsion attached to this refresh. To my sense of who I am. To how I want to engage life. My life. Now and in the future.

Many people have passed through my front door. I have passed through that door too many times to count. An abundance of experiences of the ins and outs of life, relationships, phases and stages. Ups and downs on the stairwells of my house and of life. Joy. Grief. Happiness. Disappointments. Struggle. Regrets. Yearning. Development. Spiritual growth. It is all here. Right in front of me. Behind me. Ahead of me.

Collectively, we are still in a period of not knowing. Not knowing what is next. Not knowing when it will be wise to travel. Not knowing when or if there will be a second wave. Not knowing what my business will look like or how I will support myself. Not knowing when I will be with my sweetie in person again. Not knowing what is ahead. Ready and not ready at the same time.

Living through grief, sorrow, regret and yearning. Some days pushing through inertia. Knowing reflection, connection, meditation, practices and ritual connect me to the vastness beyond myself in ways that are grounding, supportive and orienting to me. This changes my imaginings about what is possible. It opens me to love and LOVE. One more day. One more practice. One more dream. One more enchantment. One more action. One more coat of paint. One more phase of transformation.

What are the next doors that will open, thresholds I will cross or portals I will travel? Discovering as I go?

Inhabiting Identity

Who are you? Who are you really? Who do you aspire to be? How are you creating your life? How much thought have you given to these questions? For me, they are a guiding inquiry providing ample fodder for deep reflection.

I have been actively engaged in identity work for the last couple of years, becoming more of an active conscious participant in my own future, in creating my own destiny. I am doing this by becoming a magician (yes, you read that right) and living into being a powerful creator. Not a show magician full of dazzling tricks or someone who engages magical thinking, but a person who recognizes the power of combining deep spiritual work with practical mundane steps to advance a vision, intent or desire for my life. Learning how to do magic, be magic, live life magically.

A fitting image for the month of July 2020

I have found amazing teachers and tuned into a whole new world that has been waiting for me for decades. A world that has attempted to reveal itself through my spiritual journey but which often left me wondering what to do with what was revealed, with the spirit guides, guardians and supporters I knew to be available to me. Now I am learning how to build relationship, how to open the lines of communication more fully. And, I feel like my father through his death has opened a portal of greater access. Through this work, I am learning much more about identity, about my identity.

I recognize over the decades I have inhabited several identities – some more fully than others and none with the degree of consciousness I am bringing to this next evolution of who I am, who I am growing into.

Like everyone, I have a number of roles that shape who I am and contribute to my identity. Mother, grandmother, daughter, granddaughter, sister, lover, partner, friend, neighbour, consultant, trainer, teacher, coach, author, co-author, traveler, cat parent, caregiver. And these many roles are not the consummate of my identity.

My identity is more than my roles. Although all of my parents and grandparents are now departed, I am still a daughter and a granddaughter but these roles are different now. Since my father’s death, I am no longer a caregiver for my elder(s), which was a consuming role. I am no longer part of the sandwich generation – sandwiched between parents and children. I am now the elder in my family.

Since putting a period on 70 Dufferin Street, clearing out my parent’s house where my dad had lived for 45 years, a house my brother and I also grew up in, I have turned my attention to my own house of 10 years. There are a few items from my parents’ house that have made their way into my house and they needed to be made way for. They have sparked a transformative effort in my living space. And, it’s more than that.

My evolving identity is demanding a space to inhabit that is refreshed through paint, cleared of clutter, bringing a sense of order to each individual space and the house overall. I am in the midst of this now, in the summer of 2020, the year of Covid-19, the year in which I hope we see the tipping point of racial injustice and a rewriting of social contracts, a year in which the global economy is struggling and Jerry and I are reimagining our business and strengthening the foundation of it to ride the possibilities and opportunities post Coronavirus.

In the painting of each room in my house, a transformation takes place. When I painted my bedroom, I took everything out of my closets and cupboards and only about a third of things went back. Clothes that had been in the closet for a decade, brought here from another life, another identity, were shed. A wedding dress and shoes. Clothes given to me by other people that I did not wear but had a hard time letting go of. Gowns I would never wear again. Clothes I bought because I liked them but every time I put them on I took them off again because I didn’t like how they looked. Shoes I had barely worn. All gone. And as I caught sight of a few sweaters that had been much loved and enjoyed a few years ago, I recognized that the clothes we wear are all part of the identity we inhabit at any given time and it is hard to fully inhabit a new and evolving identity when the ghosts of past identities clutter our spaces.

I am on a mission. As I turn my attention to the next space(s) in my house, things are removed, new order is brought in. By summer’s end, all of my living spaces will have been refreshed and transformed. My sense of my identity will continue to deepen and I will walk in the world with more confidence and hopefully more grace than in all of the decades before.

For those curious about who I have been learning from, my main teacher is Fabeku Fatumise. Through him I have discovered Dan Carroll and chaos magic, Jason Miller and Aidan Wachter among others. Buy any of their books and prepare to immerse yourself in a new journey. For me, it is a healing journey full of new awareness. It is a journey that has kept me sane through difficult times and it offers me practical things to do and focus on in times when it feels like there is little that can be done. And, as I said at the beginning, it has given me practices that enable me to be an active conscious participant in my own life.

A Decade of Transitions and Transformations

I moved into my house in Bedford, Nova Scotia 10 years ago. A decade. 2010 to 2020. I realized it is the longest I have ever lived in one home in my entire life. It’s been a decade full of life and death, transition, rebirth, renewal, magic, evolution, transformation and increasing coherence. There is a lot to reflect on and a lot to celebrate.

My Children

My boys were 7, 17 and 19 when we moved. They have, for various times and for varying lengths of time, lived with me in this house. Now the older two are married and one is a father. They have lovely families and all of them (sons and daughters-in-law) are on good career paths. The youngest is forging a path which is his to walk, the outcome of which is not clear yet nor will be for some time. But he and his path, like with the others, is held in love and light.

I am privileged to be able to spend a lot of time with my grandson developing a relationship that I dream will be close and connected over the rest of my life. I wait with delight the arrival of his sister with the same anticipation of relationship.

He’s snuggly one. Here he’s beginning a nap.

My Partner and Work

Not only were there literal births of children, there was the birth of an unexpected relationship and new business in my life. When Jerry Nagel and I met just before I moved into this house, a deep friendship immediately blossomed. We hosted together in powerful work – each better because of the other – and we created a new business, Worldview Intelligence, born out of what we could see and discover together which we are still building. We also birthed a book about our work: Building Trust and Relationship at the Speed of Change.

Our deep friendship became intimate relationship although “unconventional” in that we live in two different countries. The relationship has not been without its challenges as we each work to step out of habitual and dysfunctional patterns created in previous relationships. We do this because we each recognize we are building on a foundation of mutual love, respect and strength. Because of this relationship and our work I have traveled more in the last decade than ever before. Now we face a new challenge with travel restrictions and the not knowing of when we will be able to be together in person, taking it one day at a time. We know the foundation of our relationship will carry us through.

The Loss of My Parents

While in this house I lost both my mother in 2012 and this year my father. I feel my mother’s loss more keenly since my father departed. While my father was alive and a significant presence in my life it partially filled the void left both by mother’s dementia and entry into long-term care and her subsequent death.

Now there is a nothing. But it is not really nothing. It is more of a quiet in which memories leap into view through photographs and through the bits and pieces of my parents’ belongings that have found a new home in mine.

A Slowing Down and Chaos

In this time of the great slowing down caused by the responses to Covid-19 and the great disturbances and chaos created by one more Black death too many and protests co-opted in the US by the Boogaloo Bois intent on violence and creating a civil war, other things are amplified.

During this time I cleared out and sold my parents’ home. 45 years of living in one place. Hardly anything ever thrown out. A 3 story house and full garage. Of memories. Of identity. Of stuff. Three truckloads of stuff not useful to anyone taken away. A houseful of furniture given away. Boxes of kitchen and other small items given away. Tools and machinery accumulated over a lifetime sold or given away as gifts. A house washed down, ready for a new owner, new memories, new identity.

Chaos, Order and Flow

Chaos in my house as it stores the things waiting for their new home – either with my brother or through a charity. Chaos which is being turned into order. And newness.

This house and land were waiting for me when my youngest son’s father and I finally sold the house we had lived in together to move into separate homes. It was a time of flow when things moved quickly – very similar to the sale of my father’s house. Once we put our old house on the market it sold remarkably within 24 hours. My house had just gone on the market. Within 3 weeks I was here.

Other than building an office in what had been a very large storage space on the first floor, nothing much has changed. The colour schemes were perfect in the moment. The house is big enough to accommodate everyone here at the same time and small enough that I don’t rattle around in it when it is just me and the cats. The cats are new-ish too. We arrived in the house with two older cats. They are buried in the back yard. The “new” cats have made it their home these last five years with their unique personalities.

My House Demanding a Refresh

Last year, something started to stir. The kitchen and the main living room seemed to be calling out to be painted. And you know once you start….. This year, the rest of the house is calling out to be painted. And I am on a mission, putting in 8, 9 and 10 hour days painting. I have the summer to complete the mission since it appears I may not be traveling anywhere. Hallways, stairwells and 9 rooms to be refreshed. The house is demanding a reboot. It may sound strange to describe it this way, but it is how it feels to me.

Deepening Spiritual Journey

The last decade has invited a deepening of my spiritual journey. For anyone who has read Embracing the Stranger in Me: A Journey to Openheartedness, you know how my spiritual journey has been guided in ways I could not have anticipated. In the 2000’s this journey began with developing a much greater sense of my guardians, guides and allies and still left me with a dissatisfaction and unrest of not quite knowing what to do with that information.  (By the way, I will be publishing a follow up to my memoir later this year. It will be more of a how to guide of spiritual journey and practice.)

In the mid 2010’s the answer showed up. I found a teacher and a deep community of practitioners and learners of “practical magic”, divination and enchantments. I heard clear yeses in my animal knowing to step into the offerings that were available. And, that has made all the difference.

I have learned how to be in relationship with spirit in a myriad of ways – through divination, prayers, offerings, talismans, blessing work and more. It feels to me that my father’s death has opened a wider portal to the world of spirit and a closer connection to the allies, guides and guardians who support me and my loved ones. I walk in a different space now than before he died. I have artefacts from his house that strengthen that connection including his rosary and a statue of the Mother Mary who he felt a deep connection to. I feel his presence on a daily basis. I know he – and my mother and other ancestors –  are actively watching out for me and my family and working on our behalf. It brings me joy and delight, even as I miss him on the physical plane.

Shifting Identity and Relationships

I have been shifting my sense of identity. I am learning to acknowledge that I am a powerful creator. I am changing my relationship with money, work and power. Through this network I have discovered a cadre of other teachers. In the times when it seems there is nothing I can do to change the state of the world – like now – I can turn to ritual, practice and meditation to transport myself to a different place to continue to imagine the future that is shaped by my conscious participation in it.

We talk a lot about coherence in these spaces – being coherent with what you want in your life, being internally and externally coherent. With each new level of coherence it is like there is a levelling-up in identity, in confidence and in walking in the world, sensing the sentience in everything.

So when I say the house is demanding a refresh, it is completely consistent with a levelling-up of my identity. It is part of the external coherence and it is bringing order to my spaces and a new kind of order to my life. Before the walls are painted they are covered in symbols representing what I want to draw into my life and my home. There is power in the symbols and you can feel it in the house. I am focused and I get more done that I want to do even as the world has slowed down. Even as the world has turned to greater chaotic upheaval than I ever expected to see in my lifetime.

I would not have wished this time on me or the world I live in. However, since I’m here, I’m grateful for the practice of magic, ritual and deepening relationships with Allies. I am soothed by family connections. And, putting energy into transforming my house through painting highlights the other transformations which are changing the ground I walk on.

Here is to the next decade. To more births, inevitably more deaths and to an enduring spiritual journey that gives power and agency to my life.

Putting a Period on 70 Dufferin Street

It’s been 106 days since my father, Hector Jourdain, died and 62 days since his funeral. In the 44 days between his death and his funeral, my brother Robert and I did almost nothing to his house at 70 Dufferin Street. His shoes stayed by the door, his cane hung from the radiator, his clothes stayed in his closets, his cupboards and fridge stayed full.

136 - 69322882_10157032050537740_6444498299075428352_n

Putting a period on 70 Dufferin Street.

It was a transition time, an adjustment period for us, the house and dad’s spirit as we planned what to do. Forty-five years of life in that house. Forty-five years of accumulation by a man who never threw anything out because it might be useful. Forty-five years of filling a wood workshop in the basement and a metal workshop in the garage. Forty-five years of life and all it throws at us.

We gave dad a good send off. His house was full of people, stories, laughter, food and drinks. I spoke about him before the funeral began and we included communion in the service. The priest did a great job capturing the essence of dad, describing him as steadfast. Our cousin Raymond did one of the readings in French. Afterwards we had a feast at the reception.

And then we got to work. The plan was to pull up the old carpets in the house, revealing the old hardwood on the main floor and a mishmash of tile and linoleum upstairs, find homes for some of the furniture and get the house ready for market. That is when Divine Guidance literally walked in the door.

As the carpets were being pulled up, a stranger arrived at the house. He had heard through the owner of the company pulling up the carpets that we might be selling the house. He was interested. We walked around the house. I shared stories about dad. We talked about our intentions for the house, that Robert and I knew it needed to go to someone who would give it the tender loving care it needed for its next transformation. The house is solid, was well looked after and a bit dated in décor. It was why we were pulling up the carpets. So what needed to be done would be clear to whoever bought the house.

He came back several times and with family. It felt like he and his family were connecting to the house. They understood it and they understood a man like my father. He made a private offer on the house, Hector’s House, including keeping some of the furniture and equipment.

The rest of the furniture found good homes. Sofas, chairs, a cupboard and kitchen things went to a recent immigrant. Dad’s chair went to a young woman whose physiotherapist recommended she try sleeping in a Lazy Boy to deal with a pain issue. One chair went to a woman who wanted it as an upholstery project. The final glass coffee table was claimed yesterday, my last day at the house, as a truckload of unusable stuff was taken from the basement of the house – the third such load. And, of course, Robert and I and my children chose a few precious items for our homes.

In some ways, the hardest part was dad’s workshops. They were his identity; signifying who he was and what he most loved to do. Most of the woodworking equipment and tools went to my two older sons. A few things are staying with the house. Dad’s neighbour, who of late I’ve been calling my neighbour, came over one day and sorted the woodworking tools and equipment. I told him how things were to be divided for my sons, with more allocated to the son who has a house and a room for a workshop.

A few before and after pictures of the basement.

When he was done with that he organized everything else into categories. I couldn’t have done it so well. He came over another day and helped organize the odds and sods that were left in the house. He and his wife had become good friends of my dad and of me. They also have a few precious mementos of their friendship. They were watching over the house for us. They had listed their house for sale last summer. For a variety of reasons, it took several months to sell. Their close date is May 7 – my mother’s birthday. The close date on dad’s house is today – May 1. Divine timing.

We advertised the metalworking equipment and the response was surprisingly swift. Among the equipment, dad had two lathes: a smaller one and a big solid one. There were lots of inquiries about the smaller lathe and none about the bigger one, probably due to price and size. One of the days I was in Lunenburg, people showed up for the equipment. One man showed up early with one of his sons. He was interested in the smaller lathe but there had been earlier inquiries about it.

While he waited, he helped two other men get the drill mill out of the garage and into their truck. He and I chatted. The more we talked, the more it became clear that the larger lathe would suit his purposes better but it was priced at almost twice that of the smaller lathe. I called Robert and we talked about the price and the man.

We offered him a much reduced price from what we had advertised. Because he is the kind of man who will take care of the equipment in the same spirit as dad. Because he will make great use of it. When I told him the price, his eyes grew wide. He told me he would never sell it. When he was done with it, it would go to his sons.

He had to come back to get it as it was too big for his truck. So, a few days later he showed up with a flat bed truck and his two young sons who clearly show an aptitude for mechanics. Polite, friendly, curious, talkative, endearing. It was clear the new owner of the lathe knew exactly what he was doing and that this was meant for this man and his family.

Dad’s garage was covered from end to end with tools, scrap metal and other bits and parts. While people who came for the equipment looked around and also bought a few other things, it was still a significant task to clear it out. I was told about a colleague of dad’s and called him. He came, looked around, thought about it and then came back with an offer for everything in the garage. Not only did he take away that which was useful to him, he cleared out everything. I’m pretty sure there were at least eight big garbage bags that came out of that garage that he also took away. The house wouldn’t have been ready without his work. He is a gentleman I will always remember kindly.

Before and after shots of the garage.

It is a strange thing to watch your father’s lifetime of equipment, furniture and life gradually and quickly disappear from the rooms, walls and the shelves. That it goes to places and people where it is useful and/or will be loved means a lot. Old blankets went to a friend to be used in building sweat lodges. Food in the pantry (that which wasn’t years beyond the best before date) went to a community food pantry to feed people who need it. There were enough dishes, pots and pans and kitchen stuff to fill the cupboards of three homes. My mother’s teacups went to friends who will treasure them. My kids each have some things that are meaningful to them. My daughter-in-law is taking mom and dad’s wedding clothes and will make memory bears out of them.

My house right now is a maze as I hang onto things for me and my brother, who couldn’t travel here because of the pandemic. We still have lots of things to sort through, especially pictures. And there are a dozen or more boxes of things to give away as soon as charities are accepting again.

Borrowing a phrase from one of my teachers, we have put a period on 70 Dufferin Street. On our life there. On a regular in-person connection to our hometown, even with all the family friends still there. Our family no longer has a presence there.

The house is ready and waiting for the new owners. I celebrate that it is not a transaction with unknown buyers, but a caring transition to people I know dad would have liked, done without the fanfare of a for sale sign. A quiet transition, like dad would have wanted. There is no question in my mind dad has had a divine hand in what has transpired in the last 62 days – and I just noticed January would have been mom and dad’s 62nd wedding anniversary.

Robert and I will be able to go visit and see the new lease on life that emerges in the next chapter of 70 Dufferin, after this period that marks the end of an era.

IMG_4801

What Futures are You Mourning?

Easter morning 2020. This already would have been a different Easter since my dad died in January of this year. Like most, we typically would have gathered as a family, my kids and grandchild – here at my home or, as has been the case more recently, we would have taken Easter to my dad in Lunenburg.

March 1-2020

March 1, 2020 – the last time most of us gathered as a family just after my father’s funeral.

Not only is my dad gone, so too, for many of us is any sense of traditional celebration or family gathering for this year. Day by day the assessment of how long we will have to self isolate and physically distance seems to extend. It started with two weeks, expanded to two months and now there are ruminations that it could be as much as two years.

This means an indeterminate unknowing about what the future holds. Groundlessness continued for an indefinite amount of time. Will we reach a breaking point or a breakthrough point? Probably both. Probably more than once.

I am mourning my family celebrations. I grieve that my family and I cannot come together in person and reminisce about my father, among other things. I get this is for the greater good and the longer-term future but that doesn’t mean I can’t grieve this current moment or that I can’t grieve the future as I imagined it to be. As we all imagined it to be. We all get to acknowledge our emotional reactions and the rollercoaster global moment we are in. It is healthy to do so.

I grieve the uncertainty of knowing when I will be able to be with my beloved again. The time of reunion keeps getting pushed off. First it was maybe the end of May, then June, then the summer and now who knows when. We have a long distance relationship nurtured in mutual love and respect and the ability to travel to be together frequently. Now complicated by the fact it is an international relationship – me in Canada, him in the US. I feel despair in this, even as I know our relationship is strong enough to weather this.

What will be the impact on our business? Our livelihood? I get this is a moment of great opportunity in the midst of uncertainty. But what will that look like?

In the middle of all of this, I am clearing out my father’s house, getting it ready to hand over to new owners. It is a lonely task thanks to social distancing. I drive from one empty house to another, bringing back contents from one to the other, waiting for the opportunity to give away that which my brother and I have decided to let go of. Holding onto other things until such a time as he can travel back to NS from PEI safely and my kids and I and my partner can gather.

It is not just this moment that is unsettling. It is the loss of futures we dreamed of that are not available to us right now. The weddings that are cancelled, postponed or happening in a different form. The funerals that can’t be held right now. Being with loved ones in the time of death or the time of birth. Birthday, anniversary celebrations and so much more. We each have our own lost futures and it is okay to grieve them. Give yourself permission with compassion, forgiveness and care.