It Is Worth It

It is worth it to stay up half the night

to see the misty moon

disappear and re-emerge behind the scattered clouds

that drift like silver ribbons across the sky.

It is worth it to peer up at the quiet stars

and hear above the faint roar of a few cars

on the highway far below

the gentle hoot of an owl.

It is worth it so see the silhouette of trees

standing like living paintbrushes

solemn and still

against the pearly grey night sky.

It it worth it to feel the summer air

on my skin at midnight

and know that the goosebumps

are more from awe

than the slight cool of the breeze.

It is worth it to stay up half the night

to be in love with the ever-changing sky

and write it poetry.

Creation is so beautiful—

my heart is bursting with it!

Can anyone feel so happy as I am

alone with the moon,

in the company of memories?

“Dream and Your Dreams Will Fall Short”

So here’s my happy headline for the week: I’m on workshop at the Copper Ridge Conference Centre at Britannia Beach and it’s amazing! After years of fundraising efforts, and the amazing generosity of many donors, both great and small, the dream of a beautiful, peaceful place for people to come on retreat has come true! But don’t take my word for it—look! This is the view from my room!!

I feel so incredibly happy because when I’m surrounded by beautiful nature, I feel like I’m twelve again, and tromping through the woods with my brothers.

I’ve been able to do things like stick my feet in the cool rushing creek…

…perch on top a huge rock to gaze and the view, read my book and write.

Love this book so far! She is hilarious and inspiring!

…..and swim in the ocean at this beach!

All of this would be great even if we were roughing it and camping, but boy are we not. Instead our small group (half the usual size due to Covid safety measures) is staying in the elegant centre and being treated like queens by the lovely administration who cook for us…a massive treat for a group of busy moms! Because we can only seat two at each table, we’ve taken turns sitting with someone different at most meals, and have all gotten to know each other so much better! This has been a balm for my company-starved soul!

So what does it look like, the building?

Awesome covered porch with a breathtaking view of the water and mountains.
Cosy corners everywhere to sit and read or chat.
Did I mention the balcony next to my room!? The fresh air here is so wonderful! At night the moon shimmers on the water, and when it fades, the star -studded sky is just glorious! All I have to do here is step outside and my heart is singing a prayer.

Well, that’s enough pictures for one day…next time I’ll show you the wildflowers, some of the old artwork inside….and more of those lovely views!

Miracles do happen! Hope your day is filled with them!

More Happy Headlines

In my last post, Making Our Own Headlines, I wrote about the idea of writing our own headlines for each day, focussing on the little things that matter to us and bring us joy, rather than all the huge world news and depressing statistics. If we can each find more beauty in our days, and be grateful for it, we can bring more hope to the world.

So here are a few more of my “happy headlines.” I hope they inspire you to notice many joyful moments in your own day, and if it’s a harder one for you today, here’s sending you a giant hug, and wishes for a better tomorrow! 🥰

Bees Keep Buzzing, Blissfully Ignoring World Pandemic

There’s hardly ever I time I go into the garden without being inspired by its wild and hopeful beauty. Just keep planting seeds…and so much life keeps springing up. It always gives me hope especially as a parent, that if I keep on loving and learning with my kids, they’ll blossom in ways beyond what I can imagine.

Tired Mom Receives Home Spa Treatment from Tiny Masseuse

I was trying to put this little beastie to bed, but she decided I needed a little love first, and slathered my arm with lavender cream from Lush instead, all the while sticking out her little pink tongue in concentration.

Summer Brings More Family Time For Fancy Baking

My eldest daughter learned this recipe at a girls club; it was really fun to try it out together, and fairly simple for such a fancy looking result. I really want all my kids to be empowered in the kitchen, and to know how to take care of themselves. It’s good for them to learn to cook, and it’s a lot of fun for me not to be the lonely only chef! I really like the extra time we have to do things like this together in the summer. It’s the stuff of memories, and when they’re older, and cook for themselves, they’ll be able to recreate the taste of home.

Mother and Daughter Bring Joy to Neighbour by Sharing Home Baking

My 8 year old and I had such fun baking these mini-apple pies in muffin tins and weaving tops for them. When they were hot and ready, we brought one to our friend next door, who is a recent widow, along with flowers from our garden. She was touched to be pampered in this way, and is constantly showering my kids with yummy snacks as well. We have basically adopted each other, and our Tupperware goes back and forth over the fence filled with little sweet signs of love. “Never return Tupperware empty,” her mother told her. We are both so much enriched by this exchange, especially in these isolated times. My littlest kids love to chat with her from our back porch to hers, and feel that despite everything right now, the world is still a friendly sort of place.

Save-On-Foods Grocery Delivery Service Saves the Day for Car-less Family

Yes, I really do think the save-on drivers, and the people who work night shift to shop all night for morning deliveries, are super heroes! My kids get so excited when they come to drop off the groceries, and they almost always have a kind word for the kids, who like to help carry them to the kitchen to put away. As I have seven kids and no car, you can see why I think the save-on trucks should have capes flying off them!

Well, I realize many of my happy headlines have to do with food…I guess feeding people is my love language, and stocked cupboards make me feel safe. I am so lucky to be able to take such good care of the kids in this way, while my hardworking accountant husband slogs away to earn our daily bread. Thanks, honey.

Making Our Own Headlines

My mom sent me this lovely little story from Facebook recently, and then my mother-in-law called to read me the same thing. I thought it captured both the stress and hope of these difficult times beautifully.

I found it really inspiring. As we each write the story of our own lives, it makes sense to write our headlines, too…so we can focus on the things that matter to us and make our days meaningful. So here are a few headlines of my own:

Toddler takes walk and is delighted by flowers, hugs a rose.

Proud kids learn to make sushi at home: take that, take-out!

Neighbours share bread and laughter over their fence, feel less alone.

Baby with dangerous condition born safely and survives operation, parents rejoice.

Woman reconnects with dear friend after 3 months, makes her day.

Family transforms ugly concrete backyard into beautiful courtyard garden using old furniture and garden pots given by their neighbour.

What beautiful story are you writing with your life today?

To think of one thing you are grateful for is enough, but feel most welcome to share one of your life’s headlines in the comments below!

Ballad of the Pirate Bard

I am a pirate and I do not sleep!

I thief night jewels for me to keep.

My Lady with her treasures bold

is generous when the wee hours wax old.

The words upon her golden tongue

are by the midnight spirits sung.

I catch the songs in my jolly heart,

then bursting full I do depart,

‘n sail away to the break of day

to spread her tales far and away!

I am a pirate and I do not sleep,

my treasure is the tears you weep,

my prize is the laughter in your eyes,

for Insomnia’s bedfellow is a pirate wise.

🌴This silly song was brought to you care of
sleep deprivation and my pirate pjs! 🌴

Back-Alley Beauty

In this time

when my heart is breaking

from so much pain in the world

I’ve been choking on silence

not knowing what to say

I felt that it was a time

for only words weighty with wisdom

words of solemn importance

and sorrow

But maybe in this time

when my heart is breaking

from so much pain in the world

it is precisely the time

to celebrate every bit of happiness

the day affords

To rejoice in each little buttercup

and bouquet of back-alley beauty

my children clutch in eager hands

and bring me while I cook dinner

And to wish and pray

with all my strength

many such simple pleasures

and calm moments of sweetness

upon each precious person

who walks the face of this earth

Angelic Delivery

Bread, milk, fruit, eggs,

a family puzzle we stayed up till 11pm one night doing,

a stuffed animal for my toddler,

a sewing project for my 8 year old,

a kind word of encouragement,

a witty joke,

a reference to literature

a story from across the world

a promise to pray:

these are the things my friend of 14 years,

Sister Angela, has brought to my door

when she’s stopped by some evenings around 8 pm,

after a busy day of caring for migrants and the poor,

to leave groceries and an unassuming smile.

“It’s exactly what we needed!” I exclaim.

“God knew,” she answers with quiet confidence…

my angel, my messenger,

bearing so many little tokens

of God’s love.

Quarantine Self-Care: In the Toilet!

I have a special button my sister gave me once; it says, “Mom Off Duty.” She gave it to me as a suggestion, rather than a joke, cause she knows I’m not the best at taking time to recharge my batteries. This morning I found the button in the toilet. Yes, actually in it–and that pretty much sums up how my self-care is at the moment.

I’m sure this is the case for many people…working long hours from home while parenting and homeschooling, or braving the front lines in the hospitals. I loved this image my mom sent me, because it’s so fitting. Real life superheroes walk the halls of every hospital right now! Thank you brave nurses and doctors and all health careworkers!

IMG_6856.JPG

There are so many heroes right now…but even Wonder Woman needs a bathroom break (alone!), or a shower, a quiet walk, or a few minutes for a favourite hobby to restore her weary soul a bit. These moments have been scarce for me, as I homeschool my seven kids and try to make magic from what remains of rice and dried in beans the cupboard until our next grocery order comes. The other day, for example, since we were out of bread and milk, we had homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and fishy crackers for breakfast, not that the kids objected much to that!

Anyway, as I’m not the queen of mamma self-care, I’m going to share a few ideas friends of mine have mentioned doing. Please comment and share your tips, too!

  1. Going for a quiet walk alone, and calling a friend to catch up.
  2. Having a daily time set aside to practice music alone, behind a locked door, without interruption “unless anyone’s eyeballs are bleeding!”
  3. Dates at home, while the kids babysit each other in another room. Snacks and a movie with your spouse, without your littlest kids climbing all over and talking the whole time.
  4. Walks with your spouse…if you’re lucky enough to have kids old enough to babysit that is. Some friends of mine in Saskatchewan even braved the rather chilly park for a lunch date!
  5. Visiting friends over Zoom, FaceTime or Skype, to have a laugh together and feel less alone. My friend Monique had a knitting date over Zoom, and I’m planning a writing one with my writer buddy Lisa Rumple, who bravely blogs about her mental health journey at The Resilient Catholic.
  6. Taking a class online to feed your mind and grow.
  7. Exercising. As a family, we like to do the daily workout with the Body Coach, Joe Wicks, on YouTube. He is funny and accessible, and requires no equipment for his 20 minute workout (30 minutes when you include the breaks). Even our toddler joins in, and likes doing jumping jacks, or as they call them in England “star jumps.” It helps that every Friday is Fancy Friday dress up day!

I think all these are great ideas to help release the pressure that builds up from being “on” 24/7. Sometimes it feels very spoiled to talk about being stressed right now, when some people are in situations that are so much more devastating. As my friend Laura asked, “When have people endured epidemic isolation from a place of such luxury and connection?”

While we are indeed so lucky to be able to connect with others from the safely of our homes, it also means that we are more aware of the suffering of others all around the world. This collective stress affects us all; I don’t see the use in pretending it doesn’t.

So we need to find ways of releasing that stress, so it doesn’t silently build up like the little bricks in Tetris, until they are almost at the top of the screen and falling faster by the minute. If like in the game, we can find ways to organize all the little bricks that cause anxiety into little rows, plugging in the empty spots, they can disappear and leave us more breathing room. It’s not that we won’t have more stress factors coming our way, but if we can acknowledge them and fit them into our life, maybe we can rob them of some of their destructive power.

Right now, some of the strange things like working and schooling from home, not being able to visit friends, travel freely or go out as a family to socialize are the new normal. It takes energy to readjust; we are mourning the loss of the innocence of a world where people didn’t hesitate to shake hands with strangers or hug a friend who stopped by.

So whatever your situation right now, however much you feel affected by this pandemic, I encourage you to be gentle with yourself. Treat yourself with kindness, as well as others. Don’t drown in your to do lists. Try to pause and savour the little good things that happen each day. Pray for the grace to endure this storm, and to grow better from it, but little by little. Don’t be harsh with yourself.

And if it helps, and you’ve got insomnia, too, eat pumpkin pie ice cream at midnight, like me.

Big love to everyone!