Tag Archives: June

It’s Not Just About the Destination

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“It’s not just about the destination” sums up my thoughts while traveling to escape the noise and fast pace of the city and my work-business life. It is not to escape who I am or what I love to do… my passion and commitment are firm, although, at times, I doubt the strength I have to continue on certain paths. Plagued by self-assessment, as anyone might be while trying to navigate the rough roads of every day, I often wonder if I should just run off on some other trail–change my direction–change my destination. Then, I remind myself… it’s not just about the destination because, in fact, we all end up the same place anyway. It is all about how you see your journey there and I am constantly reminding myself to stay in the moment without worry about what happens in the end. Therefore, I do realize that I see things somewhat differently depending upon my situation and location. This trip was about certain goals, but everything in between, before, and after is up to fate and fortune. What you make of a day is really what thought you put into it and the effort afforded to enjoy every moment. It will all be there when you return, so to worry about “what to do” or “what about” or “what if” is a waste of such a beautiful surrounding.

I am happy I am able to reflect on the time I take away–this time we were really tired at the end of the day and barely had supper and did a few mundane tasks before sleep claimed us. There is something about the mountain air and being out in the beauty of nature that fills you with enough that you are pleasantly exhausted. My knees couldn’t help but remind me that I did more than usual even though I try to do it on purpose, whenever I can, in order to claim every minute of the day in action. To bed early–one would think we’d stay up late writing… however, a tired body won out over a determined mind this week.

Day One arrival was nice and early and we could even check into our hotel room and then go exploring on Wednesday. We took a trip to the Beaver Boardwalk–my daughter recommended it last trip, but we didn’t make it there. Going this time was a treat. What a beautiful nature spot in Hinton! Yes, we have our ponds and walkways here at home, but sorry, Sherwood Park, the most obvious thing missing is setting… I sometimes (well, often) wonder why I still live here with so much soul/spirit connection to the mountains. This park was the perfect way to spend a couple of hours, wandering the boardwalk through the marshes and beaver habitat, traipsing some closer-in trails, and taking a look-out post in the tower to admire the view. I say closer-in because I am not one to wander onto the forest trails–hiking was a younger days sport for me due to my limitations, ones I have accepted, and am able to push to some extent enjoyment of the activities. Also, there’s the fact that we are in wildlife territory and bears and cougars just don’t excite me up close and personal. From the truck window, I am a brave soul – not on foot, however.

Trips away with my dear friend, Mandy, make me appreciate her even more because of the similarities we have –I don’t have to try to keep up and do things I feel out of my comfort zone with… we match in many ways–our appreciation for nature and its fragility to human invasion; yet, the strength and majesty and power of it awes us in the same breath. I could travel the same roads and see the same sights each day or weekend or whatever, and still be in wonder at the amazing embrace of nature–the bold colors of plants, the cuteness of a baby animal, the calming peace of water and wind, the warmth of sun–even if it only peaked through clouds throughout most of our mid-week trip.

We never lost sight of the reason for our trip, although it was in the back of our minds as we connected with the precious moments of each opportunity. The Beaver Boardwalk was more than just walking through a nature setting–it was about stopping and appreciating the finer details of plants, trees, the view, the colors, the sounds, smells, and feel of it all on your soul. Nature caresses one’s spirit with renewing qualities to create a mood of relaxation and connection. There was no sign of any wildlife–other than a couple of birds and fish in the ponds. I wondered about the lack of waterfowl on the ponds… Mr. and Mrs. Beaver must have been relaxing in the shade of their studious home–we saw signs of them being around, of course, but no chance sighting of the animals.

Impressions of the place are best in point form, because that is how they hit you when you are in the moment:

  • The song of the red-wing blackbird
  • The amazing arrangement of wooden walkways over water
  • The variety of flora with bursts of color that stand out so vivid against the greenery
  • The sound and tempo of the wind through the trees as it rises and falls
  • Sun peeking through the overhead canopy in an otherwise dull cloudy sky
  • The man who looked at me funny for taking an overhead picture… yes, look up, too!
  • Wire mesh protecting perimeter trees from industrious beaver clearing crews
  • Signs giving information about the place: make less noise to see more wildlife or be aware and cautious and informed of bears, cougars, wolves… :O
  • Picking up a couple of interesting stones from the rock pathway to commemorate
  • The lookout tower and amazing view of the nearby mountains through the trees
  • Patterns in nature–ripples on the water, long grass blowing in the wind, piles of drift-water-worn limbs

My thoughts may not match anyone else except for those who have the same appreciation for the beauty and magnificence of nature. But, even in that similarity, there are personal differences. The photos I take are not ones that another may take as I look for the shot that appeals to me; I don’t take people pictures; I don’t do selfies. I want the essence of the place where I am–what attracts me, what speaks to me. To each their own.

The take-away for this activity–always invest in the time to enjoy “every precious moment,” as a friend posted. The emotions that grab me in the mountains are awe-inspiring, captivating, yet overwhelming, at the same time. The thought that this glorious world we live in surrounds us for so short a time in comparison to its own life span is one for self-contemplation. No matter what you believe, it’s what adds to a beautiful life–it’s not just about the destination.

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Not Just Another June

Here it is already the 13th and this is only my first June post… slacker! Let me offer you, by way of explanation, my declaration confirming no lack of desire for posting a blog, but offer up a faulty excuse of not enough time… because so far it has proved to be “not just another June.” This month offers to all of us the end of some things, yet promotes the beginning of so much more, depending on your perspective.

Graduation is a ceremonious end to the school year and, although I have been far removed from the event, I have friends and family involved with this mile marker of life. June, in its simplicity on the calendar, signifies the end of spring as we meld into greener grass, fuller blooms, warmer nights, and longer days… ah, daylight… it encourages so much more productivity. And so with the passing of my favorite season, I welcome June as it comes to encompass the beginning of summer – summer vacation, summer schedules, summer festivals,  and in general, thoughts on how to relax and take it easy while enjoying what life has to offer throughout the few warm months ahead.

This June will remain particularly special to me in that I was selected for an award to which receiving is a great honor. The County of Strathcona presents the Pride of Strathcona Award to deserving community members in various areas of achievement. Deserving… wow! I appreciate being included with the recipients for this year. Colleagues (my writing friends and cohorts), under the direction of my good friend Mandy, compiled wonderful letters of support for my nomination way back in January. They were successful in keeping the attempt a secret for over three months until, much to my surprise, I received the confirmation letter just after my birthday in April. I was humbled by their words, albeit pleased that my work has created an impact, and so taken by the gesture – it was something I did not expect. We all like to be recognized for the work we do even if we do it because of a passion we harbor deep inside. I have taken this commitment to my own writing down an incredible path of joy by providing encouragement to others, through support and mentorship, leadership and example, offering outlet and opportunity for others to develop their craft, as I develop mine. This direction has proven to be the right direction for my writing journey, and I have stayed the path.

Following are my words, shared in acceptance to the award presented, on Monday, June 11th:

“I want to thank those involved for selecting me for this award and offer my congratulations to all my fellow nominees.”

“To be accepted for what you do is a reward unto itself; to be recognized in public for a passion that lives deep inside, is truly an honor. Creativity is an important part of who I am and is evident in all aspects of my life. I have come to know my journey through trial and error, dreams and reality – as do many of us throughout our life. Over the last 11 years, a solid connection to this discovery allowed me to develop my own creative philosophy based on the triad of “learn, create, and share.” This belief encompasses not only my own passion for the arts, but the encouragement and support I offer to those around me. To be a part of this community, to share and encourage others, is not only my personal and volunteer mandate; it serves as a guide for my employment and a mission for my own publishing company.”

“A person does not operate in isolation, and therefore, everyone is deserving of thanks in some way for my achievement. Because it is not possible here to thank everyone, I want to specifically acknowledge Mandy Barnett for spearheading my nomination, and thank my mom and dad, and my daughter, Kelsey, for the supportive roles they play in my life.”

“When we, as individuals, focus on our direction as being one with everyone around us, there is a sense of community in everything we do. I will close with a quote:

‘As many arrows, loosed several ways, come to one mark… so may a thousand actions, once afoot, end in one purpose.’  William Shakespeare (Henry V, Act I, sc. 2)

“Thank you.”

The evening involved many words of congratulations and hugs and well wishes. I want to thank everyone who shared this evening at Festival Place. When our writers group won the award last year, I was proud to be a part of this community and this organization, bringing our work into the literary limelight. This year, I am twice as proud, and just as determined to continue promoting the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, Dream Write Publishing, Strathcona County, and all that it encompasses. I am proud to be recognized for promoting Arts, Culture & Heritage in our community. And it’s a steady road ahead with more to come.

It’s “not just another June.” 

Mandy Barnett attends celebratory dinner with Linda J. Pedley (right)/June 11, 2012 #shpk

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Every Day is a Picnic

Reflecting on what was is sometimes the way we interpret writing prompts because the image it brings up produces feelings and memories of things we did once, or things we once did and for whatever reason, do not do anymore. There are many things that change actions, and why events that were like habits, change as well – but there are so many more ways that new memories can be made.

This exercise was introduced at the summer workshop I attended last night hosted by one of our members. Because June is National Picnic Month, the question prompted us to write about where we would go and what we would bring on a picnic. Out of my memory retrieval, came thoughts of trips to Vancouver with my sister, Sylvia – our kids in tow – where we not only visited my brother, but also drove up along the coast of Vancouver Island to Tofino.

Although we camped there years ago, the images are clear and the trip vivid enough that I would certainly venture another vacation to the Island. A picnic along the ocean in Pacific Rim Park would be heavenly. It is not tropical beach or even extremely warm, but the soothing sounds of the ocean waves would lull me into a meditative state. The feel of the sand, warm beneath my feet would be comforting – even getting into all those cracks that one writer I know hates – but sand and water always brings back memories to me, of this and other camping trips, with the kids when they were young.

As adults, they now go their own ways and make their own memories and although still a big part of each other’s lives… there is a difference between the trips then and now. For me, a condo in the mountains with a balcony-view is more conducive to relaxation and writing, although, a car trip to the ocean would never be turned down.

I remember watching, with awe, as a Bald Eagle swooped out of the sky scooping from the ocean its prey. It was amazing to catch nature in action like that and it’s something I have not seen again. I remember also being able to see far into the distance the place where sky and water meet, vast and so much bigger in perspective; especially when we are so closed in, living in the city.

Our discussion about “being” inspired me to write about the day – not a day in memory but a day still in the making – being in the present and even being in the city. Lost in the experience of what it’s like to feel life around you happening there is the realization that beauty exists in the simple everyday. The image of summer for me was reflected in my yesterday.

The winter long parted from our minds and spring, a veil, shielding our eyes and hearts from cold wind’s memory. The days become longer – dusk melting into a vivid palette of sunset oranges and glorious golds. The solstice just heralded summer’s reign and shows us the splendor of crisp greens, flowering pinks and skies of deepest Alberta-blue. Fluffy flat-bottomed clouds dot the atmosphere above us as if they are sitting on a decorative glass-top table. The storm that blows in and lifts the edges of our lives, soon passes with a rumble and shower of cooling rain. The twilight lingers until the last golden glow disappears.

As I write this, of course, that description now becomes a memory for me and a mere breath of words for pages to come. Still, tonight there is more to focus on as the moon is full and its glory will be eclipsed by the sun – each in their own right, the most heavenly body. It is just proof that there is always something wondrous in nature and it is always there for us to absorb, admire, and appreciate. I would go so far as to claim – in summer, “Every day is a picnic.”

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