Tag Archives: memories

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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Retreat Goals

Despite the turmoil of the months leading up to this weekend, my goal in going is to get away from the overwhelming every day – to focus on some of my own writing. I brought with me several projects to follow up on, which will include editing, designing, formatting. I hope to finish a few things so that I might move past this block that haunts me. Another novel to be done – An Italian Son – and my first kid’s picture book needs drawings. Can I determine the style I want to use for the illustrations?

I have also a company project in tow that I want to finish editing – it is in layout format so working through the reading achieves more than one end.

I am also hoping there’s a poem or two to be had – I will try to force the stoppage in order to free some words into a composition I will be happy with – I used to be so connected to poetry. What happened? Did it abandon me or did I abandon it? I know it’s not lost forever… just temporarily misplaced.

My camera is also my constant companion – there is always visual inspiration around, especially here: the birds are welcome subjects, trees and greenery, wood structures and pathways, squirrels and other wildlife supposedly around out there somewhere. If only the rain would let up. I will go out for walks to get some fresh air and connect with nature. It’s cooler, though, and cool, wet weather is not my friend.

Sidebar…

I wrote my goals at the beginning of the weekend – it was gloomy when we arrived but soon gave way to rain for the past couple of days. We definitely need the rain and would happily send it up north to the forests. In truth, we couldn’t have a fire inside in the fireplace the first couple of nights because of the dryness here at the Creek. Finally, the rain gauge showed enough moisture accumulation and sharing alongside the fire was a possibility the last two nights of our stay. I love warm spring weather, though… Sunshine – the one from the sky – why have you abandoned us this weekend?

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Smoke, Heat & Memories

The day has me distracted. I try to remain focused on my job and the work I need to do. It has nothing to do with being Monday. It’s not because I had a tiresome weekend nor am fatigued or overly pained. It is not because I am eager to get back to the work on my company projects. It’s not because I have an upcoming trip planned and am looking forward to hitting the road. It is merely to do with the date and something I have in mind that I need to write. It’s a good feeling – that need to write, and even if the thought that started this is internally sad it is not a sorrowful post. Quite the contrary, and I always give in to the urges when they are this strong.

This past weekend was marked by a special event – the marriage of two wonderful people who I am proud to call friends. They both looked amazing and the ceremony was inspiring despite the heat and smoke – it was an outdoor wedding so both elements played a significant role in comfort. Even bringing the party into the shelter of the nearby community hall for the reception didn’t reduce the sweat factor. I am sure everyone dropped a few pounds that day…

Robyn and Joe

I am happy to have a beautiful event mark this weekend in my memories. It is not that new events ever mask or replace old memories that might have marked the days, but it is nice to have rejuvenation to the ones that marred the memory banks. July 13th, 3 years ago, was a day congested with heat and smoke in the air – I won’t forget it. It was a day I found out something that changed lives forever. Changes, whether good or bad, have an effect on one’s life journey. Sometimes it means you go it alone. Other times, it means you have someone to share it.

Best of luck and lots of love on your life’s journey – Robyn and Joe – July 11, 2015

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Birds of Spring

Preface:

The love for spring and birds and all things beautiful prompted me to write this – the robin started it all and the progression to put the words to page ended up including thoughts about my mom. Both of us are spring babies and the appreciation she had for nature inspired me to follow paths where the wild things live. I am not brave. I fear death. Yet in my own way, I am an explorer and an adventurous soul. I am not sad. I am merely reflecting on beautiful thoughts that still bring tears.

*****

RobinWe sat on the back deck under the umbrella and chatted. We cradled ceramic mugs adorned with images of birds. The hot tea warmed us and cool spring breezes washed over us like whispered conversation. We had grown comfortable with the sporadic comments and the pleasurable silence that punctuated our early Saturday morning visit. The sun was still to our right but would soon be to our backs as we sat in shade of the house. Bundled in large knit sweaters, we settled back in the canvas chairs, sipping green tea and warming our hands. Overhead, crisscrossing jet trails cut the wild blue yonder into slices of pie.

“Why do they have to mess up the beautiful sky?” she would ask. We always looked up watching for birds and small planes and whatever else the countryside might offer. I knew she loved the view from the deck at the back of her house. The jet trails were something we always noticed and talked about. It was something we often speculated about – was it weather related air current type stuff, or was it a conspiracy to create cloud when there was none, or was it just because it was what jets do at a high altitude. Whatever the reason, it would come to be my way of knowing she was always with me – perhaps, even her way of showing support wherever I might be and whatever I might be doing. The jet contrails and the birds of spring, both beautiful and meaningful in their own way, are a necessary part of how I was able to move forward without her.

Because of her love for nature and her little house in the country, I began to take more notice of those things around me that drew me to her. Yellow eyed daisies growing in white waves always remind me of her, because they grew wild in her yard and as the years went by there were more and more of them. I see every full moon and remember her calls to me, “Did you see the moon?” I watch for the geese and their return to the northern climes after a long migration. Then in the fall when they coo and swoop in large masses collecting their formations way up high amongst the clouds, I regret their leaving just as I regret hers.

Winter was beginning to be unbearable and the worry about her living alone is one thing that weighed as heavy as the snow on her little roof. She did not relish moving into the Park to be closer to the civilized world; it was not in her destiny to move into any kind of senior’s residence, either. The fates took care of that concern, although I would have shoveled her driveway forever and took care of her when the time came. It didn’t come, though. Her journey was not with that kind of finish.

This year I noticed the robins more and their activity around me. It seems there a few around who accompany me on my day. One makes its home in the eaves above my apartment window and you can hear it singing in the still early morning. One stopped for a picture on a post outside my cabin window while I was in Jasper and another hopped up to the truck for a picture while I sat in the parking lot at Miette Hot Springs. Yet another hopped closer and closer while I loaded the truck with books this past weekend.

Everyone deals with loss in different ways. Recognizing the little things we used to talk about and remembering the things she loved is how I am able to move forward. Writing these words helps, too – as I am able now to express them from my heart without pain tearing into them before I even have a chance to put them to the page. The test would be to read them out loud – although I am sure I could attempt it, one never knows how one’s emotions are going to interfere at any given time. The wound is deep and will never going to go away, but it is healed over, protected from outside exposure.

*****

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.” ~ Langston Hughes

 

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Challenge – Day 10 on 11 – I will catch up…

January 30-day Photography / Blog Word / Freeing the Creative Spirit Challenge

Day 10 – Childhood Memory

Typically, this is not a place I venture unless invited by something that spurs a memory. I have pleasant and memorable times stored inside to do with my childhood. But what would I take a photo of today? The thought of this challenge sparked many ideas and ‘what ifs’ throughout the day. I was on an early trek with a friend and stopped on my way home to review the prompt for the day so it would be in my mind as I drove home – perhaps, something would come up that would suit the assignment. I thought of a lot of things.

As I drove through the country, where it was quiet, I thought about coyotes. Today was the ignorant and cruel coyote hunt and I just happened to be driving in the county where this would be happening. I am not a fan of hunting – sport hunting or food hunting when unnecessary. The Alberta market produces plenty of food for us and by buying it we support the market. I understand hunting for necessity and if I were living in the back woods I may concede…. maybe…. Then again, I could be a vegetarian, too. The sport of killing off as many of anything as you can turns my stomach. I thought of coyotes and thought of my on farm experiences. Now as most of you know, I was born in Edmonton and, by rights, am a city girl with a country heart. I remembered with a smile the time I squealed at my mom to roll up the truck windows because there was a coyote in the field…. way … over… there… Needless to say, no coyote ever threatened us in an enclosed vehicle, and none came out to humor me with their picture.

I talked with my dad today, too, and the conversation involved cousins. I don’t really know my cousins and mostly hold the feeling that just because we are related, it doesn’t mean we have to be friends. The talk wasn’t about anything to do with childhood memories, specifically, but related wholly to memories as it involved the passing of my dear mother and the thoughtlessness of sharing information among st family members. Again, it was something that just happened – how was I to take a picture of that?

As a family, we don’t have a childhood home that I could drive by. I don’t have a doll or teddy bear or other memorabilia that I packed around with me all these years. In fact, most memories just stay in the treasure trove safe and sound. It was coming down to a find “another archive” moment, or “just make an excuse moment.” Then it happened.

I was making supper – spaghetti and sauce with meatballs. Ray was on his way over. I put the desired amount of pasta in the large pan to boil and tucked the rest of the package back into the cupboard. I was not diligent in replacing it flat or with the closed side to the back. As I let the package go, the spaghetti noodles started sliding out onto the counter, spread haphazardly in front of me. Despite my yelling “stop it” they continued to pour out (stupid noodles). There they were in front of me and there was my answer. I just shook my head and laughed at the absurdity.

Day 10 challenge - pick up sticks 2 Day 10 challenge - pick up sticks 1

If you never played Pick Up Sticks as a child, I believe the game is still around. If you cannot find it, just make do with some renegade pasta. The day is what you make it, despite being waylaid, delayed, off course, and late…

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January 5, 2015 – 30 day Photo / Blog Word / Freeing the Creative Spirit Challenge

January 30-day Photography / Blog Word / Freeing the Creative Spirit Challenge

Day 5>> After Dark

Day 5 - 30 day challenge After Dark

The darkness can be your friend where you can hide from the bright lights that act as spotlights upon your every day move. Is the darkness a mask that conceals the truth? Our minds never turn off the memories. After dark, when other things around us slow down, recollections can be much brighter in our minds.

SONNET 43

“When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed.
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so!
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay!
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me. ”

~William Shakespeare

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Remember, Remember

November… is all about the “remember.” It’s about remembering it’s still fall although winter sometimes imposes its icy cold hand over our land and our windshields. It’s a nice rhyme for those given to poetic urges when golden mantle is now carpet and barren branches reach toward a still blue Alberta sky. It’s about remembering to tune up and retread and retire… all those things that you might not have gotten to by the end of October. While the weather holds you batten down the hatches and stack the wood in preparation for what’s inevitably next…

Yes, there is the infamous “Remember, remember the 5th of November… of gunpowder, treason, and plot…” Guido Fawkes’ notoriety is forever in our history with his attachment to the foiled Gunpowder Plot of blowing up British parliament and all who were in attendance. Who knows what effect the successful completion of such a plan would have had on the day, let alone what might have transpired and what effects might have filtered down through history.

We have also always honored Remembrance Day on November 11th “…lest we forget.” To celebrate those with eternal gratefulness for their service to our country, to protect and defend us, most often with the biggest sacrifice one can offer – their lives. A day in honor is the least we can do. I do not remember it having to ever be a holiday, though, while growing up. I recall school tributes and moments of silence on the 11th hour, the 11th day, the 11th month while in the classroom. Now, as an employee, we receive the day off as a statutory holiday – not sure when it was instigated, but it is something we all just accept now, as the norm.

My own remembrance in November includes the passing of my mother in 2012 and I’ve stated several places… time has its way of moving on, yet all wounds do not heal completely. I will always pay tribute to this day, November 3rd, as I move forward to celebrate my own life in memory of hers.

And, of course, last but not the very least, considering my desire to write in any fashion – National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo, to those in the know… I remember with overwhelming contentment my connection to words and writing and the craziness that transpires as we heap the attempt upon our already full plates. I remember my love for this obsession and I remember my decision to narrow my focus to be a writer, become a published author, and help others by being a publisher.

Remember, remember…

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”

~ William Shakespeare

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Chasing Wild Dreams

It is 10:57 pm on the evening of March 11th and it is +7 degrees. The window is open and a gentle March lamb breeze bleats through the screen, shuffling the shell chimes as it passes through – a shy melodic ripple that stirs my sense of freedom and imagination with its soft, beautiful sound. As I finish my posts for the night, I last perused the many pages of wild horse pictures. I scrolled, amazed and awestruck, through the slide show from a photographer recently at the William’s Creek capture point. The corral is to be taken down; this season’s cull now over. I read that only 15 horses were captured and that, to me and many through the province, is 15 too many. Why they are not protected is beyond me… see the pictures, look into their eyes, feel their essence, and then tell me you don’t sense their magnificence and harbor a rising need to protect and respect that spirit.

It’s now 11:32 pm and +6 degrees… cooling off over night but there are warm temperatures in store for Alberta – we wait the spring with bated breath, tired of the too long, too cold, too much winter. It is no more or no worse than any other but we were teased in January and need this to be done so we can move on. Other things are soon to be done, too – to move on and close this chapter; however, remembering forever the story upon its pages. It is a bittersweet week as things come to completion in some respects, and remain forever incomplete in others. It brings me to the closure of exposure yet the openness of vulnerability as my heartaches, my body aches, and my mind tries in vain to justify the extremes. I feel accomplishment yet know there is so much more ahead to be done.

While chapters close, like in writing my novels, I am thinking ahead to what is to come, what is yet to happen, and what purpose drives my character to those ends. I read many quotes and wisdoms posted each day in an effort to inspire change, encourage improvement, create thought, etc. Today, the following quote resonated with me:

“Once a year go someplace you’ve never been before.” 

                                                                                           ~ Dalai Lama

I am in the planning stages of a personal trip that will see me go to the wild horses of our province. I am hoping only to take pictures and experience their freedom first hand. I want to look into their eyes, hear the wind as it whips through their mane, watch as they graze upon Alberta’s foothill grasses. I do not want to disturb them as that would go against all my beliefs, all my respect for their need to just… be… To be close enough to feel them with my very soul shall be complete.

It is 11:52 on March the 11th and it is still +6 degrees… as I turn in for the night and look forward to another day, I am thankful for the things in my life, the people who make it worth living, and the passion I hold in my heart for writing, horses, and freeing the creative spirit. 

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The Year of the Horse

aragorn on brego

No matter where your journey takes you, be true to your own spirit (Photo: LOTR)

On this first day of the new year, there is much to celebrate, much to be thankful for, and a tremendous journey ahead of which to partake. The celebration (if not overdosed in the literal sense on the eve of such a momentous occasion) should be in our hearts as we welcome this new beginning. Sure, there will be things we cannot control and events that will not be of our choosing, but as Garth Brooks sings, “…I could have missed the pain, but I’d have had to miss the dance.” Simple… pay no mind, just dance, and together we can navigate the hardships, hold close the friendships, and master the sails of our life as we steer through waters, stormy or calm.

Big ocean - little boat. (Photo Gary Iverson)

Big ocean – little boat. (Photo: Gary Iverson)

As you look back, give thanks for all that you have and all that you hold near – not material things – but the things you cannot measure in the physical sense, the people who are dear to you and play a part in your life’s journey as we play, or have played, a part in theirs – a reason, a season, a lifetime. Some lifetimes, we know, are all too short and the loss may burden us as we move forward. There is comfort in the fact that those who leave are never truly gone as we bring them with us – always – as part of our journey, they become a part of our history.

The journey lies beyond the horizon (Photo: Linda J. Pedley)

We must be thankful for our skills, our passions, our abilities. Appreciate the present – the gift is this new day. Treasure it and go on. Never forget where you came from – covet that in your heart and in your memories. The future is yours to take – make your own way, take your own road, be your own person, find happiness along the way… it is your journey, your story, your legacy.

I was not born in the year of the horse, but I am inspired by it. In fact, my year is not compatible with those born in the year of the horse. Regardless, I feel the spirit of the horse within as I embrace freedom, my own way, and the call of the wild, for the most part. My daughter would argue I have lost my sense of adventure and fear the things I cannot prevent. It is true I have grown cautious – in the physical sense… however, not in my mind, imagination, or dreams. They are bold. They are, at times, brazen. They are even brave when we consider all things. As I look forward to this new year, while trying to keep a focus on the present and a handle on the past, I know I follow my heart when I write. Look for more words in 2014 – I am, therefore, I write.

2014 happy new year banner

 

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Things that make me smile…

Things that make me smile 1

2 things

Things that make me smile 3

Things that make me smile 4

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