Christmas Memories

My Mom

She was a very hard worker. Her children had to look presentable and her house needed to sparkle. During the Christmas holidays, she took pride in her sparkling floors. She was on her hands and knees applying floor wax everywhere.

My job was to operate the electric polisher. I loved that task. The machine was kind of a green colour and had two soft buffers. When you turned it on, the buffers spun and spun. Very satisfying.

The Baking

My mom baked a lot of bars and cookies. The ones I remember most are Nanaimo Bars and Jam Thumbprint cookies. My sister and I decided that we were the  taste testers, and much to my mom’s horror, we would gladly and sometimes sneakily chomp down raw cookie dough. Oh yes, we did.

The Turkey

Our Christmas turkey was huge, often over twenty-five pounds. Mom would get up around four in the morning in order to have it ready in time for dinner. Who does that now?

My Dad and Grandfather

My Dad was in charge of cutting the turkey with an electric knife (with a cord). All very trendy. Grandpa was in charge of the photo opportunity. He had a camera on a tripod, and then he would dash to his place in order to join the rest of the family. Unfortunately, it rarely worked. We were starving.

And for some unknown reason, I was always wearing a party dress with a very scratchy collar. I couldn’t wait to get out of that outfit. All the family was dressed up. Even my little brother wore a vest and walking shorts. All very British.

The Decor

A precious Santa and Reindeer were displayed on the fireplace mantel. I remember an unusual tiny center-piece for the table. When the skinny candles were lit, it made little angels float in a circle.

We always had Christmas crackers, wore the hats and read the jokes. When I was little, I was scared of the loud snaps. One year, our young boxer pup named Burma (just a hint of where my Dad was in World War 2) knocked over the Christmas tree about three times. What a mess!

Christmas Morning

Dad went downstairs and put on all of the lights. We had to walk down in order of birth. Me first. My Dad was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he thrived on organization and routines.

We were indulged. Every Christmas, each child received something very special. One year, I almost fell over because I received my cherished ballet doll. All of the limbs moved. My brother was in love with his large Tonka truck. And for a number of years, my sister received something that would go towards eventually horse ownership. A bridle one year, stirrups the next etc.

When I reflect on this time period, it is all very Norman Rockwell. We were safe and blessed and loved. Thank you Mom and Dad. I cherish the memories.

 

 

The Magic of Seven – Ann Mortifee

Recently I had the privilege of listening to a radio interview given by Canada’s Ann Mortifee. She’s known as a singer, composer, librettist (full disclosure – I had to look that word up – that is she is the writer of librettos).

As well, she’s an author, story teller and keynote speaker around the world. Her music blends folk, musical theatre, pop, sacred and world music.

At the end of this month, she’s presenting shows in Vancouver, B.C.  entitled The Magic of Seven –Seven Decades of Spirit in Story and Song.

She says that as she enters her seventh decade she wants to spend time doing what she loves and seeing what sticks. You have to love that goal. She noted that each of us has something to offer to the world. It’s important to step up with what you really love.

On a somber note she states: “We are the cancer on the planet. We are fouling our own nest on every level.” But music sustains her and fulfills her.

At the end of the interview, she confides – “I’m not done yet”.

Whatever decade you may be entering, these are wise words.

Thank you Ann Mortifee. She reminds us to awaken more fully to the gifts within ourselves.

 

Creating a Support Team

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure to watch Canadian Ice Dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. They are competitive skaters who are on their way to the 2018 Olympic podium. The most amazing thing is that they stepped away from the ice for two years. And they lived their lives, and did other things.

But they missed competitive skating and have returned to competition with a meticulous plan, plotted to perfection. They wanted to relive the magic and exhilaration of living in the world of the skating elite.

In order to reach for the top they hired the following: a nutritionist, a physiotherapist, a strength and conditioning coach, a mental preparation expert, an acting coach, as well as choreographers.

Wow! Wow! They suggested that they love living their lives with daily goals, weekly goals and seasonal goals.

I can see an analogy here with writing. The most successful authors I’ve met, are as focused and driven as this pair of skaters. These writers keep setting goals and have constructed a plan for their writing future. They demonstrate flexibility and are ready to commit many hours to their craft.

Now, I may not have the support staff of Virtue and Moir, but I certainly try to surround myself with experts in the field.

Who do you consider your support staff?

 

Lucky/Unlucky in Life

I’ve been pondering the whole scenario of luck. The recent  massacre in Las Vegas prompted me to think about how fortunate some people are and others are not. The sheer randomness of the incident made an impact on me. Some fans attended the concert and stayed to the end. Others did not. Some men and women were killed, others were not.

A mother and daughter were lucky and escaped. They spent some time helping others after the incident and then quickly returned home. The daughter experienced a panic attack in the airport and then once she arrived at her house, finally had the opportunity to take a shower. She discovered that she had dried blood in her hair. Not her own blood. No. The blood of murdered people. Horrifying!

Another young woman survived the horrific event and then returned to her community to discover that her house was destroyed in one of the California fires. Another blow!

Some victims returned home to their families only to discover that they were being attacked on social media.

These incidents will continue to haunt these people. They will be coping with some version of PTSD.

So, even if one survives a ghastly event, that is only the beginning. In my novel Finding Hayden, my protagonist discovers the challenges of living with a nightmare.

I hope that all those affected by the Las Vegas tragedy can find some solace with family, friends and professionals in order to move forward with their lives. Were they lucky? Were they unlucky? Time will tell.

When you have the opportunity to reflect on a particular situation in your own life, then sometimes you are able to truly understand how lucky you were.

Lucky/unlucky. Do you wish to share an incident?

Everyday Angels

  Recently I spent four days in The Royal Jublilee Hospital located in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. It was quite the roller coaster experience.

I had a planned hip surgery (a revision, as they say – meaning second time around) with a brilliant surgeon. I was organized and researched everything I could that would assist me in understanding the operation. I followed every guideline, did every test and was a model patient-in-waiting.

And yet… events unfolded in a different direction. You see. I was not in charge. It is an illusion that we are in charge.

My body was in charge. And my body didn’t like some of the interventions.  I won’t bore you with a ghastly medical journal, but I do want to share two small events.

Event One – Pre-op

I was lying on a gurney ready to enter the operating room. A cheery woman whose name tag said ‘Rachel’ was fussing around me. Now you have to know, I adore the name Rachel. That is the name of my main character in my YA series.  I was thrilled to realize that I had a Rachel close by.

Rachel was wearing one of those snug, trendy, green surgical caps. And it was decorated with a small print.

“Cute hat,” I said.

She moved closer. “Yes, it is.”

I could see that there were tiny Tinkerbelles, complete with wands, and tiny stars. I smiled.

Then she whispered to me. “Everyone could use a little magic, don’t you think?”

And with that, she moved me down the hall.

Event Number Two – Recovery Room & Onwards

There has been a lot of fussing around. It appears that my heart is not co-operating. I’m now slated for a ‘cardio-version’. The medical folks will zap my heart so that it will return to it’s regular rhythm. I’m waiting and waiting in the cardiac unit, the day after surgery for this experience. I’m starving (you’re not supposed to eat) and it’s 4:30 p.m. and I’m just plain cranky and worried. And wishing I had some excellent magazines. Notice: I’m not feeling any pain or anything.

Finally, I’m wheeled into yet another room and am prepped for the procedure. I’m staring at the ceiling wishing I could evaporate. Three cardiologists are intently studying a monitor. For quite a long time.

One of them says: “Lookee, lookee” or something like that.

Then they all turn around and look at me. “Your heart has righted itself. We don’t have to proceed.”

Ah yes! A special moment. My body is co-operating. A nurse appears and informs me that she’s phoned my ward, and a hot meal will be waiting for me upon my return. I smile weakly. Another act of kindness.

So, basically, ten days later. Here I am. In the recovery mode. Did I expect to have a fractured pelvis as well as the surgery and the heart incident? Of course not. But as I’ve discovered your journey through life will take you down unexpected paths.

I’m sending my gratitude and my love to my everyday angels, the staff at The Royal Jubilee Hospital. Four days of medical excellence. Four days of professionalism and tenderness. I would especially like to thank Nurse Gurinder and Nurse Maicala. Of course, there were others too numerous to remember during those long nights.

Words cannot convey my appreciation.

And yes Rachel, magic was there too!

 

 

 


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