Thursday, December 31, 2009


New Year's day ~ now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual! Mark Twain.

I'm feeling a great sense of calm as 2010 nears its entry into all of our lives. It's ushering itself in on the heels of what a has been a meritable past 365 days. There is so much to be thankful for, that I thought I would turn this post into a gratitude list.

1. So much blue sky and sunshine all year round. I always thought living on coastal BC was the ultimate when it came to scenery and outdoor adventure, but I must confess that this big Alberta sky has stamped itself on my heart. Never would have believed that I'd trade mountains for canola fields. It feels like the world is wide open both above me and before me. There is so much room to breathe! I'm grateful to be starting a new year with this feeling in my heart.

2. Rilke wrote in his Letters to a Young Poet to have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and books in foreign languages. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the questions. Gradually, without even noticing it, some distant day you will find yourself experiencing the answers. This year became that distant day in many regards... I've learned to live with congruence of the inside on the outside. And, because of this, there has been more balance and an authentic spirit that seeks increasingly creative expression. Many of the things that tore at my mind and heart (like God and religion) have dissipated and lost their power and influence. I am so thankful that I can live a truth that is mine ~ no need to tear down or take apart another's truth so that mine can be justified. I'm grateful for the answers that have come and also for the questions that remain. I'm grateful for both the tangible and intangible opportunities my life gives me, so that I can grow and be joyful.

3. This year I started a book club with some pretty remarkable women. I'm grateful for how humbled I feel to be a part of their lives in this way and to share books and ideas with such intelligent females. Our first book was The Book of Negroes (also published as Someone Knows My Name in the US) by Lawrence Hill. This read made me thankful for the small and simple things we take for granted in life and that to whom much is given, much should be required. In comparison, our lives are so easy and we require so little of ourselves that we should be ashamed.

4. When I go to the grocery store, I can buy anything I want there. This is a luxury that countless people the world over would trade for. I am grateful that I have been blessed with a life of abundance and prosperity (even though I think those 2 words are ridiculously over used).

5. I am grateful for the clarity and insight I have as I observe my own life ~ I am indeed the manifestor of my own destiny. I love the challenges of life, they are the exciting part! Sometimes put in the way as obstacles to showcase our skill.

6. Travel is one of my favorite things. At Easter we made a trip to Vegas (where we met up with old friends, ate exciting cuisine and shopped in decadent stores). In the summer, I went back east to visit my family (as I do every year) and then flew the coupe to Rome for a week of slow travel. Slow Traveling is by far my favorite way to experience any place, I don't need more hectic in my life, I want the time to count, to feel languid and long. I'm grateful that my life is overflowing with opportunity right now, it is so easy to make things happen. I welcome (with arms stretched open) more of this.

7. On the work front, I signed a continuing contract and got a hefty wage increase AND the mill my husband works for resolved their contract negotiations just days before Christmas!!! Such welcome news for our community. I'm thankful for being in this flow, as it makes fulfilling the life I want that much easier. This year I've had HUGE breakthroughs with my relationship and attitude toward money. Money is a tool that allows us to increase the boundaries of our lives ~ if you don't recognize this, you too might need a breakthrough! I'm grateful to be in this financial place at this time in my life.

Really, the things I am grateful for are too innumerable to write them all down. I'm living from a place of genuine thanksgiving in my heart. When you can be thankful for the difficult stuff, you're on to something. Namaste, my friends. I wish for us all great blessings in the days to come.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Life is change.

The survival of the fittest is the ageless law of nature. But the fittest are rarely the strong. The fittest are those endowed with the qualifications for adaptation, the ability to accept the inevitable and conform to the unavoidable, to harmonize with existing or changing conditions. Unknown.

In the depths of winter I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer. Albert Camus

Frost is the most sophisticated of poets. Peter Davison
If your everyday life seems poor; don't blame it, blame yourself; admit to yourself that you are not enough of a poet to call forth its riches; because for the creator there is no poverty and no indifferent place.
Rainer Maria Rilke

PS ~ I took these photos while enjoying a vigorous winter walk, exploring the many trails in Stony Plain, Alberta.

Friday, December 18, 2009


Some days it is difficult to reconcile all that I want from life. Today is just such a day. Don't take my reverie for discontent ~ there is no such thing as discontent, there is only what you have chosen and how you desire to make your way in the world.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Extraordinary and Eternal

The thing that made me fall madly in love with Rilke in the first place was this:

Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively by constantly greater beings.
And also:
What we choose to fight is so tiny! What fights us is so great! If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names. When we win it's with small things,
and the triumph itself makes us small. What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us.


It is natural to go through life experiencing peaks and troughs. In fact, it is the natural order of the world. We ebb and flow. Ebb and flow. Always somewhere in the continum of flux. It is how we grow, the way we move in this ocean of the living.


And I think that Rilke is all about how to move in the flux. Winning does not temp the man. If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm. Perhaps what we are all in need of is a great trouncing! By something so extraordinary and eternal that we would forever be marked and changed by the experience. Thrown to and fro until we learn to cling and at the same time let go. Be taken right to the edge, so that in the face of every ounce of fear that has ever considered living inside of us... we could stand with a bold and courageous heart against the small things that make us small.

The Best Gift EVER!

Last night while watching some tv, I randomly decided to check my work email. This is what was awaiting me in my inbox...

Hi , Mrs.Beal

I just wanted to write to you and tell you how much I like you and how much stuff I love to do with you just make the fun games and activity and it is nice to be in grade three with and to be in you class your just so much fun you rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mrs.Beal

(Student Name)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Merry Christmas to me! That is what I have to say about this little note! Life is full of such delicious sweetness. And yes, it made me cry.

Monday, December 14, 2009


So far, in this life, I've encountered some remarkable people. A few I've seemingly know forever and others have passed in and out. The best, are the ones that never leave me. Their spirit hangs around and continues to influence my ideas and outlook, all the while they have no inkling! Makes me wonder if I have ever been that to another? I suppose we are all that to someone but there are those individuals that are unforgettable, and even when they're gone, they're not.

This past summer I reconnected with a person that had been pretty remarkable to me, once upon a time. And, I doubt they ever knew the influence their life, though on a different and parallel course, had on mine. But I always had an awareness of their circle of influence. Perhaps in part, it is the way that such people help you to see yourself that makes them appear so damn exceptional.

For me at that time, I was just a girl. I had no idea how to be the person life was calling forth, yet. Oh there were lots of ideas forming and feelings seemed to rule my world ~ but I was still a longing, even to myself. There are no regrets on my part because I did the best with what I had at the time. So I have come to accept that I was enough, even though I spent years wondering. It was enough. It is always enough, every time, regardless of the circumstance. Loving who we are calls into acceptance those bits that are difficult to look at in the mirror. To see them as beautiful when we'd prefer to give them other names.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

There are so many possibilities in the world. And today I am feeling a little overwhelmed by them. It has to be the weather. Too many restless days inside, the tick-tock clock has slowed to a less frenzied race that marks our days and hours. Makes me crave other things. Question what is right in front of me. And so I wonder and wonder and dream of wandering and wandering.

Perhaps that is why I cannot get enough of Rilke these days.

You Who Never Arrived

You who never arrived  in my arms, 
Beloved, who were lost
from the start,  I don't even know what songs  
would please you. I have given up trying  
to recognize you in the surging wave of  
the next moment. All the immense  
images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt landscape,  
cities, towers, and bridges, and un- suspected turns in the path,  
and those powerful lands that were once  
pulsing with the life of the gods-- 
all rise within me to mean  you, who forever elude me.   

You, Beloved, who are all  
the gardens I have ever gazed at, 
longing. An open window  
in a country house-- , and you almost  
stepped out, pensive, to meet me. 
Streets that I chanced upon,--  
you had just walked down them and vanished.  
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors  
were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back 
 my too-sudden image. Who knows? Perhaps the same  
bird echoed through both of us  
yesterday, separate, in the evening... 
Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

My Man Rilke and an Energy Drink

Ok. So I'm not pro the energy drinks even though I feel as if I've shotgunned a couple! It has been a most amazing day! Wrought with a myriad of dramas, but trumping them all... my sister brought a beautiful new baby girl into the world today at about 4pm mountain time. This has been a very special pregnancy that I have been a sharer in since the moment those two blue lines appeared on the stick. :) Also, I've had to keep the news of a "girl" under wraps, as baby daddy wanted a surprise.

The rawness of my emotions caught me a little off guard. I could hear Sadie cooing in the background and Andrea's voice sounded like she'd just come from a hockey game where her team won but only because she single-handedly screamed them to victory! Our new girl is named after my great-grandmother, Sarah Adelaide and shall be Sadie for short. I love it, Sadie seems like a perfect blending of then and now, our past ~ her future.

And thinking of the past, my grandmother, Zona was very near in spirit to me today. I couldn't stop thinking about her. I meant to ask Andrea if she had felt it too, or if it was just me. Regardless, my memories of her very feisty self kept me company and gave me comfort. Up until this year when I started tracing my family tree, I'd never really considered what it means to not know where you come from. I'm happy that in this life I've not had that burden ~ of not knowing who your family is, where your roots grow deep in the soil. Mine grow down and under the Miramichi river in too many places to count. It is a joyful knowing on a cold winters day. Even when I'm far from home.

(Thankfully this blogging is starting to level off the energizer bunny effect!)

And last but not least my beloved Rilke. I'm drawn in. I can't help it. I've learn so much from him, from the words he left behind. That I have found those words and made them part of the fabric of this life brings me immense joy. And joy is deeper and different than happiness, it is not temporal, does not evaporate through the rough spots and holds its own when the world has on rose colored glasses.

“...perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.” Rainer Maria Rilke

I've been privileged today to hold my own family tight and share their love. I hope you've been blessed to do the same. Namaste.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


Last weekend, I wrote a blog entry that I titled LIFE. Because I used a certain company name in the initial draft, it apparently got picked up by interested persons in Vancouver (or so I have been indirectly told). These words that I put out into the world, made quite a splash in our little community ~ which at the moment is under a lot of stress.

Not that these things ever come at a good time but this week has been even busier than most. Tuesday was a 12 hour work day (not complaining, we had Christmas Family Fun Night which was worth every minute). On top of this, my sister has been bursting at the baby seams for several days and on Wednesday, our family welcomed a baby girl! Last night we enjoyed a festive Christmas party and some time with friends. Between all of this, reaction has been filtering.

But this morning I woke with blogging on my mind and feeling unresolved about this post. My little blog here has been from its inception, how I make sense of my world. Somedays this world is big ~ it reaches to the Roman Empire and back again. Other days, it hits much closer to home and reflects an everyday ordinary life. If you read my blog with any regularity, you already know that I love the written word and I find deep satisfaction in putting words together.

I am told that the biggest objection to this post is in regard to remarks about education. It has hit a collective nerve. I am very aware that there are many well educated, well trained people who work in a mill. Electricians, mechanics and mill-wrights to name a few (but not limited to).

I am a teacher ~ education has influenced the entire course of my life. Beyond a shadow of a doubt I believe in education, in becoming educated (both formally and informally) about anything and everything that affects who we are and what we do. In democratic societies, education is the primary way we go about improving our lot in life. Although having an education does not makes you more or less intelligent than another ~ that factor is mostly influenced by your genetics ~ it does change your opportunities in the world.

Other people's words and opinions are important, even when they don't align with your personal values. We are blessed to live in a democratic society, where we have such freedom to express the many shades of grey through which we each see the world. Although this post was NEVER intended for public consumption, I do not wish to see it kept from the public. It is natural for readers to bring their own experience to whatever they read (or write) ~ influenced by their joys and their fears. These particular words were written out of frustration for the way I believe our lives are all about to change ~ and believe me, I hope that I am completely off the mark in how I think the next year is going to affect us all.

Yesterday, some of my staffer friends received their layoff notices. And so it has begun. My heart is wounded. And not just for staff, but for all families that will be affected. There are moments when my sadness over all of this is so profound that I ache in my belly. But I am by nature optimistic, and it is through the rough times that we grow. We shall all survive regardless of which side of this proverbial fence we find ourselves on. Perhaps we will all come to more clearly understand the things in life that truly matter.


I came into work today, with a plan of getting a few things taken care of before the week is underway. But instead, I find myself incredibly frustrated and unable to shake it. Verging on the downright pissed off.


As much as I’d like to blame it on the time of year and lack of day-light, it is more than just that. In the last couple of weeks, recession has full out hit our little town. The local mill is shutting down. Indefinitely. And it is so unnecessary.


Here, because we are so far north and live in a boreal forest, logging happens during the winter months. Wood is accessible by ice-road only and from November until March (about 14 weeks in total) enough wood is cut and hauled to keep this mill (the largest in Alberta) going for the entire year. Market conditions for lumber are dismal. In fact, lumber prices have fallen this year to a 50 year low, and that’s not adjusting numbers for 50 years of inflation! So basically, holy shit for anyone in this industry.


The silver lining was that the company was willing to pump $35 million into the local economy, despite the markets. But, they needed a new contract negotiated and signed by the local union prior to December 1. You’ve probably guessed it… that didn’t happen. In fact, the union rejected the offer by 91%.


For those of you reading who happen to be staunch union supporters, I know what you’re thinking. The company is taking this opportunity of poor market conditions to stick it to the little man! It might even cross your mind “good for them, solidarity!” And that is exactly what the union was thinking too, at the beginning anyway.


The quick and dirty of the negotiations is that the company declared they needed a 12% wage reduction with a clause that wages would increase based on improving market conditions. They were not willing to negotiate on this point, it was put forth as a final offer ~ take it or leave it. I get that nobody likes to take a wage decrease. And, who doesn’t hate an ultimatum. I also get solidarity forever, I am after all a union member myself, and I do believe there are things worth standing up for, things that matter in the work place.


My frustration here is for the collateral damage that is inevitable. Two years ago, another mill in the area closed down, at the time the impact was minimal as most workers got absorbed into the local economy, some at this mill (or secondary mill jobs) and a lot with (what was) a booming oil and gas industry. As of right now, oil and gas activity is reported to be only 10% of what it was 3 years ago! Our town is hurting, and this is before any announcements from the union. Currently, every street is littered with “for sale” signs. I can’t even let myself imagine how bad it could get come March/April.


Most of my own personal social network is connected to the mill through non-union staff positions. During the time we have lived here, we’ve know that the majority of union employees make equivalent or more per year than staffers. The difference is that all staffers are university and or technical school graduates. A big chunk of the union membership have never completed grade 12.


Depending on your position and years of seniority at the mill, your yearly wage could range between $50 to $100 K per year. I can’t help but feel that the lack of the membership’s education is directly responsible for the NO vote. Many are still convinced that this is a ploy on the company’s behalf to cut wages. I happen to know that this company has lost in excess of $70 million over the last 5 years. The fact that they are willing to invest once again, blows my mind.


The choice to say NO, is in effect the choice to say YES to the following:

1. To live on unemployment benefits for the next year at a bi-weekly salary of $750. It boggles my mind that these people are unwilling to take a 12% cut when the alternative is to live on 1/3 of their existing salary (based on the lowest paying job, make that 1/6 if you’re at the upper end ).

2. To give up all existing benefits.

3. To accept that once the company closes its doors they could stay closed for a long time. After 2 years without a negotiated contract, the union dissolves.

4. To never be able to sell your house or to sell it at a drastically reduced rate over the next 1 to 4 years.

5. To knowingly devastate the local economy.

6. To unnecessarily put your family through extreme stress and uncertainty.


Take a good long look at the global economy. These are not glory days. So many are hanging by an unraveling thread. Perspective is needed. Egos must be set aside. Just a few short years ago, Alberta was booming so loud the whole world was taking notice. That is not the case today. Those members with less than a grade 12 certificate, will have such difficulty trying to get work anywhere else ~ because no one else is hiring! So you’ll be stuck here, in a house that won’t sell trying to live on $750 every two weeks! And that good news only lasts for a year. Then what?

Friday, December 04, 2009

Rome Re~Visited

I'm at home today, enjoying a rare day off. I had a medical appointment first thing and decided to celebrate a me day for the remainder. The weather is blustery outside (only -3C but blowing unpleasantly) and I am more than content to be wrapped up in this blanket, taking a mini break from the world.

This week I had a dream about Rome. The first time I have dreamt about it since returning in August. In my dream I was trying to give directions to a faceless person driving me to my grandpa's house, which ended up being (in the dream) on a curvy Roman street in a row of stone buildings close to the Forum ruins. It wasn't until I woke the following morning that I put it all together.

Which reminded me (upon waking) of the actual driver who ushered us in a sleek black Mercedes from our hotel to the airport. I couldn't stop smiling the entire ride, my primary thoughts being that anyone who could drive like that must be exceptionally good in bed. He certainly gave off the vibe that he might have expertise!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Days that Change You

Are you able to recall a particular day when your life changed? Was it a thought from within that made it happen or something external? Do you believe it is possible that your life can be changed by a single thought, and from the point of thinking that thought, everything can/is different?

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I recalled vividly a day 4 years ago. I was 33. We were living in Halifax. I was standing at the kitchen sink looking out into the back yard. I never enjoyed living in Halifax, not sure why, it just seemed as though it was the wrong time/wrong place for me. I could never find my groove, never made good friends and was bitter about the whole thing. It felt like I was withering in a wasteland of my own undoing.

And then in an instant this...
women over 40 do fabulous things with their lives, it is not too late.
The idea that 40 could be the beginning and 33 not the end, had an impact. It was a turning point that filled me such hope and openness for the future. It helped me to forgive myself for all the screw-ups, wrong turns and wasted days up until that day. Since, I have surely and steadily been rebuilding. It is amazing that half a second, overlooking the backyard can change your destiny, but it can.

As of today, I am 2 years 5 months away from 4 decades of living. I marvel at what I've accomplished since that day. I'm a renewed person, pursuing a life I'm proud of. Remarkably, I've stopped asking why and replaced it with how do I get better, go further, be more of who I'm meant to be?

So I guess, Halifax and all those prior screw-ups had their place. There really are no mistakes, just an abundance of opportunities to learn and change!

What is your moment of change? Have you had it yet or are you in need?