Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

Travelling is always an interesting experience.  No matter how many times we go to the same place no two experiences will be the same.  I remarked to a friend the other day that I have been travelling since 1949 when I took my first flight carried  in my mother’s arms.  Of course I don’t remember it at all but to be sure,  the journey changed the course of my life and I have loved travelling ever since then.

Just this past two weeks I travelled to the place I left that July of 1949.  I have returned  numerous times since then using  my favourite love-hate flyer, Air Canada.  Summer is a delightful time to travel but not in the middle of a heat wave to a tropical country.  Talk about sweltering!  Every living salt in my tissues was lost to the flood of water which left my body in waves.  But, why not swelter on a beach in the Caribbean rather than my front verandah which only overlooks numerous other concrete structures in the community where I live.  To see trees laden with Mangoes, flowers blooming all over, and few pesky mosquitos was lovely.

The best part of the travel was a short stint at the Jamaica Inn.  To be honest, the place had, I thought, some unique history with Hollywood but the movie of the same name was based on a book by Daphne duMaurier,  (who I love and admire with all my heart) about a pub in Cornwall.  The resort did have some unique characteristics however.  The ownership has been continuous since the 50’s and the setting has an old world elegance not seen by me for years.  All inclusive hotels are wonderful but for those wanting a relaxing, leisurely vacation without all the mod cons of our fast paced life, this is the place to be.  I was enchanted.

So to follow on from previous complaints about my favourite airline, I have to say that this time they were blameless in the excitement of this flight.  Take off from Jamaica was flawless.  The flight was almost without any turbulence.  We circled lake Ontario in preparation for landing and….we circled again and again until the captain’s resigned voice blared from the speakers.  There was a massive storm over the airport and we couldn’t land.  Circle became the word of the hour.  Running out of gas, we had to make our way to Hamilton Ontario to land.  Hamilton?  Did they have enough space for not one but two or three or more planes all running out of gas.  Apparently they did.  The ground staff looked important as they tried to meet the needs the influx of planes suddenly descending on their small airport.  I had a fleeting thought of how horrible it must have been for some of those small airports to cope during the 911 disaster.  That wasn’t the case here but certainly there would be no deplaning.  Another bag of cashews, some texts and a few phone calls helped the hour to pass.

Ok, we can drive from Hamilton to Toronto in 40 minutes or less.  Are we really going to take off and land in what would amount to a rabbit hop?  After an hour lay over we really did the leap over the storm which was making its way south and west.  The short flight from Hamilton to Toronto was accomplished easily and the pilot landed the craft as smooth as ever on the other side.  Looking down from the window at the blackness of the storm cloud circling below the level of the plane was interesting.  That we could rise above it was the point of the bunny hop I guess.

No point going into details about the chaos at the airport.  Apparently there was a ‘code red’, whatever that means.    What I saw was that planes hanging in the air and planes diverted from Toronto were returning in droves.  The full import of the massive diversion was understood as I waited 20 minutes for a dock to deplane, over an hour for luggage, 45 minutes for a bite to eat at the single Tim Horton’s that was open, and then another 40 minutes for a taxi.  Six hours after the time I should have landed,  I was finally pulling my sorry and tired butt into the house.

None the less, thanks be for the care and control which ensured that no injuries occurred to either humans or planes.  Now we are in the middle of a weather chill.  As I put on my sweater to step outside today, the sweltering beach seems mighty welcome.

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Quite a few years ago, I was travelling from California to Ontario by car. The drive, as always, was spectacular. I didn’t do too much driving. My best friend loved being behind the wheel of the car. She could drive for hours without taking a break. I just relaxed, enjoyed the scenery, and kept her awake when I had to.  I also did something new on that trip. I read a book and kept a diary. We were never short of conversation but she had experienced a life changing event and needed to think.  I respected that and kept quiet.

Now when I look back ten years later, I am shocked by the change in me over the years, some of it motivated by the book, and some by re-reading the diary I kept.
The book I read was called Spiritual Mentoring. In it, I found a passage which left me breathless. I loved the book so much that I bought copies for all my close friends.
Recently, this book came into my sight again. This is a standard way of triggering memories.

Originally, I bought the book before I went back to school to get a divinity degree. It was long before I started actively pursuing the type of Ministry which filled my dreams and long before my best friend passed away.
Today, more than ten years later, I stand at a crossroads of past, present and future. Maybe I have 15 or 20 or 30 years left to live. Who knows? Probably shouldn’t care either. Each day we stand at that crossroads and contemplate what life will hold. Some look far into the future. Others lament the past. I have learned to look at today.
Today I realize that Spiritual Mentoring is the culmination of the past hopes and dreams meeting the reality of today.
So on this day, really the last day or two of innocence, before JFK was killed and the world changed for the boomer generation, no matter where we lived, today is the day to sit at the crossroads and take the future signpost, write on it what I expect that future to be, and then follow my path.

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When I decided to restart the Healing/Meditation Services of Hestia’s Hearth, it was a big step and a big commitment. I really wanted to just sit back and take life easy but found out quickly that my life didn’t work under that premise. Being busy is what mattered.

In the planning, it was important to create a environment in which all participants could find their own way using music as a backdrop to the journey. Choosing an opening song was challenging, but Dan Fogelberg was an amazing song-writer/singer who had a deep and abiding soul. He created some of the most engaging tunes I have ever heard. I met him on the radio one night several years ago singing River of Souls. It was one of those terrible times when a song ends and the DJ does not say who was singing. I had to call the radio station, repeat some of the lines which I could recall and the time I heard the song played before I got the title. I have loved Dan ever since.

When I was preparing the music for the meditation, I listened to the album for inspiration, hearing for the first time, in probably 10 years, the first song, ‘There’s a Magic Every Moment. Sometimes you know immediately that the song fits the bill. During my recent travel to ‘Hollywood’ for ‘judithwould’, I heard that song play over and over in my head. I know that it was admonishing me to pay attention to who I met and what I saw during the short trip. That, Is the magic of music! There were so many miracles of love and support and friendship during my short stay that I have to write about them one by one but I was also able to experience them in the moment by being aware. It’s a lovely feeling.

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I don’t know about anyone else but I have always thought about the 15 minutes of fame.  How would that happen?  I definitely wanted that 15 minutes.  Would I be a character in a movie?  How about a part on TV or even my own show?  Write a book? Deliver the keynote address at a large function?  Take a walk and have everyone pass me and say hi because they know me?

All of those things happened.  Sure I was almost famous but the excitement which I thought would come with any one of the above activities was nothing compared to the excitement I felt at having a coffee name after me.

My local coffee bistro was a godsend when I moved away from the fast paced city of Toronto.  I was such a faithful customer to certain coffee shops that I never actually had to order.  My morning Starbucks Vente Latte, 140* with extra foam was started  as soon as I stepped off the streetcar across the road from the coffee shop.  By the time I got to cash, it was done and waiting for me.  Great service!

My evening latte was made by a young man who made the perfect 142* extra foamy at Second cup in Dufferin Mall.  Yum….

When I needed to reduce my milk intake, the owner/manager, at the on-site  Second cup located in my hospital,  helped  me decided on the big switch to the Americano.   I learned that it was a drink made originally  for Americans in Italy.  Don’t quote me here but I think that Americans couldn’t handle the taste of the espresso.  Water was added to the single or double shots to tone it down.  I admit that I never liked the  short  espresso straight but I love it now if it has two shots dumped in hot water with a little half and half cream added.  Not too much caffeine and good taste.  It turned out to be the perfect drink for me.  I only had one problem.  I needed kick-ass taste and punted caffeine. 

 I can tell you that moving to a small town which didn’t seem to have a coffee shop open 16 hours a day was almost frightening.  Where would I get my coffee?  I bought several machines.  I even thought of going back to my original loves, Kenya or Caramelo coffee. The machines were only meant to be a stop gap until I could scout out an espresso bar.  Found it!   

Over the next four years, with the help of the owner-barista, we worked out a great espresso taste once I got used the difference  in beans.  Where the beans are bought and roasted makes a huge difference in taste. Groundswell has a terrific roaster.

Now, instead of running the water through short, it is run through long, extra long, so long that I don’t even need to add water to a large cup.  Voila, it is the perfect coffee for me and apparently others.  My barista informed me this week that someone called in and ordered a ‘judith’.  I felt an excitement akin to the day when a client called me the ‘breast whisperer’ for my work with breastfeeding mothers.  I knew that delightful lady and her little baby.  I took her words as a compliment to my work as a lactation consultant. 

 The lady who ordered the espresso has never met me.  Now I feel ‘almost famous’.

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Getting back to basics

It is amazing how we allow important gifts of nature to lose ground in our lives. Recent events in my life have brought me back to the simple and curative properties of herbs.
What I learned, quite a few years ago, was the incredible properties of herbs available in so many different format. Just eating small meals frequently, juicing fresh veggies and fruits, using herbal teas and living well can make such a difference in your life, as it did in mine.

I suppose the easy way out- for example, take a pill and sleep when you have insomnia- makes sense in the moment but truthfully, covering up on-going issues with a short term solution just creates and perpetuates a chronic problem.

I am all for melding modern and ancient remedies when they work synergistically. Caring for our body’s day to day health is worth it.  Take a little time to see how adding a few simple herbal products to your daily routine will help.  Use the services of a trained practitioner if you are unsure.
Sometimes the miracle is found directly from the earth!

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A little while ago, I wrote about signs and omens and the need to pay attention to simultaneous or concurrent events in your life.
So I am trapped at the moment in two events which have meaning but the message is not clear.
Two friends recently travelled to Africa. They did not go together and don’t know each other at all. They went to different places for different reasons. Both returned with a cloth gift for me. I was surprised and pleased by both.
One was a cloth purse made in Kenya. It had a simple shoulder strap, was big enough to hold a couple of books, could be closed with a zippered edge. As a purse lover, really I have lots  of bags and costly ones too and yet I adore the simple function of the gift from Kenya.
My other cloth gift was a Masai Shula in a red and blue plaid. It doesn’t have the same look as a tartan but the colours are similar to the MacGregor Clan which is featured in my new book. The second friend travelled to Tanzania on a humanitarian effort. Why she thought to bring something back for me, I don’t know but I was surprised and pleased to have a gift from the continent of some of my ancestors.
So what does it mean to have a simple purse and a simple piece of material to wrap my body? Don’t know. but if anyone out there has an idea…..?

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I am home now and really happy to be back in my own surroundings, although the cold and snow leaves a lot to be desired.  It could be worse.  The weather is actually better than when we left.  It is Christmas eve but there is enough snow to get Santa across the world.  I have asked old St. Nick to give this house a pass if someone more needy can get a bit extra.  I will give him a helping hand today.

When I left Jamaica yesterday, the young man who checked me in was the same one who had been responsible for helping passengers to complete and process their missing luggage form.  He smiled in recognition as I approached the check in counter.  I thanked him again for being so polite and respectful on the day we arrived.  Just as he did then, the booking-in details were done quickly and efficiently.  I would not have expected less.  My original seat was moved to allow me to have a row all to myself as the aircraft wasn’t full.  That was a bonus courtesy of the young man.  I slept for 2/3’s of the flight, undisturbed.   

Before we took off, and I don’t know if this is by design,  I was seated over the hatch door which takes in luggage.  Through my window, I could clearly see both of my two cases being loaded.  The sight of them was reassuring.  How often does that happen?

 It wasn’t busy in Toronto when we arrived.  I got through customs and immigration quickly.  I made my way to the carousel to collect my luggage.  It hadn’t come up yet.  We were that quick.  Of the first four bags to come out of the shoot, both of mine were included.  Divine intervention or help on the ground?  I don’t know.  For me at least, alls well that ends well.

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I don’t know if I am like other people. I would hope so, but sometimes I wonder. I like driving. For me, it is a stress reducing exercise. It’s like being in a bubble, a world of my own where I can think, sing, listen to music, or plan. A whole idea, which germinated in the morning can transform into something different once it has passed the filters of a long drive.
I already knew that most of my stories and blogs are formulated while driving on those long winding lanes of Southern Ontario, but now that I have suspended active writing while learning to play the guitar, I am acutely aware that my life needs transforming. It came to me through this series of posts about leaves and aging, and signs and omens. This is a big time of year for me as an individual. Using the word transformation is significant.
I know that astrologers and astronomers have delisted the Planet Pluto.  However, there are still some of us who love its energy because we believe in its transformative nature.  It is for me, as David Hawkins writes, the struggle between power vs force and which one will determine my future behaviour.  In the past few weeks, Pluto has gone from its retrograde state to moving forward.  For those of us spellbound by its energy, the release has opened up several doors in which thought and process become active.  This past week I have seen and heard the word Transformation many times.  In keeping with the idea of paying attention to signs and omens, I picked up my Tarot of Transformation, surely the work of a Pluto afficiando.  I will layout a few cards of this beautiful deck and see what they tell me.
It is time for change. I see it in the leaves, as well as the events and cycles shifting before my eyes.   The filter of driving confirms this shift.  I have seen something new on the horizon and need to move towards it.

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I have never been one to take drugs. Hate what they do to me. I am not, however, against its appropriate use for others who need it. I have worked with women for years and seen the long and short term effects of abuse and mental health problems on thier lives. Clearly the safest and speediest choice is MD moderated medication. I am too chicken. Maybe I just didn’t need it but I could have been wrong.
I tried to drown my sorrows by drinking lots of water. It helped. I wasn’t thirsty anymore but I was still sad. I tried to write myself out of depression. That helped but then I became antisocial. Writing takes a lot of time away from human interaction. What to do?
I did my research to find people who were happy. What did they do?  The most pleasure seemed to manifest when people were eating and not just eating regular food. The most blissful personae seemed to be those who were devouring chocolate.  That had also been off my agenda.  I couldn’t let  go of the vision of devouring a delightful piece of chocolate.  There must be just the right chocolate for me.
In my research, I finally  found a product which fit the bill. I needed something round, to give the appearance of taking a pill….(psychological uplift).   I wanted something dark….(more cocoa – intense response).   I needed a  little treat at the centre….().  I thank the kind person who introduced me to the best resource.  My supplier even had an address close to home.
Ever tried those Lindt balls? Lovely. I will now take one or two, depending on the level of distress per day. To avoid taking an overdose, i asked my husband to dispense them daily.
Ahhhhhh! Definitely the better option for me.

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Grief and Loss

Recently, I was asked to prepare a talk for an upcoming workshop on Bereavement. It’s been a long time.   Back in the 1990’s, as a perinatal nurse and grief counsellor,  my whole existence seemed to revolve around helping mothers and families suffering from the losses experienced in the period from conception to birth. It was a challenging time for the parents to learn to live with terrible unexpected losses in the perinatal period. I can tell you that no school I ever attended was able to help me understand, and no loss of my own could put me in the shoes of another’s person’s grief.

I started in that job at the same time my mother lost her battle with Alzheimer’s. My own aching heart was sympathetic to all profound loss but not as empathetic to the loss of a child or the loss of potential inherent in giving birth to the perfect child, because that was not my experience.  I was, however a good listener and sensitive to the wave of feelings which overwhelm us when unexpected and final change happens.  As I listened and gathered stories, I understood that sharing those stories was a way of helping others.  A frequent question in the grieving process was any version of  ‘am I the only one?’
While preparing for my talk, I realized that  this opportunity to share, with the participants of the workshop, is a way of putting many of those stories back out there.  My hope is that the situations are unique to each individual but not unique to life.  It will help others to know that. 

 It also helped me to realize that their stories and my own triggered the desire to write as a way of healing.  The Will to be True was started at the time of my mother’s passing and finally completed as I learned to come to terms with the loss of a dear friend.
A while ago, I picked up a book called Writing as a Sacred Path. As an Ordained Minister, the title called to me.  Even more, the idea of serving the needs of the soul through writing and teaching appealed to me immensely. To ‘be the voice of human experience’  is indeed a worthy and immense responsibility but the learning potential, both for authors and readers, is vast.

My grief and loss will not leave me ever. Losing those I love to the finality of death is painful.  No circumstance will ever mitigate that final goodbye.  Yet, like the clients, patients and friends with whom I share this intensely personal fact of life, our ability to validate and learn from each other’s grief is the cornerstone of love.  

I have always thought of my book as a love story in which the characters defy the odds to find happiness.  Defying the odds is simply putting our grief and loss on hold and allowing trust and love to override its paralyzing effects and be the great healer.

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