Baby, it’s hot outside

Western Canada is in the midst of a heat wave. Right now, B.C. is setting record breaking temperatures, and that weather is expected to move east into Alberta over the next few days.

If you’ve been reading our blog, then you know I’ve recently moved into a condo. It has no air conditioning. Martin and I were gone for 5 days last week, and my 19 year old son was left in charge of my place. He was great at watering the plants and keeping them alive. However, he hasn’t got the life experience (and lives in a house with a/c) to know that opening windows is NOT a good idea during the heat of the day. We came home to a condo that was already at 78F and got to 82F before the temperatures started to drop in the evening.

I’ve always been a firm believer that, while a/c is nice to have, it’s not necessary. We live in a climate where we experience winter up to 8 months a year. A week or two of hot temperatures is not going to kill me, or make me want to pay to have a/c installed (I’m not “cheap”, I’m “economically efficient”).

I continue to stand by this belief. The temperatures we are experiencing are not normal. Sure, we’ll get around 30C for a couple of days each summer, but a week or more of 30C+ ?? That’s an anomaly. Because I live in a condo, the strata rules state that I can’t have a window air conditioner. I’d have to get a portable a/c unit, or central air. Portable means I need to store it when not in use (and storage is at a premium), and I’d rather buy stainless steel appliances for my kitchen than shell out the money for central air.

So, for the next week, I’m making do. Fortunately, it cools down to 16C or 18C at night – which is very comfortable. I can cool off my place with fans in the window overnight. Upon waking, I close all the windows, shut off the window fans, and pull down blinds. I ordered room darkening/thermal curtains for my main floor this morning. They are due to arrive tomorrow or the day after, and I’ll install them as soon as they get here.

I have fans running during the day. Believe it or not, putting a bottle of frozen water in front of a fan actually helps cool the place. The trick is to get the bottles of water to freeze faster than they thaw in this heat! I’ve also tried draping cloths that have been soaked in cold water and thrown in the freezer for a few minutes over the fans, and that’s working to help cool the place.

Yes, I’m sweating. It’s mildly uncomfortable. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, I remind myself that – six months from now – we could be at -33C and I’ll be longing for days like today.

Time To Heat It Up

Summer is finally here. I have been told that the next weeks temperatures are historical for the heat we are about to enjoy. So what does one do when faced with the prospects of being doused in fire? Go find several lakes, a cool mountain retreat and set up camp.

I am fortunate enough to live close to several mountainous options within a couple of hours. One of my favourites is the Crowsnest Pass area. The lakes are crystal clear, random camping on crown land is still allowed and the hikes are endless.

We have set up camp near Chinook Lake and tested out our inflatable kayaks. They work better than I expected. Quite solid and easy to inflate. It’s wonderful to see the lakes from a ducks perspective.

Crows nest Lake

I have still been thinking about time and how we spend it. Taking pockets of it and creating memories to sustain us when we need it. The someday maybe I will have the time is a dangerous way to live. Before you know it, it’s gone. I can feel my body saying that it’s getting older. Wake up with stiff joints and echoes of old injuries that resulted from past adventures. I am ok with those reminders that I am human. It’s an affirmation that I have pushed myself to squeeze every last ounce of juice out of this flesh. Summer has just begun and so the adventure continues…

It’s Time

I had a great weekend spent with Sharon and Selena, hanging out, recording a podcast or two and attending Selena’s first but I am sure not last, event. The weather was perfect and it felt like it was “time” for a sense of community to awaken once again.

Summer Solstice reminds us that time is now retreating in the opposite direction. The days will get shorter and the weather will get colder but not yet! We still have plenty of time to enjoy summer and all the active moments we can capture.

During the event I pulled three cards just like Sharon. 

The first pull was an overall themed card which would tie everything else that happened after together. It was the “Time” card represented by the celtic goddess Arianrhod. Legend has it that she is involved in determining the fate of individuals as they cross over. She is connected to the moon and the North star. She is from Eastern European descent. Hmm..just so happens I am too. I have been thinking about how to spend my time lately. We have all accumulated “saved time” over our lives now it’s the moment in which to cash it in. Decide what will bring me the most fulfillment as I dole out my hours in a new form and space.

Time is an interesting thing. We try to save it, we make sacrifices in overtime activities such as work or away from loved ones. We are taught that time management is important. I do have to wonder why though? Can you really save time or manage time? The clock is set with only so many allotments of duration per 24 hour cycle. If you save time, it’s not like you can put it in an investment or bank account and withdraw it later. If it isn’t used for one thing it will be used for something else. Hopefully there is a balance to your favour as you use it. In most mystical teachings, including yoga and shaman practices, time is subjective. Passage of it can come and go without any attachment to mankind’s measurement sticks. 

Overall Theme Card

I am in a transition of time. I have spent over 40 years of my life feeling like I had little or no control over “my” time. I do now. I am awake and present and have a sense of the value of time spent.

The next card I pulled was for purposes of “release”. The image was of a woman lying on her back in a cosmic space. She appeared to be meditating. The card read “star bathing”. I wasn’t familiar with this nor the practice. I have been spending lots of time lately doing the opposite of this. I have craved the sun and the solar energy it brings. Maybe it’s time to get nocturnal? 

Star bathing is connected with the crystalline grid of the Earth. Find places where the vortex of energy is felt and meditate there to unlock the energy. It’s time to travel I think and the great part is I don’t have to go far. There are plenty of vortexes here in Western Canada just waiting to explore. 

The last exercise was about embodiment. I pulled an image of a dragon. At first, I thought it was related to dragonflies but now I am pretty. It’s about dragons. In the yoga practices at the ashram I learned a bit about association and the need to explore the setting, the characteristics and the behaviors of the symbols and not just the image. Dragons…are hoarders of precious things, they are loners, they come out at night mostly (the night theme again). They destroy things. They live in the mystical realm and though they are very powerful to dream about, they aren’t real. The dragon in the picture isn’t breathing fire and doesn’t appear to be a threat to the valley it occupies. Now, interesting enough, I was born in the year of the dragon. I have found myself drawn to the space between the earth and the cosmos. Maybe on my adventures to find the vortex’s and star bath I will encounter a dragon?

It was a wonderful expenditure of time! To get out and connect in an actual group of people you can see instead of envisioning through a camera lense was nostalgic of the ashram. I think that’s one of the things I miss the most is the community.

I hope you feel your time spent reading our blogs and listening to our podcasts is well spent. I look forward to more exploration of the meaning of the cards and their connectivity to my present.

Namaste

OK Universe, I’m listening!

The universe is speaking to me again. No – actually – it’s yelling. It’s doing all but grabbing me by the collar and shaking me.

Today, I attended a Summer Solstice Celebration hosted by our friend Selena, of Luna Terra Soul. She started the celebration by having us choose a goddess card. My goddess was Hecate – the Greek goddess of crossroads and the in-between. In the book accompanying the cards, it states:

You are standing in the liminal spaces between what was and what will be – who you have been and who you are becoming…You’re being tasked to carefully choose the direction of your thoughts, feelings, beliefs and actions….Now is the time to understand the responsibilities require of you as you move forward in a new version of yourself that is as yet unformed.

This hit home. My marriage is done. My son doesn’t require “parenting” so my role as a mother is changing. I’ve recently bought and moved into my own home. Who am I ? What kind of life do I want to live? What do I need to let go of to move forward? These are questions I’ve been pondering.

Selena took us through an exercise to release what no longer serves us. I identified ‘resentment’ as what I needed to release. I was hanging onto resentment towards my ex-husband for the lies, denials, and unwillingness to truly work on our relationship. Even though I now understand why he acted the way he did, there is hurt. I released it today. It no longer serves me.

While we were journalling about what we released, Selena gave us another card from a different deck. This time, it was “Inner Earth”. The statement on the card was:

You’ll survive this. New solutions and new beginnings.

Whoa.

Last night, Selena and Vanessa were at my place to record some podcasts. Selena brought her animal spirit cards. As I was shuffling the deck, two cards fell out. One was the Lion – “the living mascot of self-transformation…This card reminds us that self-mastery is available to all, no matter where our quest begins.” The other was the Frog – a water element. “This card serves as a reminder that water helps us cleanse, forgive, and release.”

So, to pull those two cards last night and then get these two cards today, I know I’m being told to release, forgive, transform – and the universe is telling me it’s going to be OK.

But, that wasn’t enough. Oh no, just in case I still wasn’t getting the message, the final card given to me this morning was from a third deck. It was “Letting Go”.

Life is constantly changing. Nothing ever stays the same…You have the innate courage to acknowledge the situation and know that change is inevitable. It also brings with it newfound freedoms and spiritual growth.

The “Letting Go” card tells me my mantra is: “I am ready to free myself from situations that no longer serve me.” – and I have.

For the past two years, the cards were telling me to find wisdom and hinted at a transformation to come.

Well, it’s happening. I’m on my own. I live near water. I’m doing things that fulfill me without having to justify what I’m doing to anyone. My partner, Martin, tells me he’s enjoying watching me discover myself again. He has dubbed 2021, “The Year of Sharon”.

A few minutes ago, I looked for a summer solstice image to share. The one I’ve posted jumped out at me. It’s the same message.

I don’t believe in coincidence. The alignment of messages is simply too strong to ignore, so I won’t.

I’ve let go. I’m starting a new life. One where I’m not defined as a “wife” or “caretaker”. I’m learning it’s OK to be selfish as long it serves me without disrespecting or harming others. I’m finding peace and contentment within myself, which is making me want to try new things.

I still have some work to do to fully let go of the past, but I’m embracing the future. After today, I feel the Universe is on my side.

Accountability: No one left to blame but you

I have been restless lately. My gardens are growing, the yard doesn’t take as much time and I have no major trips to look forward to. I am struggling to stand still. I took a bit of a break from everything for the last month. Stopped my yoga practices, my positive eating habits, exercising and I have noticed some old habits starting to creep back in. Uggh!

The challenge is that now I am more present than I have ever been in my life. I can’t blame anyone else for my current state. In the past I could say that my actions are justifiable and a coping mechanism for my life. It’s my husband’s fault, it’s my kids fault, it’s the ashrams fault hmmm. I know better. I know that I am the one who decides ultimately what I am going to think, create, action or …quit doing.

One habit I have kept is reading books. I opened one recently around Shamanism and spirit animals. Since I was taking a break from the yoga practices I decided to dust off the shaman literature. 

Put yourself first…there’s that quote again. I thought I was pretty independent and started to count the ways in which I was waiting for someone else to complete something before I could do “my thing”. I expected my husband to help me find a van. I realized I also expected him to drop his projects and help me to “camperize” a van to some extent. The “check lights’ ‘ warning came on in the car. I expected him to either fix it or take it somewhere. The list is long but when should the accountability to take care of things that are important to me start?

I have a new adventure for June. Stop waiting for someone else to do the things I can do myself.

I spent my day fixing our pond in the backyard. I researched pumps, purchased the one I thought worked best for our scenario and arranged it. I waded into the muck and cleaned out the debris. Planted my water plants and spent my afternoon listening to the blissful sound of the waterfall. I can do these things! I can do more. I can be accountable for what I want to do and how I want to be. Blaming anyone else doesn’t get to the root of the problem. Clearly I need to get back positive habits that keep me on track and productive.  It’s one thing to get sidetracked. Before you know it weeks if not months have gone by and good intentions have resulted in time being lost.

I saw a tan and black butterfly today. It fluttered by me and then circled me several times. My first instinct was to grab my camera. I knew if I did I would lose the moment to dance with the butterfly. I chose to stay present and as the butterfly the size of a graceful hand floated around me several times I smiled.

It was a good day to dance and get moving.

Unexpected Adventure

I looked at the quote on our home page today. Adventure definitely is an attitude we need to get through day to day life. Sometimes, our adventures are a result of someone else’s.

My third marriage is ending. We’ve been together 10 years, married for 8.5 years. I always felt like there was ‘something’ that kept my husband from being close to me. He wasn’t able to talk about feelings. He couldn’t tell me why he loved me, saying, “I just do – isn’t that enough?” There wasn’t any intimacy. We lived as roommates.

Five years ago, I started to count down the days until my son graduated. I’d already left his dad and I wasn’t going to break up his family again until he was done high school. My husband knew how I felt. It still wasn’t enough to make him realize our relationship wasn’t working. We argued – a lot. He always said something worth having is worth fighting for. “Bickering” was normal.

We finally decided we weren’t giving each other what each person needed and opened our marriage. Little did I know where this would lead.

It turns out, my husband is interested in men. At first, he believed he was bi-sexual, but it’s becoming more and more apparent he’s gay. He hasn’t dated a woman in over a year. He started smoking pot because it’s what one of his friends does, he bought a motorbike because another friend rides them – it was like living with a 14 year old again. A month after I moved out, he asked one of his friends to move in with him – not as a roommate but as a partner.

It explains so much about our relationship – his inability to be authentic with me, to feel and express his emotions, the lack of intimacy. He was living his own lie and not being honest with himself. How could he be honest with me?

So, here I am, 54 years old and starting over – again. I thought I’d be retiring in 5 years, not paying off another mortgage. I’m happy my husband has realized who he really is, and at the same time, I’d like him to take ownership of how repressing his sexuality affected our relationship. He doesn’t see how the two are related.

I’ve had over a year to process my feelings. I don’t miss living with him. I don’t miss the house or the yard – and I thought I would. I love the condo I’ve bought. I love living two minutes from the lake. I love the freedom of being able to do things and not be told I’m doing it wrong, or being given a “pro tip” to do it differently. I love that his partner/roommate loves dogs and is happy to have Keo visit a couple of times a week to play in the big yard.

I’m starting this adventure because of the one he’s realized, and started, for himself. It’s not what I had planned when we married, but it’s our reality. I could choose to wallow in the grief of ending another long-term relationship, or the unfairness I felt, but that’s not me. Sure, I felt that for awhile; it’s natural. Being on my own has given me a sense of freedom and “lightness” I haven’t felt in a long time.

I’m embracing the rediscovery of “me”. Doing what I like, when I like. Making decisions that are for me alone without having to consider anyone else. Midlife is not only arising, it’s propelling me forward in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Finding my “self” is the biggest adventure of all.

Adventure in Santiago

I was thinking about our theme of “adventure” for this month. I believe everyday is an adventure – we never know what it’s going to bring – especially when living with a child and dogs.

However, some of my adventures came through my work. For a while, I worked on a global learning team and traveled in Europe and South America. It was always an adventure. I didn’t speak the languages, I have many food allergies so ordering at restaurants was always interesting, and navigating my way through airports sometimes proved challenging (especially in Norway!).

I think my trip to Santiago, Chile was my biggest adventure.

It started with not having a company car to meet me at the airport. There was supposed to be someone waiting for me. I admit, it was always kind of cool to arrive somewhere and see my name on a card. It didn’t happen in Santiago.

A man approached me and asked where I was going. I showed him the address of my hotel. He said he’d take me there. The car didn’t have any taxi labels or indications on the outside. I was somewhat relieved when I got inside and saw the mileage metre. Still, I wasn’t sure. I pulled out my phone and sent a text home saying I’d text when I got to the hotel. If my family didn’t hear from me, something happened.

I got safely to my hotel. On the entire 13 hour flight, I wanted nothing more than to get to the hotel and have a swim. The hotel had a rooftop pool. After sitting on a plane, I needed to move my body. I was in Santiago in May. Our spring in Canada, their early winter. It was 25C when I arrived. I went up to the roof and the doors were locked. I went down to the front desk and was told the pool was closed for the season because it was “too cold”.

After the training we were there to deliver, the project manager wanted to take me out for dinner. He told me I *had* to try a particular drink. He’s travelled the world and they make the best ones here (I wish I could remember the name!). The drinks were good. He kept ordering. I decided if he could drink them, so could I. He was a small man and I figured our ability to handle alcohol would be similar.

I was wrong.

We finally finished our meal. It was about 10:00p.m. As we were saying good-bye, I asked him which way it was to my hotel. He “thought” it was “that way”.

One thing you need to know – I’m directionally challenged at the best of times. Put me in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language, and it’s only amplified. Even moreso when with someone who is as directionally challenged as I am!

I started to walk and soon realized I was not in a familiar neighbourhood. I kept walking. I noticed a group of men starting to follow me. I pulled out my phone and tried to call home. If nothing else, it made it look as though I was in contact with someone.

I ended up in an abandoned parking lot. Fortunately, I had the foresight to keep the name and address of my hotel in my pocket. I showed it to the attendant. He looked at it. He looked at me. He tried to speak to me in Spanish. I simply stared back and shrugged. He did his best mime impersonation to tell me the way I needed to go to get back. Fortunately, it worked.

I stayed on a couple of extra days while there. I knew it was a place I wasn’t likely to return to and wanted to explore.

I bought a pass for the “hop on/hop off” bus. To me, it was a great way to see the city. I could “hop off” wherever I wanted, look around, and know there was another bus coming 15 minutes later.

One of the places I wanted to visit was the “mercado”. It was an open air area in the centre of the city. I visited some of the churches (beautiful architecture), and simply people-watched. I saw a couple of demonstrations and knew enough to avoid them. Only later, upon returning home, did I learn that visiting the mercado as a lone female traveler was probably not the smartest idea.

Leaving the country was a challenge. Apparently, I was supposed to have a yellow form from the paperwork I did upon entering Chile. I didn’t have it. The paperwork I completed didn’t have a copy for me to keep. The security officers didn’t want to let me leave. I pled ignorance. I didn’t know I needed a form, I didn’t have a form. I had my Canadian passport and my boarding pass. Somehow, I was able to convince them I was, indeed, going home.

I’m thankful for the week I got to spend in Chile. I was right – there’s nothing there to draw me back. I’m also thankful for my guardian angels who watched over me. Of all my travels, it’s the one place where things could have gone horribly wrong, and didn’t.

Wind In My Sails…

On the way to Vimy Ridge just outside Waterton Park May 2021

One thing that is a guarantee about living in Southern Alberta is that there will be wind involved when planning any outside activity. You would think after living here for over 50 plus years, I would be used to it by now. Ugh! Living at the ashram taught me that weather should be secondary to keeping yourself in motion outside. I walked trails in snow, mud, rain and didn’t let it get me down. So what’s a little wind in my sails then? Well, to be honest, it’s more than a little it can get up 70km/hr easily before you know it. The gang has decided we should focus on “adventure” this month and I am up for many as the month progresses. I bought an inflatable kayak and have been delighted in testing it’s ability to stay a float on some pretty easy local lakes. It was on a calm day I have to admit and I will probably stick to calm days while kayaking. My husband and I decided once to take our canoe out on St Mary’s reservoir. It was calm when we started out and not a cloud in the sky. We paddled around the lake and were really enjoying the day when we noticed in the distance some ominous black clouds building. We knew we wouldn’t make it back to our original starting spot so decided to go a shore by the East bank. This part of the lake has big boulders and not much else. I clammbered up the rocks and huddled by the canoe while my husband went to get the truck.

When it rains it pours. The universe loves to make the most when it catches me out in nature without anywhere to go but to stay put and grit it out. Boy did it down pour. The wind whipped around me and the rain felt like nasty pellets stinging my bare arms. I held onto the canoe which at some points wanted to fly away. It seemed like hours before hubby came with the truck but it was only probably minutes. So you would think that maybe I had had enough of that type of boating? Nope, I decided to go even more adventurous and trade my sturdy, hard bodied canoe in for an inflatable kayak. I hope to try it out soon on some rivers and lakes in the local mountain area. I need to go shopping first for a good life jacket and longer kayak paddle.

Wind or no wind, I am determined to get out there this summer and enjoy this amazing playground I have been blessed to live in. I hope to see you on the river or lake or on a mountain trail. Either way, if nothing else, this crazy time has proven how lucky we are to be alive. Why not get the heart pumping!