Wednesday, December 19, 2007
This tree has certainly withstood the storms of many seasons but, somehow, has been afforded enough protection to grow sturdy and tall, its trunk straight, its shady boughs reaching out to shelter and protect all that surrounds it.
From the base of this mighty hemlock, surely springing from the very same place, grows a white birch; its bark clean and pure, catching the sunlight that drifts down to this shady space. Its branches spread wide and brilliant, reaching ever outward; naked in this winter of its life, yet the birch remains stunning in size, simplicity and beauty.
Together, they have grown, one supporting the other, their very roots sprawling wide, intertwined and knotted below the surface. So supported by such strength, the birch, perhaps, has spread its limbs much wider than it might have alone.
I found this odd pairing of trees while walking the path with my friend, Gwen. We had just been to visit naturalists Mary Majka and David Christie, to offer our condolences on the recent loss of Dr. Mike (Mietek), Mary's husband of 59 years. At 84, Mary is still somewhat of an enigmatic force of nature - a flamboyant storyteller and activist who, for 40 years, has flung herself into nature and heritage protection. Her life's mission has been to encourage others to understand their place in the landscape as caretakers and her influence has spread far and wide. Her husband, the quiet and steady Dr. Mike, was always in the background, strong and supportive.
Upon leaving the house, Gwen and I decided to walk the path from the house to the shore. A pair of partridge flew upward from their hiding place in the bushes, and two rabbits, part brown, part white, scampered in opposite directions, for cover.
The beach and marsh glowed in the sinking sun and the sea salt dusted away our melancholy mood. We walked in silence, watching the waves, stopping to inspect copper leaves, streams of baby clamshells, or polished beach glass in the sand. Just appreciating a friendship that needs no words. It was upon our return, in the shelter of the path once more, that we found the trees.
The two of us walked around the pair, almost in reverence, touching the bark, tracing the lines and groves in wonder. We each caught the other’s eyes, knowing we shared a single, identical thought.
Here, on this day, tucked away in this quiet place, two trees lived - in tandem to the lives lived on the bluff above. Here, on this day, tucked away in this quiet place, two friends saw and understood, without a word, there was deep meaning in this.
How wondrous is that?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It’s been years coming, but this time I really mean it. I’m so sick of telemarketers invading my suppertime, trying to sell me something I don’t want or need. I’m sick of sale flyers trying to convince me I need the latest gadget at the lowest price of the season; I’m sick of technology that promises to make my life easier, while taking away my ability and desire to think on my own, I’m sick of crowds and cranky people and partygoers who drink too much and of those who want to take my Christmas away and demote it to a mere “holiday”.I'm just tired of how the world defines Christmas.
I want my Christmas back. So, when a friend asked if I was ready for Christmas, I told her the truth. I’m not baking. I’m not shopping like a madwoman. I’m not planning any social evenings. These things are not me. If I feel like having someone over, I will do so at the last minute and play it simple. I will enjoy myself, relax and get in some quality snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. I will visit people I care about because I want to, not because I feel I have to.
I will roll in the snow and make snow angels. I will romp. I will soak in the tub and paint my toenails red. I will curl up with a good book and drink chai tea. I will make eggnog from scratch. I will enjoy a moonlit walk in the crystalline snow. I will snowshoe up Shepody Mountain on Christmas morning with my husband and look for deer and rabbit tracks instead of opening far too many gifts. And above all, I will thank God for all the wonderful people and blessings and beauty in my life.
So now I am writing it. I always say that when you frame your thoughts into words and place them on paper, you make them real. You give them substance and power.
I, alone, have the power to take back my Christmas. And this makes it real.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
We need to thank so many people and so many businesses - most of which do not want recognition...
The site preparation and landfill, concrete slab, roof trusses, shingles, exterior plywood, interior studding, Typar, insulation, windows, electrical wiring and heaters, sheet rock, paint, flooring, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, have all been donated by local area businesses or through individual sponsorship.
A number of individuals have contributed cash and manual labour, and many people have been purchasing Home Hardware gift certificates and dropping them off at Downey's Home Hardware in Riverview to be applied against our 'Gifts from the Heart' account.
We've also received generous donations from:
- Atlantic Lottory Corporation
- Moncton Area Control Centre
- Royal Bank (RBC), Riverview
- Bank of Nova Scotia, Hillsborough
- Hollingum Agencies, Ltd., Moncton
- R. & B. Storey Logging Ltd., Doaktown
- St. Michael's Ladies' Society of Moncton
- St. Mary's Anglican Church Women of Hillsborough
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
You're in luck.
Join the MonctonWriters.ca group of professional freelance writers for an informative half-day workshop that will show you the possibilities and realities of the professional writing world.
"The Write Stuff: Writing for Profit" will be held Saturday, January 26, 2008 at the Moncton Public Library, Northrop Frye Room, from 1-5 p.m.
Workshop presenters will share stories of how they carved careers doing what they love best: putting words to paper. Participants will learn about the writing life, how writers write and where they can be published. The format will be casual, with lots of time provided for questions. Topics include writing from home; finding markets and protecting your rights. The writers who will be passing on the tools and tips of their trade are members of the Professional Writers Association of Canada, Southeast NB Chapter.
This workshop makes a unique Christmas gift for the budding writer on your list. Pre-register and the group will send you a confirmation gift card that you can put under the tree.
For complete details on the workshop and the presenters, visit the group’s website at http://www.monctonwriters.ca/; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or call Allison Finnamore at 860-7761.
Still want to help out? Just drop into Downey's Home Hardware in Riverview and tell them you'd like to contribute to the Gifts from the Heart project.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Glee. How often would you say you felt ‘gleeful’? Would you know what glee feels like? It’s bubbly. It’s childlike. It’s a ripple that starts deep and erupts on the surface…and it’s contagious.
Another writerly friend, Gwen, wrote to me about a very solemn conversation she had, through the bathroom window, with a barred owl. I remember how I laughed when I heard her story. And how envious I was. To speak with a barred owl - and have it speak back - is quite special... like a blessing.
One of my favourite memories of Gwen takes place when we were walking through the forest surrounding her home. We stopped for a moment and she called forth a gathering of chickadees and kinglets and sparrows with a “whish…whish…whish…”. They clustered about us in the branches, curious, singing back. I giggled, with wonder.
I tried this myself, one frigid cold winter’s day, with my mother. We were both delighted when a heavenly host of chickadees arrived to serenade us with their gleeful song.
What if we sought more moments of glee in our lives? What if we shared that glee with others?
Friday, December 7, 2007
Monday, December 3, 2007
"No point in missing a full day of work, just for a little snow," my dearly beloved mutters. It's been a full time job for him since the project started, contacting businesses, arranging building supplies as needed, coordinating helpers...I know he'd be pacing like an expectant father if he had to miss a day of work.
Volunteer labour is still needed! It's not too late to lend a helping hand and there is still much work to accomplish.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Stuff wears out, breaks, goes out of style, but expressions of love never fade. I thought about it a moment. Could I remember all the Christmas gifts my husband and I shared in our past? A few perhaps…but what comes to mind more easily are scenes shared in our past.
I remember a decade ago when we were part of a team running a 24-hour relay race. I was heading out for my lap at 3:00 am. “Do you want me to come with you?” my husband asked. I shook my head. I wouldn’t admit I was a little nervous about running the trail alone. He respected my need to do it on my own. I didn’t know until later he watched from a distance, just to make sure I was safe.
I remember watching a singer on TV. I sighed, “I wish I had a voice like that.” (Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t sing a note.) He turned and looked at me. “Your voice is how you put words on the page.”
I remember oh-so-many times, while lying in bed at night, that we howled like idiots over some ridiculous thing like ‘old people noises’; laughing uncontrollably until we wiped the tears away, then moments later, starting all over again.
I remember standing, side by side, on the top of the Tablelands in Newfoundland, both of us silent with awe.
I remember how carefully he chooses his words when I ask him his opinion on something I’m wearing that he doesn’t like. Or when he withholds his opinion on decisions he knows I have to make on my own. Or when he leaves me to walk alone on the trail, somehow knowing without words, that I need the space and quiet and solitude.
These are the things I remember. So this Christmas, we are opting out of the rat race of gift buying and going for the moment to remember. Weather permitting, we will get up early and go for a hike or a snowshoe, perhaps to the top of Shepody Mountain.
Just to see what Christmas looks like from there.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Saturday, November 24, 2007
They laughingly called themselves the Dirty Dozen and they were there for a single purpose – to build Jay and Charlotte a new home.
Planning started in September and slowly the pieces came together, local businesses jumping in to contribute building materials for this worthwhile project, tradesmen offering their services, individuals donating funds and labour to build a barrier-free home for the couple. It's amazing what can happen when a village works together.
Today, it finally became real for Charlotte, who was on site, snapping pictures and almost dancing with excitement.
“Jay and I are going to grow old here,” she told me, standing under the overhang that will be her veranda. It’s not even a dream come true for her, because she never dreamed she would ever have a real house to call her own.
A few months ago, they didn’t know what the future held for them. All they knew was that they couldn’t stay in their mobile home for another winter. It was falling down around them.
Charlotte looks away, quiet for a few minutes, eyes hidden by sunglasses. It’s been an overwhelming ride for them. “Sometimes,” she says, “we just cry together.”
It was amazing how fast the house came together. At 8:00 this morning, a small storage shed and a slab foundation on a gravel base was all that could be seen on the site where the mobile home once stood.
An hour and a half later, two walls were standing; by 11:00 am all four walls were in place.
The Dirty Dozen were pumped. They wanted to see how much they could get done in a single day. By the time the guys broke for lunch, the roof trusses were positioned.
Anything is possible, when you put your mind and your heart into it.
As I strode out the trail and along the top of the dykes, I couldn't help but feel tall, straight, strong, confident. The poles do that - they force you to walk tall - to stride purposefully. I completely see why Yennah chose the name Walking Proud for her Nordic Walking group. In spite of the wind, I was warm, breathing deep, fully involved in the rhythm of the motion. So very cool.
And I couldn't help but think this was a no brainer. If my time is of a premium, and I only have 30 minutes a day to walk, why not double the return on the effort by using the poles?
If you missed Yennah Hurley at the Nordic Walking demonstration in Riverside last week, you'll have another chance to talk to her. She will be attending the next Footloose! event on December 4th, 7:00 pm at Caledonia Regional High School in Hillsborough. You won't want to miss the evening anyway, as Sharon Wells will be sharing her success story of lifestyle change.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
She is always ready to drop everything to be with me, regardless of when, where, why or how. She understands that life is complicated and so she waits patiently, without complaint, until I have time for her. I need the simplicity of her world to remind me of the importance of right here, right now.
She loves me equally whether my heart is full of giggles or growls, when I’m taking or giving, even when I look grungy or smell bad. She just wants to be with me. I pat the sofa and she climbs up and settles right in – OK girlfriend, let’s hang out.
I catch her watching me endlessly…what is she thinking? She stares like she is reading – memorizing - the skin of my face, the freckles on my nose, the lines of my eyes; her wide chocolate eyes look concerned, totally involved, depthless. Like she’s dragging me into her soul. She looks right into my heart with those guileless eyes, like she knows more of me than I do. Sometimes she looks sad, like she knows something I don’t. Like she knows what lies ahead for me.
Or maybe she just wants my popcorn. After all, she is a golden retriever.
I want to be a friend like her, not because I want people to love me like everyone loves her, but because I want them to know how it feels to be loved unconditionally. Because I want them to know they can be themselves around me without worrying about acceptance. They can be happy or grungy, makes no difference.
That’s the kind of friend I want to be.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
- is as enjoyable as walking (or more)
- protects knees and other joints
- increases lung capacity
- improves posture
- enhances heart and lung function
- strengthens upper body and torso
- relieves neck and shoulder pain
- builds and tones muscle
- eliminates bat wings and love handles
- takes the agony out of Albert County's hills
- provides the same intensity of running without associated injuries
- is equally enjoyable on ice, snow, pavement, gravel or trails
- can be done anywhere, anytime
- provides stability in the winter
- is economical
- doesn’t require fancy clothes or equipment
- has varying levels of intensity
- enhances mood (without drugs or hallucinogens)
- has 40-60% more total body workout than walking, and
- burns 40% more calories?
Would you try it?
Dozens did at the Nordic Walking demonstration in Riverside-Albert on the weekend. The demo was put on by Yennah Hurley of www.walkingproud.com. She brought along lots of poles so everyone could try them out. And a good number walked away afterward proudly carrying their new Nordic Walking poles, all gung ho and ready to rock the county.
I’m one of them.
I’d first seen Nordic Walking last year, but the demonstration was crowded so I really didn’t have the opportunity to try it. I thought it looked like a great sport for my parents, but well..I was already quite active so really didn't need something else.
Well, I'm a believer now. The poles add intensity to a regular walk. I found my pace was faster, my arms, shoulders and torso were fully involved, hills were easier and I walked straighter. I love cross-country skiing, so it seems natural that I would enjoy the Nordic Walking, which is much the same movement. And I was tickled to discover I could even use the poles when snowshoeing.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
In the days preceding the marathon, we visited the Essex Farm Cemetery, made famous by John McCrae’s poem, where I asked why some headstones touched while others were evenly spaced. I learned the burial ground’s close proximity to the battlefield meant it was frequently bombarded and often, remains were unearthed timed and time again.
The jumble of limbs, impossible to separate, were reburied together, yet honoured by individual stones…
We toured German and Commonwealth grave sites and saw the ‘Brooding Soldier’, a memorial to the Canadians who withstood history’s first gas attacks. But it was surrounded by 11,953 pristine white tombstones in the Tyne Cot Cemetery that I was emotionally shattered by the magnitude of loss. Each stone represented a rich and vibrant past, loved ones left to mourn. As I ran my fingers along a long curving wall engraved with 34,870 names of the missing, I allowed tears to flow freely to honour the endless columns of those who died without ceremony or last goodbyes.
But it wasn’t until that evening, as 230 Canadians gathered under the Menin Gate to lay wreaths for our war veterans, that we experienced the dedication and commitment of the Flemish people to this ritual of remembrance and reverence. Every night, traffic is halted on this main thoroughfare while Fire Brigade volunteers play The Last Post. As the first strains of ‘O Canada’ began to lift upward, Belgian and Canadian stood side by side, wiping tears, sharing an instinctive bond created before most of us were even born. I noticed one elderly woman who came early, bringing a folding chair. She sat silent and alone beside one of the columns. I somehow sensed this was a nightly ritual for her.
Faced with this dedication to remembrance, how could I ever fail to observe another Remembrance Day?
Two days later, I ran the marathon proudly wearing my poppy and with Canadian flags and maple leafs stamped on my arms and legs. I handed out maple leaf pins and flags to the Belgian volunteers and families who lined the route cheering ‘Ka-na-da!’ as we passed. Skirting the fertile fields that still give up their dead, thoughts of the incredible courage and sacrifice of our soldiers kept my legs moving when they wanted to give out.
No doubt these boys spent many hours feeling inadequate or questioning their worth. But yet, their fight for the freedom of others continues to impact the lives of many every single day. I went to do my small part in the struggle against a disease that affects millions – and while my actions seemed insignificant in the whole picture, I realized when one stands with many, we can make a difference. Together, we can win our own individual wars.
A hundred metres from the finish line of my first ever marathon, I again passed through the Menin Gate. This time, I breathed a prayer of thankfulness for the thousands who lived and died for a cause and for the lessons they continue to teach.
A Remembrance Day as not passed since, that I do not relive the experience, the emotion and the gratitude I felt that day. And I wonder how I will ever give back what has been given me.
Read more about my marathon experience.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
For just a toonie, he will stop his woodcarving to give tourists and visitors a performance of his life story, scenes of which are carved into his coffin. Yes, his coffin. Trust me, it’s truly a performance worth seeing. He’s lived a pretty colorful life.
A toonie doesn’t seem like much, but you’d be amazed how many people balk at letting go of one.
It’s not about the money, really. (He gives the toonies away.) Chuck has never had money, so hoarding it is of little importance to him. He knows that who he is, is more important than what he has. It’s more about teaching people to let go of stuff.
Chuck also knows that all those frivolous self-serving things we choose to bring into our lives slowly eclipse our true nature. But that each time we give something away, it helps us uncover our deepest desires; the things that matter most. Ask anyone who has lost it all, whether possessions are important.
What if the most important thing in life is the one thing we cannot lose; the thing that has been there all along?
Monday, November 5, 2007
Unfortunately, they can’t. What has been broken is a community’s trust in policing. People asked why the RCMP force tolerates drunken, underage teens in public. We heard stories of unsatisfactory follow-ups on complaints. Response times are laughable due to the large geographical area covered by too few officers. It appears inadequate staffing is to blame. Since removing the detachment from Hillsborough, we no longer have a lockup or a handy police presence. We’ve had to hire outside security.
We can accept this and bitterly complain to ourselves while the situation worsens from acts of vandalism to violence, or we can refuse to accept the degradation of our community lifestyle and proactively complain to Hon. John W. Foran, Minister of Public Safety. Last week the village sent out a newsletter encouraging people to write to our government about these concerns; they even have form letters for residents to sign at the Village Office. Whining that it will do no good is not an acceptable response; to do nothing, is to gain nothing.
What we don't stop to consider is the bigger picture. What we have to lose is not just safety and the protection of property, but the future of our youth. How many teens are learning to deal with life using anger and alcohol?
A silent voice will never be heard. This isn’t just a village problem, it’s a growing problem. I’ve sent off my letter already…have you?
Sunday, November 4, 2007
The two hunters, who were from Ontario, were separated from their party and became disoriented in the unfamiliar landscape late Saturday afternoon. As their families in Ontario gathered together to await news, the two stayed in one place through the storm, leaning with their backs against a tree in an attempt to preserve body heat in the torrential rain. They couldn't have picked a worse night to be out in the elements.During the search, the noise of the wind hampered whistle blasts and the threat of falling limbs and blow downs was a constant danger. In the heavy rain, brooks became rivers, and bogs became ponds. Joined by searchers from the Miramichi region, the TCGSAR group fanned out through the area on foot and on ATVs. At one point, one team heard a shotgun blast, called out and blew whistles, but the hunters were moving away from the search team and could not hear their rescuers in the wind.
The search group narrowed in on them around noon on Sunday. The pair were hungry, cold and soaked to the skin, but very glad to be in the company of perfect strangers.
I can't help but wonder what kind of thoughts went through their minds, all night long...
The team needs volunteers...if you'd like to leave your warm bed for the satisfying task of searching for lost souls in the night, contact TCGSAR. Their website has information on joining: http://www.tcgsar.nb.ca/
Saturday, November 3, 2007
An hour ago, I let the dog out. She took five steps off the veranda, then did an abrupt about-face. I hope she's ready to hold it all night. We may go through an entire bottle of Bach's Rescue Remedy tonight...she hates the wind.
It's sort of eerie; this knowing something big is coming, but not knowing how big. We get a few storms here along the bay, but certainly nothing like our southern neighbours. Fortunately our high tide was two hours ago, so the flow will be ebbing with the worst of the storm.
Weather like this always brings back stories about the Bay of Fundy's Perfect Storm. It was October 4-5, 1869 when the Saxby Gale hit New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy coast. The storm was predicted, exactly to the day, one year earlier by a navigator and amateur astronomer in the British Navy, but no one paid much attention, thinking him somewhat daft.
But, sure enough, that October morning, just south of Saint John, NB, a thunderstorm coming from the west collided with a tropical storm advancing up the eastern seaboard. Wind gusting to 200 kilometers per hour caused waves that swamped unwary vessels and caused severe flooding along the Fundy Coast. The high waves combined with a high springan tide and the strong winds to create a tidal surge that flooded the low lying areas and breached the dyke system that kept out the high Bay of Fundy tides. These were the highest tides ever recorded along the eastern seaboard. Many lives were lost before the winds abated.
It should be a wild night. Probably not much sleep.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Well, I want to mention Claire Walter’s blog – Claire is a travel journalist who is awaiting the 2008 release of her book called, “Nordic Walking: the new way to health, fitness and fun”. If you have any doubts on the popularity of Nordic Walking, you need to browse her informative blog. Clare has posts on Nordic walking all over the world.
In particular, read the article on Nordic Walking in New Brunswick. She mentions a number of familiar names! Walk On Albert County!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Footloose! is so privileged to have Yennah Hurley and her partner Marilyn Inch joining us for an Introduction to Nordic Walking session on November 17th at 10:00 am at the Recreation Centre in Riverside-Albert. (This photo is of Yennah and Marilyn at Marathon by the Sea.)
Yennah and Marilyn have a Nordic Walking group (http://www.walkingproud.com) in Saint John and they will be bringing an inventory of poles so folks can actually try it and like it. Yennah will even be offering a discount if folks want to order their own– you won’t find a better deal than what she’s offering.
Yennah is so passionate about Nordic Walking that you’ll be sure to catch the buzz. Also joining us that day is Daryl Steeves (formerly of Albert County, currently from St. Joe’s Hospital in Saint John, and most recently fresh back from a Joints in Motion marathon in Greece). Daryl is a marathon veteran, both as a runner and a Nordic Walker and this year was instrumental in getting a Nordic Walking event added to Saint John's annual Marathon by the Sea event. (He even came in first place - see him approaching the finish line in the photo!) I mentioned Daryl before in my blog; he’s a wonderfully inspirational trainer and speaker who lives a full athletic life around psoriatic arthritis. He’s one of my favourite people, so trust me when I say he’s going to be giving a presentation that you just simply won’t want to miss.
This promises to be an awesome Footloose! day of fun, fitness and firsts, so bring your friends and family along. You just never know what day your life will change!
Need more info? Call Rhonda Hamilton or Doris Weir here at the Community Health and Wellness Centre. 882-3100
Thursday, October 25, 2007
We’ve even had support from as far away as Grand Falls when Steve Toner, of Timber Top Trusses, not only donated the roof truss package, but then offered to look for sponsorship from his circle of contacts when he runs an upcoming marathon. He wants to donate the proceeds to the house building project. “Why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Because what you’re doing is a really good thing.”
It is a good thing. It’s a good thing for Albert County and it’s a good thing for the couple we are helping. They find it difficult to put into words the feelings that come from being wrapped in love.
But it’s not just about building a house. It’s about a community working together on a project that shows the world we care. It’s about building community spirit. Like Footloose drew people together in a common cause of better individual health, this house-building project can bring people together in a common cause of better community health.
The successes of our community suppers show we like to work together. Camaraderie and warmth comes from working together in the service of others. Our success with Footloose showed that people in Albert County are tired of complacency – of ‘settling for less’ – they want to improve. Now let’s keep the momentum and show the real strength and quality of our heart.
We’ve endured too much negativity recently. Our youth desperately need our attention; they need to be surrounded by adults who are setting an example. They need to see how caring translates to action. And they need to be involved in community building, too.
So talk about this project to your friends and co-workers. Let people know what is happening here. Step out of your complacency. Dare to care out loud. Get involved.
If you want to help out in some way, call Pat Carr, 734-2367.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
It wasn’t just about achieving a personal best or about several hundred people enjoying a barbeque with neighbours, family and friends.
Yesterday was really about wanting more. About refusing to ‘settle’.
Too often, we settle for what life gives us, thinking this is all there is. We settle for less than what we dreamed of as children. We settle for less than we desire, in our hearts, for ourselves.
Yesterday, I met people who were refusing to settle for less any longer. I saw enthusiasm, drive, grit, and the quiet pride of achievement.
I saw Sylvia, who now gets up every morning and walks with her husband at 6:00 am. She’s 60 pounds lighter now – ‘the easiest weight I’ve ever lost!” she says with a big, beautiful smile. She refused to settle for a sedentary life.
I saw Eddie who, through a regime that combines diet, walking and biking, has lost almost half himself…the half he didn’t need. He refused to settle for a life impeded by health issues; he took charge of his wellbeing.
I saw Lloyd and Annabelle, who took part, even though they are both fighting cancer. Lloyd carried his folding stool, in case he had to stop to rest. (He didn’t.) They refused to accept illness, choosing instead to exhibit grit and hope through activity.
One beautiful white-haired lady walked with a cast on her foot and a cane in her hand. Fathers walked, hand in hand, with children. Mothers walked with strollers. Children and teens competed good-naturedly, but it wasn’t a race.
It was a gift. One that each participant made to themselves to celebrate achievement. And it was a benchmark moment, showing they abandoned complacency. They have refused to ’settle’ any longer.
Now that's something to celebrate.
Monday, October 8, 2007
He is a paraplegic in constant battle with pressure sores; she has scoliosis and lives with chronic pain. They survive on a small disability pensions. Independence is precious to them. You will never hear them complain. If you asked, they would say they feel blessed. Their faith in God and their love for each other is an inspiration to all who do know them.
They need a new home. The mobile home they were living in will be demolished this week. However, a number of community volunteers have decided to launch a community house-raising. A home to call their own.
It’s a leap of faith. There are no guarantees that money or donors will be found for all the materials required. There are no assurances that labour will be available when needed. There are no government grants or funding being sought, as time is of the essence.
But when you step forward in love, and in faith, your steps become sure and firm.
So far, the response has been phenomenal. Several Hillsborough-area building contractors have offered to help. We have an electrician, plumber, architect and engineer volunteering time and resources. Businesses offered materials. Family groups have pooled resources. Many don't even know this couple.
In fact, the support has been so positive, that site preparation for the small two bedroom barrier-free home will begin next week – only two weeks after the idea took form. Everyone who contributes will be doing so purely from the heart, without expectation of anything in return, other than the knowledge they have responded to need. There will be no charitable receipts offered.
Of all the things that are required of us in life, love for each other is the most important. It is also the riskiest. Love requires action. To act in love will always require sacrifice; commitment, time, resources.
I believe this Albert County needs this project as much as this couple needs a home. This community needs a reason to remember it has a heart. It needs a reason to show it and to act upon it.
Sometimes, you hear a whisper – a still, small voice - deep inside your heart and you just know you need to listen. Is this is one of those times for you?
If someone asked you to show love to a stranger, what would you say?
If you have time, expertise, or donations to offer, please call Pat Carr at 734-2367.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
"It’s important to realize that the benefits of regular exercise go far beyond what you might expect. You can expect to physically feel better, but the inner sense of well-being, the clarity of thought, the pride of accomplishment, self-confidence and connection you feel with others doing the same thing are the intangible gifts that accompany commitment and effort."
Well, your collective effort, hard work and participation in this program has accomplished far more than anyone could have foreseen. Last night, as the focus group met to finalize the plans for the 5K event on October 13, we learned there is a very big, very exciting announcement on the horizon.
Trust me. You won't want to miss this, so make sure you are at the Footloose! 5K Final Event and Health Fair taking place at the Hillsborough Information Centre.
10:45 Tiny Toes Trot
11:00 5K Walk/Run.
Barbeque, live entertainment and prize draws take place after the race. Local activity-related organizations and groups will have information booths set up as well.
Monday, October 1, 2007
The tradition of the Lower Cape turkey supper is also an autumn highlight of my year. I feel off kilter if I’ve been unable to lend a hand to help out.
Pleasant memories are found in the kitchen smells of the turkey, gravy and wood smoke, the collective energy of dozens of helpers, the easy camaraderie and corny jokes, neighbours catching up with neighbours and getting to know the new faces, all of them glistening with the heat and steam from cooking vegetables.
It’s organized chaos and pure joy manifested in hard work, while outside, folk mill about socializing and generally enjoying the hour-long wait before jovial Willis Steeves finds them a seat at the table. The supper is renowned throughout the county. People drive miles for the finest turkey meal known to mortal man.
Main organizers Carol Steeves and Sylvia Stevens have been directing the kitchen work for 35 years, while Margorie Henwood supervises the dining room and servers. Once, they worried about the suppers dying a slow death without new helpers being prepared to take it on. But, by the evidence in the kitchen last Saturday afternoon, there should be no concerns. Each year, more teenagers discover the joys of teamwork and serving others.
Serving 600 meals is no easy task; preparation begins many weeks earlier as turkeys and vegetables are purchased. Then that week, the best cooks in the county begin making donuts, rolls, and pies. Pickles, beets, and cranberry sauce are all donated as well.
As Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.” Lower Cape turkey suppers may not echo through world in a global sense, but they've certainly reverberated through my world.
Friday, September 28, 2007
I know that the entire 15 years I’ve lived here, the following two tenets surface again and again – they both raise my ire - the first one, proclaimed by those who live elsewhere, the second, a complaint from those who live here:
Albert County is full of rednecks.If you hear something often and long enough you begin to believe it, whether it is true or not.
If you were not born in Albert County, you will always be an outsider.
Do we have any more ‘rednecks’ or troublemakers than any other area? I seriously doubt it.
Do born and bred Albert County folk think less of those who were not born here? Most small towns do have a ‘historical hierarchy’, but I’ve always been made to feel welcome – right from the moment I moved here and my next door neighbour offered to help us move furniture, then another invited me to a ladies Christmas pot-luck.
I respect those who remain in a community through generations; they are our anchors to a very colourful past. But, I also belong here – I am part of Albert County’s present and future - and there is no one who can tell me any different.
We have a wonderful mix of people in this county. We have artists and craftspeople, environmentalists and tradespeople. We have teachers and nurses and doctors and lawyers. We have boat builders and house builders. We have entrepreneurs and farmers and fishermen. We come from all places in the world and backgrounds – just like our French and German, English and Scottish and Irish ancestors - but have one thing in common. Albert County.
So, I’m curious…What does Albert County believe about itself? Are we ready, willing and able to stand up and define ourselves by what we know is true - and to show this through our actions - or will we allow others to tell us who we are?
Our community is taking steps to become healthy in body. Why not become healthy in spirit as well?
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Not only has Scott’s commitment to health had a positive impact on his family members, but he’s become a role model for others to follow. When he started running to augment his weight loss, he discovered he really enjoyed it. Scott actually ran the 11km from Hillsborough to Hopewell Cape for the evening event.
“Scott’s story is motivating,” says Footloose! organizer, Doris Weir, “because so many people can identify with him. Plus, he is a local ‘ordinary guy’ and that’s what people love. Sometimes a weight loss of 100 lbs looks too big to tackle, so they give up. Scott helped people realize if they take it in small steps and be consistent, it can happen! Anyone can succeed if they are persistent. Scott is definitely determined and it shows.”
Friday, September 14, 2007
I must say that Newfoundland has been my favourite place in the world since my first trip in 2003, so it was a delight to share it with family who have never been there before. Despite the fact I’ve crossed the Gulf on four occasions, and spent 7 weeks there in 2005, I still haven’t seen even a smidgeon of what the province has to offer.
From an open boat tour of the southern coastal community of Burgeo (and a trek on an island that was once a fishing outport ) to finding ourselves in the midst of a Newfoundland moose hunt in Cape Onion, at the very tip of the northern peninsula, we collected as many memories and stories as we did photographs!
Beyond the remarkable experiences, spectacular scenery, and wonderful people we chanced to meet, I should mention that our neighbours across the mighty blue waves are also on a fitness kick. In every single community we visited, walkers were putting their best foot forward...young people, middle-aged, seniors; men and women alike.
And I must say, the landscape of Newfoundland makes the hills of Albert County look like barely a ripple on the bed sheet. But every community, no matter how small, has at least one designated walking trail to a lookout and some have networks of trails. Sometimes, miles from a community, we’d encounter a walker or two and wonder where on earth they walked from!
That’s the upside. The downside is that my butt has been firmly planted on a car seat for two weeks and my poor little pedometer hasn’t been wracking up many clicks. I confess to a feed or two of fish n’chips as well.
Confession is done. Time to get back into the swing of things before the turkey suppers start up! I hope everyone else has been doing better than I have! Yoga classes, here I come.
Monday, September 3, 2007
What if we could restore our capacity to breathe freely? Bringing with it increased energy, a calm and focused mind and relief from stress.
What if we took the time to get in touch with the wisdom of our own body and heart? Time dedicated to feeling, listening inside, restoring balance and healing.
What if we allowed our bodies to benefit from deep relaxation? Releasing all tension, quieting the mind, and allowing the body to apply its full energy to the task of healing.
These are just a handful of the benefits available to us through the ancient science of yoga. And no matter the age, level of strength or flexibility, anyone can start and benefit from a yoga practice.
I never could have imagined the benefits I’ve reaped since my introduction to yoga several years ago. I learn something new about yoga each day, and with its vastness, I’m sure I’ll continue to learn more for the rest of my lifetime.
What if I could share all of this with others in my community? This is just what I plan to do…..
(Note: Tammy Carlin teaches Kripalu yoga - she starts morning and evening classes in Hillsborough on Sept. 13th (see the previous posting).
Monday, August 27, 2007
So what if we redefined exercise (or diet, for that matter) in our minds?
The topic came up at a gathering of girlfriends this weekend. One who struggles with both the E&D words, complained that she didn’t have any problems getting motivated to start a new regime, but that each time, the ‘itty-bitty-shitty-committee’ in her head just kept telling her she was going to fail, until she gave in and gave up.
So what if the effort wasn’t about exercise? Don’t start walking or running (or dieting) because it’s good for you and good for your health (although it is!). Make it the ultimate answer to something that you associate with enjoyment…..stress release, relaxation, solitude. If you’re the martyr type, make it about another’s needs…. walking the dog, motivating or connecting with a friend, or spending quality time with family.
I’ve always wanted to run another marathon. But every time I started a program, I fizzled. I like to encourage others but am not great at encouraging myself, so when a friend said she wanted to run a half marathon (26 km) someday, I said I’d train with her. So it became about her goal, not mine. My motivation came from the necessity to motivate her.
Another friend says she just can’t find extra time for her girlfriends, so at least once a week, she calls one and suggests a walk together. Exercise has become her ‘catching up with friends time’. She walks further (and faster!).
The light came on. My friend with the “itty-bitty-shitty-committee” voice has a five-year old son who often follows her on his bike when she walks. So, she decided to redefine her exercise. She’s going to make her nightly walk about him. She wants her son to develop healthy habits in his life, to connect exercise with enjoyment and the best way is to show him how is through her own habits. Her walk becomes his bike ride and their special time, just a mom & son doing something together.
Itty-bitty voices can’t argue with that one.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I sincerely hope this proposal becomes a reality. I am proud and thankful that our community has involved itself in heritage protection at the urging of Mary Majka and David Christie and risen to the challenge of preserving our precious - and very colourful - past on so many occasions.
It leads me to wonder, what if Albert County didn't have our covered bridges, trails and wetland parks, shorebird sanctuary, Cape Enrage and Anderson Hollow Lighthouses, the Harvey Hall, beautiful churches and halls, heritage parks, and museums? These wonderful sites are treasures and they support and enhance the visitor experience of the Fundy tides, Hopewell Rocks and Fundy National Park.
But they also enhance our experience of the place we live. We often take them for granted, but they represent part of who we are as a community. When I travel to other places and see a town that has gone the extra mile to preserve and share its past, this shows me where the heart and soul of the community rests.
It tells me it is a community that works together, that respects where it came from and knows where it is going. It is a community with vision as well as retrospect.
We need to make every effort to enhance our history, to tell the story of our ancestors and promote the struggles of those who paved the way for the rest of us.
We need this for ourselves - for our own growth and sense of identity - as much as for the visitors who come each summer. The people in our past were strong, they were courageous, they were innovators.
Capt. Molly Cool played a significant role in the women's history of our nation. She blazed the way for other women - her successors - to follow.
Someday, we will all be the people in Albert County's past...I wonder...what if we have done nothing that our children and grandchildren will want to celebrate?
Friday, August 17, 2007
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Like Linda Geldart, for example. Every day, she collects roadside trash as she walks through Hillsborough – she’s made it a conscious choice and a habit to be concerned for her surroundings and her community.
Sometimes Linda has filled as many as six bags on her route – “I had to go get my car and come back to pick them up,” she laughs. Normally, she drops the garbage in a public dumpster, but she takes the recyclable cans and bottles to Nelson’s Remediation, where the money builds a fund for the Lower Cape youth group. In fact, Nelson’s has several community groups benefiting from bottle/can collection (hint, hint).
Her example is an encouragement and example to all of us. Linda’s dedication to beautifying our community hasn’t gone unnoticed. She was presented a Merit Award by the Hillsborough Village Council on New Brunswick Day, signed by Mayor Donna Bennett and Premier Shawn Graham.
I think of Linda every time I’m out for a walk and see garbage lying at the side of our beautiful roadways, then I berate myself because I didn’t remember to bring a bag along. So, what I’ve done is stuff plastic bags in my sneakers, so I can’t leave the house without remembering to tuck a couple in my pockets as well.
What if more of us followed Linda’s Example?
What if the people who litter started seeing their mothers and grandmothers and sisters, their fathers and brothers and friends picking up what they’ve thrown away?
What if they then thought twice the next time they rolled down the window to chuck a beer can, a coffee cup, or a bag of McDonald's food wrappers?
What if we all took responsibility for our community? What might happen then?
Monday, August 13, 2007
We've started taking note of the excuses:
1. I just don't have the time after a long day at work.
2. I can't walk or exercise since I got the arthritis in my knees.
3. The weather has been so bad...I just can't get out. 4. The weather has been so hot.
5. I have a heart condition.
6. I get enough exercise at work.
7. I don't have the time.
8. I'm just getting older and I can't do things like I used to. 9. I've worked hard all my life and now it's time to take it easy!
10 . It's hard for me to get away from the kids.
We have always said that you need to consult your family physician before starting an exercise program...to listen to your body and take it slow BUT some of us give up before even starting. Dr. Ken Mitton, family physician and Ironman competitor offered no sympathy when it came to discussing pain during exercise. He lives with chronic back pain. He told us all that his quality of life would be and has been worse before he started a regular exercise program. " Yes, I have pain " he said, "but my back pain is worse if I don't exercise and besides, I am enjoying life".
For every excuse you have, there will be someone available to disprove it!
I received a phone call on Saturday night. Phyllis Sutherland was excited and inspired by one of her employees. David Chase and his wife works for the Sutherlands at Ponderosa Pines Campground during the summer. David's wife told Phyllis that the Footloose program has created a monster. Her husband David has taken off with the program. David has had heart problems and even has a pacemaker - defibrillator. Since starting footloose, David's competitive nature has started him on a path to overcoming the obstacles that kept him from beginning an exercise program. Apparently David is out-walking and challenging the other employees at Ponderosa Pines.
Lloyd Trites has been an inspiration to me. Lloyd and his wife have experienced huge health obstacles but both of them are out there on the trails. Lloyd told me that for the past several years he thought it would not be good for him to exercise because of his health problems. "I thought it would make everything worse" he said. He told me that he feels "so much better" since he started walking with footloose.
The body is an amazing machine and you will be surprised at it's adaptability when it comes to exercise. For most of us it all comes down to the mental push...and not so much the physical. It's been said that overcoming obstacles is 3 % physical and 97% mental. Change your mind and you can change your exercise habits!