Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Many Blessings

Our little home performed admirably for our annual Christmas Eve celebration, a gathering of my brother's family and mine.  Thirteen of us seated around the dining room table, enjoying our traditional German meal by candlelight.  The dynamics of this group continually changing. This year, three little ones all under three graced us with their sweet energy.  Two other little souls patiently waiting in the wings.  Spirits of loved ones now passed infusing our evening, as well.  This Christmas Day I am counting my blessings, of which there are many.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Living in a Disney Movie

Looking out into the backyard, I feel as if I am watching a real-life version of a Disney movie.  The abundant and varied wildlife makes for heartwarming entertainment.  The antics of a grey squirrel chasing a black one up a tree, then along the top of the fence, are comical.  I can almost hear them laughing as they play.  Then there is the flurry of activity over the patio, as birds of all feathers take turns at the feeders. A kaleidoscope of blue, orange, grey, red, brown, white, and black. Dozens of birds participate in an enchanting ballet while flying a triangular route, from branch to suet to seed.  The sweet hummingbirds keep to their special feeder on the outskirts of the fray.  It would not be surprising to see music notes appear along with coloured banners strung from beak to beak.  As dusk falls, a pair of raccoons ambling across the lawn towards the house completes the scene.  Placing front paws upon the glass wall, they remain thus for quite some time, making eye contact with the two humans playing Scrabble indoors.  The blazing fire and candlelight in stark contrast to the cold outdoors.  Half expecting the raccoons to slide open the door and join in the game, this movie is one I will never tire of watching over and over again.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sign of the Season

While preparing for our annual tree-decorating event at Boal Memorial, I paused by the front window this morning and gazed out over the frost-covered lawn.  Dry days, with unusually cold temperatures, has resulted in thick frost, creating an illusion of snow.  I stood there, the intense duality within me threatening to overwhelm - so much to be grateful for existing alongside deep sadness due to loss.  While breathing slowly and deeply into the scene before me, I became aware of one tiny snowflake drifting down.  Any smaller, and it would have been invisible to the naked eye.  A few moments later, another one appeared, followed by a third some seconds after that.  This delicate show continued for a short time - the tiniest of snowflakes floating down one by one, all well spaced apart.  And then, the display was over.  The first snowflakes of the year.  So subtle.  Easily overlooked, without any accumulation. Their appearance, however, was not lost on me.  On this significant day, it was not feathers that made me smile, but rather, a beautiful sign of the season. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Coyote Encounter

What a glorious day for a run.  This morning, as I headed out the door towards the trail head of a sparsely-populated path leading into the canyon, I considered Saturday's run, when I ended up forgoing this route which I have run hundreds of times before. 
On that day, while approaching this path, I noticed a four-legged animal standing a short distance away, along the roadside.  At first, I thought it was a dog, a husky cross perhaps, but I stopped in my tracks when I realized I was staring at a coyote.   We sized each other up - me wondering what his intentions were, and he possibly wondering the same about me.  My first close encounter with such an animal was happening a 1/2 block from my home. 
As I moved closer, he retreated into the forest, whereupon I lost sight of him.  Hoping to get another glimpse, I wandered along the road, peering through the trees, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Unsure of what typical coyote behavior might be, I weighed my options - backtrack to the path and continue running into the canyon, or change to a less desirable, urban route?   I decided to stick to my original plan and ran back to the trail head.  However, as I started down the path, the animal crossed directly in front of me.  He then positioned himself at the edge of the forest, watching me. Perhaps we were just equally curious, but I turned around and finished my run along the neighbourhood sidewalks instead.  
I later learned that I need not have, and now know that if we ever run into each other again, we can both peacefully carry on our way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Peeling Back the Layers

Last week's yoga class left me feeling quite undone.  Rather than returning home in the usual state of gratitude and contentment, I encountered a crushingly difficult, grief-filled evening instead.  That overwhelming sense of loss dominated much of the following day as well.  This was a first - yoga had never had that affect on me.  Upon reflection, I realized that my grief had been triggered by the teacher's suggestion that we each set an intention for class.  After some deliberation, I had silently asked for a hug from Michael.  Of course, my rational mind knew that was physically impossible.  However, another part of me entertained the notion that the hug may come in the form of spirit connection.  Alas, in Savasana pose at the end of the class, I recognized that neither had occurred, and the tears flowed.  I was again reminded that a physical hug from my son would never occur. Obviously this was not new information, so what was going on?  Why such an intense response?  Perhaps it was the perfect time for me to access yet another layer of grief.  My mind, body, and soul were in that deeply connected state of existence, allowing for further penetration of reality. Peeling back the layers.  Like in the onion analogy often referred to with regards to personal growth.  I wonder how many layers this onion has. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Sum of Its Parts

It has been eleven days since I last posted here, by far the longest spell between entries since I began this blog thirty-three months ago. During this past week, each time I sat down to write, I kept thinking that I could address one or two of the numerous instances of positive feedback the book was receiving.  I would get stuck - there were, and continue to be, so many examples to choose from.  Friends, family, acquaintances, the community at large, as well as complete strangers are responding to the book as I hoped they would - with open hearts.  When I sat down this afternoon to again ponder a possible blog entry, I reflected on the overarching themes of love, support, and gratitude.  It then became clear.  Rather than trying to focus on just a couple of specific examples, it was easier to address the sum of its parts.  Each of the individual acts are expanding our collective energies of love and gratitude.  Love and gratitude, the two words found inside the open heart on the book's front cover.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Paper Child is Born

After an eighteen month gestational period, the paper child has been born at last.  Energetically, producing this book had similarities to pregnancy - nurturing this being, eagerly anticipating its arrival, and periodically, feeling impatient that it was not coming soon enough. Then, when the time was right, ushering this creation into the universe and celebrating its existence.

Birthing this creative project was truly a team affair.  The strong and frequent messages from spirit guided the perfect individuals to step up to the task long before any of us (the writer, editor, designer, and printer) recognized that a book needed to be created.  Together, we have succeeded.  Through this book, a broader audience will be exposed to many comforting messages including "Death is not the end" and "Love is eternal".  I feel deep gratitude from the invisible and hear their sighs of relief.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Timely Death Cafe

When I first heard about Death Cafes on a radio program this past summer, I was intrigued.  Year-round events where strangers meet to discuss this weighty subject over tea and cake.  Over the past few years, these get-togethers have been gaining momentum worldwide.  I am looking forward to my introductory experience with a Death Cafe tomorrow, which is also day one of a two day festival known as Day of the Dead. In cultures where this holiday is recognized, November 1st is dedicated to joyfully celebrating with the souls of children who have passed.  The following day is when deceased adults are welcomed back to join the living in celebrations of life.  Last week, I realized that my book launch happens to fall on the second day of that festival.  Before my son's death, I had given the holiday little thought, but two years ago, during that first November without him, I imagined how supportive it would be to be immersed in a culture that celebrates this.  Then last year, by chance, I was in Sedona for their Day of the Dead festivities.  This year, through serendipity, I again have both days covered - the first will be spent expanding my mind, the second, celebrating a creation born out of death.   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tiny Taste

Now deep into fall, with its cool nights and noticably shorter days, a most welcomed sight endures in my garden.  Heading into this last week of possibly the sunniest October ever, the raspberry canes continue to produce luscious, red berries.  Sweet bursts of delight still offer themselves up for the taking.  A tiny taste of summer lingers.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Soul Family

Another little one is making its way into our family.  One more soul who has decided that this particular family would be a good fit - devoted parents, loving aunts and uncles, two sets of doting grandparents, and a big sister paving the way.  Sweet child, whatever you have included on your to-do list for this lifetime, we will all do our utmost to support you fully, helping you achieve those dreams.  And of course, we will learn much from you, enabling us to fulfill our destinies too. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Angelic Art

With my granddaughter happily seated in her stroller, the two of us headed out to explore the neighbourhood yesterday morning.  We shared a muffin at a café, stopped at the library, chatted with shopkeepers, and played at the park.  We then returned to my home for lunch, after which, it was time for her nap.  I knew she was tired but instead of resting, she cried in bed for quite some time.  I finally went in, picked her up, and took her into my living room so that we could quietly cuddle together.  We settled into an easy chair and observed the backyard scene of birds and squirrels going about their day.  Within minutes, she was sound asleep.  
She would need at least half an hour, if not longer, to refresh herself for the second half of her day so I decided I would remain seated for as long as she needed, holding her comfortably on my lap.  Since there were no distractions within reach, I embraced the opportunity to just be.  Taking in the perfection of this little being, breathing in her essence, feeling our hearts beat together, I was well aware of how precious this time was.  The sun streaming through the glass wall behind us served to heighten the experience, warming us both, and casting a glow on her fine, blond curls.  
While marvelling at the beauty surrounding me, I noticed a bright, colourful spot on the end of one of her strands of hair.  I gently ran my fingers along it, thinking perhaps I would find a loose thread or a fleck of who knew what.  After repeated attempts to remove it, the spot remained.  Perplexed, I picked up my reading glasses and found myself staring at a magnificent image rivalling the splendour of stained glass windows found in grand cathedrals.  Right at the tip of this strand of hair was a round, highly detailed, miniature work of art -  as if an angel, using the finest tools, had drawn intricate lines of design within design, then filled in the spaces with jewel tones.  There were tiny circles, triangles, and squares, overlapping in places, embellished with various designs and patterns.  The vision before me defied explanation but nevertheless, there it was.  I did not need to know how or why in order to treasure the magic of this moment.  Forty minutes later my granddaughter awoke with a smile on her face - she had had a much needed nap, and I had been blessed with another exquisite experience.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Powerful Antidote

Another rewarding evening spent at the International Spiritualist Alliance.  Only a small number of us showed up for the open circle session to practice our connection with spirit.  This resulted in a great deal of hands-on experience for all.  It began with a guided meditation to help ground and prepare us.  This was followed by energy work in the form of expanding auras, sensing spirit, and giving psychometry readings.  We closed with a lengthy healing meditation sending energy to those within the room, as well as to people in our greater community who could also benefit.  The evening served as a powerful antidote to the challenging energy I had encountered earlier in the day.  How grateful am I?  Very.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

More Feathers

Late afternoon last Friday, I placed my yoga mat under a maple tree in the far corner of the yard.  I had never set up over there, but on this day, it was the only spot that felt private.  Although it had been warm out earlier, by the time I sat down it had cooled off significantly and I considered moving indoors.  However, with the long range forecast calling for rain and lower temperatures, I realized that it could be quite some time 'til I could practise outdoors again so I grabbed a blanket, and began.  Within moments I noticed a small, white feather drifting down, eventually coming to rest on the grass nearby.  Soon after, a second white feather appeared, undulating - dancing softly in the breeze, like a scene out of Forrest Gump.  After crossing directly in front of me, it continued on at eye level, passing under the branches and eventually travelling beyond my field of vision.  It had been many months, possibly even a year, since I had last seen this special sign, and I smiled at the loving message from spirit.  Earlier in the week, I had asked Michael to please show me a physical sign of his presence, to remind me that his essence was still close, and now, here it was.  As my poses flowed from one to another, I repeatedly heard the message: remember to keep your perspective broad and open, rather than narrow and closed - you will feel lighter and more content.  I interpreted this to be a reference to living with his passing, but of course, it applies to everything in life.  So richly rewarded for my decision to remain outdoors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Salmon Inspiration

While swimming lengths at the pool recently, I was surprised to feel fatigue setting in around the 3/4 mile mark.  I contemplated slowing down or even cutting my swim short, but then I considered the salmon in my local river.  When they were young, they made their way down to the ocean.  Now, those fortunate enough to have survived to maturity have returned to their birth river.  Swimming upstream against the current, periodically challenged to leap over rock barriers, these salmon exert themselves fully for days on end.  Their goal is to return to their spawning grounds regardless of the hurdles that await them en route.  As I thought about the determination each one of them exhibits during that long and arduous journey, it was an easy decision to finish out my little swim without compromise.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I Still Call Bullshit

This morning, while placing flowers at the memorial plaque engraved with my son's birth and death dates, the voice in my head is still calling bullshit.  On a soul level, I understand Michael's passing, however, as his mother, I doubt if it will ever make sense.  The accident happened two and a half years ago today.  It might as well be two and a half months ago, since time has done little, if anything, to alter my day-to-day reality with respect to this intense loss.  How could it?  He is gone. He will never again give me a hug, never again call me on the phone, never again sit down to a family meal.  Regardless of what is happening in my day, experiencing joy or sadness or anything in-between, this companion called grief is with me, always.  I would not have anticipated this is how it would be, but as with any profound life experience, you don't know until you are in it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cartwheels ... Just Because

While walking along the seawall, I noticed a young bikini-clad woman performing a cartwheel on the beach.  This reminded me of an old photo taken at another local beach where my toddler daughter is cartwheeling naked on the sand.  A simple pleasure, done ... just because.  I got to thinking - when had I last executed a cartwheel?  How old was I?  Most likely in my twenties, three decades ago.  Where was I and who was I with?  What if on that day, someone had said, "Vera, this is the last time you will experience the joy of doing a cartwheel." Would I have laughed at the absurdity of that statement?  Would I have thought the person crazy?  Would I have then made a conscious effort to continue incorporating cartwheels into my life?  As I continued walking, I decided that another cartwheel was long overdue.  Arriving home, I placed my hands firmly on the grass, then swung my legs up and over.  It was not very graceful but it was a cartwheel nonetheless.  I am sure that my granddaughter will happily practise with me.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Summer Storm

Shortly before midnight, I was awakened by a rare summer storm.   It was not the rumbling of the thunder that lured me out of the comfort of my bed, but rather, the intense lightening.  So extreme, that each flash lit up the inside of my entire house, due to the full glass walls at the back and numerous clerestory windows along the sides.  Light spilled down through the skylight, as well.  

I ventured outside in my robe to fully experience the magnitude of Mother Nature's show.  Rain poured down the rain chains into the stones below, creating a vertical river in my backyard.  In the absence of any wind, the gigantic evergreens seemed to stand at attention, each lightening flash flooding them fully.  It was as if the trees were posing to have their majestic presence captured by a heavenly photographer. Viewing this entire spectacle with awe, I briefly wondered if I would meet the skunks or bear that had recently visited here.

Within the hour, the storm had passed, and the darkness returned.  The river, reduced to a trickle.  I wandered back to bed and considered how fortunate I was to have witnessed such unexpected beauty.  This morning I recalled that just before going to bed, I had entered a contest to win a winter storm watching getaway.  Perhaps last night was just a taste of things to come. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It Never Gets Old

On a day like today, I feel as though I am trudging through deep mud in lead boots.  Trying to pull myself up by my bootstraps with minimal success.  Despite the fantastic weather, plentiful granddaughter time, and phone call from a close friend.  Despite creating a mental gratitude list, planning an upcoming family dinner, and going for a brisk walk along the ocean with my husband. Filled with penetrating sadness, I feel fragile, missing my son acutely. On the verge of tears much of the day.  Full moon energy or just because?  Thankfully, days like today are not the norm, and tomorrow awaits.  "One day at a time" -  it never gets old. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Yesterday certainly started this week-long cabin vacation off with a bang.  The day consisted of one magical moment after another, much of it due to the generosity of others.  There was a long meditative swim followed by lunch on the dock in the shade of the willow.  Later, after a scenic drive along Okanagan Lake, my husband and I stopped in at a restaurant patio with a view where we enjoyed a bite, courtesy of a gift certificate from a friend.  Next, up to a hilltop winery for the much anticipated Pink Martini concert.  While waiting for it to begin, we gratefully accepted an impromptu invitation to the exclusive pre-show wine and appy event, extended to us by a senior staff member who happened to be an acquaintance from long ago.  Shortly before dusk, in this breathtaking setting, we took our seats in the comfortable custom chairs set out on the grassy slope of the amphitheatre where we were entertained by eleven extremely talented musicians.  Magnificent!  Upon our return to the cabin, the two of us capped off the day with a brief swim under the stars.  To the numerous elements (people, weather, geography, talent, food and drink) that came together in order to create this outstanding 11/10 day, I say thank you, thank you, thank you.  It was a day I will not soon forget.

Friday, August 2, 2013

In and Out of the Woods

While jogging in the woods, the phrase out of the woods came to mind.  I smiled when I recognized the significance of this thought with regards to where I was.  Not only in the woods, but specifically on the same trail where I had seen that pink heart-shaped balloon containing Michael and Diesel a couple of days after they died.  Now, I played with these two words - in and out.  In the woods is where I experience deep connection to all that is, here and beyond.  I regain clarity about life. While I was certain about being in the woods, I was less certain about being out of them.  I further considered this idiom's meaning; no longer in danger or difficulty, the most difficult part of the journey has passed. Was I in danger?  No, I never was.  Am I having difficulty?  At times, of course.  Has the most difficult part of this journey passed?  That I cannot answer since my journey is not over.  And if it never gets any easier, so be it.  Being in the woods will remain my salve. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Give and Take

Yesterday, I was fortunate to have numerous meaningful experiences with individuals willing to genuinely engage, resulting in powerful flows of give and take.  First off, a morning meeting with a fellow book club member to discuss minor changes to my book.  That was followed by coffee and a heart-to-heart with a young friend going through a very difficult time.  Later, an appointment with a business acquaintance to enquire about his product.  That led to further conversation wherein we discovered several shared connections and similarities, including both of us losing a son.  Stopping in for an impromptu playtime with my granddaughter before returning home for a three hour phone session with my best friend to go over final edits.  Thankfully, none of these experiences were rushed or shoehorned in, allowing adequate time for total immersion in each and every moment.  Rather than merely showing up, each one of us brought our best self to the experience, resulting in deeper connection.  Truly magnificent.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Feeding the Soul

Wow, what an over-the-top week this is turning out to be.  Numerous exciting experiences, only one of which was on my radar last week.  Took in the local Modern Home Tour on the weekend, which showcased creative examples of architecture and gardens, fueling my imagination.  Won tickets to attend the upcoming Pink Martini outdoor concert at an Okanagan winery, bound to be spectacular.  Invited to an event on Grouse Mountain this evening, complete with jazz and appies. Heading out with the trailer and bikes to Whistler for a weekend of outdoor adventures.  All of this occurring whilst the days are flooded with sunshine.  Does a week like this ensure that the heart does not ache, that the tears do not fall, that the deep sadness of missing my son stays at bay?  Of course not.  However, I am fortunate to have such lively and uplifting opportunities to feed my soul.  I fully appreciate each and every one. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Erratic Times

It appears that many people are in the midst of experiencing erratic times.  During the past few weeks, unpredictable and disruptive energies seem to be present in larger than normal doses, and I see them reflected in several ways.  Many routine transactions going sideways. Numerous freak accidents occurring to people engaged in ordinary activities.  Lives lost in most peculiar ways.  Another shakedown taking place.  It will be interesting to see where this leads, to find out what we are being prepared for.  I am curious, not fearful, for these are not preventable outcomes - they are all happening for a reason.  Living each and every day to the best of our ability is, and always has been, our first order of business.  And perhaps, all this is simply happening to serve as a reminder of that.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Precious Days

Exhausted and content, I reflect on another precious day spent with my fourteen month old granddaughter.  Once a week, she and I enjoy an entire day together - just us two.  We have the luxury of being in the moment - no schedule, nothing that must get done.  We observe the birds descending onto the backyard feeders, attempting to mimic their songs.  We stroll to the park for a ride on the swing, stopping to smell flowers and touch leaves on the trees along the way.  We visit Boal Memorial, blowing kisses to Uncle Mike and Kelly.  We pick salmonberries, huckleberries, and strawberries, delighting in them all.  We snuggle up on the couch, reading books from her special cupboard in the den.  We get soaked during water play, with cups and a filled tub on the grass, pausing to watch the occasional helicopter fly overhead.  We wander down to the suspension bridge, crossing it hand in hand, 70 metres above the river - she, at times, stopping to dance.  So sweet, so lovable, so alive - my heart nearly bursting in her presence.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Carrying Their Love Forward

This afternoon, on behalf of everyone who helped make the third annual MGMG tournament such a great success, my husband and I had the privilege of presenting a cheque to Canuck Place Children's Hospice.  On June 8th, our group raised $4,289 for this very worthwhile cause.  Then last week, a friend who had kindly offered to take some of Michael's old hockey equipment to a consignment store earlier this year, mentioned that the items had finally sold, then dropped off a cheque for $100, which bumped up our total donation to $4,389.  This year's goal was to hit the $10,000 mark for funds raised to date - I am thrilled to say that in Michael and Kelly's memories we beat that goal and have contributed $11,018 since June 2011!  Yet another way we, as a group, carry their love forward. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Special Rose

One of the many fabulous aspects of the garden at our new home is a large and plentiful strawberry patch.  Whether I am popping out barefoot in my housecoat to pick berries for breakfast or going out later in the day to gather some for a salad, I feel gratitude for these tasty gifts of nature.  An odd feature of this space, however, is that in the centre of this dense strawberry patch grows one large, lone, red rose.  This vibrant, large-petalled blossom stands elegantly poised above its small, red neighbours.  When I first noticed this rose, I imagined more would follow, but it remains the one and only.  Gazing upon this scene, I am reminded of Antoine de Saint Exupéry's The Little Prince story wherein the only large flower blooming on the prince's small planet is a single red rose.  He tends to this flower faithfully, all the while believing it to be the only one in existence.  Then, while visiting Earth, he is shocked to realize this is not the case when he sees thousands of roses in just one garden.  However, evetually he recognizes that it is because of his deep friendship with that one red rose on his planet that makes her so special, and he appreciates her even more.  And so it is here in this garden - each and every time I pick berries from that strawberry patch, my heart smiles at this special rose, the only one in this entire garden. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Last night, I sat out on the deck breathing in the beauty of the sun setting behind the hill.  While the scattered clouds reflected orange hues onto the lake, I reflected on yet another magnificent MGMG event. From rookie beginners to seasoned golfers they had arrived, understanding that the level of proficiency out on the course was irrelevant to the degree of enjoyment they would experience over the course of the weekend.  Ranging from their early twenties to mid sixties, scores of friends and family members participated, with two toddlers taking it all in as well.  And then there were those who were with us in spirit, unable to attend this time around and much missed.  A few new faces were drawn into the fold as well, friends of friends - people who had never met Mike or Kelly but had accepted the invitation to join this special community.  The weekend was a resounding success with great conversation, plenty of laughter, heartfelt hugs, and fundraising for Canuck Place.

When I awoke at 7am this morning, my husband was already gone - he had left the cabin around 5am to make the four hour drive to work.  My plans were to finish cleaning, then leave for home later this afternoon. When I received a call from him around 8:30am, I assumed he was almost there.  Instead, he was calling to tell me that he was still in Princeton.  He had hit a deer an hour into his trip.  The bad news was that the car was likely going to be a write-off.  The good news was that he was perfectly fine - thank heaven.  However, when he filled me in on the details of the accident, my thinking went from "these things happen" to "what the hell?"  On the way home from this special weekend, my husband had hit that deer within a stone's throw of the memorial cross - mere metres from Mike and Kelly's accident site.  The car had then been towed to the auto wrecker up the hill, the same place Mike's car had lingered for months after that accident just over two years ago.  What??  When I finally picked my husband up a few hours later, we stopped at the wrecker's lot to retrieve some belongings - an extremely surreal experience.  Now, sitting here in my living room as dusk falls, I am still shaking my head in disbelief and reflecting on the mysteries of life.     

Friday, May 31, 2013

Cheeky Kid

I attended an inspiring drop-in at the ISA this week, long overdue.  It was not because of a burning desire to hear from anyone in particular that I went - it was because I knew that even listening to messages meant for others always leaves me feeling enheartened, particularly in that space.

There were five mediums ready to work with spirit but before they began, we did something a little different - each member of the audience was asked to write down the name of someone in spirit that we were hoping to connect with that evening.  No surprise that I wrote down "Michael" because obviously it is always wonderful to hear from him.  After we all placed our folded papers in a basket, the mediums each took turns pulling names and relaying the messages.  The energy was excellent, resulting in detailed and meaningful readings.  

As the two hour session drew to a close, one of the mediums stood up and announced that rather than drawing a name, she would work with the spirit who had shown himself to her while she was awaiting her turn.  She described his personality, his age group, and the accident.  Once I determined it was Michael, she went on to say that he was feeling responsible for the added emotional challenges I have had these past few weeks and that he felt sad while watching me cope.  The medium then reiterated something I already knew - that Michael was coming into his own more fully now, and helping others.  All of this was comforting to hear.

Later, while driving home, it dawned on me that the most poignant part of his communication was not the message itself but rather how he had chosen to come through. The folded paper with his name on it would not physically get picked from the basket - that was for the masses, not for him.  He would come through on his own terms rather than follow the format set out for the group.  This had been one of Michael's strong personality traits on this side and he was now showing it to me from over there.  Recognizing this inside joke, I had a good laugh and was reminded that he is still my cheeky kid!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Exquisite Experience

One of my daughters recently sent me a photo of a hummingbird perched on her shoe.  Yes, her shoe.  When we spoke the following day, she filled me in.  Since then, I have thought about her incredible story daily.  She and her husband were up at their cabin when suddenly, a hummingbird flew in through the open sliding door, way up into the vaulted ceiling.  Flying around up there, it came into contact with dust and cobwebs, before eventually returning to ground level, coming to rest upon one of my daughter's unoccupied shoes.  Moments later, her husband carried that shoe with the bird out to the deck.  Surprisingly, the hummingbird went along for the ride.  That was the image captured in the picture.  However, the truly amazing part of the story was yet to come.  While the bird remained on the shoe, my daughter reached over and with her fingers carefully began removing one tiny particle of debris at a time.  The hummingbird stayed put.  After the cleaning, it lingered for another few minutes, then off it flew.  When my daughter described this scene to me, I was astonished.  I have had many close encounters with hummingbirds, those messengers of healing, love, hope and joy, but I have never even heard of anything like this.  Feeling its heartbeat and being in such close proximity to those brilliant iridescent feathers - I can only imagine.  I continue to marvel at what is possible. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Letting the Light Shine In

Experiencing another week on the roller-coaster of intense highs and lows.  Continuing to work with the graphic designer, readying my book for print -  necessitating combing through each page repeatedly, resulting in understandably heightened emotions.  Marking another Mother's Day - visiting with my daughters and extended family, four generations of mothers and their children gathered together. Organizing the upcoming memorial golf tournament, resulting in daily opportunities to reconnect with community and friends.  At times, I feel weighed down by the more difficult aspects of these endeavours.  Then, as I began writing this post, out in the sunshine this afternoon, I recognized that woven under, over and around all the challenges are the nourishing elements of support, love, and gratitude.  All those involved are mutually giving and receiving these life-sustaining energies.  Support. Love.  Gratitude.  All opening the door to let the light shine in.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Smiling Faces

We could not have asked for more perfect weather for the year's first visit to the cabin -  just shy of midway through spring, we enjoyed a taste of summer.  My husband and I appreciated the three glorious days of bathing suit weather and meals on the beach.  A lovely mix of outdoor work and play - attending opening day at the farmer's market, cycling along the channel, rowing around the lake, and yoga on the dock, interspersed with tending to maintenance chores and general cleanup of the property.  Within this perfection, grief continued to be my constant companion throughout each day - it does not take a vacation. The daily challenge of ensuring that sadness does not gain a strong foothold is always present but being up at the cabin continues to be more difficult than being at home - I hope this will not always be the case because it is so beautiful there.  Out for a run on the back roads this morning, through acres of wild flowers, amid a symphony of bird songs, I was having trouble shaking off the sadness which was threatening to prevail.  Then, halfway along the route, Michael and Kelly's larger than life smiling faces appeared, side by side.  Their sparkling eyes met mine, sending me encouragement and cheering me on.  I could feel the love and support emanating from them.  My sadness lifted and joy filtered in as I happily returned their smiles.     

Sunday, April 28, 2013

First Birthday

Dearest Granddaughter,
Later today we will be celebrating your first birthday, which falls tomorrow.  I have baked you a carrot cake; I cannot remember the last time I made one.  What I do know is that it was an obvious choice given that I had baked this same kind for your mother on her first birthday too.
What you have shown me about yourself thus far:
You give freely of your kisses - to stuffed animals, pictures in books, friends and family.
Your entertaining facial expressions are an ongoing source of joy and laughter.
You enjoy eating, moving your body to music, and reading "Pat the Bunny".
You are not keen on cats nor the feel of grass under your feet.
You are confident and curious, partnered with a healthy dose of cautiousness.
You have a wonderful sense of humour.
You are beautiful.
As you grow older, there may be times when you forget how fabulous you are.  I hope not.  However, if you do, you can read this birthday letter to help remind you of your inherent beauty and worth.  During this first year you have brought a great gift to our entire family, just by being you.
Thank you for being born.

Love and kisses,

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Wonderful World

I had not attended a yoga class for some time, opting to practice poses at home instead.  Finally, this afternoon, I got myself to a Yin class, and I am so glad I did.  Another cold and dreary week had taken its toll on me, both physically and emotionally, and I knew that getting out to a studio would help improve my energy level and disposition - it always does.  Midway through the class, while lying in a meditative state in the deep hip-opening Swan pose, I began sending pink energy out into the room.  Moments later, in my mind's eye, I saw yellow and orange energy waves join in.  The three colours formed a mini rainbow, which was pulsating this beautiful loving energy throughout the space.  The background music thus far had been made up of the soothing instrumentals and calm melodic chantings typically heard during such classes.  Suddenly, while still holding this difficult and uncomfortable pose, Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's rendition of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" began playing over the speakers. It took but a second to put two and two together.  This song, referencing colours of the rainbow and the beauty in the world, was one of the three that played during Michael's memorial service.  Now, love and gratitude washed through me and infused my entire being.  I am fairly certain that during the thirty plus years of attending yoga classes in various studios, I have not once heard this song play.  When the song ended, the music reverted to instrumentals and chanting, but for the balance of the class, then into the evening, the deep feelings of love and gratitude remained.  What a wonderful world.

Friday, April 12, 2013

The Mysterious Realm of Communication

My most recent evening at the ISA included a relaxing guided meditation, as well as a heartfelt message from my paternal grandfather, in German, of course.  About family, about love.  He spoke directly to me, no medium required, about the parent-child relationship and the various ways it has played out within our family over these past four generations.  Even though this man had died long before I was born, I instantly recognized his spirit and felt a deep connection as he shared his observations.  The ISA evening ended about a half-hour later than usual, and when I got in my car, the clock read 9:55.  After these sessions, I am usually home around 10 o'clock, and since it's about a thirty minute drive, I contemplated calling my husband to tell him not to wait up.  Then I thought about how exhausted he was and the strong possibly of him being asleep, so I decided against it.  When I arrived home, he was surprisingly still awake, and before I had a chance to tell him about my evening he told me about a strange incident that had occurred.  He had been watching TV in the den when he heard a beeping sound coming from elsewhere in the house.  As he approached the living room, he realized that the alarm was ringing on the clock in there.  We don't use the alarm feature and it had never spontaneously gone off - it had not even been touched recently.  He went on to say that it had happened at 9:55.  Obviously that had no significance for him until I explained what I had been doing at exactly that time.  For me, this was yet another new experience in the mysterious realm of communication.  Fascinating, for sure.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Simply Perfect

My older daughter stopped by this morning and just before she left, we briefly discussed another overnight babysitting stint for later this month when she and her husband will be attending a wedding to be held in an outdoor venue just down the road from my home.  A few minutes after my daughter left, I was driving down the street and as I passed the venue, I happened to notice a woman standing beside a parked car. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was the bride-to-be, with her fiancé emerging from the car as well.  Are you kidding?  I may see this young couple at a social gathering two or three times a year but not once have I seen them just in passing, or run into them in the community. Another "coincidence".  Nothing earth-shattering, simply perfect.  Love it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A Small World Indeed

My best friend, a local high school teacher, just returned from chaperoning students to Italy.  When I called her to find out how the trip had gone, she told me about a remarkable experience.  

One evening during her stay, as dusk was falling, she and three other Vancouver school teachers were walking through the centre of Florence when they passed a Tiffany & Co. store.  One of the women commented that this company was like McDonald's, with locations everywhere.  My friend asked if she'd like to hear a story, then began by telling the group about the car accident of March 7th, 2011.  She was giving them the background for the incident that followed a few months later when that jewellery company and I connected in a most amazing way over the story of Michael and Kelly.

Just as the sun was setting, the four women reached the Ponte alla Carraia bridge, where they stood admiring the view of the nearby Ponte Vecchio, the city's most famous bridge.  My friend continued with her story, telling the group about a similar trip she had chaperoned exactly two years ago.  She had committed to undertaking that trip months before the accident, causing her to miss Michael's service.  During those difficult days abroad, she would make the daily trip across the exact bridge the women were now standing on, each time stopping for a few moments mid span to dig deep and in her words,  "man it up for Michael".  She had had a special relationship with him and knew that he would not want her to be under a grey cloud during the entire trip, but rather, he would want her to have some fun because what she knew for sure was that Michael was all about having fun.    
When my friend finally finished this lengthy narrative, one of the teachers turned to her to remark how incredible that story was and that she would never forget it as long as she lived.  The woman then paused and added, "I feel like I've heard parts of this story before."  She then asked, "Where did you say the accident happened?"  My friend told her - just outside of Princeton.  The woman instantly realized why that part of the story sounded familiar and told my friend that her son was the ambulance driver in that small town!

Wow.  Halfway around the world, this random connection is made, bringing the entire story full circle, all because of one chance remark about a store.  A small world, indeed.     

Thursday, March 28, 2013

All Will be Revealed

I am grateful for the gift of consecutive sunny days, warmer temperatures, and the new growth bursting forth around me.  It is magical to be experiencing spring within a garden entirely new to me, one that has been lovingly tended to over the years.  As the fresh green shoots from various bulbs emerge here and there, I consider what kinds of flowers might appear.  When I walk by the tightly closed rhododendron buds, I speculate on the colour that will eventually be revealed.  As I lean in to take a closer look at the dark pink blossoms showing up on some of the bushes, I wonder what they are called.  And then, within minutes of sitting down to write this post, a hummingbird arrived to nourish itself at the feeder we brought with us - the first one I have seen here since we moved in, adding an exclamation mark to all of this magnificence.  Exquisite timing.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Lighter Days

Yet another storm blew in yesterday, with high winds, cold temperatures, and torrential rains - a dismal welcome for Spring's long awaited arrival.  Now this morning, as I gaze out one of our home's full glass walls, I am overjoyed to see the sun shining upon the towering cedars of the nearby forest and am reassured that the lighter days are indeed on their way.  And not a moment too soon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Timeless Truths

As the rain continues to fall, I am curled up indoors with the spiritual writings of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet, a timeless collection of poetic essays infused with love and mysticism.  I find comfort in these timeless words of wisdom, particularly in those poems I included when honouring significant life events.  On Children, a passage that was read aloud during each child's dedication ceremony.  On Death, a poem I delivered at my mother's funeral.  On Marriage, a passage I shared during both daughters' wedding celebrations.  In a rich and gentle manner, Gibran expresses profound truths that my heart and soul recognize, just as countless other hearts and souls have for generations. Heavenly. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Holding the Pieces Together

Over the past few weeks, as I occasionally considered the approaching second anniversary of Michael's death, I noticed that my feelings of dread were not as overwhelming as they were last year, and for that I was grateful.  Then suddenly, this morning, I hit the emotional wall.  I had set aside time to unpack a few more boxes and clean the house in preparation for our family dinner tomorrow.  I was missing him terribly, so during the housework, I decided to blast the music that had played at his service.  I had not heard this CD for the better part of a year.  A few songs in, over the noisy vacuum cleaner, I was startled by a shattering noise.  When I looked over to where the sound had come from, I saw one of the glass candle holders from the top shelf lying broken on the floor, reduced to shattered fragments.  It had been one of a matching pair given to me a few months after the tragedy - one honouring Michael and the other for Kelly.  I picked up the remains of the base, and even before I turned it over to check the initial on the bottom, I knew it would be an M.  That is when the floodgates opened. When I tried to make sense of what had happened, I realized that the music speaker was on a lower shelf and the vibration must have shaken the one candle holder off.  Was it an accident or something more?  It was definitely a reflection of the shattered feelings I was experiencing. Tomorrow I plan on going to yoga, then babysitting my granddaughter, followed by spending time with my family.  This will all contribute in helping to hold my pieces together.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Having Resolve

Having resolve means deciding firmly on a course of action, making the best of a challenging situation.  It requires digging deep to draw on one's inner strength, which leads to becoming even stronger.
Having resolve is what my newly separated, fifty-something friend is choosing as she creates a new life for herself after being informed by her husband of almost thirty years that he no longer wants to be married.   
Having resolve is what my recently married, twenty-eight-year-old acquaintance is demonstrating as she courageously undergoes surgery, chemo, and radiation for her recent breast cancer diagnosis.
Having resolve is what I choose every morning, then repeatedly employ over the course of the day in order to not go under from the grief.  The reward is personal growth, and opportunity for personal growth is what our life challenges are all about.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Realizing a Dream

Tomorrow, my husband and I will move into our mid-century modern home.  It's a jewel.  For years it has been his dream to live in this style of architecture, and last fall, after seeing this particular house, I was finally ready to embrace that dream with him.  With great sincerity, I then began asking the Universe for assistance to help make this a reality.  Financially, it seemed so far beyond our reach, but in early December, we committed to going for the dream even though we knew it would be a long shot.  From that moment on, there were frequent signs that the spirit world was assisting us in our endeavour.

There was the last minute, out of the blue, offer of two tickets to the sold out screening of the Coast Modern documentary (showcasing homes with this particular architecture), which we had unsuccessfully tried to get tickets for a week earlier -  seeing this movie prompted us to get serious and go for it.  There was the surprise of seeing March 7th indicated as the completion date on the contract our buyers initially presented to us when we sold our home (mirroring another "completion" date of great significance).  However, my favourite sign occurred when my husband did an Internet search on the address of the new home and noticed a link entitled North Vancouver-canyon-heights-Mike Gibson.  What??  When we clicked on that, we discovered a realtor named Michael Gibson in Vancouver who, at some point in the past, had linked this property to his website, even though it was not his listing.  These are just three of the dozens and dozens of crazy "coincidences" we experienced.  This dream was realized through much effort by numerous individuals, visible and invisible, all working together.  We could not have done it without them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Another Precious Penny

On Monday February 11th, my husband and I began preparing for our upcoming move.  It was no surprise that the area I found the most difficult to pack up was Michael's room.  Thankfully, only a few of his personal items remained (most of them had been dealt within weeks of his passing), but pulling his books off the shelf and removing his suit from the predominantly empty armoire was not easy.  Tackling this room on our province's first ever "Family Day" holiday did not help. That emotionally loaded label served to intensify my melancholy state. Once the packing of the room was done, my husband began disassembling the armoire, which was situated in a corner, directly against the wall.  With only a couple of inches of clearance between the ceiling and the top of that cabinet, dismantling was required in order to fit through the door.  When he was almost finished, he called me over to help.  As I picked up the base of the armoire, I could not believe my eyes. Lying on the floor was a lone penny.  There was nothing else to be found under, behind, or beside the armoire - no old socks, garbage, or even other coins.  Just one penny.  The back of the armoire was solid wood, as were the top, bottom and side panels - nothing could have accidentally fallen through from the drawers or shelves inside.  So, how did that penny get there?  I have no idea, but based on previous penny encounters, I know who was involved.  Sensing how difficult the day was for me, Michael's spirit made sure to send a sign of support.  After I relayed the incident to my younger daughter, I chuckled as she half-jokingly wondered aloud if the occurrence of future episodes such as this might be affected -  as of Monday February 4th, Canadian pennies are no longer officially in circulation.  We'll see.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Growing Together

     Yesterday, I met up for lunch with my brother, my sole sibling.  It made my day.  We live an hour's drive apart and even though we see each other when our families get together a couple of times a year, meeting up for lunch is something my brother and I do every few months as well.  Just the two of us.  It was not always so.   
     In the early years we were close, sharing a bedroom and playing together most of the time.  We grew apart in our teens as we developed contrasting interests and hobbies -  not uncommon for a sister and brother.  As young adults busy raising families, we rarely saw each other outside of familial obligations such as Christmas and birthday dinners.  Misunderstandings, as well as taxing birth family dynamics, contributed to keeping us from wanting to connect outside of these events.  
     Then, life began throwing us opportunities to turn our relationship around.  The first noticeable shift began a decade ago, after our mother's death, when we occasionally began spending time together outside of the expected family get-togethers.  During that time, my teen-aged son began developing a deep bond with his adored uncle, which led to my brother and I connecting more often.  Four years ago, our relationship was further strengthened when we simultaneously became estranged from our father.  That was when our lunch dates became more regular.  We finally understood how much we mattered to each other.  Then, Michael's death occurred, which subsequently deepened the connection between my brother and me, to the point where we now check in with each other every couple of weeks.      
     My brother and I still have very different interests and hobbies.  Our lifestyles do not have much in common, either.  However, through facing our shared family challenges together, we have now arrived in a place where we do not take each other for granted, support each other in everything we do, and are fully aware that the other has our back - valuable gifts we have gained from our losses.  

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Gifts from Spirit

Last Wednesday, while seated in the audience awaiting an evening of ISA mediumship demonstrations, I silently asked the spirits of my loved ones to draw close.  My younger daughter had a strong desire to attend this event in order to absorb some of that lovely supportive energy, and perhaps receive a message as well, so here we were.  We listened as various people were given detailed and loving guidance from spirit. Near the end of the two hour session, the medium (who had no personal knowledge of my daughter, me, or my son) came to me and began describing a spirit that sounded like my son, but it was when she said, "He's like a big kid," that it was confirmed.  The message Michael communicated was that he admired my ability to thoroughly prepare for, then commit to activities, which was in direct contrast to what had been his approach - that of enthusiastically trying new things, with little or no preparation.  This usually resulted in giving up within a week because invariably, the situation failed to play out the way he imagined it would. He recommended I try finding a balance between our two approaches by easing up a little on the planning aspects of projects, and incorporating a little more risk and sense of adventure into my life, not always concerning myself with having all my "ducks in a row" (his words).  He suggested that this might add more fun to my life.  Before leaving, Michael sent both my daughter and me a huge, joyful hug.  After thanking the medium for the much appreciated message, I left feeling that often the bigger gift from an evening such as this is the comfort I receive experiencing further confirmation of spirit's eternal existence.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Behind the Scenes

One of the best things about those experiences commonly referred to as "coincidences" is that they never get old - I continue to marvel at each one that occurs.  My husband and I were out on a date in the city a couple of nights ago.  After parking the car, we strolled over to an Indian restaurant for dinner, then checked out a few shops before walking over to the community theatre to take in a local playwright's show.  Upon opening the program I realized that I had lost my favourite pair of reading glasses, purchased in Italy a few years ago.  Disappointed, I mentally retraced my steps and concluded that I had likely left them on the counter in a drugstore, located a few blocks away.  During intermission, my husband kindly offered to go back and look.  While waiting for him to return, I began chatting with a mother and her young daughter seated beside me ( who were incidentally in the seats assigned to my husband and me since they had not checked their tickets accurately, and we were sitting in theirs).  A few minutes into our conversation, I mentioned what my husband was doing.  The woman looked a little puzzled and asked, "Were they designer ones?"  "Yes, ....... why?" I asked.  "I found a pair lying on the sidewalk about a block away and placed them on the retaining wall by the Seniors Home," she replied.  What?  Really?  Still shaking my head, I hurried out into the rain, and sure enough, there they were, exactly where the woman had described leaving them.  I returned to the theatre astonished, and thanked the woman profusely.  Out of the one hundred and twenty patrons in attendance that night, this mother and daughter were the only two that I spoke to, outside of my husband.  I was still trying to process this "coincidence", when in a matter-of-fact tone, the twelve-year-old girl remarked, "Oh, these kinds of things happen to us all the time."  Indeed.  I smiled, then sat down to enjoy the second half of the play.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Expanding Perceptions

It had been months since I last took part in an ISA evening, and was therefore keen to go earlier this week.  The thirteen of us in attendance placed our chairs in a circle, and participated in a group meditation. Familiar images and concepts appeared in my mind's eye, including: the infinity symbol; vibrant pink and gold energy; the inescapable link between love and pain.  An entirely new experience also awaited me, related to all of the above.   I noticed an androgynous energy-being, appearing as an opaque white light with elongated head and limbs, standing behind me. After resting its hands on my shoulders for a while, it moved around to face me.  Soon, I became aware that my gold locket, containing photos of Michael and Kelly, was gently swinging back and forth.  At first, I felt confused, but that confusion quickly turned to astonishment when I realized that the light-being was physically moving my piece of jewellery!  I acknowledged this act with gratitude, thanking the being for enabling me to have  another magnificent spiritual experience.  By staying open to possibilities, my perceptions of existence continue to expand.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Friend to Friend

Other than going out for an invigorating run through the canyon this morning, I spent most of the day working on my book, a rewarding, yet emotionally challenging project.  Again today, I thought about how grateful I am that my best friend is dedicating hours upon hours of her free time to edit this book.  Even though there is still much to do before it gets published, thanks to her, I can see light at the end of the tunnel.  Then late this afternoon, I received a surprise message from a young woman I have never met.  This friend of Kelly's, now living in the Okanagan, had communicated with me only once before, via Facebook last year.  She was now contacting me to share her delight in recently finding out that one of her new co-workers happened to be a good friend of Mike's.  These two discovered their astonishing connection after the young man explained where he lived - across the street from our family's cabin.  My heart soared as I read about this crazy, wonderful association, and I can well imagine the comfort and stories they will share.  Support can come from those we have known for years, as well as from those we hardly know, and all of it is greatly appreciated.   

Monday, January 7, 2013

Still 25

Tomorrow will be the second time I observe, rather than celebrate, the day of my youngest child's birth.  For the past week or so, I have occasionally found myself thinking about how old Michael would have been this year.  I would consider the number 27, and toss it around in my mind, trying to make some sense of it.  Then, while swimming lengths a couple of days ago, I became curious about this line of thinking.  How old he would be is no longer relevant, since he is no longer here.  So why does my imagination want to play with this notion?  Is it perhaps a desire to hold onto what was?  My children's ages were always two years apart, and it remained that way for twenty-five years: a very simple pattern: 2, 4, 6 or 11, 13, 15.   The last time the numbers fit was two years ago.  It is a confusing process trying to adjust to the idea that such a fact can change, and that counting by twos is no longer accurate.  My children are now 31, almost 29, and still 25.  Both the pattern and I have had to adapt.  Happy Birthday son. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Taking a Chance in 2013

2013 - a year containing the numerals zero, one, two and three, in scrambled order.  While walking along the ocean on this sunny afternoon, an image appeared - that of taking those four digits, tossing them up into the air, then watching them fall where they may.  With each subsequent throw, the resulting pattern of the numerals would change.  This is one of those rare years in which there is a possibility of all digits landing in a perfect sequence, 0123 or 3210.  A great year for taking a chance and shaking things up a little, creating opportunities for amazing outcomes.  Let the fun begin!