Category Archives: Happiness

Sunday morning

It’s Sunday morning. The day has started out cool and breezy, with a faint feeling of fall whispering its approach. My children spent the night at their grandparents so we enjoyed a slower start to the day. For me that meant brewing coffee and curling back into bed to savour the hot, bitter taste while flipping the pages of my latest book.

I’m reading Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart. It’s been on my to-read list for months and months. A few weeks ago, I looked at the reviews on Goodreads and decided it was just the kind of book I needed. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Though I expected it be good, I’m not sure I expected it to be quite so good, quite so true to the real lives of husband and wives. As I’ve read I’ve found myself thinking about my marriage, the choices I’ve made both personally and professionally and the family I call my own. The book is a validation that nothing is ever perfect, and that the things that happen in our heads are not necessarily the things that actually are. It reminds me that the hard times are, in their own way, as important as the good.  I need this nudge every so often.

Before long I hear car door slamming, and the chipper sounds of little people voices. They swept in with piles of stuff, and stories, and happy, happy smiles after an evening of being spoiled and loved. I hugged them tight because even though I long for the breaks, when they are gone I just miss them. I miss the softness of their skin, the smell of downy blond hair and the laughter that erupts all around the house because of the things they say. When they are gone I miss them intensely.

Now, we’ve settled into our Sunday routine. The boys and their father curled up in our family room watching The Lorax. I’m on my back porch, letting the rustle of trees sooze me as they always do. I hear sounds of our neighbours enjoying their own Sunday together as families. There are lawn mowers gently humming in the background, and the family next door is chatting, and playing in their backyard.

And the feeling of family just washes over me.

It’s now. Moments like these when I feel the intensity of family. And it is just so comfortable, and fulfilling. There is nothing special about this moment. It’s just a normal day, with everyone doing the things they love to do on lazy Sunday mornings. The sun is shining, and I’ve had a great night’s rest, which helps. But I’m just happy. All is right with the world.

Idling

There isn’t much going on around these parts these days. That is to say not much beyond my hectic life as a full-time working mom with two busy boys. So, of course, I’m busy. But I’m also idling with the familiar rumble of routine filling may day.

I’ve settled comfortably into the depths of January, a favourite month of mine because it holds so few obligations. The weekends are long, filled with only the menial tasks of groceries, laundry, and vacuuming. We’re getting out to enjoy the winter weather when we can, and I’m enchanted to watch my boys’ joy over the time-honoured Canadian tradition of backyard skating rinks.

I’m reading voraciously and recently lost myself completely in State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It’s weird, wonderful and full of life. I’ve just cracked the cover on Learning to Breathe: My year-long quest to bring calm to my life by Priscilla Warner. I’ll write about this one soon.

I’m busy, oh so busy at work. I arrive at my office at 6:30 a.m. each morning and feel as though I don’t come up for air again until I leave at 2:30. And this is just how I like it.

I’ve registered for a year-long professional certificate program that I expect will be invigorating and stimulating, but that will surely put added pressure on a schedule already bursting at the seems.

I’m organizing and planning for a winter weekend scrapbooking retreat that I’ll be hosting for some of my closest friends. I’m so eager to lose myself in the creativity and good company.

I’m enjoying a return to the kitchen and feeling a renewed sense of interest in good, healthy food prepared from scratch and with love for my family’s table.

I’ve committed to a Yin Yoga class one night a week. It’s all I can fit right now, but I’m so glad I’ve made it a priority. When things feel like they are slipping just a bit out of control, I can look forward to the moment when I’ll force my mind to stop and focus on resetting my energy.

At night, I’ve been addicted to Lie to Me on Netflix. It stars Tim Roth. Have you seen it? Gosh, he is hot isn’t he? My husband and I have been ploughing through the 48 episodes. I’ve loved every one.

In short, I’m busy. But that’s nothing new. More importantly, I’m content, settled and moving through each day with a sense a calm in spite of it all.

 

Summer blessings

I’m not entirely sure how life can be so obligation free, and yet so busy at the same time. But that’s how our summer is shaping up. We’ve protected huge pockets of time from any planned activities, whole weekends clear of any predetermined script to give us the freedom to enjoy whatever blows our way. Yet even so, our schedule still feels so full, of trips for ice cream, morning walks to the park, afternoons cooling off in pools and sprinklers, and endless hours with feet up and books, lots and lots of books, cradled comfortably in our laps.

I’ve settled contentedly into the warmth of the season, fully giving in to whatever comes my way and embracing opportunity over commitment.

Yesterday I  downloaded If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland to my Kindle and, after only a few pages, I’m fully absorbed. So I’ll leave you with these words by Brenda, and you’ll have a sense of what I’m thinking about.

For when you write, if it is to be any good at all, you must feel free, free and not anxious. The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:

“Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know about all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out.”

Thank you friends, for letting me tell you more and more. I feel blessed and grateful to all of you. If you are looking for more, please come read my latest guest post at Everything Mom on why it’s so important that mothers support mothers.

This country life

My children have collapsed, exhausted and spent into their beds. A weekend that began with a grim forecast, calling for rain and thunderstorms, surprised us with sunshine, gentle breezes and warm, summer-like temperatures.

The lawn was mowed, its edges trimmed. The children played in the dirt, tossed the basketball, climbed up and then down the slide, and gathered sticks for a daylong bonfire that was enjoyed by all. We ate our lunch outside, and indulged in popsicles. The screen door banged and squeaked over and over with someone running in or out, gathering snacks, cold drinks or to use the washroom. For the first time in ages more time was spent outdoors than indoors, and I feel the soothing fatigue that comes from hours of fresh air and sunshine.

Weekends like this remind me why we’ve chosen a country life. The crisp green trees that surround us, their leaves chitter chattering in the wind, the street largely free of traffic, and a sprawling yard full of activity and exploration for my young boys, all make our commute worth it.

The evening sun is slowly drifting toward its own rest. I’m writing this on my front porch, sitting in a comfortable chair with my legs crossed. The air is fresh and cool, and I’m soaking up my contentment. Even the mosquitoes can’t dampen my spirits. This is my favourite part of the house. As the summer months extend and swell with heat, it’s where I can most often be found— in the morning with my coffee, in the evening with a glass of velvety Shiraz.

This is the life I cherish. This is the life that makes me happy, surrounded by my husband children, with nowhere to be.

Interview with a Happy Mom

I’m a relative newcomer to the blogging world. I’ve been blogging since the summer of 2008, but at Coffees & Commutes only since March 2010. I first started reading blogs after the birth of my second son in 2009. I could kick myself for all that I missed before that, but that’s a topic for another post.The very first blog I read was The Happiest Mom with Meagan Francis. I found her at a time when I was decidedly disenchanted with motherhood, I was feeling tired and overwhelmed from around the clock nursing with a young baby and the daily cycle of tantrums with an almost 3-year-old preschooler.

At Meagan’s I found compelling content about real life motherhood. She didn’t sugar coat the messy bits, but she didn’t play on mother’s usual complaints either. I was captivated by her insightful, well-developed and practical writing about motherhood. I’ve remained a regular reader for almost two years.

Now Meagan has published a book The Happiest Mom: 10 secrets to enjoying motherhood. You can imagine my excitement when she asked if Coffees & Commutes could be a stop on her virtual book tour. I was only too happy to oblige! There is much to say about the book, which I enjoyed tremendously, but today I’m pleased to feature an interview with Meagan on two of my favourite topics: writing and motherhood.

On Writing

Why did you decide to write this book?

I have been writing professionally about parenting since 2003, but was always most interested in writing about the mother’s experience: her relationships, home, work, passions, and outlook on life. It was difficult to find magazine outlets that would let me explore these topics in-depth, so one day I thought, “I ought to start a blog!” It was very well received, so a few months later I thought, “I ought to write a book!” I went back through my blog and pulled out the topics that readers seemed to identify with most, those that seemed to form the “skeleton” of a book, and wrote a proposal. In early 2010 I received a contract from Weldon Owen to write The Happiest Mom in partnership with Parenting magazine.

How did you manage to write it and manage such a big family?

Well, I’ve been writing around kids for a long time, so I had already gotten my routines down to some extent. But then my daughter Clara was at a very difficult age–just a little over a year–when I started, and my dad died very unexpectedly when I was just a few chapters in. I stopped working entirely for a couple of weeks, but I found that having the project to return to after all my family had gone home formed a welcome distraction.

I’m not sure writing with a large family is any more difficult than writing with a smaller family. If anything, there are more hands to help out in a large family. For instance, my older boys did the dishes every day all summer and would often take their younger siblings to the park behind my house. My seven-year-old son would often get up the minute he heard the toddler stirring and they would play happily together for an hour sometimes while I’d rush into my office and work. It’s amazing what you can get done in an hour of quiet time when you know it might be all you get that day.

What was the writing process like? How long did it take and how did you organize your time to do it?

The deadline was tight–about three months to write the whole book, and there were lots of revisions flying back and forth between two sets of editors–so I had to put pretty much all my other projects on hold and lean heavily on my husband and other family members for help during that time. My husband generally took one full day off of work each week, (he’s self employed) and I would work from about 9 AM until 3 or 4 PM those days. Then I’d work for an hour or two in the mornings before the kids woke up on the other days and try to eke out time when the kids were playing happily or at the park.

Every night when I went to bed I’d jot down a few things I’d absolutely need to get done the next day, so that in the morning when my brain was still trying to wake up I could just glance at the list and pick something to get started on. That cut down a lot on aimless Twitter procrastinating or spinning my wheels.

I also took advantage of every little snippet of time I had. If the kids were playing together quietly I knew I might only get 15 minutes, but that’s long enough to write a section, come up with a list of quiz questions, or print out revisions and take a quick look. You really have to guard your time when you’re working at home around little kids. Every minute counts.

What advice can you offer other aspiring writers, or people who want to share their stories about life and motherhood?

Stop talking about writing. Sit down in your chair, apply your fingers to the keyboard, and do it. You will write some stuff that’s not ready for prime time, but every time you write you’ll get better. Obviously, a blog is a great place to get practice, but I’d also recommend submitting your work around so that you get used to being edited, criticized, and rejected 🙂 Being able to deal with those three things with grace and persistence are what take you from “wannabe” to really doing it.

On Motherhood

What’s it like to have a house with so many kids? How do you find time for yourself?

Well, it’s kind of crazy sometimes, to be honest! But usually it’s a good crazy. Mostly it’s the noise levels that can be really hard to deal with. That and the minute you address one child’s needs, there’s usually another one wanting or needing something! On the other hand, the kids are built-in playmates. Rarely do you see a lonely kid moping about and nobody is ever bugging me to entertain them–except my five-year-old, when his big brothers are all at school.

I don’t so much find time for myself as make it. I joke that a lot of moms seem to be waiting around for the Time Fairy to show up and grant them eight hours of conflict-free “me time.” I have found it works a lot better to decide what you want or need, and take it. So maybe that’s putting your yoga class on the family calendar and just going. Or maybe it means getting up early on a Saturday morning and just leaving with your laptop so you can go work at the coffee shop. There is really so much more time in the day than we like to admit to ourselves. We lament the lack of time but don’t realize how much of it we waste on blogs that aren’t worth our time or just refreshing Facebook over and over to see if anything interesting has happened. If something that interesting happens, it’ll still be around in a few hours.

Probably the biggest way I make time is by trusting my spouse to be competent and able to take over for me without my having to do endless preparation before I go (I’m not perfect at this, but working on it). Even if he doesn’t do everything the way I would, he takes good care of the kids while I’m gone. He knows where the cereal and milk are. He knows where the diapers are. If the boys end up with the wrong kids’ clothes on, it’s not the end of the world.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a mother, but that took you completely by surprise?

I think the realization I’ve slowly come to is that my happiness and self-worth are separate from my children, no matter what a huge presence and focus they are in my life. Motherhood is not going to make me happy, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be happy in my life as a mother. Regardless of how my children turn out, or how they feel about me, or how they behave today, or who they become tomorrow, how I feel about my self and my life and what I put out into the world is all up to me.

How do you think your children would describe you?

Probably depends on the kid. I think my 13-year-old would call me “annoying” right now. He’s convinced I’m a horrible taskmaster because I make him walk the dog and empty the dishwasher every day. My 11-year-old is very sweet and loving at the moment and we have hilarious conversations. He’d probably say I’m “funny.” My five-year-old is a mama’s boy and loves to snuggle with me and sit with me and play with me and, wow, he just really loves to be with me right now. I could imagine him saying that I’m “warm.” My two-year-old would probably simply say I’m “mama.” At her age, I am still front and center in her world.

My seven-year-old was the hardest to answer! He’s at the age where he’s becoming so independent of me, and has never been super warm and fuzzy with me to begin with–he’s just not that kid, though he can be very sweet and loving, he’s not gushy or snuggly. Our relationship right now is much more about what I can do for him: help him with homework, get him a snack. I honestly think he doesn’t give me much thought otherwise, and that’s OK. Kids are self-absorbed and I’m not delusional enough to think my kids spend a lot of time thinking about my inner life (yet.) So I think my seven-year-old would say I’m “there”–and I think sometimes just being “there” is enough.

Where do you turn when you need advice?

My sister, my friends, Twitter. Depends what kind of advice I need. I miss my mom for that–she died when I was 22, and I know there are so many things I’d ask her about now if she was still around.

If you could change one thing about motherhood what would it be?

I think it would be great if there was a pause button. Like if I was getting overwhelmed, I could hit “pause” and have ten minutes or so to go in my room and breathe with all the kids stuck in place. Or I could go on trips without the kids without feeling conflicted about leaving them. Truthfully though I’d probably abuse the “pause” button. I think sometimes those overwhelming, conflicted moments are the things that teach us the most about ourselves, even though they can be so unpleasant to live through.

The mom in me can’t live without…

Snuggles, because they make all the rest of it worthwhile.

 

Snow and longing

snow and... more snowWhen you think to your life before children, what do you miss most? What memories hold an ethereal quality that is subtle and yet profound? Memories that help to shape your sense of self, or perhaps the joy of a life once lived.

I ask not to provoke discussion on how easy life may have been, or how free we were to most anything we wanted. I ask because I’m interested to know your heart, as it exists deep inside of you. What do you long for now that you took for granted then?  Before the label of mother or father, chief family planner, carpooler, or short-order cook.

This past weekend I was reminded of my own, and then again tonight as I read this post by Denise at Musings de Mommy about Snowflakes and Seconds.

Friday night I went out at dusk on a quick errand. When I returned, the night was charcoal and calm. I stepped into my backyard to find it awash in the bright light that glows off the corner of my garage. I stopped for a moment and noticed the glistening snow flakes as they floated like silent angels from the sky. I let myself be filled with the memory and emotion.

I am a huge lover of snow. There are few things that soothe and still my mind better than a sparkly winter’s night. I guess that’s a good thing for a Canadian.

For a brief moment I remembered and longed for  the endless winter night walks that I enjoyed with my husband before we had little boys to tuck snug into bed so early at night. We would don our warmest hats, mitts, and snow pants and trudge along in our boots, letting the snow fall gently on our noses, talking endlessly about nothing and everything. The dark of the night would cloak us in comfort, and the other’s company would be a balm for a cold winter’s night. We had nothing but each other and time.

I told my husband that I missed it. This time we used to have alone and on a whim whenever a stormy night would present itself. It’s difficult to do that now. The perfect winter night is usually unexpected. And our lives, for now, are filled with the expected.

Image: ‘snow and… more snow‘ via a Creative Commons license.

Setting a course for 2011

My delight at the dawn of a new year will come as no surprise. The sense of feeling new and fresh and starting over is intense and important to me this year. It’s fitting that 2011 begins with a renewed sense of optimism such that I haven’t known for a very long time. I’ll take it as a sign of  things to come. I choose for it to be  sign of good things to come

To say that I would prefer to forget 2010 is an understatement. But I will not. Neither will I dwell on the darkness that defined most of the last 12 months, and to be honest even longer.

Instead I choose to honour it and look forward to the possibilities that were unearthed through my struggles.  Today I lay down a map for the year to come, a map that I hope to fill with new directions and undiscovered spaces. There is no destination, only a journey to uncover the richness of  these new territories with patience and compassion.

So what will the new year bring? I went back and read the post I wrote one year ago today and realized that while so much seems to have changed, really so little actually has. In 2010 I was inspired by the idea of discovering revelations for a new year instead of resolutions as catalysts for the rewriting of old and tired scripts and roles. I set a course to examine my life from the inside out, to become the woman I wanted to be. In many ways, that is exactly what I did.

I shared it all here, the ups, the downs, the turmoil, the confessions. I made grand declarations, and was humbled by the futility of it all. Most importantly I learned that sometimes when you are trying to do it all, you are really doing nothing. I finished the circle by coming back to the beginning. The very same place I began, with so much left to discover. In the process I learned something so important. It was a gift, that in the living of it I was blind to recognize. I learned that instead of moving toward something, a life worth living is one focused on the here and now. To be myself. Be Christine.

I have Gretchen Rubin to thank for this particular revelation, the one I intend to guide me through the coming year. How fortuitous that only a few weeks ago I finished reading The Happiness Project. It was my book club’s December selection, and to be honest I was skeptical. The amusing thing is that this book was my selection (Indeed, I am kind of funny that way). Secretly I hoped she would offer some nugget of wisdom and unlock a key to my own happiness. Outwardly I was wholly doubtful. I never expected how much I would appreciate that she would decidely not provide the key. What she did though was offer me the inspiration I needed to uncover it myself.

Over and over, through the entirety of the book she returned to this idea to Be Gretchen, the first of her personal Twelve Commandments. She writes:

I have an idea of who I wish I were, and that obscures my understanding of who I actually am.

Lightbulb! So intense was the self-awareness that came from it, that I felt as though this vault opened and released an energy that had been stored for years, perhaps forever. My whole life. Most every decision I’ve made has been about achieving the self I wished I was, not accepting who I truly am. To the point that I was making resolutions to BECOME the woman I wanted to be. Not to love the woman I was.

Be Christine.

And so this awareness marks the arrival of the new year and what I plan to do here at Coffees & Commutes. My revelation for 2011 is to be myself, to embrace all that I am and use it for good. I will do that here, and throughout the breadth of my life.  It will influence the theme of my writing—my own kind of happiness project as it were. The most obvious place to begin.

Gretchen is a kindred spirit. Our sensibilities are intensely alike down to a shared affinity for “charts, deliverables, to-do lists, new vocabulary terms and compulsive note taking.” In fact, according to Gretchen:

Current research underscores the wisdom of this chart-keeping approach. People are more likely to make progress on goals that are broken into concrete measurable actions, with some structured accountability and positive reinforcement.

So that is what I’ll do. I’ll Be Christine and I’ll do it in the most natural way. By declaring it here, writing about it, focusing on it, and providing myself a point for evaluation. That’s how I work best. It’s the professional communicator come alive. Each month I plan to explore a new topic, fully immerse myself in a new area for growth and understanding. Each will be influenced by themes from books or blogs that I’ve read. I’ll continue to organize it under the title of Simply Living. Not every post will necessarily focus on the theme, but it will certainly frame the flow of my writing. January will be all about meditation.

Of course I’ll allow myself plenty of time to think and reflect, but I’ll do that equally through unleashing my own words and the exploration of words that I have already and will read that resonate with me. This collective wisdom will guide my writing and exploration. And this place will be my chart, it will keep me on track. It will provide the ink for my map. By getting it out there, however simple or complex it might be, the words will spark more words and will set a healthy course for this year.

Image via a Creative Commons license: ‘Our Direction

Waiting to exhale

My father is my anchor, my heart. We are very close. We’ve been through a lot together. He’s a friend, a support, and a wonderful grandfather.

Last spring he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. It came as a shock. I wondered how this could this happen to him. He’s only 57 and has always been vibrant, healthy and bigger than life. At least to me.

I didn’t take it well. The news sank deep, and sat still and dark, like a lump in my heart. It was the beginning of a severe downward spiral. Thankfully the cancer was found early, and the prognosis was excellent. But this didn’t settle the vibrations spreading in my deepest core, a new knowing that this person who I love so much, who has been my whole world for so very long is susceptible, vulnerable just like the rest of us. I spent many months ignoring it, burying my fear. I didn’t acknowledge. Refused to.

Until last week.

He had his prostate removed in October. The surgery was a terrific success. His surgeon couldn’t have been more pleased. The recovery has been steady and free of complications. He looks well, he feels well. We’ve all been holding our breath, waiting for 10 long weeks to know how this would all turn out. The results of his blood work that would tell us if the surgery was successful weren’t due until January 4. But we got an early Christmas gift, one we all so badly needed. On December 22 he had a check-up with our family doctor. Our doctor said the results had come back early. My dad didn’t want to know, I would imagine he sucked in his breath. But our doctor assured him he did. And we couldn’t have asked for better. He is cancer free and healthy again.

Exhale.

My husband called to give me the news because I was out with a friend. At first it didn’t hit me. Not until I was driving home. And I cried. I cried, and I cried and I cried. I cried away all the pent up emotion and fear that I had felt for months. It was a relief such that I don’t remember ever feeling before. He’s well. God willing we’ll have many, many years together ahead. He will continue to be a part of my life, my connection to reality, my daddy.

I first published this post more than a year ago. It seems fitting to share it with you again, here and now.

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If you read my blog you know that I lost my mother at a very young age. Her death had the most profound impact on my life and has shaped who I am more than any other single event in my life. I often tell people that losing my mother so young defined my future in an instant. As hard as it has been for me and as much as it has defined my life, the loss of her was as significant to him. At only 28 my father was left alone to parent two young girls (I was 4, my sister was 2). I can only imagine how scary and lonely that must have been for him. However he didn’t let it consume him, he stepped up and was the best father, the best daddy two girls could ever have.

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Dear Dad,

Thank you for being everything to me. Thank you for being the father I needed always. Without you I would never have been able to heal and grow. You gave us as much love as two parents and for that I will always be grateful and in awe.

Thank you for being strong when all you probably wanted to do was run. People offered you help, an escape, but you didn’t take it. We needed you and you were there for us. Thank you for being a daddy to two girls. How hard that must have been.

Thank you for working so hard, days, nights and weekends, so that we could have so many opportunities.

Thank you for making dinner every night, especially spaghetti which is a favourite to all of us to this day. Probably because it reminds us of you.

Thank you for spending countless hours at the rink for figure skating, hockey, and ringette. I know you loved it, but you still deserve to be thanked. I will always remember the look of pride in your eyes the time I got to stand on the podium.

Thank you for always coming to get me at school when I was sick. For being available in ways that would be hard for a family with two parents.

Thank you for all your help with my math homework. I used to secretly pretend I needed it just so we could sit and be together. It was magic!

Thank you for coming and listening to me speak in public speaking competitions over and over, no matter what the subject. The hours must have been long, but you came. And for that I’m grateful.

Thank you for your willingness to pick me up at late at night, even in the dark Canadian cold, so I could go out with my friends.

Thank you for going to school meetings, especially the one to advocate that we should be able to wear what we wanted to our graduation. I don’t expect that was easy. But it meant so much to me.

Thank you for being strict. I didn’t know it then, but I understand now how important it was. You started the cycle, and provided a foundation that now I’m giving my boys.

Thank you for being so gentle and kind, for believing in me no matter what. Thank you for the pride in your eyes.

Thank you for being such an amazing grandfather, for loving my children as you did me and for making a difference in their lives.

Thank you for coming early mornings to take your grandchildren to daycare so that I could leave for work early and they could sleep in.

Thank you for helping us to build not one, but two houses. Your tender loving touch is all around me. This is a home that love built. I feel you at the heart of it.

Thank you for being constant, and loving, and always on my side.

I’m all grown up now with two kids of my own. Yet still you are here for me whenever I need you. I might be an adult, but I still need you so much.

From the bottom of my heart,

Christine

Infinite and overwhelming

Have you ever visited a place where you felt completely enveloped in spirituality? A place filled with a presence so vital, so acute that emotion just washed over you—emotion so raw that you could barely express how it felt?

I did, last week on our 10th anniversary celebratory vacation. Jay and I travelled on a five-day getaway to Las Vegas. It wasn’t our first visit so we wanted to do something a little different, particularly because of the significance of our celebration. We planned a day-trip to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. It was hands down the highlight of our trip. To say I was held breathless for the duration of our visit is an understatement.

We visited Grand Canyon West, Land of the Hualapai Nation. The Hualapai Indian Reservation is 993,000 acres. The tribe owns and occupies 108 miles of the Colorado River and Grand Canyon. Here they run a thriving and growing tourism business. Visitors must purchase a tour package for entry to the Canyon which can include a helicopter ride, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and spectacular Canyon views.

We chose to walk the Grand Canyon Skywalk at Eagle Point , visit Guano Point to experience it’s panoramic views of the Canyon and to enjoy a meal eaten at the edge of the Canyon and prepared by the Hualapai people.

All of this is important to familiarize you with the experience, but for me what was important was how I felt when I was there. When we first arrived at Eagle point, and I eagerly watched out the windows of the shuttle bus, I was overcome with emotion that brought me to tears. The magnificence and sheer greatness for some reason caught me completely by surprise. When people say you have to see it to understand, they aren’t exaggerating. This place, this natural and unbelievable place is simple extraordinary. 

  

We spent several hours looking at and consuming as much of the view and feeling as we could. I was struck not only by the beauty, but by how untouched and free of commercial influence it is. It was simply pure and probably  enhanced the aura of presence that I felt. There we were in the middle of the desert, completely free of big business to temper the experience.

I am but one speck on the earth and in this place I was acutely aware of it. And that feeling, rather than miring me in insignificance,  uplifted me and filled me with a sense of peace. It was incredible.

Back in Vegas I asked my husband if he felt it—the presence, the infinite and overwhelming spiritualness of the place. Sadly he didn’t. But it was there. It cradled me in a feeling of calm and awe. I feel as though I can still conjure it now and I like how it feels. I wonder if I’ve found something, if my visit to the Grand Canyon awakened a sleeping part of my soul.

My personal journey toward better self-understanding is made up of many different pieces and I’ve always been sure that  unearthing my spiritual side would be an important part of it. I want  t0 better appreciate and honour that which is bigger than me, bigger than all of us. I just haven’t figured out how yet. Every once in a while I feel it intensely. It’s there, always there, but sometimes more poignant than others. I’ve never felt it in a church, almost always it comes when I’m outdoors, when there is quiet or beauty or substance. I want to uncover more of it, become more comfortable with it, and learn how to feed my whole life with it.

Our journey last week reminded me again how good it can feel.

Pausing

I’m on holidays for a week, so I’ve decided to take an all around holiday.
I’ll be doing a little of this:
And perhaps I’ll find some time to focus on this sorely neglected hobby:
I’ve already booked one of these:
As part of my preparation for this:
And this!
I’ll be back in a week. Stay well.

Images: Girl Reading A Book, Tools, My pedicure 17 map of New York and Liberty via Creative Commons license.