IntrepidWoman's Journey

Posts Tagged ‘faith

The transformation or disappearance of “Christmas” is almost complete. It has taken my lifetime, over 60 years. Over this time Canadians have been made aware of many cultural and religious celebrations, which is wonderful, but at the same time, the birth of Christ, the basis of the Christian religion has all but disappeared.

My question is simple: “Why must Christ’s birth disappear and other religious beliefs take its place? Why can they not all be out there, side by side, living together in harmony as Canada wants its people to live?

I am a Christian and those who believe still measure a great number in this country. What is wrong with saying “Merry Christmas”? We say “Happy Hanukkah” without being believers of Judaism. We are wishing believers a happy celebration of their faith and respecting their faith by doing so.

The way people argue and condemn now, we are heading away from freedom of speech and freedom of religion. That is a very scary prospect and I am glad I will not be around in 40 years to see the outcome.

The  most popular religion or belief for the current young generation is Santa Claus and Holy Commercialism. This was a concern when I was a child, but it was balanced in my neighborhood by a nativity scene, a church service and the story of Christ’s birth. It does not matter the actual date of His birth, just that it continue to be celebrated by those who believe, without being persecuted. I am feeling the persecution, this year more than ever before as I am told what I can and cannot say.

My happy place is in my job this time of year where I am teaching children the traditions of Christmas past from several countries, which include their religious customs. People have immigrated to this country from all over the world, bringing their beliefs and traditions with them. They were told that they would have the freedom to celebrate these traditions and beliefs in Canada.

Now the pendulum swings in the opposite direction and we are being told to shut our mouths if we are Christians so that we do not offend others. I am offended.

How sad and how backward thinking.

My simple wish would be to see Canadians standing side by side, sharing and celebrating their beliefs and allowing each other their differences. Don’t get rid of the nativity scene, just add other religions’ symbols next to it.

I wish everyone “Seasons Greetings” and that includes “Merry Christmas” to my Christian friends and “Happy Hanukkah” to my Jewish friends. As I meet believers of other religions along the way, I will be happy to respect their beliefs and wish them happiness in their celebrations. If we get rid of the words and become generic, it all disappears.

Because I was born a second generation Canadian, I have Christ in my heart and the Grinch in a santa suit on the top of my tree. I LOVE the Christmas season, but wish we could totally erase the commercialism.

….. ah, I am getting old and starting to sound like my parents’ generation, who I understand a whole lot better now by the way.


Have you ever prayed, “Please give me a sign?” Interesting concept when you are trying to figure out what to do with your life and are requesting a little guidance from the Big Guy.

I am one of these people who walk around with the sign flashing in neon over my head and it takes me eons to notice it. I continue to ask for a sign even though I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent.

My Higher Power is very patient though. He starts by tapping me gently on the head, then a little finger flick on my skull. When I still do not recognize the signs, he sighs and hits me over the head with one of those in-the-ditch, flashing-letters billboard-numbers. Ah, right.

The ‘signs’ I like the best are the ones that make no sense or they go against the grain of common sense. Okay, so If that is what I am supposed to do, why is it something that a lot of my friends and family are going to raise eyebrows at?

I remember when I first had entrepreneurial urges and wanted to be my own boss after working for others all my adult life. I had several ideas for a ‘home’ business and started looking for a building to buy. For five years, every summer, I would put my cute little house in Coleman up for sale, search and find a building, put in an offer conditional to my house selling and then, nothing. I think I almost bought half the Pass during those 5 summers. Correction – put offers in on half the Pass. I look back with relief that none of them made it to the finish line. Each time I had prayed, “If this is your will, let my house sell.”

That last summer I did not even put my house on the market first, but started building hunting out of habit. Bingo. I found it. I walked into the foyer and said, “This is it!” Then I told the realtor he had to sell my Coleman house as a condition of the offer to purchase. He did not even write-up a listing. Four hours later he had it sold. Now that is what I call a SIGN.

Right now I am at an interesting crossroads in my life. I made a move after living in the same area for 31 years, coming to a job that I am crazy-wild about. The interview, purging and packing, finding a place to rent, all happened without a hitch. Good signs that I was doing the right thing. The actual job has been wonderful and challenging and a great learning experience. Things were happening that I cannot mention for the first year that were equivalent to a bad day in hell but finally got resolved. Through it all, I still loved the job.  Then when the light at the end of the tunnel looked brighter, finances leaped up and shrieked, “You can’t continue to carry two residences any longer!” My church, my chosen place for entrepreneurial joy, would not sell. It was shown, offers were made, offers fell through, the realtor aged before my eyes and nothing happened.  As a distraction, I started looking for a new place to rent here because I am tired of a basement suite out-of-town after two years. I thought that would cheer me up.

Can you see the finger coming? Every attempt to rent hit the wall.  By now, I am beyond frustration. All signs have been pointing to me moving back to my little church, but I had left the area because jobs were impossible to find. Why, oh why would I go backward instead of forward?

Time to challenge the sign. If I am supposed to move back, I must have a job to go to. I have a place to live there and my elderly mother lives in the area and could use some help from family. Two valid reasons to go back, so . . .

I saw a job advertised and applied for it today. If I end up getting it, that will be the flashing-billboard-sign in the middle, not on the side of the road. If I don’t get it, darned if I know what to do next.

I certainly wont stand too close to the curb though. The chances of another hit-and-run, flashing, neon sign are pretty high right now.

Stay tuned, says Intrepid Woman

That song keeps passing thru my mind – Life is a Highway – don’t even know who sang it. Life is also a crap shoot. Today life is just plain frustrating.

I am having one of those days. Actually I have been having ‘one of those days’ for the last two years – from the time I made a phone call saying I might be interested in moving to a new job and a new place and a new life after 31 years in the same place. It will be two years in less than two months that I made that decision.

Since March 2009, my life has been chock full of surprises that started with so much joy and ended with so much pain and very little understanding of why it was happening.

I kept meeting people who let me down in countless ways. My change in jobs was so full of unexpected challenges that finally evened out just in time for different personal challenges that may end up in me giving up the job.

I do have to admit that it has all been character building. The thing is, I am already full of character after all these years of life’s challenges. Isn’t there a limit, for heaven’s sake? I am running out of space for all my character! Do I dump some of the early stuff? I think I have already or at least absorbed it to the point that it takes less room.

My current frustration has to do with not being able to plan anything or expect anything in my life. Every time I turn around, I get hit up the side of the head with one of those curve balls that comes out of nowhere.

This leads me to question, “What am I doing wrong?” There must be something! I talked it through today with a close friend, who patiently empathized, and I finally reached the bottom line which is my base understanding.

I look at earlier times in my life with the frustration of things not going as expected and after the fact being so relieved they did not. Of course that helps me to just stop and accept that it is not going a certain way now for a very good reason. That does not solve the problems that I have been carrying for two years, but it does explain why my prayers are not being answered. The worst part is things happen that get my hopes up and then smack, up the side of the head.

Timing, timing, timing and trust, trust, trust. I ‘preach it’ but find it hard some times to live it. Time is not on my side right now, financially especially. I must make a hard decision or go down the tubes financially. That is where the trust comes in, I guess.

Am I being ‘forced’ to make this hard decision? Maybe. Time will tell.

In the meantime, I shall write in my Gratitude Journal. I have such great people in my life including family and friends. My job is challenging and rewarding and I have a roof over my head. The rest of my life will just ‘happen’ as it is supposed to, I guess.

Life is a highway with curves in the road and bumps along the way, but the journey continues and that is a good thing.

Be still and listen. Yes. That is the answer.

The surgeon was talking statistics today and asked how old I was. Whenever I say my age out loud, it always surprises me and seems such a strange number. How can I be that old? I am almost a senior citizen, but inside this battle-scarred body I am only 20 and know everything and want everything and think I have a long time ahead to make mistakes and change maps.

He said something about 20 years and explained that the surgery was good and I do not need follow-up radiation.  I do not even have to come back to see him as I can now go under the care of the endocrinologist to monitor my thyroid medication and calcium levels. He shakes my hand and smiles and sends me on my way, after a quick snip and a pull to remove stitches. His staff is surprised when I tell her I do not need a follow-up appointment with him. She prints out all the test results to fax to the endocrinologist and when I ask if I can take them to him she says yes.  I come home with several pages of facts about my thyroid which is no longer mine but has been cut up and examined and theorized and ended up in the place where bad body parts end up.

This was my 11th surgery. Most of the cut-ups over the years were to remove body parts, some to repair and three C sections to remove babies who are now incredible adults forging their own paths through life.

This one was after several months of tests and painful biopsies and chronic insomnia, face twitches and emotional rollercoaster rides for what seemed like forever. During this time, I was hard to be around. It was stressful for family, friends and coworkers as I twitched and teared up and yawned and ranted. I was more self-absorbed than usual. I was even tired of being around myself so felt sorry for others too.

Last week I finally had the surgery. My eldest son drove me to the hospital, stayed with me for hours before and hours after, soothing me and making me laugh and keeping my ship pointed in the right direction. Today he asked if he could go in with me to see the surgeon. I appreciated that, especially when the news was all good. Instantly all good. After all those months.

Last week while I waited on the bed after they wheeled me to the hallway outside the operating room, I was surprised at how calm I felt. It was not like the previous surgeries, where I was nervous. They did not put in an IV with sedation meds before the surgery like previous times. I was not drowsy and wanting to be under and done. This time was different. I thought about it this morning when I was driving in a snow storm to go to a clinic for blood work at 6:45 am.

I thought about how we go through our lives and the people in them come and go and change is constant. This morning driving in the storm I realized that people change and come and go and surprise you and let you down and you let them down and it goes on and on like that over your life time. There is one constant and only one. The saying about how we enter this world alone and leave it alone is true, except we are not totally alone.

I have had a companion beside me for as long as I can remember. This higher power or spirit entity that is bigger than humans can imagine is God the Father, our Creator. I have felt His presence since I was a young girl. Religions describe Him and categorize Him and have compartmentalized Him, but I just know Him. He is always there. I sometimes move away from Him, but He never moves away from me. He is always there. He walks with me and I feel His presence during the lowest of times and during the most glorious of times. I cry out to Him in frustration and pain and sometimes I just become quiet and sit with Him.

I was calm waiting for surgery because I knew that He had things handled. There were people praying for me and it did not matter whether I stressed or ranted or worried because He was in charge and knew the outcome. He knows the desires of my heart. They are simple and include being around to watch my grandchildren grow up. I think He is giving me the desires of my heart. If it was my time to leave this world, He would give me strength to deal with that and accept it too.

I am not religious. I do not have much faith in organized religions. They are man-made and involve politics and set rules and conflict with each other in many ways. They often condemn and judge. My God is pure love and is constant. He has walked beside me all these years so that I have never been alone.

For months I have had insomnia due to a thyroid covered with cancer lumpies that was not functioning. I drank soothing teas and read books and paced the room and watched movies all night long and dragged myself into work everyday.

Today I was released from it. My family and close friends have put up with me and stood beside me and my constant companion has held me up and carried me through it all. Tonight I will sleep like the dead, because I am now back with the living.

Lower than low is how I was feeling for the last couple of hours. I have been on an emotional rollercoaster ride for several months over health issues and am into the home stretch of having them taken care of. This last week has been busy doing extra work at the office to leave everything in good shape for others while I am off following surgery in a few days.

Tonight I came home very tired and stressed as the time is getting closer to the surgery date and that is on my mind. I live out-of-town in a basement suite on a horse ranch. The owners are the nicest young couple you could ever meet and they have a menagerie of animals – horses, dogs, cats, goats and for me that is heaven. I do not have any pets at this time in my life but always have had, so I do enjoy being surrounded by theirs.

A few hours ago one of their little dogs started barking non-stop upstairs and this went on for a long time. I knew the 3 dogs were in the house and that their ‘parents’ were not home, so I finally went up and let them out.  Sierra, the gentle golden retriever, galloped down the steps and squatted on the lawn for a pee, followed by the little chubby guy, who also headed straight for the grass.

The feisty little female ran over to the edge of the lawn, barking non-stop at me. She did not pee. She did not stop barking. I called the other two back into the house, but the little brown barking ‘brat’ would not come in and would not stop barking. I tried all sorts of things like going inside so she could not see me and holding the door slightly ajar, then walking over to my entrance and hiding inside.

Suddenly I looked around and she was gone. The barking had stopped instantly. My heart sank. Without a doubt, I knew that she had been grabbed by a wild animal. I called her and ran for the flashlight to check around the house for her, but found nothing. I turned my car headlights in the direction she had disappeared and saw nothing. I drove over to the barn, slowly, shining the flashlight out the open car window, hoping she had headed to the barn. Nothing. Why had I let them out after dark?

More time went by and finally I started to cry. Then I sat in the car with the windows open, waiting for my landlords to come home so I could tell them that I had fed their little dog to who-knows-what. That is when I heard it. The sound of coyotes, baying in the distance.

There I sat, the world’s worst person, sitting inside a cold car, listening to wild animal cries and realizing I had handed them supper. After what seemed like a very long time and many tears later, that nice young couple arrived home. I looked at them and told them what I had done.

It was terrible. They were so understanding. “Accidents happen.”  “She might be at the barn.” “It’s okay.””We’ll go look for her.”

It was not okay. He headed in the car over to the barn and she put on a coat to walk around the perimeter of the house. I came inside and sat on the couch, wishing this night had never happened. I prayed for a miracle. I made bargains with God, knowing that an animal whisked away in the night could not magically return, just because I felt bad.

Within 5 minutes they were both back and at my door, surrounded by three dogs and a cat. The little brown dog had gone under the front deck and hid there, coming out when she heard a familiar voice.

There are no words to say how relieved I was and how glad I was to see that little brown ball of barking fur.

Moral of the story: Sometimes when you ask God for a favor and you don’t think He can possibly manage it, shame on you! He can do all things.

I am going to sleep so soundly tonight as I am totally exhausted by such an emotional experience.  Lessons. It is always about lessons.

Time marches on, with or without my approval. Ten days have gone by since my return from Agde and it seems more like a month. The good news, to me, is that I am a different person since returning and that has not gone away. The travel experience did change me and in my humble opinion, for the better.

Strangely, I feel less materialistic now. “Things” do not seem so important. I want to simplify even more than I did when I moved here last year. I feel surrounded by clutter and it uses up oxygen. I need a simpler, brighter space that includes an area to create.

It is hard to give notice to my landlords though. It will be difficult for them to find a new renter with the place currently for sale. They are a nice young couple and it is quiet out here on the ranch, but being in a basement without a lot of direct light is not working for me anymore. I liked it originally when I wanted/needed a safe haven to come home to, but now I want sunshine and large windows and fresh air.

My main dilemma is that nothing is happening with my church in the Pass. Real estate has come to a standstill there. I am looking at another winter of owning the building there and renting here.  I guess I will have to make it my winter project to paint some rooms there and work on the basement to improve the building.  It would be more preferable to get it sold and find a light, bright place to live in here, but I have no control over the when of this.

Ah, but there is a reason for everything and there is right timing for all things. One of my best lessons in life has been one of patience because it is all in the timing. The right people will come along to buy my building when my next place becomes available, and moving will be another tiring but exciting adventure. In the meantime, I will enjoy my trips to the Pass, my little getaway where I can soak up the sun, summer and winter, play my music at rock concert level and enjoy the always fresh mountain air. My art supplies are organized in a large tackle box to go back and forth when I have my days off to go there to play.

I received a ‘proof’ of the Okotoks fall community guide today and found several classes to sign up for, including learning French!

I also have an idea for a book using my door photos and I want to start creating some Christmas gifts. Life is good and my creative side is ready to play on a regular basis. I did not check work emails after hours even once during the last ten days and that felt so good! I work hard when at work, but work on not thinking about my job once I am on “Jan time” after 5. Each day it gets easier to do this.

In a few hours it will be my birthday, again.  They seem to be getting closer together! This year I am marking the day with an appointment at the Foothills Hospital in the morning to deal with the lumpies in my thyroid. I have requested hotdogs on the grill for supper at Carmen and Jim’s, and Michael is picking out a cake for me. Last year it was cupcakes shaped like a very green dinosaur and it was delightful. He was so excited to show it to me, so I cannot wait to share his and Laura’s enthusiasm when I arrive tomorrow evening.

I need to think of something to do in the afternoon – maybe the zoo or Heritage Park or . . .

I will give it some thought tomorrow when I get up. I had better get to bed now as I am going to be a whole year older in 15 minutes, which means I definitely need my beauty sleep tonight. In my dreams . . .

We choose our lives, but sometimes we lose perspective along the way when it becomes too busy with responsibilities and duties and “have to’s”. As the days rush by and turn into months, then years, it can all get away from us. How do we change this? How do we yell “Stop the world, I want to get off!” when we have created such an interwoven web?

I just did stop my world for three glorious weeks, and now that I have returned, I can see how easy it is to fall back into the whirling dervish I have created for myself. I need to work because I require a roof over my head, gas for my car and shoes for my feet. What I don’t need is to be caught up so much in my work that it becomes my life. Before my trip to France, I ate, slept and talked about my job 20 hours a day. I made excuses for not seeing friends and not taking time to read a book or just sit and breath in and out. I lost myself. This has been my pattern for a long time, rushing through life at break-neck speed, trying not to feel my inner emotions and ignoring my body’s desire for relaxation and down time. I would snatch a day, here or there, but always with guilt in my mind that there must be something I should be doing related to my job or other responsibilities.

I do love my job. It is a wonderous thing to be able to say that I get paid to do something that is fun and creative and connected to kids, art and history. Of all my careers through my life, and I have had many, working for the past 44 years, teaching and what I am doing now are the two most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I want to continue, but I want to have balance. Achieving that will be my great challenge and it must be tackled starting the day after tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I will return to a hundred emails, several programs have to be created, advertised and finalized as quickly as possible, a publication needs completion, and I will  find out what I have missed in the 3 weeks I was away. The difference from before my trip – I want to stop working at 5 o’clock on Tuesday and every day thereafter. I want to put all my thoughts and energies towards my wee grandchildren who I have not seen for nearly a month, get an outfit and a gift for a wedding next weekend and call several people to set up dinners and visits with over the next couple of weeks. I want to start a series of paintings based on the Doors of Agde. I want to walk everyday. How do I do all this when I work 9 to 5, five days a week?

One way is to remember Paris and Agde. When life starts to drown me I will look at my photos and take myself back to those magical places. Now that I have found my authentic self again, I do not want to lose me. The child in me who delights in taking photos of French doors, moving a fine tip pen over the surface of quality drawing paper and putting my feelings into words through the keyboard does not want to get lost again.

I want to have honest conversations with those I care about and really listen to what they are saying. I want to laugh a lot and hug a lot. I want to be that girl on the swing in the back yard in Marda Loop in Calgary who talked to God and felt her spirit rise above her and look down at herself and her world one afternoon. At this moment I can smell the apple blossoms on the big tree near the back door and feel the warm air on my legs and face as I swing higher and higher. There is no pressure. There is no guilt. There is no regret. There is just a young girl living in the pureness of the moment.

As an adult, I have felt that same pureness of the moment when involved in the creation of  a painting or working with clay, mache or stained glass. The right brain world where your creative centre lives, does not judge or over analyze or stress or think too much. It feels and explores, and when in that place, time is forgotten.

That will be my next trip. I am choosing to travel into that place where colors and textures and shapes work together to soothe the soul.

But right now, at this moment, I need a nap. It is all about priorities.

Historically Speaking

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