I absolutely LOVE corgis. I understand why: the first two dogs we had as pets when I was a child were corgis--Kim (colouring much like my rendition of him here) and Rusty (smaller and well rusty-coloured). As an only child, pets became my siblings and I have never lived without a pet of some sort, even if only a tank full of fan-tailed goldfish. Kim, especially, was like a nursemaid to me. He sat beside me on the stairs while I wailed that no-one loved me...at least he stayed by my side until food appeared but then he was gone like a flash. Kim was a little tubby and very food oriented. But he always came back to sit with me. When I was little and we went for walks, I'd run ahead of my parents. But if I rounded a corner and got out of sight of them, Kim would circle around me so tightly and quickly that I couldn't move until my parents could see me again, then he'd let me run ahead. I have such fond memories of him. I've also been told that he is a guide for me. He was so protective of me and our bond was so strong that I could truly believe that.
Corgis, originally bred as cattle herders, can be yappy and snappy and stubborn. But also extremely lovable and loyal. The very sight of them makes my heart sing. In her book, The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron suggests we list about 20 things that bring us joy, quickly and spontaneously. Corgis are always on my list. She had Westies on hers, I believe , saying that her heart lifts a little when she sees one and I realised that I feel the same way about the little Welsh cattle herders.
Last Christmas, I was shopping when I discovered the little corgi calendar above. I picked it up and smiled and fell in love. But I put it back down. I wasn't shopping for myself. But it was oh so cute. A few aisles further on, I turned back and bought it for myself. It was the only one there and I am so glad I got it. It sits next to my computer so I see it each day. Each month the corgi is decorated a little differently. Last month she had shamrocks behind her ears. In February she carried a red rose between her teeth. The company name is Molly & Rex.
She makes me smile, makes my heart sing every day. And to think I almost didn't buy her!
What little thing can you do or buy to brighten your day? What makes your heart sing?
It snowed overnight and throughout this morning. Highly disappointing when it's supposed to be spring in Northwestern Ontario and when the winter snow was nicely melting and disappearing. I groaned along with everyone else when I saw it. By noon, when I went to my car, well over an inch of snow had accumulated. Ugh. I waited in my car with the heat cranked high for a friend to finish work so we could go for lunch and, with this blog in mind, I took some pictures of the miserable weather.
This photo of the side mirror particularly intrigued me, the idea that one view back can give different perspectives. Also, of course the idea that objects are closer than they appear. I took the photos, thinking about how something we think has passed can still haunt us and be in our line of sight, as in a rear view mirror. Like winter!
And that was to be my post today. Nice and light and kind of fun.
Then I went to work this evening and discovered that this can be true of anything in our lives.
An incident surfaced at work a couple of weeks ago which resulted in one of our clients losing his assistive services with us (at least temporarily) and with the police seizing his computer and conducting an investigation into his activities. I knew about the incident six weeks before i reported it to the person who would have to act on it. So I had to examine that. Why had it taken me so long to say something? Who was I trying to protect? And why?
Lots of self compassion and soul searching later, I realised that this incident had been a trigger for me, reminding me of similar past situations where i had to make difficult emotional decisions. And so I shoved the incident away for extreme self protection. Of course I was still aware of it happening, but so long as I kept quiet about it, I had 'control' of the situation, I didn't have to face my prior distress. This self protection was subconscious and I had no idea I had been holding onto it for so long until I had to recall dates for the police.
Tonight at work, I saw our ex-client in our security cameras. He had returned to the apartment building, his home, and was repeatedly coming down to the floor our office is on to put stuff into the garbage room. He had been away the last couple of weeks and I was startled to see him. I have nothing to fear from this man. My head told me that. But my body went into full flight mode. A chill ran up my spine. Dread coiled in my stomach. I became anxious, fidgety and sweaty. I felt like a child hiding from a gang of bullies. I ate an entire bag of cookies, craving them, trying to stuff down my feelings which seemed to balloon around me. I had to leave the office for routines and my head encouraged me to go but my body circled back for just one more cookie.
Finally time and the man staying in his apartment calmed me. Looking back I realise I could have used more effective coping methods such as grounding...focusing on five objects I could see, four things I could hear etc...but at the time I was totally unprepared both for the sudden sighting of him and for my extreme reaction. Obviously this situation and the past it had dragged up had been in my blind spot for a little while now and was much closer than it appeared.
But now I'm aware that I still need to tend to something more there. I'm not completely healed. I need to practice coping mechanisms so they become more instinctual.
Time to readjust my rear view mirror.
If anyone ever wanted to have a celebration of life ceremony for me, my only request would be for "I'll Find My Way Home" by Jon and Vangelis to be played. I adore this song. I can listen to it repeatedly, always finding something new and uplifting or comforting in it, either in the music with its gorgeous trademark Vangelis 'soars' (I have no idea what to call them (chords maybe?) but I do know that my spirit soars each time I hear them!) or in the lyrics which seem increasingly deeper and more mystical. To me, this song is all about faith or spirituality in many forms and can fit most beliefs:
"No questions, I'm not alone..."
"Just hold my hand and we're there
Somehow we're going somewhere..."
"One world we all come from
One world we melt into one..."
It is one of my favourite 'go-to' songs when I need a lift. What is one of yours? And why? I hope you can listen to it today.
One of my friends, an extremely talented visual artist, once told me that she has no one else's work up in her house but her own. Why would she want to, she questioned. I had my reasons but her confidence rubbed off on me a little and made me think. When I visit her home, I feel her presence everywhere. All the paintings are her own. The statement is powerful and empowering. Another visual artist friend has a mixture of her own pieces, more prominently displayed, and the work of other artists on her walls. I admire this confidence.
In my studio (a loose term!) I do have some of my favourite pieces surrounding me, propped up here and there, pegged to cabinet doors and files. And I keep promising myself to frame and hang one or two of my most empowering pieces throughout my house but have yet to do so. Always something else more pressing to do. That's not really important after all is it, I tell myself even though I gaze at the vacant spots often and envision my work hanging there.
But what I have started to do is use my art as wallpaper on my phone. And it delights me no end. I carry it with me everywhere and the messages behind the paintings and the paintings themselves give me a little boost each time I see them.
This particular piece is inspired by Effy Wild's contribution to Life Book's Creativity and Wellness at the end of last year. Effy also used a powerful, magical technique called crossing 'behind the scenes' as it were to form the foundation of the painting, to help make changes in our lives, to let go of fear and negativity around a particular area. So there is that reminder as well behind it. Like having a talisman on my phone. I love it!
What are you putting off in your life? How are you hiding your light and what can you do, what small step can you take today, to shine brighter in this world?
We often talk of letting go but not so much of welcoming back. This thought struck me as I picked up flowers this morning to leave at Dad's house for him and his fiancee Sandy when they returned today from a 3 month stay in Florida.
I see life as a spiral, an ascending (hopefully although not always) staircase in a way so we are often encountering what we have encountered before. Not necessarily the deep stuff, although it can be that ie welcoming back a lost part of yourself, but even simple things--welcoming someone back from a trip or an absence of some sort, welcoming back a change of seasons, welcoming back a forgotten practice, welcoming back a previously lost item...
Today I'm welcoming back Dad and Sandy, yes, but also:
sunshine and warmer days
a delicious tea I had forgotten about
the kindness of a shop clerk (she alerted me to the fact that the first bunch of roses I chose were rotting so I could exchange them)
self care in the form of a long sleep in between midnight shifts and by choosing to bring home, for myself, a rosebud that fell off as I was arranging the flowers.
What are you welcoming back today? Whatever it is,
these flowers are for you.
Obviously today is not Father's Day. But Dad is continuing his drive up to Canada from Florida (961 km yesterday he proudly told me in an email last night) today with his fiancee, Sandy, so I guess he's on my mind. Sandy has driven this route before. Dad hasn't. I'll be glad when they arrive safely home tomorrow evening as expected, especially since Dad sent another email asking if I could make a doctor's appointment for him asap as his chest congestion is getting worse.
This blog is short--for a few reasons: I spent a lot of time with a friend today. I have to start my midnight shift soon and I want to have some sleep before I go. I already lost this text once in trying to publish it! Arrgghh!
After my shift is over tomorrow morning, I'm going to buy some flowers and leave them at Dad's to welcome him and Sandy. And today I picked up a shirt for his wedding that he had had altered. The shirt had been ready since January and he doesn't think I've picked it up so that will be a surprise, too.
I'm ending with a published poem that I wrote several years ago. I hope you enjoy it. (and I hope this post publishes properly this time!)
Today my dad and his fiancee Sandy are continuing their drive up to Canada from Florida. This is their second day of driving together on their way back from Florida as snowbirds, avoiding the harsh Northwestern Ontario winter. I got an email from Dad late last night. He told me that they have arrived at Montgomery, Alabama for the night after a good day of driving (over 800 km) but that they also got lost a few times. He admitted that this drive is testing their relationship like 'trial by fire'.
I also got a short email from Sandy saying that the traffic 'wasn't too bad at all' and she sent this photo of Dad writing emails at the hotel. Dad would be mortified that she sent the photo, even more mortified that I'm putting it on my blog but to me it exemplifies the huge distances my father has covered in the last year since meeting Sandy. True, there is the physical distance. Not only this incredible trip which Dad took reluctantly, heels dug in the whole way there and the weeks, even months before...but the distance that Sandy lives out of Thunder Bay, by the side of Lake Shebandowan, just over 100km away. Dad and Sandy regularly traveled those kilometres to spend time together over last spring, summer and fall. But, more astoundingly, is the emotional and psychological distance that Dad has traveled since being with Sandy.
She tends to be fun-loving and spontaneous. Dad tends to be a regimented worry-wart. "Glass half-empty" person he calls himself. Since Mam died over 5 years ago, and even before that, Dad regularly set his alarm to go off at 4:30am and got up to start his day then even though he is retired and had no pressing need to greet the day then. Likewise he turned off his bedroom light and went to sleep at 10:15pm. Rigid routine became his comfort; fear of change, his captor. No matter what anyone said or did, no-one could coax him out of his set routine.
Then along came Sandy. Neither of them was looking for love or companionship. They met at church. This was the first big step for Dad. He had only gone to churches for funerals and weddings previously in his life. But he felt beckoned by a Blue Christmas service in 2017 which acknowledged that Christmas can be a sad time for people. The pastor was kind, all the ladies fussed over him and he began to attend church regularly all through the winter and into the spring, inadvertently sitting in Sandy's spot, on her cushion. When Sandy, ever the snowbird, returned in the spring she found Dad in her space.
They got engaged last August and are set to be married on 1st June this year. Dad was already reluctantly talking about going to Florida before I had even met Sandy! Anyone who saw them together couldn't deny they were totally in love. They leaned in together when talking to each other and giggled and held hands. They created their own little world. At Sandy's 75th birthday party, I asked her daughter Robyn how she felt about the relationship as some earlier talk had made me realise that she felt a little pushed aside in a way, the way I could feel at times. Robyn shrugged and pointed at Dad and Sandy in a corner, hunched together laughing over a private joke. "Look at them how happy they are. How can I feel anything but happy for her?" she said. I agree. Their relationship lightens my heart, brightens my life and eases my mind.
But, for once, I am glad that Dad is fastidious about routine on their long drive home so that he emails with updates whenever he can.
In pondering what to write about today, I read one of my favourite 'go-to' books: Simple Abundance A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach. For me, it is indeed a book of comfort that I have read cover to cover several times and that I keep in my bathroom and pick up from time to time to read. Her book has a reading each day, giving lots of food for thought. Today's reading resonated with me: imaginary selves. Sarah implores us to think what we want to be, what we would like to do. Then she asks us to examine if there is a part of that life that appeals to us that we can incorporate into our daily lives.
Her entry made me think of one of my absolute favourite 'tasks' from another go-to book, The Artist's Way~A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron: Write 5 imaginary lives (Week I) ....and write another 5 (Week II). If ever one of my books was going to be like the Velveteen Rabbit and come alive simply by how much it was loved, it would this book. I have worked my way through it from cover to cover several times and if ever I feel ungrounded, it and its practice of Morning Pages (my AM pages), is the first thing I reach for.
So maybe try that when you get chance today: what are your 5 (or 10) imaginary lives? How can you introduce parts of them into your present life?
Here are 5 of mine:
1. Radio dj
2. Modern day St Francis (lol...the animal attachment...it could also be Snow White and how all the woodland animals flock around her. It's important to examine what it is that truly attracts you to that life)
3. Prizewinning, world famous author
4. Magazine editor
Perhaps I've cheated in giving those examples because I'm very aware of how I've incorporated parts of those lives into my present everyday life over the years, although the magazine editor one is a recent revelation.
1. Radio dj: it's making songlists and themes and moods that appeals to me (like Effy's Mixed Tapes which I did as a teenager all the way through to creating cds) enter Spotify!
2. St. Francis/ Snow White: having pets, feeding wildlife (it doesn't have to be an earth shattering embodiment.)
3. Prizewinning, world famous author: writing regularly, entering contests etc--modest local success
4. Magazine editor: Blogging! I like taking pictures, finding links, choosing music and researching and tying it all up in a neat bundle. It was fascinating for me to dig a little deeper and find out what really appealed to me about blogging and how it related to an imaginary life of being a magazine editor.
5. Psychic: indulging my love of tarot by daily card pulls and regular readings for myself and friends. I also dabbled in reading in a local coffee shop which was fun but super scary!
So there you have it. Our imaginary lives have something in them that whispers and deeply appeals to us. If we can examine this more, we may discover what it is and expand what we perhaps consider to be our more mundane daily lives.
Happy imagining. And living!
The last couple of days have been all about friends for me, reminding me of how treasured friendship is and how much I treasure my friends.
On Sunday my morning started with a f/b message from a high school friend in Britain. She had been sorting through her loft and had come across a little book on friendship that I had sent her for her 18th birthday (40 years ago!). She sent me a picture of the cover and inscription. We had been firm friends through high school and exchanged many long newsy letters when I emigrated to Canada. I remember one of her letters in particular which our puppy chewed when it came through the mail slot. Her words were spread like confetti across our carpet and I raced around trying to gather them to piece her letter together.
Later on the same day I received another f/b private message from someone whose name I didn't recognise. She had spotted my name in a facebook group and asked if I was the same Susan Blott who lived on Edward Street and went to Eston infant and junior school. It turned out she was an old friend from school who had changed her name when she married. She told me that I was her first friend in school. I'm not sure why but that made me glow. We've spent the last couple of days catching up on our lives and peeking at each other's f/b pages. So lovely to catch up with her again. I remember our walks to school and playing twosies. She said that my mam always made her feel welcome when she called by on the way to and from school. My mam died 5 years ago and it felt good to hear her remembered so fondly.
My yesterday concluded with a delicious dinner with a good friend--her belated birthday treat to me. We were both amazed to discover that we had spent 3 hours in the restaurant chatting and sharing fears and hopes.
Then when I got home, a dear friend in Tasmania messaged me and we chatted long into my night and deep into her day. She was a penpal (email penpal I suppose is the modern term!) of my Mam's. After Mam died, Fran and I got in touch and have grown very close despite the distance. She is one of my staunchest supporters (and I hope she feels I am one of hers).
The angel at the beginning of this blog was given to me by Liza--our sons played together when very young. The angel hangs on my bathroom cabinet--a daily reminder of the power and comfort of friendship. The picture below is of a magnet I keep on my fridge, sent by a cherished friend, Linda, in BC. We've known each other since university. The delightful sentiment is true and, I hope, one that is true for you in your life.
May you receive and give the gift of friendship today.
I started this blog mid-April last year in response to Effy Wild's Artfully Wild Blog Along. And I've kept it up for almost a year. It surprised me how much I enjoyed blogging. And that people (true blood friends) seemed to enjoy my blogs. So Effy is offering this again this year: read and comment on at least 3 blogs and post your own every day in April. Every day is a big commitment but I remember how much I enjoyed it last year. My blogs now tend to be at least one a month though I aim for more.
Already I'm starting in a hurry. Off for a belated birthday dinner with a friend soon after sleeping patchily after midnights last night and a union vote mid-morning. So this post will be a simple one: my first spread (cover page) from A Year With Rumi, also offered by Effy Wild. This is a course that I am completely loving. Rumi's quotes are deep and thought provoking. This one was one of my favourites.
It's your road...and yours alone. Others may walk it with you but no-one can walk it for you. ~ Rumi
The actual piece is more shimmery than this picture shows. But the quote appeals to me. I see it as being all about reclaiming your own life and your own power. It also seems to encapsulate the idea of a blog. Others may walk the road with you by reading it, but the words and the atmosphere created in your blog are yours and yours alone.
Thank you for your company. May your road today be smooth.
Welcome! I'm Sue Blott: a writer of all things, a poet at heart, mom, wife, daughter, step-mom, grandma, tea drinker, tai chi-er, mystic, artist, dreamer...and now a blogger! This is my world.