Thursday, December 17, 2009

What About Rudolph?

I have enjoyed a perfect day.  The elements of it are as follows:  adorable kindergarten tots who are truly excited about Santa and the gifts that they have made for their families; an amazing holiday concert performed during the morning at our little school by young children who managed to completely warm my heart; a delicious turkey dinner luncheon provided for our staff by our principal that brought us all together for a half hour of good food, good cheer, and tranquility in this busy school week;  a pervasive feeling of "good will toward men" in our home and school; a husband who arrived home from a company "holiday" event bouyant and happy.

One characteristic event in this kindergarten teacher's day occurred during afternoon story time.  A few children begged me to read the "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" story book - which I did.  Please take a moment to imagine their little starry eyes, sympathy and belief written all over their dear little faces, and an earnestness that is so evident amongst four- and five-year-olds.  We savoured each illustration and imagined how poor Rudolph must have felt - mocked, excluded, sad.  Rudolph's fans know that the story has a happy ending - he provides light to Santa on a "foggy Christmas Eve" and, with great rejoicing, is outfitted in a harness with bells and sent to the front of the line to guide Santa's sleigh.  (Now, please try to picture the happy smiles and delighted faces of my little students...).  This is the point where my day takes on a poignant sweetness as one little boy asks:  "Is Rudolph real?"  My task at this stage of their lives is to keep the magic alive without trying to be dishonest.  Hence, my reply:  "He's real if you can believe in magic and wonder at this time of year."  That seemed to satisfy all of the children and I then guided the conversation elsewhere.

Upon reflection later in the evening, I was somewhat amused by the question.  There we were, wondering whether or not Rudolph was "real" when, in reality, this question can only be asked by someone who already believes in Santa Claus, elves, the North Pole toy factory, and flying reindeer that can visit all homes on the planet Earth in one evening!  I remember believing so powerfully for many of my own early years.  Like many of my friends and family members, I resisted my rational thoughts because it was just so good to believe!  As an adult, reading these stories again to little people is such a treat.  I am immersed once more in the warm coccoon of belief that defies reason and logic and invites spasms of delight.

So, what about Rudolph?  Is he real?  Is there any pleasure for you in imagining that he is or was - once upon a time?  It is a truly magical time of year, particularly if you can find a small child to share it with.  Just imagine....

Ho! Ho! Ho!

Wondering about Rudolph...

Wondering Woman

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter whispers

I am a Sagittarian.  One of my official followers (and I love them both!) maintains that when the sun is transiting one's own astrological sign, that lucky twelfth of the population is "in the zone" - in every way!  Perhaps it is the power of suggestion, perhaps there is some truth to this belief.  Whatever... however... I do feel as if I am enjoying my annual "time in the sun" right now.

Tonight is a fine example.  I am at home (no demands on my evening time for a change other than being at home) with many of our children, my husband, and my dogs.  Our Christmas tree is up (with lights only), there's a fire in our fire place (fake fire logs are very convincing), there are great tunes flowing out of our CD player, my new "Hello" magazine arrived in today's mail, I have a big bowl of my favourite chips at my finger tips and a chilled glass of white wine to wash them down.  Outside, the wind is howling, our holiday lights are swinging precariously from our front yard tree, and the snow that came to visit yesterday is now frozen in patches all over our neighbourhood.  My hair is less than ideal, my waist is thickening, my complexion is raw and wind-burned, my hands are now chapped, and the braces on my lower teeth are as annoying as ever.  So what?  And that's the beauty of it all right now...I honestly mean those two words:  so what?!

Tonight, I could not be any happier.  These are the times we all aspire to:  warm hearts, full tummies, companions, laughter, music, comraderie, good cheer.  Holiday cards started?  No.  Christmas shopping done?  No.  Baking started?  Wrong girl!  Racing pulse, sleepless nights?  Nope.  All's truly well with my world.

Michael J. Fox is a "lucky man" and I am a lucky woman.  And why am I so lucky?  Simply because I know I am and I can honestly feel it.  Will I always feel this way?  No.  The beauty of this evening and this time in my life is that right now, life is good because I recognize it for what it is and I have the capacity at this time to savour it.  It won't last and that's okay.  The challenges that wait for me in the new year will allow me to enjoy the sweet times even more. 

So - cozy up, treat yourself kindly, and whisper some sweet nothings that only you can hear.  Join me in the zone and share my time in the sun.


Wondering Woman

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wise Words from David Foster

I am a happy subscriber to 'HELLO! Canada' magazine.  It's entertaining without being too trashy and I freely admit to enjoy reading about the many celebrities and royal families that reside in our world.  It is all pleasingly escapist and I apologize to no one for my weekly hit of pleasure.

In the context of the difficulties being experienced in my larger family, there is a line offered up by David Foster, the music producer, in my most recent edition (23 November 2009), which has played on me ever since first reading it.  It is as follows:

"When you have children, you are only as happy as your saddest child."

There is a strong ring of truth to this line.  I know that as a parent and step-parent, I am impacted by the physical, emotional, spiritual, social, academic and employment situations that my children find themselves in.  I ride up with them for the highs and down with them for the lows.  It gets tricky trying to balance one child's high while a sibling is experiencing a low - as many parents have surely experienced.

My thoughts are with my own mother at this time as she deals with situations impacting her children.  She is the one I am most concerned about, as are those who know her and love her.

Our hearts are so expanded by the children in our lives - for better or worse.

To your happiness!

Wondering Woman

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What next?

My extended family is in a muddle.  I am finding it all to be very divisive in my conversations and my ponderings. 

I know that we are best served not to impose our values upon others, that our lives are "unfolding as they should", that none of us has the market on truth cornered, that we are all starring in the movies of our own lives, that "times have changed", that what's good for Jack may not be good for Jill...

Fine.  As we each bring our own experiences, points of view, knowledge, reflections, opinions and thoughts to any discussion or situation, naturally there will be differences.  We all operate with different needs, different motivations, different temperments, different codes, different understandings of what is true or what is right or what is good. 

I happen to bear a personality that places a high value on truth and respects the eternal wisdom that with freedom comes responsibility.  In recogniton of the fact that I am an adult role model for young people (I am both a parent and a teacher), I feel an even greater responsibilty to manage my conduct, my behaviours, my speech and my attitudes.  As I pay attention to those around me in all walks, I understand that my bar seems to be set a little high. I relax my moral standards or do I learn to cut people some slack?  I often feel isolated in my points of view, sometimes thinking it must simply be the plight of the first-born.  However, I have known many other first-borns in their respective family constellations who are not similarly afflicted - quite the opposite, in fact.  If not birth order, perhaps my views are a reflection of the temperment that I was born with - for better or worse.  There are not necessarily any answers to be had; rather, my task in the days and weeks ahead - particularly as we creep towards the socially- and emotionally-laden Christmas season, will be to strike the balance between honoring my feelings and experiences and honoring the feelings and experiences of those nearest and dearest to me.

My instincts at this time are to fall back, let the dust settle, keep my concerns and opinions to myself, and get on with my life- without ruffling any feathers along the way.  I am feeling this way in response to the fact that I am actually feeling very, very angry about the situation and the way that the adults involved are handling it.  And yet, who am I to throw stones from the front porch of my own glass house?  Ironically, I feel myself channeling the opinions of my (very opinionated) deceased father - whether I like it or not.  He would have had no tolerance for the situation that our extended family is dealing with and it would have been very clear to all.  In my bias, I sense that our larger family is dealing with issues and difficulties that scrape at the core of universal truths.  What is right?  What is honour?  What is loyalty?  What is duty?  What amount of self-indulgence is required to balance the needs of others with the need to satisfy the self and keep the "well" replenished?

Most of all, I am surprised by the strength of my feelings - perhaps because the situation is touching damaged nerves resulting from the demise of my own first marriage.  If nothing else, there is one thing that I continue to be reminded of, loudly and clearly:  I cannot cope with being lied to.  My prayers, thoughts, and support are available to those who need them, contingent on the requirement that I am afforded the dignity of being told the truth.  Otherwise, I choose to "mind my own beeswax".

Wondering Woman

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why bother?

It's interesting how a day's events can wander from Halloween parades to flu pandemic concerns to the fragile state of marriages and relationships...

As I observe more and more marriages and relationships crumble, I am left wondering - why bother?  If ultimately many of us are in search of our true selves, why do we tangle other lives into our own?  How do we learn to balance our own needs with the needs of others - especially those we have make promises to and have invited into our lives by birth or by invitation?  At what point did we decide that committed relationships and families are actually disposable?  How bad do "things" have to be before we open the barn door and let the horses run out - never to return?  What is worth hanging on to, fighting for, preserving, cherishing, investing in?  What is powerful enough to allow us to decide not to hang on, not to fight, not to preserve, not to cherish, not to invest any more?

My thoughts are that all situations are positive, neutral or negative.  When there are children, families, extended families, social circles, financial structures, futures and expectations, "positive" is wonderful but surely "neutral" is tolerable.  If one's situation is truly negative (abusive, cruel, degrading, soul-destroying) then some sort of action is warranted - even if it ultimately means the demise of the relationship. 

I am a divorced person in a continuing high-conflict situation and have spent the past twelve years observing the toll it has taken on my children, my finances, my energy, my social life and my sanity.  In spite of being very happily remarried, I cannot erase the many, many negative effects on my children that their parents' decision not to continue in their marriage has had on them.  The event is long past but the children will carry the scars and stains for the rest of their lives. 

I would like to think that we, as a parenting generation, could all just grow up.  Who do we think we are?  How bad do we think our lives are?  What do we really expect from life and from others that we are not prepared to deliver ourselves?  Why was the previous generation so mature in their understanding of duty, obligation, and responsibility to others while we seem to be more interested in our understanding of duty, obligation and responsibility to ourselves?  It seems rather unfair to the next generation.  Actions do speak louder than words.  As our children mature into their own adult lives, will there be enough role models to assist them in their understanding of the depth and seriousness of the commitments that they will make some day - especially if they decide to start a family?  I am worried that many will simply say, "Why bother?"

Two simple words which rise as a challenge to all who would enter in relationship with others before they have taken the time to satisfy a healthy relationship with themselves.

Your somewhat disillusioned
Wondering Woman

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Walking in the zone...

I have been making a concerted effort of late to "parcel" my problems and concerns - standard advice that we all hear but don't always put to practical use.  My difficulties are relatively few and I am sure that, given a choice, I would choose my own over anyone else's.  However, there is one sizeable issue that never resolves, seems to worsen with each passing year, and has the power to make me nearly crazy.  It operates outside reason, fairness and logic and exists completely outside my early experiences - thus, I tend not to have any deep sense of how to navigate it from one year to the next.  When I allow myself to be impacted by it, I am torn between wanting to fight hard and wanting to lie down and wave a white flag (shades of anger and depression).  Worse, however, is the fact that my wound up emotions spill over on everyone around me - canines included.  That is what I resent the very most.  I believe that craziness and negativity are actually contagious and we all need to protect ourselves from these energies.

So, for the first time in over a decade, I am making a conscious effort to stay sane, keep my focus on the great number of things that are good in my life (recognizing that I am truly blessed), and deliberately not giving time, thought or adrenaline to the problems that never reslove.  Happily for me and those around me - it has been working like a charm.  I am feeling cheerful, empowered, grounded, and focussed.  It really is within our power (like all the books and self-help gurus say) to choose how we are going to guide ourselves and our energies. Situations are taking their course and I am getting on with my days and nights. 

Interestingly, I now find myself to be walking "in the zone".  What do I mean?  Well, finances are tight but I bought some much-needed new clothes (to the cheers of my family).  My hair was a greying low-budget affair (I am expert at cheaping-out) that I finally spent some real money on - to more familial applause.  My teaching career is humming - I am enjoying this school year's cohort of kindergarten children more than I ever have before.  Family life is lovely and our house continues to be full of people who truly enjoy each other's company.  I have stripped excess commitments and demands from my life such that I have time to be home with the people that I care most about when the work day is done.  I don't exercise beyond walking dogs and that's very okay.  Guilt has no power over me!

And so, here I am, sitting happily in the driver's seat of my life - at last.  It's important that I remember to keep myself there, instead of allowing myself to be "taken for a ride".  I am glad to have found the resolve to parcel my problems and keep them in their boxes.  I highly recommend it!

Sending you a smile,

Wondering Woman

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What a move!

We live in a former bungalow that was renovated and two-storied by the previous owners.  It met our needs as a newly blended family back in 2004 - more or less.  At that time we crammed six kids, two adults, three dogs, one cat and one hamster into the abode with all of the associated stuff that goes with people and pets.

Five years later, eldest step-daughter shares a home with her boyfriend, eldest son and youngest step-daughter are at university and we now have a "small" family of two adults, three teenagers and three dogs.  We do marvel at how small it feels as it is actually bigger than most families are in this day and age.  Proof that everything is relative!  There is less food required, less laundry to do, less garbage and recycling to put out, fewer shoes, boots and flip-flops in the front hall and less pressure on the bathrooms in the morning and evening.  It was, however, the removal of the dining room table leaf that officially marked this season's shrinking family.  But that was only the beginning....

The youngest daughters thought that we should do a living room - dining room furniture switch.  Bitten by the manic furniture moving bug, we have spent the past two days completely flipping our living room, dining room, foyer and office space in ways that make me want to spell Fung Shui in block capital letters with multiple exclamation marks!!!   Wowie, wowie, wow!!!  Not only did it make for fun family bonding time over the long week-end, it has made our house feel like new.  I couldn't wait to come home from work today so that I could do a dining room table - china cabinet flip.  One hour later and with the help of my three teen-age daughters, ta-da - new dining room!!  The females in this house truly believe that the household energy is flowing properly at last - especially in the dining room.  There are no words, really - it's all just so much better.

The best part of all - it hasn't cost us a cent.  Not yet, at least.  There is now a big bare dining room wall that is crying out for a big mirror or a tapestry.  I vote for the tapestry - one that includes a few sight hounds, horses, flora, fauna and such.  (Does anyone have any good suggestions where one can buy such a thing?)

As the temperature drops, days shorten, and more and more people come down with bugs and viruses, may I recommend to you that you move some furniture around if you need a lift.  I know that I sound like some kind of reality home show personality, but it really works. 

Happy days to all!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Welcome HOME, Teenagers!

I teach Kindergarten.  Teaching kindergarten allows me to think that for a few hours every day, I walk on water and am the centre of the universe.  It is truly a delightful job if it is one's calling;  if not, teaching kindergarten can be a fate worse than death.  My ego seems to enjoy the "centre of the universe" aspects of the job in some measure.  I get to allow my inner child that I never outgrew to connect with forty dear, sweet, earnest little people (and they are little!) every day and the school board actually pays me to do this - how lucky am I???

In contrast, I live with teenagers.  Depending on the day, there are five teenagers in my family at home at this time.  Two have just returned  from university for Thanksgiving week-end.  Teenagers are very different from 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds.  They definitely do not think that I walk on water or that I am the centre of the universe (darn!).  In their quest for autonomy, I frequently present as  problematic and embarassing in their lives rather than the singular adult upon whom the sun rises and falls.   I would rather leave teaching than teach teenagers - which says far more about me than it does about them.  I couldn't cope and I know it. 

Life with teenagers challenges me to frequently remember where I was at at the same age.  There really is nothing new under the sun.   I have seen it and been it all before.  However, this knowledge does not always help me to warm up to our kids and their attitudes and behaviours.  I am cursed with a temperment that is judgemental with a capital J!  (Perhaps I am simply a judge who is mental?!)

So, here is the happy part of my wonderings and ponderings this evening.  At 9:00  p.m., there were seven (count 'em - seven!!) teenagers with me at our dining room table, chatting merrily, getting reconnected after time away for some at university, laughing, hurling insults, and savouring each other's company.  My husband was toiling over leaking turkey "juice" (ugh!) in the refrigerator and my mom was helping my daughter to prepare bread for tomorrow's turkey stuffing.  Chaos, comraderie, family, friends, and love.  In all aspects of life, we are reminded to "take the good with the bad".  This evening, it was all good.  For that I am very thankful!  Welcome home, teenagers!

(This post is dedicated to David, Matthew, Olivia, Katie, Emily, Suzanne and Mikaela - all ranging in age from 13 to 19 - with love and thanks!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Who's your Alex?

I have two daughters in High School.  Each of them is lucky enough to have an "Alex" in her life.  Both young men have bubbled to the surface of our awarenesses in beautiful ways in recent days.

I arrived home from work yesterday to see a delightful gourd on our front porch window ledge.  Upon inquiring, my eldest daughter replied that Alex had grown it in his garden and gives one to her every year because she loves gourds.  How many 17-year-old Toronto boys do you know that grow gourds?  He is a pure, gentle soul.

My middle daughter has had a difficult ride at school around becoming a committee member, resulting in challenges and disillusionment.  It has caused all who know the situation strife and unease.  The Alex in her life demonstrated uncommon courage for a 16-year-old in making an effort to support her and was shut down by a superior.

My heart is warmed immensely by the knowledge that these young men exist and are in our orbit.  Interestingly, they are both nautical, "outdoorsy" and close to their families.  Hooray for these wonderful lads.

My hope for all of you is that there is an Alex in your life.

Have a special day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Tonight was "Curriculum Night" in my little corner of the world.  I had the pleasure of spending an hour mixing and meeting with most of the parents of my kindergarten students and we are, on balance, a mutually happy group.

I feel as if I am finally hitting my stride as a teacher - earned by age, experience, and the confidence that comes with the aforementioned.  It's funny - I've also noticed that this is the point in my life where my grey hair is making itself strongly felt - even in my eyebrows.  Is there a connection?  Does your body send visual signals to indicate that it's time to embrace a sense of time-earned confidence and conviction?  It feels good to have finally reached a point in my life where the scale has tipped in favour of conviction over chronic self-doubt. 

Aren't we lucky as humans to be able to stand back, review where and who we've been and take stock of what we are becoming?  Let us all embrace age, wisdom, experience and greying hair.  These truly are the things that money can't buy!

Monday, October 5, 2009

"What's it all about, Alfie?"

This song title has been running through my head recently- it takes me back to days long past when it sang forth from my parents' radio and record player.  I finally took the time to listen to a few versions on YouTube and do love Barbra Streisand's.  Have yourself a listen....

Life is funny - in an ironic way.  I have many "log jams" in my life ready to burst.  That said, I found myself heading into today feeling excited even though I knew it would pose a number of challenges that are far bigger than a typical day's dose.  "Hooray for me", I exclaimed to my dear spouse this morning - "I have a tough day ahead and I actually feel grounded, ready and happy."  In addition to teaching little people and attending an IT training session, I was required to make phone calls to my lawyer and to my daughter's school - all before 11:30 a.m.  Tick, tick, tick - all done and relatively stress-free at that.

I couldn't pat myself on the back, however, because during the same "productive" morning, I ripped open my wrist on the corner of my classroom window as I was pulling across a curtain - ouch!  I'm not sure when I last cut myself like that - it was all I could do not to cry in front of a bunch of 3- and 4-year-olds! 

I arrived home a few hours later to a frustrated teenaged daughter.  "Who let the dogs out of the basement?", she asked?  She had just spent half an hour cleaning up a giant mess - picture chewed up bathroom waste, shreds and stains, in addition to dog poop scattered through the upstaris bedrooms (where the dogs are not even allowed to go).  How can dogs who are 8, 9 and 10 years old and generally well-behaved even think to do that?  (Does anyone want a free dog - including one who has chewed some of her leg stitches out, resulting in a big hole that the vet is going to give me a lecture about...?)  Needless to say I owe my daughter big-time.  I could not have dealt with that mess as a home-coming surprise!

So... happy, grounded, efficient me found herself feeling flat, exhausted, drained, sore and fed-up by 5:00 p.m.  What is it all about???  Today's conclusion -it's not really about anything.  Life just keeps rolling along, we need to continue to choose to be happy if that's what we want, and we need to actively keep the stations in our brain tuned to the channels we want to watch.  My reality check:  healthy family, great job, people who I care about that care about me, dogs that I wouldn't actually give away for anything, food in the cupboard, cars in the driveway, appliances that work, and a wound that is merely a flesh wound after all.

I do maintain that life is ironic - a theme I plan to visit at greater depth some day soon.  However, I always hang on to the thought that "the universe is unfolding as it should".  Our task is to keep our attention on the channels that are life-enhancing and continue to put one foot in front of the other.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

"With a Little Help From My Friends"

I am not sure where I stand politically anymore....not that it really matters today.  I am both delighted and enchanted by the idea of Stephen Harper playing the piano and singing this great Beatles classic, accompanied by none other than Yo-Yo Ma!  What a wonderful surprise for Canadians - and humanity!  (Yo-Yo Ma is a personal favourite - he is indeed a beautiful human being!)

Take a peek and smile!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Thank you for taking the time to visit this blog.  I am brand new to this blogging business and am feeling a wee bit excited about it.  I do a lot of thinking and observing (don't we all??).  I welcome your comments, thoughts, observations, recommendations and insights.

For today, here is a thought:  pay attention to how the full moon affects you and those around you.  It's actually rather fun and over time, behavioural patterns seem to emerge.  There's so much to see if only you are looking!