swimming upstream

Today we sat by the Breckenridge river, at the french bakery here in town. As the days of september get shorter and cooler brook trout and brown trout attempt to go upstream to spawn.

We sat and watched the brown trout in the stream, as the water rushed downhill.  There were two culverts dumping water into lower lying land.  We watched fish trying to jump up to higher ground, going against the rushing water.  They attempted to leap the 5 ft gap.

Their jumps seemed like futile attempts, but they kept trying. These fish were my teachers today…I asked myself:

How much energy do I put into futile endeavours?

How much energy do I put into swimming upstream?   For example trying to do it my way rather than surrender and trust the universe.

Everything flows downstream….I have been swimming upstream all my life, resisting the flow, resisting life.  Letting my mind and ego run the show until it no longer works.

Now is the time to let go and flow.

Miracles every day

Today I experienced a miracle.

I was accepted for a green card.  I received the letter but not the card.   It seems the government sent the card to the wrong address.  The letter without the card is worth buchus.

For those of you who don’t know the green card=social security card=getting a job=getting a Colorado drivers license=getting my car registered.

My life hinges on this card.

I would have sprung for the $17.50 Fedex fee for a signature delivery, since it cost me $5,000 so far to apply for immigration,  through a lawyer.

So now the government is tracking where they sent the card, that will take 10 days.

Meanwhile I have a ticket back to Canada yesterday, to visit my best friend who is 74 and in ill-health.  She had to sell her house and move into a seniors residence.

I wanted to be there, to take her round possible residences, negotiate the agreement with the agent who is selling her house.  Help her every step of the way.

When I found out about the lost green card, this ment no trip back to Canada as my lawyer said “if you leave the country your application becomes null and void and they won’t let you back in”.

I was angry and upset and heart-broken.  I felt like I could not do my duty for my best friend who was always there for me.    I was widowed at 44 years old.  Blindsided, shocked and deeply suicidal she saved my life, as my neighbour talking to me, seeing my pain, accepting me as I am.

Now in her time of need I was not there.

I did not sleep, I felt deep soul anguish, which led me to prayer.

I begged my dead husband to help.  I invoked the angel of god.   I asked for the impossible: to make things easy for my best friend Pauline.

I prayed every night for help and ease.  I  did the loving Kindness meditation imagining my friend Pauline at ease, and at peace.

A miracle happened.

Today I called my friend Pauline, and she told me a neighbour has offered to buy her house for cash, no agents.  They have been to the lawyers and the house closes July 28th.

She has seen a nice seniors home that has an indoor pool, and card games and is moving in July.

What a miracle.

Here I was in deep anguish that I could not leave the country to help my best friend.

As soon as I surrendered to spirit, and asked for help, and allowed spirit to take over, the solution was fast, creative, effective and perfect.

Something I could not have thought of or engineered.

You see my friend is very private, and I knew she would not want people trotting through her house.

This solution was PERFECT.

This was a great lesson for me in trying too hard to manage situations, rather than call on the mighty spirit to bring about the perfect resolution.  In this case within 48 hours.

Wow what a lesson for me.

Tell me about your everyday miracle.

Cuba or Iceland?

 

Last night I went for a pint at Murphy’s Irish Pub.  They have a beautiful open fire on their deck that overlooks the mountains.   I went outside to look at the lights on the mountain and be close to the fire.  A real treat on a warm winter night.  Around the fire were a group of four women in their 20’s who were on vacation.  They were drinking “mind errasers” handed out free from the Kahlua girls that were dressed in pink and white snow pants, with Kahlua printed their hats.  I had a conversation with one of them.  They said their job is to go to happy hours and promote the new “mind eraser “drink.  I asked her what was in them she said Absolute Vodka, Kahlua and club soda, and it is ment to be sucked fast through the thick red and white straw.

I told her in Canada that this kind of promotion would not be allowed, also that we have no happy hour.  Her jaw dropped, she had a hard time believing me.  She asked if it was because of our health care?

Back to the fire the four young women were planning their next vacation while on their current vacation, here in Breckenridge.

Cuba or Iceland?  was the discussion of where to go to next.  One guy chimed in that Iceland is amazing and remote and really beautiful.

I said “go to Cuba!” They all stopped and looked at me.  You have been there?  I said “yes I am Canadian, I have been going there for 20 years.  I said go now before it is ruined by Americans taking over”.

It struck me as odd that young travelers are debating Cuba or Iceland.

What happened to getting into the back of a van with your dog and driving across your own country?

Breckenridge does attract all kinds of people, from average to over the top wealthy people who have “the aspen walk”.  The aspen walk describes well healed women and men in their 5,000 dollar furs and high heels that tiptoe delicately along the heated sidewalks.

The beauty of this town is that all walks of life are here.  Young people working and living in their car as there is no housing, ragged mountain characters who have been here for 40 years, europeans, and the nouveau rich from Texas.

Where else can you and have a pint across the street from your house, stand by an open fire, look out at the lights on the mountains, talk to travelers from all over the globe, and then trot off home across the street to your cozy bed.

The benefit of daily awe

I was reading the Saturday Wall Street Journal, and saw an article which told me that if  I experience one minute of awe in nature each day, it will make me happier, kinder and more compassionate**.

Today, as we drove down the mountain, we saw people ice climbing.  I screamed out loud “holy mother of god, pull over”.  I have never seen a person climbing up a frozen waterfall on the side of a mountain.  I asked my fiancé, “Why would they want to climb frozen water or ice- it could break off any minute.”  He said, “because they can”.…talk about awe!  I stood there and watched them repel down a frozen waterfall with such ease and grace. At any moment a piece could break off and they could slide down.  I looked up to see where they had tied off the rope, it was to a small aspen tree at the top that was leaning over with the tension of the rope.

Risks.  Something we crave,  something we avoid, something we assess in life.

Some people believe that we have acceptable time periods of our life to take risks.  It is o.k. to take risks in your teens, or your 20’s because that is what youth is for. We tell ourselves later in life that we have done all our crazy stuff, now we have it all together.  The truth is that risk is always something that is present at any age.

In my 30’s and 40’s I had everything.  I had a great career, a wonderful lake front home, a great couch that you could sink into and disappear.  I would read the Saturday paper for 3 hours.  It was a high back tufted couch which I had yearned for 3 years and it cost $6,000.

For years in Toronto, Canada I had dreampt of owning a lake front home and having a great career.  We moved out to Scugog lake area and bought a cottage that was “lifted up” so it could be a home.

I was a driven professional, ambitious.  Then my husband died at 44 years old— and everything was meaningless.   Suddenly the couch was meaningless, the panoramic view of the lake was meaningless.

Eight years later I have found more meaning, but the couch is long gone, sold to a single mother for $100 who left her abusive husband.  She deserved to have time reading the paper against the high back tufted curve of my designer couch.

Now I live in the mountains and have very few belongings…. but I have love, and great dogs.  It feels like family.

Life is full of risks and the p0tential for awe at any age.

** In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that after gazing up at tall trees for just one minute participants in Berkeley California behaved more helpfully to others than people who looked at an unremarkable building.   The reason,  Momentary awe it suggests. The University of California Irvine psychologist Paul Piff, who co-authored the study  says “I think we can say pretty certainly that having a little bit of awe everyday in your life would make you happier, kinder and more compassionate”.

The privaledged outsider

We emigrated to Canada from the UK on a Polish cruise ship in 1979 called the  stephan Batory.  We boarded it in Southampton England. It was when there was still Communism in Poland.  We crossed the Atlantic and sailed through the area where the Titanic sank, eventually landing in Montreal, Canada.  A highlight for me was seeing an iceberg.  The crew went out to the iceberg and cut out a huge chunk of ice and served baked Alaska on it in the dinning room.  The authentic polish food was incredibly delicious.  I remember my parents saying they gained 14lbs over the ten-day crossing.

Crossing the Atlantic was rough. At dinner we hung onto our plates of food, otherwise they would have slid down the table.  I have photos of my parents; my mum dressed in an evening gown, and my father in a tux hanging onto a pole on the dance floor because of the rough seas.

As a teenager,  I thought the boat ride was fantastic.  The waves in the pool slammed you against the side, as the water synchronized with the ocean tide.  I used to entertain myself in the bottom of the ship playing the grand piano, in the theatre below deck.

We arrived in Montreal, Canada where everyone spoke French.  Most of the Polish crew jumped ship and declared refugee status.  This left no crew to unload the cargo from the ship.  We  waited 12 hours for another crew to help us disembark, and go through immigration.

Coming to Canada was part of my father’s “mid life crisis” he and my mother were 42 years old. We arrived in Sudbury Ontario, Canada which was a small rough mining town in Northern Ontario.  At that time there was no internet, so my father’s only information on Canada was based on television.  In England we watched the tv show Grizzly Adams, and we believed that all Canadians lived in log cabins, and hunted for their meat.  Convinced we would encounter wild animals my father had us get three rabies shots,  to prepare for the wilderness.

We arrived in a very civilized suburb of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and my father was all set to hunt and gather.  Except we were in a suburban middle class neighbourhood, where people bought their meat at the store.

This did not stop my father, he joined a powder rifle club, took archery, and made us practice archery and fencing on the driveway.  He got a hunting license and managed to kill a deer. He decided he was going to skin it on the driveway and learn to tan hides.  After all this is why he came to Canada to experience the wilderness. The fact that the suburban neighbours stared at the dead carcus skins-salted and drying on the driveway did not sway him. He was “the proud Canadian hunter”. If we were not obviously outsiders with our accent, the tanning hides certainly indicated difference.

As a kid I was used to being the “outsider” we were stationed in different countries every 2 years with the British Air Force.  Before coming to Canada we moved countries 14 times in 16 years.   I adopted the stance of being a witness in life.  Observing people and cultures, realizing that I am a guest, an outsider, that I clearly did not belong.  I believe I have internalized the “outsider stance”, the witness stance, into my psyche as a way of being, always holding back a little bit to observe rather than throw myself into life full force.

As an adult I find myself drawn to the outsiders in any culture or community.  I have spent the past 20 years in Canada, working for those individuals who do not fit in.  Who function on the periphery of society such as addicts, homeless, new immigrants and youth.  I have advocated for the underdog in many different situations.

I believe years of being the outsider in many cultures made “outsiders” familiar territory for me.