Mindfulness meditation

I have been busy these past months, working full time, studying part time, living a busy life.

What has connected me to it all has been the people in my life and meditation.

I was recently asked what it is that I get from meditation – this was not a scornful question, but a true inquiry.

Mindfulness meditation clears my mind. Literally makes it an empty place. There are no past worries, no future concerns. Me and my breath.

I have always envied my husband for his ability to dump the world and just be in the moment; he can literally think about nothing. My mind has always whirled – are the children safe? What does that momentary ache in my hip signify? Will the bad weather affect my mom’s ability to get out for groceries? Why did I do that – or that – or that?

When I learned to meditate, it guided me to understand the beauty of a silent mind. The absolute peace that can come from being in the moment with only my breath. The peace and serenity of nothing but that breath. The closest I had come to that before was lying on a beach listening to waves crashing.

Mindfulness meditation has made me want more and less. More quiet. Less mental noise. More crashing waves.

This does not mean I do not want to think, learn, experience. It means that I want to have times away from all that to rest my mind. And I want to be fully present as I think and learn and experience the world.

Today, I am sitting on campus, doing homework (and apparently blogging). It is here that I first learned about mindfulness – and it deepened the experience of the last three years. What a gift.

Each other…

May 21, 2015

A long marriage requires two people to fall in love, over and over, with each other.

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Every day, Tim and I make the same choice we made 32 years ago: each other.

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And we made another amazing choice: to become parents.

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How lucky are we? Incredibly.

(Thanks for the first 32 years, sweetie. Looking forward to each day ahead.)

Trying to find the words…

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It’s been a tough few weeks. In the middle of  November, a student at my school was struck and killed by a car. He was 4. There are no words to express the tragedy of the loss of a four-year old child.

Last Thursday, as I was driving to go Christmas shopping, I suddenly became part of another tragedy. As before, not my own,  but somehow part of my lived experience.

As I approached an overpass, I noticed a tow truck parked at an odd angle on an adjacent on-ramp and a man, the driver, waving frantically at people. I slowed, as did all the cars around me, and as I looked over a grassy median, I saw that, beside the truck, was a man, lying in the road. It took my brain a moment to process what I was seeing. A man. In the road. A highway.

He was alone. No one was with him.

Because the tow truck was stopping traffic from the on ramp, I was able to get over to the side of the road safely.

I didn’t make that decision. It just happened. I didn’t decide to open my trunk and scan for my first aid kit. I didn’t compute that it wasn’t in the car. I just saw a tarp, a large garbage bag really, and I grabbed it. I felt for my cell phone. And I ran.

The man wasn’t alone anymore. Another woman was standing beside him, talking on her phone. I placed the tarp over the man’s body, keeping his head free. I could hear his very laboured breathing. The woman knelt down next to me after taking off her coat. She seemed to be considering putting it under his head. I said, Don’t move his head.

She kept her phone to her ear the whole time. I heard her say, yes, he’s breathing. No, he’s not responsive. He’s got an obvious broken leg. I said, severe head trauma. Yes, she said, head trauma.

Then the sirens began. There were so many sirens, but I could still hear the man’s struggled breathing. We talked to him. We talked to each other. We talked about how we didn’t understand how no one else had stopped.

I rubbed his back as gently as I could, but hopefully he knew he wasn’t alone.

Another man came up and said, I saw it. I saw what happened. He jumped.

A police officer arrived. He took control of the situation, told us what to do. Keep doing what you are doing. He helped hold down the tarp – the wind was fighting us.

More and more and more officers arrived. The highway was blocked off, trying to allow emergency vehicles to arrive.

One car driver maneuvered through and got past all the barriers. Multiple officers yelled at him. Suddenly 4 police cars came the wrong way down the highway. The ambulance was there.

The paramedics had helmets on. I kept wondering why do they have helmets on.

We backed away as soon as the paramedics were with him. We stood back. The witness came to us. Did you see what happened? Why did he do that? How could he do that? He was shaking. He had trouble standing.

The other woman talked to the police and shared that she did not witness the cause of the man’s injuries. She had to leave, she had to get to work.

The officer ask me if I had seen anything, if I knew if a car ran him over after he jumped. I had not seen the event. I was free to go.

The witness asked me to stay with him. I took his arm. He took mine. We exchanged names. I told him he would be okay. I knew, even as I said it, it would be a long time before he would be okay.

Another young man came up. I don’t know where he came from. He said, why didn’t more people stop. He said, I stop even if I see an animal injured in the street.

The police came and took the witness to a car. I told the first officer on the scene I was very worried about the witness. The officer assured me that they would take good care of him. He said thank you.

I walked past the injured man. He was on a stretcher. The tow truck driver was helping the paramedics, getting blankets from their bag. He looked shaken up as well. I walked back to my car. I saw a group of truck drivers and vans pulled over. I didn’t know why they were there, except I remembered the witness saying he was driving his truck.

I have no idea what happened to the injured man. Shortly after the incident, it was announced that Nelson Mandela had died. The news was taken up with stories of the life of a man who everyone knew.

When I was talking it through with a friend, I wondered what compelled me to stop. I didn’t make the decision. It just happened.

I cannot imagine the despair that would drive one to take their life.

I don’t know how to bring comfort to someone who is so devastated by what they have seen.

I’ve been trying to find the words.

 

….to eternity

For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. – William Penn

Today, a kind, wonderful caring man, Reverend Donald MacMahon, turned over from time to eternity. Reverend MacMahon was a great father, beloved grandfather and well-loved husband.

Thirty years ago, as I sat in a room awaiting the start of my wedding, Reverend MacMahon knocked on the door and asked to come in. He sat down next to me and said, “Dear, are you sure your invitations had the right date? There’s only about a dozen or so people out there.” He said it in the kindest way, trying to prepare me for what he thought would be a great disappointment. I took his hand and assured him that, including family and him, we were only expecting about 20. Reverend MacMahon stood up and said something about how the wedding ship was ready to sail.  The gift of calm was greatly appreciated that day by me, and without doubt, by others throughout his life.

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Coming home….

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Joy

This photo of my daughter and her boyfriend says it all – summer time is here.

I have been away from blogging for several months. Lots of reasons, no excuses.

I was declared excess at my school and had to find a new position for next year. Due to seniority, I would have been placed at a school had I not been successful in finding something on my own. Yet, I wanted to have some semblance of control in a situation that was somewhat uncontrollable. I went on a total of 8 interviews and had 4 offers, which was a true luxury. That process took several weeks to accomplish.

I also was very intensely training for a long distance ride. I participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer which takes place over two days, covering 200 km. I loved the feeling of accomplishment, not just as I crossed the finish line, but as I got to the top of each of the MANY hills. I was so touched by the support of my donors, as we collectively fundraised over $3200.

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The finish line – wearing my hubby’s shirt from his 2012 ride.

Another big time issue for me was putting together the yearbook at my present school, the school I have had to leave. This was a great deal of work, but so worth it. Yet, it was hard to do because it just made me realize, again and again, how much I love my little community school. The school is a few blocks from home – it was my children’s school and therefore I have been going into that building on and off for 19 years. There is something undefinable about the school – perhaps it’s just that I feel so comfortable there, like going to work is like coming home every day. I will miss being there and the amazing people I was so lucky to work with for the past several years.

And finally, I was busy planning a surprise for my sweetie. We celebrated our 30th anniversary in May, but I wanted to surprise him with a party all about him. Our daughter goes to school in B.C. and was attending summer school this year, so I had to wait until late June to have the party. And bringing her home was another layer of the surprise. It was really hard to keep the secret of her homecoming, along with hiding all the party items and ensuring people kept the secret. It almost all fell apart a few days before the actual event when my hubby announced he was not going to go away for a few days – the few days leading up to the party, when I was going to get everything in place and my daughter was going to arrive. In the end, he went away and the party went off without a hitch. The first part of the surprise was the party, the second part was when my daughter and her boyfriend snuck up and surprised him!

Sneaking up to surprise Dad
Sneaking up to surprise Dad

Now, summer is here and taking photos should again be happening. Glad to be back.

….connect the dots….

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

I’ve been absent from my blog for several weeks as I ran for a position in my union. Sadly, last evening, after the votes were tallied, I was not successful, yet I am glad I made the effort to work for change.

Many people today have given words of advice around how when one door closes, another one opens. I like the above quote better – I cannot connect the dots of what my future holds right now, but I have to trust in something. I trust that the right path will become known soon.

Allen Garden - March 2013
Allen Garden – March 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Blogging part 2

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase” Martin Luther King

I have been pondering the next step. One thing that is looming up ahead is my first summer without commitments. I am fortunate to have been able to spend every summer for the last 22 years enjoying time with my children. Without question, it has been amazing.

So, I looked at a wide range of possibilities and I have settled on, well, not making any commitments. Breathing in the space.

That being said, I want to pursue some things that I love. I want to do a photography project on street art. And photograph all my hubby’s design projects. And buy a hammock and read. A lot.

And I’ve also decided to have a second blog. Just for writing. A bit. Or a lot. Whatever strikes me.

So, here is the link to the new blog, If you would not be forgotten.

I chose the name from a quote by Benjamin Franklin: If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.

Now that sounds like a summer plan!

Things I just don’t understand

If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius. – Larry Leissner

1. Why so many people just don’t think. Or if they do, why they don’t think like me…

2. Why politicians think that they can dictate our lives – who we love, how we build our families and how we spend our last days on earth.  And as a side note, why do we need the approval of politicians?

3. Who decided that the best way to spend our lives was acquiring things rather than knowledge?

4. Why it is believed by some that a stay-at-home parent doesn’t deserve recognition for their incredibly valuable contributions to society because the value of their work cannot be quantified.

5. Why a working parent is considered to be short-changing their child.

6. Fashion Rules. Who decided these and who really cares.

7. How the heck most things in nature work.

8. Math. Science. Poetry.

9. What I want to be when I grow up.

10. Where the time went.

Broaden your horizon

“You must learn day by day, year by year to broaden your horizon. The more things you love, the more you are interested in, the more you enjoy, the more you are indignant about, the more you have left when anything happens.” Ethel Barrymore

I do not have a university degree. This has been, at various times in my life, an embarrassment and a frustration, but always a point that niggles at me.

Sometime over the past 4 years, those feelings have slowly changed. No, I have not returned to school to complete my degree. The shift occurred because my children are now university students. Through them, my horizons have expanded.

Walking through a research site with my son, a biology student, as he patiently explained ant-plant mutualism, I listened closely. And it made sense. I slowly became aware that science didn’t have to be a mystery. Books written for elementary school students about ecology and other aspects of science may still be my speed, but I have someone who sparked my interest and desire to know more. And who always answers my questions. Even if I’ve asked them before.  

Through the eyes of my daughter, I have learned about people, places and events that have shaped the world. She helps me to connect the dots. Nothing is black and white for her; there are many sides to issues and she turns them over and over. The world is not big to her; it is all connected. She has taught me to be curious again. “But why…” was her favourite saying as a child. Now it is mine.

And so, as always, it is my children who have provided the answers to questions I didn’t know I had. Seeing the world through their eyes continues to shape and reshape my life. Broaden my horizons.

The miracle of a single flower

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change” Buddha

This has been a wonderful week. Many moments have reminded me why I do what I do.

Life is good.

To the world, it may seem like a little thing, but on Tuesday, I helped a student learn how to use scissors. The excitement in his eyes was amazing. All week, whenever he had another achievement, he sought me out – “Look Mrs. Turner, I zipped my zipper!”

I figured out how to teach two other students how to tie a knot. When someone has no hand/eye coordination, life’s simplest tasks can frustrate them. One student took more than 25 tries and finally I figured out what would work. I felt like I’d made a scientific discovery.  

So, I am looking at the miracle of a single flower. The tasks that most people skim over, can do while not fully engaging their minds actually create the single moments that add up to success for other people. I might not be curing cancer or discovering another gadget, but I am looking more closely at life.