Blogs that chase happiness, create new blogs

Tonight I visited several captivating blogs:

  • Sheila Rogers reblogged her poem “Fear to Peace”  bloggerjintz
  • Saving Without Scrimping posted Adventures with Groceries
  • David Snape and Friends posted A letter to Me
  • redfacedbutrunderful posted Writing 101 dealing with a loss
  • many others…

I challenged one of the authors above to write a blog post, in the not too distant future, on happiness. He/she had mentioned “I’ve always wondered why it’s easier to write about sad, overwhelming emotions compared to happy ones.” I challenge you to seek out the blog posts above to find who said that!

Most of us seek happiness, but we punctuate sadness. In an attempt to embrace happiness tonight, I want to share one memory! Perhaps a few?

My maternal Grandmother lived to a wonderful age of 99 years and six months. When she was a mere 95 years of age, I was asked by my mother to move into Grammie’s bedroom as a favour to all who loved her.  By sleeping with Grammie, I was sure to keep an eye on her during the night and make sure she was able to get in and out of bed safely, while the rest of the house slept.

Grammie was a ferocious reader, taking on books written by Malcolm Muggeridge and cross referencing them to the bible.  I was completing my Commerce Degree at the time and routinely burned the midnight oil. Grammie saw this as an opportunity to stay up as late as I would and study with me.  This took place in the late seventies and home computers had not reached the everyday household. So we both had desks, covered with our text books, multi-coloured pencils, exercise books and erasers.  In my case I had a Texas Instrument calculator, as I was immersed in university life and needed the latest in technology!

My heart nearly bursts when I think back to those days. You see, as a young woman, Grammie actually attended Bowdoin College of Brunswick Maine. Her father permitted her to attend college for two years, which was a rare privilege given to women at the turn of the 20th Century. I knew that in the 1970s, studying with me after midnight brought my Grandmother back to those titillating years. If my memory serves me correctly, she studied Muggeridge’s  Chronicles of Wasted Time and followed that with a biography on Mother Theresa.  She was captivated by articles written on the work of Stephen Hawking concerning the Singularities of Gravitational Collapse and Cosmology. We sat and chatted about black hole theory, the universe and religion.

Thinking back on Grammie today, I am so very proud of all she accomplished. She was the daughter of a Baptist Minister from Leeds Maine. She married a Baptist Minister who immigrated from Northern Ireland. Together my grandparents lived all over the United States and Eastern Canada. They raised two accomplished daughters, one a teacher and one a nurse as well as a remarkable and adventurous son. Best of all, in my opinion, she helped raise me. She taught me to love learning and pondering what I learned. She taught me gentleness, patience and generousity.

These years created some of the fondest memories I have of her, as too many childhood memories seemed to have faded away. I had the most loving environment in the world to grow up in.  I may have missed the thrill and adventure of living on campus, but I was so fortunate to live at home and have the chance to study with my Grandmother.

Thank you Grammie for tucking me in, 33 years after you passed away, with a feeling of contentedness and filled with happy thoughts. I know you would kiss me on the forehead about now and whisper,  “God Bless and Angels Guard!”

Adieu

Mo discovered ‘what’s in a quote’

The Merchant of Venice William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

“ If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.”

The Mourning Bride by William Congreve (1670-1729):

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

 

“The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence”
These three poetic geniuses captured for us all the evidence we need to prove human kind has difficulty with change.

Yesterday I listened to a charismatic speaker drive home the importance of habits when designing the learning programs for occupational health and safety. If you repeat a best safety practice daily and make it a habit, the habit is more likely than not to improve your likelihood of safety. Well, he said it better than that, but he talked so quickly and sped from slide to slide so fast, I haven’t a chance of landing a quote. He was stressing the point of repeating things to permanently learn from them.

Well that lesson made me think about the importance of the years past.

Unlike the fancy fast talking speaker, poets leave their message on a page, delicately written so as to reflect its beauty. You just have to return to it over and over again. You can easily quote it back to others without the fear of misrepresenting.

Shakespeare clearly depicted Shylock, of Jewish faith, explaining his common traits in comparison to the Catholics. He was frustrated and felt discriminated against, misunderstood and cast apart from the large Catholic community. You certainly do not have to go too far to see this same phenomenon in the news today. Very brave souls are speaking to the media today, trying to explain the strife between religious and ethnic divides.

William Congreve took on the theme that so many movies have tried to capture, the fury of a woman scorned. Some of my movie favorites include: Nine to Five and The War of the Roses. A woman scorned is a smart, calculating, vindictive woman. As a matter of fact, I watched a fine example of that today. Some women and some men just have to strike out and make their vengeance real. They quite literally leave their mark. It is talked about, written about, sung about and poems are easily written about this historic subject.

T.S. Eliot said it best though. Pick a historic theme, or a historic pattern and you will see it repeating today! Professor Lee Berger, involved with the recent discovery of one of the earliest predecessor of man, the genus of homo naledi in South Africa. Naledi is considered to be a highly probable link between what we know of primitive bipedal primates and humans. But these are early days and the carbon dating of the bones have not been done. So we do not know if they have discovered the linkage. Professor Berger said “”… we had discovered the largest assemblage of fossil human relatives ever discovered in the history of the continent of Africa. ” But what they discovered was more than bones. It provided evidence of burial rituals depicted in burial chambers.

Once again, I am left with the opinion that truly nothing new under the sun these days.

Today’s writing exercise lead me to reacquaint myself with many of my favorite quotes. Once assembled, I could hear the authors all chime:

You see Mo, history is repeating! Seek the answers in the historic periods of peace and harmony.”

Mo’s Place to Write

Years ago I was obsessed with handwriting!  I must admit I love writing with paper and ink.  There is a lot to be said from the script. If you are absent minded, it shows. If you are feeling happy, the cursive writing is pure and beautiful.  When you are sad, you can detect slow and deliberate lettering. Writing while vexed can look chiselled into a page! A silly mood results in playful stylish curves, going crazy with indentation and sliding down the lines. There is a lot to be said with the stroke of a pen.

Writing with pen and paper was liberating! Best of all, you didn’t need to be at the whim of a battery or plugged into wall. Paper and journals were (are) my most important  travel companions. I could sit on the bank by the ocean. It could be a scorching day, my paper and pen still functioned, unlike a temperamental Ipad that cannot take the heat. I could place my sturdy journal on my lap on the plane, even during take offs! Flight attendants were fine with an open journal, but not a laptop or a phone.  If I was alone, I could sit at a café, head bent above my journal and no one bothered me.  I might glance at other unsuspecting patrons, capturing their mood and conversation on the page and I was rarely caught.  Most people assumed I was lost in thought. Every now and then, something beautiful, meaningful or wise would strike me in the middle of nowhere. I would take my journal and pen from my bag and quickly write it down. I couldn’t help feeling smug afterward, knowing it was pure genius to have paper and pen handy.

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Today’s question is where do I write today. I have become a curmudgeon. I sit down in my home office in front of my desktop and click away at the key board. I am surrounded by books, notepads, pens, highlighters, binder clips and sticky pads. I feel the connection of the old and new.  My recent photos are all on the desktop. Visuals are essential for writing today. I keep my door open so I hear my husband as he busies himself at one thing or the other. He will often walk down the hall, look in at me sitting on my exercise ball below the computer desk and declare lovingly, “Blogger!” He carries on with his project. P1010908

Above my computer on the wall are black and white photos of my great grandparents and my beloved grandmother.  The pictures were taken around 1883 when my grandmother was one year old. I am unsure if it was the fashion not to smile in those days, or if it was the Baptist way of expressing yourself, but they are three serious people overlooking my endeavours.  My grandmother taught me everything I needed to know about life! She was the sunshine and the purpose of my day.  I miss her to this very second, but I feel content I can see her everyday and that she watches over me! Behind me is a collage of my father’s parents and relatives.  One photo has my paternal grandmother with Taoiseach de Valera. It was a very big privilege to have such a photo, our family pride in a frame. My father’s family has my back!  They were formidable Roman Catholics. My father was the eldest of 22 children. They taught me everything from the importance of family to the importance of being dedicated and professional. Knowing they are there watching over my work is deeply comforting.P1010910

I no longer carry a large purse or a tote.  I do carry a phone.  This phone captures ideas quickly and accurately. Photos can quickly be taken of a page in a book. There is no need to painstakingly rewrite the page in a journal. I plug the phone into the desktop and all my photos are securely saved until I need them.  But the best feature of my phone is the journal! Once more my electronic journal lets me sit at a café and write a note.  I can still write down observations about people, young and old, while looking pensively toward them. So far I have never been called out for writing up my observations. Someday I will use them to inspire me.  I hope to make those people proud.

Time will let me fully embrace the excitement of electronic writing, but I am also unwilling to let go the beauty and enjoyment of writing with a paper and pen.

Inspiration of tweets

Lev Grossman tweeted: “Why is writing so much harder for me than it is everyone else? –every novelist ever,  secretly to themselves, all the time.”

Well I can relate to this quote, but I am not so sure I am completely uninspired.  Let me think. You are correct. Writing is hard.

It is Friday night and poor little Mo imagines herself ensconced in a busy little pub downtown. It is dark, noisey and smelling oddly of stale beer. Surrounding me are loud, imbibed and happy people, chatting about nothing in particular.

Alas, here I am, poised above the keyboard….thinking….conspiring to be inspired. Think Mo, think more deeply.

Lev, if I can call you Lev, who is “everybody”?

Friday night is the reward for all the hard working, somewhat uninspired people, willing to cast away one night a week and pretend that the week was not an uninspired page in their life. I believe, even the Great William Shakespeare had nights just like this.

So, is it true that for you, Lev, it is harder than for everybody else? I think not.

I can see with my mind’s eye, one William Shakespeare in a local English Pub, tired but looking amused and subconsciously listening to the publican natter on. Shakespeare thinks to himself; “A fool doth thinks he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.” With that revelation, Shakespeare is off and writing, As you like it

Lev, it is great to know you are a novelist!

Could it be it is easier for a playwright but harder for a novelist? Where would that leave a mere blogger? Can your tweet, Lev, provide inspiration for such an unworthy little Mo on a dark but pleasant Friday in September?  Is it possible that your spontaneous tweet has unlocked a glimmer, a spark of creativity in me. I like to think so.

And I think, secretly to myself…..

Had I been Juliet, I might say, “Good night, goodnight! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night til it be morrow.” As written by the Great Shakespeare.

I will now slumber until my next blog.

Visit one of the four corners of the world, without leaving the Country!

Have you watched some of the really great tourism ads/  Here is one from Newfoundland and Labrador!

http://www.newfoundlandlabrador.com/AboutThisPlace/Videos/PLE1BB7A8A2F97332B

So with that motivation, off I went to Brimstone Head on Fogo Island. A truly mystical place, especially if you imagine you are one of the members of the Flat Earth Society.

The first thing was to find a place to stay, far enough away from the EDGE to ensure you didn’t fall off.  We picked one of the cottages belonging to The Old Salt Box Company. Here are some pics to strike your fancy…..

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A Salt Box with a view of Fogo

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A place to eat, relax and lay your head!

The purpose of the trip was to walk to the edge of the earth.  We were told it was up the hill to Brimstone Head.  Okay skipper, but I thought you said hill?

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This was truly an uphill battle! Those steps just went on and on and on! I am so glad when I go to the gym I make a point of using the stair climber, but I don’t think it prepared me adequately, a short siesta under the foggy sky seemed appropriate.

But there is nothing like reaching the summit. I still had a good ways to go across of the top to look over the edge, but the stairs were done.

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The Summit took you passed an area where the glaciers had deposited a miniature depiction of Stonehenge. It was a little eerie approaching the Edge. By that point my camera had drained the battery. So, to see the edge you must take your own journey to this alluring location!

It was time to descend and head back to the Salt Box.

After a crisp walk up the “hill”, I was delighted to take advantage of the facility for a leisurely soak in the tub!

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It was such a pleasure to relax in the tub after living on the Edge, aka one of the four corners of the world.

What is in a picture

photo-mid air jump 1-d9ae785dfb2d

When I consider something I have never done before, it can look like this picture.  It looks like something someone else will do, not little old Mo. I have been wrong.

I never dreamt that I would be on facebook, then there I was.  I never dreamt that I would be at the gym, then there I was. I definitely never dreamt that I could jump from the floor to a higher platform, then I did.

I have listened intently to athletes as they shared the importance of visualization. You need only listen to Heather Moyse retelling her Olympic success stories to catch the fever of achievement. Heather and her team mate Kaillie Humphreys won two gold medals at the Vancouver and Sochi Olympics.  Heather was a late comer to the sport of Bobsledding, beginning her training at the age of 27.  She had a serious physical set back that could have sidelined her, but she persevered. She needed the support of her family and before the Olympics made the brave decision to train, not at the state of the art Calgary site, but at home in PEI.  Yes her talent and competitiveness played a huge part, but her ability to improvise, compete and visualize  were also key.

I am the absolute opposite to Heather Moyse.  I am not athletic, I tend to accept that I can’t do physically challenging things and I have not consciously and deliberately visualized achieving a physical goal. Yet, listening to Heather explain her pursuit of a second gold medal in the bobsleigh really tempted me to try.

At our local Goodlife Gym, I eyed the stack of platforms.  I had watched a few others take the platforms out and jump from the floor to the platform in one simple jump. It looked effortless.  Eventually I told myself just to walk over to one of the lower platforms, I picked one approximately 18 inches off the floor. It is important to remember that I have no athletic accomplishments beyond the elliptical and cross trainer. I told myself that I could do it and I visualized doing it.  With my positive and negative voices bombarding me at the same time, I walked quickly toward the platform, bent my knees and jumped.  I reached the platform easily and reverse jumped off again. I repeated this 12 times.  I plan to keep training until I can jump at least three feet off the floor.

Now I know a few more things about myself:  I listen well; I can out motivate my defeatist voices; and, I can still achieve lifetime firsts late in my career.

Sinking Unaware

laughing with the rain

To separate emotion
numb your feelings,
calm your fears;
sinking unaware.
Achieving peace
through callous heart
and shallow soul;
slowly drift away.
Where nothing is good
or evil or cruel,
unjust or fair;
it merely is.
Life does not exist
beyond what you see,
what you perceive;
your world is small.
Keep it in a tiny box
don’t let it be shaken
or disturbed;
you are safe.
What is pain?

– LP

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Secret

I grew up singing the Beatles song, “Do you want to know a secret?”

This was the song of connections. It was the symbol of belonging, being trusted, being loved. It was the epitome of transitioning into adulthood from mere adolescence.

As a mere thirteen year old, I had lots of secrets, but no one to tell them to. To admit your dreams, fears or horrors was to diminish your popularity. Heavy secrets were a ticket to internal isolation. Nice secrets were lame and a sign of weakness.  Love secrets were imaginary at best.

No wonder John Lennon and Paul McCarthy asked, “Do you promise not to tell?”

What do we say today? It no longer is considered healthy to keep secrets.  In fact, there are academic research papers that are devoted to the physical burden of harbouring secrets. For those of us who have taken on the responsibility to carry that load, we have done so with a cost.  Secrets are by definition something we are less than willing to share, largely because we expect negative reaction.  The type of secret wages its own cost.  It boggles the mind to read some of the research papers as they equate the burden of carrying a secret to temperature, to weight and the variability.

Having just read the book, Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, I was provided the fictional portrayal of living a life of secrets. It was a painstaking description of a young man, who made stereotypical mistakes of a male youth in a world of plenty that then collided with the outcome of a traumatic event. The book depicted the cost of carrying deep secrets that the owner believed could not be shared as he battled with the desire to be youthful and also to be a sincerely good person.  The internal conflict was cataclysmic. In real terms, the burden of carrying the secrets equated to the ability to engage in real and meaningful relationships, to carry on trustworthy and calm relationships, the ability to sleep, to avoid addictions and cope with day to day activities.  This piece of fiction versus the authority of research may not be so far apart as they seem.

Fortunately, for the vast majority, secrets do not carry that high a cost. Yet, for those who carry them as lifelong secrets, shared primarily or solely with themselves, they will take their toll.

My advice is do not let secrets take ownership of your life. You have your today to live. Find your release.  Perhaps you can write it down, place it in a bottle and bury the bottle in the back yard.  Let the ground and the bottle take the burden. The secret belongs in the past and tomorrow is not equipped to change the past.  Give yourself permission to accept that the past cannot be changed and therefore in the future it loses its relevance. Imagine the contents of the bottle has rotted and floated away on its own and has left you whole.

Do you want to know a secret, oooo ah oo?  No, I have willingly forgotten my own.

I wish you peace.

A bunch of things that bring me to life

  1. Dawn
  2. The sound of the radio
  3. The sound of my husband making our tea
  4. Cereal with Greek yogurt and fruit
  5. The rush of water filling my bath
  6. Recognizing the perfume in my shampoo
  7. Wrapping myself in a warm towel
  8. Pressing my selected outfit
  9. Matching accessories
  10. The chill of the morning air
  11. Gliding through the morning traffic
  12. Arriving at work with plenty of time

A glimpse of Mo

The time has arrived to introduce Mo to the world of blogging!

What better way to start than with an introduction!

Mo wasn’t born yesterday. She arrived toward the later years of the baby boom in a sleepy town in Eastern Canada. As a daughter of a Roman Catholic and a Baptist, she was understandably blazing a newer trail in a town traditionally defined across religious boundaries. Everything was new and to be conquered.

Mo was the fifth of six children.  For the first five years of her carefree existence, she ruled the roost. She thought she was the baby of the family, the principal ballerina, the apple of Dad’s eye. All that changed with the arrival of Trisha. There was no point of crying about it, Mo set out to adapt and win at the family game!

Win at the family game was what Mo did!  She was devotee of Gram-mamma, nuisance to Mamma, adorable to Daddy and a complete pain in the backside to the siblings.  As the middle sister, she made a point of learning fashion from her older sister Kate, principally by taking her best clothes. To demonstrate leadership, she lead Trisha around like her personal slave. Her explanation to Trisha was simple, do as Mo asks and Mo will let you play with her.  Otherwise, Trisha might need to be introduced to boot camp.  For the most part, life was idyllic for little Mo.

Time was good to Mo, and, eventually, she found her way to the altar to begin a happy married life.  That life might have been easier if she had been blessed with little girls. As a child she spent little to no time figuring out how to rule over her brothers. Mo and her Prince Charming were blessed with three boys, the not fashion conscious, won’t take “No” for an answer boys!  Kate and Trisha didn’t follow in Mo’s footsteps. While Mo was raising her successful boys, her two sisters devoted themselves to careers and watched their nephews grow with interest.  Mo’s love of fashion faded as she dedicated her time to work, family fun and providing transportation from school to sports venues to play dates. Meanwhile, Read more