Autumn Pastimes

Another beautiful autumn day in the Niagara region. We have been blessed this fall with absolutely gorgeous weather, warm and dry.  I enjoy getting out for a walk in the country on days like this and in this region there are many parks and trails to choose from. Or just take a leisurely drive along the backroads and you will come across many breathtaking views.

Fun with photography

Just celebrated my 59th birthday and my husband gave me a 55-250 mm lens for my camera.  Spent a few hours playing with it in my backyard….

Losing a Pet

Two weeks ago my sweet cat Lucy passed away, she was 15 years old.  I had taken her to the vets several times over the past year or so because her behaviour was beginning to change. After running all the conventional tests, we could find nothing physically wrong with her. She was still eating, drinking water, using the litter box and socially engaged. I thought given her age she may just be on the decline cognitively and until she seemed uncomfortable or in pain I would just let her be.

The day she died was not unusual in any way.  Late in the afternoon she was lying on the floor soaking up the sun and when she got up to walk downstairs I picked her up and sat her next to me on the sofa to give her some love.  She was purring and I thought she had settled in for a nap.  After a period I time I went to get up and noticed that she had soiled the blanket she was lying on. And then it hit me like a brick…she had passed away right there at my side.  I was shocked and heart broken.

Losing a beloved pet is hard and now two weeks later my heart still aches. I do take comfort that she passed peacefully at my side. Even though I still have my other cats and dog, something is missing from my life.  It will take time before I feel quite like myself again.

I know that some find it hard to understand how one can grieve so deeply for a pet but for me I lost a great friend.  One who gave me such comfort and unconditional love and asked for very little in return.

My dear Lucy,  like all the other pets I have lost over the years, will live in my heart forever.  Love you Lucy!

Mindfulness

Life is only available in the present moment.

It has now been two years since I moved out to the Niagara region and officially removed myself from the Toronto job market, thus effectively retiring.  You would think that by now I would have adjusted to this new life of leisure but that unfortunately is not the case.  The reality is that I still continue to struggle to come to terms with what not working means. Oh I do keep busy but that has not stopped me from feeling like something was missing from my life. Today my yoga instructor said something that really resonated with me.  She said that sometimes we struggle with a pose and it becomes particularly uncomfortable. This arises when we fight the limitations of our body at a particular point in time, rather than accept what we are capable of in the here and now.  Accept what is happening in the moment and it ceases to be a struggle. It starting me thinking about “struggles” in the broader context of my life and how this applies beyond my physical body. What do I need to do to accept myself and my situation, so I am not continually fighting against it?  I need to be more mindful of where I am at each moment in time.  Life exists in the here and now and I need to do a better job of experiencing that moment.  The never ending thoughts cycling through my mind of “what is next” or “is this all there is” has to stop or I will never be at peace. So I have committed to try to live that way…Will keep you posted!

My Garden

Well spring finally arrived here in Southern Ontario and now that the threat of frost has subsided, I have started to plant a few more perennials in my gardens.  Last year I hired someone to help me dig a few beds in my yard, with the goal of creating a beautiful, peaceful and welcoming space. It is still a work in progress but so far I am pleased with my efforts. After a long and dreary winter I love spending time in the garden, it fills me with hope, a sense of renewal and a real connection to our beautiful and precious planet.

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old – Franz Kafka

Fairwell to 2016

As 2016 draws to a close, I have to agree with a number of the comments I’ve seen on social media. It will go down as an “annus horribilis”.

Tragedy, division and loss dominated world events.  The US election lead the way; a particularly ugly campaign this time, filled with gloomy and hateful rhetoric.

The loss of life from terrorist attacks, the Syrian refugee crisis and the suffering of those remaining Aleppo served as a reminder of mankind’s indifference to our fellow man.

Destabilizing events such as Brexit, the coup in Turkey and North Korean nuclear tests, created uncertainty for the future.

The world lost many talented individuals, many of whom were far to young to die, including David Bowie, Prince and most recently Carrie Fisher.

For me personally, I developed a case of extreme eczema, so bad that I had to lay around in cotton t-shirts and sweat pants for months on end. I fell over while practising yoga with what turned out to be vertigo (scary), and then stepped in a pot hole while on a walk and sprained my ankle. My life-long struggle with anxiety and depression proved a challenge as well.

Despite ending 2016 feeling beaten up, and the fact that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States, I still choose to hopeful for 2017.  I do think it will be important for each of us to reach out and do something kind for another and that these acts of kindness serve as an anecdote to what-ever evils are in store for us in the coming year.

My reading list

I love to read and one of the benefits of being retired is having the time during the day to read. When I was working I would try to read at night and would invariably fall asleep after a page or two.

I am generally drawn to non-fiction books focused on historical events but also like a good mystery.

I just finished reading Empire of Deception by Dean Jobb.  It is the true story of an expert con man, who swindled friends and family out of their life savings in early 20th century Chicago. It is a great mix of crime and history and made for a compelling read.  If you enjoyed any of Eric Larson’s books, such as The Devil in the White City, you will likely enjoy this one.

Social Media Update

Last night I quit Twitter for my health.  In a post last August, I wrote about an article that I read claiming that diving into social media was healthy for older adults.  So I took the plunge.  Because I am a news junkie, I initially followed a number of media outlets and eventually was following well over 100 and combing through all the comments to the posts.  As we moved into the fall and the peak of all the ugliness surrounding the US election, I became obsessed, constantly checking for updates and somehow thinking that sharing my views with others would help the cause. What I finally realized that you are really just sending words out into the abyss, along with millions of others. The shear number of hateful and racists comments became overwhelming and depressing.  People feel that can say the most outrageous things under the guise of anonymity. Instead of bringing people together, it appears to me Twitter is pulling people apart and really not adding to the betterment of society. As far as social media goes, for now I will stick to Instagram, where I follow accounts that posts lovely photos of animals and nature.  Pretty things to sooth the soul.

Farm to Table

I never really had an appreciation for the concept of “farm to table” until I moved to the Niagara Region.  We are blessed to have an abundance of farms producing fresh, healthy produce and late summer/early autumn is peak season.  Drive down any country road and you will likely come across local farmers, selling their bounty at the side of the road. What I love, other than the freshness of the product, is that the transaction is on the honour system.  Makes me less cynical about the current state of the human race. At this particular stand, I deposited 3 twoonies and bought beautiful fresh tomatoes, beans and radishes..

Can't get any fresher!
Can’t get any fresher!