Monday, September 9, 2013

Between a rock and a soft place.

Where to start? These last two weeks have been epic. Talk about boot camp for my body, mind, and spirit!

We begin with my annual retreat at Rivendell on Bowen Island, where I happily settle in for a few days of peace and quiet. Gently guided by my teacher, we are encouraged to silently expand our appreciation of Self, dig deep, and come out feeling refreshed, deeply cleansed and committed. It is a ritual that nourishes me physically as well as spiritually.  We bring along a fantastic cook and her meals are one of the highlights of our retreat. It’s a great way to recharge and gear up for the coming months.

Then it’s back to work for one day, immediately immersed in my “to do” list (vs. my “to be” list!).  It’s an abrupt re-entry into the world of noise and busyness, and I quickly realize there’s a lot of extraneous clutter that I could well do without. I resolve to do something about that by year end.  Starting with my garage.

Next it’s to the airport to take the red-eye to Toronto (via Montreal)… a tad grueling but worth it as I am cottage bound (yes, that spot I often write about as being my favourite place on the planet).  I haven’t been there for a couple of years so I eagerly await the opportunity to dive in to that crystal-clear water.  And I don’t care how cold it might be.

I land in Toronto finally.  I am picked up and whisked away to a rehearsal where I must learn three new songs quickly as we are to perform Saturday night. This, after sleeping for only two hours on the plane. Rehearsal is done, jump in the car, and head to Mom’s, another two-hour drive. We arrive – she has stayed up late to see her daughters.  She is so cute.  It’s good to see her again and she is in good form. We spend the next day (after an awesome sleep) running errands and getting ready to head to the island early the next morning… a pilgrimage of sorts.

We arrive amidst threats of rain and possibly a thunderstorm, tenderly carrying my Dad’s ashes and Duncan’s.  They are to be placed at the highest spot on the island, under a huge rock with twenty-four family members in attendance – Mom, all her kids, partners, children, and some of their partners.  It is truly amazing that all but one brother-in-law is able to be there (although we know he is with us in spirit).  We hike to the big rock, spread their ashes, say a few words about Dad and how he was our rock, and how much Duncan loved the island as well.  It is a very fitting place for this and we are all moved.  Minutes later, the five kids break into song, bringing out all the golden oldies that we used to sing on the way home from the cottage every Sunday night. Mom loves it and sings along with us at the top of her lungs.  Our kids think we are nuts but it ends in gales of laughter, and I’m pretty sure I can hear Dad and Dunc in the choruses.

We then go back to the cabin where we join in celebrating my son Sean’s engagement to Kristina and there is much joy in welcoming her to our crazy family.  (She may need a few weeks to recover from our boisterous ways but she’s a trooper and I am very happy to have her as my future daughter-in-law.)

Next a quick water-ski around the lake – and yes I am quite chuffed for still being able to slalom – even though suffering a couple of monumental wipeouts – and then it’s time to dry off, pack up and hit the road.

The rain holds off until we make a dash for the mainland as some of us need to go back for our performance.  It’s a three-hour drive and we spell each other off as the past couple of days have taken their toll in the fatigue department.

We pull off a pretty decent show and then come back to catch our breath. We are exhausted.  But it’s not over yet! Next day, we wake up to a gorgeous, warm late summer day, so of course we need to go kayaking.  Never a dull moment. Today we bicycle around Oakville, and then will be going for a final kayak trip up the creek (with a paddle…).

Tomorrow I blast home, and I know that between that rock on the island and the soft place of my retreat, my life is rich and full of loving family and friends. I am a lucky woman indeed.

Branded by the best family I know,

Love Buns

P.S. Here’s one of the songs we used to sing with Dad.  I’m sure I’ve said it before, but we would all laugh so hard, he’d have to pull over until we recovered. It was his falsetto that would set us off...

And just one final note... when I was in labour with Sean many moons ago, my doctor encouraged me to “go to my happy place” so I could deliver him naturally. The place that I conjured up in my mind happened to be exactly where Sean proposed to Kristina. He didn’t know that was my spot and I didn’t know where he had popped the question until I got there on Saturday.  Definitely a special place.  Simply lovely. And I think it bodes well for their future together...

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