Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The ties that bind.

January 20, 2014...

I arrived at work this morning to find a luscious bouquet of white roses from my friend Laura, in memory of my son Duncan.  Laura happened to be with me that fateful day 6 years ago when I first found out that he had died.  It was a raw yet intimate moment and one that is deeply etched on both of us.  I know we will stay connected forever.

Beside her bouquet was another one, with purple tulips and squiggly twigs. I absolutely knew it would be there.  Every year, this bouquet arrives from a woman I hardly know.  There is always a beautiful card and either a poem or a short blessing from her and her family.  I never see her, or talk to her, but her lovely little hand-gathered flowers, greenery and twigs, never fail to appear on the 20th. I don’t have her phone number or her email, so I can’t even thank her.

My first phonecall this morning was from one of Dunc’s friends, asking me if I was going to be at work today.  He would drive out to give me a hug if I was.

And this is just the start… I have had texts, emails, comments, likes and cyber hugs on Facebook, all of which warm my heart immensely and help keep me buoyed in remembering more about his life and what he means to all of us, than about the fact that he is gone. This is the first year that I have felt more joy than sorrow. 

I have another reason to be joyful too and it has to do with the ties that bind and my son Sean.  He and his partner Kristina are getting married this summer and I think I’m just as excited as they are!  I didn’t really get to know Kristina well for the first year or so after they became an item.  She struck me as being quite shy and quiet and it was hard for me to connect at first. It wasn’t until I saw how she interacted with my family back east (and we’re talking a big, boisterous family – I didn’t know if she would actually survive) that made me realize why Sean loves her so much.  She particularly cottoned to my Dad who was starting to really go downhill at the time.  She was so kind, caring, and thoughtful that I knew Sean had picked the perfect person to spend his life with.  I am so happy for them.

We spent last Saturday together and took the ferry over to Vancouver Island to meet with various decorators, wedding cake purveyors, and the wedding planner.  It was great day, punctuated with bouts of laughter, moments of stressful decision-making, and a sense of having crossed a few major items off their list.  Being able to spend a whole “day in the life of S & K”, I found that they really know each other very well.  At one point, Kristina pegged Sean so well as to what he was going to do next, that it sparked a laughing fit for the two of us. I know we will remember that scene for some time to come. For me, I loved that she knew him so well.  For Sean, he loved it that she and I were laughing (quite hysterically) together.  And for Kristina… well maybe she got to know me a bit better too!

2014 is shaping up to be a wonderful year of meaningful and heart-warming connections – old and new – and I’m filled with a sense of wholesome anticipation for what lies ahead.

Branded by connection...

Buns xo

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bye Bye Blues 2013


On Christmas Day I teetered toward a private pity party as I started the morning on my own. This was my first Christmas ever with no one there. All my usual tribe were out of town and rather than scramble for invites to distract me I leaned into the experience.  I took my holiday dog Roxy out for a walk and the first person I see is on the ground, homeless and cold. It’s Christmas morning I thought and any tendency toward self pity flew from my head.  I approached, asked his name and got to know him. Of course he wanted money. I offered food and a hot drink.

It felt so good to take his order and deliver him a latte and bagel that the dog and I continued to roam the streets getting to know our less fortunate neighbors. I realized how little it took to make a connection and make someone’s day just a little bit brighter. I noticed how good I felt when I could do that. It made me wonder about commonality and how finding it is always possible even if not always easy.

A connection often ensures when people share work, or sports, or hobbies or the ultimate social lubricant ( a phrase coined by Buns)….the dog. Yes…the dog. Sure Roxanne is a cute bublbly red head with engaging brown eyes and a ready to please personality but the response on the streets really took me aback. Smiles were returned, initiated even and eye contact was common. She was the ultimate ice breaker and I wondered if I would have been half as brave in making contact with strangers without her by my side.

 There was something about my four footed pal that caused people to act like long lost members of the same tribe. We could talk about anything. Total strangers shared all sorts of intimate details not to mention how bold I became. I thought nothing of approaching a strong athletic type of guy and asking if he’d mind kicking Roxy’s soggy squeaky football because I was sure his ability to get some distance would far surpass mine. Without the dog I would never have met so many fun people.

So the question on the table is how do I keep this energy going once Roxy goes home? Seriously, living life this way seems like an open invitation to spontaneity and connection. It’s like an evite to the universe to keep weaving circumstances with the most unlikely candidates and watching to see what happens. I like it.  

So I started my conscious connecting New Years Eve and before going cold turkey meaning no dog, no props, no cocktails, I let myself ease into my new attitude with some fine martinis ( we had just discovered some brilliant olives stuffed with baby pickles and a  little trinket that my roomie T bought for me. Picture this. A headband on the top of your head with protruding fiber optic spikes that glow purple and red. It moves, when you tilt your head, it glitters and best of all it invites conversation. Weird…well yes but we have already established that as a norm. Truth be told I have always had a penchant for dressing up and hey its downtown…the New Year upon us and anything goes. Along with our portable sound system cranking tunes it was a real hit on the city buses. We made a lot of people laugh.

This New Year’s Eve also included a letting go, fire ritual. I had things to burn and release. The caldron was ready, the witches came and humor was non negotiable. New Years Day started with a brunch of decadence, Panecotti French toast with Mascarpone and fresh orange juice. And then the madness of the Polar Bear swim, gorillas paired with Santas in red Speedos and hordes of happy vibrant people all coming together at English Bay as they danced into the frigid ocean waters. This was the perfect canvas to begin to paint my New Year attitude around connection.

Everyone seemed so fresh with a clean slate 2014 feeling, including me.

And I have 365 days to make eye contact, initiate conversation and cultivate a perception of pure acceptance for myself and others. Like a prescription for the social malaise which I have felt held hostage by lately I fully commit to at least one conversation with a total stranger every day. And more than just, hey how are you doing! Even if I don’t feel like it.  Even if I am having a sad day.

I also started a joy jar, a container that I will fill with pieces of paper that hold nuggets of my interactions and memories of gratitude for precious moments throughout each day.

By 2015 I will have filled it and we will sit by the fire next New Years Eve and share the content.

Isn’t life a mystery? A marvelous mystery that may or may not ever make total sense. And today I am well with that.

Branded by banishing the blues,

Authentically Yours,