love

My Parents’ Visit

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My parents came to visit me a little while ago. They have always been great about coming to see me wherever I live. First, it was Sudbury, then High Level, and now Fort Simpson. They enjoy seeing the place I live and I think they enjoy hearing me ramble on as I give them the tour, sharing whatever local info I know, and telling them about the people I have met and the attitudes I have noticed. My parents are some pretty adventurous people! Don’t let the fact that they’ve lived in the same place for over 40 years fool you!

The instant I said hello to them and gave them each hugs, I felt like I was home. It was an interesting feeling — I felt at ease, like I could finally be myself. I had not noticed not being myself, but I guess I had pretenses and masks I was using. I guess we all do, and I realize how lucky I am to have such an awesome relationship with my parents.

I love them, of course, but it’s more than that. They are neat people. I like hanging around them. They have interests and hobbies, quirks and neat personalities. My mom likes to collect rocks from places she goes. My dad jokes about drinking Coke or Pepsi, calling it “the hard stuff,” and now his favourite is Dr. Pepper. Both like to read, albeit in totally different genres. Like me, my dad likes true stories, especially stories of pioneers, explorers and wildlife. My mom, surprisingly, likes crime fiction — the more suspense, the better! Mom is doing pretty well with technology, but like me, isn’t overly keen on it just for the sake of new technology. My dad pretty much stays away from the computer, which I understand. When they arrived, they were pretty tired from the crazy week leading up to their holiday, so we all had a nice, long nap in the afternoon. Man, I love napping! And so do they. Both of them have great senses of humour, and they even listen to my opinion on things and sometimes ask for my advice. They aren’t afraid to turn things on their side and look at them in a new way.

In so many ways, I am like them! I am unquestionably their daughter — like a hybrid between the two of them. I love a lot of the same things they love. I do all sorts of things the same way they do — from how I keep my recycling, to organizing my kitchen cupboards, to how I think about money. I suspect a lot of the similarities are genetic, but of course we have a lifetime of shared experiences, too. Perhaps it was our religion when I was growing up that taught us not to believe everything we hear or conform to the crowd. We can talk farm stuff, because we all “get it.” Try agricultural analogies with city people, and it’s like making Jesus references in a room full of tribal Africans. Even though my personal development has taken me down a different path, we still relate amazingly well.

I think what it boils down to is that everyone expects people to act like they do. One friend of mine brings me newspapers, not because I love newspapers, but because he does. Some people are rude because they expect rude behaviour (it’s great fun to be polite to them and throw them off their game). My parents expect me to be like them and I am, so there’s an amazing synergy. When we communicate, we intuitively understand each other. We can also spend time together without words. It’s incredibly special, something that only happens with friends after a lot of time together.

I am so amazingly lucky to have this relationship of respect, love and friendship with my parents. If I could show them how I feel, I would… and I guess I do. Mom, if you’re reading this, I know you’ll “get it.” And then you can print it out for Dad so he can read it, too.

Love Your Children

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I was at the lake the other day, just sitting on a chair, reading and relaxing while some people were out paddling our canoes. It was quite nice and peaceful until one particular family stopped by. From the moment they got out of their truck, the mother was yelling at her kids. They were early school age, perhaps 5 and 8.
“Don’t you DARE go in the water! I won’t help you dry!”
“You get along with your sister or you won’t like what happens next!”
“Stay over there! Don’t come over here!”
“You two stop FIGHTING! That is the LAST time you fight on this trip!”
“I can’t BELIEVE you two!”
… et cetera. Her tone of voice was very harsh and she actually drove one of the kids to tears — loud crying from an 8-year-old — and they had to leave the park.

I felt so bad for those kids. I mean, I had no place to interfere, but part of me wished I had some cool toys that I could lure them over with and then just show them some lovingkindness, because they sure weren’t getting any at home.

I know, I’m not a parent. Some of you might tune me out because of that. But I strongly feel that if that mother had been capable of showing just 10 minutes of concentrated love to her kids, and then some softness throughout the day, those kids would be so much happier. As it is, they are on track to be depressed by 10 years of age and very troublesome teenagers. Those kids had no idea they are loved; in fact, they might not be. Her tone of voice and choice of words indicate they aren’t. Perhaps she regrets having them. It sounds like she hates them. Perhaps they really are little hellions. LOVE would reverse that in no time!!

So please – don’t have kids unless you REALLY want them. Just don’t. Get fixed. Use birth control religiously. Be ultra-careful. And if you think you want kids, consider these points:

- If you think babies are cute, get a kitten! They are really cute and much easier to love and care for in 2 or 3 years when they mellow out as cats instead of becoming demanding toddlers. They’ll snuggle and purr and love you, fulfilling many of the same needs as babies. A kitten from the SPCA would be the best!

- If you want a kid to toss a ball to or take to the fair (to do things with, so you aren’t alone), get a dog! They are great companions! And if you treat them right, they’ll be very loyal and obedient. If you want a little obedient slave, get a DOG, not a kid! Or join Big Brothers or Big Sisters, or borrow a niece or nephew and give your sis or bro the afternoon off! If that’s your primary reason, you don’t need one of you own.

- If a lot of your friends have kids and say you should too, ask yourself 3 things: 1- If they took up skydiving without a chute, would I do that too? 2- Are they REALLY happy? 3- How hard is it to make new friends? They shouldn’t be pressuring you!

- If you want to reproduce to make a mini-me, just remember that they are only mini for a short time, and before long you MUST let them be their own person. They may grow up to be biker-dudes or jobless vagrants, or worse, unscrupulous lawyers! You can’t choose their destiny one bit, and you might as well figure that out before conception.

- If you want children but are terrified of pregnancy and childbirth, why not adopt? There are so many kids needing loving homes.

- If you want children — and lots of them — because your religion says so, I simply say this: Do you ever feel manipulated? Is there a chance your religion wants you to churn out little catholics or mennonites or muslims or… just to keep their numbers up? For statistics, or for preservation of a their beliefs? By far, most people get their religion from their upbringing. Something to consider.

[funny YouTube video about procreation]

So I hope that somehow, that angry mother can learn to relax, love and accept herself and then pass it on to her kids. I don’t entirely blame her — for whatever reason, that is just where she’s at. She’s on her own path, and her children, sooner or later, will come to peace with how she’s treated them. I think Geneen Roth said “over the course of our lives, we get what our parents never gave us.” So, if you have little ones, even if they’re not so little any more, please take 10 minutes to connect with them, do something they enjoy doing, and show them you love them, every day.

A Day of Lasts

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Today is a day of lasts. It’s the last day of 2009. It’s my last day working for Nav Canada. I cleaned out my locker about a week ago, and my mailbox today. Tomorrow, or early next week, my email account will be deleted. There will be no traces that I ever worked there, actually. I took my honey jar (for my tea, of course) and my special sea salt. It feels a little weird, knowing that I’m off the schedule, and all the work I went through 4 years ago is not paying off any more.

I decided to apply to Nav Canada for several reasons: to see if I could make it in, to move back to western Canada, and because I thought it would be something I’d enjoy. I was right on all counts! I scored high enough on the aptitude test to get a call back within about a week. When I finished the training in Cornwall, I got posted to High Level, Alberta — not exactly close to my family, but at least it was driving distance. And I have certainly enjoyed it! I have been challenged, stretched, and stimulated. I learned to listen quickly, processing information and forming a mental picture much quicker than I thought I ever could. I accomplished my goal! I was one of the elite, working for Nav Canada in the air traffic system. I got to talk to pilots and watch planes and helicopters land and take off every day! What better job could there be!?

And in spring, when I had a chance, I chose to get out. I took an early departure package. Part of me was afraid of being transferred somewhere I didn’t want to live — it sounded very seriously like High Level FSS would close — and part of me saw the opportunity to take control of my life in a new way. I sat and thought about what I would like to do, if I could do anything at all and be paid for it. The answer was paddle. I love to canoe and kayak. So, I decided to start a canoe and kayak outfitting company, to make it possible for people to get out on the water — to spread the love! The love I have of paddling. :) I named my company Flow North Paddling Company, at flownorth.ca.

So, it’s a slightly melancholy time, but also a happy time. There’s a little stress, and I think I’ve already experienced the last time I go to the grocery store and buy whatever the heck I want! Without looking at the prices! I will be on a budget now… but I’m not worried. Not oblivious to the money situation, but not worried. :)

So, I’m looking forward to a lot more adventures in 2010… may you have many happy adventures in the coming year, too!

Life Without Christmas

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Christmas is fast approaching, isn’t it? The days surrounding Christmas can sure be fun! Crazy. Exciting. Busy. Frantic! But not for me.

I grew up without Christmas. (pause for the shock to sink in) The religion my family belonged to didn’t celebrate it. If you are an old school mate, you might remember what a “weirdo” I was; I didn’t make cardboard jack-o-lanterns at Halloween — it was strictly pumpkins for me. All the trappings of Christmas were stripped of art class — no Santas for me — I made “winter trees” or snowmen. My poor parents had to go to parent-teacher interviews each year and explain the situation. I think it was much harder for my older sister, with her classmates and teachers. At least when I came into the system 2 years later, the teachers remembered my weird sister and would say “oh, yes, we remember the drill. No Santas, no valentines, no Easter bunnies.”

We didn’t have anything to do with these holidays, with Christmas causing the most fuss. Think about it — what do kids talk about for a MONTH at school? Where they are going for Christmas, what they might be getting, the candy, and then in January, for another week, the only topic of conversation is what they got for Christmas. I don’t think the kids who rode the school bus with me were trying to be mean when they asked “what did you get for Christmas?” But my answer stunned them every time: “nothing.” I think some of them thought it was because we were so poor (I wore a lot of hand-me-downs in those days). Kids who weren’t in my class didn’t see the all the other signs I was different than the rest.

I am not bitter for growing up in this different way. My sister and I put up with quite a bit of teasing and shunning; I didn’t have any friends at school until grade 5 or 6. I am very grateful for the kids who did befriend me. Some of the teachers treated my sister and me differently too, besides the basics of being banished to the library during Christmas concert practices. Actually, that was kind of fun, ’cause we had the whole place to ourselves and could run, make noise, and throw paper airplanes.

I survived the school years without any aspect of Christmas. When our religion changed and started to become more main-stream, many people struggled with how to change their thinking and traditions. We had our own traditions and holidays, you see, that were quite meaningful and beautiful. It was as hard to toss them out as it was to accept new ones that had been the source of our rejection, and we’d been criticizing, for all those years. Christmas trees are pagan, phalic symbols, don’t you know!?!

So, it might come as somewhat less of a shock to hear that my husband and I aren’t really doing much for Christmas. We have lights on our house, and some family/friends will get small presents, but we aren’t giving anything to each other. I don’t think we did last year, but we got married at the beginning of December and things were pretty hectic due to that (our wedding was also a small, un-hyped affair). Do you think that strange? Impossible? Crazy? Maybe it is for you, but I think a LOT of what happens at Christmas is pure distraction. Some traditions are lovely and some families do manage to keep it simple, but MOST of the stuff that happens has nothing to do with Jesus (the reason for the season, you know) or family bonding. Never mind the soap-opera-like baloney that goes on among people offending each other, re-offending, being offended, shunning… mostly because of presents or other silly reasons. The stories I hear from some people make my head hurt!

This got me thinking that a lot of what happens in life in general is distraction. I use the radio as a distraction on my drive home, for example. To keep me from thinking about what, I don’t know. TV is a bad culprit for this, and so are books. We enter another world through these media… I wonder what is wrong with the one we’re in? Jobs, tasks, goals, children, hobbies, material things, holidays, traditions, and entertainment are all huge distractions to what we really are. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression: We aren’t human beings on a spiritual journey, but spiritual beings on a human journey.* I think that sums it up nicely.

In the busyness, craziness, and loveliness of this season, please don’t forget that we’re all on this planet to share an experience. Don’t try to control others, just as you hate to be manipulated. Be patient. Love the ones you’re with. :)

* quote attributed to Stephen R. Covey.

Just saw this, and it’s too funny!

God’s Travel Agents

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Like travel agents,
Handing out brochures for places
They’ve never been,
They speak of God’s love,
Grace and mercy.

Those who spend too much time
Still focusing on earning salvation—
Faith without works is dead, you know—
Believing that grace is really only needed
By hookers and drug dealers.

But oh, how wrong they are!
Grace and Love flow
Like rain in a downpour,
Like water in the ocean,
Like air in our lungs.
From the lowest to the highest
We’re all the same in God’s eyes,
And we’re all drenched in Love.

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One day it struck me that evangelists are a bit like used car salesmen. So I wrote this poem. Far better to experience Love and keep your mouth shut, than to try to sell something you don’t really know about.

Wedding Bliss

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What to blog about the first time after the big day?! I decided that it would be nice to share with you the wedding vows that Darren and I wrote together and said to each other that fateful wintry day just over 2 weeks ago. Darren agreed with me, and so below are the vows that we said (me through tears about half way through!) as part of the ceremony.

I know that there is not two, but one.  We are on the same journey, sharing the same love for each other.  I share everything, hold nothing back, love completely and without reservation.  I do now, and will always believe the best in you, speak the truth in love, and hold you in perfect prayer.  I love you with the deepest love I know.  I rest in this love, which is in you and me, and everything, and I am full of joy and gratitude.

Our journey of spiritual unfoldment continues from this day, originating from the same Source, fueled by the same Love, nurtured by the same unending commitment to our mutual growth in Spirit.

And so it is.

Such depth to those words… it is good to remind myself of them, even now! Every day! :)

There’s a really cool part to this – because we chose to do our wedding as part of a regular Sunday celebration, and because the Centre is now podcasting their weekly messages (which Darren is taking care of), you can listen to the whole thing by using this link. So, if you missed the big day due to the bad weather, or for any reason, you can have a listen and hopefully feel like you didn’t miss out!  :) Look for December 7, 2008, and if it’s not there, check back in a week or so… it will be posted shortly!

So life is treating me very well and I am happy, content and feeling great.  My mantra lately is Love…  Gratitude…  Joy…  Contentment…  Peace…  Acceptance… (and then it repeats).

And it just so happens to be December 25th as I (finally) post this, so Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it!  And to those of you who don’t, just enjoy the day where “Peace on Earth” is thought about!  :)

darren-and-me-by-log

The Traveler

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A poem (not written by me) that struck a chord in me…

The Awakened
How joyful to look upon the awakened
And to keep company with the wise.

Follow then the shining ones,
The wise, the awakened, the loving,
For they know how to work and forbear.

But if you cannot find
Friend or master to go with you,
Travel on alone -

Like a king who has given away his kingdom,

Like an elephant in the forest.

If the traveler can find
A virtuous and wise companion
Let him go with him joyfully

Friend or master to go with you
And
overcome the dangers of the way.
Follow them
As the moon follows the path of the stars.

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That was me… I was the traveler, who, unable to find “a virtuous and wise companion” (or someone who thinks like I do) was forced to go through life alone. I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t lonely, at least not most of the time, but I was alone. Now, I am so pleased/thrilled/joyful – there are no words for how I feel – to have found my love, Darren! He is wonderful, he is enlightened, he is awakened… and we are of one mind!

What a joy to walk with one who is of like mind! There is no explaining, no misunderstanding, no confusion! No justifying… I guess I never realized how much I do that! It’s totally unnecessary, yet I find myself doing it often, with people who have no need to know my reasons why!

I am so excited to start my life with him! Hmmm, that sounds like I haven’t been living all this time. Well, I have been, but somehow I feel like I am starting again. And to live every day one moment at a time, is to start life – to start each day with no baggage from the day before (even each moment!), with anticipation and excitement, peace and tranquility. No fear, anxiety, not even a trace of hate. With no expectations to be dashed, no agenda that must be attained. With true freedom, to just be who I am, and to be at peace. Seeking only clarity and wisdom, and to be filled with love… which happens naturally with my love, Darren, at my side!

You are so amazing, my wonderful one. I love you so much… can’t wait to see you!

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The poem comes from a book “Teachings of the Buddha” edited by Jack Kornfield. This particular poem is from the Dhammapada, translated by Thomas Byrom

Needs, Wants, Desires

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I’m almost finished reading “Undefended Love” by Jett Psaris and Marlena S. Lyons. It’s about learning how to love in relationships in a way that is not defensive (hence the title), but also about learning more about ourselves and being really happy, truly at peace, with all that we are.

Undefended Love

One of the chapters I read yesterday talked about a continuum of emotional needs: needs–wants–desires–preferences–no preference. We often feel desperate to have our needs met; like a hungry baby, we are screaming inside for someone or something to feed us, and we feel the need is urgent, like we’ll die without it! While we all have needs like this, many people (the authors’ survey said one-third) don’t know how to identify or put words to these needs. If we take time to connect with our needs and acknowledge them, we’ll find they don’t take over our lives like we think they will. On the other hand, some people are chasing their needs so intently, they are actually in relationship with their needs, not their significant other or themselves. We can learn to accept that firstly, we have needs, and then to accept whatever the need is and that we’re not going to die without it. When we face that we have a need, and that the need may not be met, but don’t let ourselves get caught up in any fear or panic that surfaces, we develop strength and courage to face more things and learn more things about ourselves! We can learn to comfort ourselves when we feel fear or desperation. We are stronger for having faced our need and the possibility of it not being met, and all the uncomfortable feelings that go along with it. The next step is to move towards wants.

A lot of us have been raised not to think about our wants. We were told (directly or indirectly) it was selfish and improper to do so. Or, we shut down our awareness of wants because they were denied so many times and we just couldn’t handle any more rejection. Again, if we give ourselves permission to want things, we feel freer. The key is to focus on wanting, not to get caught up in daydreams about what we are wanting, “what if” we get it, and whatever negative feelings that come along when we think we won’t get what we want (jealousy, frustration, anger). Just want! Want something, but don’t obsess over it, get greedy for it, judge yourself or get unhappy because you don’t have it. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but it’s a way of getting out of denial about who we truly are and what’s going on in our minds. And as with needs, we grow when we experience want-and-not-having, without getting caught up in the feeling–let it pass. Like a child learning what “no” means, it’s not comfortable, but we gain perspective on the world. Maybe we can’t have everything we want in life, but life goes on!

Next comes desire. The author’s use of the word “desire” is not as I would use it, so I had to get used to that. To me, a desire is something you want a lot, almost as much as a “need.” However, in this book, they mean desire as something you would like but are not quite as attached to as a regular want. It’s something that is generative; rather than being based from a lack of something (like a need or want), it comes from a desire for something new. That made sense to me, and it is interesting to think about. What new, pleasant, happy thing would I like to have in my life?

When we have even less emotional attachment, we have preferences. And farther along, we accept everything that life has to offer, fully happy with our situation and everything in it, and we have no preferences. We’ll take what comes, and we’re completely content with our physical surroundings and completely accepting of ourselves. While it seems passive in one way, it’s exciting in another! Imagine striving for nothing, being totally content. That doesn’t mean nothing ever changes and we are stuck in the mother-of-all ruts. (A rut implies we’re in a bad situation and unable to get out.) We are open to growth and change, improvement and betterment, but we are also open to struggles, difficulties, and hard times. We know that everything happens for us, not whining about why something is happening to us. We are more alive, and totally grateful for everything that life is, just as it is, right now!

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I feel like I’ve been doing book reviews lately! On that note, I should mention that the writing style of the book made it a bit of a slow read for me, and it’s so packed with new concepts, I certainly didn’t breeze through it. I found I often had to put it down and think, and I also found some parts hard to follow, simply because the terminology and ideas were so different from anything I’d ever heard of. But if you’re ready to delve into some deep personality discovery, go beyond personality-based relationships, and learn how to be totally non-defensive with others, it’s excellent! :)

Dealing with Suffering

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I went to the library the other day – it’s a great way to try out books you’re not sure you’ll like – and got an excellent book, The Deeper Wound by Deepak Chopra. It was written after 9/11, as the US was in a state of shock, mourning, fear and anger. The subtitle of the book is “Recovering the Soul from Fear and Suffering” so I had to take it out to read it, to see if I could glean any insight for the book I’m working on (see the About Me section). The rest of this blog is taken from pages 35-38 of The Deeper Wound, and I hope it gives you something to think about when you are faced with your own suffering, or trying to comfort a friend.

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On a practical level, nothing alleviates suffering like reaching out to another person who is suffering. Go and help, be of service if only in the smallest way. Each of us feels timid about reaching out to others; our society speaks of communication but mostly we drift like atoms in a void. It isn’t easy to reach over the walls built around our isolation, but any gesture–whatever you feel safe to do–is a step toward healing.

What if the pain that seems to be yours is not really yours? (And here I do not mean to belittle personal suffering, but only to offer a larger perspective that may help alleviate it.) The truth is that fear and anger exist outside ourselves. They are not yours or mine, unless we attract them. Negativity is an invisible parasite. It needs a host to feed off of, and the host is the ego. When you learned as a young child to cling to my toy, my candy, my pleasure, my happiness, at the same time your ego started clinging to the opposite: my scraped knee, my broken doll, my sadness, my pain. Absorbing an experience as “mine” was how you built your self up, developed a sense of individual identity. As we grew, we learned to see this self in a larger perspective, in the context of humanity. But when tragedy strikes, we often regress to this early state.
To counteract this, we need to find the spirit. For spirit can do one thing that your ego craves very deeply and can’t accomplish on its own. Spirit can help the ego escape that painful trap of I, me, and mine….
Spirit gives us access to an emotion that cannot be felt in isolation–compassion. Compassion comes from the root words “to suffer with,” and for that reason many people actually fear it. An audience member in Boston on a grey drizzly evening asked me, “How can I feel compassion for the victims of this tragedy without having it hurt me? I don’t want to be injured, I want to offer love and peace.” It was a very honest question, and I responded, I hope, on that level.
“Let yourself feel their pain. Let it come into you, and don’t be afraid that you’ll be injured. Trying to keep out someone else’s pain comes from fear for our own safety; in the name of safety we retreat behind our own private walls. Yet the truth is that your pain and the pain of the victims are shared. They make you human together.”
Compassion is one of the most honored and saintly feelings because it marches up to the front lines of suffering and says “Take me.” In this giving of oneself there is a direct experience of pain, yet in the giving there is love. Thus compassion has the power to dissolve pain by not avoiding it, but by trusting that love affords the greatest protection. By discovering that there is a reality–love–stronger than any pain, you mount your strongest defense.The Deeper Wound

Highlights of 2007

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I know, it’s the third week of January, but I was thinking about what a great year I’ve had, so I thought I would recap it here!

Kayaks on Beach

Kayaking – I went on an awesome kayaking trip in the Broken Group Islands, with Pacific Northwest Expeditions. What a great time!

R44 At Sunset

Helicopters – I became friends with a really great helicopter pilot, and had a few adventures!! I got to do some work up close around the helicopter, and got to go on a couple rides as well. What a great time I had! :)

Uhuru Wins Gold! Uhuru in Lane 1

Dragonboating – I joined Team Uhuru, an Edmonton team who graciously allowed me to paddle and cheer with them. Then, I ended up as their drummer, which was great! We WON THE GOLD at Edmonton’s festival (we couldn’t believe it!) and went to Kelowna in September and had a lot of fun!! What a great group of people! So nice and so much fun! In the picture, it’s hard to tell we won, but we did (in the photo with only 2 boats, we’re the boat closer to the shore)!  In the photo with 3 boats, we are the one farthest from the shore, clearly out in front!  :)

Friends – I met lots of people this year and made quite a few new friends, through various volunteer jobs and whatnot!

Bookstore – I helped the High Level Women Support Centre open a new/used bookstore. It was a lot of work, but also a lot of fun! And now it’s up and running (and I’m doing less work over there) and it’s such a great little store! Check out the webpage if you’re interested. Lighthouse Bookstore

Darren and I at Hutch Lake

Love Life – I reconnected with an old friend who is now my wonderful, amazing boyfriend. He is so great! And I am soooooo happy! :)

Spiritual Life – I started really meditating and practicing living in the moment. I also started writing a book! And it’s almost finished, at least, it’s almost ready for other people to read and give their opinions on! It helped me grow quite a bit, as I had to really think about what I believe and how to communicate that! And how to help others as much as possible (the book is about overcoming your skeletons from the past).

What an amazing year! Click on the pics for larger versions. Take care everybody!