What gives your life meaning? What helps you to remember it?

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Symbols can be so beautiful, sometimes.

Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Yesterday I had the pleasure of Louise Gallagher’s company. It has become a tradition for us to meet each year before Christmas. And I always leave our time together re-energized.

Among the many topics we cover, we talk about Louise’s current move to a new home. I imagine, because of Louise’s creative soul, she must have lots to pack as she’d be inclined to keep things that might be used in a future art project.

“Yes I do,” she affirms, and holds up a print out saying, “I look at this and wonder how I could use it for art.” She goes on to tell me about an empty container she keeps that reminds her to ‘hold space’ for things she cannot change, like the hurts she has caused others, or others’ have caused her.

I pull a black, shiny stone out of my pocket – an Apache Tear – and tell her when I feel it in my pocket I remember those whom I have lost in this life, and those who still struggle.

Do you have a meaningful object? What does it remind you of?

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

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Obstacles

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Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

– Vince Lombardi

Two things that stand out to me, when Dad taught me to drive are, don’t let the guy behind you pressure you. Don’t drive faster for him. Drive the speed you feel comfortable with. And, Look where you want to go. Look as far up the road as is visually possible. Don’t look at the sharp corner you’re on. You saw that a while back, you knew it was coming, you’ll get through it.

Sometimes while in the curves life throws at us, we feel the pressures of life pushing us to do something we’re not comfortable with. We can’t take our eyes off the current situation. We’re looking for a quick fix. It is then when we must fight the urge to focus on the trouble we’re in and keep our eyes on where we’re headed.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Perspective: Maybe God is taking you through troubled waters because your enemy can’t swim.

Circles of Hope — We must share

I had the beautiful privilege of attending this event, and let me tell you the room was connected heart-to-heart. Well done Louise, Alexis and Inn From the cold!

Dare boldly

Photography by Mary Hone

It is 2am and I can’t sleep.

I don’t know if I’m still buzzed from the amazingness that was Circles of Hope yesterday, or if I’m just so emotionally exhausted even sleep can’t find space to turn up.

It was an amazing day.

Full house.

Incredible speakers and a team that made the entire thing look flawless and effortless.

Beyond the day however, is the emotional space created in sharing this journey with my eldest daughter. Of sitting with her and talking about the story of the past, our fears and sorrows and how to tell the story so that it not only inspires but reminds people that they are not alone.

Last night, I received an email from one of the attendees. They hadn’t planned on coming to the event, but a change in their schedule gave them some free time.

Being a parent myself…

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One Way We Can Tell…

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Love is always the answer.

One way we can tell if something is done in love or not, is to ask ourselves if it is inclusive or exclusive.

This seems an easier question when practiced individually. For instance, I can easily judge my own actions and motives and determine if they are inclusive or not, and match up with my personal values.

But it becomes harder to live this in our global systems, whether that be governments, corporations, religious groups, educational systems or any other groups. These systems often benefit the few and leave everyone else out in the cold. They contradict what we hold dear individually, and most shockingly, we seem ok with it and deem our values irrelevant because that is what needs to be done if we want to ensure the economy thrives, and our belief system stays intact, and (insert any other terrifying disaster) does not come to pass. At least that is what we have come to accept. We think that we must either play along, or fall into chaos. It’s either this or that.

How do we reconcile that? How do we cherish the truth which love; love for humanity, love for all living creatures, love for our planet reveals, and continue to buy into a system that serves the few and excludes the many? Is it really only this or that, or is there another way?

One way we can tell if something is done in love or not, is to ask ourselves if it is inclusive or exclusive.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

The Mess

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Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.

 — George Orwell

Hear about that car accident? Yeah, probably a teenager on drugs. They’re all on drugs you know? They have no idea of the worth of a dollar. They’re lazy. They don’t care what they look like – no respect for anybody. LOVE LOVE LOVE – yeah right, loose morals if you ask me!

Sound familiar? Not so different from words I hear today about the next generation.

But we were the generation that wanted to see the end of war, that wanted to feed the world, that wanted to give peace a chance, that felt we were handed a mess. We were idealists.

And then something happened. We grew up. We had families. We got tired. We looked out for #1. We wanted to make sure our children would be looked after in our little corner of the world. We put blinders on. We forgot about the grander picture. And the next generation says we left them a mess. They are idealists.

Well maybe they won’t forget. Maybe they won’t grow tired.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Fall Again

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There is treasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.

Lord Byron

There is nothing quite as centering for me as nature, and one doesn’t have to travel to the middle of nowhere to see it. Nature, it seems, regardless of how we dispose of it, comes back again and again.

Below, photos I took last Sunday during my urban walk…

It’s fall again…

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

A Story of Gratitude on Thanksgiving

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Me, Shannon and Dad in 1985

Never let things you want, make you forget the things you have.

In the summer of 2015, Dad called and insisted that I visit that September. Looking back, I am grateful he did so, as unknown to any of us, Dad would pass away two months later.

When I reflect on what I am grateful for, Dad is at the top of the list. I know how fortunate I am to have had a father who loved me, and kept me safe, who was in my life for 52 years.

Dad also was a grateful man. During that 2015 visit, from the couch he practically lived on due to the back pain he’d suffered, he looked at me and said, “You know, Diana…I cannot really complain about anything, I’ve had a great life.”

“A great life, Dad? You grew up in war-torn Berlin. Your windows imploded when bombs were dropped. You were hungry much of the time!”

I don’t remember his answer verbatim, but it was something like, “yes, but we looked out for each other on our street, we shared everything. I was loved.”

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

This Thanksgiving, don’t forget what you have…

 

 

 

#RideForRefuge Well I Did It…Kinda

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Post registration, pre-ride photo.

WE HAD ANTICIPATED WARMER WEATHER, 19c/67f degrees to be exact, but in Calgary, it is hard to predict weather beyond 48 hours. On ride day, it seemed nice enough outside early in the morning, but it got quite windy and cold after the riders were sent out. And I swear, that no matter what direction the route took, the wind was blowing cold and full blast, into my face. Coupled with that, having gained at least 15 pounds since last year’s ride, I ended up having to dismount, a couple of times, part way up hills, and walk them.

I can laugh about it today, but another thing I did on ride day, was miss the 10km turn off, so I unwittingly rode about 5km more than I signed up for,(probably a good thing, seeing as I have gained weight), but I took two others with me! So you’d have to ask Earl and Kellie how they felt about me misleading them – sorry guys!

None of that is important when compared to the benefit that resulted through the compassionate efforts of the riders, walkers, donors and volunteers, who all played a role in raising over $20,000 for Oxford House. Practically speaking, this means that eight men or women in recovery, will have a home, and support in their recovery, for an entire year!

I personally want to thank those 20 people who supported my ride – together we raised $1,335! Also, I want to thank the 12 people who joined my team  who along with you, fundraised $5,460 in total for Oxford House.

My team, the Riders for Recovery

(L-R) Diana, Earl, Kellie, Tracey, Trish, Dean, Michael, Leanne, Ava and Pat. And missing from this photo are: Jaidyn, Ziyan, Karim and Donald

Who says you can’t goof around and work hard at the same time?

~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~

 

Say What You Will About Millennials, But…

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…on Sunday, I hopped on my bike, knowing that there aren’t that many bike-riding days left until winter hits Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

I planned to do my usual ride to St. Patrick Island, but first I wanted to stop at the alley between 4th and 5th Street.

You see, there’s been construction on 17th Avenue, and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t cursed about a lot in the last year. But I was intrigued when I heard they were closing the alley to cars and opening it up to foot traffic so that local businesses could create a space in the alley.

A bar set up a grassy area and picnic tables, the pet food place set up booth and an apartment building laid down turf and set up lawn bowling and other games.

The City of Calgary also had an information tent and that’s where I met Kate. Say what you will about Millennials, but I love them! They’re bright, creative and love to build community.

The alley idea is a pilot project, Kate explained. To see if it would work to open up alleys in other blocks as 17th Avenue construction works its way to 14th Street over the next three years.

We got talking about other cool projects like the Red Boardwalk Project on Rue St. Denis in Montreal and the Skyline Park in NYC. And we talked about ways to build community; community that would even welcome homeless people! I asked her if she was afraid of, or uncomfortable around homeless people and she said it depended on the person. But, she had “a very cool story to tell me, something that happened just last night!”

Kate is an urbanite, and like most neighbourhoods in the core, her backyard borders an alley. And over time, she met “Tom.” Tom is homeless and collects recyclables from the alley behind Kate’s home. Kate and Tom chat a lot and she saves her bottles and cans for him.

Well the night before, Tom surprised her with a gift. There’s a street artist named Raven who paints native art and Tom chose, and bought a piece from him for Kate.

I felt my eyes moisten as Kate told me the story, and you can say what you want about Millennials, but I just love them.

On my way to the alley, I heard the thunder of motorcycles. Turns out “The Distinguished Gentlemen” were riding for men’s health.

The alley pilot project

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~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~

The Storm Creates Space for Love and Compassionate Action

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Mike, Dad and Mom

Life isn’t always fair,

Mom and Dad

Something I heard said, while growing up in my hometown of Chateauguay many times. And it isn’t fair, it certainly doesn’t seem to be at times.

We plan, we work and we dream about the life we are building, and things don’t always work out the way we hoped. Sometimes it’s better, sometimes it crashes down on us like the destructive force of a storm. Yet, sometimes when the storm has passed, we look back and are able to say, “if not for the storm, I wouldn’t have learned (fill in the blank).”

I’m learning that in the storm, in spite of its force, in spite of my fears, I have to be brave. I have to trust that things will settle down, and I have to believe things may even be better than they were before.

The storm wakes us up. It shakes our foundations, and causes us to pay attention. It reveals what is important. It reprioritizes our priorities. And it creates a huge space for love and compassionate action.

Mom is teaching me this. My brother is showing me this, through this frightening time of transitioning Mom to a retirement home.

A new stage in life. A profound sense of not knowing and loss of autonomy.  A shaking up of a life hard-worked for, painstakingly planned for, and callously turned upside down.

Yet love is there. Courage to believe is there. Hope that it may even be better than it currently is in this storm, is there.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Mom and Mike, I am so proud of you. You may feel fear and helplessness, but I see your courage, love and hope; and I know that Dad does too. I love you!