Diana Goes to Washington, DC

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On Thursday, August 31st, I boarded a plane for Washington, DC via Toronto, with Board Chair of Oxford House Foundation, Debra Johnstone, to attend the 19th Oxford House World Convention.

It was both inspiring and educational! While there, Debra and I took the opportunity to tour the National Mall. I have to say that the White House is smaller than I imagined it would be, but just as guarded as I had imagined. And the Lincoln Memorial which I have always wanted to visit, was grander than I’d ever imagined. In total we walked about 13km, and believe me, I was feeling it the next day!

Here are some photos I took at the National Mall and around our hotel.

If you would like to see a video of my finger and a group of people gathered to support and defend DACA, play the video below.

 

~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~

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A Little Water Between Neighbours

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When you look at a field of Dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds, or a thousand wishes.

~ Unknown

My apartment building was painted a while back, including my balcony. It looks so nice that I bought one of those outdoor carpets to enhance the look. Next year, I plan to buy a couple of potted wild grass pots and comfy chairs to spruce it up even more – maybe I will even get outdoor solar lights to string on the railing!

Today my upstairs neighbor watered her balcony plants. Honestly, she used so much water, it poured onto my balcony, drenching it, drenching the carpet, splashing up onto my patio door.

“HEY!” I called up, “you’re messing up my balcony, creating a mucky mess!”

I don’t think she heard me. She just kept watering. I would have run upstairs and pounded on her door, but I was still in my jammies – maybe that was a good thing. 🙂

Instead, I focused my adrenaline flooded body to the task of hanging my carpet on the rail, and mopping the mucky water from my freshly painted balcony.

I’ve laid the carpet back down and my balcony is once again my urban oasis. You know, in retrospect, I’d been thinking of mopping the balcony anyway. It looks great.

It was just a little water between neighbours. Nobody died. What’s the big deal?

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Kindness and Friendship

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Sprinkle joy.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

The act of spreading joy does not often come from a place of my own joy. In fact, every time I can recall my own joy, it’s been a deeply personal experience, felt by an audience of one – me.

The wondrous privilege of witnessing nature; a dragonfly landing on me with wings glistening in the sunlight when I was a child in Chateauguay, a hawk calling while soaring across a central BC sky, a spider’s web sparkling in the pre-dawn light of a full moon in Brown County Indiana, the lull of the ocean’s waves crashing against the shore and receding, crashing against the shore and receding in the Dominican Republic, and more profoundly moving of late in Calgary, dogs approaching me with the same trust and love they used to approach dad with.

My joy comes while living in the moment and is deeply personal.

Spreading joy often comes from a place of brokenness; cycles of dysfunction in relationships or, stubborn ways of thinking or being, when I finally reach out with forgiveness, when I decide to break the cycle to relieve someone else’s pain through kindness and friendship.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

What Are You Passionate About?

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How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.

– Coco Chanel

I once asked a man what he was passionate about and he replied, leadership. “Leadership of what?” I asked. “I just want to be a leader, it doesn’t matter what.”

I could be wrong, but that sounds a bit like a power grab to me.

It’s a bit sad, if you ask me. But it’s not an unusual answer.

So many of us seek the most coveted position, which isn’t a bad thing if we’re seeking it in an area that we are passionate about and we have the gift-set, but when we want it just for the sake of having it, we will find ourselves in an excruciating uphill journey that feels mostly like trying to run quickly under water.

Worst of all, we’ll not be happy with the experience.

Co Co had it right. I think she knew well that putting aside our wish to be something, and seeking to be true to who we are and act from where we are passionate, immediately releases us from unnecessary cares.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

So, what are you passionate about?

7 Things Dad would want you to know

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This post has been sitting in my draft folder since December 2015, just a short month after Dad passed. It hasn’t felt right to publish it until now. ♡

*******

Dear Mom,

I’ve been thinking about you and Dad and our family.

In particular, I’ve been thinking about how Dad and I could just sit in the same room, not saying anything, yet somehow be on the same page. And I’ve been thinking about some of the conversations Dad and I have had over the years and I think there are at least seven things that Dad would want you to know.

I’ve listed them below in the form of a letter to you from Dad.

Meine Liebe Salat Schnecke,

1.       Don’t ever doubt how much I loved you

002aRemember our Wedding night? It wasn’t a fancy party. We did the best we could though and we had fun right? I can still see you running through the street singing in the middle of the night when you’d had a little too much to drink.

What the neighbours must have thought!

But I didn’t care, you seemed happy and honestly Margot, I may not have been able to express myself well, but that’s what I wanted for you. I always wanted you to be happy.

I knew how hard your life had been, I wanted to show you how good it could be.

Remember when we arrived in Canada and once we got on our feet a bit? You have no idea how happy it made me to see you eat butter, eat at a restaurant, eat fruit and cakes and whatever you could get your hands on. Remember that time I brought a dozen lemon donuts home when you were pregnant and you ate 11 of them? I didn’t mind that there was only one donut left for me.

It made me smile to watch you eat all the foods you missed in your childhood.

2.       Building our family

I know you were scared and so determined that our children would never be harmed like you had been. I was shocked that time you would even think I might hurt them but I grew to understand where this fear came from. I loved our kids – I would have done anything for them, and I think I was able to convince you of that with time, right?

No regrets Margot.  Don’t ever underestimate the value of what we were able to give our kids. Sure we weren’t perfect parents, we made mistakes along the way, but we did everything to the best of our ability for them and I think they turned out pretty good, don’t you?

3.       Our 50th anniversary

Mom and Dad's 50th Anniversary

Mom and Dad’s 50th Anniversary

Wasn’t that a fun party, Margot? I was so excited to celebrate with you. You looked so beautiful in that blue dress, I was so proud beside you in my new suit. And look how many friends came to celebrate with us!

And our trip to Germany! Yes Canada was our home now, but how wonderful it was to go to the place where we met and married to celebrate our 50th.

4.       You were a real handful sometimes

A fighter. A hard worker. You had fire in your eyes!

Yeah there were times I wished you would just calm down, relax a little. Just let go of stuff, but maybe it was your pushing that got us as far as we got. And even when you were angry, I knew it was because you were afraid that things wouldn’t work out – those ghosts from the past were haunting you. I knew that you were fighting for the very best.

And you know what? I think I may have originally been drawn to that about you. You have spunk!

I mean who else would have moved to a new country, not knowing the language to start a new life with me? I chose well. You were the right partner for me.

You worked just as hard as me. Remember our job at that summer camp? Picking apples?  Making hats? And all the other jobs we had until I got that job at Kraft Foods and we bought our first home? And even then you cleaned houses to help out with the expenses. Yes we worked hard for what we built.

5.       Regrets

Maybe I could have been more supportive at times. Like when you were seasick on our voyage to Canada or when you broke your ankle. Maybe I could have told you more how much I appreciated you. I just never was one for words. But make no mistake; I was grateful and I really cared about you, even if I wasn’t very good at saying it.

6.       The last few years

I know how hard it was for you to watch me on the couch in pain. It was hard for me too. I wanted to be healed. And sometimes you made me angry when you pushed so hard for me to get up or exercise. But when I would think about it, I knew you were scared. I knew you meant well.

But the hardest thing, Margot was to see what my poor health was doing to you. You were so brave. That’s why I tried so hard to be brave too. That’s why I tried not to complain even when I couldn’t drive the car anymore. You did everything. I really wish I could have helped around the house more. I was so sure I would get better and things would go back to normal. But I didn’t. I’m so sorry things didn’t work out the way we had hoped. If I had known that I wouldn’t get better, perhaps we could have made arrangements that would have made the last years easier for both of us.

7.       Now that I’m gone

Our last few years together were hard, and I am so thankful for all you did for me. I know you’re sad and that you must grieve – after all we spent 56 years together, one doesn’t get over that quickly. But don’t just remember the last years. Remember the fun times. The family vacations. The German Club New Year’s dances. When I taught you how to drive. Those nights we walked around the block when the kids were in bed.

And don’t grieve too long. There is so much more for you to experience. Spend time with our kids, our grandkids, our wonderful friends. Get back out there doing the stuff you love to do. Simplify your life. Laugh, live and love. Life is far too precious to do otherwise. Grab onto life with both hands and enjoy it as much as you can. And know that when your time comes, I’ll be here, waiting for you.

Dein Mann, Heinz

Her Diminished Size is in Me — Not in Her

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I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,
spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts
for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck
of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone.”
Gone where?
Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,
hull and spar as she was when she left my side.

And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me — not in her.

And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”
there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices
ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
And that is dying…

Henry Van Dyke

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Family

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Family. Where life begins and love never ends.

where we share sorrows and joys and learn and grow

where we fight and hurt and laugh and heal

where we challenge each other, irritate, and rub each other the wrong way

where we encourage, embolden, inspire and build each other up

where we run away from for independence and run to for comfort when we are afraid or overwhelmed

where we make tough decisions with tough love and hold each other up

where we weather the storms and bask in the warmth of sunny days as one

where even those who are no longer with us still teach us.

where no matter what we do or where we go, we always belong to our family

I just got back from visiting family back east and here are some snippets of my trip.

And Every day Mom checks in with her flowers; pruning, watering, caring for…

not so different from how we grow and care for each other in our families…

 

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

What does family mean to you?

 

 

 

 

 

#Canada150 #yyc

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I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.

― John G. Diefenbaker

Yesterday, I rode my bike downtown to check out the Canada Day celebrations.

I took some pictures to share with you. Also, I would like to wish all my fellow Canadians a very Happy Canada Day. We live in a beautiful country and I feel so blessed to be Canadian.

Nope. Not a statue.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

In Those Times

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Remember:
Kindness is for all times in all situations – not just when it suits you.

-Audray Landrum

Those times in life when it seems that evil continually prevails, when greedy people keep getting, and vulnerable people keep losing.

Those times when those who don’t follow the rules keep winning, when those who prey on weaknesses are exulted, when those who feel entitled are granted whatever they wish, and those whose genuine efforts and unselfish motives are overlooked time after time.

Those times when I can’t bear to watch anymore, when my anger overtakes me, when for just once, for just one God damned time, my utter hatred of their actions, my complete disdain of them, my raging judgment of them makes me want to squash them, to shine a light on their selfishness, expose their nakedness to every single person, and humiliate them in front of the world.

In those times, although it’s excruciatingly difficult, I must dig deep inside of myself with humility, recognize those same tendencies in me and acknowledge my own shortcomings. I must search for the good in them, reach out with love and kindness and pray it makes a difference.

~ DIANA’S ENORMOUS BOOK OF QUOTES ~

Brummelbär

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“Dad had such a deep voice,” I said to my mom on the phone a few weeks back.

“Yes, that’s why I called him my Brummelbär (Brummel bear), his voice rumbled from deep within,” she replied with tenderness in her voice.

I guess I’ve been thinking a lot about dad lately, with Father’s Day and his birthday looming closer. I used to dread June because it brought Father’s Day, my brother’s birthday and my dad’s birthday, and when I didn’t have a lot of money, it seemed taxing to buy three cards and gifts in one month.

Man, what I wouldn’t give to have that worry back, to have dad back.

Yet, I can’t really complain. I was blessed for 52 years with the best possible man for me, as my father. He was a good man, a kind man, a peaceful man. And he loved us.

As best as I can tell Brummel means rumble. And mom’s right. His voice rumbled from deep within like a bear. And it remains in my heart, in my DNA it would seem, guiding me, and still brings me comfort when I most need it.

So glad I captured his voice in this video!