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There is beauty in everything. You just have to see it.

Apr 24, 2012 @ 9:13am posted by admin

It has been a very long while, since I have written a blog. Life has been busy — more than usual — but all is good. Despite the fact that it feels like my attention is being pulled in a hundred directions, I still have my dog Delray, who forces me to walk every day. I have to say that thanks to her, I am still able to take a little chunk out of my hectic day to walk, slow down and open my eyes to the beautiful things around me. I love the part of our walk that takes us through the ravine. In our neighbourhood, there are many sidewalks and in all directions, but we are always drawn at some point to the ravine. Despite the fact that you can hear the hum of traffic from two major streets, which are over a kilometer away in both directions, when I am in amongst the trees and streams, I still feel like I’ve been transported to a far away place. No worries. No responsibilities. And no clocks. I walk a little more slowly and watch the pleasure in Delray’s leaps and bounds when she spots a squirrel or picks up the scent of a bone (if there are skeletal remains of a forest dweller hidden or someone’s tossed left-overs from the night before, over their fence…Delray is hot on the trail!)

Me! Well, I am more interested in the beauty of nature. A rare trillium amongst the usual white ones – red — and unlike the others — it tells me that there is beauty and strength in being different from the masses. The artistic shape of a root ball from a tree that lost the fight with a wicked wind storm — it tells me that even when it seems we have lost a battle, we have to take the learning from it, make a change somehow, and find a new purpose. Or, sometimes…just the positive feeling of ‘hope’ that new spring flowers convey, while standing proud with a layer of freshly fallen snow at their base and sprinkled on their leaves. They are not complaining, nor should we.

You see — there is beauty in everything. We just have to take the time and make the effort to see it. Positive energies and positive attitudes beget positive energies and positive responses. I try to teach my children that every day.

So happy spring! Enjoy your day and keep your eyes wide open for the beauty in EVERYTHING, for there is always beauty around you.

Past or Future?

Jan 27, 2012 @ 2:39pm posted by admin

On CHUM FM this morning, Roger, Darren and Marilyn posed this question to each other and their audience: Who would you rather meet — your great-great grandparent or your great-great grandchild? Interestingly enough, it was unanimous amongst the hosts that they would rather meet their great-great grandparent. They said that they would like to find some links to their past regarding their personality traits, physical features, perhaps gain some words of wisdom and also learn about living life 100 years ago.

On the contrary, those who called in to answer the question were of a younger generation and they have grandparents and in some cases great-grandparents in their lives today. They were more interested to meet their great-grand children, because that meant that they would be able to see the future.

In listening to this debate, I most certainly have an opinion of my own. I just turned 45 years old and I am fortunate to have a grandmother (on my husband’s side) very much in my life. So, without a doubt, I would love to meet my relatives that came before me. Having just completed my mother’s McHenry family history book, I would love to meet the people in the stories and to learn from them.

Is it our day and age? Or is it simply our age that makes us answer “the past” vs. “the future”. I know our culture has something to do with it too. As we get older, do we become wiser? And does this lead us to gain respect for the knowledge and wisdom that our elders posses, because we see what wisdom has to offer? Perhaps it is technology, the fast pace of life, lack of personal connections due to more texts BBMs, e-mails and Facebook, that make us yearn for what the future holds and not to think about the treasures of the past? Maybe it has nothing to do with either? Maybe it is simply a personal thing – some are intrigued by history and others dazzled by what’s to come.

I was just at a funeral today, for a 19 year old young woman, who succumb suddenly to complications due to her fight with cancer. Her time on this earth was brief, but her footprint in history is very large and very deep. Someone in the future will want to know about the character traits that their ancestor possessed and how they helped her fight for what she believed in…her life. She had a great appreciation for family, her history and for life.

So whether you want meet your past or your future relatives, the important thing to remember is that they are family and you are connected…the better we respect and understand ourselves and where we come from, the better we can be to those who are in our lives right now. And the better we will be in helping to make this world a better place for everyone.

Tell me a story

Dec 16, 2011 @ 10:52am posted by admin

How well do you know your grandparents? Hopefully they are still with you, but chances are if you are losing the battle against the grays and find that washing them away just isn’t cutting it, you are likely to have lost your grandparents at some point too. My mother’s mother was the only one to make it to our wedding, and it’s been over 16 years since that wonderful day =). My children never met my grandparents, but they are fortunate to have a great-grandmother on their father’s side. She is a big part of our lives and the kids have had the chance to really get to know her.

But, the question is…how well do you really know your grandparents and your parents? Do you know what they loved to do when they were younger? Do you know their parent’s names and perhaps some stories about their grandparents? Do you know what they did for a living? for fun? Do you know their personality traits? Perhaps your daughter’s artistic talents came from a long line of artists? Or maybe a great grandmother painted a portrait that hangs on the walls of a famous person’s house today? Did you know that your great great grandparents were United Empire Loyalists and that they fought in the War of 1812? I didn’t know that particular fact until this past weekend, when I sat with my father and was conducting a MYstory Legacy Book interview with him. I am finally getting around to it!

Despite the fact that my parents live in Ottawa, a 4 3/4 hour drive from our home, we see them quite often and for extended periods of time. This has given our kids the chance to develop a wonderful relationship with them. I asked my kids once, what words come to mind when they think of Grandma and Grandpa. For Grandma, they said: warm, really loving, caring, and a great cook. For Grandpa, they said: sweet, kind, loving, lots of fun and a hunter. It is interesting how insightful they are. They really captured some key characteristics — no surprise because that is who they are…and their essence will never change. But last weekend, when they were visiting and we were all around the table for a Friday night dinner, the fact that my dad was retired came up. It is not that we haven’t spoken of it before on a couple of occasions, but I was curious to see if my daughter knew what grandpa did before he retired. My daughter said…”Hmmmm, I think he was a hunter!” We all had a great laugh. My father worked in the sales and project management of pre-fabricated homes. He has always hunted (on that we don’t see eye to eye, but he is respectful and not wasteful).

We cannot trust memory or assumptions to preserve our family’s precious stories and details. So often we say that we were meaning to ask or write it down, but life is too distracting and we don’t. So often we are filled with regret, because we cannot turn back the hands of time and we lose the person who had the most stories to tell or was the keeper of all the facts. The holidays are coming and many families will get together to celebrate. Don’t miss this opportunity to ask questions about names of great-grandparents and precious family stories. If you want a list of some basic questions, please e-mail me and I would be happy to provide you a list to help you get started. There is no time like the present!!

Another idea is to give the gift of a lifetime. Get together with your family and give your parents or grandparents a gift certificate for a MYstory Legacy Book Select Package. A precious and priceless gift to them and your family for generations to come. It is that easy — all you have to do is give the gift and A Little Inspiration looks after the rest. You will not find me ‘selling’ my services in my blogs, but because, other than a special birthday or anniversary, this gift-giving holiday season may be the excuse and opportunity that you need to invest in something that will delight the recipient and all your family members. Your family will be grateful always.

Happy Holidays!! And enjoy the stories and family history nuggets that come out of your saying, “Tell me a story about our family…” this holiday season.

Creating a Legacy Book Seminar – Now or Never

Dec 10, 2011 @ 9:39am posted by admin

Have you thought of capturing your life stories, whether in print, audio or video? Perhaps you have a loved one who you feel should document their family history. In less than an hour, you will learn the importance of personal history writing and also be pleasantly surprised that it does not need to be an overwhelming process. A Little Inspiration guides you through steps and will do everything for you, if you wish.

The first step is to attend this complimentary seminar…then you can decide whether this is something for you or not.

No time to think

Dec 08, 2011 @ 11:54am posted by admin

We are constantly being stimulated by technology –from the wee hours in the morning when we wake to our alarm clock radios, to the time we rest our phones on our bedside tables at night. Oh, it is not just a phone however, it is now our camera, video recorder, access to the internet and e-mails, personal games device, and then there are the thousands of apps that keep us up to date with the weather, stocks, our hundreds of friends on Facebook and dozens of corporate connections on Linked in.  And then there are the apps that keep us organized with calendars, reminders, tasks, maps, lists and so on… There is television, itunes or pod casts for our workout at the gym or jogging in the neighbourhood. Then, we have the commute to work of course. No need to fret. We can enjoy a book on our Kindles or perhaps the New York Times or the British News through our news apps on our phones or iPads. Maybe we catch the latest episode of the tv series that was downloaded to keep us entertained on the GO train, or any other moment we find that we have some time to kill. If we drive, not to worry, we can plug our hand-held devices directly into our vehicles so that we can enjoy pod casts and our own selection of music from our iPods, through the stereo system. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned when we get to work. Just in case our morning was a little boring, we have our computers of course, for e-mails, a variety of programs that allow us to create documents, presentation, web-sites, movies, and reports. We can attend webinars or participate in teleconferences from another vital piece of technology, our phone systems. You may get some recreation and down time during your lunch break, but how often is it that you are interrupted by pings and beeps and rings that notify you that someone needs to speak with you or get your opinion RIGHT AWAY! Maybe you have a sandwich at your desk and surf the web for the lastest suggestions for Christmas gifts this year and then buy them on-line. Whew!!!

I could continue to describe how the rest of most people’s days go, but I think you get the idea. The run-on sentences are by design by the way. I didn’t have time to pause, because the ideas were so plentiful. And I don’t even know what half of the things are that  I mentioned. Seriously!! No time to pause and think about what might come next.  My brain is exhausted, just thinking of it all.

Does your brain even know how to pause and think and explore the wonders of stillness and peace? Of imagination and creativity? I used to have two hours to myself every day driving to and from work. I didn’t think that I would miss it at all. I certainly didn’t miss the drive, but boy did I miss the two hours to myself. Nothing else to do. No one to talk to. No place to be. No expectations.  I was alone with my thoughts. BIG Sigh! I visioned and planned. I strategized and conceived of ideas. I sometimes even wrote poetry! (the DVP is also know as the Don Valley Parking Lot)

I encourage you to see if you can turn everything off for ½ an hour every day….ok at least once a week. The brain stimulation with all of our tech devices is wonderful…I mean look how stimulated we are. But try exercising the part of the brain that would flourish if given the chance to daydream and imagine. Take a little time for yourself to simply think!

The Real McCoy

Nov 28, 2011 @ 5:40pm posted by admin

My grandmother would be tickled pink if she could see me now. My mother’s mother used to knit me sweaters when I was growing up. She said that it kept her hands busy and helped relieve her worsening arthritis. This morning, I spotted one of the sweaters sitting in a pile of sweaters that I mean to, but never wear. It must be over 25 years old now. I have to admit there are a number of them that I have kept, because I couldn’t bare to throw them away. They are a piece of her and a piece of history. In reality, I didn’t think I would ever wear any one of them again as styles have changed just a bit! But this one sweater, was my very favorite. A natural coloured, cable knit traditional Scottish ‘fisherman’ sweater. It is extra special because it is the last sweater that she knit me and it was a labour of love. This pattern is quite complicated and took a lot of time and attention. Very challenging for someone suffering from poor eye sight and painful arthritis.

The weather is colder now and I spend a lot of time in my basement on the computer working. It gets extra cold down there. In fact my grandmother used to spend much time working in her basement and blames her arthritis on the cold and damp conditions. Maybe that is why I decided to try the sweater on this morning?? We should listen to those older and wiser you know. I try to tell my daughter that on occasion. I usually just get a look. The sweater looks pretty good. In fact, my daughter said, “Nice sweater mom! Where did you get it?” she was quite surprised to learn that it was knit by her great-grandmother.

I have a couple of things to say about this sweater. First of all, I was amazed that I could wear this wool sweater outside, with just a scarf and no jacket. The natural wool and cable knit design really keeps you warm. Usually I am bundled in polyester, nylon or lots of bulk. Secondly, I felt quite impressed that I still fit into something that was made for a teenage body!! (Thank goodness it stretches where it needs to). And finally, I am so glad that I have something so special from my grandmother. She passed over 15 years ago and my kids can see and appreciate her talents today.

How often do you see someone knitting now? It used to be that kids were taught these skills by their parents or grandparents, but now they are taught how to get a great deal at the store on something that was likely made in China.

I think I will introduce knitting at Camp Heather next summer – 2012. It is a great pastime and making something yourself brings a feeling of great pride like no-other.

Boy have things changed

Nov 18, 2011 @ 9:35am posted by admin

We are not invincible. When we are younger (in our late teens, 20′s and even 30′s), our bodies allow us to think we are. We ‘recover’ quickly, so that we don’t even miss a beat. For example, a night out during university years (and I mean a full night out) and we are in class bright and early the next morning — maybe with a slight headache, but nothing a stiff cup of coffee and a McDonald’s hamburger can’t fix. Now, if I get to bed past midnight, and especially if I have had a couple of glasses of wine, then I am off my game for the next few days. And I don’t have time to be off my game.

I was there not too long ago…believing I was super woman — working downtown, juggling two kids, starting my own business, cleaning the house, cooking, grocery shopping, play dates,  and sleeping, oh maybe 4-5 hours a night. People would ask how I did it? I said because I can. My body was built that way. I guess I am lucky that way. To me, my body was like a robot — one of those older models that could take a licking and keep on ticking. Humming along its merry path. It is not a conscious thing, but when we are young we treat our bodies like they are robots — machines until… we are human.

My robot did break down and needed some lengthy R&R to recover. Now, one of my dear friends is recovering from breast cancer. My best friend has had several surgeries. She told her husband, “If they keep taking parts out of my body, all he’ll have left is my eye. He can keep it in a jar and I’ll wink at him now and then”.  Another long time friend’s husband has been diagnosed with the onset of coronary heart disease and he is well under 50! I could go on, but that is not the point. The point is that it is not too late to get a wake up call and hopefully it can be on someone else’s dime. I wish we could give our children the foresight to realize that our bodies are NOT robots. That our mental and physical health is delicate and we should treat our bodies and minds as precious gifts that we must cherish and honour.

Wake up!! Success is not in the material things, it is in the people we know, the friends we have made, and the family that we love. It doesn’t matter where we live, what car we drive and what brand we are wearing. It is the times we share with those who are precious. The memories that we create…the legacy that we will leave.

My husband texted me the other night as I was finishing up a late night meeting. He was anxious for me to get home (nudge nudge wink wink) His text read, “Hurry home. Dog is walked. TV is waiting”. Boy, things have changed!

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I had a moment!

Nov 07, 2011 @ 11:56am posted by admin

I decided to go for an earlier than usual walk this morning. Maybe because of the time change this weekend?  It has been quite a few days since I was able to walk my dog. Don’t worry, my parents were in visiting from Ottawa and my father was very happy to take Delray for the walks she loves so much.

It was a beautiful morning. I was inspired to walk through the ravine because I wasn’t particularly rushed for time. As usual, the ravine was filled with the familiar sites and smells of Fall. There were squirrels scurrying about, hiding the nuts and seeds they’d found, so that they might have a nourishing snack sometime in the depths of winter’s presence. How do they remember where they put those things? I often can’t find my keys on the kitchen counter. I can’t imagine dropping them in a bed of leaves in the middle of a forest, covering them in two feet of snow and then having to go and look for them in minus 15 degrees weather. My kids should be grateful I am not a squirrel…I think they would starve.

At one point along the path, I stopped dead in my tracks. Delray was about twenty steps ahead and she looked back at me to see what was wrong. I couldn’t move. I saw the morning’s light sparkling through the trees and bouncing off the dew that had collected on the bed of leaves that covered the walking path. I was accosted at that moment by nature’s beauty and was awe- struck for a minute or two. I am embarrassed to admit that tears actually started to well up in my eyes and stream down my face. This has never happened to me before. I soaked in the moment’s beauty,  was filled with gratefulness for my good fortunes, and humbled by my place in this world.

Perhaps it was having worked on my mothers family history book, that consumed us for the past week and a half? Learning of my family’s history and stories, provided me with a greater appreciation for their hard work and perseverance, which in turn enables me to be here today? Perhaps I was just lucky to have experienced a miracle (nature’s beauty)? Miracles happens every day, but we are too busy to notice? I don’t need an answer to what happened this morning. I am just grateful that I was able to experience something so awesome.

I continued walking on for a few moments and then said to myself that I should capture this image for others to enjoy. So I walked back, snapped a shot with my handy new iphone4S and off I went.

Please enjoy the photo and your day!

Heather

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Learning it all again!

Oct 28, 2011 @ 8:33am posted by admin

Whew! That was a crazy week. This is the first time I have sat down and had a chance to breathe. I feel like I was a little sail boat caught in a tumultuous  ocean — too busy trying to keep the boat upright to worry about when the storm might end and alas!!! Land ahoy!!

I sit here with my Starbuck’s coffee, after having dropped off five very loud pre-teen kids at school, and I realize it is the first chance I have had all week to breathe. Yoga starts in 20 minutes, so I am taking this time to catch my breath and reflect on the week. I barely saw my husband this week because of guitar; gymnastics; rock band; fencing; art class; Hebrew school; Canadian history test about the Confederation; science pop quiz about density of matter; Bernoulli’s principle of flight; book review, an autobiography edit, French verbs test, two math tests and….well I think that is all.  And this was just between the hours of 3:30 to 10:30pm and Monday was a PA day. Oh yeah, forgot to mention a healthy dinner, after school snacks and a couple of client meetings. Then I have my day job, on top of which I have to clean the house, get the groceries, plan my daughter’s birthday party (she want’s each girl to have a cake of their own to decorate — that is a lot of icing), and don’t forget…Halloween costumes and pumpkin carving! It is Halloween on Monday.

I realize that life is busy…but this week was crazy! I was talking to a friend, while walking my dog (only time I get to do that) and said… can you imagine what would happen if the power went out in the world for a few days? I know that Blackberry’s network went down for a day a few weeks ago and people missed important messages, dates and meetings as a result…feuds between families and friends started because people weren’t getting back to each other quickly enough! I am not wishing to live at the turn of the century, because that in itself brought its own troubles,worries and stresses. But maybe just a few days would be nice. The thought of not having to drive two or three times back and forth between Thornhill and Richmond Hill would be a welcome break. Life would be simpler in many ways.

I love to hear stories about the the days of yesteryear: Pioneers, entrepreneurs, fame and fortune, love and loss. Family histories are full of these kinds of stories and they help to put life into perspective today. I think we do need to hear more from those who have learned about life before us. Talk to a parent, grandparent or great-grand parent, if you are so lucky, and ask them about the stresses that they had to deal with in the early 19oos. You’ll be amazed at what you might learn and perhaps gain a new perspective on the life you live today.

Heather

What’s so funny?

Oct 17, 2011 @ 1:56pm posted by admin

I cannot remember the last time I laughed so much. I walk my dog Delray every morning in our neighbourhood. On a few of those days, I meet up with a couple of other neighbours and we walk together for over an hour. We have been doing this for well over a year now. When we get together, we talk about what may have happened on our weekends; or what interesting thing happened at the dinner party we just threw; or a great recipe that we just tried; and on occasion, how we survive being a mom some days! Without fail…there is something to talk about. This morning, I don’t think I could have laughed more. Discussions around ‘keeping our husbands interested’ and ‘dating after being widowed’ led to streams of laughter. It kept me smiling and giggling to myself for the rest of the day. Research studies show that laughter really is a great medicine. Even the Mayo Clinic takes laughter seriously. If you are interested in reading more about laughter as a medicine, click here:  http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034

It is important to our health and well-being to socialize, share thoughts and memories and laugh…a lot. Life is too short to wait until tomorrow to do something, so send an e-mail or pick up the phone and make a date with a friend of yours who is sure to get you laughing — there is always at least one friend like that. By the way…you have to see this video. I guarantee you’ll laugh! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JmA2ClUvUY

Have a great day!