BBQ Epiphanies

I am naturally a very solitary creature. Growing up, I spent most of my time alone, as there weren’t many other kids my age nearby, and few who spoke English. I was completely bilingual, however the majority of children were my brother’s age or younger. I had a best friend in elementary school, but she moved away in grade six, and from then on I didn’t really have a close friend who lived less than a half hour’s drive away. I didn’t play all that much with my siblings, except some sports with my brother and the other neighbourhood kids when we felt like shooting some hoops or went down to the ball park at the end of the street to play softball. Most of my time was spent playing alone, letting my imagination lead me to realms of faerie in our backyard, and when I was old enough to wander further afield on my own, to explore the forest that stretched for miles behind our house, or go and see the horses in the meadow. I was never bored.

That sense of solitude has been with me my whole life. Being very sensitive to noise, to other people’s emotions, not liking crowds and cities overwhelming me I found solace alone. I still do, to a large extent, spending most of my time alone, working from home. It’s nice and quiet; a good environment for me to write. My husband is a solitary creature as well, on the autistic spectrum and therefore prefering a calmer way of life. He’s quite easy to live with. I have lived with other people before, and can honestly say that I can’t imagine living with anyone else right now. I hated living with other people, with their noise, their mess, etc. For the most part, it’s just me, my cats and my husband (yes, in that order, and my husband knows it) J

I’ve created a beautiful home and garden with my husband, and we love it dearly. However, like a meal, or music, or any art, it’s something that really only comes into its own when shared with other people. And so I strive to create a home not only for myself, but a sanctuary for people when they visit. I am blessed with more friends in my life now than I’ve ever had, close friends who I know have got my back even as I’ve got theirs. It’s sometimes a strange feeling for this solitary creature, to know that I now have so many friends, wonderful people in my life who share their laughter and light, sharing their lives with me.

Yesterday we had a barbeque. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, the birch trees were in that fresh new green of early leaves only days after the buds have opened. We totalled nine people in all, which is a lot for me and my husband’s sensitivities, and yet we had a brilliant time. Being able to share my home and my garden with friends is a true blessing. To serve others, to make them feel relaxed and welcome, is a wonderful gift to be able to give. I love seeing people just loosen up as they enjoy the sunshine and the wonderful view from the back garden, see their facial muscles relax and tension just slip from their bodies as they indulge in a bit relaxation, away from the city and amidst good company. We laughed so much yesterday. The garden and house needs laughter and friendship, even as it needs silence and quietude. The energy flows freely when we have people over, and then settles beautifully in silence afterwards.

I am truly blessed to know wonderful people. I live in gratitude, daily, knowing that at any moment things could change. Being able to share my life with others, and also to find the quiet and solitude that I need is a true blessing. I know that others are not so blessed, and it keeps me awake and aware in my practice of daily gratitude. In solitude and with others, I give my heartfelt thanks for this wonderful life, for the long and bumpy roads that got me here, for the pathless wilderness that I have travelled and for the times of smooth sailing. And when I can, I will share this with others, in joy and gratitude. And then settle into stillness once more.

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Boundless

Yesterday I was able to catch up with two friends from high school – we three haven’t been together for around 13 years. Having friends that you can talk to, about absolutely anything, and know that they’re really listening, that they’re there for you, that they love you no matter what distance lies between you or how much time has passed is one of life’s greatest blessings. I am so utterly blessed in that I have made some truly wonderful and remarkable friends both where I grew up in Canada and where I have lived for the past 18 years in the UK.

Today I am also helping my Mom host a huge family reunion BBQ in our backyard. We have nearly 40 people coming, some family members I haven’t seen for twenty years, cousins I used to babysit who now have children of their own. We’ve always had a close family, spending every weekend at the grandparents’ when we were little, all the cousins playing while the aunts and uncles talked about grown-up things with my Oma and Opa. It’s so amazing that we’re all still able to get together, to laugh and to celebrate simply being alive on this gorgeous autumnal day. I’m sure my Oma and Opa would have loved to have seen everyone together again, and I shall be having a glass of punch for both of them who live on inside me, looking out through my eyes and the eyes and hearts of the rest of the family in this beautiful part of the world.

A loving family is a real treasure. Good friends are a true blessing. Never take these for granted. Breathe, smile, and be in the moment. Be present for them, and take them deep into your heart. Love and joy are boundless, and like the soul cannot be contained within the body. The soul is the container for the body, not the other way around, and the soul expands outwards as far as the horizon can see.

Today, my soul is flying high in the clearest of blue skies, riding autumnal breezes, smiling from my heart and enjoying my Mom’s delicious punch.

May your soul be free as well. x

Friendship

P1060444Friendship is one of the greatest gifts we can have on this planet. I am blessed, in that I have a loving family and lots of good friends. In the last six to eight years I’ve developed close bonds with my girlfriends, and it is something that I treasure deeply.

Where two souls meet, in open honesty, with no agenda there is a beautiful, wonderful, inspiring interaction of heart meeting heart. In all our gloriousness and with all our faults, we can be who we truly are and in that honesty, are accepted for who we are. My friends are there to help when I need help, to point out where I might be wrong in a situation, to advise when I might be right, and to not judge me either way. I’m filled with gratitude for having friends like these.

For me, there is a special closeness, a special bonding with my girlfriends. Perhaps it is because we understand each other, have many similar shared experiences in our lives. Maybe it’s just our souls connecting with honesty. Whatever it is, it fills me with joy and inspiration. I love being with them, hearing their laughter, sharing their tears, wrapping my arms around them and having them hold me in return. With belly-shaking guffaws, snorts, farts, burps and all, they are my best friends.

Many of my girlfriends have a love of dance – quite a few of them are fellow belly dancers. We find a freedom in movement, a sense of belonging to a tribe who love to dance, who love music, who love to be in each other’s company in that setting and in others. I believe that as a species we were meant to dance, that it opens up our hearts and souls and allows us to speak without words. It allows us freedom from fear, from inhibition, from the walls that we surround ourselves with each and every day.

And so I’m looking forward to getting back to Glastonbury with one of my best friends, who couldn’t be with us last time we all went together. Spending time together laughing and enjoying good food. Spending time together in silence. Spending time together singing along to every Taylor Swift song from every album in the car drive down. Keeping each other awake on the car ride back. Experiencing a shared boundary and having a shared experience – that is what life is all about. So many things are better when they are shared.

To all my girlfriends, I love you with all my heart. You are my sisters, my inspiration, my joy. x

“Friending”

Facebook is a strange beast.

I love the way that it keeps me up to date with my family in Canada, and the way that is has reunited me with old friends.

What I can’t stand are the silly mind games that occur on this social media site.

Take for example the “friending” and “unfriending” buttons. The word, friend, for me has quite serious connotations. I don’t make friends haphazardly. I’m not a social butterfly. The word, friend, is now a verb. People friend me. It’s no longer befriending, just friending.

For me, this trivialises friendship. If I am going to be someone’s friend, I am going to be there for that person. I don’t make offers of friendship, in “real life” or on social media sites lightly. It’s not on a whim. I can’t function like that. My biggest problem, however, is I think that everyone thinks the same.

I have no idea when people “unfriend” me. I don’t keep track of how many friends I have, and I don’t notice when people drop off. I am extremely naïve in that regard. I’ve had people unfriend, and then refriend me months later – I just assumed that they deleted their account and opened a new one. Then they unfriend me again, and I only find out when I try to tag them in a photo or something and can’t. There hasn’t been any exchange between us sometimes, or if there has been it’s been positive, but suddenly I have been unfriended for whatever reason.

Why the silly, schoolground games? And if it is a game, shouldn’t everyone know that they’re playing? If someone is trying to hurt me using Facebook, it fails utterly as I’m totally oblivious – or I only find out months after the event. I have no idea most of the time when I’m involved in any kind of game – I just assume that people are, on the whole, nice. Especially those whom I befriend. I’m going to continue thinking this way. Life’s too short to do otherwise.

I wonder if, when Facebook was created, the concept of friending and unfriending was thought through to its finality. The friend button could be used to bring people together. It could also be used as a weapon to hurt someone. Like a vicious, little child lashing out. People can get hurt, even from a child…

If someone I know and like posts things that annoy me, I simply stop receiving notifications from them. I won’t unfriend them, as they may not be like that in person. I have decided to be friends with them for a reason. Now, if someone did something utterly atrocious, that’s another matter. But I just don’t use the “unfriend” button as a weapon. There’s got to be dialogue involved before making that sort of decision.

Am I alone in this regard? I hope not – I hope that there are other souls out there, who feel the same way. Sensitive souls, who take the friend button seriously.

Facebook is a strange beast.