Monday, November 26, 2012

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away

The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away.  Roll up we've got everything you need
Well, the evening was magical and it certainly had everything I needed.  I left BC Place Stadium last night feeling like I had indeed been on a magical mystery tour.  Paul McCartney took us from a blasting, fire-filled, sparkling, stage-vibrating rendition of Live and Let Die to a smokey, subtle, emotional piano solo version of Hey Jude. The shift was dramatic and  the crowd went from rowdy to dreamy in five seconds flat. The 40 000+ people who were there swayed to the music, held hands with their loved ones and swayed side to side as almost each and every one of us sang along.  I'm not sure what was in the heads of other folks at this time but for me Hey Jude brought back memories of junior high school.  Awkward boys and aggressive girls hopped and bopped to the tunes at our school dances while everyone nervously anticipated that "last dance".  It was always Hey Jude.  It was so long.  If you ended up with the boy or girl of your dreams you were guaranteed 6 minutes and 52 seconds of pure bliss.  If you ended up with someone whose arms you didn't want wrapped around you it was the longest 6 minutes and 52 seconds of your life. 

That's how the whole evening went for me, from bouncing in my seat, clapping my hands and screaming like a 15 year old girl  to wiping the tears from my eyes as memories and emotions  flowed through me.  I loved it all.  Music does that to me.  It winds me up and calms me down and last night the good-looking Beatle played me like one of those beautiful guitars he courted us with on and off through the three hours of solid hits he honoured us with. 
The Long and Winding Road was one of the first piano solos of the evening.  The music was beautiful, and the words came back to the tip of my tongue oh-so-quickly.  I'm not sure all of those who sat around me enjoyed my version but really, I didn't care.  In fact, I sang along to almost every song, sometimes quietly and sometimes at the top of my lungs. Sometimes tapping my foot and sometimes clapping my hands over my head and hooting in between verses. My husband didn't elbow me and tell me to stop and nobody threw stuff at me so I'm thinking either they were singing along or they were wrapped up in their own memories.  Paul took us all down a long and winding road last night and we loved him for it.

It was the shortest three hours of my life and I didn't want it to end in spite of four curtain calls.  We were taken through the crazy era of the British Invasion, honoured with Blackbird - a tribute to the civil rights movements and got to share a little of the love he had for both John and George. People waved their bic lighters (alongside their cell phones), pumped up their peace signs and screamed for more whenever he stopped.  It seemed impossible that this 70 year old man could whip the crowd into a frenzy with a bit of a smile, that lazy Liverpool accent or memory-filled songs that we could all identify with.

Yesterday, all my troubles did seem so far away.  I was with people I love listening to music I love remembering memories I love.  There were moments of pureness through the evening but I think my favourite was the piano solo of Maybe I'm Amazed. The original video shows a man and his family and it reflects how life was for our family at this time as well, all wrapped up in each other, living life simply with no real understanding of how quickly it would all pass.  I loved this song when it originally came out but I love it more now.

Special times are made more special by the people you share them with and I'm so glad I shared this evening with the people I did.  It did my heart good to see my husband singing along with the rest of us (although much more quietly and dignified).  It did my heart good to lean my head toward my sister-in-law's as we sang Yesterday.  My husband's younger sister is still giving him the gears over his 1969 version of Yesterday and we all had a good laugh as we looked over to see if he was singing along with Paul last night.  I had my own pictures in my head of my older brother shredding his air guitar and flipping his hair over his head as well.  Music is all about emotion and last night we all travelled back in time and through a gamut of feelings.  In the words of my grandson, "IT WAS AWESOME!".

As we were reminded time and time again last night:

O-bla-di, o-bla-da, life goes on, brah!...
Lala how the life goes on.

And if you want some fun,
Sing O-bla-di-bla-da.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

How To Be An Explorer of the World

When was the last time you were an explorer?  Perhaps on a vacation?  Maybe it was moving on to a new town or a new job or a new relationship.  I have always loved change.  I know most people feel discomforted by it but I love it.  Deep inside of me is an explorer longing for "new".  Sometimes that new can be as simple as changing my perspective but sometimes it requires something bigger. 

It is the time of year that I like the least.  The skies are a constant shade of grey, the ground a muddy mix of browns.  The landscape is bare, trees have shed all but the one or two leaves that simply refuse to drop.  Friends on Facebook are posting their pictures from the far-away sunny places they have gone to escape the dreariness.

It seems a perfect time to spice my life up with a little bit of "new".  Now, I wish I could take credit for the project I am about to undertake, but I can't.  A few years ago one of my daughters requested a book on her Christmas list (she's a crazy, voracious reader).  When I found it in that lovely little bookstore in Fort Langley, Wendel's, I was surprised on so many fronts. This wasn't a book you 'read', it was a book you 'experienced'.  This book was definitely not one I would have ever picked out for this daughter.  This book was certainly going to challenge her comfort zone.  I couldn't wait to see her embark on the journey this book was about to take her on.  As I browsed through other books by the same author I found one that I believed would take me on my own journey.  I have owned the book for a couple of years now and every now and then I take it off the shelf and  browse through it.  Parts of it are daunting, parts intriguing and some parts just look plain old-fashioned fun.  I'm not sure why I didn't delve into it right off the bat but I do believe the time is ripe for me to take it on.

Keri Smith has a LOT of books that make me curious but this is the one I chose and this is the one I am going to start with. The project that I am going to start with is Exploration #41 - Found Faces (there are 59 Explorations in this book).  I am going to haul my camera around with me for one week starting today and I am going to capture every "face" that I see. The only catch is that the faces cannot be attached to people, they must be "naturally-occurring"!   This challenge will make me look past the "dreary" into the details of the world around me.  It will infuse me with curiosity and will refocus me, which is just what I need right now.  Can't wait to share the pics of what I "see" this week.
Some other books by Keri Smith:
Finish this Book,  Wreck this Journal, Living Out Loud - Activities to Fuel a Creative Life, The Guerilla Art Kit, Mess: The Manual of Accidents and Mistakes, The Non-Planner Date Book, Boyology: A Teen Girl's Crash Course on All Things Boy.
This is a pic of Wendel's book store in Fort Langley, B.C.  If you haven't been there, it's a must see but make sure to take your wallet.  Wendel's also has a lovely little cafe where the soup is divine and the sandwiches are real.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

60 Years Together

A young 18-year-old couple on their wedding day in Calgary sixty years ago today.  Happy Anniversary to my mother and father-in-law, Georgina and Bill Brown of Donalda, AB.
Bill Brown and Georgina (Watson) Brown
November 18, 1952  Calgary, Alberta
Congratulations to my mom and dad on their 60th wedding anniversary.  They have been a model of how to work things out over the years. Like all couples they have weathered many ups and downs through their years together.
The 1950's were the years of stay-at-home moms and large families.  While we were a large family, my mom was always a working mom.  One of the finest legacies she has left her family is the value of hard work.  My dad was the same.  I remember many years of my mom working a regular job while raising her family and dad often working an extra job alongside his military career.  I was lucky enough to grow up in a household where all chores were shared, at least that's how it appeared to me.  It was not unusual to find my dad in the kitchen making dinner if mom was working late or scrubbing the floors or toilets if that was what needed doing. 
While we were military and moved often enough I have fond memories of our years in Edmonton.  We had a large yard, both front and back.  There were trees to climb and lawns to lay on.  Our back yard was completely made into a garden.  Vegetables on one side, potatoes on the other.  My mom and dad froze and canned the large bounty from our garden every year. 
Our home was a military home.  We often heard, "because I said so" and had our regular chores.  Mom and dad split the chores (perhaps not evenly but it appeared that way) so it always seemed strange to me that I got the inside chores and my brothers got the outside chores.  Dishes and sweeping were mine (and later my sister's) and the garden weeding and lawn cutting belonged to my two brothers.  I ironed dad's work shirts (still know how to do a long sleeve with no crease to this day) and my brothers polished his shoes.
I have a brother 1 year older and another brother 1 year younger and a sister 7 years younger so there were many years with just me and my brothers.  I grew up a tom-boy and was always supported by my parents with the many sports I played growing up.  For me it was fastball and swimming and for my brothers it was hockey.  My parents attended everything in those days.  My dad coached both ball and hockey and my mom was always there scorekeeping or doing whatever needed to be done.  Our Rambler station wagon was filled with sports equipment year round.  We honestly did live by the "be home when the streetlights went on" rule.  We were outside kids and I imagine my parents were glad of it.
My parents had their own struggles through the years as all married couples do.  What I learned from them was that even when things got hard you stand by each other.  You don't give up, you work it out.  Even if it takes time, you work it out.  Their 60th anniversary is a testament of their commitment to each other.
There are moments in life that define us all and there are a couple of memories I have that define my parents for me.  When my brother and I were in high school my mom quit her job and returned to complete her grade 12.  She had ended her schooling in grade 10 and I think this must have always been on her mind.  In the fall of 1970, my grade 11 year, my mom joined me and my brother on our daily trek to school.  My first thoughts were that I wasn't too excited about my mom going to school with me.  However, our high school was large and I rarely saw her aside from the drive in and the drive home.  Every time I think about this though I am amazed at the courage and strength it must have taken her to give up her pay cheque and go to public school with her two children.  I believe I had some appreciation of it at the time but I do know that I have more appreciation as time passes.  My mom is a very intelligent woman and I don't believe she needed to prove anything to anyone other than herself.  She has always been determined.  I believe I inherited this quality from my mom.
For my dad, it's less about one event and more about the way he has lived his life in general.  My dad has never been afraid to take on some new experience.  When he bought the boat with the hole in it we all learned to fiberglass.  When the 1957 Hillman I drove kept losing the clutch, we learned how to change it.  When we moved to Comox he learned to navigate the tides and the buoys coming in and out of the bay.  When peacekeepers were needed he signed up.  He sings loudly, off-key and often.  I remember him lying on the couch laughing his head off at that crazy Wiley Coyote.  My dad knows how to laugh and faces life head on.  I think I have inherited some of these qualities. 
We are not a family that communicates well or often but when I think of my parents I think of what a successful life they have made for themselves.  They married at 18, had 3 children in the next 3 years and another 6 years later.  My dad's career in the Armed Forces has taken them all over the world.  They weathered two housefires early in their marriage where they lost all of their belongings.  They have faced hard times and good times and have come through it all together.  They taught us to work hard and be respectful and we have done both.  They taught me to love sport, to get involved, to speak my mind openly and honestly and to put my everything into everything I do.  I believe that I have lived my life the way they had always hoped I would. 
Happy 60th Anniversary Mom and Dad!  I hope your day is filled with wonderful memories and wonderful plans for the future.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Ava Irene Janzen

Dear Baby Janzen,
You are not here yet but we are so full of anticipation waiting for you to arrive.  When I was a young mother I was always amazed at how much love could fit into one heart.  When I met your Grampa, I thought my heart was full.  Then your uncle Jason came along and lo and behold there was room enough in my heart for two and I thought it was full.  Then aunty Christine entered our world and lo and behold, there was room for three.  Surely now my heart was full.  A few years later I learned that I was having your mom and your aunty Carrie.  They weren't yet here but already they were in my heart and then when they arrived I knew for sure my heart was full.  I was wrong. 

As our family grew and grew there were so many moments that kept squeezing themselves into my already overflowing heart.  Little things, big things, it didn't matter.  They kept finding a way into those empty spaces I didn't know existed.  When Lizzie and Kai and Austen arrived I began to wonder if my heart would be able to still fit inside of my body.  So far it has.  Good thing because as I sit here thinking about you and your mom and dad I know that already you have found a way into my  heart, making room for all of the wonderful and amazing moments that have already happened and for those we are, for now, dreaming about.  I can't wait to meet you.

Well Ava, Gramma's been away from home for a few days and since that time you made your grand debut.  You and your mom and dad worked hard to get you into this world and we are so excited you are here.  While I was driving into the city to meet youI noticed two things.  First, I noticed the sun shining down on my face along the drive.  It seemed like it was you shining down on me warming me up my heart and telling us all that you were going be sprinkling sunshine into all of our worlds.  As the sun set and stars started to come out I noticed it was a clear and sparkly night.  The big dipper pointed me in your direction while all of the other stars cheered me on, twinkling and blinking the whole way.

Your journey took 27 hours and I will never forget how strong and determined your mom was the night you were born.  Some time in the future, when you are a little older, you can get her to tell you the story of how she thought she might drive home from Chilliwack, at 3:00 in the morning, by herself, with very little gas.  Good thing Grampa and I were around to talk some sense into her.  As it turned out, you didn't show up until the next evening, fashionably late I must say :) 

Your mom and dad chose a beautiful name for you Ava. To me, Ava sounds strong and serene and beautiful and it seems just right for you.  It brought tears to our eyes as your mom and dad told us your middle name.  You will get to meet your great Nanny within a few weeks, the strong and amazing woman you were named after.  We feel blessed to have her in our lives and we know she will feel blessed to have you in hers.  It also seems just right that you have a unique first name and a name connected to the past for your middle name. It reflects everything your mom believes in; individuality and family.

The first thing we all noticed about you Ava was your beautiful hair.  So much hair for such a little girl.  I dreamed of you a week or so before you were born and in that dream you were sitting on the dock at Papa's cabin, your feet dangling over the wharf, your fishing line bobbing in the lake and your beautiful hair hanging down your back in french braids.  I love to do french braids and your mom still, to this day, likes to sit down on the floor in front of me, hand me a brush and two elastics and flash that smile of hers at me as she asks me to braid her hair.  I can see you with the same mischievious smiling face.

As we spent a little time getting to know you that first night we were all amazed at how peaceful you are.  You did stay awake a bit that first night and gazed around, taking in this whole new world and all of the people who came to welcome you.  Your mommy and daddy are already calling you, "Princess" and we all agree with them.

You are born into a big loving family, Ava.  We will all cheer you on in all you take on in life.  We will all be there to help you through whatever comes your way.  We will all love you unconditionally.  We are bursting with pride at how beautiful and serene you are and we are all gazing down in wonder at you.  We know your mommy and daddy will make sure you have a life full of love, travel and adventure.  We know that the outdoors will be special for you and we know that family is important to both your mom and dad.  We love you Ava with everything we have.  Welcome to our world wee one!

Monday, November 5, 2012

First comes love, then comes marriage. . .

I am a marriage commissioner.  I can't think of a more perfect retirement job. I spend time with people who are in love and who are embarking on a lifetime of adventure with each other.  When they share their vows with me I get a glimpse inside of their hearts and I find that very special and rewarding.
I have married people in horse pastures, on baseball diamonds, underneath waterfalls, in fancy gardens and ordinary kitchens. I have married people in their 20's and people in their 80's (No, not to each other:)  I have married people as hundreds have watched on and I have married people with just their two best friends there to witness both their love and commitment to each other.
Yesterday I received an e-mail from a young woman wanting to know if I could marry her and her fiance on December 21st.  I confirmed with them that I was available and that I felt honoured to be included in their special day.  Her response explained why that day was so important to them.  December 21st is a special day in the Mayan culture. 
The Mayan culture predicted a change in consciousness in the world around December 21, 2012.
They predicted a deep change in the universe through the alignment of planets.
This will result in a shift of focus from materialism and selfishness into love, kindness and internal peace
I can't think of a better reason to pick a day to be married and love that it fell on my birthday. I hope they're right!