Beginning 2010 with a word to inspire me

It was on my last flight that my word for the year came to me.  I’d just spent a week in a rental car, exploring various parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in between meetings with staff, volunteers, and supporters and now I was on my way home. After finishing the book I was reading, I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair. As I began to drift to sleep, listening to the cacophony of sound in the plane, this thought punctuated my inner monologue like a flash of fireworks… OH HOW I LOVE THE JOURNEY!  I sat there feeling so blissfully content, so perfectly calm and relaxed, and I knew that this moment was about as good as it gets for me.

I love the journey. I really, really do. Planes, trains, automobiles, bicycles, boats, or even my own two feet – it doesn’t matter – I just love the whole process. It doesn’t matter if I’m going on a grand adventure to Africa or just driving to my favourite bookstore – I am almost always content when I am in motion, going somewhere, on a journey. With or without companions.

And that, my dear friends, is my word for the year. Journey. This year I’m not going to try to conquer any montains, face fear with bravado, or set grand goals for myself. There’s a time and a place for all of that, but right now, for me, it’s time to savour the journey.

It doesn’t mean that I’m going to travel more (though that would be nice), or that I’m going to uproot myself or my family, it just means that I’m going to remember to savour whatever journey I’m on.

Here are some of my thoughts on what it means to focus on the journey:
1. I’m going to try to be in the moment more.
2. I’m going to learn to pack light and not weigh myself down with too much baggage.
3. I’m going to take time for conversation with interesting strangers, just like I did on that long train ride to Cleveland.
4. I’m going to let myself be inspired by the beauty that’s right here in front of me.
5. I’m going to forgive myself for not accomplishing grand goals.
6. I might even manage to forget about the destination now and then and just focus on the process.
7. I’m going to be open to adventure around the bend in the road.
8. I’m going to stop and stare at the wonders of the world.
9. I’m going to take lots of pictures and tell lots of stories.
10. Mostly, I’m going to savour more. Really savour – like that long slow sip of chai latte that’s got just the right mix of spicy and sweet.

Here’s my dream board for the year.

And here’s the painting I was working on this morning – about one of my favourite kinds of journeys, along the misty beach early in the morning as the seagulls are waking up.

And, just for fun, here’s how I’ll be starting the journey – with brown hair!

Perhaps it’s time for a travelogue?

First there was the trip from Fredericton to Quizpamsis, New Brunswick, to meet my new friend Dale Cook, the artist responsible for the art show that was raising money and awareness for our organization…

Then there was the trip to Upham, New Brunswick to spend some time with Mariam, one of our board members who’s an Anglican priest in a delightful rural parish…

While there, I found time for a lovely, solitary afternoon jaunt in the woods on a bright and snowy day…

When I returned from my jaunt, I discovered that a friendly cat had himself at home in my luggage…

The next day was a grey but still lovely trip to New Minas, Nova Scotia (in the Annapolis Valley)…

 In New Minas I’m staying with more delightful hosts (I’ve been very lucky on this trip!), Randy and Brenda (Randy volunteers for our organization.)

And as I’ve learned in the past, hanging out with Randy always means adventure, great conversation, and meeting some of the fascinating people he surrounds himself with. A morning with the wonderful artist Regina Coupar on the South Shore certainly didn’t disappoint. We were gifted with an impromptu lesson in preparing tiles for the kind of mosaic art she’s been working on lately… (I will probably write more about that visit in a future post – it was a truly inspiring few hours in the studio of an amazing artist and deep thinker.)

Then there was lunch in Chester with Randy, Regina, John, and our special guest, Flat Madeline…

That evening, there was a visit to the new bakery that will (when it’s open) be selling a special loaf of bread as a fundraiser for our organization.

Today I’ve been gifted with a free day, since the journey to PEI did not materialize (due to bad weather). In the morning, we visited a magical local bookstore (for some local flair for my children’s Christmas gifts) and a couple of other shops, and then had a leisurely lunch. Tonight my gracious hosts are treating me to an evening of live theatre.

Tomorrow I head back to New Brunswick for the final stop on my tour. I’ll be spending some time with a new provincial volunteer, and then I’ll be on my way home.

What a grand adventure it has been!  Who says you can’t have fun on a business trip?

Embracing my inner art-lovin’ peace-lovin’ hippie

It’s been a full and exhausting week, but oh the good things that have come in the midst of all this craziness!  To cap off the goodness, I won the bid on this AMAZING bag from Joyce, and now I can truly embrace the peace-lovin’ hippie in me!

How perfect is it that I’m buying a peace-sign bag from re-purposed fabric in support of justice and food for the people of Darfur!?! Everything about it just screams “this is meant to be Heather’s bag!” I hope to have it in time for my east coast tour next week (Joyce lives a half hour from me), ’cause I’ll be able to tell myself I’m just a free-spirited hippie out to convene with mother nature and a community of other hippies on the coast. Smile.

If you haven’t checked out Joyce’s Darfur Project yet, then WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! Go there NOW. Bid on a bag. (It’s okay – go –  I’ll still be here when you get back.) Bookmark it for future reference, and keep going back.  I kept forgetting to visit until it was too late to bid on the bags I wanted, but it turned out to be serendipitous, because I showed up at just the right time to buy the bag that is my favourite of the bags I’ve seen so far (and she makes lots of cool bags).

While I’m wandering the East Coast with my hippie bag, one of the coolest things I’ll be doing is visiting the artist Dale Cook in New Brunswick. Dale is putting on an art show in support of the organization I work for (Canadian Foodgrains Bank), and some of her paintings are based on my photos from India and Bangladesh.  Here’s one of my favourites from a photo I took in India. Isn’t it beautiful?

I SO wish I could afford to buy it, but with kids who’ve suddenly outgrown winter coats and boots at the same time AND have this ridiculous expectation that they’ll get Christmas presents (sheesh), that would prove to be a little difficult. Hopefully it will go to a good home. 🙂  Check out Dale’s blog here.

I’ve got lots of other fun things lined up for my trip, including lunch and a studio visit with another artist/writer in Nova Scotia (whom I’ve admired from afar since I learned about her a few years ago and I’m in awe that I get to meet her face to face), and a meal in a restaurant/bakery that’s developed a special bread recipe that they’re dedicating to the Foodgrains Bank (every loaf they sell will support the work of ending hunger overseas).  Plus I get to stay with my friend Randy (who gave me my triple spiral necklace on my last visit), and some other people that I really like (and expect to like once I meet the ones I’ve only spoken to on the phone so far) in three of the Atlantic Provinces.

It’s a good life for a peace-lovin’, art-lovin’, bread-lovin’, people-lovin’, justice-lovin’ hippie!

Home again

After 2 nights in Montreal (well, one was only half a night, since I got there really late, after a couple of mishaps at the airport delayed the flight, and then the cab driver got lost in Montreal), a train ride to Toronto, and then a few hours in Toronto, I am home.

– The meeting in Montreal was good. People were gracious and kind. They even laughed at my attempt to be funny, and they lapped up the free prizes and even applauded me. There was simultaneous translation for the workshop, so I spoke in English and some of the people heard “me” in French. And vice versa for the questions. I am in awe of anyone who can hear one language and speak in another language at essentially the same speed as the person delivering the message.

– The train ride was lovely. I wrote a bit, slept a bit, listened to music a bit, and stared out the window a lot. Purely delightful.

– I am really not very good at shopping. I know that sounds lame – shopping shouldn’t take any particular skills – just go into a store and buy something. But I wandered around downtown Toronto for a few hours, thinking I’d get a good start on Christmas shopping, and I came home with nothing. I just kept finding myself back in the bookstore or coffee shop, seeking solace from the craziness of Christmas shoppers.

– I got home late last night, long after Maddie was sleeping. This morning, she was pleasantly surprised to find me in bed. She crawled under the covers with me and said “the country where you went on your trip must be a warm country, because you’re nice and warm.” Smile.

– Fortunately I had better luck today when I went shopping. I managed to complete almost all my Christmas shopping with one trip to Ten Thousand Villages. Yay for fair trade.

– There is a lot of snow in Montreal. Downtown, with its sparkly Christmas lights and mountains of snow looks like a winter wonderland. (Maybe I’ll get some pictures downloaded tomorrow.)

– I’ve had enough business trips for awhile. Fortunately, the next one will be to a much more exotic place than the last ones have been.

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