Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Change

Matriarch Bear
on her 96th birthday
Still beautiful at 96, eh? 

Matriarch Bear
bonding with Papa Bear

Today, as you read this, I am on my way out of town.  To visit Mother Bear - the 96 year old matriarch of our clan.  The reason I'm here to write this blog - or rather one of the reasons - the other being my father.  Duh!

A very active woman all her life, she taught me that legs were meant for walking and proved it all during my formative years.  At the tender age of 80 she could - and did - still walk me under the table.  Gasping for breath, I was too embarrassed to ask her to slow down!  I mean, who wants to admit that she can't keep up with her 80 year old mother?

An avid gardener.  A "crafty" woman.  By that I mean a person who loves to do crafts.  She taught me to embroider when I was around the age of eight or nine.  A chocoholic (come on, everyone has to have their vices, right?).   She lived through WWI, the Great Depression, served in the WAVEs (Navy) during WWII.  She has seen the world and culture change around her - as have the other residents at the residence.  Lived through pieces of history you and I can only read about in history books.

Although Matriarch Bear has had to slow down in the last few years, she is still active and alert.  Capable of moments of whimsy.  Living in her own little apartment in the beautiful, little megalopolis of Fairport, NY which is located just outside of Rochester NY alongside the Erie Canal.  A picturesque place to visit - and to live.

The "queen" (for a day) wearing her
birthday crown
So, this week I will be a resident at an enriched seniors' residence - living with Matriarch Bear, eating in the dining room with her and the other residents, sharing camaraderie with the staff - and generally having fun.

My blog postings this week will celebrate life with seniors.

Come with me.  Sit back in your arm chair.  And enjoy....

Still mischievous too
(hmmmm ... and everyone wonders where I get it from?????

Friday, March 30, 2012

Part Two of Recovery ...

... from re-inventing self to re-inventing relationships ...

... is where the fun begins.
This is the point where the underground, the foundation, work has pretty much been accomplished.  The visible part of the construction - or rather re-construction - project is starting to go up.  The self-esteem is starting to change from extremely negative to cautiously positive.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  But still a change - a viable, almost imperceptibly visible change - in process.  While still fragile, it is there ... growing, budding, starting to set its first ever buds which will then bloom and reveal what kind of plant the recoveree is in the process of becoming.
This is the place where others began to see the change in me ... and began to respond to the changes they saw.  Again, because the visible changes happened slowly, so did the re-inventing of relationships.  Slowly.  One step at a time.
Again, as with the rest of my recovery process, the work on relationships hopped and skipped all over the map. Working at one point on my relationship with the Bear who is now my best friend - Papa Bear, my spouse of over 31 years.  Then abruptly, the focus on relationships would skip over to my long-suffering sibling, Sister Bear.  Back to Papa Bear.  Throw in the bear cubs here and there.  Along with assorted other members of the den.

Back and forth.  Interweaving relationships so that they began to form an incredibly intricate tapestry in my life.

 As I'm still working on the process of recovery, the tapestry is still in the process of becoming.  Thread by thread.  Some colours vibrant - reds, blues, golds; others muted - greys, pale yellows, soft blues; and then there are the dark ones - black, dark brown.  Harsh in their starkness.  Yet blended strategically into the weave and warp of the cloth, the contrast is striking.  The tapestry would not, could not, be complete without all of these various threads.
And with that, I leave you for another day.  To weave in the threads of your various experiences as they occur.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trauma - on the journey towards recovery

Leaving Pittsford, NY on the Colonial Belle

Looking back at Pittsford, NY
as we cruise down the
Erie Canal
The Erie Canal
Pittsford, NY
Recovery is hard work.  At times, brutal in its intensity.  At times, especially at the beginning when the foundational blocks are being laid in the underground of the survivor of trauma, unseen.  Unheralded.  Not realized.

For me, recovery has not been a straight line on one path but rather unscheduled sidetrips or forays from one area to another crisscrossing randomly back and forth.  Up.  Down.  Sideways. Diagonal.  With no apparent rhyme or reason.

Ahoy, Mates!
Here comes the Colonial Belle
At one point, I was accused of being "all over the map" in a dialogue - which the person then terminated.  This accusation forced me to really look at my recovery - with the help of my therapist.

My recovery has indeed been all over the map.  There's not been any rhyme or reason to it.  Definitely not straight forward.  Yet all the components have blended together to form a whole.  Interrelated blocks bound together in a common them.  Recovery.

First - and foremost - came the changing relationship with myself.  From a person who would stand in front of the mirror and call herself stupid to a person who can now stand in front of the mirror and say good things about herself.  Make wry or comic faces.  Tell herself that God indeed loves her.

At some point, realizing who was significant in my life.  And who was not.
Low Bridge
Everybody Down

Realizing what my strengths - and weaknesses - were.

Realizing what Papa Bear's strengths - and weaknesses - were.

Beginning to accept me for who I am and like me anyway.

Accepting Papa Bear for who he is.

Re-inventing relationships - one at a time.  Slowly.  Painfully.

Re-entering my relationship with God.  Learning who He is.  Learning to thank Him.  Re-learning how to talk to him.  Learning to trust Him.  All these steps were individual processes on the continuum.  Together, they've taken years - and are still on-going.

Forgiving.  What is it?  How do I forgive those who have hurt me so badly?  What comes first?  Forgiving or healing?  Can the person I need to forgive demand it?  Is that what forgiveness is all about?  A carte blanche, absolution for the perpetrator?  Or is it something more?  Something deeper?  Something healing?  What is forgiveness really?

PTSD?  Trauma?  What are they?  How do they affect me?  Am I really dealing with PTSD?

Recognizing major traumas in my life.

Learning that trust was destroyed big-time.  Re-building trust.

Researching all these various issues at one time or another.  In one form or another.

Building the blocks.  The foundation.  Always the foundation.

Skyline of Rochester, NY
These and more, I struggled with on an alternating basis.  Each one dominated my thoughts while I was processing them.  I would work through one area only to be presented with another area to work through.

Juggling all these balls at the same time.

No wonder I got tired.  Bone tired sometimes.

No wonder as I continue on, I still get bone tired, and even weak, sometimes.

Yet, the process, the hard work, the energy expended has been, and continues to be, well worth the outcome.

Even though I am still in recovery, I have reached a point where life is generally good.

Where I discover joy in the journey.  Where I anticipate new vistas opening up just around the corner.

In the lock
Looking up
Going up
I look forward to seeing you again tomorrow.

 Remember:  Life.Is.Good.

And don't you forget it!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Learning as I Grow ....

Following up on yesterday's blog re: things I have learned.

I'e learned that the only person I can change is myself.

Change.  Not of others.  Forget the others.  Do they really matter in the universal scheme of things? Some, yes.  Those who are closest to me:  Papa Bear, the cubs, the grandcubs, others in the extended family in my particular den.  But what about the others?  Those who have passed through my life journey at some time or another.  Been on the stage of my life either as major performers or bit players and then exited?  Those I went to high school with 45 years ago?  Those I shared coffee with in university?  My mates at Language school?  The other missionaries I laboured with in a small town on the Texas-Mexican border?  Workmates from various employment scenarios?  Most of these players have gone on to perform on other stages.  Taking over other parts.  Significant in others' lives.

I've learned in my journey that before any relationship can have a chance of changing, I have to change myself.  Changing myself is not based on superficial changes but on the deep healing of recovery from major events, traumas in my life.  Verbal abuse.  Molestation.  Schoolyard bullying.  Becoming a co-dependent at an early age.  Battered and bruised self esteem.  Etc.  The list goes on.  Change in relationships began with recovery in me.

The first step in this life-changing journey of recovery and change began with the simple realization that I was many things, but stupid was not one of them.  The journey began with the realization that all my life I had thought of myself as stupid, as lacking.  Believing a lie.  But if I was not stupid, then what was I?  And so the journey began.  Not one tall leap over a building in a single bound, but rather very small, baby steps.  Excruciatingly small.  Excruciatingly difficult.  Painful.  One at a time.  Followed by another.  And then another.  Agonizing in their slowness.  Yet permanent features of the new me:  the recovering Mama Bear.

I began to look inside myself, beyond the surface layers of fur, to determine who I really was.  What are my strengths?  My weaknesses?  As part of this process, I came to a life-changing realization:  focus on the strengths.  Build on them.  Recognize the weaknesses for what they are, but don't focus on them.  Why?  Well, for example, I'm not good at math.  Never have been.  Never will be.  So why waste time on something I cannot change?  That will ultimately waste precious energy?  I recognize that it's there, but I don't stress about it.  Agonize over it.  I simply accept that weakness for what it is.  Part of the composite picture of who I am.  Others can do the math for me.  (I thank God almost daily for the person who invented the calculator!)

I focus now on the things I can do that others cannot.  Write.  Photography.  Crochet.  Knit.  Care about others.  Etc.

Focus.  When I take a picture, I am focussing on something that is, at that moment in time and space, capturing my attention.  It dominates the scene of my focus.

The series on the right is of the Skywheel in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Every time I visit the Falls, this gigantic wheel captures my attention.  It dominates the scene.  Towering over everything.

So it is with my focus during recovery.  One object at a time.

At one very early point in my journey towards recovery, someone said to me:  "I've learned something you haven't learned:  you can't change anyone."  It wasn't said in a reflective sort of way.  It was very much a put down.  A cut off.  Nasty.  Defensive.  Justifying actions that in reality had no justification.

I've learned two things.  One is how very true that comment is.  I cannot change anyone else.  I don't have that power.  Nor should I.

However, I have learned something much more profound.  While I cannot change others, there is one person I can change.  One very important person.  Myself.

My journey towards recovery has been and continues to be very much about change.  Changing the way I think.  The way I perceive myself.  The way I perceive life.  The way I perceive others.  The way I perceive God.

My journey towards recovery has been humbling at times as I realized that I had given more importance to people who should not have been that important in my life, those bit players on the stage of my life, while, at the same time, devaluing those significant people in my life who should have been important, the major co-stars on the stage of my life, the bears who inhabit my den and are bound to me by blood and/or marriage.  The truly humbling part was sitting down with each of these significant bears in order, beginning with Papa Bear, then proceeding on to the cubs in birth order, and telling them that.  I told each one that I was not only aware that I had devalued them but that I was sorry for doing so and that, from that point on, I intended to put them first in my life, value them.

That was hard.  Very hard.

Yet, it has also been very rewarding. The start of a new relationship with each one.

I also learned through this phase of my recovery, that while I cannot change others, relationships can change as others respond to the changes within me.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I've Learned ...

A few years ago, I wrote a list of things that I've learned in the journey.  Things that make the journey worthwhile.  That compel me to continue on this road I'm on - despite all the twists and turns.  The unexpected.

Today I want to share with you a fragment of this list.  Because I get tired.  Really tired in this journey.  Frustrated at the unexpected downturns on the road.  Discouraged.  I need a reminder to keep me going.  To propel me further on this journey I'm on.  And what better than something I wrote years ago which is still as true today as the day I put thought to paper (or rather computer in this case).
  • I've learned that good can come out of bad. 
  • I've learned that the relationships that are the most important to me are my family.
  • I've learned that my husband does care for me; he may not understand me or know what to do in certain situations but he does love me.
  • I've learned to value, honour and respect my husband.  In turn, he is responding in kind
  • I've learned to put the crocheting or the book down and talk with my husband.
  • I've learned to pay attention when he wants to talk about things that don't really interest me because they do interest him and that shows that I value him
  • I've learned that the only person I can change is myself.  But when I change myself, others change towards me as a result.
As you can see, my journey towards recovery has had everything to do with working on my own issues, my own self, my own identity and nothing really to do with changing or working on anyone else.  The change in others, in my relationships with them, has been a by-product of the change occurring within me.

My recovery has everything to do with relationships, how they can and do change when the focus is taken off them and their own (perceived) shortcomings and put squarely on the only person who really matters - the one doing the recovery.  Myself.

My recovery is all about me.  No one else.

Life, though, is not all about me.

There's a difference.

I've been blessed beyond belief with many people who, as they saw the changes taking place within me, responded to them.

I've been blessed with re-inventing not only myself but also relationships of those close to me.

Re-living this list brings me back to focus.  To focus on the healing.  The recovery.  The journey.

It gives me hope and renews my flagging strength to take one more step towards recovery.

To continue on.

See you tomorrow.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Problem ...

... with having a really good blog post one day is ... how can I follow that act?  How can today's blog possibly follow yesterday's?
Dawn on Lake Opeongo, Algonquin Provincial Park

My perception, assumption and opinion is that the last blog on Joy is my best creative writing to date.

What's more is; I had fun writing it.  The endorphins fully active and engaged as I looked through my pictures of that walk.  Remembered the peace, comfort and companionship.  Those remembrances soothed my soul like a balm.

"Joy" more or less wrote itself.  Flowed from my carpel tunneled fingertips almost flawlessly.  Only minor revisions needed - mostly typos (due to those numb, tingly fingertips).

The topic was also more of a surface layer.  Giving me a respite from the deep stuff.  The hard work going on continuously under the surface.  The part that is vital to recovery, but never seen by others.  The part less understood.  The part only those closest to me even have a clue about.  The part that is so hard to write about.  So revealing.  Intimate.

Not only was the unexpected respite part of the mystery and joy, but also the time of camaraderie and companionship with someone who has been walking with me step by dragging step through the deep stuff.  The smelly stuff.  The dog doo of emotions and emotional healing.

Growth in the hard places
I've been in a place these last few days where I'm not ready to go back to the deep stuff, the pain, the journey towards healing.  On one hand, I feel relaxed; on the other I feel tired, weak, listless, apathetic from the hard work.  Needing to lie down both physically and emotionally and take a long, much needed nap.

Emotionally and blog-wise, I'm on the emotional equivalent of a big, sunny rock in a scenic place, a good book on my lap, my camera by my side. Allowing myself to bask in the peace, that place, that this space provides.

Allowing myself a respite, a healing, soothing place before the intensity of coping with the trauma and its affects intervenes once again.  Demanding my time, attention and energy.

It will intervene once again.  With all its drama and pain, it will come again.  When it does, I'll be fresh and ready from my brief emotional vacation to attack the issues anew.  Refreshed.
A place to rest and refresh
in the midst of a sometime painful

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


 I interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to present an urgent bulletin:  JOY is possible in the midst of  PTSD and latent affects of severe stress.  I repeat:  JOY IS POSSIBLE.

This. Is. Not. A. Test.

Today I share with you a joyful experience I had accidentally yesterday with a longtime friend who has become a cherished encourager during this period of my life.  She is in many ways my spiritual mentor sharing Biblical insights with me, praying for me, encouraging me.
pussy willows
 Yesterday, we went for a walk together.  Along the banks of the Grand River in the Bridgeport area of Kitchener where I live and dwell and have my being.  I had no idea what a treat this would turn out to be for my friend as this walk is as common to me as the couch in my living room.  A hop, skip and jump from my home.  Or to be more precise:  down my driveway, across the street, across a field and Voila! there I is!
a red-winged blackbird
It turned out to be a very special time of sharing.  Sharing a place which is common to me yet my friend never knew existed.  She termed it my "personal conservation area".   An area where I can go any time I choose to find peace.  A concept that I ironically had never even thought of.  I shared this area with her.  She, in turn, shared her unique perspective of it with me.  My first indication that this was going to be a special time was when we first arrived at the river bank.  Looking down from the dike (flood control), she exclaimed that if she lived where I do she would come often, sit down on the bank and dangle her feet over the edge and just sit there and meditate on the goodness of God.  (and I was thinking, "Geez, I wish I'd of thought of that.")

leaves starting to come out
 Then as we walked further, she spotted a pussy willow.  Just a moment later she shared with me her joy at seeing the first red-winged blackbird of the season, followed closely by her excitement at seeing the first leaves poking out.
a couple - common merganzers
Then, I got to share with her my love of the fauna along the river.  In this case, two members of a colony of common merganser ducks which inhabited this section of the river this year.  I've seen Mallards before.  They're common along this stretch of the river.  Ditto seagulls and Canada geese.  But until this year, I've never seen common Mergansers on this stretch of the river.  So I took delight in showing them off.  Sharing something special with my friend.
view through my cane from our riverside bench
 This weak I have been very weak.  Monday I was basically bedridden until 2 p.m., so our walk was cut short by my weakness.  BUT ... my friend had spied a bench.  To her that was special.  To me, I pass it every time I walk that route.  I pass it by regularly, never giving it a thought.
nesting pair of Canada geese
 So, between my weakness and her desire to sit and enjoy this time together, we sat down companionably on the bench on the dike overlooking the River Grand.  We shared a devotional my ever practical friend had brought along with her.  We shared experiences as only two friends can.  Right across from us was this pair of Canada geese.  Occasionally as we chatted I would take pictures of these two.  Enjoying this special time of sharing both the Scripture and our mutual fascination for and love of nature.
seagull in action - a common scene for me
As we sat there, birds flew by.  The only one I caught on the digital version of film was this seagull.  Other high ... and low ... flyers were pairs of Canada geese and a bird of some variety flying over our heads with a twig in its beak ready to make a nest.

The path
The peace, the tranquility permeated my soul.  I felt content.  A sense of well-being.  Finally, we needed to move on and return back to our normal lives.

the first garter snake I've ever seen on the path
trust my friend to have spied it!
 Heading back, we shared another unexpected, special moment as my sharp-eyed friend spotted this teeny weeny garter snake.  What fun we had snapping his/her picture!  A shared moment between friends which neither of us had anticipated

and, of course, he (or she) had to pose for us
I snapping the moment for posterity - and other possible purposes - on my 30x optical zoom Canon while my friend used her Blackberry.
Peaceful, eh?
And then just as it was time for us to head back across the field leading to the street and my driveway, we came across the final peaceful moment of the walk.

Joy. Comes. In. Those. Shared. Intimate. Moments. Between. Friends.

JOY.  Look for it today in your life.  It's there.  Waiting for you to find it.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the river calling my name ....

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Phrases I Hate ....

As a survivor of trauma and one getting an "experiential graduate degree" (not offered in any college, university, etc.) in the land in PTSD, its affects, its peculiarities and recovery from, I have been through more than my share of secondary wounding; phrases people utter which wound the recovering trauma survivor as much or more than the initial incident.  I call these people Job's comforters for while their phrases and advice sound good at face value, they're missing the mark bigtime.  Without even realizing how far off base they are.  They mean well ... BUT....

Secondary wounding, in my experience, is not usually intended to hurt.  I believe that rather than being intentional, it is because many people honestly do not know how to encourage and support people like me.  More so, they are uncomfortable hearing our stories.  They simply don't understand.  Period.  And they figure that once they're heard something, they're done.  Why should the traumatized person be so insistent on repeating themselves?  On reliving the trauma over and over again?  Why can't Suzanne just move on and be done with it?  And so they come out with something that they think will help.  Only instead they leave me with more guilt; feeling judged, cut off, with one less person to bear my stretcher when I'm down for the count.  When I'm lying figuratively on the floor, gasping for breath, begging for help.

Here is a list of some of the phrases which have cut off communication and left me feeling more judged and more powerless:
  • "let it go...."  This was the phrase I heard frequently for the 18 month period in 2005 and 2006 between the initial trauma and getting help.  The person would then walk away, leaving me left alone with the trauma, with feelings I didn't understand.  Feeling judged.  Feeling alone.  Feeling violated but not knowing why.  Frankly, I did not know why I couldn't move on.  I wished these people would give me a "how to get there from point A to point B" diagram, but they didn't.  They couldn't.  These were just words.  Perhaps well-meaning words.  But words nonetheless.  They  made the speaker feel better, but left me feeling worse.  Left me with the questions:  "Why couldn't I move on?  What was preventing me?"  It wasn't until one person listened to my story and said:  "I think you have PTSD" that things started to change.  And then very slowly.
  • "you just need to move on...."  I know that already yet.  This phrase has been a recurrent theme in this second half of my journey to recovery:  post severe stress situation culminating in 2011.  The problem is, moving on without recovery is not beneficial.  I need to work through my feelings, the horror of what happened, the injustice.  I need to lean into the pain.  To fully face the horror before I can move on in a healthy fashion ... and for that I need your support.  I need to be able to tell my story as I live through it.
  • "just forgive those who have hurt you" (usually thrown at faith-based people like myself by other faith-based people who mean well ...  BUT just don't get it)....  I want to forgive them but something is hindering me.  I don't know what.  I've made the decision to forgive but it's just not happening - yet.  Give me a diagram.  Tell me how to get there from here.  Don't leave me dangling feeling unworthy and judged.  Feeling unloveable.  Help me.
  • "moving forward...."  This was a favorite phrase of a significant person during the severely stressful episode.  It's like sweeping the dust under the furniture.  And about as healthy and helpful.  It just doesn't work.  Because the dust is still there, lying under the bed, getting worse instead of better.  Eventually, it will need to be dealt with.  Swept into the dustbin and disposed of.    Issues not dealt with do not magically disappear, they only grow worse with time and neglect.  
  • "maybe the other person ... had a bad day, feels this, thinks this, etc..."  (fill in the blank).   When I heard people saying these things to me, I felt that I was being short-changed.  Judged.  Not valued.  Not listened to.  Especially when they came from significant others during the situation.  I felt that the perpetrator was being supported and validated, not me.  I felt like their feelings and opinions mattered more than my own.  I felt that the other person was being supported, not me.  When someone is supporting me, it doesn't matter what the other person involved in the trauma may think or feel.  They're not the ones in need of your support.  Let them get their own supporters, their own network.  I need you to be there for me.
  • "I don't know.  I wasn't there...."  No, you weren't there. And you don't know.  But do you have to have been there in order to walk with me?  To support me?  To encourage me?  To prop up my leaning side?  If I was the victim of a terrorist attack, a car accident, etc., would you say that to me when I'm talking about the horrors of the incident?  No, you weren't there.  You don't know.  You cannot comprehend the absolute horror I faced.  You should count yourself very fortunate that you weren't. 
  • "I understand...."  Like HEdoublehockeysticks you do!  Other than the fact that this phrase sounds patronizing ... it is also blatantly insulting and untrue.  Unless you've been there, done that, got the t-shirt and didn't like the fit, you cannot possibly have even a glimmer of understanding of what I'm facing.  And the sad fact is that even if you have been in a similar situation, since no two situations are identical, you still cannot totally understand.  
So there is my rant for today.  Having got this off my chest - finally - I will now climb down off my purple, smiley-face decorated soapbox and go back into hibernation ... until the next post.

See you then ....

Friday, March 16, 2012

A few of ...

... my favorite things:

  • listening to the rain pitter-patter on the roof while snuggled warm and dry in my bed.  Being nestled inside my down-filled sleeping bag in the tent while camping - especially backcountry camping, again warm and dry, is even better...
  • sharing those close, intimate moments (and I'm NOT talking about sex here, cubs) with my best friend and spouse...
  • listening to music - all kinds from Celtic to classical to comedy (you gotta dig the Arrogant Worms - and their Canadian, too. Bonus!) and pretty well everything in between - well maybe not everything as I'm not into rock (unless it's the rock of the '50s and 60s which I grew up with) or hiphop or ... well, I think you get the picture...
  • watching Celtic Thunder on DVD (dig those butt shots ... ummmm ... ummmm ... I mean choreography.  Right.  Choreography.)...
  • reconnecting with friends and others I'd grown away from...
  • cooking - enjoying Papa Bear come home from a hard day's work, sniff the air and say "It smells like someone loves me" ...
  • campfires while camping; bonfires at home...
  • sunsets - especially when I'm alone with Papa Bear at an isolated spot beside a lake camera at the ready...
  • times with family...
  • the voices of children playing outside the window (not mine but the neighbours - the children I mean, not the window) ... 
  • shared laughter...
  • reading a good book - especially if it's about knitting...
  • learning to knit - I get a thrill seeing something come to life below my needles.  I get a sense of victory at reading a pattern correctly and seeing the project through to completion.  I enjoy being able to jab the other bear in the den with my needles when he becomes irritating...
  • crocheting ... again the wonderment of seeing something grow and take on form and shape.  The wonder of creation.  The joy of seeing the pleasure in another bear's eyes when he or she receives the finished project.  The sense of accomplishment.  The sense of value at being able to contribute something worthwhile to others while being physically and mentally "down for the count"...
These are only a few of my favorite things ... the things that give me moments of pleasure in the daily grind of life ... the daily grind of dealing with the disconnects, altered abilities of trauma, PTSD, severe stress ... the moments which give me a sense of who I once was, who I am now, who I will be in the future once recovery is completed.  These are the things which make waking up in the morning and striving towards recovery bearable.  These are the things that keep me going....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In the spring of the year ...

... my mind turns to summer. From there it journeys to vacation possibilities.  Where we will go this year?  What new adventure will we have?  And then I start to look through my pictures of previous years.  Places visited.  Memories of good times.  Memories of adventures.  Memories of close encounters with Papa Bear.  Memories ....

And so my mind wanders back to memories of the first day of our vacation last year, 2011.  First stop on our two weeks of wandering around Northern Ontario was Tobermorey, Ontario on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula.  Where Lake Huron and Georgian Bay meet.  Labour Day weekend in a tourist area.  Crowded.  Noisy.  But still undeniably beautiful.  There is a wildness there, sometimes hidden, sometimes not.  A place we have been many times in the past.  A place which still delights us.
Unknown to both Papa Bear and myself, I was experiencing the first wave of the latent affects of severe stress expressing themselves in extreme fatigue, weakness, lack of balance.

I say unknown to me, because while I knew that physically I wasn't feeling well, I thought that getting away from home, getting some rest, doing the things I enjoy, taking pictures and more pictures and more pictures would cure me of my symptoms.  At that time, I had no idea that my physical condition would continue to get worse, until I had no choice but to go to bed and stay there ... for as long as it took to get grounded again.

Yet, even with all the physical problems, we still had a good time.  Papa Bear has, as noted previously, been a brick.  A solid presence in my storm.  My anchor.  Even, if you will indulge a flight of fancy, my lighthouse in the darkness of my night.

Realizing how tired and shaky I was, we bought sandwiches at the local food mart and took them to the lighthouse point where Papa Bear found a secluded spot, sheltered from people, where we could eat, relax, be alone together and just watch; letting the beauty of the place take over our senses.

The entire Tobermorey area, especially on the Georgian Bay side, is littered with rocky outcroppings.  This is one of the reasons that I love to visit this area, which happens to be only some three or four hours from our den.

From our secluded vantage point, nestled among the rocks, I could see - and take pictures of - the various scenery, watch the people float past, see the boats going to and fro - some out into the lake; others coming back past us to port in Little Tub Harbour.

Behind me, the lighthouse, now disused, paint peeling but still standing tall and strong dominating the strip of land, rose like the beacon in distress that it once was.

In this place, at this time, I felt secure.  Loved.  Protected.  Safe.  Physically wrecked but still able to enjoy the moment.

And isn't that what life is really all about?  Enjoying the moment?  No matter the circumstances?  Finding beauty, peace, serenity wherever and whenever it presents?  Not only in the tranquil moments and places, but also in the wildness?  Amongst the craggy rocks of our existence?  With the people we truly love and who love us in return? 

Hmmm .... now where can the two bears go this year?