To The Moon

A new condominium appears on the horizon, inching above the scores of other such dwellings in my hometown, soon to be an eyesore at 55 floors high, the tallest in our city, so far.  Appropriately named The Sky.

The first high rise came when I was just a teen.  With shaky legs my friends and I would venture to its roof to be wowed by the view.  At 24 floors high, this was dizzying to us bungalow dwellers.

My first apartment was at the nauseating height of two floors.  Still, I enjoyed seeing the tops of trees and bushes.  It was kind of interesting to look down on things.  Later, I moved half way up our high rise and this is far enough.  Gee whiz, I don’t even like flying, so to have my body many yards up off the ground as a living arrangement is a stretch.

However over time I appreciate things that land dwellers can’t.  Storms rolling in from miles away.  Beautiful sunsets across the hills.  Canada geese fly right by my balcony in the fall.  No bungalow dweller gets this!  And I have the best vantage to watch fireworks on notable holidays.

Yet, I look out and now see the ‘tower’ being built and realize it is about to set a precedent.  Eventually there will be so many my building will look like a bungalow!

As we move up I appreciate the sentiments of a construction worker who penned this on a new condo:

A Most Valuable Resource

Yesterday a tornado touched down in our city, only a few miles from where I live.  For a lot of people in the world, this is nothing, but this is an extremely rare, if ever, occurrence in my part of the world.

The result was a near city wide power outage.

Now, this has happened before, we’ve had power outages that were extremely long under dire circumstances, such as the ice storm, that was a matter of life and death for many people.  I was an able bodied person then and technology was not quite as booming as it is today.  Although during one hot August power outage I saw many people wandering around staring disbelievingly at blank phone screens, not knowing what to do.

But being disabled now, such power outages have a whole new meaning.

I stood at the elevators in my apartment complex with several other tenants, one a young woman on crutches, and none of us knew what to do.  I had also done grocery shopping and was burdened with my cart, as well as my cane.

The young girl suggested we all go over to the take out place across the street and eat.  We just looked at her and she persisted “But I have money!”

We take electricity so for granted that we don’t realize that it isn’t just a convenience, it is our entire way of living.  Without it, everything is wiped out.

After walking up 14 flights of stairs part way with my cart (then a nice young man took that up the rest of the way for me), I was now in an apartment, in the dark, with no running water, no way to cook a meal, nor warm my place.  I put my food into a warming refrigerator and realized all that food would soon perish.  I have canned food – but an electric can opener.  I have no water.  All the stores in the neighborhood are closed, nothing is functioning at all.

I was totally unprepared.  My cell phone was at less than 30% charged.  Even fully charged would it outlast a major power outage?

If I go anywhere, I would have to walk down the stairs and take a bus somewhere to buy water, if buses were still running, and then climb back all those stairs hauling a couple of heavy bottles.  All very fine if your legs are working properly.

I sit and wait.

Electricity has become our second most valuable resource (water probably tops this) and I wonder if we do enough to protect it.  Without electricity, virtually everything comes to a standstill, our entire way of living vanishes, we are lost.  You can’t buy anything.  You can’t get gas for your car.  You can’t charge your phone. It is a very frightening scenario, especially if you are laid low physically.  

The power station hit very close to me is just a structure so vulnerable to all the elements, completed exposed.  And this small place on a corner of 2 busy streets paralyzed 60% of the city.  This makes me a little more nervous.

I don’t profess to know much about how all this works, but I wonder if we could do something to protect this resource a wee bit more as it seems to be a sitting duck.

Meanwhile, the electricity came back on a little over 24 hours later and I have myself a big pot of tea.  All is well again.

Right At My Feet

When I first got inklings to write about joy I had no idea God would put me so thoroughly to the test.

However, the stiffer He has made my legs, the more joy I have found.  My sense of humour has returned.  I make jokes about myself because I am quite comical to watch.  And when you move at less than one mile per hour, you notice a lot of things.

There right at my feet, as I got off the bus, a shiny silver quarter (it took some doing to pick that up since I don’t bend!  Ah, the right motivation can accomplish great things.)  And next to it, struggling in a soil barren crack, a tiny plant tries to get a foothold. I spot a large purple daisy with a busy nectar finding bee.  A shadow of an overhead butterfly zig zags across the sidewalk,  challenging me to spot it.  I look up, and a rooftop seagull looks down at me.

I am amused by the smallest of things; a sparkly elevator floor, a workman’s footprints on our carpet, a fallen flower from my orchid.

Everything has become a photographic opportunity.

My existence like that episode of Star Trek (Wink of an Eye) where there are two versions of time. One is accelerated and buzzing around me like bees.  Fellow pedestrians zoom past me like mean flies, angry scowls on their faces.  I smile up at the sky.  I have become a simpleton.  I can no longer strive to do anything.  I no longer hurry to get anywhere.  No longer care about things of no interest to me.  Out of the rat race.

For a while I took a short hike into the badlands, got lost in myself and my problems, but today am returning to joy.

Life is a journey of inwards and outwards, like breathing.  For a spell I am self absorbed and ruminating, the next out in the sun with a friend talking about Trump.

Good and bad are options constantly available.  So look for and see the good, even when you’re in the midst of some heavy duty bad.  Some joy might be right at your feet!

Too Smug

“So how long does it take you to get dressed in the morning?” my friend asked me today.

“About a half hour of struggle.” I reply.

“I guess you’re not finding your joy these mornings.”

A startling statement!  True.  In fact, all my concentration has been on my poor hurting legs and all the effort I must now put forth to function.  Made me realize how quickly I have abandoned my dreams.  Perhaps I was too naive to casually tell people to ‘just make a half hour’ for your dreams.  This is all fine when you are fit; mentally and physically able.  But what if you are not?  What if you have constant pain?  What if the simplest things are monumental struggles?

There can be some huge obstacles standing in your way.  When faced with overwhelming challenges, not all of us have the ability to pursue our dreams. 

To be sure life is not fair or even kind at times.  Circumstances will favour you and then stab you in the back.  External things you can’t control for long, if ever.  Internal things, like your emotions can wreak havoc, and you might not ever harness your internal world and make it work for you.

Yes, it is way too smug to say all those cliches.  Just go do it.  If you want it bad enough you will find a way.  Nothing can stop you and yada, yada.  It is not always true.  Life can stop you cold.

We read about people who have overcome incredible challenges and succeed, because they are a rarity.  I don’t think everyone else is lazy or deficient.  I think it is way more complicated than that. 

If you have a challenge one of two things can happen.  It’ll either turn you away from your dreams or drive you harder into them.  And which way you go is dependent on so many factors that are unique to you and your life story.

If you learn of others who achieved their dreams despite themselves, you will find many different ways this was accomplished.  Some had family support, friends, money.  Others have incredible mental fortitude.  Some had a life changing moment, or they just made a decision.  Synchronicity and luck play roles.  Some learned how to change, how to adapt, how to find creative solutions.  Technology aided them. No two people are alike, and what may be nothing to one may be a huge problem to another.

It is too glib to say “Just go do it”.  Too smug.

Because not everyone has the ability.  Those tired cliches can burn holes in a good persons soul and make them feel inadequate, deficient, unworthy.

I am sorry I may have contributed to that mindset.

Having said all this however, I remain an optimist.  Perhaps a challenged person cannot make their dreams come true by themselves, but a global community of creative thinkers and doers can find innovative solutions to make those dreams come true in unconventional ways.  So put your dreams out there and ask for help.  You never know who has the answer.

Choose Life

She cornered me in the pharmacy and unleashed a long tale of woe.  She had legitimate problems, big problems, overwhelming problems!  When she finally came up for air, I posed the deadly question:

“So what solutions have you tried?”

She blinked twice, mouth agape.


Women don’t share to solve problems, we do it to bond.  We use negativity as an emotional bond.  We feel each others pain and commiserate.  This is an ugly side to negativity.  It disguises itself as friendship.

I had two friends that I met for coffee once a week.  Both of them had intense suffering in their lives, past and present.  Whenever I would try to steer the topic to even how beautiful the day is, I could not deflect the conversation for long.  I had to terminate those two friendships because I was gasping for air.

Some people label themselves with a negative.  They are their illness, past, addiction, habit, toxin.  They dismiss the good in themselves and their lives because a negative story is much more intense and interesting.  But after awhile, no one wants to hear it any more.

Negative can look positive.  You get a warm and fuzzy with your buddies after sharing your difficulties.  However, this escalates and becomes the focus of your friendships and will soon wear you out.  The more times you share a problem, the more negativity you will experience.

Negativity has to be fed, and boy, does it grow!

Toxic environments abound in offices, homes, relationships, businesses because negativity comes in so many disguises.  It looks legitimate.  It evokes a strong emotional reaction.  When emotions are high, people band together and feed the monster.  A strong emotion makes you think it is a correct way to feel and you are justified to act on it.

Or not.

The other sneaky thing about negativity, it goes hand in hand with procrastination.  It evokes anger and fear, which either causes you to take action (YAY!) or more often, despair.  In the face of overwhelming problems it can cause hopelessness and helplessness.  Not only does this feel legitimate, because, after all, how can one person solve all this, you are stopped dead.

I think Albert Einstein said a negative person finds a problem for every solution. Killer of hopes, dreams and aspirations it paralyzes you from taking any kind of step forward, because, hey, what’s the use?

Negativity also disguises itself as power. A person spewing toxins can have a false sense of being in control and powerful.  A negative person is a fearful person hiding it. They conceal the fact they do nothing.  Perhaps they either are unwilling or unable to, but being very knowledgeable and talking about problems makes them look good, like they are doing something.  A constant diet of books, documentaries and conversations about bad stuff weakens you, and everyone will suffer. Dwelling constantly on bad things demoralizes and poisons everyone you meet.  You may be an authority on your problem or the worlds problems, but you take no action other than to deflate everyone else.

Negative is not any more real than positive.  Pessimism is not more realistic than optimism.  Our lives and world consist of both tears and joy.  You get to choose which to focus on. 

Joy however, is strength.  It has many faces; beauty, creativity, inspiration, miracles, kindness, gratitude, and any other good thing you can think of.  It is found in nature.  It is found in the wondrous things man has created. When you focus on joy, you will be strong.  In the face of a crisis you will look for the good, the flower in the prison yard.  More good will come to you, because you are open to it.  You will take action.  You will have courage.  You will do.

So next time you are tempted down the path of negativity, stop and look at the beauty of the world.  The good in the world, in your own life.

God said “. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live . . .”  Deuteronomy 30:19