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Posts Tagged ‘heart’

‘First when there’s nothing but a slow glowing dream.’

The morning light has just broken over the lake. She glances across at the mirrored surface. It is a perfect day! Then she remembers and her heart sinks. There is much to do before she can grab her life jacket and head out the door. Frantic steps charge up and down the staircase.  The kid’s clothes are put out…..check. The baby sitter has been called……check. Breakfast is sorted……check. A willing husband mobilized…….check.

‘That your fear seems to hide deep inside your mind.’

 As I drove out towards Port Credit with sleepy eyes, I thought about our wonderful bunch of ladies……all thrown together in the pursuit of Dragon Boating. We rush down to the Sixteen Mile Creek each week and our patient coach gets us going. Starts and synchronization have been a challenge as we only managed four practices together over the last month. Was this enough to get us through the race? It was surely going to be a case of being ‘thrown out to the wolves.’ My stomach lurched as we made our way across the bridge.

I was in unfamiliar territory and the sight of the well versed crew next to us doing their early morning warm up unnerved me. They had obviously done this before! Stay focused I kept repeating to myself! Just enjoy the race……the words of our coach echoed in my head.

We were off.....

We were off…..

‘Close my eyes, feel the rhythm’

Life jackets on and oars selected we made our way down to our boat. Our drummer hopped in the front and smiled up at us. It was the most magnificent day and the outline of the lighthouse could just be made out through the arch of the bridge. The bright colours of our life jackets mirrored back at us from the clear water. The excitement and nervousness welled up in me. This is it.

“Paddles up! Take it away!”

The rhythm kicked in as we made our way down to the start. There was much maneuvering to keep us lined up at the buoy. We waited and tried not to notice our opponents. Just keep focusing…… Then came the familiar voice of our coach.

Sit up!

Ready, ready…..and we were off. One, two, three……the counting of the first short strokes drummed in our heads. We had to keep together and to feel the rhythm. Then the next ten strokes and we watched each other to keep in time. It was all about being in that moment. We pulled and watched and pulled.  The next ten strokes passed by in a flash. We were now on the home stretch.

‘What a feeling. Being is believing.’

Shouts went out……. we had made it! Our race was over. It had been significant as it had been a first for many of us. We had not been the first to pip the post but so much more had been gained by us all. We had learnt new skills, pushed ourselves and shared our common interest.We had felt like a team.  

The dragon boaters.....Thursday group

The dragon boaters…..Thursday group

 As I walked through the front door that afternoon my bronze medal caught the light of the fading sun.

 

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The creamy heart floats to the surface in my coffee cup. It is Valentine’s Day and I notice the faces sitting huddled together. They had also come into the restaurant to get away from the cold. There were old friends catching up and couples catching a quick chat during their lunch break ‘without the children.’ There was a stern looking business man who had emails to send. He never once looked up to admire the glamorous blond who was perched on her seat opposite him. In fact he never noticed anyone and just sat with his eyes glued to his computer. Poor man, he was missing all the nuances and the ambiances of the day. He might as well have stayed in his car with a takeout coffee and the heater switched on.  The dark haired man made up for it though as he surveyed the tall brunette who had just swished through the glass doorway. She had the collar of her plaid coat pulled up and her scarf fell casually over her shoulder. She looked like someone who had just walked out of the pages of Country Life. Her eyes met his and she quickly turned and found a seat near the window. She fumbled in her handbag and eventually found what she was looking for…..her cell phone. It appeared as if she had an appointment to keep.

 

A Valentine's surprise.

A Valentine’s surprise.

 

 I am fortunate to have the time to ‘people watch’ and I love it! A corner seat in my favourite café and a latte is all I need. It is the ‘me time’ that I savour and my escape.  My observations of others, as they go about their daily lives, teaches me much about life and myself.

I twist my soft scarf around my neck and pull the fur lined hood over my head. It is time to head out into the cold streets…….back to reality.

 

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All geared up and ready to go!

All geared up and ready to go!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The amazing ski patrol.

The amazing ski patrol.

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPC2Fp7IT7o

 

The air was crisp and the white snow- covered hills beckoned. It was a fairyland out there! This was our second winter in Canada and I prepared myself for another round of skiing. I had been suitably decked out with all the right gear which included my recent thermals and a helmet. I could not persuade the men in the family to omit this piece of equipment. It pressed my ears and felt like a potty perched on my head.  My snug fur hat would have been my first choice! I felt the excitement rise as I penguin walked out of the club house. With my skis nonchalantly perched on my shoulder, I made my way to the beginner’s slopes.  I certainly had no illusion of my prowess on skis.

There was a flutter of panic as I realized I would have to master the ski lift before I could test my skiing skills. Leaning forward, bending my knees and the stopping method of ‘pizza slice’ was all that I had run through to refresh my mind. I had forgotten about the fact that I would first have to get up the hill! My son kindly accompanied me and explained the process of ‘alighting from the lift.’ Remember to push off from the seat! The first attempt was a snow plough of my head into the snow. The second try involved me falling backwards on my rear.  Fortunately the snow was fluffy and soft. I was not having much success with this jolly ski lift! I must add that I did manage to recall some of the skiing maneuvers from the previous year. I gingerly applied these skills and made my way down the slope. So I had at least accomplished the first hurdle. I could still remember how to ski! The ski lift swung around the corner…..third time lucky! We jumped on and made our way up. My heart thumped as I ran through all the tips that I needed to follow. What was the worst that could happen?

The lift approached the icy landing and I braced myself. I duly pushed off but as my skis touched the landing, I slipped. My tall ungainly frame flew and my right arm cart wheeled round to break my fall. There are few disadvantages to being tall and this was one of them! My arm did not reach the ground but collided with the ski lift instead. I just lay there for a second or two. I knew I had broken my arm as I could feel it…… the numbness and then a warm surge. I had seen enough broken bones in my years as a teacher and one look at the disfigured limb confirmed my suspicion.

The ski patrol strapped me into a toboggan and raced me off the slope. It was a wonderful swift ride with these experienced skiers. They made it look so easy! As I watched them pull me along, I knew what my next snow adventure would be……dog sledding. Yes, I fancied racing through the snow on the back of a sleigh. But that would have to wait……

There is something very humbling about learning to ski. You become childlike again with the lack of confidence and the reliance on others to share their skills with you. Unfortunately I will have to wait for next winter to pick up where I left off. In the mean time I have other lessons to learn…..to accept and enjoy the help given to me by my patient family and friends. My right arm is ‘resting’ in a sling while it heals.  My amateur left arm is having its moment of fame and is the hero of my day!

 

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Brrrrrr! The alarm screamed in my ear and I stumbled over to switch it off.  The sound still evokes ‘a pounding of the heart’ that transports me back to years of responding to the demands of a school bell.  It is strange how the bell symbolizes all the conforming that was required of me during my teaching years. But it is so different now. The alarm now heralds in the start of my new day. I have the choice to do more or less as I please. Wonderful! Once I have all the motherly tasks under my belt, I am free to go out and play!

What can I say? I have become a ‘Lady that Walks.’ I prefer it to the pastime of ‘doing lunch’ although the idea of a spot of lunch would probably also grab me. In fact a dash of shopping would also go down well. But the one that really gets me up and out into the ‘just above zero’ weather is a brisk walk! I don my ‘North Face armour’ and a pair of leg warmers. Then the fur trimmed hooded jacket is thrown on along with a thick scarf and a pair of woolen gloves. It is all I need to face the chill of the north wind across the lake.

The Ladies that walk

The Ladies that Walk.

 

Up until now, walking has been a solitary activity along with Josh, my Jack Russell. We have clocked up some mileage around the suburbs, chased many a squirrel and avoided skirmishes with raccoons and skunks. Other dogs have always been a challenge and Josh certainly does not fall into the category of being a ‘polite Canadian dog.’ So he gets his own private walk at the crack of dawn when there is little canine traffic. Once exercised, he is happy to settle down.  I, however, return to pound the pavements once more.

The group huddles under the town clock as we wait for the last few stragglers. The air is crisp and the steam of our breath wafts up as we greet each other. News is exchanged and the whereabouts of regulars is checked. We are the “Ladies that Walk.’ This does not mean that this is a singular activity, as our chatter can be heard around every corner. There always seems to be so much to talk about! So we live up to our name and the front few set the pace. Hats are pulled down as we brace ourselves against the cold. We always make our way down to the beautiful Ontario Lake. It is changeable and has the unpredictability of the sea. Some days it is serene and still and other times stormy and cold, but always fascinating.

One of the historic homes along the route.

One of the historical homes along the route

We pass along through the historical streets of Old Oakville. The cute cottages and stately homes blend in side by side. The different flags flutter proudly in the wind. They remind us not only of our heritage but of what has brought the group together…. we have a common bond:

We are all embracing change and our new lives here in Canada.

 

 

 

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