Monthly Archives: February 2013


I have a new hobby, it’s called Merikan Missiling.  Or to those not au fait with the term, really its sledding.  We came across the Merikan Missile sleds on a recent hike.  We were tromping our way up a trail on our snowshoes when we heard whoops and yells emitting from ahead. The raucousness got louder and we were rapidly approached by a person bombing out from between the trees.  We dove off the path into the sage brush that lined it.  Then we turned our attention back to the trail…

Another person appeared, and then another, each with a grin spread from ear to ear – smiling, laughing, cheering, and screaming.  A whole family whizzed past.  After their voices trailed off, we looked at each other.  Wow.  Now that looked FUN!  There was no doubt we were enjoying our snowshoe, but when we got to the top of the trail, stopped to admire the view and have a snack, we would just turn around and head back down.  Wouldn’t it be fun to do the climb, but whizz back down on a sled instead?

My husband took it upon himself to research what type of sleds these were.  He had noticed the design as they tore past – small and compact with large handles.  Perfect for easily carrying on the climb up, and fast and aerodynamic for the way down.  Before I knew it four shiny new sleds arrived at out front door.  We could not wait to try them.

Play time on my Merikan Missile Sled.

Play time and laughter on my Merikan Missile Sled.

I was nervous at first.  As adults we sometimes forget how to play, how to let go, take risks.  I cautiously slid a few feet, before pulling back hard, to try out the sled’s braking system.  It stopped quickly.  OK, I think I have got this.  Now it was time to really have fun and let loose.  My family and I loved it.  We giggled, hooted, and hollered the whole way down.  I was out of breath and filled with adrenalin from the thrill and fun of it all.  We commented that we all felt like children.

That got me thinking.  I want to have this child-like feeling more often – continue to play, laugh, and have fun.  It does us good.  Audrey Hepburn once said “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  I agree with Audrey and fortunately my husband makes me laugh all the time.  Between him and my new sled I am on to a good thing.  I hope you find something to make you laugh today :)



Neighbors, Everybody needs good neighbors …” goes the opening theme tune to the only soap opera I was allowed to watch in my youth.  It took a while for my parents to agree to it.  They were under the impression that soap operas were trashy and exemplified – and therefore encouraged – bad language and behavior.  It is probably true of many of them, but as far as soap operas go Neighbours (an Australian production) is pretty tame.   Indeed the TV executive who created it had the idea of making a show that focused on realistic stories and portrayed adults and teenagers who talk openly and solve their problems together.  Not a bad example to set.

The rest of the theme tune continues …”With a little understanding, You can find the perfect blend, Neighbors, should be there for one another, That’s when good neighbors become good friends.”  I reflect on the words … understanding, be there for one another, friends.  Seems like pretty good things for a neighbor to be.  Having recently moved into a new neighborhood, I have been thinking about neighbors.  We haven’t met many yet, but this is partly due to the winter weather where we live – low temperatures, snow, and today strong winds, are not conducive to spending time outside on your driveway, yard, or deck.  We hope to meet them in time.

We were fortunate with the neighbors where we used to live.   Some of them did become friends – they looked out for us and cared about us.  We went on camping trips, for dinners, walks, to the cinema.  They shoveled our drive-way and took in our mail.  We hope we can find neighbors like that here.  It feels good to have people close-by who you can rely on and go to for help.

Good neighbors are a blessing.

Good neighbors are a blessing.

The term being a good neighbor or neighborly, can relate to more than those who live in close-proximity to us though, it can mean being friendly, helpful, congenial, or kind, to everyone.  Neighbors could be described as whomever we come into contact with – our co-workers, people in the places we frequent, or we pass on the street.  If you are religiously inclined, The Bible encourages us to think of neighbors this way and commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  There are other places we are encouraged to do the same -the Scout and Guide mottos worldwide refer to the respect, help, and care for others, and many school mottos do likewise.

So what does being a good neighbor or loving your neighbor mean?  I have seen it described as having a selfless concern for the complete well-being of the people around you.  It could also be simply giving time and being a friend.  As I move into my new neighborhood and meet those around me, and as I move on this earth in my everyday life, this is what I intend to do.


Feeling Pretty

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Today I did something that I do not usually do, I went for a … manicure.  Not that out of the ordinary you might think, but I only treat myself once or twice a year, so it is a special occasion for me.  Sometimes I’ll paint my own nails, but most often I just leave them bare and unadulterated.  I like the manicure.  It makes me feel pretty and fancy – a good thing to feel on Valentine’s Day.

A manicure with my aunt and cousin (unfortunately mine only lasted 1 day - this active girl wasn't made for manicures!)

A manicure with my aunt and cousin (unfortunately mine only lasted 1 day – this active girl wasn’t made for manicures!)

I started thinking about the reasons why I do not get a manicure/pedicure more often.  Partly it is because I see it as a luxury that I do not need – an extravagance to spend fifty dollars on something so frivolous and fleeting.  And partly because I tend not to invest a lot of time and effort on myself, and especially on my beauty routine.  This has always been the case with me – I just do not place that much importance on how I look.

One of the reason I spend so little time on my appearance, is because I want to be doing other things.  I think to some of the vacations with my husband, and how many wives sit by the pool looking beautiful in their coordinated ensembles and with their coifed hair.  But me?  I am in my shorts and tank, my hair pulled back, and face without a scrap of make-up, taking a jog or renting a paddleboard with my husband.  I do not want to worry about how I look or by whom I am seen.  I want to do the seeing, take in the view, partake in the sport, and engage in life.

But deep down do I care what people think?  Especially my spouse?  I know he loves that I do all these activities and sports with him, but can I get a balance and make the best of how I look at the same time?  When I started my first job in London I did not have a balance.  I had a long commute each way and did not want to spend time in the morning making myself look pretty – I threw on a suit, combed my hair, and was out the front door.  I recall once a male colleague took me to one side and said “You know you could look really pretty if you made an effort.”  I took it as a back-handed compliment – I have the potential to look pretty, I just wasn’t reaching it most of the time.

I often hope that my kindness towards people and tendency to smile make up for my lack of grooming.  After all, we spend time trying to encourage our impressionable teenage daughters, nieces, and friends that it is what is inside that counts; that all the women in the magazines are photo-shopped, and that is not what real beauty is.  But there is no getting away from the fact that we live in a society that bases its impressions on appearance.  People strive for the perfect body, teeth, hair.  We have to remind ourselves to look at what is inside.  I once read a quote that went something like – Pretty is what you look like, Beauty is what you are inside.  I like that.  How about a balance between pretty and beauty?  How about being both?


Subliminal Messages

We are bombarded with subliminal messages every day.  Advertising companies use them to persuade us to buy their products through clever use of colors, words, images, sounds, and product placement.  Any communication that skips our conscious thought, but enters our subconscious mind, is known as a subliminal message.   As the conscious mind doesn’t have time to rationalize or analyze these messages, it is said that people might more easily accept them.

Aside from the use of subliminal messages in advertising, we submit subliminal messages every day.  We send out vibes to others and in turn pick up on messages being transmitted to us.  These messages are not what we say or even how we say things – in fact we submit messages when we are not saying anything at all – they are a subconscious projection of our internal feelings.

I recently read a book that made me think about the vibes and messages we are sending out.  It is called The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton.  In the book Stockton explains how her domesticated coyote, Charlie, picks up on her feelings.  He senses her emotions towards him (love and later fear) but also on her general well-being and state-of-mind.  When Stockton becomes stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, Charlie senses this and realizes she is not the calm, assertive, capable leader, and so he becomes leader (and shows aggression and dominance towards her).  But when she gets herself emotionally back on track, their relationship changes for the better.

I thought about the subliminal messages I am giving off and how it makes those around me feel.  I am acutely aware of how animals can sense our emotions.  I have a fear towards dogs (gained from an incident in my childhood).  Dogs know this about me, and sometimes however much bravado I put up, they can tell that inside I have some level of anxiety and fear. This often causes them to bark at me, which then increases my fear.  But I wondered if it is more than that?  Is it just my fear towards dogs that they sense, or like Stockton, do I lack calmness and assertiveness at times, and this is what they are picking up on?  Do I need to make changes within to re-adjust my signal?

Dogs (and other animals) have an innate ability to tell how we feel.

Dogs (and other animals) have an innate ability to tell how we feel.

If animals can sense our emotions (and re-act towards us accordingly), do humans too?  I think children are more apt to.  I recall my first day teaching, a class full of 10 year olds watching my every move. They could sense my newness and nervousness, and acted (up!) accordingly.  There are also times when children have been drawn to me.  When I first met my niece (through marriage) she stuck to my side.  Did she know I instantly loved her and wanted to be around her?  And when I recently bumped into a student I had taught, who now had a child of her own, her son immediately came to me and flung his arms around me in an embrace.  Could he sense my tenderness towards him?  (The parents acted like he didn’t do that with everyone, so maybe so.)

I wonder, does our ability to sense emotions diminish with age?  Are we too busy judging people on appearances rather than the feelings we get from them?  Or maybe our ability to read emotions is still strong, and we just do not react towards others’ emotions so obviously, in the way children and animals do?  We are more cautious and guarded in our responses.  I have been around people, both on a personal level and in business, who I get a strong sense of genuineness from, of integrity, caring, and thoughtfulness.  And also those who are selfish or have ulterior motives.  You can try and mask your intent by what and how you say things, but subliminal messages make those around you feel a certain way.  What messages are you sending out and how do they make those around you feel?



I recently read a quote from the Chinese classic text, The Tao Te Ching,
“The giant pine tree
grows from a tiny sprout.
I pondered these lines and their meaning to me.  I reflected on the literal sense, the wondrousness in nature of a seedling becoming a tree, or a baby mammal, with its small limbs and closed eyes, becoming an adult.  And figuratively, the spark of an idea igniting and developing.  Growth – the potential within everything to become something bigger.

During my walk this morning I marveled about growth, about the tiny molecules – the building blocks – inside everything, with all the necessary tools to develop into something great.  I thought of God, of nature, and science, and the magnificentness of it all.  As my boots crunched on the crystalized snow I thought of the plants underneath, lying dormant during the frigid weather, ready to push their way to the surface and blossom in the spring.

I thought about the essential elements needed for growth: light, water, warmth, and nutrients (knowledge I ascertained in science class all those years ago).  I thought about how these needs stand true for both plants and humans alike.  How we crave these things.  How my new regiment of a daily walk helps fulfill elements for growth; feeling the light and warmth of the sun on my skin, soaking up Vitamin D, filling my lungs with the fresh mountain air.  My walks also allow me time to think and reflect.  I may be done with my physical growth, but these elements seem to help with mental growth too.

What signifies growth in humans?

What signifies growth in humans?

Growth can be described as the development from a simpler to more complex stage.  Is this true of humans?  Do we become more complex over time?  The accumulation of our life experiences influencing our thoughts and ideas.  Is real growth being able to decipher through all this, to learn from it, to pick out what is important and what isn’t?

I have the pleasure of having friends of various ages and stages of life.  I have noticed that some of my friends appear to have things more figured out; they seem calmer, wiser, more settled, and accepting, they ask more questions and are better listeners.  This to me is growth.  We can grow as a human beings in how we relate to others and the world around us, in how we see ourselves in the bigger picture.  There are lessons we can learn on our journey through life, to help us grow and develop, they are there in everyday events and interactions, if only we look for them.