Archive for September, 2013

September 27, 2013

Book Recommendation — “Have Mother, Will Travel” by Claire and Mia Fontaine

It’s a book for women of all kinds, but it’s especially a book for mothers and daughters seeking insight into their own relationships. In Have Mother, Will Travel, mother-daughter (and author) duo Claire and Mia Fontaine embark on a four-month journey around the world together. The ultimate goal of their trip is to revive their flagging relationship, but along the way, 51-year-old Claire and 25-year-old Mia gain fresh insight into their own life journeys, as well as new appreciation for what they each have to offer — to themselves, to each other and to the world. Well-written, funny and very reflective, this book is definitely worth picking up!

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“Have Mother, Will Travel: A Mother and Daughter Discover Themselves, Each Other, and the World” by Claire and Mia Fontaine

Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

I’ve become very clear that finding my way forward in life isn’t going to come from figuring out what I want to do, but by staying grounded in the person doing the wanting. The very core of my being, my essential, authentic, whatever-you-call-it self, never has any trouble knowing what she wants, and certainly never worries about how she’s going to get it. (Claire Fontaine)

Sometimes I wonder if we make big moves because we underestimate the importance of smaller ones. Years are just an accumulation of thousands of hours, and what we choose to do with each of them matters. (Mia Fontaine)

Adulthood isn’t a destination, it’s a process, and, as women, we are always coming of age. (Mia Fontaine)

There are some advantages to stumbling around lost for a while. It allows for discovery. (Claire Fontaine)

Change happens in the small moments, when a sliver of light finds its way through the cracks. (Claire Fontaine)

All relationships happen in stages, with varying depths, multiple layers. You invariably reach a point where you hit the ceiling of a certain level of intimacy and then have the option of staying there — which risks the relationship becoming predictable or stale — or you can take it to the next level. (Mia Fontaine)

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September 25, 2013

Why I love (northern) B.C. – Sidewalk art, wildlife style

The walking and cycling path leading to the university in the Northern BC town where I live is littered with muddy moose tracks. Fresh sets, small and large, criss-cross the asphalt each morning after the previous night’s travellers have wandered to and fro. We really do co-exist with the wildlife up here, and it is a wonderful feeling.

September 24, 2013

Calendar girl

I love this verse from the song Calendar Girl by the Canadian band Stars:

I can’t live forever
I can’t always be
One day I’ll be sand on a beach by the sea
The pages keep turning
I’ll mark off each day with a cross
And I’ll laugh about all that we’ve lost.

September 22, 2013

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

It’s the first day of fall! Here are a few quotes to celebrate the coming season of colour and change:

Autumn mornings, sunshine and crisp air, birds and calmness, year’s end and day’s beginnings.
(Terri Guillemets)

Autumn is a second spring, where every leaf is a flower.
(Albert Camus)

Autumn burned brightly, a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees.
(Faith Baldwin)

Inside of us, there’s a continual autumn. Our leaves fall and are blown out over the water.
(Rumi)

O’ pumpkin pie, your time has come ’round again and I am autumnrifically happy!
(Terri Guillemets)

 

September 21, 2013

Quote of the day: Just let it all happen . . .

Miracles come in moments. Be ready and willing.
(Wayne Dyer)

September 20, 2013

Be alone in the way that matters most

Following on yesterday’s post about the importance of finding silence and solitude in your life, here is interesting insight from the authors of the same book about why opportunities for silence and solitude — so crucial to staying grounded in life and in self — are effectively missing from the lives of today’s younger generation.

In Have Mother, Will Travel, mother-daughter duo Claire and Mia Fontaine take a four-month trip abroad in hopes of reviving their flagging relationship. When 25-year-old Mia confesses that she came on the trip partly to escape the confusion and discontent she feels in her own life, and that she fears falling back into “business and usual” when she returns home, her 50-year-old mother has this to say:

Unless you regularly allow time for solitude and reflection [in your daily life], you’ll probably always go back to business as usual once you’re home, even after a whole summer away. Think about it, [your generation is] basically always available, by text, tweet, e-mail, Facebook; you guys even sleep with your cell phones. You’re never truly alone in the way that matters most — in your own mind; part of it’s always on alert, listening to see how much you matter to everyone else. All of my formative years, unless I was in school or happened to be home when the plastic box on our kitchen wall rang, most of the time my mind was mine, walking, driving, studying, doing chores. Being by yourself is a big part of how you get a sense of self. I think [your generation is] all scared to death to unplug and find out how much you really matter. It doesn’t seem to be enough for you to matter just to you.

I had never thought of it in quite this way, but it’s true: being tethered to a cell phone and to social media also tethers your mind to the task of waiting — waiting for that call, that tweet, that message, that “like,” that external signal that you “matter.”

Unplugging for an afternoon, a day, a week, a month gives your mind time to ease up and stand down. But unplugging isn’t easy, especially if you’re accustomed to being connected 24/7. And the reward for going offline — an unhampered, reflective mind that can more clearly identify and chart the path of your own life’s satisfaction — might not come instantly, either.

In fact, if you’re so used to being plugged in that the mere thought of two hours offline makes your skin crawl, then you’re probably going to squirm through any gadget-free time with your teeth gritted, your body thrumming, and your thoughts narrowed to that single moment when you can snap the cell phone back to life.

That’s OK. Unplug anyway. Then do it again. It’s going to take time for your mind to get comfortable with the idea of being completely unoccupied and left to its own devices, distraction-free. But with time, that level of comfort — and its associated benefits — will come. Perhaps that’s why Claire Fontaine suggests regular time for solitude and reflection. Repetition breeds habit, and it also nurtures comfort and growth.

I know for me, if I’ve been through an especially busy period or haven’t pulled the media plug in quite a while, it takes me a good few days of self-care to wind down and reach a point where I can relax and settle into that space of my own again. In these cases, I’m always surprised at how I came to lose touch with myself in the first place — yes, it’s easy to get caught up in “life,” but how did I get swept along for so long? Returning to that quiet space of uninterrupted self-reflection is always a treat, and I’m always glad that I took the time and made the effort to get there. It’s in this space, where my mind is my own and my true self lives, that I am able to really tap into the things that matter in my life. Just getting to that place is often enough; afterwards, I can move back into my normal routine feeling refreshed and recharged, with my eye and my heart clear about where I really want to go.

So in this world of cell phones and social media, I encourage you to unplug — completely — every once in a while. Unnerving as it may seem, it may also help you discover how amazing you really are inside.

September 19, 2013

A place where everything else falls away . . .

I can associate with these words from Claire Fontaine, co-author of the book Have Mother, Will Travel:

Silence and solitude are as necessary to me as air. It’s where anything false about me falls away and I’m only and ever my most essential self, as true and powerful as we all are at our core.

Beautiful. In today’s ever-moving, ever-talking society, it can sometimes be difficult to find that silence and solitude, that air for the soul. But it is there, if you look for it. It is in the peace and serenity of a solitary walk in nature, the sun warming your skin and magnifying the sights and smells of the life around you. It is in a quiet evening at home, candles lit, a carefully prepared dinner for one on the table before you. It is in your breath, gentle and nourishing, as it glides through your body when you wake up in the morning, when you go to bed at night, and at all points in between. It is there, if you look for it, and if you make space for it. It is there, always.

September 16, 2013

Observed on the street (dock): Crafts with character

These tongue-in-cheek boat names caught my eye as I strolled along the docks at the Port Sidney Marina in Sidney, British Columbia:

boat-name_1

boat-name_2

boat-name_3

boat-name_4

This last one is my favourite, though!

boat-name_5

To be on the water is to be happy, I think. 🙂

September 16, 2013

The perfect relationship

Together we are one thing.
Apart we are another.
Which do I prefer?
Both, please.

September 10, 2013

Make mud pies with the people you love while you still can

Have you told your loved ones that you care lately? Have you hugged your mother, your brother, your father, your partner, your kids? We sometimes forget that the time we have with the loved ones in our lives is a precious gift, a limited-time arrangement only, and that the days, hours, minutes and seconds could elapse suddenly, much sooner than we think.

Writer Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” really hits this idea at heart. In the essay, Hume describes how he nearly lost his three-year-old daughter to a drowning incident on the beach near their home in coastal British Columbia. She was playing by the water; he looked away for a moment to talk to a friend. Had he not turned back around when he did — and seen his daughter’s tiny hand extend up from a swirl in the ocean — he would have lost her. Later that night, as the intensity of the experience sank in, Hume remembered how only a few days earlier he had gotten angry with his daughter because she had swamped her gumboots in a puddle and stuffed “mud pies” in her jacket pocket.

Writes Hume:

We spend so much of our lives on cruise control, sweeping along in the comfortable bubble of our assumptions. . . . We assume we’ll see our friends again, that wives and husbands and kids will come home as they always do. And so we indulge ourselves in the petty tyrannies of parenthood and marriage, the nagging and squabbling over trivia, the evaded visits, the family bickering and the occasional grumpiness that comes of relationships we take for granted. . . .

We can’t — and shouldn’t — live our lives in constant fear of the worst that can happen. But we should switch off the cruise control and live each day as though the ones we most love will not be with us for another.

So hug a loved one today. Call a family member and say that you care. Or kneel in the yard and make mud pies with your daughter. You never know, says Hume, when the bridge between you and that person will be replaced by an abyss.

(Stephen Hume’s essay “The Gift” appears in his 2010 anthology A Walk with the Rainy Sisters: In Praise of British Columbia’s Places.)