Remembering Joan Gaede (June 28, 1933 - April 1, 2020)
Dear Friends of Innisfree ... Sunday morning last, sitting at my kitchen table, coffee cup in hand, pondering what I might offer in an April message, ahead of originally intended May issue, I heard the tap-tap-tapping outside my window of a busy woodpecker, searching for food among the wooden shingles. I smiled and immediately felt joyful. My woodpecker knew what it needed to do for its comfort and survival. And, I believe, so do we. My hope is that as I share some of my joyful moments, they may kindle yours, or spark ones you could implement.
Physically, and SO important, is heeding the daily reminders about the current COVID-19 virus, so as to protect ourselves, our loved ones, our community, and so hasten its elimination. But, what about our inner state of mind now, how can we alleviate our fears and lift our spirits? While personal to each of us, I share some of my current joyful moments; some new, some in miniature, and other continuing favourites.
Listening to morning CBC radio; heading to the kitchen, wearing my newly gifted green 'Blandford' apron, to make soup or other items; lighting a candle and listening to music with my evening meal; reminiscing while organizing photographs from early years; refilling my four cereal mason jars - satisfaction in miniature! Quiet meditative times; reading; church service on-line; study webinars; exchanging caring telephone calls. Walking to my local park, marveling at the blossoms, ducks and geese with their young ones, and saying 'hello' to passers-by while maintaining distance. Friday afternoon 'Happy Hour' Skype chats with a friend, sipping our wine. Ending the day by colouring, listening to music or watching a special movie - like a pre-recorded one sure to make me laugh, such as Life as We Know It, about a single couple faced with bringing up a little baby girl. Then, bedtime reading before falling asleep listening to a story on my Calm app ... such as a favourite with the dulcet tones of Matthew McConaughey!!!
Those are some of MY favourite things. Upon reflection, what are YOUR favourites? Could you and a friend read to one another from a chapter in a favourite book, or share a poem? Some years ago I read a variety of stories, including fairytales, to a special friend then in her 90s, tucked into bed in her care home, often laughing when my cat, Cadi, climbed onto the page I was reading. Later, after she died, and as practice for my future podcast venture, I read to Cadi - whose attention span was of her choosing! In a few days my intention is to add three more episodes to my first five podcasts, so please consider listening in: storiesbythefireside.podbean.com.
It is such a joy, especially when living alone and now isolated, to exchange 'live' conversations by phone, Skype or Zoom. My nephew gifted me with a mini home Google device ... I can ask it for the temperature, a recipe idea, time in another zone, to check a spelling, tell me a joke ... and it talks to me! (Confess I am compelled to say 'thank you', to which it does not respond)!
Life can be a yo-yo of ups and downs, endings and new beginnings. I started by mentioning the woodpecker outside my window that made me smile. But, just prior to its visit I had been tearful, thinking of friend Valerie, and sister Barb, both of whom had died within a week of each other at this time last year; then, along came the busy woodpecker, and I was smiling! Three days later, early on April 1st, I learned that my longtime friend, Joan, had died hours before. Grateful for our memories that spanned 50 years and, as we lived miles apart, for our weekly Skype calls - the last being the day of the woodpecker's visit when she was SO happy, as a caring Hospice staff had given her a bubble bath, with Tony Bennett singing in the background. Yes, it was a sad morning, but, some hours later, a happy time celebrating an 80th birthday with my friendly neighbours - they on their ground floor patio and I on my second floor balcony - taking photographs, enjoying cake and wine. Then, next day, new life, as another friend's daughter delivered a healthy baby boy. The circle of life ... how wonderful it is ... the leap of faith, the band of hope, as beautifully sung by Elton John in The Lion King movie.
Laughter is SO important, as is keeping ourselves inspired, most especially now. My friend, Rev. Carrie, has sent out some hilarious You Tube 'belly laughs'. She just delivered her third insightfully uplifting service, Living on Purpose with Power, which can be viewed at www.cslvictoria.org/sunday-service.php (scroll down, right side).
Routine can bring a sense of 'normal' to our day. I also read that when times are challenging it is good to have an intention for the following day. Writing a daily gratitude note helps us capture special moments and the reassurance that not all is dark. I now store mine separately in a 'happy' box. Springtime and Nature are the greatest examples of expanding light, hope and growth. Today, as we cocoon, we may be experiencing grief for life as we knew it, but please know in your heart that we will emerge from our cocoons, more resilient than we could ever have imagined.
Let me end with anonymous but encouraging words from one of my journals: "The currency of the universe is ideas". And, from the book Beauty: The Invisible Embrace: Rediscovering the True Sources of Compassion, Serenity, and Hope, by favourite Irish author, the late John O'Donohue: "When we awaken to the call of beauty, we become aware of new ways of being in the world. We were created to be creators". (P7). And we are SO creative!
Be gentle with yourself, accept the many kindnesses offered, and acknowledge yourself for how you brighten another's day. Let's continue to put meaning and music into our days, knowing we are not alone, but a caring community drawn together in creative ways. As with last month's apt words: We are each beautiful works-in-progress, supporting one another, as we courageously continue our journeys.
I send you blessings for a beautiful Easter, and days ahead filled with joyful moments, albeit some in miniature. If I can support you, or include you on my prayer list, do reach out. Until soon again, blessèd be to you. Namasté!
Rev. Dorothy Blandford, Ph.D
Apt. 202 - 1655 Martin Drive
Surrey, BC, V4A 6E1, Canada