rainy days.

It’s a rainy day. I’m not mourning the sunshine. I know it’s still up there, bright as anything- above the clouds. Besides, rainy days make everything outside a bit greener, and I feel like the cool wet weather rejuvenates more than just the local plant life…

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I remember in my last year of high school, at the end of hot, muggy days the rain would come pouring down in the dark summer evenings. I’d call up my friend, Rosalind, and we’d meet for long soaking wet walks in the rain. We loved the feeling of getting drenched, but not feeling too cold. It was just such a relief after the heat of the day.

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But today I’m accepting this cool, wet weather as little gift from the sky in a different way; time to stay inside and catch up on some things at home. I love being outside, but I also love being at home. I did some yoga (of course) and some extra housework and even sorted out my emails, which I’ve been meaning to do for years. Literally, years.

I have the windows open, so I can hear the rain, and sense the moist fresh air from outside; I think it’s perking up my personal energy levels just by osmosis. Also, there really is something to be said for being cozy on the couch under a blanket while sitting by the windows and watching the raindrops fall outside.

So blessed,

Leah 

end of migraine.

What a relief! I just recovered from a migraine that had kept me in bed since Sunday…

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This is me, feeling happy that I could half uncover that eye this afternoon, knowing the end was in sight. I get migraines pretty often. Well, very often. But I can catch most of them early with medication etcetera and don’t often get knocked down for days a time. But when I do, I hate it.

I know I’m blessed to have medicines and a supportive family, and a comfortable bed. I appreciate my earplugs and eye mask to block noise and light, and I’m grateful for my Cefaly. It gives me amazing relief during migraines. I alternate between that and ice packs for my head and neck, but my best relief during a migraine is sleep.

Then, it gradually fades away… often leaving my poor head feeling tender; even a bit bruised. But emotionally, I feel a sense of fragile euphoria. Being up, and especially outdoors feels almost too good to be true.

This evening I meandered slowly down to the river just outside with my dear husband. We just sat there together on the riverbank, soaking in the peace and beauty of the sun on the water. I felt like I could really relate to Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale,  The Wind In The Willows. He was so relieved to go outside into the spring sunshine after being stuck inside in the dark for so long; so was I.

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“…tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.”

So blessed,

Leah 

hiking.

See that little wee blip on the horizon? That’s the skyscrapers in downtown Calgary!

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We went for a gorgeous hike today, about an hour from home. It was pretty amazing to get this perspective on our city. This picture was taken from the road up to the Moose Mountain trailhead, where we’d planned to start a hike going up above the tree line. Alas, there were at least a couple feet of snow covering the trail, and we weren’t equipped with snowshoes, so we had to come up with a Plan B. I mean, I guess we could have forced our way through, but other hikers had tried this and ended up coming back down after a few minutes of wading through thigh-deep snow. No, thank you.

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Not far off, we found a lovely ‘walk-in-the-woods’ hike. There was almost no snow left on these trails, and it was so warm that we found this very spring-y butterfly perching prettily atop a pussy-willow tree next to our path. We hiked up and down hills in a peaceful pine forest, enjoying a little extra spring in our step, courtesy of the mossy, pine-needle carpeted trails.

The moral of the story is, a change of plans can be a wonderful thing. Serendipitous.

So blessed,

Leah

 

cars.

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My husband and son like to talk about cars, just recreationally discuss them. They enjoy watching shows about cars on T.V., and going to car shows in real life. It’s fun for them to spend hours and hours messing around with cars, fixing them up just how they want them. The things that can be done to cars to make them do car things in better, louder, faster ways are endlessly fascinating to these two people I know and love.

I generally just tune out such talk and activity as background noise. They’re happy, that’s enough. On the rare occasions when my son kindly involves me in such conversations, I try to be a good listener because I love him. But I suspect that my eyes glaze over despite my best efforts. In short, I’m not a car fan.

That said, I am convinced that cars (and by cars I mean motorized vehicles of various kinds, including ambulances) have saved countless lives. And not just directly; how many places in the world are able to have necessary supplies on a regular basis because of trucks? And I don’t have to wonder how many people would miss out on countless experiences and opportunities without the ability to get from one place to another in a relatively short time, without cars.

I love the mountains, lakes, and beaches. I’m able to access such places to go hiking and camping only because of the invention of the automobile. I also love my grown children and sisters and parents and cousins and other relatives. I’m able to live hundreds of kilometres away from these dear people and still see them fairly often thanks to cars.

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Also, grocery shopping. Errands. Going to IKEA. Church. Dates. Late-night movies. Doctor’s appointments. Library visits that end with large stacks of books. Apart from vacations and extended visits with far-off friends and family, there are thousands of little, practical ways that cars make our day-to-day lives so much more convenient and comfortable.

Where I (and a lot of other people) live, most things are more accessible by such vehicles. People who don’t drive, whether out of necessity or by choice, still benefit from buses, rides in cars, and things being delivered to shops etc nearby, usually by truck or van. It’s how we get to the farmer’s market, the hospital, the bank, and the ski hill. And it’s how Amazon gets to us.

In my heart I sometimes yearn for the long ago or far away walkability of being able to get around without cars; I’m not going to lie. And when we lived in England, I enjoyed a lot more of that. But even there, castles in the country were easier to get to by car.  

Any way I look at it, I can’t get around being grateful for the blessing of cars. They help.

So blessed,

Leah 

 

city parks.

“In merging nature and culture the most successful cities combine such universal needs as maintaining or restoring contact with the cycles of nature, with specific, local characteristics.”
― Sally A. Kitt Chappell, Chicago’s Urban Nature: A Guide to the City’s Architecture + Landscape

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This afternoon my love and I took our bikes out for a beautiful ride along the river… It wasn’t as warm outside on the cycling path as I’d optimistically hoped, so I stopped after a few minutes to put on my light sweater jacket. And zip it up. A bit breezy. But that’s ok; I’m still feeling celebratory about venturing outdoors without mittens, or even gloves.

We pedalled east, along with the flow of the beautiful blue-green Bow River… and it didn’t take us too long (maybe half an hour?) to arrive at our destination; Prince’s Island Park. It’s actually right downtown, and all the people were out enjoying the spring weather along with the two of us today. Well-spaced out. (Thanks, COVID-19.)

We saw Canada geese (some of our nation’s most unfriendly inhabitants), other cyclists, dogs (making us wish harder for one), and people in bikinis (seriously) and hammocks, walking, sitting, and lying on the grass. I had a sudden urge to feel my bare feet in the warm grass, which is starting to show signs of turning green. It felt SO good!

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Country living is a dreamy ideal, a memory from my childhood, but not realistic for me now. Clearly, I’m not alone; most people live in cities. I really appreciate city parks that give us beautiful and free access to nature, even in the middle of urban places.

So blessed,

Leah 

wild roses.

“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.”

~J.M.Barrie~

…or, in my case, God gave me a camera phone so I can have roses in April.

In December, I have Christmas to cheer my heart. By late April, my soul is really craving green leaves, rosebuds, and fresh little blossoms.

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The snow is pretty well gone, but the ground is still mainly grey and brown where I live. I remind myself that spring has sprung when the days become longer; I try to focus on and celebrate the increasing daylight. This is necessary for me. I’ve learned by sad experience that March and April can find me feeling more than a little low if I wait for mild, greening weather too early in the year for where I now live.

So last summer I went outside by the river and collected these photos of wild roses, to tide me over until our short but sweet rose season is back.

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How pretty are they? And they not only look delicious, but smell so sweet I could drink the scent. It’s something I look forward to all year. I can just breathe in the rose-scented air and feel so refreshed. And I know I’m not alone in this adoration of roses.

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When we lived In England for a few years, there was a huge rose bush outside my kitchen window, in the back garden. The roses it grew were blush-coloured, and abundant. I’ll never forget the simple pleasure of standing at the kitchen sink and looking past the hideous orange and yellow tiles someone had unwisely decorated the backsplash with… to my bountiful bush of blooming beauties through the open window.

So blessed,

Leah 

bicycles.

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.”

~H.G.Wells~

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Freedom. Like being a kid again, just pedalling, going wherever I wish…

Somehow whenever I push off on a bike ride, I just feel a flood of happiness. That feeling of being able to go anywhere, on my own steam. It’s wonderful to me.

Judging by the number of people out riding bicycles on any given day with even half-decent weather, I think it’s safe to say I’m not the only one who feels this way. I suspect there are more of us cycling this spring because of COVID-19 keeping kids out of school, and lots of adults home from work.

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Honestly, that’s part of the beauty of a bicycle; this sweet  sense of independence. Without interpersonal contact (COVID), without a team, a gym, a schedule, or a ball, I can just get out and go for miles. I can go as fast or as slow as I like, start and stop as often as I want to, and it just feels so good.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” 

~Albert Einstein~

By the way, my bike was a birthday gift from my husband several years ago. It’s got to be one of the best presents of all time. How many happy hours has it given me? And I live in hope that it will help me build some muscles on my thighs one of these days. It’s got to- right?

So blessed,

Leah

this man of mine.

I love him. Can’t help it; he’s a lovable guy. His name is Kirby, and I’ve been married to him for almost 24 years…

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This is us out for our first bike ride of the season, yesterday. It was his birthday! After he finished his work (at home, thank you COVID-19) we couldn’t wait to get out and cycle for a while in the warm spring sunshine. It was the warmest day of the year so far; so nice for his special day. I say that with a wee tinge of jealousy; on my birthday, just a couple weeks ago, the temperature ranged between about -4 and +5 degrees celsius. But my jealousy is the nice kind; I wouldn’t have the weather on his birthday be any worse. I just wouldn’t have complained if mine had felt a bit more like spring.

So back to our bike ride. Kirby suggested that I ride ahead of him, since I am not especially athletic, and therefore a slow rider. He was nice enough to not put it quite like that when he offered to keep behind me. Being considerate enough to cycle at my pace is a little thing that says a lot about the kind of guy he is.

He also has a great sense of humour; this is one of the first things that attracted me to him back in the day. He’s a talented and innovative teacher, and has a way of connecting really well with older kids and teens that seems like an inborn superpower to me. (I specialize in babies and very small children.) Kirby also has a knack for technology. This is something else I really appreciate; he just laughs when I say that the printer and the remote controls etc behave better when he comes in to help me with them, but I know in my heart that it’s true.

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Again, it’s my intention to make my blessings blog posts as relatable as possible. I do realize I’m the only person who has this strong and sweet husband, but so many of us have people in our lives who love us and are always there- for better or for worse. It’s sometimes easy to get used to these loved ones; almost a form of hedonic adaptation… I’m writing to remind myself, and my dear readers, how good we really have it.

So blessed,

Leah 

Hayley.

Today I’m feeling especially grateful for my nieces; in particular, this one!

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A couple years ago in an airport, as a complete stranger walked by us, she smilingly commented, “Well, that’s not a mother and daughter, is it!” She meant it as an ironic statement of the obvious, but Hayley and I laughed because it’s not the first time she’s been mistaken for my child.

We have a lot more in common than our colouring though. We’re both avid readers, with a special taste for historical fiction. We both enjoy knitting, and cooking, yoga, and family history research. And we’re both nature lovers, so we like taking walks together when we get the chance.

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So blessed,

Leah 

sunshine for my soul.

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I’ve never been one to go to a gym. Never in my life, ever, have I driven to a gym and paid for a membership, or even a one-time use. This is not only because I’m not especially athletic or co-ordinated. There are other reasons; mainly that I couldn’t be bothered, to be honest.

But then, last summer, we moved to a condo with a nice gym (including a salt-water pool, hot tub, and steam rooms) downstairs. At first we felt sometimes like we lived in a hotel. And when we stay in a hotel, we generally find we can work up the motivation to make our way down to enjoy the facilities. So, naturally, we signed up for gym memberships. And it’s been great. All through the long, dark, cold winter (we live in Alberta, Canada- not commonly celebrated for balmy temperatures) we’ve exercised. More than ever before.

Now, of course, the gym is closed, like most other things. Thank you, COVID-19.

Thankfully, it’s spring. Our version of spring involves a lot of snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures, but I’ll take what I can get. The sun shines longer and longer every day. And sometimes, like today, the temperatures are above freezing, and the snow and ice are melting. There’s mud!

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And I’m so grateful that the beautiful Bow River is just outside. I can decide to look past the thick (gradually melting) ice on the riverbanks, and notice instead the gorgeous glacial colour of the water.

I took these photos just before writing this little post for you, and I’m aware that not everyone has lots of nature right outside their door. While I want to be real and specific about the blessings I appreciate from day to day in my real life, I don’t ever want anyone to feel sad if you don’t have the same good things to cheer your hearts as well. This really matters to me. So that’s why I titled this, ‘sunshine for my soul’. Because whoever you are, and wherever you live, the sun is always up there above us in the sky. Even when there are clouds in the way, and we can’t really see it shining in a blue sky, it’s there. That’s how we can see anything at all.

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Yesterday I wore fuzzy mittens on my walk, and today my hands were bare. Tomorrow, there is snow in the forecast yet again. But, look- see the sun on the water? It was there today, and I felt it bright on my face, and warm on my hands.

So blessed,

Leah