Author Archives: Anna L

Travel Blog 10

I had an evening free one day in November and thought I’d finish off a part of the trail that had been missing. I wanted to walk from the university back to the trail I had gotten to, getting closer to finishing my hike through Hamilton. I planned to go through the various Cootes Paradise trails, and while I was a bit nervous, I was also super excited. It was dark at 5-6 pm, you see – but I figured these were safe city trails and I had my cell phone fully charged and kept the light on. It was wonderful and different from every other hike I had been on until then.  As usual, it started on a boring street corner where the bus let me off, but that was the only boring bit.

The university looked ghostly and stately when I started out. It reminded me of old books and dusty book corners and castles and magic and mystery.

Even the sports stadium was cool. I got through the streets and onto a park path as fast as possible though.

There was something really beautiful about the way that the light from my phone reflected on the branches. It really revealed the starkness of late autumn but also had a certain fairy magic to it.

This hike needed to have been done by an artist to truly capture the magic of the various painting -like images. The way the leaves looked on the ground was also highly spectacular. They shone and softened the path. It was a really neat hiking experience.

I am not certain that I captured the beauty of looking ahead into the mist. The path looked just a bit purple and otherworldly. It was wonderful, walking through a fairy tale. I’ve tried various approaches to convey it to you. This trip has more photoshop than the others – but only to try to convey what I actually saw.

Finally I was at the end of the trail, having connected another piece and walked another 2 km for a total of 33 km so far. (The “Open Dawn till Dusk” comment made me smile!”)

Remember to click on the link for the pictures and maps!

Trip 10 Blog

Travel Blog 9

So, I found myself in Toronto (this is back many months ago, but I’m seriously catching up on this now) and it was the end of the month. So, for me to have a walk I had to do something that month – so I opened my great trail map and looked and there it was! The great trail went right from union station. How could I resist?

I must say, I had been expecting worse. Yes, this was a city hike but it was through some very nice well-laid out cobblestone paths with interesting trees and gardens planted nearby and quite decent architecture. The great trail did not disappoint this time. I passed a number of joggers. I always do on the great trail – it’s clearly a nice running area. Less bikers on this one, but more joggers.

There were many nice places to walk through or to sit and look at things. It was a pleasant walk.

This was a nifty little art project in the middle. I enjoyed the weird wavy things that had been randomly put in – and looking out over the lake also.

Ooh, a little parkette in the middle of the city. Should I go in? Yes, I definitely should! These parkettes were tiny but quite pretty and I enjoyed walking through them.

Although it was late in the season for flowers, the leaves on the ground helped add to the beauty of the trail.

Although – there were some flowers. I appreciated the care put in to the construction of this flowerbed, for instance. First, it had something that would bloom year round, and second, it was clearly build with an eye to the buildings behind it, creating a pleasing sort of going up as a ladder image of plants, rocks, plants, bushes and trees, buildings.

I had been walking for an hour and I had reached the Exhibition. Another piece of the great trail, walked!

(That’s another 3 km for a total of 31 km.)

Click on the link for pictures and all important maps! Trip 9 Blog

Omer Count – Day 3

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day three of the Omer. Hayom yom shlishi laOmer.

Today is Tiferet be Khesed, beauty within kindness, grace within love.

I need to be kind to myself. I pushed myself pretty hard to complete these Omer posts – and this is the last of 49 mini-essays, ranging from a paragraph to a page, that I have written in the last 49 days. I am sleepy and my room is a mess and I’m a bit behind on the marking. (Only a bit – I’m not that bad at putting kids first.) I am grateful to God, to myself, and to all the people who put up with me being less than all there while I did these counts. Sometimes, I don’t know why I write them. It just seems like the right thing to do.

And it’s beautiful. It’s amazingly beautiful. I know this seems self-serving and prideful, but I don’t care. Given how busy I was, given that I hadn’t done it for a bunch of days – the fact that I caught up and did them all? That’s lovely.

But now I need to place that beauty into a context of kindness. I need to work to repay all the kindness shown to me while I’ve been writing these, and I need to be kind to myself – to once again take on my exercise routine and to catch up on sleep and the dishes.

Beauty within kindness – where I accomplish the goals I have in the context of maintaining myself and my health – that’s my goal for the next two months. (At which point I try to complete the Elul blog and it all goes to hell in a handbasket once again.

Today, I celebrate the beauty of 49 Omer posts nicely written. I remember to be kind to myself when I do this in the future.

Omer Count – Day 4

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day four of the Omer. Hayom yom revyi laOmer.

Today is Netzakh be Khesed, conquest within love, victory within kindness.

So, someone promised you a gift. At least, you’re pretty sure they promised you a gift. A bracelet, say, that would signify the depth of your relationship, one that is special and beautiful and important not just in itself, but in the meanings that every aspect of it carries. The two of you have known each other for a long time, you have a lot of shared memories and a lot of future plans together. You’ve talked about this bracelet a lot and you helped pick it out. You made sure it was gold because that’s worth more and you have a mild allergy to silver, you know the meaning of each gemstone in the bracelet – this one for strength and that one for celebration and this other one because it’s a birth stone. You know why it’s important and with your special day (birthday? Valentines day? New Year’s Eve?) coming up, you are ready to receive the gift.

That’s when they tell you that they’re hoping you’ll help them wrap that bracelet, in time for that special day, because it’s for So & so who is very special to them. It’s lucky they have such a good friend as you, because you helped pick the perfect gift and isn’t it good that you picked gold because did you know, So & so is allergic to silver! Your heart breaks.

Victory in kindness is when, very very slowly, you smile, say “sure” and proceed to beautifully wrap that bracelet.

Today, I hope to meet misunderstandings with grace. I win when I am kind despite disappointment.

Omer Count – Day 5

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day five of the Omer. Hayom yom hamishi laOmer.

Today is Hod be Khesed, gratitude within love, acceptance within kindness.

Kids are super strong and mega-resilient. They are also deeply and profoundly fragile. Today, I remember a day long ago when I got something from a kid. I wasn’t very good at saying thank you, and it was a poorly made piece of crumpled paper in the shape of a bird with badly stuck on bits. There were lots of other crumpled pieces of paper stuck to various surfaces, and the morkers were everywhere and marker marks were on lots of things that weren’t for drawing on at all, never mind with marker. I said something akin to “what on Earth have you been doing?! This is a disaster And what is that thing?” The kid walked away in tears. It turns out that she had worked on this creation a very long time and was quite proud of her artistic skills and had been thinking happily of the look of joy and love on my face as she handed this thing to me.

Kids don’t remember stuff like that (I hope) so I doubt she remembers the day. I remember it though – and I remember it as the day when I wasn’t as kind or thoughtful as I should have been. Maybe I was tired? I was often tired. Potentially, but it is not a good excuse. It wasn’t the kid’s job to get past my tiredness, it was mine. I did apologize after, but I regretted the missed opportunity. It helps me to remember that kindness is key, and that I can express true heartfelt gratitude for the kid’s project just because she had made it for me.

Today, may I be kind enough to be grateful for the gifts people give me, even if they are not what I want at first.

Omer Count – Day 2

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is the day two of the Omer. Hayom yom sheni laOmer.

Today is Gevura be Khesed, strength within love, might within kindness.

So, yes, I should have written this a long time ago, but I didn’t and it’s mother’s day. But how appropriate is that! Strength within love is pretty much right there under mother in the dictionary. Today is the day I remember that both about my mother and my parents – who is extremely loving and very strong – and about me and my coparents too. Every parent has that moment, the one when they have a fever and a migraine and they’re lying in bed hoping the emergency throw-up bowl is not too far away, when someone begins screaming at them that they gave them the red cup and they really wanted the blue cup and would the parent fix that? All parents remember (with just a slight shudder) that somehow they pulled it together and managed to stand up, bleary eyed, and found that blue cup or (even harder, trust me) pulled their scattered brains together to give an excellent impromptu life lesson on the importance of thinking about others and the difference between glitches and problems.

Parents are never tired – not when doing the 3 am feeding or helping to complete the 3 am projects, nor when taking 2 bouncy kids for a day at work because it’s bring your kid to work day (or it isn’t but the school has PD and the care arrangements fell through and I still have those emergency pencil crayons somewhere right?) Parents always have the emergency pencil crayons, cleenex, bandaids, hairpins, baby wipes and blank paper in their ridiculously overstuffed purse-bag-things. Parents say “I did nothing today” when they spent the day cooking, cleaning, looking after a bunch of kids, shopping, taking people to appointments and slipping in a few loads of laundry and dishes when no one (seemingly) was looking. Parents feel guilty when they’re working because they should be at home with the kids, and when they’re hanging out with the kids because there’s so much to do.

Parents are incredible. And kind. And who knows how they pull it off. I’ve been faking parenthood for almost 24 years and I sure don’t know!

Today, I.am amazed by the strength and kindness of people with children. Wow.

Omer Post – Day 49

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty nine, which is seven weeks of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve tesha she hem shiva shavuot laOmer.

Today is Malkhut be Malkhut, majesty within majesty, presence within presence.

I feel tired and a bit useless today. Sometimes, I try and I try – and at the end, I feel as if I’d never needed to have bothered. I am never sure if anyone reads these posts. I know that mostly, the kids wish they didn’t have to do any math and this term has been a “let’s make it happen” battle. With family – the kids are growing up there too, and sometimes, I’m not sure that what I’m providing is the best and strongest support I can. Again, I make an effort, but for every 2 steps forward, there is definitely one back. As for personal growth, definitely some head bashing against wall there. More than once, I’ve started to make a difference and it’s gone nowhere fast – a small thing derailed me and then I didn’t even feel like trying any longer. So has anything I’ve done been worthwhile at all?

I have to fight to remember the positives – the young people at school who are going to better programs in university (or university at all) because of the skills I gave them, both in mathematics and otherwise. The occasional sweet note from someone who proved that the posts are being read – and sometimes that holds the answer to my questions right there. I liked this quote from Cliff Lilliman who tells me that I am OK at family some of the time.

“God burst forth in creative joy, knew it to the end and saw it was good. Then ‘I Am’ left us in ignorance so we chould discover this reality for ourselves.”

Good reminder, Cliff. I have to remember that if God has a plan and it’s a good plan. If I haven’t succeeded, I can at least learn valuable lessons about what not to do. I just have to show up, and keep showing up and it’s that which makes the omer so significant. Each day I’ve counted the Omer, I’ve shown up. Every day I’ve shown up, I brought myself closer to where God expects me to be – in my home, in my family, leading a life I’m supposed to lead. That’s pretty much what bein noble means to me: being aware that God has a plan and that I can keep following it.

Today, I keep showing up. I keep doing the do things. I do them with awareness and I know – that this is where nobility lies.

Omer Count – Day 48

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty eight, which is six weeks and six days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve shmone she hem shisha shavuot ve shisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Malkhut, intimacy within nobility, family within presence.

Today, our old kitty died. She was very old, and had stopped functioning well, and it was her time. She died quietly, at her home and the children had a sweet goodbye funeral for her. It was the 2nd such that I had been a part of and to me, a really important part of what it means to be family and community. Sometimes, that means saying ‘hello’ to those who are special in our lives, to welcoming them and honouring their presence and appreciating them as part of our family. And sometimes, it means saying goodbye and thanking them for their contribution and for their participation in our family, and recognizing that they’ve moved on and we’ll miss them. And this is true for both cats and people.

Today, I.say goodbye to Nyrah who was a noble cat and an important member of the family

Omer Count – Day 47

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day forty seven, which is six weeks and five days of the Omer. Hayom yom arbaim ve sheva she hem shisha shavuot ve hamisha yammim laOmer.

Today is Hod be Malkhut, gratitude within majesty, humility within nobility.

Today is a day where I say thank you for who I am. Today I recognize my place in the world, neither grander nor less than anyone. As I recognize myself I realize how many wonderful things I can do. It’s interesting – when I don’t think about it, when I just sort of do what I need to do as a piece of the puzzle, with gratitude and humility (when that means knowing one’s place) then I can see where I fit and the world makes more sense. It’s like one of those dot pictures that have a hidden image, where the more you stare at it, the less it shows. When I over-focus, worry at the world like at a thread sticking out of my jacket and try to force the world, I can’t figure out why everything is so weird and awful and nothing works. When I approach with humility and gratitude, I see that the world is magical, and I a noble member of an august society.

Today, I stop worrying at the world – I don’t need it to unravel. I approach it with gratitude and humility and let myself perceive God’s plan. That plan has majesty and I a noble role.

Omer Count – Day 6

Barukh ata Adonay, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al sfirat ha-omer.

Blessed are You, Adonay our God, ruler of the universe, who makes us holy with mitzvot and gives us this opportunity to count the Omer.

Today is day six of the Omer. Hayom yom shishi laOmer.

Today is Yesod be Khesed, transfer within love, foundation within generosity.

I looked up Yesod today, and it looks like there’s an association to foundation, to balance – but also to movement. It’s the engine room of the Kaballa. So, how can I be someone who uses that foundation and that movement to be generous. Frankly, engines – busyness, transitions, movement – they’re rarely my thing. I prefer the foundation side of yesod, the binding and connecting, the gathering and interweaving aspects. I’m not fast, and I don’t like change.

But in the context of kindness, when it’s for those around me, my engine can ignite. I can act with determination, decision and flexibility, getting done rapidly what otherwise seemed impossible. Suddenly, I’m ‘on’! True, I pay a price, in that I’m sometimes really tired once the people leave. True, it would be better if I could find a balance and be able to act for myself with the same ease I can act for others. Nevertheless, today, I will count it as a strength.

Today, I can connect, drive, act, build – be the foundation – through kindness.