Category Archives: emotions

’tis the Season for Sharing

It is the season for sharing – every television program and advertisement says so. And by their definition, sharing also means caring – or showing that, in fact, you do care one way or another.

There’s a story going around on Facebook right now and it says:

“My child, each year ask me the same question. After thinking about it, I decided I’d give you my real answer:

What do I want for Christmas? I want you.

I want you to keep coming around, I want you to ask me questions, ask my advice, tell me your problems, ask for my opinion, ask for my help.

I want you to come over and rant about your problems, rant about life, whatever. Tell me about your job, your worries.

I want you to continue sharing your life with me.

Come over and laugh with me, or laugh at me, I don’t care. Hearing you laugh is music to me.

I spent the better part of my life raising you the best way I knew how, and I’m not bragging, but I did a pretty darn good job.

Now, give me time to sit back and admire my work; I’m pretty proud of it.

Raid my refrigerator, help yourself, I really don’t mind. In fact, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I want you to spend your money making a better life for you, I have the things I need.
I want to see you happy and healthy.
When you ask me what I want for Christmas, I say “nothing” because you’ve already been giving me my gift all year. I want you !!! I love you dearly xoxo

When your all-grown-up children and their families live far, far away, some of these things just aren’t possible. No small hands raid my cookie jar. No little people sit on the couch to watch Christmas movies on TV with me. That is life in the world as we know it. Sad, but reality.

The media builds the hype of the season – blissful families sharing tender moments of joy and peace together around a festive dinner table. While I wish that for one and all, the reality is often quite different. Whether it is due to distance, finances, loss of loved ones or just the inherent ‘busyness’ of life, many people are lonely at this most festive time of year. Despite access to amazing technology like Skype, FaceTime, or even a simple telephone call for keeping in touch, far too often time goes by with no connections made.

Since it is the season for sharing we all have choices to be made. Do we wallow in self pity and loneliness? Or get up and out and join the festivities?

We are, indeed, responsible for our own happiness. If we depend on others to make us happy we are doomed to disappointment. Instead, enjoy the myriad of wee things that happen every day, those little moments of joy that are too easy to overlook. Be kind to others. Surprisingly when you go out of your way to make someone else’s day joyful, your own improves too.

So, my wish for those who read my words is that you do, indeed, share and have a happy and joyful holiday season – whatever it is that you celebrate. Enjoy the little things that give you pleasure – bright coloured lights in shop and house windows, sweet treats on a pretty plate, a good meal – whether alone or with friends and family. Give hugs and receive them with pleasure. Pat the dog, stroke the cat, nuzzle the horse. Inhale the wonderful scents that make life sweet.

Merry Christmas to one and all and as the New Year rolls in, lift a glass and give the toast favoured by my Jewish friends, “l’chaim – to life!”.

 

Also posted in BLOG, caring, Christmas, family

Coping

Everyone has his or her own way of coping with loss or drastic change. For me it means grabbing a camera, putting a leash on the dog, and going for a walk on a country road just to stretch and breathe slowly, letting the stress out with each deep breath.

Last vestiges of fall foliage

Last vestiges of fall foliage

Sometimes if you take the time to peek into the ditches you’ll find remnants of the amazing fall foliage colours the Maritimes are famous for – and it will make you smile in spite of yourself.

Not letting go

Not letting go

And at the edge of the road a loan leaf clings to the naked branch of a bush, its comrades blown away by the last strong wind.

After two weeks of travelling in to the hospital to sit with my mother, brothers and sisters while her life ebbed away, and another week of frantic activity after the not-unexpected 6:a.m. call, the hubbub has slowed and the exhaustion has set in. When you are sad it is hard to get motivated to bundle up against the cold and go outside, but Mother Nature offers solace, encouragement and the rejuvenation needed to keep coping and moving on.

 

Supermoon (Beaver moon) Rising

Supermoon (Beaver moon) Rising

Last night I had intended to go out and set up my gear to capture the rising of the Supermoon over the local hills. One of the side effects of grief and attempting to cope is the inability to remember things properly and motivate yourself in a timely way. Instead of preparing, I sat down and ate dinner with my husband, only realizing after the fact that I’d missed that moment of the moon appearing over the crest of the hill. The best I could manage was a quick snap of it rising rapidly through the naked tree branches across the road.

Supermoon setting

Supermoon setting

My alternate plan, since I’m an early riser anyway, was to get out this morning and capture the giant orb setting over the Town of Sussex to the west of us. Mother Nature played a cruel joke on my plan and hid most of the moon behind cloud cover, showing just enough to taunt me!

Look closely and you'll see the lights of Sussex at the bottom of the photo.

Look closely and you’ll see the lights of Sussex at the bottom of the photo.

Everyone has different coping strategies. For me it will be more walks with Harley and perhaps a camera over my shoulder too. It’s been a long several months and no matter how prepared for someone’s death you think you are, you aren’t. A death brings out the best in some people, and the worst in others. Hopefully those who cope by striking out against others will find their way back to those who support each other in coping with the loss of the linchpin that held it all together.

Also posted in appreciation, Autumn, BLOG, caring, death, Fall Foliage, family, New Brunswick, photography, rural living lifestyle, seasons, writing Tagged , , |

Why make photographs?

That’s a very ‘heavy’ question. People take snapshots every day with their point and shoot cameras or their cell phones. Those shots are usually intended to document a brief moment in time, some activity or perhaps a quick shot of some friends, family or pets.

But, to truly make photographs, a little more thought is required. It’s not about the gear; it’s about the mindset of the person pushing the shutter button.

I believe that every photograph should tell a story. By consciously deciding to make photographs, I have forced myself to slow down and really think about what story each photograph is supposed to tell.

Last summer I was commissioned to do a portrait session with a man and his dog. The man loved his dog deeply. As he told me about their time together, I began to understand the story I needed to tell. As a young dog she had been a stray, found huddled under the man’s toolshed on his rural farm property. Presumably she had been abandoned on the back country road for some reason. With gentleness and kindness the many eventually lured the dog out from under the shed and to his house where, for over a decade, the two lived in harmony. They shared walks around the property, through the woodlot, checking on the blueberry fields, and staying home together relaxing on the porch or in the house. The reason the man commissioned the photos was that the dog was getting quite old and showing signs that her life was winding down and the man wanted to have images that truly spoke to the dog’s personality and to the deep relationship the two shared.

We spent time roaming the property together capturing the images that I knew would tell the story of their fourteen year relationship..

One morning early this week I got an email from the man telling me that his beloved companion had passed away. His heart was broken. She had gone outside to relieve herself, came in, he gave her a rub and she laid down beside his bed and died – a final act shared.

The collection of photographs made that day are providing comfort to a shattered heart and will, in the future, bring back happier memories of time spent roaming the trails, rubbing heads, and sharing time as only one can with a beloved pet.

RIP Brandy.

Keeping an eye out for her friend from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Keeping an eye out for her friend from the other side of the Rainbow Bridge.

Also posted in animals, BLOG, death, dog, photography Tagged |

June is a cruel month for us

Hoover's first day in Smiths Creek, NB, 2008

Hoover’s first day in Smiths Creek, NB, 2008

Looking like a wee black bear cub, Hoover came into our lives in 2008 and left us a few short years later on June 3, 2014, tearing enormous holes in both of our hearts. Not a day goes by that we don’t mention him, think of him, miss his loving soul and goofy antics. Even now, a year later, seeing his wise eyes in the many, many photos I took of him, brings unbidden tears to my eyes and Joel’s as well.

For us, June is a cruel month. This year, not only has the weather been abysmal, but with the first anniversary of Hoover’s passing, we’ve learned that grief truly doesn’t diminish, at least not quickly.

I hope that those who’ve lost spouses, family members, children (the absolute worst), or friends will not see these comments as disrespectful of their losses. Far from it. Grief is grief, regardless of the reason. The stages are the same.

Barely two weeks after Hoover’s death my horse, Beau, died. He was 20 years old – still young-at-heart – and should have had many years ahead of him, but it wasn’t to be.

Beau head

 

He’d been with me for 16 of his 20 years, traveling from Quebec to New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Alberta and back again. He was my rock through a divorce, relocation, new relationship, new marriage and new life. His mane soaked up many tears over the years – tears of regret, sorrow and then joy.

In his retirement years he was helping other riders to learn the skills they’d need to ride all kinds of horses. Unfortunately his second career was cut short.

Just four years earlier, in mid-June, we lost our Rag Doll kitty, Triscuit, to diabetes, a condition we’d never associated with cats. It seems it is quite common. Like Beau, Triscuit had lots of miles under her paws, moving from Hampton to Halifax, Calgary and back to Sussex. I swear she thought she was a dog when traveling – content as long as we were with her.

"Triscuit" 2000-2010

“Triscuit” 2000-2010

So for us, June is a triply cruel month – filled with memories of warm hearts, warm furry bodies, eyes that see into your soul – each having left paw or hoof prints in our hearts.

Now we have one furry companion – Halo. She was 13 years old (we think) last month and we hope she’ll be with us for a long time to come. She has taken on the role of guardian of our hearts, making sure both of us are provided with lots of snuggles, lots of purring and ‘head bonks’ – in exchange for an endless supply of kitty cookies and warm beds.

Halo4903 - Version 2-web

 

Such is life with animals.

RIP our old friends. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten.

 

Also posted in animals, appreciation, BLOG, caring, cat, death, dog, family, horses, life changes, losing Tagged , |

A break is a good thing!

The month of June, in our house, was a dreadful one filled with loss and sorrow – and a huge break in my heart. First our beloved dog, Hoover, passed away and then Beau, the horse I’d had for 17 years, joined him on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge. For weeks afterward I felt disoriented and lost, so I decided to take a short road trip to visit some friends and places in Nova Scotia – to take a physical and mental break from the daily reminders of what was gone.

The weather was ideal for a road trip when I set off. I reached the NB / NS border easily and stopped to enjoy the scenery, including the large wind farm taking advantage of the never-ending winds on the Tantramar Marshes.

Windfarm on the Tantramar Marsh

Windfarm on the Tantramar Marsh at the NB/NS border.

The overcast skies made the drive easier on the eyes, that’s for sure.

I arrived at my friend’s home and was delighted with her rustic, unstructured gardens and back yard – an oasis of huge trees, large shrubs and periodic surprises tucked away beside a shed here, a rock there.

Garden Chair

Garden Chair

Purple flower_web White shrub_web

 

The next day I explored “the Valley” where I had begun my university education years ago. A trip to Hall’s Harbour was a refreshing break from the incessant humidity and heat on the Valley floor – a 10º difference in temperature.

Halls Harbour breakwater_web

Rocks forming an enormous breakwater between the world famous high tides of the Bay of Fundy and the sheltered harbour.Halls Harbour low tide_web

Low tide with some of the fishing fleet and pleasure craft resting on the ocean floor.Halls Harbour rock_web

Halls Harbour seagulls_web

 

Seagulls startled by the click of my camera shutter. Note to self, muffle that in the future.

Halls Harbour seaweed rocks_webSeaweed coated boulders leading down from the breakwater to the ocean floor at low tide.

I drove up over the steep hill from Hall’s Harbour and started down the other side toward the hot and sultry “Valley”.

Looking down into the Annapolis Valley where the temperature was close to 30ºC and very humid.

Looking down into the Annapolis Valley where the temperature was close to 30ºC and very humid.

Next stop? Historic Grand Pre.

The beach at Grand Pre looking toward Blomidon Mountain at low tide.

The beach at Grand Pre looking toward Blomidon Mountain at low tide.

A wide swath of beach (see the people in the distance?).

A wide swath of beach (see the people in the distance?). Ocean floor, Bay of Fundy, low tide.

Between the Grand Pre historic sight and the beach you drive through this farmland - and hope the dykes hold!

Between the Grand Pre historic sight and the beach you drive through this farmland – and hope the dykes hold!

The next day Tropical Storm Arthur attacked the Maritimes with a vengeance. We lost power at my friend’s house and spent the day watching trees break, branches fly by the windows, and keeping our fingers and toes crossed that nothing would damage her very old house or either of our cars parked in the yard. We were lucky. From the photos the next day and those in the news media, others weren’t.

Wind whipping by the living room window

Wind whipping by the living room window

The next day, since we still had no power but the storm had passed, except for the residual winds, we decided to venture forth and check out  any damage in the yard. Broken branches lay everywhere on the ground and her neighbour’s tree had split, falling onto her privacy hedge along the roadside, taking out several well established and older shrubs, rose bushes, etc.

It took about 36 hours for power to be restored to Hantsport and the area and the cleanup was underway.

I headed home on Monday morning, stopping briefly to visit another friend and share a lunch and reminisce.

This trip did what I intended it to do; it provided a much needed break and a chance to re-set my priorities and perspective on life in general.

Home now, tired from the driving but refreshed from the trip, life goes on.

 

 

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, caring, death, dog, horses, life changes Tagged , |

Well loved….

Also posted in animals, BLOG, caring, dog, family, photography, responsibilities

Grief follows all loss – not just a death

Pristine beach near Ilheus, Brazil

Pristine beach near Ilheus, Brazil

I recently read an article titled “15 Things I Wish I’d Known About Grief” by Teryn O’Brien (posted on the Identity Renewed website blog on November 21, 2013). Like many others, I shared it on my Facebook page making note that some friends and relatives who had experienced loss (read ‘death of a loved one’) recently might find it comforting. And indeed I’m sure some did. I thought of the two dear friends I’ve lost in the last two years to cancer and how my grief over their deaths followed a similar path. In fact, item #15 “Grief can be beautiful and deep and profound. Don’t be afraid of it. Walk alongside it. You may be surprised at what grief can teach you.” really struck a chord with me. So did #11. It recommends asking “How? How can I live life more fully to honour my loved one? How can I love better, how can I embrace others, how can I change and grow because of this?”

In my grief over the loss of my friends I made the decision to attend a photography workshop in Brazil and step way outside my comfort zone – both personally and professionally. My thinking was – “if not now, when?” and it was a decision I am glad I took.

But that said, I think we should recognize and understand that there are other types of grief too – grief resulting from separation from loved ones by time and distance, for example. That happens in many forms. It may happen to families when the husband and father has to be away for weeks or months at a time due to work. It also happens when different generations live at opposite ends of the country or sides of the world.

I grieve – for relatives and friends who have passed away.

And, I grieve for:

  • lost opportunities and memories not made,
  • time not spent with my son and his family,
  • playtime not experienced with my grandchildren,
  • holidays not shared with family,
  • the look of wonder on children’s faces on Christmas morning – not seen,
  • the chance to hear what happened during those first few days at school,
  • and so much more.

Time and distance can often be bigger barriers than one might think. Even with all of today’s technology, just connecting, however, briefly, can be a challenge.

Like a hot air balloon lifting off in the rising sun, hope springs eternal.

SatAM _L2H6566

Also posted in BLOG, caring, death, family, life changes Tagged , , , |

Precious Moments – Wedding in the Rain

Contemplative Bride

Contemplative Bride

Last week-end I spent most of my time preparing for, attending, recovering from and editing photos of my beautiful niece’s wedding.  Shaye Lyn and Darren tied the knot on Saturday, undeterred by periodic torrential rains, wild winds and totally unpredictable situations.

Vows being exchanged

Vows being exchanged

This couple and their family and friends were just too much fun to work with, willing to try most anything.

_L2H4124_web

Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Horne and their party…

You can dress some people up....

You can dress some people up….

There was laughter. There were tears (of joy) but it was a great, if exhausting, day.

Symbols of their commitment to each other.

Symbols of their commitment to each other.

With surprising maturity and aplomb both managed to “go with the flow” throughout the day. When the rain came down heavily after the ceremony cancelling our plans for outdoor portraits, we adapted.

Even though the lighting in both the church and the building where we did the portraits was far from ideal – the looks they shared more than made up for it.

Love shone in their eyes

Love shone in their eyes

Wishing Shay Lyn and Darren Horne a long and happy life together filled with laughter and love.

Shaye Lyn and Darren Horne

Shaye Lyn and Darren Horne

Also posted in BLOG, family, photography, wedding Tagged , |

Goodbye my friend, there are no words

For almost thirty years Anne and I were friends. We met through work, discovered we were neighbours, became close friends, watched our children grow up and become young men, and we shared the many ups and downs of life through all of that. We stood beside each other at our weddings, and she helped me through a divorce. We celebrated each others successes and passed the tissues when we needed to.

Four and a half months ago she received the horrid diagnosis: stage IV cancer. She fought as hard as she could for as long as she could, but it was inevitable that the disease would win.

She will be greatly missed by her husband, sons and daughters, the grandchildren she adored, her friends and former colleagues – and me.

 

Anne and me looking so young in 1989

Anne and me looking so young in 1989

Also posted in BLOG, death, friend, life changes Tagged , , |

Yet another unplanned farewell

I must be of “that certain age” – but it seems to me that I’m losing far too many friends to cancer lately. I was shocked to learn, via Facebook of all places, that yet another friend passed away yesterday. I just read her obituary and it said so little about her life – just the barest of facts.

Florence was a kind soul with a ready wit and a generous smile. She and I took riding lessons together, supported each other through the arduous journey to coaching certification for riding, and whenever we saw each other it was as if no time had passed since our last visit.

How could she have been so ill and me not know about it? As generous as she was, Florence was also a very, very private person. Those who had the privilege to know her will miss her and remember her with great fondness. Visits to the farm she shared with Glen in Barnsville and the Judged Pleasure Rides and small horse shows they held there were always liberally laced with laughter and good times.

For those of you who, like me, have put off calling a friend for no good reason, or reaching out even by email, or better yet making the time for a visit – do it now. Don’t wait. For we NEVER know what tomorrow will bring – or not.

It was a privilege to know you, Florence, and you will be missed.

A good friend and a cheerful soul.

Also posted in animals, appreciation, BLOG, caring, death, friend Tagged , , |