Normal 0 false false false EN-CA X-NONE X-NONE People call it the year that wasn’t. Most are hoping we get a do over. It has been tough. Rereading my January 2020 post helped me realize just how much disappointment this year has brought … to everyone. This is the year that was. Tomorrow it will be gone but the effects will linger for sure. I am cautiously optimistic although I am very aware that the fallout from this bad news year on the planet and in each of our lives will undoubtedly linger. Hope resides in the plans we make, in the image we create for more and better. Parts of my plan from last year came to fruition and some I abandoned. I am not really sure why except that I couldn’t figure out a way forward with those plans in our ‘new reality.’ Today I am in St Albert reviewing this 2020 phenomenon and its impact. I spent 7 months in Halifax and the last 3 here. Those 10 months have felt like a decade for me. There have been wonderful connections with friends and family in both places. My golf game and my piano playing have improved. Tomorrow is another day, another year with a new title – 2021. As John Lennon would say “Let’s hope it’s a good one …”

What you are about to read was written in January 2020..

In August I wrote a blog called Untethered describing a thought I had to spend time over the next couple of years in Halifax where I was born and spent my childhood. Control your thoughts. Thoughts become ideas. Ideas become actions and actions eventually become habits. I read that once on a Chinese tea label.

Well, you know how things go when you set an intention and then lean into it? Thanksgiving Day I looked at a condo in downtown Halifax and February 19th I take possession. Just like that.

It sounds so easy and as if no thought or planning has gone into this move. Sometimes life is like that. You have an idea and it becomes reality. It is like the curio cabinet I ordered from Wayfair that now houses my good glasses in my living room in St Albert. I knew I was going to have to move the stuff I valued to my home condo and rent out my second apartment. Intent on consolidating valuables and keepsakes I saw a need for extra storage/ display space. I figured out where there was a space that could accept another piece of furniture and measured it. Then I spent time online looking for just the right piece. When it arrived in pieces, I put it together and then filled it with my precious hand painted Romanian stem ware. Just like that problem solved.

The decision to purchase and fill the new space with furniture now occupying the downstairs apartment took some time. A million little decisions have influenced the thought that became the idea that is now becoming action. A renter appeared who wanted to rent my downstairs apartment for two years. Check. The condo in Halifax appeared. Check. My casual employment supported the move. Check. My program at Kings University College … walking distance from the new condo … accept me as a deferred student from last year’s program. Check. Other thoughts on financing and travel and real estate and furnishing and and and …. and POOF, just like that, I have a plan.

So, with the help of good friends, and with the support of my family, I will be in Halifax April 1st to start yet another adventure, returning to be a part time Haligonian after 50 years away.

Stay tuned as the adventure continues.

Most of you will know that my first name is Charlotte and get the reference in the title. On line, on the WEB, I usually know my way around but now that we are all spending more time and using the WEB to make purchases we used to make in person, it is becoming more of a tangled WEB.

More and more I find myself on-line, lost and confused. I find myself looking for signposts or directions to find my way back to a familiar place so that I can regroup, recalculate and find my way to the place where I can do what I had expected to do… post a blog.

It is complicated. Life is complicated but there are so many rabbit holes and detours and winding roads that come to dead ends on the internet that the webness of it, once a positive connector, serves only to confuse when you are tangled in it.

I need to stick to the beaten paths and stay away from anything unfamiliar. Confusion leads to horrible mistakes and you end up in scary places without a pasport or a way out.

I think I have finally found a way back to all of you, a way to post. Merry Christmas everyone. This new year is likely the most anticipated one in our life times. See you there.

I read an article by Jackie Torrens where she talks about being an orphan and how, as an orphan, she has always felt “untethered”. I like the work and the sentiment and sensation it creates in me. Since my fols have passed away I feel different. I feel like I am missing a piece, like there are few people who have known me since my birth. Reading Jackie’s article, an address to the summer residency students of the Creative Non Fiction Program at UKings here in Halifax, I got to thinking about becoming an orphan and how it “untethers” you once your parents are gone.

I have been in Halifax for almost a month. Halifax is home. It has been a fabulous opportunity for rebirth or reinvention in the place where I was born. There is a freedom here. The ocean sooths me. The sunshine warms me. I feel different and alive. A sail boat moves across the water out my window and it calms me. I have had opportunities to spend time with family and old friends, to write and to meet people who are involved in the King’s College Program I am registered for for 2020.

I know that the weather is influencing my euphoria. It has been magnificent. And I also know that it is not always like this. I have loved through cold miserable winters here in the past. Still I feel the pull of the ocean’s tides and wonder how I can leave here and return to the Alberta landscape and find the same kind of fulfillment, the same sense of wonder and ease that I have found here.

I have wonderful people in St Albert. I love them dearly. That thought keeps me from staying … for the time being. I am toying with visiting them and living here. TOYING. So many things to consider and yet…. It is a wonderful dream to spend the next year or maybe two living on the waterfront, enjoying the place where there are people who know my roots, my family and me.

Saturday I go back. I will let you know how this goes. I have felt untethered there for a while. Here there is a safe harbour for a short stay while I am still young enough to enjoy it. There are like minded individuals working at writing like me. It is a fleeting idea based on blue skies and the call of the North Atlantic? Maybe. Or is this the seed of an idea, a plan I might be able to pull off? I don’t know. Stay tuned.

It is interesting to me that although I have lived here in Alberta ALL of my adult life, close to 50 years, I still home when I go to Nova Scotia. What I miss Alberta has none of … big bodies of salt water. I remember how unfamiliar the landscape was when I arrived here all those years ago. The difference was stark. The mountains are majestic and the fields in full bloom are a sight to behold but I am so looking forward to spending the whole month of August on the waterfront in Halifax. I hope to reconnect with childhood friends and my wonderful cousins and enjoy the awesome surroundings of salt air, wind in sails and music and song that are rarely heard away from the shore. I want to walk that shore line and feel the mist on my face. The sea draws me back.

I think the place of your birth influences you even if you leave it when you are young. I also think that you settle where your children are born or where they settle. I love my life here. My children and grandchildren are everything to me. So it is also wonderful that Mandy and Kassidy will join me for the later part of the trip. We will introduce Kassidy to Halifax and other parts of Nova Scotia, to the cousins she will immediately fall in love with and they with her. Then we will spend a few days in St John’s to visit more relatives and more geography that has influenced our family’s history.

Time and place.

Sitting at home on a windy Labour Day with thoughts and ideas flying by I thought I would try to catch a few and see where they take me.

Saturday night and Sunday afternoon were glorious occasions for me this weekend. Both involved friends, music, and people watching, three of my favourite things. Saturday night music was a concert at a local hangout with Brian Maxwell, my new favourite Cape Brettoner and guitar player. Along with his friend Steve and his lovely wife Laura Despres, they provided a wonderful evening of song and story Capped off by a rousing version of “Farwell to Nova Scotia.” Sunday afternoon was a stark contrast of musical performance when the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra delighted the crowds under the skies in a beautiful park setting. I am so lucky and so grateful for both of these opportunities.

Earlier in the week, I was traveling in Southern Alberta and had an opportunity to reconnect with people I had not seen in about 15 years. During the time that I had served as an instructor at the U of L Summer Leadership Academy, I had an added advantage of getting to know not only Carol Steen but many of her friends as well. Meeting up with them again for five o’clock Friday drinks was such a delightful trip into a shared past and a hopeful future.

Then back through Calgary where I was able to catch up with family … a dear cousin visiting from Ontario and her daughters, both transplanted from the east, one visiting from Saskatchewan, and the other living in Calgary, each successful and happy in their own way. It was a happy reunion all too rare when families are spread across the country the way ours is. I am fortunate to have Sue’s daughter, Amanda and my cousin, Dawn, and my brother and his family in Calgary and I do get to see them from time to time and I, of course, have my own daughters and their families here with me in the Edmonton area. Sometimes it seems that it is the ‘distance’ that creates distant cousins and it can be work to keep those ties strong. It is always worth the effort.

Reconnecting with relatives and friends and colleagues in Calgary was great and I always look forward to that. Back home and moving quickly into a fall with piano lessons that start tomorrow and dancing and curling to look forward later in the month, a new book club and a trainer that I get to work with twice a week I will be wonderfully occupied. AND did I mention I had an opportunity to talk to an agent about the BOOK? If any of you are interested in reading the first 10,000 words of Version 2 of the manuscript please let me know. I will send you the file for your feedback.

So it is a ‘capture and release’ day because the thoughts and ideas are scattered like the clouds. I can hold on to one for a few moments before the others grab my attention and send me chasing their tail … or my own.

Lots of LOVE.

A friend wrote to me this week with a comment on aloneness that has me thinking. I spend a lot of time alone. I work from home. I live alone. My family and friends are close by and I see them regularly but the majority of my time I spend alone.
As I think about that I realize that, through out my life, that has often been the case. As a student and a writer it is necessary to be alone so that the muses can come and work their magic. As a mother living away from her adult children and her parents, I spent time alone. Traveling for work I was alone in hotels and airports. At the lake house I spent days alone.
So why is it that now I feel like ‘alone’ is becoming ‘on my own’? My doctor was kind enough to remind me to get out everyday where there are people. He showed genuine concern for this sixty something female living alone in a condo. So much so that I felt a little of his concern and I didn’t go straight home from his office but went and spent an hour at Chapters … alone in a crowd.
I was speaking with another friend who was talking about the increasing number of singles living alone in our city and was musing about how the city could best serve those people. He mentioned, too, that there are also a lot of married people experiencing degrees of aloneness  and loneliness even though they were a part of a couple. I guess that is true. For me that might be a higher degree of alone.
I watch my daughters with their busy schedules juggling work and children and hockey and dance and social life and I know that they would enjoy a little alone time now and then just as a break from the hectic pace they keep. Where as a day at home would be a welcome reprieve from the business of the world to them, for me it is a problem to be solved. Keeping active and engaged helps people live longer and I intend to live a long time. So I dance and I curl and I take piano lessons and I still travel for work from time to time.  I visit friends or invite them in.  I get tickets for shows and I still go to Chapters when I can’t think where else to go.
I am on my own. I make my own decisions (although I run the important ones by my daughters and sometimes a friend or two). I have created a life that is comfortable for me with enough freedom and enough opportunities for social interaction. The aloneness I experience shows up as sadness or loneliness from time to time but I believe that my friend is right … it is something that everyone experiences. It is a part of the human condition.
How we deal with it makes all the difference.

Ottawa is the capital of my country, a city where I spent some of my formative years and one of my favourite places in the world. The parliament buildings always remind me that people have been making decisions that affect my life and millions of others for generations right here in this meeting place. It is a place where both official languages are spoken as well as many “unofficial ” languages. It has beautiful river valleys and skylines and museums and galleries that hold the treasures of our land. In short, The people of the National Capital Region are engaged in the running of our country. They represent its diversity and its commitment to excellence and compassion. Ottawa is impressive. I do feel very fortunate to be Canadian. Ottawa reminds me of just how lucky I am.

This week I have been working for one of my favourite national agencies, Parks Canada. I love the work and the people who I meet. I also enjoy the sense of contribution I get from doing what I can to help members of the Parks Canada team protect and present our natural and historic treasures.

On a personal note, I miss being home. Over the past few years I have found comfort and a sense of belonging with my family and friends in St Albert that I cannot remember having experienced before now. Could it be that my wunderlust has begun to fade and I have found a place I can comfortably settle for the next few decades? I believe that I have. That is not to say that my trips to the University of the Virgin Islands and Hawaii will stop all together. That is not to say that cities like Ottawa, Halifax and Paris will not continue to be my destinations of choice. That is to say that my perspective has shifted. My home, my heart is in St Albert. And I am content.

And so it begins …. I find myself in the Calgary airport. I’ll be boarding a flight to Ottawa soon. Lots has happened since my last post. My lake property is for sale and I am firmly settling in to my condo in St Albert.

It has been a good year. I have steady work with the Federal Government. My children and their children are close by and I love being present in their lives and having them in mine. It is wonderful to witness the way everyone is maturing and changing. With all three generations ranging in age from 14 to 64 you get to see the phases of life we all go through in those 50 years. It’s interesting, heartwarming and fun. Being the matriarch, the oldest, has its rewards and its responsibilities both of which I am embracing with love and enthusiasm.

I am still working for the wonderful people in the Virgin Islands. It was heartbreaking to watch and listen to what was happening their in September and not be able to help. The stories of devastation were followed by stories of courage and renewal. I hope to visit soon to hug my friends and lend a hand. Recovery has been slow. Please keep them in your thoughts.

I love curling. My team’s expectations of each other and ourselves are to do the best we can. There is a sense of support and camaraderie that I enjoy so much that I hate to miss a game. Likewise my dance classmates are all wonderful human beings that are easy to be around. We learn and laugh and share each other’s joys and sorrow every Wednesday.

So now you are update. I have great friends, family close by, meaningful work … what more could one ask for? Maybe someone special to share it all with???? Maybe. Maybe not.

It has been more than a year since I have visited this place.  I am sorry.  I can’t make excuses because there are none.  there are probably reasons why blogging has moved down on my list of things to do.  I have turned inward and although not many people actually read these blog posts I just needed some time to mourn the loss of one of my biggest fans … my dad.  My stats will be down for sure.

It’s difficult becoming an orphan.  I don’t think it matters how old you are or where you are in your own life cycle, losing the pole who have known you for your entire life is like losing a piece of yourself.  There is no one left who knows my whole story.  Know one who can correct my thinking or tell me to sit up straight or just get on with it. And so I wallow.

I notice myself driving through Calgary and bursting into tears not because I miss it but because mum and dad and my dear friend Fay are so much apart of the life I lived there and they are all gone now.  Who will I reminisce with.  That happened in Vancouver earlier this year as I sat in the restaurant at the base of the building I lived in there and wondered about the renters and I cried because I missed my dishes.  It wasn’t really the dishes I missed but the days of walking back and forth to the bay to select just the right pieces for the apartment and hauling everything back in my little grocery bag on wheels and the pride I took in making it perfect.  Now it is perfectly set up for strangers to enjoy.  Not me.

I am at the lake house again this summer.  It represents a fresh start in some ways and yet memories of Dad are still here.  I am working from home for Parks Canada again in this 150th anniversary year and my fierce canadian pride is satisfied by this contribution.  I bought a boat with friends who live near by this week.  I am looking forward to spending time on the water.  That is bittersweet as well.  Dad so wanted to be on the lake last year but we just couldn’t make it happen.

Anyway I am sorry I have been away and I can’t even promise that I will be back tomorrow but if I am I will work on something extra special… excerpts from the new book perhaps.  I am editing it.  the order was all wrong and changing the order means a serious edit that could even be classified as a rewrite.  Maybe we can share that journey together and I will release each chapter to you as I finish the next draft of it.  I will ask you not to share it too widely.  At some point I do want to publish it and make a little money … compensation for 7 or 8 years of having it occupy a good sized section of my brain.