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Monday, December 22, 2014

Change of plans

Posted by Dawn-Ann on January 6, 2013

Sometimes life takes strange twists and turns, which is what keeps things exciting, right?

Well, looks like I am hoisting up my 50-something ol’ self and heading back to school. Law school, to be exact.

I’m excited and nervous, but I have quite a bit of time to prepare.

Here’s the real story, in my shiny new blog. Enjoy!

LSAT practice books

Some of the studying I'll be doing...

Lean into it

Posted by Dawn-Ann on September 26, 2012

“Lean into it. It means the outcome doesn’t matter. What matters is that you were there for it. Whatever it is. Good or bad.” ~ Quote from the movie People Like Us.

This is one of my newest mottos. Lean into it.

To me it means more than just I was there for it. It means I leaned into the occasion / event / catastrophe / happening and hung on for the ride.

It means I paid attention and squeezed every ounce of learning I could from it.

It means I laughed and/or cried fully, openly and honestly at all the right moments.

It means I grabbed life with both hands and lived it, truly LIVED it, every moment, to the max.

May I always “lean into” all that life throws to me, from now on.

A new year, a new life

Posted by Dawn-Ann on January 11, 2012

I am so lucky that Tom and I can work from home. It gives me a lot of extra time to figure out other things!

One of the “other things” I am working on is charting an education course for myself. This education will be free (or really cheap) and tailored to my own needs because I will be educating myself.

Some of the topics I want to study are politics, journalism, anthro/archaeo, film making and editing, and languages. This is why I need to do it myself. No University offers a degree in such a wide range of subject matter!

But first things first. I figured it would make sense to improve my memory so that I can retain everything better. That is why the very first book I am going to study is called Mega Memory by Kevin Trudeau.

The second subject I want to tackle, because it too will aid my studies, is speed reading. And not just speed reading, but speed reading with comprehension! For that I dug out a book I’ve had for years called Speed-Reading The Easy Way.

So, on top of Kirkpatrick family history posts, this blog will now be a record of my self-education journey. Follow along if you’re interested! :)

And don’t forget to keep an eye on my new blog about another very important facet of my life right now: Grandparents of Children With Autism. I thought I’d make that a blog of its own because it is so specialized and I have a ton of ideas for articles for it.

The power of family

Posted by Dawn-Ann on December 21, 2010

Every day I am so grateful for my family. The Kirkpatricks are known for their solid support of family and friends, through thick and thin, and here in our little Calgary branch we are rallying the troops again.

My beautiful niece Krista is working hard to raise some funds for a marvelous, life-changing trip she plans to take to Ghana. It is an educational trip – an opportunity for field study extraordinaire - but the learning will be much more than academic. I know from experience how travel not only broadens the mind but educates the heart.

That is why I am one of Krista’s biggest supporters in this venture and, to that end, I am helping her ramp up her fundraising effort. We have designed a page with her story on it and I would be ever so pleased if you would drop by and have a look. Even a $5 contribution could make all the difference if enough people do it.

Namaste and thank you!

Visit Krista’s fundraising page here.

Embrace what is

Posted by Dawn-Ann on November 22, 2010

After a long, warm fall, winter has blind-sided us full blast. The wind is cold, the snow is falling and the temperatures are low. They say we should be preparing ourselves for a winter as we remember from childhood – endless snow drifts and endless cold. Bah.

Chickadee in Fish Creek Park, Calgary

Round about the time I got this gem of news, I heard of a fellow who loves winter. He is involved in winter sports and can’t wait to get out in the snow. He wears his frostbite scars as honour badges and raves enthusiastically about his adventures. Wow.

All of this got me thinking about how perspective can change what is. For some, winter is a hardship that we “get through.” We avoid going out. We bundle up and hurry from the house to the car. We fuss and complain and count the days until spring.

But to some folks, winter is a miraculous playground. They relish the cold and snow and dive into it with gusto. They ski and snowmobile and toboggan and snowshoe. Some enjoy running in the winter (though I tend to fall a lot when I try). Some even go camping!

After mulling this over, I’ve decided it is time to change my attitude. I can’t change that we’re having winter – but I can transmute it into something pleasurable. For that reason, starting today, I’m going to embrace winter. I’m going to take gorgeous pictures of it and feel the bracing cold on my face, invigorating my body. I’m going to close my eyes and feel the biting kiss of snowflakes on my skin. I’m going to invite winter into my life and love and nurture it, grabbing every bit of joy and beauty that I can from it.

I’ll keep you posted!

Humble wisdom

Posted by Dawn-Ann on August 19, 2010

David Trumble lived to be well over 100 years old and was at one time one of Canada’s oldest living pioneers. His story is told in a sweet little book called When I Was a Boy, edited by Glen Ellis and published in 1976 by J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Limited.

Born in 1867, he was still alive and 111 years old when his story was published. He fathered nineteen children (he kept outliving his wives) and his great physical strength was legendary. The last reference I could find on the Internet about Mr. Trumble stated that he was at that time 113 years old. I can find no record of his death or later age.

Following are a couple of quotes from When I Was a Boy.

————————-

I smoked and chewed and smoked and chewed
and drank and everything
until I was a hundred and one — a hundred and two –
and then I quit
and I haven’t hardly smoked ever since.
I said, “I’m going to be boss;
if I can’t be boss of myself once in awhile
then there’s no point in me living,”
so I just said, “no sir, no more.”

. . . but I’ll have one now.

————————-

I go out to my flowers and put my hands on them. You feel the power in my hands. I talk to my flowers. The flowers understand. And if anybody wants a slip of flowers they come to me. I'll show you a little flower in here, a beautiful thing. I put this in this summer. That's this summer's flower. Geranium. Isn't that wonderful? I talk to it just the same as I talk to you.

There’s a dark face to the moon and a bright one, and as the light reflects back to the earth, so does the shade. You’ve got to plant in the bright side, and the brighter the better it is. A dark moon is the worst time. I see people planting, and they don’t pay any attention to the moon. Half the time they end up with a crop of nothing. But I plant in the moon and I have as pretty flowers as you ever laid eyes on. In my garden this year I growed ‘taters, tomatoes, onions, cabbages, lettuce, radishes. I give it away. Give it to my neighbors. ‘Tain’t mine to keep. The Lord gave it to me and I give it to my own.

————————-

Sometimes we’d go to a corn-husking bee,
husk corn for about two or three hours
then get the fiddle out and start dancing,
danced till daylight.

————————-

Oh, we used to have quite a time,
but those days are all gone.

————————-

Read more of David’s stories here.

Let the children run free

Posted by Dawn-Ann on August 8, 2010

When I was a girl I was often up and out the door after a quick breakfast. I played and explored outside all day and only came home to eat and use the washroom. I was called in at dinnertime and then was out again until the street lights came on (and woe betide me if I was late!). I played and ran and had fantastic adventures with my friends.

Depending on where I lived, I also tramped around in the bush by myself and learned how to tell time by the sun and find my way home after becoming lost. I ate wild berries that I’d learned were safe and drank stream water.

I think it was good for me to grow up semi-wild and independent. I was always extremely healthy and became a bit of a free-thinker. I learned from nature and observation. Although I was a dreamer, I also became very observant of what was going on around me.

Things are different nowadays. Although our children are statistically safer than they were back in my day, they are coddled and protected more now. This false perception of danger, according to one journalist, has led to unhealthy, socially stunted kids.

Another article warns that “the mental health of 21st-century children is at risk because they are missing out on the exposure to the natural world enjoyed by past generations.”

I’m afraid I would have to agree.

But there is a movement afoot to set the children free. Lenore Skenazy, the journalist who was labeled “America’s Worst Mom” for allowing her nine-year-old son to journey home on the subway alone, has started Free Range Kids and has even written a book on the subject (see Resources, below).

Lenore says on her website, “We are not daredevils. We believe in life jackets and bike helmets and air bags. But we also believe in independence. Children, like chickens, deserve a life outside the cage. The overprotected life is stunting and stifling, not to mention boring for all concerned.”

Hear, hear! Let’s temper our fear with a little more common sense, shall we?

Resources

  

Maybe you were right all along

Posted by Dawn-Ann on June 27, 2010

We all dream big dreams when we’re young, don’t we? Things are black and white and man, we’re going to change the world.

Let your light shine

But life often jades us. We get caught up in the day-to-day and lose our dreams along the way. We start to second-guess ourselves and wonder how we were foolish enough to think we could change anything.

That’s the premise of Pamela Slim’s moving blog entry, Note to younger self: you were right. In it, she reflects upon the big dreams of her college days. Surely, she says, “with compassionate hearts and some really good slide shows, we could fix everything.” After struggling with discouragement, years later Pamela discovers you can change the world – if not in grandiose ways, then one tiny corner at a time.

Her article gives me hope. Read the rest of it here.

Acceptance and the circle of life

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 28, 2010

As I move more or less gracefully into the second half-century of my life I have been faced with a number of life lessons I haven’t had to learn before. There have been staggering losses and remarkable gains; dark moments of grief that brought me to my knees and (sometimes on the same day) brilliant, shining moments of joy.

This year's greatest blessing for me - my very first grandbabies

One thing I am oh-so-slowly learning is acceptance. The Universe is unfolding as it should, to quote the Desiderata. There are many things I cannot or should not change, but I can accept them as part of the ongoing winding and circling of life.

It seems that Life, in its infinite wisdom, seeks balance. When it takes away, it gives back. When it hurts, it heals. And there is opportunity for learning and growth in every experience.

I am grateful that I can find great pleasure in the simplest of things:

  • a perfect spring leaf…
  • a well turned phrase…
  • a baby’s wee fingernails…
  • being awakened by birdsong…

That’s the key, I think. Accept what comes, find your balance, and appreciate Nature’s gifts.

At least, that’s what works for me.

Mothers and daughters

Posted by Dawn-Ann on May 22, 2010

Dawn and Kim

I like to think I’m a fairly accomplished woman. Not over the top accomplished, but I’ve done a few things I’m proud of. I’ve raised four children to become healthy, contributing members of society. I’m a published writer. I have a degree and a job I love as an e-communications analyst. My husband and I run two businesses that pay the mortgage and then some. I volunteer for a couple of non-profit organizations where my contributions are valued. My opinions are respected and often sought after.

But not by my daughters.

What is it about mothers and daughters I ask you? It is the nature of women to share their experiences and they learn from each other this way. When I hear Deb’s experiences about raising her boys, for instance, I put that information together with what I know from my own experiences, plus what I’ve read or heard others speak about. I look for patterns and calculate odds and then file everything away for future reference.

Dawn and Holly

But lord help me if I try to share my experience with either of my daughters. Even when I frame my story with qualifiers such as “in my experience” and “this may not be true of you,” I still get a stinging retort from one or a cold shoulder from the other and I’m left shaking my head in hurt confusion.

I love my daughters fiercely and decided one day to figure this out in the name of close and loving relationships. I want them in my life in a healthy, vibrant way darn it, and am determined to make that happen!

In the journey of figuring out the mystery I examined my own relationship with my mother. How do I feel when she offers her experience with me? No answers there, though. My mom is quite self-absorbed and I tend to be the one acting in the parental role with her. When she does tell her stories they are about specific events in her life. Aside from the obligatory, “How are the kids? How’s Tom?” she doesn’t seem to really notice what’s going on in my life. I’m sure she couldn’t even tell me what I do or where I work. That’s just mom and she has her own challenges.

Four young'uns

Next, I went online. I brought up Google and typed in strained relationships between mothers and daughters. The very first article that displayed was a pretty good one and offered a fair amount of insight. Here are a few key points:

  • Mothers want to help their daughters avoid painful experiences they endured so they offer their wisdom in an effort to share insight.
  • Daughters perceive this to be meddling and become greatly annoyed (“She thinks I’m too stupid to handle this”).
  • Mothers should offer more encouragement than advice.
  • Daughters should not assume meddling when mom offers her experience. Besides wanting to help avoid pitfalls, mom also really wishes to feel needed.

Personally, I think communication is key; and although we may be the very best communicators with the rest of the world, family dynamics can sometimes make it difficult to express ourselves honestly with each other. Instead of backing off feeling hurt, I think I need to start calling my girls on how they react sometimes and get a dialogue going instead.

And I’ll back off with the “wisdom” just a little…