Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Maureen's Version of A Little Cuban/Virgin Mojito

Maureen's Little Cuban/Virgin Mojito, Version 1:

6-7 mint leaves
2 tsp sugar
Juice of 1/2 lime

Muddle in the bottom of the glass
Fill glass with ice
Pour over 1/2 can of Club Soda

Garnish with 1 mint leaf

Ta Da!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

The Amazing Other Room

I'm sitting in my backyard.
It's 1040, Sunday morning.
And I'm not in church.

So tired.
Couldn't do it.

I'm not one to miss - nor to encourage missing - but I'm sure that my "pushed to the limit" body/soul/spirit would not have absorbed anything today and so I made my decision.

Thinking about what has escaped my radar this week, this spring.
I've got through the shifts, did the Run, camped the May Long, made the YC trip and got the garden in.

But I'm sitting here in my horribly unkempt back yard that is hugely embarrassing to me -

And THIS is what I've missed:

  • I've missed the feel of the wind on my face fighting my product-laden hair, teasing it to come out and play
  • I've missed the warmth of the sun on my knees, penetrating my cozy yoga pants
  • I've missed the sound of the wind shaking the huge elm trees in my neighbor's yard
  • I've missed the smell of "outside".  Can that be bottled?
  • I've missed the "I'm cold, nope, I'm hot"
  • I've even missed taking care of my dirt and my weeds (aka, lawn)

When the first snow falls, I always feel a sense of loss - "well, there goes my OTHER ROOM" (my back yard).  Soon fall and winter routines continue and I become grateful that I don't have to caretake the yard and the break is welcome.
  • Cue winter schedules
  • Cue Christmas
  • Cue school routines
  • Cue everything that sucks up attention and time.

Spring arrives...
  • Cue warm sun, coaxing us back outside, back into that OTHER ROOM that lay neglected
  • Cue.  Every.  Single.  Job.  Ever.  Needed.  And. Do. It.  Now.  Before.  The.  Neighbors.  Hate.  You.

Goodbye Living room
Hello other room.

You need so much attention.

Is it too much?
Or is it "just right"?
Is it obligation
Or is it....

Calling me back outside to nature?
Put down the phone
Put down the lists
Put away the appointments

"Come back to nature
Come back to Me.
Let the wind blow and shake you
Let the sun control your body 
and make you smile
and make you sweat

Let the clouds 
amaze you
amuse you
Let the clock 
go unwatched 
Watch the time pass by 

Let the green grass be 
Vividly green
And the yellow dandelions be
In spite of themselves

Let the beans be the first to 
burst through the dry dirt
Let the tomatoes move from 
 spindly legs to
arms of steel
Ready to hold rosy treasures


And I don't want to miss a thing.

"The earth is the Lord's
And EVERYTHING in it."
Psalm 24:2

(....maybe even the tent caterpillars...)

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Importance Of Being Grounded

The past few weeks have gone by in a blur.  Months, maybe even!

Responsibilities and obligations have filled my days off,  keeping my fingers tied to my laptop and my nose aimed at the grindstone.

Easter week was amazing - family was here from out of province and we spent as many minutes as possible together, rediscovering each other, playing, shopping, creating adventures.  I love.

As soon as family left, I returned to work and worked all weekend - get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, repeat, repeat.

And so, today, I look out my kitchen window and see that my back yard is mostly peeking through the snow.  The front yard is almost entirely clean - it's always first.

But my back yard - that's my happy place.  My other room. My summer house.  Neglected in winter, adored in the summer.

My creative juices are already planning and scheming for tasty vegetables, fun decorations and maybe even beautiful pictures.

I was daydreaming about summer the other day.  And I had this urge.

The urge to go barefoot
Feet touching the dirt.

Garden dirt
Sandy beaches
Leafy wooded trails
Freshly mowed lawn

Seems you return to the basics of life when barefoot.

You're grounded.

Nothing hidden.

Nothing fake or put on or pretentious.

Feet touching nature as if the dust returns life through the soles of your feet.

As winter has given way to spring and spring will give way to summer.....

As the frenetic winter gives way to fresh spring.....

As driven gives way to restoration.....

I think of all the things that keep me grounded.

Creativity - even if I'm the only person who thinks it's cool!  

Walking through the bush - THE BEST place to find your soul

I got the giggles here when the swing went higher than I expected!  Silly me

The calming noise of rushing water

The beauty of nature

Spending time in my kitchen

......things more creative than
to do charts
menu plans
and grocery lists

Making memories with those that I love

Praying that the coming season of spring and summer find you grounded doing what you love with people that you love.

Friday, 5 February 2016

The Unwilling Servant of the Unrelenting Master

Hello from my bed.

There's a mental picture that you wish you hadn't received.


I'm laid up today.  But my mind is full and I've been in deep thought.  For quite a few days, actually.

For whatever reason, I shot out of Christmas mode and into January in full on race horse style.  The gun went off and I took off at a mind numbing pace.  Maybe there's a down side to having a quiet Christmas!  Energy for Jan. 1 and beyond!

There had been projects simmering on the back burner, projects that really couldn't be deemed as fun but necessary.  You see, there's the Maureen-the-nurse person, but there's also the Maureen-the-music-director and Maureen-the-camp council member and Maureen-the-volunteer in addition to Maureen-the-wife & mother, Maureen-the-friend, Maureen-the-crafter.  Etc.

Maureen-the-volunteer-with-many-hats-that-includes-most-of-the-above-Maureens decided that January was a good month to put the nose to the grind stone and get things done.  And so I did.

Funny thing, that "get 'er done" mentality gets carried away on ya if you let it.  One task leads to another task which leads to another and another and all of a sudden my days at home were filled with more things to do for everyone outside my home than I could keep up with.  Then there's urgent and pressing needs that you have when you have a family.  And I have a demanding job that seems to have demanded more than its fair share of me as of late as well.

I've been wandering around the house for days feeling overwhelmed with a resentfulness that has been circling me and I came up with this new mantra.

I am an unwilling servant of an unrelenting master.

I just felt like I had given myself away to a 'boss' that did nothing but demand more and more and I finally had had enough.  ENOUGH!!

(Now before you get all "how could they" if you know where my volunteer commitments lie, please understand that my goals and tasks had been almost entirely at my own initiative.  It's really my own problem.  Not anyone else's.)

Regardless, here I sit.  Lay.

I feel like I've lost something.

I've lost myself.

All I really want to do today is bake cookies for my family and tidy the house.

"Me" stuff.

I've had enough of the unrelenting master.  I'm an unwilling servant to the demands that roar outside my head.  And I think that's healthy and I give no apology for giving myself a shake up.


That's not the end of the story.

There's a side of me that's not included in the "Maureen-the....." descriptor above.

And that's "Maureen-the-Christ follower."

Let me just say that when one is consumed with duties, tasks and to-do lists, there isn't much time for faith, meditation, prayer, reflection - things that give you fuel to keep moving.  "Go go go" is incompatible with a quiet and open spirit.  My brother in law just posted a statement that said:

"[Thomas] Merton once told me to quit trying so hard in prayer. He said, 'How does an apple ripen? It just sits in the sun.' A small green apple cannot ripen in one night by tightening all its muscles, squinting its eyes and tightening its jaw in order to find itself the next morning miraculously large, red, ripe, and juicy beside its small green counterparts. Like the birth of a baby or the opening of a rose, the birth of the true self takes place in God's time. We must wait for God, we must be awake; we must trust in his hidden action within us." – James Finley. 

I think I've been like that small green apple, with it's daily agenda being along the lines of "get your duties done" with little regard for "grow in Christ, hear his voice. Ripen and become sweet and fruitful."

Bluntly put, I think that I/me/Maureen has been.....

An unwilling servant of an unrelenting Master

Jesus has been the Unrelenting Master. Watching me as I've worked hard to be productive, and yet neglecting to be fruitful in the things that matter to Him the most.  Soul things.  Things that actually fuel me so that I can be that productive go-getter that I want to be in areas that really do matter.

I've obviously been quite messed up.


And so, today, there is a pause in my steps.  An awakening in my spirit.  A reluctance to chase demands.  I have......

A hunger for more and a need for less, 
all in the same breath.  

More of Jesus.  

Less of me and my big ideas and plans.  

More things done out of love for those (people not projects) who I am responsible for. 

Less things done to suit the hunger of a needy expectation that really only exists in my mind.  

More time praying.  

Less time doing.  

More time filling.

Less time robbing.

I'd like to say "wish me luck".  

But what I really want to say is ..... please pray for me.  And, Lord help me, I'll pray for you too.

"...Pray that you'l live well for the Master,
making Him proud of you as you work hard in His orchard."
Col. 1:10