Unearth the Bowl

We bought a bowl once. It’s a shiny gold with vibrant splashes of red, green, blue and orange and we thought it would make a striking centerpiece for our table. We did not, at the time, consider what, if anything, we would put in it. Nor did we consider how much an empty bowl might beckon us to fill it. I’m ashamed to say this beautiful bowl has become a bowl for bills; piles of important papers now cascade from it completely blotting out the original reason for which it was purchased. Now instead of looking at the beautiful bowl and experiencing joy, I look at a bowl of bills and feel frustrated, worried, and depressed.

How often do we do this in life? Every day affords new opportunities to discover the beauty of this wondrous world and we put our heads down and hone in on the dirty and mundane, intent on working that extra hour, finishing that task, or crossing off that next item on our to-do list. We are surrounded by sunsets and cute kids, ice cream and symphonies, butterflies and flowers and we still have our faces glued to our iPhones. Then we wonder why we’re tired, why we need therapy, why our lives are devoid of meaning. This world is rich with beauty and we’re made to enjoy it. Beauty, in all its diverse forms, refreshes and revives, delights and excites us. Beauty brings us joy, but only when we pause to acknowledge and appreciate it. Otherwise, it just gets lost in the blur.

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We moved 5 years ago and bought a fixer upper. We went shopping for granite and even if you’re not in the market, I highly recommend this activity. We were given addresses of a couple of warehouses in Calgary, secret places with great slabs of earth on display. I kid you not, my mouth was gaping. Some slabs spoke boldly with splinters of jagged color. Others sparkled like white sand on a beach. Still others made me think of animals like leopards, tigers, and appaloosas. One they aptly titled “Circus”, I was sure, gave off the the sweet scent of cotton candy. Many times in the course of that afternoon, I was dumbfounded and all I could do was stand and stare. Some slabs were so beautiful, I couldn’t imagine them as countertops. The very thought was sacrilege. Who knew that shopping for granite could be such a nourishing experience?

The thing is, this kind of soul lightening stuff is available every day, if we open our eyes to it. We need to unearth the bowl, so to speak. We need to climb out from under the “have to” and into the “just because”. Now I try to pause, even if only in my mind, and thank God for the beauty revealed to me each day; for the lime green ruffle on the little girl’s coat, a favorite tune coming in on the car radio, the scent of lilacs, every hug I receive from my kids. I also thank God for all those artists, poets, writers, actors, dancers, musicians, architects, gardeners, interior designers, landscapers—anyone who, by pursuing their passion, makes this world even more beautiful than it already is—anyone who can make us stop and look—anyone who can, for one second, take our minds off of our troubles. I’m trying to even up the score and add a little delight to my drudgery and I invite you to do the same. Have you seen the bottom of the bowl lately?

Feature picture taken by me. The Bowl. 🙂

Posts come out when I feel like it. 😀 Scroll down to the bottom of the page to receive notifications of my posts via email. Follow me on Instagram username: @penelopepantaloons. Thanks for reading. 🙂

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Out of the Blind Side

Those of you who’ve been following my blog know that I’ve been running to improve my fitness level. The city I live in has two sides divided by a river and coulees or, if you’re not familiar with that term, ravines. I live a few blocks from the trails on top of the lightroad-815297_12802coulees, a pleasant place to exercise with a beautiful view of the river valley. Yesterday, I awoke at 5 am to get my run in, because I had to be somewhere to volunteer at 6:45. I know, an ungodly hour, but I work in healthcare. A 5 am start to the day isn’t unusual for me. What was unusual about this particular run is it was in the dark. I still opted to go out on top of the coulees, because running on trails is gentler on the body than smacking the pavement, but I didn’t consider how challenging it would be to run without being able to see. Continue reading “Out of the Blind Side”

With Rest Like This

I recently had a visit from the relatives. I don’t know how it’s for you, but I find it exhausting. It was fun, but it’s like eating too much–after awhile you start to feel sick. They left on Monday. It’s Thursday and I’m still recovering. There’s something wrong when a person has to recover from a holiday. We took our kids to Disneyland, Universal Studios, Sea World, and the San Diego Zoo this year. We did it in seven days. It was busy. All along the way, we were dazzled by creativity and enchanted by the magic of rest2make believe. We made some happy memories and I’m glad we took the trip, but I noticed the attractions begin to repel quickly. The noise-level, flashing lights, bright colors, and crowds of sweaty tourists are over-stimulating and that’s an understatement. There’s a lot of standing in line, straining to see, listening to whining and crying (I couldn’t help myself), interspersed with snippets of glee, spontaneous “oohs” and “ahhs”, and a year’s supply of french fries. We waited two hours to find Nemo and my daughter said when she found him, she would slap him. The cheery attendant standing nearby was horrified. Three days at the Magic Kingdom and we were sprinting for the drawbridge. We started using it as a disciplinary tool.

“I told you to stop it. Don’t make me take you back there.”
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In Your Face

Your story needs to be told and you’re the only one capable. Speak up!

Adolescence was a predominantly unhappy time for me. I existed a number of years in a fog of depression which I was convinced could be remedied by ingesting copious crookedteeth-3348516_12802amounts of chocolate. I was pudgy, Pudgy Polly. My ability to smile and laugh without self-consciousness was hampered by my protruding front teeth. I had a number of peers ask me why I always looked like I was preparing to blow a bubble. I couldn’t help it. It wasn’t easy for me to close my mouth. I had to stretch my lips down over those sandwich boards.  I spent my teenage years hiding behind my hands. (See pictures of me as a teenager here.) On top of all this, my family moved regularly. I was often the new kid. Being teased became a way of life and I was bullied a couple of times. I usually had one friend, but I was a serious loner.

I loved to ride my bike. I rode around for hours at a time. It was my way of feeling good.
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Nobody Cares

Be bold enough to do more than just leave the house.

I’m remembering a visit to the dermatologist. I had a nasty mole that kept burrowing up through the skin on the tip of my nose, a place, in my estimation, a mole should never be moleallowed to surface. I had it removed previously, but it’s stubborn and wants to be seen. What I didn’t realize until I sat down in the examination room was that the fee for removal had doubled. Unfortunately, at that moment, I had more mole than money and I sat there agonizing over whether or not I should go through with the procedure. When the Doctor came in, I shared my misgivings with him. What he told me has never left me. He basically said, “Nobody cares”. He went on to explain that people are so focused on themselves and their moles that my mole would have to be the size of the Eiffel Tower for anyone to take notice. He graciously allowed me and my mole to leave the office, free of charge, relieved and a little less self-conscious.

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Don’t just Live a Little

I can’t help but wonder. I keep it turned on.

marjorie-bertrand-147634The little girl I looked after today wasn’t two yet. I’d forgotten how utterly spontaneous they are at that age. On our way to the park, like a clumsy butterfly she landed here and there. She had to peek through the neighbor’s fence in search of doggies. She had to lie flat on her back in the grass, in the gravel, in the middle of the road. She tried, anyway. She caressed rocks and inspected pine cones and, at one point, sat down in the dark dirt and proceeded to cover herself with it. The idea that we were on our way to the park, the place designated for child’s play, meant nothing whatsoever to her. The world is her park.
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It’s a New Day

We’re always trying to mark the passage of time. We’ve defined a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a month, and a year to keep track of the rising and setting of the sun, to quantify our inhale and exhale, the beating of our hearts. We celebrate when a fresh human being clocks in and when an old-timer moves on from the here and now. Ourclock-1274699_1280 birthday parties are records of our continuing existence and our age, among other things, defines us. In a culture which prizes the beauty and strength of youth, many of us try to keep the number of our days a secret through hair dye, wrinkle creams, trendy clothing, fitness, plastic surgery, and furious denial. If you don’t want others to know your age, I suggest you hide your photo albums when your friends come over or you’ll be providing them with before and after photos. From time cards at work to the renewal of our driver’s licenses, we’re reminded that time is passing.
Continue reading “It’s a New Day”