Friday, December 30, 2016


2017 looms in the very near future. Sometimes I can hardly believe it! 2017??? I remember New Year’s Eve as we welcomed in the turning of the century. Both my parents and also Paul’s parents were still around and we, along with many of our kids, gathered together in Florida to celebrate!

I remember that year being quite auspicious. Concerns about “Y2K” and the possibility of throwing off computer programming became a big concern. Our four-digit year was, at that time represented with the last two digits making the year 2000 indistinguishable from the year 1900 (for instance). I remember my first response to this was “So what? Who cares? We’ll just make the necessary adjustments when it occurs!” And, in fact, that’s exactly what happened. Our world didn’t blow up. No body was attacked as a result of the confusion and eventually concerns subsided and our world went back to normal!

So…what’s in store for 2017? I believe in the wonder that is coming to us. Our world is changing drastically. Recent leadership shifts in the United States will have great fallout for us in Canada and throughout the world. We will continue to strive for justice and fairness and peace for all, and be aware when those things occur and when they don’t! I, for one, will persist in keeping my heart’s mind focused on “the light at the end of the tunnel” so even when I’m feeling sad or disappointed or even distraught, I can allow myself to feel that because I know it will end. And…if I don’t ‘see’ the light at the end of the tunnel, I will call on my faith to remind me it is there and if I just let myself experience and feel, even the bad stuff, it will eventually become less present and the light will reappear.

I have strong feelings that 2017 will be awesome. That is my resolution for this year. I wish it for everybody. May it be so…

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Catching Up!

I’m catching up! I’ve let many parts of my life lag behind as I begin to piece myself back together.

These past couple of years have changed me.  Turning 60 and feeling the significance of my aging is on the one hand challenging and limiting, and, on the other hand, exciting and limitless. Losing my mother, our last parent to survive, leaves me in a new position in the physical realm of family. I am now one of the oldest of our family. I am accepting a new role as elder and a responsibility to help our ‘future’ transition and grow into healthy human beings.

I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life and to embrace those people and things that want my embrace. Also, I have learned to release those people and things from my life who don’t want to be there, even though I want them there! It is hard to let go of that which I never really had in the first place. I will probably never have them now. I am resigned to that.

With so many life events occurring last year, Paul and I stayed home for the winter and didn’t travel. That’s unusual for us too. Our hiatus created a lag in visiting places where we have never been and revisiting those we have and love. Our ‘bucket list’ has become shorter. We don’t have as much time as we used to. We’d better do the things we want now! Our sense of time and energy is shifting as we age. And the way we travel is changing too!

So…this year of travel is about ‘catching up’.

That's ALL of us!
We have just finished a huge family reunion in Akumal, Mexico with our family of birth. Our 7 children, 6 partners and 4 grandchildren gathered together for a week of resort living in Akumal. We celebrated with gratitude the sale of our house in Toronto where all of the kids were brought up. We had time to ‘catch up’ on relationships, play together and simply enjoy each other’s company.

After our time with our kids in Mexico, Paul and I grasped the opportunity to return to Guatemala where we spent three months in 2011-2012. While living at that time on Lake Atitlan, we also connected with a very special community in Guatemala City. There, we spent many weekends with a group of Latin Americans who have become Jews of Choice. Growing up in various Latin American countries, each of these people were Christian.  Each of them were seeking a strong spiritual expression. Each of them did research to find that expression, and by some chance of God (beshert) found each other. Now they have all come together in Guatemala and delight in their individual lives as well as rejoicing in their lives tightly engaged with their spiritual community. Paul and I loved sharing Shabbat with this group of wonderful, energetic, smart and, oh so grateful people. Catching up with them meant experiencing the growth of their development since five years ago.
The physical aging of the youth and adults, the intellectual expansion of their knowledge about Judaism and Jewish practice, and their increased ability to hold morning service with song, prayer and conversation was so inspiring. And they shared so much gratitude for the times we spent with them the last time we were there and what we were able to share with them.

We’re thinking about catching up with our family and friends in Israel this winter and then to take advantage of proximity to India and catch up with our friends and “family” there. There are so many places in the world I have yet to explore. If I keep going back to the same places, I’ll never see Greece, or Viet Nam, or Australia! And…I also like being at home, and returning to places that already feel like ‘home’. I’m suffering from a real first world problem!

Even my blog needs ‘catching up’. Each year since I began my blog, the numbers of blogs that I post each month reduces. I want to catch up with that too.

I suppose it’s a little bit like closure. Leaving loose ends is uncomfortable, reminding me about unfinished business. I’m thinking that this is a little bit of what getting older is all about…finishing up business so we can clear the paths and make the most of what’s to come……
A Labyrinth.....The Spirit Wa

Friday, December 2, 2016

Antigua and Change

Walking the uneven cobblestone streets of Antigua reminds me of the uniqueness of this city. Antigua means antique and it’s architecture reflects that vibe. Since several devastating earthquakes in past centuries have destroyed the city, it has been rebuilt to highlight its Spanish baroque colonialism. We’re in the highlands here and I can feel it in the air I breathe (as long as I am away from the roads). The Central Square in the middle serves as a focal point for all the narrow stone streets and walkways that are outlaid to the north and south and to the east and west. Navigation is simple here because of the geometric design.

The quiet streets are lined with restaurants and ‘tipico’ Mayan shops and as we make our way outwards, busy mercados offering Guatemalan wares in vibrant colours and patterns are for sale everywhere. Fabric designs are all woven to represent the village from where they were made. Tacos and other characteristic foods abound. The streets resound with music, conversations in Spanish and (often) loud discourse. “Come see my wares! Good prices!” are calls meant to entice tourists to enter shops and purchase souvenirs.

Paul and I have been here before. I remember feeling the intensity of the Mayan culture here, and also the noticeable tourist attraction of the place. Even Guatemalans flock to Antigua for a short respite from the big city of Guatemala just an hour’s drive away. Here is an opportunity to stroll, eat, drink and share the offerings of antiquity, nature and solemn religious energy. The churches beckon, with their massive walls and ceilings and strong constitution of rock and cement. The painted walls of the buildings mirror the colours of Mayan design.

The last time we were in Antigua was five years ago and though the city looks the same, I don’t think I am the same, and so I see the city differently. The residents seem more comfortable and at peace. There’s a community vibe on the streets that I didn’t experience before. I also don’t remember the challenges of walking the cobblestone roads as acutely as I do now. I suppose my body is older now.

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The children’s’ faces tell it all. There’s a calmness that pervades here as I see them following their mammas who walk with baskets on their heads trying to sell what they have so they are more able to feed their children. Sometimes I become troubled about the divisions that money, or lack of money, create for the ways that we view each other. Occasionally I will buy something, but mostly I offer smiles and communication with an innate understanding of the commonality of how we care for our family regardless of where we live in this diverse world. We reach out to each other with acknowledgement that says “I see you!” I understand…

Our ascent to Cerro De La Cruz this evening is easy. There are apparently about 300 steps to complete the climb. By the time we reach the top the sun is setting and the sky is misty with clouds. There’s a white film that flows across my span of vision and Christ’s cross stands majestic across the city’s view. I’m guessing it provides a security for many who live here.

It’s times like this when I feel on top of the world. I share the space with visitors, neighbours, tourists and residents. There’s music playing in the background. I’m not even sure from where it comes. Drums sound and in communion with those around me I feel at peace with all who are here.