Category Archives: life

Lent 2017

dscf0601With today being Ash Wednesday it means that we have now entered the Season of Lent. It is a period of 40 days, not including Sundays, leading up to Easter, and can be seen as a time of reflection and preparation. People observe Lent in may different ways and for a variety of reasons, but it is often seen as a time of giving up or self-denial, although it can also be seen as a time of taking things on. There are lots of resources available in print and online to help people on their journey through Lent. The above three books will be my companions on the journey this year.

The following quote (which I have shared on a number of occasions before) is something I read this morning and is from the introduction to Bread and Wine, one of the books pictured above:

First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)

Over the past week or so I have been reflecting on what I would do this year for my own personal observation of Lent. Sometimes it is difficult to come up with things. Previously I have given up things like coffee or meat, but neither of those are part my daily life anymore. After some prayer and consideration I came up with the following:

  • Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
  • Look for the positive in all situations and cultivate a better attitude of gratitude. I tend to be quite negative at times and I also am not always good at demonstrating my gratitude to people, especially in the daily small things that are done for me.
  • Get back to praying the Daily Office. This is something that I have been able to do our the years, but in a more sporadic fashion than I would have liked. I have plenty of resources to help me in this, so I really have little excuse for not being able to do this on a regular basis.

I’ll see how this all goes and, if I can, I may even post a few updates here.

How are you observing Lent this year? Feel free to leave a comment if you like.

Eight Years

keep-calm-and-stay-vegetarianToday marks the eighth anniversary of when I became a vegetarian. It’s not something I regret and there are times when I wish I had embraced it sooner. It’s been an adventure and it’s a journey that I’m glad I have kept on. I am not ready to embrace veganism at this point, but it is something I may eventually do.

There are many reasons why it is good to give up meat, but in the end it is up to the individual. I wrote a post eight years ago briefly outlining the reasons why I was becoming a vegetarian. I still hold to these and see no reason to go back. Initially the smell of certain meats cooking were a temptation to me, but now I find the smell of meat quite repulsive. Even the smell of bacon, which I once loved, does nothing for me now.

I’m still on the lookout for any new veggie recipes and like to try new ones from time to time. So if you have any you think I might like to try please pass them on to me.

If you are considering moving towards a vegetarian lifestyle, then here are some sites that have helped me:

The Year Ahead

tolkien-realityI’m not that big on resolutions, but I like to sit down at the start of the year and set a few personal goals for the year ahead. This is the first time for a few years that I’ve written a post about it, but in doing this it might help me to be more accountable and to actually follow through on them.

2016 was a roller-coaster of a year personally. There were some really great moments, but there were also some times I’d like to forget about. It’s all in the past now, so there’s no point in dwelling on any of it.

So, on to 2017. Here are some of the things I want to work towards:

My health – I had my 50th birthday last year, which hardly seems possible, but it’s true. Most of the time I don’t feel like 50, but there are some things that remind me, although quite often it is those around me who remind me. I have found it harder to keep off the weight in the past year, so one of my health goals is to make sure that I exercise regularly. To do this I’d like to go for a 20-30 minute walk each day. If this is not possible then at least 20-30 minutes on the Wii Fit, either in the morning or the evening. Some days I’d like to even do a combination of both, but I’ll settle for one or the other. The other part of my health I’d like to work more on is my food intake. Being a vegetarian you’d be tempted to think that this wouldn’t be a problem, but I am probably about 20lbs heavier than I need to be. So, I’m working on my food intake and looking at changing some of my eating habits. If I could cut out my evening snacking that would probably be half the battle. At some point I’d like to explore going vegan, but I’m still working through all that this would mean for me.

My family – I moved to Canada almost 23 years ago and in five years time I will have spent half of my life here. It’s not a move that I have ever regretted and life here has been pretty good for the most part. In many ways, I now see myself more as being Canadian than Scottish and would find it hard to ever move back again. One of the downsides of the move has been feeling gradually distanced over time from my family (and friends) on the other side of the Atlantic. I have to admit that I’m not always the best at keeping in touch, so some of the distancing has been my fault as well. I always enjoy my visits back ‘home’, although quite a few of them have been for funerals, which can be kind of bittersweet visits. My goal this year is to make more effort to keep in touch with family and friends overseas. When I first moved over here it was harder to keep in touch, but now with many different means of communication available it should be easier to do so. As well as family over there, I always need to remember that I have my family here as well, so I need to continue to find ways of spending as much quality time with them as well. Our oldest child will probably be heading to University after the summer this year, so we need to make the most of her time at home in the next few moths as well.

My spiritual life – this is an area I’m constantly working on, but I made some personal breakthroughs in 2016 that have helped me move forward in a number of ways. It’s a little personal to share here, but I have shared some of it with those who need to know. For some reason I have started to waken up at no later than 6am each morning, with no need for an alarm. I have started to use extra early time in the morning more wisely and most days I manage to spend 15-30 minutes then developing my spiritual life. Some of what were my core beliefs have been really challenged over the last year or so and this has been a good thing. I’m not as dogmatic in my beliefs as I used to be and I’m finding that my spiritual priorities continue to change for the good. One of the things I really want to try and fit into my schedule this year is a silent retreat of at least 3 days. I’m working on finding something like this that will work for me. Another thing I’d like to work on is a personal rule of life and I have gathered together some tools that will help me develop this.

My working life – for the last few years this has been quite frustrating for me. Most of the time I’m fine with what I do and where I am, but there are times when I’d prefer to be anywhere else doing whatever. Most people probably find this happening to them, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I really need to do something about it. Conversations have taken place and I’ve put in writing some of my hopes, dreams, concerns, and so on, to those who need to know how I feel. I really can’t share here what this means, but am hoping that things become clearer in the year ahead.

My reading life – it would probably be an understatement for me to say that I really like books and reading. Last year, however, I really struggled with my reading and fell quite short of the goals I had set for myself. As I enter 2017 I’m feeling better about my reading. As I write this I’m still working on my reading goals for this year and am working out which reading challenges I want to sign up for. I’ve found a few that really interest me. Once I’ve worked this out I’ll add a tab at the top of this blog with links to the challenges I end up joining. I have a lot of books that I really want to finally get to this year, so I’m looking at challenges that can help me accomplish this. One thing I’d really like to do is to write more reviews of the books I read, even if some are only a paragraph or two.

Blogging – I started my first blog (Once Upon A Time In The North) in 2005 and have kept up some form of blogging ever since, although there have been time when I have posted very little. It’s something I enjoy doing, so I’d like to continue doing this in some form or other. My goal is to post more often, not for the sake of posting, but to try and make it more meaningful in some way or other. I’ll just have to wait and see where it goes, but I hope I can keep it up.

Photography – I enjoy taking pictures, even if at times the results aren’t the best. Over the last few years I’ve tried to maintain a photography blog with varying results. I did manage to complete a 365 type blog for one year, but it became more of a chore than it was worth. I still like the idea of having some kind of photography blog, but I’ll never attempt a 365 again. Instead I’m working on something else that I have referred to one friend as a 365ish blog. Once I’ve worked it out I’ll add a link to it somewhere on this blog. Making sure I have a camera with me wherever I go would be a good start as I work all of this out.

So, these are some of the things I’m working on at the moment. I have a lot of optimism as I move forward into 2017. If you got this far, then congratulations! I hadn’t intended for the post to be this long. If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how I can accomplish any of my goals then feel free to make a comment here or drop me an email. I appreciate the input of others, so any input would be more than welcome.

Happy New Year and may 2017 be a good year for us all.

Happy New Year!

cs-lewis-2cs-lewis-1

Happy New Year to everyone!

The above two C.S. Lewis quotes seem appropriate as we enter 2017. I spent part of today thinking back on 2016, on some of the things that happened, as well as reflecting on things that I didn’t get done that I wish I had. I also spent some time wondering about 2017 and what I’d like to achieve in the months ahead. I’ll take some time to list some of those thoughts tomorrow. I’m not big on resolutions, but I like to have some goals in place at the start of the year. 2016 wasn’t that bad of a year, but I have a feeling that 2017 will be better. Time will tell.

Catching Up

It has been an unusual year so far and it still has over a month to go. We started off the year living in half a house, as we were still undergoing renovations. Finally, in mid-April we were able to do most of our unpacking, almost ten months after we got here. We still haven’t got any of our pictures up yet, but I’m working on it. Besides all of this, we also had a lot of visitors (family and friends) visit this year, which was great. We never had many visitors during our 14 years in Elliot Lake, but now that we are in St Marys we are more accessible. It’s always great catching up with family and friends, so we’re just thankful that the house was in more of a state of readiness by the time they all visited.

When we moved here last year I had hoped to blog more regularly, but with all that was happening and things we had to unexpectedly deal with, I just got out of the habit and just didn’t feel like it at the time. However, that has changed and I now feel in more of a better place to post more stuff here again. A lot of it will probably be book or movie related as I enjoy taking part in some of the memes that go around a number of the blogs that I follow. Plus reading and watching movies are two of my favourite things to do in my spare time, so it’s kind of natural for me to want to blog about them.

My reading did kind of suffer there for a while as well. There were times when I couldn’t focus or just had trouble remembering what I had just read. Thankfully I am getting back to enjoying reading again, but I won’t reach my target of 75 books for this year, although I will still probably be close to 50. Fifty is a fitting number for this year as well, because I turned 50 in April, which hardly seems possible, but is true nonetheless.

At 50 I think I’m in better shape than I was at 40, but I’m finding it harder to keep off the weight these days. Once all the rush of Christmas is past, Pamela and I are considering signing up for Forks Over Knives. If you are wondering what that’s about click on the link or watch their movie, which is available on Netflix.

Getting back to my reading, my habits have started to change again, although one thing that hasn’t changed is that I buy more books than I read. I’m seriously thinking of giving up my participation in The Classics Club as I haven’t been able to keep up with it. I also have found that I’ve not been enjoying some of the books as much as I expected to. I’ll make a decision on it soon. One unusual thing that has happened is that I have discovered that I enjoy the odd romantic novel. During the summer I received a free romance in a giveaway, read it, and discovered it was a good escape for me. I’ve read a few more since then and they haven’t been all that bad. It’s only a certain kind that I enjoy, mainly contemporary, inspired, suspense, and sci-fi. The other categories don’t really appeal that much to me at all. I’ve found that I can get a lot of what I like for free or cheap on the Kindle or Kobo apps, so that has given me enough to read. Also, on the reading front, I joined the Renovaré Book Club this year again after taking last year off. The four books chosen for this year look like great reads and I’m enjoying being a part of it again so far.

For my 50th birthday my family gave me a turntable, so I now have something to play my vinyl on again. I now have to work out how to get my collection of vinyl that is still in Orkney over here. Now I spend some of my spare time checking out thrift stores for records. I’ve found some good deals there so far. Also, there’s a great vinyl store in Stratford, which is only 20 minutes away.

One other thing that happened this year is that we have TV again. For the past few years we’ve been relying on Netflix, DVDs, and the internet for our occasional viewing, but a few months ago we discovered that we could get a good deal with Rogers for their basic TV and signed up for it. We had been with Bell for our internet and home phone, but their prices were getting ridiculous. Being fed up with this, we shopped around and discovered that Rogers offered phone, internet, and TV for less than the two services we had with Bell. So, we changed to Rogers and haven’t looked back. We also gained unlimited bandwidth with Rogers internet, so we don’t have to worry about going over our limit like we had to do with Bell. We’re still not watching much TV, but we are enjoying the on-demand feature, which is something new to us.

Well I think that’s enough catching up for now. Hopefully I’ll keep up more with the blogging now and make keeping this site up worthwhile.

Lent 2016

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of Lent for this year. I was encouraged to find out that our local ministerial hosts a series of Lenten lunches during this time. The first one was today and was a meaningful short time of reflection followed by a light lunch. They will be held in the local United Church each Wednesday at lunchtime up until Easter. Although the location is the same each week, the services are led by different churches each week. Our congregation is responsible for March 2. I’m looking forward to this series of lunches as it is not something that happened in our previous community.

You may ask ‘What is Lent?’ My favourite description of what Lent is comes from the introduction to Bread and Wine, a book I have read a few times during the period of Lent and Easter:

Less-is-MoreFirst popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)

For some people Lent is a time of giving up, for others it is a time of taking on. I like to embrace both of these things and try to incorporate a bit of both into my Lenten observation. For the past few weeks I’ve been reflecting upon what I would do during Lent this year. After a fair bit of prayer and reflection I’ve come up with the following:

  • Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that has become standard for me during Lent for a number of years now. It has been a help in previous years and I’m sure it will continue to be so.
  • Give up all bread and related products. I really like bread and have lately come to the realisation that I eat too much of it. A regular day might find me eating a couple of waffles, four or more slices of bread, a bagel, a couple of buns, and so on. I’ve probably gained 20lbs since the fall and I know I am suffering for it. Perhaps abstinence from these things during Lent may help me to break this habit.
  • Work on fulfilling the Renovaré covenant in more meaningful ways. You can find out more about Renovaré HERE. The covenant states: ‘In utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as my ever-living Savior, Teacher, Lord, and Friend, I will seek continual renewal through spiritual exercises, spiritual gifts, and acts of service.’ I signed it a few years ago, but I need to go back and re-examine it and make it a better part of my life.

Last year praying the Daily Office was one of my goals and, for the most part, I’ve kept that up. So, this will continue to be one of my daily goals. Also, last year I endeavoured to put up a daily Lenten post, but it became a burden as Lent progressed. I have decided that it wouldn’t be helpful to try that again this year, but I’ll try to post some periodic posts and updates.

My main daily resource is the Renovaré publication pictured above – Less is More: A Lenten Guide for Personal RenewalI just downloaded a copy of it by donation this evening and am looking forward to getting into it before I sleep tonight. It is still available from the Renovaré website.

Following Easter I will try to post an update of how it all went. If you have any thoughts, Lenten experiences, or ideas you would like to share please feel free to post them in the comments section.

Teaser Tuesdays – Stitches (Jan 5)

teasertuesdays2014eTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

stitchesHere are my teasers for this week:

When you love something like reading – or drawing or music or nature – it surrounds you with a sense of connection to something great. If you are lucky enough to know this, then your search for meaning involves whatever that Something is.

From page 22 of Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott.

Throwback Thursday – September 1989

23 Laverock Rd - 1989 001

Twenty-six years ago this week, on September 5, 1989 to be precise, I proposed to Pamela. I remember it was a Tuesday, my parents still hadn’t met her (they were on holiday), and I had a little accident with a Postvan that day as well (that’s another story). Thankfully, she said yes, and got to meet my parents a few weeks later. On the night we got engaged we visited my grandparents on Laverock Road to tell them the news, and Pamela took the above photo of me with them and Rupert.

New month, new blog

With today being the start of a new month I decided to start blogging again, after a hiatus of almost three months. It has been a busy summer as we have settled in a new community. After spending the past 14 years in Elliot Lake we moved to St Marys, ON, at the end of June. We are slowly getting settled in, although we haven’t done much unpacking yet, as we are waiting for some work to be carried out on the house. Hopefully it will all be completed before winter sets in.

St Marys is a beautiful little town on the banks of the Thames River. It is a different kind of beauty than Elliot Lake, which was more isolated and nestled in the bush. We will always have good memories of Elliot Lake, as our son was born there and we watched both our children grow into teenagers. It was the right time to move on, though, and we look forward to a set of new and different challenges/opportunities in St Marys.

I really haven’t fully worked out what I’m going to do with this blog yet. I’ll probably still do some of the same features/memes as on my previous blog, Two weeks from everywhere. I’d like to try some different things as well, plus I’d like to get back on track with my book reviews.

Thanks for reading this and I hope you’ll stick around for journey.

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