Monday, November 24, 2014


After a tenuous October, November finally made good on the promise of a snowy winter here in Seskatchewan. It started with pelting snow, that stings the face when blown by the wind, followed by light flakes that fell gracefully onto the first layer. 

I'm a romantic, I know that, but I can't get over the comfort that snow seems to bring here. It's just a much more natural state in the Great White North. Shouts and screams of playing children replace the birdsong of the abandoning migrants. The ground crunches with every step, and the air feels ultimately more real. 

Besides its beauty, snow requires a set of rituals. You have to zip up with a scarf, hat and mits. You bang your boots every time you enter the indoors. And, the scraping: mornings are filled with the "raspa, raspa" sound that gave snow cones their name in San Antonio, except this is the sound of ice scraped from windshields. In the afternoons the sound changes to shovels on sidewalks as homeowners and businesses clear the way or face a possible fine for not doing so. 

I feel better when it snows here. It's familiar, it's inviting, it's soothing and it's calm. Everything has to slow down. Everyone drives slower and you have to walk with care. Sudden movements in either case could cause injury.

Life just feels more deliberate in the winter in Saskatchewan. It's a good thing for both the mind and the soul.

When people hear that I spend my winter here and summer in California, I often get, "you're doing it wrong!" But for me, this slow down is the perfect respite from a fast paced life, and a good reminder of how I want to live. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Visualizing Goals

Visualization is a very big part of who I am. In my early twenties I had a guy friend who turned me on to the idea. Because of him, I started making lists, and imagining myself in a future I thought I wanted. And, an amazing thing happened.  Almost invariably, what I imagined came to be. I wanted to live in Europe, that happened. I wanted to be educated, that happened. I wanted to have a great relationship with my kids, that happened. I became a writer, a manager, a director. Almost everything I visualized in my twenties and thirties happened in one incarnation or another. Maybe I was lucky, who knows.

I've had pitfalls along the way too.  There were many things that didn't quite work out the way I hoped they would. As it turns out, for some of those things, I didn't really have a clear picture of how they would work. Maybe that's what went wrong. Some of them just wouldn't work, and understanding that took some time.

Have I learned from those experiences? Maybe. It's hard to say. A year or so ago, I realized that I'd achieved a lot of what I set out to do, but still wasn't happy. I was happy to have achieved those feats, but without new feats I found I was flailing again.

Without a general direction to go, I just didn't know what to do with myself. I need goals, but what I know now is that goals don't necessarily have to be oriented to career, money, property or status. My new goal is to just live a lovely life, and figuring out what I need to do to stay on that path is my current endeavor. I really hope it happens.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Bad American: Living More With Less

Am I a bad American? It's an interesting question to ponder while living in what feels like a changeling existence. Canada's culture and values are similar to those I grew up with, but with a good bit more practicality and politeness. It's necessary I think when more than half of the year is below the freezing mark.

But that's not what this post is about. When I ponder this question, it's a quandary of my values. I'm not an avid consumer. I am abhorred by my own weakness for coveting things. It's a habit I'm trying to break. I work diligently towards being satisfied with what I have, making do, and repurposing as much as possible. 

I'm edging towards a lifestyle change: living more with less. It's an ongoing development that I hope will become a new philosophy for me. It involves purging of things, paring down my belongings to just the essentials, and even redefining what the essentials are. 

I want to consume less. Yes, it's green, and maybe serves social justice, but my true motive is economical. I don't want to live a life of overwork and stress just to keep up with the status quo.  I don't need all those things, and I don't want to pay for a large house to store them. I want to live simpler, quieter, and in peace. 

So, this brings me back to my original question. Am I a bad American for abandoning what to me is  reckless and destructing consumerism? I don't think I am. I've just decided to get off this Crazy Train and turn up the Cat Stevens instead.