New Year Fresh

man with fireworks

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Welcome to a new year!

Each and every January I have the same feeling – a feeling of freshness, of dreaming dreams and of getting organized and recommitted to healthy, mindful living. The great thing about a new year is that it feels like everything is possible, and that the weary old mistakes of yesteryear can be overcome.

My challenge to everyone is to take a minute and breathe in the new 2019 air, make a commitment to a plan or dream, and make a promise to yourself to see that commitment through. Is this the year you finally take that flying lesson, finally learn how to knit a sweater or finally read that classic?

What dreams have been rattling around waiting for your attention? Make 2019 the year of those dreams!

Another fresh new year is here . . .
Another year to live!
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!”

William Arthur Ward

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Mirror Image

photo of person holding crystal ball

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – There are so few days now until Christmas. Hoping everyone has a chance to make merry in their own way.

I was given a wonderful gift this year, which I got to open already. It is a glass ball that I placed in the window of my Peterborough office. I was working at my computer and glanced over. I saw cracks in it coming up from the base and I worried that I had damaged it in just a few short minutes of ownership. However, when I took it out of the window the cracks disappeared. It turns out that the spidery cracks that were present
in the window were the reflection of the birch trees in the courtyard.

How wondrous that what I thought was damage is actually a magical reflection of trees in my window. Now I look and see the inverted image of the trees, and that makes me smile at the beauty. It also makes me wonder how often we see cracks where there is actually magic, flaws that are actually reflections. How often do we see flaws through our window of perception that are really reflections of ourselves?

It is that time of year during which magic is all around us! Look beyond the cracked exteriors of hurry and find the beauty of the holidays.

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Fount of Wisdom

fountainFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Part of the fun of a recent Christmas lunch was a gift swap game. One gift, which was unwrapped for all to see, was a gravy fountain. The person who opened it said that she liked it and hoped she could keep it. The game progressed and many gifts moved around, but in the end the original opener was, indeed, left with the gravy fountain. A few minutes passed and then she opened the box … and found it full of butter tarts. It turns out that there is actually a market for gag boxes to be used for gift swaps as a way to add to add to the hilarity of the game. Here is the catch though … it was designed to be a gift that no one wanted, that would get pushed around the swap to add to the fun.

This gift swapping adventure makes me think … a large company found a niche market and created a gravy fountain box, complete with flashy photos and product details. Someone bought said box as a way of adding to the enjoyment of  the game but, in the end, there was an unintended outcome … actual disappointment at not having received a gravy fountain!

This tale is a good reminder for all of us that, while we think we can guess what will be appreciated or that we can predict what is of universal appeal, everyone is completely different and unique. We all need to slow down a little and get to know a person – listen, observe and seek to understand what it is that makes their heart sing – so that we can support, work with or just walk on the planet together in the most positive way possible. There is always a case for caution and exploration because one person’s gravy fountain gag gift could be another person’s Holy Grail of Christmas gift giving… which we cannot necessarily predict.

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Straw Strength

brown wooden barn

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – In my early childhood there was no yard light and the walk to the barn could be dark and long despite that fact that it was only about 50 metres long. Ours being a big family, flashlights were often lost. So one of my brothers, at a very young age, worked out a strategy … he could walk to the barn in the dark as long as he carried a piece of straw. If he focused on the straw while he walked, he was not afraid or overwhelmed by the darkness.

This is genius for a six year old! He knew already that the answer to getting through the tough stuff is to focus on what is close by, what is in the present moment, what is controllable. He could traverse that long, dark passage because he had something on which to focus.

I should add that he is often teased mercilessly about this practice, even now, but the strategy holds. A big expanse of troubling unknowns or challenges is conquerable if we focus on what is the next step, what is close, what is in the immediate span of control … and keep moving forward. The barn will soon loom large in front of us if we focus on one piece of straw at a time.

(This brother shall remain nameless so that he never knows that I think his strategy was genius, but there it is … the strategy for challenges of all kinds is a piece of straw.)

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Keeping Track

shallow focus photography of railway during sunset

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director –

Ear worms are unpredictable. This morning my husband called out, “I guess you’re not in the shower … since I can hear you singing Chattanooga Choo Choo from the bedroom, I am flushing the toilet.” This is the kind of loving exchange that can be heard at my house all of the time.

Here’s the thing … I was not really consciously aware that I was singing Chattanooga Choo Choo and, furthermore, I would be hard pressed to guess when I last heard, thought about or sang that particular song. Then, when I did start paying attention, I realized that I was mashing up about three oldies into weird verses that seemed to always end in, “She’s sixteen, she’s beautiful and she’s mine.”

The brain is a marvelous and mysterious thing. Mine was clearly on its own this morning in the way of music choices. I guess this makes me think about all of the other things that our minds do when not really attended to. Do we slip into habits, form opinions on auto
pilot? For sure my husband usually flushes the toilet automatically whether I am in the shower or not…

Listen to your ear worms … not necessarily because there is secret wisdom in unconscious humming, but more because doing so will snap us back to where we are, guide us to a more thoughtful moment and – when we are all being conscious and mindful – there are far fewer screeching hot shower flushes and other such mishaps and misadventures.

Thank you for all you do each day.

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Lasting Impressions

three women standing by the wall

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This has been a tough week for a whole community with the passing of Carol. I have heard some wonderful stories from dozens of people about her smile, her quirky habits, her volunteer work and her passion for parties.

One story, though, still has me thinking. A person told me that in no time at all after meeting Carol, she could count on being greeted with a big smile and hug. The person recounted, “Even though Carol did not know me that well, she saw me, she accepted me and she made me feel like a valued person.” Maya Angelou is often quoted as saying that all kinds of things will be forgotten, but someone will always remember how you made them feel.

This makes me start to reflect on how often I am rushing and busy and I pass people I know with just a quick wave or smile without slowing my step. How often do I really stop to hear the story or ask how someone is? How often do I take the moment to really wonder how people are while I am quickly asking like an automaton, ‘how are you?’

Am I seeing people? Making people feel valued? These are questions worth asking because story after story has little to do with roles, accomplishments, wealth or achievements, but instead presence, smiles, and ensuring people felt important. This is how Carol navigated her community and left her lasting, widespread legacy.

Slowing down and take the time to truly see someone is challenge in this fast-paced world in which we are so bogged down in roles, responsibilities and busy lists. So, let’s start small –  the next person you bump into, try to stop and really see them, really wonder about their life at present, really take a moment to make them feel valued. And of course one more thing ~ if there is music, dance.

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Beyond Our Stories

person holding white paper and typewriter

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – My work this week took me to Toronto, where I stayed in a hotel by the airport. What you have to grow accustomed to when this happens is the sound of a massive jet engine ripping through the sky every 4 or 5 minutes. It amazes me that so many people have so many places to go so very often. There must be tens of thousands of travelers each and every day.

Deepak Chopra would say that often we get trapped in our stories.  By this he means that the stories we tell ourselves about what is going on – the stories about our roles and our reactions to the struggles of day to day life – limit our effectiveness in seeing what is truly around us. Life gets difficult sometimes and this week in Haliburton it has been hard with the passing of Carol. There is a comfort in what we know; the story reels in our heads that we play over and over to get through.

I guess that the challenge is to remember that at any moment we can make a fresh start.  If we are thinking that we are trapped by a role or circumstances often small changes can change the whole trajectory.  What new insight, adventure, role or story awaits after a pause and realization that a large part of what is happening right now is controlled in our reactions. Maybe it is just a matter of looking up and noticing that another option is available in so many of our moments. A jet fueled opportunity is ripping through our day every 4 or 5 minutes; just watch for it and jump on board when you need a change in plot line.

Thanks for all you do together, each day and in so many different ways.

Thank you to the team that put together the vendor market – it was awesome.

Still thinking of Community Living Trent Highlands not only in Haliburton but the whole community at this time.

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Volunteering Excellence

silhouette photography of group of people jumping during golden time
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From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – This past week I had the pleasure of attending the volunteer recognition night for the Kawartha Lakes Sport & Recreation Council. At this event, community sport and recreation contributors were nominated and honoured for their role and action in changing lives through sport in Kawartha Lakes.

I was reminded of the timeless truth that it is the volunteer – the person giving freely of his or her time and gifts – that builds the rich layers of community. Well beyond the sports world, all over there are people passionate about their different gifts and interests who are sharing willingly with others –  many people making places and opportunities for citizens to grow, to develop, to test waters, to improve.

It was a fantastic night to remind everyone attending of the significant contributions that volunteers make. Sometimes we fall into a pattern at our agency in which we reference the community as if it is some kind of crystalline entity somewhere downtown. Community is driven by people connected by place, by interests, by commonalities. Community is time, talent and common interests freely given to one another in places where we can gather.

Thanks so much for all you do each day at the heart of community.

Collective Coping

Person in Rabbit CostumeFrom the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – Halloween is a great time of year – well, it is also at a weird time of the year that is mashed between Canadian Thanksgiving, American Thanksgiving and inundated with Christmas readiness in stores and overzealous front lawns in all of our communities. I think over time we, as a society, did this to keep people excited through the fall as the nights darken, the temperatures drop and snow starts to skirt around the edges of our weather report. Some people love this holiday hype, but for others it is a difficult time during which life is busy and heartaches are exasperated by holiday nostalgia.

Our holiday week was packed with great costumes, ghouls, goblins and great fun. What I love especially about costumes is seeing how much confidence, whimsy and creativity actually exists out there. From the signs that simply say “nudist on strike” to the full on tooth fairy, chicken or scarecrow, costumes are just so much fun. Equally, I love the stories of the gas station or Tim Horton’s stops in full costume, complete with staring patrons.

Halloween, and other, occasions are meant to provide a little whimsy in our regular year. Let’s grab these with both hands to help us get through the busy, less exciting times.

Happy ‘Hallanukkahivingsmasween’ everybody! Let’s get celebrating.

Laundry Lessons

white clothes line trousers past

From the desk of Teresa Jordan, Executive Director – My bargain hunting cousin stumbled across a colossal deal recently. She found a bin in front of a high-end lingerie store with good quality, comfortable underwear for the low price of $2 each. There were lots in her size and she bought many pairs.

Now, the reason they were on clearance was that they were seasonally embellished with cute sayings and pictures about Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. However, not being one to really wear her underwear as outerwear, slightly strange colours and graphics did not bother my cousin one bit. Triumphantly, she took her prize home and threw them into the laundry room to be washed.

Later that night her husband went to the laundry room to retrieve an item and was a little startled at the pile of new underwear, specifically because it was glowing! It turns out that the pictures and words on the underwear were ‘glow in the dark.’

Makes me wonder how often we overlook things, and opportunities, around us while we rush… or wait for something that does not have the head of a Christmas elf where we do not want it to be!

What wondrous things we could be doing, and connecting to, when we are on the lookout! And, if we are really lucky, what we find might hold a little bit magic, to perhaps brighten up a particularly dark corner of our community.

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