Can I Post on an iPhone?

I am sitting in a hotel in Tokyo. Every thing points to making life simple.

How do I access internet or phones. Seems Japan has limited Wifi. The options begin to get expensive. And shouldn’t a pilgrim be looking to a more simple life. Anyway it appears that I can write a post… what remains to be seen is, “will it go out?”

I may just post pretty pictures. This journey is about discovery. This journey is about struggle. This journey is about being in the moment.

I walk with you in my thoughts.

(more…)

March 10- Tokyo

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”      ~The Peace Pilgrim

As spring approaches, I found myself waiting for something and was reminded that each day will always bring new experiences and “bring up” old memories. I also was reminded that each day will create new memories, friendly advice and suggestions, and a need for a little preparation.

I spent a day with Kate, Kipp and my grandchildren on Salt Spring Island. There was a lull in the snow. I sat on Chris’s memorial bench by the shore. It was a beautiful sunny day. As I sat and looked out at the water, I thought how much she loved the water and sunshine and I knew it was a place she would like. I told her I was taking her to Japan for a little walk.

On March 7th, I left for Japan and Shikoku Island to walk the path of The 88 Temples. It will be a monstrous undertaking. Some say much harder than the Camino. The interesting thing is that the advice being offered from people is to approach this walk from the same perspective as the Camino- Be prepared, pack lightly, train and have a purpose.

As I walk this journey, I am walking it with Chris. We enter this world alone and we leave it alone. It is the in between times that matter most. We can do it alone or we can do it together. Doing this thing called life is definitely better when we do it with someone else.

“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  ~Rumi

Walking the Henro Path

The Henro Michi is one of the oldest and most famous pilgrimage routes in Japan. It consists of a circuit of eighty-eight temples around the perimeter of Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four main islands. Every henro, or pilgrim, is said to follow in the footsteps of K?b? Daishi. Over the course of about 45 days, I plan to walk 1200km (roughly 800 miles), visiting the sacred sites and performing the prescribed rituals.

As a gaijin, or foreigner, I may not see another pilgrim on the trail who is not Japanese. I hope to share my observations and emotions as I explore the natural surroundings, the customs and etiquette, the temples and guesthouses I will visit.

“But your loss brought you here to walk

under one name and to walk under one name only,

and to find the guise under which all loss can live;

remember, you were given that name every day

along the way, remember, you were greeted as such,

and treated as such, and you needed no other name,

other people seemed to know you even before you gave up

being a shadow on the road and came into the light,

even before you sat down,

broke bread and drank wine,

wiped the wind-tears from your eyes:

pilgrim they called you again and again. Pilgrim.”

 

Excerpt from the poem ‘CAMINO’

From ‘PILGRIM’: Poems by David Whyte

 

Chris once wrote, “Defensiveness is simply the ego getting in the way of letting go. In truth, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you have a partner in your life who treasures the cruises upon which you have the good fortune to sail together. We have no idea how many there are on this nautical journey.”

Circumstances have left me without a life partner, so I will hold fast to all my friends, my family, and most importantly myself. I have learned that there has never been a friend as good a friend as myself.

My goal this time is the same as my last walk – live as if I have no idea how long my time on this earthly plane will last. I will breathe in the air, try to learn more Japanese, perhaps read a good mystery or novel, walk around an island, and just maybe forget myself for a moment and instead ‘be’ in the moment.

This is my travel poem- my mantra that I will chant 88 times in 45 days…

Time To Travel

Travel in your mind.
Travel in your heart.
Travel virtually.
Pack a bag and travel out of your comfort zone.
Travel light.
Travel heavy.
It’s all an illusion.
Travel in time.
Redo those awkward moments.
Redo your life’s story.
Create a new ending.
Start at the beginning.
It’s a very good place to start.
Begin anew.
Cast a shadow and follow the sun.
Go by planes, trains, and automobiles.
Stick out your thumb or walk a mile in our shoes.
It’s all up to you.
We are an experiment of two.
Begin the countdown.
Two weeks and counting and we’re leaving on a jet plane.
Stay tuned.
To be continued  . . .

*Chris Gay-Dec 21 2013

 

Chris taught me that, “opening myself up to others is a gift and openly receiving the love of others is a gift to them. We are all worthy, we are all deserving, we all want to feel and be acknowledged in love. And the more we open ourselves to that love and share it, how those around us behave and act towards us shifts. Positive energy begets positive energy”.

 

Yes, I will share my travels. To continue to write, will honour Chris, her love of writing or thrill for adventure and her desire to share her feelings with all the people she held dear and close.

As the country western song starts off,

“One thing ’bout this heart of mine

All my hurt’s gonna mend in time…”

I don’t believe that there is a “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Grief is natural and we all grieve. We need to grieve. At times I want to withdraw from talking about her death – to just forget. And other times I want to talk to everyone. I want to hold on to her and keep her close.

Each and every one of us will face the loss of someone we love. Allow yourself to be sad, but more importantly, allow yourself to be happy. This will be the gift you give to that someone you love and to those still in your life.

Walking is “distracting”, helping to slow down my thoughts, connecting me to my breath and reminding me to breathe more deeply and slowly, and to feel more control over my emotions.

Each day as my walks get longer I realize that moments spent in walking meditation bring stillness and allow my emotions to flow and to surface.

 

Affirmations in life:

  • I only have to face one day at a time
  • I surrender to the emotions and loss
  • I am in control of creating the life I wish for, even if it means being alone
  • I choose how I react to every situation.
  • I will start each day positively
  • I will forgive the cancer, for forgiveness is important in letting go and moving on.
  • I will forgive myself for all the guilt I feel for all the times I didn’t tell her I loved her or hold her.
  • I will free my life of anger and hurt, and allow love, peace, and hope to enter my heart.

 

In peace and healing my thoughts are with you,

jim

 

“Wash every bowl, every dish as if you are bathing a baby – breathing in, feeling joy; breathing out, smiling.  Every minute can be a holy, sacred minute. Where do you seek the spiritual? You seek the spiritual in every ordinary thing that you do every day. Sweeping the floor, watering the vegetables, and washing the dishes become holy and sacred if mindfulness is there. With mindfulness and concentration, everything becomes spiritual.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Surviving Love and Loss-part 2

 

WE FORGET SOMETIMES, BUT IT NEVER GOES AWAY

It seems I am still learning the ins and outs of blogging. My new IPHONE is great except I erased my calendar, so omitting a recipe is minor, But I do apolgize.

jim

 

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Serves 6 to 8

-A recipe from the creative minds of Chris and Wendy-

 

Ingredients:

  • 17 oz. potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, rough chopped (reserve 3-4 for garnish)
  • 2 celery stocks, rough chopped
  • 1 onion (small to medium), rough chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 litre mushroom broth
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan margarine

Garnish

  • 3-4 mushrooms, thin sliced
  • Parsley, sprigs or minced
  • A small dollop of vegan margarine

 

Directions:

  1. Sauté chopped onion and celery with crushed garlic in margarine for 3-4 minutes or until onions appear translucent.
  2. Rough chop mushrooms and add to onions and celery. Sauté for 5 to 6 more minutes. Set aside.
  3. Place chopped potatoes and mushroom broth in a medium to large saucepan 4 litres? And allow to come to a boil.
  4. Add sautéed onions, celery and mushrooms to broth. Turn down heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  5. Turn off heat and add almond milk.
  6. Place in blender and blend thoroughly.

 

Serving:

  1. Garnish with mushrooms and parsley.
  2. Serve with vegan cheese and bread.

 

Storage:

This soup will store for a week in the fridge. Reheat when you are ready.

 

 

Surviving Love and Loss

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I personally have a very poor sense of time and schedules. Chris was much better. I think she did research and discovered that there was an optimum time and day to publish the blog… something about connecting with your readership?

 

 

I’ve never been good with time.

Chris would ask me what time

            it was.

 

And if I said “about…”

She would want to know

            the exact time.

 

It made her feel secure

            knowing…

 

I’ve never been good with destinations.

Chris would want to know

            where we were going.

And if I said” this way or that…”

She would want to know

            the exact destination.

 

It made her feel secure

            knowing…

 

I’ve never been good with planning.

Chris like charts and lists and schedule.

 

It made her feel secure

            knowing…

 

And then one day

She discovered it didn’t matter

            how well you planned

Things had a way of changing.

 It made her feel insecure not knowing…

 

And then one day

She realized it didn’t matter

She accepted that.IMG_1175

And it made her feel secure again

 

 

 

 

Today as part of my preparation, I walked around Elk Lake outside Victoria with a friend. It is a beautiful trail in the forest. Shady paths with open views of the water. Runners, couples, mothers pushing prams, seniors and some fool with an 18lb pack wondering what the heck he had in mind when he said, “I am going to do this.”

I am excited and apprehensive and concerned about weight. I have been told that a lesson the Camino offers is the opportunity to discover how little we aIMG_1178 (1)ctually need in this life. What extra weight do we carry down our own personal “roads”? What can we leave behind? Perhaps it is time to let go of the extra cares and concerns?

So when a friend offered me a book to take, I cringed (it weighs over 350grams!).

Do I accept and accidentally leave it behind? Or do I soldier it through and carry the weight?

 

I opened The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief and read…

“It was through the dark waters of grief that I came to touch my unlived life… There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive. Through this, I have come to a lasting faith in grief.”

Francis Weller

I knew that I would take this book with me and I would read from it every day. What else do we really need in life but the warm and comforting memory of a friend and fellow traveler?

I have no false expectations for my journey. I do not believe in fate, although I do believe in coincidence and synchronicity. I believe we are united and part of a greater whole.

Never one to take the “safe” path, I have always been a risk taker (perhaps impulsive), supported in my belief that everything would work out the way it was supposed to… Everything was at it should be. Why else would I be “here” if I hadn’t been where I had been? All is as it will be.

Life is full of possibilities and different story lines. We are creating our life every day. Some of our choices were not well thought out and we should have chosen otherwise… But we didn’t and we are here where we are because it is the absolutely “right” place to be. …and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

 

“We must learn the art and craft of grief, discover the profound ways it ripens and deepens us. While grief is an intense emotion, it is also a skill we develop through a prolonged walk with loss. Facing grief is hard work…. It takes outrageous loss.This precisely what we are being called to do.”

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Francis Weller

 

 

 

 

 

I could be repeating myself but this was one of Chris’ favourite recipes. So here for anyone who missed it the first (or second time?)

We must be willing to let go…

IMG_0758Ten years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and I was ready to die. I was bored, unhappy, unhealthy and disillusioned. Chris was determined to keep me alive. Perhaps out of love or fear of being alone?

We quit our jobs and moved to Salt Spring Island. We gave up security and possessions for a risk at a new life. We altered our diet and introduced wheatgrass to our daily routine. We cut out dairy (cheese was so hard for Chris to let go of). We walked more and talked to each other a lot more.

Chris was already exercising daily. I had quit exercising after herniating my disk as I prepared for my 25th marathon… when a runner can’t run… it’s like a heroin addict in withdrawal.

We started a small business because as workaholics we had to have something to do. I was reborn. Chris wasn’t convinced.

As our health seemed to take a turn for the better, we went even more radical in our vegan diet and moved to Raw. Chris was convinced that if I wasn’t going to intervene medically in my health then she was going to cure me with food and love. We believed that we were doing everything right and we were mostly happy. When Cancer manifested in Chis we were stunned. It wasn’t supposed to be her. It was supposed to be me.

We knew she was dying. We knew the pain would get worse until it killed her. Her heart working to move her blood. Her lungs unable to move air. Her appetite waning. Her spirit strong but her mind clouded by opiates and pain-killers. Unable to sleep, unable to eat, unable to talk. Barely able to tolerate the pain, the fear, the deep sense of loss.

being willing

After Chris died, I would stand at our window looking out at the view of mountains and ocean and sunshine. The realization of being alone overwhelmed me, and tears poured down my cheeks constantly.

Alone

My heart has been ripped from my body

My soul is empty 

Alone

 Tears flow down my cheek

I miss you

We were not perfect

We fought we argued

We disagreed 

But we never gave up on each other

There were bad years and good years

But I cherish every moment

Every lesson I learned

Every memory 

 I miss the warmth of your body next to me

I miss the sound of your breathing

Your smell

Your voice

Your everpresent presence

I miss you

I miss our fights

I miss making up

I miss forgiving and moving on

Time will pass

But not the memory of you

I miss you

Chris wrote that with Cancer each one of us loses something. And some of us will never quite recover and lose the opportunity to share this journey of life. Losing Chris became a constant reminder of the temporary nature of life as I knew it in this form.

Chris is forever in my memories and always in my heart but I have stopped mourning her. The 49 Day Passing has come and gone. I gave Chris permission to go. We forgave each other for anything we may have done in anger or stupidity or inconsideration. We held each other. Expressed our love and said goodbye. We said the time to feel sorry for ourselves was over. We still cried. She told me to get on with my life, travel meet someone. She said I needed a bigger bed. I still cry.

Traveling was important to Chris and she asked that I place her ashes in a bottle and let her drift on the shifting tides.

On April 17th, off the coast of Spain I will cast her ashes into the Atlantic so she can float on the oceans that she wanted to sail.

I will continue on to walk the Way of St. James and continue to share travels of Rawsome On The Road.

Pyrenees-10-view-on-village

Some things I have learned or observed about the Camino:

1) Walking the Camino is not inexpensive

2) Most people walking the Camino are older – middle age

3) Most people don’t look exceptional fit.

4) More women than men

5) Everyone has or knows someone who has walked the Camino.

6) Most people are giddy with excitement.

I approach the coming year with anticipation. I will get older, certainly not wiser, I will see new places and meet new people. I will reinvent my life and discover who I am and who I am not. I will try to strengthen my friendships, love my children, be grateful for each day,  and appreciate every moment.

“Life is a road. Each day brings us an opportunity to make a new choice. I know, that each choice I made led me to exactly where I want to be. It couldn’t be any better than this. I’m grateful for each encounter, each relationship, each mistake, each shining star, each sunny day, each raindrop, each blustery moment. Whether it is ending a relationship, or going back to school, or taking up a hobby, or changing jobs, or deciding to exercise or diet, or to do nothing – anything is possible. And in the end, it won’t be wrong. Hindsight will give you some points of reference and reflection. But it is what it is. So live like your life is one giant choice – which in fact it is. You won’t regret it.”

* Chris Gay   May 24, 2015

Stay tuned. I am grateful for all of you.

 

 

 

Memories and New Beginnings

 
As April 11th approaches, I wait (as patiently as I am able). Each day brings new thoughts and old memories, friendly advice and suggestions, new memories and a little training.
 
I have just a few things to do- prepare for the bench memorial on Salt Spring Island (April 2nd), a couple of physio  treatments, packing/unpacking/repacking and getting rid of clutter and “stuff”.
 
One of the interesting things is the advice from people on how to approach the “Camino Walk”. Much of it is similar and familiar. “Be prepared, pack lightly, train and have a purpose.”
So…
I’m not sure who first mentioned the Camino de Santiago, an 800 Km walk across Spain for pilgrims looking to answer spiritual questions. Unfortunately the number of people seeking spiritual answers has risen to almost 200,000 pilgrims annually.
 
I am saying good-bye to Chris and sharing one last physical journey with her.
Ultimately we enter this world alone and we leave it alone. It is the in between times that matter most. We can do it alone or we can do it together. Doing this thing called life is definitely better when we do it together.
Chris once wrote, “Defensiveness is simply the ego getting in the way of letting go. In truth, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you have a partner in your life who treasures the cruises upon which you have the good fortune to sail together. We have no idea how many there are on this nautical journey. And if circumstances have left you without a life partner, then hold fast to your friends, your family, and most importantly yourself. Never have you found as good a friend as yourself.”

The goal is the same, whether we live alone or with a partner – live as if you have no idea how long your time on this earthly plane will last. Breathe in the salty air, take up a language or instrument, read a good mystery or novel, walk around the promenade deck, watch a movie under the stars, dance, and just maybe you will forget yourself for a moment and instead ‘be’ in the moment.”

 

10151768_10152300574552305_5925960610197766819_nTime To Travel

Travel in your mind.
Travel in your heart.
Travel virtually.
Pack a bag and travel out of your comfort zone.
Travel light.
Travel heavy.
It’s all an illusion.
Travel in time.
Redo those awkward moments.
Redo your life’s story.
Create a new ending.
Start at the beginning.
It’s a very good place to start.
Begin anew.
Cast a shadow and follow the sun.
Go by planes, trains, and automobiles.
Stick out your thumb or walk a mile in our shoes.
It’s all up to you.
We are an experiment of two.
Begin the countdown.
Two weeks and counting and we’re leaving on a jet plane.
Stay tuned.
To be continued  . . .

*Chris Gay-Dec 21 2013

Something I read somewhere about how people have used their own wounds to become “wounded healers” resonates with what Chris and I believed when we set off on this journey years ago. Instead of becoming bitter and passing their pain on to others, they’ve said, “This is where the pain stops and the love begins.”

They’ve become better able to offer understanding and compassion to others not in spite of their suffering but because of it. And so I think I have been given guidance in where I should be directing my energy.

Chris taught me that, “opening myself up to others is a gift and openly receiving the love of others is a gift to them. We all are worthy, we are all deserving, we all want to feel and be acknowledged in love. And the more we open ourselves to that love and share it, how those around us behave and act towards us shifts. Positive energy begets positive energy”.

A friend said that this is an opportunity (or challenge) to redefine myself. I know that the path ahead is clear and I am vulnerable to blisters and burns, lost articles and hopeless misadventures. But it is important to keep walking.

In Peace and healing, Buen Camino!

Jim

 

One of my favourite recipes-

The ‘shroom Burger

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“Shroom” Burger

Yields approx. Yield:  8 -10 burgers

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cup walnuts, soaked and dehydrated
  • 2 cup shredded zucchini.
  • 2 Tablespoon chickpea miso
  • 2 Tablespoon purified water
  • 1 ½ cup minced mushrooms
  • ¾ cup minced celery
  • ½ cup minced red onion
  • ¼ cup ground flax
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 2 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sage
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Process 1 cup of the walnuts with the “S” blade into fine meal and set aside.
  2. Use shredder blade on food processor to process zucchini.
  3. Add walnuts to zucchini and pulse to mix.  (Do not over process; the mixture should have a little texture.)
  4. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Mince the remaining walnuts by hand or coarsely grind them by pulsing them in the food processor.
  6. Place the miso and water in a small bowl and stir them together with a fork to form a loose paste.
  7. Add the miso paste and ALL OF THE REMAINING INGREDIENTS to the zucchini mixture and stir well.
  8. Form 3-4 small burger patties, each about 1/2 inch thick, using approximately 1/2 cup of the mixture per patty.
  9. Place the burgers on a dehydrator tray lined with a nonstick sheet and dehydrate them at 105 degrees for 4 hours.
  10. Flip the burgers over onto a mesh dehydrator tray and continue dehydrating for 2-8 hours longer, or until the outside is crusty and the inside is moist and chewy.

Note: Mushrooms, celery, onion can be prepared in the food processor. Pulse until they are broken down.

Store in an airtight container in the freezer or refrigerator.

Grief, Loss and New Beginnings

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“Sorrow prepares you for joy. It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter. It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh green leaves can grow in their place. It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.”  ~Rumi

 

 

How do you mend a broken heart?  I wake up each morning knowing that the person who was my life isn’t in my life anymore. The days have turned into weeks and soon they will turn into months, and the pain seems to grow rather than lessen.

I look through old photos and read her journals and cards we wrote to each other. I hear her voice on the answering machine. I see her clothes in the closet. There are memories on every street I walk or path I take.

Does anyone really understands my loss or my pain? People tell me they do. They mean well.

Talking about Chris creates a wave of despair that slowly wells up in my chest and erupts into sobs and difficulty breathing. So my friends and family believe I don’t want to talk about her because it will only make me sad and cry. They want to protect me. I can only imagine the discomfort they feel around me as they avoid talking about Chris’ death.

I don’t believe that there is a “right” or “wrong” way to grieve. Grief is natural and we all grieve. We need to grieve. At times I want to withdraw from talking about her death – to just forget. And other times I want to talk to everyone. I want to hold on to her and keep her close.

The truth is, I never really want to stop talking about her, because I do not want to accept that she is gone. I am having trouble letting her go.

I have wonderful friends that sit with me, call me and accept my pain without judgment. And I realize that I am not alone in grief. I can see all the feelings that my children, Chris’ mother and her many friends and I share. They are normal reactions and we will move through this pain and eventually come out of it and begin to heal. But somedays that is impossible to see.

The “what if” game fills my mind like a broken record, repeating over and over, “how, why, and what if”. I want to change so many things, say so many things, take back so many words, change the day first heard the diagnosis, or find someone or something to blame. Then I can wake up and she will still be here.

Chris suggested that after she passed I should “get away” and do something for myself. We talked about the Camino Walk and I said that perhaps one day I would.  I would plan for it.

I am planning for Chris’ Goodbye and her memorial. I am planning on scattering her ashes around the globe. I believe that if I prepare I can begin to let go and begin to heal. I believe that if I keep busy I can “hold it together”. I am discovering that I fall apart often when I least expect it.

The training is “distracting”, helping to slow down my thoughts, connecting me to my breath and reminding me to breathe more deeply and slowly, and to feel more control over my emotions.

Each day as my walks get longer I can feel the release of sadness. I realize that moments spent in walking meditation bring stillness and allow my emotions to flow and to surface.

Affirmations of what I want in my life:

  • I only have to face one day at a time
  • I surrender to the emotions and loss
  • I am in control of creating the life I wish for, even if it means being alone.
  • I choose how I react to every situation.
  • I will start each day positively
  • I will forgive the cancer, for forgiveness is important in letting go and moving on.
  • I will forgive myself for all the guilt I feel for all the times I didn’t tell her I loved her or hold her.
  • I will free my life of anger and hurt, and allow love, peace, and hope to enter my heart.

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Each and every one of us will face the loss of someone we love. Allow yourself to be sad, but more importantly, allow yourself to be happy. This will be the gift you give to that someone you love and to those still in your life.

Recipes

Chris loved food with all the rich textures, tastes, aromas, and flavours that only whole, natural food can provide. She had an amazing and discerning sense of taste that could pick out the slightest nuance of sweet, sour, salt, bitter, and even the two disputed tastes- Umami and metallic.

Because she was such an “oral” person, the Mouth-feel of the food was very important to her. As the cancer grew, and as a direct result of the surgery, Chris had difficulty swallowing and was unable to focus on viscosity, temperature, burning, body, prickle, and touch. It was probably her greatest disappointment. This soup became her favourite as it gave her an opportunity to savour her food.

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Serves 6 to 8 

-A recipe from the creative minds of Chris and Wendy-

Ingredients:

  • 17 oz. potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 lb. mushrooms, rough chopped (reserve 3-4 for garnish)
  • 2 celery stocks, rough chopped
  • 1 onion (small to medium), rough chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 litre mushroom broth
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 2 Tbsp. vegan margarine

Garnish

  • 3-4 mushrooms, thin sliced
  • Parsley, sprigs or minced
  • A small dollop of vegan margarine

Directions:

  1. Sauté chopped onion and celery with crushed garlic in margarine for 3-4 minutes or until onions appear translucent.
  2. Rough chop mushrooms and add to onions and celery. Sauté for 5 to 6 more minutes. Set aside.
  3. Place chopped potatoes and mushroom broth in a medium to large saucepan 4 litres? And allow to come to a boil.
  4. Add sautéed onions, celery and mushrooms to broth. Turn down heat and let simmer for 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
  5. Turn off heat and add almond milk.
  6. Place in blender and blend thoroughly.

Serving:

  1. Garnish with mushrooms and parsley.
  2. Serve with vegan cheese and bread.

Storage:

This soup will store for a week in the fridge. Reheat when you are ready.

 

And so a new journey begins

Chris

Over the 45 years or so that the Buddha taught, the central and most important point of his message was one of discipline, compassion and mindfulness- all elements intended to help ease suffering.

This is difficult to write and difficult for you to read. Chris loved all of you dearly and deeply. You are getting this message because of her love for you. You have been friend, family, confidant, colleague, and cherished.

Chris passed on January 1st, 2016. It is important to her that she shares a few thoughts with you.

As the cancer grew and consumed Chris’ physical form, she worked diligently at meditation, positive thinking, love, compassion and caring for others. Her most important goal was for you to know that she is going to be OK and she wants you to be OK also.

She asked that you let her go and wish her well as she passed peacefully without suffering. She wanted you all to be happy, and continue to lead positive and helping lives.

Chris will be with us- a part of our lives forever. Who we are at this moment has been shaped by our relationship with each other. We are all who we are because of everyone who shares our lives and experiences.

I do know that loving Chris has shaped me. I am a far better person because of her and all she has given me. We know that love is beyond the mind, beyond reason. I do know that loving Chris made my life worthwhile.

 

To lead a better life I need my love to be here…

Here, making each day of the year

Changing my life with the wave of her hand

Nobody can deny that there’s something there

There, running my hands through her hair

Both of us thinking how good it can be

Someone is speaking but she doesn’t know he’s there

I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me

I know I need never care

But to love her is to need her everywhere

Knowing that love is to share

Each one believing that love never dies

Watching her eyes and hoping I’m always there

I want her everywhere and if she’s beside me

I know I need never care

But to love her is to need her everywhere

Knowing that love is to share

Each one believing that love never dies

Watching her eyes and hoping I’m always there

I will be there and everywhere

Here, there and everywhere

 

Sunday, February 14th – 1PM to 3PM – 548 Dallas Road

Many people were inspired, mentored, loved, appreciated by Chris and touched by her heartfelt writing.

There will be a gathering for anyone who wants to, as a part of a community, say goodbye and share their stories of Chris . Chris would like people to laugh and hug and dance and listen to music and eat food.

You are welcome to join us on Sunday, February 14th from 1 to 3 at 548 Dallas Road (between South Turner and Menzies). Weather permitting, we will take a “walk” across the street to the beach to scatter some of Chris’ ashes.

Come together not to grieve but to celebrate.

I would appreciate a reply if you are planning to attend. It will be casual and spontaneous. Chris hated surprise parties.

 

In gratitude and deep appreciation

 

 

 

The day after

We apologize for what may be shocking for many. We have shared already privately with many people. We appreciate reading notes from people but in all honesty, phone calls/walks/visits are exhausting at the moment. Chris has so many appointments coming up she just wants to focus on taking care of herself and healing. If you run into our family members, they would love your hugs and support. They have no answers and updates to offer.

Many people have asked what they can do for us. In all honesty, please Vote for our son JP Maurice And if you have it in your heart and wallet to donate to his charity – Creatively United for the Planet, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Musings by Chris Photos by Jim and Others

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Well the good news is, that it isn’t days or weeks. The surprising news is, that it may be a year. Months. Not the diagnosis we were expecting after a two-week cruise to Hawaii and the latest PET Scan. The oncologist delivering the news was noticeably shaken and emotional. “May I hug you? We’re not suppose to but I just feel I need to.” She held me tightly and I was appreciative of her compassion and remorse, that cancer can still shock and awe even the most seasoned oncologist.

Jim and I held each onto each other’s fading resolve like a sinking ship about to go down for the last count. We literally found ourselves gasping for air, wondering where 37 years disappeared and all our good intentions to say ‘I love you’ each morning and night.

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Today is a clean slate. We begin again, acutely aware of what attracted us to each other in the first place; the gifts of three brilliant children who love us and are fine rich humans in their own right; three adorably mischievous and energetic grandchildren; a brave and stalwart mother of 93. Our circle of friends, like our family, is small but potent and breathes fresh air into our lungs resuscitating us regularly. We couldn’t make it without them.

The fall rains are upon us; much appreciated after a summer drought. We can get stuck in the mud and wallow until my time is up or we can just live. There is nothing different today than yesterday (October 7th) when I found out I have Stage 4 cancer throughout my body. I have more information than I probably wanted to have, but at least I have a timeline – something most of us just guess at. This timeline is completely arbitrary anyway. I have a choice as to how it plays out. Today I’m choosing vigour and vitality and love and joy.

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On our cruise, we met this older couple originally from Glasgow with accents reminiscent of Jim’s deceased mother. They now live in North Vancouver, British Columbia. He was one of six sons of the miller in their small village outside of Glasgow. He went to war, lost a kidney, had an arduous journey to get to medical attention and once there it took another six months of recovery. When he came back home he was looking for a lass and eyed this bonny 16 year old and the rest is history. He celebrated his 85th birthday on board the ship and we keep stumbling into them as a reminder of privilege. What an honour it is to watch them walk hand and hand around the outer promenade deck, arms around each other as they take turns guiding each other up and down the stairs. They definitely have a comfortable two-step, a give and take, realizing their last waltz may arrive sooner rather than later.

One never knows when a wave may catch you off guard and you seek your reserve of life preservers. Ultimately we enter this world alone and we leave it alone. It is the in between times that matter most. We can do it alone or we can do it together. I’m finally learning that together is better. Defensiveness is simply the ego getting in the way of letting go. In truth, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that if you have a partner in your life treasure the cruises upon which you have the good fortune to sail together. We have no idea how many there are on this nautical journey. And if circumstances have left you without a life partner, then hold fast to your friends, your family, and most importantly yourself. Never have you found as good a friend as yourself.

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The goal is the same, whether we live alone or with a partner – live as if you have no idea how long your time on this earthly plane will last. Breathe in the salty air, take up a language or instrument, read a good mystery or novel, walk around the promenade deck, watch a movie under the stars, dance, and just maybe you will forget yourself for a moment and instead ‘be’ the moment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scars

Musings by Chris and Photos by  Chris, Kai, and Others

Scars. We all have them. They are reminders of times past – both good and not so good. They run the gamut of the medicine wheel – physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual. They hold us steadfast and true, or they break us in two, or they explode out of the confines of our heart, or they lock us forever in a place of isolation.

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Scars can be an impetus for change. Sometimes our scars require heroic efforts to become someone we never thought we would be. An individual we never considered being with a health opportunity that would forever remind us of our place within a limited vision of mortality. Causing us to become vocal champions for campaigns for the cure. Seeing us rowing in dragon boats, running cross finish lines, hobbling and stumbling around obstacle courses while donating for a cause. And yet other scars propel us through Olympian hoops of stamina while conquering medals on behalf of those of us unable to get off the couch as we cheer them on.

Some wear their scars proudly as a badge of courage. Others hide their scars with newly discovered fashion statements wishing the nightmare away. And some have internal scars contained within their physical form or hanging from a colostomy bag or feeding tube genteelly hidden beneath their clothing, shyly protecting a newly formed bandage for life. Scars can be so varied and monumental that we rarely pause long enough to imagine another perspective or alternative state of being, all the while being urged to focus on the abilities rather than the disabilities.

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And then there are those scars we think we have hidden deeply but escape from the corner of our eyes trickling down our cheeks as ever present reminders of circumstances and situations where pain doubled us back into ourselves. There is a shadow streaking cross our faces and a cloud that hovers above our hearts. Everyone knows and yet never reaches out and says, “I see you. I’m here for you.” For those who live their emotional scars incognito, such blatant disregard is both a relief and a regret. A relief because we don’t have to share what is too painful to admit and a regret because therein lies a lost opportunity to connect and feel an empathic touch or understanding glance upon our weathered brow.

Are scars just a manifestation of our ego and the strength or fragility of it? Regardless, scars become our identity.

“She’s a victim of a crime/accident/illness.”

The scar takes precedent over your personage and you run the risk of adopting the label and living it rather than your life. And just when you momentarily forget the scar, someone stares longer than necessary at you, and you begin again to be your scar rather than you.

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought. What we think we become.” ~ Buddha

Kim McCann, author of a recent Elephant Journal post suggests:

  • We are not our thoughts,
  • We can discipline and control our thoughts, and
  • By being mindful of our thoughts we have power—indeed we have the responsibility—to determine how to act, react, or behave in relation to them.

We can perseverate on our scars. We can imagine what others are thinking when they see our scars. We can obsess over the possible thoughts of others and believe that our scars are first and foremost on the minds of everyone.

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Or we can get a grip and realize each one of us is entirely preoccupied solely with ourselves. That’s it. In truth, we really aren’t that important. All our personal obsessions are just that – thoughts that perpetuate myths we’ve built up about ourselves allowing our ego to manifest a story that is only that and nothing more. We have developed our own personal narrative that, quite frankly, gets in the way of just living. It becomes a comfortable crutch from which to retreat and make excuses.

“I teach one thing and one thing only: suffering and the end of suffering.” ~ Buddha

We really are much more than this form within which we find ourselves. It is our essence that either speaks to others, or not. What contains our spirit is just limited to this time and place and an inconvenient subtext to who we really are.

Continue to massage your scars, because we do need to feel as comfortable as possible with what we are left with. But also realize, that beyond this present moment, there will come a time when your scar is just a gateway to so many more teachings and acceptance of eternal joy and self-love.

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And as a wise shaman said this week, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” It goes a long way towards healing.

Recipes

Summer is the time for lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Sometimes it is a wonderful treat to have some dips to enhance the natural flavours of your garden conquests. It also makes it easier for some people who are transitioning to a more live plant-based diet, to start off with dips that remind them of similar dips they may have had prior to consuming more live plant-based foods. These two are very simple and you can substitute different herbs or flavours such as cinnamon or cacao for the sweet version and curry and cumin or chili for the savory one. Have fun with these. But more importantly, eat your fruits and veggies.

Sweet Cashew Cream

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  • 1 cup raw cashews (or macadamia nuts) – soaked
  • 8 pitted Medjool dates – soaked
  • 1/4-1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Soak the cashews and dates for 30 minutes or more. Drain. Place in blender and add water and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Keep in refrigerator in a sealed container. Will last 3-5 days.

Onion Dip

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  • 1 cup raw cashews (or macadamia nuts) – soaked
  • 1/4-1/2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder (can use freshly chopped – up to ¼ cup)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dill (can use freshly chopped – up to ¼ cup)

Soak the cashews for 30 minutes or more. Drain. Place in blender and add water and apple cider vinegar and onion powder and salt. Blend until smooth. Then add dill and blend lightly until mixed in. Keep in refrigerator in a sealed container. Will last 3-5 days.