Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Investing in Your Wife"



Yesterday, I had a walk in Manhattan from the Financial District up to Union Square to shop at Paragon Sports.  You see a lot when you walk.  I passed a few designer fashion stores along Broadway.  I looked in a few out of curiosity.

I found a Prada store and I thought, “My wife always wanted a Prada handbag. She doesn't care if it is the latest “this-bag-is-so-hot”  but would be completely thrilled  with that-bag-is-so-last-year.  She just wants a genuine  Prada bag ~ she doesn't care if it is last year's design. She will use it for several years.”  Use it..she will ~ not just to carry it for show.  She's very practical and I admire her for that.

So, my continued thinking was, “Surely they have some bags on sale.”  It was a nice, boutique-y store.  There were lots of secret service style men-in-black, complete with all the getup ~ wireless earphones and all.  There were about as many of these men-in-black as there were sales staff.  I looked at one handbag as an example.  It was 40% off and on sale for the unbelievably low price of only $840, reduced from about $1,400.  It was nice quality, but I can't spend $840 on a purse today.  Somewhere I will find a genuine one on sale for about $300...and she will be ecstatic!

Now, some guys will say to me, “You could put that kind of money into a motor vehicle.”  Yes, indeed I could.  No one would question the manliness over such an investment.  A year and a half ago, I bought myself a new flute ~ that was the last “nice” thing I purchased for myself.

You may look at me with a raised eyebrow at investing in a designer handbag...or some fancy girlie shoes...so allow me to explain.

Any man with any sense of self-respect  at all, loves his wife (or his daughters), for that matter to be beautiful.  It is perfectly  honourable to dress and admire them.  A daughter should be pretty.  A good man should admire his wife.  There is some thought that a wife should be drab and matronly-looking.  I do not accept that at all.  A happy wife is a beautiful wife and she should be well-dressed.  She should have beautiful hair and wearing nice clothes, shoes and jewellery.  And let me point out that...a happy wife is a very good investment.

May I remind readers that...a happy wife produces descendants.  Yes, the indisputable truth is that “a happy wife is also a happy mother.”  For some strange reason, men seem to forget that simple point.  There is a great deal to be said about investing in your wife's emotional health.

So, with this in mind, I am not too ashamed to browse a few New York boutiques to find my wife a purse that she has always wanted.

Last year, I hunted through Forever 21 and found my daughter a set of lip glosses.  She was using one at high school when one of her friends noticed and asked, “Where did you get that?”  And she replied,”My Dad got it for me at Forever 21.”  Her friend was momentarily stunned with her mouth hanging open and she stated, “My Dad wouldn't even wait outside Forever 21 while I shop!”  I love my daughter enough that I'm proud to hunt through Forever 21 or Steve Madden or DSW for things that she likes.  My daughter loves me for it...and my daughter is beautiful.

* * * * * * *

Engage the Magic!

“I still don't get why people are so surprised that the turtle beat the rabbit in the long run.  Consistent Effort...no matter how small ~ sparks magic, fills sails, butters bread, turns tides, instills faith, summons friends, improves health, burns calories, creates abundance,  yields clarity, builds courage, spins planets and rewrites destiny...No Matter How Small.
(from the Universe)

Merle Baird-Kerr … crafted July 27, 2013
Comments are welcome...scroll down...may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail...inezkate@gmail.com

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Crossroads"



Defined by dictionary, a crossroad is a point at which a crucial decision
must be made that will have far-reaching consequences;
also defined as a place where 2 or more roads meet e.g. an intersection.

* A recent article, Silver Splitters...(the baby boomers who have it all and still aren't happy, at least not together) was sent me by a long time acquaintance which has prompted me to write of a past personal experience... hoping that  you (or friends) will gain support and respect in similar circumstances.

I Do!  I Do!

We met at a dance studio.  He was learning to foxtrot and waltz...and I to master tango, cha cha and samba.  He was a research chemist and I a teacher.  Well educated, as I was, our match seemed romance-bound.  We discovered similar interests!  He had skied in his home country, had played tennis at McMaster, and was a philatelist (collecting stamps was a new hobby I might entertain.) He indicated  he enjoyed theatrical stage productions. A chess player he was...and bridge was my game.  Within two years we married.  In those days, living together prior to marriage, was not universally accepted. As Mr. and Mrs. we settled into 24/7 daily routines; each became aware of unknown attitudes and habits of the other.  In lengthy discussions, 1 of 3 results occurs:: acceptance...compromise...or an ego-driven attitude that takes precedence. Within a few years, we had a son and daughter, whom we loved dearly. This we considered our “perfect family.”

To Be?  or Not To Be!

After about 10 years of marriage, our roads seemed to travel in different  directions.  He cared not to share my interests...although I tried to learn and play chess;  I began stamp collections of “cats around the world” and stamps portraying Japanese art; I attempted to learn Spanish (his mother tongue).  Negative attitudes (common with him) that I hadn't foreseen, developed and began to 'rub off’ on our son.  In group gatherings, he  just couldn’t circulate to enjoy himself…attendees found him unfriendly.

Questions arose in my mind:  Is this marriage to be? Or is it not to be?  There is little compatibility between us anymore!  There's nothing left to bind us together…except our children.  Do I stay in this marriage for the sake of them?  Do I want to be married to him for the rest of my life? It seems impossible to make this marriage work.  My mother, sister and aunt would be appalled if we separated and later divorced.  Our son and daughter are grand children, nephew and niece to my closest relatives. Divorce was not a practised word in their vocabularies.

This is My Life...and I only have One to Live!  How do I want to spend the rest of my life???  After 16 years, I came to a decision.  He was unhappy, at the point of being miserable and I was becoming depressed. Negative attitudes were affecting our teenage son.  He was also being “bullied” by senior school students which profoundly affected his proven advanced intellect...to the point of almost failing Grade 8.  I interceded with the school principal to “pass” him into High School  and I would take the responsibility for what happened to him in Grade 9. I was motivated to DO something. The message to me was clear! MOVE!

The easiest course of action…is to do nothing...
then, be prepared for the same previous results!
(Lesson I’ve learned over many years.)

* The author of the above mentioned article stated, “The important thing is that I'm wholeheartedly sure that divorce can be a good thing.  Why would you stay with someone just because you fear living alone?  You both maybe can't stand each other and haven't for some time.  It can lead to depression and anxiety when you are not connecting with someone.  There’s nothing more miserable than being lonely in a marriage.”

One evening my husband and I discussed our “separate lives” with my suggestion to obtain a “legal separation.” He asked, “Why?”  My reply was, “ So we could both attain some happiness in our lives!”  He responded with, “You'll never be happy.”  To him, I stated that it was not for him to judge and that we both have lives to live...and between us, there is no happiness to share except our children.   Reluctantly, he agreed stating, “I seem to have fallen off the wagon and can't get back on.” Over the years, peoples’ identities change which often disrupts the original roads trod together.

I agree with the Dalai Lama’s words:
Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.

A Heroine?
(A woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds.)
At this moment, I felt like no heroine ~ implementing the breakup of our marriage.
Plans now had to be set into action....now for the obstacles to overcome!

Job:  I must return to full time teaching...since I had been off for 5 years to be home with our children. At that time, there were no full time openings in any local schools.  A career change became mandatory.  Real Estate projected an opportunity, securing a receptionist position working for the developer of Lakeside Village in Stoney Creek, a condominium concept of 10 or more buildings plus recreational facilities to be built.  While there, I challenged myself to study the 3 phases of Real Estate by night school courses...this arranged, so my husband was home with the children while I qualified as a Sales Representative.

New Home:  A Government sponsored program for First Time Home Buyers was in place with an interest free loan of $5000 to be repaid at the end of a five-year period.  This became my down payment on a new house to be built in Brant Hills...a new subdivision north of the QEW.  I bought a two-storey 3 bedroom semi-detached home (sight unseen)...from house plan on paper and selected a deep lot for its location on Manchester Drive.

Informing My Children:  Prior to moving, I had a necessary conversation with them paralleling my situation with one of my son's friends, whereby their friendship had ended....reason being that he and Eddie had nothing in common interests any more.  This, they understood, but lacked the reality of  Mom and Dad calling their marriage “quits”...a child, even teens, believe parents are around forever.  I fully explained they could talk with and visit their Dad at any time other than school days...and that he would forever be their father.  Hopefully  we would all see family improvement in a new environment.

New Schools:  Our Brant Hills home enabled both children to attend new schools. Academically, in Grade 9.he excelled. Vitally interested he was in the Music Program and joined the Computer Club.  (Today, as a graduate from the University of Windsor, holding  a degree in Computer Science, he works as a Technical Analyst). While attending M. M. Robinson High School he had a paper route and maintained summer jobs.  My daughter made  new friendships and was truly happy.  She attended College and became a financial planner.

Letters:  To my mother, sister and aunt, I wrote similar letters detailing reasons for our legal separation, the move to a new address and new telephone number. Because I wanted no interference from them regarding my decision, I hadn’t previously informed them.  These letters I mailed to them after I moved.   My sister called in a few days...my mother and aunt in about 10 days. 

Stolen Goods:  While waiting for the opportune time to move, I had purchased a bedroom suite, a few furniture pieces and lamps, draperies and accessories plus dishes for the kitchen.  These I stored in a locker and covered with blankets at The Shoreliner where I worked.  When my moving van went to retrieve these items, we discovered the locker had been broken into and all items stolen. Such a disappointment and loss of money spent!

Friendly Communication:  In cases of Legal Separation and Divorce, it is most important to retain a good relationship with the other parent.  “Be kind to each other,” is the philosophy to follow in the best interest of the children.  After I moved, my husband became very saddened and discouraged. He needed to leave the premises in which we had lived. His name I placed on waiting lists at apartment  buildings on the lake and had assurances from him that if any called, he would go to view said unit.  Fortunately, an apartment overlooking Lake Ontario became available and he was delighted to move.  This location lifted his spirits immensely…reminding him of the Pacific Ocean he had so frequently visited. Since he had no sense of d├ęcor and colour, I decorated his apartment for him.

Request for Divorce:  A couple  years following our Legal Separation, he came to see  me.  He had met a former friend from University days with whom he’d reconnected.  Her marriage with two boys had fallen apart. My husband asked if I’d agree to a divorce so he could marry her.  I was happy for him; he agreed to pay for the uncontested divorce…using the same lawyer who handled our Legal Separation.   For him it was a marriage where he would live as happily as he was able to…for the remainder of his life.

Nora Ephron, who spent a lot of time writing about divorce, stated, “A good thing about divorce is that it makes clear something that marriage obscures ~ that you are on your own!”

I felt now at this stage,  perhaps…I have been a “Heroine”!

We arranged our Legal Separation amicably (before the s___ hit the fan!)
I challenged myself to change careers when no opening for full time teachers.
The Government subsidized Program enabled my home purchase.
My son and daughter were happily in new schools and making new friends.
My ex-husband had remarried and seemed content.
My three prime relatives had accepted and seen the reality of my decisions.
The neighbours were understandingly friendly in this new community environment.

Now…the Question is how to convince ME  to feel like a  Heroine!  This is not easy!
Sometimes, you just have to die a little inside
in order to be “reborn” and “rise again” as a wiser version of you.
(Author Unknown)

I have a commission paying job; with no closings, I have no income.
There are mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities; car maintenance, insurance, gas.
Activities for  my children with minimal financial support from their father.
My bridge club friends show some rejection…first of 8 on the road to divorce.
They and a few other friends,  make me feel “like a loser” ~ I refuse to succumb!
While other close friends continued to befriend me and were sympathetic,
visiting their families, I felt like a 3rd or 5th wheel. Gradually, invitations ceased from them.
My son asked me once why I didn’t invite a neighbouring family
with 2 small children for a Sunday  dinner (a testy question to understandably  answer).
When their little girl died of a rare disease, we bought a tree for them to plant in their yard
...they were so eternally grateful.

I was BUSY working (with often Sunday Open Houses)…performing dual parent roles during the week…raising children who shared chores…caring for home and property…grocery shopping, etc.   Time spent with them was  Imperative! Although busy, it was so easy to convince myself that…”My life is a Job and My Life is a Responsibility.!  What can I do?  How can I achieve the best  for my children? How can I achieve the best for me?” These Crossroads can be quite besetting!

I Must!  I Must!  I Must!

I MUST pick myself up! I MUST take charge!  I MUST redesign my life!   I MUST create a new lifestyle!  I MUST rebuild…as homeowners do when their house is ravaged by storms…as a road needs repair when a “sink hole” appears…as my car requires oil and lubrication!  Only I can help me!  And I did!

I took special interest in  major activities of both my son and daughter…this was Our Time Together! Whether an equestrian event for her…a ski day or fairway game of golf  with my son.
I swallowed my Pride…I found the Strength…I Got On With Life!

We all pursue Happiness, but it’s very elusive.
You cannot let Life slip by!
You have to take action ~ one way or the other!
(from a novel…The Horseman)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written July 1, 2013
To comment…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…inezkate@gmail.com

Summary:  Both men and women are affected by relationship breakups (and more so the children.)
                   They feel loneliness and incapable of living on their own.
                   They fear anxiety of what their friends will say.
                   They fear lost friendships and loss of personal esteem.
                   They fear starting over…and some fear failure.
                   Most women fear to leave unhappy situations.
Solutions:    Assess and analyze the situation; then design a workable plan.
                   Escape the woes (negative)…for a walk into the future (positive)!
                   Open your mind to optimism by building a new lifestyle.
                   Select new hobbies and recreation.
                   Create a new circle of friends.
                   And VOILA!
                   The Doors to Happiness will re-open!
                    
                  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Appreciation Two-Fold



Cedar Springs Road is a beautiful lightly residential and rural scenic drive in Burlington that wends north from Highway 5 (now Reg. Rd. 5) to the small Hamlet of Kilbride. Outside the village are winding streets and lanes where the  suburbanites return from their daily businesses to their privately- quiet homes nestled among pines, cedars, maples and oaks.  Deer, birds, raccoons, chipmunks and squirrels are frequent visitors  to this peaceful Nature environment...where the humans are so kind!  Cedar Springs, truly  is  a clear-water stream that gently creates rivulets as it bubbles along over stones beside the woods and the escarpment road.

I left my Real Estate Office about 6:30 in the evening to meet clients who had a stately two-storey home in Kilbride along a country lane shared by only three other neighbours.  Schelley and his wife had built this home twenty years previously...now it was “time to move on”.  Mr. Schellenburg was my son's  Mathematics  teacher.  As he “connected” with his first year students and they gained his respect, he was honoured to be called, “Schelley”.  A day or two a week, he would spend after-hours with his Computer Club, designed to encourage and foster future programmers and analysts.

Schelley and Marion gave me all the necessary information and details to “list their property” and place on The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) with the Hamilton, Burlington and District Real Estate Board. After cups of hot tea, it was arranged that I return the following day to “shoot pictures” of their property and home.  It was 11:30 pm and a starry night as I keyed the ignition. in my car.  Hunger pangs reminded me dinner had been an impossibility.

Cedar Springs Road gently rolls up and downhill with meandering turns, curving a bit  for a few miles before approaching Highview Estates, a cluster of several homes within a wooded area on the escarpment, just above Highway  5. As I reached the last crest of the road, a panorama of Burlington's city lights unfolded  before  my eyes...like a night time fairyland. I knew that beyond the City is the shoreline of Lake Ontario.  Descending the hill, I slowed due to the   stoplight at the intersection of Highway 5.  There on my  left was a police cruiser.  The officer set his lights flashing, signalling for me to stop.  At the intersection I turned right to park along the shoulder of the highway.
“What is the problem?”,  I wonder.

Coming to my vehicle, the navy- uniformed officer asked, “Did you realize you were exceeding the speed limit at the top of the hill?”  “No,” I replied and explained that I had been on a realtor appointment, that I was going home to prepare a light dinner and was not aware of my speed.  He advised me that, because of the residential area, the speed limit changes.  “May I please have your licence, your insurance and ownership?”  These he took to his cruiser and spent much time before  returning to me.  “This is a tough situation for me,”  he said.  Smiling, I responded,  “I'll make it easy for you...don't give me a ticket...it's a quiet night...no one around...it's late...I just didn't see the change of speed in the darkness.”

Thoughtfully, “It is difficult to write a ticket for a teacher I once had.”  I observed his badge...S.Smith. “Stuart Smith?....is this You?” I asked.  He was a good student in Grade 5 and was also in my Grade 8 class, three years later.  We chatted about other students in those years...until the midnight hour.  Ted was now a photographer with the Hamilton Spectator, Gerry continued to University after High School and became a church minister,  Phyllis a nurse and Terry an engineer.  Stuart was married with a little boy.  As we parted company, I was so tempted to U-turn on Highway 5s four lanes so I could easily enter Brant Street to proceed home...but because of this police intervention, decided it was not a good idea!  Instead, I continued west on Highway 5 to the first road on the left to make a safe turn-around.  Then turning right on Brant Street a few minutes later, headed south into downtown Burlington.  At a stoplight,  side-by-sidewe waved to each other.  On the “green”, he went to the Police Station for his shift's end and I home to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner.

When Andrew was in High School and Marcia in Elementary School, we bought a  black and white Siberian Husky puppy.  Kiska had an  unusual black facial mask...raccoon-like markings...and startling blue eyes.  As a puppy, she needed much exercise and training due to  her rambunctiousness. My son voluntarily took her to  Obedience School and succeeded well with her.  When he attended University, it was Marcia or  I who daily exercised her.  One winter day, I was jogging along the sidewalk with Kiska trotting by  leash on my left...suddenly I hit “black ice” and fell, landing on my right hand and arm...instantly my wrist and thumb were throbbing with pain. Returning quickly home, I enclosed  her within the gated yard and drove to the hospital emergency.  A  Doctor X-rayed my arm and hand...I waited  a length of time in an  open room for the results..with continual throbbing pain.

While there, an inebriated elderly man was brought in by a policeman.  I paid little attention, with  my eyes half closed,trying to succumb to the pain from my tumble.  Soon the attending doctor advised me that I had a sprained thumb...to wrap my wrist tightly with a bandage, take Tylenol and try to rest.  It was extremely difficult to put my arm through the coat sleeve and when struggling with this, a kindly male voice said, “Here, let me help an old teacher of mine.”  I looked appreciatively  at  this policeman....again, it was Stuart Smith! 

We smiled....remembering the school days of many years past 
and our two-year ago encounter on Highway 5 at Cedar Springs Road.

Wisdom from Mother Teresa:
We shall never know
the good that a simple smile can do!

Merle Baird-Kerr written July 29, 2010
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or e-mailinezkate@gmail.com


Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Turning Points"



 The Kaleidoscope

Just as the colours and shapes change to many different combinations  in a kaleidoscope ~ so do all aspects of our lives.  These aspects also intertwine and merge in different combinations throughout life...bringing new people into our circles and new experiences that affect our emotional reactions. 

From a Summer Activity booklet published in an eastern American state, I recently read the following poignant article about “Turning Points” which I share with you. Life often presents us with challenges!  The following is one which most of us overlook.

As we go through life, we reach many Turning Point moments.  From the very beginning of our lives, starting with birth, our engagement, our wedding and then it all begins again with the next generation.
Or does it?  Most of us take a lot of life's precious moments for granted.  In fact, we sometimes may even take life itself for granted.  The natural progression of life is marriage followed by a child.  And then another...and our very own family is being built.  But, it is not for everyone.

For many couples, the blessing of a child is a “Turning Point” they have trouble reaching.  This is not for lack of trying ~ they may now be given the challenge of dealing with infertility.  They suffer in silence and in depression before seeking medical knowledge and assistance.

While most people sit in a pediatrician's waiting room,
these people are consulting with fertility specialists.

While most people are shopping for clothing for their children,
these couples are shopping for insurance companies,
looking to relieve some of the financial burden of fertility treatments.

These couples are not unknown strangers ~ they are our siblings, our friends, neighbours and co-workers.  Just close your eyes for a moment and think: and you will find that you know more childless couples than you dared imagine!  The shocking statistics is...1 in every 6 couples is faced with infertility issues.  The lives of these couples are consumed by Doctors' visits, hospital stays and laboratory tests.  The procedures are difficult and energy-depleting.  The price tag for these procedures may be astronomical ~ even thousands of dollars!

What are the options? 
Must they resign themselves to a “life without children?”
Many couples seek adoption of children from local agencies.
Many couples seek adoption from agencies in other areas of North America.
Others seek adoption from other countries abroad ~ some of these doors are now closed.
There is still a high cost involved.

In a recent Jewish article re this medical challenge, is written:  “Hope is another plan now.  Bonei Olam is there for couples.  It was conceived and created by a group of highly motivated people…they were couples who were struggling with infertility themselves and therefore understood the great physical, emotional and financial burdens it involved.
                                   CREATING WORLDS is what this organization is all about.
 (Thousands of people, according to this article have already been helped through efforts of Bonei Olam.) “ Over 4000 children have been born to Bonei Olam-assisted couples,” quotes Kein Yirbul.

Philosophical Words

Life is like an ever-shifting kaleidoscope ~
a slight change and all the patterns alter.
(Susan Salzburg).

Crafted by Merle Baird-Kerr…June 29, 2013
Comments most welcome…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…inezkate@gmail.com


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Spirited Child



We had a  handsome little boy, who in November  would be 7 years old.  A beautiful surprise package arrived in September  the same  year.  We named her Marciaher 2nd name was Inez (a 3rd generation name in my  family)her other name was Joan (Juanita, her Chilean grandmother's  name). She was “spirited” and as she grew, developed a strong sense of independence.  My doctor classified her as being  hyper-kinetic.  By age 2, she had blonde loose wavy hair, luminous chocolate brown eyes and a personality that, combined with her prettiness, would melt anyone's heart.

Her play clothes were always “number shirts” and jeans or pants.  Such was her obsession with number  shirts, that she would often accompany me to the laundry room to remove the shirt being worn and remain bare-chested until it and her other various number shirts were removed from the dryer.

Frequently, we exchanged friendships with a Chilean family who had 2 daughters older than Marcia. By age three, she would dress herself, knowing what the expectations of her were, when expecting company or visiting friends. One memorable Sunday, we were invited to Aurea's  home for the afternoon and for dinner.  She went upstairs “to dress” for the occasion.  She was not ready by the appointed time.  I called  her, requesting that she come downstairs in five minutes.  This did not occur!  Very firmly, I told her we'd get a “sitter” and leave without her...or to come immediately!  In a moment, she descended the stairs, still clad in jeans and “number shirt”, carrying a  small bag.  “Where is your dress and shoes?”,  I asked her. “In my bag, Mommy...I'll  change when we get there.”

We greeted our friends, then gathered together in their spacious Living Room.  Then came “the floor show”.  Removing her shoes first, she proceeded to strip off her shirt and jeans, standing with only her panties on.  Then, reaching into her bag, she retrieved a light pink dress which she donned.  Sitting on the floor, she “socked” her feet in pink and white, then her shoes.  Standing up, she placed the jeans, shirt and runners in the bag, bringing it to me.  “See, Mommy, I told you I would change here.” Throughout the “show”, we  adults watched with interest...the girls smiled...her older brother was totally mystified about his sister's innocent behaviourher father was not amused!

Her favourite foods were chocolate chip cookies and ketchup.  It was not unusual for me to find an Oreo cookie  package with only the wafers inside...all icing  totally removed. Breakfast was not on her menu for the day...unless French fries, pizza, eggs or toast...these were predestined to be smothered with ketchup!

Like any three year old, she had her temper tantrums, Often laying on the floor, banging her feet and flailing her arms.  Frequently,  I would leave the room.  This angered her that I was not present  for her display of displeasure...since her actions wouldnt achieve the results she intended.

This little girl did not “sleep through the night” until she was four years old.  When a baby, I was frequently with her during the night hours. At this age, I would now leave a small light on in her bedroom and place on her small table, a picture book, play dough, also crayons and paper.  I encouraged her to play quietly when she wakened during the night.  She'd  still come to my bedroom,  “Mommy, I'm awake.” Then I'd take her hand, leading her to her room to play for a little while. When she was sleepy, she’d climb back into bed to further her sleep.

It was the habit of my husband's when he returned from work each day, to lounge on the chesterfield with the daily newspaper.  Solving the crossword puzzles was a daily ritual...occasionally becoming  frustrated with his inability to complete them.  Marcia heard his comments, asking, “What's   your  problem, Daddy?”  “It's too difficult today”,  he answered.  Several days later, she met him at the door with a partial piece of that day's newspaper...”I brought you the crossword puzzle today.”  Looking at it, he smiled and said, “But you didn't give me the   whole puzzle.”... to which she replied, “Daddy, I cut it in half so it wouldnt be so difficult.”

In the summer, we'd frequently go to the beach with sand pails and shovels, beach balls, a cooler with refreshing cold drinks, sandwiches and fruit. Marcia disliked suits with straps, so until she was a teen,  I bought 2-piece bathing suits for her....with only the lower part being worn.  This was her freedom!    Once at Wasaga Beach, she was fascinated with the red ladybugs she discovered in the sand...loving them as they playfully crawled over her fingers and hands...amazing what amuses small children!

Another piece of drama occurred  in Kindergarten.  In May, an invitation came for Mothers to attend  a special program to  honour Mothers' Day.  Usually, I was well dressed for any special occasion.  However, on this morning ,  I had an early tennis match with the intention of returning home to change my clothes....but ran out of time.  I considered my casual appearance to be acceptable...powder blue knit  tennis dress with matching socks and white shoes.  With a quick look in the car mirror, I repaired my make-up and with brush and comb, restyled my hair...then a dab of spray cologne.

I entered the Kindergarten classroom, greeted by a “Hostess Child” who gave me a hand-crafted crown (made by each child) and asked whether I had a Prince or  Princess in the room.  Miss Hostess went to Marcia, who with one look...totally ignored me!  Finally, Colin, a neighbour with  whom she played at home (and whose Mother, Heather  was a friend) came to carry out “the ritual” as practised.  He went to the refreshment table to bring me a “Pink Lady”  and invited me to have “special sandwiches”, cookies and cake.  Marcia's attitude surprised me!  Heather explained  that I was not  dressed as my daughter expected and therefore pretended not to know me.

She was a challenging...but  delightful child who needed activities to fill her time  and capture her attention and interest!  First, it was gymnastics at which she excelled.  When the Gymnastics Club for Girls invited her to join their Club to practise for their teams,   this was NOT for her!  Then it was roller skating until her interest “ran its course”.  Jazz and tap dance held her engaged for about one year.  She took modelling classes both as a child and later in her teens (which developed poise and confidence when on stage or hostessing many business  and cultural social events.)

  The activity that for her had any longevity, was “riding”. With a friend her age, they spent two weeks at day camp at Bertin Stables in nearby Oakville...she was 8, almost 9 years old.  The following year we bought a pony (unknown to her). Jim, the Stables owner selected  this bay  with  black tail and mane for her, named Richmond Rose (in honour of Rose, a long-time  Virginia friend of Jim and Sandra's.)

Jim Bertin  brought “Richie” in a horse trailer to our street and home.  I was waiting for Jean-Paul to arrive (supposedly) to drive him and her to the Stables.  Marcia was SO  EXCITED when Mr. Bertin opened the trailer leading Richie  out wearing a new saddle and banner, reading “Happy Birthday, Marcia”.  She was permitted to give the neighbour  children rides on Her Pony  up and down the street.  The Burlington Post sent a journalist and photographer to cover this community story. She loved Richmond Rose and was totally dedicated  to  his grooming and training.  This was the beginning of her several  years journey into the equestrian world!  Within a year, she outgrew Richie...we sold him to another family.  Buying a trained horse was not affordable;  Jim would find suitable ones  that would be an asset to the Stables as riding horses...always keeping in mind the needs of his better riders.

Sundash was a registered thoroughbred...nervous at the starting gates as a  race horse, thus rejected.  Jim spoke with me about her, believing this horse to be too feisty  for Marcia.  But for my daughter, this was “Love at First Sight”.  Extremely spirited, Sundash had to be run on a long lead for 5 to 10 minutes before  anyone could attempt to ride her. She was a  chestnut with white blaze on her forehead and white stockings.  With  Jim's assistance, they trained her to jump...and Jump she did...like a Deer! Neal Bertin, Marcia's age was the only other student rider who could handle and control this horse...each had a “sixth sense” about the “partnership and communication relationship” between horse and rider!

The Bertins were constantly in contact with other Stables, both locally and in United States for reciprocal weekend meets for designated age categories of children and teens. When our riders travelled, they rode the other Stables' horses  and were billeted in the homes of the riders of  this host Stable.  Ribbons and awards were presented together with an  exchange of small flags. These taught the   protocol as expected of all riders in this world of “equestrian events. When other Stables returned here, we had the privilege of billeting their riders....who also had an opportunity prior to the Saturday and Sunday shows to “try out our horses” for an ability match. How exciting to perform in New York (outside Buffalo), in Virginia, Florida, Texas.  Exchange meets were also arranged in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Colombia.  At none of these, were parents allowed to go.

The highlight of her “riding career” was in Caracas, Venezuela...an age category of 14 years and under where 9 countries  were competing.  The Canadian Equestrian Federation had already assigned a rider to attend...but upon arrival there, it was discovered the rider was now 15 and therefore disqualified.  Jim Bertin's friend from Puerto Rico telephoned him on a Sunday morning asking if he could send a couple riders. The competition would begin on Wednesday with the selection of horses for the riders; actual events began Thursday, ending on Sunday with a Grand Prix.  Jim's wife, Sandra was taking Neal and requested  Marcia to go...these two would be strong contenders.  (I needed to obtain a   Passport  for her and permission  from her father to leave the country).   Sandra could  get  her on the plane when she and Neal were flying on Monday from Toronto, but not into Venezuela. I had to retrieve Marcia at the airport.  Being early December, I stopped at  Duncan & Wright Camera shop for Passport Photos that late evening; next day I applied for the  Passport in Hamilton explaining the dire necessity of it; I booked her flight for Wednesday with “hopes”.  At 4:30 Tuesday afternoon, amazingly, there was her Passport!  At age 14, she flew on Wednesday to Miami and from there, connected a flight to  Caracas to be met by Sandra.

On Wednesday, Neal selected  a horse suitable for Marcia...actually they each would ride  a horse of equal temperaments...and spirited of course.  Together they achieved well, placing Second   among the 9 countries.  Sunday was Grand  Prix Day!  Marcia was shocked to view the course! She had never handled jumps of this size and dimension!  The Puerto Rico coach was a calming influence, looking after these 2 Canadian riders.  Communicating with her horse, patting his neck and his velvety nose, she said to him, We can win this together, cant we?  You trust Meand Ill  trust You! 

The first round for all riders, challenged them to complete a set of 14 or 15 various jumps within  a given time limit.  Those who have a clean round (no faultsi.e. with rails down or over the time or refusals by the horse to jump) would then participate in a jump off which is a shortened course of possibly 5 or 6 jumps.  The Winner is the rider with the fewest faults and the fastest time!

With her fabulous horse, they won the Sunday event!  She was   emotionally overwrought with  this challenging course, and with what she and her horse accomplished. They brought  home a few engraved silver plates...of course the big 30 inch silver  trophy was in Marcia's hands.  News of their success  was spread across several local newspapers with their story and pictures.  It was a miracle that we were able to arrange a passport and travel within a couple days  to Venezuela!

To be a  “Jumper” demands “determination, spirit and guts” combined with riding skills and knowledge of the course (jumps in the order to be ridden).  Foremost, is the “trust and communication” between the rider and the horse beneath the saddle.

To subsidize the cost of riding, she was teaching ”pony privates” to younger children and private lessons to teens and adults;  often she accompanied them to local shows as their coach.  A steady job it was even cleaning stables and tack.  Occasionally, she assisted Mrs. Bertin in the Office.

Following High School, she attended College then worked for an investment firm as a financial  planner.

Today, she is happily married, living in the rural area of West Lincoln.  Their ranch home is nestled on 23 acres of gently rolling land with trees and Chippewa Creek  at the rear of their property.  They have a little boy who just completed Kindergarten.  He loves Sports!  Jacob has “athletic genes” from both parents.  This summer he is playing soccer!

A few years ago, she asked if I could replace the buttons on her jacket. 
“Marcia,  you are very capable of doing this yourself.  Why me?”
With a smile on her face, BecauseYou're the Mom!”
It was a great pleasure to assure myself, “I am her Mom...and She is my Daughter”
foreverthrough Life...and still often being “needed”.

“Mothers hold their daughters' hands for a little while
and then their hearts forever.”
(Anonymous)

Merle Baird-Kerroriginally written August 1, 2010
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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ancient Sage and Greek Icon



Attending a horse show one summer day at the Hamilton Hunt Club, my daughter and I noticed a nearby spacious garden center with much statuary, bird baths, sun dials, etc.  She, being an equestrian, gravitated to a stone white rearing horse...perfectly poised, the front feet both parallel, the mane and tail seemingly flying in a breeze. Tall and slender, the statue had a large spike at its base...to plant in garden soil. How magnificent!  A gift for her September birthday. (Today she still has it on display at her West Lincoln property.)

I was intrigued with a few Buddha statues ~ all in jade-green stone with brushed brass finish.  This could be beautifully placed in my garden of roses, lilacs and flowering shrubs. The Meditating Buddha, in classic lotus position “connected with me.”  His face spoke of serenity, wisdom, spirituality and discipline.  My gardens would welcome him to a peaceful environment, creating harmony for him  and me.  As I purchased him, I was awed with such reverence!

Buddha was the accent in my garden ~ from him I experienced positive energy and peace of mind that overcame mini-tribulations that occasionally occurred. Whether among my rose blossoms or amid the scented lilacs, his message attuned to my life.  He travelled with me to 4 different homes  and then to my 18th floor's balcony overlooking Lake Ontario.  Here, Buddha adjusted well to my hibiscus plants and other potted flowers.  For over 6 years he's had a sacred home  (where I now live) on a tall wrought iron stand.

Buddha (The Enlightened One), originally a prince in Nepal, was a man of knowledge, of wisdom, of philosophy and a teacher to many.  He is the founder of Buddhism, based on his principles, which  is the 4th largest religion in the world. 

Of Interest:  Why is the lotus flower symbolic of Buddhism?

The roots of the lotus are in the mud; the stem grows up through the water and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight.  This pattern growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primaral  mud of materialism, through the waters of experience and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.  The lotus flower is white, but also red, blue, pink and purple...each representing personal inner truths.

Wisdom of Buddha

Do not overrule what  you have received, nor envy others. 
He who envies others, does not obtain peace of mind.

Better than a thousand words, is one word that brings peace.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal
with the intent of throwing it at someone else. 
You are the only one who gets burned.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west;
people create distinctions out of their own minds
and then believe them to be truths.

This past winter, our balconies needed much repair.  Our furniture in these areas had to be removed ~ mine placed in a main floor storage room by management.  Now that our “new balconies” are in place, we can renew our enjoyment of the outside environment…so “nature oriented.”  Buddha, however, could not be located.  Indeed...how sad I was!  He had journeyed with me for about 35 years...been my 'side-kick' and fountain of inspiration!  Perhaps it's time to move on with new horizons and  new concepts.

A few days ago, I frequented a few nearby nursery gardens searching for a statue replacement.  Yes, I saw Buddhas ~ they didn't impress me with their silver heads (so artificial) and their almost false expressions...no connections with them at all.  At Holland Park Nursery, were a few white statues of a classic goddess.  Due to a few chips, they were on sale at ½ price.  WOW!  I'll have one of these!  A gentleman spent some time with me observing each (as they were too heavy for me to lift); he then placed our choice on my 'dolly'.  Once purchased and plastic bagged, he pushed it to my car and lifted the heavy statue into my trunk. 

She is a Greek goddess replica...who in the days of Greek mythology, represented love, desire, beauty, pleasure and procreation.  (Her Roman equivalent was the goddess Venus.)  My goddess is depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by a winged godling, Eros (love).  Tradition stated that she had sprung from the foam of the sea.  Her name is Aphrodite!

It is with elation that I can enjoy my 3rd floor balcony to the fullest, now complete with a new focal  point.  In the freshness of the air and warmth of the sun, this afternoon I muse:  feeling the gentle breeze as it wafts through lacy leaves…hearing the birds as they merrily sing…seeing the squirrels and chipmunks at play. Best of all is the touch of Nature given me…lush  greenery of bushes and trees…the vast blue sky and travelling clouds…thundering from darkening sky and flashes of lightening, the frequent spectacular sunsets, the silvery crescent moon as it rises under a canopy of a million stars!  I closed my eyes in total reverie.

Sipping my almond liqueur on the rocks, I pondered about Aphrodite ~ my carved alabaster statue in quiet reign from  her balcony home. 
Will she inspire me as she tells of her Aegean isles…and of her life in Greek society?
Will she inform me how her people dyed fabrics into azure blue, royal purple, rich jade green?
Will she capture my imagination with jewellerys of gold and inlaid precious stones?
And I realized…every life does tells a story!

* * * * * * * * *
                      
The simplest and most basic symbol of the goddess
is the acknowledgement of the legitimacy of female power
as a beneficent and independent power.
(Carol P. Christ)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written July 11, 2013
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