When I was a kid we lived in Calgary, Alberta for a very short time. I was eight years old. In my Trick or Treating prime. I was old enough that the occasion no longer scared me. The emotional and physical scars from burning my fingers on the sparklers my first year of Trick or Treating had healed. (Oh, the 1970s. Let's give the small child lit sparklers to hold. until they burn down to her fingers). But I was still young enough so that the night was filled with magic and mystery. Plus of course all the candy.
With a few Halloweens under my belt I was confident I knew how this thing worked. You go to a door. You yell "Trick or treat". There's a small chance you might be asked to actually do a trick or sing a song. But, mainly you hold out your plastic pumpkin and collect the candy.
I even had new friends already. My next door neighbours Leanne and Jill were my age. We were going Trick or Treating together. I was so excited. I felt sorry for them though that they didn't have the cool store bought costume like me with the cheap plastic mask. (I think I was a witch that year.) Instead their mom had turned them both into playing cards with beautifully hand drawn and painted designs on the front and back that they carried over their shoulders.
So I'm giddy with excitement for the Trick or Treating to begin. Our parents aren't even with us. We're roaming the dark streets on our own (again the 70s). We arrive at the first door. We ring the doorbell and I belt out: "Trick or Treat!" at the top of my lungs. But something is not right. I'm still saying the words when I realize my friends are saying something different. Something foreign. Something possibly Albertan. (Even at eight, I had already noted several differences between the provinces, mostly that I was behind at school in my new province but I'd been ahead in BC).
What were my friends saying at the door? "Halloween Apples!"
What? That's no fun. Where's the 'trick'? Where's the 'treat'? Who wants apples? I don't want apples. Leanne and Jill looked at me strangely. I stared back at them. Disappointment hung heavy between us. Nothing was said. This is how it was going to be in this strange new land. I had to say "Halloween Apples" instead of "Trick or Treat". Which I did of course, because I had to get the candy.
We moved the next year to New Brunswick, where thankfully they still said "Trick or Treat". When we moved back to British Columbia they were still saying "Trick or Treat". I never had to say "Halloween Apples" again.
When I tell this story no one else has heard of this. Leanne says now it was a short period of time that kids said that in Calgary. If you look on the Interweb sure enough saying "Halloween Apples" seems to be a regional thing in Canada identified mostly with Alberta and some parts of Manitoba. And it seems to be mostly a thing of the past.
Whatever you say, Happy Halloween.
I've been sick most of this week with some kind of flu. Whenever I get sick, which thankfully is not often, it feels to me like being underwater. I feel cut-off from the rest of the world. Removed. And it's not just the physical isolation (as I did in fact sequester myself instead of infecting everyone around me), it's a mind thing. My mind feels submerged in a watery underworld when I'm sick.
Come along with me as I continue with this half-baked water theme, won't you?
I'm not a strong swimmer but I love swimming once I'm actually in the water. I'm terrible for getting into water if it is even the slightest bit cold. This is tough when you're Canadian because there are few bodies of water that aren't cold. Most lakes in the summer near where I live are quite delightful to swim in and don't take much getting used to, but I'm still a total chicken anyway. People will be flopping, diving and jumping all around me and I will be slowly wading in, prolonging the unbearable shock of that first full dunk. It's the transitioning from dry to wet that I don't like. Once I'm in, I'm good. Until then, it takes me way too long to get in.
This past summer it took me almost thirty minutes to get in a lake with my daughter. This was a lake I had quite happily swam in the day before, but because the sun wasn't shining this particular day, my body rebelled. It did not want to go in the lake. This was a jump-off-a-dock scenario you understand. There was no slowly wading into the deep, the aquatic plants were too thick and icky for that. I tried to slowly go down the ladder, but that sent me scurrying quickly back up to the dock and under my towel. So I leant over the dock and splashed myself with lake water, but that only made me shiver more. Eventually there was nothing left to do but jump.
After the initial shock (my body was correct, it really was a tiny bit colder without the sun), I felt compelled to apologize to my daughter for being such a chicken, It really was poor modelling behaviour. She had intently watched the whole sorry performance from her, half submerged position in the lake, floating on a foam noodle like some kind of preteen manatee. After hearing my apology she said, with kindness:
"That's OK. You live and learn."
It is so humbling when your children are calmer and wiser than you are.
I have a friend who's father so hated, then Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney that he used his hatred as a way to get himself into the chilly Pacific Ocean when he wanted to go for a summer swim. Perched on top of the rock he intended to jump from, he would then convince himself that he was Brian Mulroney and then he'd feel so angry at himself/Mulroney, he'd throw himself/Mulroney off the rock and into the cold water below.
If' I'd been trying to get myself into a lake today, I might have attempted this technique by using my feelings for our current PM in a similar way on myself. Depending on how the election goes tomorrow I might have to throw myself in a lake anyway.
I figure this technique could come in handy. That's why I thought I'd share it. If you wake up really unhappy on the morning of October 20th, throwing yourself in a lake might be the only thing to make you feel better, or at least alive. This technique could help millions of Canadians, but let's hope we're not going to need it.
I have a complicated relationship with yoga. I like it. I feel like it has enriched my life, but I'm not gaga about it the way some people are. I don't study yoga. I go to a once a week yoga class. I always feel better after yoga, but in a much more subtle way than I feel after a dance class for example.
During and after dancing I feel waves of pure joy. During yoga I experience repetitive waves of aggravation and frustration, my own smallness (but sometimes my own largeness), moments of peace and occasional personal insights and epiphanies. After dance, I feel sure that I love dancing. After yoga I feel grounded, lighter and hungry. See what I mean about subtleties?
I don't go to one of those classes with mirrors or where students are wearing the latest gear. It's all about the breathing and undoing and going inward, or so our respected teacher tells us. It is only because of the wisdom exuded by my yoga teacher that I don't judge myself too harshly for not becoming a full-time enlightened yogi or for the erratic, all too human thoughts that pass through my mind when I'm supposed to be fully present in the pose.
Years ago, while we were all upside down in Downward Dog someone called out "How long will it take to like Downward Dog?" I did the math in my upside down head and realized I'd been doing the pose for a decade and had just come to a place of not hating it. I didn't call out "ten years!" to my labouring classmate. (Am I the only one who expends a lot of energy every class stopping myself from NOT blurting out my thoughts?) But let me say to that man now, wherever you are Sir: "TEN YEARS MY FRIEND, TEN YEARS!"
I try to practice regularly at home. I don't always, but when I do, my body and sometimes my soul thanks me for it. Here, in no particular order are thoughts I have had during yoga classes: