Oops We Did It Again! – Making It Work

We are without a doubt into the holiday and Christmas season frenzy.

In many ways, it doesn’t really matter how you define “the holiday/Christmas Season” – nevertheless we’re full-tilt into it. Not sure if it could be seen as more of an individual start time – but………..the holiday and Christmas season, does start for all of us whenever it gets started.

Friday night in our rural Nova Scotia town, was the tree lighting ceremony at the town square/bandstand. It was pretty neat.

As well, the myriad of local Christmas craft sales in area Legions, community halls, and church basements kicks off yesterday(Saturday) with, of course, great anticipation and excitement. Excellent.

Does it make any real sense to ask the question – “is there an official day on the calendar marked with fireworks and a day away from work that ignites ‘the big’ season?” Not really – although that would be a nice touch.

Having said that, Thanksgiving in the United States is often regarded as the “official start” of the Christmas season down there.

Regardless, chances are, some people start earlier, some later and some never get started at all.

Up here in our neck of the woods, I do think it would be a fair estimation that the holiday and Christmas season gets at least a tiny push forward, say around the third week of November.

That was a whole lot of rambling nonsense(kinda) to get us to this point.

Which is?????

Regardless of when the “Christmas and holiday locomotive” gets fired up and heads off down the holiday rails, we all know that soon after if not at the same time this happens.

What happens?

The annual blizzard of adverts, social media messages, phone calls, text messages, chats on the street, and yes those ancient paper notices at the local coffee shop, all of which bombard us with a wide variety of Christmas and holiday-related events that require your attendance. And this does not include, and let me repeat DOES NOT INCLUDE the 3-hour drive one-way to “Shady Vista Retirement Residence” to visit dear old Aunt Mae.

So, what do we do and how do we fit it ALL IN AND MAKE IT ALL WORK?

First of all, you can’t fit it all in. Second, you still can’t fit it all in. Finally, you honestly can’t fit it all in.

I would suspect that for most of us, there are cherished holiday events and such that get entered onto the kitchen calendar “in ink” early each year and are in some ways almost non-negotiable in terms of attending.

Looking back, the holiday season of 2020 was in many respects the season of events being canceled or exceedingly modified if they occurred at all. Last year(2021) many of us were like thoroughbred racehorses at the starting gate. We’re all chomping at the bit ready to hit the track and race around to as many holiday and Christmas events as possible.

So, what about this year – 2022?

Well, if you’re like me – you haven’t really learned or been taught much by past history…….that’s right. Still trying to fit it all in.

We keep doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different results. Which is often suggested as the definition of insanity.

For yours truly, part of the mental and intellectual juggling I’m facing is “how many holiday things are too much?” I don’t have a good answer for that. And furthermore, is trying to fit these events in causing “far more anxiety and poop than necessary?” The short answer here – is yes.

So, what’s the answer to the big question here? How do we head about and make it work?

Okay, so here we go.

Step back; slow down and enjoy.

The simple answer to the whole deal doesn’t require a graduate degree to figure out.

So, let me ask you this?

Is it better to pencil in and schedule events to attend every Friday night, Saturday afternoon, and evening and then out again on Sunday with family and friends from mid-November to December 24th? All the while being stressed to the max and not enjoying even a minute of it? Or does it make way more sense to slow down; pick a few really special events that have meaning to you and your family; attend those and honestly enjoy yourself?

I would pick the second one.

Why?

Because for the last couple of weeks I’ve been diligently Googling “Christmas events in Nova Scotia”; as well as having notices for local Christmas events pop up on my social media streams and then…………scheduling as many events into my phone calendar as possible on weekends as part of a soul-crushing and failing emotional and mental exercise to capture some level of Christmas and holiday spirit.

The Christmas and holiday season from what I can figure out over my many decades is that it is meant to be enjoyed and savored. Something to share with friends and family. Creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Lynn and I can’t go to everything Christmas light display; outdoor Christmas market or whatever the holiday event of the second week of December throws at us.

That realization came to me as if it was some sort of divine revelation from the All-Mighty himself. The second revelation was this.

Simply schedule the two you what to head off to. And let the rest of it fall where it may. If it works out, it works out.

Better to enjoy a couple of events, than to head off and attend seven things and come to not enjoy any of them and be even more pissed at the world than you were before.

There are more than enough resources out there that anyone can read, watch or listen to on a podcast on how to work at de-stressing the holiday season to some personal level that is both manageable and enjoyable for each of us.

I don’t have any truly correct answer. Yes, this time of year can be very stressful for many and downright horrible for others as well. And for many getting to the root of the issue and thus an answer or coping strategy might be a complex endeavor at best.

All I can figure out at this point at 5:18am on November 26 is to slow down and try to enjoy it.

Keep things simple and keep them enjoyable.

But, do make the visit to Aunt Mae happen. Like really – you need to go see her……..REALLY!

That’s all I have.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Acrylic – Colourful Wildflowers on a High Cliff

This painting was inspired by the landscape in both the area where we live and as well as many views and areas across Nova Scotia.

Steep cliffs, water, and depending on the season wildflowers.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been studying and practicing online to become more assertive in my techniques and use of bold colour. And as well, to work on trusting the process of getting to the end.

In painting(so I’ve found out) that layering a variety of hues of colour is one key to creating depth and texture within the painting. This takes trust to “trust” that what you may be doing at any one point in the process will work out and get you to where you want to be in the end.

And it is still an ongoing process.

Fun, challenging…..but in the end……satisfying.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Our Little Area Of Nova Scotia

While chatting back and forth with a fellow blogger over the past day or so, it came up in our brief exchange, if I might be or would posting “more picturesque photo’s of our outings?”

Not wanting to disappoint her or others – here are a few pics from the past several months of what our area of Nova Scotia – the new “old homestead” looks like.

And that’s only a sampling of what our area of the province offers.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Black Friday – A Thing??

Yesterday when Lynn and I were out, I happened to mention out of the blue that it was the American Thanksgiving weekend. From what I’ve heard from friends that live in the US, the Thanksgiving weekend(the 4 days of it) is essentially the kick-off to the Christmas holiday season there.

Part of that tradition is the annual “Black Friday” sales that occur, surprisingly on ….today………Friday.

It wasn’t all that long ago, that the “Black Friday thing” in Canada was something that only occurred in the United States, and in news clips, we here in Canada might watch at 6:00pm. Maybe if you live close to a US border city, you might head off to States and try to snap up some “Black Friday” deals of your own. But, that’s about it.

But, things change and evolve over time, and as it often happens, whenever the “big white elephant” to the south of us rolls over, it has an effect on us back in Canada.

Now, “Black Friday” is a thing here as well.

At least I think it is.

Is it as crazy and chaotic here as it appears to be in the United States?

Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe?

I certainly have seen ads online and in print for those massive and exciting “Black Friday” sales at Canadian retailers. But, as to whether people line up all night to grab one of the two 75% off big-screen televisions at Best Buy? Again, no idea.

And honestly, I couldn’t care less than I already do.

I don’t want to end up sounding like I’m some sort of Christmas Scrooge-like character or evil anti-Christmas “Grinch.” Far from it.

I find Christmas and the holiday season, one of, if not the most satisfying and enjoyable times of the year. Family, friends, and reflecting back upon what the true meaning of the season is about – that’s all me.

But, what I rail against is this insane and rabid consumerism of spending on stuff …..that most people – honestly …..honestly couldn’t and don’t care about 27.5 minutes after they open the gift on Christmas morning. I often wonder if people don’t fall into some sort of conspiratorial mania of simply spending and buying for the act of spending and buying. Like they’re addicted to the rush of the whole experience.

All of this may make me sound like………a bit of a dick…and I get that some may think that. And you may not be far off that mark in many ways.

One of my favourite sayings this time is “’tis the season of excess.”

I am cheap; a tightwad – don’t want to spend a buck or two?

Nope – not at all.

I wrote and posted “Think Small” about this time last year.

Over the next couple of weeks, Lynn and I will finish up most of our gift purchases. It does take us a fair bit of time to get it done. And like in previous years, we’ll hit every little locally owned and unique shop we can find, hunting and searching for those “perfect gifts.” The gifts that fit who we’re thinking of.

Does it cost more? Usually – but not always.

Are we “gifting” based on “the number of gifts and presents to give someone.” No…….not really.

For us it’s about …….. “the gift”……not “a gift.”

This post has been all over the place……….just think small and support local.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sketchy Road(s)……………Of Life

After a full morning, including a couple of phone calls in regard to the health of Lynn’s Mom, we headed out in the afternoon to explore a bit of the countryside in our area Nova Scotia.

One thing that we’ve learned since moving to Nova Scotia is the province’s definition of a rural road and Ontario’s definition of a rural road vary immensely. I honestly don’t know why? The only reason I can think of is due to funding and perhaps ownership(private versus publically owned.)

In Ontario, as I would suspect that it is here in Nova Scotia, rural dirt/gravel roads would be under the jurisdiction and maintained by the county they’re located in or perhaps it might be a town or township. It would depend on how the local government is constructed. Rural gravel or unpaved roadways wouldn’t be under the jurisdiction of the province.

However, in Nova Scotia(at least in the area we live), we have found several of these rural dirt roadways(however “main” roads) are privately owned by logging and forestry companies, which allow public access to drive them. Even using Google Maps for direction information, these “private roads” show up on the app as a possible route.

For example, the roads labeled 1, 2, and 3 show up on Google Maps as the best routes to leave Port Greville to access the Eatonville Day Use location in Cape Chignecto Provincial Park.

Spot #1 is essentially an under-maintained gravel road owned by a logging company, that allows public use. Location #3, is the same thing. Location #2 we found to be an exceptionally under-maintained single-lane track through the forest of the provincial park.

But, and this is a big “but”…….on Google Maps and on the provincial park maps, you’re led to believe that given it is labeled as “Eatonville Road,” it would be driveable and have at least room enough for two vehicles to pass each other. Nope.

Ignore the part of #2 that parallels the shore, it is a paved two-lane highway.

The post isn’t really about Nova Scotia’s local road jurisdiction and conditions.

How do we navigate through life?

Do we blindly follow some path that others have calculated for us(like following directions on Google Maps or a GPS)?

Perhaps, we live by a “fly by the seat of our pants approach” and navigate through life – sort of on a whim – with no real plan or destination in sight?

We could approach it in a similar way to using a compass – in that we have a general direction and destination for our life – but we know there will be turns and corrections to make along the way.

Maybe it ends up being a combination of all three at times or perhaps even another approach.

And then how or what do we do when we find ourselves somewhere we didn’t figure on ending up?

At Point #2 in the middle of the provincial park, we happened upon a sign that said – get this“No Maintenance Beyond This Point” – which was kind of ironic, given that there didn’t appear to be any maintenance up to that point. We could have continued on and ignored the signage, but we made the decision to turn around and retrace our steps.

What does all of this mean?

Living our lives; setting goals and direction from some point to another stage is exactly like our little afternoon “gravel roadway bounce along” in rural Nova Scotia.

For a time we blindly followed Google Maps/GPS – all the while assuming “Mr/Mrs. Google” knew what he/she was doing and where he/she was going. At times it worked out well and at other points along the journey……not so well. In some instances yesterday afternoon, we just “flew by the seat of our pants.” We had no idea where we were – just kind of blindly plugging along and hoping things would work out.

Regardless of your methodology of choice or combination thereof when it comes to navigating that journey called life and living – there will be times when you start to question choices; direction; obstacles; and moving forward.

Much like yesterday, prudent and wise choices/decisions can make a difference.

Don’t be afraid to stop; re-evaluate; make a course correction(if necessary), and then continue on.

Blindly following something and not really thinking for oneself can or could have some major consequences. We need to chart our own course; figure out potential pitfalls; and be aware that course corrections; dealing with obstacles and even retracing steps for a season may be required.

If you truly in your heart and soul know where you want to be………..you’ll get there.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Silently Encouraging

Yesterday, we did something that we hadn’t done in a while which was an early morning walk along the ocean shore down at the end of our road.

Now, Lynn isn’t normally an “early riser” type of gal. In fact, we are exact opposites when it revolves around who’s “a morning person” versus “the nighthawk” Lynn is the “nighthawk” type, while I’m definitely the “morning person.”

Nevertheless, yesterday seemed to be the exception to the rule. Lynn was up by 6:15am. You read correctly…6:15am….as in the morning……as in the sun wasn’t up yet.

After having her morning coffee and a muffin, we decided to take a walk down our road to the ocean and along the exposed shoreline for a bit.

The whole idea of heading off this early, although not out of the ordinary by any stretch of the imagination, was slightly……….out of the ordinary. But, it was a way to gain, at least for Lynn a level of distraction and peace.

Lynn’s mom back in Ontario is going through a rather grim health crisis.

Her mom(who would be about 80 or so) has had over the semi-recent past a double mastectomy, along with a host of other serious health-related issues. Lynn and I often joke along with her parents that, their lives consist mostly of watching baseball, basketball, hockey…….and doctor appointments. Lots of doctor appointments.

Her mom was informed about a month ago by her Doctor, that they suspected cancer had returned this time to her liver. Tuesday was the day we would find out more details.

After going through a battery of tests, scans, and such, we learned yesterday(Tuesday) afternoon that indeed it was in the liver, but also at the base of her spine, and potentially near her kidneys and in her lungs. More tests apparently.

So, not good.

However, there is a treatment plan in place. Which we are taking as a “smallscale win” at this point. We do need to get a bit more clarification on what the plan entails, which we hope to get a better handle on today.

So, yesterday was as much to get some exercise with a shoreline walk as it was to simply escape for a moment. Just to alleviate the stress and simply experience the soothing rhythm of the waves gently brushing up along the shore.

It was good.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Acrylic Art – Happy Update!!

Over the past couple of days, I did a couple of short posts on these acrylic landscapes that I recently finished.

Good news…. I sold them both!!

All of this came about rather quickly and unexpectedly.

I posted back a couple of weeks ago, on our 2022 version(s) of watercolour Christmas gift tags.

Having sold a few, I had Lynn post what we had left on her FB page, thinking I might be able to sell a few more before the option of mailing out them prior to Christmas didn’t work anymore.

Along the same vein, she also threw out on FB, pics of these two paintings – more to extoll the virtues and the artistic ability of her fine husband(my words – not hers).

Well, to my surprise and Lynn’s – someone contacted me wanting to buy both of them for Christmas.

Long story short, they’ll be heading to Ontario to be loved and viewed in a new home later today or Wednesday.

Still kinda in shock – a good type of shock…..but shocked nonetheless.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Perspective – Maybe Change It?

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The genesis of this post does go back a few years to the late fall of 2017.

Regardless if it’s 2017 or November 2022, the message tends to be timeless in nature, and honestly, it doesn’t hurt to give it another glance over. Timeless messages are like that.

We’ve all heard and more than likely said at some point in our lives this particular gem, “the grass is always greener on the other side” or some variation of this classic bit of wisdom.

Question – How do we know “the grass is greener on the other side”? Well, likely we had to walk around a bit; lean over the fence to take a look, or chances are we changed our perspective so that we could now see a much larger view of things.

Sidebar – I’m not really sure if “the grass is greener on the other side”….the other side of what I often wonder about?

Okay, so the cliche – “the grass is always greener on the other side” doesn’t work well here.

But, the phrase “take a step back and look at it differently or change your perspective” fits like a well-tailored suit.

The idea or the timeless message I’m going about is perspective – changing our perspective.

Are we seeing a narrow or limited view or ……..should we take a step or two backward and try to see a bigger picture?

Since birthing “justabitfurther” way back in 2016, I’ve written several times about this. I do find for the most part the concept of “perspective” a good thing to keep coming back to it. Guess it’s kind of cathartic. Lynn’s excellent photography skills always capture something that has far more meaning than what the actual picture entails if we look deeper into the photo.

Looking deeper for a hidden meaning always gives me “food for thought”(which is another great little piece of wisdom).

Several years ago in the fall, on a trip to Brooks Falls on the Magnetwan River, the mist fell in a particular way that it created on the north side of the river this wonderful texture of a very thin layer of ice on the rocks and trees. If you look at the first photo(above), you can see the icy sheen on the rocks and trees. Based on just viewing the above pic, you might think and conclude there is no way to hike downstream given the icy and slick conditions.

What about the south side of the river – on the other bank?

So…..what if we change our perspective…how we view a situation?

Stepping back a bit…….. this is what a bigger picture of the landscape looks like.

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On the right side……..a thin, beautiful textured layer of ice coated the limbs of the trees and the rocks along the edge of the rapids. Beautiful……but dangerous with one wrong step.

On the left side…..slippery because the rocks are wet…..but not as dangerous due to not so much if any ice at all coating the surface.

Sometimes life is at times like those two pictures.

The first one or perspective leads us to believe that – yes it’s beautiful but also dangerous.

We make a decision or conclude a situation is “this or that” based off of how we perceive it….because that’s what we see or think we see…….. because of the specific perspective we’ve taken to look at it.

But, stepping back as in the second picture……….we see more of the scene.

It gives us a bit more information or hopefully a lot of information and now with a view of something that leads us to reach a conclusion that may very well be 180 degrees different than before.

If we were at this particular location on the Magnetawan and needed to head downstream, we would more than likely hike and bushwhack down the left side of the river to avoid the ice and slippery conditions on the right.

Sometimes, regardless of the situation whether it be good or bad, it really doesn’t hurt to step back, if even only for the briefest second to see if there is more to the picture than we’re looking at.

A tiny step or change in our perspective………..you know……how we look at life; things; situations could dramatically alter the course of our being or someone else life.

Just a thought………

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Acrylic – Lupins On A Rocky Seascape

On our journeys throughout the east coast provinces, there are always locations that provide some of the most spectacular ocean and seaside views that one could imagine.

Some, are well-planned and developed spots with off-street parking and perhaps a trail. While on the other hand, most just sort of appear as you are driving around a curve in the road.

So, coming across a scene in Nova Scotia similar to the one in the painting wouldn’t be unheard of.

A patch or group of large spikey wildflowers(I’m going to say these are lupins) blooming up against an old wooden fence rail – overlooking a rocky outcropping on the ocean.

In a previous post “Acrylic – Fall Landscape”, I briefly touched on the location of my artistic and creative journey to be assertive and bold in applying paint onto the canvas; as well as developing new and much better skills and techniques.

And then, taking all of those elements to get blended together and striving to discover and develop my own style and interpretive vision of a scene.

As I mentioned previously, I’ve been watching and studying a series of YouTube videos from a gal called “The Art Sherpa.” Although this is only the second painting as a result of studying along with her, a couple of points she makes do stand out.

First – you need to trust the process. She focuses a ton on laying down/creating layers of paint/colours to create depth and feeling within the painting. When only the first one or two layers are on the canvas – it is hard to envision the final result……therefore you need to trust the process and that you will eventually get there.

Second – you need to create the illusion of light and shadows within the painting. Envision where the sun is coming from; where would the sunlight then hit the painting; use highlights for the sunlight and darker values to represent elements in the shade.

So, for painting #2 – I’m quite pleased. There is a lot more colour and pop to the work which is good.

There is just enough detail present that whatever additional detail may be needed, the person looking at the painting can ponder and think about the scene – and use the brush in their “mind’s eye” to fill in what may be missing for them to create a final artwork in their mind.

And that’s part of what art is supposed to do.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —

Sort Of Like ……….. “The Song That Never Ends”

Back in my old teaching days and invariably with my Grade 5’s at some point in the school year – this would make yet another cute – but “oh my gosh why me” kind of moment.

That’s right ………“The Song That Never Ends.” Performed by American puppeteer Shari Lewis(of Lamp Chop fame) – it goes like this:

This is the song that doesn’t end
Yes, it goes on and on, my friends
Some people started singing it not knowing what it was
And they′ll continue singing it forever just because…..

(The song repeats endlessly.)

Unfortunately or perhaps fortunately(depending on how weird your mind works), I kind of have my own strange version of something that never ends.

“And The Beat Goes On” explains everything in a quite clear and concise manner if I do say so myself.

But, today marks “Day 35” of this monumental, yet entirely devoid of any meaning streak.

Originally, I was thinking of “putting it out of its misery” after Day 21.

But, being somewhat “weak-kneed” yours truly couldn’t find the strength and fortitude to “pull the plug.”

So, today we’re left with ……..” the song that never ends”

You’re welcome.

–as always with love–

— get outdoors; find inspiration; discover yourself —