Monday, 23 June 2014

Divine Intervention?

I am not a risk-taker and had never been seriously hurt until I survived an accident almost seventeen years ago that completely changed my outlook on life and, strangely enough, removed my fear of death. 

First, I will set the scene leading up to the accident, then provide the gory details and explain how it changed my outlook and why I no longer fear death. Hopefully it will all make sense in the end.

Seventeen years ago, our kids were in a nanny-share arrangement at a house down the street. Every day I would pick them up after work. On this particular day, I left work early so our nanny could drive her parents to the airport. They had been visiting from Scotland. 

I worked in the north tower of the Eaton Centre and lived on Millwood Road in Toronto. It was a perfect bicycle commute.  I would either take Jarvis which was faster or Bayview with a long challenging hill. On this day, I took Jarvis and remember hearing more sirens than usual. It was a busy day for emergency vehicles in the city.

I had a choice to either drop my bike at home and walk to get the kids or go straight to pick them up. Since I had plenty of time, I decided to drop the bike and walk, so it would be easier to manage the stroller. I left our dog at home for the same reason. As it turned out, these were the best possible choices that day.

I remember approaching the nanny-share house and admiring a cool convertible parked in the driveway next door. I was feeling fabulous and appreciating the beautiful summer weather while looking forward to picking up the kids a bit early. I think it was about 4:20 p.m. when I was hit from behind by a car just two houses away from my destination.

I have no actual memory of the accident. It took about 90 minutes before my ability to remember returned and I "woke up" strapped to a backboard on a stretcher in a curtained cubicle in a hospital. It was Wellesley Hospital where I had given birth to our son the previous year.

I remember holding up my arm to look at my watch and exclaiming it was 6 p.m. My husband would be at baseball and I wouldn't be able to reach him. Of course, he overheard me and let me know he was already there. That's when he told me what had happened. 

The other mom with whom we shared a nanny had called my husband at work to tell him I had been hit by a car and was laying in a puddle of blood on the sidewalk surrounded by emergency vehicles. Can you imagine the shock he must have felt? Our kids were fine and would stay with her until we could return home. Luckily, she had noticed the accident when I didn't show, and kept the kids inside blissfully unaware.  

My husband rushed to the scene, but I had already left in an ambulance and the firemen were hosing down the sidewalk. Apparently head wounds bleed a lot. My husband feared the worst as he headed to the hospital. 

Since I was strapped to a board while waiting to see a doctor, we didn't know the extent of my injuries. I had been asking where was my bike and what had happened to the kids. I was relatively upbeat and joking, but not retaining anything until that moment when I looked at my watch.

Now for the gory details as promised. I had major bruising on my legs and shoulders and a gash on the back of my head. My husband helped the doctor hold the wound closed for stapling - seven staples total. The cool thing about head wounds is the general lack of pain. I suffered a fairly severe concussion, but healed well with no ongoing problems other than brief vertigo whenever I lay down or sat up for about a year. I never recovered my memory of the accident or the 90 minutes following which bothered me a lot, but was probably a blessing. 

The men with the cool convertible witnessed the whole thing and filled in the gaps when I returned to thank them for their help.  They told me an elderly driver had crossed the road, jumped the curb, hit me on the sidewalk, then drove back on the road and parked. They said it was like watching a stunt scene from a movie. Apparently, I did a straight body flip in the air with my shoulders landing on the grass and my head hitting the sidewalk. They called 911 then made me lay still while we waited. It feels weird to think I was conscious yet not aware for all that time. 

The doctors told me I was lucky the driver was not going fast which is most likely what saved me from serious injury. That may be true, but I always felt there was more to it. Right from the beginning, I told everyone I felt an angel had protected me. I was not religious and had not thought about spirituality before, yet I suddenly knew death didn't hurt and instinctively felt it was not the end. I came home from the hospital that evening feeling good about life and wanting to know more. 

It was difficult to explain why I no longer feared death when I knew I wanted to live more consciously while actively seeking answers to my questions about life and life after death. Once I asked the questions, I started receiving answers in all sorts of ways. 

The first book I was given was called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. It provided a perfect introduction to the concepts of spirituality and synchronicity. Looking back I would say the accident woke me up to the mysteries in life.

I had been feeling down about things because our company had been bought by another and the I.T. department where I worked was contracted to transfer files and systems. I was soon to be out of a job I loved. The accident helped put everything in perspective. 

I only missed a couple days work. It happened on a Thursday so I took Friday to rest and pack for a family visit to London where we celebrated our son's first birthday. You can see my bruised shoulder in the picture below taken a couple days after the accident. 
I am so grateful I got to see my son turn one. He loved the slide and pool he received for his birthday. I can feel his joy in this photo and can't help but be uplifted by it. 
Here he is 17 years later graduating from High School and ready to embrace the next step. He will be off to University in September.
We're both happy for him, but I can't help but worry just a little. University out of town will be a big change for all of us.
We're also very proud of our daughter. She is living in Boulder, CO with her husband and two beautiful children and is very happy.
We love being grandparents. I hope we will eventually get to see more of these kids once we retire. For now, we're grateful for internet and social networking. It helps tremendously when we live so far away.
Seventeen years have gone by so fast. It's amazing how many things have changed. I am happy to have been here for all of it, both the good and the bad. Even after all the reading and research I've done, I still have to remind myself of all the things I love about this life. It is so easy to become complacent and take things for granted. It's so easy to let myself get grumpy, frustrated or stuck in a rut. Why do we do that to ourselves?

I like to think I have my "wise" self and my "regular" self. My regular self tends to worry and often complains, but my wise self eventually steps in to make things better again. Recounting this story from seventeen years ago is a good reminder to me. Life is precious and to be treasured. It puts me in touch with my wise self. 

How about you? Have you ever had a close call that made you appreciate life all the more? Are you in touch with your angels and guides? 

Some people might say it was just my lucky day but I prefer to think it was Divine Intervention.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

I did it!

Today is World Wide Knit (and Crochet) in Public (WWKiP) Day. I wrote all about it in a post yesterday. Here is the link in case you missed it. 

Unfortunately our ambitious plans to bike today did not happen. We woke up late plus my husband is still congested and worn out from catching a cold earlier this week so we decided to take it easy. I suppose we can always bike tomorrow. 

Happily I managed to get out and crochet in public this afternoon while enjoying a cappuccino breve at Starbucks. My husband was a good sport and agreed to join me if I shared my chocolate fudge oat square. He snapped this photo as proof. 
I am working on another dishcloth, a simple pattern I have memorized. I packed the wrong size hook but it doesn't really matter with dishcloths. Although I enjoyed crocheting in public, I got about four rows completed before recognizing somebody and spending the rest of my time chatting. It seems public crochet is much less productive for me. Perhaps I would get better at working through distractions eventually.  

While we were running errands I was watching for other yarn crafters but didn't notice any. Oh well, I am still happy I did it. How about you? Did you see anybody knitting or crocheting in public today? I would love to hear if you did.

We're going to my brother-in-law's place for dinner tonight to celebrate Fathers' Day. I must hurry and finish prepping a salad - tossed salad with avocado and banana chips and a lemon and olive oil dressing. I got the idea from a recipe posted by blogger The Paleo Mom here. I'm looking forward to our evening. It's always lots of fun getting together with family. 

Friday, 13 June 2014

Do you do it in public?

Tomorrow is World Wide Knit (or Crochet) in Public (WWKiP) Day. I was not aware of this special day until a friend posted a comment about it on Facebook this week. She had mentioned to her husband that Saturday was World Wide Knit in Public Day and he jokingly wondered if that might be illegal similar to breastfeeding in public. Of course we all know neither knitting nor nursing in public is illegal, but it raises the question, is it considered proper?

I personally support breastfeeding in public. I did it and am not the least bothered by others who do it whether they choose to be discreet or not. On the other hand, I always preferred to feed in the quiet and privacy of my home. It was more relaxing and less distracting for baby plus I liked having everything I might need readily at hand.

I take a similar approach to crocheting in public. Most of my public crochet takes place while traveling. I took my yarn and hooks on a cycling trip to Majorca in 2011. I had to get special permission from airport security before going through customs to ensure my hooks were allowed on board. Since scissors and yarn needles were packed in checked luggage, I selected a simple project without a lot of colour changes. I carried nail clippers to cut the yarn and waited until we reached our destination to weave in ends. Since then I have bought a set of plastic crochet hooks so I don't have to worry about losing my metal hooks to overly zealous security guards.

I have also taken projects on long road trips. On one such trip I realized how dusty it is to work with Bernat Handicrafter Cotton yarn. My husband was not happy to find the dashboard completely coated in cotton fluff by the time we reached our destination. I must admit it was irritating to have fluff blowing in our faces and tickling our noses. At home yarn fluff dissipates over a larger area and is less noticeable. I now stick to cleaner acrylic yarns for road trips.

Another time, I dropped one of my plastic hooks in the car and it disappeared. I discovered our Santa Fe has gaps under the seats where they attach to the floor and the hook fell into one. Since it was out of site and beyond reach, I like to say our car "ate" my hook. Thank goodness it was only a cheap plastic one.

These days most of my crochet happens at home in private. I find crochet relaxing and enjoy listening to educational on-line talks while doing it. Since I have plenty of free time to crochet, I like leaving my hobby at home when I go out. My friend who mentioned WWKiP day to me is a knitter. We took our crochet and knitting to the cottage last year and I was amazed to watch her knitting while talking without even looking at her work. If I chat or get distracted, I invariably make mistakes and have to spend more time 'frogging'. I'm sure you crafters know why it's called frogging. When you make a mistake, you have to "rip-it, rip-it, rip-it" out. Don't you just love that analogy? It makes me smile every time.

I suppose one reason to do it in public is to raise awareness. In general, public opinion seems to suggest that knitting and crochet are hobbies pursued by old ladies with nothing better to do. For example, I crocheted a baby blanket for a coworker's niece who was born earlier this year. When her sister brought the baby into our office to visit, she was taken aback when she saw me. She loved the blanket but was expecting the person who made it to look more like a granny. I was flattered and, at the same time, wondering how to get the message out that crocheting can be fun for anybody at any age. 

This week I've been busy making crochet dishcloths and flower scrubbies. I decided to use up my yarn scraps of Bernat Handicrafter Cotton and a pack of plastic dish scrubbers in assorted colours. My favourite free dishcloth pattern can be found here and my favourite flower scrubbie is based on a free pattern by Denise Rothberg found here
I prefer to complete three rows of the pattern and leave rounded petals instead of adding points with a fourth row. So far this week, I have completed six sets in a variety of colours. I like to have these on hand for gifts as they are practical plus provide a fun pop of colour to any kitchen decor.
To celebrate WWKiP Day, I think I will crochet at our local Starbucks in Byron. I love cappuccino and I love crochet. They pair perfectly just like a hook and yarn. I wonder if my husband will agree to be seen with me and my crochet in public?

Truthfully though, I prefer to do it in private. What about you? Do you ever do it in public? 

I'll be watching for fellow yarn crafters. Let's hope I see some tomorrow. Have a happy World Wide Knit (and Crochet) in Public Day. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Ceramic Yarn Bowl LoVe

Last summer I made a spur-of-the-moment purchase in Bayfield, ON at Patina Studios on Main Street. I bought a beautiful hand-made ceramic yarn bowl and I LoVe it. I had been an avid crocheter for over two years by then but had never heard of yarn bowls. When we walked into the shop, these lovely ceramic bowls caught my eye. I just wasn't sure why there was a hole and a curved slot in all of them. The artist/owner Joan Bailey explained they were yarn bowls used by knitters and crocheters and made by her partner Tony Eyamie. For some reason I was hooked and had to have one. 

Tony's ceramic yarn bowls are beautifully crafted works of art and I LoVe that they have a practical purpose. I use my yarn bowl all the time now when I crochet. It keeps my yarn in one place instead of rolling around and falling to the floor. The bowl is heavy enough to handle tugging on the yarn without tipping or falling. It has both a hole and a smooth curved slot carved into the side. The hole locks the yarn in place for the duration of a project while the curved slot holds the yarn steady yet allows it to be removed at any time. I prefer the flexibility offered by the slot because I tend to work on multiple projects at a time.
I usually crochet with the yarn bowl at my feet on the floor. This works best for me as I like to leave space on the table in front of me for my cappuccino and the table beside for my laptop. If I travel with my crochet to another corner of the house or even outside of the house, I put the yarn bowl in a Xerox paper box along with extra yarn and all the bits and bobs I might require for my project. Paper boxes are sturdy and come with a lid to keep everything together and safely contained. Any bin with a lid would work but the boxes are free and readily available at my office.
Last fall my yarn bowl traveled to our friend's cottage near Tobermory with me. It's in the paper box by my side. I LoVe that the bowl is protected and everything I need is close at hand.
I do think these bowls are lovely as a decorative piece on their own. Of course my bowl gets lots of use so is rarely ever on display empty.
This past Sunday, our son stayed at a friend's cottage in Ipperwash with a bunch of his classmates. It was their 'after prom' party weekend. Being responsible parents, we refused to let our son have the car with a bunch of 17 and 18 year old boys for the weekend. Instead, his Granddad drove him and five other friends to the cottage on Friday. My husband and I drove two vehicles to the cottage on Sunday and left one for our son to drive home with a few friends. He didn't get the car for the weekend but was happy to be trusted for the trip home, a perfect compromise in my opinion.  
Since we were in the vicinity, we carried on and drove to Bayfield for the afternoon. It was a gorgeous sunny day so we enjoyed a delicious lunch on the patio at the Black Dog Village Pub and BistroAfterwards we toured all the quaint little shops on Main Street. It's such a fun summery thing to do. We also stopped by Patina Studios to admire their artwork and let them know how much I LoVe my ceramic yarn bowl. 

I am so glad I made this spur-of-the-moment purchase last year. If you LoVe to crochet or knit, you won't be disappointed if you buy a ceramic yarn bowl.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Synchronicity in Action

According to Wikipedia, "Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, where they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence." A more detailed Wikipedia definition of synchronicity can be found here

I think we all experience synchronicity in our lives all the time. The trick is to notice and celebrate it. Life becomes much more interesting when you do. I would like to share a meaningful coincidence from my life that happened as recently as Friday.

It all started with a grade 8 graduation class photo from 1977 posted on Facebook (FB) a few weeks ago. The photo generated a lot of comments from people who were either in the photo or knew somebody in the photo. This wasn't just any grade 8 class photo, it was my grade 8 class from Biddulph Central School near Lucan. That's me in the middle row 7th from the left.
I have lost touch with most of the people in this photo except for a few through FB recently. A couple ladies from my grade 8 class are organizing a reunion. The date has been set for Saturday, September 6th. They have started a FB group to share information and have asked for help in spreading the word to those who are not on FB. 

I started thinking of my friends from way back then. I remembered one friend in particular Tracy Norton (middle row 6th from the right). We started Biddulph at the same time in grade 5 and remained friends right through high school and college. My husband and I went to her wedding 24 years ago but then lost touch. We had already moved to Toronto and had a baby by the time Tracy married. When we finally moved back to London 13 years ago I just never bothered to look up any of my old friends. Life seemed busy enough with kids, work and family.

After all this time, I wasn't sure how to contact Tracy. I couldn't remember her married name and FB searches came up empty. Then my parents remembered her husband owned a meat market and deli. They couldn't remember his name so I did a Google search and came up with this. Of course, Jim Chioros is his name and he owns Western Meats and Deli with two locations in London. 

I tried calling the Deli to get Tracy's number but Jim was not available. Since the Hamilton Road location was right around the corner from my office, I decided to stop by for lunch on Friday and hoped to see Jim at the same time. As luck would have it, Jim was working in the Take Out trailer. I ordered a chicken souvlaki sandwich which was very tasty and Jim graciously gave me Tracy's number. It turns out they had just celebrated their 24th Anniversary a week ago. I was very happy to have her number and was looking forward to calling her some time soon. 

Since our son was was away for the weekend and my husband and I were both ready to relax on Friday night, we decided to go to Dolcetto for dinner. We heard it was good and Friday was a beautiful night for a dinner date. It was sunny and warm and finally feeling like summer. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner. Our server was attentive and friendly and the atmosphere was upbeat and fun. It was very busy and getting late so we chose to sit inside instead of waiting for a patio table. 

As we sat eating our meal, I remember looking around at this large restaurant full of people and saying to my husband that I didn't recognize anybody. Imagine seeing all those people and not knowing anybody in a small city like London? You're probably wondering what all this wining and dining has to do with synchronicity, well let me explain.

As we were finishing our meal, a lady walked by our table to sit on the patio. We didn't really get a good look but both thought it must be Tracy. Can you imagine my surprise? Once we settled our bill, we headed out to the patio and I was delighted to find Tracy and Jim sitting out there. She really hasn't changed. I love her energy and bubbly personality. I told her about the reunion and got her business card so I can keep her up to date on the details. 

Just one more funny coincidence, when their meal arrived I was surprised to see they had ordered the same as us. I think we'll have to make an effort to get together some time soon. I can tell we'll have fun.

I love noticing synchronicity in action both in my life and in the lives of people I know. So tell me, what meaningful coincidences have you noticed lately?