My husband and I were married on January 24th, 1981 and there were two items that he told me could NOT, would NOT happen. The first? No yard sales. Been there done that! The second, no Christmas letter. Well, what can I say the first one was produced Christmas 1981.

This year I have decided it is time to expand my territory, my distribution area, and thus I am writing to each of you. The wonderful thing about Christmas letters? If you want to read it, continue and if not, quit right now.

Each year I try to review the year and what has transpired within my heart. I then ask myself how have my experiences changed me, how I view my family, my community, my province, my country and the world in which I live.

This year has been one of BIG things. And I always come back to self. Am I contributing in a positive way to make this a better place for each of us to live. Several years ago when my job was transferred out-of-province someone asked that proverbial question of me at a cocktail party; “What do you DO?” What do I do, how do I answer this question? What do I do? There were tasks that I could list but there was no real “job title”. It did not take me to long to respond: “I work at being nice and some days I am stellar at it and others, abysmal”.

The person who asked the question took off like a shot. I, however, never forgot my response that night and that became my mantra for continuing my life journey.

I am a voracious reader. When I want to learn the most important card I own is my library card. When the material I read I want to have as a reference then is my friend.

Curiosity, to me, is the most important tool for learning. I wake up every day wondering who will I meet? What will I learn? I am infused with a joy of learning. My quick fix for the educational system? Teach the joy of learning.

Now some might cringe when I mention this but historical romance novels taught me a very important lesson. History is not about dry old dates although a sense of the time line is important what really matters is history is about people. How did they live? What did they eat? How did they feel?

I always think that one needs to turn around, look back to get a sense of where we were to understand where we are today and then close our eyes to think about what life might look like tomorrow. I find this is a great reminder that life is a circle. With this recession, financial worries have never been greater. Then I think of what the people must have felt like during the Industrial Revolution. Life moves on only sometimes we get stuck in our lamentations of the way things used to be instead of opening our eyes and hearts to the possibilities of tomorrow.

I know about these things for I had congestive heart failure on the eve of my 29
th birthday 27 years ago. I thought life had come to an end, newly married, no possibility for children, very ill on/off for more than three years, and I lamented. I lamented a lot.

I woke up one day and looked at the ceiling in our bedroom and realized that the crack in the ceiling was still there, the ceiling had not fallen down and what I had done was lose three years of my life. I got up out of bed and thought I am going to embrace life and LIVE it. We are all going to die only I made the decision that morning that whether I lived to be 40 or 80 when I reached the pearly gates I wanted to be able to say I truly enjoyed my life.

And just in case you think wow what a trooper, read on. During these last 27 years whenever I would get into another lamenting mode my heart health would diminish not just because of a physical wearing but more my spiritual heart was feeling worn out. I’ve discovered that God’s way of saying “Can you hear me now?”. I hate to say this but I’m a slow learner.

I’ve learned to meditate which I combine with my prayers. I read a book by Sylvia Brown who described prayers as asking God the questions and meditation is listening for the answers.

I realize now that when I was a child growing up on the farm in Greenock that being in nature was my daily mediation. I was reminded of this when a couple of years ago when we were painting the house and the fumes were too much I stayed with Dad at night.

Dad and I sat on the front porch looking over the rolling hills of Pomeroy, Clarence Ridge and watched the night lights twinkling from Point Lepreau, fireflies flashing signals in the night, frogs croaking messages to one another, the rustle of the wind in the trees in the woods with dappled sunlight streaming through and the smell of Mother Earth filled my nostrils. I was one with nature and for me, God.

Blessings to those who have contributed spaces for all to walk their meditations, see the natural order of nature, and BE one with the earth. Is there any better feeling or curative medicine for all that ails us than the be in the natural order of the earth. Sunsets that make you want to cry, rainbows that signal all is well, the ebb and flow of the tide that life comes and goes, comes and goes in a rhythm that makes our hearts without medication. Remove the “c” in medication and replace it with a “t” and you have meditation. Listen to the quiet… be still my heart.

With meditation I have combined yoga. I am not able to run a marathon, nor walk in one fell swoop up King Street in Saint John or a long flight of stairs, however, yoga, has been a treat. For the first few months - some things were not possible - so I simply listened to Jo, our instructor, saying or “do it in your mind”. Months went by doing it in my mind until one day I realized I had done it.

Yoga for me is a meditation honouring my body allowing it to be what it is that moment in that day. Some days downward facing dog ripples through my spine and I feel like I am curtseying to the wonderment of life.

To reduce the stress on our health care system we need to listen to the rhythm of our heart. Learn to BE quiet, breathe in the salt air, hear the rustle of the breeze in the leaves, eat well - listen to our wisdom.

When I think about life in New Brunswick the last four Lieutenant Governors have each taught me important things.

The Importance of Family
The Hon. Margaret Norrie McCain focused on her deep-rooted sense of family even when her own family was struggling in their relationships. I admire people who speak their truths, live their truths and then she gave her voice to the Muriel McQueen Ferguson Foundation. I heard her message that we each have our struggles - and we need to work together. (Michael has followed in his Mother’s footsteps of speaking the truth. The truth is so important.)

The Importance of a Good Start in Life
The Hon. Marilyn Trenholme, doctor and advocate for early childhood development, literacy and education focused on children within those families. For those who know Shirley Downey, IODE, Born to Read program would tell you just how much The Hon. Marilyn Trenholme did to raise the profile for literacy for our young family members.

The Importance and Recognition of Culture in our Lives
The Hon. Hermenegilde Chiasson is described as an “accomplished cultural icon” (see NB historical review of lieutenant governors) in his bio on line. He celebrated creativity in the diversity of our cultures, the history of people, places and things, knowing that creativity is expressed in so many ways each giving us a better understanding of ourselves individually and as a people.

The Importance of the Circles of Life
The Hon. Graydon Nicholas to me is a bridge between the traditions of a native spirit and that of one who has walked in today’s world. This combination has all the makings of a full-circle life-span from our ancient past to today. I have a sense that within his heart beats the rhythm of one who walks the path of the teachings from ancient days translated into today’s world of words that can build a bridge of understanding that brings the best of these two worlds together. I look forward to his time as our Lieutenant Governor.

I think of all the fears rising up in our communities - H1N1, recession, NB Power, food costs, people bickering about just about anything and everything - and I think so much energy expended on lamenting, whining, complaining.

Let’s take that negative energy and spend it in a new way. Let’s keep our hands washed in warm soapy water ensuring we are not washing away our natural mantle of immunity, drink plenty of fluids, eat real food, get 8 hours sleep a night and be sensible and fret not about H1N1.

NB Power - I say to the politicians if Bernard Lord had a review done, and now Shawn Graham has this is not a liberal/conservative issue THIS is an issue of what is best for the people of the province of New Brunswick. Problems, big problems are solved by getting together those who have a knowledge that outstrips mine on this issue. This is about taking all that energy if your will pardon the pun and people, WORK TOGETHER!! I’m tired of your bickering. I want results by asking those who have more knowledge than I do, you do as politicians - to have the good sense to gather those who can help us for I say it’s time for a workshop and ask for volunteers to step up to the plate and help us out.

Recession? Hmmmmm- I’m thinking it is a wake up call for all of us to remember what is truly important in life. Family, children who get a good start in life, cultural activities to feed our soul, and remembering the circle of life.

Remember we are not judged by the square footage of our homes but by the square footage of our hearts. Giving - of our time, make an extra bowl of soup for a neighbour, smile at those you meet, say words of encouragement, share your talents, and always remember to be kind, and compassionate towards others for when you do so it reminds one to be kind and compassionate with ourselves.

Food costs? Having lived on a farm a lot of time, effort and money goes in to growing food which is dependent on just the right amount of rain and sunshine over which one has no control so when I go to the grocery store I am trying to be MINDFUL to take only that which I need and will use. I am so trying to ensure I do not waste food for when I do not then I have extra money I can give to help others and leave food in the store for others.

Did you know that there are 86,400 seconds in each day. That means if you sleep 6 hours a day you have 64,800 waking seconds to make choices each day. In life, every second counts. What are you doing with your seconds in life?

One Voice

My tingling toes
feel the earth’s inner molten fire
My face
seeks the afternoon sun
My soul
feels the rhythm of the ocean waves
The breeze
whispers the truths of ancient times
My heart
sings the melody of love
Join the choir of celestial voices
Where the stars
dance in the moonbeams
The trees
sway to the beat
Let our voices soar
high as the eagle
The rocks
anchor my soul
The mountains
lift up mine eyes to the heavens
I weep
for the way things are
and then
my eyes open to the possibilities of tomorrow
Where our voices
a myriad of tones
like the colours of the rainbow
blend as one
richer fuller
the harmonies of life
love joy kindness
self-control peace
patience contentment

little spirit come
join the heavenly choir
little spirit Sing
The harmonies of life.

ardeth holmes
© September 2008