trauma provides opportunity for growth

Having lived 46 years with most of it surrounded and affected by trauma; it  gives me, I think, the ability to say with certainty, that trauma does provide opportunity for growth.  The caveat is whether or not one chooses to see beyond the immediate devastation of form, and self in order to access greater truths that which comes from our individual and collective humanity. If one follows to the depths of their individual trauma; seeking,feeling, acknowledging and finally blessing, the real truth will emerge: we are one.

When I see a young person without a home; I know it, and silently bless them.

When  I see families destroyed by addictions and violence; I know it, and silently bless them.

When I see natural disasters devastate property, homes and lives; I know it, and silently bless them.

When I see individuals struggling to stay the course: I know that too, and bless them.

I can’t say that I would have written my life this way, but it is as it is.  I have a profound depth of feeling for our common frailties. I also have a profound understanding and belief in our collective power.  The yin and yang of our existence.  No shame, no pretense either.

I LOVE THE LIFE I WAS BORN INTO…how does one become grateful for the joys in life without knowing the sadness?  My parents, the teachers, providing the role they never knew they had, given to them at birth: to carry the Grace and the Yoke.

The opportunity to be human, in all its forms, allows us to internalize our ONENESS.  I do not need to be a Palestinian to understand the grief and anger of displacement…I have lived it.  I do not need to be ” Wade Belak ” to understand the fragility of mental health,  I have come through it.  I can listen to Rwandan survivors and be saddened, angered and humbled all at the same time.  How?  We have many among us who have lived through great trauma in World Wars, genocide, violence and loss.  They are our leaders and inspiration.  They are at the grocery store, old age homes and shopping malls.  We can strengthen and extend our bonds of love by simply acknowledging the losses suffered by humanity.  Losses randomly inflicted by nature or cruelty of man.  With trauma all over the world, our calling is to bear witness.

These are the threads that weave us together.  For those traumatized in Goderich… I sit here, and quietly ask you all to accept what is and bless it.  Yes, Bless it.  It is not necessary to say “how” or “why” to Bless it, just the knowledge that there is purpose and it will be revealed.  This is not religious dogma.  This is what binds all of our religions together, our common spirituality, in whatever form.

Bless it.   From that one gesture, you will have moved towards healing and a feel a lingering scent of peace.

I offend people regularly with my candor.   I will warn you that you may not like this next comment.  I do not use the word “survivor” of the devastation to which I have been immersed.  I do not use the label “victim”.  I choose not to be a “fighter” for my life.  Trauma occurs in all life, it happens.  It happens whether we are good/bad rich or poor.  There are no boundaries to the machinations of life.

I have instead chosen a calmer path set before me, one of no resistance.  It is not to say that I am not an active participant in all that is!  I giver! when I am up for it, and the occasion arises, and find joy through the rhythm set before me.  It is a conscious decision to be mindful of the present…nothing more or less.  No room for recriminations and judgement for what is.  Empowerment and strength in acceptance.

This I know: our physical realms mirror our internal realm.  When the internal work is done, your physical world reflects it.

I wish Peace of mind, body and spirit for all of those experiencing trauma at this time….in whatever form.  Namaste.

Tutti Matti…Italian; “Everyone is crazy”…except those at Tutti Matti

All is crazy, seems to be the theme these days….and by days, I mean years.  About 12 years ago, a cyclone went through our town and planted a tree in our roof.  Just over three years ago our house exploded and we found ourselves homeless for a few months while all was being re-built.  Two weeks ago, an F3 tornado cut a swath through Goderich again, this time decimating the core of the town.  As each disaster left its physical scars, the real work began to emerge.  Each event stressful for some more than others.  Each event we found ourselves turning to rituals to calm, restore and replenish our tired minds, bodies and souls.

As is often noted, the ritual of food preparation and sharing is also one that sustains us in more ways than just nutritionally.

Pat and I chose to leave the craziness and stress of Goderich, where his office building is in a delicate state, in order to bring Emily back to McGill.  An attempt at creating normalcy.  Our time away meant that we could be taken out of the obvious circumstances of the office re-location and 15 staff, in order to pause, and if lucky have a good sleep.

On our way home from Montreal we took one more night in Toronto, so that we could go to our favorite Toronto restaurant, Tutti Matti.  We discovered Tutti Matti within months of it opening a few years ago.  We were drawn by the initial review of the restaurant, and that it served traditional Tuscan food; but what makes us go back again and again, is the fact that it not only nourishes our bodies, but our weary selves.  One cannot live well, love well or sleep well, unless one has dined well. Virginia Woolf.  I would add, that the value of the dining experience is directly related to those that prepare and share it with you.  This is where Tutti Matti shines.

As with all other visits that have included many personal celebrations(most recently Patrick’s 50th), we were warmly received and brought to our table in full view of the open kitchen.  I spent many years working in restaurants and to say that  pots and pans being thrown around were as frequent as the incessant swearing and yelling, is an understatement.  No such disorder exists at Tutti Matti.  This is a rarefied group within the often times turbulent restaurant industry.  The only thing crazy at Tutti Matti are the customers….like us;)  The staff is incredibly organized, efficient and are clearly passionate about their individual trades.  Each person contributes skillfully to the sense of purpose and calm.

Tutti Matti is as stable as the traditions that are reflected within its walls.  The unrelenting ability to create authentic Tuscan cuisine is awe-inspiring.  This is all due to its birth-mother Alida Soloman.  I have always believed that superior performance in a restaurant can only be achieved by a great leader, and Alida is this.  That comment will make her cringe!…I should take it out, but I can’t!  The staff are genuinely nice, I know that sounds hokey, but its true.  You want to invite them all over to your own house just to send a little lovin’ back their way.

Last night, Patrick and I chose this for dinner:  To share…FORMAGGI MISTI: schiacciata(tuscan flatbread) with olive oil, potato, shaved asparagus, pepper pecorino and 2 ducks eggs over easy.

Patrick’s main…PORCHETTA: oven roasted suckling pig with dried apricots, sauteed spinach and soft polenta

My main…GNUDI:pulled crab, chicory, mint, lemon presh peas, semolina ricotta

shared side:  PISELLI ALLA FIORENTINA: peas with prosciutto, onion, rosemary, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

Along with a couple a beautiful glasses of wine, we were satiated and happy.

Food allows us to re-centre, to have a break in our days.  Beautifully prepared food, delivered with care and joy elevates the event to the spiritual.  When I had my cafe, I was constantly humbled by customers that allowed me to nourish them; especially those that were visibly suffering from life-threatening disease.  I fed many who had the courage to get out, when the mirror probably told them to stay in bed.  These are the people who continue to inspire me.

While our family is healthy and safe, we know the importance of re-fueling.  At Tutti Matti you will genuinely be inspired by the kitchen, and humbly grateful for their attention.  It’s why we go back.  It’s why we know that every single person in that restaurant goes back.  We are all one.

Dogs and babies do that to you

Dogs and babies…once your friend gets one, you want one too!  We have always admired golden retrievers for their beauty, brains and temperament, but the amount of hair and grooming led us to buy a yellow lab about 7 years ago.

This is Callaghan, Cally for short.  He is a beautiful dog and has made the transition from town dog to country dog very nicely!  He is waiting to go for a ride in Pats John Deere Gator…it’s a guy thing, believe me:)  Cally and Pat do trails together, fish and as you can see, ride together on the property.  Personally, I think that Pat just likes the fact that Cally doesn’t tell him how to drive, unlike me….oops!

I came upon this pretty female golden earlier today, and was completely taken.  She was so gentle, quiet and elegant as she walked…the opposite of my man Cally.  He can hit a coffee cup or wine glass 3 feet away from the table, track mud and debris proudly into the house all the while leaving a trail of drool cascading from his sizable Louis Armstrong jowls.  Unapologetic he is as he trots into my presence full of burrs and wet fur.  Katie quietly and patiently waits for you to notice her…and her cuddly.

I know, I know!!!  It is not fair to Cally for me to compare him to any other dog, anymore than it would be for me to compare our daughter Emily to any other child.  I have never done that to her, so why was I pining for a lovely girly dog?…Was I in a Freudian way making a sad and mis-guided attempt at replacing some femininity in our home, since we are empty nesters now?

No.  I just think that I like dogs.  Having your child move on and out, is what they are suppose to do…if we have done our job well.  It could just be this simple: “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.” Roger Caras, American Wildlife Photographer.



Sunday afternoon a storm blew through our town of Goderich.  When I saw the clouds coming our way, it felt ominous and threatening.  I took this picture just before the high winds, rain, and hail hit.  It was as if a switch was flipped.  From dark to scary.

I immediately went down stairs and called out to Patrick that I thought a tornado was coming our way (I get a bit skittish with storms these days)…my dearest, turned on the computer to see if I was right!  As I nervously waited in the basement, Patrick called down...”Your right, it is a tornado, it hit Goderich and is coming our way”!

O’k, I am thinking that he might want to join me, but seconds later the path and intensity changed and veered off to the next side road.  Our neighbours new barn was crushed then carried across the road.

Our town sustained major damage.

I have lived through devastation in the form of a propane explosion, the property damage was one thing, and the internal wreckage another.

“There are two big forces at work, external and internal.  We have very little control over external forces such as tornados, earthquakes, floods, disasters, illness and pain.  What really matters is the internal force.  How do I respond to those disasters?  Over that I have complete control?” (Leo.F Buscalglia, American Spiritual Guide)

Be safe and as Ellen Degeneres says “Be kind to one another”.

we hear what we want to hear….

I read on “Daily Kabbalah Tune-up” a great reflection…

When we need to speak a truth, that would otherwise be difficult to relay, it is important to approach it with an open heart..not just your mouth.

When we need to hear a difficult truth, it is important to have an open heart, and ears….and close our mouths.