Ladybugs and FREE HUGS!

Hi Folks:

A very special day for us, for several reasons. It’s World Ocean Day, and since we’re lucky enough to live within 300m of the ocean, we’re privileged to see her in all of her moods. Nineteen years ago today Marcia asked Mike a very important question; we say YES!! to each other every day. And today is also the anniversary of our very first Free Hugs campaign: June 8, 2010. Below is a re-post of our adventures that day.

image © Aaron Licht, 2010It’s been more than a year since we’ve had to (temporarily) suspend our Free Hugs campaigns; we miss it every day. In 11 years we’ve shared hugs, smiles, waves, handshakes, high fives, conversations and more with tens of thousands of people from at least 88 countries. When it’s safe for you and for us we’ll welcome you to join us once again. In the meantime, wherever you are today, we offer you (two – at least!) virtual hugs. We wish you peace.

Hugs,
M&M
_____

Hello Dear Ones!

It’s been my hands meandering today – over poster board with glue and markers, 3″ diameter paper ladybugs and brightly coloured flowers.

Tomorrow, June 8th, 2010, Mike and I celebrate the eighth anniversary of the day I proposed to him. Yes, I did! Down on one knee, rocks and all, by our favourite river. June 8th, 2002.

In honour of the day, Mike and I shall be down at what is referred to as the Inner Harbour here in Victoria, British Columbia at 4pm …. the same approximate time that I popped the question and Mike responded with a resounding YES!

Mike and I are both dolling up these placards to say, simply, FREE HUGS. Yet they are decorated by each of us individually – so each is unique – as are we! Mike’s has a butterfly, hearts and bright colours. Mine has ladybugs and huge flowers.

We’ll be giving out free hugs to any willing participants and we certainly hope there may be a few daring souls. Should you happen to be in the neighbourhood, come join us – even if it’s just to watch two mature adults make absolute fools of themselves – enjoying and savouring every single moment of it! There’ll be ample supply of laughter, hugs, smiles and yes, even free hug certificates as giveaways.

If you’ve not yet checked out our Hugs Certificates page, take a moment to do so here. Mike and I carry a stock of these business card-sized certificates which we delightedly give out to: cashiers; people we see sharing hugs with a friend; as bookmarks in magazines and books in the stores we frequent; on the seats of buses; anywhere we happen to go and someone either gives us a reason to smile or really needs one of their own – which we happily oblige by giving them one of ours. What a joyous adventure this has become – such fun!

An exceptionally BIG thank you to Mike for this marvellous idea, for providing the materials and for the inspiration to make this a play day! A lifetime supply of HUGS, just for him and him alone …

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia

BTW: we’re not the first to do this and hopefully not the last! Check out the Free Hugs Campaign that inspired us to do the same.

Update:

We had a great time, and we gave/ received over 200 hugs in 3 hours.  Our friend Aaron came by as well and made some photographs.  Here are a couple of the best of them (more are available here):

Anticipation Group Hug

P.S. Be sure to check out our International Free Hugs Day 2012 and International Free Hugs Day 2011 posts!

Creating a Ragged Edge Frame with Affinity Photo

Hi Folks:

Depending on the software you have, there are a myriad of ways to add a border effect to your images. On some of our images I like to add a white border with a ragged edge that allows a little bit of the image to bleed through into the frame. In Capture One (and, previously, Lightroom) I’ve used four graduated filters of the same width and parameters to create such borders, but I’ve just discovered a much easier way to do this using Affinity Photo. (click on any image to see it larger)

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Happy Mother’s Day!!

Hi Folks:

Today we celebrate all those who are mothers, all who have been and are no longer with us, and all those who have served in that capacity – fathers, aunts, grandparents, foster parents, siblings… anyone and everyone with an abundance of love to share. Today we honour You. (but Marcia’s still my favourite – Mike 💗👨🏻‍🦳👩🏻‍🦳💗)

Happy Mother's DayIn 2010 Marcia wrote a tribute to her father: Remember Father for Mother’s Day. Since then, Marcia’s mother and father have left us. Mike’s mother, dad and sister (herself a mother) are also gone, and Mike’s father passed away yesterday. We remember them in our hearts. However, we are blessed with an abundance of other family and we’ll be welcoming a new granddaughter this summer!!

Sending love and hugs your way!
M&M

P.S. Let’s not forget the Mother of us All…

Daydream Believer…

Hello Dear Ones!

      “Worry and daydreaming are different aspects of the same thing:
        your creative imagination.
       Worrying creates blueprints of what you do not want…
        unintentional creation of your future.
       Daydreaming creates blueprints of what you do want…
        intentional creation of your future.”
    ~ Gordana Biernat: #Know the Truth… inspiration #80…

Friday mid-afternoon, my husband and I helped out our son & daughter-in-law by babysitting our precious soon-to-be 3-year-old grandson. We took him outside so Mommy & Daddy could finish up their respective workdays from home. It was the first time we were with him outside without his parents. He eagerly agreed to hold hands crossing the street as we headed over to the now-vacant school yard. Having his 3-wheeled scooter with us… and his helmet… we got him properly attired and set him free.

My goodness were we ever thrilled to see how far he had come in his scootering skills. Having expected to be running after him routinely, we were in awe at the proficiency of his acquired abilities! An hour later he had finally tired of this activity and was drawn to the playground. Taking gymnastics classes, he has developed a body awareness that allows him the confidence to take wise risks with foot placement. No security of foot? No forward motion. He shifts until he finds the support he now knows to recognize as being safe. Keep in mind he had both grandparents bracing him surreptitiously on either side… just in case.

Until… and here comes the reason for today’s post… he decided to sit on a raised platform and wiggle himself backwards. The motion caused giggles and faster movements, and by the time we realized what was happening, he had scooted over to the edge of the platform and took a graceful roll backwards, his head leading the way down the 1 foot drop. I got to him first, as I was closest… but his tumble had caused a major bang to the back of his head. Needless to say, the pain and the shock of the fall had him confused, scared and hurting. My ears can attest to the fact that the boy has a healthy set of lungs!

Wisdom took over. I quietly checked him out to ensure nothing was broken. Nothing was. That his eyes were responding as they should. They were. And I held him close to my heart and soothingly spoke to him. Letting him know I was aware he was hurting, that it was okay to cry it through, and somehow got him to deep breathe in time to my slower, deeper breaths.

Once he was calm, we asked him if he wanted to go back home to Mommy & Daddy, and all 3 of us walked slowly back to his house. By the time we got there, the fall was an adventure in our grandson’s mind that he had to share with his folks, proudly showing them the boo boo he had on the back of his head. He asked for something to drink and a snack as though nothing had ever happened.

But me? I was a basket case. Most definitely feeling guilty, responsible, like a bad grandparent. Had he landed a mere few inches to his right he’d have hit his head on what I remembered as being a cement support. Blessings be that hadn’t occurred, but I was still feeling guilty. What if he had a concussion? We might not know for sure till morning. So, as you can imagine, I didn’t sleep well at all that night.

My thoughts and sporadic dreams were worrisome fears of potentially negative outcomes. I was scared for the child and the parents. There was nothing I could do that I hadn’t done, yet I worried and stressed through most of the night.

Then I remembered the above quote from Gordana Biernat’s book! When I regrouped my thoughts, I realized that I had wasted the past several hours in envisioning ~ creating, if you will ~ negative scenarios… none of which I wanted to unfold. I was worrying about an outcome I didn’t want. What a waste of energy!

It took me a while, and some imaginative creativity, but I was able to envision a healthy, happy boy bouncing out of bed in the morning, laughing as he always does, nothing at all wrong. I began daydreaming. I could eventually see this special child with us, his grandfather & I, sharing many more fun-filled days in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Like the deep breaths I taught our grandson after his fall, I began deep breathing, and daydreaming the reality I wanted as an outcome. And I eventually, and more peacefully, fell into a restful sleep.

It took a few hours to get through to my son the next morning to learn that there had been absolutely no repercussions from the fall or the experience… no concussion, no visible marks, no nightmares… all was good! Of course it was!

Hard as they are, I appreciate such valuable lessons that help teach me ~ yes, even in my ripe old age ~ how to shift my energies from fear and worry to those of loving, calm, trusting experiences. I obviously still re-act to scary situations with old, previously-learned responses, yet I am more quickly opening to ways of seeing and being that bring an ease and a joy to my life.

As Gordana would say: “… knowing who you are changes everything!”

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia

PS: Thanks to the Monkees for the title of today’s post!

 

 

If …

Hello Dear Ones!

This week’s blog post was inspired by my Morning Pages writings of March 15th. Here’s what I wrote:

The word if … how often in my life do I plan this or that… if it’s possible, if I can, if it’s allowed, if it’s available? It’s a word dependent upon all things outside of myself. I’ve found myself using it at least once almost every day since.The recognition of this simple word in my daily plans and activities tells me how frequently I actually rely on people and situations outside of my control before making plans for a wide variety of aspects in my life.

If it doesn’t rain, I’ll go for a walk. If I do go for a walk, I can stop at my fave spot and sit awhile with my latest book, if that spot is available. I didn’t sleep well last night, so if it does rain, I’ll have a nap this afternoon. Me, always compromising.

Get the drift? Does any of this sound familiar?

So, what have I gleaned from my query into this behavioural pattern? Well, it seems I’m dealing with what appears to be compromises that suggest a lack of trust and faith in myself and yet also in things outside of myself. It seems that during these pandemic times I have gone from a strong, wise, powerful woman ~ a woman who knew what she wanted in life and was well on her way to the unfolding of a vision ~ to a woman who has become afraid of life.

My vision was to take Mike’s and my Free Hugs activities across Canada. All the puzzle pieces to make this dream a reality were falling beautifully in place! That was as of January 2020. As you might imagine, that dream collapsed as of March of that year. After having hugged close to 40,000 people over an 11-year span of time and with folks from over 89 countries around the world, hugs had now become a taboo activity. For many people, hugs had become taboo even between family members, let alone for folks from around the world. Our last Free Hugs session was on March 1st, 2020 and most of the folks we had been privileged to interact with in this fashion that day were from places outside of Canada! When we caught the news later that evening, we realized we would be wise to self-isolate for 14 days, which we did. Blessings be, nothing came of it. But that was the last hug session we did. And, as of this writing one full year later, there is no time in sight as to when, if ever, that precious activity might possibly start up again.

The loss of a dream, the destruction of a vision… it broke my heart and my spirit. Can any of you relate? What dreams did you have to put on hold?

And it seems that loss affected me in more far reaching ways than I had realized. Yet… now that I have recognized the impact this past year has had on my well-being, where do I go from here?

I did some more indepth writing on the subject. Here’s what unfolded in my writings yesterday:

There has to be an answer, something I can do to shift from where I am to where I was. What if… and that’s where my AHA moment grabbed me! What if??? Absolutely! What if? I had added one word to what has been holding me back: from if? to what if? What if I shift my thoughts from dependency on outside sources to my own inner inspirations and strengths? So what if it rains? What if I grab my umbrella and go for a walk because I want to walk? What if my special spot by the ocean isn’t available for a sit? I’ll have my book with me; what if I choose in that moment to nestle onto that new bench the city installed that’s away from the walking path with a lovely view of its own!

So I’ve started to let go of the negatives and the limitations and flip them to positives and potentials! That sounds like the me I remember from the beginning of last year! That’s the positive note I wish to relay to you, Dear Reader! I’ve let the Pollyanna in me return to her prime place of importance and value in my life. It may take some work. There may be a few failures or setbacks, but I know it’s well worth the pursuit!

Are you playing a role of prime importance in your own life? I hope so! If not, however, hopefully something I’ve shared here today gives you the impetus and/or the courage to step toward valuing yourself more highly. Wishing you happy journeys, even if (or perhaps especially if), those journeys take you within yourself.

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia

Of a Certain Age

Hello Dear Ones!

This week, 1 of our 3 grandsons had a special birthday. Being too far away to connect with him in person due to the coronavirus restrictions, we were still able to reach out to him by cell phone. Though it was his Dad’s phone, he was allowed to answer it and talk one-on-one with us. It was a delightful treat! We chatted for about 45 minutes. He’s becoming quite the conversationalist!

To answer your unspoken question, Asher just turned 11. He’s officially a ‘tweenager.

How does Asher’s age tie in with today’s topic? That’s a simple story. His Grandy (that’s me!) loves all double digit years. So, of course, I had to tell him about it.

When I was 11, it was the best year ever! Life was glorious: fun, lots of friends, good grades, built a tree fort… Then when I turned 22… 33… 44… I didn’t go into details, in order to spare him. However I got him doing some math by asking him if he noticed a pattern. He didn’t, so I explained that now that he’s turned 11, every 11 years will be another double digit year! That’s when he did the addition and went through those special numbers all the way up to 99. But, smart young man that he is, he realized that the next magical number was 111! Triple digits! Again a question from Grandy, “… and from there?” We figured it out together. Add 111 to each number and you get: 222… 333… 444… And we laughed together when I revealed that I didn’t plan on being around quite that long!

Back to this topic. Asher is now of a certain age. His brother will be a teenager next month. Mike & I also have a grandson who is a toddler, and a soon-to-be first granddaughter due early in July. Each one of them are of a certain category of age. Our sons are both considered middle aged.

And their Grandy? Well, I’m of a certain age as well. A senior. Older than 65, not as old as 99. (Actually closer to the smaller of the 2 numbers, blessings be. Still lots of life in this ol’ gal!)

There. That’s my post today. You may have noticed, there are no major ‘aha’ moments in this share. What I am wanting to convey is the purely wondrous aspects of life in its simplest expression. Generations connecting… love shared… pandemic be damned! (Please pardon my language.) And through it all I am so very grateful to technology! Isn’t life grand?!

Are you, Dear Reader, of ‘a certain age’? Any aspects of this post that inspired you? Please drop a comment below, or send me a tweet:
@tomarciamae
I’d love to know!

In Light & Laughter,

Marcia

Happy Pi Day!!

Hi Folks:

It’s Pi Day (3-14)!! Since there are few things more irrational than the alchemical blending of fat and flour, it means it’s time for another recipe. A pie recipe, of course. Today’s recipe comes from the book, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Chocolate by Christine McFadden and Christine France. The book was a gift to us from Mike’s mom, and we trust the publishers won’t mind us sharing a recipe if we encourage you to buy the book. It really is a perfect gift for the chocolatier in your life. Before we get started we also wanted to mention how important it is to buy Fair Trade Certified chocolate. From the site:

You may not know it based on first glance, but chocolate products go through a lengthy process to earn the Fair Trade Certified™ seal. Producers and businesses we work with adhere to strict labor, environmental, and ethics standards that prohibit slavery and child labor and ensure cocoa growers receive a steady income, regardless of volatile market prices. It’s not an easy process. You can thank them for their commitment, and incentivize even more sustainably-made chocolate, by enjoying fair trade chocolate in its many forms, from chocolate bars, powders, and baking chips to ingredients in energy bars and snacks.

If you live in Victoria, BC, be sure to check out The Chocolate Project at the Hudson Bldg, and also the new Chocolat and Co on Fort Street.

Today’s recipe is for “Chocolate Truffle Tart” because, well, chocolate. ’nuff said.

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Ways We Perceive Our World

Hello Dear Ones!

This has been a fascinating week of revelations.

It all began while reading Kate Clayborn’s book Love Lettering. (A charming book about the complexities of relationships, all types of relationships. Well written, it has great characters & a well thought out and designed storyline.) Kate’s prime characters each have, as do we all, their own unique ways of perceiving and responding to their shared world. His passion is for numbers. He sees, thinks, defines, even eats and breathes numbers ~ their shape, use, complexity, simplicity, malleability. Her passion is for letters ~ the structure of them, colours, textures, fluidity, use. She sees them everywhere: in books, on billboards, store signs… Not the compilation of letters into words, but as a standalone piece of art when shaped into a uniqueness all on it’s own with a variance of font shape, design, thickness, even emotion. For example, have you ever read a book where the opening of each new chapter has the very first letter larger than the ones following it, often bolded with swirls & curlicues, some shaped like balloons perhaps interwoven with vines? That letter sets the stage for the emotions and the experience you’ll have as you read that particular chapter!

Anyway, to get back on topic here… all of this had me contemplating how I perceive my own world. After much thought but no resolve, I let the idea go. Then one night through the week a dream woke me up ~ the answer right there. My ways of perception are through curiosity, satisfied through the use of the camera lens and my own eyes, and presented back to me in the words of poetry. What a precious revelation! I think, eat, read, play, perceive everything as a poem – usually the potent brevity of a haiku style. And you’ll often find me tapping out syllable counts with my fingers. I have to keep a notebook & pen with me at all times!

Once I was comfortable with my own method of perceiving my world, I began to look around me. My husband and I talked about it, and he shared that he sees his world through patterns. My best friend sees her world through connections or links that flow one into another. I can imagine that Vincent van Gogh saw his world through colour. Leonardo da Vinci likely through function and structure.

Each one of us unique. All of us see our versions of this world from our own perspectives. With each perspective we have our own unique perceptions. And that makes for a rather complex world if we are all seeing things so very differently. There’s a tale about the perception wheel worth reading. My husband Mike tells it simply and well here.

So I bring my post back to you, Dear Reader. What are the ways you use to perceive your world? When and how do you find yourself happily obsessed with the world around you? Anything you’d care to share? Do drop a line to let me know. I’d be delighted to learn of your particular style!

In Light & Laughter

Marcia

 

Lightbulb Moment

Hello Dear Ones!

What do synchronicity, mathematics, games and poetry have in common?

I certainly found out in an astonishingly delightful way this week! In a rather quiet (insert: bored) moment, I was inspired to begin reading a novel by Kate Clayborn: Love Lettering. What a charming, well-written book! She references mathematician John Horton Conway who was apparently known to play games all the time: dice, playing cards, he even played with the Slinky! According to the novel, Conway’s behaviour was at first considered unusual, even to himself. “People used to think – even he used to think – he was wasting time. But he was really working out math… loosening up his mind for ideas that were on their way.” Interested, I did some research and was pleased to learn that Conway was a real life, 20th century individual, and a prolific mathematician.

So, why was I interested? Reading the quote from Clayborn’s book, I took a sudden deep breath and must have uttered quite a verbal expletive because my husband Mike asked me what was up!

“That’s me! That’s me with my crossword puzzles, my online word games, my apparent obsession with them at the oddest of times! That’s my way of opening up to receiving my poetry! Poems are on their way to me during those times!”

In that very moment I took my first bold step into self-forgiveness for what I had been perceiving, through this entire global pandemic, as being pure laziness. Sure I had been writing and posting poetry every single day without fail since even before the lockdown in our area of the world. But it was just poetry! (What do you mean: “Just poetry?” Mike would ask!).  I didn’t see my poetry as having value. However,  reading that sentence from this somewhat historical perspective, I felt as though someone had opened up a glorious skylight from, and for, my heart… a precious breath of fresh air & sunlight! My lightbulb moment! 💡

Back to my original question: what do synchronicity, mathematics, games and poetry have in common? We’ve touched on all of them except synchronicity.

And yet we have actually dealt with that as well. Starting as far back as J.H.Conway’s ‘extraordinary’ discovery of his own at first perceived laziness in his life, Slinky’s ‘accidental’ discovery & invention, my apparent need to honour the value of my poetry and for the self-forgiveness I needed… all culminated with my husband suggesting I read a book he had just finished.

Then today, my online Twitter #SpiritChat family discussed: The Heart’s Synchronicity. A natural fit, of course!

What synchronistic events have occurred in your life to confirm for you that such a phenomenon does exist? Do share! I’d really love to know!

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia

(BTW: it was sad to learn John Horton Conway passed away just last year – 2020 – from Covid-19.)

 

Quality vs Quantity

Hello Dear Ones!

Ever make plans to do something big, and then… at the last moment… change your mind? That’s what I’m here to write about today.

This past week ~ Monday to Friday ~ I reopened my Marcia’s Meanderings blog post for new entries. Nine years since my last foray into this venue, it felt right to jump back in! I was so excited by the idea, that I felt I could easily write a post every weekday if I kept each one brief.

Monday to Wednesday, topics flowed.

Then came Thursday, and I was uncertain what to write. It took me till almost 6pm to decide a topic that might be of some interest to my prospective readers. Finally grabbing a theme, by playing my very own Glad Game, the Pollyanna Takes Centre Stage post crafted itself into existence.

On Friday, the same situation. No topic. Nothing that inspired me to share with you. Later in the day, though, a playful interaction with a fellow Twitter poet prompted the Poetry at Play post. Up until then I had been considering merely sending out a replay of one of my favourite posts from many years ago. I’m certain that would have been well received, but it felt wrong, somehow.

Over the weekend, I reconsidered my decision to provide what possibly could have become 5 wussy posts per week. What good would quantity be if there was no value? Value is what I wanted for you, and for myself. Quite honestly, I was feeling I didn’t need the added stress and pressure. I don’t do well with obligation.

So, what would work to provide a comfortably paced and successful return to blogging? My goal was to create a quality post that could be of value to you, the reader. Once a week had worked well back those 9+ years ago. It felt right to return to that format.

Quality vs quantity.

Having written that simple phrase, has me wondering now what other areas of my life might benefit from a similar perspective. I have a feeling I’m writing this post as much for myself, as I am for you!

Are there any aspects of your life that might benefit from a perspective of quality enrichment? Do share! Leave a note in the comments below to let me know!

Looking ahead, watch for my Marcia’s Meanderings posts every Monday!

In Light and Laughter,

Marcia