So – pick up that new craft or hobby! Engage in new activities. Direct a play, go into politics, become an advocate, speak your mind! And, if someone has the audacity to say “Aren’t you too old to….”, be sure to let them know you’re just now hitting your stride!
A short while ago, I overheard a conversation where someone suggested that their friend try a new adventure. It wasn’t anything too frightening or life-altering. It didn’t require changing jobs, moving cities, getting married or divorced, having a child. It didn’t involve bungee jumping or parachuting or swimming with sharks. I was heartbroken to hear this person say “I’m too old.”
Many folks believe that, as we age, little bits of our brain start to die off. They believe that, the older we get, the less effective we are mentally. So, you can imagine how excited I was to read some information from the George Washington University College of Medicine that said “the peak of human intellectual activity occurs at about 70 years old, when the brain begins to work at full strength”. After the age of 60, it is far easier to use both hemispheres of our brain at the same time, helping us to solve more complex problems. In fact, if we strive to lead a healthy life, we won’t reach our mental peak until we are 80-90 years old!!!
But there is a caveat. If a person stops learning, stops taking on new mental challenges, the connections between our brain’s neurons simply disappear. Granted, the older you get, you may start to experience some forgetfulness, feel a little absent-minded. But that’s simply because our brains have an overabundance of information! Kind of like a computer that has used up most of its RAM, we need to let go of the unnecessary, especially if it is negative in nature and pulling us down.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine, at the age of 60, you reach the peak of your emotional and mental potential. And this carries on until you are into your 80s.
So – pick up that new craft or hobby! Engage in new activities. Direct a play, go into politics, become an advocate, speak your mind! And, if someone has the audacity to say “Aren’t you too old to….”, be sure to let them know you’re just now hitting your stride!
MY LETTER TO THE RESORT MUNICIPALITY OF CAVENDISH
I am not against a rock concert in Cavendish, but I am adamantly against a second concert in the month of July.
The vast majority of businesses in the Cavendish/Stanley Bridge/Rustico area would agree that business comes to a standstill during the Cavendish Beach Music Festival. There is no increase in business for restaurants or accommodation providers because, with or without the concert, they would be fully booked in July. In fact, hosting concerts on back-to-back weekends in July would definitely result in a downturn in business. It is well known that residents and visitors alike avoid Cavendish during the CBMF. If a second consecutive weekend is also taken up with concert attendees, that is 2 weekends of lost business in the prime summer market. Those folks who may want to book a week-long vacation in mid-July will not do so because all of the accommodations will be booked up on the weekends. Accommodation providers are already reporting booking cancellations as visitors do not want to be here during a rock concert. While I appreciate the creativity of featuring an onsite culinary component during the Sommo festival, concert attendees will not be going to local cafes or restaurants to eat.
Onsite vendors will make sales but local businesses – the ones that make Cavendish and surrounding areas vibrant and interesting for the rest of the season – will NOT make money. Concert goers are not partaking in deep sea fishing, visiting local shops and artisan studios, attending local ceilidhs or theatre.
I don’t buy the suggestion that, once the Sommo festival is “established”, consideration will be given to moving the dates. Once it is established, patrons will be booking their accommodations at least a year in advance. The outcry from concert attendees due to a change of date will ensure that the July date will remain as established.
I also don’t buy the fact that it is so very difficult to gain interest in a concert series without an established brand or website and that the only interest could possibly be the weekend following CBMF. Any promoter worth their salt would be able to clearly demonstrate the success of the CBMF – that mega concerts can and are highly successful in Cavendish, that big names have headlined CBMF, that the promoters’ experience in successfully establishing CBMF points to a similar successful venture in creating a rock concert series.
While it may be true that CBMF has attracted a younger crowd than may normally visit Cavendish, beyond the festival(s) weekend(s), what would encourage them to return and stay in the Cavendish area for a longer period of time? They haven’t been to shops or restaurants. There is very little for them to do in the evenings. Rather than focussing on concerts that disrupt the already busy tourism season in the month of July, perhaps look to encouraging the development of pubs with live entertainment in the evenings. When folks dock at 8 pm after deep sea fishing, or when visitors have finished a leisurely dining experience, when they ask where they can go for some local entertainment, there is next to nothing available.
I have no doubt that, after the hard work that goes into hosting CBMF, the Whitecap Entertainment staff and volunteers are exhausted. Are they going to have the energy, the wherewithal, to host a second concert the following weekend?
If the Sommo concert series was held in June, university students would be finished their spring semester and would be available to staff the event. If it were to be held in the fall (September to early October), students are certainly free to work on weekends. And – because all of the shops and restaurants at the Boardwalk and Avonlea Village are closed following Labour Day, and because venues like Shining Waters close following Labour Day, there would be plenty of people who have been laid off and would be available to staff a major event in September or early October.
I agree that Cavendish can’t just be Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery, amusement parks and beaches. Guess what – it isn’t! Perhaps that is the focus of the “Cavendish Beach” area – stretching from approximately Shining Waters to Green Gables. However, the Resort Municipality of Cavendish and surrounding area is so much more than that! We encompass the businesses that are striving to extend the season beyond Labour Day. When guests express some surprise that we are open because they have heard that “Cavendish closes down after Labour Day”, we explain that it is that small stretch of “Cavendish Beach” that is closed and there is still lots to see and do from New London and Stanley Bridge to North Rustico and south to New Glasgow.
Is the Resort Municipality supportive of these hard-working small businesses – inns, cottages, restaurants, cafes, shops and artisan studios - or is their only focus on the big players, most of whom close their doors after Labour Day? By giving approval to host the Sommo Festival on the weekend following CBMF, it would be a clear demonstration that, in the eyes of the Resort Municipality, we don’t matter. Many, many business owners have spoken up about how hosting a second concert series in July immediately following CBMF would be detrimental to their businesses. They are supportive of giving the go-ahead at an earlier or later date, just not in the prime summer season. It is not a secret that any business in the tourism sector here in PEI has had a rough go these past few years. Hurricane Dorian started the downturn, effectively ending the season in early September, 2019. Then along came Covid and all of the shut-downs and restrictions. Just as we were seeing things pick up once again, along came Hurricane Fiona in the fall of 2022. Do you really want to add yet another event that will create a downturn in revenue for local businesses? A second concert festival in July will do just that. Your decision will let us know.
Are you "wintering"?
By the time mid-February rolls around, are you done with winter? This has been a particularly strange winter here in PEI. Very little snow….and it’s often followed by ice pellets, rain and freezing rain. It doesn’t make for a pleasant winter at all. Just a rather icy mess. My niece’s husband broke his ankle heading outside to salt the sidewalk. My sister took a tumble on our driveway and sprained her ankle.
Another weather warning is in place for this weekend – more rain and ice pellets. Makes you just want to pull the covers up over your head, doesn’t it?
Well, every now and again, that’s not such a bad idea. We lead lives of such “busy-ness” – squeezing in work, volunteering or serving your community, raising a family, keeping a house in some semblance of order and, on rare occasions, taking a deep breath and getting ready to do it all over again. Striving to find and possibly even maintain some kind of life balance.
My “go to” is knitting – 100%. Some people meditate or do yoga; some folks go for a run (with or without a four-legged companion). Maybe you bake or play the piano or get lost in a book. I find that, if I don’t spend a little time each day relishing the repetitive rhythm of my knitting needles, my brain feels exhausted. And winter is the perfect time for knitting. The evenings are long and the temperatures are chilly. At the end of the work day, to curl up in my chair with a fur beast (or two) in my lap and work a few rows, perhaps lighting a lovely scented candle….well, to me, that is as good as a vacation.
We sometimes have to remind ourselves that we not only deserve to do those things that replenish our soul – we need to do so! Both the human spirit and physical body are no different than other living things in nature. You would not expect your garden to thrive without water, sunshine and nourishment. Your garden needs you to pull those weeds that will take over if given a chance. Crop rotation allows the garden to replenish its nutrients. We also need to nurture ourselves if we expect to be able to grow, to give, to love. And we need to be able to do so without any guilt.
When I read this piece by Donna Ashworth, it really resonated with me. With her permission, I am sharing it today.
It’s February – often the coldest and snowiest month of the year. Be gentle with yourself if you find you are “wintering”. If you allow yourself that time, your personal spring will most certainly return and you will face the longer days refreshed and ready to be the force of nature that you are!
what makes you an "islander"?
Within the past couple of months, I’ve heard folks ask “How long does it take to become an Islander?” There is an old saying that, if you were born on the Island and moved away when you were 2 days old, you are an Islander. If you were born elsewhere and moved here when you were 2 days old, you are and always will be “from away”.
Being or becoming an Islander is, in my opinion, more about attitude than it is about where you were born. I lived "away" for many years and am so thankful to be home. Islanders are there at the drop of a hat to help one another. As a small business owner, I love the fact that it is so much less about competition with one another as it is about supporting and promoting one another so that we all succeed. If a person moves to the Island because they loved the atmosphere but then constantly complains that we don't have all the same amenities as they had when they lived in (insert any large city name....), that person will never be an Islander. If, however, they relish the fact that you know your neighbours, that a trip to the grocery store can take a long time because you run into so many folks you know, that if you get a flat tire on a rural road, someone will be sure to stop to help you out, that a visit to North Rustico to see the lights is a must-do Christmas tradition - then you are an Islander!
Islanders don’t ask folks “Where are you from?” in an effort to exclude those people “from away”. It’s more to find a connection, a commonality. Maybe your parents knew our parents. Many Islanders have lived away and enjoy hearing news about their old stomping grounds.
So, the next time someone asks you, “Where are you from?”, smile and simply enjoy the conversation!
DECEMBER IS A MONTH OF CELEBRATION
Here on PEI, I am so thankful that December is a month full of holiday celebrations. The weather has turned grey, windy and cold. The daylight hours are so short. But homes are decorated with twinkling lights. Wreaths are hung, fir trees are decorated, from the kitchen comes the aroma of gingerbread or shortbread.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Rohatsu, Kwanzaa, Yule or Winter Solstice, New Year’s Eve, Omisoka, Hogmany – it’s important to remember that we are all looking to bring some joy and light into this world. As the New Year approaches, we look inward, reviewing habits that aren’t working or no longer work for us. We look forward into the new year with hope, with plans to make our little corner of the world just a wee bit better.
So my wish for everyone this holiday season is that we can all be accepting, considerate and supportive of one another. If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Yuletide greetings, it is not meant to be insensitive or inconsiderate. The well-wisher simply wants to share some happiness. The past few years have been stressful – whether you’ve been impacted by Covid, hurricanes, personal health issues, financial worries. Let’s wrap our hearts in the delight of the season. The gifts of kindness and a smile are the best holiday gifts of all.
As we approach the holiday season, sometimes life can feel a little overwhelming. If you have a full-time job, those responsibilities don’t stop just because the holidays are approaching. If you are raising a family, you want to ensure that they feel loved and appreciated even if you have a million things on your plate. Magazines and social media depict spotlessly clean homes, thoughtfully wrapped gifts, homemade treats, and holiday décor that would make an interior designer envious. In this wonder-world, there are no furballs, puppy accidents, dust bunnies or toddler tantrums.
Do you ever wonder how everyone else seems to manage it all? It’s not that you don’t want to take care of everything - it’s that sometimes it all feels like too much at once. I know I sometimes feel this way. This, my friends, is burnout.
During these times of burnout, we have to remember the old adage "You can’t take care of anyone until you take care of yourself". But how in the world do we do this? We don’t feel we are being selfish if we fasten our seatbelts when we get into the car. But taking time for regular self-care – well that’s something else entirely.
Human beings are amazing. Our bodies tell us when we need to rest. Our minds, our “intuition”, tells us when something isn’t quite right and we need to make an adjustment in our lives. But what do most of us do? We don’t want to say “no” or “I need to go in another direction”. Our guilty feelings convince us that we ought to do more.
But what if we did less? What if we took some "me time", if only for a day or even an hour or two? There are things known as “happiness chemicals”. Our bodies can actually create them! A little bit of self-care creates dopamine – the reward chemical. Giving a compliment or taking a few moments to play with a puppy releases oxytocin – the love chemical. Knitting, exercise or spending some time in nature creates serotonin – the mood stabilizer. And laughter and certain essential oils help with pain relief by releasing endorphins. So, just imagine every single day, taking a few moments to experience life’s everyday pleasures. A hug from a child, stroking a purring kitten, getting up from your desk and stretching your legs in the fresh air. No matter how stressful my day has been, an hour each evening with a fur-beast in my lap and my knitting needles in my hands just drains away any tension. And I love to reward myself with the scent of lavender at bedtime to ensure a peaceful night’s sleep.
Life will always be hard. Some days will feel overwhelming. Let’s stop saying, “There’s no time for that.” Because you know what? Not only do we need to feel our best in order to take care of ALL the things, but our loved ones deserve the best of us as well. Make time for rest, and in turn, make way for JOY.
MOTHER NATURE LOVES WOOL
Late in the evening of September 23rd, Mother Nature expressed her extreme displeasure to climate change through Hurricane Fiona which ripped into Atlantic Canada. Here in PEI, Fiona toppled century-old trees that withstood Hurricanes Juan and Dorion, decimated the beautiful north shore sand dunes – the habitat of the endangered piping plover, downed power lines – cutting power to over 95% of Island homes. Three weeks later, there were still families in PEI without power. This is not a poor reflection on the work done by the crews from Maritime Electric and the many workers from other provinces who have been striving night and day to get everyone back on the grid. It is a reflection of the massive amount of damage caused by Fiona’s visit. (photo credit: Eric Stanley)
Less than a week later, Hurricane Ian slammed Florida and South Carolina as a Category 4 storm, causing death and destruction not seen since 1935.
In both instances, crops have been destroyed which will have a major impact on an already tenuous food security situation for many North American families.
The list of hurricanes that caused extensive damage to Atlantic Canada include The Great Nova Scotia Hurricane 1873, Hurricanes Hazel and Edna 1954, Hurricane Juan 2003, Hurricane Igor 2010, Hurricane Dorian 2019 and now Hurricane Fiona. You can clearly see how much more frequently these angry storms are occurring – and this increased frequency is due mainly to climate change. As the oceans warm up, more intense storms will make landfall in Atlantic Canada.
Is it too late to turn the corner on climate change? Biologist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough says, “While it’s true we can never go back to the stable, benign climate that enabled us to flourish for the past 10,000 years, I do believe that, if we act fast enough, we can reach a new stable state.… If we recognize climate change and the loss of nature as worldwide security threats, as indeed they are, then we may yet act proportionately and in time.”
We can’t rely solely on world leaders and the government to take the steps necessary to stabilise our climate. Each and every one of us must take action, must make personal choices.
One of the things we can do is step away from “fast fashion”. Did you know that, in North America, most pieces of clothing are only worn 4 times before being thrown away? This is due in part to the fact that fast fashion pieces are often poorly made and fall apart after being washed. The numbers are staggering – 10,000 items of clothing are sent to landfill every 5 minutes!
The majority of our clothing choices, both fast fashion and higher end pieces, are made from fossil-fuel based products such as polyester, nylon, synthetic fleece. Clothing made from fossil fuels do not breathe and therefore keep us neither cool or warm – just sort of damp and sweaty. When we wash them, small microfibres end up in our waterways. Fish eat these microfibres and end up starving because their bellies are full of plastic. These microplastics also have been found in placentas, stools and have even crossed the blood-brain barrier! (changingmarkets.org/fossilfashion) When we throw these clothes away, they remain in landfill for generations if not centuries. (photo credit: Antoine Giret)
Wool, on the other hand, is a 100% renewable resource. It creates a breathable fabric, keeping us warm in winter and cool in summer. A piece of wool clothing could be made completely without any reliance on fossil fuels. Sheep could be shorn manually, their fleece washed and spun by hand, then knit or woven into a piece of clothing. Any waste wool can be added to your garden to reduce the amount of water needed and to add slow release nitrogen and potassium. I’m not suggesting that we do away with mills. I am saying, however, that the environmental impact of creating wool fibre is far and away better than the creation of any synthetic fibre.
But don’t sheep, goats and cows, as ruminant animals, create methane? Yes, they do. Methane gas, however, is a short-lived gas that naturally breaks down in a few decades. CO2, on the other hand, which is a by-product of fossil fuels, is a long-lived gas which will remain in the atmosphere for millennia. Farm management practices like rotational grazing and selecting higher quality feed can reduce the levels of methane produced by ruminant animals.
Sheep are actually beneficial to the environment! Not only do they provide us with wool and meat, their split hooves act to aerate the soil by breaking it up, allowing new plants to grow. When they graze, they do not pull up the roots of the plants so these plants grow again and again. In areas where there is a great deal of dry underbrush, sheep have been brought in to graze in these areas to prevent wildfires! (photo credit: Campaign for Wool Canada)
According to the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, wool has healing properties! If you suffer from rheumatism or arthritis, having wool next to your skin increases circulation which, in turn, decreases the pain (because pain decreases circulation which can make the pain worse). Wool bedding improves your sleep quality because wool helps you to maintain a constant core temperature. And, for those who are bedridden, woollen mattress pads can assist in the prevention of bedsores.
Just this morning, I was chatting with a guest who is a Reiki practitioner. She told me that it is so important to wear natural fibres like wool or linen as these fibres allow energy to flow along the surface of your body, unlike synthetic fibres which impede or possibly even block this energy flow. Reiki and knitting naturally go together. Reiki is enhanced by meditation. Knitting is not only relaxing but meditative as well. The rhythm of the knitting needles, the repetitive motion of the fingers and hands all contribute to a sense of peace and relaxation. Small wonder that knitting with wool is so wonderful! (photo credit: AffiePlass Fotografie and Campaign for Wool Canada)
October is Wool Month. Let’s celebrate this wonderful, natural, healthy, ecofriendly, breathable, flame and odor-resistant fibre! Is it any wonder that Mother Nature loves wool?
On September 8th, 2022, Queen Elizabeth II passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was 96 years old and had served her country for 70 years, longer than any other British monarch. Until her very last days, she continued in her duties – swearing in the new British PM, Liz Truss. Her final statement was an expression of condolence to the members of the James Smith Cree Nation and the people in nearby Weldon, SK whose lives were impacted by the stabbings that resulted in 10 deaths and 18 people injured.
Image courtesy of @theroyalfamily
Our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau eloquently expressed his thoughts on her passing on behalf of Canada. He said, “It was with the heaviest of hearts that we learned of the passing of Canada's longest-reigning sovereign, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. She was a constant presence in our lives — and her service to Canadians will forever remain an important part of our country's history”…(She was) "thoughtful, wise, curious, helpful, funny and so much more. In a complicated world, her steady grace and resolve brought comfort and strength to us all. Canada is in mourning. She was one of my favourite people in the world and I will miss her so."
Image courtesy of @justinpjtrudeau
With the dismissal of award-winning newscaster Lisa LaFlamme from her position as Chief Anchor of CTV National News, there was outrage as many felt this happened because of ageism and sexism. Her predecessor, Lloyd Robertson, retired from the position at the age of 77. Ms. LaFlamme was only 58. She did, however, have the “audacity” to let her hair go grey. Thankfully, it was announced today that Ms. LaFlamme has been hired by CityNews as a special correspondent and will be in London to cover the Queen’s funeral and the transition as King Charles III takes the throne.
It is absolutely disgraceful to think that, in this day and age, women are still subjected to the outdated beliefs that they are only valuable up to a certain age, after which point they become “disposable”. In fact ageism is something that has an impact on all genders, although it impacts women at an earlier age. Men are deemed to become more distinguished with grey hair and wrinkles; women on the other hand are devalued by these same characteristics.
As a society based on European culture, we seem to have little respect for our seniors, for our elders. We have so much to learn from our indigenous neighbours. Here in PEI, the Mi’kmaw people value their elders – they are considered to be the keepers of tradition, of history, of culture. The sharing of their wisdom is considered to be healing. The title of “Elder” is one that is bestowed upon a person by their community and an elder is treated with respect at all times.
Chief Charlie Sark of Lennox Island, PEI
Queen Elizabeth was only 25 when she ascended the throne. She held this position for 70 years with grace, with dignity, with a sense of duty. She demonstrated to the entire world that gender and age play no factor in one’s ability to lead, to give wise counsel, to inspire. She met weekly with 15 British Prime Ministers over the course of her reign. In Canada, 12 Prime Ministers served during her reign. Nearly 90% of the world’s population were born during her time on the throne! Her reign has been described as “a golden thread running through generations”.
Farewell, Your Majesty – God speed. You will be missed.
Combatting Negative Self-Talk
Every once in a while, we will encounter a “Negative Nellie” – someone who seems to relish criticizing, finding fault – someone who just is never satisfied unless they have managed to pass along their sour attitude. Or maybe we’re dealing with a difficult life situation – a divorce or break-up, the loss of a job. Maybe you are mistaken for your younger sister’s mom. That actually happened to me when I was in my early 30’s! My grandmother’s hair turned white when she was still in her teens – and I definitely inherited that tendency. I decided in that very moment that it was time to cover those grey and white hairs….
Whatever the circumstances, most of us are guilty of negative self-talk at some point. I’m not skilled/experienced enough to open my own business. I’m not attractive enough. I need to lose weight. Everyone else seems so much happier/more successful/more organised/more talented than me. And social media feeds those negative thoughts if we allow it. Let’s face it, most social media posts are portraying the shiniest, glossiest, perfect images of everyone’s life.
When this negative self-talk creeps into your life, of course it’s OK to vent to family and friends. But it’s equally, if not more, important to treat yourself kindly and reinforce the good and positive thoughts.
It’s important to remember that, if someone is frequently disrespectful of your feelings, it’s OK to close the door on that relationship – even if it is a family member. I’m certainly not saying that a single disagreement or spat should result in you cutting that person out of your life. But if they are constantly draining you of any positivity with their criticisms, rude behaviour or carelessness with your feelings, it may be time to move on.
If you are feeling a little overwhelmed with negative self-talk, remember these lovely words from A.A. Milne:
And, let's not forget - maybe someone in your circle needs to hear a little something positive about themselves! We should all be generous with our kind words and compliments. You never know the impact it might have on someone's day.
It’s funny - we like to think summer will be a time of calm. A “slow down” season if you will. But in reality, for many of us, things get crazier. Kids are home, schedules get more complicated, and our normal routines can fly right out the window!
And for those folks who work in the tourism industry, there is no summer relaxation. Especially this year! Every single industry in the tourism sector – restaurants, shops, attractions – has been having a real challenge finding enough staff for the summer despite offering higher wages and incentives like bonuses to cover the crazy cost of travelling to and from work.
Just yesterday, a friend posted a video about summertime and mental health. She chatted about how each of us is guilty of sharing only the best, the brightest, the shiniest moments of our lives on social media. And if you happen to be feeling a little down in the dumps, comparing your less than ideal life to the perceived perfection of what you see posted in social media, it's bound to impact you negatively. Even more so in the summer months when life is portrayed as easy, beach-breezy, all sandy toes and sunshine. (photo courtesy of Central Coastal Tourism Partnership)
Even the wonderful new theatrical production “Tell Tale Harbour” gave this a nod. Based on the screenplay “The Grand Seduction”, Tell Tale Harbour tells an amusing story about how the folks from a small Newfoundland village pull out all the stops in order to attract a full-time resident doctor – a requirement if they are to win the contract for a frozen French-fry plant. Everything in town is all spit and polished, a fresh coat of paint covering anything that might lead a “mainlander” to believe that life isn’t always idyllic in their quaint little village. (PS – don’t miss this thoroughly enjoyable show at the Confederation Centre of the Arts, running from June 14th to September 24th, 2022.)
That’s why it’s so important to take care of YOU in this busy season. I have learned that it’s vital when things get chaotic. Rest, breathe, reach out to friends, and take some time for yourself. Sometimes the thing we need the most is to give ourselves the permission to relax.
Knitting has taught me so much about life. It has taught me to slow down. The rhythmic action of knitting is similar to meditation – the repetition of the stitches and patterns just allows your mind to be calm and in the moment. I’ve learned I shouldn’t give myself crazy deadlines for my knitting projects. I’m not always successful in keeping that lesson in mind – but I’m getting better at it!
I hope you can set aside some time to take in the beauty of summer. If you are lucky enough to enjoy some summer vacation time, please remember to be kind and considerate to those folks who are working to make your vacation special and memorable.
And, as always, happy knitting!
Live life luxuriously! Classic simplicity is what I enjoy the most - in clothing design, home decor and in life!