50 Amazing Life Moments

The idea that stimulated this post came from Jenna MacDonald at There’s a Shoe for That.  When I was considering starting this blog, a conversation with Jenna tipped me over the edge to actually do it.

The thought of finding 50 moments seemed daunting at first.  However, when I sat down to write, I actually had to trim out moments because I passed 50.

The lesson I took away from the exercise is that in a world where the next instant moment of gratification is the goal of many, I believe a path to happiness comes from being present, taking chances, and living a life of gratitude for opportunities that may cross your path.

Reluctant to classify these moments in any ranking that could be interpreted as one being better than another, they are random within four categories:  cradle-to-grave moments, travel moments, unique opportunity moments, and existential moments.

Cradle-to-Grave (Moments 1-6)

According to Dictionary.com ‘Cradle to grave’ means: “extending throughout one’s life, from birth to death”.

  1. Pregnancy, I only had one but I loved the experience
My baby
Holding my baby, 2002

2. Holding my baby for the first time

3. Being with my Mom on her last day of life

4. Finding my soulmate

Photo 2014-03-09, 11 53 40 AM
Revisiting our 2nd date spot (2014), Ice Caves in Springfield, NB

5. Realizing our kids know how to make good choices

6. Watching our children develop/perform/create

Travel (Moments 7-32)

These moments all happened because I travelling away from home.  The range of dates for these experiences begin at age 7 with my first trip to Scotland and extend up to last year when Eric and I cruised from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Haiti and Jamaica.

7. Seeing the Grand Canyon by both small plane and land (Arizona, USA)

8. Visiting standing stones (near Inverness, Scotland)

9. BBQ and hot tub at King Ranch (Texas, USA)

King Ranch, Texas 2008 (approx)

10. Breathing the air at the Icefields Parkway (Rockies, Alberta, Canada)

Athabasca Glacier 2015
Athabasca Glacier 2014

11. Snorkeling in Cozumel (Mexico)

12. Dog sledding (La Malbaie, Quebec, Canada)

2016 La Malbaie, Quebec

13. Seeing the terrain of Iceland for the first time

14. Sailing in the Burrard Inlet (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

15. Swimming with dolphins (Costa Maya, Mexico)

16 Experiencing a desert (Palm Springs, California & Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)

17. Days in Liverpool (England)

Strawberry Fields
On our Fab Four tour in LIverpool, England 2015

18. Any visit to Scotland

19. Putting my toes in the Pacific Ocean for the first time (British Columbia, Canada)

20. Riding a pony on the beach in Blackpool (England)

21. Visiting a fortune teller in New Orleans (Louisiana, USA)

22. Experiencing the Napa Valley (California, USA)

23. Meadows in the Sky Parkway (Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada)

24. Airboat tour of the Bayou in Louisiana (USA)

25. Kayaking with dolphins in a South Carolina marsh (USA)

26. The many layers of Amsterdam (Netherlands)

27. Introducing Eric to cruising

Voodoo demonstration while in Haiti on our cruise (2018)

28. Day cruise on the Rhine (Germany)

Germany 2001
Somewhere on the Rhine, Germany 2001

29. The Giant’s Causeway (Northern Ireland)

Giant's Causeway
Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland, 2012

30. Chicago Art Institute (Chicago, Illinois, USA)

31.  CN Tower view (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

32. Experiencing Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Louisiana, USA)

Unique Experiences (Moments 33-47)

These moments all happened, or started, at home in New Brunswick, Canada.

33. Tour of the potash mine in a Jeep-like vehicle (700 m below surface)

34. Discovering Eye of the Needle for the first time

35. Flying in a helicopter

36. Sleeping on a train (in a sleeper car)

37. Figuring out how to make Lorne sausages and having them taste just right

38. Spending days outside with my Dad while he created art

39. Catching my first fish

40. The smell and feel of cool air in early autumn

41. Growing to love lobster

2014-12-20 19.12.19
Christmas week traditions post-2014

42. Whale watching

43. Walking on the ocean floor, regularly

44. Feeling the wind in my face while riding a bike

45. Being hooked by a good book

46. Falling asleep to the sound of the ocean

47. Learning to knit

48. Meeting Prince Charles (1996 and 2012), Prince Andrew (1985), and Prince Edward (sometime in the 2000s)

Existential (Moments 49 & 50)

For lack of better classification, these moments where philosophical reflections that have come to me in the last few years.

49. Realizing I’ve found contentment

50. Knowing home is the best place to be

Number 50 is my life lesson from the list. I have been fortunate to see and do so many things in so many places but as Dorothy so aptly puts it “There’s no place like home”.

With a click of my heels I’m out for this week.

My 50-year love affair with words and stories

Part of the reason I’ve started on this blog journey is to provide myself a writing challenge. Writing and reading have always been a huge part of my life.

My parents were both prolific readers, and they encouraged a love of reading in me. Books of all kind were always around our house: fiction, non-fiction, anthologies, reference, and various versions of the Bible.

We lived in a rural area, had 2 channels on our black-and-white television, and, of course, no knowledge of the Internet or video games.   This lifestyle created perfect conditions to develop a self-entertainer, as my husband calls it.

This was rural New Brunswick in the 1970s, a time when kids were unscheduled and roamed freer than they do today.  When I tired of the books at home, I would hop on my bicycle and head into the library in downtown Sussex, a 7-km round trip.

At the library I’d spend hours in the reference section reading about geography and mythology and I’d pick out a few books to read at home.  The pattern of biking to the library to return books and take out more books was repeated often enough to be a vivid memory.

My grandfather, recognizing this thirst for knowledge, bought me a subscription to National Geographic, which I lovingly collected through my teen years.

Yes…I’ve been a geek for a long time.

In this formative period, I was consuming books, assimilating knowledge, and living in conditions which were ripe for development of a vivid imagination.  By age 9 in the 4th grade, I was writing my own stories.  In February (1978) my first work of fiction was published in the school newsletter.

“The Thing From Space” by grade 4 Paula Harris, along with a variety of stories, recipes, poems, and illustrations by other students, appeared in the newsletter which was copied on a mimeograph (sometimes called by brand name Gestetner).

Mimeograph (Image source: Wikipedia).

If you’re from my generation, or older, you may remember the experience of cranking copies out of one of these machines in the school office, but if you didn’t have that experience, you’ll surely remember the unique odor made by the copying process.  Every hand-out and test bore this scent until the advent of photocopying

In the mimeograph process the pages were impressed with a purple typeset that blurred slightly at the edges, particularly if it was not left to dry long enough.  The copy I have of this newsletter from 1978 looks the same today as it did the day it was copied.

The thing from space Feb 1978

When I reflect of the origins and inspiration of this first story, and I also look back on the timeline of my life in 1977/78, I recall that had just seen my first big screen movie at the theatre.  Everything before this was on our 28-inch black-and-white TV.   The movie made a big impression on me.  My Dad also bought the soundtrack (on LP), and he played it often—thus keeping the memory of the movie alive in our house.

The movie was Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released four months prior to writing this piece.  Close Encounters stirred an obvious fascination with aliens. Ricky, a fellow student, brought my description to life with his striking illustration of the “Thing”.

“The Thing From Space” is an amusing read now, forty years later, but it is also more than that.  This story, the many trips to the library, and the magic and inspiration of Stephen Spielberg, were the beginning of a life of story telling.  For the past 25+ years, stories, albeit not science fiction stories, put food on the table and kept a roof over my head.

Without a love of reading instilled at a young age, and a quest for knowledge that only deepened as I aged, I would not be writing this blog post today and I would not be helping others tell stories.