Hi everyone from our place in the woods! How are you doing these days? I haven't written for a while, but wanted to get a word out to you this week, and keep in touch.. As you may know, I am a teacher, and am entering the crazy, crazy time of the year: JUNE! I sincerely apologize for not maintaining my regular writing schedule.

What about you? Is this a busy time of year for you, too? What season of life are you in right now?  Is your yearly cycle connected to the school year, with kids, or a business cycle?

Since we spoke last, about three weeks ago, summer seems to have arrived here in the boreal forest. I was so anxious for spring, but when it finally arrived, it seemed to skip almost straight into summer. The trees are now fully clothed again, wildflowers are covering the earth in careless beauty, and the beaches have opened up their sandy splendor.
The trees with all their covering, taken last summer. 
For those of us in the education field, this is the end of the year, and it is a time of intense pressure. The teachers and administrators have dozens of deadlines coming at them, all at the same time: report cards, end-of-year testing, finishing off the curriculum, planning for field trips and year-end celebrations. We feel the pressure to GET IT ALL DONE, while the kids are determined that THEY ARE FINISHED. LET'S GET ON TO SUMMER! The kids just wanna have fun, sparkly, crazy zany fun ... kind of like these eggs that they created for Easter earlier in the year:
Easter eggs made my Grade six class.
And no matter how much we push them to keep learning, many students have decided internally (perhaps, without even knowing they are deciding this) that they are DONE. They have been learning and working all year, and now, they feel, it is time to PLAY! They want something different and  unique, like this beauty created by one of several very talented artists in the class:

Sparkly egg created by an extra-talented student in the class. 
Can you relate? I sure can. For me, all of the intense pressure And it seems that the busier it gets, the more I want to slow down. My body, my whole self resists the intense pressure, and I have a desire simply to escape the insanity. Have you ever felt like that?

This year, I was blessed to be able to book a few days off, around the May long weekend, which led to a six-day weekend. in fact. But. in spite of the days off, I could not escape the feeling of pressure. I could barely relax: my body just knew that the pressure was still on.

The only thing that seemed to work to calm me down was a long walk on the beach, with a bit of a swim. The feel of the sand, sans shoes, is calming to the feet. And the soft lapping of the water overcomes the buzz of anxiety. I really do find that time spent on the beach is the most healing of times.

In this next pictures, I loved the monochromatic simplicity of sky, lake and stick. Something in my soul longed for such calm in my own life. To some it may be boring, but to me, it is sweet beautiful peace.  It is a feeling of blendedness and connectedness.  I love this. (This is the Instagram version, which is, of course, square. If you would like to follow me on Instagram, you can follow at Lifeinwoods, and let me know you came from the blog!
Time spent on the beach is the most healing of times. 

And this is a very similar view, but with less cropping. This beach is full of beautiful sticks and driftwood, perfect for throwing into the water, if you have a dog, or carving a coffee table if you have a saw. 

So, this weekend, walked and let my mind drift. And I got in the water, and almost swam. Which means I got in the water, up past my waist, and dunked my arms in the icy water, that only one month ago, was partially ice. And it felt amazing! I felt alive and completely in the moment.

And that is what I want to share with you today. If you are feeling pressure, intense pressure, take a bit of time to do something that makes you feel alive. For me, it is the feeling of fresh lake water rushing over my body. For you, it might be a ride on your motorcycle. Or an afternoon spent being silly with the kids and laughing at their corny jokes, housework be darned. Maybe it's getting your hands into the fresh soil of your garden. Whatever it is, do something real. Do something simple. And leave the pressure behind, just for a little bit. I guarantee all the work will still be there when you get back. But you will be just a bit different, a bit more alive, and bit more "you."

Take care, everyone. And I wanted to say a big thank you for the feedback I received about the free gift I want to offer. I can't promise it will be available until after June ends, but I want to reward my loyal readers with a beautiful print PDF, with a lovely quote on it. I hope to get it ready by July, at the latest. Have a wonderful June, everyone! Take care!

And one more thing: PLEASE, PLEASE COMMENT, if you liked the blog, and enjoyed it. (Or even if you didn't, or if you disagreed with something I said. I love to hear any feedback.)

I put a lot of work into these blog posts and your feedback, whatever it is, is gold to me. I find it hard to write without comments! So, if you are out there reading, please just drop me a line, and let me know you are reading, and how I can help you. I love engaging with people -- so I look forward to  hearing from you.

Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here

Hey everyone! I hope you had a good week! My week has been stressful, with much of my time being spent trying to get some testing done, at my teaching job. Let's just say that testing makes me a bit "testy," to put it nicely!

I did manage to get a couple of walks in, though. Yesterday, my gorgeous husband and I rediscovered a little beach about fifteen minutes walking time from our house. It's a beach not large enough to attract any attention from the public, or outsiders, but will certainly do for a quick afternoon swim or getaway for the few dozen denizens of our little community here. We are pretty isolated, but it is finds like this that make the isolation seem worth it.

The shoreline is spattered with long trees that seem to have come from the shore of the lake. They have been washed bare by the water and resemble a big pile of dinosaur bones, or perhaps some kind of exotic sea creature:

As I soak in the beauty of the lapping water, my gorgeous husband points out a billowing cloud of smoke on the far shoreline. We think it might be the forest fire which is burning about 3 hours east of us, the Manitoba-Ontario border.  No one has been hurt in this fire yet, but the billowing clouds in the horizon (not quite visible on this photo) remind us of how close to home it is.
The fires here in Manitoba are serious, but seem almost unmentionable when compared to the fire that the whole country, is now watching in horror. In Fort McMurray, an inferno rages, one created by the hot and dry conditions, one that no one could have predicted.

This fire, which has now raged for a week long, have forced the evacuation of 80, 000 residents and has burned down most of a city. Estimates say the fire is the size of Mexico City. The devastation is unimaginable. But I also feel so proud of my home province as I hear stories of heroes: a teacher and school bus driver who gets a group of students out of the city with only a school bus, a flat of water bottles and a few granola bars. Convoy drivers plowing through the rabble with supplies on the ground, determined to help in any way they can, unable to sit idly by and wait for the officials to get there.

These are my people, my fellow Canadians. I feel sad and proud. I have been to Fort McMurray. I flew there for work a few years back. I know that place: an isolated city plunked in the middle of the wilderness, where people come to make a fortune, but ended up staying for their neighbours. I am so relieved when I find out that my former students are okay, thanks to the Facebook check-in system.

My heart goes out to everyone involved. Many evacuees have now said goodbye to life as they knew it. They will be waiting for permission to go back, but perhaps many never will. Parents will have to explain to their children why they cannot go back to the home that they loved. There will be the indignity of living with strangers, the stress of not knowing what is next, and perhaps for some, a post-traumatic stress reaction to the horrifying memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

And besides the human loss, which is devastating, there is the loss of habitat. Those beautiful trees, hectares of sublime scenes, such as this one close to my house, are gone, leaving behind only the charred remains. I  have not heard what has happened to all of the animals of the forest, but that is so heartbreaking, too.

The fire on the news reminds me that my life here in the woods, as everywhere, is fragile. I do need to be grateful for every day, for every glimpse of beauty, for losing life as we know it is only a spark, only a phone call, only a cancer diagnosis away.

On Mother's Day today, hold your loved ones close. And say a prayer, if you pray, for those who have only their loved ones to hold, with most everything else gone.

Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail by joining here

Hey everyone! I hope you are having a good week. We have been getting spring here in the woods, but it's coming very slowly. After last week's meteoric temperatures, mother nature seemed to retreat back and decide not to get so crazy. It's been mild: not hot enough to bring on May flowers, but warm enough to make the ice on the lake finally break through.

This week, I spent a lot of time taking pics of the water from several different vantage points. I am loving the interplay between the old ice and snow of winter, and the fresh flowing water of spring. It makes for some really interesting, textured photos. This shot shows the ice floating on the water in beautiful s-curves:
Ice patch on the lake
And this the same area, from a different vantage point, you can really see the glass-like still quality of the water. I love the soft muted colours of this picture, You can also see a lot of rocks. In the early spring, the rocks tend to pile up on the shore. Later on, as the water goes down, much of this shoreline may turn to sandbar, and become a place suitable for swimming.
Ice on Lake Winnipeg

Lake Winnipeg shoreline
And in this scenic shot, you can see that there is unmelted snow in this secret little spot of wilderness, located only 1.5 hours from the city.

And so that is our life here in the woods: we are in the life of in-between right now: water flowing with life, but being impeded from full progress by the ice and snow of winter, who is not quite ready to give up his reign of this land.

It's sometimes depressing, as we long for green, and new life. But it's also beautiful -- it's the beauty of struggle, a picture of contrast and dynamic interplay of the elements.

We are living in a time of transition. And this reminds me so much of the transitions we often feel in our own personal lives. Sometimes we are trying to embark on a new venture, but it's just not quite time. We want everything to start blossoming, but we still have to take care of some business. And so we yearn for the new era and wish we were done with the old period.

But patient we must be to finish off what is in front of us, before we can fully embrace the new challenge.

I, too, am in a transition phase. At the end of the school year, I will be leaving my job to pursue full-time writing. My mind is pulsing right now with ideas for books and articles, but I cannot break through to the new phase until all the things are finished with my old assignment. But because I know it's close, I feel an urgency to get writing, and get things flowing. I can feel the excitement of my new adventure to come but it is not quite time to be set free.

Beautiful sunset off Lake Winnipeg
For the next two months, I live in the in-between. I love teaching, but I know that I must also prepare for my new life. So, I write and I teach, and it is exhausting. But it also beautiful -- the beauty of struggle. I am enjoying the last few months in the classroom, savouring each day with my students, but also knowing I will be walking away soon.

Are you living in a time of transition, and want things to be done now? Remember the lake which must slowly melt, and wait for all the snow to be gone, before it can flow comptely free. Remember the spring that comes slowly, and let the dream you are waiting for come to pass in its own time.

Dear reader, I would love to hear from you. Talk to me! Have you ever been been in a time of transition? How did you deal with it? Did you have any walks this week? What kind of views did you see? I would absolutely love to hear from you about this, or any other topic.

And finally, just to encourage you to get outdoors this week, I leave you with this information: a report by the  American Surgeon General found that walkers live longer than non-walkers. Sounds like a good bonus! Have a wonderful week!

Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail by joining here
Hello! How is everyone today? Today is April 21, and we are finally getting spring! Yesterday, our temperature went up to 21 Degrees Celsius. It's been so nice, FINALLY!  It has been a really, really long winter.

One week ago, we got our last snowfall, and it was so beautiful! There's something about a spring snowfall that's much different than your typical snowfall in January. The snow is heavier and just sits on the trees, like a thick coating on fried chicken.

If I had kids, it would have been perfect for a snowman, or a snowball fight.  It was really quite magical. I love this quote that describes so perfectly the magical world of a snow-covered landscape. :

the first fall of snow is not only an event, but it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world, and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found? 
J.B. Priestly  
Four weeks ago, I came home after school on Friday to this scene:

And who could resist the graceful lines of these graceful branches below? I am not sure what type of trees they are. If anyone has an opinion, I would love to hear it.   The fresh soft hard snow creates a new world. The spring snow is a different snow, warming the air and covering the ground like a cozy blanket. 

And a walk to the lake was a black and white world, with the black branches a perfect contrast to the pure snow.  Thoreau said this about the stark silhouettes of winter:

Nature now, like an athlete, begins to strip herself in earnest for her contest with her great antagonist Winter. In the bare trees and twigs what a display of muscle.  
Henry David Thoreau 
Well, I guess this post has turned into a good-bye to winter. You were beautiful, but we must make room for the spring. But in your season, we learned to be patient and to endure. Your lingering taught us that we can endure longer than we thought we could. Your harshness taught us to take extra good care of each other.  And your monotony taught us that we are more capable of entertaining ourselves that we believed. Farewell, and let us now move quickly to summer. But don't worry, we will welcome you back next year.

I encourage you to get outside this week and discover your spring. Studies show that we only need 5-10 minutes exposure of sunlight 2-3 times a week on bare skin to get enough Vitamin D for our bodies' needs. Did you know Vitamin D is considered a factor in helping us with insulin regulation, and preventing diabetes?

Dear Reader, I would love to hear about what kind of weather you are enjoying in your area. Please comment with your area, and the weather. And please feel free to leave a comment on the blog on whatever topic you like.. I would absolutely love to hear from you.

Love Sharilee. Hey thanks so much for reading. I would love to hear your comments and input in the space below. Also, if you like what you are reading, sign up through my Facebook page. or receive posts by e-mail byjoining here
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