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Routines and Other Absurdities


Worlds - Colleen Friesen


I have been hunkered in all winter and have had a pretty nice little routine going on:

Sundays are (mostly) internet-free with either hiking on the agenda or playing tourist-in-our-own-town with recent visits to FlyOver Canada, the Vancouver Aquarium, UBC Museum of Anthropology, art galleries, Granville Island and all the other fabulous Vancouver attractions….We’re game to try anything that gets us out of the winter monsoons.

Mondays are laundry, cleaning the apartment and any errands that didn’t get covered on Saturday’s excursions.

Most of each Wednesday is taken up with a visit to the Menno Home in Abbotsford to see my dad.

The days in-between are spent writing, erratic volunteering at the Writers Exchange, writing my blog, painting and collaging in the studio or meeting new and old friends and/or colleagues for coffee.

All of this has felt necessary and good. I feel like we’ve really made Vancouver our home.

And…it’s all about to get blown out of the water.

I cannot seem to do things in half-measures.  I’m once again going from ‘No Travel’ to ‘Go Travel’.

Starting next month with a two-week trip to Cuba, and ending in November with a hiking trip in Japan, I will basically be gone more than I’m home.  I’m never really sure how these things start piling up, but I seem remarkably consistent in my inability to do anything with any modicum of balance.

Feast or Famine.

On or Off.

Zero to Sixty.

Here or There.

C’est la vie, mon cheri.

I remain yours truly and most-assuredly moss-free.



Mantra of the Monarch


Tree in Wales – Colleen Friesen


It is a vanity and a mistake to imagine ourselves separate from the rest of the beings on this planet.

We choose to forget we are animals and part of an interweaving of all life.  We imagine ourselves as superior to a tree or a fish. Yet we only have to look a little closer to see our remarkable similarities in design.

Look at a diagram of a brain and then examine the branches of a tree or the intricacies of coral.


Read about the composition of the earth’s crust and then check your own element ingredient list.

I learned about the endangered monarch butterflies when reading Barbara Kingsolver’s novel, Flight Behaviour.  Then, last week I went to Science World and watched Flight of the Butterflies; a wonderful film about their incredible migration.

What can I tell you? Those ephemeral butterflies have been fluttering on the fringes of my brain ever since.


Photograph of a female Monarch Butterfly en ( ...

Monarch Butterfly – Wikipedia


These sci-fi creatures undergo brutal transformations, from egg to stripy caterpillar to constricted chrysalis (that involves their back splitting open to reveal the wings), until their final triumphant emergence as a butterfly.

But here’s the strangest thing…

It takes the average monarch butterfly four generations to reach its destiny.

This means, that although a monarch might leave Southern Ontario to begin her migration to Mexcio, she will personally never reach her objective, a goal that I’m quite sure she couldn’t articulate.

What she does know, with her entire being, is that she must head toward Mexico.  Enroute, she will lay eggs and that next generation’s offspring will carry on the pilgrimage south.

But even that generation’s butterfly won’t reach the final objective.

Instead, second-and third-generation of beauties will repeat the scenario, hop-scotching their way south.  Despite impossible conditions, lousy survival rates, no GPS on the dash, and crazy distances of 2500 miles, all those that survive the generational journey will eventually reach the spot on the Sierra Madre mountains that is so necessary for their ongoing, and very threatened, survival as a species.

This fourth-generation ‘super-butterfly’ will go through the same stages of life as her ancestors, but instead of only a two-to-six-week life span, she will live six-to-eight months. Long enough to start the whole four-generational process again.

At any one time most of us are in touch with about four generations; great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, ourselves and perhaps our children or, depending where we are in life, some variation on that theme.

What if I framed my place in the world by using the template of the monarch?

Is it possible that I am at the beginning of the next cycle of four generations?

Or am I somewhere in the middle generation?  Perhaps it’s simply my fate to pave the way for the fourth-generation – whatever that destiny might be.

Then again, maybe I’m at the end of this particular multi-generational round.  Might I be the culmination of my great-great-grandmother’s destiny? A plan that she might never have known or articulated?

I like this idea of living as if any or all of these possibilities could be true. I choose to believe that my life is a key and integral part of this grand beauty. Naturally, I decided on My Monarch Migration Mantra (more commonly known as MMMM).  

Trust the process.

Follow your instincts.

Keep the faith.

Follow your path, no matter how strange it might appear.

Know your life is important.

Realize your beauty.

Feel free to add your own spin on this theme. I’d love to hear your thoughts… 



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