A bagpiper walks into a blog

Man in kiltSpecial guest blog by David Swinton.

Ok, I’ll admit it. When my wife started this blog, I rolled my eyes and said ‘God Help Us’. Why would any person feel she is in a position to tell others how to be happier?

For a while, I even nicknamed it the ‘Crappy Act’. But personally deep down, I knew that there was no one better qualified to accomplish this mission. I have known my wife for almost 35 years. To this day, she continues to amaze me with her positive, energetic look at life. You might not always agree with her take on happiness (what the heck is an Easter Chicken anyway) but you loyal readers still come week after week to expand your happiness quotient.

When she asked me to fill in for her this week, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. After my Mom died over a year ago, I spent a lot of nights asking myself why should someone so giving of herself be taken in such a cruel manner. As with all tragic events, I started to question my own existence and where I fit into this continually evolving saga we call life. As my thoughts drifted more and more, I realized how complicated my own life had become. Between work, hockey practices, 4-H, bagpipes and the general pace of the world these days, I felt myself struggling to stay engaged. What kind of life is that? You only get one shot at it, folks.

So, in response to this, I have decided to focus at least a half hour each day to the appreciation of the simplest things in my life. One day, it might be the cardinal that has mysteriously appeared after my mother (an avid birder) died. The next day it might be the sound of wind whistling through the large pines around the house. One night I might watch a flying squirrel drift into the feeder from the darkness of the forest. The next, read a good book in a quiet corner boiling maple syrup. Laugh with your child as she pranks you for April Fools or savour a cold Corona at 10 in the morning on a hot day. Kneel down while your 9 year old shows you how intricate insect galleries under pieces of bark from a dead tree can be. Explain to her that the simplest of organisms created something this beautiful.

Your assignment this week? Put the world away for a half hour, slow down and take the time to glean a moment of pure joy from your world. And next week, enjoy while someone with actual writing talent takes back this blog.

Watch a parade

Girls at a parade
Grace and Clare at the Hyannis Fourth of July parade in Hyannis, MA a few years ago

When Dave and I first started dating, he played the bagpipes in the Burlington Pipe Band. For the first two years of our courtship, our weekends consisted of traipsing down the main street of every small town in southern Ontario as part of some parade. It was a great way to get to know our region, and our romance blossomed to the soundtrack of Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.

Young or old, big or small, there is something endearing and enchanting about a parade.

Neighbours congregate in lawn chairs and on roadside curbs to share greetings and stories. The little ones get excited, eagerly peering down the empty street anticipating the start of the big event and asking “Has it started? Are they coming?” Then the first firetruck appears, sounding its siren, the old cars beep their horns, and a flotilla of floats and smiling, happy faces stream by. What’s not to love?

This week’s #HappyAct is to watch a parade. Our family will in Bath this year for the Canada Day parade and festivities since Dave has become a member of the Napanee Pipe Band. Get out and celebrate. Happy Canada Day everyone!