Bits and bites of everyday life

Autumn, apple picking and core values
True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more
  Alberte, picking apples with three of her grandchildren in 2009.

Autumn is here! Since I’ve retired from teaching, I love this time of the year! Instead of being locked up in a classroom, I am free to soak up the sun and the autumn colours, clean my garden at a more leisurely pace and do the odd fall jobs on weekdays instead of weekends. This gives me the opportunity to enjoy weekend outings. Saturday, for example, we are heading out to the 26th annual Merrickville Artists Guild Studio Tour. It’s always a treat to mingle with artists of all kinds and see their work. I will have my camera with me because Merrickville is a beautiful town! We plan to visit two local artists, Catherine and her husband Gord, whom we met at this year’s Garlic Festival in Perth. 

Last year at this time, I enjoyed an apple-picking outing with three of my grandchildren. We headed for a local orchard in Bourget where we were handed small bushels and a wheelbarrow. Nathan got a free ride out of it! The weather was warm and sunny and we enjoyed picking two or three varieties of apples and sharing a snack before heading home to share the bounty. Apple picking used to be a tradition for us and our friends Krisztina and Rudy. We would drive down to Greely or Smyth’s Orchard in Williamsburg and take in the autumn glory while picking sweet, ripened apples. I made apple sauce and apple pie and kept some Lobos and Macs for future snacking. One year, I made deep dish apple pie for the end-of-the-year campground party at my parents’. It was the most popular dessert that year. 

I love choices! And every day brings a fresh batch of new choices. Sometimes our choice is brought about by an unexpected situation and we must rise to the occasion. For example, this morning after picking up my grandson at school when his half-day pre-kindergarten was done, I came home to an unusual dripping sound coming from downstairs. Upon inspection, I realized my hot water tank was leaking. I had the choice to panic, feel distressed or act quickly. I chose to act and immediately called the young plumber I met at the mailbox about two weeks ago. He instructed me to turn the tap off, asked how old the tank was and where the water was coming out. I told him the hot water tank was eighteen years old. Did I want to replace it? Yes! Then, he would pick one up and be there that afternoon. By four, everything was installed!  

Now, I know people who would have cursed and bitched and complained about this, but I was grateful. Grateful it didn’t turn into a disaster! Grateful the plumber could come and replace the tank on such short notice… And bonus, these young men picked up after themselves! Vincent even mopped the floor. Erik explained the useful function of a side-valve which had never been brought to my attention and therefore, never used. I will recommend them for sure! 

This brings me to the subject of core values. Core values determine which aspects of life we regard as important and they greatly affect how we deal with day to day situations. Our core values are influenced initially by our parents, neighbours, friends, teachers, colleagues and friends. As we grow older, we refine them and our values become more fixed. Unfortunately, some people become disconnected from their core values. The result is often conflict, discontent, sadness and a lack of fulfillment. To be successful, we must know ourselves and what we value most. 

Here are my top core values! They are not placed in order of importance as I consider all of them equally important. I invite you to make your own list and maybe share it with others. 

  1. Enjoy yourself! Love life! Don’t forget to smile and laugh often. I have often been told that I have a beautiful smile and smile a lot. Let me tell you, it’s much easier to smile than to frown. Try it! You can’t stay mad when you’re smiling.

  2. Be an optimist! In “Excuses Begone”, Wayne Dyer tells us that something like 95 per cent of us do not have genetic reasons for  illness, depression, fear or any other condition. That invisible,  spirit part of each one of us chooses. We don’t inherit, we  repeatedly choose. We don’t have to be a victim  of anything that was transferred from another mind to ours. So, choose the  positive side, always. Avoid negative people!
  3. Create solutions, not problems! Be pro-active. Again, Dyer says, “If you abandon making choices, you enter the vast world of excuses.” There is nothing more exulting than fixing something, resolving a conflict, coming up with a different way of seeing or doing things. Create your own music. Be inventive!

  4. Respect yourself and others! Nurture your body and your soul.  Adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits and remember that self- esteem is what encourages you to value your self and treat  yourself accordingly. Treat others kindly and fairly, in a  nonjudgemental way. Be willing to help whenever possible.
  5. Make time for your children, grandchildren, your partner and friends! No one is an island. We need to create strong bonds and lasting relationships by investing of our time and energy. Then, if we sow the seeds of love, we will ultimately create a loving environment where loved ones can become the best they can be and we will reap the benefits in return. Love is a powerful force! Never underestimate it!

  1. Count your blessings! Slow down! Contemplate your life and consider the progress you have made. Realize the wisdom you have acquired and the wonderful people and opportunities that have come your way. And give thanks… not only at Thanksgiving, but every day…

 So, look for rainbows and sweet apples and enjoy life!