Suzanne Reisler Litwin: Queen of The Canoe

Everyone has their own philosophy, rules and ideas to live by. Everyone has a different perspective and point of view. Everyone interacts with the world differently. No two people are the same, but sometimes alike or very different. Actually, it is said that opposites attract. I think I married someone who is, literary, my polar opposite. In truth, I love the winter and the cold. He loves the summer and the heat. We get along best in the spring and the fall. I run away from the summer and he runs away from the winter. We spend less time together during those months!

Some may ask, what was the initial attraction when meeting a person who is your polar opposite? Looking back over 35 years, I would say what made me most interested in my husband was his perspective and our differences. I learned so many things about life through his perspective. When I’m with him, I experienced life in a completely different way. It’s an eye opener. My world expanded into his and his world expanded into mine. So many years later, this is still happening.

In a design, I would say we best represent a Venn Diagram. We are both individually separate circles which overlap in the middle. I have enjoyed living through this ongoing different perspective of life.

Now that I am older, I have a renewed appreciation for life. I am questioning the perspectives of more senior people. Some of my questions are, how did I get here so fast, what needs to be done, will I have any regrets, and what is most important now?

Usually, I ask these questions to my greatest mentor. My mother Noonie. These are the questions I pose to her when we are in the middle of Lake Monroe in our red canoe. At least once a year we venture off into our canoe. We paddle to the middle of the lake and I ask divine questions, get her perspective, and listen intently.

We refer to this as ‘Lessons From the Canoe’.

Years ago, we used to get into the middle of the lake and that was when she gave me her personal perspective on my life. When you’re in the middle of the lake, there is no place to go, so you listen. This is where she would tell me how to live better, do what’s right and clearly “put me in my place”, something like a realignment. Sometimes it was a critical, humbling experience. Sometimes it was just pure fun. Sometimes I would listen mostly to her thoughts and needs. All the time, it was an important exchange of perspective.

The lessons begin once we get into the middle of the lake. Only then does either of us know what the agenda will be… It’s always organic and truthful.

During the summer of 2018, I posed many questions to her. Her answers to my questions were enlightening and so helpful for me. I thought sharing her perspective on life would be useful for everyone. On this partly sunny July day, Noonie at 83 years old, answered these questions in the middle of Lake Monroe, Tremblant Provincial Park.

I asked her, how do your stay so positive?

She said, “I keep it simple and I have low expectations. I find contentment in what I have and I don’t search and search for anything. I am at peace within my soul. The simple things in life make me the most happy. Like today, here, right now, in the middle of this lake with you.”

I asked, what do you look forward to?

She said, “Unfolding the chairs, sitting by the lake and eating a fresh eggie sandwich I made on chala bread. That’s it. On this beautiful day with the breeze going through my hair. It doesn’t get better than this. I have been to amazing places in the world. I have experienced incredible things. It all comes back to being at peace with yourself. If you are not at peace within yourself, you will not find it no matter where you travel to. Wherever you go, it goes with you. It can wear a mask, but it’s always present.”

I asked her, where do you get your positive energy from?

“I draw positivity from other people. If they feel down, I try to make them feel better. Every time you do something good for someone, this gives you a positive feeling inside. The more good you do, the more good you will feel. I get a lot from helping other people and by doing good deeds. You can never do too many!”

I asked Noonie if she has special perspectives or secrets to living happy.

She answered, “Elders have the secret of living with happiness. When you are young, you don’t know what you don’t know. It’s best that younger people learn this before they become older. Being a secure person creates a feeling of safety in others. Searching for the latest stuff is not about finding contentment. Being happy in an old bathrobe, in my bed, in my home, is the best place for me.”

Then Noonie focused on her perspective of self. “The more you accomplish, the more you will feel good about yourself. Set goals and obtain them, no matter what age you are. Be happy with you and yourself. Only look through your own windows and not through others. The windows of yourself, is the only view you will ever need.”

Then I asked Noonie how she feels at her age. She said, “I feel secure and self-assured. I’m surrounded by a great family. I feel invested in their lives and them in mine. I think people reach out to me because I give out positive energy. I suggest that everyone needs to fill their heart with love, beauty, music, dance, art, theatre, and flowers, this way you don’t focus too much on the negativity.”

Great words to live by – thank you Noonie!

As true Canadians, hopefully will be back in our red canoe this summer. She will want to drive to the park as she finds I don’t drive fast enough. She hates to be the passenger in a car. She will make her famous eggie sandwiches with sides of fruits and carrots.

We will paddle to the middle of Lake Monroe and the conversation will begin. Will I be getting a realignment? Perhaps an important life lesson? Will she be asking for my advice? Will it be an exchange of jokes? Will we just listen to the breeze? We simply hope to be.

Stay tuned for more Lessons From The Canoe…

—Suzanne Reisler Litwin

—AB

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