Friday, December 31, 2010
It's hard not to get excited about a new year. It seems like a good opportunity for growth and change and to make resolutions, to begin anew. We know we can do this any time but it's nice to have a marker.
Someone posted on their face book, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and it got me thinking. Why is that the question we ask? Why don't we ask "who do you want to be?"
It is perfectly fine to have aspirations to be a pilot or a teacher or a doctor. A worthy occupation is important and should be given some thought but shouldn't more thought be given to what kind of person we want to be when we grow up?
I know myself very well. But many of my positive personality traits, while they existed before, were nurtured and cultivated very carefully. I decided who I wanted to be, how I wanted to love, what my values were and I make a point of trying to walk my path very single day.
But there is always growth to be done, always better. I see time and time again, people repeating the patterns they've always repeated, doing the things they've always done and then standing back and wondering why nothing changes for them. I've been told that doing the same things over and over and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.
Change isn't difficult. But for most people, the "thought" of change is what holds them back. They want to make changes but they've identified themselves in a certain way for so long that their friends expect it of them, their families define them by their old patterns and they come to think that they must continue to operate in the way that makes them and the people around them most comfortable instead of becoming the person they want to be in their hearts.
But the truth is, once you make those changes, you have more fun, become better loved and eventually have such a strong sense of yourself and who you are you become automatically surrounded by people who appreciate who you really are. And it happens quickly. You love big and fully and without condition and life becomes a joy even in the challenging times because you're supported and you're free.
But until you make the changes and become authentic. Until you admit that the way you used to be is not the way you really are and then say "to hell with the rest of you, this is me and you're going to have to deal" you'll be stuck in the same patterns, making the mistakes and getting the same insane results.
I love this quote by Carl Jung
"Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie."
I've always thought it described perfectly ever midlife crisis that ever occurred. There comes a time, and it happened a few years ago for me, when you learn that the important things in life and indeed who you are, isn't even remotely what you once thought it was. Yes you may still be the person who enjoys the same music and the same types of movies but at your core you start to realise that life isn't about what you have and who you impress but who you are at your core.
You discover that you would prefer your tombstone read "was well loved" than "was a great housekeeper."
You discover that while money is nice to have, the desire for the things you can buy with it starts to dwindle and you become someone who uses it to make a difference for others, to make others happy, to help the less fortunate and it's not a dutiful donation type thing, but a heartfelt desire to make a difference in the world.
So who are you going to be this year? Are you going to repeat the patterns that have made you unhappy in the past or break free and become the person you were meant to be. Are you going to set aside your fears or hide inside them waiting for rescue that never comes. Are you going to be a taker this year or are you going to be a giver? Are you going to be happy? This day, as are all days, is your chance to decide.
The above picture is of Ralph Waldo Emerson's gravestone. I leave you with a quote from him, one of my favourites. Perhaps it'll inspire you to be who you are, when you grow up.
"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
A couple of nights ago I had a wonderful dream. In the dream I was in the desert with a friend. It was a hot, desolate place, eerie, sparse and empty. I have never been to the desert but I imagine it's a lot like my dream. My dreams are always vivid and I can still feel the heat on my shoulders from the sun and the presence of my companion as we sat together looking over the sandy expanse.
In that dream I remember remarking that the desert was like life. In the difficult, sparse and lonely moments we often find the greatest beauty. Would an oasis be as beautiful were it not set against the backdrop of the barren and solitary desert? Would the green of the valley be as appreciated were it not a retrieve from the harsh cold crags of the summit?
During the loneliest period of my life I wrote my first novel. The emptiness provided the space I needed to do that work. It filled such a gap that most people wouldn't have been aware of the pain in my life. I was barely aware of it myself, throwing myself into the narcotic that is my writing. It was during that time that I discovered what I was supposed to do with my life and where my focus should be.
It is difficult to understand that one can be in pain and still find the most amazing joy in life. The understanding of the difference between pain and suffering often evades people but if you look around you will see joy in people in even the most dire circumstances and find examples of where people have pain in their lives but somehow manage to move beyond it and avoid the suffering.
There are great gifts in the lows of our lives. First of all there is the joy that comes from overcoming them. Have you've ever been in a situation where it felt like the executioner's axe hung by a thread over your head? Then, while you waited for it to fall, the situation resolved, the axe disappeared and freedom from that stress dissolved. If so, you understand this joy. Most of us can find an example of this in our lives. It puts a new glow on our world, a sense of gratitude we hadn't had before and it gives us the lessons we need to learn to experience growth as humans.
Another advantage to the periods of desert in our lives are the opportunity to discover, without a doubt, who loves us. In any situation, we will have our supporters and our dissenters. We will have those who claim to be our friends when we are at a peak in our lives and who bail on us a the first sign of trouble. We come out the other side of those times with a firm knowledge of those who stood by us and those who let us down. We understand who it is that picked us up and brushed the sand off and said,"I still love you" and those who walked away, or worse yet, those who gave us a kick as we lay in the arid dust. And as painful as it can be to discover these truths, they are invaluable as we grow into the person we are to become in life. It affords us the opportunity to surround ourselves with authentic love only and lessens the likelihood of our suffering alone in our next time of hardship.
In any , even the worse ones, we are given the choice of how to live it. I recently read the autobiography of Theoron Fleury, Playing With Fire , a Canadian hockey player who was abused sexually by a coach and grew to be a hockey superstar plagued by a need to mask his pain behind drugs, alcohol and multiple affairs that ended two marriages. When you get to the part in the book where he stops it's a very cliche quantum moment. He looked at himself in the mirror one night while in a lot of pain. Faced himself instead of running for a bottle. Stared the man he was in the eyes instead of running for the glow of cocaine or the arms of a stranger to help him through. Instead he went to bed.
That next morning he woke up and said, "it's gone." He no longer had the need for the obsessions he had had and now after 10 years he no longer drinks, does drugs and hasn't cheated on his wife again. He said in the book that he decided it was time to look the pain in the eye, face it down, and move on. So he did. Now he is clean, helping other men face their pain from similar situations and even better, he found joy and happiness in the pain he'd lived with his entire life. The pain is still there but he no longer suffers.
Every year at this time we feel we have the opportunity to resolve to change something at the beginning of this man made thing called a new year. It's a silly thing really when the true changes in our lives come with a decision made in the inspired moments of our lives when we learn a lesson that is gifted to us as we sit in the sand.
Perhaps this year I find an oasis. Or, perhaps this year I will spend some time in the desert. We never know these things. What I do resolve to do this year, is to look for the beauty in whatever landscape I'm gifted. To be grateful for those who hold my hand and walk with me and give a drink to those whose thirst is greater than mine. That is the best anyone of us can ever do.
< < <
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Loneliness is the curtain at her bedside
still because the breeze has gone away
Stale air is all her tired lungs inhale
On another stagnant, broken, empty day.
The mask is fastened on to reassure
Those who count upon a constant smile
While the heart beneath the façade of happiness
Would like its beat to stop for just a while
A hand is offered those who need a hand
A hug for those whose burden she now bears
A smile is lit for those who need some light
Meanwhile for her it seems nobody cares
Emptiness soon fills a giving self
when all there is to give has just been gifted
when one who gives the most is quite forgotten
weighed down by all the stones that she has lifted
Loneliness does not evade the happy
As cancer does not pick and choose its host
It often preys upon those less demanding
Who do not ask for much and give the most
Forgotten is the one who asked for nothing
Like a dying rose in a corner garden bed
Where sunlight fails to shine and rain fall land
though her fragrance is the sweetest ever shed.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
I know the sun will warm the earth
as it climbs into the horizon
I know the solstice sky will hold
the mystery of the full moon rising
I know the stars will sparkle high
over rocky shores and perfects Isles
I know the beauty of that ocean
will always bring remembering smiles
I know that flowers will bloom in gardens
where those that left us lie in rows
I know the nature of our essence
and I know that spirit never goes
I know the voice that speaks your name
and recognise the words as true
I know I have to wait and listen
for the song that sings of you
I know the joy of being present
and choosing this moment's happiness
I know its all we ever have
and I know eternal thankfulness
I know that all is as it should be
And I feel it deep inside my soul
I know that peace will come to you
and that is everything I know.
Here we are, just days from Christmas. People are shopping, wrapping, baking and stressing. I am not. I have not finished shopping. I haven't wrapped a single item. I haven't baked. I have 4 children and a grandson and a few others that I give to. And yet I am not stressed. I LOVE this time of year. No I don't have a lot of money and no my life isn't perfect, but holy, this is the season for GIVING! How cool is that?
I love giving gifts. I love when I find the perfect thing for someone I love when I know it'll mean something and usually that isn't the gift that costs a great deal of money, it's just some token that represents the relationship and is special to the person you give it to because of that.
As much as I love the idea of giving gifts for Christmas, I get the greatest satisfaction out of just giving for no good reason other than to make another happy. I'm an impulsive giver! I see a need and I check the bank account. I donate randomly, I don't have a particular cause other than my World Vision sponsor child in Senegal. Sometimes it's to a charity, often to a friend I know and occasionally to a stranger.
I have made a habit over the past few years of giving away money I find. Or as I often say, money that finds me. And for some reason, money does find me. If I find $20 or $5 somewhere I tuck it away, looking for the perfect place to donate. I found $20 in an old coat last week and it went to the Salvation Army Kettle at the mall for example.
I have learned a lot from random giving. A few months back I was in Toronto with a friend and I had a $5 bill that I'd found. I decided that I would give it to the first person I saw who needed it. It was well into the weekend and no one was to be seen, no homeless people, no donation boxes anywhere. We were about to enter a little store when a young girl, obviously strung out on drugs(or from the lack of drugs) asked if we had some spare change. Her voice was automatic, monotone, as though she really didn't expect anything but felt she had to ask. I reached into my pocket and handed her the $5. I will never forget the look on her face. It was a mixture of shock and wonder and surprise. She thanked me, stared at the blue paper bill in her hand as though it were a foreign object, and my friend and I went into the store smiling. She continued on, asking others for money. Eventually she came back into the store to plug in and charge her cell phone and I don't think she even recognised us as the ones who gave her the money.
There are those who would think that all I did was contribute to her drug problem. And I likely did, in that moment. I'm pretty sure she took that $5 and bought her next fix. But giving isn't about judging the receiver. It's about giving the gift. That young woman, whoever she is, may eventually clean up her act. Maybe she won't. But one thing is certain. She can always say that at least one person treated her with kindness, generosity and respect. Her validity as a human was never in question in my mind and making her happy in that moment was as important as making anyone on this planet happy in a given moment. I'm not here to judge humanity, I'm here to serve.
I have been given so many gifts in my life. Love, material things, healthy children, my own health and to make giving a habit seems to be a natural thing to do. I want to give everything I can to the ones I'm closest to, of course, particularly those whose Christmas isn't looking all that merry. Sometimes I can't fix things for that person but I find it helps me to deal with that frustration by helping someone else in their hard times. It gives a sense of usefulness and purpose when it's hard to find one.
I don't need presents myself. I have more than most of the world already. But if I could have one wish this Christmas it's that everyone of you who reads this, look around them and see who needs something. Give what you have to give. Perhaps it's a hug. A drive somewhere. A babysitter so they can do their shopping. An invitation to dinner. Some money to help with their financial stress. Anything at all. Give to them and you give to me. Give to them and you give to you as well. And carry the habit into the new year with you as a resolution.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Imagine you are strolling along one day with your soul mate, the person you love more than anyone in the world and an assassin murders him, shoots him in the back, right before your eyes. Imagine you cradle him and weep, your fear and disbelief as real as the blood that pools around you on the cold December sidewalk. Imagine your sorrow, your pain, your anger as the life leaves the body you adore in one fatal and final breath. Your screaming chisels your emotions into that bitter December air etching them on your soul as if they were the epitaph on a marble slab.
I always feel saddened on the anniversary of John Lennon's death. I feel the world was robbed of one of its geniuses and truly great minds but always, on this day, my heart tolls a sad slow rhythm for Yoko Ono, the woman who loved him so.
Their love was rare. Most never find it and some that do, waste it. Yes they were an odd couple, certainly they were unorthodox and imperfect but one thing was certain, they were completely and utterly in love. They spent every moment together. They supported each other, they took care of each other and they walked as one on the path they travelled together for just a few short years on this planet.
I imagine, deep in my soul, her sense of longing for him into the moments, hours, days, months and years that left her without the physical presence of John in her life but I also imagine he was beside her, living in her every thought, breathing in her every breath, his heart beating with her every heartbeat just as it did when he lived with her. I imagine John Lennon stayed nearby when he slipped out of his body, and still holds Yoko's hand as he always did. It's what I would do if I loved a person in life as John did Yoko and had to leave them suddenly.
Yes we miss John today. We always have the wonder of what might of been, the unwritten songs, the unspoken wisdom, the sense of loss on a world level, but my compassionate soul that recognises such transcendent love, aches mostly for Yoko, thirty years from that tragedy in New York City. You may say I'm a romantic(yes I just did that) and I wouldn't argue it at all. But I truly do believe that Yoko and John had one of those connections that was made before either of them were born and will last for all the forevers to come. One that you wouldn't believe in or understand until you found such a love.
Walk in Peace Yoko Ono. John still walks with you, today and always.
And below, my own personal favourite John Lennon song.
As a poet, it's hard to let this day go by. This day when we lost one of our greatest modern day poets, John Lennon, to an assassin's bullet. John Lennon said "Death is like getting out of one car and getting into another."
I imagine he's riding in luxury somewhere. Two of my favourites for you.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
I have a brand new iPod. A few weeks ago my old one disappeared so this week I bought myself a brand new one. It's a beauty. A classic with 180GB which is more than big enough for me.
I have been listening to all of my pod casts including my favourite, the Hay House Radio program, Excuses Begone with Dr. Wayne Dyer.
In the course of one of the shows he starts talking about forgiveness and during the conversations says to a caller "In order to forgive you must have placed blame. Who are you to blame anyone? Who are you to judge?"
It was probably the single most "light bulb" moment of my life. I have spent a lot of my time forgiving people. I try to understand and let go of the hurts they've caused me and I've also done the same to myself, taking the time to forgive myself for my mistakes, of which there are plenty.
But with that single phrase I realised what judgement there is to the idea that we should "forgive" someone. Inherent in that is the idea that you are superior to them in some way. And of course there are no superior humans, we are all equally fallible in action (though flawless in spirit).
So to forgive another human is to judge them. Every person's behaviour is a result of their perspective, their experience of life and their predisposition and personality traits. Who is to say that we would behave better than they would if we were tossed into their circumstances? Who is to say we wouldn't behave worse?
What I think what we humans need to focus on is compassion and empathy and love. We need to offer understanding and try to find peace in our situations and peace within ourselves for the hurts we cause others. Forgiveness in its regular sense is not necessarily what we need to offer.
Now I'm off to listen to my iPod some more.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
This is my Grandson Dante. I call him my prince. To him, I am Gigi. He is 4 months old and after 4 daughters, you can imagine what a blessing this beautiful boy is to our family. He is the light of our lives. I remember the instant he was born and it was the moment in my life that I knew I was comfortable with my own physical mortality, and in fact it was the first time I knew for certain that I was actually immortal. Now I do not mean I'm immortal in the sparkly vampire sense(and if you rip their heads off and burn them they die so they really aren't right?) but in the eternal life sense.
Often, when people learn they are to be grandparents it solidifies for them the destiny that we all face, that of our growing older and our eventual departure from this life. In my quest for purpose in life, and my thirst for knowledge, in all my work with people as a life coach, one of the most common fears I have encountered that of aging and dying.
Tied up in that is the very human tendency to be afraid of any change in our lives. Yet all life is change so to be afraid of it is to bicycle uphill constantly, working hard, exhausting yourself. It means never coasting along, taking the turns in the road as they come, and enjoying what's around the bend instead of fearing it.
My life has been a whirlwind of change lately and yet, I am exactly the same person I was six months ago. My spirit is the same, my essence is unchanged. I've learned some lessons, discovered some truths and I celebrate every dash of pain and every shake of hurt and most importantly every ounce of love that brought me to the realisation that the part of me that matters, the very core of me, the actual real self is forever.
I may change my behaviour, I may change in my physical appearance, I may get fatter, skinnier(highly unlikely), older, grayer, wrinklier and yet, I am still the same energy that sits here typing this post and that cried her first wails when she slipped into this crazy world in 1966.
And so I celebrate Dante and all the grandchildren and gray hairs to come. I celebrate the loves of my life, the joys of my life and most of all the changes that take place around me. And when things are difficult, when the bend opens to challenges and pain instead of ease I'll take my comfort from the fact that I, the essential me, no matter where I go, and what goes on around me remains constant. I also know that after this body is done and no longer able to support this spirit, I'll simply slip it off and head happily into the next great adventure.
All of us are on this same journey. Pull your children closer, celebrate your grandchildren, love the people who love you completely and openly and accept their love of you without condition or concern. Embrace your anger and hurt and feel your pain. Cry when you're sad. But when you are through, smile and laugh and love yourself, your true self. It's that spark inside of you that is the only thing in your life that is guaranteed to remain unchanged.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
After some scary moments I'm happy to report that Annette, my friend that I wrote about yesterday (See Here) is on the mend. After a serious cardiac episode after giving birth to twins, I'm happy to report that the ventilator is out and she was able to sit up and hold her beautiful babies, Matthew and Molly today!
She is pumping milk to maintain her supply though she cannot nurse them yet due to the medication they are on but knowing Annette as I do, her commitment will not wane and those babies will have their mama's milk in their tummies in no time!
Thank you everyone for your concern and healing energy and prayers. The magic worked and continues to do so.
She is pumping milk to maintain her supply though she cannot nurse them yet due to the medication they are on but knowing Annette as I do, her commitment will not wane and those babies will have their mama's milk in their tummies in no time!
Thank you everyone for your concern and healing energy and prayers. The magic worked and continues to do so.
It's been a bit hectic around here and of course I got behind after my tumble down the stairs that had me laid up for a few days. But some heavenly massages and lots of TLC from my loved-ones, and a couple of days of Advil Liquid Gels(I rarely take drugs but I have to admit these are my go-to pain relievers) and I'm on the mend. So I sat down and did my to-do list. It's not a typical to-do list, it's more like a list of things I'm involved in and have to work on.
Here it is in no particular order
1. Christmas Shopping~4 kids, 1 husband and a bunch of other people I love.(not fond of the shopping, love the giving)
2. Christmas other stuff~Decorating, setting up the tree..I love this part.
3. Assemble poetry collection~a little project I'm working on.
4. Write 2 hours a day for the new novel~not sure why I put this here..could replace it with breathing.
5. Clean~might skip this.
6. Cook daily~ordering pizza tonight.
7. Bake almost daily~homemade bread from my secret recipe. Christmas baking, pies etc.
8. Tutor at the school~filling in application right now
9. Tutor after school(1 student so far!)
10. News Reporting at Rogers~one of my favourite things to do!
11. See my cousin about some part time office work he has for me~$$$$
12. Prepare information about book I'm publishing with the local grade 2 students~they are writing it and selling it to raise money for charity~with some other parent's help I'm coordinating and publishing it through my newly formed publishing company
13. Run my newly formed publishing company
14. Various book signings and related promotional tasks~good reviews so far!
14. Run the Nutritional Snack Program at the school~moving to 4 days a week after Christmas!
15. Spend as much time with my family as possible~my favourite one and the most important one!
16. Look for opportunities to give~these show up.
17. Look for opportunities to help~these show up even more often.
18. Meditate~peace, love, kindness, compassion, healing and my specialty, magic.
You would think this list would have me exhausted but it doesn't. Every single thing on it has a purpose in my life. Except the housework thing. Well I'm sure it has a purpose, it's just not a priority one for me. And the last one helps me through all of the others. I cannot wait to get started.
What we have to do in our life isn't as important as the attitude we take as we go forward. With the jobs you're not so fond of, crank the tunes(AC DC right now for me) and get at it!
With the tasks that you love, jump in and enjoy!
And you can still crank the tunes!
Life is a blessing. Love every moment, live every moment, be in the moment!
But most of all be kind to each other.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Just putting it out there that if you have prayers, healing energy or any kind of magic at all can you direct some of it towards my friend Annette who is in an ICU?
Yesterday morning she gave birth to twin babies, Matthew and Molly who are completely healthy but mommy encountered some complications that are pretty serious. We have heard there is improvement and we're hopeful for a full recovery but still, a little extra collective magic can't hurt.
To Annette and the entire family. A large circle of love is all around you. Fast healing friend.
There are, of course, even more secrets in this one. Maybe some of them are mine! Maybe not!
If you haven't read The Secrets of Rare Moon Tickle, what are you waiting for? Order it or pick up that copy you've already got sitting there! Maybe it's time you dug into it, it just might be the escape you're looking for.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I started working on the novel again. I had it all planned. I've had the story for a year. The working title is The Tempters. It's been outlined for as long and begun several months ago. Then November came and I thought, yes, now it's time. So I started, announced it, and set up a facebook page. I'm sure it's a great story and then, BAM, new story walks into my life and says "write me."
It's not entirely new, it has been tugging at my sleeve for a while, asking for some attention, like a little child, not really annoying but difficult to ignore.
And, like most kids, persistance paid off and today I set up an outline for a brand new book, tentatively entitled "That Heart" and it is another love story in the vein of The Secrets of Rare Moon Tickle.
And errant wind blows this way and the muse rides its waves and I get pulled along and I've learned it's best to just go with the breeze, pun completely intended.
Wish me luck!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
How my fingers ache to touch the soft hair
at the edge of your neck
how my hands long to stroke the back of yours
linking our fingers in that ageless connect
How my self wants to dive into
your smiling eyes as they flash with enjoyment
and swim in the love you bestowed
with ease and abandonment
How my ears long to hear your voice
its tones familiar like the breath I breathe
the laughter from your lips I crave
like the some ancient past life need
How my legs longs to dance
in the silence of music and lyrics unwritten
in those arms that embraced me
those moments we were first smitten
How my soul craves the magic
of that time we loved like dreamers and poets
before life dropped its axe
and severed our love of its merits
How my heart sits here remembering
ever loving you, in spite of it all
enjoying memories of our past all the while
pretending life's axe didn't fall
I got a little off track recently, trying to hold on to something only to discover that what I was fearfully grasping at is as hard to hold in your hand as air. That thing was love and by doing so I thought I felt it start to slip away from me. It came to me hard and fast in meditation though, that I don't own love and that it is elusive and intangible and as easily gained as lost but only if you let it flow freely without constraint.
In considering why I was suddenly clinging to it I realised it was because of fear. I was afraid of losing it, of it going away. And by holding it in such a choke hold I could made it disappear, like those dollar store toys that slip from one hand to another when you squeeze them.
I also forgot, for a short while, to love myself first and foremost. In loving a person, I don't have to love all of their behaviour, particularly that which is hurtful towards me. That in becoming self reliant, while you share your life with others, you don't give it to them.
In the past I've touched on the idea that there are really only two emotions, love and fear. That all other emotions, happiness, anger, frustration, sadness often come from one or the other of these two.
In recent weeks I've been giving great consideration to this idea, both in my own life and how I've been conducting it lately and in the lives of those around me.
It as affirmed for me that a great deal of inertia, indecision and unhappiness stems from fear. People stay stuck in jobs they hate for fear of losing income, neighbourhoods they hate for fear of change and in relationships for fear of being alone.
Even within relationships people behave in ways to those they love in ways that are unfair and hurtful because of fear. They fear losing the person, censor by their friends, judgement by their families, anger from ex-spouses and a wide variety of other fear driven behaviours.
It often leads to stagnation in life, doing things the way you've always done them, though it's not worked in the past.
Then there is the other side, where I am happiest, living life from a place of love. In my world I love big and completely. I allow for the mistakes and follies of those I love though I do strike a good boundary in how I'll be treated by them. While I do get afraid, most times I am able to love enough to overcome any fear I have through meditation.
I love in such away that any person I love has the freedom to be who they are and live their lives as they wish. If they choose to do that in a positive and loving way I know their happiness is sealed. If they continue with fear and even try to love within the walls of that limiting emotion, often they find they end up having that which they are most afraid of happening, come to fruition.
Consider this applicable to all loves in our lives, that which we have for our parents, children, friends and yes, of course, our lovers too.
When within my heart, there is only love, fear disappears. You cannot love and be afraid at the same time. The truth is I've never had love go away. I've had people go away. I've gone away from people but I've never had a broken heart. This is because my heart can't be broken, its disappointments easily packed away in a place of acceptance. I still return all of the love that has ever been gifted upon me and know that more will come if I continue to carry on that way.
I'm human, I have many human moments but if I love you I will attempt to love you fearlessly. And if it suits your heart I'll leave you free to love as you please, whoever you please, and be happy for your joy in life as I'm happy for mine.
Monday, November 15, 2010
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Sunday, November 7, 2010
I loved this long day
with its bare breast poplars
and windswept smiles
I loved this long day
with its cold grass fingers and
infinite cloudless miles
I loved this long day
with its grinning breeze
and sightless meandering
I loved this long day
with the dancing air that
pirouetted into eve's surrendering
I loved this long day
with its sighing star scape
and waving gibbous moon
I loved this long day
that sat with me so long yet
walked away much too soon
Saturday, November 6, 2010
I, myself, have no desire whatsoever to go to a cabin in the woods. I hate being isolated and alone. I love human beings too much. But, even Thoreau was against the idea that the way he lived was the ideal for all and in fact he only lived in the cabin for 2 years and truth was, the cabin was in no way isolated, in fact it was just outside of Concord, Massachusetts, a bustling community that is famous for being the birthplace for many of the great American thinkers including the aforementioned Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott of Little Women and Nathaniel Hawthorne.
So by now most of you are going, "so what the heck is she on about today?"
The title of this post is "Eye to the Polestar" and I take it from this quote in the conclusion of Thoreau's book "Walden" about his time at Walden Pond.
"I would not have any one adopt my mode of living on any account; for, beside that before he has fairly learned it I may have found out another for myself, I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way, and not his father's or his mother's or his neighbor's instead. The youth may build or plant or sail, only let him not be hindered from doing that which he tells me he would like to do. It is by a mathematical point only that we are wise, as the sailor or the fugitive slave keeps the polestar in his eye; but that is sufficient guidance for all our life."
I'm a bit of an odd duck. I know it. I read things just because I want to. I make decisions that others think are strange, selfish, unorthodox and unrealistic. Somehow, oddly enough, I also adopted many of the ideals of Thoreau as my own before I'd ever read a word written by the man or about him. I have always believed in the importance of the individual above the group and that a truly independent person understands that the independence of others is equally as important as their own and that to be truly happy one needs to be, above all, self-reliant. That doesn't mean one doesn't desire emotional support, time in society, friends or family. It means that within those ties you are free to be exactly who you are. Spend time with exactly who you choose to spend time with and love those you wish to love.
The polestar referred to in Thoreau's quote above is not literally, the north star. In my estimation, he is referring to ones personal truth. I do not have to love the same music as you and you do not have to love the same as me. We each just need to know and be proud of that music we do love.
I have heard it said often that art is subjective. That what one finds beautiful and artistic is someone Else's bag for the dumpster. Isn't life subjective too? That frequently what one values the other finds invaluable? But all too often a person will choose to find value in something simply because those around them do. Money for example.
But, in all of that, respect for each others path is paramount. Thoreau said there should be all the different people in the world but that they all should follow their own way not the ways set out to them by others. I do find it ironic that there are those who call themselves "Thoreauvians" for how can one say they are following their own polestar if they are guided by the star of another? Even if that star is Thoreau's?
I have two younger children who I am raising to be independent thinkers, self reliant and individual. They did math worksheets all day yesterday because they wanted to. My 7 year old, without prompting, unloaded the dishwasher for me and both played independently without television or toys for hours. They are remarkable in their independence yet also in their ability to parse out appropriate social behaviour. If you met them they are not rowdy children, but they will express their opinions clearly and they are likely to disagree if yours are different. I'm not only OK with that, I'm thrilled.
I wonder how many of us would have an easier time if we had never been told that our path was wrong and allowed to develop our skills and talents as valid and important. Someone pondered online if it were more valuable to form unions for workers or to teach the workers how to live independent of industry and career. Lech Walesa or Henry David Thoreau? Who is the hero? Both? Neither? There is a question that might spawn some great debate!
It is important to study great thinkers like Thoreau, to solidify your own personal beliefs and to also learn what you don't believe. I am often amazed by how a conversation about my own ideas settles them further into my mind for me.
Meanwhile, someday I look forward to visiting Walden Pond, walking through Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and pondering the message of all of the transcendentalists and great authors buried there in Concord, Massachusetts. And I'll do it because I choose to, not because someone said that perhaps I should.
Friday, November 5, 2010
A couple of weekends ago I went to hear His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak in Toronto. What an incredibly moving and powerful day that was. His message so clear, so simple, so true. I feel truly humbled to have been a part of it. No other philosophy has spoken to me as clearly as Buddhism. I am not Buddhist. And like all of the other philosophies and religions of the world I take my truth and leave the dogma behind. Still of all of them, I've probably learned most about life from my study and practice of Buddhism.
Since that day I have spent a great deal of my time in thought about attachment. In Buddhism, it is said that it is our attachment to things that causes our suffering. Our attachment to outcome, personal belongings, our past, our bodies, anything that is outside of us. Indeed, even our attachment to the idea of self. That anytime you feel suffering you can look at what is causing it and directly trace it to an attachment to something. I do this frequently and it does give great insight. For example, is it the loss of a job that causes suffering or the attachment to what the money from that job can bring..security, things, the social part of working or indeed the entire package. Most people who have become unemployed end up better off long term in some way. It doesn't always change the emotional response but sometimes it helps make it more appropriate to the situation and it certainly has changed how I look at life. I see every job loss of my past as dumping me into opportunity. None of them has caused me any long term hardship and I certainly wouldn't be writing full time if I had stayed employed at any of them.
Inevitably though, in any discussion of attachment, someone asked the question, but what of love? Isn't it a normal human instinct to seek and find love, particularly in the form of relationships and attachment to a mate. And if so, how do we reconcile the idea on non-attachment with the idea of love itself. How can one love and not feel attachment.
So I've meditated and thought on this question taking into account changes in my own life, my loves, my past relationships and my current ones and even those yet to come. I've come to some conclusions that ring true for me.
Attachment is not what we need to be seeking. It's what we think we should look for but truly what we want, as humans with this great capacity for love, is connection. We want to find people to share our true selves with who don't run screaming once they hear our darkest thoughts, our past mistakes and our future foibles. We want people who accept us truly as the incredible spirit we are, not as the fallible human we exist as. We want to be judged fairly by our soul, not our behaviour.
This is what we want. What we first need to do is connect to ourselves in this way, forgiving ourselves our faults and striving always to be authentic to the soul you have to offer to the one you connect to.
The Dalai Lama said "Always see the human inside, not their actions." While I'm not perfect, I do look for the spirit inside and try to connect with that rather than attach myself to how a person should behave or has behaved in the past. This has served me well. For example, I know no negative people, I know no bad or evil people. I see good people everywhere. I see misguided choices from places and perspectives I cannot truly understand but accept as true for the person. Am I truly just attracting wonderful people or is it I just don't see the bad others see anymore. I don't know, all I know is that I love human beings and believe all of them are truly, at heart, good.
It all sounds wonderful but what does this look like in real life in a love relationship? Here are a few very odd and random questions. In your relationship or those you are fostering, are you focused on getting your love to propose or are you focused on taking care of him or her? Are you taking care of him or her in order to get him to marry you or love you or are you doing it because you love them and value all humans as worthy of love? Are you being yourself with them or are you afraid of showing your depths? Are you angry at your spouse because they didn't pick up their socks or are you smiling because yet again this person you love didn't pick up his socks? Are you attached more to the idea of his tidiness than connecting to his heart? Are you attached to behaviour or are you seeking a true heart to heart connection that transcends all the little attachments to what everyone tells you a relationship should look like?
Attachment to the idea of what a love relationship should be like is probably why they so often fail. What should always be the goal of both persons is to keep the connection. Allowing a person to his own mistakes, giving them the freedom to come and go and trusting your ability to deal with it if they choose the later is the most important aspects of non attachment you can practice. Meanwhile keeping a healthy dose of the same connection to your own soul so that you know when behaviour is at the extreme and unhealthy end of the spectrum. You can love a person and not want to live with their destructive behaviour. You can love a person and not want them as part of your life. This is perfectly fine and in fact, vital.
Unconditional love doesn't mean you sacrifice or endanger your well being for someone who isn't capable of returning that love, it means loving them from wherever the safest place for you is. Because you need to have unconditional love for yourself as well. Perhaps you are connected with one whose lifestyle isn't something you can live with. Or they are violent or controlling or addicted to something. Are you attached to the idea that you must live in the same home with the person you love? Have them actively in your life. Perhaps you can be happy with an alternative arrangement and maintain connection more easily without the trappings of domesticity getting in the way.
Without that connection it is still possible to be happy in an exclusive love relationship with someone. Yes, you will be able to get along but don't be surprised if eventually the desire for that connection becomes intense. It is often like a hunger and almost as strong as the urge for food. You may not die without it but you feel you can't fully live. Ideally you reconnect. But that takes two and if you don't it may be time to decide how important to your life this connection is. For me it's vital.
You can fill the need for it with friends and family and work and fun but still the desire to connect with that special person who gets you on every level is intense. It is certainly possible to live a completely fulfilled life without it. I've known many happy single people who aren't looking for it. That's not what I'm saying.
What I'm saying is, if this is who you are, and this connection is important to you, beware not to drive it away with attachment to the trappings that society sets down as the norm. So when it does show up embrace it but don't attach to it. Let it evolve and let it be what it is. Enjoy its magic and revel in it. Don't make demands on it and it will evolve always into what it's supposed to be for exactly as long as it's supposed to. I think that this applies to every other relationship in your life. To your children, your parents, your friends without the burden of expectation. It changes how you deal with people and how they relate to you and for the better.
Detach and connect. Give unconditional love. To all humanity and to yourself. And the love and connection you are looking for will find you. The first book I read by the Dalai Lama was called "The Good Heart". I've often said the title of the book was enough. All we need is to look for the good heart in people and we'll be on the good path. If you didn't read the poem I wrote recently called That Heart, read it here. Absolutely nothing about picking up socks in it, I promise.
Friday, October 29, 2010
That heart that beats the gentle melody is
the most prized possession I do not own
and it holds me entranced and empowered
I want to cushion it with cotton batting
hold it gentle and prevent it being further crushed
by the cruel hurts that this bitter world showered
That heart that taps its song into my ear
as I lay against it warm and safe
gives me the gift of letting me be all and only me
I want to wrap it with plastic bubble wrap
or fold my hands over this precious gemstone
leaving just enough space so that it still beats free
That heart that whispers I love you
into the silent space between its lulling beats
has made a love so real and strong
I want to enclose it in the soft strong love
that lies within in this heart of mine
so that our hearts play only one sweet song
That heart that pumps the life into the veins
and moves you into the space next to me
that propels you on our journey's start
I want to envelop with gentle sighs
and the whispers of love and forever and destiny
so you know how great my love is for that heart
This morning someone who I was quite close to at one time said something very hurtful to me. I understood that it came from a place of anger but still, the sting was the same, the disappointment and pain were real and deep. I set some very firm boundaries with the person to protect myself and then I retreated after to sit quietly for a short while to meditate on how to get past it. The answer came to me simply and quickly. "What can you do to make someone else happy today?"
I had a day out alone planned, to do some shopping for Halloween and my five year old daughter's birthday party tomorrow. I made it my plan to watch for the opportunity to do something special for someone else. Even the thought of it changed my focus from my own hurt, to something positive to look forward to.
While eating I recieved a text from my oldest daughter. Her dad was suddenly in town and could I get in touch with my second oldest daughter because she hadn't seen him in almost 4 years due to some personal problems that made it impossible for him to be in their lives. Immediately upon finishing my one firm commitment in town I set off to the school to pick her up. She didn't come to the front and I called a second time only to see her walking around the school building. She looked at me, confused. I smiled big(didn't want her to think something was wrong or that she was in trouble) and motioned for her to hurry. Her eyes when I told her where we were going will forever be etched in my brain. If you could bottle pure joy I could have filled cases with it at that moment. She was alight. She said "I'm going to see my daddy?" She's sixteen.
So off we drove..a little too fast because his time was limited..and he was outside when I got to my older daughter's place. She jumped out of the car and landed in his arms. I took the baby from his mommy(my older daughter) and she too went to hug them, the reunion too sweet for her to not be part of it.
I then thought, time to take pictures. As I was taking the pictures my daughter asked me to stop. She said she was crying. Her father said "Don't worry, daddy is crying," and I added "and mommy is crying too."
It was quite an emotional reunion and I left them all there together, alone, my precious girls with the man who had hurt them so much in the past with his absence from their life. As I left, he said to me, "Thank you."
As I was driving it struck me suddenly, what a huge favour he had done me as well as the girls. He had validated that I had done the right thing first of all, by doing the work to make sure it happened before it was too late. It would have been all to easy to justify not doing it. I had to take her out of school, drive to get her, drive back quickly interrupting my own plans for the day and I could have thought, "tough on him."
It also stamped out the negative comment of the morning, one that indicated that I wasn't a person who put her children first. My heart knows that I do yet, I think I almost believed it-for a moment. Then I realised, just because occasionally I do something for myself, make decisions that sometimes benefit me and my life, and just because I don't always do what is "right" in the eyes of others, it doesn't mean I don't put my children first. It means I am human too and I get to be treated with the dignity and respect I deserve. I get to be happy too. A happy woman is a better mother plain and simple. I am raising daughters and I want them to look to me as an example of how to live life on their own terms and how to be strong. The best way I can do this is to set the example by living my own life that way.
A while ago I told someone, I would die for my children but that doesn't mean they get to live my life and I stand by those words. There is a balance to be struck. And I am grateful for the lesson today. I have set boundaries, I have gained strength and I have ended the day with happiness. I turned it around instead of getting bogged down. And it made all the difference and the proof is in the happy tear-filled eyes of my girls above. And in the happiness their dad felt at being given yet another chance. All of it made it worth the small effort I had to make and it also increased my own happiness. Find a place of joy for Joy begets joy. Then go there as often as possible.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I don't keep notes. I generally find that the good ideas come back to me and the ones that don't, well, they probably aren't that great.
Once again I fell into my old habits. I started to doubt. I thought maybe I should start writing more things down. I felt frustrated by the lack of ideas. So I took a moment to breathe, to think and that feeling didn't last for long. Lucky for me, I'm not much of a wallow-er. Instead I took some time to think quietly about things. See if there were reasons why I couldn't create, couldn't remember and it didn't take long to figure it out.
Certainly life has been crazy this month. I was so ready to get back to work on the new book, printed the manuscript, needed to live with it again for a awhile and with the start of school I thought for sure I'd have time.
But September has not been peaceful. One daughter sick, then a second one. A third daughter not adjusting well to early nights and early mornings and then of course, the chaos of just being a large family with only me at home to shuffle everyone everywhere they need to go. A grandson to spend time with.
But now, here I sit in an empty house. Well, there are two dogs, mine and my daughter's friend's boxer puppy(oh yeah, I have a boy living here now, trouble at home, needed a place, brought his dog.) so not entirely alone but it's quieter than usual. Nothing comes. No muse, no inspiration, just silence.
Not even a poem in my brain, not a thought on demons and angels(new book), nothing but rain splatters against the window and a great cup of coffee made from some excellent west Africa beans and Red, my precious laptop.
And now I'm thinking that's not a bad thing.
In the hectic moments, in chaos we are forced by circumstance to stand in the moment and be present. To do what needs to be done. In the quiet moments we often drift into thinking of all that we should be doing, worrying about the expectations and responsibilities of the next.
So I end up with this go nowhere post. So what? I know the rest will get done. I know I'll write a blog post here one day that will blow your socks off. But for now, this is exactly what I'm supposed to write.
We get so caught up in what we ought to be doing we forget to just be at peace with where we are. I am so relaxed in this moment, so content, so exactly where I am supposed to be and I'm giving it my full attention just as I am forced to give my full attention to the hectic moments.
Everyone understands about good moments and bad moments. I am thinking perhaps we need a few indifferent ones too, to recharge, to regroup and strengthen our spirit, like laying on the floor prone after a workout. It's usually the best part.
So I'm off to enjoy my coffee and my silence. I hope you enjoy your day.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Is this the moment?
Is this the moment before you step
into the abyss of next
from this place of now here to no where?
Is this the moment before you take
your last breath
and leave for that place you fear?
Is this the moment before you hear
your heart's last beat
and become the silent corpse?
Is this the moment before you
discard this body
and slip into the place where chronology warps?
Is this the moment before you say
with your final breath
those words that will remain?
Is this the moment when
your human voice
sings it's last refrain?
Is this is the moment before you join
the energy of the universe
and die that common death?
Is this the moment you know
no answer marks the heart that
trembles within your unknowing breast?
Is this the moment that you waste
with worried eyes
and fearful melancholy wails?
Is this the moment that you
stumble through with wrinkled brow
and pain-chewed finger nails?
Is this the moment that you hold
and live in joy
with happy blissful smile?
Is this the moment that
you celebrate the blooming flowers
and the heartfelt kiss of a child?
Is this the moment you understand
that life is love
and to live it tall?
Is this the moment where you finally know
there is nothing else you have
and that this one moment is your all?