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Ten Thousand Days

Ten Thousand Days

Make A Plan

September 30, 2020

Photo: Daniele Levis Pelusi

Day 2223 – Day 2237

Life just sometimes F’s with your plans.  It’s not like I’m a natural at planning, in the first place.  However, I have had to work hard to learn to work with a values-based time management and life goals plan.  Now, when life comes along and drops a bomb in those plans, I get thrown off balance, despite being someone who naturally likes spontaneity.

Last time I wrote, I was deeply disturbed by an assault on some children that I witnessed.  I’ve reached out to people I know in child protection and learned that I basically did all that I could, save for finding a way to report the man to the police for assault.  It is a huge problem that is happening right now for all vulnerable groups who are forced into more restricted isolation with their abusers.  I’ve looked into volunteering with the Child HelpLine in Canada and while there is a backlog of processing volunteers, my interest in children’s human rights and child protection is long standing and isn’t going to go anywhere.  There will come a day when the organization needs more volunteers.  I have offered my services as a researcher, given that I have a Master’s degree specializing in Child Poverty and Children’s Human Rights.  We will see where that goes.  I am patient and I want to find a way to use my skills and experience to better the lives of children.  If it can’t be in Canada, well, remote working means that I can volunteer my research skills just about anywhere.

I’m behind in writing and I’m behind in posting to YouTube.  The thing is that sometimes life throws up curveballs and we look to our values and reprioritize our plan.  This past week, I’ve had to deal with a lot.  Right now, I’m really tired and in need of a good amount of solitude to process it all.  I hope that I get more than a temporary breather in the onslaught of unexpected crises.

Today the sun is shining and it is going to be another scorcher.  This glorious weather seems quite unusual for essentially the first of October, but I do remember kayaking two years ago on thanksgiving, wearing nothing more than a swimsuit and a t-shirt so who knows what kind of autumn we will have.  I would love a sunny but mild autumn as I’ve started walking 1.5 to 2 miles every evening with a friend, and it is nicer to do when it isn’t scorching hot.  Still, I’m grateful for the weather and for my friend who keeps me company.  I’m also grateful that the season of gardening is coming to an end.  I’ve pulled out a lot of plants but my winter squash, kale, collards, leeks and Brussel sprouts will remain.  The kale and collards might even last me right through the winter.  But constant care will be finished soon and I will retreat into the cave that is my painting studio.  I’m itching to paint and I have been for a couple of months, now.

I have decided not to participate in a couple of group shows.  I’m not interested in painting to their specifications.  I’m working on a body of work and I don’t have any interest in painting anything much smaller than 24 inches x 24 inches.  I’d like to start working on very large pieces.  I’m looking forward to these projects this winter and I’m grateful that I have my artwork and creative projects to stimulate me in the long dark winter that will inevitably see increased pandemic restrictions.

There are several videos that I know I need to make.  I’m simply too tired to record them at the moment but I will.  I’m hoping to have a couple posted this week, but you know how to make God laugh, right?

Make a plan.

 

Photo: Daria Nepriakhina

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

 

Ten Thousand Days

We Don’t Beat Our Children Here

September 15, 2020

Photo: Annie Spratt

Day 2211 – Day 2222

I wrote this post on the weekend and lost it.  Maybe I’m not supposed to be writing about it but I think it is important to put out there.

Last week I went to buy a pair of waterproof walking shoes from a shop that I know fits hard to fit feet.  I have wide feet and so I struggle to find shoes that fit.  When I need a pair of good walking shoes or jogging shoes, this store in the city, close to my old University is where I go.  They have specialists who will look at how you walk and find the shoe that will be best for you and your sport.

When I was finished, I decided to go for a walk along the beach that surrounds my Alma Mater.  As I was nearing the end of my beach stroll, I came upon a father and two teenage girls.  One was probably somewhere between 10 and 13 and the other was easily 14 or older.  The younger one started to cry and I heard the father shout at the older girl:

“Well, you kicked her earlier, you IDIOT!”

I stopped in my tracks, the observer, ready to step in if things escalate.

As soon as I stopped, the father kicked the older girl in the gut, punched her on the arm and pushed her so hard that she nearly fell into the brambles several feet behind her.  It all happened so fast.

“Whoa, Whoa! That’s enough!  Relax!” I said to the man.

“She hit her sister!” He said.

“She is also a child!” I replied.

The man continued to argue with me as to whether she should be able to get away with hitting her younger sister.  I reasoned with him that children misbehave and that is part of being children.  But, it is our job as adults to set the example and act as adults.

And as adults, we don’t beat our children, here, I said.

It all happened so fast and I wondered if I should call the police but I knew that this family would be long gone before they arrived.  I watched the two girls stare in awe that someone had intervened in their private family moment but what the father had not counted on was that his private family moment was happening in public and he was going to happen upon me.

“Oh, so you have someone on YOUR side,” he jeered, directing the comment to the elder of his daughters.

“I am on the side of the children.”  I said.

Unhappy with being outnumbered, I suppose, the father ordered his children to walk onward.  I was helpless and I told the girls: “You can call ChildLine if you are ever in trouble.”

I knew that if he was willing to kick and punch his daughters in public, the daughter was in for a beating when she went home.  I felt sick and utterly helpless.

Normally, I find that aggressive men will beat an adult partner in public but this was the first time I had actually come upon a physical assault on a child in public.  Had I had my wits about me, I would have reasoned with him that children learn from our example and if he wanted to teach the children not to kick and hit one another then kicking and hitting them was not the solution.  Punishing them by cutting off the internet for a few days would be appropriate.  I would have asked him if he needed a break to calm down and I would watch the girls.  Maybe I would have followed him to see if he had a vehicle that I could report to the police and testify to witnessing the assault.  There are many things I could have done, had I had my wits about me.

I studied Children’s Human Rights and Child Poverty in my graduate degree.  I knew that in some countries, corporal punishment is still acceptable.  In the country where I live, it is acceptable to spank your child provided that they are older than 2 and younger than 12.  Beyond that, hitting them is criminal.  Kicking, punching and shoving, however, is not spanking and it was clearly criminal, what this man was doing.

I felt very helpless as the family walked swiftly away.  I’m certain I’m not the only person to have ever felt this way.  I suppose it is why many people just simply choose not to get involved.  Nothing changes.  Maybe we make it worse.

But, I am grateful for one thing.  I know the young man who assisted the founder of ChildLine.  I know about this crisis line for children because I studied in a field related to child protection and advocacy.  I knew enough to tell them the name and if they googled it, they would find this country’s version of the children’s crisis line.

I needed to do more and so as I walked back to my car, I greeted everyone who passed me with good wishes and I chatted to a woman who was learning again to ride a bike.  I had to put some good energy out into the universe to counter the horrible cloud that had puffed up around this man and spread out along the beach.  I am grateful that when I got home, I was able to look up the laws in my city so that I would be better prepared should this happen again.

Recently, there have been many news reports of children as young as 6 years old being taken into custody for having a temper tantrum in school.  Tantrums are not acceptable but they can be a symptom of problems at home and are frequent at certain developmental ages.

I was the only person who came to the aid of those two young girls on that beach. In some states in the USA, it seems that developmental challenges in children is being criminalized.  We are failing our children if we think that as childless adults, or adults who are not parents to these children, we are not responsible for their welfare.  The best interests of the child should be the central organizing principle in all matters concerning minors. The UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child lays that out in no uncertain terms.

I can’t let this incident pass without comment.  I am grateful that I’ve had time to think of some other strategies to use if a situation like this arises again.  I will have better reasoning skills.  I will know right away to talk to the children directly about resources.  I will know to find some identifying feature and to call the police.  I am grateful for this lesson.

I have more to learn and in the weeks to come, I will be reaching out to social worker friends who are in the field of child protection and I will ask them for additional strategies.  I will be looking for ways to contribute my time to child protection and advocacy, as a volunteer.  We are a civilized society and civilized people who work to build a civil society in which everyone is safe and can thrive.  A big part of that is that we do not beat our children, here.

 

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

Flight Path

September 3, 2020

Photo: Garry Bendig

Day 2202 – Day 2210

My apartment sits in the flight path of thousands of geese.  Every August, I begin to feel the familiar melancholy of the end of the Canadian summer and the oncoming gloom of the rains.  What heralds this change is the sight of geese, flying in formation over my deck.  Lately, I’ve wondered if the geese are drunk.  They fly in formation, heading west.  Then a formation returns a half an hour later, heading south, south-east.  A few times the warm air has deceived them into flying north.  I sit with my coffee on my deck, or working at my desk by my 10-foot living room window, watching and wondering at how they are a metaphor for life.

Whenever change is approaching, I feel it.  Sometimes I feel it for a year before it happens.  Change has certainly taken us all by storm this year, but what I’m talking about is inner change and the outward manifestation of moving house across the world, starting a new career, falling in love, or embarking on an advanced degree.  All of these are choices that we make, when we are ready to make them.  Before we are ready, we might feel like the drunk geese, flying in circles, trying to float on the updrafts and feel the currents that will take us to our next destination.

From my last post, you might think I’m sworn off love.  That is not true.  I certainly have a strong focus on the love of the Divine and I’m a crazy romantic who loves love.  I think that what I am doing, however, is slowing down and watching the updrafts that tend to push me in particular directions.  I’m slowing down and looking for south.  I’m trying to feel for the currents that will take me to the man who wants to be challenged to be his best self; the currents that will take me to the man who will inspire and challenge me to be my best self and who will love me and be committed to working together with me to grow from the ways in which we will inevitably trigger one another as we stretch to develop ourselves and to reach our full potential – financially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.  Right now, all I am is a drunken goose flying in circles and waiting for that certain moment when I will know the direction and then – only then – will change manifest.

Friends who have known me for years will know that my life often takes them by surprise.  Suddenly, I will announce that I’m moving across the world – next week.  They will attest to the fact that maybe I’ve pondered something for up to a decade, and they never thought it would happen.  What wasn’t apparent was that I was waiting for the defining moment.  Some moments never come and all that pondering was just wondering.  But when that defining moment comes, it is fleeting and I’ve learned to grab that updraft and fly.   Yes, life can take a decade for change to manifest.  I’m hoping that this flight pattern I am in will change soon.  I’m hoping that I will be able to see my way of being in a relationship manifest in a profoundly changed way.  I have certainly been doing my own inner work for a very long time.

Recently, I had – I’m not sure what to call it – a falling out (?) with a man that I care about.  The exact nature of that caring is a bit nebulous as I don’t really know him.  But I do care about him; that is certain.  He has dream-walked with me many times, but after this thing happened between us, he only speaks to me, in my dreams, through his friends.  In waking life, there has been an uncomfortable vibe between us and after a few weeks, I decided to take space.  When I did, the vibe got worse.

He dream-walked again, during the time when I took space.  This time, I was in a foreign prison and he was the warden.  He appeared as a wild-haired version of himself speaking a language that I know was a signal that this dream was “important” emotionally, and spiritually.  In the dream, he shouted at me.  For infractions I had not known that I had committed, and that I did not even know were considered “infractions,” I was condemned to a slow death; ostracized to live out the rest of my days alone on the rooftop, with no shelter.

Since I was a child, I have vowed to never be the prisoner of any relationship or any man.  As an adult, I would add that this applies even to my own shadow masculine self.  The inner masculine is goal directed and active.  He protects the feminine.  The shadow masculine is destructive and abuses power.  Since I had this disturbing dream, I have been working on inviting the shadow masculine to be a part of my life in a creative way.  I’ve been looking for ways to work with power in affirming ways.

I decided to write a letter to the dream walker so that I could put to rest this disagreement.  It carries apology for my part, forgiveness for his, and a purposeful statement of my own value and my own expectation of mutual respect.  It might seem small but it is a shift in the wind and currents of my life.  I am always the peace maker but I make peace by taking on the entire burden of a situation, without setting my boundaries.  That was what was required, in ancient dynamics but it has kept me a prisoner, perched on the roof, unable to fly.

Things in flight are changed the moment it takes flight in a chosen direction.   The place we leave will forever be changed by our absence but the destination remains unchanged and full of potential until that thing, which is in flight, has landed. Through the act of making amends and forgiving, I am free of my prison and have taken flight.  What happens to the warden, when my letter lands, is in his hands.  I care for him and so I pray that he finds a way to release himself from that prison of resentment or fear or whatever he has used to construct it.  Perhaps he will choose to fly with me to a new destination, but if he cannot, I hope he finds his freedom, nonetheless.

I’m grateful for the lessons of nature and for the metaphor they afford me as I sit, watching.  I could have easily flown west or north as I have, in the past, only to find I need to correct my course, never truly finding the direction I need.  I am aloft, and even as the calendar brings change to the natural world, I glide, patiently, waiting for the currents in the air to show me which direction is south and the destination where I will find my new home.

 

Photo: Ian Cumming

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

 

 

 

Ten Thousand Days

When Life Was Measured in Moons

August 25, 2020

Photo: Guzman Barquin

Day 2194 – Day 2201

This past full moon, I was out on the water in a kayak.  I had the experience of a lifetime, getting to see bioluminescence at night.  We paddled a lot and it was hard for me because I’m not able to engage my core in the way that I normally do.  For all the distance we covered, I would have been content to simply paddle to the nearest dark cove and spend the night enchanted by the bioluminescence that my own hands created, as I moved through the water.  I felt like I was made of pure electricity – and of course I am.

We often forget the magic that we are.

I thought about a time two or three years ago when my heart was so broken that all I could do was mark time in lunar cycles.  Each time I saw the full moon, it gave me comfort that time passes and things can change.  Eventually, we can feel differently.  The tides didn’t carry me as quickly as I wanted, but they did carry me onward.

By the time that I was in hospital, fighting for my life, a year ago, I had come to really grasp that life was magical, that I had magic in me (we all do) and that life is precious.  I would never waste my time or energy like that again.  I would never let myself fall in love so deeply that he could break me.

Never again would I let my life be measured in moons.

When that relationship first ended, I had said I would never fall in love again.  It was the first time I had ever sworn off love and it didn’t sit well with anyone in my life.  Love is my spiritual path, after all.  Love is the magic that is within me.  But, I nearly died of a broken heart for that love.  No, I meant it.

Some time ago, I realized that I had a magnetic draw towards someone.  It was around the time that I started seeing number patterns everywhere.  I joked that he must be my twin flame.  The joke was on me.  As much as I don’t want to, as much as I resist – and I resist with a force that would shatter steel – I love him.

Of course, twin flame love is not easy love.  He kicks my butt, stomping over my emotional buttons and I know I’ve hurt him.  He is a man that I don’t really know, but he wears walls like they are a comfortable garment, and there was a time when there was just a narrow hedge between us and we could smile and wave at one another over the top of the hedge.  Now, it is a brick wall and it has the feeling of impenetrable permanence.  No amount of love or light that I can beam at that wall feels like it can ever penetrate it.  I am learning to love him unconditionally, as I see him in my mind’s eye, sitting on the other side of the wall, turned away, in sadness, wanting to be loved and keeping me out.  Maybe when I am dead and gone, he will remove a single brick and look out for me, never to find me, in this lifetime.

I want to be loved by someone, in return.  I’m not going to stand at anyone’s wall trying to break through. My energy and my magic is too precious, and I deserve to be loved. So, I am leaving a note of unconditional love pinned to the wall, and carrying on. Twin Flame love is not for the rookie.

Why did I hurt him?  Because I have my own wall that appears when somebody makes sudden changes in the way they behave towards me.  I have a hard time trusting the authenticity of it.  “Gently, gently” is what I need.  I stay away from Red Flags; My trust needs to be earned.  I will never love that vulnerably, I will never let anyone hurt me so deeply, and my life will never be measured again in moons.  And yet, I do, I am, and life is.  Love, real unconditional love, is not for the rookie heart.

Last week we had a new moon and I set my healing intentions on it.  I love a man who, it seems, will never be trusting (or trustworthy, because the two go hand in hand) and to whom I am eternally bound.  There is another man who is kinder to me than anyone I’ve ever known.  He quietly takes care of me and asks nothing in return.  He protects me and gently cares for me and maybe, in time, I can open my heart to him.  I’m really not sure.

Two men pulling in different directions.  I am pulled to the one who repels me and pulled toward the one I keep at arm’s length.   I’m not able to navigate this crazy mess of human love.  All I can do is love unconditionally and hope I can pull up anchor.  I’m just letting the cross-currents of these two men turn me in a gentle circle, towards my own heart, like a dervish turns to her Beloved.  There lies the path of True Love.  While I gaze at the stars, I try to find a new way of navigating this lifetime: one with an awareness of the moon’s pull, but one which plots a course that follows the stars.  Sure, I’m grateful to be cared for by one man and for the difficult lessons that the other man brings.  I’m grateful to have the chance to be on the water and in the water and to witness my own magical luminescence.  There is a time for oneness with another and maybe one day I’ll get it right, but now is the time to witness and wonder at where I am meant to go, and to follow the stars where they will guide me.  The story of love begins with loving my own way home, plotting a course through my own broken heart.

 

Photo: Blake Carpenter

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Gratitude, Love, Milestone, Ten Thousand Days

6 Years of Gratitude

August 17, 2020

Photo: Natasha Welingkar

Day 2193

What a year this has been!  As always, this anniversary sort of crept up on me.  I knew it was coming but this time of year seems to always be so busy that I never find the time to sit down and plan anything special.  It was a miracle that I managed to plan a party for my first year anniversary.  I am sure that I would not have managed it if it had not been for the gentle prodding of friends.

I like birthdays and last year’s 5-year marker was a big one.  I spent the first half of year 6 just being grateful to be alive.  Little did I know that 2020 would bring a string of news stories that would make me want to crawl into bed for at least the rest of the year.  In the end, I’m still grateful for the same thing: to be alive.

I had been struggling with a sense of boredom when, this past year, I hit another milestone and it was a daunting one.  I passed the 2,000 day mark and having spent 1/5 of the time to which I had committed, I wondered: what have I really achieved for the cause of gratitude, in this time?  In this past year, I have started a YouTube channel and I have been creating gratitude related content on a regular basis.  That trial by fire was a great way to get rid of boredom.  But it is hard to measure impact when the goal is simply to practice for a certain number of days.  Measuring impact is something I will be giving some attention in the coming year.  There is no way to increase impact (except by a fluke of luck) without measuring it.

During this past year, it also became clear to me that I am being called to write the stories of love.  I don’t mean some Harlequin romance novel.  I mean that I am being called to bring love to the forefront of my gratitude practice.  I think I struggled with this idea, initially, because I had been burned by love.  But, one terrible romance cannot get in the way of a whole way of being that is at the centre of my spiritual life.  And so, I am being called to bring my spiritual path of love to the gratitude table.

I thank you for 6 great years together and I hope that you will continue into the 7th year and an exploration of gratitude and love, together.

Photo: Carolyn V

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

 

Ten Thousand Days

In the Shadows that Are Not Shadows

August 15, 2020

Photo: JR Korpa

Day 2179 – Day 2191

My mother comes to visit, in the shadows that are not shadows.  I see her in the space behind me, out of sight but not out of sense.  She comes when I’m in trouble.  I know that she has something to tell me.  This time, I can’t focus to listen.

I feel guilty that for two years now I have not taken her with me, on an adventure, to remember her on the day she died.  Last year, I was fighting for my life.  This year, I was trying not to remember how close to joining her I came.  Denial never works for long.

And she is here this week.  This week when all the medical tests that have been postponed over and over again finally happened.  This week when one of the remaining surgical procedures that I needed has happened.  This week when I’ve spent days wandering a fog-filled landscape somewhere between waking and sleeping.  This is the week she appeared.

I spoke to her as I descended into a physical detox of suffering and shaking and told her: talk to CMF (1000 miles from me), because I am in no state to try to walk the spirit world.  Tell him what it is I need to know.  He will hear you.

She talked to him, and he heard her simple message.  It was a message that I knew.  There was no need to hear it.  From the shadows that are not shadows, it was there, in my consciousness already.

My mother comes to me when I’m in trouble.  My spirit was vulnerable this week – a week that was far more physically toxic than I had ever imagined it would be.  And my mother protected me, as only a mother will.

Sometimes it doesn’t take 3 things for which we are grateful or a moment of joy and oneness to know how blessed we really are.  Sometimes it just takes a visit from a mother who has been gone from this earth, for nearly twice as long as I had her in the flesh.

Photo: Guille Pozzi

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

My Quota is Filled

August 2, 2020

Photo: Jezael Melgoza

Day 2174 – Day 2178

“My quota of nonsense has been filled.  If you have nonsense to share with me, you’ll have to queue up for the next life.”

Someone said this is the attitude that I give off, lately.  To be fair, it is the attitude I tend to give off,  in a business setting, whenever I am met with nonsense.  I don’t suffer fools gladly, which makes me rubbish at sales.

If crisis and complex emergency teaches us anything, it is that, in a world of finite resources and challenging logistics, we need to establish what is the quota of stock we can store for the needs of ourselves and our charges, how much warehouse space we can spare for scrap stock, and how we will distribute the most valuable resources.   In good times and in bad, if we are to achieve what it is we came here to do, if we are to have a fulfilling life and to leave a legacy, then we must ration our physical resources, our time, our attention and our effort.  Love – we have that in plenty.  But when we ration the other things, where we spend our love gets focused as well.

My mother was the kindest and most tolerant person I’ve ever known and I developed those qualities through her example.  These are great qualities and I would never want to lose them.  What she didn’t really teach me, however, was how to recognize and minimize the nonsense of the time-wasters or how to recognize and back a good investment.  We don’t always have the ability to discern which will be a good investment, in the long run, but there are some criteria we should apply to our decision-making process.

We want to give where we feel there is some possibility of seeing a satisfying return.  If we’re talking about a relationship, there is nothing worse than finding yourself in the position of doing most of the work to initiate or perpetuate a bond between two people. If there is anything worse, it occurs when all they bring is scrap.  I’ve come to the conclusion that it is better to spend time alone than to spend time with someone who does not invest, valuably, in me.  I have often found that the best investments I’ve ever made have been those that I’ve made in myself.

If, however, we are talking about where we’d like to spread generosity, I look for those who are as willing to invest value into themselves as I am to invest in them.  A key value in my work-life is to develop others and there is nothing more soul destroying than to invest in someone who is dedicated to self-sabotage.

Maybe it was my brush with death last year.  Maybe it is this global pandemic and economic crisis.  Maybe it is one too many exhausting relationships.  Whatever it is, I’ve reached my quota of nonsense and I have no more tolerance for it.  My focus is on the fair and wise distribution and deployment of the assets in my warehouse.

I’m grateful for that wonderful observation that has given me a useful image to call to mind, whenever I am tempted to squander my resources.  I’m grateful for the gifts my mother bestowed on me so that I have valued resources to share.  I’m grateful that I have reached my limit.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

Rusted Sentiments

July 28, 2020

Photo: Kevin Noble

Day 2167 – Day 2173

I was doing some research into search terms and found that the biggest hits on YouTube for gratitude were 5 or more years ago.  And yet, the world is still full of unhappiness, discontent and loneliness.

I also notice that the things that people seem to pay attention to are not simple and effective tools.  We’ve become so conditioned to highly produced television and film, immersive entertainment experiences and virtual reality that everything must be ‘packaged’ in order to sell.

I have mad respect for some of the non fiction gurus like Brené Brown and Simon Sinek and I notice Brené has the magic of taking home-spun truths and making them pithy and memorable, with catch phrases and acronyms.  Simon Sinek does the same with unexpected word combinations and grand sounding concepts that are essentially ancient wisdom wrapped up in LED lights.

LED lights are just a distraction.  Gratefulness is free.  Gratefulness is easy.  Gratefulness is transformative.

Nobody is searching for ‘gratitude.’  What surprised me more, when I did some research this morning, is that nobody seems to actually be searching for ‘happiness’ either.

If not happiness, what, then are people seeking?

Gratitude is an old-fashioned word.  You might call it a rusted sentiment.  I studied marketing in college, and I’m grateful for those skills, but I’m just more substance over style.  Maybe that’s just snobbery.  Maybe it’s a little bit of fear.

If I were a “YouTuber,” it would make sense to change my brand and niche.  If I were a writer aspiring to write for the New York Times, it would make sense to try to appeal to the hipster.  After all, gratitude is something that really grows with the ability to take a perspective on life.  Perspective, like wisdom, comes with time.  While we may appreciate being middle-aged with middle-aged thinking, only the new and youthful seems to trend.

I need to serve the message as best I can but trying to be trendy for the sake of popularity would be without purpose.   I’m not using gratitude as a vehicle to get famous for my skills.  I’m using my skills as a way to make gratitude a global movement.

I guess for that, I’m going to have to learn to play the game a little bit better.

Maybe, I’m too sentimental for my own good but I would like to live in a world where the go-to response to life is cooperation instead of competition, abundance instead of striving, and gratitude instead of lack.  Maybe together we can turn Joan Baez on her head and find not rust on the memory of Bob Dylan’s diamonds, but the diamond of happiness in that un-hip and rusty sentiment of gratitude.

(What can I say?  I have loved this song since I first heard a young busker play it on the South Bank in London just 5 years ago  – proof that each generation can re-invigorate worthy ideas).

 

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

 

Ten Thousand Days

Circles

July 21, 2020

Photo: Robert Lukeman

Day 2160 – Day 2166

I wrote a thousand-word essay for today but I’m keeping it for myself and won’t post it.  When I feel something deeply, I am not inclined to talk about it.   While I may have fallen for the beautiful boy, I am not Ovid’s creation.  I will not be his Echo.

Right now, the ground beneath our feet is broken and so to reveal my heart would be perilous.  Things could spill out and fall through the cracks in the mantle of this world; parts of me might be swallowed by the earth and lost forever.  Or, he could swoop in, the seductive Trickster, and fly off with parts of me, never to be seen again; a kind of carrion that feeds his magic, without reverence for the Feminine.

I’ve got the heel of my soul stuck in a crack in the pavement. So, I walk in circles.  There is a spiritual harmony to circles and a rhythm that draws me inward on a spiral path.   I am descending into the unconscious, a land of images and symbols.  Listen to the drum and travel with the sacred bear to find the gift that will bring freedom.

Words are useless here. And yet, I owe a story.

I’m grateful for the land of symbol that cannot be captured.  I appreciate my readers who have borne witness to this journey.  I am thankful that I can trust you to keep the light on, upstairs, as I venture into the cellar of my psyche to rescue what needs rescuing and to discard what is no longer needed.

I will return, as Persephone, bearing blossoms.

Photo: Ava Sol

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

What if…

July 14, 2020

Photo: Emily Morter

Day 2153 – Day 2159

I’ve been feeling unwell this past week.  I had a surgery last year that went very wrong, and the error was undetected when they sent me home to face multiple organ failure.  The subsequent repair surgery was a long one that “sometimes doesn’t take.”  That potential failure looms for the rest of my life but is most likely to occur in the first two years, post-op.  And, even if it did take, I didn’t heal from it properly.  Last August, when I attended a family wedding, I was careful not to lift anything but I pulled my suitcase along the seat of my car and I ruptured my sutures inside, leaving me with a post-surgical hernia along the incision.  Add to this a deadly virus, and every time I feel unusual abdominal pain or nausea or I just feel generally out of sorts, I wonder: what if something is seriously wrong, inside my body?

The potential for hypochondria is real, but so is the potential to ignore the warning signs.  It makes sense to be cautious.  But, add the news of the world and the worry of losing loved ones who are sick with the virus, and it can flatten a person.

I’ve been sleeping a lot.  I know that when my body is unwell, it needs sleep.  I also know that when I’m depressed, I tend to sleep.  Being unable to do a lot of physical exercise, what if this sleepiness is the result of too many calories and not enough activity? What if I can’t tell the difference and instead of nurturing myself, I’m slipping into a clinical depression or co-morbid obesity?

I know that when I’m depressed, sleep will come as a comfort.  I will curl up under a cozy duvet and sleep for hours.  Early waking is also a personal sign of depression.  What has never been a sign of depression is a falling asleep in the middle of a sentence.

Right now, I need to lay down a lot to alleviate the pain and the nausea.  But this was worse last week than it is this week.  What if I had gluten or dairy and I didn’t know it?  Would that have caused my pain and nausea?  What if I’m falling asleep in the middle of a sentence because I’m de-conditioned and being sedentary and that is actually worse for me than risking making my hernia worse by choosing mild aerobic activity?

What if, what if, what if.  My mind sometimes goes around in circles.

I try not to watch the news.  I get the headlines and that is pretty much enough.  On the weekend, I visited a friend who watches the news all the time.  It put us both in a foul mood.  What if she never finds a job again?  We are both single and beyond the generation that swipes right.  What if we never meet anyone to love and to be loved by, again?  What if the border opens to the US and our curve spikes beyond our ability to cope? What if this is the end of the world?

It was a beautiful sunny day when I visited her in her waterfront home in the most glorious city in Canada.  Rather than want to go for a walk and enjoy the weather, all I wanted to do was to go home and lie down.

Today it is a beautiful day and later, I’m going to go for a micro walk around the block.  Tomorrow I’m going to do it twice.  I’m going to increase my time in the garden and I’m going to book a kayak rental for some time in the next two weeks.  What if it makes my hernia worse?  Oh but, what if I will feel better if I get active?  At least, in the case of kayaking, I will be doing something I love with every fibre of my being.

If I let it, I think this awful spiral of ‘What if” will kill me, long before anything else gets a chance.

I’m working on turning my what ifs upside down so that they are no longer limiting fears but are, instead, an expression of curiosity about possibility.  What if we are at the dawn of a great new world?  What if all this unrest and strife is necessary to bring about better understanding and turn back the tide of obscene concentration of wealth and power?  What if this economic slowdown ushers in an era of rebirth for the earth?  What if food shortages cause us to be more mindful of what we eat and how it is grown?  What if this separation and inability to connect makes us all that more grateful for the connections that we do have and makes us invent or return to old ways of connecting.  (When was the last time you wrote a letter?)

I’ve made an appointment to see the doctor and if I need to, I’ll see my surgeon.  I’m not hiding my head in the sand.  But, today is all I have.  Tomorrow isn’t here yet.  What if there is no tomorrow and I spent today worrying?

What if all the news of the world is just distracting us from our true nature and our birthright: a sense of bliss and equanimity, regardless of circumstances?

What if we can remember who we are and what truly matters?

Today, I’m going for a micro walk and I’m going to write a letter.  I’m going to make a video on another form of self-soothing to post on YouTube, even if nobody ever watches it.  I’m going to get outside and let the sun work magic on my mood and I’m going to water my garden and say hello to my fellow gardeners and maybe talk about the best way to prune the suckers from tomato plants.  I’m going to connect with the world and look for the beauty and the wonder in it all.

I’ve been writing about magic and miracles and about wanting to achieve my full potential.  Life is always finite and so very very short – whether the end of the world happens to coincide with the end of the life cycle of those who are living now or not.  This physical body has limits and it may be failing but it is also a gift and while I’m embodied, I’m going to use it well.  If the world is ending, I’m going to go out with gratitude in my heart, a remembrance of who I am and a connection to that thing that is greater than myself.

Photo: Lucas Wesney

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

To Dance with Channing Tatum

July 7, 2020

Photo: Christian Newman

Day 2148 – Day 2152

During the spring Lockdown of 2020, my friend and I entertained ourselves with fantasies of dating famous men.  Her thing was that she dreamed of dancing with Channing Tatum.  Most of the things we admire about people on whom we are crushing, are projections of our own positive qualities, that we have disowned.

I encouraged my friend to imagine fully what it would be like to dance with Channing Tatum and then to imagine herself as the woman that would be his dance partner.   What would it take to become her?  Would she need to get in better shape?  Would she need to learn to salsa?  Would she need a sexy wardrobe and to spend more time socializing to increase her social circle till that 6 degrees of separation could be worked to bring her into contact with Mr. Tatum?

I challenged her to set to work on being the woman who would dance with Channing Tatum.

For a few weeks, this motivated my friend.  But I think it takes a stronger vision than a dance partner to undertake the difficult work of changing one’s whole life or direction in life.  There needed to be a deeper longing for an inner goal.  We never identified what it was in Channing that she was projecting and so trying to become that was impossible. After a few weeks of dancing around her kitchen, my friend started letting other male friends into her bubble and Channing Tatum was soon forgotten.

I mourned this journey to Channing as much, if not more than my friend, because we failed to get the motivation right.

A few weeks ago, I took a Visioning course, run by my friend Renee Jenais.  I am having coaching sessions for career advice, so this time I decided I would work on visioning a really great relationship with an honourable man who challenges me to live up to my full potential and who has done his own work so that he has freed his mind, opened his heart, fully inhabited his physical being and is living a spiritual life.    In our first Visioning exercise, this man looked a lot like Idrees Elba.

via GIPHY

I found this interesting since I’ve never consciously  been particularly attracted to him.  However, it’s not him but what I project onto him that inspires me.  Now before you jump on me, I am aware that having charisma and confidence, owing to a mind that is free, is something most black men can not automatically claim. It is certainly not something that comes easily to the black man in colonizer cultures.  However, perhaps it is the fact that life is so hard on a black man that he bothers to consciously set out to do free his mind, in a way that many people of privilege will fail to do, all their lives.  A lazy mind and an unexamined self is something I can no longer tolerate in either myself or a partner.

When we did our next visioning exercise to take us to ourselves in the future, I was looking forward to seeing Mr. Elba as a slightly greyer fox.  What surprised me was that I saw myself, alone, and living the career and lifestyle that I’m working towards visioning and creating in my career coaching.  I did not appear lonely and I did not appear to be lacking for anything.  I appeared to be very happy and I appeared free.

I’m okay with that.  I like the idea of placing my focus on becoming the woman that will be a match for a man like my fantasy Idrees Elba who carries all of my projections.

I’m really grateful for that visioning class and I’m grateful for the wisdom I showed in advising my friend to do all she needed to do to be the person who would dance with Channing Tatum.  I’m grateful for Idrees Elba because whoever he is, as a person, he has become the repository of all the things I can’t yet own in myself.  Last night, when I felt too lazy to get on camera and try to talk about Mindfulness and Meaning, I knew that just washing and blow-drying my hair, applying a little lipstick, and sitting down to hit the record button took me one step closer to the freedom I desire.  It was a step closer to being the kind of woman that has lived up to  her spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional potential.

Forget Channing Tatum.  In the end, forget Idrees Elba, too.  I am working to feel the freedom of embodying that woman and to dance with abandon, whether anyone else ever shows up to the party, or not.

Photo: Nadim Merrikh

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

The Magic of Hummingbirds

July 2, 2020

Photo: Nick Fewings of artwork by L7 Matrix

Day 2141 – Day 2147

This has been a strange week or two.  When, in 2020, has it not been a strange?  In my personal life, however, it has been strange and it has been strained.

I had the great good fortune to go kayaking off of Bowen Island this past weekend.  It is one of my favourite bodies of water and one of my favourite things to do and I got to do it with some of my favourite people.  Three great things for which I can be grateful, right there.  I had a busy night the evening prior to going kayaking and I was in the bathtub, washing off garden mud around midnight.  To keep me from falling asleep in the tub, I turned on a video from YouTube and as I have auto play enabled, YouTube just picks a video for me based on some formula.  I’ve ended up in some pretty wonderful places and I’ve ended up in some weird places, too.

YouTube played into what is called a pick-a-card Tarot reading about romance.  (Can you see the eye roll that I just did?) I was in the bath so I listened to all three options, one after the other.  They all had much the same advice.  But in one pile, the reader told the viewer to look for signs in the coming weeks and they suggested watching for repeating number patterns.  Well, we all know that I’ve been seeing repeating number patterns for months now, specifically 11:11, so when the reader said: “Or, you can pick your own sign and ask the Universe to send you the sign when your future spouse is near, or on the way into your life,” feeling cheeky, I said: hummingbird.  I’ve actually only once seen hummingbirds, in my entire life.  So, given that I’ve lived 257 years (or so it feels) and all of it has been as a single person, I figured hummingbird would give the Universe a sign that was as likely to appear as my future spouse was likely to walk into my life.

With 3 hours sleep in the tank, I managed to arrive on time for the ferry and our great adventure on the water.  It was a glorious day.  It was a hard paddle, but we saw lots of lovely birds and seals along the way.  As soon as I felt wind in my hair, however, I left my crew, announcing that I was going to turn back.  I’m the weakest paddler and so I knew that if a wind had come up, we were going to be facing a tide against us on the way home.  I had no idea that we were going to face the kind of waves that we did.  Three times I thought I would either capsize or smash into the rocks and be left with shards of a kayak.  I had to paddle hard and I had to paddle fast.  Once you’re in surf like that you either work the waves or the waves work you.  I was scared for about 15 minutes there and then I was scared for my friends, who were far behind me, having to battle that treacherous section of coastline as the wind continued to pick up.

We all made it back, though we agreed that this was not a day out for an inexperienced paddler.  It felt great to sit safely on the dock, having a drink and nursing our strained arm muscles as we awaited the ferry that would take us home.  We watched boats launch and then one of the guys in our group pointed at a nearby bush:

“Look, it’s a hummingbird,” he exclaimed.

I stared in disbelief.  Less than 24 hours after I had asked for a sign, the sign appeared.  I specifically asked for something that had, up to this point in my life, been rare.

No, I’m not marrying the fellow.  I’m not marrying anyone.  Is my future spouse in my life? Or are they on their way into my life?  I don’t know.  I’m single and wasn’t looking for a spouse when I got in the bathtub the night before.  I’m not in a rush to find a spouse. But I can’t shake the feeling that the hummingbird’s presence was the Universe showing her power and her magic.

About 10 days ago, I received an email from my meditation group.  It was an article from our spiritual teacher and a part of the article talked about how we have forgotten how to see the magic in the natural world and forgotten how to talk to the natural world.  I think we’ve completely forgotten the magic in the fabric of life, entirely.  What Carl Jung would have called synchronicity gets explained away as confirmation bias or coincidence.  Was my hummingbird a coincidence? Possibly.  Did I only notice the hummingbird out of the hundreds of other observations and birds we saw while kayaking? No, but it did stand out.  Was it a sign?  Well, maybe it was.

My spiritual teacher says that we must be attentive to signs, on this path.  It seems to me that I asked the Universe to speak to me and the hummingbird appeared, speaking to me in a language I don’t yet understand.

The day that I had received the article, I decided to forward it to a good friend of mine with whom I share many of our teacher’s videos and articles.  My friend and I talk a great deal about spirituality and I think it is what makes our friendship so deep.  As I went to forward it to him, I began typing his name and someone else’s email appeared.  They didn’t share the same letters in their name at all.  Well, that was weird.

I sat with it for a good 5 minutes, wondering if I should send the article to the person whose email appeared.  I’ve never met that man, but I do care about him.  We were experiencing something of a conflict and looking back, I was afraid that our connection might be irreparably strained.  I was afraid to reach out with an email from a spiritual teacher that he did not know, in the wake of conflict.   So, I deleted his email address and typed in my friend’s address in its place.

Last night, my meditation group met by video conference to discuss the article.  Our big take-away was that we needed to work to redefine our place in the natural world and to learn to communicate with. heal, and be healed by the non-human world of which we are a part.  This was going to require new symbols and working with new devices to tell a new story of creation.  It might feel like a kind of magic was unfolding.

Also last night, the person with whom I had been in conflict posted something suggesting that the pathways of communication may still open between us.

This evening, I sat down to write this post and it has taken me about 5 hours to know what to say.  While I waited, I listened to music and thought about the weird week or two that I’ve been living.  I thought about the magic of the hummingbird that appeared just when I asked for a sign.  I did a little google search this evening and found that in the Indigenous traditions of the Northwest Coast, where I live, the hummingbird is a symbol of healing, and a bringer of love, joy and luck.   I thought about the email address that appeared where it was not expected to be, and I put my doubts aside.  If that hummingbird taught me anything, it was to believe in a little magic.

I sent the article where it seems that it was intended to be sent, 10 days ago.  If it is the Divine’s intent, I hope it works a little magic in his life, too.

 

Photo: Christopher Campbell

For what are you most grateful, today?