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Ten Thousand Days

Ten Thousand Days

These Foolish Things

May 13, 2022

Day 2822 – Day 2827

I’ve been clearing out things from my cupboards these past few weeks.  I’m in the mood to get rid of everything.

I released all of my research for my Master’s Thesis.  And, being a lover of all things South Asian, I am finally releasing many yoga/ayurveda/philosophy books from Gurus I have known and loved and my entire collection of Hindi films.   Even photographs have outlived their use –  the Temples at Tiruvannamalai and Arunachala mountain where I did several pilgrimages, the tea plantations of Ooty, Kovalum beach,  the slums of Mumbai, and the late afternoon lovers’ walk at Juhu’s Chowpatty beach – these are all a part of me now.

And yet, it is the sentimental things that keep getting fished out of the pile to take to the charity shop – that book that was inscribed by a summer lover, all the books written by friends, and those inscribed by famous heroes of mine.

My mother passed away so many years ago that memory becomes challenged.  I remember that she wore a pink sweater and I used to tease her for being so brightly clad.  But, when she passed, I kept that sweater.  I never thought I could ever part with that sweater because it embodied a story that she and I shared.  I have now only kept a single button to remind me.

We need a few touchstones in our lives, and these foolish things, remind me.

Keeping some things is unhelpful.  What do I do with the 8 foot by 4 foot painting that was painted by the Young Man who ended up being so horrible to me?  I don’t want his energy in my house – and yet, the painting cost me a lot of money.  I’ve tried to donate it but even that is problematic, as I’ve discovered in my many attempts.  This is, as yet, a problem that remains unresolved.  Throwing out art seems wrong, but it may simply get left somewhere as a charity shop donation and the financial hit will be my touchstone and reminder of a hard-earned lesson.

As I purged my second bookcase last night, I came across a special postcard I had purchased for the man who keeps appearing in my dreams.  He is a writer and in one of his most beautiful pieces, he describes a yearning  to connect remotely with people in a small town, Ituna, via the airwaves.  Having uprooted my cosmopolitan life to return to my family in this rural and companionless life (that is most unsuitable for me), that particular piece of writing touched my heart.

When Covid hit, he said he’d like to receive postcards.   I considered asking the Ituna chamber of commerce to send him one but everything was in Lockdown.  In my travels around the internet, I found an Australian with a vintage photo (c 1900) of Ituna, Saskatchewan that had been turned into a postcard.  And so, I corresponded with the kind owner and bought the postcard.  It wasn’t posted until June, and with the Covid shipping slowdown, it arrived several months later, in late Summer, 2020.  By then, there was tension between myself and the man for whom it was intended.  I never sent it onward.

I had forgotten that I had tucked it away on the top of my bookcase, in case things changed between us.   My intention was generous: to send it with a kind note about his writing.  I’ve done that already several times, just without the benefit of a vintage card.

 

 

Perhaps I can make a piece of art out of the card and out of the beautiful Australian stamps that decorate the mailer in which it was so carefully shipped.  Perhaps, in that act of transformation, the card – which connected me to a stranger in Australia, which once held hope of another connection, which memorializes 3 people and a hotel long gone, and which has already travelled around the world to come to rest with me – will then fulfil its purpose of expressing the human yearning to connect.

I will give my heart to beauty, and create something new from this.

 


We need some foolish things to remind us, and there are some things we need to let go.

As I part with these things, I am thankful for the good experiences that they represent, like graduating from the London School of Economics, and visiting so many countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South Asia.  I am also noting the progress I have made, in learning the lessons that the more challenging memories evoke.

In every item, there is a decision – does this represent who I am now, and who I want to become? Can the item and I both fulfill our purpose by staying together?  If the answer is no, it is time to thank it and let it go.

I hope that if you are spring cleaning, that you will be gifted with the spirit of non-attachment and hold only those foolish things that are truly meaningful to you.  Meaning is what we make of our lives and meaning remains, independent of the things.

I hope that you will be able to release those belongings which no longer belong with you.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

The Sanctity of Vows; The Sacredness of Values

May 7, 2022

Photo: Rui Xu

Day 2814 – Day 2821

This month, those on my email list are working on purpose and meaning.  One of the definitions of living a purpose guided life is to live in alignment with your values.

If you think I think I’m a Guru on all these things, I don’t.   I might be further down the path than some, but I also need the rigour of the practice.  I gain so much from the various ways I give daily and weekly and monthly focus to the practices.  Everything I suggest is something I’ve either done, and found helpful, or is a task that I am currently working through, myself.

Last year I did all of the values exercises that I offered for resources on purpose.  I just ended up confused.  There were so many great values and so many things I cherish.  I couldn’t find a way to narrow it down to a handful.  I’m sure we all have many values that we think are desirable.  Finding the core handful of values that drives you and guides your life may be a challenge.

Sometimes we don’t value the things we think we should.  Sometimes we value the very things we don’t know how to achieve but having them would heal childhood wounds.  These wounds may be there to help guide your soul’s evolution, yet sometimes our conditioning and traumas make the very values we need for healing, and transformation difficult for us to uphold.

Values are things that we hold sacred.  If they weren’t sacred, they would be mundane which means they would not have great intrinsic worth.  Some of the problems we have in living up to our values come from an increasingly secular world that lacks the ability to recognize and revere the sacred.  How can we narrow down our values if we aren’t used to holding anything sacred?  How can we build the character strength to, for example, put the needs of our children before our own ego needs, if we haven’t been raised to honour sacrifice for what we hold sacred?

There are many books that aim to inspire us to live a life of purpose.  We might come to believe that this is what everyone is doing.  That is a false perception.  Many struggle to define their values, and everyone struggles to live them.  Values are aspirational and therefore, living a life fully on purpose is also aspirational.

Values are like our compass to the sacred and our purpose is like the path.

Recently I came across a well-worn, hand written list of my personal vows as a Minister.  As a group, we took vows essentially to serve the spiritual needs of all, without any form of discrimination.  We also had the opportunity to write our own personal vows.

These are the only vows I have ever taken and probably the only vows I ever will take.  They are sacred.  As I looked at my vows, I realized they were a large part of my core life values.  I have edited them, for precision, and I would combine some vows into a single value.  That I chose to make these sacred vows demonstrates the core values of Service and Devotion to God.    To the list of vows, I would add values of Creativity, Beauty and Wellbeing.  Gratitude, Joy, Oneness and Service are aspects of my values.

I wanted to share my vows because they aren’t and shouldn’t be secret – I made them in a sacred space in front of my Seminary cohort, clergy and God.  And, these are the vows to which I hold myself accountable.

  1. I will stand for those who seek Justice and cannot stand for themselves (this is a form of Service);
  2. I will live in the spirit of Non-Violence (as a value this is part of my penultimate vow);
  3. I will live Simply and Sustainably;
  4. I will remember the Divinity of all beings and Love All; and
  5. I will live in Truth.

The last one is a doozy if you grew up in a family where there was triangulation and where there were secrets.  I did, and my experience last week may serve to illustrate how we can choose a value because it is something we lacked, and where living that value is difficult because of our conditioning.

Last week, I spent a lot of time writing and re-writing my previous post.  As I thought about the dream, I was gaining more insight into its lessons and clarity into how the dream applied to my life.  The post became less about the person in the dream because the way dreams work, as I’m sure you know is that it’s not really about the person who appears in the dream.   I always post my first draft of a post and sometimes, I will decide to go back and edit, many times, until the work is done.  But, if I’m telling the truth, that’s not the only reason I re-wrote it many times.

I was also concerned about protecting the feelings of the person in my dream, should he ever read my post.  This has been a theme in so many of my dreams about him, and a theme in my life.

I think it’s loving and non-violent to seek not to purposefully hurt someone’s feelings.  However, protecting the feelings of someone who has not protected mine is a form of keeping secrets, rather than boundaries.  Being evasive and avoidant is a waste of time and compromises my ability to live in Truth, reflecting a coping mechanism I learned as a child, of walking on eggshells, in order to survive.  If you break it down, the whole dream was a play within a play within a play that was a colossal time waster.  The dream itself was calling for me to cut through the crap of all the “stories” we tell ourselves and others and look to the Truth.

I’m sure that if we all look at our lives, we will find at least one example of this struggle to live our values.  For example, if someone has the value of fidelity, but were sexually abused as a child, they may experience a sex-addiction that keeps them from being faithful.  That failure can keep them locked in a cycle of self-hatred and addiction that separates them from that which they hold sacred.

So, as we work on values and purpose, it is important to take a penetrating look at how we are really living, and whether this is how we WANT to live, according to our values.  Living a life that betrays our values can bring lots of pleasure, and gratification.  Sacrificing our values might seem easier than the discomfort of living them, but denying that which is sacred is soul-destroying, in the end.   With compassion for ourselves and for others, we can break the patterns that keep us separate from the sacred.  We can, and we must, have enough self-compassion to seek help, if we cannot do it alone.

I am grateful that I kept this hand-written list of vows, and that I came across them just at the right time.  I am grateful for the lesson that struggling to live in Truth has taught me about the sacredness of values and the difficulty we will all face in living them.  I’m grateful for the reminder that we must always have compassion and forgiveness for our failings and the failings of others as we strive to live our purpose. 

I hope that you, too, will practice self-compassion when you encounter the challenges that your values bring your way.

 

For what are you most grateful, today

Ten Thousand Days

Eternal Flame

April 29, 2022

Day 2802 – Day 2813

Over the last few years, I’ve written about the idea of a Twin Flame and a person with whom I felt a strange connection.  I resist the idea of a Twin Flame because I’m not certain that the idea of one soul between two people exists.  I believe there is a collective soul but what do I know, in the end?  What do any of us know about the contours and shape of the soul? All we can do is approximate its dimensions through our yearnings.

About a week ago, I was experiencing a sense of sadness and that person was on my mind.  Was it my sadness?  Or, was I picking up on his? There is a distinct quality to the sadness of others.  It usually washes over me like an uncontrolled tidal wave.   If it was this other person’s sadness, then I am sad for him.  And, with compassion for us both, I don’t want to be picking up his energy.

He recently got married.  And, because we don’t have a strong pre-existing friendship – in my mind – that kind of ends whatever story might have developed between us.

And yet, it doesn’t.

If there is a soul-level connection, the physical limits of this world don’t stop the story unfolding.  It continues energetically and in our dreams.  Whether we pick up on the connection or not probably depends on our openness to experience.

I should say that, in my spiritual tradition, there are dreams and there are “experiences.”  Experiences happen when someone – usually the spiritual teacher – visits in the dimension of sleep.   Experiences are very rare and I am told that you will know it when it happens.

Then, there is the dream. My spiritual path draws on the work of Carl Jung.  Dreams are symbolic and reveal our hidden emotions about someone else, a situation, and about ourselves.   I always like to ask what part of me do I see in those who appear, and where is the strongest energy in the dream?

Dreams are fundamentally important to soul work. They tell us the stories we can’t tell ourselves by using symbols we recognize from our lives or from the collective unconscious. They are an invitation to deepening our experience of our own and the collective soul.

Last night I dreamed of this man again and I noticed something had shifted.

I have had many dreams of him and I even dreamed of his wife, in early 2021, probably around the time that he was considering marrying her.  In my dream, he really wanted me to like her.  He wanted me to spend time with her but I knew right away she was not my cup of tea.

It wasn’t like she was a horrible person to me. In my dream, she was blonde and tall and sporty – attractive.  She was also status-conscious, wanting to go to all the “in places” and eat at trendy restaurants.  She was very materialistic. She was ambitious and driven to “succeed” materially and keep up with the Joneses.  Not. My. Cup. Of.  Tea.   She must be his cup of tea, and that is what should matter, to him.

But he wanted my approval, which I couldn’t give.  In my dream, I ran into him after spending time with her and I avoided him.  I felt that he had not been a friend to me and so, I felt he had no right to expect me to affirm his choice of partner.

I have had several dreams of him.  Over the last year it’s been pretty much the same theme – every time he appears in a dream, he wants approval or my help in some way.  He often tries to charm me to achieve it. And, in my dreams, that always annoys me.

Our interactions, in reality, have always been pretty one sided as far as approach, affirmation and approval goes.  And, when he has had the opportunity to respond (he’s had many) he has dropped the ball.  One time he made an effort, but made it all about himself.  He took a private gesture from me and made it public, leaving me looking foolish in front of others.  Expecting affirmation without being able to reciprocate reveals the kind of childhood narcissism that doesn’t have a place in adult connection. I’m sure it would annoy anyone.

But last night’s dream was a bit different.  To set the context: in real life, I think that I’m having trouble understanding his choices.  There’s a very good chance that who I thought he was came from my own projections, but he seemed to change, significantly, when his (now) wife came on the scene.  He’s become much more successful, materially and maybe even socially.  From his behaviour, though, it appears that he has set aside his more spiritual values.

In my dream, we bumped into one another and he assumed I was in that city to attend his play (I was not).  I reluctantly agreed to go, because I had no easy way to beg off.  I was given the liberty to take any place I wanted although the show was sold out.  I moved around, standing in different places.  I couldn’t make sense of the play, no matter where I stood or from what angle I watched.  I wondered if I’d had a stroke or had experienced a fugue state or if the play was in a foreign language.  It made no sense to me.

His brothers were in the play with him, and they all wore fantastical, almost cartoonish, foam costumes.  He stopped the momentum of the show, smiled at me, preening.  Rather than be annoyed, however, I felt awkward. I wondered why he, a married man, was vamping for me.

I knew he would expect some kind of nice feedback after the show and I felt that whatever I said, I should make reference to his new wife (who I didn’t see, anywhere in the audience).

There are significant shifts in the recurring themes of my dreams of him.  I no longer feel annoyed; I simply don’t understand what’s going on.

Whatever his assumption, his choices create a scenario where I have no obligation, and it’s arguably not appropriate, for me to even try to meet his needs for attention and approval.

I’ve told you more about myself from these dreams than about my relationship to him.  I’m sure there is a part of me that is annoyed with myself for wanting HIS affirmation.   I’ve been hurt and angry with him for a long time for being rude to me.  I’ve been hurt and angry for the way he dismissed me as a fellow creative, for the way he made me appear foolish and the way he expected but did not reciprocate affirmation.  I’ve been angry with myself for having stayed stuck on wanting his approval for so long and for the way a childhood wound seems to re-open, when I least expect it.

But I was no longer angry in my dream.

I just didn’t understand.

I see this life as an opportunity to find our way home, spiritually, and all the materialistic stuff and nonsense of this world is a distraction from that. I can’t understand why he would stand at a fork in the road, when he was claiming to feel he was on the edge of a spiritual “awakening,” and choose a life of materialism.

Maybe this is a reminder of the preciousness of my own spiritual quest for awakening, and the need to not get distracted by the thousand-and-one things of the material world, which of course, requires healing those childhood wounds that keep us trapped in ego.

Maybe I can let go of my anger with all those people who, throughout my life, have been distracted and who have been withholding.  Maybe I can stop trying to understand why they withhold, why they value things that I do not and just accept that they are who they are, and I don’t have to be their audience anymore.

I don’t have to feel guilty about my own acts of withholding – of my time, energy,  affirmation, or story – from people and situations that take more than they give.

In reality, I have disengaged from this man for some time now – and yet, the subconscious mind processes things slowly and deeply, catching threads that weave throughout our lives.

In the dream, I was concerned about what I could say about the script, which he had probably written. In real life I think he’s a good writer but I couldn’t say anything about that play.  I thought I could avoid comment by saying that I prefer to give feedback on a written script.  In real life, I too, am a playwright and I am his creative equal.  It is a reminder that I also have talent and sage wisdom that is sought after, and valuable.

In my dream state, I was embarrassed at his vamping for me and I wanted to draw attention to the fact that he is married.  In reality, maybe I’m embarrassed that I’m still dreaming about a married man.  He is attractive and I know the door is closed and sealed with vows.  Yet the subconscious honours none of the boundaries of convention and commitment.

In the dream, I decided to be evasive and say that I was “overwhelmed by the costumes and pageantry of it all,” and that I was “distracted by events happening elsewhere.”

As for distraction, well we’ve touched on one aspect of that.  I think I have not been fully conscious of the way that I have allowed myself to become distracted from pursuing my own potential and living my own purpose by my foolish ego.

I can let go of the need for my father or mother or sister or brother or teacher or baker or candlestick maker to affirm me.  I don’t need anyone else to understand or approve of me, my choices and my boundaries.

I can learn to let it be enough that I affirm myself so that I can put my attention squarely on my own purpose.

Where does this leave that possible eternal (Twin?) flame that may or may not be at the heart of this connection?

I naturally wondered if my strong pull to this connection was romantic but I think this is because we aren’t really taught the many facets of love or the ways our wounded ego draws us into repetition compulsion.  Our culture places emphasis on romance in any attraction.

There is less emphasis on the creativity and healing aspects of Eros or the love between family and friends or even divine love. So, we might jump to conclude that this is limerence, but there are two things that make me think it is something more mysterious and profound than an unrequited romance.

First, I painted him 2 years before he appeared in my life and I felt an inner knowing that the man in the painting was on his way into my life.  It wasn’t until several months into experiencing him that I realized he was the one in my painting.

He wasn’t who I was expecting.

I called the painting “Messenger” because I sensed that if he appeared in my life there would be a message for my soul.  What is that message?  It appears to be about setting boundaries, about healing childhood wounds, about breaking the cycle of repetition compulsion and about leaning into self-affirmation, self-acceptance and our own spiritual evolution, values and purpose.

Secondly, I know that this isn’t infatuation, a crush or limerence because love plays very little, if any part in those conditions.   And I can truthfully say that I do have unconditional love for him.   My love isn’t exclusive to him and it is more sublime than romance.

Despite publicly seeking connection, this man ignored all my bids for professional collaboration, or for friendship or for spiritual companionship.  I tried.  I can’t have regrets, because, years before he married, I did try.

I forgive him for being withholding and I accept him for being who he is and not who I had hoped he would be.  I wish for him to find happiness, even though I am not a part of his life. That wish, to me, defines the contours of love.

I remember a dream where he appeared as a storm made of light.  A metaphor for a spiritual transformation if ever there was one! He has certainly instigated a painful storm of healing in me.  Whether I will be done with him in my dreams depends on whether I have integrated the soul lessons he is capable of stirring in me. I hope to be done. Storms – even enlightening ones – are exhausting.  As Jung might suggest, he holds a lot of my energy in that dream. Time to reclaim and integrate my own radiant light.

In my own story, I forgive myself for wanting to be loved by people who – for their own limitations – cannot love me, affirm or approve of me.

If this man and I have a soul connection, there may always be a bookmark here and I may always feel its contours in the yearnings that live between the pages of my story.  If it is not, then it is not.  I’m okay with letting that mystery unfold, as it will.

In all of this, what makes me grateful?  I am grateful that my experience of this man triggered a wound that needed healing.  I’m grateful that my spiritual path values the messages of the soul that we find in dreams, and, I’m grateful that I am healing old wounds.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

Resurrection

April 17, 2022

Photo: Maria Victoria Portelles

Day 2783 – Day 2801

Today is Easter or Resurrection Sunday in the Christian faith, following the feast of Passover.  I was raised a Catholic and so not going to church on Easter Sunday is considered a mortal sin, but I prefer to just keep the Sabbath in my own way and to keep it holy.  A walk in the forest is a great way to celebrate the resurrection, in my opinion.

I suspect that the Roman church designated the death and resurrection of Christ to coincide with Springtime (and the birth of Christ to coincide with the winter solstice) as a way to bring in more pagans to the faith.  All you need to do is look around and see that all things are being resurrected in Spring.  The trees bud and begin to blossom, the daffodils and crocuses and tulips begin to blossom and the weather returns the longer days of sun into our lives.  I struggle with this natural rhythm because my mother was dying in springtime and looking back, so was my sister.  Spring always seems a little bit melancholy to me.

I’ve been spending some time this weekend tearing my house apart and sorting out what I want to keep and what I want to give away.  I’ve been going through my pantry looking for items to give to the Foodbank (people need help now more than ever, and I see that donations are way down as we all feel the pinch of inflation).   I think this ritual has something to do with “lightening up” as the days grow longer, or there wouldn’t be this universal phenomenon of Spring cleaning.  In the Christian tradition, this really is the start of the new year and so – as in all faith traditions – we clean to make way for a fresh start.

I think I have a long way to go before I can claim that.  After two years of working from home without a filing cabinet and six years of living in the same place with mountains of things that belonged to my mother (and were “gifted” (read: unloaded) to me by my father upon my return to Canada), I feel the weight of too much stuff.  I took a load of goods to the charity shop yesterday and was surprised at how much more there already is, waiting to be taken over.  Two years of pandemic pantry stuffing means we are all overflowing with stuff.

When I moved back to Canada I remember my sister saying that I would feel better once I was in a place where I could be surrounded by all my stuff.  I guess that’s the thing about family – sometimes they know you the least of anyone.  I had spent years and years in New York and London living in rented accommodation that was tiny and what you might term “service.”  The amount of stuff I had was minimal.  Granted, I had a storage locker in both countries but I’ve always found that the less I have, the better.  I feel much more free, the less I have.

I am grateful for all that I have – whether they are things, ideas that have served a purpose in my life (even if that is no longer needed), and relationships that have been a joy or, in sorrow, have been a lesson.  I hope to release them all with gratitude for how they have served me.

I hope that over the next few weeks or even months, that I will be able to cull at least half of what I own.  I probably won’t cull my crock pot or my dehydrator or my painting easel but I am beginning to feel a bit of distress over creating artworks that mostly end up needing to be stored.  I want to walk softly on this earth and mounds of artwork in a closet is not aligned with that value.

Whenever we shed, whether it is weight or possessions or relationships, there are emotions that go along with the process.  Yesterday I struggled to give away a favourite teddy bear even though it was just sitting in a cupboard.  It is in good shape and I hope that some mother who struggles with money or who values items of a second life will be able to give it to be loved by a child.  It wasn’t serving the purpose of “Christmas Bear” to sit in the closet, even though I did have lovely memories attached to the toy.

As I’m going through my things now, I am asking myself whether holding on to this item is really filling a good purpose in my life.  Marie Kondo would ask if it sparks joy.  Christmas Bear sparked joy but the purpose of a toy itself must be considered, and it wasn’t fair to Christmas Bear to hold on to it.  Holding on was also filling space in my life and weighing me down.  As we open up more space, we can feel anxious.  We might be inclined to rush to fill the space with more stuff or more relationships that may not be a good fit and only serve to bury us.  I know that this will be a struggle ahead and so I have made a low spend pledge to myself and a caution pledge on new relationships.

I’m digging out corners of my closets that have not been touched in 6 years, and digging myself out of a life that seems to have stopped serving me well.  Right now, my home is in worse shape than when I started.  Everything is out on the counters and floors so that I can assess and make choices.  With the stuff are memories, hopes, dreams and distractions and many of them need to be released.   I hope that I can move quickly through this part of my life and rise up from the ashes of all that burdens me.

A new year is a great time for a fresh start and I hope that if you are drawn to spring cleaning that you can rid yourself of outworn ideas, fears, relationships and things so that you can be more aligned with your true purpose here on earth.  I hope that this is a time of resurrection for you, as much as it feels like it is beginning to be, for me.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

Still to be Still

March 29, 2022

Photo: Harli Marten

Day 2672 – Day 2782

It’s been a minute since my last post. One hundred and ten days, it seems.  That seems like an auspicious number so it’s time to write.

I have been writing weekly for those who subscribe to my email list, and that is about all I can muster at the moment.   If you’d like to read what I have to say then you can subscribe here.

I’ve also not been writing much here because there is someone who has trolled me for quite awhile – someone who I picked up on YouTube.  I enjoy being an inspiration to people, and I have now had to come to terms that this may mean that my content shows up as their content.  What I’m loathe to do is to provide a glimpse into my personal life to this person, during my time of mourning.  

But, I do not want to ignore my loyal readers and it is time to return to the land of the living.  I want to let you know I’m doing fine.  I’m dealing with life just the same as everyone.  Some days are wonderful and some days are catastrophic.  But on all days, if I haven’t yet done it, I count my blessings before I go to bed.  When the world seems to be falling apart and catching fire, being grateful is what keeps my head above water.

I have learned something about myself in this quiet.  I’ve spent most of my life in large cities where I am constantly able to have intellectual and artistic stimulation.  I went to an Ivy League school with some of the brightest minds in the world.  Right now, I feel completely stifled and bored.  Yes, I think we are all bored after 2 years of a pandemic, but the level of boredom I have reached has me feeling like I am in a coma.  This doesn’t mean that my life is without love, busyness or companionship.  I just need more intellectual and creative stimulation and to use my talents in more challenging work.  This is a problem I have lately identified and it is something on which I need to work.  There is nothing worse than  having a gift and not being able to use it.  And, lately, I feel like I’m becoming more and more stupid, as the world around me has been so dumbed down.  At the ego level, this is something I need to address because it will add to my happiness and challenging oneself is a great way to add more flow moments into one’s life.  I hope that you are identifying and addressing those things that are limiting your happiness.

I do enjoy writing about my personal life and so, I’m going to turn to the personal letter form.  I’m looking forward to surprising someone this weekend with a short dispatch from my life.

There is no doubt that beyond our personal lives, the world is deeply troubled.  Lies and misinformation seem to be the order of the day.  I have found that not knowing what to believe can leave me feeling paranoid – perhaps this is why we see so many conspiracy theorists out there today.  Instead, I have turned to what I do know – which is an inner knowing – that of my faith. 

I have a great bible study group and unfortunately I can usually only drop in on weekends (I used to go every day but the time of meeting has changed) because of my work schedule, but they have become “fam.”  I don’t agree with all of their interpretation of the bible but I love having an opportunity to focus on spiritual life together,  every single day (or as often as I can make it).  We have time for prayer together and this fortifies.  Gratitude and the cultivation of all the practices that I’ve talked about over the years has been a lifesaver.  Spiritual Oneness is an essential part of that.  I have another group that gathers around the teachings of my living spiritual teacher and we meet every second week for prayer, meditation and fellowship and I’ve found that invaluable as well.  My groups help keep my focus on Oneness. 

Meditation and stillness is important, perhaps even more so, now that the world seems to be teetering on chaos.  I’m not a great meditator although I know that my path in this lifetime is to meditate.  I go for a walking meditation every day, at the same time that my spiritual community is meditating, globally.  I feel that in the inner stillness, we are doing some good work on cultivating Oneness, together.

This month, on my email list, we have been placing our focus on Oneness and I have been advocating for stillness.  We all want to do something but we need to get our egos out of the way and the best way I know how to do this is through meditation.  We also need empathy for others and the humility that an awareness of Oneness brings.  I believe that the easiest gateway into all of these qualities arises in stillness.  And so, in a chaotic world, I am working still to be still.  I hope you will join me.  In a world of chaos and suffering, one of the greatest services we can provide is to actively be a witness to the suffering and in the stillness, bear all that the experience entails.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

In the stillness

December 9, 2021

Photo: Sage Friedman

Day 2587 – Day 2671

It has been a long time since I’ve written here.  So much has been going on and this year has been a tribulation.  I feel that I’ve been tested over and over again and if I have not failed the tests, it is owing to my faith and to my practice of gratitude.  

I have been silent and in the stillness, I not only preserve, but I also find my strength.  Prayer and meditation are useful tools for the grieving.  I highly recommend them, in these challenging times.

I’ve been taking a lot of sleep and engaging in positive distractions and I’ve taken a few walks, but less than I’ve wanted to take.  Our weather has had a lot to do with that.  We’ve had horrendous storms that have caused floods and destruction of biblical proportions.  There has been a lot of grief in the witnessing.

It is appropriate that I am coming to the end of this year of practices (most of which is on YouTube, with the exception of the final quarter of the year, which I will create and post in 2022, when I feel I am ready to leave this period of mourning) with soulfulness, faith, hope, love and soul-work.  If you are part of my email list, you will have been getting weekly guidance on a month of practices.  Soulfulness seems the culmination of all we’ve done so far this year.  In the face of adversity, only the soul can make sense of things.  

I don’t have much to say, today.  But people have been reaching out to me because I have been so silent.  My hope has been to be an example and an encouragement to others, but sometimes, in being that example, it is necessary to model self care and for me, right now, that is stillness.  I just wanted to drop in and let you know that I’m still here, still profoundly grateful, and still faithful to this work.  Although its simple, I want to encourage you to find the good in every day.  Every day, no matter how trying, there is something good.  If you can’t find it, be silent and listen to what arises, in the stillness.

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

The Forfeit

September 14, 2021

Photo: Brian Erickson

Day 2543 – Day 2586

I’ve been intentionally practicing gratitude every day for over seven years and still, sometimes I forget how glorious life is – all the time.  Right now, my heart feels heavy all the time and that is how it is going to be, for awhile.  

The weather echoes my mood.  For the rest of the week (most likely the month), it will rain, and the clouds descended into the Valley this morning.  The amount of rain in the PNW is enough to give anyone Seasonal Affective Disorder and so in winter, I return to the festival of colour that is my artwork. Despite the dull pallor that surrounds me, I am immersed and engaged in life whenever I am Painting.  Visual art – whether painting or photography –  is like making music or writing poetry in that it expresses the ineffable.  Some things need colour, tone, rhythm and texture to be understood by the heart and known by the mind.

I stopped at the intersection that leads to my workplace this morning, and I felt myself on the verge of tears again.  I looked for approaching traffic (there is never any).  In a defiant last stand of summer, the sky glowed behind Mt Baker.  I reached for my phone to capture the image but the eye of the camera doesn’t capture light in the same way as the human eye.  And the heart captures it in an entirely different way: the only way that the beauty, love and death can be lived as one. 

The sky was emblazoned in glorious hues of yellow as the sun disappeared behind layers of cloud. Moments of beauty.  This is what enkindles our hearts.  Much like love. 

Winter is the forfeit of summer as grief is the forfeit of love.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

Life’s Short – Eat Dessert

August 2, 2021

Photo: DJ Johnson

Day 2528 – Day 2542

Last time, I wrote, I had experienced 4 deaths within a week.  One death had happened prior to that week, but I found out about it the same day as the other 3.  It was a pretty crumby weekend.  It wasn’t just because I was mourning my loss of people who have not been in my inner circle for some time, but also because it reverberated for me the pending mourning I will experience soon with 3 people who are in my inner circle.  This is what I felt the most as I descended into a heavy sadness over that weekend, following the news.

I think that in order for us to be truly thankful for the things that come our way – from a great job with wonderful pay to the simple and sublime pleasure of a sunset – we need to have an appreciation of our own mortality.  I suspect that is why gratitude is something we seem to adopt as we mature.  Children can be astonishingly grateful as well and this is probably due to the novelty of everything for them.  When everything is new and amazing it’s pretty easy to be excited about life and grateful.  Maybe this is also coupled with the facts that they are extremely pliable and can be taught gratitude, as well as the fact that they depend on others for everything.  When they start to individuate, they become the centre of the universe and entitled.  Maybe it takes some hard knocks, on their own, to teach gratitude.  But this is all conjecture.  I’ve never really researched the science behind gratitude in children.  I’m just going from my own limited observation.

One thing I’ve learned from experience is that when we realize how quick this life passes us by and how easily things can change in an instant, it compels us to act now on the things that really matter – like saying I love you or expressing thanks.

Since that last post, I have been researching G to see if his wife still lives in the same place as before.  I learned last night that one of his surviving relatives passed away 5 days ago.  So, the push is on to find her address and drop her a note.  It would have been better if I could have thanked G himself for being so kind to me but I’d like to make sure that his wife gets the boost of someone caring enough to write to her and let her know how he is missed.

I attended the funeral of HM via live stream.  There were a few things I didn’t know about him.  I spent a little while trying to remember how he and I had become so close.  We weren’t the kind of personalities you would naturally put together.  But then I remembered that there was a common link between us – he had been friends with a boy I loved.  TK came from the other side of the tracks but was probably the smartest guy I’ve ever met – and knowing the folks I’ve met, that is saying a lot.  HM and TK were friends and enjoyed camping together and TK and I had a love of words.  TK died before he reached the age of 18 and both HM and I remembered him with love, whenever we talked.  The death of HM made me regret that we never had that one last conversation and now I wish it had included a remembrance of our shared times together with TK.

There is something really striking to me about the way that people seem to fade into oblivion, when the people who shared your stories with them are no longer alive.  When I heard of G’s death, I was desperate to find someone who remembered the time I worked for the Titanic folks so that I could hold on to G (and that part of my own life) for a few moments longer.

When someone dies, that part of ourselves that shared a story gets cut off.

There are not many people in my life that I’ve cut off.  But there is one that I can think of right now, and another who – while not cut off, has been banished to the outer periphery of my life.  I vowed that I would never be in touch again with the person I cut off.  And maybe I won’t be.  But, now is the time to really consider if there is anything I would regret not having said, if I were to get the bad news that life had suddenly changed in a way to make that last conversation impossible.  There is always a time and place for things but the sad fact is that we don’t ever know when that particular time has run out.

Although this has been a sad few weeks, I am grateful for the reminder that life is short.  Enjoy every day.  Eat dessert, first.

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

 

 

Ten Thousand Days

The Irony of a Public Life

July 17, 2021

Photo: Michal Dolnik

Day 2486 – Day 2527

I wrote a post a few weeks ago and decided against making it public.  There are always many things going on that I could write about but now that I am no longer anonymous, I have to carefully think about what I post and how it might impact those who are living.  

It’s an irony of our public lives that some things should never be made public.  In a quest for a “better and shinier” public life can easily forget that some things are sacred.

I’ve been coming across snippets of journals as I’m pulling out drawers and trying to downsize my crap.  I did it in New York and I did it in Arizona.  I did it in London but doing it here seems to be the hardest because there are a lot of things that belonged to my mother in my “stuff,” which, now returning here, my father has passed to me.  I look through the boxes and realize that these figurines are gone, those clothes got given away and I realize that at some point I was somewhat ruthless in my culling of her things.  Not ruthless enough and add to that my own things that I’ve held onto, all these years. My journals are one of them.  I now keep them digitally.

 

Photo: Lawrence Aritao

 

I remember someone once saying that he burned his journals.  I can’t imagine that – maybe I am a sentimentalist or I’m just far too attached to former versions of myself.  But the thing is, I have a pretty terrible memory.  I always have had.  My short-term memory is pretty good and that’s how I managed to make it through school but my long-term memory?  Not so much.  My journals and photos serve as my memory.  I know I saw Barbara Streisand in Las Vegas.  I don’t remember a thing about it.  I saw David Copperfield too.  Nada.  I travelled to Indonesia and went to Jakarta for 2 days and then all over Bali.  I stayed in Singapore as well.  I hear people talk about the food in those countries as being amazing.  I don’t remember a single thing I ate.  I do, however, remember a tea ceremony that a friend took me to enjoy, in Singapore.  I think I remember the things that have meaning to me, at the time.  If it is potent, it remains.

People always say I should write a biography because I’ve lived an amazing life.  I’m not sure it was amazing but it is full of stories.  The thing is that there are probably more stories that I’ve forgotten than I remember.  To make an impression on me, it seems, it takes a lot.

Last night on the news, there was a short piece on some new crew diving to discover the artefacts and stories of the Titanic.  It reminded me of the time that I worked briefly on loan to one of the Titanic salvage and exhibition companies, in their New York office.  

The company was mired in legal battles between competing salvage companies and even among their owners.  I was there to answer the phones and keep the office running.  I say office but it was really an empty floor of an office building with a couple of desks and a few chairs.  I was the only one there and I answered the phones and kept the door locked for my own safety but also to avoid the legal process servers. 

I was studying acting and training to be a minister at the time and so I got lots of time to learn my scripts and write my services, and they had a microwave so I was able to bring food and have something hot for lunch.  This I remember.  There were Russian billionaires and pirates and even Hollywood producers involved in the cast of the drama unfolding on the phones.  The office was in the financial centre, at the bottom of Manhattan and even by New York standards, it was a glamorous location.  I got to walk home after work up to Battery Park and up the West Side piers to 20th Street, where I lived.   I got to have a hot lunch, learn my lines, write my spiritual services and I tucked away the story of the famous Titanic company and their crazy cast of characters. 

 

Photo by: NOAA

 

One of the cast members was really my boss.  He was a lovely man with great tales of his own from the days he spent in the entertainment business and his times up in Canada and abroad.  When I left the job, he let me buy one of the office chairs for $50 and I remember his wife being annoyed because those chairs had cost hundreds of dollars.  This I remember!  It was a great chair and I loved it well, as I worked on finishing my degree and taking on sustainability post-graduate work.  I remember that he offered me a job as his permanent assistant and it would have been a pretty fun job to have, given all the different pies he had a finger in, but I would have to leave New York to take the job. 

I wasn’t in a position to take up his offer, but I always appreciated him for it.  He was a lovely man and he treated me well, and like an equal, despite the fact that I was on loan from my film company (between films) and I knew nothing about underwater salvage expeditions or artifact exhibitions and despite the fact that he was making half a million a year (before bonuses) for his role and I was taking in just enough to pay the rent in New York.  I wasn’t his equal but he saw beyond people’s current position to what they were capable of doing and he saw in me a quick study, a smart cookie, and a talented, resourceful and loyal employee.

Some people would have thought that job was stressful, but I found it amusing.  I’ve thought of him from time to time over the years, whenever the topic of the Titanic would come up and whenever I would think about some of the best bosses I’ve ever had.  Yes, in that mayhem, I found one of the best bosses I’ve ever had. 

Treating people with dignity and as an equal, despite our roles being different is a rarity, in my experience.

I looked him (let’s call him G) up last night to see what he was doing.  I should have thought twice about doing that.  It turns out that he died 2 years ago.  I was saddened by the news, and felt sorry that I hadn’t sent him a card to say hello and tell him of my adventures since we parted company.  He was an adventurous soul and I kind of felt a kindred spirit with him.  He would have enjoyed hearing that I’d travelled the world and done new things.  He would have been happy to see that I was enjoying my life.  I read up on several of his subsequent legal battles and was happy to see that he won his case in federal court, several years after we parted ways.  I only hope that he enjoyed his life until the end and that he passed quickly.  I wonder if his wife is still alive and if somewhere in my journals, I might find their address in that other city where I wasn’t keen to live.

I was sad to think about G passing on and all that joyful rambunctiousness gone from the world.  I turned to Facebook for comfort and found that two people I knew in high school had passed away this week, from cancer.  HM was a shock to me.  I knew that he had been battling cancer but I was sure that it was only a few weeks ago that I last saw him post.  And then I realized that I’ve pretty much avoided Facebook after the first 6 months or so of Covid and during all the political rows of the last 18 months.  I am sorry I didn’t have one more conversation with HM.  

 

 

Photo: Annie Spratt

 

This is why I hate Facebook these days.  It’s a crapshoot of what you’re going to get.  In bygone days, obituaries would announce the death of a loved one.  Now we get recipes, memes, political tirades and announcements of death all mixed into a single scroll of the mouse.  It’s a gut punch followed by a cat meme and it seems to take the sacred out of living and dying.

It’s an irony of our public lives that everything is given the same importance, whether life-changing, of historical importance, or simply silly entertainment.

After a certain point, death becomes a reality for us all.  But there comes a point where the rate of people departing seems to speed up.  I don’t know how people in their old age manage the weight of grief of all of their friends having died before them. 

Who is left to care about their stories?

One of the things I do is tell stories in public.  I also cultivate relationships with other storytellers and sometimes that becomes a real relationship.  Sometimes it is more one-way if the other storyteller doesn’t have what G had about him – the ability to understand that the size of one’s following doesn’t make you a better person.  I had one such relationship with a fellow YouTuber (let’s call him “The Personality”) about a year ago.  He made a video saying that he – as a burgeoning writer – should remember to consider himself part of the same club as Tony or Pulitzer or Academy award winning (pick your genre) writers out there, but that he was just the newest member.  He gave himself, and fellow writers, this pep talk, to encourage us all to consider ourselves equal to those who have gone before us. 

I had real life experience of being treated that way by famous people, so I believed this to be a good way to live one’s life.

Imagine my surprise when I realized – definitively – that The Personality didn’t really consider other aspiring writers (in this case, specifically, me) to be HIS equal.  That had a sting to it, but as soon as it became clear to me – beyond a doubt –  I withdrew my support.  I still check in on The Personality’s work from time to time because I learn from other writers – either what to do or what not to do.  He stopped writing stuff for adults and really began tailoring his work to middle and high school kids (the target demographic of YouTube).   It used to have substance and now it is light humour. I find that a shame because I was drawn to his writing on serious adult challenges.  It is yet another loss for me, because I felt a real connection to another human being through his writing.  My loss is my loss, and I saw him as an equal and so it was a real relationship for me.  For him, because he did not, it remained para-social.  Who am I to say it’s a shame? He’s making the big bucks from it.  Unlike G pulling down a half million dollar salary before bonuses, however, The Personality appears to only consider those who are MORE famous than him to be his equal. 

I have to laugh at the way the brain works and how easy it is to drink the poisoned Koolaid* of social media. (*Reference to Jim Jones and his Guyana cult, intended)

 

Photo: Lucas Bee

 

I haven’t gained the following The Personality has, but I have attracted some of his more mentally unbalanced followers.  One person – let’s call him “the Christian” – is a regular reader of my blog and continues to comment on my YouTube channel from time to time.  His last comment was about how ugly The Personality is.  (The Personality is not everyone’s taste, but he certainly is not ugly).   Either way, I don’t understand how it has any relevance to my videos about Gratitude.  Is it meant to hurt me that the Christian thinks The Personality is ugly?  Why do I care?  Is it meant to hurt The Personality?  How likely is it that he would ever see that comment on one of my 100+ videos.  I don’t see how it hurts either of us but holding on to that bitterness must be hurting the Christian.  I really wish him peace.

It is the irony of public life that the sacred is mixed with the profane in a toxic Koolaid and mine is the last generation not to be feeding on it as a source of sustenance.  When you live or die on social media, it matters what people say in comments, and it matters how many followers you have as a measure of your worthiness as a writer.   If there is a writer out there reading this and despairing of not being read, please remember all the writers and musicians and artists that lived lives of obscurity for their art and who maybe later became famous – quite often posthumously.  The object of art is not fame, but creation.  The object of any communication is to be heard, felt, understood and to touch the receiver in some way.  It doesn’t matter if the audience is one or one million.  A pebble makes ripples.  Heck, Jesus only had 12 followers and look what impact He made?!?! I have put myself out there in public and I’ve been caught up by this, and now I know it is my job just to work harder on the craft of being a good storyteller. 

I’m grateful for all the adventures I’ve had and for the wonderful and not so wonderful people I have known in this life.  They’ve all taught me something because I was willing to find meaning in the experiences and they’ve given me memories and added to my story.

If anything I’ve written today sinks in, let it be that life is too short to waste time on nonsense.  Let go of ego, one-upmanship, and of bitterness.  The irony of  a public life is that it is not real life at all.  We can let our lives slip by, fussing about the maya of public life.  Send the card to that old boss, have that one more conversation with the childhood friend.  We only get so much time to live and tell our stories, well.  Love one another.  Treat one another with respect, dignity and equality.  Put down the phone this weekend and forget about that toxic Koolaid that is anti-social media.

 

Photo: Prateek Katyal

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

 

Ten Thousand Days

When to Stop Digging

June 6, 2021

Photo: Michael Dziedzic

Day 2472 – Day 2485

This past week I had a bit of a meltdown.  There’s a lot going on in my life and there has been for awhile.

I realized that I am closing in on a big milestone in this work of TTDOG and I am frustrated with my failure to reach people.  Sure, people are interested in gratitude and joy and maybe even oneness and a few people are interested in service.  But there are so few that seem willing to engage with the material over the medium or long term.  I’m not sure why.  I posted a short video this week and I was afraid to do it because it was really positive and sweet.  I was afraid it would attract cynicism and well, disdain.  The fact that I was concerned made me profoundly sad.

The world is growing darker and I’ve witnessed the darkening, along with my spiritual community for almost 20 years.  Cynicism has taken root in humanity and we have become a truly me-first world where we treat people as disposable products and products as the source of all happiness.

This pandemic has shown the gaps in our belief in social responsibility, in civic duty and in our shared responsibility to one another, regardless of artificial borders.  Our faith in institutions like the government, policing, and even our currency is faltering.  When this happens, the history of development tells us that chaos and war are the next stage in our evolution. There is little cheer in that bleak outlook and it has left me wondering whether there is room, in the zeitgeist of the times, for what I have to offer.

I’m frustrated. People say they want to be happy and the way is right before them.  It’s free!  Yet it seems that nobody wants the solution right in front of them.  Or, maybe I just suck at capturing the attention of others and delivering the message.  The time I put into making my journey of TTDOG public is becoming unsustainable.

When you’re in a hole, you’ve got to recognize when to stop digging.

I reached out to my network, in my distress.

A friend said that this has been a horrendous year and a half.  Five years, I told her.  For the past 5 years, I have been in an unsustainable situation and the 5 people with whom I spend most of my time include people who are unsupportive, downright belittling and abusive, and treat me as if I don’t exist.  You cannot grow a flower in sand.  It’s been a hell of a hard 5 years, the grief for which I don’t think I can feel, until I’m in a new situation and I feel safe to feel it.

I thought about it more, later – this has not been a five-year struggle.  It’s been much longer.

About a decade ago, I experienced corporate bullying in a job that I had spent the previous decade working to attain.  I was in my dream job but in a nightmare situation.  I was working on the most important issues of our time and we had the potential to not only change the world, but to save the world from catastrophe.  It was an incredibly empowering position – from the perspective of the potential that it contained. I felt like I was on the brink of fulfilling my own greatest potential.

It astonishes me how some of the worst in people can be given power in places that attract people with the best of intentions.   I tried to do the right thing and take on the bully, only to learn the hard lesson that if a bully exists in a system, the system is inclined to support the bully.

I lost a lot of my faith in “the system.”

And soon it became clear that my clients really only cared about maintaining their political or cultural or capitalist hegemony in a world that was predicted to collapse around them.  They wanted to maintain their power when it collapsed, not to change their ways to prevent that collapse.

I lost a lot of my faith in organizations and institutions.

Not coincidentally, these issues, having been unaddressed in any real way for another decade, have now become the most important issues on the top of the minds of people around the world.

Too little now, and too late.

I lost a lot of my faith in a better future.

It may surprise you to know that I have lost a lot of my faith in the things of this world.  Having lost faith in systems, organizations institutions and a better future has left me with a lot of grief.  It is in keeping with my spiritual path to just allow things to fall away and witness the destruction.  I’m not sure I’ve been doing that.  I’ve been wrestling with the way I think it should be, stuck in my grief by not accepting and relinquishing the loss.

My frustration with this TTDOG work now tempts me to lose faith in humankind, and I really don’t want to do that.

I reached out to my amazingly accomplished network of friends because I don’t want to give up.  They held a mirror up to me so that I could see my own light and so that I could be reminded that it only takes a few lights to vanquish darkness.  And it is in the darkness that the light finds its purpose.

I’m going to have to come to terms with this cynical world and my own cynicism by simply allowing it to be.  There are options.  I looked at the writer Mark Manson and studied him a little bit.  He is saying the same things that I am saying, in many cases, and he has a massive following.  So, perhaps there is a hunger for this stuff.  What Manson does, however, is grab attention by meeting an angry and cynical world with confrontation.  Whether I’m willing to go that route or not is a question I need to ask myself.  It is a basic principle of polarity therapy that we must meet the client with their energy and mirror them.  I now have to decide if I want to and can live from a place of fire for the masses or if I’m best to serve from a place of water for the very very few.

And, maybe this isn’t the work I’m supposed to be doing.  And, maybe it is.  I have to be ready to let go of either possibility.

 

This was meant to be a very different post.  I have had another (much more uplifting) episode in mind to write about for a few weeks now, but it just isn’t where I’m at, in this moment, and I think it’s vitally important for anyone who is interested in happiness or (dare I say spiritual fulfillment) to not be afraid of loss and of sorrow.  There is nothing good to be gained in suffering and I’ve had enough of suffering.  But there is so much richness to be gained in experiencing and then letting go of the grief.

Don’t worry reader, I am still grateful.  I have a network of amazing people to whom I can turn.  I have a depth of strength within me that maybe was a gift of birth but I tend to believe is the product of a lifetime of obstacles.   And I’m grateful for the 7 years of this practice and a lifetime of spiritual practices that keeps my light burning and fuels that strength.

I have always known that when I am most at risk of losing faith in this physical world, I can take refuge in my faith in what I call God.  I’m very grateful that my spiritual group had a Zoom meeting today.  I realized that maybe this isn’t the work for me.  And if it is for me, it will unfold as it needs to unfold.  Sacrificial service includes giving up the way that we thing things should unfold.   

I am grateful that I have a daily spiritual group I can drop into on YouTube live, and that I have sacred books and texts from cherished teachers.  I have places I can go, that help me feel connected to the sacred, and I have practices to connect me to the teacher and the ultimate Source of all Light.

I believe that at some point we all ask if there is any more to life than this?  More often than not, meaning is found in the darkness at the bottom of the hole, where our tears turn the dirt to mud.  It’s time to wade through the mud and find that treasure that will help me to crawl out.  And when I’ve found what was meant for me down here, I know that it is my God’s hand that will reach down into that hole to help me climb out into the light and face whatever needs to unfold.

My polarity therapy teacher used to say that we would attract the cases with the issues that we most needed to heal in ourselves.  Perhaps not coincidentally, this week kicks off a month of focus, on my YouTube channel, on “Meaning.”

 

Photo: Iswanto Arif

 

For what are you most grateful, today?

Ten Thousand Days

I’ve Been Remiss

May 23, 2021

Photo: Anastalia Chepinska

Day 2437 – Day 2471

I haven’t been writing much on this website this year.  I think that is because I have been spending so much time writing videos on my YouTube channel as I work each month through each of the practices that go along with the long term practice of Gratitude. 

This month we are working on Living a Life on Purpose and I’ve posted videos on Values, and a video on the struggle of practicing Gratitude during a Pandemic.  This week I posted today a video on Transforming Limiting Beliefs  and I will be posting an interview with Mandeep Rai, PhD, author of the International Bestseller, the Values Compass..

I will also be producing videos on Dreaming and Goal Setting and a little something about Flourishing.  I will probably be doing my shortcut video that always seems to be popular for each practice – a kind of Top 10 tips video, too. 

The YouTube channel takes a lot of time.  I liken it to the time difference involved in writing a script to the time it takes to write a script, record and ‘act’ in the script, edit and produce the film and then upload it and respond to the audience.  It has taken a lot of time from my painting, and writing time for this website.  But the audience for YouTube is different from blogs and I want to make sure I reach as many people as I can.

I want to get through this year and lay down some valuable content and then I will determine whether or how often I will continue to upload videos. I think I will feel that I have fulfilled a part of my purpose if I can deliver good content for a year on each of the practices.  It’s a bit of the legacy I’d like to leave behind for others.  I’m not getting any younger and time in hospital, two years ago, taught me to get moving on this work.

As I’m not getting younger, and my readers are travelling this journey with me, you might notice that I’ve increased the font on my posts.  My eyes are grateful for this change!  I hope that yours are, as well.

I also write a weekly email to my subscribers.  Are you signed up yet for the email list?  You might want to join it.  I’m not hawking anything and even if I do have products to sell, in future, the intention of the email list is to provide inspiring content, every week.  You can unsubscribe at any time, if you don’t like it.  However, I do encourage you to subscribe because, as I am spreading myself thinner, it will be another place where you will get to enjoy my writing on the practices.

The danger, of course, is that I spend so much time creating content about the practices and how to embody them, that I neglect my own work.  To make sure that doesn’t happen, I’ve been working through the prompts on the 2021 TTDOG calendar (a set of daily prompts which I create for each month around the practice upon which we focus that month) but I do miss writing here about my own journey, for my readers, as well as for my own development .  Of course, writing here is essential for the unfolding of the practices that come from a long term practice of gratitude as they come from my own reflections on the practice.

I’m grateful that I have found a focus for my channel and that the content is laid out ahead of me.  It gives me the sense of living my own life on purpose.  I’m also grateful for the yearning to write these more reflective posts and not to neglect my readers here.  The connection we have built over the years is one of my most valued and I offer my apologies for neglecting you a little this year as I’ve found my feet in producing video content.  Perhaps I will call it quits at the end of the 2021 calendar year and return to it when I am in a position to have others do the editing and producing for me. 

I feel my value is added in the writing of the content and perhaps in the delivery as it all comes from my lived experience.  However, the pressure on my time will only intensify as we return to the confines of working in the office location again.  I yearn to have time in my studio creating artwork where my mind is emptied and I get into a state of flow from which more creativity can pour forth.  I am grateful this morning for a gray day so that I don’t feel that I need to rush out to record a video (or the next two or three) and I can sit here and write a postcard to my readers and let you know that I’m still here, I still care that you are well and happy and as ever, I am grateful for this glorious life.

 

For what are you most grateful, today? 

Ten Thousand Days

Goodnight, Sir / God Save the Queen

April 17, 2021

Photo of Windsor Castle by King’s Church International

Day 2433 – Day 2436

I will be up in the wee hours of the morning to “attend” the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh.  The Queen is the monarch of my adopted country and the head of state of the country of my birth.  But the royal family are – as Russel Brand called them – totems as well.  The highs and lows of their lives have marked my own humble passages.

When I was young, I thought my mother was on the money.  She was beautiful, dark haired, and regal like the Queen.  The Queen was my Power-animal Mum and she wasn’t a totemic-grandma to me until later in life, when my own mother and grandmothers passed away.  Being the youngest in an enormous Catholic family means that many of your relatives die when you are a child.  But the Queen’s enduring presence is, in a way, a comfort to me, because I get to see what my mother might have looked like, and what she would have endured, had she lived.

When Diana and Charles married, my mother and I rose at some silly hour and watched their wedding from my mother’s home in Florida.  Both of us were romantics but life proved to be disappointing to us both in that regard.  Sadly, it proved to be disappointing for Diana, as well.

The death of Diana marked a period in my life where I was grappling with separating from family, too.  Individuation and emancipation didn’t come with balloons, banners and raise but with a healthy dose of punishment, too.

When I moved to London, it was on the Queen’s land at the Windsor Castle estate that I was initiated into a weekend intensive to launch my post graduate coursework.  Coming home on a dreary day from classes, I rounded the corner to enter my student housing in London to find myself 50 feet from Her Majesty the Queen who was visiting a primary school on my street, as if reminding me of the importance of education and tradition.

When William married Kate, I “attended” their royal wedding in Hyde park where visitors were treated to big screen televisions, an official wedding programme/order of service and a live band in the park who played the hymns.  We all stood and sang together and prayed together and cheered together.  I attended the wedding with the man I came closest to marrying, but by then we both knew that we would never be married and were learning to live with the disappointment of the decision that was never really a decision but became the inevitable.

And in a few hours, I will awaken and “attend” the funeral of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and rehearse the emotions and the protocols that I know will soon befall me, as I bid farewell, inevitably, to my own 90-year-old father.

As I ponder and work on my own altruism this month, I am in wonder at the devoted life of Service that Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh have each given to the Commonwealth and to me, as my totem.  Goodnight, Sir.

I am grateful to the royal family for being a symbol throughout my life for they have given me stability in a family that lacked it and an ideal on earth to which I could affirm my allegiance, when my own life lacked personal mentors and role models.  They have been an emblem of home, no matter where I have roamed and I’m grateful for their constancy.  People living in a republic will never know the blessings of having lived under the reign of the longest reigning monarch.  Whatever may happen to the institution of the monarchy when Her Majesty the Queen passes away, she and her family have been a part of the great task of meaning-making in my life.

Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us.

God Save the Queen!

 

For what are you most grateful, today?