Dec 18, 2011

the money tree - part 2

So did you look at the Money Tree video from last week? Did you guess what would happen?

I was totally surprised. 

For me this experiment is an interesting take on our state of mindfulness...especially around what we are tell ourselves we want more of. 

Given all the information and stimulation out there, I don't expect myself to notice everything. Impossible. I would however have thought that something different - and something I want more of (like art, like money hanging from a tree) - would grab my attention. And maybe it would, I don't know.

But this video has made me wonder:  what have I walked past this week, totally unaware?

         A magnificent work opportunity?
                          Feeling a sense of belonging in my community?
                    Creative inspiration? 

Am I spending more time on the wishing and wanting (potentially augmenting my sense of lack) and not enough on the appreciating and celebrating what already is (potentially augmenting a feeling of trust and wellness)?

Are you?

Dec 10, 2011

the money tree - part I

If you walked by a money tree ... what would you do?

Amy decided to find out. She hung bills in a small city tree along a busy sidewalk...and then filmed what transpired.

What do you think happened?

Myself...I imagined people would respond with delight, maybe call their friends to come see, take a few (perhaps take a lot). But really, in my heart of hearts, I thought what would happen is that some people would end up adding their own money to the tree and a recurring cycle would begin.

I did not expect what actually happened...and it has really piqued my curiosity about how we're living today. Check it out:

Dec 2, 2011

home sweet home

I know, I know it's been way too long between posts.  Not sure why... I certainly haven't forgotten.

All I can suggest is that the past two months have taken way more out of me than I'd acknowledged to myself.  Or because I'm trying too hard to write the 'perfect' post that aligns with what has been going on for me. Maybe too much has been going on.

The past few months have been a real life experience of rolling with the punches (change, the unexpected, disappointments) while simultaneously appreciating what was making it possible for me to move forward.  Last week in yoga class the teacher spoke about how falling was inevitable - whether from a balance posture or as an aspect of life. The important thing was how we fell and how we got back up again.

old floor and frame out - starting from zero again

Here are a few more images of the journey these past few months.

mike and andrew leveling the floor

Learning that 'pouring' the concrete actually involved several guys and wheel barrows and fast attention to detail. Concrete hardens fast.

voila - the new floor

Though the floor was supposed to be 'driftwood brown' the terracotta acid wash' look was one of those unexpected but happy surprises. 



Friends, resourcefulness, thoughtful surprises, attitude, fresh air, sleep, good food, music, writing, healthy choices. These are what kept me on moment at a time.

couldn't have done it without these  friends            

Thank you!

Merci mes ami(e)s!

Sacred Settling In?

For the last couple of weeks I feel like I got swallowed up into a kind of cocoon.  Once the construction was complete, the walls painted, the furniture moved in...the rest of the process of moving back in has almost been a sacred experience.  I wanted and needed time to be alone to putter, try out, make the subtle adjustments as I lived in the space. Now I crave witnesses, people to come and share in my joy. Like my friend in her seventh month of pregnancy, I too felt that this creation process asks for a mixture of community and solitude  The trick is to get the timing right.

I am thankful to be getting back up relatively gracefully as I once again feel settled and grounded. I'm already turning my attention to what comes next:  the focus being creating an abundance of inspirational connections as I meet folks and brainstorm ways to offer my services during these challenging social - economic times. Stay tuned:  I'm convinced that new opportunities are coming my way. Maybe they include you! 

Rafiki - as happy to be finally home as Linda!

 PS  Can you believe that I'm already dreaming of how the loft might be converted into an open and inspiring space for conversations and maybe a dorm? Yup...and this space below can then become the art studio-playroom I've always envisioned! Three cheers for dreams and the courage to make them reality, no matter what the odds!  

Oct 18, 2011

simple pleasures

Creativity to the rescue.

A few weeks ago, in a spontaneous moment, I started a game with my 9 year old friend.  I am staying with her and her Mom while I am temporarily ousted from my home. (Nice friends eh!?)

With a number of women in this household an abundance of toilet paper rolls and tissue boxes tends to accumulate. I decided to do a spontaneous sculpture one day with these items. A few days later my young friend re-arranged things to create her own work of art. And we've been playing back and forth ever since.

Here is today's creation. I almost used tape and decided that nope, the idea was to be able to simply use the materials that were present. It was fun to see where my imagination went by honouring that boundary. 

Simple pleasures like these helps to remind me that there is more to life than renovations. I can feel the chaos fade to background.

Thank goodness for 9 year olds to remind and inspire me!

Oct 11, 2011

this too shall pass

Dare I say it?

Given all my talk about, my belief in, authenticity, I have to.  

I have officially hit the "I'm-tired-of-handling-it" phase.

That's where I am.

That's all I can be right now.

This too shall pass.

Sep 29, 2011

midstream reflection of a renovation

Planned or not, renovations sure present an interesting metaphor with which to perceive and work through our own internal journey of change or transition.

what's really going on below?

Clearing the Decks:
getting ready for the work to be done.


Letting Go:
cleaning out what is no longer useful ...and keeping what is. 

Midstream Reflection: taking time to notice where I have landed.  
  • Appreciation (it's still standing...and so am I).  
  • Anticipating the next step which will bring different materials and support.  
  • Acknowledging the guiding force and trust I put into my underlying intentions and vision
 Shivers of excitement emerge as my body-mind-spirit begins to make the move from fear and overwhelm to trust and possibility. Silver lining's and gifts begin to surface out of the chaos and rubble.

Wherever you are along your transitional journey, Breathe Big and know you're not alone.  


Sep 21, 2011

another layer

The sound of my typing blends with the sound of my floor being ripped up.

What a journey the past two weeks have been! Though there are still many unknown's and a number of fears, I am feeling better - compared to Monday.

Monday the worker didn't show up. Monday I couldn't get a hold of him to find out why. Monday all the stress came crashing down on my head and weighed very heavy.  How could I have been so proud of myself regarding how I was handling things and now suddenly I find it all too much?

After some pondering, some paddling, some sleep...I've got a hunch as to what might be going on. Clearly we're dealing with different layers and time lines when we're dealing with loss and grief.

When my brother died I think I went into logistic mode. There's so much to do, including supporting family members and his friends. I felt strange but not like how I would have imagined I'd feel at such a huge loss. It seemed buried or far away some how. Seven months later (last weekend) I'm in Toronto and suddenly I feel a wave of sadness. It hit me with no warning:

This was Peter's city.
        I'll never see him again here.
                 I'll never see him again period.
A similar pattern seems to be showing up with this sudden unexpected (nor desired) renovation. You keep it together in order to get what needs to be done, done. Contacting and meeting with the various people who can advise you, choosing the various folks to do the work, figuring out how the heck you're going to pay for it, and packing and moving and asking for help to get all your stuff out of the way. That's what I had control over.

Now that that part is's out of my hands to a large extent. I have to let go. I have to trust the people to come and do what they said they would. When they don't, or when it changes from what I understood, I suddenly feel all the stuffed down feelings that go with this whole change - overwhelmed, frustrated, scared - anything but strong.

Like another layer of grieving.

What helped me through that period? Sleep for sure. Let's not underestimate the power of rest. Reminding myself to breathe, big, deep, belly breaths. And I think the biggest thing for me was expressing those raw feelings. First privately through uncensored journal writing, then to an empathetic ear or two. And allowing the tears and the anger to show too. All these things helped me find my balance again.

So here's what I want to remember when attempting to live aligned through a tough time:
  • Acknowledge that there will be layers and various depths. 
  • Listen to your body. 
  • Feel what you feel. 
  • Ask for and accept support.

What about you? Anything you want to add that has helped you in your experiences?

Sep 8, 2011

both farmer and field

I just learned that I have to completely redo my floor insulation...yup, the whole floor, the one upon which I eat, work, visit, sleep, live. The one upon which all my belongings currently sit. The one upon which all the walls rest.

It appears that the clay upon which the barn sits has led to condensation build up, which has given way to wet insulation, which has begun to compromise the wood frame. Any way you look at it...chaos and a huge expense has descended! No easy answers here.

What surprises me is how relatively calmly - and with some humour - I'm taking it all. I guess that's part of the beauty of  acceptance.  It is what it is. Neither freaking out nor hiding out is going to help. Instead I'm open and curious and ready to face the challenges, learn what I need to learn, find the resources that will help me figure out what to do and how to do it. I've even wondered what magical new idea or outcome it might lead to! (Don't get me wrong I've had my moments, complete with expletives!)

This time last year I was also hit with a range of challenges. Though I slogged through them valiantly, it was hard. It was hard because I had so little reserves to fall back on then. I guess we could say I was officially burned out. The difference in how I feel as I face my current challenges is striking. With my energy back, I can feel my attitude, my curiosity, my problem solving centers alive and active again.

Acceptance of what is includes recognizing when to stop, when to leap, when to ask for help. You can't be your best nor offer your best if you are depleted.

Self-care is not selfish, it's wise. Resting, taking time for yourself, doing nothing ... isn't wasting time (as I experienced it at times). It's wise action. A farmer knows that a field that is allowed to occasionally lay fallow will reap much more in the future.

You are both farmer and field. Take care of yourself. Tune into what part of the cycle you are meant to be in right now and be there.   


Another learning from this year's creative sabbatical has been how much I get from structured reflection time in the form of writing and sharing my thoughts. So I hereby renew my commitment to weekly posts. 

All feedback, including suggesting topics or questions, would be much appreciated.

Jul 29, 2011

tender moments and empathy

Sometimes two days is all that it takes.

When it's with a dear friend, when it involves a canoe and camping, when the weather and every other detail is perfect, when there is space and time for conversations, for swims in the nude, for song...and then another song.

I just experienced such a blissful couple of days. It included deep listening and sharing too. In the slow flow of our time together we found ourselves opening, revealing, touching deep desires as well as the places that are tender. Places I thought I had moved on from.

All of this was held with empathy - both in the heart of my friend but also my own heart. I am reminded to stay gentle with myself. I feel what I feel. It is what it is. I can hold both the beauty and the pain at the same time...and even see the beauty in the pain. Strange...but true.

Bolstered and more aware of my heart I now head off to a weekend of music and community...and possibly more tender moments. Blue of the wonders of the world in my view. It embodies all of the values I hold dear. And a person I loved and let go of. moment at a time I will live each emotion that comes along... the full spectrum. I will keep music at the centre. I will appreciate the music offered. I will play and sing and share my own songs.  I will simply drink in the community energy and joy that surrounds me...allow it to hold and nurture me. It's going to be beautiful. 

May you also have a place, a person, a community experience to go to, that holds you gently in your tender moments.

Jul 14, 2011

the novel of novels

I'm reading novels again. It is an absolute joy to be returning to this simple pleasure. Especially while gently rocking in the hammock, feeling the light breeze, occasionally glancing out at the trees

I gave up the habit a long time ago when I noticed I couldn't put novels down to attend to the other things in my life. Played a lot of Russian Roulette. I began to reserve fictional reading to holiday time...and before long that dwindled too.

For the past few months, perhaps stimulated by my shifts at our local library, I have been diving in again. I love how it can restore my energy after a spout of doing or giving. Though I can still get caught up in a story such that I forget the rest of the world, I think I'm a bit more balanced now.  (Perhaps because I'm giving myself permission to?)  Instead of feeling guilty I savour the experience, sink into it wholeheartedly.

As someone with a dream to share her own words, thoughts, stories...this simple pleasure also serves as a support mechanism. My delight in reading is a reminder of how words and perspectives can uplift, provoke, comfort and inspire. May this realization be one more step towards my own written work...however that may manifest itself.

What pleasure are you avoiding? How does denying yourself this experience affect you? What would happen if you gave yourself permission to try it again?

Jul 6, 2011


It seems many roads are leading me to acknowledge, embrace and accept that I am indeed where I need to be. And right now that entails non-activity, non-striving, non-productivity. Simply being, observing and noticing. 

This too is part of the creative and the writing process. Can I accept this? Not easily. Social conditioning, along with certain personality characteristics, do get in the way at times.

Last week one of our Wakefield Fringe guests, Alison Wearing ["Confessions Of A Fairy's Daughter"] talked about writing looking a lot like this:  and she slumped in her chair, gazing out into space. I recognized myself. I felt somewhat affirmed. 

Earlier today I had my first coaching session with Laura.  My homework challenge this week is to spend an hour a day this week not working on this illusive book project...and to journal about not working on it. Curious juxtaposition. Not quite sure what that will surface but I'm looking forward to seeing what does.

And just now I re-read a post I saved from Wild Artist and received another affirmation for me to be exactly where I am:

To sing, you must put courage behind your song. To be heard, you must put heart and time into your song. But first you need to pause. Power comes from the quiet inside. The power to paint.
Except for the point, the stillpoint,
There would be no dance,
And there is only the dance.
     - T.S. Eliot
Balance requires a still point. Everything unique and beautiful grows out of the still point; your dance needs to start first in a place of quiet reflection, meditation, prayer.

I can almost see myself see-sawing between my various wishes and paradoxes, swinging up and down, bumping hard each time one end hits the ground. I feel viscerally the chaos I've been experiencing as I struggle to choose something, anything...just get moving, doing, producing something!

But now these words, these gifts from others, are allowing me to see my daydreaming, my non-action as this still point, a possible birth place for something to be born. I am just a bit more able to accept that this non-doing, non-focused time is actually a necessary part of the process for me to move forward with ease and integrity. Eventually. When it's time.

Once again what is right now (when I stop struggling against it) is actually quite perfect.

Jun 23, 2011

roller coasters and rock walls

My beautiful rock wall, built by a friend, draped in flox given as gifts, held together by weeds and wild flowers...a metaphor for life ? 

Despite beautiful weather day after day, despite the luscious rain last night that gave the gardens a deep drink,  despite fun community projects, despite creative work - despite all this - my world continues to go up and down. In a good place one minute, not so much the next.

Such is perhaps how it is. Or a reality of being in my fifties. Or perhaps a piece of the grieving journey. Whatever the case, the trick appears to be to find a way to accept and roll with those waves, one moment at a time.  And to notice what seems to help.

For me there are at least three things that support me getting to a more balanced place:
  • writing (the private kind, not this public blogging!), letting my words, emotions, questions flow out unbridled     
  • moving my body in some way - be that yoga, walking, swimming, cycling, dancing...just move! 
  • telling someone what's happening; being heard helps even if there are no specific answers
This last one appears to be the hardest for me to act on.  Not really sure why.  I know that being heard carries a lot of power (that's why I love what I do, which is primarily listening). As does the act of sharing your (my) vulnerability.  It's the combination of both together that creates a kind of shared power, a linked energy that I believe makes our world go round. It is the birthplace of relationship, of innovation, of our humanness.

I realize I like to listen, to help, to be leaned upon...but that I sometimes find it hard to know how to start a conversation about my own malaise. I convince myself that my friends are too busy or too burdened with their own stresses for me to bother them.  I tend to wait for them to invite me and that doesn't always happen.

But I know that these are just excuses on my part that keep me from reaching out, from being vulnerable, from showing all sides of my own humanness. I've been there for my friends...why wouldn't I want to give that friend an opportunity to be there for me?

Friendships, like flowering rock walls, require balance, including the balance of leaning and being leaned upon. And moments of connection, conversation (a mix of planned and unplanned flowers be they weed or not). And a heap of trust - that together you will negotiate the boundaries required as necessary.

What helps you navigate the waves, negotiate for the support you need?

May 31, 2011

why is it so hard?

I truly mean to write weekly.

I often have snippets in my head as I'm driving or walking or day dreaming. I notice provocative quotes that take me down a particular path and I wonder what others would take from it. I drink in the lush greens that surround me here in Rupert...and I want to write about noticing, experiencing, living whatever form of beauty touches me.

Why do I seem to have trouble getting those thoughts out of my head and onto the page? No idea.

I could claim busy-ness...but really I think I just forget...or put it off...or get overwhelmed by my choices. Fortunately I'm not often visited by the excuse of  'what's the point?' That tells me something: Keep going. Just like in yoga when you fall out of a balance simply begin again.

Lose the judgement. Just begin again.

Whatever it is you want to be doing in your that you're on your path, that it's unfolding as it's meant to, complete with zigs and zags and perhaps even some full stops. And then you begin again either in a new more aligned direction or in the one that stays continues to whisper to you.

Right? Write!

May 11, 2011

a package deal

The last few weeks I've noticed that, along with the daffodils and the bright green shoots on the trees, I too feel like I'm coming alive again. I see it reflected in my energy level, my day timer, and the number of community adventures I'm embarking on. My hibernation period appears to be over.

Being alive is a package deal though, alongside the joy and excitement comes a certain measure of pain and fear. You need the whole spectrum to feel at all.

Despite the mixed package, I'm glad I'm here right now. I recognize that over this past year I have been cultivating new perspectives and habits. Like learning to choose between equally delicious possibilities. Like allowing more empty space for me to follow my bodies cues in that moment. Like re-engaging with my vision, my dreams - and adding some new features. Like learning how to accept loss and move on.

I spent most of last Saturday reading a novel - though I'd hoped to do a long bike ride and attend a birthday party. I let myself choose an extended period of quiet, restful solitude instead. I decided to take care of myself in this way knowing I might be missing a great opportunity (meeting other horse people) and worse, might be disappointing someone. I trusted that those opportunities will come again. I trusted that if I did disappoint, they will understand and forgive me. I listened to my body and trusted its message of need, not my brain telling me what I 'should' do. I trusted my instincts.

I am surprised to discover that my reignited dreams of another renovation project are largely fueled by a desire for the barn to once again be a retreat space for workshops I want to lead here. This past year has helped me gain a better understanding of why this is important to me. My creative juices are stirred up as I begin to address each of the hurdles that are part of reaching that dream. What feels different this time is that I am approaching it with more patience, a sense of letting things unfold in their own time. I am embellishing the vision and will let it move forward in little steps as they present themselves.

As for pain, loss and all those things...well that I just have to accept as part of the journey. I am learning to ride those waves knowing that other feelings will follow soon enough. I let the tears flow and then go for a walk in the woods, or to a community meeting/event, or I write a song. I know I can influence what I allow my mind to focus on. And right now I choose health, music, community, beauty, friendship, family, learning, nature, renovations, and my vision, to name a few.

All in all, as I reflect, I'd say there is much more joy than pain in this current package. Good to notice.

Apr 15, 2011

body mind connections

How goes the dancing? Did you try the experiment I suggested? I did and loved what it moved inside me.

I chose to dance to Melissa Etheridge "Your Little Secret" album to help me shake out my feelings. I haven't listened to her in a long time so it was a bit of a nostalgic journey too. I was reminded about how much I appreciate the passion and energy she puts into her music and lyrics. I knew I wanted upbeat but realized that it's actually passion and energy that I want to feel again. Being able to express a fear, a desire so open heartedly.

Oh to have that kind of courage in both my music as well as my life!

Here it is about 10 days later. I'm just now realizing that last night I was noticing that I was feeling more engaged in what I am doing, the choices I am making, the risks I am taking. (Signed up to write a song and perform it next week!) These are signs that my passion and energy are indeed returning!

Of course there are many inputs to this moment. I'm sure that attracting new clients, getting over my third cold in two months, the warm spring sun, my first bike ride of the season - all of these things also contributed to how I'm feeling.

Still I think shifting my focus - out of my head and more towards my body - played a significant role. Feeling and expressing my longing physically and musically alongside someone who I believe is echoing that passion, released something inside. This intuitive matching of what I wanted to feel with the music of another reminded me that such feelings exists in the world, that it is even desirable, that I'm not alone. So along with feeling like I had some accompaniment there is a sense of being affirmed.

At the very least dancing to music you like is a fun interlude. Viva la danse!

Apr 3, 2011

dancing the journey

I just saw the creative spiral image on The Fertile Unknown site. Ah the stimulation of a visual. It prompted this musing:

"The experiential learning cycle...shows up everywhere with different names. I love spirals - a pictorial representation of our process:  full of curiosity, mystery and possibility.

The visual also conjures up movement for me, a reminder to dance along the that a slow waltz or a lively jig! What I get from this is I need to engage my body and my emotions as well as my mind."

And in this moment what I am realizing is I need/want to dance more! Shake out winter and welcome spring ...embrace a fresh perspective that a change in season can bring. Shake out old thoughts that aren't helpful and welcome new ones that are aligned with who and where I want to be.

Let's do an experiment:  go find a favourite piece of music, one that matches how you're feeling. Get up and dance/move along with it. Notice how you feel after one or two dances. Then play some music that is more about what you want to feel...and see where it takes you. Let me know what happened for you...and I'll do the same.



Mar 16, 2011


Lately I've been reading about forgiveness...and the mirror concept is here too. What I notice in someone else is often a reflection of what is also a part of me. 

When I feel disgust, anger, disappointment or even rage at another person's behaviour, I take this as a nudge to look inside and see what in myself I am reacting to. What am I possibly denying exists in myself? What might I need to forgive in me?  It's been hard but I have to admit it also resonates deeply.

Think back to a situation (could be a movie scene) where someone is being bullied. Which of the behaviours do you most react to:  the person who is not standing up for themselves or the bullying behaviour of the person yelling at the other?  Would the bystander who you perceive as turning a blind eye or the one who steps in be more likely to trigger a response in you?

You will likely say 'it depends'. OK, notice what it depends on too. Is it the age, status, gender, ability of the people involved...the time of day, the context of the situation or even whether you are privy to that or not. It's still information for you.

I've always had a sense that forgiveness starts with forgiving myself. Not sure if that's something I learned or just felt intuitively. What I'm reading now* is giving me some words and concepts to understand why that might be. Acknowledging, accepting and seeking support to forgive myself begins the process of healing and releasing its negative hold on me. When we forgive ourselves, when we offer ourselves compassion, a sense of peace is often the outcome. I have no need to forgive the other anymore...there is simply compassion for us all as we try to live our lives as best we can.

Forgiveness does not mean condoning behaviour that is disrespectful, illegal or unethical or down right mean. Boundaries still need to be set. We each need to find our own response to any situation.  That response when from a place of compassion holds more hope for our world than when not. 

Try it. Try forgiving yourself something and see if compassion towards yourself extends to the person or persons that trigger that response.  Perhaps the peace you feel will inspire a book or a song or the creation of a piece of art...or a creative approach to a challenging situation.

Speaking of creative inspiration, let's remember too that the mirror reflects things we appreciate and love in others as well. That voice, smile, strength, way of seeing ... that's in you too ... ready to be embraced, enjoyed and expressed.

* "The Findhorn Book of Forgiveness" by Michael Dawson; Findhorn Press, Scotland, UK. 2003

Mar 10, 2011

turning point stories

The other day I gave a team I was working with the exercise of bringing in an artifact that represented a turning point in their life. I thought that would be a good warm up to our discussion on our response to change.

On the day of the retreat just about each person said how they struggled with this exercise - even the person who had helped design the theme. That surprised me. Some said it was hard to find the object to represent the story they would tell. Some struggled with which turning point to speak about. Others felt they had none to speak of. 

My guess is that sharing a story that was important to us was what was scary.  It's not always easy to reveal ourselves to others, especially something that touches at our core. Makes us vulnerable.

That morning, while the snow kept on falling outside, each person decided to take a leap of faith and told their story of change to their colleagues. With each story a new channel was opened with each person in the room. You could feel the appreciation, the respect and the warmth begin to swirl through the air as strengths and values and incredible courage shined through. 

No one had to go that deep. No one had to do the exercise at all if they preferred not to. But everyone found the inner resources to do so, each in their own way.

I'm curious as to whether the exercise, introduced with words like 'artifact' and 'turning point' was what led to such deep stories? Perhaps if I'd asked for 'objects that symbolize a change in your life,  equally interesting but perhaps more superficial or guarded stories would have come out. Who knows?

My hunch is that this particular group was ready, no matter what way I introduced the exercise, to tell these stories, to reveal themselves...and to be heard.  I also suspect that the pre-work we did leading up to the day helped create the readiness, the initial safety for such candidness to occur.

If anyone from that team are reading this, I'd love to get your perspective. And anyone else's too.

Feb 24, 2011

appreciated, warts and all

I've just returned from Tucson where my brother Mike and niece Jessica and I laughed and cried our way through the process of saying good bye to my brother Peter. In some ways it also felt like I was saying 'hello'.

Through the actions and stories of his friends and colleagues I got to know the Peter that they loved, appreciated and respected.

What stands out for me is how everyone was so accepting of who he was - warts and all. They talked of his generosity:  be that the use of his spare room, picking up the tab, connecting folks to their particular talent and then to the appropriate people that could make use of that talent. He was certainly one that could - and did - dish out advice: "this is what you need to do" but seldom accepted any. And Peter certainly had a way with much so that it was hard for anyone else to get a word in edgewise. Yet many admitted his stories, so colourfully embellished, were entertaining enough to not even want to try.

Though I wished that he had taken better care of himself, I accept that Peter lived his life his way. His choices were his were the consequences. What's comforting is sensing that he was less isolated or lonely as I'd always worried.

Thanks to all of you who called Peter your friend and shared with me how you experienced him.

Enjoy the new view Pete! Hope you'll join us with your harps (mouth harps that is) at my next jam.

Feb 6, 2011

wake up calls

I lost a favourite earring again.

Spent a good part of the evening berating myself. Why don't I use those little keepers on the end of the hook to avoid this loss? What stops me? Is it laziness, one more step I simply can't be bothered with? Do I really think I can control this, even with repeated evidence to the contrary?

Right now it seems so silly and even irresponsible (a trigger word for me), especially when it's something I care about. The earring loss may be a small thing but I'm realizing that this tendency shows up in really important things as well.

Like having a will.

I've had getting my affairs in order - the will, choosing an executor, talking to family and friends about my wishes - on my to do list for a long time... only to watch another week, month, year go by.  Not to mention the many hours wasted on berating myself. Avoidable.

This week I got a cruel kick in the butt;  I lost my brother. He died of a heart attack. Far away in Arizona. It does not appear that he had his affairs in order either...and so we are left trying to honour him as best we can.  Guessing. 

Lesson learned, painfully:  I've contacted a notary to do up my will. I've started to use those earring keepers.

Bonus outcome:  less time berating myself leaves more time for joy and appreciation.

Thanks for the hard lesson, Bro. 

Jan 21, 2011

glass half what?

While writing my morning pages the other day a familiar metaphor surfaced. Are you a glass half full or half empty kind of person? Remember that one? I discovered I was 'seeing' it (actually more like feeling it) from a totally different perspective.

The 'half empty' folks I saw as being pessimistic, indulging in scarcity thinking, and viewing life from a victim stance. Most times I identify with the 'half full' folks and perhaps am somewhat smug about it. For me half full means optimistic, abundant thinking, and engaged in life. That's the right way to be, right?

But it all seems upside now right now. I feel myself craving and coveting the empty portion of the glass - it seems to represent openness, possibility, a place to rest and let be. The full part of the glass seems to harbour a sense of heaviness, of expectations, needs, and loads of 'shoulds'. Talk about mixed messages!

What I'm starting to get is that all perspectives hold a blend of fear and just depends on the context of the day and how I want to view it. Life is full of  tensions or perhaps paradoxes. I'm trying to find a relaxed place between the many competing desires:  "do vs. be", engage vs. relax, action vs. trust, let go vs. let come.

While on this creative sabbatical I'm in the process of making peace with those tensions. That means acceptance and integration, not judgment and rejection. There must be a new way for me to hold them so that they intertwine and compliment each other instead of competing. Yin and yang, shadow and light, yes and no - one helps to define the other. It is not about right or wrong, it's about being open to seeing and experiencing differently. 

I suspect that you are also familiar with some brand of paradox in your own life...perhaps within your team, perhaps in your personal life. May we all trust our way into a new way to dance with them. I invite you to share what you're noticing in this moment.

Jan 12, 2011


My Mom has always had the softest hands in the world despite having been a cleaning lady a good chunk of her adult life. She always said it was her consistent application of hand cream. The other day I brought her some and put a dab on her hands. A second later she had scooped it up with her tongue... a surprising and new experience for my Dad and I.

We laughed as I tried to wipe the cream off her tongue before she swallowed...and gave her a drink of milk. She did not show any signs of the taste being unpleasant...but the fact that she showed it to me makes me think some part of her knew it wasn't something she was meant to do. Mischievous? Perhaps. All I know is that there was joy between us and no harm done.

As I related this story to some friends I noticed their strained smile, some sadness in their eyes. I realize that I'm not there right now. I seem to be experiencing this thing called 'acceptance', understanding a bit more what that means and what it feels like. It truly does make the painful aspect of whatever is going on just a little bit easier.

I'm sure my grieving for the Mom I once knew will come again, a different level of loss each time. But right now I am content that we are finding ways to enjoy each other, living in the moment. I try to find ways to meet her where I think she is at...bringing coloured markers, sweet treats, and games like a Barrel of Monkey's. Some things seem to connect for her more than others but it's been fun trying to imagine what she would enjoy.

May this ability to live with what is follow me into some other painful areas of my life. I suspect peace is waiting for me there.

Jan 5, 2011

identity crisis

It has not been a terrible few weeks...but neither have I felt my usual vigor and excitement about life. I suppose holiday periods are expected to be a bit off when relationships and traditions change. I find myself caught in the desire to be grateful for all that I am and have...and feeling somewhat melancholy because of what is not the way I wish it to be. Guess that's what being human, this human at any rate, is all about.

I have a hunch that part of what I'm feeling is related to all this open space and time, all this permission I've given myself to not do. I'm not used to it and it's a bit disconcerting.  Who am I really if I'm not busy,  productive or helping someone? Really, who am I?

Yup that's nailed it:  an identity crisis in the midst of all this delicious opportunity. And that feels wrong somehow, like I'm wasting it or being ungrateful. More judgment. Interesting to notice that my discomfort is primarily my feelings about my feelings. Go figure. If I let that go ... maybe things would improve. Worth a try.

Time to just let myself be where I am and how I am. I am in the process of discovering who I am when work and my relationship are not the key defining agents. I am in the process of allowing myself to simply feel what I feel. I trust that joy and that warm sense of contentment will come again. I do believe that.

May you also be where you are...trusting and allowing things to unfold.
2011, here we come!

Optimistically yours,