Archive for the ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ Category

Pseudo Lent

March 6th, 2014 No comments

I am a day late for posting what intends to be a series of posts chronicling my experience of lent, the Christian season of preparation for Easter.

In my childhood home I remember lent as a time for giving up things that were really fun or delicious, like tv or chocolate. It’s a time for reflection. How giving up chocolate gets in the way of reflection, I can’t say I understand, but I do appreciate the benefits of living without comforts whilst doing activities which cultivate mindfulness and holistic serenity.

Each Spring for the last 4 years, I do a nutritional cleanse. This year I’ve decided to combine the cleanse with lent.

Comforts I’m doing without until Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014: Caffeine, Dairy, Sugar, Wheat

Practice I’m picking up until Easter Sunday: Writing daily (which is intended to resurrect this blog and find out what it wants to be) for 20 minutes. Accumulated time on text messages, emails and work documents don’t count.

Today being Day 1, it will be forty-six days of a daily writing practice and 45 days without caffeine, dairy, sugar or wheat – that’s right, I’m having a croissant and a cappuccino on Easter Sunday!

In the spirit of Jesus’ time in the desert, it is the 40 days and 40 nights that I’m going for (not necessarily consecutive). I figure this allows for human imperfection.

Why am I doing this if I don’t identify as being Christian? Well, regardless of whether or not I believe in the grand narrative of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection, there seems to be some principles in how he lived that are worthwhile reflecting upon.

And I guess I do it for a ritual to make the season of Spring and Easter meaningful, the way we do with Christmas and Winter Solstice.

Hhmm, I wonder if Jesus gave up meaning-making while he was in the desert. Maybe “the devil” was really an spout of psychosis because he hadn’t had anything to drink or eat. I wonder how different our world would look today if Jesus was medicated and put in a psych ward with a diagnosis.

Categories: Down the Rabbit Hole, Food Tags:

Renewing Vows to Artistry

June 21st, 2012 No comments

Today I contemplate what I would do with my time if I knew I would not fail and financial security were guaranteed. Art. The making of it, learning different disciplines, sharing the knowledge through teaching, performance, and facilitating collective art-making.

Why Art?  It’s often thought to be a bonus elective in schools, an activity we do “if we have time” after the very important tasks of running a household, business or community.  Because so many enjoy it and common is the belief that earned income must come through difficult unpleasant work, then it is quite understandable that we would think of the Arts as play for children, not for an adult serious about making a living wage.  And while it is feels good to write about it, there are uncomfortable challenges that come with choosing an Arts discipline as a profession.  Admittedly, I have had my moments of wishing that I could be someone I am not for the ability to take the well-worn path of other occupations with plenty of employment to go around and minimal risk.

The Arts, for me, is where the discovery of Self and Other meet, have a conversation, make-up alternate possibilities from our current reality and then dare us to live differently, sometimes more bold and hopefully, less afraid. It’s important work!  How else shall we communicate our inner world to the outer world but through the arts?  And were it not for this communication between inner and outer worlds, how else could we evolve our minds, our thoughts, indeed, our actions which create the world we experience?

Many people say they want a happy experience in this life.  Many want a clean world, a peaceful world, a joyful and loving world, but how many believe that the Arts practices are an important part of creating that?  Who of those protesting corruption, violence and environmental destruction will persist in advocating for the Arts?  It’s a connection not often made clear with of generations of programming about what gets desirable, monetized results in our industrialized society.  I believe the value of our artistic expression and creative thinking in general, is immeasurable, like the Self from which it emerges.  To protect the beauty, peace and joy in the world is to propagate the belief that the Arts are a vital lifeline for humanity.

The closest thing I know to marriage is my commitment to artistic expression.  Perhaps this marries me to all of humanity.  And like all marriages, it is the choice to renew the vow on a daily basis that makes the commitment real.  Today, I vow to honour my wacky artist self and persist in arts practices.  What do you do to strengthen your Artist?

My Kingdom for Feminine Influence

August 31st, 2011 No comments

After spending the last four weeks as the only woman on a production team, I have learned a fundamental lesson about the importance of influence.  Influence is not the same as giving direction or having authority. The title of director, manager or producer come with the ability to influence and lead a group, only if those individuals are willing to be led by that person. It has been my experience in working with masculine-dominated teams, that if you want something done, give the idea to the one that all the other males respect and follow. And by give I mean, find a way to allow that person to take ownership of the idea/solution that you offer and detach from any need to take credit for it, voice it or be rewarded for your contribution in any way.  Why?  Because unless that male is more evolved and enlightened than the vast majority, a woman is unlikely to get the credit that she deserves.  The fundamental difference between the gracious woman and the immature version of her: the gracious woman is not bothered by the male taking credit for her idea because the reward is in knowing her truth, not in what others think.  The reward for her is in self-mastery and the calm of humility that is much deeper than a pat on the back or peer recognition.  While it is nice to be given tribute for one’s ideas, and it’s fair and reasonable to want that; there was a great deal of satisfaction in my experience when someone else aligned himself to my desire and made it his own.  And because of the level of respect the males had for him, the suggestion was embraced. How do I know that it would not have been taken in the same way if it had been me who spoke?  Because that strategy had already failed me on several attempts.  In fact, I might go so far as to say, that strategy has failed me most of my life.

The discovery of how a quiet one-to-one dialogue can yield the exact result I wanted with the larger group, was a surprise and a great relief.  No longer do I think that I need to be the one to directly speak to a problem.   In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes, it really is counter-productive (with some people!) to take a direct approach.  My preference is to be direct but I don’t control how people do with that, so I am learning to adapt with what IS, not how I would like behaviours to be.

Releasing attachment to “being right” and to “getting credit for my work” felt like I stepped more firmly into the wisdom of feminine influence.  A truly satisfying step.

12,775 Days Ago

August 28th, 2011 No comments

Today is my 35th anniversary being a daughter and sister, niece, cousin, and grand-daughter.  Where I was born is a great distance from where I am now and who I have become and the life I live is very unlike what I imagined as a child.  I’m not a married homemaker living in a house with a yard and four children.  And I believe I am where I am, largely due to family, friends and teachers in my life who imagined me in roles other than a traditional mother and wife; despite the fact that “housewife” was my first occupational preference.

I spent the morning receiving birthday greetings in the form of text messages.  I got a call from my brother and Vicki who recently moved to Toronto.  It was a comfort to hear their voices.  I went for a small brunch at the Empanaderia down the street with a childhood friend of 25 years.  We walked towards the rehearsal venue where I would spend the next 4 hours partially in focused rehearsal mode, but mostly wishing I were outside on my bicycle or swimming in the ocean, or walking a nature trail.  It was touching to receive a gift of fruit from a fellow cast member.

I took myself out for dinner to East is East on W. Broadway.  I had my usual order of stuffed roti with tamarind sauce, chai with almond milk and as a special treat, tried the vegan chocolate pudding.  Sitting at a “sharing table” with two other women who mostly kept to themselves was not as awkward as one might have thought.  I purposefully did not bring a book and tried my best to stay focused on the present moment with the sights, sounds and smells around me.  I resisted reaching into my purse to fiddle with my date book.  It was an exercise of being private in public and savouring each delicious moment.  An uncommon but pleasant moment of celebrating myself in the presence of strangers who were focused on anyone else but me.

The long scenic bicycle ride home was a quiet and refreshing cool down before a few hours of ipod touch orientation.  Thanks Mom and Dad, for raising me and always supporting me over these 35 years, and making sure I don’t fall too far behind with the electronic gadget trends.

Categories: Down the Rabbit Hole Tags:

What does beer and classical music have in common?

August 20th, 2011 No comments

I’m drinking a beer that is dated back to 1366 (Belgium’s Stella) after singing selections of music from 1791 and 1741, sitting in an apartment built in 1910, and typing this post on a laptop which will probably not last beyond 10 years.  While reflecting on the enduring qualities of this beer, the music and this building, I begin to wonder if those artists designed a century’s life-time into their products intentionally, or maybe it didn’t really occur to them at the time.  Perhaps they were inspired, acted on their impulses and longevity was simply a consequence of their integrity.

The music we sang was the Requiem composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  He died before he could finish composing it and the fact that it was added to by other composers and still lives on in choral concerts today, seems like a little miracle to me.  It was astutely noted by a musician friend of mine, who attended the concert this evening, that some of Mozart’s movements were very similar to some of Handel’s selections.  Was Mozart copying from Handel or were the similarities a result of the other composers’ styles being influenced by Handel’s popular work?

Today, while I was humming parts of the Requiem, the melodies coming out of my mouth were swinging back and forth between Requiem and songs from The Sound of Music.  Can the qualities of what makes one thing (music, for instance) last a hundred years also be applied to another, seemingly unrelated thing, (like beer) and result in a similar timelessness?

What about this website?  Does the internet have the capacity to sustain human engagement for another 200 years?  Will we run out of energy to power the technology and lose access?  Or, if it does live on indefinitely, will people be able to read this post and understand the cultural references?  Two separate, but equally miraculous things if they were to occur in 2201!

After all the technological tinkering of recent years, it seems very effective still to read choral music from books printed on paper, and to walk up stairs to get to the 2nd floor, and to drink beer in a glass.

I end today with a feeling of accomplishment because I managed to get through the concert without falling over (which I felt I might several times) and I actually sang these movements that are super challenging!  Deep gratitude and appreciation extends to all the people who sang the beautiful music at St. Andrew’s – Wesley United Church tonight, all those who attended to hear us, and all the conductors and choirs over the last 250 years that essentially made it possible for us to access this music today.

Walking towards mystery

April 30th, 2011 No comments

In late September 2001, I arrived by foot at the beautiful city Santiago de Compostela.  I had walked the Camino with the sole purpose to arrive in 30 days.  It was a mystery what awaited me, and yet, it had not once occurred to me in all the hours of walking, that I might not appreciate what was at the other end of the long expansive trail.  It is now ten years since I’ve walked the Camino and it still remains a very cherished accomplishment.  Simple in method, I walked.  Profound in its result, my heart and soul took flight.

When I think about that time on the Camino, I remember a few lessons I wanted to apply to life beyond the scalloped marked trail:

1)  There is no escaping my humanity. Regardless of how much money, knowledge or status anyone brought with them to the Camino, it would not make any pilgrim immune to blisters (or some other pain) during their way.

2)  My arrival is in my choice to walk each day. Camino pilgrims I met were very helpful.  There were not many young women travelling solo so people often offered to be of assistance on anything from cooking me a meal to translating the world news about 911.  But no one could do the walking for me.  As painful as it was some days, with twice the weight recommended for my body, I was the only one who could put my left foot in front of my right.  My options were clear – walk, or stay still.  Keep walking. Rest!  And repeat…left foot, right foot.

3)  Assumptions and expectations are unnecessary extra weight; let them go! When I first started walking I thought everyone on the Camino would be going the distance to Santiago, but I learned that some walked for a weekend, a week or a month.  Less than a dozen among hundreds of people I met along the way actually planned to walk the full distance between Roncesvalles and Santiago.  And yet, the quality of experience with each person was not diminished or enhanced by the quantity of time we shared together.

4) Learn to speak more languages! At least one more than English! Sadly, I have failed in learning this lesson.  I met so many amazing people from Europe, Australia, South Americas; mostly everyone except North Americans and British spoke more than one language. Here is my pledge…before I am 40,  I WILL learn a new language!  If not, I will walk the Camino again to teach me again, why it is important!

Categories: Down the Rabbit Hole, Learning, Travel Tags:

What are we waiting for?

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Here is a video that I want to share with readers because when we contemplate life’s challenges, as I often do here, I think we are well served to be reminded of its fragility and mystery.

Today I did something that brings up a lot of fear.  I committed to an audition.  The more I think about the unpredictable nature of life, the more I feel determined to gain control of my fears and release limiting beliefs.  After watching this video, I decided to make my travel wishlist a priority again!   I hope it inspires you to make bold and courageous choices to live the life that is waiting for you!

Contemplating Ability

April 25th, 2011 No comments

Mastery is the result of choice; committed consistent action.  To attend to the same activity or manner of being, everyday, is an ability.  Therefore, I can say I know the experience of disability very well.  I like to think that I could write content worth your time to read, everyday.  And as much as I enjoy writing it still remains the most difficult goal I have set for myself to maintain a daily writing practice.

Now before I was able to type, I had to believe that I was capable of learning; enough to try and keep trying until I created a momentum of confidence around my ability to type.  So maybe my problem is not ability, but lack of belief.

So if we start with a wish, a feeling, a compelling desire to be proficient at something, to speak a new language or to live a life beyond our current beliefs of what is possible….we begin a journey to new abilities, a transformation from dreams to new realities.  And isn’t it true that often, the strong desires for change come from a place of frustration or disappointment with an absence of abilities?

Proficiency.  Excellence.  Mastery.  All fine qualities to move towards, but in their absence there still remains a lovely space for possibilities.  Try. Fail. Quit, but never give up hope.  Believe!

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Sitting in Spring

April 19th, 2011 No comments

Spring in Vancouver this year has been colder than last year’s weather patterns.  Over 10 degrees colder!  In the last week alone, we’ve had hail and lightning within hours of lovely warm sunshine!  Vancouver is known for unpredictable precipitation and this season has been exceptionally entertaining.  This morning I awoke to rhythmic sounds of hail, and by afternoon I sat on a dry wooden bench in North Vancouver’s Victory Park, admiring the signs of spring.

Donated by the North Shore Optimist Club

While I sat on this bench donated by the Optimist Club (delighted to learn that there is such a group!) I thought of how its placement in the park was a fine balance given that its view is of the World War II memorial.

View from the 'Optimist Club' bench

I arrived at the bench hungry and disappointed, having returned from Vancouver after learning that my much anticipated two hours of watercolour painting was cancelled due to our instructor’s illness. While I sat and ate my chocolate brown-rice pudding (highly recommended for moments of disappointment), I looked and listened to the sounds and sights of Spring. In the short time that I was there I witnessed a sleeping man on a nearby bench wake, sit and walk away. Another man (pictured left), contemplating in solitude in the square sat so still that I could believe my view to be a painting.  That imagining shifted moments later when an elderly man walked the cobblestone path circling the monument with his walker. I wondered what he might have to say about what this memorial he circled.  Shortly after he left, a mother and daughter strolled by with a baby in a buggy, smiling, chatting, enjoying the dry weather.  And then, as I was leaving, I noticed two lovers kissing on a picnic bench.  Initially they were hidden from my view but were certainly not hiding anything as they openly displayed their affection.

Silhouette of Spring

And above all of us park wanderers was a silhouette of Spring that brought me to a place of deep gratitude for the liberties that we each were enjoying in Victory Park  -a bird’s nest in a tree whose bare branches wait patiently for the budding of life.

While it is not officiated as a time to remember those whose lives were given in wars past, it felt appropriate today, sitting upon the bench marked “Optimist”,  to give thanks for the beautiful, safe and clean part of the world that many of us live in, but often take for-granted.  It may be colder than we would prefer, but the thunder of hail and lightning is highly preferred to the ravishing roars of war.

You feel a bit colder this year, Spring, but I am so very grateful that you are arrived!

Settling is for Up-does and Cakes

April 16th, 2011 No comments

I have, in my personal history, dated people who really were not well-suited for long-term partnerships.  With someone else, they were very well-suited, but not for me.  Nevertheless, with each person, I held on to optimistic ideas of what could be; focusing more on what I wanted to hear, see, and feel rather than what was actually being said, done, and felt.   Exasperated by the fact that I wanted it all to be just right the first time.  This pattern of settling for what-could-be, is old and boring.   I am, as my girlfriend LaKetta would put it, sick of being sick of it.

Rarely do I write here about happenings in my dating life.  Mostly because there really isn’t much happening (and more honestly, I’m private).  I am what is considered by most of the world to be ‘single’.  I don’t put a lot of emphasis on “finding someone”; I’ve only just barely found out who I am.  I thought that was important to do first before throwing myself into a deal with someone else who is also just figuring himself out.  Isn’t it true, that we really are all, as we go along, revealing our Selves to the I in “I am”?  Even though I know it doesn’t really end, the quest for self-knowledge, I do appreciate how very useful it can be to gather enough knowledge about myself to be able to explain, give fair warning, and apologize in advance, whenever possible.  It doesn’t stop shit from happening, but it feels more honest somehow.  With the growing awareness of all my shortcomings and jagged edges, and having experienced the hit of other’s, I think I’ve developed a healthy skepticism about romance.

I suppose it may be true that I’m a skeptic from not wanting to be disappointed as I have so often been, and from not wanting to be an outwardly hopeless romantic (because inside, I kind of am).  I completely enjoy getting swept away by a romantic-comedy and reading Pride and Prejudice wass one of the most memorable book reading experiences I’ve had to date.  HOW!ever, that was when I was 18 and I like to think that I’m more practical and realistic now.  Or, if I’m to put the psychoanalysis on zoom, I’m afraid of love, as one ex put it.  Perhaps I am that too.  It seems to me, from observations at a young age, that what many people call love is really messed up.  And ‘forever’ is really only about 7 – 10 years, or just until they’ve raised the children to be old enough to handle the separation.  LOVES also spells SOLVE.  Neat, hey?!  But see, I’m not really looking to solve anything.  I no longer consider myself broken, needing fixing.  A common assumption about a single woman in her mid-thirties is that she doesn’t want to be.  “Single?  Let’s fix that!”

I have a really great life.  I like who I am.  I know I am loved and appreciated.  And while many people may not agree, I prefer to be single than to shack up with someone and become miserable.  Is it possible that miraculous happiness could result from a well-suited match?  Sure.  I believe that miracles can happen.  I’m thankful to have met a select few couples who are truly very happy with who they are as individuals and as a couple, so I know it’s possible (for them).  The only projects I’m interested in are art projects, no more dating projects.  What I’m saying is, Up-do hairstyles and baking cakes require some degree of settling, not love (the lasting kind).

And as I write that last line, my computer plays Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”