Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Nerds to the Rescue!

There is a second hand store nearby which we frequent often, especially around this time of year to find just the right garments for Halloween creativity. For two months, my son was determined that he would go out for Halloween this year as a renegade teletubbie. He was going to be Po on the lam. So off we went to Jinglers in search of red Po stuff. Instead, we found a pair of pants with a zipper up the back and an argyle vest and a pair of glasses and Po went out the window to be replaced by a nerd.

All tucked in and everywhere to go, this dreamboat ladies man had his hair slicked down just right by his sister and I. When he looked in the mirror for the first time with the duct tape on his glasses and his hair parted to the side, he laughed so hard that tears rolled down his face!! It was priceless. Though I promised not to post these...........I had my fingers crossed......... I couldn't help myself. This second shot is of my heartmelter son doing his best pose of a nerd with something on his mind. He cracks me up.

We had lots of ghouls and demons knock on the door tonight.......a couple of Harry Potters, a bunch of football players, a king, a mint and a few ghosts. But, I have to say we only had one nerd in the neighbourhood.

Happy Halloween. This is our nasty pumpkin gnawing on a baby pumpkin. BAAAAD pumpkin.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

on being human.......

If you went looking, where would you find God in our world these days?
Could it be in the place where we make the comforting connections with one another when we are at our weakest? Does God dwell in the plea for help, in the sigh of a surrender , in the bleak passages where tears accumulate? Does God's presence seep into the cracks of broken hearts?
If you went looking, where would you find a human being in our world these days? Is it in the same places as you would find God?
We are our most human when we make the comforting connections with one another when we are at our weakest......when we are at the messiest, most doubting and trying times in our lives. It makes me wonder if we discover ourselves and our faith more through the pain we may have to endure while we figure our problems out....that through our vulnerability, the raw wounds can lead to much deeper connections with other human beings who are willing to be with us during those times.
Interesting that brokenness can manifest love and belonging if we want it to. Interesting how showing our human beingness to someone else passes on God's light. He dwells in all of us.
We are all we have. As human beings we must listen and respond to the weeping of others, don't you think? Our primary goal in life is to feel needed. Let us fulfill this goal by offering ourselves to others in need.......unconditionally. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

are you out there?

I see
Streetlight tricks on the upshorn leaves
behind the shadow pine
catching the corner of my eye

I hear
Dry soundscrapes of tumbling remants
down the deserted road
threatening nocturnal emptiness

I listen to
An infrequent pitched squeak of a bare branch
against the window pane
warning of winter's cold breath

I feel
haunted sadness when I see your image
behind my closed eyes
haunted regret when I sense your presence
captured in an illusionary embrace

I taste
the last remnants of a parched thirst
the slow drip of salty tears wandering in lost causes
touching my lips in ache
I remember
how you looked at me,
how you used to look right into me.

and it makes me wonder about
shivering loneliness caught in the throat of a cry.

and it makes me long for
surrendering tenderness found in the shared darkness of two souls

to soothe my wounds
to remind me of my beauty
to savour when the winds moan
a bitter song
of wanting what I cannot find.

This week's prompt for Writer's Island is "haunted"..........a deliciously enticing and downright frightening dare. I double dare you to check out the site........

Sunday, October 28, 2007

pathos, passion and purpose....

fury, passion and heat of a summer storm

Loud honestly expressive emotions scare the pants off people. We are conditioned at a very early age to keep them under wraps because they make others feel uncomfortable. Cultural and gender rules complicate the acceptable map that chart what is appropriate, and what isn't, as do the stereotypes we have for nationalities. What is allowable in a very young child, is different than what is anticipated in adolescence, or what is demanded of an adult, or even what is agreeable from a person in the later years of their lives. Different workplaces and careers spin their own set of rules.

Can you imagine an intensely gregarious librarian with a penchant for impulsive stand up comedy outbursts while returning books to their appropriate shelves? What about a motivational speaker who decides to show up one day with a bag full of anger and decides to rant and rage from the podium? A Manager who breaks into song while reviewing the agenda for the meeting? Despite the fact that we are all born with certain temperments, the acceptable range of emotions is born by the societal norms we find ourselves in.

And rightly so.................for most of our daily lives. We learn to play the game because society needs some semblance of order and order only comes when we BEHAVE. Whether it's learning to repress our natural inclinations or to more fully express beyond our inherent comfort zone, we learn the rules and abide by them. I may WANT to share exactly how I'm feeling with people I encounter during a typical day, but they most likely don't want to hear it. No...................if you're asked..........."How are you today?" Our auto-pilot knee jerk response is a bland......."Fine, thank you. How's your day going?"
polite, acceptable, expected small talk.

Try walking into the coffee shop you frequent the most and answer that question posed by the person waiting on you with a different response, even if it isn't too

"I'm exhausted and premenstrually grouchy thanks. How about you?" Guaranteed, you will..............
a) be remembered
b) receive a dumbfounded responsive look from someone who isn't used to improvising or revising their own response.

Express your LOVE too much.....Describe how much you LOATHE or ADORE an activity........Detail the SORROW you feel over a provocative movie or an encounter you've had..........Wax poetic about the PAIN and ANGUISH you feel, or how INSPIRED you feel by a piece of poetry the evocative trump card and watch out. People are just not comfortable in that milieu. You will be dismissed as an eccentrically out of control nutbar. Intensity in public is frowned upon. Intensity EVEN out of the public eye, with most of the people whom we are the closest to is not received well.

For God's sake, keep the tear ducts plugged, your fantasties on file and your passions in your pants.

Repress your distress. Well, perhaps it's alright to say you are having a bad day and leave it at that. Tell someone you enjoyed their company thank you very much, but don't hug them TOO long or they will get the wrong impression. Be good! Be nice! When one has a tendancy to wear ones emotions more openly than the societal comfort level, it is like a breath of fresh air when one finds a kindred who isn't afraid to be the receiver of them.

This is why I love writing. Though we have a tendancy to censor a lot of what we share publically, the allowable well is deeper, and the rules for the most part are of our own making. Expressive thought written down tends to be more viscerally emphatic. There's an intimacy between the author and reader that is enticing.

Writing about how one feels is to offer a venue that says......guess what? You can journey with me on this emotional trip if you want, and hopefully you can relate because you've felt them too.

Let me describe my passions.......the big bright validating life affirming scope of emotions.
Let me describe what makes me weep with sadness, what makes me rage with frustration.
Let me find the words for my desires, my hopes, my loves, my whooping JOY.
Let me stir around in the complicated silence which echos the pathos of my heart.
Let our emotions tap tap tap our thinking..........not to drive our decisions, but to add outward clarity to our inward prayers.

Writing is a cathartic character building boulevard where words merge with effervescent efflusivity. And as much as blogging is a public forum, it still has an anonymity shield which offers a chance for interaction to be a more intimate and acceptable place to display our worries, our frets, our longings. Strangers become friends because the happy hour small talk is cast aside. Blemishes are acceptable. Beauty is more robust. It can be a place where one can spill out doubts as emotionally charged as one wants.

As for the people in my life whom I have a history with outside of the blogworld who read and worry about the intensity of it all? For the love of PETE! RELAX! I personally cannot speak/write for anyone else except myself. My writing is my forum to put words to my thoughts and new ideas out while owning how I feel. I am not becoming a religious fanatic, however that is defined. What of it if I was? I am not about to take a long walk off a short pier........... I'm not running away, falling apart, losing my marbles nor changing my hair colour. (well, ok, I changed my hair colour to RED). I'm growing in the discomfort.

Wounds are never silent because they will begin to fester. They need recognition from the owner and I'm saying hello to them. I am simply poking the hibernating bear we all have lurking beneath the sheets of decorum, and LOVING the discoveries the writing has unearthed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

and so it goes............

Friday evening wine sipping
piano melodies in low key
and I'm thinking of a song...........

and so it goes......

and so it goes........

It's a song Billy Joel used to end his concerts.
Low key reflections of the heart.

It's music like this I want accompanying my end of the week thoughts.
Inclusive, not intrusive......
candlelit, backlit flickering in the foreground
emotionally driven, lightly touching, deeply felt.

It mirrors my reveries
It adornes my reflections

and so it goes........

and so it goes.......

Yesterday, I took part in a day long workshop on family violence, as a participant as well as a facilitator. 40 frontline staff, from various sections of my government workers, case managers, community development enthusiasts, adminstrative reception people, program officers, and a few of us crazy counsellors. It was a terrific mix of people who all work with individuals who live and survive violence. We are the people who try to help families put the pieces's a big part of our job, and yet this was the first time we came together to talk about it, and to share our accumulated expertise.

Despite the serious emotionally striking topic, it was a good day. Why? Because we ALL usually work in our own little come together to get to know one another at a deeper level by sharing our heart stories is uplifting. There's a sense of belonging and a recognition that our work has meaning............that what we do may make a difference. Unfortunately, we don't hear this enough. We have to rely on each other to hear it.

and so it goes............

and so it goes..........

Life is busy right now. And I like it all. It takes me out of my head and stretches my skills. I'm challenged as I organize and coordinate a few upcoming functions........extra curriculars....stuff outside of my regular work day. I'm connecting with new people, reconnecting with others I have worked with in the past, and it's all validating and affirming. But, in order to find the energy and focus, I need the time to deflate and reflect. We all do, don't we?

I am at my best when I have some down time in between, especially when the focus is on the emotionally charged interactions. Friday nights fit the bill.

"And this is why my eyes are closed
It's just as well for all I've seen
And so it goes,
and so it goes

And you're the only one who knows
So I would choose to be with you
That's if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break

And so it goes, and so it goes
And you're the only one who knows."

the view at the end of my street.
if beauty only visits to brush on our memory,
let us stop long enough to let the brush touch our hearts.
nature washes our spirit clean,
love cleanses it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Grace Notes update.

View upriver from Springhill Road, early October 2007

As some of you know I have another blog which is linked to the CanadaEast website entitled "Grace Notes" . I would love it if you would check it out and left a comment on anything that interests you. The registration process for leaving comments has been fixed so that it's much easier to do so. I have posted a few pieces this week from my archives here. A little tweak, and a little polishing and there you go.

Have a right here!!!!


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Free Will and other yummy things

summer, 2006.....cousins on a jaunt through the forest.
The other night as I was french braiding my daughter's hair, she admitted her discomfort with how a new friend at school responded to her when she told this friend that she was nervous about her upcoming Math test. The new friend told my daughter that it was in God's hands. It left Martha feeling at a loss for words......of course mouthy momma here had LOTS..........but I was good and zipped up my opinions. I saw the chance to have an interesting conversation with my insightful 14 year old daughter to find out why she didn't know how to respond (she didn't want to hurt this new friend's feelings knowing that her family were involved in fundamentalist missionary work through their church etc) and what she was thinking. It was evident right away that she had been thinking about this a great deal.

"Why would God have a say in how I do on my Math test? Didn't He give human beings "free will" so that we had the choice and ability to succeed or fail," she asked.

Without getting into a philosphical dissertation thereby losing both myself and my daughter into a convoluted and complicated cat and mouse discourse that is best to have over a few sniffies of brandy and cuban cigars, I simply said............"Uhuh........."

I was also braiding her hair and was trying to concentrate on wrapping the right strand around the right strand......a trying exercise for someone who has only ever done this task on herself (that would be ME) years ago while standing in front of a mirror, thereby doing the task inside out and backwards. As much as I'm a multi tasker extraordinaire, braiding hair, discussing evangelical fundamentalism, and defining free will WHILE the ballgame is on TV AFTER a long day of work and cooking dinner.................. "Uhuh" seemed like a safe answer.

Kidding aside............

My daughter, who was sitting on a comfy ottomon, not paying attention to the game whatsoever, and happy to have my undivided attention away from other ears (insert nosey parker brother who has an opinion on EVERYTHING and likes to debate it until the cows come home ) was completely and totally able to focus on the conundrum of her friend's comments, and her own blossoming journey of faith. So, she was full of ideas which was obvious she had thought through more than I had realized.

Free will, according to Martha, is the reason she has an interest and a belief in God. Free will allows her to be both independent and dependent on God. And it is free will which gives her the invitation to question religion, to wonder about God, to look around and see the different faiths out there, to take control over how she will do on her Math test.

She shared a few conversations she had recently had with a couple of friends, one specifically who is a Quaker. They had spent 2 weeks sharing a cabin in the summer at camp and it appears that they spoke a great deal about Quakerism, Unitarianism and about Protestantism. It also sounds like they shared their opinion on the Dalai Lama, and on God and touched a little bit on trying to figure out why so many religions fight against one another.

WOW! And to think at that age I was just trying to figure out how me and my tentmates were going to meet up with "the boys" in the woods after lights out!

Fascinated by where she was taking me....................I became a meticulous braider.....slowing the process down so that we would have uninterupted time.......

an aside...................cause it seems to fit in my thinking right now anyways

When Martha was 5 years old, she informed her GrandMim, her aunt and I that she wanted to work as a missionary in Africa. I was thinking of that conversation......remembering how her aunt dismissed it outrightly.........all the while Martha was trying to explain what she wanted to she saw herself. IN her kindergarten thinking, she hadn't connected it to any religious group, though she knew churches sponsored people to go. Rather, she knew at that age that Africa was in need. She wanted to be there to help those in need. She debated her aunt over this desire for a long time while we were all making dinner one night.......and I was amazed at how much thought had already gone into her decision at age 5.

She was so young that when I bring it up now with her, she has only vague memories of it. I don't! It was a truly an eyeopener as to how deep my daughter's thinking and compassion dwell. She is one who was born with that gift. She may not have had all the words and the ability to debate it at 5, but she had a keen sense of her desire to help others.

Back to our recent conversation..........

I shared with her some of my feelings on finding our way finding God. I told her that I believed it was a lifelong journey where we have the "free will" to question, to ponder, to interpret, to change our minds, and to find some acceptance. The stories we are told in the Bible are often metaphors offered to us as signposts to learning. I told Martha that I wasn't comfortable with pat answers or black and white interpretations of the stories and that I find that as an adult now I am looking at them and interpreting them very differently than I did when I was younger. This seemed to give her some relief, and admitted that she found some of the stories she had been told frightening and unreal. They didn't make sense to her when they are taught in such a black and white manner.

Interesting....... I continued braiding.

Silence ensued for a little while.

Then Martha said............."You know what makes me really believe there is a God?" Assuming it was going to be something about nature or coincidental fates or something like that, I wasn't prepared for her answer.

"Eyebrows! I mean, what brilliant idea. Our eyebrows protect our eyes from the rain. Tastebuds! Who else but God would give us tastebuds! Our whole body is full of miracles that only God could've come up with. Nothing He did when he was making our bodies is random. Every part of our body has a reason and a function, doesn't it?"

I then told her about Dr. Paul Brand, a missionary who worked with the lepers, who figured out how important it is for humans to feel pain, of how his work and his insights AND his faith drove him to help lepers, who can't feel pain, protect themselves.

"Have you heard the term "The Body of Christ?" It means that we are all members of the body of Christ........we have roles we play in this world........we are equal in the eyes of God because we are all members, no matter what our life circumstances are. Dr. Brand, who's life passion was in medicine, was able to write his interpretation of his beliefs and his missionary work using the human body as an analogy for the Body of Christ," I explained.

Then, I pointed out the book to her which was sitting on the shelf.

"When you're ready and'll be there for you to pick up and read. You'll know when the time is right."

We finished with the braiding. I sat down to watch the ballgame and Martha went off to chat with her friends online. And I was left with a feeling that I had been given a who was sporting french who never ceases to amaze me. I'm blessed to be living with a wonderful teacher.....I think she was named aptly.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Silent beauty

burning bush in full meditative colour
You don't have to go very far to see the serenity of nature praying.
You just have to keep your eyes wide open to see the possibilities.

Friends and Strangers

the park bench outside of my office.
a nice place for a conversation between two strangers

The other night, I had dinner with one of my oldest and dearest friends who was in town for a training session. We hadn't talked in a long while............not one of those rambling random updates that cover a gazillion topics......and it felt wonderful to reconnect. More importantly it was great to know that even though so much time had melted away when we weren't in touch at all because of busy lives and little children and geographical distances etc, we had not lost touch with the kinship we had for one another. It was still there, as strong as it always had been and if it hadn't been for closing time at the restaurant and individual commitments, I think we'd still be sitting there yapping away sipping on wine.

We met as strangers during orientation week of first year was a natural that has no explanation. We simply gelled right away. Call it chemistry. Call it kismet. It was fate that somehow Heather and I would find ourselves as members of a small group of residents who shared a wing of a girls dormitory. Though we are different in many ways, our personalities, temperments and interests complimented one another, so much so that we travelled through Europe backpacking together, and then stood up for one another at our subsequent weddings.

Life events solidify friendships. But there is more to it than that because there are many people in our lives whom we shared milestones with, who were there when we experience the "firsts." There are some whom you worked with everyday for years in close quarters, or whom you spent time with sharing deep stuff with while working on a project. There are some you grew up with........went to school with every single day, and yet if you were to see them now, it would be like meeting a stranger. Geez.........there are some whom you were intimate with and yet they would be like one of the hundreds of unfamiliar faces you pass by in the course of a day. The connect has disappeared.

Why is that? Why do some relationships from our past never cross over to the present when you have a history together, while others whom you may not have seen or talked to in 20 years have not wilted on the vine whatsoever? It's a bizarre feeling to meet someone you spent hours snogging with years ago and you might as well be starring at a total stranger.

We move on. WE are always evolving and transforming............learning and growing........choosing new ventures, new interests, new avenues. So has every single person on the planet. What's more, we have accumulated life's scars and battle wounds too, which leave us possibly with new perspectives. We may have the same inherent personality underneath, but we have life experiences which have added to the texture and colours of our personal tapestry. So have they.

So some of those people in our past...........and I would hazard to guess that the majority of them......have evolved into strangers. We have lost the common threads.

I think this is what makes an old that may not have been as nutured as it should have along the way.........such a gift when the magic is still there. Though much of our conversation was on "catch up" news, we also stepped right into the present and beyond. That's the difference isn't it. We remain distantly estranged with old friends whom we can only touch on the past with. WE thrive and grow with old friends if there is the spark to chime on about the here and now, about dreams and aspirations............. and the recognition that our roots are healthy, our interest in one another's opinions and ideas is still alive and well, and that we are open to embracing each other's nicks from life.

Written especially for Writer's Island, whose prompt this week is The Stranger.......

Check out more stranger and fascinating ideas here.......

Monday, October 22, 2007

Natural framing of a lonely cloud
captured in a pause on it's wayward journey.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


It has been said that to be full of things is to be empty of God. Whereas, to be empty of things is to be full of God. (Meister Eckhart) What does that mean to you? And how on this earth can we ever feel like we have successfully emptied ourselves of things in order to receive God's love? It seems like a mighty big task, perhaps too monumental.

Things...... the cluttery knickknacks that we allow to accumulate in our brains? The lists of "to do's," "must haves," "gotta finish," "must resolve?" It includes the feelings of avoidance, fear, guilt and shame which paint our spirits with opaqueness. And don't forget the negativity aroused by our doubting self-talk.

Layers and layers of phyllo clothing........

We are messes aren't we? We are all packrats at heart.........stuffing ourselves with "things" to a point where are minds are satiated......perhaps overflowing........clogging our arteries, and armouring our hearts. Too much of a good thing? Too much of a bad thing?

Too much. It blocks the light.

Too much and we are burdened beyond recognition.

Too much and we may even have to pass up a small little wafer, for fear of exploding.
(with visions of Monty Python as I write this sentence!)

No wonder we have a tough time finding the way to stillness. Our "things" are chugging and churning and pulsating through our veins blocking spiritual oxygen found in the light.

And now we find ourselves ensconsed in the season of reflective thought. It is also the season which is the most pardoxical, for autumn is a feast for the senses where bounty and empty intermingle. It is the season where we fill up with both beauty and more serious contemplations.....soulful reflections..........some of which stop us from moving forward, some of which continue to block the light despite our efforts.

Our "things" drag the energy right out of our efforts.

But, maybe thats the key to reaching empty. Maybe that's what needs to happen before the spiritual kindling will catch a spark......a ray. Maybe when we expend our energies, when we don't have the strength for even the churning and chugging to take place, when our defences have been spent, that we finally begin to feel like there is some space amongst the clutter.

When I think about it now, this can take a long, long time. We are physically and mentally strong! We have the capacity to put up a good fight protecting our things! Fear and determination coupled with our ability to deny, avoid and push it down and down in order to ADD more things into the wonder it takes a long time to be accept that emptiness is where we meet God. It's a lot of work pushing all of our things uphill, but we seem to choose this route more readily than the other........leaving it all at the bottom of the hill and walking up free of burdens. Why is that???

So where to start? I think autumn gives us this answer too. It is found in the clarity of the wind, in the profusion of the colour. It is found in the rattling dead leaves tripping down the street. It is found in the early nights and the startling sunrises. It is found in the migration of the flocks of birds, in the busyness of the squirrels. It is found in the bounty and maturity of nature and of ourselves.

Autumn is the season of gratitude. This paradoxical season allows us to see that all prayer begins with thank you. And from there, we learn that the things don't matter, because what we are thankful for helps us make sense of our past. It softens our spirit and soothes the churning. From our acknowledgement of gratitude, we begin to fill and feel a connection with God.

We just need to sit quietly and say the words out loud.....if only in a whisper.

And so I begin..............thank you....

"If the only prayer you say in your life is "thank you," that would suffice." Meister Eckhart.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

With a little help from Bono.

Early morning sunrise - a brilliant orange flaming sky is the background to an empowering anthem pulsating out of the speakers situated throughout the kingdom....... YES I have changed my theme song! And, it's about bloody time.

Awake! Awake to the echoing welcome of my friend Bono and his band of inspiration........a new day begins............
I believe in the kingdom come
Then all the colors will bleed into one
Bleed into one
Well yes I'm still running.

It's a new day.........the day I am Queen for the day..........trying to find what I'm looking for.......

when I proclaim that henceforth, our streets will have no names.

I want to run

I want to hide

I want to tear down the walls

That hold me inside

I want to reach out

And touch the flame

Where the streets have no name

Equality, companionship, kinship will reign......

I will level the rugby playing Queen.

Dance like you can...........
Together! Dance..........

The kingdom will become a community where all are welcome.

Where all are treated with respect and dignity

Where we look to the window in the skies

and realize.....

We all matter.

In the name of love
What more in the name of love?

Let the dogs and children run freely and safely along our streets with no name.........
Let us find what we are looking for.......our hearts beating as One?
My kingdom is where the music plays.......

ps. May I add that as Queen, I will have a striking resemblance to Helen Mirren? And if I walkaway, walkaway, walkaway will you follow? :)

A Royal purple prompt from Sunday Scribblings...........Queen for the day.......hmmm.....

Friday, October 19, 2007

Aversion......a warning?

Contemplative walks, sharing our doubts

A taste of aversion
salivating bitterness
fills my mouth and I can't swallow it all.

What does it tell me?
Why do I want to turn and run the other way?
Why can't I lift my head and confront aversion?
I don't want to look inside the mirror.
I don't want to see the truth.

When you look at me
and I look at you
and I feel that bitter taste returning
am I being warned of what it is I don't like in myself?

Looking at you
reflects parts of me which I try to hide
from myself and the rest of the world.

I dislike what I see in you!

I don't want to see
the sinful,
ugly scars of shame
weaknesses repressed
suddenly are right in my face
starring defiantly at me
like the shadows of unresolved inner conflict
which visit when 4 am vulnerability takes hold.

I want to hurl caustic words at you as my armour.
I want to tell you to fuck off with all the red fire I can muster
and hurt you as you have hurt me.

Aversion stops me.
Aversion tells my devilish Id to keep out of it.
Aversion is the warning bell
to let me know that I have to be cognizant of why I'm reacting.

Interestingly, if I take the chance to look
I see the light of aversion in your eyes too
Your secrets and incompetencies are stirred in your soul
when you see me.

I am your aversion.

I am your mirror ....
the one that shows all the stretch marks
pox marks
reflecting seeping sores of inadequacy.
And you will have none of it!
You try to cut me down with
passive aggressive tactics
and slithering snake oil marketing.

I see what you have done
I really want to tell you EXACTLY how I feel.
But I can't.

Because you see, you have the upper hand
in this unhealthy relationship
which you use with bullying precision.
It's your best defensive tactic.
Of course you will use it.

You have used it.
Your venom forced me into a submissive silence
which simmers with inner hurt.

And I know why..........
I know you're protecting yourself.
Throw the poison darts outward
and there will be no need to look inward
where the hurt and wounds fester.
Hurt me
Justify it, rationalize it, personalize it
You will avoid any more wounds to your psyche.

I can't help you.

But I can help myself.
I can choose how I respond.
I can try to find the courage
in the still silence of contemplation
to begin to nuture my own imperfections.

I can give them a name........

I can also look inward
to gather remembrance of my goodness too...
the bright light positives
crackling through the wounds.
the gifts I own, which I know I share with others
who see me in a balanced view
who accept me unconditionally
and encourage me to shine with smiling confidence.

It helps.

Weighing the gifts with the imperfections.
Seeing my imperfections as gifts
Seeing myself as a human work in progress.
As you are
As you are.

These thoughts were inspired by a few conversations I have had this week with wonderful strong women who are stumbling a bit as they learn to react differently to the bullies they have to work for.
Sometimes a work week has a theme of sorts. Usually I find this in the interactions I have in my counselling sessions........the same issues are brought forward, or the same illness or family histories are shared with no reason except serendipity. This week, the thematic conversations happened with friends and co-workers who are experiencing similar toxic environments as I have.

The shared experiences have helped us to realize it's up to us to figure it decide how to handle it...but also to applaud ourselves and each other for the gifts we know others are aware of. Its always a blessing to know you're not alone. Its a blessing to become reacquainted with your talents and gifts.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

love like you've never been hurt......

I've discovered and rediscovered life paradoxes during my travels this week, which have left me circling around my mixed thoughts and feelings which have remained unspoken.....unwritten because I don't really know how to describe it.

I want to paint a picture with broad strokes and light handed wisps at the same time.

I want to create an abstract montage on top of a canvas of stark realism.

With my brush I will attempt to uncover blurried impressionist lines accompanied by black etched scoring smeared by tears of dewdrops under a canopy of marginalized sentiments.......or is it the sentiments of the marginalized?

I want to tap into the echos of long ago voices seeping through the cracks of old homesteads where their silent ancesters are lost and lonely......

I want to describe deep pit hunger feeding on fear of the coming winter cold, stoked by wet wood that smolders and forgets to give off heat.

I need to share the soul eating frustration of living within an impatient and judgemental system that controls the every movement and daily much so that one hides small truths in order to keep their tired spirit sparked under a moth eaten fisherman knit.

Distrusting, disconnected, disabled......where basic needs......the FUNDAMENTAL needs we take for granted are often tossed in a garbage heap of mangled pick-ups, rusty metal, stuffing strewed sofas discarded and unnoticed anymore because somehow it has become part of the backyard landscapes camoflauged by grassy vetch........and sap sucking alders.

I want to paint all of those sentiments to bring them out of the margins and into the centre of our collective Body. Where it belongs. Where brokenness is healed by our hymns.

And yet........... at this time of year, when the trees emerge wearing their Sunday best and take firm control over the wilting flowers, my drives into the country are like entering a endless cathedral of sun glistening colour, where light dances through the mist floating up off the harvested fields, where the leaves look as tastefully inviting as a roll of lifesavers. It's like the hymn turns into a gospel hallelujah and it doesn't feel quite right........

I want to share this hallelujah too!!

The beauty of the season sometimes took my breath away as I drove up to the crest of a hill only to find an expansive vista of old rolling hills covered in green pine and autumn colours as far as I can see. Like a colourful patchwork quilt, it blanketed the earth with such warmth and humour. Undulating roads winding through the countryside offered me snapshots upon snapshots kept in my memory. Sometimes I stopped to try to capture the essence of the scene, as it was much too bountiful to fit within the circumference of my lens, and the colours were so vividly alive that a photo just couldn't match it.

I did stop on occasion to capture one particular majestic tree, or the end of an abandoned dock stripped of summer, or some driftwood at my feet where I was standing to try to capture the illusive vista photo. And I shook my head in wonder at how blessed I am to be living in such a magnificent setting. And yet..........and yet.................

My music, sweet background lilts kept me company and fed my thoughts of the paradox I was witnessing. Knowing I was headed to meet with different people living in dire poverty, who are struggling with serious health issues and yet can't afford the proper nutritional sustenance to help alleviate some of the symptoms, I felt guilty for having a life that allows me to stop and appreciate the freedom of the beauty. It's like I wasn't supposed to feel so good about what I was witnessing in between home visits.

Ah, I reflect on my countryside travels I am beginning to see that the paradoxes are somewhat of a facade, for they are only in my own thinking. Yes the living conditions in the rundown houses hidden by the canopy of orange leaves are deplorable. No doubt about it.

Am I thinking that just because one is living such an existance doesn't marvel at the beauty all around them as well? Of course they do............and we talk about how wonderful this autumn has been.......that it has been warm longer than most years, and drier too so the wood can ripen so it will crackle in late November. In fact, it is the beauty of the season............the shared stories of deer sightings and Canada Geese......of favourite places to visit in the area, the fresh cool breeze which fills lungs much more easily than hot muggy air...that allows us to connect. Every single conversation I had began where we both admitted to feeling blessed for the quilted rolling hills, the sharp blue sky, and the canopy of lush colours.

Distressingly, we live under very different circumstances......which is a black etched scoring that digs deep into the pit of our stomachs. Its a sad reality, which I believe is erasable. Where we come together always, however is when we can acknowledge that the hymns we sing are the same.........some are quiet and sad and some are open hearted hallelujahs........we all know the hymns.

Be Thou my battle-shield, sword for my fight,
Be Thou my dignity, Thou my delight.
Thou my soul's shelter, Thou my high tower.
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

It is at that place.......where we begin to work together to get rid of the paradoxes and to replace it with harmony.

the beautiful imperfections of fallen harmony together

May we always have wine to gladden our hearts and to share in communion with our friends.
For you Shasta Daisy .... a toast to a vintage year harvest.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

crisp morning light

As the days get shorter and the nights get longer, the morning light illuminates with such sharpness and clarity. Could it be that we need darkness to descend longer in order to appreciate dawn's splashing enlightenment? I do love autumn mornings.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Restorative action

Dateline: Today, around noon.
Location: The old train station, McAdam New Brunswick
Purpose of visit: I'm nosey. I had my camera. I was early for an appointment with a client, so decided to take a lookseeeeeeee because my friend, scrapbooker and blogger named Princess (oh did I mention she teaches pole dancing too?? Gotta love a Scrapbooking pole dancing Princess.....) suggested I'd enjoy a lookseeeeee. However, she suggested this earlier in the fall when it was open for touristas, so I didn't expect an opportunity to get inside. Luck was on my side today, my friend......... I met a gentleman who has dedicated his retirement to restoring the grand old Dame. He invited me in and gave me a grand tour....... AND a history lesson.

The McAdam train station was built in 1900. For 80+ years, it was considered the "gateway stop" into the Maritimes. Trains via Quebec and Maine travelled in from the west, always stopping in McAdam before veering off to northern New Brunswick, Saint John, Moncton, St. Andrews, some eventually leading to Nova Scotia.

This station was unique for many reasons. First of all, it made this little town famous. Since it became defunct, the village has lost any lustre it once had. In fact, today in my opinion, McAdam is one step away from someone simply turning off the lights and walking away. It's one of the saddest destinations. The only company is a small gypsom plant. Most people who are able to work have left for greener pastures. Retired folk and people scraping by on welfare are the predominant groups left to figure it out. Poverty is a way of life here. There are many people living on "the other side of the tracks" more than the affluent side.
Though there are many villages throughout this province who have seen better days. Resource based economies breed this swing in employment rates. It's the nature of the beast. Some can be restored......they can come back to life with a strong group of visionaries, while others just keep missing the right ingredient to turn things around. McAdam feels that way to me. To restore this beautiful building and turn it into a destination which brings business into the area may be the start of something hopeful.

Secondly, the structure is unique. Built under the direction of William Cornelius Van Horne, the railway magnate who owned a summer estate on an island off the coast of Saint Andrews, the McAdam Railway station grew to include an 8 room 5 star hotel, a fine dining area, a ballroom and a lunch room. At this point in history, many trains came through this area, and many passengers coming from all parts of Canada and the United States. Van Horne, who entertained lavishly at his summer estate, didn't want his "friends" to wait without the luxury they were accustomed to. So, he paid for the added features of this train station. It was also the Customs stop for the Canada/US border.
Gradually the train station's amenities closed up until the very last nail in the coffin came in 1994.........that was when the last train came through. Various attempts to use it for offices etc lasted for short bits.........there was no need for office space in a village that was losing all of it's economy bit by bit. Eventually, the station closed down.

A small group of local people who grew up in the area, and who had strong emotional and familial ties to this grand place decided to do something about. They are trying to turn it into a functional place.............a destination that can be used for various functions. One room at a's a painful process, but it is one done with love and respect. These wonderful people are thinking BIG and thinking LONG TERM. They are commited to try to turn this place around. And if they can, perhaps the poverty which fills the grey clouded air will float away. One really good business plan can lead to others being established. It can happen. It has in other places, why not here?

It's a huge that this province needs to pay attention to. We need to support and promote this small group of people who have given up their retirement tee times to restore their beautiful train station. Meetings, receptions, conferences, dining experiences......all within the walls of a restored building reminiscent of the early 1900's.........Why not?

I saw the whole building........went into the old rooms which once used to be luxurious by the standards of those days. Chipped paint, chunks of ceiling gone........haphazard walls have been put up. I saw the old library, and the annex where the staff lived. It all needs to be renovated. Good thing there are some who have that marvellous vision.

thanks Princess! I'm glad you suggested that I stop in there.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

finding your way.....

The prompt this week for Sunday Scribblings left me scrambling to catch up to a whole slew of ideas marching by. Worst job, Best job, Dream job???? Wow! That's a loaded prompt for a navel gazing gal like who just happens to be in a prickly predicament on the career front right about now.

Love the job.........hate the scenario.

So, I thought it best to write about my dream job......a little bit of this and that.......

Well, guess what? That left a bitter taste in my mouth....... it was a dream job piece of writing based on a foundation of nasty medicine. There I was POUNDING on the keys like a banshee letting out cries for the dead, all the while trying to write a light uplifting hopeful quality world post full of sweet touching faerie promise. Could the gap of feeling be any wider?

So, then I thought I'd write something about a previous job, with the intentions of focusing on my favourite place I have worked. It was a lovely learning environment which actually has been my anchor and home for revisiting the values and goals I still have for my career. But, I've written about it before, and I still was harbouring negative stuff in my head from my first attempt.

So.........I went in another completely different direction. Why not attempt a poem about JOBS? Well, I don't know about you, but I can't write a poem on demand.....if it's pushed and pulled out of my heart, it feels SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO contrived. Poetry is an unexpected gift. Can't expect an unexpected gift.......can't even hope for it! The poem was trashed....deleted with one pointer finger.

Time away from the topic, I began to whistle about on this Sunday afternoon making a big pot of savoury sauce, chopping fresh vegies from the market, cooking meatballs, squeezing the garlic, crumpling the oregano......stirring and simmering........listening to a variety of good upbeat music. A bit of live ALL NEW Mark Knopfler CD (love it!) and some vintage Al Green........smooth..............jazzy.............his voice is a poetic gift........of warm brandy and soft lights. Al Green is dreaming music.................

........times are good and bad and happy and sad......

I could sense the gap of feelings I began to find my light footed sunday afternoon dance......dancing with Al........

Instead of focusing on my OWN personal career path, all of a sudden I was flushed by a face of a young man fresh out of school who found himself nervously sitting in my office ready to tell me all about HIS dream job, in hopes that I could help him reach that goal. He wanted to work in the woods.........not as a forestry graduate. He just wanted to work in the woods cutting and sledging and whatever they do in the woods. It was attainable for him.........he just needed to know how to start and who to talk to. All within an hour, we had a gameplan. He left my office with a list of to dos and the knowledge that he COULD do what he wanted to do.

Then, I was visited by a memory of a man who was my age. Somehow he had managed to scrape by, working beyond his capabilities without knowledge of a severe learning disability until he had an Arts degree under his belt. With very limited ability to write a coherent paper, I don't know how he found the way. But he did. His dream though was to become a Minister.....he needed the help of technology and of others to guide him through the next phase of his learning. We worked together intensely, arranging all of this to make it happen. He's now out there somewhere with his own congregation.......and with a big heart of understanding.

And it makes me smile........big feeling seeping smiles..........of helping others find their way. This is the part of my job I LOVE.

It's funny how certain encounters from hundreds of encounters can float up to clarity when you take the time to remember........ when you take the time to step away from your own intense thinking, from your own navel gazing tactics. Sometimes it just takes just the right music to set the mood to make it happen.

Dream job? Good job, bad job...........attainable, out of reach..........wishing to alleviate the barriers to the job..........ability, disability, capability, reachability..........these are discussions I have the priviledge of taking part in with other people almost everyday. Why? Because I'm a Career Consultant. That's my official job title, and my primary role when it comes the career counselling stuff is to be a motivator, listener, cheerleader, and sometimes the realist. Most of the time though, I get to encourage BIG DREAMING. Lots of big dreams get tossed about in my office!
Somedays, it feels like I'm only a baby step ahead of the person I'm supposed to be helping simply because I too am an unfinished human being (my REAL job) seeking my own goals. But that's alright. It keeps me on my toes, just like a dynamic teacher who knows they will learn more from their students than they will EVER be able to pass on.........
We are all learning together, aren't we?

The last beautiful face to slip by me this afternoon was a young waif who sought me out one morning and asked me if I would have a coffee with her. This was years ago, when her daughter was just a baby and when I wasn't even a parent myself yet. Lost and surrounded by drugs and violence.......of unhealthy relationships and no support...........she had one dream. She wanted to be a nurse but she only had completed grade 7. Through some aptitude testing, it was obvious that this little waif was a diamond in the rough. She scored off the map......... So, I enrolled her at the high school level of upgrading.
She promised to seek me out whenever she hit a wall, and I promised to never let her quit despite any circumstances. Within two very tough and very emotional years of ups and downs of hardships we can't even imagine, she graduated and moved into a nursing program. She had her wings..........and off she went out of my life.

Five years later? We met again on the maternity floor at the local hospital. She was dressed in her nursing uniform, and I had a newborn in my arms and needed some guidance from her. She has never looked back.
I don't really know where this is headed........kind of like my career path right now. What I do know is that there are parts of my current job which fill me with such joy and satisfaction that I find it difficult to consider giving that part of it up. It's a navel gazing which I have had to entertain for too long now. ....... one which I need resolve. Better get back to the stirring and simmering......and the music in the background. I seem to do my best thinking and reminiscing on Sunday afternoons.

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. That makes it hard to plan the day." EB White

For more Sunday scribblings check this out................

*****ps If anyone is trying to reach me by phone, the line has been dead for three days. We are not being rude....... We don't know you've called. Hopefully it will be up and running Monday. As far as the internet? I'm "lunching on someone's else's dime" in the neighbourhood. Long live wireless internet sources!!