Friday, February 26, 2010

What I want to do when I grow up.........

When you think about the teachers who made a difference in your life, whose manner, messages and presence continues to influence the learning spark inside you,  don't you wonder how they managed to do it?  To be "on" day in and day out in front of a group of people is almost impossible to fathom, and that's what it takes to be the kind of facilitator who inspires students. Their enthusiasm for the subject matter as well as their desire to spark the fire in the hearts and minds of their brood of students must waver from time to time, but somehow they keep it tucked inside while shining on.  Sadly, our educational system is littered with more ho-hums and burn outs than passion.

Every time I step into the classroom to teach, my respect and appreciation for the passionate instructors re-ignites.  It gives me that unique opportunity to stand in their shoes and to recognize just how difficult it would be to engage like that for an extended period of time.  They deserve far more that what we pay them, and earn every single summer day off.

The type of facilitating I'm involved in however is different because it has a short beginning and end, which allows for me to burst with energy rather than find an ebb and flow pace one would need to survive for an extended period of time. In order to be in a classroom every single day, you'd have to find a completely different balance or you would burn out so quickly.  It's been 20 years since I pulled off full time teaching.  I loved it then.  Thrived even.  At that point in my life I was in a much different place in my life...... no children, MUCH younger, less responsibility outside of the classroom.  I wonder if I could pull it off now.  I wonder if I'd like to.  

This is where I am in my thinking tonight as I sit here reflecting on just how exhausted I was at the end of the workday.  For the past two days I taught a program called "Non Violent Crisis Intervention."  It's a "canned" program designed to be delivered exactly how its laid out in a manual.  With the trademark terms and the specific techniques leading the learning, its the kind of training I find the most demanding, because it leaves very little wiggle room to facilitate with the kind of freedom I prefer.  

Usually after I wrap up a workshop I'm pumped. Tired, but pumped.  Instead, I came home tonight completely void of any energy.  I felt used up and wordless..... not a good thing when you have loved ones in your life who deserve more than a person whose only focus is on finding a good comfortable spot on the couch to crash into lalala land.  Ok, I fed them first.  But, I did it in silence.  Then, I crashed.......slept through the early evening time when I should be focus on my family.  

Granted, I'm just getting over a cold and I have so many other thoughts pulsating inside my head vying for my focused attention.  I was also teaching a topic I wasn't too keen on or felt completely competent with the subject matter. Still,  I wonder if I would be up for the challenge of taking on a classroom of learners full time.   It's difficult to say.  As much as I love teaching, the other component one has to consider is how taxing it is on one's freedom. Though the counselling I am involved in on most days is intensely draining and there is little down time, I have control over my schedule. Leading a group of students through a full program is very structured time wise.  Would I be able to surrender those reins at this point in my life?  Would I want to? 

I think I would like my cake and eat it too.  Half time counselling, half time in the classroom.  The way I see it, this combination would be the ideal fit for me.  I could see how it would balance as well as challenge my skills.  OH,  who am I kidding.  If I had my choice?  I'd be rich enough not to have to work full time in any form of structured environment.  I would write, travel, teach when I wanted to, counsel when I wanted to.  And if I wanted to walk endlessly beside the calm tide of a warm body of water, I'd do that too................. Friends and family?  Please join me. :)   The first round of umbrella drinks is on me.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Random bits.........

Hey Friends!  How have you been???  I've missed our beautiful instantaneous connections through this venue lately.   

I've been underground and under the covers this past week.......soaking up the Winter Olympics while nursing one strange head cold.  In between ravaging through two boxes of kleenex, and wondering who put the sand paper in my eye sockets, I've even been a wee bit productive.  Not on the blogosphere, but behind the scenes.......... inside the guts of my blog.  What a ride!

I've been going back through the Awareness archives, reading, reflecting, rewinding.... and choosing various pieces to rework.  Along the way, I also read the many many wonderful comments people have left..... the encouragement and feedback, the quotes and lyrics, and the heart stoked stories and the humourous admissions you've shared from your lives.  Thank you. :)

The whole process, which is still underway, has taken me a long time to finally tackle, but I guess had to wait until it felt right.  The fact that my muse had gone into hibernation, and that I've been feeling tapped out for a couple of months now, helped get me to that point.  However,  it took a full fledged nose running stop to confront that big old meaney called procrastination.  Rationalization just wasn't working anymore. 

So, I've begun.............collecting, sampling, clumping and dismissing.  Any posts I've written about politics or issues of the day, or any ranty pants stuff I've cast aside.  Instead, I'm focused on a few key themes.  From there, I am HOPING an idea of what to do with the pieces that make the cut will float from the nether regions.   As much as I'd like to know now, I also am feeling a sense of purpose while pacing the process.  It's teaching me patience; a lesson I work at daily.

More than anything, its been humbling.  Though I see how much my writing has strengthened, I also see how heavy handed some of it is. This can also be defined as crap and in need of serious reworking or just downright chucking.   However, it is what it is.  The writing served a purpose, an outlet, a therapeutic way of finding linearity in the mindfield of living out loud.  Whether it will resurface in some other way is a mystery.  Who doesn't like a good mystery though eh??

I'll keep you posted................ I'm very excited to have finally started.  I feel unstuck.  

Now?  Back to the Winter Games!  Are you watching?  Taking any of it in?  

Winter sports are in a category all on their own.  From the downhill ski events, to short track speed skating..... to figure skating.  I love it all.  Like others, what pulls me in are the life stories of the athletes as well as the stories which unfold as the Games unfold. 

The one to watch is Joannie Rochette.  She's our Figure Skating champion who sits in third place after the short program.  Her mother passed away suddenly on Saturday leaving a family, a hometown in Quebec and a skating community completely shocked and bereft.  Last night, Joannie took to the ice with grace and poise and performed a flawless program in front of a sold out audience and a whole country who stood and watched in tears.......... cheering her on.  It was beautiful and heart breaking.  After she took a bow, she fell into the arms of her coach and sobbed.   May she somehow gather the inner strength and feel the angels all around her in order to perform one more time on Thursday night.  

Say a little prayer for Joannie, will you?  

Tonight Canada vs Russia in the quarterfinals.  We're on our way to winning the game .......... and moving on.  If you have ever been interested in learning about the crazy Canuck game of hockey, tune in!  It's fast paced, and absolutely THRILLING!   The Gold Medal game will be played on Sunday.  The whole country is holding their breath in hopes that we'll be playing  for GOLD with glowing hearts!   Believe me, even if you aren't watching, you'll hear a whole country belting out their emotions all weekend long ...... guaranteed to reverberate out into the soundwaves  and right into your homes ......... 

Friday, February 19, 2010

the awakening of temptation

temptation may
steal away focus,
create internal conflict
shrug off moral reasoning
taste like nectar
leave a bitterness
catch your breath
tantalize thoughts
launch you into thin air
cry for freedom
frighten a grown man
start a new journey
tamper with dignity
strip down integrity
be gloriously sinful
stir a curious woman 
 shower you with shame
heighten your cravings
bait your spirit
harmonize two minds
be the answer to a great mystery
spark a lost soul
generate energy
kick you in the gut
knock you to your knees
create an obsession
fill you with shame
force you to confess
leave you wanting more.
Temptation entices a wandering passion in need of affirmation with its spicy bravado.   It spins self control on its side, wrapping it in an alluring flame with mesmerizing dreams. It chokes discipline leaving it impotent to that charismatic  serpent and charms you into playing out your unrelenting wishes.  Acting on a tantalizing temptation may alleviate the trembling ache of emptiness or it can fuel the heart with an burning desire for more.  Is the allure ever beyond judgment, or does it always embody sin?   

What tempts you?  Have you decided to acquiesce?  

'tis the winter season of Lent. A time for dark soul reflections, confessions and forgiveness. Lead us not into temptation.........

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

light touch

warm love
curls up cradled in a crescent moon,
gently moving
in rock-a-bye comfort.

soft affection
knowingly tickles inside smiles
tenderly motioning
a lullaby of reassurance.

light touches 
spare us the search for words we sometimes can't find. 
light touch feelings 
carry us through static times when the air isn't hushed anymore. 
words lose meaning 
when they aren't accompanied by those krinkled eyed glances. 

we touch each other 
when we gently speak with our eyes.

it's as powerful as relaxing into a welcomed hug.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

broken dream bewilderment

From the backside of a broken dream, I wandered into bewilderment and sacrificed sleep. Thought dawning began with this odd blink that left me a little bit confused, a little bit rattled, but with a memory smile.  

I asked myself....... what happened?  How had I fallen asleep and not known this for so long?  what woke me up?  or could it be ......... who stole my sleepy state?  Its an eye twitching, head scratching moment when bewilderment taps my tired temples.  

Should I have known this all along or was I tangled in your blue cuffs, stuck in the confusion of missed echoes resonating in the hollow silence between us? There were clues.  Sometimes I saw but couldn't decipher  the  faraway sketches blurred by time. Tonight, I'm left with those lightening bolt nerve endings which radiate from my heart and right out of my fingertips into the dark abyss.  

Will they reach you? I don't know.  You seem so very stuck too in the land of misguided nods.

As silence surrounds my reflective state, my senses become acute.  The air thins out until I can hear the faint sound of clicking glass beads, the whispering hum of prayer chanting well worn beloved words and you talking in your sleep.  Beautiful, you say......... and then I hear a name. 


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Time to take out the trash.....

For every action, there is a reaction.  
There is no reaction if there is no action.  
Change requires action.  
Action oxygenates our communities.  
Communities need change. 
Change means rising UP!  
Communities need action for reaction.  
Communities need change. 
Change is the only antidote to apathy.  
Apathy IS the poison choking our communities. 

Apathy is the refusal to change how we think and how we feel.  IF we have the incentive to make a shift in our thinking and in our feeling, then we have the energy to ACT.

Politics is in my blood.  It was liberally poured into conversations around the dinner table from my earliest memories.  Daily newspapers and weekly magazines were always within reach.  I grew up in a household where you got involved, and you knew the issues, municipally, provincially, federally.  There was a great deal of respect for the political process.  The majority of politicians were revered and it was felt to be an honourable pursuit.

As an adolescent, my interest grew as I got involved in various campaigns.  Quickly, I felt the thrill of an election campaign.... how it could completely consume you into a world of action and strategies, of comraderie and a sense of empowerment that you could be a part of change.  Policies, opinions, all Candidates nights, door to door campaigning, putting up signs, plotting, fundraising, finding the tempo and the key issues............the cheering, the competition...... the standing up for your beliefs and sharing your voice... supporting a candidate and being right there for the whole story to unfold .... it was all a part of the FUN!

I joined a political party in my early twenties, one that wasn't the same as my parents.  I was following my own opinions and perspectives and it was through this choice that I met my future husband.  I joined because I had an unrelenting sense of idealism and a hunger to learn more, to be involved, to take a stand.   Why, because it all felt like it would matter. 

Since then, I have jumped into the backroom planning fray every once in a while, helping out a few candidates.  Normally, i have been involved in coordinating the "big day" of a convention.  It challenges the "event planner" in me as well as the bossy girl persona I can dredge up at any time.   

It is such a buzz to direct a speech demonstration....timing it right down to the second, making sure the music kicks in and the placard waving supporters know where and when to march the candidate up to the stage.  The pre-convention planning meetings with folks who also thrive in that environment, who have the same strong convictions for the candidate, but who also LOVE a good chewing debate over issues, policies, strategies fuel me with good energy.  To be a part of change........ to be a part of a movement..... of moving forward is such a BUZZ!

Fast forward to where I sit today.  I can't say that I havent thought about running for office every once in a while.  Some days the desire is strong. I have these blips of believing I could make a difference at that level of power.  My brain is wired in a way that I can read the nuances of how government works.... Critical thinking and analysis of stories, situations, policies, problems continue to be my preferred way of stretching my brain muscles.  

But, something has changed in the past couple of years.  As soon as I ponder this thought, I quickly JUMP right out of it, with a taste of disgust in my mouth.  There is no sense of reverence for our elected members.  Whatever honour was attached to dedicating one's career to this political arena has been trashed by everyone involved........ be it the elected official, the backroom gangs, the talking head media and biased journalism, the demanding public.  The whole atmosphere of entitled individualism........ the sense of "what's in it for me" has inevitably altered the way we look at our government.  AND, it has also moulded the type of people who come forward to be elected.

Like many many others, my thinking and feelings have been scabbed by the lack of integrity and maturity found in the once revered legislatures of our country.  The very idea of running for office, or even getting involved with these type of interactions.... where posturing, and pendantic behaviour is the order of the day escapes me.  Good honest Samaritan principles, which once were the cornerstone of our political system  have evaporated.  I see it, hear it, read about, feel it every single day.  

Either you observe a raving lunatic giving the middle finger salute and calling someone a punk during Question Period or you hear once again that yet another lightweight who is good at senseless pomposity, but can't for the life of him advocate or even abide by his promises or you learn about infidelity, frauding, or simply trying to do a sitspin to cover his ass!  Or, what about the chest thumping "I care about this place" people who RUN for the HILLS if anyone confronts them with their opinions?? I'm sick of it!  And it makes me want to tune it all out.   It all seems so childish.  It all seems such a waste of time. 

But, here's the glitch.  If I sit back, and you sit back........... and we all sit back together, we become the marginalized and nothing changes.  And by the grace of God, we need change around here.  Empathy, respect, honour, loyalty, advocacy, justice, and TRUST come on back!!  It's time to take the trash out.  It's time to help get a good honest human being elected.  And, I know just the right person!

I can't sit back.  Time to get involved again, because you can't orchestrate from the outside looking in.  It just doesn't work that way.  I will not run for office, but I refuse to sit on my hands, without a voice, in the margins.  Whether it will help institute change or not, who knows.  What I do know is that without action there is no reaction.  Let's just hope my stirred up passion isn't misconstrued by the fear mongering police as unfit.  Nah!  That could never happen, could it? 

Thursday, February 11, 2010

river girl.......

She was never one to walk in a straight line.  Wandering suited her life tempo. You could describe her thinking process that way too, as she much preferred to allow her mind to drift into creating whole scenes of possibilities inside her head.....multi-sensory scenes fed by the flurry of interactions which made up her days.  More often than not, she kept them to herself. Every once in a while, she would share them with people who were open to listening, open to believing that truth requires a broader leap than even faith.

When she combined her wandersteps with her straying mind there was no telling where she would end up.  Maps confined her.  Routines bored her to a point where she would feel suffocated by the deadening air of predictability.  No, straight line ambling made her feel out of touch much more so than the freedom of embracing the mystery of an unveiled meandering. For it was then that she fell in touch with her faith.

Some would describe her as an anchorless nomad, who wasted time. Flaky and terminally beyond practical matters were their opinions.  Others found her unconventional manner beguiling and wished they could trade their own life trappings for one amber taste of a free flowing spirit.  As much as they were captivated, however,  they were tentative about whether they truly wanted to know how vast the realm of the unknown was.  Some seemed to accept her ways without question.  But most people didn't even notice her.  For them, she was an invisible human being whose life never really mattered in their own lives. 

Interestingly, she noticed them. 

For those who paid attention,  they all agreed on one aspect. She was a river girl.  It suited her to be close to unstill waters that drifted from a mystical source.  They could see how much they were the same; how her spirit blended in with the spirits present in the moving currents which created new patterns as it flowed in its unfolding, and cascaded freely towards the open tidal bay.  The same description applied to her. Like the river, her journey was full of surprises.  Her life steps complimented the character of the river and in fact it was where she preferred to meander.

Nothing triggered the broadening of her imagination than a visit to listen to the cold water echo nuances.  On most days, you'd see her standing along its banks, or sitting under a weathered old maple looking down stream, lost inside her dreams.  Sometimes when no one in her family needed her attention, she would set off for a short walk and end up stipstepping along the path until the sun went down...... the sure sign that she had once again lost track of time.

"A rambling stroll down to the river was like greeting a kindred spirit," she often said upon her return.  Hardly anyone understood what she meant, but that didn't bother her.  She was comfortable in her own shoes, with her own beliefs.  It was her truth.  

Strangely, or maybe not, her favourite time of year to filter the clarion sighs of the river was in the dead of winter........ in February when the bitter winds nipped reminders of hallowed stories muffled through winter shadows. At this time of the year, when the world was as quiet as a deep sleep, her whole being was captivated by a sense of being vibrantly alive.  

When the climate was just right, she could grasp the river sounds aching in grumpy indignation.   Her flesh felt pierced by the river's icelips leaving shivers under her woolen bravery.  It was like the river held onto its stories like a holywell holds onto tears and wishes until the silence pervaded the last surface rippling.  It was only then that there was enough trust to reveal its true identity.

Like a few others, the river girl instinctively knew when the long winter shadows formed along the riverbank, then and only then did they reveal their deeply held secrets.  This never happened during the summer months.  Shadows in July are used simply as shade against the heat of the light flowing day.  Shadows in February, however, breathe an ancient hunger, through frosty voices which scrape against their brittled courage.  

Their legends held the ingredients needed to awaken her ability to inhale the truth held beneath the frozen valley, and to fuel her awareness that she was exactly where she belonged............ part of the legacy of life surprisingly unfolding as it should.

Monday, February 08, 2010

hellos, goodbyes and important life lessons

Miss Muskie and her crew of campers, circa 1980 

 I have never been able to encapsulate the intense feelings that accompany an experience of living for an extended period of time amongst a group of people who are all around the same age.  However, when I meet up with someone who has had such an opportunity, there is almost an unspoken smile, a nod and a faraway glimmer in their eyes.  They know.  They know.

For 12 summers during my youth, I spent time immersed in a community that offered this expansive emotional ride.  At age 9, I attended Camp Kawabi for the first time as a camper and fell in love with the place and its energy.  It began as a two week stint, but morphed into one month at age 12, and then the whole summer when I transitioned onto staff when I was 15, continuing until it was time to say goodbye the very last time the summer I turned 21. 

Even though its been more than 25 years since then and many of the events, activities, connections, the late night antics, days off, canoe trips, chapels, campfires, hot summer sunny days and rainy day hikes have blended together, there are moments which are still so crystal clear.   They allow me to revisit a time when I learned how intense a keenly felt sense of belonging can alter how you look at the world and what is really important in life.   Friendship, love, acceptance, trust in others, trust in myself, respect and appreciation for differences, mentoring, supporting one another, helping others .......... all continue to feed my sense of who I am, what I believe in and who I strive to be with confidence.  Most predominantly ensconced however are the feelings which I treasure... ALL of them. 

These are the same emotions and values which we learn from our families as well, but when a person has the chance to step out beyond their own nest into a group and experience the unbelievable joys and sorrows of belonging?  It takes you to a place one can only share with a kindred spirit who has experienced it as well.  Believe me, I've tried to explain this but I've never managed to get it right. 

These thoughts have re-emerged of late as I've done my best to help my children make sense of it.  In the past 5 months, they have experienced this amazing intensity;  last summer for my daughter when she signed on as a Counsellor in Training at Camp Glenburn and more recently for my son, who just returned from a month in Costa Rica with an organization called CISV (Children's International Summer Villages.) Both of them have ventured off our front lawn to live amongst a group of peers, led by trusting people. They have learned many new skills which will come in handy as they grow into adults.  The values we have done our best to pass on to them have been reinforced fully by their experience. And, they have made longlasting heart connection friendships with others who draw upon the same feelings and the same values.  Independently, they both found themselves immersed in a sense of belonging so wondrous that it left them reeling.  
Martha and her Glenburn kindreds, smiles from the inside out

Not wanting the moments to end, they returned home overwrought with the sorrow of saying goodbye to the friends who are like family and goodbye to life altering happenings.  Many stories.  Many questions and new ideas. Big tears.  Big pain.  Big transitions back to the ordinary reality of a home routine and the reconnection to family and friends they had left behind. To say this adjustment is difficult is an understatement.  To say these life lessons are important is also an understatement.  Why?  Because so many internal shifts happen during these opportunities and they happen within a relatively short time frame.  It takes a while to adjust, to refocus, to recognize the personal impact.  It's all positive in the long run, but in the short run, the initial feeling of pulling away from a group your whole spirit was blended into is akin to losing a piece of yourself. I wish everyone could have a chance to go through this ride. 

For some mysterious reason,  I spent their first days home with them alone.   With my daughter, I was the lucky one to pick her up at camp on the last day.  If you've never seen a group of teenage camp counsellors on the morning after the campers have left at the end of the summer, you'd never believe it.  Not only do they look like a train wreck because they haven't really slept much all summer because they've worked their butts off running "the show" caring for the "ankle-biters" and stringing the late nights "hanging out" with their buddies, they have just pulled one last all-nighter as a way to stretch their final moments together.  Believe me, it's brutal!  I've been the sleep deprived counsellor with a mitt full of snotty kleenexes and a heart that feels like its been ripped out.  It is the emptiest bone weary feeling.  Now,  I can say I was the Momma loading the van of half packed bits of summer memories, luring the sobbing daughter to the front seat and then listening through my own tears to the stories and pouring emotions while trying to keep the van on the winding road home. 

My heart broke for her......... the magically lovely summer moments of bonding with kindred spirits was over.  It has changed her in ways she still isn't fully aware of.   It stretched her, comforted her, AND discomforted her.  That's what important learning does.  It offered her a really good taste of independence, of learning how to make decisions, to weigh options, to be herself and to know the unbridled trust you can feel when sharing your deepest secrets with someone who not only "gets you" but accepts you unconditionally.  Those gifts of friendship will forever be quilted to her soul.  I know, because mine still are. And you know what?  I still miss my camp days..... all these years later.  It was that meaningful. The lessons linger...........  The lessons guide me daily.

We talked and talked, just the two of us for a whole day.......... I left her alone when she needed to sift through her memories and I tried to be there for her when she wanted to share a story.  I promised she could have all of her camp friends visit whenever it could be arranged, though I knew it wouldn't be the same.  My empathy was boundless and I knew her transition was going to be a rough ride.  Her friends whom she had left behind at the beginning of the summer couldn't understand her disinterest in coming back to "planet earth...."   It took time........ and a bunch of mini reunions throughout the fall to help her find her footing again while she readjusted to the changes inside herself and to have those leadership value lessons reinforced more fully.
Max in Costa Rica with his arm around his new buddy.....could the smile be any bigger?

My son who is younger than I was to have gone through such an amazing experience......... he's only 12......... also crash landed.  He returned home at the end of January.  His reaction was even more intense because the people he grew close to live in other countries around the world.......... Finland, Sweden, Brazil, England, Costa Rica, Thailand, Guatemala.... this put a whole new spin on it.  

Despite the language differences, and the adjustment to being so darn far away from home, he gathered a whole heart and head full of awareness that he will forever be changed.  Even though the geographical distances are huge and that reality is what hits him the hardest, he is tied to a group of kindreds who also absorbed the same huge lessons ..... global peace, equality, leadership, advocacy, problem solving and many many more.  He has joined a group of multi-cultural kids who have become enlightened while they became friends for life.  

On the day I spent home with my son before he returned to school, we shared tears and talked.   It was probably the most important relationship building day for the two of us.  I shared stories with him that I hadn't before.  He shared stories with me that perhaps he wouldn't have if he thought I wouldn't understand.  Like I did with his sister, I expressed to him how privileged he is to have had the opportunity to feel life as deeply as he has......... AND to know that the friendships he made will always remain with him along with his own learning.  I pointed out that he now has his own group of kindreds he will forever be attached to and that because of his opportunities, he has a responsibility to continue to expand his awareness of the plight of others.  He gets it.  At age 12, he knows that joy is eternally tied with sorrow.......... and all the feelings in between.  

It has been intense, but it has all be very very good. Tonight, I say a prayer of thanks for my own experiences at camp because once again........ they helped me understand what my children were feeling and guide them through big maze of milestones they are coping with in their young lives.  In turn, they have helped me re-evaluate those lessons I gathered up, as well as gave me another glimpse at how important those friendships have been all these years.   

Max learning a few new dance moves at a War Child fundraiser on Saturday evening.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

crossing muddy waters............

John Hiatt accompanied me yesterday as I took off on my own for the afternoon. I love this man's voice. I love his heartfelt lyrics. When this song kicked into gear, I was ready willing and somewhat able to sing along. Nothing like a soul-full song to belt out the February blues.

I hear he's playing in Europe and the UK this month with Lyle Lovett. Someone wanna fly me over to Dublin to take in the show? C'mon!

Lots of photos to share from my little life interlude..... and a few stories. Some I can post here. Others? Well, not on this wholesome site. Let's just say, I found myself in a hilarious conversation in a delicious little store that will one day be incorporated into a scene in my novel about the secret lives and fantasies of ballsy middle aged women. hahaha!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

the hills are alive.........

river valley hill, view from the end of my street

One of the most important pieces of advice I was offered was to "pick the hills you fight over."  In other words, assess, reassess, step back to observe the issue from a different perspective, and try to foresee the benefits and dangers of your actions.  It's all about risk assessment and management.  The worst thing one can do is to blindly react from full feelings.  It only gets messy.  The key is to avoid the emotional bursting of the seams by lowering the blood pressure so you can think straight! That way, you have a much clearer picture of cause and effect...........

Ask yourself.....

Why is this important to me? 
Is this an issue that clashes with my heartheld values?
Is this worth my time, effort, energy? Why?  Why not?
If I don't fight for this hill, will there be long term reverberations that may impact future challenges?
Who does it impact if I don't take it on? 
Who does it impact if I do take it on?
If all of my actions are my best attempt at fulfilling one of 5 needs, Survival, Love and Belonging, Empowerment/Control, Freedom, Fun.......... which one is driving me? 
Its important to try to see it from the other side too?  What "need" is the person whom I am in conflict with trying to fulfill? Why do they want this particular hill?  Why is it important to them?

Sometimes, just by taking the time to consider whether it really is a hill you want to fight over or not, you may find a sense of resolution.  Other times, you hone your intent so you can tackle the issue with a more solid gameplan.  Though it doesn't guarantee success if you do decide to take on the battle, it does fill you with more conviction and confidence to take the risk.  

My terrain is hilly at the moment. Oh, who am I kidding?  My terrain is always frigging hilly. Whose isn't?  But honestly a few of the mounds ahead of me seemed to have erupted out of nowhere.  Sniper hills! Those types are probably the ones that are the most challenging and need to be surveyed the most intensely, when in fact I'd personally just like to stick a piece of dynamite in the turf and blow them right out of the way.  Instead, I'll be good and take my own advice............ to chill at the bottom of the hill a bit longer and figure out the most productive tactic. 

Got any hills worth fighting over in your life these days??

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

pariah existence........

You could take a warm wet washcloth full of soapy bubbles and scrub your skin until it squeaks.  You could rinse away all of that accumulative dirt and grime, replace the tired clothes threadbare and worn with something clean and pressed. You could comb your hair, brush your teeth.  You could even take the time to put on make-up and tempt your lips with a glossy pink.  You could spray a small spritz of light perfume to linger on your freshened self.  And still, the feelings attached to being a treated like a Pariah seep out of your soul, leaving you feeling deep freeze cold. 

It is a wretched feeling to be cast aside, treated like you're untouchable.  Avoided by people who matter, you can't help but receive the loud message in the reverberating silent energy that hovers in the empty spaces.  
Ugly, ugly, ugly........
Soul Poverty isolation living in a shanty heart.
In no time, the Pariah begins to believe she is unlovable, unwanted.... a disgraced wench, scorned by the bitterness of another human being.
Every thing is left unsaid.
Feelings are left unspoken
An exile of the heart begins to form
Silence pokes holes into the unquiet mind making it weep a high pitched loneliness until it seeks out an inner sanctum where it can hide away from painful sorrow and dejection.  

A Pariah feels like she is seen as an apparition when in fact she is a warm blooded human being who yearns to be recognized as lovable and treated with tender attention. She wants to be touched....touched by the warmth of another human beings fingers..... embraced by another persons arms ..... kissed with tenderness.
Days are long
Nights are open-eyed longer as the need to be held, to be touched grows salty tears of longing. In order to survive, you soon learn to harden up, to build a protective shell, to distrust everyone around you.  
You turn into stone.  
A roughworn scaly grey Pariah stone.  
A stone feels no pain................a stone holds no moist tears.
Those tears have dried up and what you're left with are the remnants of what used to be.

Have you ever felt this way? How did you pull yourself out of this shameful feeling of unloved numbness??

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

the opposite of perfectionism? messy.

Given how often I fall into a nest of messes, no one could ever label me a perfectionist. Me and messy predicaments go hand in hand.  By the time I am finished a project, a counselling session, a meeting, a workshop, I'm askew.  Especially if chalk is anywhere in the vicinity.  I don't even have to touch the stuff and it somehow ends up smeared somewhere on my clothing.............usually situated in the most embarrassing spots.  Whatever accessories I am wearing............earrings, scarf, other jewelry etc, begin the day with me in the "proppa" place.  But then they end up in some other formation and I don't really care.  My hair never looks the same one day to the next. b-o-r-i-n-g.  Coiffed makes me feel claustrophobic.  Perfectionism, the kind that accompanies judgemental tsk-tsking, completely takes the air right out of my lungs.

Oh, don't get me wrong.  I live by a set of self imposed standards. I don't dress like a slob. The work I do isn't considered sloppy, though my office leans towards disorganized looking.  Though some would consider my approach to life as odd....maybe even eccentric verging on outlandishly deviant, I am reliable.  There are times when for a variety of reasons, I want to remain in that zone called comfort, but usually I like to play hopscotch with that square I've drawn around me.

I just like messes.  And humour.  I like humour too.  People who can't crack a smile scare me. They also push my goofy button too and I'm overcome by the desire to get them to crack that smile....pull them out of that tight assed ensemble with no wrinkles they are hiding in.

Like everyone,  I have several OCD tendancies.  C'mon!  YOU DO TOO!  For example, I can hardly breathe right if the pictures/paintings on a wall are tipped to one side or WORSE, not hung at the correct eye level. Colour and how a room feels hits me right in the temples.  If I have an idea for a crafty kind of project, I become a slave to the idea until I can try it.  However, the craft projects I prefer include paints, goopy glue, glitter shakers, cut outs, dyes, and of course googly eyes.  So, my idea may be clean, crisp and obsessive but my approach isn''s MESSY.

I'm a random head is FULL of ideas that churn and fuel me.  Nothing turns me on more than being engaged in an open ended expressively rambling quick witted fast paced honest plunge into the heart of a conversation with someone who loves that too.  I think there's a dirty term for this, but I'll be good and not refer to it here.  It rhymes with findmuck. 

I'm sure it frightens the daylights out of a person who doesn't like surprises when they find themselves talking to someone else who loves a good findmuck.  There have been times when I'm in the middle of one of these tete a tetes when I have thought about how it looks from an outsider......... CRAZY I'm sure.  Then, I move onto another thought and carry on.  :) However, when it comes to a problem, I'll pick at it and pick at it until I crack the damn thing.  It remains in my craw until I beat it to death with my thinking.  Is this a form of perfectionism?  who knows??

Can you imagine going to a Counsellor who is a flaming perfectionist?  Egads!  Surprisingly, they are out there.  What amazes me is WHY would they want to be a Counsellor?

Even though I thrive on the openness of a broad based multi-issued conversation, I am precise when it comes to planning for a workshop.  In fact, I even complete a lesson plan........with objectives and a purpose.  I  make a list of materials I will need.  I sketch out the activities, write down a variety of questions I want to use to engage the group.  I do all of the front end work.  I prepare.  Then?  I'm ready.  Then?  I go into a workshop and let it rip and let it unfold as it should. I'm ready for the messes.  When you're in the field of working with other human beings, you've got to expect deviations, opinions, emotional minefields, needs, issues, stories, frustrations, and spontaneity.  I LOVE THAT part!  It's like inhaling a breath of fresh air!

Rarely do I leave a workshop without covering the key messages I want to teach.  However, rarely does a class unfold as I have planned it out.   I can only imagine how this way of teaching, interacting, doing would make a perfectionist feel.  Messy random bursts of human spontaneous combustion fuels my being.  It must do the exact opposite for someone who needs to maintain a feeling of controlled decorum.  The anxiety must be intense..... as intense as I feel when I am confronted by a situation where I feel like my wings are clipped or my hands are tied down.  If we can't be "ourselves," the anxiety we feel heightens.

Do you know that my daughter's favourite teacher this year is a self confessed ADHD?  She has the whole class of 16 year old seating out of her hand!  

People who thrive on the nitty gritty details as a means of feeling a sense of control completely dumbfound me.  Sure, I know how important they are in the scheme of things.  Yes, I want them to be the people who build our bridges and direct the construction of our dwellings.  But, when their way of being extends to a point where they bring that type of thinking and doing into the discourse and they don't have the capacity to be open and receptive to another human being without passing on gobs of judgement?  Well, I want to know why they are so frightened to let loose.  What's going on inside their heads and heart??  And then I want to run away from them because their barbs are nasty!

I want to know why they can't relax and jump into more fascinating forum where sharing happens through unconditional positive regard.  I want to know why they are the first to judge.... the first to be cynical, pedantic, posturing. I want to know why they can't trust another?  I want to know why they are so damn frightened of being wrong, or showing their grey roots.  I want to be direct and outwardly ask them the why ............. I want to lean forward and look into their eyes, straight into their soul and ask the questions.  Can you imagine??  It would be like stripping them naked, revealing their messy bits.  Do you think perfectionists have a fantasy to want to dance like Beyonce.......I'm a single lady? Somehow I doubt it.  Pole dancing for the tight assed?  Maybe this is the type of therapy needed to help them let loose a bit. hmmmm.........

My way of being is considered by some to be a flurry blur that even may be perceived as unconventionally unacceptable.  Though I am a far cry away from being a loose canon or a renegade with a strange agenda,  the very sniff of my messy unpredictability for a person who thrives on perfectionism  leads them to believe I am someone who needs to be reminded of my place in the world. UGH!  

I think I'm their worst nightmare.  Their biggest fear?  I'm going to ask them WHY?  And I would.  Because I really want to jump right into the heart of that slip sliding mess.