Force of Will and Endurance Optimism

I had the joy of hosting the Firestarter’s Group at my house last night. It began with six members and a maybe I will come seventh person. But last night as the ice and snow outside was melting in abysmal rain, there were three of us.

February is not an $18 super sundae delight time for anyone. But with the combination of the political climate, the blanket of anxiety which is falling upon Canada and the United States and the lack of skills to handle tough times, it is seemingly a deeper gloom at the present time.

 

beginning is always within

I remarked last night that part of the difficulty is that there is no longer a close, supportive social connection between people. Women at the well bashing their clothing upon the stone could share. And there was no guarantee. Women from past times did not expect all of their children to survive. They did not expect things to improve appreciably.

Villagers faced death and moved the sick or dying person into the middle of the household. Starvation was a distinct possibility if the weather turned.

 

We are elemental

Today, we have a thousand and one expectations. We work in groups to “manifest” more wealth, greater status, more dreams to become incorporated. But there is little instruction in handling the issues of mortality. The stamina that is necessary to live a long life that allows for greater wisdom is so rare, the few individuals who can speak to the ability to rise above are trotted out onto a stage and paid as inspirational speakers.

In my grandmother’s time, every woman had lived through the depression; survived the 1918 flu the brought death to every family. It was what a person did. A person got on with it.

The difficulty with plenty; the problem with predictability; the reaction to ever increasing expectation is that the individual does not fully understand the power that he or she holds.

Disconnecting from the body, children are entranced by screens. Disconnecting from their children, parents are numbed by screens. Unaware of the innate strength of the body; the burning passion of the spirit; and the latent gifts of the mind, we get caught up into a disconnecting trance.

Something is missing and that something is the ability to be challenged, to go beyond limits and to gain confidence in ones self. Peak experiences fade when we are not called to act. Our connection with our mortality fades when we no longer understand that death is inevitable.

What is happening now is frightening people. Some are swinging viciously at anything that moves; shooting from the hip.

But it is my belief that we have gone as far as we can in the cocoon illusion of entitled improvement. We have run out of options, sit idling in a dead end alley. It is now that we can choose to become awakened and find out who we are.

Being lost can sometimes make us more capable of seeing the landscape and finding out where we are.

Everything is about the lesson. Everything is about growth and when the cup is full of poison, stop drinking from it.

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Patterns and Pauses

Slowly the ice fort that the snow plow and I have built around my car is disappearing. At times, I take my square sharp shovel and chip away. When it warms up, I slide the snow shovel underneath and open up the passage ways. I am creating a path for easier movement.

The resolve to sit and write, to take time to work through the blocks that have arisen is renewed in me lately. Chipping away at a frustration; building my skills without a particular end game in mind will lead me where I need to go.

The enemy is contentment. I have enough money… if I am careful and don’t stretch my neck out into Middle Class acquisitiveness. I have familiar comfort. But the black out curtain of boredom restricts my light.

At times I yearn for a new environment, one in which I cannot anticipate the path. Exploration, adventure, serendipity are somewhere else.

The well worn path I had trodden is the polished stone walkway of discipline. The habits are the groves I have made. I am working now to get myself down in a chair and develop my focus on creating the adventure in my exploration of language. The time, which has for so many years been a burden upon me, the time of “it doesn’t matter” and “there is nothing you have to do” has been marked with no hands, no click movement of minutes.

I don’t seek struggle but rather just to deepen my commitment to developing myself. And distraction, entertainment, diversion have been the central pond of my day. I have soaked in it for hours.

I tell myself I am learning as I watch movies. I tell myself I am connecting as I lurk a voyeur to friends on face book. I tell myself I am being careful with my money as I go to three stores to buy one item.

But really, what is it that I wish to discover in my life? That is the question. How can I patiently sit and work through my thoughts, honing ideas, reaching out to new possibilities of internal connection? It is by once again connecting to the clock and going back to work.

It is time.

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February Blizzards and Expectations

This morning I drove to the Lakeland Gallery where I sometimes volunteer a shift in the Gift Shop. Because my weight is up three pounds (which may or may not be greater muscle mass) I restrained myself from buying banana bread. Instead I just headed home, chipped away at the ice fort surrounding my car and had a nap.

Perhaps it was triggered by watching a Spanish series about Nuns in the 16th century, or perhaps it was the being day after day alone in the house but a nightmare visited me about a seemingly friendly yet strange man plotting to drag me into an underground cement enclosed cell. I was prepared to fight, to die even before he could isolate me there.

When I woke up, I lay looking out the window at the still, forever gray low brow sky. The unbroken similarity of one day blending into another impressed itself on me. Before the nap, after the nap, today or tomorrow. It has all been of a piece.

Internet addiction is the only distraction and relief. I follow others’ lives while lurking in the background watching them get engaged; take parents to the hospital; finally say good bye to the companion pet that has been by their side for over a decade.

The thought of going out to a movie appears and I walk to the window to see the roads are still not trustworthy. And it is cold. It is cold early and late.

There are things on my list. There are things that are ideas or events but I have no excitement around them. I think what if? What if I simply ignore them?Nothing then. Nothing.

Last year I had guests coming and going. Money was coming in. But I was recovering from a long illness.

This year I am healthy if three pounds heavier. But the scourge of boredom and unbroken dependability is upon me.

I roll over and read my latest book. Knowing that now is not always now helps. I keep myself focused on that which I cannot see as yet; on that which I cannot feel as yet and release the need for specific assurances.

It warmed up enough so I could make a landing platform for my car in the ice fort next to the sidewalk. I bought pink lilies that will release their sweet perfume in my house.

I am no Marky Mark singing Good Vibrations at this point. But one thing for sure… something is always coming in life. The fruition of my thoughts and actions is ripening. And I hold on to the thought, “Something wonderful comes when you least expect it.” Because now is when I least expect almost anything.

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History Teaches Us How to Live

I felt the calm that came over me when I was listening to CBC interview Eric Foner on CBC today. He is considered the pre-eminent American historian of his generation. His careful historical analysis and many books allow for the long view of the history of the United States. He brings a keen intellect, a wealth of accumulated information and a careful confidence to his analysis of the process of Democracy in the United States.

 

Liberty is won and maintained through actions

He began by saying, “When you are president you want to exert power”. The type of individual that runs for office is motivated by the attractions of the office.

Foner reassures his listening audience that the appetite for control is not new. He points to the structuring of the USA so that no single branch of government could voraciously consume human rights. However, there is a difficulty with the system that is evidencing at the present time with President Trump: The checks and balances can be “run around”.

Foner points out that the problem is that currently the US has the same party controlling all three branches of the government. Therefore the checks to the usurpation of rights are not fully operative.

But to those who scream out in terror that this has never happened before and only Trump has created this kind of threat, Foner responds with historical fact.

Grave threats from within have always happened in the White House. In the aftermath of WWI suppression of free speech was the law of the day. And more recently, many alive today can remember the televised live hearings conducted by Eugene MacCarthy as he destroyed citizens lives.

Professor Foner points out that power without compassion is not a one nation issue. Le Pain, Trump, Brexit are people who are aggrieved… these are not populists at all.

He vehemently objects to calling this swing to authoritarianism, right wing reactionism populism.

The original populists were not the 1%. Trump’s government is the government of billionaires. Populists movements were about protecting services to the population not removing care for the citizens.

A movement is growing up around the world out of fear. Around the world there is an appetite for the “strong man on the horse”. It goes back to the tension between belief in democracy and desire for authoritarianism.

He uses the long view of history to state his belief that the more authoritarian Trump becomes, the more likely for push back from the population. He reminds the listener of Maccarthy, George Wallace, Ross Perot…These were other versions of right wing demagogs.

Where is this desire coming from for inclusion, compassion, equality within US history?

Foner reminds the listener that in the 1920’s the US tried to block Italians ( I also thought of black slavery; exclusions of the Chinese; imprisonment of the Japanese as other examples)…

This movement of reacting to Muslims, to those that are not “like us” has happened throughout US history. The dangers are always there. The people mobilized against immigration restriction. Mobilization IS an action that is not new or unexpected within American history.

The price of Democracy is eternal vigilance Foner reminds his audience.

He points out the illogicality of holding two contradictory beliefs at once: ” We are exceptional and everybody should be just like us is what America is saying.”

John Quincy Adams had written, “We don’t go abroad to change other people into ourselves.” America as a policeman was not the vision of the founders of the country.

Chickens have come home to roost from our lack of Democracy. We have a self image which is not a completely accurate portrait. Trump has damaged the moral authority of the United States in the eyes of other nationsl

Tom Paine said clearly, “The US is an asylum for the world.”

People are more aware of the deficit state of contemporary democracy. Political democracy has not been able to solve many problems. There is a serious democracy problem in the world today.

Some times reloading is necessary

The system was set up by James Madison in order to have a self correcting mechanism. Slavery was abolished at the cost of 3/4 of a million lives. It was not government that changed slavery, it was individual people.

Ordinary people have a right to make judgements about their own government. And ordinary people will show up to adjust the vision of what the national identity is in the world. Democracy is alive because of constant re-visioning and corrections when the ideals of the founding fathers have been forgotten. The nation has done it before and Foner believes the people will speak out and protect the country that was formed to be a sanctuary.

Interview with Eric Foner on CBC today.

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Doing Whatever Harder, Does That Work?

The sun shines and I have, once again, hidden my phone from myself. Perhaps it was a few days ago I received the revelation that I need to get off of public media for three days. But I didn’t.
The posts on social media are exploding in sprays of colored strings of fire fear, anxiety, anger. They are too charged to be contained, too large to be directed like a land mine waiting for anyone unselected, unprotect, unvetted to have his or her standing destroyed percussively.
It is like trying to golf on an erupting volcano. People put their heads down and focus on knowing just exactly which club will be perfect for the next shot to reach the target hole. We just ignore the pregnant with the destruction of earth burning beneath the crust of skin.
The nit pickers are out patrolling for the wrong words, the slightly incorrect detail, the wrong source, the tiny flaw.

“Tell me it isn’t true,” they are calling out.

They want to criticize the type of pitchforks at the siege of Paris.

The born-agains or never-borns or reborn forevers are all selecting a reality corridor to patrol.

Somehow being correct has become the antidote to incipient chaos. And then the Neverland people are standing in their firmly denying closed windows with the curtains draw while they work at being nicely nice.

Devil for tea.

They hold a magic wand in the hand while coughing from the cloying air clotted with fervently thrown pixie dust.

The deeply angered early childhood or recently war wounded traumatized are ready to react. The undereducated are full of the knowing what is not truth.

It is a time when a person’s default setting is being triggered. And I too, find I am talking louder, becoming more emphatic calling for gentleness and calm. It is really quite amusing to watch all of it. Especially observing myself provides me hours of comedic revelation.

What is happening??? We can all agree that it seems like dinner theatre in Hell.

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Why Do We Monitor Ourselves?

Checking in to where I am checking out always takes courage for me. I would far rather drift in some limbo of not bad, not workaholic, not cortisol, super mediocre than really look into the face the place I now claim as now.

sun set or dawn watch the light

Last night, I had a long, drawn up multi -phase dream about the disengagement that my family chooses as it default setting modus operandi as I spun out a narrative of failure to protect, fear of connect.

When I have these vivid dreams, I am also very grateful. It is like watching my computer “repair a link” and the bar slowly fills up with the message of mending.

To see clearly is not something that comes easily in this human state. We are all clumpish, physical, and inefficient at making change.

I think about the old mimeographs I had to make when I was teaching. I would crank the handle and the room would fill up with the chemical smell, the paper would be coated in a bath of oil like residue and the original master would slowly degrade.

 

The reward for walking: view

Where I am now is not much beyond that mechanical turning of the print. I can see where I am stuck. I can see where I am handicapped. But my dreams……

My dreams give me the bigger view. They show me exactly where the monitoring is failing to make a clear, total imprint.

The very fact that I am surprised that I have put on weight and 1/2 an inch on my waist when I have been systematically working toward that goal.

The very fact that I have not finished editing my book Walking the Streets of Blood for the 5th edit when I made that promise to myself is obvious if I look at it.

I go to the calendar and see the stickers I have put on for exercise, meditation, writing and I argue with what I see. NO!

“NO!,” I say. “I meditated every day. I wrote many blogs. I worked out I am sure of it. I remember being sore.”

The ego is such a child that when I have lost focus and gone into distraction mode, I refuse to admit to it. I deny it.

So while I was hiding from myself and making excuses, the days have kept coming. And as a result,  my goals have slipped past me in January.

I have even gone into loss land. Oh, I can argue until the flying pigs come back to roost, but there it is.

What I do at these times where the monitoring is revealing a truth, is I attempt to buck myself up. A depressed person does not achieve a lot of growth.

So I look at how much social contact I have had over the past month; I look at how many Oracle Readings I have done; I look at the food I have been eating which is organic and wholesome.

These things exist at the same time: the growth actions and the self sabotage. And the real gift of self monitoring is to simply see the whole picture and to know that resetting, beginning again, renewing the vows that I made to myself are simply an organic part of the process.

I stood on Knox Mountain today and looked at the vibrant blues and saturated whites of the land and lake below me and I patted my inner child self and said, “Good job.”

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Maslow Spoke to Me while I Was Washing Dishes

Yesterday I had a very down day. I don’t mean that I was gothic weeping and trailing my torn black gown around the dusty floor. The emotional element was not telenovela drama but rather just a sense of disconnection. Like having lost my keys, I simply misplaced my joy.

I woke up from another dream about having a job. It has happened for several days now. It indicates to me that my sense of purpose program is firmly tied with my past habits and experiences. I return to the work as being “on purpose” in my dreams. The small flash thought of “am I up to this job?” comes in the unconscious state. However, I wake up happy knowing that I was up to the challenges set for me during my slumber.

The good news is that I simply allowed the non-productive, stalled and slack-ass day to run its course.

A friend suggested that I have been following political drama so closely that I was dealing with the “negativity virus” I had picked up.

 

The ability to step back and observe myself with love and compassion allowed for yesterday to simply be another lesson. I observed that “this woman” had a low down flat in the bed wrapped in the bathrobe kind of day. But she did not trash talk herself, nag herself, create a sense of fear that somehow she was losing the competitive edge, the race to the finish line, all possible changes at the opportunity.

It was a victory for me to see I simply refrained from taking myself out into an alley and beating the crap out of myself for being human.

As I was doing the dishes this morning after coming back from a 30 minute walk, it occurred to me that I am always pushing into new territory in my relationship with myself.

When I first began this journey of changing my story, looking at my trauma, allowing my darkness, I treated myself like a baby.

The workaholic self in the past would not allow me to get much sleep, or stop for the washroom, or eat regularly. From that point, I have transformed myself. Physical self care is a deeply hard wired habit. I rarely even notice how beautifully I attend my body.

The environment of my home; the energy in my friend’s groups; the care I take of my spirit are all now hard wired. My house is clean, my friends are supportive and accept me for where I am in my journey, and I have the sense that I am surrounded and protected by spirit constantly.

As I was washing the dishes, I suddenly understood that the higher levels of Maslow’s pyramid where now where I needed to climb.

Not knowing how to be joyous, not understanding when I need to stop and do something that makes me feel radiantly alive, waiting too long to recharge at the Tesla station are the next areas of growth.

Yesterday, as I lay with unbrushed hair, an old bathrobe semi-wrapped around me because I was too dispirited to find the ties and my mind gone to some Netflix distraction zone I did not hate on myself. However, I can see today that it was where I needed to go.

Always, there are lessons and opportunities to grow.

I am simply higher up the pyramid and on new ground. I stood in the cold air on Knox Mountain this morning engulfed by the no self beauty. The gray and the cold was boundless.

It is all a lesson if I step back far enough, I can see it below spreading out, this life; these narratives; these thousands of experiences just structures like the houses spread out below me.

So working on allowing joy is the next assignment. And you have to know me to understand what an amazing revelation that is. Or perhaps not. Perhaps you just get it.

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Dizziness. Moths or Butterflies Energy Flapping

Today Trump with a stroke of the pen ended Standing Rock, the TTP, and made an agreement with Canada to allow pipe lines to cross major farm lands.

We experienced, or planned, or walked in one of the largest gatherings of women since the 1913 demonstrations for the right to vote.

The assumption has been that social liberalism was a developed philosophy with its commiserate protection of all members of a society in the contemporary Western world. Included in that concept was the protection of the earth and the environment to ensure that our progeny would inherit a safe and stable existence on the earth.

We are all dealing with the sudden apparent shifting of energy. The activation of fear has created more scenarios for fear. It is a dark energy that feeds upon itself in order to grow.

We know from social anthropological studies, from brain chemistry studies that when people feel safe, when they feel happy and protected they are more likely to be compassionate. Their thinking is more creative and they are more able to McGyver a solution.

Most of us are familiar with the Star Trek episode called The Trouble with Tribbles. Creatures that live on anxiety exponentially increase when they are feared.

 

Fear creates Fear

We are seeing “push back” happening with the Marching of Women (and their partners) across the globe.

We are seeing some of the raising of awareness in our own town of Kelowna as voters push back on the issues of stalling/rejection of a safe injection site and the threat on park land by a proposal from City Council to build a tourist bureau on prime lake front property.

Today I posted on Facebook my reaction to these two seemingly different issues:

The education, the studies, the academic follow up to the effectiveness of injection sites has been collected for over 15 years. What the voting public is looking at is a general issue in the city, in the Okanagan, in the province. It is a philosophy focused on very 1980’s, 1990’s retro-thinking.

Everything we must do to move into a more compassionate, caring, green and thriving world is being blocked. Climate change is being ignored in the attempt to placate voters with short term jobs. Child protection systems are failing because of a lack of commitment to creating a new structure that is proven to work to wisely deal with abuse cycles.

Building commerce pushing structures in the major city park when it is known, proven that for a contemporary city to thrive it must attract young, creative individuals working in green business sectors. A recent survey of young professional indicated that only 6% would consider moving to Kelowna because of these short sighted actions which defeat the possibility of a vibrant future.

Ignoring the environmental limitations of having a city in a semi-desert valley with its limited water resources in the name of short term financial gain is wrong headed.

It is not ONE thing. It is an entire mind set that is the block. Learning to care for one another; learning to care for the environment; learning to care for the creation of a sustainable future needs to happen within the political structure.

There is only one way to move past this philosophy and it is for people to see that the block is there. Reacting to one arm of the octopus is exhausting and ineffective.

Today as I sat in my bath, I heard the organizer of Occupy talk about the dead end of mass demonstrations. Occupy become a distinct moment in time and has had no long term effect.

In this shared interview on CBC this morning a long term political activist echoed the sentiment:

Jay Pitter, an author with ten years of experience in public engagement, has her own suggestions for people who want to make change.

“I think every single woman who attended that march — and women who did not — should create something that I call a personal action plan to ensure tangible action,” she said.

Pitter said people should start by identifying an issue to focus on, then take stock of the resources they have to bring to the table and research people already working on in the area.

“Then women need to sit down and develop a timeline with milestones so they are really measuring their actions and their impact,” she said.

Where do we go from here? We can stay home and feel more and more dizzy, confused, sickened by what is going on. We can troll, snipe, attack, vilify those who do not agree with us. Or we can encourage others who have the skill and experience of succeeding in activism to step up.

 

As with most things in life, if we wait for the lesson to go from a whisper to a bulldozer plowing through our security structures, we will eventually take action. But as one who has had her life flattened three times from refusal to act early on, I really prefer the early response method now.

Where do we go from here? Well, the tribbles are growing.

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When You Have Run Out of Fixes

When the last series on Netflix that drew your attention was finished at 2 a.m.; when the last day of sun in the sky was well over a week ago; when the next change in the weather system threatens to be weeks from now; when the list of things you intend to do are as uninteresting as eating a slice of the heel of stale week old bread; when the business is slow and friends are all caved up fighting some heroic battle with a plague like virus; when you find yourself going through emails from nobody interesting and watching posts from Facebook with no thing except postings of the insistence of the wrongness of other dunder headed dumbed down walking dead vampire black night of ignorance creatures; when the prevailing smell in your house is of the super strong vinegar you have used to unblock the drains because damn it you will get something done today; when you watch the Tony Robbins video and your response is “Fuck you, Tony Robbins,”; when your entire narrative is bland, obstructive not like a sand storm but more like a dandelion head storm with no particular drama offering itself to juice you awake; that is when you hope you are at the bottom of it.

But you walk over the calendar after drifting on the internet for three hours and see, holy hell, that it is still January. You are prepared for this feeling of disconnect and floating disembodied grayness but now now. Not yet!

 

February, my mother used to repeated tell me, was when the lab where she worked had more medical tests than the other eleven months together. People were coming in to try to figure out the rash, the cough, the fever, the diarrhea, the sense of weakness, the lack of will. But, she told me, it is just the February affliction for places where the sun has been banned by low pressure fronts, rain clouds, obscuring mists.

So I do what Tony has yelled at me to do. I will not listen to my mind. And then maybe when I am 85 I will have been in a helicopter with the doors open flying my family around the sky beyond any clouds right into a freaking rainbow.

Why?

So I put vinegar in the drains, I dust, I do dishes, and I make a list for the day even though the smirching darkness is headed in.

This being human is an amazing challenge. And it isn’t even February yet. I might make toast and bury it in sugary jam. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

When you have run out of fixes there is always coffee and toast.

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All Trump’s Eve

There is a tension in the air of North America and a watchfulness of the world on the eve of Trump’s inauguration. Once when I was in New Mexico, the air felt stretched thin. It was hot and impressively still as I stood in the laundromat. The sound of crickets, dogs, people moving through the streets just stopped. The pressure had built to the point of affliction.

 

getting caught in the whirl wind

And as I watch social media tonight there is a similar sense of prescient not knowing. People are not knowing how this happened. People are not knowing if the new president is the result of fate, corruption spiraling out of control (because corruption has a decent structure), or if it somehow his or her own fault (I should have know/voted/chosen differently).

The vacuum is oppressive. Obama is leaving and there is only emotion to replace him. To relieve the yawning opening sense of loss, people are choosing a particular focus.

Some are huddled fearfully under the stairs trying not to breathe noisily. Some are armed with weapons of mass distraction. Others are deciding to march. Demonstrators are planning to witness for human rights; to witness for their new leader; to act as a human barricade between three other factions (see meat wall).

William Butler Yeats lived in a time that was also “an opening” or shift in global energy. And it is his words that come to mind from the poem The Second Coming:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

The only thing that I know is that the weather systems will change. There are laws of shifting air, exchanges of temperature, moisture, pressure that are at work.

And it is only increasing the velocity of emotion if I stand anticipating that either the storm will come, a violence of rain or unexpected winds. I clean my house. I work out. I leave the house with the intention of enjoying those I meet.

It is a time to release attachment to a story. It is not the time to cling to the necessity to be correct.

I will do what I can for social justice, for human rights and the rest I will leave to the fates.

I remember standing in the laundromat and allowing the sweat to suddenly appear and roll down my body. And then the rain drove the dust high into the air. The downpour cleaned everything in its way. That is my hope for after this storm.

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