How to Live in Interesting Times

These are not trivial times. You would have to have been abducted and put in some shed, bunker, outback hill hollowed out captive at random especially built structure to be unaware.

 

Every beautiful thing is here

It is a time of triggered, reactive, defensive, spewing of fear. So many are feeling like their nervous systems have been tasered and as they finish their convulsions of neurological energy epilepsy, they lay limp looking around for WHO did that. They find some post on facebook, or twitter, or snapchat or some news source and attach all of their explosive overload onto that one thing.

The other day a troll fight broke out about Oprah and Weight waters. What was her motivation? Was she altruistic? Was she simply marketing? God help us all if we can’t believe in the Oprah Ministry of Follow Me.

I put up a response as I watched some insisting that Oprah was being disrespected and attacked by others’ comments. Reading through the thread again, I saw not one disrespectful comment. I was curious.

Then I got it. Good lord the media is corrupt. We have to cover our heads to protect ourselves from the revelations that most of the structures, systems, institutions, inculcated belief systems are mind prisons and simply not reliable. We are like a partner in a marriage that has been betrayed and can no longer believe in anyone.

People are like children. The safety corner is gone. The sanctuary is a myth. Daddy is a monster and has committed atrocities that we weep to see.

So what is left? The limbic system is running the show. We have four choices when we are in rapid foaming at the mouth fear states: fight, flight, fornicate, feed.

The cracks mean reformation

And so people are triggered instantaneously. They are having trouble with insomnia. They are experiencing neurological diseases for some yet unexplained reason. They are walking around with a skin crawling type of anxiety.

Blaming themselves works for a while and then they look outward.

The question becomes, “Who is attacking me now?”
How else do you explain the tsunami of cortisol flowing through the society?

What if the crow were yellow?

So we attack one another. Somebody out there is doing this to me. Something out there is doing this to me. And then the eyes squinch up and they fall upon somebody who is attacking the vestiges of faith they still manage to cling to.

Oprah… no. I will fight for this symbol of light and truth.

I joking said that people are so triggered at the present time and so engaged in verbal fist fights on social media that I dare not post I like sweet pickles.

Somebody will come on the thread and say only garlic dill pickles are real and good. Sweet pickles are chemical, GMO, owned by a devil company, poisoning heavy lead mercury nano robot bone marrow depleting.

And heaven protect us all if I had said olives are the best.

And so we have become like children or frightened animals and race around looking for someone else to blame for the clearly and truly chaotic energy place the world occupies today.

Now more than ever, we are called upon to ground ourselves and become mindful. To see the flash of fear energy entering the body or leaving the body is to be in a place where you are no longer a victim.

It is what meditators strive for. It is what paramedics strive for. The calm understand that people are hurt right now will allow you to be able to see everything with the higher brain function. Instead of being a victim, you can become an emergency worker. You can show up with love. You can show up with compassion. It is what we are being called to do.

And I have no emotion around Oprah, pickles, which music group is the best. The heated debates are the result of marauding gangs of victims looking for a way to release fear. It is unnecessary.

The result is a population that is more fearful and more easily manipulated.

Sit down. Meditate. Check your body. Everything you need that allows you to grow up is right there.

You eat whatever pickles or olives you wish listening to any music that makes you vibe high and learn to believe in yourself and your instincts. There is no Daddy or Mommy. We are grown ups.

Fresh Snow Christmas wonderland

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

The joy of living in a neighbourhood for over twenty years is reinforced after a fresh snowfall. Not only are we suddenly transmitted into a movie set from the 1930’s with the fluffing up, puffing up branches holding the voluptuous white but we are called to go outside and play in it.

blue snow

The adult version of play is to shovel the sidewalk, brush off the car and dig out short bull dozed entry ways and exits for the car.

I step out the door and feel an excitement to be able to stand in such a beautiful place. The old trees planted in the 1950’s were once all along the street but some have survived. Some stand arching over the sidewalk, framing the vanishing point of the end of the street five blocks away. It is an unadulterated exquisite moment.

down the street

I slide my yellow plastic shovel along the walk way to clear a path for the phantom visitors in my mind. Only the mail person usually comes to the house but it is almost time for my winter guests to appear in my bed and breakfast.

Being careful not to catch the shovel edge on the ridge seam in the cement, I move the new snow in one long swipe in front of three houses. And then I begin to clear what will be only this amount of time from the layers of snow. More will come. There is no sense of staying clear, being done. There is just the walking and rhythmic sweep of the shovel.

My neighbour comes out of his house and he begins to sweep off my car. We talk about the one legged crow sitting in the tree overhead that his wife keeps alive by feeding it. We talk about the widower pigeon that my neighbour has named but I can’t remember what exactly. I know the pigeon by his color, shape and markings.

My neighbour talks to the pigeon and to the crow and promises them food as soon as he is done. But he is having fun. He moves down the block clearing other people’s landholding sidewalks because his shovel is filling up. He leaves a mark revealing cement not twenty minutes from the time I have cleared the area.

Christmas ribbons my neighbours tied on my fence for me as a surprise.

When I go into the house, I feel good. The conversation was not begun. It began almost 20 years ago when we talked over the fence from spring to fall. It is on going, effortless.

When I next go out, I see the footprints of the pigeon spinning out from the circle of bird seed. And further down the one foot print from the crow by the pile of peanuts.

More snow is falling, and the trees are holding it close. It is Christmas.

When weather becomes the truth

Sometimes we live in our heads, or in our past, or are lost in a scripted narrative someone else has penned. But when each of us opens the door and the percussive wall of cold strikes the entire body, all of the accompanying orchestration of violin thoughts stops. There is only the skin taking the temperature.

 

extreme weather

The frozen patterns like faces press against the windows partially imprinted on the car. It isn’t until the extreme falls away after turning on the heater that I go back into the droning, circle patterned of flying thoughts.

Part of the pleasure of walking the icy sidewalk into the howling wind is the weather itself bringing me into the breathing moment. I hear my lungs at work. I see the air warming and steaming out of me. The cold is slapping me out of it. I am only this step, this foot, this warm boot, this creature moving on the ground.

And when I was in Peru and laid in the hammock, I ran sweat slipping my body surfaces like waterfalls on a sculptured hillside. The walk up the path would begin with the skittling thoughts but as I shoved myself against the moist, hot air I recognized that the trailing end of a narrative had melted and disappeared. With several more steps I would begin again but the line of thought dissolved even earlier on until I was released from any interest except my breath and the wall of opposition the tropics pushed against my progress. At times, I felt I was behind myself trying to catch up with the place my body had now moved into.

Extremes of weather hold some fundamental truth. There is only the body, the skin, the breath, the intention of movement and it leaves us free of the embroidered speculations in the mind. It stops us cold.

Gathering thoughts like socks

It has been neither nor, not either or lately. The weather has caused the persistence of my flowers setting hopeful buds and the continued infill of grass in the bald spot in my lawn.

 

Trees heavy with no snow

Trees heavy with no snow

I have also been floating in some kind of bubble since I returned from Los Angeles for the Airbnb conference. There I was surrounded by 15000 other hosts and constant stimulation.

I followed my “open door” policy that I adhere to when I am travelling. If a door is open, I go in. I found an architecture school retrospective and a feminist film festival. The experience was delightful and I felt happy, excited and at home.

l-a-castle

Los Angels looks like a Castle in the distance

Getting back to Kelowna was less stimulating. I fell into distraction mode by watching netflix every evening.

So I am neither totally at home as I stretch out my desire fingers for more stimulus, nor ready to travel. It is an in-between state.

I find myself thinking a great deal about Christmas.

Christmas is, basically, about time. It is when we slide from past images of ourselves surrounded or trapped; supported or sabotaged by our immediate family.

Rituals are powerfully present. The old ornaments are dug out of boxes. The archived rituals like museum displays of half remembered or reconstructed narratives surround us.

Some try to recreate what went before and others like survivors of an undisclosed war suffer flash back intensity moments.

 

out my winter window

out my winter window

Another group tries to sand away the family chisled pictograph stories and start again.

The pressure from the societal mindset to experience the “most wonderful time of the year” leads to scarcity mind. Comparisons lurk everywhere. It is a time of the highest suicide rate in Western culture.

The chasm lies like an earthquake severed landscape between what we are told we “should” be experiencing and what we have actually experienced in our lives.

We react by mainlining… main landing on the sugar, fat, booze and entertainment surface. Or we jingle bell our credit cards to buy promises of pleasure.

We are desperate to cover up the crevassed split between that which we see in our own lives and the mythical saccharine made for TV movies.

But we do have the ability to walk about this shifting landscape and between the seasons with grace and skill.

We each find our own way forward to the place where our own version of the everyday super hero lives.

We can move away from the seasonal quaff from the cup of bitterness or booze. We can clear see the mindless expectation that are trying to script our decisions.

Getting to the next thing… the next season… the next stage of who we are becoming is an immense relief.

The question is: “Who am I now?”

“Who am I now?”

“Who am I now?”

We step as children into our own past and re-author all of it with every new thought.

Freedom to love comes from freedom from the old stories.

What is this time that now holds me?

The season moves to a wall of cold and winter shows up. Christmas shows up with so much possibility.

 

my livingroom sanctuary

my livingroom sanctuary

We are free to run towards others with a child like innocence and love. I am here. I showed up.

It is all new. It is all now. What fun.

Exhaustion and Anxiety

I am repeatedly grateful for the CBC and the information it brings into my little attic hideaway. This morning they featured a show about the book Exhaustion: A History.

 

 
The concept of exhaustion being a contemporary post-modern experience is one held far and wide in today’s culture. The exhaustion that takes contemporary focus is the Chronic form of psychological fatigue triggered by bio-chemicals in a fight or flight syndrome. Or that is what contemporary specialist believe it to be. So we buy into this definition.
However, Anna Katharina Schaffner, the author points out that the pervasiveness of weariness is nothing new.
Galen writes about it in antiquity. The Medieval period called it acidia or an excess of acid in the body which created a condition called melancholia. It was considered a sin and sloth was the result.
Hans Seyle who is the father of the research on stress and resultant depression was stressed himself when he could find nothing measurable about energy. He came to a standstill when he asked, “What is energy?” The only answer that has presented itself in the scientific field in Western science is the measure of calories.
What has been woven into the psyche of the modern cultural Akashi record belief is that there is ‘something out there that will steal our energy’.
The bottom line of the historical focus on the depletion of energy is, according to Schaffner, a belief in the waning of efficacy; a falling away of energy and vitality as we age.

But the real anxiety is about the approach of death.
So historically philosophers, medical scientists, social scientists, psychologists have danced around the changing presentation of exhaustion. For medieval times it was thought to be the humours; during the Victorian Era a blanket of lassitude was the result of invention, modernization and education of women.

wet, tired
Certain periods in history allowed only leisure classes the luxury of exhaustion and depression. However, today the world wide sense that this is the first time, this is the worst time for exhaustion with a sense of personal powerlessness is in error.
The fear of diminishment has been a constant in Western Culture since the age of Antiquity.
A big difference between Western Culture and Eastern Culture is the concept of a mechanistic “battery of energy” that loses its charge. In contrast to Eastern belief that Prana or Qi are replenishable sources.

Grounding in order to grow

Grounding in order to grow

 

The person who is feeling a diminishment can go to a practitioner and reconnect with source. Or the individual can go to a movement/breath practice mode which revitalizes the body and mind.
For me, the most interesting concept in the interview is that each person; each decade; each cultural moment is so intensified that we lose perspective.
The issue of facing one’s death, of having a healthy supportive connection to one’s body and of knowing we are not unique means that we can release the victim mode. We can see how connected we are to all who are alive on the earth and to all who have lived.

Once we understand that, we are able to move in the world with more compassion for ourselves and for others.
Thank you, CBC.

The “savings” account.

carrying shadowsI read in one of the many how to save your marriage books, while I was still hopeful, some interesting advice. (Obviously the methodology requires two so THAT didn’t work.) The coach-therapist suggested that the couple store up good feelings so that they could draw on them when it was necessary in times of stormy weather.
Coupled with my reading on discipline fatigue, I was thinking about designing a life strategy. As I did my daily five loads of laundry, hanging the purple sheet, I thought of how edgy and irritable I get when I stick to my check list, and work with a total focus on building new habits.
I kick like a four year old… “don’t want to”. The promise land of supportive habits is mapped out on my giant calendar check list pasted above my reading chair.
“But what happens when I am just plain tired of making myself do better, be better, push for bigger goals,” I thought as I hung the golden colored bed sheet.
It was then it hit me. I have a less than peaceful relationship with myself. There is tension between me, myself and I.

Basically, she is always dissatisfied and reaching for more. I make a plan… and the vast stretch of the day with undulating hours like some ocean or desert spreads before me. I am both overwhelmed and bored..
“What I need,” I advised myself, “what I need is more treasure in my treasure chest of good feelings.”
Bingo, bazat. There it is. That could help my primary relationship.
Instead of only allowing myself a beggar’s hoard of joyous moments, what if I went after them with intention in order to help out when I was just so done.

Saving positive moments

Saving positive moments

“But not just indulgences, “I remind myself. “You need to stick to the habit building plan.

I stood back and looked at the purple, golden, yellow and hot pink sheets waving on the line. Beautiful. So simply beautiful. I start with that image. I start now.

Summer no beach

So arrest me, already. I went to the beach which is a 20 minute walk away one time this summer and I almost immediately regretted it.
The water was churned up by the flopping of bodies. The sand was searing. Mating rituals involving the showing of skin, the flexing of arms, the tossing of hair were enacted everywhere.

 

no beach

no beach

Mothers hobbled by little wagons, backpacks, carry bags were limping either toward or away from the radiant heated beach trying to set up what looked amazingly like a nomad’s village of plastic toys.
The only element that I found uplifting were the line of toddlers marking the tide line. They were intent on learning. Physics of dropping objects, trajectories, weight, force fascinated them. They are trying to understand the rules on the planet. They are intent, absorbed and innocent.
I thought about reading my ever present book; however, the sound of radios, family members screaming to one another important messages just created too much background static.
I sat for a while on the benches next to others wearing hats, long sleeved shirts who looked like the very beach toys that were so laboriously lugged to the water. Only we were all a little deflated. We were slightly hunched over in the 38 degree Celsius heat magnified by the sand and water.
I could barely hear my imprinting ego say, “But this is fun.”
“Oh just shut-up,” I thought.
I gathered my book, towel and sweated my way back to the car.
I have learned physics. There is no way I am going to seduce a mate to appear while posing in my bathing suit. And I just want to read my book.

Where Am I Now?

Life for me has been such an experience of making progress, lurching forward and then falling back into old habits of thinking and action. Trying to be patient with the process is like everything else: Sometimes quite easy and at other times just a condemnation to some caves of Hell volcanic spewing in a limitless black pit.
Today, it was cooler which always causes a rise in my optimism. When it is 30 + Celsius I am like a Newfoundland dog locked in a room with no AC. I become dispirited, lacking the urge to run. I can push my self for a while in the morning and then I am just laid flat sweating out of the side of my face.

Cloud give relief

Cloud give relief

Always, my mind wants me to prove that I have been working toward my goals. Not one goal, six goals or nine goals. Too much, too fast gives me a high.
It is cooler today and so I can feel that there is something possible between the two walls of night. I awake and my thoughts turn to my goals again.
And then, and then comes the questioning: What is it that I am not asking?

 

Questioning in a Circle
Like a small bore drill, what repetitions of digging into the hard wood knot of my life are going on? I want to bite into something. I want to see something become easy and reward me for the tenacity of holding on. I want to sink into this new place of keeping a grip, of holding out.
And so I ask: What is it that I am not asking? What is it that I am not seeing?
But, as always, as I walk my guests to their car, it is the mundane that calls me. It is the next thing that engages my taking action. I stand bare foot, bare faced in the garden and pull out weeds that have grown in the garden bed. I load the dishwasher. I strip the bed and begin the laundry.
I turn my mind away from the grandiose promises I have made to myself. Soothingly, I murmur, “Patience. Go back to intention, woman.”

What Path?
And as I piled up the weeds along the walk way, I pile up the yearning and the frustrations and the sense of being outside. I rip out the old stories of not deserving, of being somehow inherently wrong. I tear out the old, habitual feelings about who I am as I move through the world.
I am right here, standing with slightly earth colored bare feet on the ground. And this now, this now is who I am. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant. The day is cool. Time will pass. And each breath fills me up. I trust that I am growing, that what I cannot see is moving toward me. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant.

Hinges and Hindsight

When I shut the door to my garden shed, I noticed two of the four hinges are not firmly screwed into the wood. The seam in the plywood was opened and the screws just kind of float in the space between the sandwiched wood.

 

 

Yard of flowers
I push the door up and into place to close it. Every. Time. I close the door.
I know it is needing to be reseated. I know I need to take all of the screws out and find another place to establish a firm connection. And yet, I get out my screwdriver and simply sink the screws back into the space that is not working, where there is no grip, no security, no future.
This is life. The work-arounds are usually about not solving a problem. The small surrenders to that which is failing are a type of disbelief in self.
If I trace the weakness back to the source I see two statements which my ego uses to keep me in a state of competent dysfunction. There is no time. Right now I do not have the time.

 

chained to thoughts
Isn’t that rich. Isn’t that genius. “Right now I do not have the time.”
There is no time right now. There is only anxiety, pushing ahead, living in the future. Hoping as an antidote to doing.
There is no time right now. The ego is brilliant in its ability to distract me from growth.
The second seduction is the statement: You are too tired to take action.
This one leads me into the hours of entertainment addiction that goes on each night.
Ego says, “It is dark. You are now tired. You need to stop and just lay down.”
And so I walk away from the hinge having only temporarily, partially, incidentally made it functional. Later tonight, when I have finished my time anchored tasks it will be night. And “It is dark. You are now tired. Just lay down.” will start playing in my head.
How do we become unhinged? Because we allow it to happen, slowly, one decision at a time. The ego sings to us. It knows how to Infomercial hard sell to me a life of low grade, barely operating at competence level.
When we turn and look at our past, when we have hindsight, we can see the thousands of things that could have been prevented… if we had only had Time and were not Tired.
Maybe it is time to just reframe our concepts. We have time and we have a beautiful ever flowing energy if we stop dancing to egos tune, we can do a bigger, more effective dance. And maybe sing while we are doing it.

The Dragonfly on the lock

One day recently, I stepped out onto my bubble gum pink front steps and turned automatically in order to push the lock button. It rests at the centre of the keypad. As I distractedly moved my finger into place, I felt something soft and structural against my finger tip.
I looked to see that a dragonfly had rested across the pad.

75106_10150090012713615_3806712_n
It laid and stayed. It’s body was spread diagonally, organically contrasting with the metal plate. Quickly, I pulled my hand away and stopped my mind. I came to. I focused. I zapped into my body. I astral returned from whatever graphic novel scenario I had been sketching taking me out of my life.
In that moment, I was absolute. I stood on the bubble gum pink stairs and felt the bottom of my feet the strength of my legs; my being, my physicality, my existence, my particularly manifested form.

I stood and looked at the dragonfly and it waited for me.
It waited for me to return from my deadened walk, blind eyed, drooling idiocy, color commentary method of seeing life as some kind of game. I stood on the step with my finger lifted in the air and I remembered how the dragonfly felt to my touch.
I have never touched a dragonfly before. I am over 70 and I have never touched a dragonfly before.

 

Relax into life

Relax into life

I wonder how many new experiences I am having each day that I am not having. Because I do not see them, I do not see me.
The dragonfly waited for me. It was patient. And then my mind pulled focus, the 1st camera assistant did her job. How clear. The detail of its structure, its beauty, the iridescent wings were so clear. And for a moment, I forgot to breathe.
So many things have been stuck, broken, inhabited by technological gremlins lately that I have become resigned to the no progress scenario.
I sit meditation, chant, let the darkness of recycling doubt move through me. I have not been insistent. I pray for patience, I pray for guidance, I pray for a sign daily.
Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and would not move.
When I looked up the significance I learned it is a sign of mental and emotional maturity.

All of the careful reformation of my mind, my body, my resetting of intention in the world has been guided by something outside of me. I have trusted that I would find a way to live with more grace in the world.

 

signs of love

signs of love

Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and it would not move until I received it.
I am grateful. Thank you, beautiful messenger.