Kelowna: What the garden teaches.

Today I awakened at 7 am because it is too hot to mow the lawn at noon. I pushed the hand mower around my yard like a three year old would a Fisher-Price toy. I made patterns and swooped. When I saw some raggle taggle weed poking out from my giant purple Iris clump I would drop the handle and go over to pull the taunting weed out with a sudden jerk.
I drifted off to weed a neighbouring bed of peonies and daisies.

Then I was back to mowing. The oriental enamelled leaves of the new Japonica in the center of a patch of front yard are breath taking in color. If they were jewellery or the paint color of a convertible car they would be admired, stop people in their tracks, cause wonderment.

I walked behind the mower with its toy like noise. The grass smelled sweet releasing the odor of memories. I could hear my neighbours of 24 years talking together over the fence. My guests sat on the deck reading the books that I had placed on the shelf.

The tulips were here to explode into color the fireworks of celebration. Now their petals curl in. The petals have lost their color and curl into a fist before dropping to the ground. Their job is done once they had exclaimed, “Winter is dead. Winter is dead.’

As I walked the yard I saw the flat handed white of the daisies opening up. They are a busy, simple flower that has crept into my lawn and every bed they can reach.

“Good for you, daisies,” I encouraged them as I mowed.

There is something so deeply extraordinary about the acts that we repeat to the point that they become a ritual. Mowing the lawn is one. I first mowed a lawn when I was eight and it was with a push mower. Now I am 72 and every garden I have ever moved through comes back to me as I walked.

A transition of seasons, the changing birth and dying of species of flowers and plants, a rhythm of existence is not about anticipation. It is the farthest point possible from anticipation. Now becomes a discovery. And how I move through that which I have planted is about acceptance and excitement.

The columbine are gigantic this year. In previous years, they were closer to the earth and timid.

I plant, I weed, I attend to the repetition of taking care of what is around me. The repetition sows the seeds of delight.

And above all, it teaches me how to connect to the earth when I am working in the garden. It teaches me about intention, selection and persistency of practice.

I do not know if this seed will flourish or perish. It is about trusting that no matter what happens the lesson will blossom. 

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Floods, Storms, Rain, Heat…Frowning Nature: Kelowna Floods

Today I planted some hot peppers and tomato plants in the 20 degree heat. I first had to clear the leaves, seeds and broken off limbs strewn across all of the surfaces after the violent storm of the previous night. After several hours of raking, I cleared the signs of the destruction and could turn to production.

As darkness approached, I lay in my bed looking out my window at the gigantic maple tree which looms over my home.  It was sown in 1946 or 1947. The branches flung out slapping at my roof and then snapped back in the opposite direction. Winds reached up to 80 kilomteres an hour. I could see the arch of limbs flailing frighteningly close to the glass through which I viewed the show. Idly, I thought about how one of the branches could snap off and come through the roof pinning me to the bed, or crushing my limbs with its limbs.



But eventually I was too tired to stay awake to see if I would die. Rolling over onto my left side, I turned my back to the threat. I figured that I would be there if anything happened, so I stopped watching the dance. I fell into a fitful sleep.

Currently, my house and my neighbourhood crouches on the edge of the edge of the lake. Some people have lost their piers or their beach front decorations to the water which now stands at 127% over the top of the lake. Residents receive updates from the city which may tell us to evacuate should the water begin crawling towards us. We walk along the disappearing beaches and watch the news nervously.

We are told the snow pack is only 20% melted and there is little joy in hot weather when you are so aware that the orange bladder like snake that has been laid along the waterfront will not prevent a turbulent surge of flood water.

It is an unsettling time. The B.C . election was just decided by a count of votes in one district. The orange buffon is visiting various religious capitals to generously share  the vapid, idiotic and effete personal style that he wears. In case any country has not seen exactly how misguided the United States has become, he takes his travelling freak show far and wide.

There is an irritability in the energy field. The bombing in Manchester, the striking and killing of a bus load of Syrian children, the revolutions in Venezuela and the Philipines are all pushing into the spotlight which becomes a darker and darker place.

And so we wait. We wait to see if the lake will rise and send us out of our neighbourhood. We wait to see if the B.C. government will form in a way that honors the earth and conducts itself in an humanitarian manner. We wait to see how the circus act President will end his performance. We wait to see if our federal government will fulfill the sunny ways promises.

Today I planted and walked around the garden with so many questions in my head.

. Where is the centre of this turbulent time? What truth is waiting to be revealed?

The sun was warm on my shoulders as it melted the snow into torrents down the hill sides. All I can do is stand quietly barefoot in the garden.

Overhead a bunch of Canada Geese flew very low and close to me. They were all squawking at once. There was no formation. Each flew alone, low and loud.

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Snap Shots of Toronto and Montreal

The gift of leaving my circumscribed life is to be more awake and open to the lessons which arrive.

On the airport bus woman behind me from Nova Scotia fishes out change to help very distraught Chinese woman and her mother who get on without change, runs out of the bus… flags down relative who has no change, runs into a store and comes out without change and everyone just sits on the bus waiting. The driver could throw her off but sits patiently.Woman behind me keeps holding out the change. Finally the Chinese woman with no English grabs it, gives her a five dollar bill and successfully enters the bus. I say to the woman, I have met so many people who have a story. She says, “You want to hear a story? I have a story. I came into town for my nieces funeral but the day I arrived was my birthday. We had a birthday party that evening and attended the funeral the next day. I went home to my sister’s house and her husband became ill. We rushed him to hospital and he died. There was a birthday, a funeral and a death in the three days I have been here.” I said to her, “You are so open and friendly and helpful. You do not seem to have let it diminish you.” She said, “We create our world. People die. There is grief. But we have to chose how to live.” I was so glad I was sitting next to her.

I met two young women sitting next to me at The Book of Mormon. One was a soccer player athlete and the other a serious Rugby player. They leaned forward laughing meeting the energy of the actors with their bodies. Their faces were open with delight. There were four of us in a row daring to make noise and laughing when we wanted to. We connected in our desire to just hoot out happiness. Two young women athletes, a 72 year old artist and a talented video editor from India and we were a tribe. Travel is magic.

I met a man on the Metro in Toronto who got up and helped a confused chaotic mother and grown daughter get their luggage put away. He was glowingly fit, centred and calm and radiated a sense of light in the world. I pointed to his wrist. “Where did you get that,” I asked about his bracelet. Brazil he said. “I went to Peru for the change.” We both smiled. He said, “I go there too.” Then we each sat quietly thinking about those who seek to grow up. We knew that each of us had moved with courage through a forest of problems. And now, he knew when two people were in chaos exactly what he could do to help them. The world is full of magic.

Toronto Love

I met a woman in a coffee shop in Toronto who had lived in one place all her life… did not think her life “fit” her any longer so she got rid of her stuff except for a very few pieces of furniture, sold her house and was in the process of find a place close to by North of Toronto. She wanted to begin a new book… not a new chapter.

I met a man named Wigglesworth whose sister is Detective Wigglesworth in Vancouver. He is sitting in a coffee shop in Toronto and we talk. His job is managing the on line presence of several companies in Finland. The spice of travel… the people you meet. He told me he chatted with an author who asked permission to use his sister’s name in his next book.

I met a Chinese Ph.D student from China who is working on her live long project examining protein cells with the goal of preventing and curing cancer. She spoke little English and yet this brilliant woman and I spent most of the day together going to St. Joseph’s Oratory and then lunch at Vego. We talked of how we seek out book stores, churches, architecture, art galleries for our joy. We talked of how strange we were compared to others in our culture. She has never “partied” or “dated”. Her life is focused on learning. We understood one another through the barrier of language differences and felt validated. Travel brings in the tribe.

Spider thing

I met lovely woman on the plane who is an executive for Westjet and works in Cargo Efficiency. She told me of her responsibility to transport stem cells and organs to donors. And then she walked me to my gate which was well out of her way. There are so many things I haven’t thought about before that travel teaches me. It was such a gift to meet her and talk during the flight.

I met a couple from New York in the airport in Toronto. She was from Mexico and works as a commercial photographer in the big city now. Her partner was a sound engineer listening to a new artist’s recording that he had completed just before their trip. They were sparklingly authentic and open. We found one another on social media immediately. Love those quick, open connections.

I met a man on the Metro in Toronto who got up and helped a confused chaotic mother and grown daughter get their luggage put away. He was glowingly fit, centred and calm and radiated a sense of light in the world. I pointed to his wrist. “Where did you get that,” I asked about his bracelet. Brazil he said. “I went to Peru for the change.” We both smiled. He said, “I go there too.” Then we each sat quietly thinking about those who seek to grow up. We knew that each of us had moved with courage through a forest of problems. And now, he knew when two people were in chaos exactly what he could do to help them. The world is full of magic.

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Off My Moorings

Being off my moorings causes me to cling to the sides of my row boat, fingers digging into splintered wood. My rascal imagination pictures unseen whirlpools, sudden waterfalls, an unfortunate meeting with rocks. It is so much easier to let the fog of boredom slide in over the structure of the landscape of events. Of a piece, the same, predictable routine of anesthetized existence will prevent my death.

The wolf soul is tranquilized and told to go lay in the dark. The growling ferocity of self is drugged with fear and denied.

When I untie my self from caution, I am filled with fear. Where are the bow and aft ropes that stabilize my place?

My ability to be dissatisfied is a skill I have perfected over my 72 years. I want more of less and less of more and not that, this. The craving for unrealized goals calls out over the river front of my kedged existence.

I could be more; bigger; powerful; outspoken; of a leader. I could be less; down a size; in debt; lonely; hesitant; questioning.

And what shows me how I can stir up mud in my river shelter is the sense of resistance. I just want to have an adventure but not to leave home. I just want to be in a sustaining relationship but not go on a date. I just want to have a successful business but not get any further in debt.

at shore

There are times when it is necessary to untie my boat, put a bag over my head and kidnap my conflicted self.

I am headed off to Toronto and Montreal and I can hear the muffled voice of whining hinderance beneath the cloth. It is time to see what happens when I push off in pursuit of new stimuli for the senses.

And I already know I can swim.


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Everything Does Not Exist

Everything Does Not Exist:

I have been surrounded by some people recently who are ill. He or she has had a relationship fracture. A dear life partner has been caught by a disease or the turning upon the body of itself.

Meanwhile, the social media feed has become a sewer pipe of toxic waste. The environment is under attack. Political systems are like a dissatisfied person sitting on a bar stool. Random flirtations with something new, looking for answers in all the wrong places.


Children of only the select few are protected. Women’s rights are being eroded so much it is like watching a glacier recede. The society is time traveling to the 1950’s.  Naomi Wolfe in her book Vagina analyses the fear based resistance when women are gaining power. It accounts for much of the current claw backs of equality.

An issue that has people in a state of disbelief is the strategy of passive genocide. From the earliest day in American history, the settlers embraced the concept of Outward signs of Inner Grace.

And in today’s political climate of the billionaire congress, there is a reversion to the old philosophy which has always run underground.

If a person is selected by God, that person will be male; that person will be white; that person will be physically attractive; that person will be healthy and lastly the badge of God’s love comes with the presence of wealth.

The removal of protection for the weak, the ill, the deformed, the outcasts, those who are not a mirror image of the white male billionaire model, is the logical result of the philosophy of grace and damnation. Passive genocide works. Street people die in the cold. Drug addicts overdose in a system of selectivity. The “lower classes” have a higher infant mortality rate.

The uber rich are having new hearts popped in like a simple battery change.   Hips, knees, shoulders, kidneys, facelifts, breast renewal options float around this select group.

At the same time, so many are in free fall out of the middle class because of the lightening strike of a single illness. A factory closes; a job ends and with it the entire structure of a life crashes to earth.

The greatest darkness that a social system can carry is the blindness to the understanding that no single person, or family, or class must earn the right to be included. Care and protection is a birth right. And it is in those countries that have the vision of equality that economic success is most vibrant.

The soul of a nation can be blighted. Slavery, native India genocide, racial hatred is a deep sickness that will be carried within the history of a country. The first step in creating a world that is calm, a world that is safe is to address the soul sickness that is held within a nation’s story.

Compassion, inclusiveness, equality, commitment to humanity are the real outward signs of inner grace.

Inevitably, each person and each nation selects a philosophy, a cosmology to reside within.

It is a time when each of us must select a way of moving in the world if there is to be a world which survives. We all count. We all count.

And when the pieces start falling into place, everything will begin to heal. The earth, countries and those people who believe that they are locked into some victim energy will be settled and whole. It is coming.

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Waiting For the World to Change

I look out the window at my 50 year old maple tree and repeatedly have to dissuade myself from what I think I see. My neighbours hired a company to prune the tree over their side. The resultant lump/stub that is at an angle to me has a lyric flowing shape at one end. Several hundred times I have registered “squirrel”. Since there are dozens of squirrels skittering through the trees and across my roof it is not that strange a recognition response.

But it is not a squirrel. It is a stump of a branch.

How I perceive incorrectly arises from habit. It can only be corrected by habit. It is the only way up and out of the underwater world of conditioning.

The way that many people are responding on social media at the current time reminds me so much of dependent children. He/she wants the invisible friend to come and give him or her companionship and a sense of belonging. She/he wants the doll or  teddy bear or newly purchased item to end the yawning presence of isolation.

People are screaming out like those in the Carravaggio painting of Hell. Where is my saviour? Where is my government protector? Where is the dragon or the eagle that I can leap upon to lift me into the skies of new possibilities?

What fresh Hell is this?

They cling to anger; they cling to being right; they cling to the new crystal purchased from the New Age store; they cling to the heritage of blame their parents have bequeathed to them.

They post on social media, “Am I wrong? Tell me I am not wrong?” And the clarion call sent out over invisible landscapes draws to them their tribe of those who envision exactly as they do.

The difficulty currently is that there is no mass mindset to connect to and with, as we had in the past. In the 1950’s “we” knew things. We held the same chant books in our hands and repeated the same incantations.

When even the heads of states have become mad, what system is protection?

And so we are left with the ever weakening hope that somewhere out there the world will come in and repair all that is wrong in our lives, in the government, in the manner in which we hold space for one another. All we need is more money or power to escape the trap. But it is our trap. We set it.

Now we see the system is all WWF; the realization that the game is fixed horrifies many who need stabilization from an outside force. As the images are shattered; as the desire to be rescued grows stronger; as the bitterness of betrayal grows, people are in grief and disbelief.

What Carl Jung has said is that everything changes in the energy of the universe when 10% of the population set intention.


We are the love we seek

Now is the time for us to grow up. It is the time to take responsibility for our past lessons. Don’t argue with the teacher! There is no re-test. It was a massive failure.

Look to teachers who have lead others out of chaos and into calm. Read the wise ones who have steadied the minds of those who were suffering. Grab a book by William James, by Thich Nhat Han, by Pema Chondra, by Walt Whitman, by Ralph Waldo Emerson and leave the chaos mind behind.

Now is the time for us to grow up and find our own path to compassion, to connection with all creatures that live, to the desire to protect those who cannot protect themselves. A child cannot move powerfully in the world. Only a mind that sees illusion for what it is and says, “I begins with me,” can create safety.

Waiting for the world to change makes you a slave.

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Blindness. Walking in confidence

Spiritual blindness clouds my vision at times. I keep returning to the programmed scripts of scarcity, competition, victimhood and this flat paper doll world construct where in we are standing in our underwear waiting for some outside source to dress us up. The giant hand will cover the shame of who we are without acceptable stylish cover. The controlling hand will give us the fabric of status. We will be anointed by validation. We will be absolved of our denuded humanity by the powerful outside authority.

The distance between where we believe we can go and where we can get to belief is always something I am aware of. Like someone walking in a mirage desert projecting in a landscape of oasis, my programmed reality is at odds with that which my spirit knows to be true.

The big work for me is to release the struggle. How do I go from what I am now to what I know myself capable of being? Where is the map? What are the instructions? Am I supposed to read it by the full of the moon or with a candle held behind it so I can see the tracings of the journey?

Like some lost, skitterish animal, meditation finds me stuck in a gully, or trapped under loose scree. Meditation brings me back to the container of now, of breath, of body, of allowing all of the fear-pain-anger to just exist in now.

we live in a grid

What my practice has done for me is to allow me to push the “Start Over” button. I have also found that sitting silence or chanting until my tears fall without check allows me to be loving to myself. I return to my intention to stay in the experience of growth.

In the past, I was in a self created classroom not unlike the one my mother described in the 1930’s. When she made a mistake, the ruler marks raised welts on her hands. When she did not learn at a rate or at a predetermined level of performance, she had to sit on a tall stool wearing a tall hat.

In the past, I was in the classroom of perfectionism and I was brutal and unforgiving of myself.

Meditation allows me to push the re-set intention button. I start again. I view myself with loving kindness. Because I have come to understand that being human is basically a bitch, I know to be kind. Because I have come to appreciate that being born into a body IS the hell we all fear mistakenly fear in the afterlife, I have come to be more compassionate to all of us.

William James knew

One time when I was in Floatspace, I saw the souls as lights. They were in the waiting room between lives and each one chose to come down the shoot of energy into his or her mother. Each one made the commitment to come to earth and agree to be born. As I floated in the salt water, I saw a hundred thousand lights travelling to earth to agree to enter a body. They agreed to suffer pain, face death, walk in the mass delusion of whatever their culture had constructed because they wanted to learn.

We see what we believe

It takes my breath away, the bravery of souls. We are here to learn. I am here to learn. And it is through meditation that I can keep my focus and like an adventurer ask the question: What is the real map?

I get lost. I stumble. I forget to be grateful. But I know that this life is where it all happens. It is where we truly learn to love.

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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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