Smoke and Heat: Finding A Path

I have had pneumonia four separate times in my life and the air around Kelowna sits at a 7 out of 10 for days on end. I am challenged. When I go outside my eyes, nose and throat sting. My chest feels as if it is being crushed.

Sometimes when I am driving and the “gauge” sits at 8 I wear a filter mask. But mostly, I remain at home within the walls of my upstairs retreat. The air conditioning which I have installed upstairs keeps my body in an environment of 25 Celsius.

The major work I am doing is maintaining my bed and breakfast for my guests. No matter how often I dust, there is dust and ash on surfaces.

It is like trying to maintain a pristine environment during the last days of Pompeii. I have even resorted to explaining to guests that when the entire vista is obscured by smoke and ash… that will end up on everything.

I am busy from 8 am until at least 6 at night on my bed and breakfast. The spiritual/emotional work is to not push back against conditions.

At night, I catch myself saying,

“You didn’t do enough. Your garden is getting weedy. You have not submitted to any publishers in weeks. You are not writing/drawing/painting/tidying the art studio/painting the entryway/ working out hard enough.

When evening time arrives I invariably indulge in the orgy of self criticism.

One Sunday, I went to Bliss Bakery as a wild mustang, crazy break out from my necessity to clean and prepare. I had jumped the fences. I was loosened from my schedule. I was a strumpet focused only on pleasuring myself.

And I was pissed off. I was pissed off at the smoke and the heat and the 7 days a week of working non stop since April 1st. I was pissed off at being pissed off and not at peace for what ever current of the river was carrying me now. I was pissed off that I cared about time passing and the delusional sense of narrowing opportunities. I was watching a tag team wrestling match and all the athletes were me in various formations in two teams. There was no way to tap out of the conflict.

As I stood at the glass and saw my Morning Glory Muffin was gone, I lowered my head. And tears came into my eyes.

“Of course they are all gone, you came too late. You showed up too late. You started to look for the pleasure too late. You missed the last ferry to paradise.”

I decided instead to have a chocolate chip, gluten free gigantic cookie because God Help the Universe if I didn’t get something.

The clerk with the shining spirit plated it for me and smiled. She said, “This morning when we took these cookies out, we all wondered who would get the cookie with the chocolate heart in the centre.” Four young women in black aprons reading “BLISS” gathered and were now standing facing me behind the counter. They were so happy for me.

And once again my eyes filled with tears. All of them were so happy that it was my cookie.

Just at that moment, I felt how strongly I move through the world. No matter what is going on, my heart wants to love. No matter what crap talking Mafia gangster ego flailing is going on, I stop it at the gate and go into the world looking for a way to live in love.

I was so proud of my spirit. I did not drink from the cup of bitterness. I did not find people to blame. There were ten thousand choices I made away from victim hood in my life.

The lovely young women were presiding at a ritual. They stood in a row smiling at me and presented me with the chocolate heart cookie. And all the rest of the bull shit just disappeared.

What does “looking like a fool” mean?

The wrong turn, up the dead end alley, spinning in the round about, landing in a cul de sack subdivision bland designed homes pseudo village that has no relationships at all to offer let alone one to the past decades proximity intimacy of those who have spent generations side by side living out their lives can make you or me look like a fool.

We avoid the wrong thing:  the wrong choice; the wrong words; the wrong opinion; the wrong shade of blue not this season out of step ugly duckling with the too small purse or dangling gigantic bike messenger purse of anointed lack of status value.

We cannot be unlike. We cannot be unmatching. We cannot be the wrong “style” of person.

My father once said,”Everything is relative.” He explained to me when I was seven that being quiet in a hyperactive crowd would draw attention. He sat with me until I understood being studious in a group of merry go round fun seeking attendees in a classroom would mark me as the odd one out.

If I were still when they were moving, I would be the focus. If I were moving when all others are still, I would hold attention. There was no “me” other than my behavior in comparison to the behavior of others.

Last night I had a dream that I returned to the past to a red neck, farming community where life was brutal and serious. The blacksmith did not get his massively muscular structure in front of a mirror at some gym. No one was “performing” to try out an identity. The game was survival and survival of one’s children.

In the visit to this place back in time, or before my current life, or in an alternative life, I stood before the elders and I knew their expectation of me. I was required not to “make a fool” of myself.

To be sent to coventry would be to die. To be exiled from the source of food and shelter of the village was to perish.

And in my dream being one who was serious about “fitting in” was important, the elders instructed me.

To make a “fool of yourself” means that you lack intelligence; it means that you can never be a leader; it means that the cloak of dignity and respect of wisdom will never be thrown upon your shoulders.

As I lay drifting away from my body, I saw myself turn away from the elders and find a wide open place to stand. I held out the skirt of my dress and took a deep curtsey toward them. And then I began to dance.

I danced with an invisible partner a wide ranging waltz with dips and spins. I moved to unshared music that only my dream partner and I could hear. Free flowing energy carried us beyond the boundaries of everything I had been told was real.

The joy was the dress I wore, the braids in my hair with white daisies stuck in them, the patent leather shoes I tapped upon the ground.

The joy was the ground, the sky, the trees, the softening of all dimensions to choreograph my own way of being in the world. The joy flooded in beyond any possibility of fear. My body was without boundaries, limitations. It was beyond the skeletal touch of death or the sharply structured nails of artificial beauty.

Somewhere last night I found a way to disappear into the place beyond restrictions and judgement. I was simply dancing.


Getting Lost in Control Mode

As I was pulling weeds this morning, it hit me. It was a special effects, explosion of color energy, transportation to the centre of observer seeing so clearly how I operate moment.
When I see me, I know it is a true “vision” when it is not a harsh, judgemental, OCD perfectionism, adult watching rebellious teenagerish tinted vision.

We see through our own shadow.

I tried to pull the invasive plant from the hardened soil and it broke off in my hands. And then I stood careful not to crush a “real” flower. I was barefoot in the dress a bed and breakfast guest left for me.

I walk around with it on, lately, most of the day. I put on no bra, do not brush my hair and get up straight out of bed to do my work. I have over a 100 guests a month to prepare for.

And so I stood in the silky, modest dress without any attempt to seem like anything.

“I use the walls as a defence.”

As a child having a dangerous father who let me know at any time he could kill me if I was not compliant; having a dangerous father whose body was inhabited by a kaleidoscope of six rotating personalities had left me wary.
The one thing I could do once I left home was to refuse.

At home, I could never refuse. It would cost me my life.

living in the structure

It left me singularly alone. The nine years I spent in University were spent by and large in a library.

The orderly books were my defensive structures. There was quiet. No one could suddenly begin screaming in anger or pain in a library. There were no games. A book was checked out, checked in and read within certain parameters.

My safety, my sanity, my ability to grow depended on my controlling the gates of my existence.

I went through four roommates my first year of college because I refused to engage. The head of the dormitory called me in to see why they kept leaving me.

Trust was a foreign concept to me. Withdrawing into silence, into long midnight walks on a deserted campus, into ideas and books and biographies of others’ lives served me well.

Added to the taint of trauma was the fact that I was an empath which meant that just walking into a room filled with people would be strenuous. That woman over there bend over her drink has been battered. The loud, heavy man is carrying so much grief it almost dissolves my own body.

And so I controlled any contact that I had with others. I had to go to work. I had to make money and function in the world but I was an actress.

I had learned early on that crying at my desk in second grade would only lead to the bully gang finding me at lunch time and circling me to beat me. They would turn the zippers of their jackets outward and strike me with them until the zippers left welts.
One does not cry when one is beaten at home because there is no room for solace in the school.

Chickens see the spot of blood and will go after the weak one. This is what I learned in primary school.

For three months of the year I could not go to school because the bruises were too telling. Someone would know. I must not betray the family.

I was taught that when I was the most injured, I must hide it.

I became an actress. My shining intelligence, my feigned self confidence, and my carefully built muscular body made the struggle invisible to those around me.

creating a strong body image.

And I could always control who was around me.

I could always refuse to answer the phone; refuse to go to the party; refuse to join a group. It was how I survived.

I will be 73 years old in August. As I stood in the garden in the silky dress without having undergone any morning rituals of artificiality, I saw that my way of dealing with my experiences was neither mistaken nor unnecessary.

Bare feet on the ground, a broken off weed in my hand, I said to myself, “This is where you are now.”

There was no need to grade my “performance.”

I am just here to learn. And maybe it is time to stop hiding who I am.

That thought felt good.

Reconciliation with Self

On CBC Ideas program I heard an expert talk about his survey of mental institutions. He had visited facilities, interviewed those who were now living in an alternative reality either in their minds or because of that in an institution. The analysis of all data presented a single result.

People are driven “insane” when they cannot reconcile with themselves.

Recently I read a short statement that threw a brilliant light onto so much that had been crawling around in my contemplation attic place. The problem begins, “when we compare our insides to others’ outsides.”

So we see the monsters of rage and envy. We hear the whining of the spoiled child who wants everything. NOW. We are alone with the ego voice that insists that the only pleasure is in indulging in our ability to remain a victim.

I see on social media a veritable earthquake upheaval of the fort building defences. So many are in some musical martyrdom playing out of the French Revolution (their own Les Miserable), or holed up for a cause in a re-enactment of the U.S. Civil War.

The urge to be “right” is screaming out of people and they are clinging to one another’s status page yelling in anger.

“The world is as I perceive it. You are an idiot. You don’t understand me because I am sick, somebody hurt me in the past and I hate you for it now.”

We are armed with fear and ready to fire.

So we have the memories of our past crawling along the stone stairs in the fort. We cannot see clearly where the path leads. Where is the way out?

The only thing we can see is the picture of the highly glossed, white enamelled smiling teeth of somebody who is getting an award. They are always in the dead center of every photograph.

Or he or she has a car that was somehow removed from the Universe and now we can no longer own.

Somebody had my baby and I can’t conceive. That family has their heads all leaning in toward one another and there is no game of stabbing the knife in between fingers in their clan.

And so we are caught in a sense of turbulence which we cannot even admit to or own up to.

There is nothing wrong with his life or her life or their lives. I, alone, sit with anxiety about the climate, a sense of an implosion in the financial system, a knowing the emperor has no clothes and is insanely dancing. Oh please, God, make him stop.

Each of us thinks..They are not only in a state of greater reward but they are idiots who don’t understand.

The resulting emotional reaction to this psychedelic hell like confusion is that we are at odds with our own spirits.

If what I feel is in error, then I am the one out of the parade.

If what I feel is a connection to truth then I can only be in a state of confused defensiveness.

What helps to keep focused is to know that everyone is busily comparing themselves as they know themselves to the image of status others are displaying.

To put Buddhist philosophy in simple terms: Everyone has to clean the oven, or change a diaper, or suffer a broken arm. We are all in the same status. We were born into a body. The social upheavals have an energy that is effecting all of us.

Reconciliation with self is how to stay out of crazy. The studies of those who are locked away show that had that individual  simply been able to see that their confusion, inward turning anger and emotional pain were exactly the correct response to their own history, they would be allowed into the world.

The monsters we try to hide are just natural and normal. No one gets out of life without the ogres within dancing around the fire when things go wrong.

A woman once told me, “I want to kill my mother.”

I answered, “Of course you wanted to kill her. It is okay.”

She will not act on it but she is torturing herself because she has angry thoughts.

We are torturing one another because we have angry thoughts.

We see through our own shadow.

What would happen if we could clearly see that to be in a body; to walk through a life is the ultimate challenge that we all share.

We always have the ability to choose not to be victims. We always have the ability to sit with our own very human imperfections and learn to love ourselves.

And then…. and then we will stop shooting sniper fire at anyone we think is a potential threat on social media. We will be so very sympathetic to just how difficult walking the earth is for all of us.

The ultimate goal is to stay out of crazy.

First Day of Summer

The sun is hot on my back and the deck boards burn my feet as I hang the laundry. Overhead the Maple Giant tree is caught in a wind dance and the neon colored plastic clothes pins are insufficient for the task they are called upon. They move the laundry like a trickster hand surrendering up the idea of stillness.
The deep blue sheet slides along the line caught by the confused wind. It hisses its presence through the trees and bushes from first one direction and then another.
The flooding has occupied our minds for weeks. The lake and the springs were creeping up onto the land, swallowing septic fields, and seeping into basements.
We watched the news, packed our escape backpacks or plastic storage containers. Everyone created their own “survival minimalist” story.

Coral Rose

But now, on the first day of summer the garden is lush. There has been water feeding from under the surface. The columbine were five feet tall and richly trumpeting their presence.
The roses cluster on the rose bushes. In past years, they presented buds to only have them burned a brown on the petal edges. Even the rose that I stood over with my two gardening neighbours and received the triple diagnosis of “dead, dig it out,” has come back in profusion.
The breeze is cool. The clouds in the sky over Kelowna are uncharacteristically flat like boccoccini slices. Their brilliant white is pushed against a mediterranean blue sky.
While everything lyrically dances in the garden, the tree twists its long flexible branches, there is color bursting everywhere.

nature alive

At certain times, the Kelowna presence is a coming together of picture perfect natural beauty. And today is one of those days; the first day of summer.

Mind the Gap

Mind the space. Mind the transition step. Be mindful of the arrival, the new landing place, the change in height. Watch out for systems failing. Be ready for Cascadia slippage and the new flattened horizon of West Coast cities. Look carefully at the shifting values of money; of governments; of societal structure. The train ride we have been on has lulled us. As we slumped tiredly against the side of the car, the rhythm gently banged our heads. Moving. Moving. Moving. Moving.

We knew we were in arrival mode. But all of the murmuring of seismic specialist; all of the three part harmony singing of financial analysts was just muzak. We could feel we were in a tunnel… we could not see the future. It was all somehow shifting.

We knew it but we didn’t know it. We could repeat the lyrics occasionally. There was no sharp edged definition to the messages. It was just white noise. It was just the sound of the wheels on the track.

Japan suffered the loss of 25,000 people in the shocking blink of an eye. The names of far away nations, or unrecognized cities are repeated on the news as they sink into a new configuration on the earth.

The geologists standing in the debris of former quake areas take soil profiles and warn us the big one is coming. And we are lulled by the very repetition of the prophecy.

“Yeah. Yeah,” we say. “We have heard it before.”

Japan was careful. Japan built for a “little” earthquake. It prepared for a less intense tsunami. When it hit, the massive force of the water just slid easily over all the carefully engineered walls and barriers.

But North America has done none of the preparatory work.

North America is optimistic.

The debt load is the highest in history. In North America, Jim Rogers, a financial specialist, tells us we are spending on two things:

1. We are spending to keep enemies. 2. We are spending to purchase status.

In Asia, he reminds us people are focused on investing in education, making business partners out of other nations and finding technological advances that will solve problems.

structural problems

This year’s expedition of scientists who ship out to measure the icebergs could not set forth. It was too dangerous. The ice is melting too fast. The sheering face of the icebergs can no longer be approached. Too many ships are reporting distress who are in the seas where the icebergs are found so a secondary concern is that the ship built for studying icebergs cannot leave other ships to flounder and sink.

The water level is rising. Flooding is becoming a reality. People are learning what “ground water” means.

We say, “It is an incident.” We refuse to see it is a new reality.

Scientists have stood on the hillside wrapped in their print outs of papers, mumbling out to us their data like some Druid choir. And we have not listening. We heard it all before and we don’t believe any of it. Yet.

The train ride is hypnotic. We think we will just travel. We think that it will be the same as always. The warnings are just muzak and we cannot quite make out the words.

beach gone boy looks at raft.

But the train is coming into the station. We will leave our encasing structure of how it has been as long as we can remember. We will leave the sense of wheels turning over exactly as they have been.

The train will slow down and arrive at the station. We will have to get out, to get off, to step onto the new platform.

Somewhere a voice will call out, “Mind the gap.”

And everything will have changed.

Lessons Arising: We are always half baked

I am always interested to see how my ego works. If I am misunderstood, I feel confused and small. When my heart reaches out to someone to try to help them out of the illusion of a “trapped” place and they respond by fighting fiercely to hold onto victim… I feel stirred up in my chest.

Seeing oneself

The source of that was living with two adults who were emotionally corrupt and I needed to not believe the world they created. It would drag me under. It would destroy me. And so I learned to stand back while I was very young and simply watch how others operate. I needed to separate my reality from theirs. It is a gift that all those born into a chaotic environment are given. We question everything and discover our own truth.

But having them believe my words never happened. My perceptions were always wrong or crazy. They attempted to control my actions, not their own.

And then as time passes, I remember in my past when my reactions were exactly the same reactions  as those I am currently trying to help: when I refused to listen and to learn. It is like planting something in the garden… a new understanding, a new sympathy for them and for my younger self that KNEW so much. And then I can see the entire lesson from all sides.

Being patient with how long it takes me to back off of the fear when I have been misunderstood is where I am right now. Yes. It is taking me time to “get it” and yes I am probably not “getting all of it” but being in submission to the process of learning is getting easier.

As I was making the beds today I thought of all of the messages those who were older, more experienced and wiser had given me. I remember the very instance when he or she reached out to me and held up a mirror. The scenes flashed before me.

Standing and watching riots across the United States in 1967 at a Professor’s house, I expressed fear. I said, “It is all being destroyed.” And a very tired looking, sage academic asked me, “Why do you fear the destruction?”


I was too young. I was too sure of my mental agility. I was too ego bound with being right. I rejected the wisdom because I was not ready. I did not hear the words but instead turned them into only that which I could see. I refused to understand that others who had suffered more, faced death more intimately, survived more humiliation were wiser. Because I was too ego bound I condemned myself to learn through pain and loss. I would not listen. I could not listen. I did not understand their words. My ego defence system kept them out of my fortress. And because of that I chose the more difficult path.

Something remarkable has happened to me in the last two years. The life of mindless spending out of time no longer calls me. The life of doing that which others decide is correct no longer satisfies me. There is a separation between who I was and who I have become. And I am more content. I am more curious. I no longer know what I will be. And it is glorious. And it is glorious.

Today I saw a video reminding me of Marcus Aurelius who hired a servant to following him every where repeating in his ear, “You are just a man. You are just a man.”

nothing remains static

And it by knowing that we are at the service of the lesson that we grow. Keeping focused on the truth that it is not the results that I seek. I do not want more power, or more recognition, or greater safety in the world. I want to be of service. And that means releasing the need to know what I am becoming. Thank you friend for allowing me to see my ego in action again.

Intention Gym

learning to love ourselves grows our spirits

After viewing Gay Hendricks’ videos about upper limit problems, I now clearly see how pattern/habit works.

I think of how my children would dig out grooves in the soil on our northern property so that the melting snow and downfall of rain could run in the gully established for it. They would take turns running their stick tools repeatedly in the soil. When a rain would come, they would go out and unblock the areas where rocks, tree needles and clumps of dirt would try to dam up the flow.

my cheer leading shirt

Habit is both my friend and my prison. As I mindlessly attended to the preparation of my rental rooms for airbnb, I watched myself. I am such a voyer of my life. I had no difficulty emptying the dishwasher, putting the laundry in, making the beds, cleaning the bathroom. Even picking up the small broken leaf fragments from the floor is ingrained.

But the larger things, the higher limit things are resisting me. There is a block. There is a big, fat ole rock that has rolled into the groove of wanting my book published.

Looking closely at the inner beauty

First I do that which is programmed in my data base because I see it as successful. Perception is completion.

After five years of running a bnb, the habits are in charge. But the larger dream, the dream of having Walking the Streets of Blood are a challenge.

I laugh at myself for not wanting to seek out yet more rejection from publishers. As I hang sheets on the line I think of Stephen King who came home from his menial, unfulfilling job and was able to sit down and put in another work day of writing. He sent his work out repeatedly to be rejected.

As I work in the even, open and flowing groove of habit, I am mentoring myself. I am talking to myself about the possibilities.

The conscious mind can be a life coach. The pre-frontal cortex can be the loving parent. The higher mind can be a cheerleader.

And the ability to calm down my frustration with myself for not being what I can see myself called to be is very like what my children did. They did not go out and swear at the blocks in the designed flow of energy. They simply removed the blocks. And soon there were little rivers moving down the hillside according to their design.

Thank you to Stephen King, and two children for reminding me of that lesson today.

Living in the Future Is Nowhere Land

It is an absolute virus of mind warp. Our culture teaches us to drive blind. If I were driving in the manner that I live life, I would have my eyes down on Google Maps and be doing searches for alternative paths. I would be searching Know the City for places I am not moving through. I would be reading blogs describing someone else’s past in order to formulate what my future destination will be.

Looking through a lense

This is “impaired” living and I should be given a whopping fine. I and everyone else is dangerous on the energy road when we have our eyes down searching inside ourselves,  searching out forecasts of futures that are actually just projections of our past.

What we see is a mere reflection

How many ways of lost can a directionally impaired person become? Oh it is enough for four or five stand up comedy routines.

I had my eyes on the future picture of a perfection coupling when I married the man who at the first meeting was drunk and actually set his pocket on fire while lighting a cigarette. I thought it “cute”.

What about the man who asked me to lunch but only had enough money to buy himself wine? No clue there….
Or I had my eyes on the projection of perfection fairy tale when I took a job that left me chopping wood for my furnace for nine years in a town wherein suicide was considered the best method of dealing with depression. Grimm at best.

Shadow Self

The future is nothing more than the recreation of the story of our past.

When I first read the studies that 95% of our mental activity is traceable to the area in our brain that was constructed by our experiences under the age of 7, I pushed back. I resisted with all the mite of my five, six and seven year old self. I slammed doors in my mental construct housing. I threw glass objects at the walls of restriction in a futile attempt to break out of the truth telling.

And then, I examined the ashes of my past narratives. How many times had I burned to the ground and I was left only with charred photos of what I had convinced myself was the truth.

I stood in the ruins of four different massive failures in my life with sooty fingers and realized that I had created all of it by not knowing that I was creating all of it.

I did not hear nor did I see what was in the present because my eyes were down.

I would pet the nice kitty and only realize it was a mythical beast of destruction AFTER it had consumed a part of me.

What I hope to God I have learned and what I hope I can bring to my clients as a coach is the understanding that all of us need to keep our eyes on the road.

What is happening now? What thoughts am I having? What fears and anxieties am I paving the road ahead of me with… a stretch of turbulence, a tight winding on the edge of a cliff?

The future is in the breath. The future is in the dreams. The future is in the light that surrounds and protects us. Get off of your devices and be present.

You create all of it.

Everything will change. Everything will shift. Welcome to NOW.

And breathe.

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.

While the uber rich are having new hearts popped in like battery renewal. 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.