Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About…

There are some things that are not comfortable to talk about.  Not to yourself and certainly not to other people. The reason things are uncomfortable to talk about is mostly that we worry about what people will think of us. In other words we are judging ourselves and then projecting the judgement out on to the world. It’s rather mental, but it’s a cultural habit we all have.

Some of these “blacklisted” topics include, murderers in the family, Uncle Frank’s incestuous tendencies (name changed for sensitivity purposes lol)  and people with mental illness.  In my French Canadian/Scottish and some other stuff family,  we were often told hushed stories about an old Uncle with a name I cannot even fathom how to write correctly, even though I write French fluently.  Something like “Mestayee” if you pronounced it phonetically. Anyways, apparently he used to come in our house (this was before I was born) get wailingly drunk and take a dump in the corner where the broom closet was in the kitchen. No one knows why.  The story was told to me many different ways by many different people. Subsequently, when I finally was born, that corner became the corner one was sent to when one was naughty.  He had died many years before and the mess had been taken care of, thank God.

My family was filled with alcoholics and people who died early of strange disorders. Until recently I never thought to question these stories.  But what I have discovered is that not only am I (at least half of me as I don’t know my biological father) is genetically predisposed to mental illness, something for which you are ill prepared when it hits because no one ever talked about it.  They had no problems talking to me about disgusting things like sex and my period, but they had no vernacular yet for describing mental illness. It was all so misunderstood that they could only think that depression, or bi-polar disorder constituted a fundamental weakness in a person.  Let’s face it, people with “mental conditions”, which are necessarily conditions which rule what is deemed as the “normal scope” for emotional healthiness in an individual can have unruly emotions. Emotions that don’t fit into the accepted cultural norm and cause imbalance in human relationships and interchange.  So, naturally since we had already begun to rely on technology and science for the answers to our physical problems, we developed a scientific method of regulating people’s emotional lives.

I was diagnosed with clinical depression and bi-polar disorder some 17 years ago. Since that time I have been given every conceivable form of medication, finally ending when was awakened by a great shifting in my understanding of who I am, and what my role is in this world.  At that time, my final doses were nearly 1200 mg of lithium, seroquil, deyrl and some anti-depressant, I can’t even remember which one came after the next.  There were too many.

During the time on my medication, I desperately was trying to find a way to be “normal”. I remember for a very long time carrying with me a deep deep fear of being “crazy”.  I could feel my unhappiness inside me like a black cloud, but I tried to “fake it till I made it”, and frankly, I was running out of steam.  After my father died when i was 30 I hit an all time low and finally at some point found myself on my knees, unable to move one step further forward. Or so i thought.  Where I had stopped, God had finally be able to start.

Depression for me was filled with time of such intense darkness, I didn’t even resemble myself.  I could fall into a pit of guilt and self loathing that, if anyone could hear what i said to myself in my head, they would have been shocked.

Self loathing is a symptom of depression and I knew that, consciously and intellectually, but because it had been so hushed in my family, I didn’t want anyone to think I was “crazy”, so I said nothing.

I took my medication and my insides began to shrivel up.  I didn’t feel like having sex, I didn’t feel like eating although i was gaining so much weight, I was ok with everything, and life felt “normal”. I didnt play music for 13 years.   I that what “normal people” feel like? I wondered often.

I tried to fit in and push aside the impending darkness, with little success.  At times it would just overwhelm and and I would feel immobilized by it’s force.  Having three little children and not being “all there” all the time for them, made my guilt triple and my  self-loathing quadruple.

I have made decisions in depressions which have had long lasting and horrendous impacts on my life. That’s part of why it is important for people with depression to share their stories. Because sometimes when you are feeling something, it is not the best time to make a decision.  There is always a grey area and when you are in “that place”, you can only see black and white.

At the time, and in my case, I was probably suffering from post-partum but had always had a proclivity towards depressive thinking.  I had suffered with hateful thoughts, guilt, deep intense sadness, unruly fear, swings of radical anger and frustration all of my life from teenage hood onwards.  Inside, I felt different, unreachable and often invisible to the world.   I lived in a constant state of anxiety, always feeling as thought the next shoe was about to fall off of the universe.

I tried every means available to me over the years to find a way out of my misery.  I saw my first counsellor when Mrs. Ricciardi brought me to “Head and Hands”, a local teen counselling center when I was in grade seven.  I don’t remember the sessions but I remember the ice cream and her kindness.  I was too young to really be able to identify and correlate events with emotions, but I began to discover a world of people who thought how I felt was important enough to talk about it.   I also remember feeling very uncomfortable and unworthy of all this attention and wondered why she would spend her time with just me; I was no one important.  Low self-esteem is another symptom of depression. These earmarks were not widely available until maybe 20 years ago.

Symptoms of depression in my case include thoughts which are not exactly flattering;  a constant running dialogue in my head that I am not good enough, I can’t do what I set out to do, I am stupid, unworthy, unlovable.  When it gets very bad, my mind tells me that I worth nothing and that if I died the world would somehow be rid of an unnecessary burden.  In a state of depression I feel incapable of handling life`s demands. I am overwhelmed and anxious and terrified of the next caller, the next doorbell the next event in life that will finally be the one to break me and I will never stand up again.  So, I begin to stop answering the door and the phone and I stop inviting people into my life.  I create a world so small that it is difficult for even the smallest pinprick of light to enter. In a depression I am incapable of creative expression, so I always say it feels like I am creatively constipated.

But I am not alone. According to the largest global study ever conducted, more than 121 million people suffer from depression world-wide.   It goes on to say that at its worse stages, depression causes more than 850,000 people to commit suicide. In a study of more than 89,000 people globally, researchers found that in their lifetime, nearly 15% of people in developed countries are likely to suffer a MDE (Major Depressive Episode)  compared to 11% in lower economic regions.  Interestingly enough, patients in lower-income areas identified symptoms 2 years on average earlier than in first tier economic environments.  These numbers are elevated to over 30% in France, the Netherlands and America.   About 65% of depression sufferers are women.

And there lies the point.  As long as we see our states of emotional mind as suffering, we will suffer, because we create what we believe.  For the last while, when I feel what i would have termed a “depressed”, I don’t try to run it over, work through it, change it, ignore it – instead I try and pay attention to where it came from. I have figure out that depression or no depression, feelings always come from somewhere and the somewhere is a valid place (just because it’s biochemical doesn’t mean it’s not valid), and that valid place is giving you some indication that could reveal more to you about yourself.  I know this can sound like a selfish pursuit but frankly, the more you know about yourself, the better your life can only be.  The more you figure out, the more you can give what you have to others, which is the whole entire point of your life anyways.

During a depression, for me, it works to be quiet, to honour my lack of energy maybe and just rest.  Before, I would work until I dropped and had to stay in bed for 5 days to recover because I would get a terrible flu or whatever.  That doesn’t happen anymore, because I take it easy, I try to listen to my body and I honour what my instincts tell me. I eat well, and I use natural means to calm my nerves or sleep. This doesn’t mean I don’t get it wrong sometimes, and it doesn’t mean I am “cured” of depression. What it means is that I am trying to find a way to accept how I feel, rather than fight it, even when it doesn’t fit into what the world needs from me.

I have seven kids, a ranch and a full-time musical career, and I write so please don’t write telling me that you don’t have the “time” to take care of yourself.  I don’t buy it. There are INNUMERABLE ways to take care of yourself and honour how you’re feeling. It doesn’t mean you have to drop your city life and move out to a kibbutz.  It only means you have to keep yourself in mind during the hours of your day, try and find the reasons behind things, spend some time on the interior world consciously. It’s a mind game you play with yourself, always reminding yourself to not take your life too personally. That everything isn’t always about you.

I know this sounds harsh, but anyone with depression will tell you that the inherent characteristic of the mental state is that you are thinking about yourself. When I am depressed it’s ME ME ME ME ME. This is especially true when it comes to close relationships, like your spouse. They say one word, it could be about the janitor at work, and you take it personally.  It’s an exhausting state of mind. Rather than allowing your mind just to listen hear feel and be, you are analyzing, cogitating and demonstrating.  It’s a fruitless state of mind only because it causes you to stop trying.

To keep moving forward, you have to spend more time slowing down and standing still.

Even on medication, you can’t expect your “happiness” level to increase unless you start  using additional tools that allow you to an emotionally handle life differently than you have been.  Cognitive behavioural therapy  can be very useful because a good therapist will show you ways to see yourself and your emotions with more reason and objectivity.  It’s a great place to begin self understanding.  It also allows you to see the past and perhaps put it to rest. Too many of our thoughts are based in some time that is way long gone and don’t even knwo where we are standing in this moment.

Mental illness – or chemical imbalances in the brain that cause emotional disturbances – are an important tool to allowing us to more deeply understand ourselves.  Taken in this context, the depression is usually shortened and its severity is greatly lessened.  On or off medication, this kind of renewed perception has helped me make use of this physical condition and by facing it head on greatly diminshed the power of depression.

In our house, we talk about it. When I am feelign sore or emotionally wonky (I can see my reaction doesn’t match the situation) I warn people openly, and take the time I need to feel better and everyone pitches in.  My daughters have tendencies towards harsh moods, and we talk about it. Openly.  We have names for it and we try and understand.  I think removing the shame surrounded what is clearly not a wekaness in character but in fact simply just an aspect of character (remove judgement of it), is fundementally important to our emerging pharmaceutical society.

~Namaste~

CREATIVE TYPES

“Show me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are”.

Like attracts like is what we have tended to say about personalities that attract each other. It is obvious that each of us tends to gravitate towards people who resemble us in some way.  Either we share a sense of humour that we both understand, or a political or cultural viewpoint that we relate to, and as in my case, we share a creative nature.

I am incredibly blessed to have so many creative friends.  Both because I am a musician, and because of the way I think, I am finding that I am surrounded by people are allot like me in some very distinct ways. We are cerative types. We don’t sleep well, we talk allot, we have opinions about everything, we do things in a different way. We walk our talk I’d say.

It got me to thinking about creative personalities.  I was thinking it was funny that on one hand, I am constantly talking about trying to be “normal”, emotionally, psychologically, socially whatever – but in reality that is the last thing I would want. I see myself better through my friends. They help me gain an understanding of what I like about myself, in some ways.  And when one of them pushes my buttons they help me find what needs to change. With the creative personality sometimes come the archetypal characteristics that are inherent in people who think outside of the box. Here’s what some of those commonalities look like to me:

Creative Types are Mentally Ill…

~First of all we all tend to suffer from mental illness of some type. Depression, bi-polar- an emotional physiology that causes us to feel and be more emotionally sensitive to the issues that surround us every day in life.  These people, because of their “hyper emotional” states can find beauty and angst in the most inconspicuous moments and places.   They have new eyes because they tend to see feel and hear everything through the veil of their extreme and perceptually altered experiences.

Selfish…

~ We are selfish. Very often we “creative types” tend to be very inwardly focused.  Some stages of the self discovery process that creative people absolutely have to include are very deep levels of self searching and self understanding. Very often the very flow of creative output has everything to do with how they are trying to rectify the events that occur to them in their lives.  In other words, they create to work things and garner a better understanding.

Extrememists….

~ Creative folks enjoy EXTREME emotional experiences. But confronted with one,  they complain that they long for peace and serenity.  Creative types are real walking dichotomies and can probably be very exhausting to the “normal” people in our lives.   Creative people love BIG, Hurt excruciatingly painfully, doubt themselves most often and can find no way to zip file themselves so that they can fit into the near stream of expectations of daily life. Creative people are ALL about feeling everything outside of the box.  Periods of stasis or serenity for a creative type can cause them to create unconscious havoc just to fill their need to feel something extreme.  They make good partners for people who are very very emotionally steady and are looking for a little counterbalance. J It’s all about the ying and yang folks J

Philosophers…

~ And I have never met a “creative type” recently who isn’t in some way trying to figure out how the universe works and where their life fits in.  It’s all part of the parcel. Creativity involves the opening of the highest levels of chakral energy.  Creativity in a pure form – meaning making something completely new – involves allowing your highest mind to guide you in your work.  Have you ever experienced a time where you were doing something really enjoyable like playing guitar or painting writing or cooking where time just seemed to dissolve?  And of course it is not a coincidence that time seems to crawl at a snail’s pace when you are doing something you don’t enjoy right? This is because when someone is in a creative state, their personal energy vibrates at a rate that is most cohesive with the intention of the universe for them.  You are plugged into the highest source. So, it makes perfect sense that creative people also tend to be spiritual seekers. They look for the answers in a proactive way.  Creative people are the open minded philosophers that speak the only language that can bridge the gap between science, religion and culture.

A Creatively Maturing World?

~ More and more people are following their creative paths today.   I think the world has come to an age and a state of being where is it recognizing the need to open its global mind and look at other levels of possibilities in the solutions that we need to find to rectify the problems that imminently face us. That’s the big picture. The smaller picture is that, on an individual basis, every individual is required to undergo this “self search” in order to fully excavate the creative potential from within. The reason why creative types seem to struggle so is because they are in a constant fight between how they see the world, and how the world tell us it should be seen.

I have a very good friend who is a musician, songwriter, producer, guitar player, and teacher – basically he can do anything.  But he suffers from debilitating self doubt which has held back his periodically blossoming career. He spends so much time berating himself for even being self doubting, that his guilt makes it even worse. This in turn impairs his songwriting; his practicing goes to nothing because who wants to practice something that makes you feel shitty? And he begins to shrivel.  Then, like all of us, he will have a great moment and will feel the creative juices flowing, and then he feels his real power again.  But the mind, the ego and society have conspired in such a way as to try and put a cap on our voices of non-conformity since the debut of culture.  In the past conforming has benefitted us by showing us a method of survival. And it worked. We are here.  But, now these methods are no longer working, and the emphasis is shifting on the importance of the recognition of our personal energy and our connection to all living things.

This is what I want to tell my friend… That it is not an option to reach for that place inside yourself when you are singing or playing and to find the real you…that quiet peaceful you beyond your mind.   Once you have experienced that “Zen” peaceful feeling, like a perfect meditation and you know it’s there, you spend your whole life trying to find it again.  But your confidence can only come from a decision you make, with yourself. Its one thing to have talent, but it’s a complete other thing to have the courage to use it.  And the highest level comes when you can take that talent and know that its comes from a source far beyond you and from deep within.  When you realize that when you are not creating because you are afraid of opinions or judgment or even your own judgment, you are essentially diminishing your connection with the universe.  You are putting limitations on it based on your expectations. And frankly, it’s not about us. It’s about them.  So…keep on rockin’.

See you later Moose…

Prayer for Newbies…

Good morning world – this has been a week of emotional turbulence and I am exhausted.

A catch up; my mother’s cancer was downgraded from stage 3b metastasized lung cancer to “in full remission”, a miracle.  My 15-year-old daughter was suspended from school for skipping; not a miracle.  She stayed home for her suspension day and helped me on the farm; a miracle. My husband and I had the most honest conversation ever, I talked, he listened and didn’t try to fix me; a miracle.  But I will tell you that it was not only medicine that cured her. Incredibly, she suffered no radical side effects, she gained instead of loosing weight to her dismay (hey…if you’re gonna have cancer, something good has to come from it right?), kept all of her hair, and her lymph nodes are clear. This was basically impossible. I attribute the miracle to prayer.  There were people throughout the world holding her in their thoughts and praying for healing.  The combined energy and intention of all of these people is what helped her healing.

Prayer is the  concentration of our most powerful force as human beings.  Prayer is the conscious intention to use our energetic link to the source of all creation to work on behalf of another human being.  It is a powerful force, not to be confused with the things I learned in church as a small child about prayer.

So my prayer this morning was “Good morning God, please don’t let me screw today up too bad. Good luck. Amen.”

Short, concise, no time-wasting (God’s a busy guy) and to the point.

Sometimes I pray VERY LONG, I will write a letter or sit and ramble on in my mind. Either way, things always go better for me when I take that time. Like I’m plugged into something very important. My relationship with God is pretty personal and relaxed now and prayer has allot to do with how I have defined God within myself.

There are a few written prayers I use in times of extreme stress where I need a connection that is pre-established and says what I need right away. Take the good to keep in case of emergency “Serenity Prayer”-

God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Definitely on my top ten list of pre-written prayers.  It can defuse even the most crazy thoughts you have when you just take a second to remember that the only thing that is really within your control in any situation is you.

The Lord’s prayer was off the books for me for a long time because it held that vision of God as separate from me, and I have simply grown to understand that this is not true and I don’t want to pretend like it is anymore. But one day, I received a very different version of the lords prayer, standing two feet to my ankles in deep horse muck in my horse’s field having a particularly hard time with a volatile emotional issue in my life.   I had reached a real crossroads where I had to change my thinking on something or go nuts. But I found I was really stuck in a circular pattern of mindful insanity.  My head would keep running with thoughts and ideas that were causing me incredible pain.  So, in that field, I somehow found myself on my knees doing something, or picking something up.  The thought struck me:

“Since you’re already down that low…”

Maybe it’s that I am getting older but I pay more close attention to the “voice in my head” than I used to.  Sometimes I even listen to it’s best intentions for me despite myself.

I stayed still trying to figure out how  to ask God to help me to not be so damned miserable and I was SO serious about my request and desire to be freed of that misery, that it really wouldn’t have mattered what I said in that prayer, but what came out what the Lord’s prayer – a la Jo.  I said the words slowly, and somehow the intensity of the meaning of them reached far beyond my prejudices rooted in the religion I was raised with, and I saw that the words were just sounds, but the meaning went far beyond the simplicity of the words.

Our Father who art in heaven…(Source that created me who lives in me, my heart and in the energy of my soul)

Hallowed be Thy Name  (Which is also my name because you created me)

Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will be Done (I recognize that you live in me and that I have the choice to align myself with the intention of the universe today)

On earth as it is in heaven (What I do to the one I do to the All)

Give us this day our daily bread (let me hear your intention for my highest good today)

and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us (let me see the perfection that is You in everyone)

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Keep me on the path that best fulfills the purpose of my soul)

For thine is the kingdom and the Glory forever and ever amen. (Because anything good in my life came from me following the intention God has for me)

This is my personal translation of the Lord’s prayer.  In the field that day, I got it. I  totally got it.  It has nothing to do with religion or belief, it has everything to do with connection and intent.

You don’t kneel in prayer because God needs you to be small and humble.   It is physical focus, bringing you the awareness you need to convey your thoughts.   You make yourself still and be there 100%.  Kneeling is your choice or not…God really doesn’t care. God doesn;t want to humiliate us, but being humble helps when following universal direction (as opposed to my own thinking – Thy will not mine.  ) God just wants to have a continuous running dialogue with you all the time, every day, every minute.  You can keep that dialogue while walking, kneeling, in the bath, in a meeting, while you’re arguing with your teenagers.  There are no prayer police.

Not only are there no rules but God has no needs! He doesn’t NEED you to pray.  YOU need YOu to pray, God doesn’t need anything from us.  God is God 🙂 Praying is what we do for ourselves, to create that intent to try to follow the path that is most meant for the highest purpose of your soul for the day.  I have never been able to fully believe that in order for God to hear me and know what I need I have to tell Him. I’m pretty sure he has it all covered without my direction.

So, my prayers are often an assumption that God has already “done for me what i cannot do for myself”. And it is always true.  I have never been let down.

Most of us suffer from a disease of perception which impairs our understanding of how things unfold.  It isn’t that the world is ‘wrong”, it’s that we see it through the veneer of our personal experiences which skews our vision of the things that happen in our lives.  You are a miracle worker.  You can create an incredible miracle every day of your life. It isn’t that miracles don’t exist in the world; miracles are all around you. It’s as though we are wearing debilitating opaque glasses that only let us see the shadows of our lives.  Prayer is the conscious act of taking those glasses off and seeing life as it really is.  Although our problems are very small in the context of the universe  our intentional act of prayer connects us to a grander power to use the God energy that originally created them makes them an incredible force of nature.  Problems turned into power.   With the connection to God you can create miracles at the touch of your hand, the curve of your smile or the swipe of your pen.

Some of my prayers come from other religions.  “Hahm-Sah” – a simple Sanskrit prayer of the highest order means  “I Am”.   You pray with breathe in Sanskrit and so, the HAHM is your inhale and Sahhhhh is your exhale. I use it regularly in meditation to remind me that I have the responsibility of the God speak within my heart.  There is no one religion that has the corner on the prayer market.  Wisdom is to be found everywhere.

And sometimes like this morning,  I just throw the ball high in the air, knowing that it will be caught and held and cared for and thrown back to me when I can handle it again.

“Here’s my life God…please take good care of it. Thanks”.

God needs nothing from me, except maybe for me to pay a little more attention to the wonderfulness of my life.

“I’m on it God. Thanks for a great day”.

~ Namaste~

“See You Later Moose…In a While Bear”?

Last Friday we decided to take our new Brazilian friend Kayoko to an art exhibit in a beautiful old house and then to a blues bar where they serve famous Montreal smoked meat (one of two reasons why I can;t be a vegetarian. I’m sure we all know the second).   It was her first outing since her arrival and it was by far one of the most hilarious nights I have ever experienced.

First of all, my sweet friend had sworn of alcohol long ago because her husband doesn’t drink and she wanted to support him.   Ok, I get it but let’s be frank folks – she just moved half way across the world and uprooted her entire world, landing in a  completely foreign culture, environment, language – everything; to live with a man she married 11 months previously and had not had physical contact with since. Not only that, but compound it on top of the fact that they don’t have the material resources yet to get their own place (although are close and I am sad) and so are living with who was, up until very recently, were perfect strangers to her.  The woman has been through some serious stress and a little fun was in order for us all.

Regine, my dear brilliant friend who I am sure God sent to bring levity into my life, had suggested the art exhibit, and so my husband John, Kayoko and Regine went, all in her car. The evening was going soberly well until we put a thimble full of wine into our friend, and she became hilarious.  The pieces of art on exhibit were all done by some very talented local artists, but we discovered that neither one of us are particularly moved by “Shiny Green Apple on Napkin” or a perfectly reproduced chair and cup called “Chair and Cup”. C’mon people. When she saw a picture of a Lynx up close personal, the giant cat caused her to blurt out in her oh so demure japanese manner:

“What the hell is that? “, she looked at me wide eyed.

I tried not to smile.  I’m pretty sure there are things that would terrify me in her country so I’m not gonna laugh at what seems strange to her here. But, I do  love having to explain to her things I ahev long sicne taken for granted, like how awesomely cool a lynx is. So I answered;

“It’s a very very big wild cat, maybe as big as Jake (our giant black lab) that kills rabbits and other small animals. It lives in the woods and can outrun a wolf”.

I saw her face pale. I could tell she was thinking about the woods behind our hay fields.

“No no!” I said quickly “Farther away”, I smiled.  She breathed and flashed her smile once again.

We laughed our way through the art. Every beach she saw she said it looked like Brazil.  Eventually she would point to every Inuit painting and say “Canada!|. Hilarious.  Our mututal favourite painting was of seven large banana’s standing upright on a beach, with the sun obviously behind them their shadows cast ahead. ANd beside each one is a little lemon and it was called “Baby lemons and their Nanas”. Loved it.

We shuffled our way out after saying hello to a couple of the artists we knew from our town, and headed to Smoked Meat Pete’s in Ile Perrot.  If you’re ever in Montreal, this is really a very special place to go.  Montreal is famous for smoked meat in a very traditional sense.  To have a good smoked meat, you need a hard wooden chair for your ass, a sticky long table where you sit with a bunch of people you have never met but will be best friends with by the end of the night.  A perfect smoked meat needs a greasy smelly meat atmosphere that clings to your hair for three days after you spend a few hours there.

In accompaniment to your smoked meat however, and most crucially, you need the blues.  The blues are the piece de resistance of this fine culinary experience. And the night Kayoko had her first smoked meat was filled with all of the right ingredients.

Now, if you’re really nice and Pete likes you (Pete pretty much likes everyone), he will grace you with a small paper plate filled with the sweet gooey delicious greasy ends of the ribs he slow bakes in that kitchen all day.  It is the most delicious thing you have ever put in your mouth.   We ordered the standard crispy fries, a large plate of smoked ,meat, a few pickles and stuff and bread so everyone could  share.

Here’s where the evening becomes extremely cool.

The food comes and we are all starving. there are four of us to share.  I look at the plate and see there isn’t enough bread for everyone to have a really good sandwich. Rye bread has these tiny little ends that would be like eating smoked meat on a cracker…not ok. There are rules.) But at the end of the long table, where some friends that we know from previous gigs with our own band were sitting, noticed that we didn’t enough.  They saw me take a cracker sized piece and try to make something so that Kayoko could have the good part.  ALl of a sudden we were being inundated with stuff. Pickles, bread, cole slaw, some delicious garlic thing that made me have heart burn for two days after. It was really touching. I thanked the people while they were passing the food and explained that Kayoko was having her first smoked meat.

Well you have never seen a more excited bunch of french Canadians (except at a hockey game that we are actually winning)!  Everyone got in on the deal and soon, I could feel 30 pairs of eyes watching her take her first bite.  She was really good about it all, and took the bite slowly and deliciously, letting people wait. Then she raised her right arm and whooped with approval.  The whole place cheered. It was hilarious.

I had the chance to go on stage and play some music with Regine’s boyfriend dave who is like my big brother.  He is just the bomb on the drums. Then there was this Tim Loftin…from Autin texas…go figure. ALL the way over here in Ile Perrot.  Interesting.  I don’t ignore signs from the universe as I have just made good blogging friends in this area and have never ever met anyone from Austin texas before these past few weeks, so I took up a conversation with the man.

Turns out I really loved his bass playing and he really loved my voice ad offered to play for SoulFusion any time we wanted.  I felt this to be a great honour. That guys was on stage the entire first set without having been told one song in advance and he followed the self-concerned guitarist to a T.

Later he tell sme he will sing a song for the second set. I sat with Kayoko and listened to this man sing with my jaw hanging feebly from my face.  He has this awesome sort of carolina meets New Orleans drawl and his style was all zydeco blues. It was so amazing, I felt like I could have watched an entire evening of this wonderful surprise man.  I am looking forward to doing something with him in the very near future.

We got home and Kayoko went to tell Graham all about her night.  The best part came the next morning when Graham told me what Kayoko had said the night before.

Kayoko had asked Graham what nickname he used for me.  Graham and I are close friends, but we are too cool for nicknames, so he answered that he didn’t understand.  She said it was like crocodile or something so he says

“Oh! You mean like when she was leaving and I said “See you later alligator?” he asked.

“Yes!” she said!

“No no, that’s just an expression. When people are leaving,” graham said through tears of laughter” people say :see you later alligator, in a while crocodile”. He said still collapsing laughing.

“Well that’s stupid”, she responded to him.

He stopped laughing. “What do you mean that;s stupid? It;s just what we say. Doesn;t really mean anything”.

Well it’s stupid because you don’t even have crocodiles or alligators here!”, she said like we were ridiculous.

Then she found a solution to the whole thing

“Here you should say something like “See you later Moose – in a while Bear“.

I am still laughing,

Goodnight  Moose. 🙂

~Namaste~

Energetic Clean UP

OK, I usually don’t post so much in a weekend, but I have to say this has been one helluva weekend and it’s only Saturday.

It began yesterday with my dear friend who is a “home maker” extraordinaire. Obviously I don’t get everything done around here that needs doing with the freakish life I have, so she comes to help me keep my life manageable in many ways. Over the winter working with her here at the farm has been enlightening as well as Lightening.  What’s the difference? Well, the first one means that she teaches me a higher sense of myself.The second means she helps lighten my load.

“Everyone does their best”, she reminds me often as I bitch about our fellow musician friends. Her partner was my drummer for a long time so our paths have crossed all over the place.

She is the one who brought me to yoga, and to african drumming. She is like an angel and always shows me the right path to take, so when she says go that way i just nod, smile and walk.

Yesterday she came to clean the house and had a brilliant idea.

“Why don’t we tackle your storage room?”, she says with a big energetic grin.

I must have had a lack of coffee in me or a hangover or something because I found my mouth saying;

“Hey great!”

Hunh?

Let me explain.  My husband and I have moved our seven kids 5 times in the past 12 years. We are tired of moving.  y the time we finally got here, three years ago (did I say THREE years??) I was beyond exhausted and facing one helluva mess.  This place had been trashed. I don’t mean just picking up garbage I mean rats and black mold.  I spent 16 days straight when we finally got to take over the place learning how to take down walls and install floors just so th kids wouldn’t be in danger.

And the rats? They appeared soon after our first few nights on the farm and it got quiet enough to actually hear the little (enormous) buggers.  One night I caved and decided to take a bath in the disgusting previously moldy blechy bathtub. It was made of metal, had rust stains in more places than porcelain, but I was a desperate woman.  I NEEDED a bath.

As I lay scrunched up missing our jacuzzi in our nice big suburban house with our neat little garden and tidy little yards, I felt a bump under my left ass cheek. I can;t leave out the detail such as it is etched in my memory.  I leapt up from the tub as if someone were about the throw a toaster in.  I could hear them…must have been dozens, all scrambling to share the warmth of my tub.

I’ll leave the rest up to your fruitful minds but it as you can imagine – it wasn’t pretty.

Just small examples of what we have been contending with since our arrival.

Well, the time had come and I could see that my friend was again pointing me in the right direction.  This time though, it wasn’t like yoga or happy african drumming. No, those things I looked forward to. This was going to be an excavation of the most badly kept storage room in the history of the world.  I had drunken teenagers puking in there, boxes thrown over books moldy and stuck to the floor, rat shit, cat shit dog shit mouse shit goat shit – ok you get the picture.

The boxes were piled dauntingly and dangerously high to the ceiling.

My friend Regine was amazing – a machine. I opened the door at 10:45 in the morning and she did not stop moving until 5:00.

We made a pile for the second-hand store, a pile of books which we had no clue what to do with, a pile of things I would keep a pile to give to my eldest step daughter as honourary keeper of her family’s stuff, we found journals and socks…oh so many sock. We found a cool sweatshirt and a bunch of art supplies, old paintings and things my kids had done, which made me cry cause I miss them little.  We found old camping gear, Halloween outfits and all of the papers john’s ex-wife put together in case she died.  I found my grade 1 report card. I’m pretty sure I was mildly retarded…I saw my drawing, people do not look like that. I found pictures of my family dating back to the 1940’s. records with no turntable, children; clothes with no children, books that have been read and are finished.

And the piece-de-resistance:  my first wedding dress.  It was one of the last things we found, all crumpled and moldy having been eaten out of its protective bag by ambitious mice who had started gnawing on the lace and beads they had mistaken for something edible.  This made my heart stop a little, as I could see right away it wasn’t salvageable.  I added it slowly to the burning pile. Memories of that hopeful day revisited me like punches in the face. Up until that point I had been doing ok rifling through my old life, johns old life, his ex-wife’s entire life, my parents old life, my brothers and sisters…what the hell was I thinking keeping all that garbage?  It’s like I kept everyone’ memories. I realized that until I stop secretly punishing myself and others for the unchangeable past, there is no way in this world I can be completely free.  So, I chose to be free and gave the dress to the fire allot more easily than I would have ever imagined. I hope it releasing forgiveness smoke 🙂 By putting  all these things into the enormous life threatening fire john had built felt good…cleansing.

It was like Regine says, “It’s bad energy to keep broken things. Let go of what doesn’t serve you any more and make room for the new”.

I know she’s right and I know that she knew exactly what we were doing. This wasn’t about having a nice clean second barn to turn into an art studio or something fun. No, this was the end of something, I can feel it. I don’t feel an attachment to these things anymore and burning them seems like a positive releasing of the energy.

Today I woke up and tried to ignore my sore body. I think the body reacts to emotion and for me I feel it in my back when life feels heavy. Instead maybe I will pay attention, and honour this Easter as another kind of renewal inside of me.

Seven kids a bag of Skittles and Easter

Did I ever tell you I have seven kids? Yup that’s right…7.  In fact not only do I have seven kids, I AM the seventh of seven. I know that’s only supposed to count if your a guy, but I say it counts even with my ovaries.  Supposedly seventh of seven children have “special secret powers”, like heightened sense of intuition. Maybe I should have foreseen what life with 7 of my own would be like?and before you ask, no I did not give birth to them all.  I am adopted and so is my husband, so for us, birth does not preclude parenthood.  Our story is that we were both playing music in church (where we met), and his first  wife had lung cancer.  She died the day after her 40th birthday when their 4 kids were 3,5,9 and 13.  They were separated when she died, which is why all the resentement existed up until our ghostly encounters a few weeks ago.  At the time, I was newly divorced and trying to raise three little kids (same ages as the first three on his list) and had bought my own house by gardening and cleaning dog shit in old people’s yards. Those were the days.

About two months after his first wife had died, I was finally invited over to their house.  I walked in on quite a scene. John crying over a basket of socks, two hairy little boys playing Super Mario and the girls hiding in their room.  Their mother didn’t like me very much and had warned them about keeping me away from the kids (she was friends with my ex…he had misinformed her as to my personal history…ahem), so the girls were very confused. We went sledding with all the kids that day.  My son Jordan (now 18) recalls fondly when Bryan (also now 18 :)) pushed him unceremoniously down “monster hill” and he flew almost into the parking area, grinning a 6-year-old toothless smile.  Nick and Sara were throwing themselves headfirst down the hill within minutes. Meagan and Andrea hopped on the same sled without needing an introduction. It was all working out JUST FINE…except for Amanda, our eldest who at 14 was angry and terrified , her mother had not only died, but as happens for eldest kids, especially when mom is sick, she had been given the brunt of the responsibility of caring for her siblings and was almost primordially protective.   She stood glaring at me from atop the snowy mountain, a darkness in her eyes that shouldnt exist in kid’s eyes…but there it was.  I stood beside her and said

“You know, you don’t have to like me or be nice or anything”, and I smiled and let her be.

Later after sledding, we let Andrea (9 years old) pick the movie. None of us have ever forgotten “Sugar and Spice”, the worst movie in the history of film; an endearing story celebrating teen pregnancy..I almost had an aneurism.  We still make fun of Andrea and never ask her to pick the movie when we all go out. But that day, it just so happened the way everyone fit into the movie row that I would end up sitting beside Amanda the eldest.  I had a huge bag of skittles I had bought at the concession stands which I could see she kept eyeing.

“Want some?”, I asked trying to smile, but I was just as nervous as she was.

“I hate the banana ones”, she said still looking at her lap.

“They’re my favourite!”, I smiled.

I began taking all the banana skittles out of the bag and giving her the non-banana little sweet sour chewy candy.  I saw her smile watching me trying to find all the ones she didn’twant. I looked up and saw her eyes. The darkness had lifted and she smiled a little watching me trying to pick out all the  ones she didn’t want.  I think it had been a long time since anyone had picked out her food for her and for a second she looked like a kid again. I smiled at her and just handed her the bag. We shared through movie and walked out friends. Since then we have always said skittles helped save or family.

When I was five years old sitting under the maple tree in my front yard playing “pretend farm”, my favourite game, my mother asked me what i wanted when I grew up. I told her I wanted seven kids, a farm and lots and lots of animals.  welcome to my life.

Lately I have been lonely. My life has been pretty active raising seven kids over all these years, but all of a sudden, like a bubble popping, they all grew up and poof! Gone. Andrea moved out with her boyfriend.  Amanda gave us our first grandchild and is currently working on baking number 2. Meagan was accepted to university in fine arts. Nick got a scooter so with the melt I won`t see him until October I figure.  Jordan is beginning work in town and Sara lives with her dad for school cause it`s closer than the farm. My big old farm-house is becoming too quiet for my taste.

Happily this is Easter weekend. I feel the noise around the corner.

Back in the day, we would cover the house in eggs, sneak chocolates under their beds at 1:00 in the morning so they would wake up all excited and eat chocolate for breakfast. Mmmm. I had a couple who were terrified of the Easter Bunny. I don’t blame them. Giant bunny watching me sleep wouldn’t bring me any comfort either.  Nicky would ask 8 thousand questions.

“When is the bunny coming, what does he look like, is he bigger than a regular bunny, does he stay a long time, does he have big teeth?”

These questions have morphed into

“Can I sleep at my friend’s house? Can my friend sleep over here? What’s for dinner? Can I have a lift to the gym? How long will dinner last? I have plans.”

Little messy faces and me complaining about chocolate forgotten on the couch melting deeply into the fabric (I can see the spots as I sit here writing). I miss the days of messy faces and strung out hyperactive preteens.  I miss the noise.

Tomorrow my house will be different. It will be renewed with the sense of Spring, filled with my kids and their kids and noise and chocolate and probably sounds of me complaining about leaving chocolate on the couch. We will do an egg hunt and eat a ham which is boiled in beer all day until the meat falls off the bone. My kids will go straight to their rooms to look for their chocolate which we will still put under their beds.

I was talking with my Brazillian friend Kayoko who asked me what Easter was here as in Brazil her family was not Christian and although they celebrated a type of Easter in Brazil, she had never learned what the biblical reference to Easter was.  I tried explaining that our traditions were actually a mix of Christian belief (the egg by the way, comes from when Mary Magdalene went to see Pope Leo after she had witnessed Jesus’s resurrection. She brought an egg as a symbol of ressurection and life).  Christian lore says that the Church integrated some pagan ritual like bunnies (a symbol for fertility) and chocolate (only popular since about the 193os and actually something we can thank Germany for) so that all the different relgious traiditions could fall into Christianity. The crucifixion is an important part of this weekend, but not because it caused death – because it confirmed LIFE.  For our family, the resurrection is a celebration of life after life.  It confirms that someone exists beyond the physicality of the body.  This is an important lesson for children who have buried a mother. Easter is MAGIC made by God.

This Easter, I will Thank God for all of my dreams which have come true, for my husband and for my seven beautiful children.  I will feed them and be in my mommy-glory. Later at night I may even say a quiet prayer of protection for my kids.  Then for a time I will be grateful for the quiet.

WAKING UP

I was just watching a really interesting video, you might want to take a look, on spiritual awakening off of YouTube. not done in the usual home-made YouTube style, it was pretty pro.  I watched it with tears in my eyes.  and afterwards I never do this, but I took the time to read some of the comments.  The movie discusses an emerging global consciousness which is occurring through individual experiences in mass numbers throughout the planet. They talk about common “symptoms” of what they call a “spiritual awakening”. What i saw in this video made me feel not alone in this experience.  I thought maybe if you’re following my blog you might need to see it too.  It’s well done and short. Go get a tea 🙂

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJNsNjrubPI&feature=related

Amazing? I questioned everything for three years. Absolutely everything came up on the chopping block. if it didn’t work for me, it had to go. And frankly I found the more open I became to the signs the universe gives you when something is good for you or bad for you…the more I was able to see that really, it’s not difficult. You just have to become willing to try thinking about life a very different way. Signs and symbolism and intuition are definitely worth paying attention to. Also intuitive capabilities skyrocketed, and suddenly I needed to write about it.  I have written every single major thought since this time. And I am back into learning. I read everything now as much as I can. I become overwhelmed with moments of intense love for everyone and everything. I can feel physically the life of the world around me.  I have to say I am pretty lucky and I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that the universe has planted me on a 22 acre horse farm.  I spend my days pretty much quietly in tune with nature and music, since I am also lucky enough to be a professional musician.  My life has seen its shares of ups and downs and that period of my life was a particularly low down.

But, I know that whatever it was that was given to me that night, I can never see th e world I such a dark and disparaging sense again. When I read about near death experiences, what I had was about as close to that as you can come without dying. I won’t bore you with the details of the experience itself, although to say I have written the whole thing earlier on this site if you want to read it in detail.  It happened for me in a dream.  I had experienced an all time low depression. I was on depression medication and I was dying from the inside out. Doctors would rather medicate me than help me find understanding,a dn I would rather find a pill to make me happy because at the time I knew no other way.

“My relationship with God was the same as my relationship with Doctors and most authority I supposed; I was taught that I had to respect them because they knew more about something which  regarded me than I did.  I was raised in a  church where I was taught that God was contacted through the priest, and that the priest had some secret about God the rest of us didn’t have, but that if we didn’t listen to him, we would never have it either. I never got the secret frankly. The video talks about this occurrence happening to many people.  This was fascinating to me because I think the back of my mind is convinced that I am quite delusional. I mean what I understand the world to be today and what I thought it to be just a few years ago is so completely different, I can’t even begin to describe all the things I have seen and done since then.

So, I’ll get back to my long-winded story. I was reading the responses to this video because I wanted to read other people who had related. I hadn’t considered that some of the responses may actually be ANGRY.  This one in particular really threw me off guard:

This is pure crap for the gullible and insane. 52-year-old woman who lives near Berkeley is walking around scanning for “coincidences.” She fears sex because of past trauma, and has been duped repeatedly by “spiritual” men. One such idiot put rocks on her naked body, dry humped her and left while she laid there frozen with terror in a fetal position. She cuts herself (self injures) and cannot feel love. She’s delusional and being led by this nonsense.

What do you say to a guy who has an obvious level of compassion for a near stranger, enough to randomly exclaim his opinion on a public web site?  But who’s mind has been closed by blame and misperception?

I’m sorry for your friend…and yes that kind of stuff is insanity.  But…this spiritual awakening does not preclude FREE WILL.  It does not demand anything…it only asks that you stand still. Looks to me like she hasn’t gotten there yet and is choosing a whole lot of crazy pain on her journey. But again friend…it is free will.  I hope she finds some contentment and peace soon and will keep you both in my thoughts.

What else can you say to someone experiencing that?  Feeling helpless?  The world is a CRAZY place. We have done some really really bad things, and there is a time of reckoning ahead, where we have to find a way to regain balance. That isn’t RELIGION or prophecy – it is just LOGIC.  But, things are changing in the time that they were meant to change.  I know this for sure now and I have to say, the world has become a much softer and gentler place for me.  It seems that as I feel less controversy inside of myself, less controversy naturally finds me.  It’s a lovely way to live – even with all the craziness. ~Namaste friends~ and I do mean that 🙂

 

 

 

The BIG Questions

Has it become “uncool” to openly ponder and question the meaning of our existence?  As an evolving culture have we moved away from asking the Big Questions so that we can focus our energies increasingly on material advancements rather than philosophical? My understanding of history tells me that it was much more fashionable long ago to discuss philosophy and larger concerns than it is today.  At social gatherings, we barely get past knowing someone’s name. Have we lost some sort of desire to understand the world on a more metaphysical level than it is today?   Our earliest books spoke about only that; God, Philosophy, superstition and mythology.  More than desiring to pass on “physical” knowledge, such as planting techniques or shelter building materials people had discovered, early literature and art most often described the spiritual aspect of a culture.  Therefore I must assume that those early cultures placed spiritual things at their center and chose them as the most important things to represent them to future generations.  I’m almost afraid to know what our modern literature will say about us. Some of the earliest books are now considered holy books. The Bible, Qur’an, Torah, Old Testament, Gnostic gospels are all thousands of years old and are believed to try to give us an understanding of what is required of us by God.  All of the stories are different but hold many similarities at the same time. These representations helped to shape our culture and belief systems up until today.

It seems that much of what we read in those early books was based on discovery.  Humans are curious, and just like babies we began our stint here on earth in discovery mode.  First we looked, and observed and learned from what we saw. But we still didn’t understand very much so we connected events in the only way our minds could, creating myths and fairy tales to explain the things we couldn’t understand.  Witches and ghosts and spirits which interacted with the natural world. Coming from some indiscernible darkness – the stories which manifestly represent our fears.  Later on, philosophers and authors like Plato and Aristotle helped to shape the very fabric of the culture upon which we stand today.  These were men who basically spent their entire lives thinking.  but much of their thoughts were developed in conversation and interchange with others of like-minded or oppositional thinking.  Their thoughts were developed through a gathering of ideas.  They observed and recorded their observations often through telling stories which someone else would write down.  They did not set out in their lives to become great men, but by being simply connected to the calling of their deepest longings, without any great technology and being relatively poor and without amenities amazingly they had an enormous impact on us.  But we have become arrogant in our self perception as a culture. We believe we are better than and more evolved…smarter…than our early ancestors.  When you think back on early man, do you immediately assume their ignorance?  Do you think of prehistoric man and associate them to early, ignorant, superstitious knuckle dragging monkeys? I suppose Hollywood has helped contribute to this understanding, but it’s wrong.

What I would like you to consider is that we have in some ways evolved, mostly physically and materially, but in other ways we have devolved, as in our connection to the natural world has fallen away in lieu of intellectual reason-based pursuits.   It is this mis-understanding of our energetic relationship to the world that we have lost. Something that early humans were deeply imbued with because they had only their emerging physical senses upon which to survive.  We are at a point in our evolution where we are moving beyond this into an emerging understanding that we are more multidimensional than this.  But in order for this understanding to really spread quickly enough (because we are in a race against time for the planet, let’s face it), it needs to become common fare once again to ponder the meaning of our existence.  We know this intuitively. Our intuition is how the universe speaks to us.  The more we can listen to that intuition, the more able we will be to do what we have to in our lives to contribute to the greater good.  I believe the Universe is speaking to us all quite loudly at this time; we need only listen.

The reason for the emerging success of programs such as EPONA, (an equestrian program which seeks to help individuals reconnect to their inner selves through working with horses), is that the emergence of our intuitive senses is causing us to want to become more fully rounded in our development. Therefore we are being guided back to reconnecting with the natural world on an energetic level. On a spiritual level we are becoming consciously aware that we are all connected as living beings. Certain universal truths are coming to light which are causing us to become manifestly more responsible in our decisions regarding one another and the planet. We are returning to an age of philosophy.  Let’s face it, if you are reading this article it is because you are curious and are asking the big questions already. Maybe you will find answers here and maybe you won’t but at least you will know that someone else is asking the same questions. Maybe you haven’t become conscious of it, but when you seek out information about yourself and the world you live in, you begin a journey of understanding from which you can’t turn back.

In Joseph Gurdjieff’s “Tales of Beelzebub to His Grandson”, he spends his entire introduction apologizing for not being a very good writer and for messing with his reader’s reality.  He is sincere in his desire to warn the reader that what they will read in his discoveries will change their understanding of their life as they know it right now. He tells them not to read on if they are contented with their life and don’t want it to change very much.  I feel very much the same way.

Spiritual understanding, or macrocosmic living is freedom, this is true. But the road to get there is not easy.  Maybe some of us make it harder for themselves than is necessary, but I am certain that everything I went through in my past that has led me to the understanding I have today has been for a purpose.  But every once in a while, I must admit, I miss the blinders I wore for so many years.

It is important that we open these philosophical dialogues openly in our cultures and subcultures.  We need to regain the focus on the macrocosmic view like the ancient philosophers.  We need to become more conscious of the relative unimportance of our daily lives and circumstances and realize how very important it is to come to an understanding of the purpose and strength of our interior energetic selves.  This doesn’t mean that you should quit your job and begin meditating for food. Life still has to be lived.  The success, if you can call it that, is in achieving a balance of the two worlds.  Macro and microcosmic living combined is the next stage of our human evolution.