Home – a poem

Meditation walk in the morning sun

letting my mind wander until there are no more thoughts.

geese call wild in the key of D

trying to tell me that it is

ON SURRENDERall about being free.

since not a soul is stirring I sit with the river

at the base of the mountain

and wait for the rocks to tumble all over me.

But nothing moves,

only the steady whir and burr

Of old worn thoughts that I release.

Stretching legs and arms I flow

feeling the ground steady and sure now

beneath the feet thatnot-so-long-ago

could not fly.

The river says

there is no one waiting to tell me

what they think

Or what I think

no one to correct me

Direct me

Protect me.

Cause that gets really old.

“this is all in my imagination”

the river whispers loud enough

So that I can hear.

And frankly speaking I have to believe the river

because he is so old

and has been recycling himself

over and in and through all time

returning always to this place

just waiting for me to come and

Ask the right questions.

The mountain stands behind the river

arms folded across her breast

Appearing calm and pensive as she considers river’s advice

(about the truth of course)

She sends the geese popping out over the ring of trees

that is her crown.

Geese emissaries acting as her voice

which would otherwise be silent

(except for when she really has something to say:

please see: Avalanche)

and frankly speaking

I have to believe the mountain

for she has been waiting for me

through all time

to return to this place

where the geese sing

to remind me that we have always been here

 

And by the river I awaken and see that

I have never left home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saving the World – birthday indulgences

Someone said to me recently in my writer’s group that the more opinionated our writing, the LESS universal it becomes. It alienates people.

So, I have been quiet lately.  Trying not to say too much, or not have too many opinions.  It’s hard with the world in such a frazzle.  But I try not to talk about myself or write about myself too much. I think north Americans have become narcissistic and self indulgent to such an extent that we are sharing some sort of mass hallucinations about who we are. Those hallucinations are governed by the state. I know this may sound crazy paranoid to you now but this is how government gets their message across,  through popular films and the media.  Its how they decide what is real for you. Censor boards etc,..
But the thing they have pushed for so long – Nationalistic pride – is finished. Done with. It no longer serves a purpose, that why it has fallen away for so many of you.  You used to feel a great desire to associate with being one or another nationality, but now this is no longer purposeful because our minds are awakening to who we really are – which is not our name, or our country – or even our bodies. We have much more in common than those menial aspects of self. In today’s vibrant changing climate it makes more sense to find the commonalities between us rather than to find the superiority amongst us.

My living hypothesis is that every human being is doing the very best with what they can given the resources of their particular lives.

I even believe this to be true of men like Hitler and Napoleon.  I believe it to be true of the men who whipped the black slaves in the cotton fields of early southern America. I also believe it to be true of the slave working in the field.

Dr. Maya Angelou said “If you would have known better – you would have done better”. True enough.

 

If we go on this precept, then we have to say that the world is in great need of something huge – something that will shake us to our roots. We are conducting “normal life” around a big illusion that is about to crumble.  Something that is not real – meaning it will not last. Our current economics crises, coupled with the ecological catastrophes we are facing are just small potatoes compared to the extreme state of spiritual disconnectedness that we are currency living our lives with.  Science and industrialization have disconnected us from the essential source that is our center. Religions have messed up our interpretation of that Source and we have lost the very basic ability to harness the energy and capacity of our essential beingness.

Our solutions lies in a return to basics – to nature. But we wouldn’t know what to do with “nature’ if it smacked us in the head. We need to be taught how to be ourselves – natural and connected to seasons and environment.  Respectful and balanced in our living.  However, the greatest irony of it all is that the cultures we have relegated and abused the “indigenous”, primal and pagan, are the ones that have the answers we need in order to survive the adjustments the planet is making. We are no longer taught by the old and wise.

In our pursuit for comfort, we chose to disconnect from one thing and connect to another. Free will being what is it, we are being directed towards a place of having to return to the original source that nourished us. Because of the manner of psychology evolved in man, we are only wiling to make drastic changes to our perceptions of what is necessary to live a fulfilled and happy life when something dramatic and terrible happens.

So the earth, as always, is accommodating what we require for our highest growth.  We asked for it – in some way – and so we got it.

 

The shifts in politics are not haphazard, they are happening just as they were supposed to – the chaos will cause people to unite. The minority oppressors (crazy Muslim extremists lets say…) will eventually be eliminated by a lack of interest. The reality of how little power they hold will become obvious to everyone through the dissemination of true information.  Information passed directly from person to person – like when Socrates went to the Hill and the whole town was involved in how a thing was decided. But now we call the hill the internet – and no one’s voice need be left unheard.

The internet is allowing us this primal capacity to return to each other.  It is magnificent. But of course, like all the Excalibur’s of our history, it can be misused.  It can be wielded to gain other things – the worst of these is that we spend time paying attention to things that distract us from our centers – from our essential beingness. Because we all know that the most important thing we can do is to really know ourselves.

 

So I guess that’s why I haven’t been writing. What I have to say is quite a mouthful and I think people are tired of hearing the darker side.  Being like this however disconnects me from my creative center – which for me feels like being constipated in my soul. I have begun to take steps to feel connected to a creative feeling again – but it eludes me. Day after day.  I become tired of searching for this dispassionate lover.

 

 

QUIET MEDITATION…

I have begun standing still –  learning to really meditate.  Every day. For an hour. No exceptions. This feels good. It will be my practice for life. Because there is something deeply wrong with the balance of my life if I cannot meditate for an hour every day.

serenity

But I won’t be hard on myself either. I know that I cant optimally stay still without pain for more than 45 minutes in a sitting position cross legged. I don’t think the point of meditation is to cause yourself pain – but I do think everyone on the planet should be doing it.

It’s not such a big adjustment in your life, but imagine the capacity when  we harness ALL of our collective energy together at once?  I believe something GRAND is possible if we can just – for one whole minute – let go of what we think is right and wrong.  Just for one whole minute – have no opinion on anything.

 

I believe this would change the world.

When you feel the freedom of a time with no judgement – you will always want to return there. It is SO much nicer to allow people to just be themselves.  You can make choices for yourself. This doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat.  It just means you have to spend some time knowing yourself and, not just that but HONOURING the information you receive from your inquiries.  You know, a good relationship isn’t two broken people leaning on each other – it’s two whole people dancing together.  Much nicer.  Unless you look at yourself, you will NOT find that perfect “partner’, that so many people seek – because you don’t even know what it is you have to offer.  The same goes for your relationship with yourself.  You have MANY parts. Stop trying to be so NICE – and PERFECT and honour everything about you!  You can’t give to the world what you can’t give to yourself. That’s just reality.

 

Lose Judgement: 

 

“EVERYONE thinks they are doing the right thing. EVERYONE thinks they are doing their best.

 

The world and all its problems are very overwhelming.  I wonder often what it is you have to do to live peacefully and happily in this chaotic mess. I recently received the answer from a 92 year old man – a soul mate?  I would never have imagined such a kindred feeling with someone like this – but there it was.

 

His name is Gabe and he is my guitar player’s father in law.  Shawn and his wife had just suffered through a scary bout with breast cancer and Gabe, Anne’s adopted father came for a visit from the Maritimes to see how Anne was doing.

 

He was introduced to me as “This is Gabe my adopted father. He’s 92”, said Anne smiling

And smartly all I could say was,

 

“Holy crap, how’d you get to be 92?!”

No word of a lie, Gabe looked 65 years old. He had a hefty diamond stud earring in his left ear, a full head of shocking white hair and blue twinkly eyes. With a beard he might have looked a little like Santa.

I was grateful Gabe laughed then at my seemingly impolite outburst.  Once again my lack of filter was in full force. But I also learned allot about Gabe from that laugh.  He liked the unrehearsed parts of life best, I could see. He was spontaneous and smiled allot.

I set up my equipment and came back to his table eagerly wanting to talk to him.

“Gabe, tell me how it is you lived so long?”  I asked him quite seriously. The question of longevity having been on my mind since my own mother died less than a year earlier at only 65.

“I just didn’t die yet!”, he said laughing his big belly laugh.

“Seriously Gabe, I said looking him square in the eye,  “What is it? I asked.

He leaned towards me conspiratorially as if he was going to tell me a big secret and said smiling

” Love everything as much as you can”, he said smiling.  “You’re already doing that. I can see it”.  He smiled warmly. So much familiar love and joy in his eyes.  It was so familiar and amazing.

I got up and hugged him. The band was calling me to the stage for the first set or I would have stayed and talked to Gabe all night.

In between sets I found him outside as he was leaving to get some rest – which he said was important to longevity too – I smiled.

I hugged him and said frankly,

“I feel like I’ve known you a long time Gabe,”  I was sad he was leaving.

“But we have darlin’ “, he said smiling. “We’ll do it again soon”.

I thought then about how amazing it must be to wake up in the morning – when you are 92. Each day borrowed time.

I’d like to say I have the same kind of reverence for life as Gabe does, but I know I still take waking up each day for granted.

I was talking with a friend the other day about all the world situations how hundreds of thousands of people each day have to figure out how to pack up the basics of their lives, walk many miles in treacherous hot desert sand only to find themselves at a new country’s border – mostly unwelcome.  The world’s resources are running out, including livable space.

 

We were making a sandwich in the kitchen and starting saying all of the things we have that other people don’t have.  Like the seemingly simple ability to make lunch itself! Or go to bed without bombs going off outside our house. Or just having a house – or taking a shower with hot water, being able to call my kids who are safe, going to school or work. The ability to go to a store and buy food. To say whatever I want. To be able to show my face in public.

I wish it wasn’t the hardship of others that had the ability to bring me great gratitude for the most simple of things in my life, but that is the way it is.

That’s the end of my indulgent birthday rant. Wishing you a peaceful day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most Redundant Blog Ever Written…just my opinion.

It’s redundant for me to have an opinion on opinionated people, don’t you think? But I really do and it’s making me a little crazy.

For the last few years I have been struck by how counterproductive strong personal opinions are for me.    Negative or positive – it’s all the same thing as far as I am concerned.  It’s a right and wrong, black and white up and down that really only exists in our faerie tale minds.download (1)

Last night I met a woman I had never met before who had been making quite merry all night. At one point she grabbed at my husband’s cigarettes (he has been struggling to quit for a while now) and starting sneering at him

“what are you gonna do?” she jeered

 

“You gonna be an idiot and smoke this?” She waved the pack at him sitting back arrogantly with her glass of whatever in her other hand.

 

“Um…” I could see he was visibly shaken,  not knowing how to handle this strange aggressive approach.

 

9896d25c60bca36da9eba9145c33233aShe wanted to humiliate him in some way, and frankly I felt bad for him.  Addicted is addicted and for sure I m not going to be the one to throw stones from my glass house.  In all my attempt to be “compassionate” towards all people, I found it a little tough with this one. Soon, I found words spilling out of my unhindered unfiltered mouth. Generally this is not a good thing.

 

“So, does your shoulder hurt?” I asked her pointedly

 

“Hunh?” she looked at me quizzically

 

“Does your SHOULDER hurt?” I said pointing to the portion of my body above my arm below my neck, in case you need instructions like she did

 

“Well, it is a little stiff..”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you walk around in your life carrying a heavy gavel and judging people. Why don’t you just lay it down.” I stared at her predatorially watching her eyes drop conflicted to her feet.

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“Well mine’s just fine then…” She murmured staring at her feet.

 

“Give it time”…I said smiling sardonically.

 

Oh great. Good old “zen-me” had just reacting to someone being humiliated by humiliating the,  So much for non-violence…

 

Sigh…

images

She wanted to go at him about cancer being caused by cigarettes.  Meanwhile my brain wanted to tell her all sorts of things, about being overweight, having a lousy attitude, her bleached blond hair, carcinogenic make up tested on poor little bunnies, her diamonds mined in South Africa, her need to control other people…omg.  My brain wouldn’t shut up – thankfully I had found my filter, and we packed up not wanting to ruin what had been a lovely evening.

 

I remember when I was young I had an opinion about everything. In my family it was a way to be valued. The more opinions you had = the smarter you were.  Generally I wasn’t much into telling others how to run their lives.  But on world issues and grander things, you couldn’t have shut me up.

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But here’s what I know now: if someone does something that annoys me (like to the pint this woman’s attitude annoyed me..) then it is ONLY because that same aspect exists inside of me.  The bright light of imperfection shone directly on my face like a crazy celestial spotlight.  It was me..not her.  I cant change a person or how they behave. I can only choose to accept exactly as they are,  them or not.    I knew this was true because I came away from the judging woman with a sense of annoyance, which I think is a good thing. That feeling is an indication I have to look at something within myself.   Seeing it like that makes the altercation not useless – but useful for my own personal understanding and growth.   Having a perception of conflicting relationships like this can really change the way you feel about interacting with the world.

What it came down to was I think we all have that “inner critic”. And, there is a distinct difference between a critic and being discerning.  We were all given the power to discern what works for us and what doesn’t. I can observe a person’s behaviour or choices, and in view of how I am moving forward in my life, I can discern whether or not it is a good relationship for me or a counter-productive one, for now.

 

So, I realize how redundant it is for me to blog about my opinion about people’s opinions, but I am seeing a trend which is kind of black and white, and probably attributable to social networking.  Daily posts from people that are like personal opinion vomit – all day long. They just go on and on and how one person is bad, or a country is bad, or an institution is bad…oy.  This isn’t productive and it gets tedious reading and seeing such of negative comments.

 

I say – shut up and go DO something a bout it. If you complain about a problem more than once without taking action – you are officially whining.

 

 

I’m grateful for my annoyance as it has made me aware enough to back off of my own strong opinions – but it doesn’t mean I will lose my sense of discernment.  If I am stuck to what I think about a person place or situation, then I am not accepting that person place and situation and I guarantee you that the only one who will be miserable from that kind of unconscious bull-in-a-china-shop thinking – is ME.

 

So, in my efforts to be more gentle and compassionate with my own self (yes…a huge challenge), I am going to take a dose of my own medicine and remind myself that even the judging woman needs to be accepted. We are ALL perfectly imperfect, as my mom used to like to remind me when I would beat myself up.

 

Accepting people and not always having a false belief that I can change the unchangeable is a very powerful tool in keeping emotional balance and avoiding depression.  It’s all just one more thing to add to your toolbox, if that works for you.

Have a great weekend.

Peace.

Jo

 

 

 

World Peace Through Inner Peace

1480631_10154570029310230_2357686507537653468_nI arrive at the festival about 6 hours early. We have a sound check, sound check is cancelled. The band is in fine form – everyone happy in the park. I feel so lucky because my family is with me. My cousin and nephew. How unbelievably amazing that I am so lucky to have a family that likes each other so much that we want to hang out voluntarily outside of Christmas dinner and funerals.

We notice that the place is filled with extraordinary musicians from all over. No one knows us – we are the new kids on the block. I have a chance to talk to many people as the day unravels and one sound check is put off after another until we realize that there will be no sound check and we are just meant to enjoy the day.

As it went on, I had a chance to meet two people who gave me a great lesson I’d like to share.  The first was a man who, right away upon meeting me candidly admitted:

“I have been trying to be an artist my whole life and I don’t know what I am good at. I can’t paint, I can’t sing, I can’t play an instrument, I can’t write…I am lost”.

 

I don’t know – maybe its my hippie look but people like to get down to brass tacks right away with me and I really like that. They can tell I’m not much of a “talk-about-the-weather” kinda of gal.

So, I said to the man’

“Cool!  You’re a seeker”, I said smiling. He looked in my eyes and I could see he saw familiar recognition of someone else who had been in enough pain to do the hard work.   He told me more of his story – falling in love with a women, moving to Egypt, caught in the political uprising, converts to Islam, freaks out, comes back home.  Now shaken and still trying to find his answers in another person.

It’s all part of the trip we’ve all done it.  But at some point you realize that what you are seeking can’t be found outside yourself.

The man’s eyes fly open…”Yes!” he says. “Of course you understand – you’re an artist”.

Yes I am, and so are you.

Everyone is an artist and is seeking.  In fact it is our most important job in life to help others get their feet under them and do what it is they are meant to do. The best way to do that is to walk your talk and follow your heart.

Because the issue of depression has been top headlines lately, we have been talking allot about how to be responsible for our emotional state, which has led me to really see that people who “follow their hearts” may have troubles, may have “hard times”, may have challenges abounding – but they are happy. You have to wring every last drop of life out of this life – and we who are relegated to the classifications of “crazy artist, depressive, bi-polar” whatever – are the souls brave enough to step outside of the box and choose the unworn path.

I marvel when I meet someone who says to me that they are “not creative”.

What does this mean?  Did you stop breathing?

Everyone creates…all day all the time. When you got up this morning you made a choice…you got out of bed. This is where your “creativity” began. Every thought and choice you make after – is a separate creation. What you choose to do with it is entirely up to you.

We can create art, music, writing, food, wood working, architecture – those are obvious acts of creation.

We can create relationships, environments, situations, and futures. Having depression means being responsible for the emotions we bring into our lives. I don’t mean controlling the uncontrollable, but being aware when life is pulling your attention here and there is the key to a serene and amazing existence. In order be really responsible for our selves and our emotional health – it is important to know that every thought we have creates SOMETHING.

The ying and yang of it…

… resentment will CREATE heartache

…anger will CREATE turmoil

…violence will CREATE retribution

…Obsession with material gain will CREATE anxiety

…self absorption will CREATE loneliness

 

Everything you do say think and believe is an act of creation.

 

An act of Compassion will CREATE peace

…of Love will CREATE fellowship

…of faith will CREATE miracles

…of generosity will CREATE abundance

…selflessness will CREATE personal fulfillment

 

After I met the man who told me he could not find his “inner artist” I met a young boy only nine years old who had been blind since birth and was discovered by his camp councillors playing guitar on his lap. They videotaped him and put his song on Youtube and within a few days the video had gotten over 50,000 hits. So they invited him to play at the end of the set of the big headline act of the day.

Ego is all that holds back creativity.  The bad ego – the one that tells you everything is about YOU you you you you.

Imagine meeting an egoless being?  It is very rare.

But that’s what the little boy was in essence.  He child was the opposite of the creatively constipated man I had met earlier. He existed simply as unhinged creativity – music on legs…

No ego. No self – only music.

The magic began when he first arrived and he emerged from his limo that the festival had gotten for him to ride in, all beautiful and smiling. And immediately looking for something to play, body swaying rhythmically. I noticed he was holding a machine to his ear – music emerge from it as he rocked happily back and forth. He approached the table in front of the artists entrance, just a regular white plastic patio table. He couldn’t see the emerging crowd of curious spectators and artists were watching, now quiet, no one quite sure what to say or do. All these “big blues stars” – rendered momentarily mute and caught in rapt attention. The boy begins to bang on a plastic table finding a rhythm – rap tap tap bang rap tap tap bang …. The surrounding musicians couldn’t hold themselves back and soon one guy is singing beside him, another (my own drummer) is tapping out a complimenting double beat smiling widely beside the boy – looking like he might have at the same age. My owns hands found a big blue recycling bin and soon the best show was taking place outside the tent where the big bands were playing. Rollin and Tumblin, garbage cans, tapping feet, singing voices – and a boy smiling as wide as a crescent moon. He found his happy place – and brought us all along with him! This was transferred enlightened music – a real miracle.

 

I dubbed him little Blues Buddha.

 

I also realize that the man who had not yet found his creation – was also Buddha – a teacher. We need to be in both places to find where we want to stand.

 

I feel so lucky to have a chance in this life to completely be myself in all my creative weirdness. People think I am a great singer when they see us perform, but really what it is is I have been blessed with being surrounded by people who let me know clearly that I can do absolutely ANYTHING, and they will support me.   I think saying Im grateful is abit of an understatement.

 

Instead I will use gratitude as a verb and keep trying and doing and creating and moving forward. And if I am lucky, I will always keep in my mind the face of the Little Buddha who was all soul – as I trudge my own creative path.

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When we all find our creative space like this boy did – when people individually find peace inside themselves and a place to express through some form of creation (“making something new that has not been made before”) only THEN will the world experience global peace. One person and one life at a time – this is our responsibility and joyful obligation towards ourselves first – and each other.

Peace

 

 

 

 

 

The Math Of Music and Happiness

I think there is math in everything and so for fun, I am working on an easy to remember mathematical formula to understand why LIFE’S ups and DOWNS are completely necessary to your survival if you are a musician.

I CALL IT THE MUSIC-HAPPINESS FACTOR:

First please understand these meanings:

E(emotion)

L(life)

(G)M = great music

(B)M= bad music or bowel movement

Dr= depression

Cr= craziness

T = Truth therefore -T = dishonesty

Remember your high school algebra? Refresher rules…

  1. A number in FRONT of a letter makes the letter that much BIGGER!  for example 20B= 20 x B
  2. We always assume there is a 1 in front of the letter…it is invisible…but it is there…shhh…:) don’t argue.
  3. Is this getting weird? Is your brain bleeding? Did you know you use less than like 4% of it…hmmm

GM is made from an adequate amount of L which CAUSES  E which of course inspires the musician to create M. If the musician has (-)E then her ability to create M is actually increased and made positive since a negative carries though the function and resultingly, positive music is created…

for example, the universal formual for the Blues:

where…L+E=M

L+(-E) = -M

L-E=-M

WHERE -M = BLUES.

Which is actually the same as saying –E=M/-L

But we all know that music which is divided by LIFE becomes very hard to play.

If a musician does not have adequate +L and +E so L+E then she will become Cr because of Dr.

so

(-(L+E)=(Dr/Cr))= GM

This awesome breakthrough means that if the afflicted musicians can become aware of their Dr and Cr then they can switch it to the other side so the whole thing can result in GM.

this means that although Dr and CR can contribute to the creation of M they cant just stay where they are and expect a different result.

Awareness and shifting emotions – being accountable for how we feel – is how we are able to move –E TO –L AND CREATE A POSITIVE OUTCOME.

-E(-L) = M

In order to calculate what kind of music will result from having difficult life experiences which result in negative emotions, we must move LIFE over to EMOTIONS and let them be together so MUSIC can be positive.

By shifting and being aware of rebalancing difficult life experiences by moving them from one side of the equation or the other, for example, (-L) negative life experiences to the resulting (-E) challenging emotions (eg: anger, resentment, fear, etc) you cause a natural POSITIVE connection (good music)  between L+E since the double negatives render each other positive. Right?

I repeat – good music HAS NEVER come from sane people.

So we know that life can cause E which can make us all Cr and cause Dr but if you add M it will naturally  subtract Dr then you get G-D = Happiness.

My left brain is now bleeding.

Peace!

 

 

 

Butterflies For Ranger

ImageI could see my husband cringe when I dashed out of the barn with my old cat drooping in my arms.

“We’re going to the vet”, I breathed without missing a stride heading to the house.

His light little body hung limply in my arms, his nose covered in blood.

He smells like death. I thought to myself.  I know the smell of death and I am not so happy to be reacquainted with it so soon after my mother’s death.  She was a twin, he is a twin – this is too much.

I walk to the back window in the kitchen and stand in a ray of strong sunlight letting it warm us both. It’s quiet now…the panic of my mind slowed to a dull hum of just watching. I look down at him and hear his purr begin – his strong reliable purr. I could feel his breath and slowing and his heart tentative, but the purr was reliable as ever.

A rushing of keys boots, stomping, jackets rustle. The truck with half missing tail pipe begins and my husband shows up behind me;

“Ok let’s go”, He says.

I don’t want to.

I think somewhere my mind is still working it out.

He was fine yesterday. Should I be seeking treatment?

I lift the towel I have him wrapped in and look at the motionless old body. Apparently at nearly 20 Ranger has outlived us at with over 95 people years under his belt.

I climb into the truck and focus on his purr – the same one I have been listening to since I was in my 20’s. I see a flash memory of my son, small and chubby legged. He learned how to walk very young – maybe at 9 months old. It was Ranger the cat that kept him busy and chasing. As he grew, Ranger was his cat, claimed by him, loved and cherished.

He came with us when I divorced my first husband. He was there when I bought my first house, met my second husband, raised my seven kids and then finally, he was my most reliable barn cat – ensuring that no mouse ever got a taste of grain.

We are rushing to the vet, but I tell him to slow down.  I hold the cat and feel his life leaving.

“He’s going to die before we even get there”, I said softly.

Slow down.

John looks at me quizzically. Maybe I see death differently, but gauging by my experience with my mother, which has still not allowed me a full night’s reprieve from nightmares and sadness, this somehow feels gentle and calm and good.

We arrive; he goes in to check with the desk, yes there is room.

We come in and begin doing the registration process. I am ushered into an examination room. The Vet tech with the sunny smile and the bright hopeful eyes indicates to me to put him on the scale.

No”, I say simply and shortly. “He is 20. There will be no poking prodding weighing opening of the mouth or stretching of his limbs.  His body is finished.”  I smile at her hoping she doesn’t think I am cruel.

“Let’s go into another room then”, she says with an understanding smile.

We go down a white hallway to the last door to the left to the room meant for euthanasia.

“It’s just like the palliative care place for people”, I gasp as we walk in.  I wasn’t ready for that. Luckily I don’t think she understands that I am nearly angry about how adorably furnished this “euthanasia room” is.   I feel my heart tighten. I have been here or at least in a place like this much too recently to be in a place like this again this soon. It is small and cozy with two beautiful chairs, a couple of nice credenza’s and a sweet looking little table on which to do the job that room is meant for.  Why do all rooms for comforting people who are about to experience death look like this? Why the nice chairs? I almost feel a sense of anger at the chairs…stupid chairs.

She leaves me alone to consider whether or not I want a vet to poke at him or not. I hold him in my arms, he feels like one of my children when they were just newborn.  I begin to panic – second thoughts. What am I doing?  Shouldn’t we try and hydrate him, put him on special food. Maybe we can save him.

The tech returns covering the table in a comfy green cloth.

He lays in my arms, purring, not moving. Not arguing, not meowing- just happy. My questions melt away and I am filled with sureness about what the most loving action is.

I tell them to get the vet and go ahead.  Some more time passes to just be with him.  I think about all the things I didn’t do, all the time I should have spent with him. All the normal pre-death regrets I am becoming too familiar with.  I feel the shade of calm numb fall over me and we rise to complete the task that lay before us.

We are doing “the next right thing”.

She fails to find a vein in his back leg. He makes a small protesting noise, but not much. He is happy, purring drooling like old cats do.

She finds the vein and says something about going to a place with butterflies.  I could tell she used this line often and with good intention to console the humans letting their animals friends go.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he would be enjoying any poor butterflies that entered his purview as this was his favourite snack food.

There is a stillness that is distinctly a feeling of death. It is like a leaving of life energy. You don’t have to be psychic or believe in anything to feel the difference of when something is alive and when its aliveness has left the body. As his body became still I took a moment to feel the difference between the aliveness and the emptiness that accompanies death and then I took a breath.

A deep alive breath filled with gratitude and deep sadness.  I missed all of my dead loved ones at once. My dogs, cats, horses, parents, grandparents. Mostly I missed my mother because she would be on the receiving end to help him, but selfishly I could have really used her here with me today, and yesterday…and the day before.

I say a prayer in the hopes that everyone I love is somehow together somewhere just waiting for me laughing and happy around a giant picnic table a red and white checkered print table cloth and delicious food in a field with apple trees and delicious green grass.  All our animals since forever in the field grazing, running,  playing –  happy and free…with one funny little grey cat busy eating up all of heaven’s butterflies.

The Quit Journey

got_choiceI have quit smoking again. This is day 2 1/2…I quit at 11:00 Monday morning – February 17.  I’d like to remember that day as the day I finally quit once and for all, so I am making sure to take note of it.

Two and a half (now two and three quarters, but who’s counting?) may not be a big deal to you but lately, I havent been able to go two bours without a cigarette. It’s basically all I think about for the past three years – since my mother’s diagnosis with lung cancer.  Terror is immobilizing.

In my dreams last night, I found myself with cigarettes in my hands all the time.  I kept walking entering each new situation and inadvertently finding myself smoking when I didn’t want to be.  It was incredibly frustrating and I kept throwing them out, only to find a new one growing back between my reluctant fingers.  When I would tell others in my dream

“But I’m trying to quit!”

They would just shrug and say,

“Yeah right…”-  an obvious reflection of the doubt I have in myself.

So – fake it till ya make it…

I for one am not very good self focused care – but recent events are teaching me that I can’t give away what I don’t have and so, I am on a mission to fill my own cup…a strange newish behaviour that has serious benefits.  Mostly,   it just feels good to do something healthy for myself and it is having an immediate positive effect on the world around me. I wasn’t ready to admit how much influence I have on the people I love most in the world.   The house is basically smoke free right now. Although I didn’t ask anyone not to smoke because I knew if I waited for all of the conditions of th world and the people around me to meet my fickle requirements for quitting, I would smoke the rest of my incredibly shortened life. I had to just go ahead and do it.  And here we are…unbelievable.

I guess if you’re lucky like me you hit a bottom before something tragic happens. For me it was the day I was going to the doctor for a check up for yet another winter lung infection, and I forgot my cigarettes at home  which actually caused me to feel relieved.  I decided that moment seemed like a good enough time then to stop and I would talk to the doctor.   I had been considering setting a quit date now for three years…but kept putting the actual “event” of quitting off for very possible reason under the stars.  The irony is that my greatest “stress” which was causing me to smoke, was my mother dying of lung cancer in front of my eyes.  Yet, even until I came to a point of wanting to truly be more kind and loving towards myself, even the worst of all scenarios would not move me away from this stark addiction.

I’d like to tell you it feels “hard” or “easy” – but it’s neither of these on this my third day. It just feels like a process…up and down…intense and reflective even. Once and a while I have a horrendous craving that makes me want to smoke gross dead looking things out our of ashtrays (which I have emptied because I dont trust myself).

I became tired of something other than me (a tiny chemical filled highly toxic stick on fire…really?) governing my body and telling my mind what I wanted.  I have spent my whole life trying to be independent of the direction and opinion of others, and yet here I was allowing a substancenot even a human ! – to direct my choices.  And the choice wasn’t even a choice at the end anymore – it was more like a zombie-like mindless self-imploding action.

1- Extend arm

2- Retrieve cigarette

3- Apply fire

3- Ingest poison…

4- Inhale deeply

Hunh?

I was singing at a bar a couple of weeks ago, and someone that I don’t know very well but who knew my variety of activities made some annoying passing remark as I was going out for a cigarette in -40 degree weather with death defying winds in a cold deserted parking lot.

He said

“Well that doesn’t seem like it suits you very well. It’s bad for your voice and not very zen eh?” He smirked like he knew something I didn’t.

My first thought was

“Who the hell does he think he is?” the voice of my habitual hippie that rejects authority in a regularly knee jerk fashion.

A minute later I was standing outside in the “smoker’s area”  feeling an ice cream headache explode over my entire face. As the wind came barelling at me at 90km an hour, I felt pain tear into my uncovered ears and in an final indignity, my nostrils stuck together in a  very unsexy way when I was throw into a spasm of coughing from lungs shocked and turgid with inhumane cold.  At that very moment, I peered into the big windows of the bar, my sad little orphan nostril stuck face peeting sadly into the warm bar where that same nosey man was sitting quite happily, warm, contented and snug as a bug in a rug as he listened to music and drank his beer. I thought to myself;

“I am an idiot”.

O.K. –  Maybe this is not the most gentle or spiritual thought to begin a journey with, trying to be on a more loving and compassionate journey with myself, but it is what it is. It was a real moment of clarity for me…

In retrospect I think maybe my bad habit have been destroyed by becoming more involved with meditation and yoga I my life.  Over the past few months and since my mother’s death I have become especially interested in Tibettan Buddhism.  Such a gentle culture, entirely focused on increasing the level of compassion on the planet. After reading the Dalai Lama’s Book “My Spiritual Journey”, I became convinced that the only way to being happy as an individual in this life was the adopt some form of practice which required self-discipline – but smoking was an obvious sign that I was lacking both mindfulness and self discipline. And this is where I got stuck – utterly convinced that I would never be able to really meditate or really focus on these principles because they all focus on BREATH…and I smoked.  I also felt like there could never be a day when I wouldn’t smoke – even subconsciously, I couldn’t envision a “me” not smoking.  I admitted defeat. I believe they call this a moment of surrender, but I only can see this clearly in retrospect.

Over time, this defeat didn’t sit well with me.  I began loosing my voice when I sang.  A combination of smoking, and heating in a very cold winter with electric and fire, as well as alot of indoor time because of the incredibly cold weather, my voice was shot and I had very little chance of being able to sing powerfully two nights in a row.  This felt like death approaching for me.

Not to mention that I saw my mother die of cancer in a really terrible and painful way quite recently.  This was a terrifying episode fraught with grief and loss which each cigarette only made worse, chiselling away at my guilt. Although intellectually I KNEW that cancer in her lungs was the ultimate cause of her death (second only to the chemotherapy that was the actual cause), and I also knew that this same cancer had caused me to have this exact experience with my biological grandmother when she died when I was 15 – and yet I was smoking. Each cigarette gave me a vivid flashback to times best forgotten – it was like torture.

I think it’s important for me to write my story – it makes me more solid in my determination. I think if I was still smoking, I would not read an article like this one though- it would make me feel too guilty and really highlight my feelings of powerlessness.  I hope if you smoke you got this far.  It’s worth it just to fill your mind with all the possibilities…and then one day you’ll be ready.

Here’s what I have realized…

    1. Today is “one day”      – You’re ready.
    2. Don’t wait for the      circumstances in your life to change like other smokers to quit or even      life in general to get easier.       That’s just not reasonable and it’s not going to happen. If you      wait for this you will smoke you’re entire life…which will be shorter      because you are smoking.
    3. Focus on loving      yourself.  People who smoke have an      obvious absence of love for themselves. You may want to argue with this,      but you really can’t do that AND be honest at the same time.  Maybe it works backwards.  I began by trying to eat better, and      this seemed to snowball into doing many things more gently and healthfully      for myself.  I don’t know how it      will work for you – only you know that.
    4. Quitting smoking is not hard.      Everyone tells us it’s hard – the media, the tobacco companies (yeah no      kidding), psychologists, teachers, friends, family – Jeez!  If you say something is DIFFICULT enough      well then yes,..it will be DIFFICULT. This is what we call self-fulfilling      prophecy. Quitting smoking has moments of discomfort – of needing to be      present and aware.  Quitting smoking      requires being really gentle with yourself       taking everything literally one breath at a time.  Hard is dying of lung cancer.  That’s hard.
    5. When you have a craving –    tell it to fuck off. I know…not very zen of me again, but it seems to be      working.  I know that discipline is      very important now – maybe that took all of my 47 years, but the kind of      discipline I am talking about is not what they taught in school which      should actually have been called “conformity” more      appropriately.  Discipline is a      practice that brings about self love.       Quitting smoking is a great act of self love.  |sometimes the ACTION has to come      before the change of opinion, but who cares?  As long as the result is more happiness      and peacefulness in life,. Keep your eyes on the prize, and remind      yourself WHO is in charge?  Is your      body in charge of your mind?  Do you      enjoy being told what to do?  Do you      like taking direction – especially when it involves you inhaling 200      deadly chemicals 30 times a day? Hell no.       Who does?   Yes you’re      addicted – but that’s not the end of the world – and IT’S NOT BIGGER THAN      YOU.

Who’s in charge here – me or my body?

    1. Pray. I’m not concerned with      the religious aspects of the way you pray, but be grateful.  Prayer is a conscious moment of the      expression of gratitude.  Let’s face      it,  quitting an addiction like      cigarettes will have many effects on your life.  Staying willing to not smoke is the      challenge.  I get cocky – way too      fast. It’s how I have failed in the past.       I start feeling better and decide to have “just one”,      maybe a puff or sneak a whole cigarette. There is a kind of victorious      feeling in this because for the first little while I feel like I am      smoking without addiction – like I have somehow regained control of this      derailed train. I can “just choose” to have one, or not – like      three times.  Quickly this unravels      and I soon find that I am smoking more than before I quit.  Then I feel terrible about myself, and I      resign myself to a lifetime of smoking and eventual gasping horrific death      by lung cancer.  No wonder I woke up      every day in a bad mood. This is a terrible attitude! 🙂 and snapping me      out of it I believe happened only by an act of grace – in other words,      something bigger than me thinks that me staying alive longer is a good      idea, and the minute I became willing enough to work with this      “something bigger”, things became clearer.   The ticket is in keeping up this      willingness.

7- DO NOT QUIT SMOKING!!

I don’t think quitting ANYTHING works because the minute you quit – you are focusing on the negative aspect. So, instead just have an positive intention to treat yourself with more love and compassion – loving-kindness.  Smoking falls away naturally this way.  You don’t need to fight anything or really put much effort into it.  You only need to have a willingness to have an intention for self-care and love.  Let go of what happens once you make that choice, making each choice in your best interest with your knowledge of self in mind.  Be ready to do some work – letting go doesn’t nmean effortless, it means diligence.

8- TELL YOUR STORY

tell others  and keep the people in your world up to date on your progress.  people want to help and function as a community. I’d say that helping someone to live longer is a great community building incentive.  Keep your “tribe” up to date! Telling your story also reinforces to you what you re doing, the direction you are heading in and can make certain instances that have helped shape your direction more clear and useful.  Moreover, you can end up helping someone else in the process. Telling your story is way more effective than becoming a nagging and annoying “reformed smoker”. You can’t change anyone – but you can certainly inspire them.

My day three diatribe from my wobbly soapbox…let’s see how this goes…:)

Peace

Goodbye 2013 HELLO Year of the Horse!

chinesisches_neujahrsfest_jahr_des_pferds_2014_karte-r0a61ff39ed074ffcb79fb51bba0a85a9_xvuak_8byvr_512“Happiness doesn’t mean that everything is perfect – it means we choose to see beyond the imperfections”.

After what has been a banner year for bad news and catastrophic events both personally and globally, I am feeling a sudden fresh breeze of potentiality rushing around the corner. Today is the day we say goodbye to 2013 and its time for another letting go – a change of tides.  New Years this year for me feels like a fresh start.

Different cultures celebrate the calendar at different times. The Chinese New Year only begins at the end of January, hailing in what will be the Year of the Green Wood Horse.  I am born a fire horse and they say you do best in the year that represents your own birth animal. Since wood helps fire to burn…I am going to ROCK 2014!  This is MY year!  And it’s about bloody time. But I am old enough to know that happiness is not a given – it takes work, commitment, dedication and a plan.  And this is the work I am very willing to do this year – My only resolution is to rediscover JOY. Big happy awesome bountiful JOY. For someone like me – this is can be a tall order full of the necessity of “unlearning” and de-objectifying.

Let’s look at where we live…

North America is the wealthiest continent, most developed, most industrialized modernized and socialized. It also has the highest rate of mental illness.  There is a direct correlation between the wealth of a nation and unhappy people. How is it that the more wealthy we are, the more unhappy we become and yet we still seem to prioritize chasing the almighty dollar in the hopes of finding the elusive happiness chip? We think the next pill, next drug next relationship, next job next paycheck will be our ticket. We medicate away our emotions and have no cultural system in place to teach each other how to deal with the regular changes, ups and downs and emotions of life. We certainly aren’t teaching these important skills to our kids as we seem to be still busy trying reinventing the ancient scholastic “industrial era” three R’s (reading, writing  and ‘rithmetic), we are developing a generation of detached soulless children with an unerring sense of entitlement – but to what?   We are rich materially beyond belief – and we are miserable.  And we are teaching our kids to be just like us while we medicate them as well.

A recent poll by CNN suggests that more than 1/10 people are taking antidepressants in the United States. This means that the rate of depression has increase by nearly 400% since the 1980’s.  And what are we doing about this? Not a thing. We are making money. The multibillion dollar a year pharmaceutical industry knows all about this. There is an unquestionable correlation between the focus we have on material acquisition, gaining security in an insecure ever-changing landscape and how mentally unhappy we are.

prayer11-300x252I was diagnosed with clinical depression many years ago suffering from “post partum” depression with my first child. A doctor began giving me these miraculous little pills that would “even me out” he said. Yup they even’d me out alright. I was SO even, that I didn’t play guitar, sing, paint draw or write for 13 years.  This is a soulful death sentence for someone like me. It is a wonder I never turned to alcohol or drugs addictively. Instead, I became addicted to emotions.  Using drugs or alcohol to manage emotions was actually beyond my reach when I would fall into depression, I could only stand still and be in pain. In time we become habituated to feeling miserable.  It seems like a normal state of being – but this isn’t true.     Over the years when another “symptom” of unhappiness would arise, my doctor would increase or change the medications. Eventually, nothing worked – in fact they began to create the symptoms they were trying to cure.  This went on for nearly 20 years until I was left with only the device of trying to find a way out myself. I am so very lucky to have a supportive and informed tribe and family around me who understands the difference between “a bad day” and depression.  Few people actually take the necessary steps to make changes to the way they make decisions and choices in their lives, so the continuing cycle of hopelessness continues – even on the meds.

One day I wondered if people in Africa got depression how did they handled it without access to these drugs.  A little research showed me that depression is linked directly to the satisfaction and involvement you have in your own life.  Apparently depression is not a concept much discussed in Africa.  A sense of community, family involvement, and an active healthy spiritual life seem to be the balancing factors.  Having lived in Africa when I was young, all I can recall are hardworking smiling people, who did everything with their families and villages.  They worked ate and slept together. Children were part of everything that went on never pushed aside or made to be “seen and not heard”.  Play in Africa is just as important as work, and generally, in all the parts fo the world I have travelled to, people don’t work to gain unnecessary material wealth for “security”. In most countries, people work for only enough to be able to come back to their families and communities and have a life together.  The focus is much different from we have here. We have too much time to thin about our sad sorry selves here, where ni other countries people are geared towards thinking about the welfare of each other first.

In Costa Rica, I was lucky enough to spend time with native Costa Ricans (affectionately called Tico’s) who invited us into their homes.  Aluminum shanty-shack like houses leaning all up against one another like a house of cards.  Inside, there were several mattresses on the floor, neatly organized and all the beds made.  The man of the house offered us a coke from a small fridge that ran off a generator by the side of the house. He explained that he lived there with his wife, children his mother and sisters ad his nephew. They were 11 in the one bedroom shack.

From my journal…

“Children are playing around an old rusty beached boat beside the house with a one of the local friendly street dogs and outside on the fish-cutters table, a woman is preparing a Grouper while expectant tourists wait for a sandwich fresh from the sea. The children play with a coconut, smiling and rolling it to one another laughing while the dog chases the “ball” and they evade him each time giggling and setting up the next move.

I see many things around me but I see no unhappiness here.  Maybe what I see is different from how we live in Canada, perhaps what we would call “poor” –  but these people seem so happy, even with all the uncertainty.

I am envious of the children’s freedom to laugh and play and run unfettered.  A small boy comes to me and reaches for my hand and asks for some change so he can go get a Popsicle from the man selling them on the beach. I watch as he tears off down the lane calling after his friends to join him.  He never considered keeping it all for himself. Amazing.  Apparently 5 dollars American will buy the whole place Popsicles – I so enjoy watching the kids smiling faces.  I feel very rich.”

I have travelled around the world and have seen poverty such as you could not imagine.  But in truth, no one is poorer than us. We are poor of spirit, poor in community, poor in morals, poor in our connection to each other and most importantly we are bereft of this childlike JOY which seems to exist everywhere where money isn’t.

I have learned allot from books, and people, and school – but none of those things have taught me happiness.

Happiness – Joy – is our natural state of being must occur under all circumstances.  The ONLY way to exist in joy is to be present in this moment and when all you can do is survive one day to the next – the present moment is much more alive.  North American focus on materialism means we live in a constant state of fear about the future.  This is not a life. We take ourselves waaaay too seriously.

2014 is the Year of the Horse – the year of Bountiful Joy!

I wish for each of you that one ay at a time, you find that place inside you where life feels magical and everything seems possible. PLAY MORE!! be silly and have fun – “we’re here for a good time…not a long time”!

I wish for you a year of unexpected treasures, hope, happiness and most of all – I wish for you that you experience all of the blessings your life already has for you in this moment.

~Namaste~

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE?

I’m learning about Love right now.  All sorts of love, and the ways I experience it, where and how it motivates me and exists within me.   Consciousness urges me to understand a love that is without attachment, requirement or desire; a love that contains only Truth, like pure sweet clean water.  Is it possible that we all already have this kind of love within us and the purpose of this life is simply to uncover it?

 

In a recent conversation with a good friend, he brought up the idea of “unconditional love” recalling a previous conversation a few weeks before where I had declared to him regretfully and honestly that I didn’t think I was capable of such a thing.  Outside of my own children for whom I felt a deeper bond that what can even be described in words, I didn’t think I could love someone completely – I would always judge something about them, this was the human condition I concluded.

My friend said that he had considered my statement over the past few weeks and had concluded that I was mistaken because I was misinterpreting what “unconditional” meant.  I asked him what he meant.

“Can you love me even when I’m being a jerk?” he asked.

History had proven this to be true. We had been friends a long time.

My mind argued that this wasn’t unconditional because it was only one person in seven billion and unconditional meant I could love without condition of who you are, what you do, where you live, what you look like – separate from any judgment my mind may have of you.

So then I tried to imagine other people in my life, and found that in fact, I did love them even when they were acting in a way or saying things that I judged negatively – or even that caused me direct harm, or pain. Yes, I could still Love them, even though I didn’t like what they did all the time.

So then my question had to extend to people I had not yet met, strangers, and people in other lands – could I love those people, even though I don’t know them?

I look on the internet and see faces of people I don’t know and I look deep in their eyes. There is…something there that I recognize.  Something is there that is known to me, even though we have not met. Yes, I can love them too.

We have many incorrect notions of what love is: Love doesn’t mean I want to move in with you, sleep with you, cook your meals, solve your problems or become your therapist. Love means I realize I know nothing actually, and I am open to learning with you and through you.

I realized after my conversation with my friend that unconditional love exists as our birth-right – it is the center of free will.  Judgment is a natural human activity, designed to help us discern what may or may not be the best option for us at the time. It is freedom in action.  We are free to express love or to withhold its expression. And without sounding too much like a hippie we must conclude that if each person held love as the conscious motivation behind each choice they made, things would be very different.  We can love someone but not necessarily “judge” that it is the healthiest option for our choices to have them in our intimate life.  Since everything changes and passes, what is for today is not necessarily what is for tomorrow, But, we can always recognize that the part inside of us which express love is the same part of another that is receiving the love.

Maybe the greatest challenge we all face is to come to a place where we understand that we have to love our own selves unconditionally before we can transfer that love to someone else.  Running workshops on my farm I have had the chance to speak to many people about this idea of being “centered in self”. Although it seems logical to conclude that we can’t give away to someone what we don’t have for our own selves, our culture has communicated a very different type of conditioning to us.  We have told women that they need to put their children and families first and have created a martyr like attitude3.  This has only resulted in a multitude of generations being raised by secretly resentful women.

Men have the pressure of continued roles as “caretakers”, emotionally detached breadwinners and hunter-gatherers,  their success being measured by material acquisition and property value.  This is such medieval thinking in the modern age! The challenge for men is daunting, requiring that they take the very long journey to understanding their own hearts and emotions and putting aside the requirements of society to ignore the basic inner natures.

Unconditional love exists in all of us I see now.  The challenge is in excavating and finding out the truth about how it lives in you. When I look out of my window and see that I am life living in life, I feel a kind of love which expresses itself as joy in my heart.  This love doesn’t require anything of me, it just is.  Gratitude is the natural result of this focus.

Namaste

The Quiet Inside

12061_10151721634725901_477138869_nThe Farm is quiet this morning.  There are crickets chirping perfectly on time outside making it feel like a musical guided meditation piped in from my backyard which is  teeming with life and weeds after a rainy summer of neglect.   I don’t turn on the radio as I being to write slowly, taking time to drink in the silence like a voraciously thirsty person. The crickets stop singing suddenly as though they had been waiting for me to pick up my pen, and the silence feels like a blanket all around me.

I have been feeling a great need for a different kind of quiet since my mother’s death.  I am looking for a silence that is more pervasive than simply what I can find on the outside.   I want deep silence from the inside – from my heart.

My mind is busy.  I am sorting through my mother’s effects one thing at a time.  I realize how careful she was to tell me the stories about each thing, and I am shocked at how vividly I remember them.

Oh, this is picture frame we bought together on that trip to New York,” thinking to myself, I pick up the frame which now holds an old photograph of the two of us with questionable hair styles from the 80’s.  We smile the same way, I notice for the thousandth time.

This is the basket of pictures we have been promising to go through together for 25 years and never did”, I smile.

“Damn – now I have to do it alone”, I say to her out loud. “You got out of it!” I cry again.

We loved procrastinating stuff like that.  I look back at the basket. The round jar like shape made of natural reeds from West Africa where we lived is typically colourful with a bright red and green African design. It has been overfilled with pictures accumulated over so many years that it has finally settled into a middle age sag sort of look, a protruding rounded belly filled with the stories of mine and mother’s life.  The memory of buying the basket in an African market place when I was 13 with her is as fresh as a paper cut – and suddenly the basket means the whole world to me.  So, I give it to my sister. I can[t be attached to everything – I feel like I’m going to drown in it all.

I see how am attached to too many things. I understand this in my head but I can’t seem to tear myself away from it; a broken chain, a cracked dish, meaningless papers all reluctantly and often tearfully tossed in the garbage. 

I’m pretty sure I’m going to run out of tears sooner or later.

It is very hard to throw anything away.  My inner non-materialistic hippie is a little disgusted that I have to keep reminding myself that stuff is just stuff.

My sister (my mother’s twin)  – (if you don’t understand this, I will explain it another time J) – is handling things with patience and love and humour.  My youngest daughter has been a trooper through this whole process and they are getting to know each other better.  I am enjoying this part.  I can see the “good parts” of what happens when great changes come and I can be present enough to have a moment to be grateful.

We keep it light, and we try to find the spiritual side of things.  Big things in life such as death and big endings make you reach a little higher for what you have inside of you.  I figure it’s a survival mechanism.

This need for silence makes it so that I am more consciously focused on meditation and centering. I realize that a great deal of time when grieving is spent visiting the past in our minds – a very dangerous neighbourhood to visit alone, She often reminded me.  And I realize that whether they are good or bad memories, they have a hold on my heart squeezing it tight with the knowledge that fresh memories can’t happen anymore.  As a result,  I spend little time in the present moment – which is exhausting. The only place we really get any energy from or joy, is from the present moment.  So right now meditation keeps my mind from completely cracking open and bleeding all over the floor.   I think it’s natural to go through this process, but I am pretty aware of the fact that this reality is completely un-centering. I feel like I am living outside of my body.

I have been careful to keep myself even. I try to sleep, eat properly and stay focused on my spiritual center. In a way I meditate all day – it’s not just an event in my day. When I am out of that state, I bring myself back.  Staying there allows me to have brief moments of presence, to remind myself that grief will pass –

“This too shall pass”, I hear her say.  In every moment everything is changing.  Be like water…not stone.

OK well easy to say but I feel a little “rock like” at times, unwilling to let go or even budge an inch.

But, I remember that every time I focus on the moment I am standing in – there is nothing wrong. There is nothing.

“It’s just is what it is.” That’s exactly right.

Namaste.