Longing

December 17, 2009

Longing…

 I listened to a writer describe, as only a word painter can, the ordinary beauty of an Australian rural landscape. I thought of my friend who had a year teaching in Australia and the life altering impact it had on her. At the time, I thought, she was destined to return when she was ready to reclaim that true life thread of her destiny, the one that ultimately would bring her most joy. But how was that unlike my own attachment to Rome? I jest that I lived for 6 months there and never got over it. I have always believed I would return some day and relive that time and the mosaic of emotions and experiences. But today I clearly understood that I can no more relive that time than I could relive any other moment. It was thinking about my friend that opened my eyes from the trance of nostalgia. My friend and I have not remained static any more than those beloved places have. We have grown. Returning to those places is possible but not to the time,  just as we can return to places of our childhood, but not to being children.  To expect that we can, invites grave disappointment.  The longing is what is to be given up. It is ok to swim in the memories that make us happy. But there is a distinct physical sensation to a contented sigh of happy recall that differs dramatically from the ache of longing.  The ache of longing seems to me to be associated with loss and a desire to recapture that loss. Usually, it is about a view of the past as representing positive emotions, including freedom. We, of course, never lose the experiences. They are ours forever. But what we are really mourning is not the loss, but the lack. And upon closer and truer inspection, we find that the memories of the experience we crave are not all positive. The experiences that impact us the most are the ones that we might judge as both positive and negative. In fact they are more positive, and more negative than the scale of our lives previously measured. So what is significant about those times (not necessarily places) is the expansion of our experiences, pushing the boundaries in ourselves to greater highs and deeper lows. What we crave is not the familiar territory of old haunts but the yet unexplored horizons of ourselves. One might revisit with the anticipation of discovering the place anew, open and fresh. But why? There are so many wondrous places yet to discover. I think a definition of a mid life crisis is when we wake up to the overwhelming complacency of our lives. We go to a great deal of trouble and expense ( on many levels) to increase our comfort and convenience but grow less and less content. I’m not advocating adversity but perhaps I am advocating diversity and perhaps a faith in the unknown, the uncomfortable and unfamiliar. I believe our joy comes from meaning we make of our experiences. It is a risk for sure but one that paradoxically has a guaranteed payoff.  The growing pains are worth it.  

Keep the faith.  December blessings, All.

Wake me up When sex doesn’t kill and we can breathe the Air

September 24, 2009

I have a drawer full of pin/buttons. Things like world’s best mom but also Einstein quotes and Margaret mead. I have a wide variety of peace related buttons that have been accumulated over the last thirty five years. The one I lingered on was “Wake me up when sex doesn’t kill and we can breathe the air.” I have mixed feelings about how well that would be received into the world on my jean jacket. It does speak my heart, but only half of it. I also have a no whining sign button. It’s about action. Am I doing my part? Can I be content to just do my part? Be the best recycler I can be perhaps. What is my part? If I measure my part by what I believe is the expected, I ask expected by whom? If I measure my part by the average it seems a pretty poor showing. Even better than average is not there. I don’t feel average. I expect more of me. So what is our part? I believe our part is commensurate with our skills and our abilities. I know a lot about what I could do to do better. I have a voice, a keyboard and a mind that can make a bigger difference than that.
Two of my bills are registered now for paperless billing. That’s good but we can do better.
I am about to stop taking the paper. I lose so much energy to guilt because I let them pile up in hopes of reading them. Somehow my self worth as a community member is linked to whether or not I read my local paper. That’s crazy. I realize the large sections of no interest to me are painful to toss. I will be a better member of my community by going to the sources that have the event info I want. I will get more community news important to me in Isabella’s Chocolate café than in my kitchen.
I will be requesting no flyers from my postal worker. I made that irrevocable decision when he personally handed me a bunch in the driveway and I scanned and deposited them directly into the blue box. That’s the waste of energy in printing the flyer including producing the ink and delivering the ink. Producing the paper which at best includes processing recycled paper but perhaps, including the environmental impact of the logging industry. Finally the careless death of that living organism must count somewhere. That does not even consider the lives and time spent doing labour and tasks without meaning if every individual’s effort along the way ended in my tossing it. Online flyers and printing coupons on demand make sense. We all pay for the heavy burdened budget of advertising on our grocery bill etc. A bitter irony that the producers of the actual product, food, are struggling so with low market prices. We know the corporations will not reduce check out tallies even if the high cost of paper advertising is reduced to them. I would be more content with that if I knew the farmers were paid more with that budget share. That’s our food security. Just for clarification: sometimes food security is confused with food safety. Its not “is the food safe to eat”. It’s “is there food to eat”.
So what if I could reduce the waste on the whole street? What would it take to get the majority to refuse flyers? Can I make small signs to simplify things for them? Who can I encourage to epost? My first thought was to send a flyer. Ah yes the irony. That’s the power of “thinking inside the box”.
But I think the power is in the conversations. I’m starting with the smallest circle of influence outside my self. I can do that one on one.
With your permission, may I ask, how many people pay their bills online? How many people have their bills delivered online? E post will store 7 years for you if revenue Canada should ever ask for them.
How many of you have asked for no flyers. How many would be satisfied to pick it up inside the door and leave it behind for the next shopper?
How many of you are willing to examine not just recycling but reducing consumer driven waste in your home.
I feel like I am acquiring karmic debt for not making a stand on these things. Others must make their own free choices. My hope is to demonstrate that there are choices.

The Way of the Dodo:

April 29, 2009

Art is only valued to the degree that it is useful.

I used to have that on my fridge to remind me to keep my righteous indignation fresh. It was a statement that seemed to me full of bitterness and despair. There’s nothing like despair and bitterness to fuel the fire of inspired rant. However, I have found if idealism can be tamed, it may be reduced from the conflagration of youth to a comfortable warming hearth central to house and home. And it won’t burn your house down.

Today I picked up a hair pic. It was a pretty thing with squiggles and circles. I couldn’t help but wonder what they meant. My answer came immediately. It meant nothing. It was not a handmade creation. It was not imbued with symbols weighted in significance. There was no Dharma in this item. There was no art.

But at one time it might have been. Had I purchased it differently. Had I made it.

Ultimately the economy is driven by the power the consumer has to choose. It is a powerful place. It shapes our landscape, our societies and our lives.

Wildlife is like art

There are some who would have chosen animals for the ark which were economically useful commercially, like the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals or fashion/beauty trends. If we can’t wear it, eat it, harvest its bits or otherwise exploit it, it has no value. Its value is relegated to the niche that art holds.

If the local neighbourhood association had taken a vote to allow skunks on the ark, they likely would have been left ashore in the new age of shrinking biodiversity.

So, wildlife is something that we visit, the way that we visit an art gallery. But when funding runs out, (I just need to focus for a minute) for the gallery, the gallery closes and the art forgotten or neglected.

Consider your local artists, manufacturers, farmers and merchants like bio diversity, only Commercial diversity. Let’s face it. If you can get drugs, clothes, food, entertainment, furniture, plants, photofinishing, and live animals at Wal-Mart (did I miss anything?) then would we need anybody else on the ark of retail shopping. Don’t kid yourself, the Wal-Mart dynasty is a corporation motivated exclusively by profit. And if it doesn’t have to compete for your dollar anymore, it won’t. A drive through my city ( a GM town) is like a perusal of the endangered species list. The list of extinctions is pretty hefty, too, shells of formerly hopeful businesses. Our local artists, merchants, farmers, manufacturers, and other small biz owners could go the way of the dodo. We do have the power. How will we use it? In my mind I hold an image from childhood of a photograph of the proud man who shot the last passenger pigeon. If we don’t take responsibility for the power we have, we might as well be shooting ourselves in the foot.

The Blank Canvas

April 19, 2009

I was speaking to a friend who was feeling lost, on a quest seeking self. After I thought about it I realized I believe that your true self is like blank canvas, every life ready to paint on. If you are prepared to recognize yourself this way you take ownership of the canvas as well as the responsibility to paint it. You may also see that in the meantime while you have been growing up and claiming your life/canvas as fully your own (and not that of parents/teachers etc), others have been painting on your canvas. At this point, many people stay stuck in all the wrong of someone else presuming to paint on our canvas. But truthfully, it is only more ticks of the clock passing in which the painter isn’t painting their life. You can, if you like what has been begun, take it from there or you can paint over what has been begun. Some parents are artists and do a beautiful job and others aren’t and still must muddle through.

Another way to look at it is, parents begin with their own money, and bits from grandparents etc to bank money for you until you can legally have your own account. Some who are fearful and without knowledge (hence the fear) will play it as safe as possible with a low interest savings account. Others might invest in bonds as a sensible thing. Others may invest it in other low risk ventures. Then you turn 18 and can make your own decisions. Earn and save your own money. Now, depending on your own knowledge, comfort level, and even values you may agree or disagree with their course of action. You may find that they honestly mistrusted banks and put all your birthday bucks in a mattress then smoked in bed and burned it all up the eve of your 18th birthday. Whether they or you like it or not, they were responsible and like it or not you get what you get. Maybe they were savvy investors and made you a wealthy young woman but you discover all the money was made in dealing illegal weapons to evil despots. Then you have a different drama/story to deal with.

The point is there’s always a story. Although we are blank canvas, one with the universal soup, when we manifest, experience begins painting our canvas. Some believe we agree to the general framework of experiences for the lessons they provide in the handling of them. Regardless, at some point we become cognizant enough to paint with purposeful brushstrokes of our own design. Some start early. Some start late. For some it takes crisis. Some never get it and they continue to the last breath allowing everybody walking by to apply paint. They are lifelong victims. Truthfully, everyone will try to paint on your canvas, even with the most mindful of us. But the mindful will block some, will wipe some off while it’s still wet. Some will paint over when it seems a direction to the painting has emerged unwelcome or wanted. Some will find at the end of long life they are happy with their painting and some will wish they had made changes. But they too applied paint in the best way they could with the skill they had. Sometimes I think of people who purchase the services of a Life Coach as taking art lessons to improve the chances of actually putting on canvas what they intend in their heads.

Here’s the readers digest version.

People fear what they don’t know. One thing you can know is that you will never know all there is to know. Life is a balance of knowing how much is enough to act. Waiting for more info creates inaction. Action without info is hastiness. Ultimately a measure of maturity is being responsible to this balance and it is a personal balance.

Some people paint each square inch in complete detail so the painting emerges like a jigsaw puzzle. I paint in nebulous layers until the details emerge like they are coming into focus. Neither is right or wrong. They are just ways of dancing the path.

Opportunities are Like Raspberries

March 16, 2009

berry2Opportunities are like Raspberries

raspberry I have in my hand a raspberry. It is the most beautiful shade of raspberry red, perfectly plump, flawless flesh. Paperback romance lips never looked so promising. It’s the kind of raspberry that just looking at it you know its exactly ripe and your mouth begins to water just thinking about eating it. Then you pick it up and it gives just slightly to the touch confirming its perfection to you.  You place it confidently, expectantly on your tongue and as you close your mouth around its sweet sun-warmed skin you can’t resist. You press it until the full flavour swells and pours juice into every corner of your mouth, waking every taste-bud. It is without disappointment. Mmmmmm you savour the moment of sublime gratitude for such simple pleasures.

So much for the berry part. Hands up if you know what a rasp is. Its a tool that means business. It ‘s like a cheese grater for wood only toothier. Imagine that as thin as a pencil, as tall as me and 10 times as prickly. That’s what raspberries grow on.   Rasp-berry.

Opportunities are like raspberries in that sometimes it can be uncomfortable getting to the fruit.  You have to put up with the prickly bits for the sweet success. Often the plumpest sweetest juiciest fruit is hardest to reach making you really stretch yourself. You have to risk those rasps which can be downright painful. Perseverance and pluck is called for in abundance.

Another thing I notice about raspberry picking is that perspective matters. I can pick an area clean, high and low, reaching deep confident I have exhausted all possibilities of hidden fruit. Then when I move on even 1 step, I can see from my new position berries that I missed.  I simply was unable to see everything from the position I held.

Raspberries, like opportunities are time sensitive. Picked too early they are hard and sour. Left too late they spoil and rot. Being in the right place at the right time means a lot. Of course, chance need have little to do with it. You can patiently observe the ripening and be there when the magic moment arrives.

Finally just like raspberries the world is generous and abundant with opportunities. And something else I noticed, the more I picked the more raspberries there were to pick. It was as if Mother Nature herself was prepared to give me fruit as long as I was prepared to labour for it. I was amazed that my plants bore 3xs longer than I had ever believed was possible . There’s a bonus lesson in there about raising my expectations. I want to be clear though. Opportunities are not to be confused with goals. Just as the raspberry is not the goal.  The goal is eating the raspberry.  Those succulent lips are only the opportunity of  a  kiss,  not the kiss.

Opportunities are indeed like raspberries, freely available to those who will persevere through the thick of it even when the reach is a painful one, to one who understands that a different perspective can change everything, and that patience and good timing can be cultivated as well as any great raspberry patch can.  Life may not always be a bowl of…raspberries but it is always full of opportunities ripe for the picking.

Happy picking.

Lianne

Bliss

January 7, 2009

detail  The Ecstasy of St Teresa---BerniniI cannot remember the last time I felt Bliss. It had not even in the last two decades occurred to me to attempt it. I do recall a time when I was a member of a small circle of friends who hunted joy. When I consider the activities at the time it was very Castenadian. I have for days, without much exception, done as I pleased. I have done what I felt like doing. I have embraced amongst the chaos that once would have terrified me, the concept of holiday. There has been nothing so pressing that I must do it. Tomorrow I will begin the chosen duties that will bring the results of action, what ever they may be. But today I move about or am still, as I will.  Perhaps it is better to say without will, for I feel neither leading nor lead.  On the advice of a friend, the only intent I hold is to be happy. I light incense for no one but me if I feel like it, or if it occurs to me. The business of occurring in the mind is an interesting one. I recall in kinesiology class, frustrating the instructor for wanting to know where the thought impulse originates. Finally, she threw up her arms in complete exasperation and directed me to the philosophy dept. I still want to know but at the moment, I am content to allow the universe to reveal itself to me. Deepak Chopra speaks of this. He describes Bliss as a stillness of mind in which the universe cannot help but roll at your feet. That is a beautiful image. I see it in my dog when she rolls at my feet. Pure delight. Pure presence. Pure joy. Today I felt peace, but much more. I felt bliss. Every action raised my energy. Every thought raised my joy. I was filled with gratitude for my life and all it contains. There is a physical sensation that accompanies this feeling and it is the swelling of my chest from the inside out. This is the expression of ecstasy on the face of St Teresa. It is the feeling of a feather lifted on the wind. It is the swirl of autumn leaves in a vortex lifted to the sky.  This is my bliss.

Green Goddess’s Tips for Tough Times

December 30, 2008

 

top 10 reasons why being online saves you money

(and saves the planet)

 

 

# 10    You can stay home. You don’t have to leave the house every day.  You pay for internet service 24 7 already on high speed. It costs less than gas. In fact it costs me about the same to use internet in a month as what I pay to fill up once a week. So to get real value you really should be online as much as possible.  By only filling up once a month, savings

 $150.

 

# 9      When you work from home on your computer you save on the regular accumulated costs of a Timmies or worse, Starbucks. A conservative estimate of $3/day/5days amounts to the same amount I pay for a cell phone.

$60.

 

# 8        Staying home more eliminates the need to pay for that cell phone.

$60.

 

# 7       Why get dressed when you work from home? Computer work is not exactly aerobic exercise. If you can put the same casual loungewear on every day you save enormously on the cost of laundry, soap, dryer sheets, water and electricity.

$10 Estimated savings.

 

# 6       Who cares if you are having a bad hair day. When you wash your hair less, it will recover from the regular damage done by over shampooing to strip the variety of products back out of it. You can cut your shampoo, conditioner and other hair products costs by 75% by letting it go.

$40 Savings

 

# 5       No one will know if you don’t shave every day. Men haven’t you always wondered about growing a beard? Ladies, count the additional savings of reducing your hormone replacement therapy. Savings $20 in shaving crème and blades. Cost of the opportunity to get in touch with the wild man/woman inside: priceless.

$20

 

# 4      Do you really need to shower every day?

$10

 

# 3      Being online also saves on your long distance bill. Any of your friends with a computer can talk to you live online and if you have a webcam, it’s even better than the phone. (not recommended for those following the advice in #5, #6 and possibly #4)

$10

 

# 2      Don’t worry about your social life suffering. Your new online friends will never know how much you weigh or how out of shape you are by being on the computer all day. You can stop going to the gym. And don’t worry about your new online love discovering your true image. 1)They are lying too. 2)They already know. 3)They’re never going to leave their homes either to meet you live.

$99. Savings

 

The Number One Reason why being online saves you money..   

Cyber dating is cheap. Expensive dates are eliminated. It is understood that the select Bordeaux you are sipping is really soggy cereal because you didn’t pry yourself away from the keyboard to cook. Savings on overpriced pantyhose, wine, dinner, movie, contraceptive etc $200. And refills are free.

 $200

 

 Total savings per month  $659.00, 

 

$7908.00/year just by working online!


 

My Destiny is Forgiveness

December 28, 2008

 

              I have been examining my destiny. When one is unsure of what that looks like, even with the full understanding that we are all the creators of our destinies, stillness helps. I swing between the push pull of busy-ness as a way of producing a sense of progress but it is clear to me that is not going to provide me all I seek. On my door hangs a sign. “Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself”. If I buy that, and intellectually I do, than it would seem all possibility is available. I may begin again. This is, of course, available to us all day, any day, to begin anew. But let’s face it, it is usually an ending of some poignancy that marks the need for a beginning. In my case, the end of a marriage. It is also the end of a way of being. To say I want to reinvent myself insults the parts of my being that still remain valuable. But the intent, I think is to revisit the parts weedy and weathered with neglect that were once fulfilling. The question is, is it possible to reclaim territory left abandoned? Possible, yes, in the realm of all possibility. But something stands in the way. Forgiveness is needed. We need to ask forgiveness of ourselves for casting aside such precious gifts, gracelessly. It is only when forgiveness is granted to ourselves can we pick up and embrace our selves. In fact, it feels less like territory and more like something with a human face, perhaps many. The land does forgive in time. People may not. The faces of the abandoned hopeful are haunting and each ghost must be allowed it’s say. Each death honoured. Each soul be allowed to pass peacefully. As I write I envision it like the embrace of former selves who  are collapsed possibilities. I see them as they are embraced folding into me and reintegrating.

So there is worthiness in visiting the past. But only by assessing the present can we know what’s missing, what we long for. It is in the stillness. Although there is the push pull of busy-ness calling, it cannot bring forth all I need. It requires the balance provided by quiet being. I wondered if it was drifting but it is not. All else is drifting by on the turning world but I remain still, watching the world mirror me back, listening to hear my voice.  It is from here I dream my future self, a sparkling mosaic.

 

Marriage as a reno project

December 16, 2008

If a marriage was thought of as a room where you live, and it had a broken window, you’d fix it. If it had fallen into disrepair, and brought you down, you might roll up your sleeves, invest some time, energy, care, and creativity and redecorate. Perhaps it might even need some structural support. However, often in a disposable, consumer society, it is easier to simply move to another room. Or another house. There was a time when that wasn’t so easy. When we had invested years in the growth of perhaps a fruit grove, built the small cottage with our hands and hearts and had roots of our own to the land, a responsibility to be good steward to it for our children. But that is not our lives now.

Suckered by consumerism in a green hat

December 15, 2008

The Editor of my local newspaper wrote in frustration of how scammed he felt by the new energy efficient bulb conversion. They cost more, but save money on the electric bill and will last 5-7 years. His are burning out in a year and he’s mad. I feel his pain. First I have spent an unprecedented amount of money on new LED Christmas lights, each string costing sometimes 2-3 times the amount I could find mini lights on sale. Let’s ignore the disappointment I felt at the quality of light, pretty like a jewel that is visible in the dark, but casting no practical light to see by. I also ignored the fact the first white lights were to my artist’s eye unmistakably blue. After my $200.00 conversion the company came out with new “whites”. The bitter pill I can’t swallow is the “Long lasting” selling point. In the 4 years I have been using them I have replaced 80% of them. I look longingly at my old mini-lights but the green goddess inside me disapproves.  “Shame” she says. “But I can’t afford Christmas spirit, Festival of lights participation AND green consciousness,” I whine. Energy consumption, peak oil, and human habit are regular topics with a friend. He believed a carbon tax was the only way to cattle prod people into doing the right thing because they would act from their wallets as they always do. I am more an idealist. I gave up central air 3 years ago, turn out lights and installed new windows but I too am feeling scammed.  The hidden energy cost to keep replacing energy efficient bulbs is considerable. I still have the mini lights from my parents’ tree 45 years ago and they work. I wonder what net impact they would have had if my consumerism hadn’t demanded newer, better and more. Perhaps I’ll light lanterns and candles this year if we have enough local bees left to make them.  I make jewellery from the burned out bulbs. Want to buy a nice pair of earrings?

Lianne Snow


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