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I have just been absolutely flattened energy wise the last couple of days, but today feels worse than yesterday. I finally rolled out of bed and after more cups of coffee than I’d like to admit, I decided that baking some cookies would be a fabulous idea. Since we’ve been having a whole lot of chocolate lately, I decided to make something different.

Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cranberry Drops
(yields approx. 30 cookies)

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup milk, less 2 tbsp
2T spiced rum
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Cream butter, sugars until fluffy.
Add egg, blend well.
Add milk and rum, with mixer on slow speed. Once incorporated beat on medium until light. Rum is optional and if preferred you may omit and simply increase milk.
Mix together flour, salt and soda in a bowl and add the combined dry ingredients a little at a time to the wet mixture until well blended, occasionally scraping the side of the bowl.
Stir in the coconut and cranberries.
Chill in refrigerator for an hour.
Preheat oven to 400F.
Using either a parchment lined cookie sheet or a Silpat mat insert, scoop tablespoon sized balls onto sheet approximately 2″ apart. I have a cookie scoop that I like to use as it keeps the balls uniform in size.
Press down on the dough to flatten slightly.

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until pressing into the top of cookie barely leaves an imprint and the dough no longer appears moist.
Cool on tray for a few minutes and move to rack for further cooling.

Enjoy!

My most recent eviction from corporate America came as somewhat of a relief, though one must ostensibly make a living somehow, and it is really all I have done for decades.

After a while, though, the stress of the daily grind ends up outweighing the benefit of the pay cheque, at least in theory.

Recently I saw a post on a friend’s Facebook page about her spouse going “wow” repeatedly as the statistics of the earnings versus the cost of living in the 70′s compared to those of today (and it doesn’t look good in comparison, folks, hence all the wowing).

I have had some favourable experiences in my working life, but some of my most alarming experiences have also occurred while holding down a pencil-pushing “desk” job in corporate America.

For instance….

Most people (at least normal ones) don’t really spend a whole lot of time scrutinizing other people’s toes. I mean feet are feet and they serve the purpose of carrying us around from one place to the other.

One place I worked at in Silicon Valley had a patent litigation paralegal on staff, a recent addition for a big case one of the partners was preparing to go to trial on. I was an overworked patent secretary, and a new addition to a smallish firm in an even smaller satellite office.

I had recently given birth to my son and as opposed to the current Canadian family leave allowances, we were only allotted a total of twelve weeks paid leave from the start of the leave rather than the birth of the child. I started mine two weeks before my son was born and so on the back end only had two and a half months with him before having to return to full time work. Had I not had a c-section delivery, it would have been even less, but given the recovery time of the abdominal incision, I felt quite unready to return to work and leave my newborn behind.

I’d started working at this place when my son was about five months old, and so I was still nursing at the time. I would spend my morning breaks and a part of my lunch hour pumping breast milk in the office building’s communal bathroom stalls on the floor I worked on. My elaborate set up to get the job done was carted around in a big plastic bag containing a portable insulated travel pack with a couple of cold packs to store and keep the milk cool after extraction, two portable handheld pumps with removable bottles, a very long and bright orange extension cord that I’d plug in to the power outlet near the sinks and snake into one of the bathroom stalls where I would plug in a power strip so I could hook up the two pumps and go about my business. Initially I had tried to use the battery operated pumps but the suction wasn’t powerful enough and the battery power wasn’t sustained enough to allow for the two daily sessions, hence this crazy but effective set up.

I did this for a half a year until my son was a few weeks sort of his first birthday. Between the sleep deprivation, the crazy pace and high demand at work, the ridiculously long commuting hours, and trying to keep a household smoothly rolling along, I’m surprised I survived that first year (or maybe the first three).

Most people eventually got used to the sound of the pumps going, and the big orange industrial extension cord plugged into the outlet signalled that I was in a stall hard at work being a human lactation device (which is how I felt oftentimes, but I don’t for a moment regret going through all of the extra effort to make sure my son had breast milk during the first year even in my absence).

In light of this, the last thing I was worried about were my feet, which I had only recently sort of been able to see again postpartum. I and my belly had grown to the size of a house during the last trimester of my pregnancy, and it took quite a long time before I could see my toes again even after I had delivered its occupant.

I dressed professionally enough (which for “big” people was difficult in and of itself without resorting to caftans and shapeless polyester outfits of the stretchy variety), though the Valley had always leaned toward more casual attire than anywhere else I had worked prior to or since, so I didn’t fuss much about wearing a tailored suit or pantyhose to the office. I routinely cut my toe nails and occasionally painted them with nail polish, but I had neither the time nor the resources to either do my own or outsource my pedicures. I was more concerned about matching my shoes to my outfits than worrying about what my toes looked like in my sandals. By all accounts (at least in my opinion) they weren’t at all hideous in appearance.

So this new addition to our team began making snide remarks about my toes and feet in general. The woman had issues, certs. Hers were never exposed to prying eyes and were always shrouded in dark hose even when she wore open toed sandals at the height of a summer heat wave. I’m pretty sure she also hadn’t yet (and perhaps never would) have the pleasure of welcoming an infant child into her life. It changes how you function on such a fundamental level – all that had once been important (namely you) no longer becomes relevant. You are merely a provider to this wholly dependent gorgeous little being that you helped manufacture.

In any case, the toe scrutiny and hating continued. I began to feel so insecure and ashamed of my toes that I decided to go get a professional pedicure. That still didn’t appease and I simply decided to ignore her and her mania, though my reputation as the one with inappropriate foot etiquette in this small office was clearly becoming established fact. I was the foot exhibitionist.

Some people just need to get their priorities straight.

At this same place the attorney I was working for (who was a weirdly neurotic genius type who couldn’t communicate orally but who loved the Simpsons and collected Peanuts Whitman’s chocolate toys) and I were tenuously learning how to work together. He revised his work product often, and the workload was both relentless and copious. We mostly worked on patent applications of the electrical and mechanical variety, but he did have a few that involved medical apparatuses. In any case I had my three month preliminary review, at which time I was deemed fabulous and wonderful and went from a conditional employee status to actual employee. This was a small victory, yet it emboldened me to feel a little more comfortable in taking my place there.

Of course there were office politics. There was a small handful of secretaries working at our office (four) and while I was doubled up with the lawyer and a summer student who would eventually become an associate, the two older guard each worked for partners and were in a one on one situation. The other secretary, who was the only friendly face in this very small crowd, had a two on one set up as well. One of the partnership secretaries viewed herself as an interim office manager and thus also had the expectation that I would do her overflow work. While I was hustling to keep up with the immense onslaught of daily correspondence and the generation of reporting letters for same (with a three day turnaround window from arrival time), as well as a massive and active patent prosecution docket, she would leisurely read through the daily newspaper each morning, have time to work on her personal side-job (and totally nonwork-related) newsletters, spend inordinate amounts of time chatting with everyone in the office or on the phone and yet offload a lot of her shit work that she didn’t want to do onto my desk.

I was doomed.

At review time, which occurred at my nine month mark and six months after my initially glowing one, the lawyer arrived to the meeting with a ream’s worth of paper – he had saved every single sheet of paper upon which I had made a typo in a folder (not accounting for the fact that he had subsequently revised most of the rest of the material on the draft pages anyway, and would have rendered my minute typos inconsequential). My workload and turn-around timeframe was ridiculously high in the former case and ridiculously short in the latter one. There was no way that I could work at the speed at which I was required to work and still have time to slow down enough to be completely error free. That was the issue for most of my patent work life. At least until the economy tanked and the paced slowed down enough so as to allow for more “attention to detail”.

Patent work dried up in the coming years, and with my move back to Canada, where the dynamic of the patent process is different from that of the US and the number of businesses engaged in producing sizeable patent portfolios is minimal, I have unfortunately not been able to use my hard earned though very niche skill set, which is now dwindling to obscurity due to lack of use or knowledge of current law and procedure.

More recently I worked at another office in which I had used some transferable skills, which I had highlighted in order to be hired. Having never worked in the industry before, nor performed the function for which I had been hired, the “transferable skills” were a large selling point. It not being rocket science – the task should not have been all that difficult to accomplish, but creating appropriate correspondence in an unfamiliar industry area requires some specific instruction and guidance despite my having mad word smithing skills.

My manager would come to me with requests for correspondence and ask that I not use the previously used correspondence as an example but create something different based on her very vague “something like this” criteria. I was a forms letter girl and I could do business correspondence until the cows came home, but this, it appeared, was a different animal, one whose arcane language I had yet to but would have to somehow acquire by mind transference.

The level of mutual frustration that my manager and I experienced as a result of this inability to communicate needs and delivery of goods had already taxed our somewhat tenuous professional relationship. Much of it had to do with our differing statures in life, as well as differing personalities. I was quiet, and spent a lot of time in my head mulling over myriad things. She was the opposite and while quite brilliant and educated, she also carried the attitude of innate entitlement. It must have been the rock I had lived under my whole life, but when I admired and complimented her shoes, she expressed shock at my not knowing who John Fluevog was.

Maybe that was a reflection of the self-confidence that she clearly possessed and which was lacking in myself, but while I tried to figure how to get comfortable in communicating with her, I don’t think that I was ever extended the same courtesy. My counterpart, though nice enough toward me, had been there for over a decade and a half and was not impressed that I had come onboard with an almost equivalent position and yet had to be trained and shown the ropes. This was never specifically expressed but rather implied by attitude, body language and the content of our conversations. We both reported to the same manager, and they had over that lengthy time established a relatively open way of communicating, though even she felt put out from time to time about certain demands or the lack of proper direction. So I was feeling really out of place but trying really hard to find SOME way in which to shine.

A little while into this enterprise I had a car accident – I was okay but my car not so much, and so effectively became carless for a little over a month during a critical time of the year, one in which the most significant annual social event that the organization undertook would take place – right when I didn’t have access to a vehicle and I would have to rely solely on public transit to get me from home to work and back and though I didn’t live extremely far away, I was definitely in the suburbs.

During rush hour this was a relatively smooth proposition, but after hours it became a lot more difficult as well as lengthy to do this commute loop. On the evening that the big event took place, I had already worked a full day and was also expected to go help out offsite. I was there until about 8:30 pm by which time the event was well underway and any stragglers arriving late to the party had been admitted (by me, because I had continued to man the reception desk long after all of the other staff had gone into the auditorium).

Instead of staying for the event, which ended quite late, I opted to leave so that I could get home at a semi-reasonable time. My son was still a young teenager at the time and though I could have left him alone for one night, I felt by far more comfortable knowing he was attended to and up and out the door to school the next morning. Issues with school attendance and participation in general were already in play at this point, so I felt like I had to be there. At this time we were in the throes of adolescent rebellion and parental angst – this was pretty much at the peak of it.

It took me about two hours to get home from the event, all said and done, but I got home just in time to have a semi-decent night’s rest and get up and head in the next day somewhat refreshed. I might also add that nowhere was I told that attendance to the whole event was mandatory or summarily expected. Maybe I was too obtuse to fully appreciate the nuanced suggestions to attend. Also, since I was a salaried worker, any time I worked in excess of my work day was basically unpaid time, so I felt that I had done my part in helping out at the event. Prior to the event I had spent many months and a whole lot of prep time in getting together the string of related correspondence that was intended for release prior to and post event.

The following day I arrived to the office and every single person in the office who assisted in pulling the event together had a lovely cellophaned bouquet of flowers waiting at their workstation – except for me. The worst part was not the fact that I had not received any flowers, but that those who had received them and noticed that I had not were keenly aware of the discrepancy, yet apart from the pitying looks I received from them, not a single person spoke to me about it.

I was never given an explanation for why I had failed to meet the unwritten expectation, nor was I willing to humiliate myself further by inquiring about why I had been singled out. I felt that I had done my part – had gone above and beyond normal job functions in order to contribute to the overall success of the event, despite the fact that it apparently wasn’t sufficient enough to merit a gesture of thanks that the bouquet implied and which was extended to every single staff person but myself.

It wasn’t the first time that I had felt mortified at my place of work but it was certainly the most recent time. I felt that it was the most irresponsible, juvenile and undeserved act of retaliation I had ever been subjected to. Coming from someone in an executive managerial position, I truly believe even now that this could have (and should have) been handled in a much more tactful and classy way.

Human dynamics are always an interesting proposition. We often behave in ways that are within the spectrum of our comfort zones depending upon the situations we encounter as we go along. If I feel empowered and comfortable, I will perform much better and more confidently than if I am under constant derisive scrutiny. The self-professing result of inadequacy propagates itself in the absence of respect, kindness and empowerment.

The coined term “engagement” is something that can only happen when employees feel they are supported to be their best selves and that a neutral yet productive dialog can be had within the context of our working relationships.

So I tire of this less than satisfying interaction. I realize it is very much in part due to human nature and the breadth of our capacity to communicate with each other. These things continue to occur in places where one would hope the level of maturity would surpass this lower level of communication but I have found this not to be the case, at least not in my experience. And I’ve had plenty. From the start of my career working as an office support person thirty years ago, I have held (including temporary positions) a total of twenty one jobs.

While I don’t, generally speaking, dislike the work that I do – in fact excel in many areas of the function I’ve been serving over the years and play well with others, particularly peers – I suffer condescension poorly, as well as many of the other similarly poor human dynamics that often times present themselves in an environment which can only be identified with familiarity breeding contempt.

I do also realize that a lot of this has to do with temperament. I believe that the performance framework of the post-industrial world has lost sight of what made work good (which in turn resulted in good work). It is now quantified by a performance/production:reward dynamic rather than one which engenders work excellence and pride in same. Those last things are the things that make getting up each morning worthwhile, which in turn increases the level of engagement in our work.

The “fake it ’til you make it” adage is thrown around a lot, and clearly it seems to work for many people. I’ve seen it in action, many times. In fact the outward show of confidence in one’s own skills, knowledge and performance often influences others’ perception of actual work quality and outweighs whatever shortcomings the actual work product might possess. This has been well-documented, and I’m sure you’ve all seen and read plenty on the subject. The thing is, it takes a certain kind of personality to pull that off, and I don’t have it.

I am tentative at first. While I’m in an uncertain, learning, phase, I proceed with caution and question everything I do, and ask for reinforcement on how I am progressing as I go along. This by no means is a matter of being reliant on praise, but rather looking for a small indication that allows me to make course adjustments in order to perfect my processes. If this occurs seamlessly, in that the critiquing takes place in a clear and matter of fact way which explicitly instructs rather than criticizes, I will learn and integrate the information and move on to the next level of expertise.

Eventually I become so well tuned to working with another person that my production level is almost inhuman. For that to occur, though, the learning process has to have happened in an organic and nonthreatening way, one which assumes a level of mutual respect and the understanding that it is a work in progress and there is a learning curve, and as a human I am prone to make mistakes.

I know I’m smart. I can, at times, be brilliant; often, if given the chance. In fact, because I have such a high expectation of myself and I will continue to finesse and adjust my performance until it is as close to perfection as I am capable of, chances are the end product of my performance will eventually outshine that of someone’s who fakes it ’til she makes it because oftentimes they start to believe their own crock and their work suffers for it because they stop reaching for excellence.

But this post really isn’t about excellence relative to work performance but rather excellence in quality of life.

I think we create far too much unnecessary drama in our day-to-day lives. Our need to interrelate events – to quantify them, to put them into context, to see how they fit into the compartments we’ve spent our lives categorizing – keeps us from really seeing things as they are rather than as we think they are, and this leads to miscommunication as well as poor human dynamics, and thus, also, poor work performance in the workplace. This also leads to a poor quality of life and a ridiculously high level of stress where there should be none. None!

I thrive on interaction and cooperative work product but I also require a level of independence that allows me to figure things out on my own, allowing me to adapt the process to my own strengths. How I get to the end product should be in my control, not micromanaged, although providing a loose outline of how to get from point a to point b is welcome as a starting point, and expected prior to my commencement of the work rather than after the fact as a point of criticism in my reasoning capabilities.

These seem like silly things to concern myself with, though, don’t they? A century or so ago people were just happy to get to middle age and that they had enough food to feed their families with and a roof over their heads. There was no existential yearning because people were too busy surviving. This is still the case in many less fortunate parts of the world. My dad had a saying that equated to “be glad you have a hole in your butt.” That pretty much sums it up. Yet in this semblance of good fortune, we still yearn for relevance and meaningful contribution.

So I will close this post by saying that I am still uncertain on how to proceed with going from being unemployed to earning a living again, at least in relation to my three decade long career as an office professional. It’s akin to choosing a new partner for a relationship, and dammit if I’m not gun-shy.

Awwww… I know – bummer. No picture to tempt you to click on the link. I hope you’ll follow it anyway.

I have begun the onerous undertaking of revising all of the categories that I’ve used on my blog and consolidating them into less random groups. Now down to 14 pages (there were initially 18), and 270 categories (seriously?! who needs that many flippin’ categories?!), I still have a long, long way to go. This is a tiny part of the very slow process of streamlining and updating my blog, which I have thought of doing many a time but dismissed as too unwieldy a project – until now.

With a little more time at my disposal, I can at least clean it up so that when I have a little more money at my disposal I will be able to give it the facelift that I intended to give it for some time now. I am still uncertain what parts will be nipped and tucked though. I’m not sure where I’ll be going with the blog, if any deviation to its current trajectory will happen.

When I first started posting stuff to the interwebz, it was a vast expanse of open land, kind of like the Wild Wild West. Lots of scrub brush and sage, some tumbleweed and only a few shanty towns along the road. Only a few people were generating enough income (through syndication) via their blogging to make a decent living doing it, and the publishing industry was still predominantly a tactile one. Not so much anymore. Publishing has embraced digital technology with open arms (though I imagine it was a difficult transition for many operations) but this new forum is enabling smaller publications (which is a VERY good thing) the sort of voice that was no longer possible within the print world (at least not without a whole lot of financial backing, which let’s face it most small prints didn’t and still don’t have at their disposal).

Remember Livejournal?

Initially, blogging was an extension of personal journaling, either to a closed group (i.e., family and friends who would be given access to the online material via a link) or publicly, but it was mostly accessible in an aggregate sort of way by visiting the sites themselves. They looked far less pretty than they do now, and even when they started becoming more customizable and wysiwyg, they required at least a little bit of coding knowledge if you wanted them to do what you wanted them to do. Or, if you wanted to pull away from the flock, you had to integrate them into your personal website, but doing that also made it difficult to generate the traffic necessary for it to actually be a monetized enterprise unless you already had a decent readership in place.

When I first started posting this stuff, it was really as a way to connect with people that I knew from various art boards or local art community, or those who were specifically interested in my art process and its results; those who enjoyed reading my writing, who embarked willingly upon the wild ride that my mental gymnastics would more often than not take them on. My great idea of “monetizing” was to jump on the affiliate bandwagon, or to adopt banner ads, neither of which generated anything remotely adequate as a living income. I thought that signing on as an Amazon associate was brilliant because a) I read a lot of books, and b) I purchased a lot of books, and I would often share with my blog viewers info on my purchases. This was relatable information because we had common interests. I still share my book links, and hope that it will in some small part drop a few coins into my revenue jar, at least enough to supplement my book addiction costs (which have been severely curtailed over the last half decade, but especially now that I have become unemployed).

Now because I have so many diverse interests, I suppose my posts can draw a very diverse crowd, not necessarily interested in each other or even in every possible tangent that I may write about.

But really, this whole blogging thing that I do continues to be what it started off as – a live (and very personal) accounting of my journey through life and my attempt to make sense of it as I go along. I can’t be alone in having these (admittedly at times bizarre) thoughts, but I appreciate the fact that I can share it with people even if I really don’t get a sense of it being heard so much as disseminated, because nobody comments much anymore. I get notified of a post being “liked” but that is the extent of it.

I’ve always expected this to be a sort of dialog, though, so in some respects I would like to scoop into my inner well and pull out the stuff that might be useful – relatable – relevant - to someone other than merely myself – things that resonate with those of you who have chosen to add my blog to your reading list; the sort things that keep you clicking on the links when the alert goes out that a new blog post is up.

I don’t have any how-to’s about much of anything – clearly (as you know, if you read), I am stumbling through this journey like most of the rest of the world. I haven’t achieved any celebrity, notoriety (except, perhaps, in tiny circles and in ways which wouldn’t be useful, per se), higher wisdom, great skill, wealth (or the arcane knowledge as to how to generate it), physical perfection, spiritual enlightenment or any associated message relating thereto, academic accolades, professional success, and any other variant of the things that people are looking for on blogs (or in general) these days.

I don’t have the answers. I just have more questions, and those mostly lead to the next ones rather than the answers.

With that said, I’d like to know which ones you would like me to ask more of, because it would be nice to know that you are asking the same ones, or yours might spur me into asking others that I might not have thought of. Perhaps we might come up with some answers, and if not, maybe we’ll just have a helluva good time on the journey.

Peace xo

Okay… so I ended up sketching something this afternoon and I’m sharing it… a little “small art”. Enjoy.

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Tulip center

Being alone a lot creates a sort of inner conversational vacuum that begs to be filled.

It’s Easter. If I celebrated such things, it would be a meaningful day. Instead, as I have been flirting with the divine on a semi-regular basis these last couple of days anyway, today is no different than the last few, I suppose.

This, however, is a relatively new re-connection after a lengthy hiatus. It’s weird to reconnect after such a long time. It’s also weird (considering our previous hot and heavy association) that I hadn’t recognized it for what it was sooner, but The Universe has been longing for a chat – who am I to ignore the invitation once I recognize it for what it is?

Mind-boggling dreams are coming to me again. After a spell of not any of them, I am beginning to recall them once again. I recorded one from this morning in my dream log and as I always do, I wonder where they come from. Are they a mish-mash of a crossed wire jumble of memory fragments, wishes, thoughts, unprocessed emotions, or do they come from another source altogether, with soul messages that it would behoove me to pay attention to?

I watched a video this afternoon on YouTube addressing the sacredness of the male-female sexual union, and how as long as we relate to it in purely a physical gratification sense, we are missing the point (or perhaps the potential) of the immensely powerful raised energy that is involved in this alchemical process.

It also said that someone alone (male or female) can not hope to attain the level of exaltation achievable by a couple united in the act. If this were in fact to be the case, I am deeply saddened because I am now (and may well perhaps forevermore be) alone – uncoupled. I remain hopeful that my moving to a higher level of consciousness is not dependent upon a perpetual and current co-creator.

If that were the case, what happened to Mary Magdalene (assuming  - indulge me – that she a) existed; b) was his wife; and c) achieved higher consciousness through this union) after the passing of Jeshua? If the connection is established, or the process set into motion, can it be undone by disuse or the loss of the partner? I wonder.

Years ago I had a most profound experience. As with most of these experiences, they are a) difficult to articulate, and b) leave you wondering whether you had momentarily lost your mind or fabricated the whole experience (for whatever reason, and there could be many).

I was studying massage therapy and had spent a lot of time both giving and receiving massage. During my training I had to put in a certain number of hours of practicum upon volunteers in order to obtain my certificate. I have to be honest and note here that my marriage at the time was crumbling apart. This is not that story, though, so whatever was wrong with it, and whatever was the cause of the crumbling, I will not discuss it here.

Initially, what had prompted me to want to do massage work in the first place was to extend a portion of the public that was in dire need of, but never receiving, compassionate touch. I wanted to learn Touch Therapy so I could administer it in hospice or to the aged, those deemed untouchable or for the most part abandoned and forgotten. I did end up with a massage technician certificate – even worked for a little while trying to earn a living at it – but decided to return to the desk job that I had been doing prior to that, never carrying out the initial plan that had spurred me toward studying it in the first place. But this isn’t about that story, either.

This particular story speaks to an experience of awakening that I can’t really describe or explain, and a sort of connection with the divine which defiantly waxes and wanes like the tide but never completely abandons me.

Around the time I was in massage school and in the midst of the unravelling of my marriage as well a number of other stressors in my life, I had started to attend Lutheran church services with my husband’s aunt in an effort to regain a sense of balance. As my flailing marriage faltered further still, I had resorted to reaching outward because I was clearly unable to mend it by myself. The sermons brought me some peace, and moved me to tears regularly (but scripture – no matter whose it was – have done that to me all my life). I longed for the same spiritual transcendence that I experienced in a spiritual context within my marriage but simply didn’t know how to achieve it. So I grew focused more deeply on Christ, and transferred my loving heart energy that my husband chose not to accept to a higher place.

I will also admit that I was extremely attracted to someone that I has working with at the time. I was so keenly aware of my attraction to him that I was in a constant state of turmoil, embattled with what every cell was crying to reach out for and another part busily reigning it back in. If nothing else I was doggedly loyal to my marriage vows and not only was I a married party at the time, but for a good part of it so was he, though neither of us happily. He came to chat with me often, and in mutual commiseration we shared our confusion and the stories of our respective marital discord.

So when this fellow agreed to be a volunteer and receive an hour long massage session, I was both elated and terrified. I didn’t want him to know about how I felt, mostly because I was terrified that he would either a) act on it or b) reject me, which would lead to humiliation. This growing sense of intermingled desire and love grew into this huge ball of energy that I carried around with me all the time. I had to work really hard at pulling it all in and staying grounded, but what proceeded to transpire during an hour long practice massage session was something that I can’t really adequately put into words (though I will try).

Prior to starting massage work we were taught to ground ourselves, plugging in to the earth’s core and pulling in, with breath work, universal energy which would in turn get channelled from our hands. This process was put in place in order to keep our energy from getting depleted or so intermingled that we would be affected afterwards by what we picked up energetically from the people we worked on. During this session I did this as I normally would, but because of the previously mentioned added component, I also took care to filter my immense desire through my heart chakra prior to directing the energy out of my hands in order to imbue it with the highest possible integrity.

As the session progressed, a part of me felt like I wasn’t there anymore – even though I was grounded I felt pulled up to a higher state of energetic being-ness and so flooded with universal love that I was sure I must have been shining with the light of a million suns. It was mind boggling, to say the least.

Not long after this we both left the company we worked for and lost touch.

As I was rifling through an old business card holder last week, I found one with his name on it, and I wondered what had come of him so I did an online search. I was saddened to learn that he had passed on in 2010. I gathered from the obituary that he had remarried and had left behind a wife, a total of four children and a large extended family.

It is at this point that I will circle back around to the idea of the transcendental nature of sexuality, love and pairings. If indeed we are to only experience this sort of unity with a single person during a single lifetime, what happens when someone dies, or when the experience occurs with someone other than the person you are matrimonially tied to or who you have not even engaged with sexually? Is that even possible? And if it is, how is it any less valid as a spiritual awakening than one between a couple or those that they say the saints have experienced through ecstatic union with the divine?

In any case, something this profound changes you, maybe not immediately but certainly over time. Oh hell, definitely immediately too, but compounded with many other experiences – prior to and after this one – throughout the course of living our lives, I imagine how we perceive life on this earthly plane of existence must also subsequently change.

This leads me to the next bit of inner conversational vacuum. The video I watched spoke of how this third dimension was brought forth by the carnal indulgence in the pleasure brought forth by this rising creative energy rather than its more exalted spiritual cousin which focuses this same energy upward to higher levels of consciousness without dissipating it through orgasm, implying that this very act brought about the fall of mankind from the spiritual realm into the physical one.

This idea isn’t a new one to me, but I continue to vacillate on what to do with the information.

There are so many differing schools of thought on this, each ready to vilify the other(s); apparently we can not have our cake and eat it too.

The alternatives as they are presented appear to be:

  • disown our physical aspect, maintaining it in it’s optimal form as a purified vessel which allows us to connect to the energy from which we have come but not use it or become attached to any pleasurable experiences which the vehicle offers (it’s like getting a Cadillac with electric windows, air-conditioning and a full set of speakers and choosing to crack the windows just a little bit to get the airflow going on your drive through the desert so you don’t suffocate but making sure not to ease into actually enjoying the experience, and turning on the transistor radio in your pocket instead of blasting the music through the car’s speakers all the while carefully keeping it scratch free and buffed with Armoral, fed on a steady diet of high octane fuel and brought it in for regular tune-ups);
  • revel in this thick and juicy material beingness with every cell and breath (effectively consciously using this creative carnal energy to bend the material world at will but also cutting off from that incredibly powerful heart connection that one can achieve only through genuine and pretty much self-sacrificing love for the divine); or
  • attempt to bridge the gap in some way between the two extremes by walking a thin line between asceticism and full indulgence (though effectively never really achieving the sort of results the ascetics do in relation to elevated consciousness, or the manifestation results that those who have consciously engaged with the kundalini energy and learned how to bend it to their will).

Desire. It is the key operating word in this program.

What also strikes me in this (hypothetical) meandering is if the angelic host were already aware of this experience (indulge me, for a moment, in assuming that they exist), what have they done to mitigate these same dilemmas that they surely must also encounter? Why is physicality such an appealing state of being? Why is its opposite? Is one better than the other, or are they merely different sides to the same coin? Do we have the simultaneous option of both? Will the existence of one preclude the proper existence of the other? Can the two not comfortably co-exist – why or why not?

I’ve never been a simple girl. I’ve been asking questions (perhaps not these exact ones, but ones of similar ilk) for a very long time now, but have yet to come up with any really good answers.

I’d like an operating manual please, and a statistical run-through of probable outcomes.

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Not even the lure of a cup of coffee with fresh table cream was enough to convince me to brave the wet. The neighbourhood trees are growing into a riot of green, leaves bursting from branches like out of control afros and the petals of magnolia and cherry tree blossoms leaving a beautiful trail of detritus. But this is what the back balcony looks like today:

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A nap is sounding much more my speed (the cat has the right idea methinks).

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So on days like today one of my favourite things to do is to look through some books, and lately (perhaps ever), my favourite cook book has got to be Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, and her blog a close follow up second for all things food inspiration

20140419-151240.jpgI often adhoc stuff in the kitchen. Yes folks, I have finally gotten to that enviable place that my mother was at (and who I was in awe of) in the kitchen to know enough about food chemistry and flavours to make ingredients submit to my will and have a dish turn out without the exacting process of following a recipe. Well, baking takes a little more finesse and accuracy, so I follow rules a lot more carefully there (as did my mother) but cooking dishes has become much more of an intuitive process. Which is why I love Deb’s recipes. She will pair things together that are intriguing to the palate and so obviously divine together in retrospect.

Last week’s double chocolate banana bread is still being talked about and lusted after (and will be made again just as soon as the bananas are ripe enough). But seriously… if it’s not on your cookbook shelf, and you aren’t afraid of embracing a variety of ingredients, this one should definitely be part of your repertoire. Tomorrow is Easter and I’m wondering what I should make for the two of us. Double chocolate banana bread for certain, but the rest? I’m not sure yet.

But what I do know is that I am now ready for that nap…

Kittie
Good Friday.

Fridays are always good, generally speaking, as they are harbingers of the weekend (which equals rest).

The cat has been very vocal lately. She awoke me this morning (quite early), plaintive mewling at my door.

She is restless. She wants to go out; I let her out; she wants to come in; she comes in; minutes later she is sitting at the door again, looking to be let out.

I understand her dilemma. I feel much the same way. I sit, I am restless, I want my creative energy to be released but when I sit down to let it out it does nothing and so I retreat again, back into that place of becoming but not quite being and wait, somewhat impatiently.

I’ve been working on a story. I had been really excited about it. Suddenly (probably when it became harder to write) my interest started to wane. The honeymoon phase was over and the hard work of making it work had begun, and instead of rolling up my sleeves and getting to the task, I gave up. Well, sort of. I felt I needed to distance myself from the story for a while, and reassess what I wanted to say with it. Frankly, I am still not sure what that is, but it’s time to open up the can of worms again and look inside, see what is teeming beneath the soil I had dropped in and let alone for a while.

I have also been thinking about story. About my creative process. About loss. About grief and grieving and about finding a way to transform it into something greater than our collective parts (me – the grief – loss).

I have also been thinking about honesty. What that means. And integrity. And values. And self-examination. And how not to become so inflexible that one can not see past our self-imposed rules and cause harm.

I have also been thinking about tikkun, and what that means.

I have also been thinking about tzedakah, and what that means (especially when there is little with which to give).

I have also been thinking about abundance. What that means. And wealth. And the value of having and not having. And trusting that I will have enough. And that enough doesn’t necessarily mean cutting it so close that enough and not enough is separated by twenty dollars. And that when enough is in place, that I will not feel the need to hoard and withhold.

It reminds me of the bags of flour and sugar that my father used to hoard in our basement, placed on the wooden shelving he built and would be ordered to clear out and organize at least once a year by my mum, who was one of the least sentimental people I have even known, ruthless in her purging.

I have also been thinking about how my parents continue to mystify me. I am a byproduct of their union, but I am also truly mystified by how I became who I am based on who each of them was individually. I also have been thinking about how great a role they (parents, in general) play in the formation of their offspring (or “us”/“me”), and how they clearly failed to foster or set appropriate examples for me to follow to fully evolve into my potential. I am also thinking that I have been doing the same thing with my own son – which is a very sad thing indeed.

I have also been thinking that where I didn’t obtain the fostering and example setting, I have endeavoured to fill in the gap on my own (I suppose we all do that) with whatever set of playing cards we have at our disposal. The idea is to keep upgrading the playing cards as we go along so we can continue to move forward. It’s time for a new deck, I think, I just haven’t figured out which one it is, yet.

And the waiting is excruciating.

Because I’m restless.

And impatient.

dbl choc banana bread

Today was the first most ab-so-lute-ly gorgeous day of the year. I’ve been leaving the door open for the cat so that she can venture outside at will.

Earlier a bee had come in through a small cracked window (we don’t have window screens on any but one window upstairs) and was buzzing frantically as it bounced between blind slats and glass, trying to crash its way out. I wasn’t sure how to get it outside – the window, as a safety measure, has a locking device that allows it to only slide open so much, which must be unscrewed and pushed along the window rail to allow for a wider opening. With a frustrated bee buzzing around, I wasn’t sure how I would manage to get the window open enough, and I didn’t want to squish it. Somehow I managed to push it open enough for there to be a good gap for the bee to make its escape but it was not moving toward the opening. I utilized my trusty plastic glass and index card method of catch-and-release. As soon as I tipped the cup toward the opening and removed the card it zipped out the window.

After enjoying the quiet of the house until mid-afternoon, a lot of that time spent perusing Pintrest, I stepped outside. With book tucked under my arm, I unfolded my picnic quilt and spread it out on the back balcony. In full afternoon sunlight splendour, I read and sunned for a couple of hours. The cat joined me for a spell, nudging my hand for a rub as I sat with my eyes closed, head and back leaning against the warm sun soaked wall. The sky was an impossible blue, clear and cloudless. Although comfortable because of the sunshine, the wind was blowing softly and required intermittent covering when I felt chilled in my short sleeved tee shirt. I breathed in air to my lungs and light through my pores. I can understand why the bees are gathering around the yard these days. The bushes in the back ooze the sweetest honey scent and drifted all the way upstairs without much effort.

I’ve been reading “Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up” by James Hollis, Ph.D. Earlier this week I read a blog post from Danielle Laporte, and on my Facebook share of this same link I had zeroed in on this excerpt:

The point is: I was tired of being my version of good.

Because I’ve been good. Let me tell you. I’ve meditated. I’ve prayed. I’ve cleared my chakras and my ancestral ties. I’ve sent positive thoughts, white light, and handwritten thank you notes. And I have purified—my oh my, have I purified. Cleanses and sweats, colonics and karmic cord-cutting. I got rid of my microwave. I feng shui’d my shit into a transcendental temple. You see, I am a pro at better-fying. For the love of God and Buddha and The Goddess, I am a self-help author.”

I commented with the following:

“I’m with ya, sistah.

Yeah… not a self-help author, but I’ve spent so much time, money and energy on “self-help” (and, mind you, helping others self-help, because I’ve done everything from psychic readings – very briefly, online – to carving my own set of futhark runes (in stone, no less, that I gathered along the shores of the ocean, asking for permission from the earth for each reaping of stone), aromatherapy, energy healing, SoulCollage facilitation, body work encompassing everything from lymphatic drainage to deep tissue massage, and shamanic journeying and soul retrieval, not to mention forays into christianity via the Catholic, United, Methodist, Lutheran, LDS churches and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a six-month stint in a ISKCON -that’s the International Society of Krishna Consciousness- ashram, reading scripture from the Bah’ai, Buddhist and Islamic faiths, and soulful searches into heathen, pagan and occult paths (including those that think we’ve been “seeded” with extraterrestrial genomes, and/or the product of nephilim but those perhaps circle back to judeo-christianity, in some weird, convoluted way). My self-help library probably rivals the local public library’s. Oh… and I didn’t have a microwave for a while, but my son was happy when someone donated the behemoth of a nuke-tastic dinosaur microwave because he was once again able to make popcorn, and I, with equal thanks, can nuke my herbal and buckwheat heat pack for when the body aches.

And essentially, it’s true. I’ve tried all the usual (and unusual) ways to make peace with myself and somehow the peace of mind that I have been reaching for is still eluding me. This signals to me that throughout all of my previous efforts, I have merely managed to placate a part rather than the whole of my spirit, and once I’d calmed down enough to allow my ego to regain control, I resumed my old ways of being in the world.

As I’m reading Dr. Hollis’ book, which I recommend to ANYone (everyone?) who is on a journey toward better understanding of self, I am discovering that no matter how well informed I have thought myself to be about myself, I am still very far from being self-aware, and further still from possessing self-mastery, no matter how much my ego wishes it were so (or thought it was so, ever).

I also, as I read deeper into the book (I’m at page 95 of 260, not including the bibliography and index), I wonder whether there is such a thing. We spend so much of our early lives becoming conditioned and then the rest of it running the auto-pilot programs (mostly without noticing them initialize) that even once we become aware of the fact that we are reacting (drawing from previous experience) in a specific way, we seem incapable of creating a newer path. The reaction is instantaneous. It has a physical and emotional component to it that is familiar; it floods our neurobiology and we react. At least that is what I do; I’m sure I’m not alone.

I’m hoping that as I read through this book, tools will be revealed on how to counter these (for the lack of a better, though sadly overused, term) triggers and replace the subsequent reactions with more favourable ones. I wish that I had access to a therapist. Therapy is costly, and, let’s face it, not all therapists are made equal, but I believe that someone outside of ourselves (who is trained to objectively observe, assess and guide) is a crucial element in the making of headway in this area… and man, am I ever ready to make some headway. Seriously. If not now, when?

It is mindbogglingly humbling to realize that every.single.human.interaction. is filtered through this process, bar none. We learn to behave and manipulate our way into accustomed dynamics. I can see it in each and every relationship I’ve ever had, each disconcerting interaction, each unsatisfying work experience, each unfinished project and each yearning for something other than what I’ve had.

So, to return to Danielle’s piece, and my comments to it, yes, I am tired of being on the self-improvement road, and all of the ways in which I’ve endeavoured to discover it from external sources. Clearly, always focusing on what is wrong and ails isn’t where the joy is. But without knowing, truly knowing, what lies beneath the stuff that drives us, the joy can never be found.

Onward, ho…

Oh… and this (whose smell is permeating the whole room and has ten more minutes of cooling, before I can cut into it and sample).

(P.S. The banana bread? Utterly divine….)

Dancing on the head of a pin
(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

I tried.
I tried to be with you.
I tried to be alone.
I don’t know how to be.
I send postcards to strangers, unsigned.
I tell people things they don’t want to know.
I tell myself things I don’t need to hear,
and I don’t see the things I need to be.
I say things I know nothing about.
I know everything about not knowing.
Sometimes I think I’m almost there,
an inkling chasing the edge,
like a word at the tip of a tongue.
Then it’s gone and again I wonder
whether it will be back, and when.
Whether the next time I’ll catch it,
pin it down like a butterfly on a board,
captive, wingspan splayed proof,
of finally being quick enough to
take it down fast as it flies past,
hold onto the thought,
onto the feeling,
the love,
before
it’s gone.

April 6, 2014

photo

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I’ve been doing nothing. I’m not feeling 100%, like I’m fighting off a cold bug, but it’s not too bad. I paid some bills, rent… bought a bit of food. I need to go to Money Mart to load some more money on my prepaid credit card (because I responsibly don’t own one that gives me any credit) so I can pay the overdue part of my cable bill. It’s not raining now so I might walk there. I could use the exercise. I have mountains of laundry and some dishes to tend to… and the eternal cycle of cleaning surfaces which will shortly become unclean again.

I’m still in stasis. I like it here and I hate it here. I watch movies (and am moved to tears). I write a bit. I read a few articles (because I can’t seem to keep focused for long enough to read a book). I imagine what it would be like to be in a nice relationship with someone. I struggle with the visual.

I rewrote my profile and wrote to two people on OKC (who haven’t and probably won’t reply). I’m thinking of pulling the plug on all of my dating site profiles. Somehow that seems like it will be liberating.

I need to take a shower (because I haven’t in several days) and go out into the world. I dread it until I’m actually out there, and then usually determine that it’s not as bad as I thought it would be.

I’ve reviewed more divorce paperwork. I need to get them notarized again.

I’m soul tired. I’m tired of myself. I’m not sure what will enliven me. I keep trying to find it.

Yesterday I watched Shadow of the Sun (a nice little film with Joshua Jackson) and The Book of Daniel, about (what else?) the book of Daniel and thought it would be nice to have such a strong faith and belief in my god that I would walk into a lions’ den and, with some level of certainty but always with complete surrender, know that I would be protected.

If I was asked to profess my faith (in anything) I’d have nothing to say. I used to. I used to believe in something, and sometimes I wish I could find my way back to that place, but I can’t seem to.

I can’t imagine embracing a god that is in need of worship, one who summarily demands it, nor one who is in need of proving their mightiness through gifts or punishment – it smacks of misplaced machismo. It connotes a lack of self-confidence, and all too much humanness. And if the gods are fallible, then what hope have we?


magnolia blossom

Ruminating on things, as I am wont to do.

There was a post this past week (which has appeared before) about the illusion of connection through social media, and how it’s changed our relationships and our interaction with the world. And then I saw THIS TedTALK making the rounds as well.

In many ways I find it to be true… that connecting real-time with people has become more and more difficult (partly perhaps because how I relate to others has changed over time, but also partly because of how society as a whole has changed, too). This is not something new but rather something that has evolved over the last two decades, and perhaps just now shifting into a sort of critical mass, or maybe I’m noticing it more because I am alone.

Let me tell you a story. I met my (now ex) husband online in 1992, we married in 1993. At that time the concept of social media was at it’s beginning; only a nerdy and artsy and military subsection of the populace was collecting ‘online’, a term most non-techie people I’d mentioned it to needed a lengthy explanation for. At that time it was a way for people – who were already inclined to withdraw under normal circumstances – to connect with similar/like-minded people in an nonthreatening environment (because, seriously, were we ever really planning on meeting in real life? No.). We spoke the same language, in a sense. Since the rest of society hadn’t yet succumbed to this disembodied form of communication, real life interaction was still the norm outside of our online escapades, and this forced those of us less inclined or comfortable with direct communication out of our shells.

Over the next decade, home internet access would become like cable connections were in the 80s and most everybody in the developed world who owned a computer was by now connected to it. Many people were still new at the process of communicating via this medium and a lot of it seemed like an extension of analog (written) communication. “Rules” like using all caps to insinuate shouting, emoticon keyboard strokes and other nuances of online communication began to slowly sink in to general public knowledge and usage.

Electronic devices became extensions of hands and ears (starting with flip cell phones, which continued to get slimmer and more portable all the time). People couldn’t seem to be alone even when they were in a private space… accessibility became constant and universal… yet so little was said. Walking the malls felt like every other person had Tourette’s because with their wireless headsets inserted into their ears, they appeared to be talking to themselves. Enter the iPhone – not only could we be reached by phone 24/7, the internet was eternally accessible, all the time.

It may seem as an insignificant byproduct, but for years my ex-husband and I communicated by instant messenger even when we were sitting in the same room, at opposite ends of the living room at our respective keyboards. While we each spent inordinate amounts of time talking over IM and individually engaging in conversations online (I belonged to many online art groups and he had created a bulletin board and was constantly posting to the board, monitoring threads, and was all-consumed by its activities) we seemed incapable of having a REAL conversation with each other (and if you know me at all, you also know that while I don’t necessarily go out of my way to engage in conversation, I am perfectly capable of carrying on an in-depth conversation once I warm to you). Not surprisingly, our marriage deteriorated and eventually ended, but I wonder if had we been pushed to actually connect in real-time, and engage empathically, whether things could have been different. The thing is, I tried to connect on that level and was rebuffed each and every time. I gave up trying after a time. Sometimes I wonder whether I tried hard enough, but the truth is that one person can’t carry both people all the time. Sometimes they need to take turns, and that never happened. It still saddens me, a little, but we all have our limitations.

I also wonder (going forward) what connecting will look like, universally, in light of how things are developing technologically. I see my son using devices all the time and it’s just a part of his constantly-connected environment. I wonder what he would do if he ended up in a cabin in the middle of nowhere without cell connection, internet or electricity. I’m not sure he would know what to do with the internal silence, and frankly I wonder (sometimes) what I would do with it myself, though I at least have some point of reference as to what that might be like, but I don’t think he really does. Do you? Can you sit still, even for -say- five minutes without your hand twitching to reach for your smart phone or your mouse to check to see what is happening online, in your in box, or coming in by text? Bet you a dollar (and there’s a tip jar up top at the left, if you’re the gambling sort), that you will feel a mounting sense of anxiety abstaining.

Back to the thought of social media being central to our social lives, it feels disturbing to me that where print and television media left off, social media picks up, an extension of the bullying that never ceases, especially now that the internet (which for the longest time was free of advertising) is on all-out assault, vying for everyone’s hard-earned money with offers of products and services (and did I mention the ads that one can no longer escape?). And there is something creepy about having our search engine data somehow connect into our social media feeds to offer us “interest specific” ads. What if I’m a writer and I’m writing a story about a pedophile and I’m running thematically appropriate searches – will my Facebook ads then start offering me bizarre things just because I’ve conducted online searches on things I have no interest in outside of my research for the story?

Aside from the ads, even personal posting seems to be masked behind nuance. It’s the ultimate peer pressure venue, where much of what is shared is put through rigorous scrutiny in light of how it will be perceived by the audience. Clothing and style choices are dictated (for example vloggers covering “how to dress for online success”) and have become extensions of real-life criteria, implying that the way we look (even online) determines our perceived value, to ourselves and others. I find this idea extremely disturbing, online or in life leaving no escape from the constant scrutiny of that prescribed “look” that is deemed acceptable. As in the analog world, it seems that online success is determined by the most vocal, and if the big players circle -one with a seven (eight?) figure income- hasn’t yet been breached, it is the yearned after goal. The platform becomes an open invitation for self-made profit and a business networking tool rather than one for authentic connection (or self-expression), and yet we are led to believe that the communication is earnestly a two-way connection because of the familiarity that can be established by way of regular posting.

There was another article that I read last week (I haven’t been able to find the URL for it but will link it if I do) that spoke about how we’ve gone from a needs based society to a wants based one, and how that shift has undermined the fabric of society, skewing it in less than desirable (pardon the pun) ways. That said, there is no turning back from what our expectations and entitlements have grown to become. As the expression goes, we can’t unsee what we have seen. Not only must our needs be met, our wants must also be pursued and for the most part fulfilled, otherwise we are made to feel as though we have lost our purpose (or perhaps never knew what it was in the first place). Maybe the way in which we have the most capacity to recalibrate our perspective (to a healthier place) is in how and what we determine our wants to be, and how we choose to pursue them.

Earlier this week I read about the suicide of L’Wren Scott. I had never heard of her (big shock there, right?). I watched a couple of YouTube videos, one of which was an interview with her just prior to the launch of a new season’s line of clothing. The interviewer was raving about the gold-rutilated champagne lollipops that were distributed at the tables, and she talked about staging an environment that she imagined the girl who would be wearing her clothing would inhabit. Shortly after the suicide it was revealed that her company was in a huge amount of debt. Was the clash between her reality and the fantasy that she painted for all the world to see the cause of this catastrophic conclusion that her only recourse was to end her life, even though her partner of many years is wealthy and would probably, having been presented with the options as she saw them, come to her aid?

I understand where she’s coming from, though. Things can appear pretty grim, and I’ve flirted with desolation enough to know that her solution of choice wasn’t but a stone’s throw away from my own. For the longest time my own life was so empty of all of the things that I wished for it to be filled with that I tried to fill it with things that I thought would be meaningful in hopes that the rest would follow suit. It never did.

Today, with plenty of hindsight in light of my own experience, and also observing others, I question our need to live beyond our resources, chasing after some sort of fantasy that does not genuinely reflect what is happening for real, or chasing a fantasy that is someone else’s rather than our own (once we’ve had a chance to better scrutinize or gain a deeper understanding of ourselves, which if memory serves, is a constantly changing, fluid process). Building the field doesn’t guarantee that “they will come”.

Trying to figure out our way when so many people are yelling along the sidelines, telling us what we should or should not choose, makes it difficult for us to hear our own voice. Even when we do, sometimes our choices become limited in scope and end up being far from what we would choose in earnest if we were in a more opportune situation, though there are ways in which we can be true to ourselves without completely upsetting the applecart, so to speak.

I think this is a global epidemic. We yearn to be accepted by others as something grander than we are because we’ve somehow come to believe that who we are (as we are) is too ordinary or not enough. Or maybe I’m mistaken and this perception is really my own skewed view of the world which I’ve reflected back upon everyone else. Somehow, though, I don’t think so.

Well… that was long-winded. And possibly pompous. Possibly even comPLETEly off. But there you have it, my two cents’ worth.

Total Alignment - HEART 3-22-2014
Art journal spread, inspired by Connie’s (freebie) Total Alignment heart chakra meditation

In my last post I mentioned that in lieu of working on my story (which continues to incubate, so shush!), I’ve been producing poems. Here are the ones I’ve written over the last several weeks…

Inspired by Lisa Sonora Beam’s recent blog post on travelling

The Places I’ve Been
March 15, 2014
(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

I think sometimes you have to leave to find yourself.
I used to think I was running away from things, the
urge to move, to feel a shifted earth beneath my feet
a sign that I had given up on what had come before.
I think maybe it’s always been about moving closer,
to myself, edging a little bit at a time nearer to whom
I want to be or have always been but didn’t yet know.
Places change you. I have moved so many times,
dragging my accoutrements with me, across
country and up a coast, through invisible borders
all in vain attempt to hold onto the past that shaped me.
They never do so, but fondly come along for company;
without remembrance they would cease to be, end up
blowing in the wind like discarded candy wrappers
caught in the bushes by the side of the road in a ditch.
The need to hoard memories was strong with me,
but I think I’ve cured myself of this malady. Oh, I
still like pretty things, I look and admire and fondle
but they are returned to the shelf without needing to
be possessed, to be taken home and then forgotten.
It all comes down to usefulness now, a matter of practicality
an economy of thought, of feeling, of many other things.
I have become unexpectedly frugal in surprising ways,
taught to be so due to circumstance but I wonder if this
detachment would stick if I had more, or whether
I would understand even then that having shifts my
buoyancy when I want to float on my own happiness,
weighing me down with longing, never quite belonging
in the midst of all the things. I do more with less now.
Sometimes I would travel to places to be with those I
wished to understand, breathe the rarified air of celebrity,
find the nooks they burrowed into to see if they fit me, too.
They did, but the price was always uncomfortable and I
imagine theirs is as well, only in a different way. I was
only playing dress up whereas they must wear the threads.
I’ve set foot in tiny Incan steps by the side of azure sea,
climbing higher toward the courage to return a ring given
me. Returning it would take longer than I had hoped.
The doing harder than the choosing, the parting lingered,
but was finally sealed with yet another move home, to sadness.
That was short-lived, too; the nature of fire and air simply one
that had done its time, two opposites cancelling out.
Once, on a trip through canyonlands, big wheels riding sand
like waves, I felt the veil shift. It peeled back and
for a moment I could see how flat it was here, pressed
down like flower blossoms between the pages of a book,
losing colour even as the petals age and yellow, unfurrowed.
Then the sun shone more brightly and little girls with
fetish beaded necklaces offered them for sale and
I took some home as a reminder of what is and wasn’t.
This last move cost me; they all do, really, even if gains
are made in the long run – both inevitably occur
(and like fire and air sometimes cancel out).
I love it here, sometimes, when the rains abate, things
growing wild and green, a big apothecary at my
fingertips, but often I look out and long for another place,
one in which I will find yet another part of myself, the one
that continues to elude me even when I am still and open and listen.

The gravity of tiny matters
March 12, 2014
(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

Some days the minutia weighs so heavily that I can do nothing but through
clenched teeth and tight jaw hiss and bear down; I brace myself, akimbo, bent
at the knees, combat ready, a stance that connotes both resolve and resignation.
How did it come to this, when I look at the sea of paper and bits and bytes and
the constant flow of things both meaningless and as self-important as the squeal
of car tires on the pavement or the shrill cry of the sirens passing through, on
their way to somewhere else, punctuating in waves the ends of my glimpses of
silence. What do they chase and why does it matter? Does it? What does it do?
When I’m in this place, this space of momentary confinement amidst swirling
chaos, sound ceases to exist, yet every sound becomes magnified, resounding like
the drop of a giant ball peen hammering on steel, reverberating in metallic echo;
in this place where meaning is found in the ripples of crinkled leaves and the bounce
of crumpled up sheets of paper pinging off the rim of a wastebasket with a sigh.
This is where I wonder about the madness of the world, and why we are pulled
into these stories that don’t matter while others expend so much effort into
making their efforts feel worthwhile. Where does the chicken meet the egg (across
the road)? Where does one find the peace each one of us is longing to find within
the parameters of our perceptions of what the minutia unfolds itself into as we look?

Your Elemental
March 11, 2014
(c) 2014 Adriane Csicsmann Giberson

For a time I thought we could see the same things, that we spoke the same tongue.
I was used to walking alone but instead you insisted on holding my hand,
assuring me that you would cause me no pain. (How could such a promise be made?)
Later still, as we circled around on yet another walk, you cleaved to me;
we walked to the centre together, entwined like branches of wisteria woven
around an arbour, heavy with blossoms like a woman gestating, reeking of spring.
We swam in oceanic depths like fish, breaking the surface only when we
deemed it was time to seek the beckoning light from beyond the water’s edge.
When I held your hand to flame, you did not flinch; instead you took it into
your palms and I watched as your eyes glowed challengingly in the firelight, right
before you swallowed it whole; eyes glowing like embers, you were lit from the inside.
And when I breathed into you, my breath whistling like wind through a gourd,
sparks rose like fireflies flitting through midsummer boughs – our eerie hum
was heard from afar. Then, as I laid myself open like a lotus, affording you a glimpse
of the void encapsulated at my centre, you fled; unlimited potential mirroring its
splendour back, it sensed your own emptiness. It became no-thing and you feared it,
and I, confused by your sudden withdrawal, was pulled in; I wandered for a time
like the knight in the forest, seeking the answer to an unformed question.
Like a cat whose tongue was caught, I spoke naught until I found my voice again,
quietly, slowly, strengthened; now, like the rush of surf against a rocky shore, it roars.

brownie

I’ve been remiss with my posting. Partly it’s been because I became inordinately focused on a story I fondly refer to as my Telescope Girl story, but sadly it was a short-lived burst of enthusiasm. Mostly it’s because I’ve fallen into deep hibernation. Damn this lightless, dark and dreary (and let’s not forget wet) northern hemisphere.

My excessively romantic self sometimes thinks living in Scotland would be a cool and genial idea and then I think about how much I complain about the weather up here in the north american northwest and… seriously… what is she thinking that self-deluded part o’ mine?

I have been writing poetry, though, and posting the pieces to Facebook. Maybe I’ll back-post them here. Maybe.

So I’ve been cocooning. Hard. The sun has been out for part of the day, mostly due to blustery winds blowing all the rain clouds astray (try as the might to hang on to their little piece of sky). My son commented earlier that the big cedar in the back yard was looking an awful lot like the Whomping Willow, but it’s not nearly wispy enough, though it’s trying real hard at a proper impersonation, I’ll grant it that.

I’ve been conducting movie marathons. My son (who happens to be on spring break and is probably the only one of his entire senior year class that isn’t flying away to some exotic and/or warm destination – poor deprived kid) charitably called it “doing research” when I commented that I ought to be furiously writing instead of drowning in films. I thanked him for the assist in the reframe.

It’s becoming clear that I just need a guru of sorts to walk in and bend my ear (and maybe hold my hand… and give me hugs to prove that I am human, because I’ve all but lost touch with the physical world), provide koans to illicit some sort of action other than this lethargic and near paralyzing processing of things I’m not even capable of articulating. Too much, and more coming up like a bad dinner with a flu bug. (Apologies for the ghastly visual… well, not really, but I figure if you’re here and reading, you’re pretty much prepared for the worst anyway, right?)

Ugh… and I’ve been getting headaches. Intermittent, but persistent. Last week it was lower back pain that lasted for a week. Along with the intermittent headaches. I feel all around shitty, to be honest. And the weirdest fucking dreams I’ve had in a long time… some of which I forget so much of that I can’t even piece enough together to record any of it, but am just left this strange feeling of weird.

Tonight Amanda Palmer et al. will be at The Vogue Theatre downtown and I’d like to go, I really would, but it requires showering, and getting dressed, and getting change for the bus, and getting on the bus and the Skytrain, and walking around and being in a crowd of strange people and blasted with loud people and noises, and not feeling like a disembodied zombie… and I’m not sure I’m capable of that much at the moment.

Now if I could teleport, we’d be in business. But I’d really like to see them, especially since Neil will be there as well, and damn, he’s like at the head table of my Writing Gods & Great Influencers dais. I should go. We’ll see. Maybe a couple of thousand milligrams of vitamin D and lots more mega cups ‘o coffee later I might be up to it.

And it hailed too, during the whomping willow rendition, little minute flecks of hail. But there’s no snow and I suppose I’m doing better than THESE people (poor bastards).

But hey… I baked some chocolate brownies.

daffodils
The sun is out today, and it makes me feel good. I wonder why I feel so much better (other than the obvious injection of vitamin d) when it shines.

I struggle daily with the dichotomous concept of being and nothingness (this term – a title of one of Sartre’s works – was pulled from a recent Facebook comment I made regarding a poem I posted). If we are merely “nothing” then why bother engaging with the world… if we are “nothing” then why is engaging with the world in more than a perfunctory manner equally so enriching and so disappointing?

I’ve done both. In fact, I have run the gamut of emotions and cycling through the senses and the heart. Love – the idea of love – is such a construct of our imagination; the feeling it evokes internally a machination of our mind that filters through into our body and makes us experience it as something real. It’s not to say that it isn’t real in a very (pardon the pun) real sense. So what is the purpose of feeling, or our purpose of being made to feel (via our sensory processes)? Why is the discovery of our world of such great import? And how, through the unfolding of time and the culmination of our experiences of it, does it change us and, effectively, how we see it?

The idea that “there is a season for everything” rings true when considered in this way. We learn to touch and smell and see and taste and walk and finally think and reason (well, sometimes, anyway *smile*). Our experience of the world is largely based on what we think it is and is so subjective that there is no way to determine what is “true” and what is embellishment or delusion. Even through rigorous self-analysis, attempting to remain objective within the parameters of an experience, our belief of an experience underscores how our experience of it will be **and effectively shapes our reality**.

If this is the case – that no matter what we experience, it will always be skewed and be an “inaccurate” representation – then it would serve us well to figure out how we want our experience to unfold if there truly is no “default” setting which determines what that ought to be.

And you wonder, dear friends, why I exhaust myself with my own thinking processes?

Adriane xo

20140214-200455.jpg

An old journal page finally being worked on. Years ago I’d drawn the sketch in Stabilo blue pencil and today finally decided to add colour and more detail to it (while watching Legion). More still to do but I’m liking what’s happening on the page.

I guess it being Valentine’s Day and what with the previous several posts, I finally had an epiphany of sorts (cue: jaw drop). I was laying in bed this morning (very early) and felt an overwheming sense of love in my heart for none other than me. That’s the best thing to happen in a long time. Perhaps ever.

xo

It’s been weeks now that my heart races every night when I lay down.

I’m sure that it’s probably nothing but every night I tell whoever listens – me, perhaps, or the program in charge of my life, or maybe god, if there is such a thing – that I need to live through another night because I’m not ready to die yet. I don’t have a will written up, and I don’t want my 18-year old son to be the one to find me, late afternoon once he returns from school the following day and wondering hours later why dinner hasn’t been started yet, only to find me laying in bed expired.

But Maggie, who I don’t really know (in that I have never actually read any of her work and we have never actually MET, either) seems a soul sister of sorts.

I went to her blog (which I also have never read prior to this) and read her last post (titled “Strippers, Sluts & Umlauts“). I had to look up Umlauts (and I might add I am profusely embarrassed by that fact, because if anyone in the world should KNOW what a fucking umlaut is, it ought to be someone of a Hungarian and Swab descent, but I digress) – the other two I am familiar with.

I posted something (else about Maggie) to my Facebook wall… check it out if you get a chance.

I think a book about old people having sex should be written… because sex doesn’t stop with youth, and it also is more than about the aesthetics of beauty… of the porn of youth… and why is aging considered ugly? It bothers me. Nicki Sixx (or however it’s spelled) had this book with these photos he took of strange looking people. He said that he likes to capture beauty in the decidedly unbeautiful. I get that, because I feel the same way about things. I think Maggie did too.

Putting the dishwasher on and heading to bed. Maybe tonight I’ll finally sleep well.

Adriane xo

Every Tuesday I share Rob Brezsny’s weekly horoscopes with a friend – a “yours and mine” bird’s-eye-view of what the stars according to Rob have in store for us – more out of habit anymore than out of ritual or belief, but they always touch on something (how could anything from Rob NOT do so?) poignant and deeply neural.

This week’s goes as follows:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Do you feel oppressed by Valentine’s Day? Maybe you’re single and reject the cultural bias that says being in an intimate relationship is the healthy norm. Or maybe you’re part of a couple but are allergic to the cartoonish caricatures of romance that bombard you during the Valentine marketing assault. If you’d rather consecrate love and intimacy in your own unique way, untainted by the stereotypes flying around, I invite you to rebel. Make this the year you overthrow the old ways and start a new tradition: Valentine’s Day 2.0. Mock sappy, sentimental expressions of romance even as you carry out futuristic experiments in radically slaphappy love.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “I have come to be fascinated with the messiness of desire,” writes novelist Ashley Warlick, “with the ways people fit themselves together, take themselves apart for each other, for want of each other, for want of some parts of each other.” Your assignment, Pisces, is to celebrate the messiness of desire; to not just grudgingly accept it as an inconvenience you’ve got to tolerate, but rather to marvel at it, be amused by it, and appreciate it for all the lessons it provides. Your motto this Valentine season could be, “I bless the messy largesse of my longing.”

I don’t reject cultural bias, or sappy romance, or caricatures of it – not at all. I’m a romantic if there ever was one – I would like nothing more than to crawl into the mystery of romance and love; remaining intact through its messiness but revelling in it deeply nonetheless. I think it truly is the lifeblood of the species – what keeps us coming back for more and multiplying. I think of Persephone’s walk through and with Hades – both the God and the place – how she must return, cyclically, before she can walk out into the light again.

But somehow Rob’s shout out to Pisces fascinates me more at the moment, because desire has been on the forefront of my mind (you already know this, if you’ve been keeping up with any of my more recent posts) and I marvel at its messiness at once deriving from and being the product of its expression.

There was a call put out for love poems from the city of Cobourg, and as I sifted through the stuff I’d written in the past none really resonated with how I felt about love on that day. I can’t claim to understand love, or its’ mechanics, why it exists or how it works. I just know what it feels like, in its myriad forms, and that like air, it is crucial, at least in some measure, to my well-being and survival.

So, here is the poem, because it’s Valentine’s day, soon, and I’m all out of chocolate bars and certainly there is no romantic love to speak of on the horizon, though love flows through everything in deep undercurrents when I sit still enough to feel it move.

What love is
I remember Forrest insisting he knew what love was; it seemed simple to me then,
as I considered his words, his conviction. What of love, then? I’m not so sure now.
The older I get, the slipperier it becomes, this definition of a word filled with connotation,
an expectation, a meaning just as loaded for each of us as our opinion of beauty.
If love is all we need then I would like to be able to breathe it in like air, and hold
it inside my lungs until I am so filled with it that it can do nothing more than escape,
and again breathe it in because nature abhors a vacuum and breathing is involuntary.
Perhaps love is too – involuntary – a reflex that circumvents our attempts at logic
and calculation, simply spreading like a wet spot, hot and sticky, our passions spent.
There is that kind of love. There are others, too – the kind reserved for our children,
stoic and joyful and filled with the resolve to love them despite their differences, their
flaws smoothed over like sheets pulled taut, covered with the warmth of patience
and gentle like a well worn quilt; if only all love could be like that, where the edges of
things are smoothed over by a soft focus lens, and grudging respect grows as we
really listen, present to each other because we want to care – to know more than
merely ourselves – we want to be greater than the sum of our parts, co-creators.
Sometimes I think I’d like to know what that is, really, but mostly I think I’m just madly
in love with the world, mad with its beauty and its flaws and all of our collective
humanness; my heart grows so full that I’m certain it might burst, but it doesn’t.
It’s gentle like that, this love I now know, and it requires no reciprocation since it
feeds upon itself and is exponential. I’m sure that would change if I had a lover.
Then perhaps I would want chocolates and kisses and the garbage taken out without
having to ask, or to sit in silence holding hands, wanting nothing more than the witnessing.

So a Valentine wish for you: may you find love, always. May it be the kind that you want it to be.

Soft or fierce, or the kind that pierces your heart and makes you come alive, or reduces your centre into a flowing molten eruption of desire and simultaneously blinds you with its brightness and sears you with enlightenment.

I can’t say that I am ever the same after being touched by it, in whichever form that it manifests. I’ve learned to be grateful for it when it does come, and to say “yes, I see you, I recognize you, I know how fleeting you are, but I rejoice in you now”.

Peace,
Adriane xo

A dear (not local) friend of mine commiserated with me about how it is common for people to not understand us even when we think they do. I know most people don’t understand me… parts, maybe, but all? Probably not. Many, though, are still accepting because they see my big glowing heart through the wyrdness. (cue: laughter)

Community… that’s always a tough one, especially for an introvert (which is what I am). Occasionally I reach out but mostly I don’t. Some journeys are not meant to be taken with others.

I think, sometimes, (well, no, I don’t think, I know…) I’m too raw and I share too much… people feel burdened by me, perhaps. I don’t want to be a burden, and I certainly don’t expect people to “fix” me or offer a fix… in fact, I really don’t want them to even try. Mostly I just want someone I can be in a space with (a creative one, if at all possible) and co-create with our hair down. I tire of the artifice.

I get that people are many-layered. I am no exception.

One of my former coworkers texted me this morning, chatting and then we got off to the topic of my going for job interviews (it was a gentle prod) and asked whether I was depressed.

Well… depression doesn’t ever leave me, really… it’s a blanket that I throw off to the side every once in a while, but it’s never too far from reach. I swap the thinner blanket, occasionally, for a thicker one, but it never truly goes away, ever.

It also doesn’t mean that I don’t find joy in everything – I do, daily. So very much wonder and gratitude… it’s an odd dichotomy to live with, and yet I do it.

I put my best face on for the world until I don’t, and then you see all of what creeps beneath the surface – always there but disguised. Perhaps that is the wrong term. I’m good at assimilating it into everything else. Otherwise I’d be the guy with the needle in my arm, looking for release from the pain that is an inevitable part of being in the skin I inhabit. All the time, to greater or lesser degrees. I’ve just found another way to cope with it that makes me able to function – and sometimes thrive – despite of it. Amazingly without addiction, though I can be prone to overindulging in things when there is a lot of a good (or sometimes not such a good) thing.

And it leads me to this: people who feel deeply either embrace what they feel (and often make good art as a result of that) or they evade it by medicating it or drowning it out with other things that distract and detract from feeling deeply. You either skim the surface or you dive below it.

While I’d like to think that we are unique in this, we all have the capacity to go that deep; it is a choice or perhaps a predisposition (but still something that can be cultivated if the curiosity and daring is there). It’s plush and richly pulsing in this place, drawing no distinction between what variables constitute the richness of an experience.

It’s scary, to be that sensitive, but also incredibly powerful. The world is experienced to such a deeper, greater, degree than that of most others. So we write about it, or make art to communicate it, and they get to vicariously experience what it felt like.

Less than a half hour away from my final creativity group coaching session with Jill – at least for the time being.

I haven’t written since Friday. I guess I took the weekend off, and now it’s Tuesday and I’m lagging. The story gnaws at me, pulling at my edges while I continue to fumble my way through it. It is never far from my thoughts, but no words have come through yet.

I’ve been great with distracting myself. I spent the morning listening to Eminem and Pink on my iTunes, sifting through emails and multiple cups of coffee… I suppose I will graduate to a cup of tea – to be made before the call begins. That, and void my bladder.  (Yes, TMI.)

I’m still dispirited. I don’t really know what ails me. It’s back to gray and rainy again, though the last week has been quite bright and sunny and I haven’t gone outside since my birthday (or maybe it was the day after… but it’s been at least a week since I’ve presented myself to the world, fully dressed).

This morning I am doing the no-pants dance (literally… you should have seen me grooving in the kitchen while I was waiting for water to boil and my toast to brown), sitting in my t-shirt and striped underwear as I type this out. Eventually I’ll shower and dress – Rob Brezsny said that I should make my hair and face as shiny as can be… my best self. I’m sure he doesn’t mean the kind of shiny my hair is, in its current state (which is just greasy from skipping a day or two of shampooing). Damn overactive sebum glands. It keeps me young looking but more slick than I’d like.

I have been thinking that I really miss having a relationship. I miss the complicity. I miss the bodily contact, the comfortable familiarity of colliding atoms with another person, in good (at times pleasurable) ways. I miss another’s touch on my body – the tentative exploration, seeking visceral knowledge of pleasure and connection. The tangible feel of affection and love as it flows out of a hand.

I miss it but not enough to do anything about it.

So by virtue of these distracting thoughts, I’ve been struggling with writing on the story this morning (what else is new?). You’d think that desire fades with time, but it’s not true; not yet, anyway. I suppose fifty is still too young for it not to still be alive and well.

I “found” an old boyfriend on Facebook the other day. The mind is always curious about what has become of people we have known but not seen in a long while. He was my first mad love. We were crazy about each other, and also just plain crazy.

We didn’t know who we were, or how to be, and certainly we weren’t in a healthy relationship (because we didn’t even know what that looked like), but man, were we ever in love. At least I was. I think he was too. It seems so long ago… thirty years. We’ve both been married and divorced. He has been in another long term relationship with someone and is afraid to accept my friend request because it may make her jealous. So still, perhaps, not so healthy, relationship-wise.

Jealousy. What an interesting emotion it is; so detrimental, and yet so prevalent – and consuming. Thinking that permanent possession of something or someone is possible, and fearing its loss – the lesson of impermanence not yet gleaned. Nor the understanding that even when people stay together, things change and evolve – and different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.

Jealousy rears itself on its hind quarters like a spooked horse when one feels insecure in oneself or a relationship (or a situation). It takes gentle self-compassion (and for the other person likewise to show compassionate awareness) to move past it. Of being truthful, kind and transparent… and that level of exposure is fearsome and hard.

Life is too short to be spending it on not wearing yourself on your sleeve, though. Not doing so robs everyone of your best self, including you.

Transparency is important, I think. I learned that the hard way, over many relationships and many years of trial and error.

My last one was the hardest. It stretched me further than I had ever stretched before; it made me grow in ways I didn’t think I had to grow or didn’t know that I wanted to. It was at once one of the most intense and most terrifying relationships that I’d ever had.

It still saddens me that the experience wasn’t a reciprocal one – that the power of it was diminished because we weren’t equally open and present to each other. It taught me a lot about releasing expectation and what the meaning of responsibility was in the context of a relationship. It also taught me to be mindful of my instincts – my body knew what was happening even before things became known – the body knows; trust the body. It also taught me to trust my worth. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy.

I think that the only way to evolve in this world is through relationship – to enjoy the process while growing in awareness. It is like walking in two worlds, really, one foot in the sacred, and one foot in the profane.

I miss it but not enough to do anything about it.

I think Western society (well – truthfully – most of them, for that matter) does not like grief. It’s uncomfortable and distracting, and essentially, when a person is grieving, they are not productive. So we feel compelled to internalize our grief and it eventually manifests as disease (dis-ease).

Or, when we are incapable of keeping it under wraps, we function within the same life framework we were in before but everything suffers; we truly are less productive.

This brings about a snowball effect… we become disengaged, our work quality suffers. Eventually the strain of the expectation of optimal performance during these times creates the sort of situation that exacerbates the already heavy stress that we are attempting to navigate our way through.

The only cure for grief is time – allowing for the healing process to unfold, hopefully helped along by people who can guide the process in a healthy and mindful way. Time heals all things.

Despite the fact that at one time or another most of us have gone through the process of grieving, people don’t know how to approach those who are grieving. I think this is due to the fact that the process of grieving is mishandled by society. The pain is not honoured. The transition is not respected. Pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps is probably something to do at some point in the process, but not when we are at our most raw; the expectation to be able to do so is ludicrous, and yet it is the norm.

So why am I speaking about grieving?

Well, if one was to take one of those psych tests which evaluates the external stressors in our lives which influence our internal lives, job loss would be one of them – and I am intimately familiar with this one point on the checklist, having recently lost my job.

Despite the fact that I had been mentally prepared to be one of the “staffing reassessment” casualties, I’ve been in a sort of tailspin since. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis kind of tail spin (I turned fifty yesterday). I wonder why I am having such a difficult time with “launching” at this stage of my life. The disparity with what it is and how I would like it to be (career wise) is so wide a gap that I can’t fathom how to bridge it. The thought of repeating the last thirty years of my working life is making me balk like never before.

All of this “free” time has afforded me some opportunity to check out what the rest of the world is doing these days. Not the one I was operating in, but the one *out there*… not the one that I was mistakenly assuming was drying up of opportunity but the one that is actually transforming into a more tenable way of living and working in this vast and quickly shifting world. Well, perhaps not so quickly, and this shift is happening with only a visible few, not the vast majority.

[Aside: So many companies are still working off of the industrial revolution SOPs. Evolving from full factory sized staffing to smaller crews, the thinking continues to be "lean and mean", the mantra of the end of the twentieth century. Almost two decades in to the new millennium and they are still not getting, despite the fact that they conduct "engagement studies" and know the facts, that people must be engaged in order to thrive. To me engagement involves interesting work, and by compartmentalizing processes - particularly in an office environment - that equates to small bits of rote work effected by underpaid people. It may not be about the money, certs, but if people are not earning enough to live a comfortable life, they are operating in survival mode and can't relax enough to unleash their creative brains - which would be irrelevant anyway, given the fact that any incentive to be creative is slowly being stripped away because of role uniformitization **this is an interesting article on technology and its sociological effects** ... (more on all of this later, because this whole paragraph segues into a completely other thought that I don't really want to speak to at the moment, and is tangental to the my initial thoughts on grieving).]

In any case, the common refrain I hear these days from my age group and peers is: it’s really tough out there; there are little opportunities for the young people these days.

(Which to me translates to: You’re fucked woman… you’re over the hill, overpaid, under-educated, a has-been… and if the kids can’t flourish, with all of their verve and vigour and downright enthusiasm, how do you think that you will?)

I don’t mean they are thinking this in relation to me per se. They are thinking it themselves in regard to their own prospects should they also find themselves amongst the rest of us in the unemployment line, and similarly wondering what the hell they can do to reinvent themselves at this late stage in the game.

I mean seriously… hipsters we ain’t. We’re not even hippies. Most of us are late-in-coming baby boomers or Gen-X’ers (who the hell thinks up these ridiculous naming conventions anyway?). We’re done with the baby ranching and the marriages (because most of them didn’t survive), and in the midst of being overburdened with debts and living expenses way beyond the comfortable quality of life “ratios” that were decided upon during different economic times, a shrinking middle class and a soft job market, we are now having to reinvent ourselves and our raison d’être in midlife, not necessarily by choice but because all of the structures that we had in place to ensure some semblance of security and material continuum are slowly but systematically being dismantled.

So there is much mourning going on at the fort.

Job loss. Mid-life. And, frankly, disillusionment – the realization that we must fight for relevance, but not of the sort that I’ve been waging a war for over the last three decades.

For many years, at least the first decade of my working life, relevance meant accumulating more job-specific skills in the area I was working in (which were obtainable on-the-job and considered valid training and education, perhaps even more so than a certificate or a diploma). That was the challenge that kept me reaching for greater responsibility, professional respect, and career advancement. I find that is not true of the job market and the opportunities for growth within companies today. They are stiff with their requirements, and even less flexible with promoting people into more challenging roles if they do not already have the set of skills and qualifications that the job requires, despite the potential of the employee or candidate.

Much of my career-centric views changed after the birth of my son. My priorities shifted greatly and I was focused on parenting and trying to keep our family unit functioning (and together – much of my marital challenges were present from the very beginning, and deepened as time went on).

I wasn’t thinking about career at that point – I was thinking about survival of the family unit; OUR family unit. I’m sorry that I didn’t focus more on myself and my higher needs, and demanded the support in a way that wasn’t negotiable. That was a huge tactical error. I self-soothed in all of the wrong ways, and lacked the ability to make my way through the forest, and likewise lacked a capable partner to accompany me throughout the journey.

All this rumination has made me realize that I am grieving. Despite the fact that I did not (recently) lose a loved one; that my marriage has been over for a long while and the divorce papers were filed last spring; that my job (for all intents and purposes) summarily sucked and I was not being utilized to my fullest potential (which, incidentally, I’m not even sure how to quantify anymore, because for me a good job has always meant room for potential growth and I’ve clearly maxed out on what that is in relation to what I am currently considering my “profession”).

So… what to do? I am seriously in paralysis mode.

I get up, and I do things: eat, sort and do laundry, load the dishwasher, make meals, sleep, (sometimes) get dressed, (sometimes) go outside, listen to music and podcasts and YouTube videos, intermittently shower and groom myself, read, occasionally talk to people for longer than three minutes, make some art, journal, dust, vacuum, scrub out the tub and the toilet and sink, (sometimes) make my bed, write. Mostly, though, there is a sense that my world has completely collapsed in on itself (think post-apocalypse) and I’m staring at the steaming ruins and wondering where to pick up the pieces – which things are salvageable from the piles of debris and which ones I just need to let be and walk away from. Throughout all of this, I beat myself about the head and shoulders for not moving on.

And so I ran across this excellent young woman’s blog, who had this post (excerpt follows), and I said YES! that’s it, that’s how I feel, and then thought that the letter, What To Say (To Yourself) When You Are Grieving, was… brilliant:

Dear Self,

I am grieving.

Grief is natural.

But I was not born to grieve — I was born to love, and laugh, and live.

Grief is only my waiting room — for the moment.

And one day, soon, I will step out of that waiting room, and back into my life.

I’ll take one small step today, right now, by {insert itty-bitty action step, here}.

That one small step will feel loving, and beautiful, and good.

And that one small step is all I need to do — for now.

Love,

{your name}

XO.

I’m grieving. Ha!

Society doesn’t know how to deal with grief (see above), ME included.

I’m learning, with every crisis and major life change – I’m learning.

I’m learning that the only way over is through, and that progress is slow, because *all the debris and shit* … and that I need to remember to breathe and pick small steps, because that is all the lizard brain that I’m operating from at the moment is capable of. Eventually, though, it will make the transition back to higher-order thinking and we’ll be in business again. Until then I’ll eat Scottish shortbread cookies for lunch and veggies and hummus for breakfast if I want to and be okay with it, keeping in mind that there will be a flip side. There always is.

Seems it’s that time of year, when things have been a bit too dark, for a bit too long. I read an incredible blog post today from Tam which spoke to that. We spend too much time and effort sweeping this stuff under the happy carpet, and it’s taken a very long time for those of us who spend our lives straddling that divide between lightness and darkness to feel less marginalized.

My son had been doing poorly in school for quite some time, and no amount of offering my assistance was helpful – in fact, on the day that I was supposed to be laid off from my job, his school had called me in for an emergency meeting with the vice-principal (thus delaying the inevitable by one whole day). My son was facing a temporary suspension with the ultimatum that in order to stay at the school there would have to be no more unexcused absences nor nonproductive attendance.

For some time now, I suspected that there were other issues at play, but each time I suggested he speak to a psychologist he shrugged and said he didn’t need one, and more recently that it would simply feel like an additional burden to attend to. I suppose this bleak turn of events finally convinced him to make an appointment so I dialled our EAP service provider’s hotline and he asked to meet with a counsellor (his first appointment didn’t actually happen until early December).

He is on the last few sessions and my extended healthcare has run out. The counsellor called me yesterday; we played phone tag a few times and finally ended up speaking today, chatting a bit about what is going on and what some of his concerns were. She said that he is depressed, mildly now, but it was more severe when he first started going.

I had issues with melancholy in my teens too, and well into my adulthood. In my twenties we had at some point determined that I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (which was helped immediately -and amazingly- with light therapy). I had what I semi-jokingly coin my big meltdown in my late thirties (which at the time was termed “Major Depression”) and I still occasionally have struggles with regulating my mood, though my coping mechanisms have improved immensely over the years because I’ve spent so much time on “self-help”, adjunctly assisted by occasional therapy.

One of my son’s issues at the moment is anxiety over our not having enough financial resources… for food… for a roof over our heads… etc. … as a result of my unemployment. Yeah, it kind of sucks to be unemployed, and yes, it definitely affects the ease with which we can carry on with our daily lives, but we haven’t come to the point of having to be concerned about losing our place to live (even though it is crazy expensive on our current budget).

She encouraged me to speak to him about it. Not to merely placate him by saying things like “things will be okay” but acknowledge that there will be some struggle and offer what the solution will be – at least enough of one to put his mind at ease.

I want to posit that this escalation of worry is partly his dad’s doing, in that he discusses with our son my seeming incapability of being an adequate provider, and instead of offering support and assurance, offers his criticism and discusses the hardship the current situation causes him due to his having to assist more during this time of heightened struggle.

But also I think that my son has had it so good throughout his whole life that he doesn’t know that so many people struggle like this every day, all the time. Worse, even. Many, many … much, much worse. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we live in a very affluent neighbourhood, and that most of the kids that he goes to school with are so spoiled that they have lost sight of what is important and meaningful.

I grew up with socio-economic diversity, and witnessed it daily with the kids I went to school with. I came from a middle class home but there were little kids in my first and second grade classes who were undernourished, unkempt and shabbily dressed. I remember one time a brother and sister were segregated from the rest because they were found to have head lice and the school didn’t want there to be an epidemic. Some of the other kids were unkind to them, taunting them after that. I felt like my heart would break when I saw how they were being treated and I went over with my colouring book and coloured pencils and we coloured together, the three of us; it was my way of showing my solidarity – that we are all equal and the same.

I want to say that in our society we will always have “enough” if we apply ourselves “enough” so as to go out there and not give up, either on ourselves or on the things that we believe in.

I want to say that we have people that care around us. Kind people, who will help us when we need it, not because we owe them anything or that they expect to be repaid but because we mean something to them… because of how we treat others, and how we offer support where we can and embody a generous spirit, always.

I want to say that this feeling of hardship will be a familiar one throughout life, whether it is of a material kind, or one of spirit (and that is the hardest of the two to deal with), and that resilience is the greatest trait that one can learn to develop in life, and like any muscle, it requires a working out in order for it to gain in strength and be able to provide support when one needs it.

I want to say that being grateful and remaining hopeful is most of the battle, and that kindness will always beget kindness.

And I want to say that I love him, and would take the food out of my mouth and the clothes off of my back before I see him unfed and without shelter.

InnerWindow
(collage-in-progress)

Bam! Bam! Bam!

The sound of metal hitting metal permeates the house. It is relentless. They are driving steel rods into the earth for the Skytrain station being built across the street, and the construction noise is nerve-wracking.

When the banging stops the silence in the wake of the noise is so loud that it almost hurts. I’ve been drowning it out with music but I want to write and I can’t focus as well on the writing when I am listening to music, so the unsilent silence is what I will have to live with.

Somewhere in there is a metaphor for my present moment, I’m sure.

I awoke late this morning, at a few minutes short of ten, and by the time I’d gotten the coffee making, breakfast eating sorted out, personal hygiene and other things done, it is now twenty-five after eleven. I want to work on my Cauliflower story. I have a group coaching call with Jill at noon and so there isn’t much time to get into the momentum of writing – it will have to wait until afterwards. I’ve written my dream log (first thing, upon waking) and I’ve checked my email, flicked and unsubscribed from the endless sea of spam messages as they came in, and went to the Esso station to pick up a half litre of half & half so I can have my coffee. I’ve eaten some yogurt and granola and I’ve showered. I’ve cleaned out the cat’s litter box and swept the entryway.

The days are flowing by more quickly than I’d like them to, although I am also anxiously awaiting the arrival of some money which will not be for another couple of weeks yet. It’s been difficult, but I am learning to sink into ease despite the discomfort. I’ve been creatively productive, though, if I have to dig around for a silver lining.

*oh! the mail… through the mail slot… always makes me jump…*

Well, the mail brought a bill for our health coverage services and I am unable to pay it, so I called them and they’ve put a temporary hold on collection services and I can also apply for the waiving of the fees during my unemployment. Which is a relief because I don’t want to have to choose between food and healthcare coverage, or rather be forced to pay for the coverage at the expense of having food.

Well. So here I am again in this really uncomfortable place of not having. And it sucks. And I’m tired of being here over and over and over again.

And I’m also trying to not feel sorry for myself. I’m trying to be optimistic while sharing my story.

And I’m noting that I am in constant struggle with my inner critic who says things like “I have not been doing anything constructive”, which is something that is mirrored by others around me. “WHAT have you been doing with your time?” they ask. “WHY haven’t you found work yet?” “You need a job – stop being so picky.”

All sort of true things. True in that it is obvious that I must work again (or generate an income in some way), but also not true in that I must be hasty in my selection of the work I choose. Yes, there is a sense of urgency but I have to trust that the steps I am taking, in concert, will yield the results that I wish to gain. And I’m figuring it out as I am going along. New territory is always tough to breach. I don’t have a map, really. Just some landmarks to follow as I stumble across the terrain, trying to get to the other side, to where I really want to be. Today that would be a nice sunny soft sand oceanside beach, with a good book and a picnic basket. With wine. LOTS of wine.

I know there are other people that are way worse off than I am or are having some insane life challenges that are way beyond my little woes (like a woman from one of our online art groups who had to go in to surgery yesterday to have her tongue removed because of the big “C” … or … after looking at the photo essay by Lisa Kristine on Modern Day Slavery, my life looks like a cake walk in comparison). So much courage out there and I feel laughably ridiculous with my little woes. First World Problems. But problems nonetheless.

They are my woes, and I still have to deal with them, and it still feels … hard. By honouring that I am allowed to find things difficult validates me in a way that I have not been able to find validation from any other source: it gives me courage to dig deeper and go just a little beyond myself.

Being vulnerable is often considered a character flaw. I don’t mean vulnerable in the sense of being at risk of injury but the kind that is to authentically share what it feels like being you, including the nasty bits that make you (and possibly other people) uncomfortable. Scary.

I have very little idea who reads this blog or how it is received. I don’t want to further burden an already over-burdened world. I do want to share, though, my unadulterated journey because I’m sure that there are others who feel exactly the same way I do about something but they feel isolated and marginalized in some way, and UNHEARD.

So this is what I want to create, I suppose … a vehicle to hear and to be heard.

I choose to do it by writing my own story. I open up a window for others to peer in to – sometimes that simple act allows others to create their own opening and show just a little more of themselves.

I consider the showing and the witnessing a sacred act.
And I consider that unfolding to be a victory.

Peace. xo

ReminderJournal

I’m sitting here at a quarter to noon with a black skin clarification mask smeared on my chin (an attempt to rid it of a spot that is and one that isn’t quite yet) post-yet-another-freebie-coaching call (this one with Stacy Nelson – who was awesome, by the way), freshly showered and dressed in what I fondly refer to as my gene string footless tights and a faded and hole-y lounging tunic.

I’ve been a blog whore lately, abundantly engaging in All That Is Free in the blogosphere (because, seriously, I’ve got less than thirty bucks to rub together until my very first EI check arrives some time during the first week of February, and I’m also wondering whether I should spend any of it on a card for my son’s birthday, which is the day after tomorrow, or just focus on what’s important and buy ingredients to make him a birthday cake instead). Decisions.

And really, that is all I have been focusing on… decisions.
Decisions I’ve made.
Decisions I have to make.
How my decisions will affect my life and the ones of those in my intimate circle.

The question that keeps coming up in all of these is:

What Feeds Me?

That’s a big question.

So much feeds me. And much also doesn’t.

Coming back to center and figuring out what truly feeds me rather than what I turn to when I seek to be fed is where I struggle. It has been a struggle that I’ve had for a very long time, and clearly I have not yet found a way to operate which truly allows for that balance to manifest.

And… I’ve been avoiding this sitting with myself bit. Over and over again. When I have (in the past), I’ve come upon the uncomfortable realization that nothing that I was or am doing, professionally (and I’m using that as a loose term because “legal administrative assistant” may sound like a profession, but really? let’s get serious…) is getting me closer to how I want to be and feel in the world. So I stuff it all down and hunker down for another bout of sucking it up and trying to be myself as best as I can in an environment that stifles and rejects uniqueness and most of the values that I, well, value most.

I make a choice. Then another. And another.

Like a pendulum, I swing wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other.

I make a choice that ends up taking me further away from center… it swings to the farthest reaches of discomfort and then, at the end of its course it has no choice but to start swinging backwards.

Then I make a polar opposite choice (or one is made for me) and I swing in the other direction… still an unbalanced way to work things, right?

One extreme; another extreme.

So despite my myriad yearnings for many other things or feelings… what I need to find first is balance. But what does that look like? How can I find middle ground without feeling like I’ve sold my soul?

Stacy asked me what it is that truly lights me up… what feelings are the ones that make me feel most seated in myself? They were:

The act of creating
Connection / Communion

Those two things are the feelings that resonate the most with me, and they drive everything that I do in my life, including that pendulum that swings back and forth, back and forth. I reach for those two feelings and sometimes get them sustainably, and sometimes get them at great expense. The process I am trying to wade through now is what expense is necessary in order to sustainably reach both of those feelings most of the time.

I mean… we all need a roof over our heads and food in our stomachs. And I’d like to up the ante a bit and say that I want to maintain a nice, beautiful and comfortable home and good food, not just sumptuous and delicious but good, vital, food. I want to not have to worry about getting to the check out counter and have to remove things from the basket in order to have enough money to pay for the groceries. I want to not have to choose between a birthday card for my son and a delicious meal to serve him on his birthday and a birthday cake.

These are all things I didn’t think too much about until a few months ago. I had enough to have and do these things, in moderation, but not more. Everything was always carefully calculated and stretched out just so. I lived pretty much within my means (give or take about a $500 gap) but couldn’t account for any contingency plan should my income disappear or greatly diminish for any length of time. I tried to plan my escape route and line up another job, but it didn’t happen in time.

Since then I’ve worked with a legal placement agency (because that is where two decades of my experience lies) and I’ve been presented as a candidate for several positions.

The radio silence is numbing. In many ways it also shadows the very feelings I have when I am in the sort of environment that I’ve worked in for the last several decades. Numb. It definitely doesn’t evoke either of those two core feelings that I wish to feel that I listed above, and while I feel connection with the people I work side-by-side with, seldom do I feel deep connection to the companies I’ve worked for, or to the driving ideology that underlies them.

For one, many of them support the kinds of things that I am diametrically opposed to (like supporting natural resource exploitation spin doctored to sound like they are being done in a “corporately responsible” way but… yeah, right… and the corporate shortsighted focus on the bottom line at the expense of sustained socio-economic stability).

I don’t have answers to the socio-economic issues that plague the modern day world and expect that there are other far more skilled and able people out there working on viable solutions, but I do know that I don’t want to further contribute to its failings by being an active participant, even peripherally.

Which greatly limits my options at the moment.

So I find myself having to make some decisions.

I’m having to search out what my core values are, and realign with them once again.

I’m having to seek opportunities for earning a livelihood that will create the sort of feelings I want to embody, in which all of my needs are met. By needs, I don’t mean surface needs – I mean the ones that underlie those surface needs and anchor us to who we are in the world.

I’m having to not feel ashamed that I have needs in the first place, and that having needs doesn’t mean that I am needy.

I’m having to view my limitations, and really look at them to figure out whether they are actual or perceived, and figure out what to do about them.

I’m having to swim through an overwhelming sea of information and figure out what is pertinent, and pick out what will be useful to me to get me back to feeling those two key core feelings that I am most happy in.

I’m having to counterbalance my wish for right-work and right-livelihood with my skills and experience, and the marketplace, and see if there is any wiggle room in there that will allow me to contribute in meaningful ways without the credentials and the experience and, frankly, perhaps even a demand for what I have to offer.

I don’t suffer fools easily, and this paradox applies to myself, equally. I can very much be the fool at times, and being the fool puts me on a journey towards self-discovery. It always leads back to self… to spirit, and that connection that I yearn for with others as well as with myself.

This is a walk of the highest vibration, which I must struggle to maintain because if I don’t, I’ll make another counter-intuitive choice. I must constantly be aware of where my thoughts are, and how everything feels in my body.

And my body is telling me this:

It’s taken almost TWO MONTHS to recover from the dis-ease created by TWO YEARS (compounded upon TWO DECADES) of walking around in someone else’s life.
Find yours. Find your life. Find your place.

And really? I’m just trying to stop from become the screaming dude in Edvard Munch’s painting…

Peace. (or peach… as I incorrectly typed and then changed, but oddly, it’s fitting, because *juicy*!) xo

20140111-220533.jpg

Another Art Journal page … collaged some images and a coloured pencil sketch and because I was really impatient it’s all wrinkly but OH well… still in progress and will add some “core desired feelings” to the images (as referred to in Danielle Laporte’s interview on Sounds True).

Rumi - Field

“Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.”  ~Rumi

(Because y’all know I contemplate a lot – it’s just what I do - I’ve been thinkin’…)

Someone on my Facebook friends list posted that relationship is her spiritual practice. This of course got me thinking (because … see above) about all of the relationships I’ve had in my life, as well as those I’ve observed first hand (like my parents’ relationship, for example).

I thought about my last intimate relationship and how it’s affecting my present moment.

I’ve thought about that person’s new relationship and how joyous it seems, how right, and effectively how wrong we now appear for each other, in retrospect.

I’ve thought about my abandoned marriage and the choices that paved their way to my finding myself here, now.

I thought about my mother’s relationship with my father, and how the choices she made affected both our (actually, our whole family’s) lives, and how both of us, at points of our lives not terribly far from each other’s in age, we made different choices, and how each of us chose to be brave in the best ways we knew how.

I thought about how other people have influenced most of my choices throughout the course of my life; how through fear-imbued rhetoric they managed to shape the way I viewed my potential and possibilities, and how, when my mother had to make a choice whether to leave her shambled marriage or to stay in it, middle-aged and with a young four year old child, she chose to stay, while I, faced with a similar choice, chose to leave. I saw possibility; potential. She saw hardship; strife.

I’ve often reproached myself, over the course of my life, for always being the one to cut out, though in truth I honestly do feel that I gave my marriage all I could with whatever I had at my disposal.

Many other choices preceded that last monumental one. Over the course of my life I had always opted for safety and comfort because I was afraid that I didn’t have what it took to withstand difficulty, but in so choosing it proved to me that I could. The choice of not making the right one created difficulties that were probably just as challenging and certainly more corrosive than the ones which would have resulted had I made the choices I ought to have made in the first place – had I had more courage to embrace what my heart truly wanted.

Each choice, however minute, however beneficial or detrimental, builds who you become. It shapes you, pebble by pebble, breath by breath.

In the end one hopes what the monument of self that we have built over the course of our lives is one we are pleased with when it comes to its end.

#######

The above sketch came to me during Jennifer Louden’s freebie introductory session for her Life Organizer Navigation Course. If you are so moved and are able to take it, DO it. I can’t at this time and hope to continue respectfully engaging in dialog with my shadow comforts and time monsters to reach an equitable working arrangement. Peace. xo

(and below is the sketch from above translated into colour in my art journal)

photo

Jan4&6JustDoImperfection

Jan3CultivateRoot

(pencil undersketch penned over and painted with tube gouache. #30DayJournalProject)

Slow. Rain. Comfort. Coffee. Dream fragments. Hunger pangs. Hair and clothes that need washing. Lists made. Things to be done. All folding into this space and time of semi-wakefulness. This moment. WHAT do I want? What do I want to DO? Besides sleep some more. Oh sleep, how I love thee. It took months before I broke out of the cycle of awakening early every morning, filled with anxiety as though I’d missed the alarm. My rhythms are different now… back to what they naturally are inclined to do – late nights and not wakening until it’s light, which on these shortened winter days is late. Ah, yes… light. Not much of it again, these days. I think that I ought to go for a run and try fitness again but all I want to do is sleep. Keep warm and cozy and dry. Definitely not wet. Why do people like running in the cold rain?

It’s almost 10am and I am only just dragging myself up and about.  It’s grey outside and the grumbling in my stomach reminds me to put the kettle on. Coffee first. Then, when there are enough neurons firing, something else… food. Yogourt and granola. Love this granola but seriously – $8 for the bag made me cringe, but I got it anyway because it has Good Stuff in it, and I don’t have much Good Stuff so I need to make it count. I have a sort of dietic apathy.  I love food but the preparing and cooking of it doesn’t interest me, so quick and convenient (which usually doesn’t mean healthy). I did buy some pita bread and will experiment with making my own chips (*must steep fresh rosemary in olive oil*). I do like the experimental aspect of it. And when people enjoy what I make. There’s only the two of us and it gets old always being the one to be doing the cooking.

*pausing to make some coffee*

The smell of coffee is still on my hands. I love how it smells. How it tastes, too, but the smell is what brings it all together – the scent, the taste, the way it’s warmth spreads as it progresses down to my belly.

I had an image come to me this morning, for my art journal page, as I laid in bed with my arms clasped together over my lower abdomen, feeling it rise and fall with each breath. The awareness of my breath made me focus on it even more, and I breathed relaxation into it. I saw it as if it was burning, like a fire enlivened by the wind from the bellows. I had until now thought that my creativity stemmed from the root chakra, the elemental connection of our bodily selves to the spark that materialized us, but I see now that it’s at the second chakra where my breath is feeding the raging fires that it births from.

I made plans. I wrote them out (in my Notes, on the iPhone).

One is to do these… morning pages. To write for an hour. Another is to write on one of my stories. I haven’t touched the Telescope story in a while, and I feel it’s time to revisit it again. I’m just going to write. What else can I do but write it out? Yet another to-do item is to research freelance opportunities for writers and artists. I want to know where the markets are, what they require, so that I can build a repertoire of material that will likely be attractive. Targeted work. I always thought that making “art” to order would take away from my creative process, but I think in some ways it will fuel it, make me stretch in ways I would not have had it just been for me and my being left to my own devices. I hope it makes me a better writer and artist.

And then there is the roast for dinner. I am going to put it in the oven around 4PM. It’s a mammoth rolled pork blade roast, and I now realize that I will have to return to the grocery store because I think it needs to be accompanied by brussels sprouts. Yes, definitely. It will be poked and inserted with slivers of garlic and resemble Pinhead – Clive would be proud. I wish I had some rendered fat to rub on its surface. I have some duck fat and it works well as a fat for many things but it just doesn’t sound like it would taste right with the pork, which is lighter and more subtle in flavour and the duck fat doesn’t ever quite lose that wildness. I wish I could find some juniper berries. Not tons.. just a bit. I had a recipe call for some and it’s not something that regularly shows up between the peppercorn and nutmeg and turmeric.  I have a serious spice hoarding issue. Well… not hoarding - collecting. But I use them. I’m the one who makes lavender and thyme shortbread cookies. I love lavender. In food. Well, in anything, Period.

*pauses to go grab the mail that just got violently shoved through the mail slot by the postal carrier – it always startles me*

Nothing particularly exciting, though Organic Gardening was in there, and I know that preparing for the next growing season isn’t all that far off. I’m so grateful that Tyler and Amanda are keen gardeners and that they allow me to stick my hands into the dirt here, and also reap some of the bounty. I’ve been thinking that perhaps my (two boxes of!) paper making supplies could be put to use during this lull and that I make some seeded paper to sell. On etsy, maybe. I always wonder about whether it’s worth opening up an etsy storefront or not. Whether it’s more trouble than it’s worth; whether you need the demand already in place for the supply to be worth the trouble. Not quite buying the “if you build it they will come” paradigm. But who knows.

Well, the hour is about up. I’m ready for some granola and yogourt. Maybe another coffee, and then I’ll tackle something else on my list. One of which should be to take a shower.

The opening quote (from George Bernard Shaw) for a book I’m reading (“Body of Work” by Pamela Slim) says:

“Life isn’t about finding yourself.
Life is about creating yourself.”

 

I’ve been on quite the journey since being laid off. I saw it coming, so it wasn’t a huge surprise, though one is never really prepared to let go the safety rope when the time comes. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time, over the years, mulling over what I wanted to do with this one and precious life but I’m still dumbfounded, some.

There is a difference between dreaming wildly about something and determining and implementing specific steps towards something.

So I’m at that discovery place…

The “What can I do that someone might value and be willing to pay me for?” place.

The “What is it that makes me shine from the inside out?” place.

The “Where can I find ways in which to share the shine?” and the “Where can I find the support network that will help me build the infrastructure to enable this freedom making dream to materialize?” place.

I find there is a lot of fear around this cutting lose of dreams and audacity. Not just mine but others’. People want you to stay realistic, practical – the same. Well there is a place for practicality, once the dream is determined… the steps to implement are practical ones, and finding leads and sources of income are practical… even the doing of the work for which one hopes to be paid is practical… but the visioning and the dreaming… that must remain something impractical, and MINE. Something incorruptible and MINE. I must take ownership of it in order to make it happen, and it will never be if I continue to let others influence what MY dream must look like.

And then there is the ridicule, the doubt… the removal of support from those who think that machete-ing my way through an untread upon path will surely result in failure, because.. look at me, I’M the unemployed one here.

And it’s tough, this place. This place of beginning and not knowing… not knowing the what I have to offer, its inherent value and how to go about offering it.

So I look like I’m at a standstill, engaging in creative things like journaling and painting and writing. It’s not that I’m just playing and wasting time. It is my honest attempt to unlock those very answers that I’m sure I’ll find the keys to when I’m engaged in something else.

In the meantime, I hope to find support, whether financial or otherwise, from the people that are close to me, those who care. I hope they will stand in solidarity with me, until I’ve cut through to clarity.

Work and life are changing. We are at the cusp of a new work paradigm. We have the power in our hands to craft our lives into something radically different. Our reach is wider spread than ever. The potential for success is greater now than it has ever been. Why are we so afraid to take that step? (And by “we” I mean me, but if you identify with this perhaps you as well.) Let’s talk. Comments are open, below. Add your voice to the discussion. Peace. xo

Jan2Commitment

RuneTree

Silver glints in my hair, finely threaded through my bedhead. I wash the gesso off of the foam brush so I can use it again, later, while observing my reflection in the bathroom mirror. It’s all about economy now. Of movement. Of expression. Of resources.

The sun is filtering through the low lying mist this morning, it’s presence an unaccustomed sight. Winter here in the upper northwest is weighted down with short days and even less light, the sun socked behind a haze of overcast that every once in a while miraculously dissipates – like now. It was cold overnight, frost etching the surface of all things with a crystalline sheen.

I contemplate my 30-day journal quote from a few days ago (because I am behind and instead of picking and choosing through the days that I’ve not done, I feel compelled to make up for all of it – yet another thing to explore when I have a moment).

The quote for Day 2 was :
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

(words by W. H. Murray from his book, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition)

Commitment isn’t an easy word for me. I’ve struggled with it for a long time. Initially, I commit to things doggedly, so when I finally make the decision to do so, I want it to be the right one. Which leads to very little happening, and very little commitment. I think that by dabbling and avoiding the commitment I’ll actually get to a place where there is enough to pull together and make something from, and then I’ll commit to making it better. There never is. Enough. It’s all just a huge collection of structureless discombobulated bits.

And I realize, on retrospection, that I am much the same with relationships. I observe. I wait. I gauge. And invariably walk away. The cost for all of this, is several fold. Much of the good in life happens when one commits wholeheartedly. It is also something that I’ve never seemed to master. I chose partners who are commitment-phobic (much like me). I chose projects that either require little commitments or end up abandoning them when I feel the pinch of constraint – when things get too hard and require me to move past my comfort zone. I’m sure this must have to do with something from my childhood, a learned behaviour, but I have neither the time, money or inclination to invest in dissection, so I’m left with trying to figure out what it is that edges me past the discomfort and into that place of … danger … of uncertainty … and feeling okay with it.

So here I am, making yet another attempt at operating within the container of time in which to make something. This opens a space for the other things too, I think. Before the onslaught of life happens, and I am employed and become distracted with making a living and the usual grind of life (which wears on me and erodes my self-discipline in ways I can’t even explain), I want to establish structure. I want to figure out what works for me in order to make things. To finish things. So my word for the year, focus, comes into play. I can’t commit if I can’t figure out a way to selectively focus on things, successively, or remember why I committed to something in the first place. And it doesn’t all have to be perfectly executed upon the first attempt.

So… I’m off to make my second perfectly brewed cup of Starbucks Christmas Blend. Enjoy. Everything. xo

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I was out and about, walking the neighbourhood on this semi-sunny winter’s day. I’ll take a break from the rain where/whenever I can get it.

Home now – early afternoon and it feels like late afternoon, what with the “golden hour” glow. The days may be lengthening but it still feels like awfully short days.

There was a huge bear of a husky type dog parked out in front of Starbucks, and I couldn’t help myself – we visited. It’s ears and head were soft and smooth, while the rest was wiry and downright huggable. I’m glad it allowed me to spend some companionable time with it.

I’m getting ready to journal. I lit some white sage and waved it around the place, brewed myself a cup of coffee and I’m ready to start on some pages – or at least the first.

I’ve started with a quote from Thoreau (“There is no beginning too small.”), provided by Lisa Sonora Beam as the first of her free 30 Day Journaling Project. I have also sketched the three runes that I pulled the other day (kenaz, dagaz, nauthiz), as I contemplated this new year from its crest.

I’m feeling contemplative and feel the need to – well – contemplate. I’ve been out of touch with myself for a while. I need to reconnect.

I paid my rent. I picked up a bit of food.

It strikes me that I seem to appreciate things more when I have to consider (very carefully) where my money goes and what it is spent on. Like buying a mango-orange (because I’ve never had one before) and then cutting it up and savouring it, slice-by-slice, because I had to pull from the little I have to purchase it. I had to choose it in favour of something else. It’s sad that I must always be at the end of financial fluidity to grasp this… preciousness. Somehow, when abundance flows, the magnitude of my appreciation diminishes. I know that is my issue (perhaps not just mine but the world’s in general).

When I have, I seem to become desensitized and less grateful, or want else and more. When I yearn, I feel like I am missing out. But here, in this place of barely having but HAVING, there is the sense of fleeting and immense gratitude. Things taste better; feel stronger.

Again… if only I could hold this space when I am not so desperate, when abundance flows and I am still fully aware of the gifts, every single one.

Perhaps my chosen word for the year : FOCUS : will help me with this. Because focus connotes so much more than it’s meaning at face value and is applicable to much, from choosing projects, then working on them in a concentrated manner, to figuring out what I can contribute to the world and make a living from it, to… the delicate taste of a mango-orange rolling on my tongue.

I suppose happiness is not a constant – things ebb and flow and it is the way, but I think recognizing it when it’s there and holding space and appreciation for it when it happens, that is the key to it.

I was listening to this from Ray Charles yesterday. He mentions how he is grateful for his sense of touch. I am too.

When I was younger, under certain conditions, my sense of touch and my experience of colours intermingled (synesthesia). While I am highly sensitized to colour, I would say that touch is the sense that I am the most keenly aware of.

As an artist, using my hands -touch- in making visual art is an inexorable part of my creative process; it is what makes it a visceral experience.

Flora Bowley (who I only know through her videos) so aptly captures the spirit of this in her art making process. Go… check her out.

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(close up of a new hand bound journal cover I am in the process of making)

Another year begins. It never ceases to amaze me how life moves along and the unexpected always happens (and somehow surprises me, because I expect things to remain constant despite knowing full well that they never are).

I begin the year with the knowledge that how things flow is largely dependent upon my own actions.

Some observations:

  • I become disconnected from myself when I neglect my urge to create.
  • Working with colour gives me joy and feeds me in a way that only it can.
  • Meditation is not an option but a requisite.
  • Discipline is the only path to accomplishment.
  • Bliss is to be found everywhere, all the time.
  • Shiva Paintstiks will rub off on your keyboard if you don’t wash your hands before typing.
  • Ideas are like popcorn kernels; store them in a jar until you are ready to make them pop.
  • Community, whether real or virtual, feeds the soul just as well as solitude; both are necessary to thrive.

Giving thanks to Effy Wild who went live on Ustream today and inspired me to create a new journal.

To a joyous, blissful, productive and enlightened new year.

WishUponAStar
(after seeing THIS site, I thought I’d put a prayer of sorts out there…)

that great thoughts, like butterflies, imaginally take flight
that hopes, like balloons, float up to great heights
that I shape the best year yet, one little step by one little step
that love will prevail, when all else fails
that discomfort be replaced by action, ache by joy
that prosperity be in numbers, abundant fruits from toil
to find my north star and follow it true
that good things come to all, and especially you

Happy New Year
Love, Me xo

I’ve felt a rant coming on for days now.

It’s really interesting to see what’s going on out there in the crafty worlds… I stepped away from it all a while ago, mostly because there really wasn’t a huge community of folks around in the new land I now call home, and also because, well, frankly, I got tired of everything looking homogenous. Pretty, certainly… aesthetically pleasing, definitely… but… homogenous.

Since being laid off last month I have had some extra time to kill, looking to revitalize my visual art practice and so have been poking around again to see what was out there. I’ve long since given up on the publications that cater to the craft industry (for the reasons above), not only because things they showcase are repetitive in nature but because the publications themselves over time become cost prohibitive. Truly there is little in each issue that I find stimulating, and hardly worth the price of admission for a few relevant pages of eye candy. I fare better with books, but that too becomes costly after a time, and there aren’t that many worthwhile ones published (insofar as this category).

With that said, living in a creative vacuum can be limiting sometimes, and being involved in a community of creative people is empowering and enriching… so off I went to the interwebs to see what I could find.

There is some cool stuff going on out there, for sure, but on many levels it’s still the same ole thing… there is a bandwagon to be jumped on (can you say stencils? modelling paste? gelatos?) and people are churning out the same ole “stuff”, and in order to find innovation and originality I once again find that I have to go outside of and away from the usual suspects. I must turn to the illustrators, designers, graphic and typographical artists, etc., in order to find things that will spark inspiration and engender within me the urge to innovate.

Now I realize that we all do this “art” stuff for different reasons, and for some (myself included) it serves multiple purposes, but why is there always such a frenetic buzz around the “it” things while there is also an immense void in the internalization of the processes underlying the material techniques – why is there no incubation of sorts, and then a proliferation of novel ideas and visions with said materials? (Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places?)

The product “designers” all churn out the same old stuff, the products proliferate in the market place and so more of the same stuff gets created and there is a literal flood of sameness. And I’ve gotta tell ya, it’s not all great stuff. A lot of it isn’t even good stuff. It’s akin to the dreaded gad-awful knitted jumper Aunt Flo gives you for Christmas every year.

But I get it… that is the nature of craft and the industry. It’s all about the consumption of materials to create prolifically. Capitalism at its finest in the guise of self-satisfied “artistic” entitlement.

I’ve always associated “craft” with workmanship and also, in a sense, innovation. In order for it to remain relevant I believe it has to evolve and change and gain meaning and yearn for a sense of longevity.

I also get the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” adage… clearly there are benefits to sticking with tried and true methods and processes and creative births. A formula that is working is a good thing, to some extent. I do the same thing with my stuff (oftentimes)… I create in the same way, using the same materials, and with similar subject matter… but my work has changed and evolved over the years, and it is diversified – I will try just about anything just to see what the medium is like and whether I like to work in it and especially to determine if it is the one best suited to the expression of the “thing” that I am trying to express.

So I guess that’s where it starts. Creation isn’t a random process. Something niggles and quickens and wants to be borne into the world in some form or another. You get to deliver it through some semblance of mastery of the materials you work with/in, honing your skills so they are able to translate those ephemeral visions from within to without, becoming knowledgeable enough in the mediums to determine which will be the best suited for its fullest expression and daring to try to deviate from that which you’ve done before (or is the norm) in order to breach your imagined limitations.

Skill. Happy mistakes. Explorations. Personal aesthetic. Curiosity. Drive. Purpose. Vision.

These constitute a pretty good formula for creative expansion, but there is no template to follow. In fact if you don’t break free from a template almost as soon as you work with it once, you aren’t digging deep enough.

Let me clarify…. there is a difference between developing and working repetitively in your own style versus regurgitating another’s work and calling it art.

There… I feel much better now. Rant over.

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As some of you may or may not know, the position I occupied at my last job was “eliminated” and thus so was my income. I received a modest severance and because of this will not receive any actual Employment Insurance until the first week of February. For most of my life I’ve lived pay check to pay check. I’ve posted plenty of times about how my handling of and relationship to money, like most people who live in the western world, could stand for some improvement. It is an ongoing investigation and process, involving a lot of self examination and, subsequently, necessitating growth.

As some of you may or may not know, the work that I’ve been doing for most of my working life has been less than satisfying on many levels. While the way in which I’ve chosen to support myself has lacked much in the way of professional validation and stimulus, I’ve managed to support myself when I was alone, contribute to -at times more than half of- the household income during my marriage and now, as a single parent, largely support myself and my son, with my earnings. I want to acknowledge that my son’s father does contribute to our household, and without this contribution we would not be able to enjoy the lifestyle that we currently enjoy. The standard which we live in is largely the standard to which my son was born and the one which we’ve become accustomed to in this affluent north american culture in which we live.

By the same token, though, we haven’t had an excess of loose change, and many of the luxuries that were easily accessible during my married life are no longer a possibility. Every luxury has to be considered and weighed for value and worthiness, even while I was employed.

And, if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you also know that there have been some financial struggles in our lives, especially over the last several years since leaving my marriage. The loss of my newly acquired job in January 2010, soon after our move back to Canada, was a huge blow. Without any savings to speak of, the first month after being let go was brutal, and the struggle continued for months after that, while anxiously waiting for the EI checks to arrive and not being able to pay the bills (cell phone, cable, health insurance, furniture I had purchased on credit) that continued to roll in. There was money for food and rent but much of everything else fell by the wayside.

It took four months’ time for me to find another job, one that was not ideal but that certainly was a relief to obtain so that the looming bills could finally be settled, at least in part. Four months later I got into a car accident in which my car sustained lots of damage. Because it was considered my error, my deductible was $1,000, which I of course did not have, but in order to claim my car back from the body shop which held it hostage, I had to pay it. Robbing from Peter to pay Paul, I got the car back, but the hole that was left in the wake of this financial gap was something that I continued to struggle to recover from.

And now, once again, I am jobless. Jobless and truly wondering why the Universe continues to dish up this same meal for me to partake of. Someone recently, after I mentioned that I would not have any money flowing in to the household until the end of January (which I’ve now recalculated to actually be the beginning February) told me that this was a character building experience. Initially, I found the remark to be insensitive and flippant, making light of something that really was very serious and life altering in a way that only someone who has had the experience of being in the place in which I find myself to truly understand. The growth will occur, certainly, and will potentially yield a better direction – at least that is my hope. The choice, as always, remains mine to take, though everyone has an opinion on what that choice should be. And while I “trust” in the Universe, it doesn’t exactly deliver random and sizeable checks through my mail slot just because I need it.

The day that I had that brief exchange, I had been catapulted into complete deer-in-the-headlights mode. How was I going to pay for food and rent? Both my son’s and my birthdays are in January – they would be write-offs, certainly, in that we would not be able to celebrate them. I spent the night tossing and turning, stomach churning and cursing that I had to once again be mired by this burden that I could not seem to pull myself out of.

Finally, I did the only thing that I could think to do and asked my ex-husband for additional help, so that, in the least, I could pay my rent. To put this request into context, you have to understand that much of the strife within our marriage was one spurred by financial discordance. My issues with money. My inability to have enough self-mastery when I was emotionally bereft to come to grips with the management of the funds that he so trustingly put into my very incapable hands. To further frame that, you also should know that I never hid the fact that I had these issues. From very early on, in our conversations, I openly and with much candour disclosed that I was not good with the stuff, and told him exactly what happened with the stuff when I had it in my hands, especially when I was in crisis. He had his own issues with it. It seems that many of us have a rather unhealthy relationship with the stuff – I am not an anomaly, despite being made to feel so throughout the length of my marriage.

So, when I asked for help by requesting the very thing that was the bane of our marriage, it was humiliating in a way that I can not even begin to adequately express. I knew the thought processes which would run through his head when I asked. I knew that ultimately he would probably help, but not without a cost.

Last night, after preparing a very nice meal and sitting down to enjoy it with my son, we got into a discussion about jobs, job searching, how tight things would be for a bit, and that it would be a good thing for him to perhaps find himself a part time job as well, so that he could buy himself the nice things he’d like that extend beyond the necessities that I am able to provide. What he said floored me. He said that I shouldn’t rely on income from his job to supplement our household, and that my lack of an income was affecting others already, including his father. Firstly, I never intimated that I would be asking for his help in assisting with the household. However it was not what bothered me the most about our conversation.

The fact that his father discussed -even merely in passing- our financial arrangements with my son violates an unspoken agreement that I thought parents should have (certainly one that I thought we had), especially those who are no longer in a family unit, in regard to affording their children the semblance of a unified front, a sort of solidarity that despite there having been a rift that separated our mutual ideologies enough to necessitate a parting of ways, that at the core of our interactions and by virtue of our shared history (and joint interest in our offspring), there remained an underlying respect and genuine caring for each other’s well-being.

I resent that I am (or continue to be), whether overtly or subliminally, being vilified – by my ex-husband to my child – when I am in need of the most support. Wouldn’t it be in everyone’s best interest to be supportive of each other, and hold each other up rather than beat each other down? Furthermore, I have never spoken ill of my husband to my son, despite there being plenty of ways in which I could list his various failings both as a father and as a husband. We are imperfect, and thus we at times make choices that are not necessarily the best ones. In light of this, I don’t share my thoughts on these things with my son.

I resent that, while my son is too unformed in his own maturity to see it otherwise, his father is engaging in skewing his opinion of me, despite the fact that he does not live in our household (and is not even able to witness it in any proximate way) and is clearly not in a place to judge. Not only that; his lack of clarity not only in this case but essentially in regard to his own role and contribution to the success or failure of our relationship while we were married strips him of the right to comment in this case, but should he desire to comment, it should be to me and not our seventeen year old son to whom he should air.

It is easy to vilify someone, but much more difficult to embrace our part in the failings of an enterprise. For many years I looked to place blame outside of myself for many things, and at some point decided that the only way to begin to tame my demons was to finally accept them, own them and examine them. Sure, there were (are!) reasons for which I am the way I am that were outside of my control, many in fact formed during my childhood despite them not being formed in a way which engages enough life experience to be useful (then or later), and ones which continue to manifest even as mature adults.

I have spent much of my life attempting to deconstruct the reasons why I do things, to gain an understanding of what underlies my instinctive reactions and to gain enough emotional maturity to be able to lay new pathways, to rework those reactions in more beneficial ways. I could cite various and sundry childhood and early adult traumas which are partly at the root of these behaviours and the ways in which I’ve learned to cope with them. I have been alone and unsupported throughout this process, particularly in the context of my former marriage. I understand that we can only show up with what we are capable of (and I did, after all, choose the relationship), that despite our intelligence, knowledge and life experience, things continue to escape us. We are human, after all. I did expect, though, that after all of the things that we shared together, that there would be an underlying sense of compassion that imbued our dealings, post and prior to our parting, though seeing that if that would have been present in the first place, more than likely we would still be together.

So I leave you all with this. Even for a moment, try to imagine yourself in another’s place, not just as an onlooker but as you would if you were in identical circumstances, not in the context of your own life but the one in which they are in. What would you do? How would you feel? What, if anything, would you want someone to say to you or do in order to ease your distress, lessen your burden, share in your human experience?

Being kind costs nothing. Staying out of judgement, despite it being really difficult to do for some of us, affords greater connection with our fellowmen than it does to stand in judgement of them. Compassion is truly the only way for humanity to reconnect with itself, to cure whatever ails it, and much ails it.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.  Romans 14:13

Yup… got one… so SHARING it with y’all…

On shadowed ground with no one around
And a blanket of stars in our eyes
We are drifting free, like two lost leaves
On the crazy wind of the night

And here’s the VIDEO.

There… I feel *much* better… how ’bout you?

Adriane xo

PrettyClothes

Sitting here this morning, sipping my second cup of coffee (*bliss*) while I figure out what I want to do with my time today.

Oh… and eating shortbread cookies for breakfast (because… well, I’m lazy and it’s right there and it is sooooooo good!).

Already most of the morning is gone and all I’ve done is enjoy coffee which I got at Starbucks yesterday, because I’ve been drinking Nabob and it’s… okay…. but OMG was I ever craving a really STELLAR cup of coffee, so I splurged and bought a pound of the Christmas Blend, which got me a $5 gift card, so technically it only cost me $13 for the pound… *sigh* coffee and chocolate are my two guilty pleasures and they certainly aren’t cheap ones. ANYway… At least I had had the foresight to load my Starbucks card up a while back so I didn’t actually spend any NEW money, but was using my coffee reserve $….

  • I want to get at least 20 minutes of sitting meditation in
  • I’m doing laundry (is that ever a sisyphean task or what?!)
  • I will eventually need to prepare something for dinner (I got some crusty bread and tomatoes, basil and garlic and want to make some bruschetta tonight, to go with our left overs from earlier in the week)
  • I have a pile of magazine pages sitting on the table from the aftermath of my image reaping session last night in an attempt to shrink my magazine pile… contemplating what to do with it – play with the images in a journal or put them in my stash
  • I want to write some more
  • I need to do some research on short fiction submissions (where, when, how, what)
  • I should really do some job hunting research as well (sigh)
  • I want to revamp my website and blog, and need to do research on how to go about doing that, and then play out direction, content, etc.
  • I want to monetize my artwork (and perhaps make some more of it, specifically for this) and set up a couple of store fronts via cafépress and society6, which appear to be the popular go-to’s these days for on-demand stuff

And really lusting after a coat and a dress that I saw in one of the magazines… pics at top (because I saved those pages). They are from the October issue of RealSimple. They are exorbitantly priced, of course, but *pretty*!! In heathery hues… and woven yarn goodness(!) and the shoot was set in what looks like the Scottish Highlands. (Some day…)

AND…… just wondering… how did I ever get so disconnected from the online arts community that I didn’t even know about people like Orly and Effy and Tamara, and the wild buzz around everyone? I think it’s really cool that people are following their bliss. I feel that trying to keep up on the pulse of (every)things is exhausting and… frankly… distracting… which might explain why I have been living under a rock and making rather than seeing.

Am I really missing out on anything?

Sometimes I feel like the whole craft industry feeds upon itself, because if new people didn’t jump on the bandwagon, everything would collapse upon itself (sort of like the mortgage crisis…). In searching for community and connection, people are capitalized upon.

I really miss connecting live with people (Kelly!). Not just in class settings but socially and creatively. The Art Bar and A Little Bizaar (now closed) were such great places for that. There doesn’t seem to be anything like that here, particularly in Port Moody. There is an arts community but it is either a bunch of little blue haired ladies painting perfectly horrible little watercolours (and THEY don’t care… they’re having FUN! which is the point…) and hogging up all of the committee seats in the local art organization, or there are people who take it waaaaaaaaaay too seriously, and are Artists, and there is decidedly less of a fun vibe… smacking of artistic snobbery.

I’m sure there are places in Vancouver… like there’s a really fun life drawing gig going on at a café every month or so, but they hold the event on Sunday evenings (http://drsketchyvancouver.com/) and it’s difficult to get to and from, from where I live, and it a bit of a sketchier (ha… a pun!) part of town…. but it’s like burlesque pin-up meets life drawing… how fun is that?! One of these days…..

Anyway… I’m rambling…. hope you guys are all having a fabulous day.

Adriane xo

WinterPostcard I mailed out the ‘holiday’ postcard I made as part of a mail art swap for a little online Facebook community of artists that I am a part of. I hope it arrives safely… and that the one coming to me also gets here alright. And since there is always a flip side to every postcard, this is the back side: PostcardPortrait May this holiday season bring you much comfort and joy. Adriane xo

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