Monthly Archives: April 2014

this land was made for you and me…


(click on image to view movie trailer)

You can blame Andrea Dorfman for this post, and a Facebook friend, Bryce Tyson, for posting Andrea’s video on how to be alone, which in turn led me down the rabbit hole of all things Andrea and to this video (which is narrated by Tanya Davis, the same gal who performed both on-camera and spoke the words to the being alone video). Besides… I consider it my duty to plug Canadian artists when I can, seeing that I am one myself. 🙂

I was born and raised in Quebec, living there for more than half my life. Quebec is really but a stone’s throw away from PEI. Growing up, my mom would always scope out the potatoes that came from the red dirted island, usually russets, which she proclaimed were superior to those coming from any other place. My mother knew her potatoes, and maybe farming was different then, back in the seventies. Food tasted different, and I’m sure it was cheaper, dollar for dollar, than it is now, wages not having kept up with inflation. I’m sure this is what each generation says to the ones which precede it – my parents said much the same thing to me – how food tasted different from what they remembered, less vibrant and flavourful. I wonder if it’s a matter of our tastebuds dulling over time, or whether it truly is the produce, or the soil in which it is grown.

At any rate, my first (and only) time in PEI was due to my being on a very long motorcycle ride with one of the boyfriends of my youth. In some box or bag somewhere, I still have photos of it. We were on a several week journey which initially had intended to head down the U.S. eastern seaboard to Florida but instead skittered briefly below the border through Vermont and Maine and then back into Canada through New Brunswick. A good part of the first week was spent in the rain, which I was ill prepared for (hence I wore garbage bags over my feet before shoving them back into wet leather boots, to keep the damp at bay).

It was a weird trip (for reasons I won’t be getting into) but one of the memories that I still hold fondly of it includes riding along the Cabot Trail as well as the brief time spent in PEI. I remember having the best seafood chowder I’ve ever had, cooked in a large pot over an open fire, right by the seashore where we had set up camp. I had decided that despite the water being really, really cold, I wanted to at least dunk in because it was there and I loved the salty goodness of the ocean. It was so cold it knocked the breath right out of me, but if the evening outside was cool after that, it didn’t bother me half as much because it still felt warmer in comparison. Lupines bloomed everywhere and I was enchanted by their colourful blossoms. I had made a mental note to someday return to it again for a visit, but I never have.

All this to bring me back to something else. Farming, and land. Growing up my mom kept a tiny patch of a garden in our back yard, reflective of the tiny outdoor growing season in Quebec and the crappy clay soil that our back yard was built upon. She mostly grew hungarian peppers, planted from seed that my aunt would send from Hungary, and perhaps some wax or green beans, maybe a handful of tomatoes, and kohlrabi, whose leaves would sometimes get decimated by cabbage butterfly larvae before it grew to a size that would ensure its survival. Gardening frustrated my mother, mostly, so she stuck to annual flowers.

I always had a fascination with growing things, starting from very young. When we lived in our first house our next door neighbour used to grow beautiful flowers in her yard. One year she had tulips coming up and caught me about to filch a handful of them to take home to my mom as an offering. I was used to picking flowers along the sidewalks, growing wild. Weeds, mostly, I suspect – buttercups and dandelions and tiny little purple flowered brachial stalks whose name I don’t know. I’d bring them by the handful to my mom as offerings, which she would trim and duly put into a little bud vase which now sits on my windowsill.

The home I rent a portion of is owned by a couple who garden every year. They save the deposit returns from our recycling and it supplements the veggie garden fund. We moved in last year at the height of growing season, and I had the opportunity to dig my hands in a bit of dirt for the first time in a over a decade. I had never planted vegetables while we lived in California, but I had a couple of fruit trees on our first property and the apricot tree bore a few fruit just before we sold it. The second house had already been landscaped and frankly I was mostly out of steam by then and only planted things in the front of the house.

In any case, I have a profound worry in relation to the growing of things. I worry that what we are doing to the soil and the seeds from which we reap the foods from which we draw lifeblood are being altered to such degree that they will no longer be able to sustain us. So seeing this movie made my heart glow, because it is important – this is important. Maybe it’s too late to turn everything around. Maybe we can’t undo the harm that has been done. Maybe, though, we can find a way to salvage things, at least in part. Maybe this is how.

thoughts on a Sunday afternoon

Thoughts always come to me circuitously, prompted by something external, harvested like resin on the barks of trees, occurring by virtue of the cuts inflicted upon the tree’s surface.

They are like disparate threads gathered from things people say, or things that I see and hear that have a common resonance, an emotional coalescence.

Yesterday I read several posts on Facebook, one from a friend who had gone on a date filled with hope only to return home disappointed. Another post I read spoke to how language is largely an inadequate method of communicating a description or explanation of the energy which underlies the more mystical aspects of this existence, which my friend had said was more appropriately expressed through emotion rather than termed as energy.

I have also been reading The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, a book that I had begun a while ago, got about a third of the way through and then parked. I picked it up yesterday morning and became reacquainted with it as if it were an old friend.

Without laboriously going over its contents, in fact skipping over that altogether, what culminated from these disparate threads was this thought: I think the poets, bards and lyricists have it right – the only way to share the numinous is through story, the telling of them meant to evoke within the reader or listener the sort of emotion that mirrors the state they are trying to describe.

Words ARE inadequate, in and of themselves, to express the depth of an experience that is such an internalized process that it often lacks description.

An experience must be shared in such a way as to allow the readers to intuit the meaning of it on a personal level – to have it move them and thereby establish an emotional connection to the material – in order to understand the progression that one is meant to take internally in order to get to the desired place.

The dating experience my friend described largely mirrored my own, which was an endless stream of disconnection and repeated disappointment in finding that those who were moved to meet me were either horribly bitter about their previous relationship(s) or were looking to be intimate rather than for intimacy – sometimes it was both.

I realized then that I had to step away from it all, and come to terms with myself. If we are essentially drawing like with like, then they were mirroring parts of myself that I had not come to terms with, and it seemed to me that I was best served by becoming the person that I wished to find.

It’s been a long, difficult, journey, and one not yet completed. That’s not to say that I haven’t made progress – I have – but I continue to struggle with the very things that disturbed me in the potential suitors. Things like bitterness resurfacing after a hiatus, after my having declared myself its victor, requiring me to find ways in which to sit with that bitterness without allowing it to consume me so entirely that it would end up funnelling down into hatred and despair.

Other things came to fore too, like the realization that I keep people at arm’s length because I am incapable of trusting them or myself with the enormity of emotion that might perhaps expand between us if the relationship progressed naturally, and I (and my partner) were to show ourselves vulnerable to each other.

What is natural, anyway? I tout being “natural” as thought it was some sort of badge of honour but I wouldn’t know it, some days, if it bit me in the ass.

Natural.

I’ve spent a lot of time – my lifetime, so far – reigning myself in (that would be as far from natural as one could get, I imagine). So much so that it appalls me when I realize that in order to survive this next part of my life with an intact soul I will need to deconstruct everything and every way I’ve learned to be and figure out a new way.

I don’t know if I’m brave enough. I don’t know if I can take the torment that accompanies this process… not alone, and I truly am alone. Alone, surrounded by people, just like the girl in my tiny book on loss.

There are tiny losses, like some loose change inadvertently falling out of a pants pocket down into a sewage grate, or chipping a nail and having to cut all of the rest of them to even them out, but others are far larger than that, like losing your sense of dignity even before you really knew what that meant, or never really knowing what greatness lies within you because you got lost along the road to finding out what truly lies within.

The thing about discoveries is that you can’t not see them once you’ve seen them. You have few choices in how you will choose to live with them. Only two, really: pretend that you didn’t see them, and let their truth gnaw away at your insides while you maintain the status quo, or you choose to acknowledge them, which also necessitates figuring out how to make a better life by humbly embracing those truths and sitting in the discomfort until a better solution presents itself.

Neither is an easy route, really. One can potentially bring me closer to becoming the person that I would want to spend some time with, perhaps even the rest of my mortal life, while the other would cause me to continue to harden and shrivel, becoming but a husk of my former self, never really knowing just how close I was to finding my way back home.

navigating productivity

Yesterday was a good day. The weather would change about every half hour, so we had everything from sun to torrential rain. I think Gaia just couldn’t make up her mind.

Not so long ago I saw posted on Maya Stein’s Facebook page a call to “write a book” and a photo of the titles up for grabs. I picked “How to Navigate Loss” because me and loss? We’re close personal friends…

I’d written out the concept (on my usual preferred brainstorming medium of choice, index cards) and yesterday afternoon I finally started sketching. I’d gotten perhaps five spreads done and was going to leave it for the next day but knowing myself (and my gnat-like attention span) I figured that if I didn’t push through and get ‘er done, that it would languish unfinished until my fickle muse decided to stop applying multicoloured hair dye for long enough to finish the story.

So I pressed through, ignoring meals and most of everything else. I drew and coloured and folded and glued… and at a little after two o’clock this morning, I was done. Done! *patting self on back, because I FINISHED without a whole lot of anguished creative suffering!*

And, apart from this Accomplishment, I also plotted out a plan for the recategorization of the categories on this here blog, as well as rewriting my bio info, which will be added to my “About” tab (just as soon as I transcribe it from my index notes).

Progress and success comes in tiny (but equally immense) steps.

(And maybe smudging the whole house with white sage and palo santo really *did* move some stagnant energy out. I’ll take it!)

life giving lemons…? cookies…

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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!

updates and revisions, thoughts on what the fuss about blogging is all about (and why I do it)

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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not-so-morning pages… Easter Sunday

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.