Category Archives: DIGI-PIX

(digitally taken or altered photos)

autumn flotsam
Each week I share Rob Brezsny’s weekly astrology report for our signs with a friend of mine. Mine for this coming week is:

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Here’s your assignment: Get more organized and purposeful about having fun. Think harder about what makes you feel good, and plan more aggressively to bring those feel-good experiences into your life. In offering these prescriptions, I’m not advocating irresponsible hedonism. Not at all. In my view, you will become a better servant of those you care about by boosting your commitment to pleasure. You will carry out your duties with more aplomb and effectiveness. Raising your joy quotient is actually a formula for becoming a better human being.

I’m not in a very good place, right now, although it varies greatly from moment to moment. My own vacillation is driving me a little nuts. Or a lot. I guess it depends mostly upon who’s looking… or when. ::smile::

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Gabriel made home made pretzels yesterday. I love the smell of yeast, which in turn reminds me of the yeast-risen doughs my mom used to make some of her pastries with (one favourite was an apple pastry, called almàs pite in Hungarian).

 

The sunsets have been gloriously beautiful. I didn’t get an email last night requesting that I show up to any last-minute temporary assignment, so guess I won’t be working today.

Maybe I’ll actually stick my nose outdoors. On second thought, I’ll absolutely have to stick my nose outdoors because I must run some errands, deposit the cheque I received for my work from last week, most of which will be vaporized on last month’s cellphone bill and food. I’m not quite sure yet in which proportion that will be – there won’t be enough to pay the whole bill and have enough for food. The money will get portioned out so that each area is a little, but not entirely, satisfied. I can’t allow myself to dwell much on the other bills that are coming in and stacking up like planes on a runway.

I never thought I’d ever reach this level of financial instability. I mean… I’ve never been one of those financially savvy people – ever – but when there was enough I would manage decently well. I know how to tighten a belt with the best of them. I also know just how much I am missing, having been fortunate enough to indulge in many things that are so far out of my reach at the moment that I can’t even entertain thinking about them. They get pushed out just as quickly as they come. Anything in the “it would be nice to have, but…” category. Certainly anything in the “I can make this at home myself, but…” category. (I’m definitely making at home everything that is necessary and humanly possible to make at home.)

I’m blaming myself for this tactical error much of the time…
for waiting to act upon getting another job (as though a perfect one would present itself like some kind of manna offering from the heavens)…
for waiting to try to see about shifting into another industry area…
for wasting precious time that I wiled away because I was incapable of making any choices, especially of the good kind.

I can say the same about my handling of money. I could have tightened the belt another notch; put even a tiny bit aside to compensate for the not enough that I now have.

I needle myself with worry. It takes the joy out of things, even the good stuff. So, essentially, this week’s astrology pep talk presents me with yet another growth opportunity, a challenge I’m not entirely sure I can live up to.

Mostly, my imagination has taken me to some pretty grim places. Some days I imagine that I’ll be stricken down with an as yet to be identified ailment of the terminal kind. I mourn my impending passing and imagine (to some extent) the relief of no longer having to worry about anything… about leaving behind things undone but being at peace with all of that, and getting to the place of “good enough” when the final moment comes.

Some days I think that I’ll be dragging this painful process out until the bitter end… until something shifts (in a way I could never have imagined because otherwise it wouldn’t come as a complete and utter surprise at the very moment when I’ve run out of ideas).

Some days I just enjoy the moments, as they come… like the musical clanking of the pipes in the forced air heating ducts in the Sun Tower building, or its beautiful frosted windows initialed with a “W”… like the swish of wind that briskly gathers up and ushers dried leaves off of tree limbs, lifting them high into the air and then letting them land askew, in random but perfectly beautiful mayhem, on the back balcony.

It’s on the days when I am at my lowest – and I express my alarm about things to those around me – that I most rue hearing “you’ll find something”. I know the intention is to reassure; it feels anything but. Dismissive rather than what I’m sure is intended as hopeful and bolstering. On those days my optimism levels are anemic, amnesiac.

I don’t know why I keep writing here. I guess in this place of not feeling heard, I may as well voice myself in a familiar place. Sort of like yelling at the edge of a precipice to hear the echo of one’s voice speak back. At the very least it makes me feel just a little less silent, a little less alone with what feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders.

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honouring the ancestors… and someday you’ll be one

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The wheel turns. As we sink into this darker half of the year, customs abound in all cultures on deeper contemplation, on honouring what has come before, on feeling gratitude for the fruits our of labours (and perhaps, in retrospect, at having been afforded the opportunity for this most recent revolution around the sun).

When my son was little, I wanted to compensate for the lack of fanfare of my own childhood during these holidays by making his a grand production.

We went to pumpkin patches and gutted and carved our share of large orange gourds.
We roasted salty pumpkin seeds once they were gleaned from the slimy guts.
We ordered costumes and went trick-or-treating.

I had never incorporated the idea of honouring the ancestors during this time even though I was well aware of the idea of the thinning of the veil between our worlds. It would have been an appropriate time to bring it up to him. Maybe I wanted him to rejoice in the fun parts of childhood without becoming morbid, or rather, without diminishing with sombreness the indefatigable vibrancy of youth.

After my mother’s passing, the last one of my two parents, there was a sort of severing of rootedness that took place. In some ways, I was anxious to be free of the constraints. In so many ways I’d tried to find happiness within the narrow parameters that they had set as their view of who I was, and I think we all walked away from the table mostly dissatisfied.

I keep thinking that human potential is limitless, if we are mentored beyond our perceived limitations. I don’t mean that we don’t individually have any, only that if we can picture what is beyond the area that we think is the greatest reach of our potential, we are able to somehow come up with a way to access the road that will bring us there. Mentors, advocates, are truly gifts to the world as they help lead the way there. Sometimes, ever on our fool’s journey, we are incapable of seeing the path on our own.

I suppose as parents the biggest task we are given is to help our offspring become skilled in discernment, to learn to know what and when to believe in the constant stream of incoming information, and what to do with it – to learn how to translate it all into some form of action that will lead us forward in a favourable manner.

I don’t know if I’ve accomplished this task, as a parent. I know mine failed at this, and I’ve had to learn by much trial and error how to guide myself onward. Maybe it’s something that can’t be taught because it is as individual as we are in how we approach it.

In any case – in my usual penchant to tangents – I return us to last night, the Eve of All Hallows or Souls Day.

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I went in to the neighbourhood grocery store to pick up a few things, particularly the candy I intended to hand out to trick or treaters. I had held out on purchasing it mostly to save me from myself. As I exited the store and started heading up the sidewalk towards home, I heard the unmistakeable sound of my native tongue. Because it is such a rare occasion to hear it spoken, I wheeled my cart back around and said hello. We chatted on the sidewalk for a while, and then, at the invitation of one of the women, we holed up in Starbucks for over an hour to continue the conversation.

I haven’t really spoken a whole lot of Hungarian since my mother passed in 2003. We would speak on the phone every couple of days (I was living in California and she was living on the outskirts of Montreal). The frequency of our calls kept up my language skills, although I never would have considered myself as fluent in the language as a native speaker. It’s not that I don’t understand or speak, only that the expressions, turns of phrase, vastness of vocabulary is something that would take time to get used to if I were to truly count myself among them. Within an hour my odd little accent began smoothing out. I began remembering words and how to use them during a discussion. We discussed getting together on a regular basis and inviting other Hungarians aching to chat in their mother tongue too.

When I got home last night I realized that what had transpired was the greatest homage that I had ever paid to my parents and ancestors. I had been ruminating, initially, on how I would set about doing just that. Last week I had spent some time watching Jo Rowling go about searching out her own roots. I had envisioned setting up a shrine of sorts, and spending some time in meditation, or perhaps journaling about what they had meant to me, and contemplating on the far reach of my own roots.

Last night I felt that perhaps, with this thinning of the veil, they had orchestrated this meeting to remind me that they are not so far away after all.

the anatomy of scarcity

View from Sun Tower

(view of Vancouver from the Sun Tower)

Scarcity. What a compelling topic. It’s been part of my way of life for as long as I can remember, all the way back to childhood. Something was always missing and that feeling of “not enough” an inherent part of every one of my waking moments to a greater or lesser extent.

Now moreso, since I’ve been without work and have not found a replacement job to date.

I thought that somehow I could manage to shift from one industry to another by sheer force of will and transferable skills. Apparently thirty years in one area, despite there being an overlap in skill set and an accumulation of many other (applicable) skills throughout the course of these many years, is not sufficiently convincing enough for someone to hire me into untested areas. The only way I can make the shift is by getting more training and/or going it on my own somehow. Both, I suspect.

I thought all of this free time would enable me to be creative, that I would take advantage of it to get things done that I’ve always wanted to do.

I even warned a co-worker who had been laid-off a few weeks prior to me to stay focused on the gift of time rather than on the state of worry that being without a job invariably puts us into.

Turns out that money really does make the world go round and that I can’t do much without more of it, that worry over finances summarily blocks the places where my creativity lives and that on top of blocking creativity, it also seriously limits my cognitive ability to think outside the box… so creative thinking not just in creative terms but also in practical terms, is also stunted.

I’ve been reading Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir.  (If you feel moved to purchase the book, I would be immensely grateful if you use my link to purchase it.. it adds a few pennies into my Amazon Associates fund – thanks in advance.)

The book raises some interesting points on how scarcity in its various forms affects our ability to work through the lack, ostensibly affecting us in all areas of our lives not just the ones where the scarcity occurs. Essentially, if one is experiencing scarcity in one area, it is likely to diminish our cognitive ability to find a workable solution to resolve the lack. So lack perpetuates lack and degrades our ability to figure out a way in which to overcome it.

That’s huge, in my opinion. It also is very much in line with my own experiences, and speaks to the very large epidemic that is sweeping the poor and quickly declining middle classes. We are in a bind and seemingly incapable of coming up with viable solutions. How did the human race manage to survive for millions of years and yet become so paralyzed and incapable of finding a good resolution to its most pressing current issues?

These days basic survival is on my mind. Shelter. Food. Bus fare so that I can travel to interviews or temporary assignments. There is very little wiggle room and it is quickly diminishing to even less. I think it is difficult for those who are not faced with these issues to fully understand their implications.

The book promises to provide “simple suggestions that just might change the way you live”. While I am creeping through the first chapters – the writing style, though informative, is a little stilted – I hope that these suggestions will provide the change that will shift this life-long rut I’ve found myself in.

If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear your thoughts, both on the topic and the usefulness of the book.

Love,
Adriane xo

fresh & exciting

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One of my favourite summer salads is the one pictured above. Very simply made, you cube watermelon, cucumber and feta. I rinsed the feta before adding because it was soaking in brine and was very salty. Splash with a bit of balsamic vinegar (I used apricot chipotle), squeeze half a lime and grate some of its rind in, sprinkle with ground coriander seed, mince 2-4 leaves of fresh mint (I used fresh spearmint from the garden) and toss. Add salt to taste. Mwah…! Delizioso!

authentic is the new “higher”

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Buzz words. They are created by virtue of their overuse in vernacular. Eventually they lose their sexiness and a new one is adapted, but until then the word pompously bombards us with it’s directive: BE THIS.

And I really didn’t want authentic to lose it’s charm… it’s punch… it’s fabulous weightiness of meaning.

Who doesn’t want to be authentic? At our core we humans all want to be seen, accepted and (gasp! even) loved for who we are at our most tender and raw. Who, then, could transform such an empowering word such as authentic into one that we have to strive toward rather than simply embrace?

Oh, again with the cult of self-improvement, we can no longer simply be ourselves, we must become our “authentic selves”.

To me, authenticity is a cyclical process. While we’d like a think that a new way of being can be somehow “downloaded” like some divine program, it is only through experiencing life and embracing all of its aspects fully that we can grow into ourselves. Just because we have a certain awareness of ourselves (and perhaps even the divine parts of ourselves) doesn’t guarantee that we will always be in alignment with that part – and that is fucking okay, see?

At twenty, I felt I was being authentic. Certainly, I knew when I wasn’t always acting from a place of authenticity. I chose my actions in accordance with imagined outcomes based on what I thought other people would say, think or feel about them. That would seem inauthentic, perhaps, but my choices propelled me toward greater learning about myself and how I operated in the world, and I would never have gleaned that wisdom without experiencing the other shite first-hand.

The thing is, we are all being authentic within ourselves, all the time – we merely perhaps lack the confidence to be ourselves at all times with others. Perhaps we must temper our behaviour to fit into certain situations because of cultural or societal expectations. We still know who we are at our core, even though it isn’t always practical to act out of that place. We don’t have to feel compelled to ram ourselves and all of the beliefs we so fervently embrace down everybody’s throats.

I’ve had many adventures so far, some I would have perhaps preferred to avoid but those seem (by far) to have been the ones I’ve gained the most from. I don’t need someone to tell me to tune in to my intuition, or show me how to listen to that small still voice that is warning me about something. On some level I am fully aware of the consequences of my choices and I make them anyway, perhaps because they are experiences my “soul” must have in order for it to get to a place where it is more receptive once again.

I think our life offers us the gift of adventure. Those who are naturally inclined toward self-inquiry will inevitably be delving deeper into finding a higher purpose or calling, even as we each stumble along our very human journeys on our road toward that ultimate fulfillment. Sometimes the strongest of convictions can lead us down a path that ultimately doesn’t truly serve us (or the ones we were hoping to serve).

In some ways we will never really know what our purpose in this life is – not until we are done and the fruit of our legacy is observed in hindsight. I don’t think one needs a blueprint to figure out what we are here to accomplish (individually or collectively), certainly not one proposed to us by someone other than ourselves. I think we must merely live our best lives, in whatever capacity that encompasses at each moment that we find ourselves in, and embrace all parts of our humanly imperfect journey.

Maybe it would make all of us just a little kinder, a little more compassionate and allow the journey to be a little bit more of a joyous one.

With love,
Adriane xo

instant presto

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Years ago I acquired a Polaroid DayLab but since my departure from California in 2009 it has been stashed away with the rest of my various and sundry art supplies. It’s the coolest little gizmo as it allows one to shoot Polaroid photos without having an actual camera and works much like a scanner would (only the image size is limited to about 3 x 5 inches.

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The 669 film I have is expired and wasn’t very carefully stored, so I imagine the quality of the print is affected by this fact, but still it was fun to experiment with printing double and triple exposed photos and I’ll be playing with emulsion lifting tomorrow, as well as attempting to do a negative image transfer using the negative portion of the separated film.

There is something ethereal and dreamy about Polaroid shots, especially when the emulsion has been transferred onto a different substrate. I also have a 420 Polaroid Automatic Land Camera but no film for it… something to add to my wish list. 🙂