Monday, May 6, 2013
I went to a conference last weekend in the beautiful city of Victoria, stayed at a hotel and spend a couple of days wandering around. I just love this city. I'm hoping to set up some work there for myself someday soon. This conference really helped to get my enthusiasm back and to meet other people in my profession who are so interesting, people I would love to get to know better. There were top notch speakers and everything was very well organized. I have made a vow to consistantly do this and never ever neglect my professional development again. The excuse I always have for myself is I don't have enough money, or time. That is total nonsense and I am reminded at tax time that I can afford it because when I attend these conferences, the taxes I get back almost compensate the whole thing. But more importantly, the passion for my work is rejuvenated, I get to interact with new people and maybe create new opportunities for myself. I just love the whole thing. This is the very reason I went to school for so many years. To get out of my dead end job and make something out of myself and learn every day.
I heard Anthony Robbins say one time that he was amazed at how many people are looking to get out of the 'rut' they are in when actually they could begin by honouring their own profession by giving it the care and nurturing it deserves. He suggested taking courses and upgrading qualifications that you already have. That really hit home for me, sometimes when I am pining for change, the answer is right there in front of me. There could be a niche within your job scope that you have not pursued, a type of specialist certification that could be done. It's all up to you. I have turned over a new leaf with respecting my own profession and I am now going to work hard to upgrade my qualifications to reflect some particular interests of mine. And...have fun doing it.
Thursday, May 2, 2013
After my son died, over 10 years ago, I went to a mediumship (spiritualist) demonstration and was given messages that absolutely confirmed my already solid belief in the spiritual world. No surprise really but a welcome gift in my process of intense grieving. I don't really know how people can get through a death without such a belief, it was essential for me. Even before my tragedy, I had an strong belief in spirit, I had always believed that we are spiritual beings living a human experience in order to learn something, the earth school. So the messages I received that night and the many I have received subsequent to this time have been a guiding light in my life. I still feel that although he is gone, I have constant contact with him, including some guidance, and will see him when it is my time to pass over.
I stumbled on an author Wendi Corsi Staub who writes about a town called Lily Dale in New York State and its quirky, wonderful, talented people. She grew up not far from this town and is familiar with its appeal. I have always wanted to visit Lily Dale but have not yet had the chance to do so. It's amazing how a belief in a spiritual existence changes everything about how we experience our human challenges.
Recently there has been much more open discussion about the value of hallucinogenic drugs like ecstasy for therapeutic uses. Believers don't need drugs to get the perspective of a spiritual existence but recently there has been more and more evidence that using drugs in a careful way can help a person get to the place of seeing life experiences as spiritual lessons in a way has been changing people's lives. Even CNN had reported such studies. It makes you think doesn't it?
Some people get this perspective through their religious beliefs, some through healers (like mediums) here on earth, and others through the therapeutic uses of drugs. No matter how we get here, we need some help to understand the human experiences that we can't cope with. I believe this is a statement about our crazy culture and how we don't allow anything outside of what is considered 'normal' to be Incorporated into our reality. We need to expand our horizons. It makes life much more understandable and our ability to continue on through tragedy much stronger.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
About 15 years ago (yikes time flies!) I was going through the most difficult time of my life. My marriage was over, I had no money or a job, I had family difficulties that were extremely challenging that I was solely responsible for taking care of. As I write this I realize just how difficult that time was. I was totally alone, family support has not been a strong suit in my world and I was in a new place where I had not yet made any friends. I still marvel at how I got through that time, not just got through it but changed my life forever. It was pivotal. When I realized that my marriage was completely over, I knew that my ex would be thinking of himself as we negotiated our future lives and.... he did. No surprise. I had always put myself second in the relationship in many ways, my mistake. I had never found a way to honour my own life and needs while tending to the needs of my family. A lot of women do this I now realize. Anyway he was vigilant in looking out for his own needs and not caring at all about my needs (or his children's needs) nor did he consider and appreciate what I had contributed to our family. I expected this and did not even feel angry about it, it's just who he is, still is. Somehow I got the strength during that time to stop everything, evaluate what was important, I ate healthy food, I took long walks everyday and read spiritual books, I consulted with a good lawyer and I also consulted with spiritual advisers. That time changed my life forever. I decided I was not going to live in bitterness or victimhood as I could have but decided to take this as an opportunity to just be in the moment, enjoy the present and make decisions that would make my future much more rich (not money rich) and fulfilling.
I did what I needed to do, dealing with legal papers and some stressful interactions with my ex during the negotiation process but I was able to let it go after it was dealt with and continue to enjoy the moment. This was not something I could do before, things would bother me and I would worry relentlessly. I began to look at his seemingly selfish behavior as fear and his grasping as attempts to preserve his feelings of safety and security. I started to feel compassion for him for the way this was affecting him but all the while being very confident and strong in looking after my own future with the help of a good lawyer. Strong yet compassionate. He was amazed that nothing was phazing me, he could sense my strength. I constantly told him that none of my negotiations had anything to do with anger at him or wanting to hurt him in any way. It seemed that he believed that. I did feel so strong and confidant that I was going to be just fine and that everything would work out in the end. I have had challenges since then but I maintained that calm and faith throughout. We are still on good terms because of the way our ending transpired, there were no hard feelings. He knows that I was just acting respectfully toward myself and my needs and not doing anything to hurt him or be vengeful. In fact he started treat me in a much more respectful way after that. Funny how that works, start treating yourself as if you matter and others follow suit, this is so true!
One of the most influential books I read during this time was The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and his subsequent book A New Earth. I read many many spiritual books to gain strength during this time but none more helpful than these two. I still refer to them on an almost daily basis and was fortunate to be able to see Eckhart Tolle in a live event here in Vancouver where he lives. He also has a place on one of the Gulf Islands now, how unbelievably amazing it is that my life should end up with so much in common with his. Being close to nature is essential to me now.
I thought of this post today after I read this article, it reminded me so much of the power of spiritual beliefs during a time of crisis or when you think your life is meaningless. It changes everything. I still get caught up in worrying about money, job, lots of things as everyone does, but now I know what to do to pull myself back to what really matters. I have people in my life who really care and love me but more importantly I don't depend on them for my emotional needs, I take good care of myself and am able to give more love because of this. These books still help me deal with what life brings while keeping my joy.
I am so grateful.
Sunday, March 17, 2013
This is a picture of a driftwood beach shack that we found on the beach today. When I first arrived on the westcoast, I was shocked at the size of the driftwood at the beach. Where I grew up there were pockets of driftwood, a lot smaller because the trees are smaller, and we had to search quite a long time to gather enough for a bonfire, which we did often. Here, the driftwood is huge and everywhere you go, you have to walk over them to go for a walk on the beach as we did today.
Anywhere that you find driftwood around here it seems that someone ends up building a hut, I'm not sure who does it but it so charming. I can only imagine if it was a romantic rendezvous or some kids having a party or who knows what. I always envision what it would be like to be able to stay there for a few days. Too cold right now, but later in the summer.
I especially love this one and its beautiful decorations at the doorway. Someone lovingly brought jewelry to adorn their creation and left it behind for all of us to enjoy. How wonderful. What a great place to live.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
This is a picture of what we call here a 'car-stop' which is a place to stand while waiting for a lift from someone in a car who is passing by. This is similar to what many of the islands here are doing. When I was young, hitchhiking was a cool, common thing to do especially for young people. Our parents worried and told us not to but we all did it anyway. Lots of 60's and 70's music is filled with references to this phenomenon. However, in recent years it has become much more unusual to see anyone hitching a ride let alone daring to pick anyone up. I know as a woman especially if I'm driving alone, I wouldn't even consider it. But island life is a little different. Hitching a ride here is pretty much a normal way to get around and people consider it to be pretty safe and as far as I know it is. They formalized the process a bit by creating places all over the island where people can stand and cars can offer rides if they want to. First of all it provides some safety in that there is some space for cars to pull off the road and so that the hitchhikers aren't dangerously close to the road. At night it is pitch black around here.
Today was the first day that I actually stopped. Being a fairly new full time resident I don't know that many people yet so I am still a bit hesitant, so today I bit the bullet and picked up a young man who was going to work. We had a very interesting conversation along the way and I was so glad that I offered him a lift. I would have missed out on the opportunity to meet a new and interesting person. Who knows what this meeting could mean, these are the small things that lead to connection to community.
Years ago I moved to a small village in Germany. I knew no one and spoke very little german. Luckily I had taken a course in german just before I left but being in the middle of a town of all german speakers, I quickly realized that my book-german was not going to get me very far. With the accents and local dialects it was as if I knew nothing. So I went about my business of moving in and getting settled in our house. I had remembered from our german teacher that Friday is the traditional day to buy flowers 'blumen-tag', or 'flower day' so I went to the end of the street which the main street in the village, to the flower shop and went in to buy some flowers in my school-book german, introducing myself as the new foreigner in town. The flower shop lady was very sweet and said how pleased and surprised that I knew any of the language and was willing to speak to her and introduce myself. I didn't know at the time that many foreigners do not do that, they speak English and hope that people understand. I was so happy that she was so friendly. She said she was one of my neighbours. I suggested getting together sometime. She immediately said, when? Taken aback a bit, I invited her over for coffee, kaffe-kuchen as it is known there, and she accepted. She arrived with a friend on the day we arranged with flowers and gifts, we had a lovely visit and from then on we were invited to every event on the street. I will be forever grateful for their kindness and generosity. If I had not reached out that day, I'm not sure that it would have unfolded exactly in this way. I was told later that people there usually wait for the newcomers to show interest in the community before they act.
This is how small acts sometimes cause big changes. This was the first real act of reaching out to a stranger that I've done in a long time. It felt good.
Thursday, March 7, 2013
I've been really thinking about something lately. What is family? I spent most of my adult life moving around due to my ex-husbands job. I really enjoyed most of the interesting places I have lived and because of always having to adapt to new places, I've really appreciated the value of friends and kind neighbours or even strangers. Most of what I have been through in my life was only shared by the people that I was in contact with while I lived in those places. My family back in the east coast were not that interested in what I was doing, it was up to me to keep the contact and make sure I visited every once in a while to stay connected. But now I don't belong there at all anymore, nor do I want to. I have much more in common with the folks I live around now, having settled in the Pacific Northwest. But every now and then some family event happens that I am required to go to, lets say weddings and funerals, so I go and share some of their memories but they don't know anything about my life and don't really seem to care about my life the way I live it now. Yet there is a sense that I have to keep up my end of the family obligations and act accordingly. I feel like a big fake. They act as if I am a part of it when I really am not and haven't been for a long time. I'm not sure what to do about this or if I have to do anything. I can keep on going and doing my part, just being there as the 'picture' of the family, join in the sharing of stories, then go home to my life as it is. They really don't care as long as I keep up my end of the bargain. But I've been increasingly feeling like a fraud. Like I am pretending to be a part of a big connected family that I really don't feel connected to at all. I wonder how other people navigate this dilemma. I know there are so many of us out there who are family in name only, their real family is their day to day connections with those who love them, those who share their real life. I've heard it called their 'chosen family'. I'm starting to believe that I can only tolerate the family of origin dynamics if I put my chosen family first. Who is more important than those who love you and help you through the most important things in your life. For me that is not my birth family, it is a collection of others who have been there for me no matter what. Along with a few family members, like my daughter, who has lived a similar life and totally gets this. I can count on one hand the people I consider my family.
I have come to the conclusion that nurturing the old family connections would leave me surrounded by people who just want me to fit in to their lives, whereas if I nurture the relationships with those around me who are always there for me, I am creating my new family. My old family will always have their place but the love in my new family is reciprocal, more respectful of the needs of my soul.
I think we all wrestle with this somewhat don't we? We all have to find our place in the world. That's what life is all about isn't it?
Friday, March 1, 2013
One of the most amazing things I saw while I was living in Alaska was gigantic starfish something like this picture. Once, we were staying for the weekend in the beautiful seaside village of Homer Alaska and everyone we talked to told us to make sure we took a trip on a little ferry called the 'Danny J' which left from the Homer Spit. We did and it was one of the best things I've ever done.
It was a lovely little ride around some small islands, we saw puffins and other seabirds, sea otters and once we got to Halibut Cove, we got off the boat to stay for a few hours wandering around the boardwalks and pathways. Halibut Cove is a small artists community with only about 25 or so permanent residents, with one restaurant and many art galleries. While walking along the boardwalk I saw in the water the most huge, amazing starfish in all different colours. This was the first time I had ever seen such a thing, even though I grew up near the ocean on the east coast. We have many similar starfish here in the Pacific Northwest too, I see one almost everytime I go out for a walk by the water. I never get tired of seeing them. They come in many sizes and colours too.
Isn't that just amazing!!! The other day we went out for a walk on the beach and we saw a seagull struggling with something huge in its mouth...we stayed a while and watched until we finally realized it was a very large starfish. It took the seagull many tries and lots of flinging to finally break it apart and swallow it. It was almost the size of the seagull itself. It looked something like this except the starfish was even larger:
Something just recently brought memories flooding back that I hadn't thought of in a long time. That day I was in Halibut Cove, I looked around at the houses and the lifestyle of the people who lived there and thought to myself 'I'd like to live like this someday'. I was completely enchanted and my life at the time was not anything like the life that was there in front of me. I literally hadn't thought about that in over 10 years. I really meant it when I said that to myself but I also thought it was not possible. Now here I am 15 years later, living on an island on the westcoast, seeing starfish whenever I want to , surrounded by artists and interesting people. Really living the kind of lifestyle I envied back then. I think I had inadvertently set an intention that day. I am a big believer in intentions, they are powerful things. Once that intention was set, I made decisions later on in my life that led me to the ideal life that I had pictured there. One seemingly unconnected decision after another and here I am without realizing I was doing it. Wow!
This is the thinking behind vision boards. Creating a board of pictures or images of what we want to draw into our lives. Once you can visualize a goal I believe it is much more likely that you can achieve it. I had a real life vision of a life that I wanted and ended up creating one very similar with all the characteristics that attracted me about that place. Minus the Alaskan winters, dodged a bullet there. Everytime I see starfish now I am reminded of what I have created.