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April 30, 2009

New World Literacy, Old World Attitudes

I have been writing a story on literacy this week because Salt Spring has a non profit society that assists people with literacy/numeracy.

The society is mainly volunteer-run with about 20 matched/students to volunteers.

Salt Spring literacy is being funded by the 2010 Legacies project, (Literacy Now), a provincial initiative to create sustainable legacies as a result of Vancouver’s hosting of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. It's good to know that some good things (that last longer than 2 weeks) are coming out of the Olympics.

It's great that Salt Spring literacy exists but they need a lot more funding and a better space based on the need that I see on a daily basis in my job at the employment resource center here. At the moment and since their inception in 2007, they are located in this run-down, tiny, little house that's waiting to be ripped down so a new library can be built on the property.

When you go from working with PhD computer scientists and within a university environment to working in a small, rural community, often with people who have not completed high school, it's a shock to see how that manifests in affecting one's ability to easily manouvre daily tasks, especially in a work search.

It's hard to make a resume when you can't spell and you don't know how to use Microsoft Office Word. It's hard to send the resume via e-mail when you don't know how to attach a file or you don't have an e-mail address or you don't own a computer. Spell check might be useful in highlighting spelling mistakes but it doesn't really teach you how to fix the mistake using your own knowledge of spelling.

And, I can relate. Not to being illiterate (although if you read the blog, sometimes it may seem that way) but to the feelings of fear, frustration, inadequacy that arise as a result of not knowing how to do something that you know you should and you wish you could.

I consider myself to be innumerate. I have spent my entire life plagued by a fear/inability to deal with anything but the most basic math. To put this in perspective, I have trouble figuring out the tip if I want to leave 15%. The confusion started early in elementary school. Add confusion upon confusion while moving from one Grade to the next and it doesn't get better. It's not as if I should have passed. But, back then I was so shy and quiet and smart in other ways that I got shuffled along.

If my reading/writing ability was as poor as my ability with math, I wouldn't be admitting that on this blog. (Actually, I wouldn't be writing on this Blog at all!)I'd be ashamed. Why is that? Still? Why is not being able to write/read to the level necessary to function in our society still so shameful given all the other shameful things that are going down in the world. Nobody had any great insights, any pithy quotes to help me out with that.

When I was interviewing these women and I wanted to have them contact someone for me to speak to, they couldn't do it. Confidentiality, they said.

Couldn't you just ask one of your students? I said. I began to feel like I was asking to talk to someone who was going to admit they were a paranoid schizophrenic or someone who had been convicted of first degree murder.

Having worked in the past in an environment that was focused on mental health, I couldn't help but notice the similarity in the protective hush hushness which in my mind only perpetuates the stereotypes and the shame while I do recognize the need for confidentiality, obviously.

I've had my own mental health issues and I know the shame because there is social stigma attached to the experience. I know that it's not something you ever share with an employer. It's not something you tell someone you meet (God forbid) on a date. It's not something you admit without it impacting how you feel about yourself, regardless of all the other things about you that make you who you are.

A few years ago I finally reached a point where I decided that it's the responsibility of those of who have found a way to live well with whatever weakness we have to pave a path of greater understanding by being open about it so that the "shame" associated with our weakness doesn't have to haunt our existence, lessen our goals, define us and it might even work towards changing the way others think about the problem.

I guess I just wonder why is it that the more things change, the more things stay the same for some people leaving them farther behind than ever in their ability to participate in the world, fully.

April 29, 2009

When Living Itself

If the beloved is everywhere,
the lover is the veil,

but when living itself becomes
the Friend, lovers disappear.

-it was time for a Rumi poem, again.

April 28, 2009

Original Intention as Safety Net

A few weeks ago in preparation to write a feature on this woman named Francine Carlin for a Women in Business supplement, she said something to me that I really needed to hear that week.

We were talking about transitions in mid-life because she's about to organize a mid-life transitions dialogue group here and she said “You have to trust that when you made the change (in your life) you had an intention to succeed or discover [or whatever that original intention arose from] and that original intention is your safety net.”

What that meant to me is that when I first moved to Salt Spring the thing that allowed me to make the move, the belief that it was the right thing to do is what I must return to any time I have a week that is making me have some doubts about my decision because that original intention is where the truth lies.

I was feeling bored at the part-time job because it had been particularly slow that week. I was thinking perhaps at 48 it's too early to settle for work that pays poorly and isn't that mentally challenging. Actually, that's true at any age as far as I'm concerned. On the other hand it's interpersonally a little challenging because of some of the types of people that tend to walk through the door and I like that about it. It's a lesson a day in human nature, including my own.

When I'm feeling like I was about a week ago, I have a tendency to forget all the positive things because I've begun to take them for granted.

And it's a growing list that includes:
Playing in a really fun band led by Wendy and Derreck
Spending more time than ever taking photos and then selling them.
Writing consistently for The Driftwood and Aqua and meeting really interesting people as a result.
Being a vendor at the market and meeting people through that venue.
Meeting two people recently, one of them being Charles who I feel are going to prove to be significant in my life related to work in photography and writing.
Having a co-worker who I look forward to talking to every day and who I like.
Writing for the great Gail Sjuberg through The Driftwood and Aqua.
Becoming friends with Karin Jones.
Writing the introduction to the new Artist Studio Tour guide through meeting Amy Melious;someone I really like.
Gaining a surrogate mother in Pauline.
Living in a cottage that allows me to walk straight in from nature through my front door and being able to drive 10 minutes to work.
Being a part of a community where just about every night of the week some artistic/musical event that I can almost always afford to go to and of really high quality is happening and where some amazing people reside.

Put in that perspective, it seems like the original intention has just begun to unfold really well as I had envisioned and it's only been 7 months.

So, if you're feeling a little challenged by a decision you made recently, or just having one of THOSE weeks, perhaps you just need to remind yourself that your original intention is the one that holds the most power and resonates to the highest truth. Believe that. Then, keep working smart to make things happen as you envisioned when the seeds of the original idea and gut instinct sprung forth.

April 27, 2009

People Don't Really Change

This is a little post along the lines of those self help books that have titles like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or He's Just Not That Into You and my personal favorite title, Act like a Lady, Think like a Man!

See these two guys? I met them when I was 20. I fell in love with the one on the left. They have been friends since high school - maybe even before that for all I know.

The nice one - let's call him R - was here on Salt Spring this weekend with his wife and kids because his son had a soccer tournament here. I haven't seen him in about 25years. I really enjoyed seeing him and just being around him for a short time.

I saw the one on the left in 2007 because he chose for reasons that make no sense to me, to contact me after a decade. Why not? he says. Of course the important question for me is Why? Why would I ever even return a phone call from him? That's the $64 million question?

I actually talked to him back then, in 2007, long before I lived here, about how much I'd like to live here. I've been coming here since 1990. This is my sacred island; one that I expected he would never see. But, no, he just had to tag along with R just because he's such a fan of children's soccer. (sarcasm)

Yesterday, one of my friend's reminded me that our greatest challenges in life in the form of individuals are our greatest teachers. I am his teacher. He is mine and together we are the slowest learners on the planet apparently.

In the spirit of that I thought I'd like to pass on some advice to the nice one's gorgeous 14 year old daughter. Here it is:

1. If a guy hurts you once he will hurt you again. If being around him leaves you feeling less than you are as a person and acting in ways that you would never act with others (being purposefully rude), pay attention.
2. When it comes to men, the only thing that matters is how they treat you through their actions. This applies to women as well.
3. The majority really will do and say anything for sex.
4. If you have some karmic connection with him then it won't matter whether you live on a deserted island, in Antarctica, in a village in Papua New Guinea or on a colony on Mars, he will find you if he really wants to albeit for reasons you may never understand and that have nothing to do with love. Find the strength to not see him. Ever.
5. What you need has nothing to do with what he may or may not be emotionally capable of giving.
6. Some men never grow up and dismissive communication is their defence.
7. Don't assume that your hold over him is not as great as his over you for unhealthy reasons you may never understand and that probably originated in your childhoods.
8. Some men (and women) are incapable of emotional depth and authenticity. Just accept it.
9. People don't really change. They learn. They adapt. They improve. They can change sexual orientation. They can grow emotionally. But, at the core of their soul, who they are when they were born, is who they are and those overriding tendencies do not change for better or worse.
10. Give someone two chances (not three) and then never look back. Life is too short for the kind of insanity that unfolds otherwise.

April 24, 2009

April 22, 2009

Child Honouring, Raffi-Style

Of course I know who Raffi Cavoukian is. I know the name Raffi. I'd never seen him perform. I'd never paid much attention to him since I have no kids and I'm too old to have grown up with his songs. Until five minutes ago (thank you YouTube), I'd never heard his famous song Baby Beluga. Who doesn't love belugas? They're always smiling and Raffi's tune is a happy one. No wonder it's such a famous song.

Raffi is now 60 years old and has transitioned away from being a children's entertainer into a children's advocate.

He has recently relocated to Salt Spring Island from Mayne Island where he is intent on opening a Centre for Child Honouring in which the principles and covenant (Spirit of One campaign) for honouring children you can read about off his website.

His hope is that child honouring principles will infiltrate our consciousness, and change our behaviour and in general be a guiding principal impacting every area of society, including corporate decision-making.

Yes, he's an idealist. But, it's a wonderful idea that's both timely and way too late if you know what I mean.

As I was sitting in the audience at ArtSpring last night listening to him, I couldn't stop thinking about the realities in our world for so many children: labour, poverty, sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS, and the more subtle disheartening destruction of soul that goes on through emotional abuse or neglect that takes years to overcome.

It's a journey too many of us have experienced and that can take detours requiring hard work to regain the potential that was innate; the light that we were born with, dimmed within the first six years of our lives as a result of poor parenting wrought from ignorance or outright intent to harm; cycles of neglect passed from one generation to the next. But, who teaches anyone to parent and that alone would be, I suspect, a part of his program.

So much lip service is placed on "loving children" and yet the reality of so many children's lives, universally, is in deep contradiction to that lie (We Love our Children) that we tell ourselves collectively.

I get very excited whenever a little toddler comes into the office where I work. You can really see kids' spirits more easily; as if the essence of their being is closer to the surface. You can see how special they really are; the gift that they are and you wonder how we lose sight of that so easily in how we think of ourselves and others?

By the time most people are adults, they find it difficult to admit that by the mere fact that they exist and that there will only ever be one of them, ever, on the planet, not a single other person like them, that alone makes them special. Shouldn't that thought be enough to induce wonder? Apparently not.

Raffi had a really wonderful way of describing, last night, how as he's travelled the world he knows how few adults really felt honoured as children; felt that someone saw who they really were and valued that and understood how valuable they were just because of their uniqueness which in turn would have bathed their self worth in the kind of light that leads to the igniting of potential.

You might be thinking. Ya? So what? Isn't that the way it is? Kids can be challenging. They can be a pain in the ass. It's pretty damned hard to "honour" that on a daily basis as a single parent or just a tired adult. And, that's true as well except I guess my answer is that nobody asked anyone to be a parent. The lack of consciousness that goes into the decision (if indeed it was a decision) to become parents is mind boggling. And, as it stands, our society, in spite of that reality is not set up to honour children or parents because there are few supports built into the way society is organized to support that.

That's why I think his intent is fantastic. It takes a lot of guts, self confidence and belief in what could be to put an idea out there that "sadly" will be seen by many people as "ridiculous" and "impossible".

Many people will have a reaction that will be like saying "Is he nuts?" You think that you can begin to make a difference to the point of impacting universal systems and having the premise of honouring children, respecting children, as a way of
living that infiltrates every domain of society?

Isn't it sad that it takes a children's entertainer to decide that it's a covenant worth investing in to the point that it should impact every decision we make?

April 21, 2009

Too Much Love

Rise early
move fast

in your element
home at last

so much love

too much
to burden just one person with

you announce with such a wicked laugh

April 19, 2009


You are in this boat
waiting for the wind
and the right time,
(you'll just know it)
to slip this paddle
into your palms
and travel
towards the forgiveness
in your heart
that washed ashore where you never imagined it to be.

April 16, 2009

Dreamquest Man

Was it really a dream
that brought you here?

How do you know
now's the right time to go?

Is it really a dream
where you'll find yourself?

Why can't you just stay
and dream, dream a bit more?

Are you leaving to be leaving
Are you leaving to be seeking
Are you leaving to be learning
Are you leaving for fear of loving

"I met you," said he
adding, that seems pretty good to me.

"Ever heard of GPS?"
I asked in jest.

Is this journey set in peace
Is this journey cloaked with love

Will this journey be the one
to end all journeys,
dreaming you back to a time
when you weren't afraid to stay.

April 14, 2009

Where the Livin Ain't that Easy Afterall

I barely slept a wink last night.

I was holding my breath wondering when I might feel the little busy feet of Mr. Topogigio tickle across me in bed and having a vivid imagination I began to think of Mr. T. burrowing down into the bed trying to get as close to my warm body as possible.

I began to think of Richard Gere. Oh, just a sec, no, that was gerbils. And, I'm sure that was never true. Urban Myth.

I was laying there as if I had a rifle beside me waiting to be taken hostage at any moment. You'd think I was on safari in Darfur.

At no time did it occur to me that moving to the country could actually be bad for one's blood pressure.

In preparation for the ultimate rodent takedown, I downsized the mousetraps. I figured out the one I'd purchased the day before was meant for rats and gophers, not mice. So, I got the ones for mice. Two of them. Where's the ones for racoons, arrogent men and small children I think to myself.

Sure enough when I woke up this morning and walked into the kitchen the poor little thing was lying there, head crunched inside The Better Mouse Trap, silver tail curved slightly, gleaming a little under the kitchen lights with its prickly mouse feet clenched in surprise.

I gingerly walked over and peered down. I debated calling Pauline. What do I do now? Where should I throw it? If I throw it outside close to the house will I have a whole bunch of other mice heading like lemmings for my cottage as if they are launching a coup on the evil dictator? Will they overthrow me?

This is not how I want to start my day. This is not how any civilized person should start their day; staring down at the prey they killed the night before not unless they're a contestant on SURVIVOR. If I was in the city, I'd be at a Tim Horton's drivethrough! (THIS IS A JOKE!)

But, you gotta do what you gotta do so I got dressed. I put on my pink rubber gloves. I picked up the trap with the little petrified mouse body hanging out. I walked 50 paces into the woods behind my place, opened the trap and it dropped with a little crisp sound on a leaf behind a tree trunk. Poor thing. I covered it over with a piece of tree bark and said "So Help Me God" under my breath. I walked back and decided that eating breakfast at home under such traumatizing circumstances was simply out of the question.

I swear to you that between the Daddy Long Leg spiders hanging above my head in the room that doubles as my dressing room/clothes closet, the mice, the racoons, the vigilence required to miss ever-wandering twitless deer in the path of my vehicle, the possibility of having the one mythical cougar on the island stalk me when I take hikes alone, the big Dobermans and other scary dogs in Duck Creek sans leashes, and the ever worrying thought that the wood stove may burn the place down, I'm pretty sure my blood pressure is through the rat-infested roof.

I'm not sure I've ever been as uptight as I am now and lets face it I'm always pretty damned uptight. I'm starting to twitch and flinch in ways that may begin to make strangers think I'm in the early stages of Parkinsons Disease.

Tonight, I had dinner at Paulines. I was telling her my stories. After dinner, relaxing on the couch, I'm looking out on her deck and what do I see? I see yet another rodent. That's a pretty big mouse I think. I jump up. "What's THAT?" I yell. Oh MY GOD is that a RAT? I scream out! EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

She thinks I'm kidding. She thinks I'm just foolin' around after all the mice talk. But she comes running, can't believe her eyes and races outside to scare it away. "Norway Rat. Roof Rats," she says. "Damn Thing. It's after the bird seed. I must have spilled some of the humming bird feeder liquid. Brazen thing."
Why isn't it on the roof then? Why is it on the deck?

"OH MY GOD, they're everywhere," I say. And just as I'm about to go inside, I hear this incredible whirring right above my head as a humming bird dive bombs me and I jump and duck and scare myself as Pauline laughs at my wimpy citified nervous system.

When it's time to leave, I give her a hug goodbye and all she says is RUN! RUN to the Car! Don't look back! A big smile crosses her face as she just shakes her head at me.

I'm about to go to bed now. I've set the traps again. The sound of crickets and frogs provides the appropriate background music for the murder mystery that's about to unfold yet again.

Stay tuned! Oh, and sweet dreams...

April 12, 2009

The Illusion of Self-Importance

-cross carved into Arbutus Tree on Mt. Erskine

I'm sitting here today, still in my dressing gown. It's 2:45 pm and I just can't seem to get dressed. That doesn't happen very often.

Nothing to do. Nowhere to really go. Wondering what to do on a day like today with the sky grey, rain drumming down. Easter Sunday. The day that Jesus was supposed to have (or did) depending on your religious convictions, rise from the dead.

Perhaps an ideal day to be thinking about illusions and the illusion of self importance which in our world too often equates personal worth with one's personal wealth (or lack of).

I started thinking about this because yesterday morning, early, I was up and I heard my dishes rattle on my countertop. I looked over just in time to see a mouse scoot down and vanish, somewhere.

So, I bought a Better Mouse Trap. That's what they call it. But it was almost a moral dilemma. I felt really bad about having to KILL something but I don't want mice in my house. Last night I followed the directions of the "BETTER MOUSE TRAP" and I put a little bit of peanut butter in it and set it near the wall in the kitchen.

For a good part of the night before I dozed off I had one ear open, and I kept thinking I was going to hear some loud snap and then hear some tortured squealing and I'd just feel like I was going to burn in hell.

When I woke up this morning, I went over to the mouse trap really hoping to see nothing and here's what I saw. The peanut butter was gone. There was no mouse in the trap. I'd just FED the mouse. It's now thinking that I'm its benevolent mommy. Here darling. Here's your little peanut butter Easter treat a day early. Sorry it's not a Kinder egg. Apparently the better mousetrap is not BETTER than this very enterprising Salt Spring mouse. Dirty, rotten scoundrel.

And, in the way the mind is known to work, (in warped ways) as I was scraping the peanut butter onto the trap last night I thought to myself, gee, I could be snorkeling in Hawaii or I could be putting this peanut butter on a mousetrap. I could be drinking a margarita in the sunshine on a white sandy beach in which the margarita was delivered to me on a silver platter or I could be slappin this peanut butter on a mousetrap. I could be wandering through the Louvre or doling out the peanut butter treats for Topogigio. I could be having a really beautiful, kind, interesting, sexy, funny man treat me to the most romantic date of my life or well, you get the picture.

Would it make that much of a difference? That was my next thought. Would I be happier? Well, yes, today, in fact, the answer is an unequivocal yes. I would snap my fingers in a second and be on a beach today if I could. (Ola Dee!)

If I had more than enough money I might be thinking gee I'm so successful because I get to travel first class every time I set foot on an airplane and stay in only the top of the line resorts and impress my friends with my exciting existence but deep down would it make that much of a difference to who I am and at the end of my life would it really matter that I'd had a lot of money? Does having money change our value?

I was thinking about how money - having money - is such a buffer. It makes the logistics of life so much easier and that's a good thing. Exhibit 1: Oprah.

Perhaps that is why Jesus was so poor. He didn't want any buffers - including financial wealth - between himself and those he was supposedly here to serve.

If you suddenly came into enough money to never worry about money again would you be living differently? Would you think better of yourself? Would you feel more important? Would you be more interesting? Would you love yourself more? Would others love you for you or because of what you could do for them with your money? Would you have more time. Would you be more creative? Would you be kinder? Would you understand the importance of being humble? Would you stop having to showcase your worth? I wonder...

April 11, 2009


Yesterday I fell down twice even though I hadn't had a single thing to drink.

I'm beginning to remind myself of my mother (who was notorious for falling down).

I was laughing so hard I was letting out snorts which made me laugh even harder. My stomach hurt I was laughing so hard. I had to yell at you to stop talking to ease the pain.

We found a UFO on the lawn of The Fulford Inn. Some old Russian thing that someone here is sure to be able to turn into the next SMART car prototype.

We took a hike on that trail owned by the Tsawout Band along the water.

You liked embarrassing me. "It's so easy," you said, accurately. On the way there you backed up just so you could drive down a private driveway past the tennis courts to see the main house but mostly just to embarrass me.

You called over the waitress to ask something to embarrass me.

Then, when it was all over, later, doing the dishes I started laughing again. I was laughing at the memory of laughing the first time and let out yet another snort. Not very becoming.

I always forget how good it feels to laugh that hard even though my ankle had to be wrapped in ice as a result of the falls.

It was a day worth smiling about.

Too bad you're leaving.

Just as well.

April 10, 2009

The Sweet Murmurs of Intuition

- I just love this shell

I wish I could describe what happens when you get the signs that let you know that you must follow your intuition; when your intuition wakes up and you're aware of it so you're paying closer attention.

You either know what I mean or you don't. You've either experienced that feeling or you haven't been aware of the feeling.

For me, it's as if some dormant little being inside wakes up; as if she's been bored for a long time, hasn't been paying attention and then when I learn something, meet someone or I'm trying to decide about something - something that is or will be significant to me - she wakes up fully alert trying to catch my attention so that I too will be paying even MORE attention as well.

If feelings had words attached, the predominant feeling would be saying very deliberately, Now Watson, THAT'S VERY interesting!

It's a checking in process that requires when you're re-examining it, that you be very still and quiet. For me, when I do this, my attention aligns very naturally with the center of my chest. Automatically my awareness shifts to there.

Let me give you an example. A few years ago - 2006 - I wanted to go on a vacation. I didn't know exactly where I wanted to go but for some reason New Mexico kept coming into my awareness. I started looking on the web. Within a short time, perhaps even that very day, I came across a website for this place called The Ghost Ranch. It offered all sorts of courses: creative, spiritual and more formal courses related to church congregations etc. It's owned by the Presbyterian Church.

Now, when I looked at it I immediately got that feeling like this is it. This is where I need to go. Now, some people would have looked at it and thought are you kidding me? I'm not going to some religious ranch on my vacation. But I just knew that when I looked at the website that it was much more about the spiritual and the artistic than about christianity. So, I went. And, for me, it was the perfect place. I met some wonderful people. The landscape was everything the late Georgia O'Keeffe had said it was and the course and the instructor were the perfect experience for me at that time. I have to this day kept in touch with him and he is an amazing man. How did I know this? Intuition! Listening to that feeling.

If you haven't read the story about how I came to Salt Spring then you should try and find it on this blog. I am now living on Salt Spring in a cottage that was an artist's studio. She made baskets. In all the years in the past that I've come to Salt Spring, I'd never made a point of visiting artists's home studios. I don't know why. I'm a little shy. It seemed a bit intimidating to just drive up someone's driveway not knowing whether it was a good time to visit. (So freaking Canadian of me or what?)What if it's a bad time?

Anyway, I'm now LIVING in the cottage of the only artist in all those years that I ever went to visit. She doesn't live here any more or own the property now. She made beautiful baskets out of seaweed and all the other interesting stuff in the sea. That's where I'm living. I knew as soon as I saw it that yes, I'd be moving to Salt Spring because it wasn't a coincidence. You can be cynical and think I've got too much "magical thinking" going on or you can wonder...

Intuition is every bit as important as rational thought. In my mind, it's more important because intuition will lead you towards your passion or the thing that you really MUST do for your journey to unfold in a way that is best for you whereas rational thought will only enable you to make what I think are "safe" decisions.

Many times the two are aligned. The trick is to know the difference and "that feeling" is what will tell you the difference.

The other day this guy comes into the place where I work. We talk to people one on one constantly. He's come in a few times. He's native. He says he's on a dream quest and that's what brought him here to the island. Okay. I don't understand. But who cares. I don't need to understand. He says that he is going next to North Carolina. Again. Dreamquest. Okay. I don't even remember my dreams so who am I to question? It makes no sense to me at all. If I'm being honest, I'm judgementally thinking, man you know you're really lost when you're following your dreams because you don't know what the hell to do next.

Anyway, he's very personable, good communicator, nice, funny. We get along well. He comes in after about a week and we start chatting.

I decide that he'd be a good person to practice my little affirmation exercise on. So, I tell him about it and he goes back to doing whatever he was doing on the computer and at first I"m having a bit of trouble but then out of the blue this sentence comes to me:

Your heart is clearly visible in spite of yourself. I print it out and I give it to him. He reads it. It's not an affirmation. It just a message.

What do you mean he says? In spite of myself? What does that mean?
I don't know I say. I'm just the messenger. It's for you to figure out. How should I know?

Now, as I'm saying that I'm thinking, Gayle, stop messing with the clients' heads - that's the rational. But the intuitive is saying that came for a reason. I felt that for a reason. I'm sure it exists for a reason. I'm sure there is a reason I wrote that for him.

Okay, enough already. I can't say enough good about intuition and developing it.

The first step has nothing to do with intuition of course. I has to do with feelings. You must be aware of your feelings as you are feelign them.

I spent years not being aware of my feelings; didn't know what I was feeling when I was feeling it. Try and develop awareness around what you are feeling when you are feeling it. Verbalize it to yourself and double check that what you think you're feeling is accurate.

April 08, 2009

The Stairways to Transition (Aren't Perfect)

In a continuation of yesterday's topic, how strange that I should write the blogpost The Art of Reinventing Yourself only to then interview (on the same day) a woman who has hosted a transition circle for mid-life women and is interested in launching one here on Salt Spring. Her name is Francine Z. Carlin.

She has a public relations and communications education and background and is from the U.S. She has worked in Washington, D.C. with national unions there as their spokesperson to name just one type of work she's been involved with.

More importantly, she's done a lot of other personal development work (conflict resolution, group dynamics, work focused on soul) that she incorporates into the work she now does with family run businesses.

After I interviewed her, I realized that there was something very important that I'd left off yesterday's list (well, actually, I'm sure there are many more than that) but I forgot to add:

Make it a priority to create an amazing support network around yourself of people who unconditionally support whatever you choose because they have faith in your wisdom and your abilities based on their experience of you and that's good enough for them to offer unconditional support.

When I was in Vancouver in the last year or two I felt that I had done this. I very consciously let go of anyone who was not supportive of me or who I didn't feel had faith in me.

It's amazing what you end up with when you do that. You end up with the most amazing circle of people who even if they don't necessarily understand your choices or even agree with them will, because of their faith in you as an individual, go with it and be supportive. I have that - in Vancouver - and now I need to create it here as well.

That understanding was life changing for me. When you grow up in a family environment that's highly critical, you don't necessarily understand that it's a way of being you can choose to have nothing to do with.

Recognizing that you can choose who you let in and who you consciously choose to let go of is very freeing.

The thing about this "transition group" that she's interested in bringing together is that there is such a lack of sacred space to speak about things that affect us at a deep level and the time to look at how we're living intentionally, rather than just moving from morning to evening, over and over without any personal reflection on how we want to be living and how to take the steps to make change.

Intentionally taking the time to focus on how you're living in comparison to how you want to be living is the first step to begin to make change.

As Francine said yesterday, "Life's too short to talk about the weather".

April 07, 2009

The Art of Reinventing Yourself

-by Bly Kaye

When I was at the market this weekend, in the commotion and chaos of who goes where and the time it takes for that process to unfold, I had the great fortune of finding myself stationed beside a woman whose energy is so gentle and unassuming, I liked her immediately.

Her name is Bly Kaye and I found her to be soft-spoken, easy to be around, supportive and just the perfect person, by chance, to share a beautiful day with. The door, above, is hers painted in San Miguel De Allende, Mexico.

At one point, she was telling me about reading Natalie Goldberg again because she had wanted to send one of Goldberg's books to a friend.

She mentioned that in one of the books, Goldberg talks about an exercise in which you begin writing poems for people on the spot. Short poems. You write whatever comes into your mind and turn it into a poem. No easy feat.

It made me think that instead of just sitting waiting for someone to buy a print or a card while at the Saturday market, I could be charging as well for personal affirmations that I write for them on the spot.

I immediately get impressions (as we all do) of people and sometimes, in a flicker, I sense their loneliness, their inability to trust, their strength, their love, their quiet confidence, joy, depression, anxiety. It would be easy enough to quickly jot down two sentences that they keep with them like a personal fortune/affirmation. Of course it would be positive. I've give someone a Toonie if they did that for me just out of curiosity to see what they'd say.

You have the strength to accomplish whatever you need.
Through softness you'll find your path.
For just one day, remember that assumptions are your own biases sent to teach you if you listen.

The cool part would be hearing their reactions to the sentences and whether or not my first impressions had any meaning for them at all; whether I was picking up on their "essence" of that day so to speak, accurately (or not!).

I figure if some hippie named Palu can walk up to unsuspecting tourists and convince them that they should make fools out of themselves by having him shake some sort of digeridoo-like thing beside their ear while he twirls a wooden thing that apparently has the same effect as a strobe light then surely they would be willing to pay a couple of bucks to receive a short affirmative message that would leave them more confident, hopeful, happy, supported or whatever I felt they needed to hear. It would be a fun exercise.

That's the thing about Salt Spring, you must re-invent yourself continually. I interviewed another painter on Friday for an upcoming article. She was sitting in her studio, an almost completed drawing of a house was sitting on her drafting table, and she had to be at work in a few hours where she put in time at a restaurant. Painter. Draftswoman. Server. Whatever it takes.

Bly used to own a popsicle business with her husband and came to the market for years and years selling popsicles.

Once you've proven to others what you think you needed to when you were young enough to believe that was important, then it seems the real work begins and that's the hardest part; the part where you prove to yourself what you know you need to just for you. Does that make sense?

Ways of being that seem critical to reinventing yourself:

1. Turn off the internal editor.
2. Make sure that what you think matters to you really does.
3. Don't ask for anyone else's opinion - everyone has one and they'll conflict only taking you further away from your own voice.
4. Just take the first step. Begin.
5. Don't be afraid to make mistakes.
6. Forget about what other people might think of you.
7 Know that you've learned before, you can learn again, forever and ever. Amen.

Maybe you have some ideas of your own to add...comments?

April 06, 2009

When the Words Come, Let Them

She is the wind
you are the branches


careful now

protect yourself

dodge intimacy again

A transparent personal trademark

loud as a warning

predictable as time

bends women's hearts
permanently out of shape.

April 05, 2009

Cabin Fever Be Gone

Let only the precious ones
choose you

Map a heart
see your seas
soften courseness
ride the waves

They'll capture you
if they want to

April 03, 2009

Let the Market Begin

Tomorrow is a very exciting day. It's the first day of The Saturday Market for 2009.
I have been busy matting and glueing my photos to cards. I have no idea whether I'll sell much but I think the experience will be interesting and I'm not going to let any inner critic stop me from just putting it out there even though, yes, I could have more stock than I do at the moment.
On the other hand, if I was to sell 70 cards and 25 matted prints, that would be pretty amazing so I suspect I have more than enough stock for now.

Tomorrow will be just the test run because I expect, given that it's the first day and after all the cold weather the tourists will not be here yet to any significant degree.

But, it just seems like, if you're new to Salt Spring, you MUST participate if you have a creative product to sell.

April 01, 2009

Hypnosis: Interstate to the SubConscious

About a week ago I decided to write a story on hypnotherapy for the paper and two hypnotherapists here on Salt Spring generously offered their time and experience to hypnotize me.

“When I count backwards from five you will be wide awake and feeling good,” she says. One...You’re beginning to come back...Two...feel the energy moving through your body...

She (the lady in the photo) asks me what I want to work on. I didn't want it to be really personal since I was writing it for the paper. She suggested I ask what it is about Salt Spring that has attracted me here so strongly and why I'm here and to invite in abundance of all kinds. That sounded good to me.

I sit in a chair with a footstool. She puts a warm blanket over me, tells me to get comfortable and inhale a few deep breaths. “Let all your worries go. This is your time,” she says. “You are sinking so deeply into the chair.” She continues this relaxation process for a while. She raises the palm of her right hand high above my forehead. “Follow my hand,” she says. “Your eyelids are getting heavier.” She repeats this and by the third time I feel like I’d have to make a real effort to open my eyes. She tells me that when I hear the sound of her fingers snap I will feel five times more relaxed and sink deeper. She snaps her fingers and continues. I feel as if I’m going strongly inward.

The rhythm of her words leads me on a journey down a staircase, deeper and deeper down, through a garden gate. She asks me a question that I now can’t recall. She tells me to pay attention to the scents, the sounds, feel the warmth of the sunshine and imagine every aspect of this beautiful place. As she’s speaking, out of nowhere, I strongly hear the word Love. Love. I'm aware of the word. It's such a delicious sounding word. I can almost feel warmth around my heart when I am experiencing this.

Then, I see my hand join with a man’s hand. I see our hands very clearly clasped but only from the elbows down. As I walk into the garden, I see us kneeling. I'm facing him. I can visualize him so clearly. He has a dark beard and dark hair. I don’t recognize him. I’ve never met him but his energy feels very familiar.

I feel so happy. It's very gentle, generous, accepting energy actually. I've experienced this before when a man from my past, (no longer alive), and I were at our very happiest. I have no idea what this means but I trust it means SOMETHING! After all, it’s coming from my all-knowing subconscious.

I’m aware of what’s going on the whole time and at first that bothers me. I’ve seen too many Raveen-type stereotypical demonstrations of hypnosis on TV. I keep waiting to lose consciousness and enter a trance. I was a little disappointed that it doesn’t really work that way – not this time – for me.

The hypnotherapist was a former nurse at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where she said she was always asking "why?"

“Perfectly fit and healthy parents would have babies with serious problems. Mothers with serious drug addictions would have perfectly healthy babies.” “I began to question everything," she said.

She called her strong ability to pick up on others’ emotions as a gift from her soul which has led her on a 15-year journey studying alternative healing practices including shamanic healing in Mexico. "Hypnosis,” she says “is about re-empowerment.” “At no time as a hypnotherapist can I make you do anything you don’t want to.”

The next day, I meet Leah Hansel of CORE Personal Success Coaching here on Salt Spring. She uses Eriksonian hypnotherapy named after Milton Erikson, a psychiatrist considered to be the father of modern hypnotherapy. Hansel is energetic and incorporates hypnotherapy into her coaching work. The Eriksonian style of hypnosis is less directed and relies not on commands, she says, but on suggestions. “You may begin to feel deeply relaxed.” “Some people – especially people who have trouble with authority - may not easily take to directed hypnotherapy because they don’t like to be told what to do and that creates resistance.” Her relaxation process seems more like listening to a gentle meditation tape, but the effect seems similar.

I've been interested in hypnosis for a long time. I saw a free lunch hour lecture once put on by a woman from Victoria. She was speaking to UBC Medical students which I thought was very cool. Then, I took a one-day workshop from Lee Pulos.

I think partly because I have had a lot of experience with a type of therapy called E.M.D.R. and the experience of that for me was amazing that I am very interested in the subconscious and the wonderful feast of visuals and guides that exist there. Puzzles for the conscious to unravel as best it can when the subconscious is accessed.

E.M.D.R. has nothing to do with hypnosis but the visual pictures that are called up while undergoing E.M.D.R. for me were always so fascinating; metaphors for what I was experiencing emotionally or more specifically metaphors that might lead me to unearth why it was that I was experiencing what I was which was strongly emotional.

Not to mention that it was extremely valuable, effective and a quick way to access deeply buried emotions, beliefs about oneself, retrieving them and reprocessing them in a way that meant re-experiencing them and removing their hold over you so negative and instinctual patterns of behaving could be extinguished and replaced with more neutral positive and effective responses.