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December 31, 2010

Pay Attention to the Questions

When I think of 2010 I have to admit, it wasn't a very eventful year for me. That's fine. Some years are like that. Acceptance is key. Think of it as prep work for what's next. A building year. A year of fuelling motivation to make change rather than just seeing where the days take you.

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there."  

This last week of the year spent in Vancouver, seeing old friends and old haunts, has been one of the highlights of my year. I have experienced real contentment and joy being in the presence of the friends I still have here.

I found myself, especially in the past few days wandering around the city and memories would surface as I passed a landmark. In the West End, standing overlooking Lost Lagoon and remembering all the great walks I enjoyed around the pond. Walking along the seawall and thinking about the time my dad, at 89, managed to walk the entire wall with me. Eating lunch in The Sylvia bar and thinking about Neil and Richard and all the times we`d end up there after a walk around the park. Thinking about other people I'd spent time there with.  Seeing old things in a new way re-inspiring me to take photographs.

Passing The Running Room and remembering the amazement of building up to 5K runs in 2007. Seeing Colleen and going to our favorite restaurant on Main Street for the very best Thai food that I never get sick of eating. Pad Thai. Green Curry. Pork Satay.  The joy of seeing photos of her Cuba trip and being so happy for her that she had such an amazing time.

Spending time with Dee soaking up her positive energy and enthusiasm. No matter how much time passes we can always make each other laugh over the stupidest things. 

Spending Christmas with Peggy and Chris and the girls`.  Having an impromptu Christmas Eve dinner with Gwen and my sister. Seeing Lisa snowshoeing at Seymour with Karen and Heather. Seeing Konor and taking in a Giant's hockey game. Going to a casino.

Having Keiko do an energy healing on me called The Reconnection. She went to Japan this past year and took a seminar taught by Eric Pearl.  

Seeing my Dad. Feeling good for him that he is feeling better. Feeling sad after 12 hours with him; feeling his sadness and seeing his isolation and lack of joy when I look upon it with my younger eyes.

Enjoying the company of my sister and the luxury of her apartment and being so intensely grateful that she has been there for my Dad beyond the call of duty given that I`m not living here.

Taking in the exhibits at the Vancouver Art Gallery this morning and recognizing how I am just starved for that on Salt Spring. The priviledge of being able to see the photographs of Robert Adams, and marvel at the 41 photography books he created. Listening to the audio of Douglas Coupland in a pretend conversation with Emily Carr at an exhibit that juxtaposes some of her work with some current artists was fun. It was fun to watch the room stop and really listen to the pretend conversation and what if Emily Carr really could know that her paintings now sold for millions of dollars.

Seeing the Waste Not exhibit by Song Dong and understanding the work of Kerry James Marshall and his large paintings of black people with black faces arising from his own experience of being black and invisible in America.  The image that comes to mind. A Christmas cactus that finally got some water. That`s how I felt this morning when I left the Art Gallery. 

I walked down Robson back towards Dee`s place and I stopped at a small crowd of people all looking down at something on the sidewalk in the entrance near a building. It was a tiny mouse. Some young girls said, Oh, Oh, I hope it`s okay. I just laughed. To see that a tiny little mouse could gather a crowd on a street packed with superficiality and image made me smile. There is hope.

So, pay attention to the emotional reactions you`re having and the kind of questions that circumstances, people and places elicit in you. The feelings really do highlight the direction you're meant to be heading. Listen carefully every day. That`s what I hope you can do as the dawn of 2011 nears in mere hours.

December 23, 2010

Is Santa a Volunteer Firefighter?

Like Santa’s elves I got up really early one morning last week – 4:45 am – because I had thoughts of what I needed to get done and I couldn't sleep.  Now, that's truly ridiculous because I don’t host a big family dinner and I don’t have cute little sugar plum kiddies to please beyond their wildest dreams. All I really have to do is enjoy myself and other people's company.

At no other time of year than Christmas am I more thankful for the fact that I do not have traditional female responsibilities. The average wife/mom/maid probably puts in a 200 hour week as a result of Christmas instead of her regular 90-100 hours.  Welcome to “The Holiday Season” ladies!

Salt Spring, like everywhere, begins to whip itself into a frenzy around December 17th.

The firemen decorate the No. 1 fire hall in the middle of Ganges. It's a really old place with a bell tower similar to the one in that Steve Martin movie, Roxanne, that was filmed in Nelson, B.C.   I’ve overheard in passing, "What else do those firemen have to do  except buy shiny new equipment?  You better just hope Santa doesn't set your chimney on fire with that comment. Following that (flawed?) line of thinking, I guess they have loads of time to decorate as well. And, so they do.

They hang Santa’s bottom half out of their bell tower (above) which makes it look as if he’s about to dive into it, backwards. They decorate with wooden cutouts of sheep instead of reindeer (afterall this is Salt Spring). They blast Christmas songs too loudly in the 12 days leading up to the big day so no matter where you are in their vicinity it's impossible to forget the time of year.
Parking, just like in “The Big Smoke," becomes impossible to find. Everyone floods into Ganges village to do their shopping. The line-up at the post office (because there are only 2 post offices on the island) grew to 45 minutes the other day. Someone tweeted it on Twitter. Someone else at the back of the line was offering a home made roast beef dinner to trade places with the person at the front.

The local grocery stores are packed. Once you've lived here a while, doing shopping is a marathon event given the number of people you end up seeing to say Hi to or chat with. In Ganges, add on at least 20 minutes to every shopping visit as a result of social chit chat.  Yesterday I ran into Harry Burton, Apple King, and he said something that I thought was really true. "Well, at least on  Salt Spring," he said, "you can go to the thrift store, buy someone a present and they'll still really like it." And, that's true. In fact, I'd probably like it more! We love our thrift stores because they have cool stuff at absolutely the right price.

The other place with massive line-ups, of course, is the food bank. Yes, Salt Spring, like everywhere, has a food bank. There are some heart-wrenching realities and the closer the big day gets it’s as if every day is a full moon. (And, this year, that's almost a fact!)

I’m trying to maintain my own questionable sanity by going to deep water Aquafit at the pool twice a week. The fact that I can float without a belt in the deep end is a little worrying. This is, afterall, pre-shortbread, pre-eggnog, pre-Nanaimo bar, pre-Baileys in coffee, pre-turkey, pre-gorge fest.  Plant the sprouts for the New Year's crash diet.

There are a million concerts, sing-a-longs, and what else? Craft sales. Turns out you CAN have too much of a good thing. I’m beginning to think about crafts in the same way I think about IKEA merchandise. Just as I have never been able to figure out how it's possible to need an infinite supply of bathmats in a single lifetime from IKEA, I'm not sure why some people have a black hole of an inbox for jewellery, candles, and art work but thankfully, for Gulf Islands craftspeople (including me) they just seem to.

So, that's it.  I'm off to Vancouver. That ferry better be workin! 

Stay in the moment. Stay safe. Stay alive.  Find the beauty wherever you can. Chill!

December 20, 2010

Swimming with the Dragons on Salt Spring

Intuition. Mine works pretty well. Especially when it comes to people. Friday I found myself walking down the path of this 7 acre property, through a gate, into an old orchard and in the distance I see this unfinished round building.

A conversation with someone whom I have know superficially led to me agreeing to meet with him as a means to help me focus on my physical health.

He teaches Qi Gong. He's a carpenter who specializes in Asian-style buildings and in rammed earth. He's also done rigging for concerts in the city.  From the first time I met him about two years ago, I knew that he was a very unique individual. His whole way of being radiates gentle, respectful and accepting.

The conversations I've had with him have always been in my office and have always been oriented towards the spiritual. Whenever he drops by, which hasn't been often in the past 6 months, it's a breath of fresh air compared to my usual interactions throughout the day. He's just come back from Hornby Island for 7 weeks where he was building a rammed earth house.

He's  a very soft spoken guy who stands very straight. Slight of build but very fit; lithe might be the word. He wears his long blonde hair in a chignon atop his head. He usually walks around town in clothing that seems very Asian even though he's Caucasian. He's got an extremely calm, centred energy.

When I arrive, I find him at his "outdoor kitchen". We enter his place which is one round room on the main floor with a lotus flower cutout that leads to the "loft" where his bed is. There's a wood stove and a beautiful round skylight at the top where you can look up and see the sky and evergreens as if the natural world is being offered to you through a magnifying glass platter.

There are lots of windows and he is proud of a door he's just finished building. There's a poster of a tiger on one wall which has a significance that he explains to me.  Sprouts are growing in shelves in front of a window. (I never have seen the attracton of sprouts. Blah).  The woodstove has a kettle on it and the fire is crackling. He hands me a cup of green tea. A beautiful large Buddha with a turqouise patina sits atop a bookshelf full of books on nutrition, spirituality, martial arts.

We sit cross legged on the floor. 

I was facing the window, he was facing me. The light streaming in was framing his blonde hair like a halo. I was soaking in the visual effect savouring the way the light seemed to accentuate this "sentient being". (I say that half jokingly because a former friend, Anu, constantly would use the term "sentient beings.")

We talk about the three pillars of health and "plan the work, work the plan". He talks about clear vision and laser beam focus and he leads me through a series of questions he wants me to spend time answering on my own.I must come up with 20 possibilities for each.

As our conversation unfolds I am blown away by the knowledge he has and his ability to impart that using analogies and metaphors. After quite a long time, we get up and do some exercises.

He starts with a guided meditation called Coming Home. We begin beating ourselves down one side of the body and up the other like in former yoga classes I've taken. We are awakening our inner smile.  And finally, we do a movement called Swimming Dragon which starts with us standing on our toes, our palms together above our head, and then we try and draw an S curve with our arms and our body.

I am standing behind him so I can mimic him. I have to keep bringing myself back to the moment because if not, if I'd see myself as others might have if they had been observing, I'd probably have wet my pants laughing.

I felt like Shirley Valentine and instead of being on a boat with a Greek player named Kostas, I was with some Germanic "Ninja" healer in his Yurt-styled abode like I had just been transplanted into that book The Secret.

I'm trying to move a spine that is more used to sitting stationary in front of a computer than one that can bend fluidly like the winds bend willows. I know from being around Colleen all these years (and just from my own knowledge gained by taking Sandra's yoga classes in the West End) that keeping the spine limber is the most significant way to maintain mobility hence youthfulness.

Can't you just see me? I was pretty happy. I had a big smile on my face that he couldn't see and I stood behind this beautiful man. He was moving as fluidly as a dancer. It goes without saying, I don't. Move like a dancer, that is. I move more like the tinman in The Wizard of Oz. But, there I was.  Seeing the humour in the situation and wishing I was about 10 years younger.

Something to look forward to in the New Year to be sure. :-)

December 15, 2010

Have Faith

Winter Path
The other day I went to get a haircut. My regular stylist wasn't working and you know how it is. You need your haircut now, RIGHT NOW, when you're at that point.  So I took a chance on someone else. She had a likeable, quirky personality, dark red hair, and a way with a unique turn of phrase.  In her wonderful youth she was describing how she LOVED this time of year. "EVERYONE is so happy and excited and it's fun," she exclaimed.

I didn't say anything when she made that comment.  I was marvelling at the statement. Half of my thoughts were steeped in admiration. The other half  felt like someone had just run their fingers down a blackboard in my disbelief at her level of naivety. 

Her impression is certainly not mine given where I work.  Every day I'm reminded to be careful of the assumptions I make. I try really hard. I fail often.  I keep trying. At this time of year it's critical.

The commercialization of Christmas and especially the expectations related to family and a sense of belonging reach a crescendo that can be unbearable for so many people. It's especially true for  those who are struggling just to shelter and feed themselves and for those whose familial relationships may have long ago been broken.

What if you were alone? What if you were 95 and your life-long love was long gone as were all your friends? What if all you had were your memories?  What if you had to stand in a food bank line-up for two hours to get the kind of food to feed your children that wasn't adequate?

If you have your health, a partner, some connection to a family and friends, a job, and a decent place to live, then you are blessed. If you've never had to handle a significant crisis in your life, stop and inhale gratitude. If you have and you've overcome and thrived, recognize such a major accomplishment.

Spend just a very quiet moment considering what Christmas would mean to the person who didn't have any of that.  I can tell you it would be a reminder of their failures at every turn.

Be careful. Be sympathetic. Be willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Consider kindness a conscious act more than ever at this time of year hoping you can remind yourself better to carry such understanding throughout the year.

And, when you've done that, turn away from such overwhelming sadness. Go inside your heart and take the hot little hand of you the child. Remember when just seeing a Christmas tree and twinkly lights drenched your entire being in wonder and rightness. Admire the complexity of the human spirit and its ability to overcome and rise again.


Green Drinks,Silicon Island and Kindness

Green Drinks
Made it out to the first meet-up at the Harbour House between the Green Community and those working professionally or seriously interested in the digital world.  It was organized by a core group of on island "movers and shakers." The easy reference for the evening was Green Drinks.  Margery Moore from the Institute for Sustainability, Education and Action  introduced the evening.

It's an "experiment" said Christopher Roy, a senior strategist for Vancouver's Communicopia who works from home on island but commutes every second week for a few days to be at the Vancouver office.  

 International Digital Media Conferences? Educational Retreats? University symposiums? Workshops? Centre of Excellence? Dedicated research? There's a Facebook group called Silicon Island  and soon a physical space located between Salt Spring Air's offices and the Steffich Fine Art Gallery.

In a Former Life and Publishing
It was nice to say hello to Li Read. I haven't seen Li since my UBC Multimedia Studies days when she was a student there (circa 1995) one of the first, if not the first realtor, to have the insight that having a web site and being able to design it yourself would be good for the future. Ya think? And nice to chat, as well with Phillip Reece, part owner of Salt Spring Air, who was telling me about his wife's business, Spire Publishing, as an example of transplanted entrepreneurialship. (It started in the U.K.)

World's Apart
Afterwards, in a complete 360 degree turnaround in terms of topics, I met up with Karen Cross, Dave French and Larry Cross.  Karen runs the pest control company P.C.S. Gulf Islands.  It was started by her former husband and friend Larry Cross. She just returned from a conference in Waikiki. I always find it fascinating to think of all the circles of influence out there that just never intersect with my life and yet employ millions of people focused on a topic which is fascinating even if many of us would rather not think about.

Dave has worked for Karen for more than a year and they go all over the Gulf Islands to deal with people's pesty annoyances sometimes being picked up at The Burgoyne dock and being taken to a remote estate on a private island. Apparently wealth is no deterrant to creepy crawlies.

The Face of The Driftwood Retiring
Dave tells me that his mom Claudia, the friendly face at The Driftwood, is retiring as of Friday and the Driftwood Gang are celebrating their Christmas party this Friday where I"m sure she'll be well hosted (and maybe even roasted).

Seafood Linguine
I wrote a story on Karen and Dave's work for The Driftwood more than a year ago and I was invited last year to join them at their annual christmas dinner but snow prevented me from making it. This year, no snow anywhere, except in the lovely card Karen gave me above.  It was really a nice evening and the seafood linguine was fantastic at The Harbour House. It's a must order for sure chock a block with salmon and prawns. Yum.  Thanks so much Karen for your kindness!

December 12, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

I was walking through the lobby of The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria yesterday to admire the annual Festival of Trees, a fundraiser for the BC Children's Hospital Foundation and here are just a few of the ornaments that caught my attention.
Queen Victoria had a much safer place on this tree than a couple of other Royals this week. Stay safe Chuck and Camilla.

I really liked this look. Oranges and lemons by a local florist shop.
If your mulled wine needs a bit more tang, just rip 'em off the tree.
Shaw Cable Tree
Sometimes you may think your cable is coming to you via Martian but unlikely.

IPA anyone? It's a beer tree by The Spinnakers Brew Pub.

 Look. You can see the forest and the tree (and the owls). I loved these delicate cut-outs.

The child who made this was confused. Is it a bat, an angel or a batangel?

Had to take this photo. Reminded me of a few of my Internet dates from way back. (Minus the wings of course.)
I didn't write this. Honest. I found it sad because I think a little girl may have written it.
I can totally relate to the sentiment, especially the "without any effort" part. But when I was six, I was a beanpole and now that I'm not (understatement) it makes me even sadder.
This champagne was just so close...and yet so damned far!

Got any cool things that make your own tree special?

December 06, 2010

Sounds Like Salt Spring, Feels Like Gilligan's Island

It was with a heavy heart I packed up from the tiny vacation home, bid farewell to the loving kitty and returned to the hovel a.k.a. my cottage. There's nothing like steppin in the front door of your abode and the first thing you catch in your line of vision is a mouse trap. The only thing worse might be a mousetrap with something in it - or worse yet - only half of something in it. UGHHHH! My trap was empty thank you very much.

Goodbye Kardashian sisters. Goodbye Oprah. Goodbye Trading Spouses. Goodbye drinking coffee in front of the morning news.  I'll have to drag my sorry ass back to deep water aquafit for some reality tv entertainment along the lines of Biggest Losers.

What can I tell you about my exciting life on Salt Spring today? The workspace was totally dead this morning. That was cool because it allowed me to hear about my co-workers recent trip to Vegas. Then, this afternoon it was as if the office became like a miniature Gilligan's Island full of professors and Mary Anne's and too many Gilligans. It was as if a ship of asylum seekers had run aground offshore, all piled into a little dinghy, and rowed madly to reach shore (and our office) but instead of being from Cuba or India they were from Victoria and Ontario.

I'm in a strange mood. Can you tell? At lunch today, over at Volume II books, I spent some time lingering and I heard about a couple of books that might make good presents. The first was called A Vineyard in Tuscany by a guy named Ferenc Mate who it just so happened was the boyfriend of the ex girlfriend who was friends back in 1963 with the wife of the guy behind the counter at this bookstore. Yes. I admit. That sentence should keep you busy for weeks trying to decipher. The book, however, looked really enticing and the woman who came in and bought the only copy raving about the fact that this bookstore would even have such a copy at all said that the writer, Mate, is hilarious.  Perfect for the wine lovers or sommelliers (love that word, use it whenever I can) on your list.

Then, I was watching Oprah and heard about her next Book Club book: It's called Freedom written by one of the rare authors who has made the cover of Time magazine and was actually summoned by Barack Obama for a 20 minute meeting. His name? Jonathan Franzen.  On Oprah's show he described how he writes in an office that has no internet access, no t.v. and is cold. He says it's imperative that the environment is really quiet. That is the only way, he says, that he can really hear his inner dialogue and to quiet his mind enough to begin to get real insights into the struggles he's having and find a place where he understands that his personal struggles transcend himself and are possibly tapping into universal truths which he finds a way to weave into plot on paper. Horrible paraphrasing on my part I'm sure.

The best thing that happened to me today was a beautiful woman of First Nation's descent about 60 year old came into the office. She talked with me, I learned she was a hypnotherapist and she handed me a tiny silver angel with the words Love inscribed on the back.

I'll leave you with that beautiful vision and to think about how it is possible through a simple act of loving kindness to exchange an acknowledgement of spirit with another human being who will then surely remember the feeling that arose from your one simple action, forever.

December 03, 2010

Trading Places on Salt Spring

Here are my dear friends Tom and Linda leaving their cute little paradise on Salt Spring Island via a Salt Spring Air float plane via YVR to Puerto Vallarta because they found an amazing deal on TravelZoo

The thing is, their going on holiday equals me going on holiday (sort of). They wanted me to stay in their house and look after Fluffy, their cat, whom I love. I love Fluffy. It's the easiest house-sitting/pet sitting gig in the world. Fluffy and I are like this (visualize fingers wrapped around each other) as much as you can be with a cat because, well, we all know about cats. Bon voyage mon amies!

Suddenly, I have a whole house. A full-sized fridge. A freezer. A bed with a box spring. A full oven. It's heaven. I love their house. How long are they gone? ha.

It's as if I've become one with the couch because, hey, they have a big screen T.V. and I no longer have a T.V. and late last night, I hate to admit it, but I tuned into this show called Trading Spouses which just going by the name seems despicable; the lowest of the lowest reality show common denominator.

The thing is, I'm just going to say it once, really quickly: I like watching this show. It's a sociological experiment. They take the most unlikely families and switch the mothers for a week. Think Mormon Mother meets The Kardashians.

Think of yourself. Think of how you live. Put yourself in a situation that you'd absolutely despise and there you have it. It would be like me going to live with a family of 5 guys who all participate in monster truck rallies and them moving into my cabin on Salt Spring surrounded by new agers and healers and having to attend a zillion craft fairs being forced to give up Miller Light for Yerba Mate.  Mother Teresa meet Lady Gaga. It makes for fantastic T.V. (to which I'm sure many of you will disagree wholeheartedly).

Take a couple from Thousand Oaks California both raised in India. The woman has  a Ph.D. and works as a research scientist. The husband is a successful businessman.  A porche and a Hummer are parked in their driveway. They have one daughter. The family the research scientist mom is going to live with lives in the country with horses and participates in medieval re-enactments. Gettin' the picture? One word: Nightmare.

The thing is, the Indian father and the 12 year old daughter are the whiniest, most pampered, materialistic shallow snobs that have ever walked the earth.  They don't ever cook. They only eat out (perhaps so they can complain bitterly about every morsel.) They stay in only the top hotels and the suite they took their "new mom" to was unbelievable but they described it as "trashy".

They take their new mom to Palm Springs where they spend all day wandering from shop to shop and every single time they eat, they have nothing good to say about the food. The new mom showed incredible restraint. Even when she made them some homemade sushi, they were grossed out and wouldn't eat it, digging instead into some ice cream while she had to throw out what she had just made.They're judgmental and rude and the epitome of what's wrong with wealth in the bank accounts of the spiritually unconscious.

It's fantastic to have nice things and to be really comfortable and for your home to be your castle. I'm all for it. In fact, not having that stuff, I am beginning to see, is incredibly motivating.

Trust me,  when it comes to trading places, it's much better to be "Trading up"than "Trading down" but not at the expense of graciousness and gratitude.

November 28, 2010

Cuban Dreams into Reality

A beautiful bouquet of vibrant flowers to my dear friend Colleen for the kick off of her trip to Cuba.

I have never known anyone to wait so long to take a trip somewhere she's been wanting to go for almost as long as I've known her and today is the big day.

It makes me smile every time I think of her finally being there.

She flew out Friday night and is in Havana as I write this.

Here's where she'll be going.

November 24, 2010

Otter Not Be Winter Yet

 Oh just another pesky human taking my photo. It's so been there, done that.
 Are you still here?
 Alright. Honestly. You can leave any time now.

When my power first went out on Saturday morning I went for a little walk down the road to the Fernwood Coffee shop because they had power. And coffee. And a cinnamon bun. And company.  But, first I had to make a quick trip to the end of my favorite dock and as I was walking I saw four otters pop their heads out of the water. This one, curiouser and curiouser, kept popping up to take a peek at me. I think he looked a little perturbed by the cold, especially in that first photo above. Have a bad hair day buddy? Or maybe it was the sight of me standing on his dock.
There's something thrilling about seeing an otter up close. The only time I've ever seen them is at the Aquarium in Stanley Park. You know, that cute picture where they're floating on their backs and holding each others paws?

November 23, 2010

Power Outage and Decadence

 It feels lately like I'm in some hurricane of discombobulation where I'm accomplishing absolutely nothing. Goal setting? What's that? I must set some new goals. Must write them down. Must prioritize. Must get off Facebook. Stop frittering away on Twitter.

 Between focusing on elderly father's health and updates. Working at part time job. Searching for a new full-time job. Trying to think of new query ideas, I appear to be going nowhere fast. I'm starting to act like a real Salt Springer. Pretty soon I'll start wandering aimlessly with a coffee in my hand or worse yet, sitting on the steps of T.J. Beans just staring into space, or god forbid, I'll take up folk singing and convince the editor of the local paper to write some inane story about how nobody wants to support me when I'm standing outside sounding like every other amateur folk singer who has ever lived on the planet in this millenium.

When I heard there might be snow, pre-weekend, I went and  bought a small roast to see if I could still manage to cook such a thing. I figured if it snowed a lot and I was holed up like a crazy bacheloress hermit crab, I wanted to eat well, watch good movies, have lots of books and magazines, and at least one good bottle of red wine. I wasn't counting on one thing: Power outage. No woodburning stove. Are you kidding me?

So, I packed it all up and headed over to the luxury hotel more recently nicknamed The Shambles by its infamous owner Pauline.

It's true, her main cottage might be chock a block full to the rafters of two households worth of furniture given  the impending completion of the new cottage that is taking longer to build than the pyramids did.

We holed up with Maggie and Griffin "the beast" and we ate roast beef dinners, drank good red wine, watched movies, ate popcorn, talked about men and Salt Spring and work and getting old and dying, about buying a flat in France next to a bakery and tried to compile a silly list of everything you'd really needed to know about Salt Spring before you move here that nobody ever tells you.
She loaned me a nightie and let me wear her furry pink floor-length robe. She heated up the heating pad and I crawled into the big, beautiful bed in the loft with the old fashioned quilts.

Before that I made sure all the cuckoo clocks stopped their incessant ticking and turned off the lights and sunk into the heaven of a Beauty rest, the mattress and yes, a description of the luxurious sleep I had.

I awoke to golden light streaming through the windows. The snow on the evergreens was crisp through the skylight. I could hear her in the kitchen below speaking to the dogs as she made the coffee and I was aware at every moment that it's one of those memories that I'll tuck safely and fondly away to go back to with love when I need to.

November 16, 2010

Stop Believing the Lies You Tell Yourself about Yourself

I've been reading this book called Change your Brain, Change Your life written in 1999 by Daniel G. Amen, an American M.D. who runs the Amen Clinic for Behavioural Medicine.  He specializes in using Brain SPECT imaging for a wide variety of Neuropsychiatric issues including depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc.

SPECT stands for single photon emission computed tomography. It is a nuclear medicine study that uses radioisotopes as tracking devices to look at living brain tissue and highlight areas of the brain that then provide clues about behaviour.

To really oversimplify, the resultant picture of your living brain can provide a lot of information about why you may be reacting, functioning, feeling the way you are and then using checklists and knowledge about medications or supplements, Dr. Amen can help change your behaviour by using the visuals of the scan to provide clues about what - physically - might be going on to manifest as a mental health issue.

Why am I telling you this? I was thinking about the book today at work when I overheard someone talk about the fact that they had recently learned that they didn't have to believe everything they told themself about themself, especially the negative stuff.

They realized that instead of believing that they were incredibly high strung or nervous or moody, they could simply give themselves permission to take a break from the stories they had been telling themselves for years, especially when those stories weren't necessarily true anymore and were rooted in childhood messages that may have been misinterpreted or re-interpreted.

They talked about taking on the persona of a dear friend whose behaviour was at the opposite end of the spectrum from their own and they could then step out of themselves and pretend to be that person when it made sense to do so, when they saw themselves falling into patterns that kept them from moving forward.

I'm not too sure about that part. I can't just step out of myself and become, let's say, Jerry Seinfeld or Goldie Hawn or Queen Elizabeth but I really liked what she was saying about stopping, not reacting, examining the messages that we tell ourselves and reinventing ourselves closer to the truth of who we are now. 

It's not as if I hadn't heard this before - the reality of challenging our thoughts, rather than accepting them outright - but something about the excitement of this person speaking about something she'd recently discovered that worked for her was what caught my attention.

Is there something you have been telling yourself forever that when you truly examine it, isn't really true. Do you have the objectivity to see it and then can you challenge it by proving yourself wrong?

Interesting thought to consider. At least I think so.

November 08, 2010

I'll take a gracious actor over a grumpy poet any day

 Water under the bridge at Duck Creek
On Friday night I went to Mahon Hall to see the play, Tuesdays with Morrie, acted by the 90-year-old Antony Holland as Morrie Swartz.

Holland, founded Langara's Studio 58 Theatre program many years ago and a lifetime of experience and natural talent means he can hold a room's wrapt attention, grab a corner of every heart and twist at the tender places you're protecting too much until the tears will roll. And, they did.

He lives on Gabriola Island where he founded the Gabriola Island Theatre Centre. The Mitch Albom character was acted by Antonio Gradanti, also of Gabriola. The warmth and the wisdom eminating from the stage as the relationship between these two unfolded gave the audience an all-encompassing bear hug and held on tight. For me, it was one of those performances that I'll keep in memory and pull out when I need to remind myself that I'm not the only one who's making their way in a world that's being less than kind at any given moment.

Sunday at ArtSpring, George Sipos, ArtSpring's ever enthusiastic director, managed to get two writers to make a detour from Victoria. He hosted a literary event as he is known to do from time to time. Yesterday we got to hear from Don Domanski and Alissa York. Domanski is a Governor General  award winning poet (2007) and York is the young author who had the misfortune of being paired with him on a short tour of the West Coast. She didn't say that. I'm saying it for her.

No doubt about it, the guy is a fantastic poet. I mean, hey, he did win the Governor General Award for Poetry in 2007. The award he hasn't a hope in hell of winning is Mr. Congeniality even though his white beard and his ample girth makes him look a little like Santa.

Maybe it's just me but if you're on tour to share your work, you might want to feign some minor interest. I looked at him and after observing his behaviour in response to questions, I thought to myself: "Santa Claus gone wrong."  And, of course, the much younger Ms. York did her best to compensate for his curmudgeonly way of being. Why do women do that?

As I was sitting there listening to him I couldn't help but think to myself, if I ever become a Governor General award winning writer or poet (when a miracle akin to the virgin birth happens), I will remember that when I go to read, I am there to entertain and I will interact with my audience reminding myself of what the word - audience - actually means. That without an audience, there's no point so smarten up Domanski.

I almost felt like laughing out loud because although his poetry was beautiful, the tone of his voice and the way he read was just so cliche. Is it not possible to be excited about one's poetry or do we have to pretend that we're at a funeral? I can't stand it. It reminded me why I often can't stomach poetry readings. They're so pompously over the top self-important and maudlin. GOOD GRIEF Charlie Brown!

I want to hear and immerse myself in your poems but I want more. I want some background. I want to  know why. I want to know what was happening and how it came to be. I want to be entertained. I want some context to the words that you have made beautiful.  Maybe that's wrong. Maybe it's like asking Leonardo DaVinci to explain himself or Gaugin. I don't care. I want some understanding by a wordsmith that I'm there, as an audience member, to feel and to know more when I leave then when I arrived and to have you acknowledge me, with some semblence of respect, as an audience member that matters.  Otherwise, stay home in your dirty bathrobe in front of your laptop with your cold coffee and your couch growing furry with dog hair.

The lovely Ms. York read some interesting passages from her book, Fauna, and someone from the audience asked if there were more animal stories being written lately or was it just her impression. Ms. York, politely tried to answer as best she could. Mr. Domanski just looked with almost disdain and said in a very agitated  and dismissive manner, " I don't know". He left off the "and I don't give a shit". That must have taken considerable restraint on his part. 

I managed to wash it all down with some good Malbec at dinner made by my personal chef and dear friend Linda James.  Tom and I devoured strawberry shortcake for dessert to sweeten the bad taste in my mouth left by Mr. Domanski. 

November 02, 2010

Don't be "Circling the Drain"

Yesterday, as I was walking out of Surrey Memorial Hospital, I jumped in my car to head for the ferry and I turned on CBC radio. It was pretty interesting timing. The show White Coat, Black Art with Dr. Brian Goldman was on. The episode was called When Your Life is Circling the Drain.

If you're in a hospital, and you overhear a health care person saying this about you, apparently you're in deep du du - or you soon will be. It's a horrible term. Apparently, it's the slang for about to die as in "Holy shit, he's circlin' the drain."

Somehow the reality of this little problem (that as humans we each have a limited life span) has not been an internalized part of my father's attention. Until the last month, or maybe even the last couple of months, he's never considered himself old because he's always been healthy, able bodied, of quick mind. That makes sense but  it doesn't change the realities of aging. At 92, he says there's "lots of people older than him".

Now, it's probably a really good thing to never consider yourself old. Except, when you're ill and you're 92 and things are going wrong. Then, it might be better to start to think about what it all means and how you'd like your end of life to unfold. But, hey, that's just me.  I tend to be too much of a realist for my own good.

The thing is, navigating "the end of life" requires an amazing level of communication skills. And, men and women from "that generation" are not known for their amazing communication skills when it comes to the really important, emotional stuff.

When you're having to be there for an elderly parent, the unspoken stuff doesn't go away. Like, for example, when you see family members tending to the unwell one in hospitals what you don't see is the family dynamics. End of life duties don't take into consideration that the child who may end up having to do most of the caregiving because of proximity may have been treated badly and unlovingly by the parent. Is that fair?

Is it fair that unlike in the movies, people don't tend to change at the end of their lives. If they weren't able to say anything of emotional significance or acknowledgement during your life, they don't suddenly become Carl Rogers.  It's not a Hollywood movie. Deborah Winger and Shirley McLean are not in the building.  Unresolved resentments only multiply when caregiving is added to the obligations.

What I really dislike about the entire hospital system is that there seems to be so little place for meaningful communication. Visitors and patients become like shuffling zombies. What the patient really needs is not magazines or bananas, they need someone to bring some open ended questions that might initiate some meaningful dialogue. 

What the family needs is a much easier way to get information without feeling like they've just accomplished something major when the doctor is actually able to "be caught" and can then spend less than 5 minutes explaining what's going on. What other business can you think of would you be getting paid to do something so important and never have time to explain to your clients, the details, unless they happen to "catch" you?

It's insulting that after being able to navigate life for 92 years, some doctors still don't see the crucial necessity of dealing with their patient directly. I couldn't help but notice that the doctor told me to come out into the hallway to answer my questions when in fact, he was talking about a patient who is mentally able. What's with that?  It leaves me having to return to my father's bedside to reinterpret the news about all the tests and what might be coming down the pipe. Isn't that his job?

It's all very stressful and sobering and navigating "the system" and trying to communicate "the bigger picture" of what certain decisions will mean requires a level of functioning that needs so much energy at a time when your energy is being consumed by everything else that's going on. 

In short, it sucks and it makes you feel a little bit like you're circling the drain of overwhelmingness yourself.

October 29, 2010

Pool of Shame

So the other day I finally decided to get some exercise. Think mortality. Consider the shape-shifting of menopause. Suspect the hump beginning to form on the back of my neck from trying to figure out how Twitter works at a desk set-up that's ergonomically criminal. Desperation does funny things to a gal.

For me, preparing to get into a pool requires just a little less prep than a Rolling Stones concert.  It requires shaving every part of my body that might not be covered by fabric, and that, in polite company, shouldn't actually have hair and let's face it, always does.

It requires rummaging through, finding, and then holding up by two fingers with a pained look of confusion on my face, the bathing suit that's been in the bottom of my dresser wondering what in God's name made me think that THAT bathing suit made sense. Ever. It makes even less sense now. It's damn near fluorescent. Perfect for Halloween actually and when I'm in it, rather pumpkin-shaped.

I work part-time at an employment centre in a town of 10,000 people. The only thing worse to do for money in a small town (if you prefer anonymity like I do) would be to be a shrink. I've realized that I really MUST get over being seen by every single person who has ever passed through our office looking for work or I can just hole up, order in, duck and cover. I've tried that. It's hellishly boring. Being seen in a bathing suit is the ultimate "get over it" test. Well, next to being naked.

I get to the Rainbow Road Pool.   I peer inside. Nobody I know is there. Thank you mother of Mary. Well, nobody except the former Olympic swim coach whom I met earlier yesterday who needs to talk to me about something. Is there no mercy? Not now!!!

When it's time for the class to start, I put on one of those foam belts that helps you float (or not drown) since it's a deep water class.  It helps me float so well I feel like I might just begin to levitate over the water the way the good year blimp floats over major sporting event. Note to self: Might not need the flotation device. How about a body fat test instead?

Apparently, my flotation device also doubles as a homing device that works better than a cruise missile. It's target, however, is any body bobbing next to mine. I'm like a big pale white rubber duckie bobbing and teetering and uncontrollably bouncing towards any other wet body near me. Trying not to collide with another means my legs must kick so hard under the water, I begin to picture one of those  old fashioned egg beaters making cupcake icing.

If that isn't bad enough, when I turn my attention to the rest of the class, I'm even a little more horrified.
I'm not sure what it is about these classes but regardless of where you are in the Western Hemisphere or what the instructor on the deck of the pool is doing, it has little resemblence whatsoever to what is happening in the pool. She's got one of those microphones that's attached to a plastic head band and I think, if you're air traffic control, we're in trouble. Remember that Kelly dearest? Kerrisdale. Circa 1996. Aquafit laugh-a-thon.

These women take their aquafit exercising seriously. Well, some of them. The others act as if they're not even in a class or in a bathing suit or in a pool. They're in a coffee shop. They're catching up on their children's  teenage dramas, other people's pet traumas and the obituaries in last week's Gulf Islands' Driftwood. We're not in Tim Hortons Ladies. Hellloooooo! That comes later. Except, there isn't a single franchise of anything here and we do indeed love it like that. (Actually that's a lie, I didn't know that Canadian Tire owned Marks WorkWearhouse).

And, that was that. I did it. I've done it twice now. And I'm gonna do it again. Anyone care to join me?

October 26, 2010

I'm too busy for my Success

 Cowboys are busy too.

In the last two weeks I had some work that involved talking to five small businesses in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to write about a specific aspect of their businesses. You can find out a lot about a business by talking to the person in charge of it and mostly what you find out about is their ATTITUDE.

Just from talking to one person, I could tell whether I would ever talk to them or I would, on the sole basis of how they were on the phone, forgettabout'em;. All of them were either owners or managers.

One of the businesses has been doing business at the same location on South Granville for 27 years. It's run by a woman. I'm sure she's busy. She has had lots of publicity. At this point she could be like, ya, whatever, I don't need to talk to you because I don't need any more publicity. Everyone who lives in Vancouver knows about me. Instead, she took the time to talk to me and made sure everything was explained properly. She followed up quickly. When it was over she thanked me and told me that she was excited that her company would be receiving notice on the web site where it would be. She invited me to introduce myself the next time I was in Vancouver. Total professionalism.

Contrast that to someone who was "too busy","couldn't really talk, you've got me at a bad time but didn't have the ability to just come right out and say "No, I'm sorry, I can't do this right now, please get back to me at some other time in a month or so." That would have been fine. Just say No and stick to it. I could have moved on. I wouldn't have wasted my time, the time, he apparently thinks is completely valueless compared to his.

Instead, he rushed through everything, and as a result, what I ended up writing, he wasn't happy with but he didn't get back to me for more than a week. Didn't respond to e-mails. When he finally did get back to me he just kept saying, I'm too busy, I can't get to this, there's a lot of inaccuracies. No shit, I thought. You barely could talk to me without saying, busy, busy busy instead of focusing on the details.

I refrained from saying to him. You agreed to do this. I am depending on making money from this. If you couldn't follow through you should have said NO, I can't do it!

It was just a really good lesson. First of all, saying you're too busy, and continuing to say that and doing a lousy job on something is not how you want to be doing business. Saying you're too busy, in a world where everyone is too busy, is just lame. It makes you sound like you have a fragile ego that somehow needs the world to know that you're so important because you're too busy or that you are completely unable to set boundaries for yourself.

Now, I'm not saying that there aren't people who are over the top busy. But, you know what? I'm guessing, based on what I've witnessed, that those people are rarely the ones that use "busy" as an excuse.  They know how to manage a workload, set priorities, establish clear boundaries and quietly manage to negotiate changes if they aren't able to meet a deadline.

Someone I follow on Twitter said what I've been thinking for a few days since that interaction. Her Tweet said,  "I declare a moratorium on the word busy. Everyone's busy, we get it. Busy is default status. Let us know if it changes."  Her name is Holly MacDonald and her blog is Spark + Co.

Think about that the next time the knee-jerk, "I'm too busy," is about to come out of your mouth and make you look less than you are.

and PS: In case you think everyone on Salt Spring is just sittin' around. It's not true. It's true for those you see sitting around day in and day out staring out the windows at coffee shops but in general, it's so far from the truth.

October 23, 2010

Not a Green Thumb? Aim for a Green Tongue!

A few links:
I've been deliciously devouring the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, A Year of Food Life, by author Barbara Kingsolver perhaps most well known for The Poisonwood Bible. Her eldest daughter Camille Kingsolver ads in her observations with research back-up contributed by her husband Steven L. Hopp.

She wrote the book in 2007 detailing her family's move from Tuscon, Arizona to her husband's small farm in the Southern Appalachians. It's full of interesting and alarming facts about food sourcing and their decision to grow everything they eat, to find it locally, to align their food choices with the growing season.

It's the American version of The 100 Mile Diet but with more research behind the politics of food sourcing and convincing enough to smack an unconscious mouth into forming a small hesitant question mark before popping in the next bit of artificial sweetened, trans-fatted, square food morsel.

Now, just in case you're a slow learner, I'm not an "early adopter" (do ya think?) and it's quite ridiculous to admit this considering where I now live but coming from the city, I'm used to sleepwalking into a grocery store and practically sleepeating what I've hunted and gathered from the place. That's a slight exaggeration of course. I did shop at Capers which, in hindsight, is a halloween costume of organic lies.  But, I've never eaten an organic piece of meat because I always get this picture of a gentleman farmer chasing something all over the poperty, getting it in a headlock, wrestling it to the ground and just doing an allround messy job of the finale. Crazy I know.

I've never grown anything. Not even a single pot plant. When I buy garden plants, they're already started. Seeds? Huh? Do they still make those? You may not know that humans, in our illustrious history, have eaten 80,000 plant species. Now we eat about eight with even that number heading in a reduced direction to genetically modified corn, soy and canola and who knows, perhaps just a single pill a day by 2040.

I've lived here on Salt Spring for two years now and I'm surrounded by locally grown food whether it be available at farm stalls, at the Saturday and Tuesday Farmer's Market in the Park, at the various farms that open their gates to hungry locals, the gardens growing behind restaurants (Harbour House and Hastings House come initially to mind), in neighbour's backyards, on apple trees, the mushrooms and fungi growing wild beside forested trails, rosehips and blackberries.

I'm at the market almost every Saturday as a result of selling my photographs and only recently have I become a little adamant about eating the locally grown greens, vegetables, fruits that are bulging out of the booths of the farmers who live here.

So, here's my goal and a challenge for you in case you're slow like me.  Try and pay attention to where the food you're buying comes from, how far away that is, whether it's possible to buy locally grown and to eat "in season".

Maybe if I do that, I'll be more motivated to open a cookbook, have someone for dinner,  find recipes that befit the bounty all around. Baby steps. Everything in moderation. What's for breakfast?

Have you changed something about the way you purchase food or what you eat in the last couple of years?

October 21, 2010

The Pre-Emergency, Emergency Room

If you've ever doubted your own mortality, a trip to Surrey Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department should help adjust that delusion in a second.

I was there yesterday and this morning as a result of my father, who is now two years into his ninth decade. He's a tough old guy though. A stubborn Scotsman who survived World War II so aging as the enemy has been a lighter load for him (until recently) than it might be for the rest of us.

When you are called to be there for an elderly parent, your own mortality tends to get in your face like you're staring in a mirror at a carnival funhouse and that scary thing in the mirror, that looks strangely familiar because it is YOUR face afterall, is mocking you.

You're old and vulnerable and afraid and lying there completely dependent upon the care and decision-making of strangers whom you can't hear because you don't have your hearing aids and you can't see because you don't have your glasses either.  And, that's if you're lucky. That's assuming you have someone to HELP you. Because you BETTER have someone to help you. You better not be there ALONE. You need someone to feed you, to get you stuff, to help you out because strange as it may seem, all that caregiving stuff is a la carte in hospitals.

Let me tell you, it's a major motivating factor behind internet dating for mid-life singles. If you're looking for beauty and sex appeal, you're looking for the wrong things. Kindness. Patience. Servitude. Preferably a decade younger. Valid Driver's licence. Calm. Babysat as a teen. Has changed a few diapers in his time. All those skills plus a good sense of humour and a wonderful sense of irony are worth their weights in gold. That's what you really need in an old-age mate.

The first alarming sight in Emergency, especially when like me, you've come from a place where silence and suicidal deer are the two things you most commune with, is that there are human beings on every surface. The psychic energy gets  ramped up about a million decibals. It's like you've gone from drinking chammomile tea to gulping down a couple of cans of Red Bull. (I actually liked that part.) You really feel as if you've just dropped into an episode of ER as an Extra. And everyone is in various states of decay. They're badly dressed, half dressed, half undressed.  Paramedics keep wheeling them in and these people are clutching at various body segments wearing their discomfort like a badge that tells everyone else they have every right to be there.
The ridiculously small Emergency department at Surrey Memorial, which outgrew itself about 20 years ago, can, at times, feel busier than Canada Customs at YVR right after the arrival of a flight from Beijing.

Yesterday it was so busy that some poor sick schmuck (who had probably been out in the hall for hours and hours)  had to be wheeled into a miniscule enclosed room that looked as if it had once been used only for cleaning supplies. Getting the bed into the tiny room was like do-it-yourself movers trying to get a baby grand piano into a non regulation sized apartment elevator.

The hallway has now become the pre-emergency, emergency room. Think of it this way.You feel a little bit calmer because you've entered the building; at least you're in the right place, but you're in the hallway. You've still got all the same symptoms, you're dying, but you're pretty much invisible. That's how pre-emergency, emergency works.

People seem to get moved around a lot once they're in the real Emergency department as well. Some woman with a cane had it in her head that her husband was in that tiny supply room. I'm not sure why. But, she walked in there and my ever helpful sister carried a chair in behind her only to discover that the guy she sat down across from wasn't her husband afterall. Musical patients.

As an observer, I have to say, it cracked me up. Some poor guy, laying prone, staring into the eyes of some woman about to lean over him only to discover he didn't look anything like her husband. Not sure what took her so long to figure that one out but after a couple of decades of marriage, it's not impossible to imagine.

And they were trying out some new GPS-like bed tracking system where they attach something to your pillow and it should tell them where you are at all times. There was only one problem. According to this, she said, your dad's in an elevator and I know he's not in an elevator," she said. "He's been here all day." We had a laugh at that one. Let's just say the system needs a wee bit of tweaking. It also fails to account for people who refuse to stay in bed.

All that talk about the baby boomer generation and what's going to happen when they reach old age (which is looming large) suddenly became more than some theoretical media story happening to someone else. Afterall, I am of that age that I'm at the very tail end of it and those of us who were born at the tail end know that we got ripped off on jobs and everything else so of course it's not going to be any better at the other end of the bell curve.

Forget earthquake preparedness. Old age preparedness makes a lot more sense to me. Because, let's face it, "The big one" will seem like a mere amusement park ride compared to the really big one that's comin down the lifeline pipe.

What do you most fear about aging?

October 19, 2010

Just one of The Fellas on Salt Spring

Meet one of The Fellas. "Made with Salt Spring Wool, Love and a Lot of Weird!" You can pick one of 'em up at Rainbow Road Trading Company. They used to hang out at The Saturday Market but the creator of The Fellas decided it was more fun to just invoke Fellas when the creative gene blossommed on its own schedule, not on a mass-produced conveyer belt of peace and love and hurry-up felted Fellaship.

This is Gary the Cynic and after a day at the office, call me crazy, but haven't we met before? Can't you just hear him espousin' on and on and on. Complainin again and again to your teeny, weeny peabrain (let me squeeze your head 'Kids in the Hall' style) on how this and that is and it's all really bad and hopeless of course because, hey, he's Gary the Cynic.

And, if you don't like him, there are a lot of other Fellas (not all male mind you) that might remind you of someone you know or someone you'd like to know or someone you wished you'd never met.
The next time you're in town, go to Rainbow Trading Company and go mingle with one of The Fellas, way easier than finding a parking spot in Ganges on Saturday Morning or...well, you know.

PS: And, just as soon as I recall the name of the lovely woman who makes them, I'll put it here!
Her name is Tamara MacDonald.

October 15, 2010

Try listening to your own good advice

 Every once in a while because of the part-time job that I do at the CARE Employment Centre on island, I get confirmation that what my co-worker, Suzanne and I, do makes a difference in tangible ways. Not for everybody but for enough people.

Today, someone returned to the island after being away at a job all summer where he flew a helicopter in the Yukon and undoubtedly made really decent cash. More importantly, I think it gave him back some self esteem that had seeped away over the years as a result of the immense challenges of trying to make a living here that we see and hear about every day. It takes a toll on people.

He brought my co-worker and I a box of the best chocolates ever, handmade locally here at Harlan's Chocolates, and he thanked us for helping him. We were just doing our jobs. I encouraged him when he was feeling nervous about returning to an industry that he didn't really want to return to.  I was worried when he left that it might not work out. Or worse yet, that he might have an accident and die! I really did have this visceral fear for a few days after he left that he might not be safe if he hadn't flown for a couple of years.It's not as if we'd met him just once, we got to know him a little bit over the year or more that he'd come in and out, like so many of our clients. We rarely see people just once here.

I really hoped the job and the people he'd work for and get to know there would be really good for him. And, yesterday, I got confirmation that it was the right choice for him. Yay!  He even liked it. He's even going to go back in a bit after a break.

That was SO nice. It's not that I need to hear it. It's my job. But, hey, hearing it made me feel really good. We do actually lend a lot more than "information" to a lot of people who walk through our doors. We listen - or we try to - and we lend our support - not to everyone - but there are varying degrees of need and varying degrees of an individual's ability to be open when they really need and there are our very different personal temperaments which mean we connect (or sometimes we don't) with everyone to varying degrees.

I couldn't help but think of the day he started reluctantly calling helicopter companies from our office and he really wasn't too convinced that it was what he should be doing and I just looked at him and said, "What's going to be different here, if you don't, six months from now, a year from now, and on and on?" 

I know that sounds harsh. So much for unconditional listening or motivational interviewing. I know those have a place and I have been the recipient of a lot of unconditional listening in the past via therapy and it has its place for sure, but you know, sometimes it's a huge relief to get a little bit of insight that comes with directions. A push perhaps. A confirmation that change is necessary and transformations are never a piece of cake.

In fact, just seeing him reminded me that maybe it's time I tried listening to my own good advice.

October 12, 2010

Duck Creek Park: Two Parks in One

This afternoon, I was out foraging in the forest looking for mushrooms. If this isn't a sign that I've become a little too "Salt Spring", I don't know what is.

I needed a break from some work stuff I was doing at home and I hadn't been to Duck Creek park for a long time. A reunion seemed long overdue. It was time for some reflection(s).
I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of "destruction", natural, with trees down from last winter.
I like to think of Duck Creek as a fantastic Salt Spring secret. You wouldn't know such a place existed if you didn't get off the main grass and onto the trails that are hidden off to the side. And, that's where I started to notice mushrooms dotting the forest floor and suddenly I felt like I was on a mushroom scavenger hunt. Only problem? I know squat about mushrooms.
I like the way the water drops make this one seem extra special.
Could this be a Chanterelle? I don't think it is. The underside is not veined in the way of a Chanterelle.
And I wonder what this little orange umbrella-top is?

On my way out of the park, I noticed this black one. It could be a Hawk's Wing but the stem is different.

And, therein lies the problem with mushroom identification. Looks are deceiving. It might actually be a fungus, not a mushroom.

If you live in Vancouver and want to find out more about Mushrooms, I noticed that the Vancouver Mycological society is having a Mushroom day on October 24th at Van Dusen Gardens. And if you're in Victoria, there's the South Vancouver Island Mycological Society.  

As for on island, I'm not sure. If I put it on "the List", I undoubtedly could find out. But, maybe I'll just start at the library.

October 06, 2010

Walking Meditations

When you go for a walk, even if it's down the same road each time, your attention will focus on something new. The way the rocks off Galiano Island reflect golden into the water.

The reflection of pillars in water
and how boats on the beach look from above.
and docks look from below
snakes by surprise on the side of the road

and a perfect dusty red rosehip.

The Country.
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