Monday, December 13, 2010

Avoiding Purpose

I am lucky enough to know what my life's purpose is. I am unlucky enough to be unclear about what the path of execution is. Lately, I've been immobilized by the lack of clarity, unwilling to stumble around in the dark. Instead I sit, waiting for an epiphany.

I know that the best way to get out of this funk is to move, regardless of whether it's forward or sideways. That in this case, stillness is not the best choice. I'll spend energy either way. It might as well be from the act of seeking than the act of denying.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Expectation formula

Recently while attending Interactive Screen at the Banff Centre, a guest artist said something off the cuff during discussion which really stuck with me. He said that they joy, the happiness that we can experience from anything is deeply influenced by our expectations. He gave a formula

Joy experienced = what actually happens / how much joy you expect to derive

So, if you are expecting the experience will be really great, your experience of it will be reduced.
I can see how this works in many occasions. If you don't want to go to a fundraiser or that person's dinner party because you think it will be terrible, it's never as terrible as you think and you have more fun than you expect.

If you wish to go to something because you really really want to, it has to be pretty incredible to live up to your expectations.

I was discussing with a friend today how this formula operates in favour of arranged marriages vs love marriages. If you think that your husband/wife is going to be just ok, or maybe even terrible, and they show you little by little over time that life will be better than you'd expected, you move more towards Joy. If, on the other hand, you have married someone out of great love and passion, but every small incompatibility erases a bit of the picture of perfection, then you are moving away from Joy.

We were talking about this re: the Western need to have work which is on purpose. So many friends are searching for their mission, their purpose, their reason for being/working. Those who were born with a clear dream or purpose, who have not actualized on it, are miserable. Depressed. Those who were born without a dream or purpose, feel like failures for not finding it. Every moment is experienced through absence rather than presence of Best Self. The expectation is that finding your purpose, and working towards it is what brings joy. But if we look at the formula, working towards your purpose would have to be pretty amazing for it to bring joy.

There IS a factor of the formula in which effort mitigates the reductive capacity of expectation. Or maybe more accurately, risk. There's something about the unknown that neutralizes expectation. I'm not sure exactly how that works into the equation. It's just a hunch that it does. Unknowing is an antidote to expectation. So maybe we need to practice the art of unknowing the precise outcome we are expecting?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hair Cut Mayhem

The last post was about the outside affecting the inside. This one is about how a really short hair cut has caused me to look at how I express my dissatisfaction with people, and why. Outside affecting inside.

On Wednesday, I went into a new salon because I know one of the stylists from some volunteer work I did. I sat down in the chair, drew a picture of the haircut I wanted, and after discussing it a bit with her, let her go to work.

What I didn't want was much shorter hair. I'd spent 6 months growing it in from the last short cut.
I told the stylist this, and heard her say twice, "It won't be much of a change if it's not shorter."

I should have listened harder to what she was saying. I should have asked, "How long do you see the finished cut being?" and confirming understanding against the vision each of us had in our heads. I should have stopped her as soon as she cut one piece of hair too short.

Why? Because I got "scalped". While it's a great haircut for someone else, it isn't what I wanted. It's going to be a disaster for my hair quality too. So I'm annoyed. Disappointed. And looking like a grumpy dandelion just before you make a wish and blow off the fuzzies.

Friends ask, "Have you told her (stylist)?" "Will you go back?" to which I answer "no" and "yes".
I haven't told her because there is nothing she can do about it now. She can't glue on the extra 10cm of hair she lopped off and she'll only feel badly. The ONLY reason I would tell her now is, in fact, to make her feel badly--share my pain. Unload it on her. Find an outlet. Unless, by not telling her, I choke on my feelings and decrease the chances of ever going back to that salon. So, I may tell her, but after I've been able to cool off a bit and when I'm ready to ask her how we can avoid this happening again.

Expectation, disappointment, communication around vision and execution on vision are as simple and as complicated as this stupid haircut. The BEST way to avoid disappointment is to carefully check understanding BEFORE execution. Because, sometimes, it's too late afterward to do anything about the result.

Urgh. Bad hair quarter coming (but no photos).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Toxic Beauty

Two weeks ago I bought new Pantene conditioner and gel. I used each ONCE and was chain-sneezing all day before rushing home to wash it all out. Curious about what was in the products which caused my body to reject it, I stumbled on this great short film about the Story of Cosmetics.

It confirmed my spidey sense, horrified me and got me curious to learn more about what I'm washing my body with. Now first, you should know that I'd stopped using shampoo because the sodium lauryl sulfate is so drying to my hair. SLS is a skin irritant and the bubbles are bad for fish. I also had given-up antiperspirant a long time ago because of aluminum,  & use deodorant only for important arm-waving events. 

I found lists and lists, studies and studies on-line that indicate that much of what is in our self-care products is not just harmful, but carcinogenic or even toxic to humans. The cosmetic industry is self-regulating, meaning that although toothpaste maybe in my mouth and lipstick licked off, they aren't regulated like food and drink are.

The popular brand toothpaste I use has 3 known carcinogens in it!!! Check out the items in your beauty routine at Hair dye is the worst! I'm researching products healthier than Aveda, which was my go-to standard 6/10. My old brand was a 10!

One thing you need to know is that cosmeticdatabase doesn't factor in the quantity of the ingredients, just their presence. My friend's baby lotion rated a 6/10 with 10-level toxicity being the equivalent of snuggling a pet rat during the Black Plague and she was slathering this stuff all over her newborn daily! so go and check your cupboard. Remember if you are ditching toxic stuff, it doesn't just go into landfill or down the drain!

You can learn more about the chemicals here:
and  (passcode: Goddess) 

Be healthy and well!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Muskoka Novel Writing Marathon

Ok. Novel writing is hard. Writing fiction is really really hard. It's a compression of intent, narrative, theme, character development, dialogue, picture painting pushed into a small basket. Hot water is steamed through the contents, and essence pours out. That's if you are good. Otherwise, all you get is a weak brew with lots of grounds in it. That's what I'm doing...making a camp coffee from a string of words and thoughts that meander like a dusty road which loops back on itself.

First 4 hours, and only 10 pages to show for it. 10 pages of descriptive blather.
Breathe. Drink Tea. Type. Don't edit. Repeat.

Only 68 more hours to go.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Kayaking Elbow Falls

I returned to Elbow Falls the other day to celebrate my re-birthday. I have so much to be grateful for and I wanted to let the river gods know.

The water was really flowing and I was lucky enough to see some kayakers run the falls. Made me think of Linda and Kevin of course.

I also meandered along the bank, clambered down to the scene of my folly and had a "moment" listening to the river, breathing in the sounds and showing my body it was safe. All in all, I feel much better for it. Since, I've been paddling the Kananaskis with Michael.

The thing about fear, as Frank Herbert points out in Dune, is that when the fear has left, what remains is you. Here I remain.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fear Factor

Michael and I took advantage of the first blue-sky day in weeks by paddling down the Bow River.
Early into our canoe we saw a huge beaver swimming up stream towards us. What a gorgeous, well-adapted animal!

We practiced eddy turns and ferries, happily playing with the current until Michael wanted to duck into a small bay on river right. It was a tight turn to fit into the mouth of the bay, manage the current and clear a partially submerged tree. Not making the turn would mean we'd be sideways against the tree. Which would be bad. We had more than enough expertise and skill to successfully dodge the tree, but from where I was in the bow of the canoe, it looked like we were heading right for it.

I freaked out. There's no other way to put it. This weird voice came out of my gut and moaned at Michael to get away from the tree. Then I started to cry and hyperventilate! It took me a few minutes to get a grip. Not normally what I would expect from me. It's been almost 3 years since my accident, and there I was acting as if it were the day after. Circumstances looked similar enough that my body went into fear mode.
Fact is, we were not in danger. It was all in my mind--or my body.

What happened in the boat's got me realizing how powerful fear is. How its radioactivity can work away under the surface of things, hidden, and waiting. I'll be more patient now with clients who say, "We can't do that, we tried that once and it almost killed our company." You can rationalize that these circumstances aren't the same as before, that you aren't at real risk here, and it still won't matter until they've fully felt their fear, had their fit, then recovered their senses.

We spent the rest of the evening floating past incredible scenery, the scent of the wolf willow drifting in and out of notice. We saw an even bigger beaver close to the take out. He was as big as our old retriever Lucy! What a night. From the sublime to the ridiculous to the sublime.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Guerilla Gardening II

It's 1 a.m. and teaming with rain here in the Rockies.

I just took a break from writing a loooonnnng and thorough report for clients on how to redesign their business to generate and reflect their new prosperity metrics. I popped out to our front garden and spread some poppy and cosmos seeds among the columbine, delphinium, lilies and lupins. Won't my sweetie be surprised! We had a few little bare patches that were calling out for some frondy blooms to tickle the shins of the perennials.

I love the rain.

During rain showers as a young girl I used to pry the giant, patio umbrella out of its heavy base then drag it to the back edge of the lawn. I'd kneel beneath it-- as dry and snug as a lady bug under a mushroom-- to inhale the verdure around me. Wetgreenandearth has a fragrance that's all its own.

Guerilla Gardening

I colluded with the wilderness tonight. While rain deluged the yard, I pulled rubber boots on over my dress socks and tailored trousers then set out to plant wildflower seeds while the neighbours slept.

Behind our house there is a wilderness corridor designed to help bears, cougars and deer find their way from one grazing site to the next without getting hit by a car or growled at by a dog. Recently, the town thought it wise to pave the (gravel) path that wound through this forested area. In so doing, they disturbed a good deal of ground on either side, which they "repaired" by hosing the area with grass seed and fertilizer. Perfect. All the hard work was done for me.

45 days later we should see the progeny of my midnight wanderings waving blooms at passersby. Thanks to Dawn Buie for the idea of stealth gardening!

p.s. I just checked I'd spelled "collude" properly and found the original Latin root of  colludere "have a secret agreement". Col means "together" and ludere is "to play." I like it. Forgot to mention that I let sidewalk rivers rush over the orange toes of my boots and fantasized I was a big giant standing in the Bow River making perfect surf waves.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fish Fence

When I first moved to town, I noticed a lovely woman wandering down our street. "Who's that?" I asked my partner. There was something magical about this woman with her long brown hair, patterned skirt and purposeless meandering.
"Who? Oh, she's kinda weird," he replied.
"How so?"
"I dunno. She's just out there."
"Do you know her?"
"Not really."
"I think she's a witch." I pronounced, and strolled out to the road to talk with her.

Today marked 3 years since that day. I met my magical friend for tea. She was telling me how she's learning to ground herself "in this world of illusion". How she has learned to be really present, so much so that for some she is now invisible. Whereas before she might have stood out as odd, now she's happily unseen.

She recounted how last week she was working to build a fish fence with parents and kids from school as part of a river clean up. She found some parents had a lot of ego for driving process and that to them she was invisible. She sat back, twisted wire, and quietly observed.
She shifted the energy around her though. She's certain of that.

Her story made me think of Jesus and the loaves and fishes, the miracle of a few  fish magically feeding the mass assembled. Here my friend was making invisible miracles to feed others while they were feeding fish to the fish fence unaware of life force teeming around and through them. 

I like when the universe has a sense of humour like that. I know I'm being oblique, but Canmore's a small town.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Empathic Civilization

I heard Jeremy Rifkin on CBC Radio's Ideas last night. I was heartened to hear his re-examination, rewriting of history looking for and at evidence of humans' empathy.
Here's his book

There're great talks by Rifkin on YouTube. I especially liked his comment "the real economy is photosynthesis." He reminds us that 6.8 billion people are less than 1% of the biomass of the earth but we are using 24% of the biproducts of photosynthesis on earth. "We have become monsters...this just isn't sustainable."
Worth watching yourself while cooking dinner or washing up.

Monday, April 12, 2010

My Mom

My mom is amazing. She is always inviting people, strangers, to show themselves as friends. In the grocery store the other day, she invited a "young" man (45 years old) who stood behind her in the express line to place his armful of groceries onto the conveyor belt while she finished her check out. She noticed his Elizabeth-Taylor-blue eyes, and was drawn into conversation with him.

She listened, as she always does, to the lyrics as well as the beat of the conversation. And the young man met her there. He eventually suggested they exchange numbers so that he could follow up with her on a recommendation to a healer he suggested she might like to meet. Of their meeting he said, "I believe these things happen for a reason." By the time she'd returned home, he'd called.

I thought of Harold and Maude because of the age difference. But mom is far from the zany Maude. And this Harold was no ingenue. They won't be driving cars through the countryside or seeing fireworks together, but my mom has been seen by a stranger who took the time to see her as she saw him. There's nothing more powerful that recognizing the nobility in each of us.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Talking to Strangers

I was talking with my mom today about a good guy friend of mine who I love greatly. "Like a brother" is close, but without all the punching. My friend had recently told me that if anything ever happened in his marriage, he would be making a phone call. Flattering and bittersweet. One of the lives not lived among the 47 lives we squeeze into the one we're given. No regrets there. Not even What If's.

What struck me is how Yin and Yang he and I are. As he moves closer to his spiritual, reflective and connected self, as his right brain allows the expansive inclusive right brain to be heard, he gets more like me. And I could live a lot more in the left brain world of my friend, being pragmatic, inching the survival plan forward, planning and doing instead of dreaming, embracing my inner athlete.

I've longed for my friend to become the man he is becoming. Rapidly he's taking that focusing skill he's acquired through competitive sport and fitness training, that ability to see a goal and make steps towards it, and he is applying it to expanding his universe. Now if I can only use my skill at expanding the universe and apply it to focusing on thriving. Act on better survival strategies--better eating, regular connection with my body through exercise, breathing, meditation.

I appreciate that awareness. It gives me a metaphor and motivation for the becoming. I have a visual. I've longed for my friend's evolution, and have felt so secure in my own existence in the world of emotions, spirit, connection and transformation. Perhaps if he stopped to think about it, he'd long for my evolution into the behaviours that extend my life. Maybe that's why we are meeting every other week or so to help the other forward?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Asking for Help

A very cool, very able group of women I regularly meet with were talking about how hard it is to ask for help. The excuses flying were: it’s more work to get the help, being unable to ask, having no one to ask, and no one else does it well enough.

One wise woman suggested that it was because of the story we'd seen play out with our own mothers not asking. She suggested that we break the pattern by asking for help from those around us. Afterall, it's the advice we give to others, "Ask for help."

I've been trying to get better at that each year/month/ day. Every time I ask, I am rewarded. Every time I ask, I give others a chance to give me something I really need too. My mom has been a great helper of others in her life, but gives us little opportunity to reciprocate. That leaves us all impoverished.

Also, there's a great study detailed in a really dull book called See Jane Win. The book tries to correlate success influences in the upbringing of 1000 successful women. They looked at education (private, public, post secondary), social strata, town size, birth order, religious beliefs, single parent, double parent etc The one thing, let me repeat, the ONE THING that was common to all successful women was that they had done chores as kids. The researchers proffer that doing chores is esteem building. So there, build your kids' esteem and give them chores!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Valentine's Day

Cupid's day is winging our way and I've decided to bomb my friends with love. Shh. Don't tell any of them, but I'm going to send homemade valentines declaring my love for them. Sure, I used to do this in grade 4, when Scooby Doo and The Banana Splits ruled the punched-out-heart world.

A wee bit older now, I can craft my own messages and deposit them unseen under the cover of darkness to be opened. I'll start with those who live furthest away. I should be able to hit friends in Australia. What about those gypsy-friends who live on buses and planes? Hmm, now I understand why cupid has to fly, and why he needs an arrow and boots with good treads.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Trish's Way

On Christmas day just passed, Trish left her body to become purely spirit.

Even while in her body, she was mostly spirit anyway. She lived as we all wish to live--fully, completely, radiating love, patience, understanding while being playful, curious, provocative, confident, and fun. She ran at life with arms wide open, head tilted with a sly smile. She was wisdom shared by stories and always by showing. I learned how to be a more compassionate and understanding parent just by hearing how Trish kept a spare pair of tights at her day-home for Lauren to wear
when the posse of kids were going outside on a cold day when Lauren had worn pants to Trish's.

Apparently even at 4 years old Lauren had definite ideas about what she wanted to wear, and pants were too bunchy and scratchy under snow pants. Tights and skirts were "it". So instead of having a debate about it, Trish honoured Lauren. So easy to do, but how often do we try to impose our will, our logic on little people? Big people too.

I have spent so little time with Trish that I didn't know the names of all her children, nor her father or mother. At her funeral on Saturday I spent an hour in the company of her closest friends and family, heard their stories and saw pictures of this remarkable person in life.

During the celebration, my stepdaughter, now 12 years old, sat on my lap and sobbed. Her mouth making "cuh cuh cuh" sounds while her body hiccupped with grief against mine. That too was a gift from Trish. That intimate sharing that comes with fully holding someone.

Each time I freed my left hand from being clasped under Lauren's to wipe tears hanging onto my cheek, Lauren would pull my hand back down under hers as if to complete our circuit.

Our "rainbow connection" just like Kermit sang at your funeral,Trish.
I won't forget you Trish. You were here to change lives, and you did it with beauty and grace. What grace! Thank you.