These Two Kids’ Books Will Always Make Me Cry

“As long as I’m living…”

I can barely open this book before the tears well up. And I can’t even say what about it makes me cry. But cry I did when I came upon it today in a clean up moment. The back of the book says, “This is a story about how that little boy goes through the stages of childhood and becomes a man. It is also about the enduring nature of parents’ love and how it crosses generations.”

Nicely said, but those words don’t make me cry. I think it’s an ambush.

“There is a third thing you must do.”

This one I can read. All the way through. It’s about beauty. And doing what you said you’d do and giving back. For you can “go to faraway places” and when you grow old, you can “live beside the sea.”

But there is a third thing you must do. “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

And sometimes it takes a whole lifetime to figure out just what that could be.

(Is it coincidental that there are cats in each of these books?)

Am I Thinking? Considering….

I often wonder about thinking, the process of thinking itself… is that odd?

What is it that people DO when they think? When people tell me they sit and ‘think about things’ or about something in particular, I’m a little baffled. I don’t know that I ‘sit and think.’ I’m not sure those two things go together for me.

When I sit and think, I think I mostly daydream; at least, that’s what I call it. I remember and, for heaven’s sake why, repeat conversations I’ve had recently. I wander randomly, without direction, through memories, images—people’s faces, band or choir rehearsals, for instance— small film clips of my past.

I wonder about things, too, at times. I wonder on my walk about how this poor sugar maple the roots of which were aggressively torn at when the township opened up the space on the little gully hill. Exposed, I thought this beautiful tree would die. However, it has adapted and it grew leaves and changed to exquisite reds this fall. And the dead roots are still exposed. I feel for the tree. I feel for the little lives that sacrificed themselves to the grating of the bulldozer. I’ve marvelled at the power of regeneration: the barren slope sprouted plants this spring.

Is this thinking?

Or is thinking when you choose a problem to consider and attempt to solve? Is it when you decide to create a plan for something and you think through the plan, setting it out in your mind and developing the steps to take?

Is thinking when you sit and consider just what your values are at this point and have they changed and if so, in what way, and if not, why not? Is thinking when you remember pieces and ideas from a book or books and you bring them together in a new concoction?

I don’t sit and think.  If thinking is any and all of these things, then I do think (hallelujah), but I walk and think. I don’t have full control over the thinking process, though. I may start out thinking about a problem or a new idea but within seconds, something in the process has alerted something else in my mind and I’m off on that tangent and then another. And then I have to remind myself what the original point was and see if I can focus on that again. Usually, I can’t for long.

If thinking is any and all of these things, then I think through writing. I sit at my table and start with a word or a concept and then follow my mind as it branches out and collects and absorbs all the associated thoughts and ideas. Lines are drawn, bubbles are linked, colours are involved and from that a new project or some clarification happens.

I’ve created businesses and plans and goals through my Morning Pages. My hand moves, without stopping, and even if I write blah blah blah blah blah blah blah for a line or two, or pen write keep writing go wood table cat in lap warm weather for a line or two, eventually, sentences emerge and ideas coalesce.

Is that thinking? Is there a way to measure one’s thinking? Its success? Does it need to have an end point? Should I gone into philosophy

Is the fact that I’m bothered by this at all evidence of some kind of helpful thinking process?

I’ll need to go ponder on all this.

 

 

The Struggle

We’ve moved into Scorpio this evening.

Trial, Test, Triumph.

Stay committed. Stick to it. Struggle through Transformation.

Expose the fear, shed the fear, get to the heart of it. Let Neptune transform it.

Dig in. Face the limitations, the obstacles, the tests… I’m gonna get it done.

“Warrior am I and from the battle I emerge triumphant.”

If you don’t have a spiritual struggle, get one… what is the spiritual struggle.

With Saturn now in Scorpio, it’s now time to grow up, overcome the emotional chaos. Commit to the transformation.

What behaviours need releasing? Still, again. More? Are there more? What transformations are possible this month?

My ‘secret’ project begins tomorrow morning. Let’s do it. I’m keeping it secret to keep it sacred. Day by day. Moment by moment. Step by step.

It’s gonna be a fight.

To a triumphant finish.

Rite of Spring…in October?

When the Rite of Spring (Stravinsky) premiered in 1913, a riot ensued at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees. If you haven’t heard it, you should. If you haven’t seen the ballet, you should. I should.

 

La façade du théâtre des Champs Elysées

La façade du théâtre des Champs Elysées (Photo credit: dalbera)

 

Live is better, but Disney’s Fantasia (the 1940 version) gives you a taste. (Would love to see a contemporary animation of it!) Just as a side note, check out the Rite of Spring 100 celebrations here.

 

In any case, it’s an aggressive, lurching, severe, brash, exciting piece of music. Oh, to have been in that first audience!

 

I heard it on the radio on Saturday as I drove north along Highway 76, heading home. (I’m listening to it now!) The wind was forcing its way across the fields, bending trees over, the leaves clenching, gripping  the branches. Roiling, stormy clouds bowled across the heavens, tumbling through open blue spaces, dragging a storm with them, pushing, shoving everything ahead of them.

 

The match was perfect.

 

What’s Old is New Again—I Can’t Believe I Think I’m in the Same Place—But I’m Not!

I began this blog about 2 years ago. Almost to the date! I had just returned from a spectacular weekend with Music for People grads, the first time in 10 years. Inspiration, sadness, joy and a desire to give myself a quick kick in the butt. Which I did.

Is it something about October?

 

Routines, Limits and Creativity-Breaking the Rules

I broke all my rules this morning. (Rebel)

And I did it to fuel my creative self. (Good girl)

I slept in until after 8 (nearly three hours late), I didn’t do Morning Pages, Meditate, Mantra and heart coherence, Qi Gong or read right off the bat as I usually do. I had a quick bowl of Chex  rather than the hearty grains and chia and hemp and kefir concoction, and contemplated changing the homemade cocoa (recipe below) to a cup of Murchie’s CBC blend tea, but that was as I was pouring the drink. I left the house with my morning routine in tatters and went to a business showcase in the next town.

It’s Saturday. I remember it being housecleaning day as a child. It was watch cartoons and eat whole wheat Shredded Wheat rather than eggs and toast. (yup, on Saturdays, all hell broke loose at breakfast!) Saturday should be about something more relaxed than the rest of the week, but, seeing as I’m trying to corral my distractions, stay focused and keep the end in mind, I’ve been disciplining myself quite rigourously. And I need to stop some of that.  You CAN go overboard.

Routine? Discipline? Limits? and Creativity? They go together?

Creatives claim that limits and structure and discipline limit their capacity for creativity. They say that they need total freedom to contact whatever it is we contact that fuels the creative fire. Creatives claim that setting a schedule is impossible and, worse, useless.

This is hogwash of the highest order. Or disorder.

The reality is that the most successfully, consistently, productively creatives have a routine, some kind of regimen.

My morning routine and other “systematic” actions give me intense freedom within set limits.

When I follow the routine I’ve set, when I sit down and follow a task list, when I plan out my time, I eliminate a lot of possibilities, usually the ones that are distracting and take my eyes way off the goal. It sets the ground so that the niggly little things run under the radar, and the more important things have their time and space in my head and life.

But sometimes, you have to break the routines. They can become too restrictive. It’s not good when I get up and feel completely BOUND by the limits I’ve set myself. Eventually, the rhythm of work can move from a dance groove to a dried mud rut.

Today, I broke the routine. Intentionally. That’s the critical piece.

When we set out, with good intentions, to develop a good habit, or untrain ourselves from a bad one, we often go about it mindlessly. We don’t mean to miss, but we do, just because we forgot. We follow the same path every day and it becomes not only subconscious, but unconscious and unthinking.

I guess what I’m trying to build into my practice is the quality of conscious choice, of mindfulness, of clear awareness of how and where I move, think, speak and act.

The challenge was, though, could I still complete the things that I’ve set out as daily actions (meditation, mantra, morning pages, reading, movement—qi, walking, stretching—a blog post) but in a different order, at a different time, in a different place, even? Would I forget something? Because usually, once I’ve ‘done’ the morning, I’m off to the next thing.

Our brains seek novelty. New colours, textures, shapes and sounds, new places, new people, new experiences—these all stimulate our brains in a good way. I regularly go into new shops and just look around. I spy on the new colours, the shapes… and then walk out. (yup, I do! ) It wakes me up and sets up new neural connections. I’m good with that.

In the interest of novelty and poking at my brain,  I took my mala with me and did the mantra as I was driving. I asked questions or engaged every vendor (connect with new people and friends, ask people’s names, create new connections). I walked along the old railway line for the first time, then discovered the snowmobile trail that runs parallel. (new colours, sounds, smells). Went into the town’s grocery store (almost never go there).

Drove home. Shortened morning pages, a shortened reading time. Yes, not ideal, not what is most helpful, but today, it was enough.

And now… day 6 of the 30 day post a day challenge… done at a different time of day. Done and done.

Here’s that cocoa recipe… it’s pretty easy.

Mix cocoa powder ( I use Camino brand) with 1/2 tsp each of raw cane sugar and cinnamon. For variety, add 1/4 tsp ginger.

Pour in hot milk or milk substitute, just a little to start, to make a paste of the powders. Then stir well. Sit down with a good book or a lap cat and look out the window. Don’t do whatever was on your to-do list. Just for the next 15 minutes.

 

 

Push Me Pull You—Life on the Razor’s Edge Part 1

(WOW! Just noticed I didn’t post this yesterday! But really, I wrote it yesterday, really I did!!)

I did not experience or express many extremes in childhood. It was solidly discouraged, in my memory.  Not too much joy or exuberance. Not too much sorrow or sobbing. Anger. Pride. Satisfaction. Disappointment.

Although I had to learn later to notice, name and express anger, joy or disappointment, I also realize that my parents were teaching me, probably unconsciously, to walk the noble middle path.

Is it ironic that Dr. Doolittle was one of my favourite children’s books series? Pushmi-Pullyu was a gazelle-unicorn cross with heads at each end, trying to go in opposite directions. In Tibetan mythology, the gazelle is a symbol of compassion, known for coming in between two fighters to resolve a conflict, offering itself as a sacrifice. The unicorn, another kind of deer, is  the fighting, triumphant creature. Hmm… something to ponder.

Read the text. A symbol of the eight fold path...

Read the text. A symbol of the eight fold path “Arya Magga” (the noble path of the dhamma) in Buddhism. An intricate representation of the Dharmachakra, or Buddhist eight spoked Wheel. Dhamma or Dharma (Photo credit: saamiblog)

The Noble Middle Path is the one between two extremes. The Noble Middle Path sounds much more elegant. Somehow, I think it’s a ruse: pulling us in to thinking it’s very noble and middle and therefore, easy.

There’s also the razor’s edge. Nice. Comfy. The Razor’s edge. Such a vivid image, eh? Live on the razor’s edge. That’s a very, very  VERY  fine line to walk! And sooo painful to fall upon.

A few days after Nick Wallenda’s walk across Niagara Falls in June, I watched three young men in a park in London attempt to mount a taut rope tied to two tree trunks about 30cm above ground. They’d step up and balance; then the rope would swing back and forth under them as they tried to walk. Their arms would flail, teeter tottering up and down, trying to balance. They’d get one or two steps in, or at best, one would manage a quick three-step along the path, hoping speed would trump technique.

Not one of them made it from one end to the other of the 3 metre rope, but they laughed as they tried and they got back up and tried again.

Practice on balance beam

Practice on balance beam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember competing on the balance beam in Grade 9. It was the early 70’s, 1971-72 in fact, and I was able to do things on the beam that no one else was doing in the city at that level.

Balancing was easy for me and I’ve thought about what I ‘did’ that made it intriguing. I anchored my feet (or foot!) on the ground and stretched my upper body into the sky. I breathed through my whole body and got out of my head, stopped ‘thinking’ about what I was doing. I kept my body in balance, using my arms; my legs were flexible, not stiff.

(This was all well and good. However, my height was a singular disadvantage in this sport. And,

English: Stamp of Azerbaijan

English: Stamp of Azerbaijan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

then, there were the Summer Olympics of ’72. Remember Olga Korbut? That back flip at the end of her routine thrilled and challenged the world! After that summer everyone was doing flips and walkovers… and my gymnastics team days were over!)

When I think about the razor’s edge, and living there,  I have no intellectual problem with it. I understand that this is the Noble Middle Path, the Way Between Two Forces. But, seeing how difficult this balancing act is on the physical plane, makes me wonder. I’ve got questions.

Now what does that balance mean? If I’m walking “between the two opposing lines of force” how do I step, one foot after the other, balance and stay? If I’m afraid, surely I fall/fail. (But do I fall/fail forward?!)

What does the razor’s edge divide up anyway? Good/evil? Green grass/mud? Better Homes and Garden/My Home and Garden? Arrogance/humility? Milk Chocolate/Fair Trade Dark Chocolate? Coffee/Tea, the Java Jive and me? Efficiency/Inefficiency?

How do ‘two great lines of force’ play out? Just what does it take to even STAND on that edge, let alone walk? Really. Is taking just one step the first one? (rhetorical question, I know; still have to ask). What happens when you fall onto one side or the other?

If I have ice cream for breakfast, and I’m trying to  live a spiritually conscious life, I’m thinking I’ve just fallen.

When I hold myself to a direction, to a set of values and principles, I notice myself getting tauter, the tension tenses a little more…. I pull myself upwards.

Pushmi-pullyu… the gazelle and the unicorn. Heads going in both directions. Great compassion and great triumph through the fight. If they both pull evenly, the line will stay taut and anchored. Arms outstretched onto both sides of the path, bringing in the ‘chi’ of each side—fight and compassion—and teeter tottering back and forth. Right thrusters, left thrusters, Star Trek’s Voyager sails through space, a bird achieves equilibrium.

It’s taken some time today, but I think I’ve come to a centre place here. For now.

The Colour Orange- Antidote to Frustration

Don’t these just scream Perky and Peppy?

It’s supposed to make you feel cheery and happy. And that’s why I picked it for my Studio/Creative Space/Play Room.

But right now I’m just a little pissy—

  • woke up later than I wanted, which put me at odds with my morning routine.
  • put some laundry out on the line on this very windy day, hoping it would dry fast and I’d get it back in before the rain started. Nice try.
  • my oven’s self-clean feature—well, who knows what happened there— but it wouldn’t turn off, so I’ve had to pull the oven out and unplug it. This is not a small project, nor is it for wimps. Cleaning all the spilled gunk is NOT on my To-Do List for today. Except it is now. Cold cereal and egg salad sandwiches for me.
  • keep forgetting that the “magic” trackpad has its own kind of magic, and if you put it under a pile of papers, the computer still thinks you’re using it and kind of locks onto it. Makes for a lot of wasted time.

Unless I turn around the perspective and look at providence stepping in to keep me from some monster traffic misadventure on the 401, or from spraining my ankle on the treadmill or busting a gut laughing.

Maybe it’s just Life keeping me away from Starbucks for the day and making me sit down and get things done, because I have another “THING” to start coming up when the Sun moves into Scorpio ( and I know what it is, but it’s still scary for me, so I’m not going to say anything about it for a while, but I might give hints).

It’s already 11:30 and I’m just getting to this blog post. We’ll call this a flex day. Should’ve been updating a website, should’ve made that hair cutting appointment, should’ve been to the pharmacy to pick up insulin needles for the cat, and should be getting ready to go to the gym by now. Something’s gonna give; it’ll have to be my frustration….

  • Because… I’ve signed up for the Shift Network’s Enlightened Business Summit and there are 3 on today, so I’m going to listen in live to the one at noon,
  • and because clearly, the day is taking its own turn and staying pissy would really be a waste. So, as one teacher suggested, I’m going to feel sorry for myself truly and fully for 60 seconds with no interruptions until I can’t stand the sound of my voice. Ready, go….. OK, done. Just writing that makes me cringe and stop the whining. Can’t stand the sound of a whiny voice, especially my own.

The EBS has  been 11 days of webinars on soulful entrepreneurship, which is really code for “spiritual people… making money is NOT bad. You’re ALLOWED to use good principles of making money so it can be used to help others.” That last part we mostly forget! I’m learning to be even MORE NOT embarrassed about making money. Today it’s Sam Horn who’s talking about “The EyeBrow Test.”  (didn’t THAT catch your attention?)

And then I’m going to get up, I’m going to make some noise to change my brain, I’m going to go clean that stove and then I’m going to start over again.

And here’s the view from one of my windows…pretty purdy for a gross weather day.

nice way to perk up a grey sky

Have a good one!

My “To NOT Do” List

Let’s see if this phrasing helps:

For today I will NOT:

  • try to accomplish more than is realistically possible
  • say ‘yes’ to anything new
  • add anything more to the ‘to do’ list
  • spend time on things that aren’t related to what needs to be done today

Hmmm…..

Really, it’s all about choice. About what to do about the BSO’s (bright shiny objects) that come across our path, or, (as those of you who have seen the movie, UP, will recognize)

SQUIRREL!!!

We are living in a distracted, attention-dispersed and fractured world, constantly living with the opportunity to tune in to any number of ideas, events, thoughtforms, emotions. Metaphorical squirrels lead us away from what is right in front of us.

As a friend recently observed, the challenge is to walk the tightrope. We keep walking, one foot in front of the other, eyes focused ahead, not looking down or to the side. This is what my friend, Lawson, wrote:

Ah, the tightrope walker. The rope stretched from here to there. No focus upon the feet yet they are trained to the feel of the rope. The long bar extended left and right balanced at the heart. At the centre of the heart and at a point above is the anchor point. Here I am. Walking between the two great lines of force.

At this time of year, we walk “between two great lines of force” in nature—in this part of the world we are balanced precariously between autumn and winter. The weather reflects it; one day, one moment is calm, warm and sunny; the next is blustery, rainy and bone-chilling.

I’m watching for the two great lines of force in my life these days.

 

Gee, Thanks, Aristotle!

Quote

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

going ‘old school’ with the quotes book.

Just passing through a notebook of collected quotes. I started it around the time we carried our lives around in a Filofax and not on our cell phones and it has sat on a shelf for years, in a magazine holder, with other similar notebooks, and I’ve pulled it out from time to time.

Of course, I wasn’t so organized that I catalogued them all under categories; there was no such thing as tagging or  clouds or memes. It was also in the day when you could be pretty confident that if the quote said, Aristotle, it was, indeed, from Aristotle. And, it was in the day when this little notebook was “printed and published in the USA” and “assembled in Mexico.” The early days of outsourcing.

Excellence is a habit. The repetition, over time, of a behaviour. Mediocrity is also a habit. Certain behaviours, repeated over time created unpleasant outcomes, too. Darren Hardy talks about this, too, in The Compound Effect, but it’s not, clearly, a new idea.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Lao-tzu.

And a teacher of mine, Martin Muller, used to say:

If you’re sitting down, you have no choice. If you get up and take a step, you can always change direction.

Actually, THAT quote has been one of the keys to conscious change in my life… but that’s another post, I think!

The thing is, you just need to shift your walk, your vision, your thinking, your behaviour by a weeee little bit and stay on that  course, repeat the behaviour daily, and over time, you achieve….excellence or mediocrity.

Will you add just that weeee little bit more effort to:

  • make the meal look spectacular
  • clean that last little corner
  • walk those extra 100 steps
  • stand that little bit taller

And if you’re not quite up to excellence will you do a very simple thing:

  • get off the couch, walk out the door and walk to the end of the driveway and back
  • put just a little LESS food on your plate… just for today
  • take 3 seconds to put the spoon in the dishwasher
  • bend down and pull up just 3 weeds

Sometimes this is all I can manage. Today, for instance, is my day to drive 65 km into the city and work out. I have a goal to go to Good Life 3 times a week and go through the machines.  Sometimes I have to cajole myself. Sometimes I have to give myself a stern talking to. But I’m going.

Soon…

Aristotle, I don’t know what happened that brought you to understand the power of habit 2300 years ago. The quote has stuck, as you can see. We’re still working on getting it. We become what we surround ourselves with. I’m off to the gym. Your words will ring on as I do battle with the little voices inside me that push me to exercise and pull me to… well, not exercise.

Have a good one!