Wednesday, August 24, 2016

She can Fly



This momma bird
sings a sad song 
this morning
her nest
a silent 
empty
space


There she goes
flying high
above clouds
and foreign lands
back to learning
and becoming
and growing
her own wings
that no longer 
fit in this nest

The momma bird
pecks at the
empty spot 
examines the tidbits
left behind
the scraps
unecessary for 
the journey
but the lifeless quality
of the tags and bags and boxes
saddens her
she will repair the nest
tomorrow
today is too soon
she needs to linger
to mourn
come to terms
once more with the
loss and grief she feels

She tilts her head up
but her eagle eye
cannot see
through the heavy clouds
that suit her heavy heart
this morning
Farewell and see you soon
are no consolation
are unable
to stop the tears that fall
mother's tears
a salty concoction of 
sorrow and pain
laughter and joy
and shared genes

Worry not
chirp the other birds
She will find her new flock again
like she has before
her wings stronger each time
she leaves this nest
The momma bird shivers
ruffles her feathers
composes herself now
There is work to do
food to gather
but not before she
sings a love song
releasing it up into the sky
for her baby bird
a sweet collection of notes
to carry her and support her
and catch her when she falls
and lift her to heights
she is yet to climb
assuring her how far she can soar
How far she will


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Avian Monarch



Becoming conscious
one eye
then 
the other
oh good
a grey day
rare
in this land of relentless sunshine
Roots that lie
north of the equator
long for moisture
balm for 
a poet's soul
Damp remnants
mark the footpaths
where rain fell
in the night
Bird seed turned to porridge
Yet they come
for a breakfast of gruel
I see 
as I plunge my morning fix

Write about us!
screech the cockies
The galahs doth protest
NO, us!
While the laughing one
perches silently
knowing
this will be his story
his tribute
his victory verse

How does he know
he is favoured 
above the others?
the more colourful
the more animated
the seed eaters
this confident king
his merriment obvious
loud and proud
the high branches of gum trees
surely extend 
for him 
and him alone

And so he laughs
knowing
his crown
is secure
his bush king status
solid
despite that green and red one
that plots daily
to dethrone him
Those complimentary colours
no match for his
subtle aqua swath






Monday, August 22, 2016

Messy Perfection



The Unmade Bed

Everything about this moment
whispers
pause, pause.

Light, shadow and beauty
demanding my attention
their subtle flirtations
eye-catching
soul fillers

Make the time
see the art
I am far from ordinary
if you'll just pause
observe me
absorb me

A soft mist rises
from the dewy lawn
Early rays 
sneak through the 
crack between the blind
and frame
resting where 
my dream-filled head 
just laid

Stop.
Don't make me perfect
Not yet.
Pause.
Look at how perfect 
I am right now
Wrinkled, softened,
like you
at fifty eight
like you were
at seventeen
and thirty two
Like you have been
Always
but were too hurried 
or too young
or too unbelieving
to notice

Standing now
viewing the unmade bed
while the world outside this gallery
swirls madly
rushing
going
 I frame this moment
my private Louvre
Paint me!
Photograph me!
Capture me!
Feeeel me.
See the beauty no one else can see
I won't be here long
so don't ignore me
Pause
Just pause



Monday, July 18, 2016

Grace and Peace with Rob Bell



I begin with a deeeeep s i g h h h h. 

A couple of deep in and out breaths. 

So here we are. And, like most of you I am feeling the heaviness. The weight of the messed up world on our shoulders and in our hearts. Like the quote I saw scroll through my newsfeed this morning:

JE SUIS SICK OF THIS SHIT!

With all that has been happening at what seems to be an acceleration of hate and violence around the globe, I have been turning inward on my own journey of growth and transformation these days, seeking ways to calm my own spirit and make sense of it if that is possible. 

This past weekend I spent a day in Brisbane listening to Rob Bell speak on the ideas from his book - How to Be Here. I have been on a Rob Bell kick lately. His podcasts (The Robcast), are my constant companions while I cook or busy myself around the house. I read this latest book in preparation for the weekend. Devoured may be a better word than read, as I cannot seem to get enough of his wisdom lately. 

His Australian tour could not have come at a better time for me. There are periods in my life that seem to come when I find myself needing to gorge on some soul food. Now is one of those seasons. He did not disappoint. Many people I talk to do not know who Rob Bell is and I find myself having to explain a bit about him. He is a motivational speaker, former pastor and author and was touted as one of the top 100 influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2011. He has toured with Oprah and Deepak Chopra and is a member of the Compassion Collective, a group of 5 authors including Elizabeth Gilbert, Glennon Doyle Melton, Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed. The group was formed to raise money for Syrian refugees and continues to fundraise for various causes. 

This group is like the Brat Pack of Conscious Living. They are so on fire right now, it is hard to imagine their flame getting extinguished. With any luck, it will just continue to spread and keep raising awareness and dollars for those in need. The world needs their energy and insight more than ever and I for one have jumped on their introspective bandwagon on my own spiritual journey with renewed fervor.  Since 2007 and the release of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, slowly but surely, my own life has steadily transformed. Next came Brene Brown's epic  Daring Greatly showing us how vulnerability and the courage to allow it in our lives could be a game-changer. That pushed me up another stair. Around the same time, Wild author Cheryl Strayed shared her story of her solo journey of over 1,000 miles on the Pacific Coast Trail that took bravery and courage to a whole new level of what it takes to heal for some. In so many ways these three women accompanied me on my own trail of transformation and now, more recently, I have discovered Glennon Doyle Melton and her blog - Momastery and found her story compelling and inspiring. She gives hope to anyone who has ever faced addictions. And now, as I embrace the wisdom of Rob Bell, I find myself elevated to an entirely new level of growth.

He has helped me make sense of the journey. Until now, it never felt like the big questions had answers. Why am I here? What is the meaning of it all? What is the point? I watched Rob Bell's video called Everything is Spiritual 2016 and it was like a lifetime of seeking and searching had finally hit pay dirt. So I started to dig deeper and read more of his books and listened to more of his podcasts and I am so happy to have found some teachings and conversations that address the big questions that combine science and spirituality, allowing them to co-exist in a way that makes logical sense to me, without the attached dogma of organized religion. 

There is a great story that Rob Bell tells that also gives me a way to explain to people who he is better than I can, if that makes sense. Hear me out.

He went to his mailbox one day to collect his mail and found a small painting inside. It was done by an artist who lived in his neighbourhood. He was familiar with this dude's work as he had seen it in a gallery. The guy does paintings on sandpaper of all things. The painting he made for Rob was of a hand emerging from the earth holding a bunch of strings. The strings were attached to clouds like a bunch of helium filled balloons hovering up in the sky. Rob asked the artist what the painting meant. The artist told him that he wondered who Rob was and what he did. So, in order to find out, he attended one of Rob's events. After the event, he created the painting to give to him. He told Rob that after hearing him speak, he now understood what exactly it was he did for a living. He told him that he tied up the clouds for people. He took all those thought bubbles we have floating around up in our heads and pulled them together. 

Yes! That is what he does folks. It is what he has done for me and it feels amazing. I could not have explained it any better than that. It also helps that he is an engaging, funny and captivating speaker. This energetic, enthusiastic man is bringing a positive, forward-thinking interpretation of Christian values into the world that deserve air time. I will attach a few links here for anyone who is interested in taking a look.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JT09JbaEh_I

https://robbell.com/

http://thecompassioncollective.org/

http://momastery.com/blog/






Thursday, July 7, 2016

Longing for What?



 Sehnsucht (n.)


Origin: German
“The inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what”; a yearning for a far, familiar, non-earthly land one can identify as one’s home


Hiraeth is a longing for one's homeland, but it's not mere homesickness. It's an expression of the bond one feels with one's home country when one is away from it.


These two words have resonated with me recently. The first word, Sehnsucht has a slightly different meaning in that it is a longing for a non-earthly land and the second word, Hiraeth (of Welsh origin) is the longing for an actual place on earth. 
I find myself falling somewhere in between these two definitions. Some days my heart positively aches for Canada - the moist air, the forests, the lakes, a crisp autumn day, the scent of lilacs in spring. Other days, my mind is searching for some combination of Parrots and Cardinals, Kangaroos and Deer, Palm trees and Hardwood forests. I have one foot on old soil and one foot on new sand. It leaves me with a sense of feeling lost. Where do I belong? 
I always thought that home was where the heart is and I still believe that is true. But does our whole heart belong to just one person? From a romantic perspective I think yes. But what about the other bits of your heart? The fragments
that remain with family and friends and place. I asked Mick if he felt like this when he spent almost a year with me in Canada. I asked him if he missed the smell of eucalyptus, the endless sunshine, the sound of laughing Kookaburras and he said no. He said he only missed the people. His family. His friends. I was surprised that he did not give much thought to his physical landscape. Was I unique? Why do I miss the actual ground I grew up on? Why is my connection to the earth beneath my feet so ingrained in my body?
There is also a yearning for home in me that I cannot define specifically. I was born and raised in St. Catharines, Ontario, but I don't long to return to that city. I spent years in Vancouver and Toronto, but neither of those two places are pulling me back either. When I meditate upon the longing, my mind always goes to remote places where I am surrounded by forests and water and boulders or mountains. These places are filled with nothing but the sounds of nature. Wind. Waves. Lapping water. Rustling leaves. Birdsong. There is no white noise. No traffic hum. 
Could this be my Sehnsucht? And could my Sehnsucht exist in harmony with my earthly origins vs non-earthly? Are some of us simply more physiologically sensitive to our physical roots than others? As much a I have always felt in close relation to the actual landscape of my homeland, it has never been as acute as it is now after almost three years absence. Can some people adapt better than others to extreme climate change? Are we really meant to stray too far from our home climate zones for more than brief periods of time? 
There is no doubt that the incidence of skin cancers in Australia is the highest in the world because most of the people who migrated here from Britain and Europe do not have the protective melanin in their skin to deal with the harsh and intense sun. Yet, despite their inability to adapt to the sun, they have adopted Australia as their home. Interestingly however, there are still many who insist on keeping old customs and traditions alive from their past. Cooking hot turkey dinners at Christmas in 40 degree summer weather comes to mind! 
But what of Hiraeth? Do they experience deep-seated longings for the English countryside generations later? Does time diminish the longing? If I were to stay here the rest of my life, would Hiraeth fade? It is truly a conundrum. When I was in Canada last fall, after six weeks, I was missing my life in Australia. Or was I just missing Mick? Our life here. Our home here. Maybe the cold wet weather got to me.  But after a few weeks back in the land down under I became bogged down in Hiraeth once more. Spring arrived in Canada as autumn (slightly cooler temperatures) arrived in Queensland. I wanted to see the emerging tips of crocus and daffodils and tulips and hyacinths poking through the still slightly hardened soil. I wanted to smell the musty wet damp of rotting fallen leaves as the snow melted. I yearned to see the return of a robin and witness the nest building. So, what is THAT? What is that deep-seated pull to be a part of the emerging spring? Can it be shaken off? Well, yes, it can, but it hovers beneath the surface, not unlike the bloodroot and trout lilies on the forest floor waiting for the first hint of warmth after remaining dormant all winter. 
Is there a part of me that remains dormant here? Does that part of me need the changing seasons? Are we energetically programmed and connected to our birthplace? Is it a longing for a moment in time? A moment in the past that seemed perfect? Need I be reminded that I need to live in the now? Embrace the present. Of course I know all this intellectually. I have read Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle and other philosophers and spiritual teachers thoughts so I am constantly grappling with remaining conscious and trying not to dwell on the past or worry about the future, but still I experience the longings. 
Do we contain a permanent imprint of home from birth? Is it in our DNA? How about those nomadic tribesmen I read about once that die if they are imprisoned because they cannot "live" inside four walls. I realize this is an extreme form of Hiraeth, but still. I would not compare my longing to anything near that powerful, but it is a constant hum I have difficulty ignoring. 
I will have an opportunity to explore all of this further come December when I return to my beloved homeland once again. In the meantime I will enjoy the too short winter here in Queensland where socks and slippers and flannel sheets make an all too brief appearance offering me some relief from the tropical climate that dominates the rest of the year. There are really only two seasons here - autumn and summer. 
I don't know "weather" it should matter so much, but for me it does.









Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's a Long and Winding Road to Marital Bliss...and missing from many maps



I heard some news yesterday that came as a shock and surprise to me. For the past 24 hrs, it has been weighing on me as I have been processing my feelings around it. It has nothing to do with me personally, so you would think I would just shrug it off and carry on, but it has opened up the whole conversation about relationships and how they ebb and flow and if left to flounder without effort from both sides can lead to extreme pain and heartbreak for everyone concerned.

When I learned yesterday that author, Elizabeth Gilbert and her husband Jose (Felipe in Eat, Pray, Love) were separating, my own heart sunk. No, I thought, not them. Not them. Not them. If they can't make it, what hope is there for the rest of us? For those of you who are not familiar with their story, you might think I am over-reacting in my disappointment. For those of you who do know how carefully she entered her relationship with him after her very painful divorce, with trepidation and eyes wide open, you will likely be as stunned as I was that they were not able to go the distance. 

It just speaks to the whole relationship journey and what a difficult road it is for many. No one goes into a marriage thinking it will end. We all dream of happily ever after and growing old together and celebrating loving milestones and having babies, maybe grand children, and creating a long and happy life as a team. I don't know why Liz and Jose are parting. I am sure there are many who are speculating as to why. No one really ever knows what goes on inside an intimate relationship. I know there are marriages that weather many storms and continue to thrive. There are marriages that last that really shouldn't. Some stay together for economic reasons (that's a biggie). There are marriages comprised of what appear to be couples who are more like roommates vs. intimate partners. There are so many marriages that are less than ideal unions. Is a mediocre marriage better than being alone? What are the necessary components of a great marriage? I often marvel at the long marriages. The couples who have been together for 50, 60, 70 years or more and seem happy. Note I said "seem". I am sure some are. But I think just as many of them are perhaps just too old and tired to bother making waves after 50 years. They have mastered the art of putting up and shutting up, or have carved out a sort of separate existence for themselves within the union. Besides, divorce is costly, and what would the kids say?

It is no doubt easier to step away from a spouse when money is not an issue. Like Liz. Perhaps they were not growing and evolving together or they no longer wanted the same lifestyle. Perhaps not having any children together made it easier to walk away. I would like to believe they just grew apart and that neither of them stepped outside the marriage with another, but even if that is what happened, we all know that a marriage is in trouble long before someone has an affair. So I guess what I am struggling with is how did they miss it? How did they miss the early unravelling? After all their past experiences with marriage and their vow to make it work this time, what happened? I think that is the crux of it. Knowing when you are no longer connecting in some area is the key. Recognizing that something is amiss is the first step. Both partners working through it, the second. Making concrete changes to re-connect is the third. Maybe they did all these things but could not reach a compromise. 

If it really is true that we all just want to love and be loved, then why is that very love we so long for not enough to keep us together? Is it that we stop making the relationship a priority? I think that is pretty common. One spouse becomes so consumed by a career or cause or some other activity outside the marriage that the neglected partner starves to death. I just spoke to a woman yesterday who ended her marriage of 37 years last year. She told me she ran out of the strength to keep holding it together. In 37 years he had only told her he loved her 6 times. SIX. (she had kept count). Her eyes were glassy with unwept tears as she said that to me. She seemed so fragile and heartbroken I wanted to hug her but I barely know her. She is a friend of a friend, so I don't know their whole story, but what I do know is that she devoted 37 years of her life to a man who was incapable of expressing his love verbally and she was a woman that desperately needed to hear him say those words. Good GAWD! Why do we settle? Why do we keep hoping things will change? Why do we allow ourselves to accept less than we deserve? Is loneliness that bloody frightening? Is the thought of divorce that scary? Are our lives not worthy of more? Is a cake with Happy 50th Anniversary so damn important?

When Elizabeth Gilbert announced her separation yesterday, she was clearly speaking from a place of deep pain and heartache. No doubt her decision to not settle or remain in a marriage that was not making her happy is as painful, or more so, than staying. She said she would be absent from social media for a while as she stepped away to deal with her personal life. She reminded all of us that this was "not a story she was writing, it was a story she was living." She shared a poem with all of her fans that she felt was helping her through the pain. I will re-share it with you here now as it speaks profoundly to the notion that when a marriage ends, it is not necessarily a failure.



Failing and Flying

Related Poem Content Details

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew. 
It's the same when love comes to an end, 
or the marriage fails and people say 
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody 
said it would never work. That she was 
old enough to know better. But anything 
worth doing is worth doing badly. 
Like being there by that summer ocean 
on the other side of the island while 
love was fading out of her, the stars 
burning so extravagantly those nights that 
anyone could tell you they would never last. 
Every morning she was asleep in my bed 
like a visitation, the gentleness in her 
like antelope standing in the dawn mist. 
Each afternoon I watched her coming back 
through the hot stony field after swimming, 
the sea light behind her and the huge sky 
on the other side of that. Listened to her 
while we ate lunch. How can they say 
the marriage failed? Like the people who 
came back from Provence (when it was Provence) 
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy. 
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, 
but just coming to the end of his triumph.



Monday, June 27, 2016

Compassion 101



I have been thinking a lot lately about compassion. I struggle with it. More than anything I want to be a truly compassionate person but it does not come easily to me. If you consider the full spectrum of compassionate people we have known or know, there are the likes of Mother Teresa at one end, devoting her entire life to the art of compassion, with someone like Idi Amin at the opposite end - void of compassion. 

Now, I know I am no Mother Teresa and I am certainly no brutal dictator and I like to think I am closer to the Mother Teresa end of the spectrum than the Idi Amin end, but I don't seem to be able to fully feel compassion for all. It's like that story/movie Dead Man Walking. I don't know how she did that. How did she feel genuine compassion for that man - a convicted murderer? I have difficulty feeling compassion for people who have never murdered anyone - people who have possibly been law-abiding citizens their entire lives but for some reason I find them annoying or boring or daft. I try to find it within myself to be less judgmental and to look for the goodness or flicker of light or inspiration in people, but I often fail. I do try. As I get older, I try even harder. I know that everyone has a story to tell. I will find myself in a conversation with another person consciously digging. Digging to mine a gem out of them. Digging to bring forth some jewel of wisdom or share something with me that reveals their essence but sometimes I get nothing. 

The next time I see such a person, I dread the contact. I dread the small talk. I try to avoid yet another exchange void of anything of value to me. I feel drained by these encounters. I feel my time is stolen. Does this mean I am not compassionate enough? I find I am being tested a lot lately, like I need to go take a course or something. Compassion 101. And it does not just apply to ordinary people in my midst. It applies - perhaps even  more so - to people in the media. The Orlando shooter. Terrorists. Brexit leave voters. Racists. Homophobes. Trump. The Kardashians. You get the picture. 

Then I wonder - is it necessary for me to be so compassionate? Maybe my stores of compassion are all used up with my family, friends and loved ones. Maybe we are only born with a finite dollop of the stuff.  That makes more sense to me because I truly feel I am scraping the bottom of the jar some days. Perhaps there are those that do not deserve our compassion and by not receiving it, it forces them to examine themselves. "Gee, I wonder why Deb avoided me today? Maybe she doesn't like me. What doesn't she like about me?" This also makes sense because by withholding compassion, I have forced someone to look within. Of course there is no guarantee they will, but it definitely increases the odds. 

So maybe compassion works that way. Sometimes we are and sometimes we aren't and the people who receive our compassion benefit in an opposite way from the people who don't. This may sound like I am trying to justify my less compassionate side. Perhaps I am.  All I know is there are people who lift you, inspire you and are a joy to be around and it is only natural that we would want to spend the majority of our time with them. They do not require me to withdraw from my compassion account at all and in fact seem to make deposits. AHA! That's it! Maybe that is how it works. The more time we spend being filled, the more compassion we accumulate and when it comes time to spread some around we have plenty to share. 

That speaks to the whole notion of being grateful as well. If we are grateful on a conscious level everyday (and I am), does that fuel compassion? I think it does. Do you ever notice when you have endured an experience with someone you find difficult to be around, you come away even more grateful for your life than you did a few moments earlier? I do. 

Maybe compassion should be viewed as a gift. A gift we give or a gift we receive. So maybe we just aren't meant to go around giving it away willy nilly. 

For now, dear readers, I will pause this contemplation on the art of compassion and come back to it another day as I think it is worthy of far more examination.

See? That was compassion. A small gift to you. You can go now. :-)








Thursday, June 2, 2016

Expert Status Achieved



I was told the other day that I was expert at something. Those were his exact words. "You're really expert at that darl." It has never occurred to me that I was an expert at anything really. I sort of believe that being expert means you are highly trained  or educated in a particular subject matter or profession and that warrants an "expert" badge. You know, like a heart surgeon or a nuclear physicist - that kind of expert. 

No, he was referring to me being an expert hostess. We have company coming for the weekend and so I was lamenting my "to do" list. The food planning and shopping, the preparation of the guest room and the organizing of activities and so on. Apparently I am an expert at making all these arrangements for guests. An expert at fussing so to speak. It made me wonder what would happen if I did not fuss. What would happen if the guest room was not prepared and the meals were not planned, the ice cube trays were empty and there were dead flowers in the vase?

Would the world end if I didn't make bliss balls and guacamole? What would happen if I threw a fresh set of sheets on the bed and said make up your own bed and help yourself to towels in the linen closet? What if I decided to let people help themselves to the food in the fridge and let everyone fend for themselves? What if I went about my business and did not shop and plan and organize? Would my guests feel less welcome? What would that be like? 

The truth is, I have been doing "hostessing" for my whole adult life. By this stage, it is a bit like second nature. I guess you could say I have become expert at making people feel welcome and pampered when they stay with me in my home. It is something I have indeed become "expert" at over the years. I guess I just never looked at it as being something that one becomes "expert" at. It got me to thinking that perhaps it is something I do that is of value. I have been getting my "Martha" on for longer than I care to admit. We tend to diminish these simple gestures in our own minds as necessary tasks when in reality they are carefully thought out gestures of giving and caring we offer to the people we love. Don't we all love a clean and tidy bedroom with fresh linens and a comfy bed when we are away from home? Isn't it a treat to have someone else prepare our meals? I know for certain that I am genuinely appreciative of these welcoming niceties when I am a visitor. 

Without realizing it, being told I am "expert" at something as simple as making guests feel welcome in my home is a pretty nice compliment and it made me realize my efforts do not go unnoticed. So, thanks Mick. I will take that compliment and wear my "expert" badge proudly this weekend, grateful in the knowing I have a partner who appreciates what I do and what I bring to the table of our life together.


Saturday, May 28, 2016

I want Toast!



Leftover green beans, cauliflower and butternut squash mixed into 2 scrambled eggs...cooked in Ghee. I just ate that for breakfast. Oh, and lest I forget, freshly brewed coffee with coconut milk. 

I am on Day 27 of the Whole 30 program (gawd help we call it a diet!) and I swear if I have to eat one more f___king egg, I am going to vomit. Only 3 more days of this regimen and then I can introduce ONE forbidden food at a time and see if it bothers me in any way. 

How did I end up in this dysfunctional relationship with food? I'll tell you how. I grew up popping antibiotics like candies the day after Halloween, (I was plagued with ear and throat infections as a kid), then I took tetracycline all through my teen years to stave off acne, ran to the doctor for every bloody sniffle or sore throat in young adulthood (more antibiotics) and then in more recent times, I overdosed on NAISIDs  (Advil and Aleve) for a too long stretch of time as I suffered through some nasty dental issues and that was the tipping point. My gut lining finally cried uncle.

And so the journey began. It has been a long and arduous trek and it ain't over yet. I have quit sugar, quit meat, quit grains, quit dairy, quit additives, quit alcohol...essentially quit enjoying food. A few years ago when I went cold turkey with sugar, I lost a bunch of weight and felt amazing. Slowly the weight and the digestive issues crept back on and into my life. So then I decided that I would go vegan, thinking that the elimination of dairy and animal protein would be the answer. I gave veganism an entire year of my life. I spent every night listening to a chorus of stomach rumbling that sang out from my abdomen (make that "bloated abdomen") and was rewarded with the addition of 10 pounds and out of control hypoglycaemia. Thank you grains and sugar. Now what? So, I added fish and eggs back into my repertoire of allowable food. The rumbling subsided but the weight stubbornly remained.

On my recent adventure to New Zealand, I just decided to throw caution to the wind and ate what ever I bloody felt like eating. Meat, cheese, bread, sugar....wine - lots of wine - and came home with another 5 lbs attached to my ass. It was time to break out the big guns. My bff had tried Whole 30 twice in the past and she suggested we do it together when we got home from our indulgent vacay. Of course, this was like going from vegan to paleo for me. Not only would I have to eat meat, but I would have to eat it everyday. Sure, you can have fish, and I love fish, but even as much of a mermaid as I am, daily delights from the sea can get a bit monotonous. I had been reading Dr. Google for months and every article I have read about healing your gut insists it is impossible to do so eating a vegan diet. I had pretty much already proved that theory myself, so a return to eating carcass seemed my last and final hope to return to the land of perfect pooping.

I was in. For those of you who do not know about Whole 30, it is essentially a reset diet - an elimination diet. For 30 days you cannot have dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol, preservatives or additives. You can have most nuts,  animal protein (organic or grass-fed preferred) and veggies with the exception of a few like corn and peas. Today I reached Day 27. I feel a tiny bit lighter, my hypoglycaemia is vastly diminished and I feel happier and clearer-headed. Those are the positive benefits. Sadly, it has not led me to the Disney of Digestive health. Nothing has changed in that regard other than I no longer sound like the percussion section of the orchestra after dinner each night, and the bloated belly has vanished. It's a start I suppose, but I am far from out of the crapper on this aspect for now.

I still have a few options. I can try the FODMAP diet, the SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and the Candida diet. Most of them are similar to Whole 30 but some even further eliminate veggies and fruits. I have tried bone broth and fermented veggies and Kombucha and probiotics and am at a point now where I am so, so weary of trying to heal my gut lining that I am wondering if I should just go and buy some Captain Crunch, a package of Kraft Cheese Slices, a loaf of Wonder Bread, some margarine, some sliced Bologna, a bag of Cheezies, some Twinkies and wash it all down with an extra large Coke and see what happens. 

Oddly, when I think about eating crap like that (and as a kid, I did), I had no weight issues, lots of energy and actually liked what I was eating. (there may have been the occasional constipation), but it was sure YUMMY! I have given much thought to "eating to live", vs. "living to eat". I know people who give little thought to their daily noshings. They tend to be a healthy weight and spend far less time in the kitchen. Perhaps taking the focus off food is the answer. Meat and three veg. The English way. The boring way. Is that the answer? I don't know. It's not anti-cancer. Meat is cancer causing. Sugar feeds cancer cells. Grains make you fat and cause brain fog. Dairy causes inflammation. The advice is endless and the studies are questionable. 

It's tiring. It's exhausting. It's tedious. 

And so it goes on and on and on...my dysfunctional relationship...with food.


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Scammed by Jesus

Red Dragonfruit


I really got to thinking about the importance of trust in relationships today. I am not just talking about the trust in a marriage here either. I am talking about the trust in absolutely every relationship we encounter in life. 

I have a tendency to enter into most relationships with rose-coloured glasses. I can't help myself. It is a bit naive I know, but I do like to believe that people are inherently honest and sincere. I have been caught out from time to time but not enough to have turned me into a suspicious, distrustful or paranoid being.

Today I was caught out. For about 3 years now I have been shopping at the local Thursday markets here in town. Over time I have become familiar to several of the vendors - some, more so than others. There is the older kiwi couple I buy my garlic-stuffed olives from and the perennially smiling Asian woman who has the freshest herbs and sweetest cherry tomatoes and the couple who own their own avocado farm. There is a dour couple who seem hardened but have the market cornered on the two items they grow - bananas and sweet potatoes. Then there is my favourite of all - the fellow that looks like Jesus (the long blonde hair, blue-eyed version) who grows nothing but dragonfruit. His dragonfruit are a thing of beauty - pink and green and unblemished and sweet as they get. He sells them priced according to size. I always buy his largest at $3 a piece. One of his $3 fruits is a generous feed for two people. I reckon it is worth the extra .50 cents for the jumbo size. 

I have spent a bit of time getting to know "Jesus". He is what you would refer to as a calm spirit. He exudes a zen-like inner peace that I have found very appealing. Turns out he has even written a book (self-published) that essentially outlines his philosophy on life as he has come to see it based on various teachings of ancient and modern religions. He is clearly a man who lives and follows a spiritual path. I like him. I even downloaded his book and planned to read it soon. It is a book that needs to be slowly digested, so I have been saving it for a holiday on the beach.

I arrived a bit late to the markets this morning and when I got to his stall, there were only a few medium-sized dragon fruits left and some small ones; his large fruits were all gone. "Wow, you don't have much left today, looks like you have had a busy morning. No large ones I see." He agreed that he had been busy and that he was also getting low on his harvest and that he only had white fruits today, as the reds were not ready quite yet. He went on to tell me he would likely have red next week. I reminded him I preferred the whites anyway and he said he knew that, so it really did not matter to me that he had no reds this week. I was reluctant to settle for the smallish few that were left, but figured it was better than no dragonfruit for the week, so I bought what was left and he even threw in a freebie small one. He often does this for me as he knows I am a regular customer who pays the premium prices for the pick of his crop and I appreciate his generosity. 

We had our usual friendly exchange and I moved on. I decided at that point that I wanted to go back to a stall to pick up a nice looking cauliflower I had passed by earlier. Normally "Jesus" would be my second last stop along the street. After a few minutes had passed, I came by his stall again, and to my surprise, he had filled his table with three new boxes of beautiful dragonfruits in every size, including the jumbo fruits he knows I prefer. I glanced his way. He saw me and diverted his gaze. I tugged on Steve's arm. "Did you see that?" "See what?, he said. "Check it out - Jesus has just replenished his table! He has every size and plenty of them!" 

And that was it. That was the moment, my trust was broken. Just. Like. That. I felt sucker-punched, jilted, duped, cheated and shocked. But mostly what I felt was hurt. Here was a man who had convinced me of his altruism. He had for over two years been building a lovely vendor/customer relationship with me that I had come to appreciate and I looked forward to our pleasant exchanges and now he had lied to me. He had not run out of large dragonfruit at all. He just wanted to sell the dregs before pulling out a fresh batch. Sell the dregs to me. He could have told me he had better ones. He could have further enhanced our relationship by making me feel special. Instead he risked our bond. I walked back to my car feeling disappointed and deflated. He was not special after all. He was just like every other seller out to make a buck. Could I blame him? Isn't that what anyone selling anything is all about? Had I myself throughout my own life in sales, not done the same thing? How could I cast a stone?

I had put him on a pedestal. He had even told me once that his fruit were particularly beautiful and sweeter than other mass-produced dragonfruits because he put his heart and soul into the growing of them. I believed him. Mostly because I actually believe in that sort of thing, not just because he said it. I do believe it is possible to pass along loving energy into things we create. I believed he was doing what he loved and nurturing his dragonfruit crop in this way. I still believe that. I will still buy his dragonfruit. What I won't do again now, though, is fully trust him. He broke that trust today.  I don't feel like a special customer anymore. I feel just like any other customer with money in her wallet.  

Like any relationship, once the trust is broken, you can never really go back to how it was before. Even marriages that survive an affair - are they ever really the same again? It is impossible really. All you can really do is move forward and try to embrace what it is now - not dwell on the past indiscretion(s). This is difficult for most people. I count myself amongst them. I left my first marriage knowing I was never going to be able to live with the knowing. 

Maybe we need to lower our expectations around trust since being trusting is really just setting yourself up for disappointment. At some point in just about any relationship trust is broken to some degree. Some breaches are just easier to get past or forgive. The truth is, we are all capable of damaging the trust whether it is between friends or family or clients or customers or any of the myriad of relationships we have in our lives. The sad part is that until we are all genuinely able to trust others and be trustworthy ourselves, the world will never heal. 

And where money is involved, trust is even more difficult to maintain. 

I wonder if "Jesus" has given any thought to this "moment" that occurred today, and if so, how is he reconciling it in his ever-evolving spiritual journey? Will he feel the same ease with me next Thursday during our weekly exchange, or will something have changed? When he says good morning, will he look me in the eye? Will he be able to read the change in mine? Will there be an awkward discomfort between us now? 

Who knows? Maybe "Jesus" will be asking ME for forgiveness. 




Sunday, May 1, 2016

Home


Home

Days of adventure
followed by
coming home
sinking back
into comforts
and loving arms
I sigh

Familiar birdsong
on Sunday morning
foot sliding on cool crisp sheets
then gently skimming
his ankle
the soft silky dip
between hill and heel
I sigh again

No need for lights
I know my way
by touch
by sounds
by smell
by heart
I sigh once more

This place I call home
where we dance
cheek to cheek, barefoot
on cool tiles,
share stories and secrets,
wide smiles and tears
as necessary as the adventure
this sigh worthy life of mine







Thursday, April 7, 2016

My Circles of Life

Indalo Man Ring


Circles. Round bits of metal and gemstones. Promise rings. Engagement rings. Wedding rings. Broken circles. Broken promises. What about these meaningless, yet oh so meaningful bits of adornment worn upon our left hand ring fingers?

By now, these rings have piled up; their stories embedded in their hard tiny O-shapes. I still have the first ring given to me by a boy. It won't slide past my baby finger knuckle now. The pale pastel opal set in white gold seems faded and insignificant, not unlike the memories of that relationship. The insignificance only in relation to the brief two years of our coupling, not in reference to what it meant at the time. You know, that early "real" relationship with all of its firsts. I recall how much I treasured that token of his love. It announced I was part of a duo. I was unavailable. Taken. It is the ring that symbolizes the starting point in my journey of love and loss. My first heartbreak.

The next ring I wanted never materialized. I loved him more than he loved me and I wanted a ring from him but he never gave me one. That wished for confirmation that never found a home on my hand probably taught me more about love than I realized at the time. I knew the relationship was one-sided and a ring would not have balanced anything. It would have been a meaningless gesture, so just as well he did not bestow a trinket of what would have amounted to false hope. I had no band of silver or gold to prove to the world I was loved, because I wasn't. I gave him my heart when all he wanted was the body that held it.

A rolling ring came next. It was a knock-off the the infamous Cartier Rolling Ring. Three bands of
white, pink and yellow gold, intertwined. It was a playful ring. It slid on and off my married ring finger like silken metal against my skin. It was somewhat unique and all we could afford. We were fresh out of university and struggling to make a start in life. I was happy with these simple bands of hope and promise. It never occurred to me at the time how the ease of slipping off my finger foreshadowed his ease of slipping out of our marriage bed. In fact, I had a warning shot early on when it slid off my finger into a lake while we swam. I watched with horror as it disappeared into the black-bottomed depths of that cottage country fresh water lake just as I listened with horror two years later to the sound of him making love to another woman from the other side of the bedroom door. The replacement ring rolled off my finger for good that day along with him. I should have known neither was a tight fit.

My next ring was larger than life. When asked if I wanted a big ring, I was honest this time. YES! We had a ring designed to reflect my artsy self-image. It was unlike any traditional wedding ring. No pair of rings for me. I wanted one big knuckle-duster with presence and impact. I loved that ring. I still love that ring. It was an original. The design was modern; a combination of white and yellow gold, a large central Cabochon Amethyst flanked by high quality quarter carat diamonds sitting high up on my finger never failed to please my eye. It spoke volumes. It screamed status. It spelled creativity. It was soooo me. Or so I thought. For many years it fit perfectly. Just the right amount of snug. Not long after I got it, I became a bit disappointed with how the amethyst became scratched. The once shiny surface was marred and dull. I kept meaning to have it reset and re-polished, but never got around to the task. I lived with the flaws. After about 18 years, it became loose on my finger, sometimes even falling off if I wasn't careful. It started to seem clunky and annoying almost. It was too big for my ring finger but still too small for my "fuck you" finger. It had lost its fit. I still loved the ring, but I didn't love it on me any longer. The ring, like my marriage had run its course. The flaws were too deeply embedded. A jeweller told me he would have to remove the amethyst and sand the stone so severely to fix it that it would not fit in the original setting. He told me I would be better off replacing the stone altogether. It sits in a safe now and I take it out from time to time to admire it and remember our time together and the important milestones we shared.

A ringless period followed. My finger felt naked and vulnerable for a time. I was single. Available. Untaken. At first it felt scary. I was a bit lost. My identity was shaky. I felt eyes upon me. A glance at my empty ring finger from a stranger was noticed. I wanted to hide my single status one day, then wave it about like a victory flag the next. It was unpredictable. Was I ashamed of being single in my fifties? Was I so identified with being a Mrs. that I did not know who I was without that title? As time passed it became easier and I noticed it less, until it mattered not.

I am wearing a new ring now. A new old ring. It is a reproduction of a silver pinky ring I had bought for myself in Spain in 1977. I gave that ring to a boy I cared about in 1979. It was a symbolic gesture at the time. The ring is the image of Indalo Man. It is a stick figure of a man holding a rainbow over his head. It is considered good luck to the person who receives it. There are many meanings attributed to the symbol including new beginnings. When I gave away my original ring I told this boy that Canada was at one end of the rainbow and Australia was at the other and maybe one day we would meet again somewhere along that rainbow. He kept this ring in a box for the next 32 years. When we reconnected in 2011, I asked him if he still had the ring and he said, "Of course I do." He had this ring remade for me in gold and had a diamond set as the head of the Indalo Man. It is not a wedding ring. We are not married. It is a symbol of our connection; our history and our new beginning. It feels light on my finger. Not cumbersome. Comfortable. I wear it on my left pinky finger, just close enough to my ring finger to remind me of our bond but far enough away to remind me I am not just a Mrs.

Have I come full circle? So it would seem.

Original Indalo Man Ring



Monday, March 28, 2016

Engage! Engage!




It Will Be

I used to think
every action
each encounter
any conversation
would repeat 
sometime
somewhere
surely
Youthful naivety
worn like a shroud


Surely became
maybe
or... likely
the thinning shroud
of mid-life

But time
does not heed
snooze buttons
and pressing pause
is impossible

So now
I don't think.
I know.
every action
each encounter
any conversation
could be the last
as my shroud 
in near tatters
warns

Could 
has turned to...will
when every action
each encounter
any conversation
will be remembered
as the last
by someone
not me

The threads of the shroud
hover, cloud-like
beneath my feet
carrying me now
constant reminders
Engage!
Engage!
they cry
in every action
each encounter
any conversation

Like it will be
the last.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Don't Judge a Tree by its Trunk



As I meandered along on my daily walk this  morning, it occurred to me that tree trunks came in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. There were fat bulbous trunks, gnarly peeling trunks, spotted trunks, scaly trunks, smooth trunks and crooked trunks. This assortment of trunks makes for lots of visual interest and makes the natural world around us an ever-changing collage of colour and texture.

It got me to thinking how we embrace this individuality in nature and how boring it would be if every tree trunk looked exactly like the next. Why then, I wondered do so many of us struggle with embracing these exact qualities in humans? If everything is energy and everything is connected and we truly are all one, why would we judge our fellow man/woman based on their skin colour or age or size? How did racism and discrimination come to be? Where did the human race veer off track? When did we start judging the world around us based on visual attributes?



As these thoughts continued to swirl around in my head as I rhythmically placed one foot in front of the other dreaming of the day that all this walking might one day lead to smaller thighs and calves (so I could be like the fashion models we are supposed to look like and worthy of praise), I came upon a terrible sight. A few paces ahead of me I noticed a large bird laying on the side of the road. It was not moving, clearly dead. As I got closer, I felt my chest tighten and my heart skip a beat as I realized it was one of my favourite species...a Kookaburra. He had likely swooped too low and was not fast enough to avoid an oncoming car. I felt sick. I never like to see dead birds or animals on the road and this one was particularly upsetting as I love them so.

This led me to think about how the death of this Kookaburra had a far more powerful impact on me than had it been (in my mind) a lesser bird. If it had been an ordinary pigeon or a crow or a bird that I am not so fond of, would I have felt as sad?  This of course begged the question - Why had I created a hierarchy of birds in my mind? A similar feeling had washed over me a few weeks earlier when I watched as an oncoming truck hit and killed a Rainbow Lorikeet, another bird I find beautiful. When did this way of looking at the world around me become so ingrained? Why were beautiful birds more important than ugly birds? 

How does prejudice incubate? We are all aware that it is learned. I get that. But when did it begin? What moment in our ancient past did it happen for the first time? Did one cave man just decide one day that he was better than the Neanderthal standing next to him because he had some feature he decided was somehow better than his fellow cave dweller? Perhaps he was a more successful hunter. That would make sense I suppose. But what turned his superior skill into something that put him ahead of his mates versus just a skill he could simply share and therefore give back and contribute to his tribe? He could be the good hunter and another dude could be a good fisherman and another could be good at making weapons and so on and so on. When did they start placing higher values on certain skills? 

Are we just innately selfish, self-serving beings? Is the survival instinct so deeply ingrained that we will do anything to make our own individual lives easier at the expense of anyone or anything that gets in our way? That could be forgiven in our Paleolithic past perhaps, but surely we have evolved. Or have we? (My mind does pawnder (ponder while walking).)

But back to the trunks and the birds. Is the leap from what is seemingly inanimate (the trunks) to the visibly alive (the birds) as it moves and makes noise, where we start to discriminate? Before anyone ever told me that one bird was more beautiful than another, did I love all birds equally? I wish I could remember. I imagine that as soon as I began to understand language, I began to hear and learn what was considered more beautiful. My mother would have taught me that one girl was prettier than another and one bird was more prized than another and one religion was superior than another.  So children grow up believing what they are taught in those early years until they start to question everything...even their parent's teachings. Or at least we like to think this is what happens. But sometimes they don't. They don't question what they were taught. I actually knew a girl growing up who believed that Hitler was really a pretty good guy. Her German parents told her that and she never questioned it even as an adult. Scary shit.

I would like to believe that for the most part, my generation of baby boomers, have done a much better job of teaching our children about racial equality and embracing their own unique selves despite what they are bombarded with in the media, but I think we still have a long way to go and a generation or two to finally reach a place of complete acceptance and tolerance. That prediction is probably a bit naive, but I am hopeful. 

In the meantime, I am going to try to find the beauty in all living creatures...even the less colourful ones.