Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Law of Noticing

I love learning new things and the more esoteric, the better.

I took a course this past winter in Permaculture Design which means I can now, with some authority, destroy your backyard with a backhoe, a pick axe and a bad attitude. The course took me three months to complete and was done one hour at a time for about ninety hours. The fascinating aspect to me was how everything fit together; keeping rainwater, creating ponds, where trees should go based on sunlight and winds, what plants work under trees, keeping your own fish, what plants work together so they're healthier, etc. Fundamentally, it is about creating a backyard that, for the most part, takes care of itself and is in harmony with itself and the surrounding area.

Oh... and most of the stuff growing can be eaten. I thought that was pretty cool.

When I started gardening, I started noticing gardens.

Have you ever been car shopping, become interested in a certain type of car and miraculously discovered the type of car you are interested in suddenly seems everywhere? It's not that there are more of them around you... it is simply a matter of noticing they are around you. They were always there. It is the same with everything else in our lives.

To a worm in horse manure, their entire world can be defined within the descriptive parameters of... horse manure.

We can only describe the world by what we see. If we see that world through the lenses of our problems, we see only more problems. If we see the world through the lenses of what we have, we see more of what we have. If we see the world through lenses of what we don't have, we will see more lack. If we see the world through the lenses of clutter, we will see only clutter.

What the hell does that mean!?

There is something out there called The Law of Attraction. Simply put, that which we focus on is what is attracted to us. If I focus on happy people, happy people are attracted to me. And to make the attraction that much stronger, if I am happy, the happy people come more quickly. If I focus on negative people, I will attract more negative people into my life. If I focus on spiritual people, I attract more spiritual people into my life.

Personally, I don't think there is a Law of Attraction. I believe it is a Law of Noticing.

The Law of Noticing goes like this:
That which I focus on I will notice and I will notice more opportunities to deepen that which I focus on.


As an example, if I am happy and I focus on happy people, I will notice more happy people than I will notice unhappy people. Further, if I focus on being happy, I will see more and more and more opportunities to be happy! It's not that the opportunities to be happy were never there. It is simply that I didn't previously take notice of them.

There is another saying out there that is often heard... When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. In actual fact, the teacher may have always been there. Now that the student is ready (usually that's me), they recognise the teacher as a teacher and... viola... we have found our teacher.... or vise-versa... or whatever.

For the record... we are all students and we are all teachers... at the same time.

This doesn't all work on specific people, by the way. Keep in mind that others have their own path. For instance, if your desire is to have the Dalai Lama in your living room, don't expect the man to suddenly have an auto breakdown in front of your house and ask to borrow the phone. What will likely happen is, you will focus on the Dalai Lama and you will notice his book. You likely would never have noticed his book if you hadn't focused on him. Now, the opportunity to “meet” the Dalai Lama has presented itself through his writing. Whether you buy or borrow the book or not is up to you (opportunity). If you do buy or borrow the book, there is a good chance that book will be in your living room at some point.

Huh. That's pretty cool.

A wonderful example of this in movie form is Under the Tuscan Sun where the lead character wishes for family to be around her and she gets it... just not in the form she expected. That's the odd thing about focusing on something. It may appear, just not in the form we expect or from the people we might expect. Try focusing on one little thing. I would bet that you would take notice of that one little thing much more often.

And miraculously, there it is... where it has always been.

I wonder if the Dalai Lama would let me dig up his back yard.


Friday, 26 September 2014

Down the Ladder for Climate Change

I used to do a lot more heavy construction work than I do now. I've pared it down to painting because as I “become more advanced”, lifting heavy objects becomes more difficult. I can still lift heavy things and there is certain groaning sound emitting from me that is a harbinger of things to come if I am not careful.

Basically, I don't want to look like a hunchback when I'm eighty-nine.

Of course, there are ladders involved in building structures and whenever I was up a ladder doing this or that, it seemed inevitable I would drop that one tool I needed most to complete the job. For a moment I would stare at the offending tool (it was the tool's fault, don't you know) attempting to deny gravity existed by using some Yoda eyes-roll-into-the-back-of-head extreme concentration of the mind I would magically make the thing float back into my hand. Then, admitting defeat, I would trundle down the ladder, retrieve the tool and huff back up the ladder to complete said chore.

Yoda is cool and sometimes he gets on my nerves... smart-ass green whatever you are.

Whether I deny it or not, gravity exists. It is a part of the reality in which I exist. I can explore the idea that overcoming gravity is a mind trick or I can argue with Sir Issac Newton to utter boredom that there is no such thing as gravity or I can deny it and ignore it. The simple fact is, whether I believe it or not, gravity exists.

Can we all agree on that?


Whether we deny it or rename it or are being funded by big energy companies or cannot get past the idea that we have the right to wipe out half of the planet's flora and fauna without retribution, Global Warming exists. Denying it will not change the scientific data. Denying it will not save our children and grandchildren from a life of anguish. Denying Global Warming exists and that we, humans, are affecting the change will not change the fact that it is happening.

Here is what I don't understand.

How is it we can put dollars before humanity? How is it our leaders can be affected by how much money is in their purse and from whom? Why is cost even entering the discussion? When are we, humanity, going to understand money is not the impetus one uses to make ethical decisions? When do we figure out that concern about cost will always be at odds with ethics.

Ethics has nothing to do with cost. Nothing. If a person's (those in power) ethics decisions are skewed by how much it will cost, that person is displaying a complete lack of ethics. We cannot have an ethical debate when dollars enter the fray. It's... just... not... possible.

Perhaps if Big Energy took the enormous funds they scatter around our decision maker's pocketbooks and used it to fund safe clean energy, we would have much less of a problem.

Human beings figure things out. We just do. It's in our nature. Decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels is not a problem. It's an opportunity. If a company goes bankrupt because we stop buying into the fossil fuel regime and another grows because we buy into the renewable energy regime, how have we lost? People who are now employed in fossil fuels would then be employed in renewable energy. It's simple economics. In actual fact, if Big Energy took all of the money they paid decision makers and scientists to promote their viewpoint and put it into retooling themselves toward renewable energy, they would not need to worry about their company going under. The "we can't afford to dump oil and gas" economics argument is unethical and idiotic and even those who use the argument know it.

If decisions continue to be made by economics instead of ethics, empirical evidence and right action, then we are doomed.

I guess the real question is this... Do we continue to  allow our leaders to stand on the ladder staring at the solution in the mud denying Global Warming exists or do we make them admit the simple truth and tell them to go get the damned thing to finish the job?

The answer seems pretty simple to me.


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Salad Dressing and Expectation of People

This is a long post so you might want to get your coffee first. I'll wait.

I went to the grocery.

I wasn't in the market for salad dressing. I just happened to be in the isle. For whatever reason, I decided to count. There are 143 varieties of salad dressing to choose from in my grocery store. The cereal isle is over one hundred feet long. There are 121 variations of potato chips. If you include the combinations of packages, there are 87 different options for salads. This is the price of total freedom.

My eyes glazed over.

I wondered about this freedom thing. Is there such a thing as too much freedom? The official dogma of all civilized western societies is... in order to maximize the welfare of citizens, you must maximize individual freedoms. This is inherently a good thing because we don't have someone deciding on our welfare for us. The way to maximize freedom is to maximize choice. The more choice we have, the more freedom we will have and thus the welfare of the individual will be maximized.

Simple, right?

Go to an electronics store. There are myriad choices to make. In the average electronics store, by combining products to build your system, it is possible to construct over six million different stereo systems.

Too much freedom is debilitating. How does one choose when there are over six million options.

The corporate civilized west has given us all of these options in virtually every area of our lives believing the more choice they give us, the more sales they will generate. In actuality, the opposite happens. People become so overwhelmed by their options they decide not to decide and put their money back in their pockets.

So what?

Remember back when there were two or three blue-jean companies and they had one style of jeans each. The jeans may not have fit perfectly so you washed them a few times and they shrunk a bit and after a while they felt great. Now you can get stone wash or acid wash or straight leg or loose fit or relaxed fit or boot cut or skinny leg or boyfriend jeans (huh?) or low rise or ultra-low rise or mid rise or high rise or... Crikey! And then you have to choose a combination of all of those.

There's a reason I have found a jean style that works for me and I don't deviate... ever.

The trouble starts when you get home with your new jeans. They may be better fitting than the jeans when there was only one style and yet you are less satisfied. The reason people are less satisfied is because they immediately start wondering if they could have made a better choice. The litany of choices does not fade after the decision has been made. What if I chose that or combined that with that? Would my jeans be even better? With more options, it's easier to imagine you could have made a better choice and the satisfaction of the choice you made decreases... even if the choice was a good one.

Why? With all of the choices, expectation goes up dramatically. We now expect perfection and we believe there could have been a more perfect choice. This second guessing happens all of the time in every arena of our lives. All of this choice produces paralysis and self-doubt rather than what might be expected... liberation.

Here's where it gets interesting. There have been studies done over the past twenty years or so showing individuals are not as satisfied when there are more choices than they can compute easily. When we have more choices, we expect perfection and when what we get is satisfactory, we are unhappy because our choice wasn't perfect. When there is less choice, expectation drops and we are happier because there are occasions when what we choose exceeds expectation and most of the time, our choice meets expectation.

As it turns out, the secret to happiness is low expectation. Who'd a thunk it.

In addition, consider this... when there are few choices and something goes wrong, who's fault is it? Theirs... the world. (Well, I only have one choice!) When there are hundreds or thousands of choices and something goes wrong, who's fault is it? Ours... the individual. (We could have done better!) With the explosion of depression and suicides in recent decades, at least part (not all) of the explanation is the overwhelming choices and the internalization that we could have made better choices all of the time. We blame ourselves because our expectations have risen and our results have not kept up to those expectations.

Fewer choices would lead to lower expectations which would lead to more happiness which leads to higher self esteem which would lead to fewer suicides and cases of depression. (Far too many clinical studies to cite that bear this out.)

The conundrum of having all of this freedom of choice is a reduced satisfaction in our choices and lower self esteem. We do need choices. No doubt about it. One or two options does not freedom make. However, there is a line in the sand about the perfect number of choices and even the experts don’t know where that line is. The line is irrelevant since in western society, we have long since surpassed that perfect number.

Pick one... only one... and it has to be the right one.
The problem becomes that all of those choices leading to lower self esteem means we can't even make simple choices without lamenting about them far longer than they deserve.

The interesting thing to me is this; we have transferred that level of expectation from products to people. We have such a high expectation of the people around us, there is no way they can compete with that imaginary line. Thus, we are consistently being disappointed by people and are consistently losing self esteem because...

With all of the choices I had, I should have chosen better.

Not all people are a fit for us. That's a truth. There are people in our lives that feel like sandpaper. However, we have to be careful we are not judging because our expectation is too high rather than a person not being a fit. We have to recognize they are humans and the expectation we hold them to is probably far too high to begin with. We have to be careful we're not judging them like we would a bottle of salad dressing.

We owe that much to ourselves.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Good Morning Project

It's Fall today.

I'm looking forward to the last few kayaks with the colours painting the hills and dark water beneath me. It's a beautiful time of year and, at the same time, a sadness can grow as the trees give up for the year and shed their leaves. In Canada, it is not difficult to look at Fall as an ending if for no other reason than snow seems to be much too close for comfort. I think it's important to remember there are beginnings at this time of year as well.

Fall is the season of harvest, itinerant “v” shape migration, the return of chickadees, the aroma of steaming coffee on the deck in the morning, fresher smelling air, the smell of smoke from a neighbours fire and the incessant droning of chain saws. That last thing isn't so great but the other stuff is good.

There's a certain melancholy attached to fall. You're switching the lawn mower for the snow blower. You're putting things away that were brought out what seems like just yesterday. You're checking to see if the snow machine runs and if hockey gear is ready. The screens are coming off windows. You're making appointments for the winter tires, engine anti-freeze and oil changes.

I grew up first in a small neighbourhood and then in a small community. Life was simpler then because I had a lot less responsibility. I learned things as I went along. As I was walking today, I realized I was doing something I had learned by rote all those years ago and still carry with me now. I was waving and saying good morning to people I do not know. There was nothing dramatic about it or overt; just a simple wave to a passerby or a cheery “Good Morning”.

As much as it is a polite greeting from small town me, I found it was a lift of spirit for me as well. I felt better having connected for a brief moment.

It occurred to me there might be something to this and with fall coming on, there may be more use for it as days grow shorter and cooler weather slides in. We seem to have gotten away from the simple things in life that really make a difference. Those things that change a person's day; that reconnect us on a community level.

Maybe it is time to start again.

So here's the deal... choose 5 random friends from your Facebook list and wish them a good morning. (I think if you choose 5 random strangers it might get a little weird, ya know?). Do this for 14 days. The worst that comes out of it is you have said “Good Morning” to 5 people for two weeks.

One caveat... you have to post to their wall so everyone can see.

You don't have to explain the reason. You can put a link to this post if it seems a bit weird to explain. Or, you can simply say "I've chosen to say good morning to 5 random people a day... pass it on! Hopefully they will follow suit and begin posting their own good morning greetings.

Perhaps someday we might have the world saying “Good Morning” to each other.

For the record, I am not off limits. I like Good Mornings too.

So... to the 5 people who are receiving this message this morning... Good Morning... pass it on!


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sunday Morning Musings II

I'm getting closer to the third act of my life (Jane Fonda's metaphor).

Let's face it... we're all on a one way street of sorts. As we move along, the time we have left decreases and we have no idea where that finishing line in the sand resides. The moment of having our entire life ahead of us was years ago when a doctor slapped us on the butt and we drew that first breath... then let out a wail that shook windows and made dogs bark.

If we think back far enough and consider our great grandparents, they would be within years of the graveyard at my age, if they weren't already in it. Based on averages, if I were born in 1850, I would be dead... now. If I had been born in 1900, I might have another ten years left. In our present time, hitting the third act in our lives starts when our great grandparents were calling it a life. What hasn't happened in society is a change in perspective regarding that third act. By and large, many of us (the generalized big we) think we are done doing what we came here to do... and some younger folk think we are done as well.

Are we going to golf or play Gin Rummy for thirty years? It's not my cup of Earl Grey.

I am who I am.

I've heard the above quote far too many times to count. I've seen it on social media, in movies, in television shows, in blog posts and in loud commercials. It has become the anthem to the beginning of the twentieth century. There is a truth in the statement. A momentary truth. I am who I am in that moment. I'm not that person for long.

There is a scientific study I read quite a few years ago that might put this in perspective. Scientists studied human tissue and found that cell death and regeneration occurs at different speeds in different parts of the body. They also found that every cell in your body will regenerate itself within seven years. Every cell. Including bone. What that means is, you are literally a completely new person every seven years.

I'm somewhere in my eighth complete regeneration. I'm planning about four or five more, though we all know what best laid plans can be like.

Which brings me full circle to “I am who I am”. I do get the premise behind it. Accept me for all my quirks and idiosyncrasies and positions about everything and everything I do or I'll point you to the door... with a left boot to boot. It's a position of strength, right? It's a position of self... of knowing who I am and what I stand for, right? It's a position of knowing what I will put up with and personal contentment... right?

Umm... yes and no. There are some among us who use "I am who I am" as a mantra to justify where they are stuck. I did it. I still do from time to time.

If you still have dreams about places you want to see, things you want to do or where you want to live, then you are not finished. And, who you are is not who you are dreaming about... or you would be there living that life and not dreaming. The hard truth is, if you are dreaming about something else, it is because you are not there. You have what you have because of who you are. The only way to achieve those dreams is to be something else. I am who I am is too often used as justification to stay stuck as you are.

I am who I am and I'm never going to change and I like being the person I was when I was happiest at some vague point in my past that no-one else remembers or cares about and there is nothing you can do about it or that I want to do about it so accept it or leave me alone.

Well, I'm here to tell you change is inevitable. Even the cells in your body know that simple truth.

So, now we are living older. Gone are the days when we cultivated the seeds of early childhood in the first act. Gone are the days when we toiled in the fields until we face planted... exhausted... in a freshly tilled row of potatoes in the second act. We now have a third act, thanks to science, technology and modern living. What are you going to do with that third act? Are you still going to be that person stuck at twenty-six or eighteen or thirty-one when you perceive you were happiest in your life? Or worse, are you clinging to that hurt person who from many years ago who just wants to be loved? I've got news for you. If you're in your third act of the play of your life, that person you're clinging to died a long time ago.

You have twenty... thirty... forty years to go. Are you going to spend those years right where you are now? Are you going to stick with “I am who I am” and be the same person for thirty more years?

If you want to stay in whatever place you are now and do what you are doing, I have no right to try to change that and I will be happy for you. Maybe you do want to golf every day for thirty years. Maybe hanging with your friends and shuffling cards back and forth is enticing. Maybe living out your life writing crackbrained blog posts is Nirvana. I have no right to try to convince you otherwise. If you are happy with where you're at, stay there. If you believe you have done all you want to do and it's time to reminisce your doings and beings until you die, perfect!

However, if you are not content and want to do, be and see something different than what you already have and know, then find another way of being... another way of doing... another way of living. I don't know about you and I know I am changing... becoming more.

Personally, I prefer a new mantra... I am becoming who I want to be.


Friday, 19 September 2014

National Floundering League

The Packers won last Sunday in a dramatic comeback.

Not what I am going talk about. I was avoiding this topic for a number of reasons. Not the least of which was... everyone else was talking about it. I needed to let this all sink in a bit before opening my gaping maw to elucidate my position.

Since the Ray Rice video and the resulting hullabaloo, there have been a rash of benchings and suspensions around the NFL. Expect more. Jonathan Dwyer, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy have all been suspended pending investigations into litigation against them. Ray Rice will never play football again. The NFL appears to be taking a hard stance toward some serious allegations toward some of its players. People (women in particular) have begun to shy away from watching the game based on the NFL's handling of the Ray Rice video. The media coverage has, as is customary, jumped all over this news event with wild eyes, frothing mouth and Pulitzer Prize intent.

A few questions have to be asked, I think.

First, did the NFL fumble the response to the Ray Rice video?
It seems it has. Roger Goodell is likely done as commissioner of the league. The more this is looked at, the more it looks like he tried to sweep it under the carpet.

Second, are the team owners culpable?
The short answer is, one would think they are.

Third, should Ray Rice have been suspended from playing in the NFL?
Yes. No question. Some out there are saying his life is ruined and he now has no way to support his family. Tough. He should have thought of that before he got drunk and beat his girlfriend unconscious.

Fourth, why is there a higher incidence of violence amongst athletes?
There isn't. There are enough studies that have been done over the years and decades to indicate the incidence of violence among athletes is no higher than in the population at large. The difference is the publicity. Athletes are on camera in some form or other much more than the average Joe. They are much much more visible. The difference between Ray Rice and the woman down the street who beats her kids with a hunk of pipe is... zero. (If you think women aren't perpetrators of physical violence, you've been talking to the wrong people.)

Not watching the NFL because of the Ray Rice incident sends the wrong message. It's blaming the NFL for a problem that is inherently societal. This immoral, illegal, insipid behaviour crosses all boundaries of sport, all boundaries of social status, all boundaries of race, creed, colour and all boundaries of sexual orientation. It is not an NFL problem. If you believe there are not instances of domestic violence in baseball, hockey, basketball... golf... then you're diving into the fray with blinders on. It's everywhere.

What I would like to see from the NFL, rather than cover their exposed behind or suddenly take action after the fact, is to take a stance that is societal in scope. I would like to see them put their money where their mouth is and fund an educational program against violence. I would like to see the NFL, and all sports organizations, step up to the plate and publicly denounce domestic violence.

What I would like to see is any instance of violence dealt with, whether it be a professional athlete or a bully at school.

Sadly this issue (not the event) will be shuffled to a back burner until the court case. Some other frenetic media circus will attract the “shiny penny syndrome” of our media outlets and the domestic violence story will grow quiet for a while. The abuse will go on, shuffled to the back of the mind like the the memory of the guy who cut you off in traffic last Wednesday.

The Ray Rice incident caused a fervour because of who he was and because it was caught on camera. We care about incidences like these because they are so blatant or because it has happened to someone we know. It's easy to scream that something should be done to this monster from the anonymity of our computer screens. It's easy to join the chorus of others calling for someone's head when the song has already begun.

I am not for a minute suggesting Ray Rice should not be dealt with. I am suggesting we stop making this a one time incident issue and start making it a stricken societal issue.

I don't have the answers. I wish I did.


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Follow Your Bliss? Really?

You will often hear the words, “Follow your bliss” from self help books, motivational speakers and during weekend retreats designed to send you back to the world energized and blowing sunshine out your butt.

Let me start by saying this...

Read books by Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Robin Sharma, Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, Dale Carnegie, Cynthia Barlow (personal plug), et al.

See movies like What the Bleep Do We Know, Way of the Peaceful Warrior and Celestine Prophecy.

Go on weekend retreats for yoga, nature, self improvement and general spiritual awakening.

But you have to know this. For the most part, when you finish the book, movie or retreat, in most cases reality is going to slap you right back where were. You'll know why you are this way in your life and mostly you won't know how to get out of this place. How do we gain all of this knowledge about ourselves, society, psychology, philosophy and how the world works and ultimately end up back where we were?

The rest of the world hasn't changed... and you still have to fit into it. You may see things differently and they don't. You still have to feed the kids, go to work, deal with traffic, pay the bills... it doesn't stop because you are light and fluffy from your weekend. What the hell do you do with all of that new knowledge and sunshine coming out your arse?

The world isn't likely to treat you differently. Odds are they will try to drag you back to average, where they are, because they don't feel comfortable with the new you. 

What's a girl to do?

Which brings me back to follow your bliss. What the hell does that mean? What is a bliss? If I found one, would I even know what it looks like? Can I put it on a leash and take it for a walk like the dog?

I was watching a video the other night with Elizabeth Gilbert speaking (author of Eat, Pray, Love). She said following your bliss is fine as long as you know what it is. And ninety-five percent of the population haven't a clue what it is. In her words, "If you knew what your bliss was, you would already be doing it!"

Great. Now what do I do?

The trick is, if you don't know what your bliss is, don't panic. Follow your curiosity.

What makes me curious? What is it that I would like an answer about? How do I enjoy spending time? Is it kayaking? Is it photography? Is it hiking? Is it reading? Is it writing? Is it philosophy? Perhaps I should be a kayaking-cycling-photographer-writer-reader-philosopher thingy... if there is such a thing. (Actually, there is such a thing... me.)

If you don't know your bliss, follow your curiosity.

There are a lot of people who may never find their bliss. Perhaps, for them, curiosity is the bliss. Curiosity itself can be bliss... count on it. For many others, following their curiosity will lead them to their bliss. Following your curiosity will open doors you never knew existed in the first place. And one door opened will lead to a room with more doors until you find the room that feels comfortable to you.

Whatever you may be curious about, find people who know something about which you are curious and ask questions. Try new things you thought you would like to try. Read a book that has a subject you might like. Watch a movie that takes you places you haven't been before. Join a group that has activities you may be interested in. Teach other people what you know. (We teach what we most need to learn.)

Sparks that peak your curiosity are floating all around you. Grab a spark and light a fire.


Monday, 15 September 2014

Language of the Self

Well... that was stupid. What were you thinking, you moron?!

As I was working today, I came around a corner and there was a divot in the lawn made by someone planning to erect a telephone pole or by a dog who subsequently went to find the bone she was burying or by a child who wanted to know if China were really down there somewhere. Either way, there was a hole. A hole large enough for a good portion of my foot to not find terra firma where it was expected.

I turned my ankle.

I could easily turn this post into something about “not paying attention” or “focusing” or “don't take unnecessary shortcuts”. How was I to know there would be a hole where there was no indication there would be one? It's not as if it were my child, my dog or my telephone pole.

I would rather make this about self-talk. How often have we uttered similar words as those above? I tend to use more graphic ones than these from time to time. Self-talk, after making an error, seems to be ingrained into our psyche. Where does it come from? Who invented the idea that chastising ourselves was a good idea?

Over the years I have come to understand that it is not our voice rattling around our heads and spewing such self loathing. The voice is made up of all those people in our lives past that have made sure we knew we made a mistake. It is a compilation of parents, teachers, relatives, bosses, “friends”, acquaintances, strangers and pretty much anyone else with an opinion about the errors we have made. If we look at it, most of what they are saying is a cover up for their own inadequacies.

The language we use to describe ourselves is at least twice as damaging (or uplifting if we use the good stuff) as what others say to us.

It comes down to this... do I believe I am so incompetent as to deserve the flaming retribution? As a grown adult of 53 years would I take that crap from anyone else? Would I allow them to call me a moron or an idiot or any number of other degrading terms? Would I allow them to be passive aggressive and make me feel badly so they can feel better about their inadequacies? No. Then why am I taking that crap from myself?

There are plenty of people out there willing to point out every little mistake you make in your life as if it were Armageddon. There is absolutely no need to give it to yourself.

I still manage to let the negative verbiage fly every now and then. I also make a huge effort to catch myself and laugh it off. Laughing heals a lot of shit. Further than that, I make sure what I am thinking about myself is as positive as possible. Just because I don't say the words out loud does not mean they aren't still messing around in my psyche. I have to be careful what I think too.

We are human beings. We make mistakes. Sometimes our judgement is clouded. Sometimes we know what is best for us and we ignore it anyway. Sometimes we don't know what's best for us until the time has passed to act. Sometimes we make a decision and regret having made it or we become paralysed by a decision and regret not making a choice at all. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we whack our thumb with a hammer. Sometimes we jump to a conclusion without all the facts.

It's called life.

Life is about learning. Life is about trial and error. Life is about learning lessons when we make a mistake and when we are victorious.

Life is not about self deprecating behaviour.

One more thought. If there is a person in your life who consistently reminds you of errors you have (or have not) made, you need to get them out of your life. If there is a person in your life who is consistently telling you what you should or shouldn't do, you need to get them out of your life. They are poisoning the pool. This is your life and you are the most important thing in it.

Be good to yourself. Be careful the words you use on yourself. Be cautious of the words others use to describe you. You are the royalty in your life. Treat yourself as such.

I'm off to soak my ankle.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Colour Your World

I've been painting lately. Rooms, not art. I find it interesting the colour choices people make to shade their everyday lives. Some are bold... some are deep... some are subdued and some are almost all white.

Sometimes I paint a room for someone and wonder how they chose that colour. After all, it isn't something to be taken lightly (or darkly, as the case may be). The colour of a room depicts some part of their personality and the room they chose to put that colour in is as important as the colour itself. After meeting a person (or couple) and seeing the colours they have chosen, I can often tell if they are projecting their personality or if they are attempting to project something else.

The colours we choose reflect something in us we want to show off or something in us we want to bring out.

I wondered about the choice of colour and my impressions of people. Is there a link between the person who seems to be an introvert and who has a brightly coloured home? At first glance, it might not feel right. Usually when I spend some time in a person's home and get a sense of who they are as compared to the colour I'm putting on their walls, I get the sense of whether they are projecting something they wish to be or whether they are showing something they already know they are yet keep hidden or are simply re-enforcing what we all can see.

I wondered about my own colour choices.

I tend toward earthy tones... colours that feel comfortable to me. Browns and greens are my penchant though colours that “punch up” a feature or accent a wall are important to me as well. For instance, yellow is a traditional kitchen colour and it's one I will avoid as much as I possibly can. Why yellow? Yellow is a colour that wakes you up, is mentally stimulating, activates memory and encourages communication... all things that are a good thing in the morning. To me though, it's harsh. I don't like something that (to me) screams at me when I haven't yet had three cups of coffee. I would prefer something subdued in the morning rather than something which jolts me into photoelectric shock. Bright white kitchens do the same to me.

I would prefer orange in the kitchen... specifically, pumpkin... ish... sorta.

To me, the living room should be some hue of green... along the line of deep sea green; it's soothing, mentally relaxing, helps alleviate anxiety, depression and offers a sense of renewal, self-control and harmony. This explains the green used in hospitals for so many years... though the hue wouldn't be my choice. It also explains why I feel rejuvenated after a walk in the woods.

The choice of colour in each room should reflect how you wish to feel in that room.

The colours I've been painting this weekend have been rich and full of life. Subtle differences appear in some spaces and dramatic swatches appear in others. It seems to me to be a blend of solid grounding and outside the box thinking; colours of fire and earth.

Colour is the backdrop, the foundation if you will, for all of those other things we will place in a room that also represent bits and pieces of who we are, who we were and who we wish to become; the backdrop for our pictures and saved trinkets and the family wall and the furniture and that weird rooster thingy we got at a garage sale four summers ago when we had a great day with our kids.

Colour, to me, is the representation of the basic person we really are.

The world seems a more vibrant, exciting and interesting with colour.

It's the same with people, I think.


Tuesday, 9 September 2014

In The Closet

Batman and The Joker… Superman and Lex Luther… Iron Man and pretty much friggin’ everybody.

Since I was one of the smallest kids in school, I was bullied from Kindergarten until grade eleven.

We all have at least one nemesis. That someone from our past that hurt us in some way and the memory haunts us through our life. Some of us have more than one. I have three. Well, I had three. There has been an interesting thing for me about coming home; I’ve come face to face with a lot of things I was dealing with as a kid. Certainly not in the same manner as was the custom then (like getting beat up) and certainly not on the same terms. Some things have changed and some haven’t. It’s interesting the things that have changed and the things that haven’t.

It’s all perspective until reality shows up.

The funny thing about meeting my past is it isn’t nearly as scary as I would have thought it might be. The old axiom, “The truth shall set you free” has a lot of truth to it. Accepting that truth as truth is the important part. Of course, growing up hasn’t hurt. Nor has the fact that I am several inches taller than those who once chased me around the playground with the express purpose of laying a beating on me.

Doesn’t hurt I’m in better shape now either.

I sometimes think we should all meet our past face to face. More often than not, the people we hold grudges against don’t even know they hurt us and have no idea why we disappeared from their lives in the first place. Just as often, they have no recollection of the event or at least don’t remember it the way we do. In some cases though, there is a clear right and wrong and they know damned well on which side of the fence they fell. Bumping into them, especially unexpectedly, is a big deal.

In my case, there was a certain satisfaction meeting them or seeing them walk down the street or hearing they were incarcerated.

All three of my antagonists have had different fates. One I met recently seemed like a likable fellow. That doesn’t mean I would hang out with him and it’s good to know he seems to have his head screwed on straight and his fists unclenched. I shook his hand and the disruptive distant past disappeared.

The second nemesis I saw walking along the street. Life had clearly dealt him several blows I could not have dreamt up and (much to my embarrassment) there was a certain momentary satisfaction knowing I had turned out, for the most part, okay. That satisfaction quickly turned to feeling sorry for him. Again, the past disappeared.

The third is (was?) incarcerated. In his case, I am not surprised, honestly. His past never left him alone.

The thing about meeting, or finding out the status, of those who did you wrong, perceived or real, is it brings a sense of reality to your memories. Through the years, I had this fantasy of how their lives turned out. In one case I was right. I don’t feel vindicated at all. I feel apathy or pity… I’m not quite sure which. Facing reality… finding out what really happened over the course of many decades… tends to melt the fantasies away and leave a sense of completion. I have a sense the world is in balance. Each of the boys (now men) took different paths through their lives. The choices they made were different. The results were clearly different.

And knowing how they felt about me then, why would I want to subject myself to holding those memories when they clearly don’t remember them at all or the same way I do. The only person carrying the load was me! If they remember the events at all, it’s now their burden, not mine.

I think, in the end, knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have carried that affliction for so long. I would have exorcised the ghosts long ago. But then, how can we really know? We don’t need to know, honestly. All we really need is to let go… to know that the little boy who was bullied is just fine and that’s all that matters.

I have no need to forgive and forget. There is suddenly nothing to forgive and odds are I won’t remember for much longer. It is over. The past events involving these people no longer carry weight and the memories can now be stored in a box and placed on a shelf in a closet somewhere in my mind. I’ll remember them when I’m ninety-four with a flowing white beard, Speedo tan lines, dementia and running down the street naked screaming their names.

It does sort of make me wonder what else I am carrying around that is no longer necessary. Hmm…

It's getting a bit stuffed in that closet.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

Universal Perspective?

So… just how big is the Universe?

I was listening to a CBC radio program… Qwerks and Quarks specifically, and they were talking about the size of the universe. The scientist speaking at the time didn’t have an answer and suggested we will never know.

Firstly, we would have to know the rate of expansion. Unless there is a star sitting on the rim of the universe, we have no identifiable way of knowing where the edge is.

Secondly, we have no means of seeing that star at the moment. The Hubble telescope can see other galaxies yet individual stars in those galaxies are difficult to see. Andromeda, one of the closest galaxies to our own, is two and a half million light years away. That means the light we see in the sky took 2.5 million years to reach us. The universe is over 14 billion years old. A star (or galaxy) at the very edge of the universe would have to have originated with the big bang… almost 14 million years ago. The earth, and our solar system, isn’t old enough for the light from that galaxy to have reached us.

Finally, even if there were a light at the edge of the universe we could see, it would still have happened 14 billion years ago and the universe would be much larger (or smaller) by the time we “saw the light”. The damned thing could be shrinking by the time we figure out it was still expanding. 

(I'm avoiding Quantum Theory on purpose.)

But… there’s another answer to the question.

The universe is as big as the perspective of the being observing it.

From our vantage point, the universe is immense. From the viewpoint of an atom, it is even larger. If a galaxy is a sentient being of its own accord, the universe would seem smaller to it than to us. Perspective is everything. How can we hope to understand the size and scope of the universe from another perspective? We can’t. We have no way of putting ourselves in the shoes of a galaxy or an atom to know how they feel about the size.

Funny that. 

This made me wonder about perspectives in general. How can we hope to fully understand the perspective of another person? We can’t. They have trundled through the world under a completely different set of circumstances than we have. We can’t see what they see any more than we can see what our dog sees from her crotch view.

The only chance we have is to describe what we feel rather than what we see. Even then, I am unlikely to feel the same about a given circumstance simply because I haven’t the same previous experience as the person I am trying to understand.

Clear as mud?

My perspective of any given situation will never be the same as someone (or anyone) else’s. As much as humans tend to gather those around us with commonalities, it’s far too much to expect others to agree with everything.

Two things:

Our perspective is our own and we cannot expect someone to understand everything we think and feel. It is just not possible.

Their perspective is their own and we cannot expect to understand everything they think and feel. It is just not possible.

You don’t have to except this fact. You can live your life feeling misunderstood or misunderstanding others and being frustrated, angry, sad or whatever else at every turn… or

You can choose acceptance for whatever that difference is and move on.


Monday, 1 September 2014


Skulks below the surface,
Patiently waiting in calm waters,
For a moment,
When I cease to focus,
Cease to push you down,
Leaving you to stir the sea,
Whipped dark and frothy,

Finding me unaware,
Striking me in the face,
Burrowing into my skin,
Gnawing into my mind,
Sliding me into a deep,
Conscious coma,

Rise from the depths,
Come out of hiding,
Alight on my shoulder,

Stand in front of me,
Make me shudder,
Ice over my veins,
Numb my mind,
Force me into hiding,
Stay with me each moment,
Every day,
Until I become bored,
With your presence,
And your pretend anarchy,
And brush you aside,
Like a speck of dust.