Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Why teach the arts? Art inspires learning |

Why teach the arts? Art inspires learning |

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Notes From the Nadir...

I have been overcome by a most profound and deep sadness. I have been able to keep it at bay over the past year by keeping busy, being creative, counseling and generally getting on with things. But I have underestimated how deeply the events of the past 22 years have dug in their claws and wreaked havoc with my being.

Today I weep, wondering what happened to my life, how did I so drastically miscalculate and end up here? What I wanted seemed simple enough, a loving partner with whom I could build a home, a family, a nurturing environment that would support my creative endeavours. I always intended to work hard, to contribute, collaborate and be a "team player". And I believe I did, to the very best of my ability. But you can't clap with one hand or lick ice cream without a tongue.

And then there is the unfactorable "shit happens" that turns up on your dance card. And when it does, well the best you can do is keep dancing, no matter how toe-stepping badly. But I've reached the point where I'd just like to sit out the next few. No names on my dance card anyway and I'm tired of dancing alone.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What May come of Dreams...

Last night I dreamt of a new playground being built that was subterranean labyrinth below and built playground above. And there were places where both met. A metaphor for the intuitive meeting and exchanging with the rational conscious mind. The lower level was done as a series of cave-like play spaces open to the air in places and covered in others. On the covered areas were conventional looking play spaces with swings and slides. The Cave circuit was for imaginative exploration that lead upward into action-oriented play.

Now the analysis. The underground areas represented to me the intuitive, imaginative and creative parts of myself (ourselves). All play there did not need built playground equipment for creation, exploration flourishing of imagination or fun. Open and enclosed meant to me that this particular playground was designed so that the light of awareness could find its way into Intuition, normally considered an "underground", or sub-conscious space. But is it really? Is it not that way simply because we have not been taught awareness of it or how to value its gifts? Part of the fun and magic of this playground was in the exploration and discovery in those labyrinthine spaces, a journey that could be undertaken alone or with others.

The upper play areas represented to me the tools we have been given through consciously learned processes. This is the playground in our conscious minds. It is populated by that which is dreamed up by the mind. Some of the structures in it are conventional, developed already by our understanding of the world and our experience in it. More often than not, this information is given to us by others as fixed and static limits--"Here's how it is, this is how the world works."

In this dream, the playground equipment was fixed, but not static. These too were being redesigned. I don't know what they were supposed to become. My sense of them was that they were to become more fluid somehow, moveable or redesign-able by the kids who played with them. Perhaps it was a way of being able to vision the equipment as though on a Star Trek holodeck--they would become whatever the group needed for the play they wished to engage in.

That this play ground had to be reconstructed seemed to be telling me something about my own playground, opened up to shine a light into my sub-conscious intuitive self, making me more consciously aware of its knowledge and wisdom. In this new configuration, that knowledge and wisdom can work in a more integrated way with with my conscious mind for a more fullfilling "play" experience, one that involves my whole being instead of segmented, edited parts.

I have been thinking about how we educate our children, and how this integration is knocked out of us early on in our lives. We have to rethink this situation for ourselves individually and then for the collective whole. For wouldn't we ALL like a fulfilling play experience?

Our systems of education are designed to bore kids to death, stifle creativity and create good soldiers, serfs and yes-people. No surprise, the model currently in use was developed by Napoleon, I believe, but its origins go back much further than that. The sub-conscious intuitive working harmoniously with the conscious rational has the potential to open up whole new vistas of human experience, something creative people know already.

Our kids deserve better than the world currently has on offer. In fact, so do we. If the universe is flush with infinite possibility, why then have we chosen a nightmare of duality, distruction, disconnection, separation, judgement, power struggle and fear? Why haven't we chosen one of integration, creativity, peace, acceptance, sharing and trust?

Okay, Monty, Let's Make A Deal. I choose Door Number 2.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Seed Of Life Accessory Pouch

Here's my latest offering on Etsy. And here is the product description that goes with it.

"Remember making this pattern when you were a kid and you’d just discovered a compass? What you were drawing was an ancient Geometry that describes the fundamental template of space and time, from which all Life springs. It is a cell dividing in the first few minutes of life, and the coming together of Yin and Yang energies that weave through all that is. Who Knew?!?

We’ve embroidered the Seed of Life onto our Accessory Pouch. It’s a Note to Self that you can carry everywhere, a reminder that life is a precious opportunity and every moment is a new beginning bringing infinite Possibility....

On a practical note, the Seed of Life Accessory Pouch is handmade from faux (or vegan) leather, zippered, lined with cotton and adorned with a matching tassel zipper pull. It measure 7.5 inches x 6 inches. Use it to hold your cosmetics, contact lens stuff, cell phone chargers and laptop cords, mp3 player and associated gear, femenine hygiene items, pens and pencils...etc. The list is as long as your small item organizational needs.

As soon as these rolled off the sewing line, I thought, "Yeah! These look sharp!" What I love about them is the contrast, the clean lines with a bit of flourish. And of course the sacred geometry. In making them, I felt like I'd reconnected with parts of myself in space and time in some authentic way. I've been fascinated by geometry as symbol and talisman since I was a child. I'd do this pattern and variations of it for hours. I was fascinated by what happened, what beauty emerged when you just followed the intrinsic order of the pattern. There was no rational brain engagement needed. Just a compass, some colour, a willingess to flow with the mathematical order or things (no need to break it) and then the joy of watching the pattern emerge in its complex simplicity.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Come Clean, Mr. Harper

My nephew posted an article from the Queen's University Journal (

It describes Mr. Harper (I have trouble attaching the words "Right" or "Honorable" to his smarmy mug) standing up at the latest G20 summit in Pittsburgh and saying that Canada has no history of colonialism. HELLO!?!? Which planet did you just land from?

It's laughable really. I mean I could get my Race Politic ire up but I can't seem to. I don't know, maybe its age or maybe Mr. Harper's statement is so ridiculous I find it hard to believe ANYONE on the world stage could take it seriously. (But then again, maybe they want to. After all, they are all having to deal with crises of global proportions due to the mentality and values that brought us colonialism and capitalism in the first place. So if they all pretend it never happened....)

Mr. Harper could stand to go back to school. He obviously failed Canadian History. Perhaps a crash course on British, French and eventually Canadian Colonization practices would be useful. Course highlights would include cultural genocide, biological warfare, oppressive dealings and bogus treaties, the reservation system, disallowing of human and civil rights to aboriginal peoples. And the list goes on. Oh yes, and let us not forget that the Canadian government TAUGHT South Africa the principles and practice of Apartheid.

There might be a problem with Mr. Harper being able to get into this remedial class--budget cuts to education being what they are in this country. But I am sure that, given his income bracket, private lessons could be arranged. But why wait? Harper is about to be "schooled" by National Chief, Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations. Here's his statement about Harper's tiptoe through the denial minefield:

Well it will be interesting to watch how and where this game is played out. It does beg the question of what the payoff is for Harper to deny a history of Colonialism in Canada. As political motivation usually comes down to money and power with our "Emperor's New Clothes" leadership, is this statement a preamble to something like not making settlement with Canada's Aboriginal people's? Are there other money deals lurking about in the back-rooms that Canadian citizens know nothing about? Time to come clean, Mr. Harper. We can all see your weenie anyway.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What Dreams Do Come...

Last night I had a great dream in which I was learning how to fly in my own vehicle. It was see through, not dense, as in 3D form dense. It seemed to be made of a more ethereal material. It was big enough for one, kind of like a one person commuter vehicle. I could control the direction it went in, how it flew, where it went. In fact, in the dream, I had taken it for a test run as part of lessons in learning how to fly the vehicle.

Anyway, I was flying over the South Pole where, I was being told by a disembodied voice, alien spaceships like to land because it is flat, and secluded. Out of no where came a blue little ship, Jetsons style, in 3D dense form, swirling around but also trying to knock me out of the sky. I managed to evade it which meant that my flying skills were coming along!!

A little bit of research brought up merkaba vehicles.

Merkaba (also spelled "Merkabah") is commonly known as a "light body", chariot or vehicle that is used for inter-dimensional travel. To some it appears as a 3-dimensional star tetrahedron (pictured left). It is used to transport the spirit-body from one dimension to another. "Mer" means Light, "Ka" means Spirit, and "Ba" means Body. The Merkaba is constructed by some, using mantras, mudras, meditative techniques and prana to energize a 3-dimensional star tetrahedron. Trying to operate a Merkaba chariot without a fully-evolvedKundalini and Antahkarana is like trying to operate a car with missing engine parts.

Things that make you go, "Hmmmm..."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Making a Living

Today I did yet another craft fair. And as I do these, I learn. Each one is a learning experience. But I tell ya, it takes some stomach not to crumble to the disparaging internalized critic. Damn it! Why is that voice so hard to de-program? There are as so many factors to consider in the Post-Mortem problem solving part of the day. Did sales not go well because it's the end of the summer craft fair season, the lull before the Xmas spend storm? Is it the economy and people just aren't buying as much as they did a year ago? Is it that my items are too overpriced, lousy quality, not designed enough? Is what I make just plain SHIT!?!

Yeah. Well. That's the moment to get my over-analyzing head to go for a break. The pause that refreshes!

I feel like an eclectic mess. Too many ideas and not enough fine tuning. I haven't honed it down, I haven't defined the market and most important of all, I think I haven't given it my all yet. I haven't, I haven't I haven't. I hope to God/dess that I don't die with a ton of regrets about not accomplishing things I wanted to in this kick at the can at living.

Okay, Enough! Man, it takes so much energy to feel and process fear and doubt, doesn't it? Take another breath and get ready to go again. After all, Sher, all anyone can ask of you, including you, is that you try, and keep on trying.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Just Sharing a bit of good news. One of my pieces, Bismillah Raven, was gifted to the Governor General of Canada by the Ismaili Community in Vancouver this week. The call to purchase the piece came totally out of the blue. The Raven has finally flown.

Attached is the photo-op shot and a longer article about the event the GG was attending in her capacity as Truce Patron.

Back Story
Bismillah Raven came out of an artist residency at the Roundhouse Community Center in 2002. Amir Ali Alibhai invited Aaron Nelson Moody, from the Squamish Nation and myself to work with Ismaili youth (mostly from Afghanistan). The Residency was called "Avaaz" or "Voice", appropriately so. Aaron taught Ismaili youth how to make their first deer skin and cedar hand drum, a right of passage in the Squamish Nation, which a young person makes, decorates and then gifts back to the community. The hand drum represents the Voice. Aaron also shared with us ways, beliefs and rituals from the Squamish Nation and we shared ours, from the "Ismaili Nation". The wonderful thing was how many similarities there were between our cultures. And yet we found there was so much new to learn from each other.

Every Saturday we met at the Roundhouse, beginning with the Talking Circle, introduced to us by Aaron. Aaron brought his Eagle Feather to use as a talking stick, explaining its significance to the youth. Later on, when there was a presentation by a First Nations Artist at their school, the students were asked if they understood the Eagle Feather. A usually shy recent immigrant Afghani girl put up her hand and answered the question, to everyone's surprise. The empowerment she felt that day stayed with her for quite a while.

Many empowering moments came from this cultural sharing. Here are some more. The residency took place at the time when the Gulf War had just begun. The youth were being harassed at school for their ethnicity and faith. At first, they wouldn't say much but as the weeks went by, they began to feel safe enough to share. Slowly the stories came out. And with the pain stories came sufi poetry, inspiring quotes from the Aga Khan and emails from friends that were their foundational pieces for hope, faith and courage in these trying times and eventually, in their drum paintings. The cultural sharing and art making gave them a venue, a third space, in which to express themselves in ways that were not present in the rest of their lives.

Bismillah Raven was born out of a request made of me by the youth: they wanted to give Aaron a gift in gratitude for all that he had shared with us. Design something, please, they said. And so I did. Bismillah Raven represents the coming together of two cultures, two belief systems, two ways of art making. In the Squamish tradition, Raven, a wise trickster who keeps human kind on their toes, represents the Creator. Raven is drawn abstractly in a distinct style using ovoids and colours found in the West Coast of Canada. In our traditions, Allah’s voice is represented in calligraphy formed into geometric or abstract animal shapes. Bismillah Raven is Raven meets Allah, Squamish Nation meets Ismaili Muslim.
So where will the Raven fly to next? Interesting to see....I will have to cultivate the patience to bird watch!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Follow your Heart Classic Tote

Been designing and sewing like a mad woman. Out of a conversation about how we loose the will to follow our dreams, how we get sidelined and second-guess ourselves by so much "should" programming, I received a commission for a bag with an image that said something about dreams with imagery of nature, especially butterflies.

Here's the collage that came. I printed it on fabric transfer paper and proceeded to match it to fabrics in house.

The sewing began and here are some images. The outer shell is interfaced so the bag will hold it's shape better. The lining has 3 pockets for items such as cell phones, keys, point n shoot camera. And 2 slots for pens. There's plenty of room for Whatever Else in the main pouch of the bag.

The Photo transfer to canvas didn't take all the colours with it. Which is a bummer because the collage looks so much more intensely colourful than the print. Well, I guess I have to re-calibrate or something. The bag sold, by the way. And I'm pretty thrilled about that.

To be clearer, I traded the bag for handmade soaps with another Etsy seller. So here it is, the future. Barter is Back.

Here's a few shots of the bag:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New collage in the works

I'm in the middle of working on a collage for a Capricorn Classic Tote. It's not done yet, but here's the base of it.

I'll be coming back and forth to this post as i work on the collage and the bag.

Edit ya later!


Well, I went back to the drawing board, where all good things do pass and transform into something else. I like the collage that emerged a whole lot better. The next step will be to print it onto canvas transfer paper and then sew it into a bag. The bag pattern is for a Jordy bag with adjustments made by me to accommodate putting together different fabrics, depending what is in my material larder.

This is when my inner painter becomes frustrated because that part of me that can pick up a paintbrush and change a colour to what it needs to be wants to just "gitRdun", with a few simple strokes. But then I re-tune to matching swatches. It is what quilters, fabric artists and photoshoppers deal with all the time. What I love most about this process is working creatively with what you have. Love it, just love it! There's a joyous satisfaction of give and take in this that i simply can't fully explain. It is like knowing that what you have inside you will interweave harmoniously with what is before you, and that is more than enough.

Which brings me to the next point which is that there really are no original ideas. Only different (and perhaps new) ways of looking at the familiar. Our creative ideas are a collection of notions informed by the buzz on the collective consciousness airwaves. If you are lucky and in tune, you may catch a riff from the Muse who will inspire and carry you away in a particular direction where many have dared to go before, experimented and given birth to a new configuration. It's a co-creative collaboration more than anything else. I show up and do my part. I don't own it. And it does not own me. There's a lot to be said for that kind of creative freedom.

Here's the new Capricorn Collage:

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fresh From the Studio

I've been working on a new line of handbags. Here is the first one, based on a collage done on Polyvore. Yes, Yes, I know, its Photoshop Extremely Lite, a kind of cyber way to dress up dolls, but I got turned on to it by a friend of mine who does the most amazing, lyrical, Arts and Crafts/Art Nouveau meets cyber culture collages on Polyvore. She does them as her form of art escape, a vacation from the drag-em-downs of life into the creative imagination. I love her work and here's a sample of what she's up to:

I Love Paris

So, inspiration in hand, I did my first Polyvore collage and then thought, "Hmmm....What else can I do with this?" The answer came from Staples. Yes. The Muse speaks to us in mysterious ways! On a hunt down the aisles recently, looking for an easy way to add a product label to my creations, I met Karen, Staples Associate and all around genuine, friendly human being, who schooled me on the latest in iron on transfer media. I walked excitedly out with a package of fabric that can be run through an inkjet.

The collage was transfered on and then applied to fabric. Not just any fabric mind you! Fabric sourced from Interior design samples and vintage upholstery fabrics and finishes. Don't you ever wonder what happens to those Interior design fabric sample books, once the designs go out of season? Well, here's one thing that happens to them: they get recycled as found objects into Art!

The pattern was cut and sewed into a bag. Here's work in progress:

Here's the finished product:

And here's the Marketing blurb from my Etsy store,

"The Aries Classis Tote is a bag you can use every day, with plenty of room for all your necessities.
Our Classic Tote:
* has a 9 1/2" wide X 4"deep base
* is 13" wide at the top and 13" high
* closes with a zipper adorned with a matching pull tassel
* has 2 long shoulder straps
* is fully lined in a matching cotton fabric patterned with a subtle design.

That's the basics! What makes each bag appealing is the Original Art Collage that celebrates each Astrological sun sign, use of novelty fabrics, coordinating trims and colours and selection of linings that complement either the colour or the theme (or both!). These bags are not mass produced. We make each and every one in our studio and each one is unique."

So that's the news from the design table. The next project involves taking images of my paintings and sewing them into bags! That'll be coming blog-way soon!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Ugly Truth about The Ugly Truth


I wish I had positive things to say about this movie. I wish that I had roared with laughter and that my heart soared in all the right places. I wish that Katherine Heigl had been give a part that did not reduce her to Cinderella dining on leftovers. I wish that Gerald Butler had been left to his Scottish Brogue. Or better yet, that he'd said, "No" when the script crossed his desk.

The film is based on a simple yet familiar premise: Smart, successful career woman has no man. Cable Guy (that should have been the giveaway right away on where this movie was headed) has been wounded by too many women and instead of dealing with it, has turned himself into a Guru of relationships. He's gonna Save men from heartache by schooling women on how to make themselves over to get and keep a man. Its a 90 minute extravaganza of teaching chicks how to think like a dick.

Cable Guy critiques Smart, Sexy Career Gal for having a list of traits she'd like in a man. OMG, what was she thinking!? Uh...maybe about her own likes and dislikes, what turns her on, what she would find hot? Go figure that she might have her own personality, peccadilloes and preferences. But her list is made irrelevant in the course of the movie (except for a minor nod at the end when it's just too late to save this sinking ship).

Her list is instead superseded by Cable Guy's list of what men want, as though this is a novel concept. Their relationship is really a competition and he challenges her to try and get a guy her way. Or his, guaranteeing its success. She doesn't believe it for a brief minute and then starts to see results. Svengali-esque hooks and baits are cast as Cable Guy makes over Smart, Sexy career gal into a dick magnet. All this means is that Cable Guy knows how to get the fish on the line. What to do after that, as he shows later in the film, he's clueless about.

Inevitably (this is Hollywood dream--or is it nightmare?--spinning after all), Cable Guy falls for his creation, in spite of himself. No, it's more than that. He's actually fallen for parts of who she really is because, as his Producer she has supported him in his rise from Cable to Prime Time. She's good at her job, really good at it and she does it with heart. It's hard for him to miss this, despite the layers of defensive armour he's sporting.
After a jump-on-each-other-in-the-elevator-as-the-doors-close kiss, Smart, Sexy Career gal returns to her hotel room to find the freshly caught fish/boyfriend flopping around on the bed. He's arrived on a surprise visit to "take their relationship to the next level", which in this movie's vacuous world means having sex. Everything is set, romantic dream style only she has Cable Guy's lips still lingering on hers. Cable Guy shows up at her door for a follow-up smacker but he's foiled by his own creation. He leaves and she follows him out into the hallway, asking him what just happened in the elevator. Here it is, here is Cable Guy's moment to get courageous, to slip out of the armour, and get vulnerable and real.

Does he do it? Does he have the balls? Sad to say, they shriveled as though they'd just been soaked in a tub of ice chilled Jello with no buxom wrestling babes to take the edge off. Svengali skulks off down the hallway, back to the safety of his defense bunker.

Smart, Sexy Career Gal, however, demonstrates that, just for a moment, she has enough balls for all of them. She returns to The Fish and asks him what he loves about her. He gives her the list--the one Cable Guy has outlined in his fishing course--she doesn't criticize him, she doesn't talk about her problems to him, she's not a control freak. She reaches for her hair extensions and removes them, telling him that in fact, she IS all those things that he doesn't want in a woman. And who could love that?

It is the only shiny moment in an otherwise dull offering of the worst kind of fast food. For just a second, she is herself. And The Fish can't rise to the challenge. He doesn't want her if she's not the match of his list. The tarnish that follows is her belief that if she is all these things that are not on the Guy List, she is is not worthy of love.

The rest of the movie focuses on the unresolved situation between Cable Guy and Smart Sexy Career Gal. It ends with him telling her (and this is the best declaration he can come up with) that he loves her even though she's a control freak. They hook up and the last scene has them having sex. He has his orgasm and she has hers--or does she? In the end, her only shred of personal power rests in whether or not the orgasm is real. He'll never know, she tells him. Aside from being the most unsatisfying closing I've seen in a great long while, it echoed the stultified roles of women in 1950's sitcoms--I could almost hear June saying the same to Ward in the Cleaver marital bed as The Beave and Wally snored down the hall.

The "I love you" scene brought to mind Mr. Darcy declaring to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice that he loves her, despite the lowness of her social station. He can't help himself, he's telling her; she's overcome his dick! The Ugly Truth was no different from the male point of view. Sadly, what was different was that Smart Sexy Career Gal didn't have the same amount of self-possession that Lizzy had. She did not tell Cable Guy to piss off and make him truly work to earn her affection. And frankly, he wouldn't have had the depth, courage or honour to do so. To get the girl, all the work he had to do was say, "I love you" and be the warm, pulsing body in bed. And that was enough.
Here is where this movie falls down (oh, what am I thinking--it never even got out of the gate!). And it is where we as a culture have fallen down. We have taken the potentially sumptuous, rich, sensual feast that is love and relationship and opted instead for a quick bang through the drive through, as though this is nourishing, tasty, or fulfilling enough for the human spirit. The Ugly Truth about this movie is not the list of what men really want from women or the Svengali makeover; it is that we are in 2009 and we have still not come a long way, baby.

Despite all the changes women have strived for through the last century, the dynamics of heterosexual love and pairing is still governed by a skewed, centuries old, male-dominant, dysfunctional, abusive dream that puts the onus on women to be what men want them to be, or else be alone. The overall message to women is if you want to be loved, you're still going to have to relinquish your personal power and cease to be who you truly are, because some Guy decrees it. Question is, who died and left him King?

Friday, July 31, 2009

On Struggle...

This morning was one of those tough ones. You know, the ones when you wake up tired of the struggle because its been going on too long with no perceptible movement. I lay there in bed, tears seeping out of the corners of my eyes, feeling helpless and stuck. But it didn't last for long. Thank God/dess! And it did get me thinking about struggle (stemming from that eternal question, "WHY?") and what it's all about.

There was a wise man on this planet who once said, "Struggle is the Meaning of Life. Defeat or victory is in the hands of God. But struggle itself is Man's duty and should be his joy."

That wise man was Aga Khan III. I've heard those words all my life and have struggled all these years just to understand them.

In a typical organized religion framework that sees God (or the the Source of All that IS, as I like to think of "God/dess") as an authoritarian figure that sits in the sky passing judgement and doling out punishments and rewards based on our behaviour, Humankind is positioned as powerless in the face of struggle, stuck with having to roll with the punches and like it. Where is the joy in that? How different would that be from being in a bad, relationship where someone has all kinds of power over you and your survival depends on your capacity to submit (or else) over working co-operatively?

This construction of God/dess feels more like a bad B-Movie script in which God is cast as the invisible mob boss who is going to order a hit, leaving you "swimming with the fishes" unless you do what you're told. Herein lies the recipe for most organized religion's "behaviour management" techniques. I can just see the meeting where this was decided: "Okay, so we'll break them down with some Threat, a little Shame, some Crazy-making and plenty of Guilt and we'll have 'em where we want 'em. Then we'll get them to beat themselves up with Self-Doubt and Self-Judgement! It's Perfect! We won't have to keep getting our hands dirty AND we get to keep lining our pockets. Bada bing, Bada boom!"

Yeah. It's enough to make an enlightened revolutionary turn over money lenders' tables.

That way of understanding the Source of All that IS just doesn't sit well with me. Where's the Unconditional love in all of that? Where is unity, wholeness, one-ness, or the river that runs through all of creation? I just can't see God/dess from that framework. So I can't really accept struggle as being a punishment or something that is my fault because I ate some fruit off a heavenly tree that had a big red circle with a line painted on it. No, it's gotta be something else. How about this? Let's try THIS on for size --- Struggle presents an enormous OPPORTUNITY.

Stuff happens that we mere mortals cannot control. "Struggle is the meaning of life" implies that there is a requirement that we roll with it. It's not so much powerlessness as acceptance of the way things are.

"Success or defeat being in the hands of God," is a way of saying, "Hey, you can't control everything, so don't even try. You're gonna have to learn to do your best and let go of the rest."

But how do we meet Struggle? In a dark alley with Fear, Guilt, Anger, Frustration, Shame or Blame? Or do we greet it on the side of the street that's sunny, with some Grace, Compassion, Joy, Gratitude and Love? Or do we do a bit of both? THAT is where the terrain of meaning lies. And one's capacity to embrace that meaning rests in whether or not one's heart is two sizes too small (Dr. Suess. Wisdom is EVERYWHERE!). That is, perhaps where the joy comes in. To accept that stuff happens and find a reason to joyously, raucously laugh anyway

The pay off for going through the struggle, for trying, no matter what is that we learn, we grow, we evolve. THAT seems to be the Meaning, the Opportunity underneath it all. Perhaps this is what was meant by "duty"--that we owe it to ourselves to keep on trying. And can we muster up some Joy and celebration for the tenacity and depth of the Human spirit? Yeah, dude. I believe we can.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

On Innocent Joy...

So this is it, I'm biting the bullet and entering the world of blogging. Okay, I have to confess that I was stuck when it came to trying to articulate what this blog would be about. I, naturally, sought the advice of friends, some who blog, some who read blogs and others who read about blogs. I was encouraged to write about my observations, ideas, events.

We were sitting at our favourite coffee shop, a place dubbed by one of my friends as, "Fate's Waiting Room". It's a place where people gather regularly, not unlike at the bar in Cheers. My coffee shop buddies are from different walks of life, races, experiences. What unites us is JAVA (of course!) and a left-of-center, humanist attitude that transcends many differences. Not to say that we are perfect and never have a judgmental, opinionated moment. We're full of opinions! But we do make the effort to understand each other. I value that because, frankly, we are all in this boat together and those moments of honest connection, and creative problem solving are infinitely more inspiring and nurturing than doing this life's walk in conflict, isolation and suffering.

As we talked, two adults in their 20's set up on the side walk with two skipping ropes. In the sweltering summer heat, they turned double dutch for anyone who was willing to have a go. My inner seven year old was itching to jump, skipping having been a great childhood joy for me. That and swinging. When I'd sit on a swing, I felt free, like it was the closest I was going to get to flying. And when I jumped rope, I felt holistically in tune, my body, mind and emotions working together harmoniously to produce....JOY!

But adult humans being what we are, we watched first, for quite a while before any of us made a move to join in. We went through our critique of what was happening. Funny how we do that, unable to just look at something for what it is and just trust it, enjoy it the way we would have as children. The critique centered on turning technique--"They're not using their whole arms, They're not in sync, They're not....They're not...." --all of it an excuse for hanging back and not participating.

My inner seven year old, of course, knew exactly what needed doing and proceed to the skipping ropes; my Adult following. When I got there, I heard the rope turners (no, actually now they are called "spinners") discussing turning technique. One was male and the other female. The male behaved as though he was the supreme authority on jump rope schooling his female turning partner. My Adult was thinking, "Does he really believe she's never skipped in her life? Or that she doesn't have a jump rope trick or two to teach him?"

While my adult was slipping into critique again, my inner Child decided on a much more immediate and authentic course of action. She got busy jumping! BUT the way she like it. No double dutch for her--one rope, old school, thanks.

They doubled up the rope, turned a beautiful circle and I jumped in. And Jumped! It was exhilarating! I didn't jump for as long as I would have at Seven (45 bringing its physical limitations) but i did have a glorious moment of remembering, in body, mind and emotion, JOY, the kind of JOY that only innocence and play can bring.

It didn't take much to revisit that place. No special, expensive high tech equipment required. Just a simple rope and a co-operative willingness to participate in this experience, differences of opinion and judgement set aside. Making magic is as simple as that.