Retiring Bucket List

Before retiring from teaching in the BSN Program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, actually years before retiring, I mentally made a list of what I would do when I reached “freedom 55”. The usual made the list: travel, improve my golf game, renovate (my townhouse to be -by the sea), and to write a children’s book. How this last item made it on my “bucket list” remains a mystery. Being one to not tempt fate, I began writing as the universe directed. As a side note, I had a strong dislike to writing. this included writing essays during my education, writing student progress reports and copious committee notes.

The writing flowed from my fingers to my laptop, creating my masterpiece,”The Magic Mask”. Now, the part of getting some traction to gain recognition and sales had begun. I am told this can be more challenging than writing. I am following all the avenues – people, places, things – that I have been directed to.

In my “spare time” I am at my recreational place where I bike ride, swim, play tennis and I am immersed here – social media world. This can be challenging. Many people my age missed the wave of learning of this technology, and many people my age don’t really care that they did miss the wave!

My interest in energy transformation and spirituality supports my knowing  that all is well. It’s comforting to know the universe has my back on this journey.

The adventure continues!

 

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Choose Your Path

Her glowing face gave away her inner joy and freedom, as her skirt puffed out like a flower, she spun round and round, giggling, with her arms spread out. In her private world, she experienced her life as it was meant to be. It’s simplicity in it’s greatness.

Chasing a small dog, the wind in his face offered the gift of life. Having no awareness of others watching him, he momentarily stopped to pull at the seat of his pants. His playmate screamed with joy and laughter as the dog chased around them, teasing them into the thrill of being one with life.

Through dull eyes, feeling small, lonely and isolated within the expanse all around him, he mindlessly watched the children. With a dull heart and lack of light, his presence silently shouted for release. He was shut down.

Imagine you are walking through the park where you observe a woman, squatting on her haunches, picking a dandelion, smelling it a bit too long and then laughing out loud. Standing, she runs in large wide circles, her arms straight out from her sides. She continues to hold the dandelion, strangled in her fist. Falling to the ground, on her knees, she openly laughs, looking up to the sky.

What is wrong with this woman? Does she need assistance? Does she have mental health issues? Is she high on hallucinogenics? Unable to look away, you are shocked and a bit frightened by the unusual and odd behavior openly displayed, without reservation.

The path from childhood to adulthood offers many turns and branches from which to follow. Fear of not wanting to stray too far from the main path, we follow the well trodden route, believing we are safe. Lost, in the safety of the well trodden path, the hidden beauty of laughter and light is by passed, leaving an invisible weight on our spirits. Our true essence becomes a shadow carried by our spirit.

Leaving the light and laughter of childhood for the invisible weight of safety begins insidiously as we sink deeper within ourselves, forgetting the ever present energy that we are part of, the abundance of joy and purity all around us. The synergy of life and of life force is shattered, the oneness, disintegrated into so many pieces, scattered in the breeze like dried leaves.

Joy, freedom, laughter, light and oneness.

Safety, dullness, shadows, disintegration and aloneness.

Which path do you choose?

 

 

 

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Open Eyes

There are many  people who are described as beautiful. These are the ones who have each and every part – eyes, eyebrows, ears, hair, noses, cheeks, chin, lips and teeth –  in position to support and bring out all the other parts in perfect harmony, resulting in undisputable beauty. These are the ones who’s light appears to shine the brightest, who seem to attract other beautiful people and have more good come their way than most. They tend to travel in small groups, lighting the way, for others to follow. If they are aware of their beauty, they acknowledge it with a grin. They may not use their innate goodness to enhance their interactions with others, subconsciously relying on their physical beauty, to connect with others. Believing, outer beauty will deliver all their desires.

Across the room is an average looking person, looking at ease with those near by. Someone you might see anywhere at any time. No one particular characteristic stands out. He is well kept, but rather ordinary by today’s obsessed value on what is considered beautiful. He may share his goodness, kindness and intelligence with others, and may recognize the depths of obsession with beauty is shallow. Preferring substance to illusion.

You meet one of the beautiful ones at the food table at the party. Hmmm…..you think. This person is really attractive. You start up a conversation and after a few minutes of chatting, mostly by and about this beautiful person, you start to see their facial characteristics are not really in harmony at all. It seems this person’s face is changing, right before your eyes. You are usually not judgmental about looks, but this has taken you by surprise. This beautiful person is not so beautiful, as the eyes darken and come closer together, dimming their inner light. The smile grows into a sneer as the chin protrudes just a bit too much, emphasizing the scorn of the lips. The energy emitting from him feels shadow like and heavy. This transformation leaves me feeling unnerved and in awe. How is this transformation possible?

Over at the bar you meet one of the ordinary people. As you engage in conversation and laugh over a shared insight, you ask yourself, “How is this change possible?” The deep set green eyes are shining with a growing illumination, drawing me in, making it difficult to look away from the growing intensity. The smile is genuine, inviting and contagious. The hair, that was a few minutes ago non descript, catches the patio lights, showing natural highlights in the silky waves, as a subtle, yet impressive light envelops him. The all embracing energy emitting from him is shimmering, warm and loving.

Have you experienced this transformation in people? Upon meeting, their unseen inner beauty transcends the external presentation of the “ordinary”, like you are gifted with their true essence, when you take in the truth of who they are. On the other hand, the outer beauty of the “beautiful” recedes into itself, as their dark, inner presentation dominates from within. I am taken aback by the changes I see. Do others see these changes too? Or is this a phenomenon experienced by only a few. I have never asked others if they see the transformation as I am seeing it. Perhaps, it’s a selective process experienced by those who need a shove into the reality of what beauty really is?

Beauty is deep within the soul, shining its’ light for all to see, when you have open eyes.

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Child’s Play

Did you know she was deaf?, asked my mom, referring to one of the swimmers, while we were watching a swim meet on TV.

I was probably in my early teen years, when my social life had major dead spots and spending time with a parent was still sort of ok. I was surprised to learn my pre school playmate was hearing impaired. My playmate, who’s name I cannot remember, was my next door neighbor. I don’t recall her being deaf and obviously this did not matter, as a child, to me. When I think back to those tender times, I do not recall what she looked like or how we communicated. When I try to recall memories of our friendship, I am left with more of a sense of my friend rather than a vision. Was this due to lack of language, where words can be misconstrued, and more due to action, as the measure of understanding?  Vaguely I remember the dandelions butted up against the horizontal, painted peeling fence, separating our two yards. I remember, the warmth of the square sandbox and the smoothness of the sand we filtered through our fingers as we played.  I recall playing with a doll. I also recall crossing, without my mom, the road to the children’s paddle pool. (Parents, at that time, were not threatened by strangers apprehending their kids.) The heat rising from the road, the smell of asphalt and a sense of wide openness embracing me, remains with me today. The coolness of the water on my thighs as I entered the tiny pool and the afternoon sun shining above, are deep in my sensory bank. All of these memories are shared with the presence of her next to me. My childhood friend can still be strongly felt, in my heart, even now, when I think of her. Obviously we didn’t talk with words. I suppose we used actions and maybe just knew intuitively how to communicate with one another. Her essence permeated our relationship based on acceptance. Children accept others for who they are, not for what they are or what they represent.

At what point in life does one learn about discrimination? When does one learn more about differences than about commonalities? More about power over than power within?

Coming into the world totally pure, with an open and accepting heart, we love unconditionally because we knew no other way of being. This purity can become stained with the comments we hear, the actions we see and the subliminal messages we perceive. Billboards, TV, the internet, music, contact sports, books, gangs, religion, sexuality, politics and money can all be factors in the staining of innocence. Parents, teachers, coaches and other influential adults can prevent the staining of innocence and purity, by reinforcing unconditional regard for others through their own interactions with others.

How do we as a society, keep the purity within our hearts? How do we as a civilization continue to learn and to evolve into equality for all? First, we need to have an awareness of our actions and the impact these actions have on others.  Second, we need to remember our actions speak louder than words. Providing equal opportunities for all, speaks louder than saying all are equal while giving preferential treatment to some. Understanding and acceptance of one another comes from communicating with our hearts, feeling the essence of others, and  knowing we share the same needs and share the same visions for ourselves and our families. When we communicate with our hearts, we feel the commonalities rather than see the differences.

Children are heart – centred. They feel, not see others, they accept others for their essence, not their appearance. It really is child’s play.

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Challenge

Passing carefully, the black tight wear of the road racers, training with dedication every week end, I observe the musculature of calves and thighs and I wonder how they endure sitting on the tiny saddles they ride. What are the challenges of training? Are the bike saddles a challenge within the challenge of training?  Is trusting the traffic will respect your place on the roadside a challenge? Training in blistering heat, cold sharp rain, gusting winds takes a certain type of strength that precedes dedication and musculature. Their presence evokes admiration.

It is easy to admire those who make their presence known. It is more difficult to admire those we choose to not see or those we avert our eyes from.

At the entrance to the mall is the ruddy, weather beaten face of the homeless person wearing tattered clothes, keeping his meager possessions safe next to him. Do you wonder how he came to be homeless? How would you fare if you lost your home, your family and friends? The daily challenge of keeping safe, keeping warm, and having enough to eat is admirable. He is more resourceful than many of us could imagine.

Wearing beaten shoes and an inappropriate jacket for the outdoor conditions, the abused child walks with a heaviness, only noticed if you care to really see. How does this child rise each morning to possibly cold floors, no breakfast, no hugs good bye and maybe an intense feeling of sadness? Where does he find the courage to get through his days, knowing he is alone? His determination to continue to go to attend school, continue to be respectful to others and offer his assistance when needed, probably beats any daily challenge we experience.

The curtains of the elderly widow, whom the children refer to as “crazy”, remain closed till noon most days. She thinks about how her life was prior to the loss of her partner. What does she have left to live for? She feels too old to re marry and guilty for thinking so. She faces the deep grey hole of depression with tears in her eyes all day long. She sleeps late and retires early. Could you face this existence each day?

Comparing life challenges, isn’t about “poor me” or “who has it easiest.” It’s about recognizing we all have challenges, whether chosen or not. We are more similar than not when we begin to understand another’s place in the world. Make contact, eye to eye, acknowledge another’s presence,  smile, and if only for a second or two, share heart to heart energy. It is this purest of energies that keeps us connected, as one, in the least expected ways.

I challenge you to make eye contact with those you would normally avert your eyes from and really see them for who they are. It just might altar how you admire others and how you face your own challenges, knowing heart energy and oneness is reciprocal.

 

 

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Resilience

Re-sil-ience     noun

google, July 2016

1. the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape;

elasticity

2. the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness

Throughout history humans have demonstrated the resilience to overcome devastating circumstances and push forward to advance the world to betterment.  It is hard to understand some of the behaviors imposed on select groups, based on their color, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability and income. African Americans overcame slavery and pushed for equality in movie theatres, on buses, in schools, in jobs and health care. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were sacrificed at the hands of Hitler in the name of ethnic cleansing. Those that survived the death camps have lead in breakthroughs in science, education and health, and have worked diligently so others are not persecuted, ensuring equality for all. The Indigenous Peoples of Canada have long survived the removal of their children from their families, to be placed in Residential Schools, where the “savage” in them was to be destroyed. Each generation, taking one step closer to healing, so as to regain respect for themselves, their families, their communities. Stonewall in Manhattan was a powerful statement about the fight for open sexuality (LGBT) without fear from police agencies. Their courage over the years has led to modern world wide acceptance in business, in the arts and some sports organizations. Well known public figures have openly come forward to strengthen the right for equality. This is only a small sampling of the enlightenment of humankind on a grand scale. The freedom to be human.

On a smaller scale, but no less as significant, is the resilience we can observe every day. The single parent raising children, the burn victim finding new meaning of beauty and the ability of the homeless person to survive on the street. The examples are endless. Closer to home, my neighbor cares for new borns who were exposed to drugs and alcohol in vitro. These precious souls “bounce back” too when given the opportunity to do so.

What do all these people have in common? Resiliency. Is this in born or something we learn out of necessity? Why are some people resilient and others not? Could it be they have the support and love from each other to keep moving forward? Many times individuals improve our world without any awareness of doing so. Others achievements and resilience has the potential to affect many, by opening our minds and by reaching deep within us to find compassion and understanding not only for others but for ourselves as well. Can you imagine a world where compassion and understanding was as normal as the changing tides or the setting and rising of the sun? Can you? More proof we are all One.

 

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A Long Summer

Slowly, like a train off in the distance, the awareness of the sound of children’s high pitched screaming voices shattered my insulated world.  Sitting at the Book Nook at The Glen, without disturbance, for me was a rite. This ritual has been a significant part of my “going to the trailer” for quite some time. In the background people come and go, looking through books or using wifi to satisfy their need to make contact with the “outside” world. I become a bit rattled, nothing serious, if “my” place is taken. Just a sense of not quite comfortable. Beside the leather couch, that I have coveted, is a side table, perfect fro holding my phone, water and keys. Conveniently, nearby is an electrical outlet. The couch faces the fireplace.

In the past few days, my spot has been taken. Dirty worn runners and scraped legs curled under the bums of pre adolescent boys, have taken over the couch. They lounge about with their iPads and phones, oblivious of my presence and my sending of messages, via brain waves, to get off my couch. Reluctantly, I settle in a corner in a wing back chair that is too big for me. My feet dangle a few inches above the floor, like a child’s kite string caught in a tree. Blood pulses into my throbbing feet as they work, unsuccessfully, to pump harder to return the flow to my heart. Coming to accept the loss of my couch, I pack up my laptop and leave the Book Nook, to return later.

A small blond headed boy of about four appears in the left doorway. I ask him if he has come to read. Confidently, he tells me he is at the Book Nook to find books to read. I sense, being an adult, he is asking for permission. I invite him in and he races past me, (pre schoolers have so much energy), towards the children’s section. Within a minute, a blond headed, pony tailed willowy girl wearing purple leggings and white t – shirt enters. She is carrying a colorful bike helmet. Immediately following her is another blond headed willowy girl wearing a colorful bike helmet and colorful leggings and top. It is easy to recognize this is a sibling group. The children noisily chatter and bicker as they choose books. “Are you surviving the noise in here?”, asks a woman with dark shoulder length hair. I reply I didn’t really notice, as I point to my ear buds, but every sound and detail has become magnified. I pulled my ear buds out and observed the woman’s interactions with her children. She pointed out the girls were seven and identical twins. In my desperation to remain in my world, I had recognized the girls were similar but not identical. As the woman continued to interact with her children, she sounded slightly exasperated, but was actually extremely patient as she taught them how to play together and share the really big blocks the boy introduced into the picture. She allowed them time to make choices she offered, to resolve the minor spats among themselves. “It’s only day three of summer holidays”, she laughed. Two months of kids in my Book Nook was going to be interesting. I stated she seemed like a teacher. She laughed and said she was. She teaches ESL at the high school level. Our conversation continued to children being over diagnosed with Autism and Anxiety. We agreed this was society’s way of blaming the child for their behavior. It appeared many parents of today do not recognize their role in their children’s lives. Children need security, love and acceptance for who they are. They need to be noisy and sometimes argumentative, with guidance, to learn about the world.

As the woman and her children were leaving, I felt grateful for our time together. Grateful for the opportunity to peak into the lives of young children and to remember sharing is a learned skill.

Within minutes, a middle aged couple entered. The man sat in the wing back chair with his tablet, and the woman, who sat next to me on the couch, immediately started talking on her phone. Soon they were both sitting on my coveted couch talking into the phone. I decided to leave and return later.

It’s going to be a long summer.

 

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Gift of Heart

 

 

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I carried the empty plastic lard bucket from the rain rotted wooden deck to the side of the small sleeping hut. Five feet above the ground was hanging a tacky small plastic planter holding dirty, weather beaten fake silk flowers. Looking closer was a collection of small twigs and grass. Standing precariously on the bucket, I looked into the nest of the planter to find three tiny, pink birds. The featherless babies were huddled together into one. Their entire bodies pulsed with each pump of blood as if each bird was a heart itself. Their beaks seemed to be the only part that was developed, being as large as their heads. This little group of siblings were “so ugly, they were cute”. My sense of awe to see the miracle of nature, kept me going back, over the next few days, to peek when the mother was away hunting.

From conception each one of us is a pulsing heart. A miracle of nature. Within in this heart is the love, compassion and truth we were gifted. With this gift we are responsible to uphold the well being of one another and to uphold the health of the earth. This gift is expressed differently throughout the world. Sometimes we don’t understand the different forms of expression; criticizing, ridiculing and alienating, to keep ourselves safe from what we don’t understand. Let’s practice “looking into the nest” rather than the planter, to see the beauty in all of us. Take opportunities to share the nest and the pulse of life so we can all soar to our freedom.

 

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To All Children

“ISIS claims responsibility” “Horror for one mother” “Canadian hostage killed” “Standford rapist”

These are but only a few of the horrific headlines on MSN this morning. The violence, anger and misguided actions leaves me feeling viscerally saddened and confused about humanity. How does someone become so dark and ugly as to leave the beauty, the compassion and the love in our world, in the shadows cold chill?

When did those responsible for the sickening acts we learn of daily, become so removed from the light? They were once sweet, innocent, awe – filled children, laughing and playing. What happened? How did they misread the path to acceptance of others and to knowing only kindness and love will lead to peace and joy for all?

Last week I had the greatest pleasure to read from my book, “The Magic Mask”, to students at White Rock Elementary School. The students in grades two and three were bright, attentive, respectful, kind, creative and so amazingly energetic. They excitedly shared their stories, asked brilliant questions about writing and shared their plans on writing their own book. Their sense of self, their dreams and what is possible absolutely glowed. I was given a tour of the school and saw the students’ colorful and imaginative art displayed everywhere. I witnessed the trusting, respectful and fun interactions between students, and between students and teachers.

I have always believed in the kind and caring individuals who tip the scales against those who are challenged and confused about their purpose in the world. Reflecting on my experience with the grade two and three students reminds me the light of humanity will always shine bright.

To all the children, thank you for keeping the path lit.

 

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Body Art

Why did a woman’s stretch marks become something to hide? I do not know the statistics on the percentage of women with stretch marks or why some have them and others do not. I am sure you have seen advertisements about different oils and products to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy or minimize marks after the fact. Not to leave any women behind, those who have gained weight and those who have not, these same products will work on these women too. Pictures of women with stretch marks showed up on my face book. The photos were up front – no photo shop (I think). The main purpose of these photos was to look at the marks as a form of art. I was really taken by this approach. I looked carefully and no stretch marks were the same as any others. Stretch marks and other colors on women tells a story. They are like art marking the passage of age, wisdom and knowing. It is like a blank canvas, waiting to be expressed, in natures perfect palate.

Why are tattoos more acceptable than stretch marks when both are a form of art? Stretch marks, in my view, hold greater beauty and significance than tattoos because they represent a warrior proudly displaying her life. The story of giving new life, the story of any struggles and the story of what it means to earn the passage to womanhood.  The standard for beautiful women has gone past unbelievably ridiculous. Over the years we have come to value thinner and younger women looking by eating less and less, and by having face lifts, breast implants/reductions, hair laser removal, hair coloring and anti wrinkle cream. We are masking and erasing the significance of womanhood. How much further does this go before there are no women left, only  girls pretending to be women. Does anyone know what a real woman looks like?

Women need to take back their self identity from the  corporations and big businesses that make millions (probably billions?) of dollars at the expense of females (no pun intended). It begins with each women learning to love and appreciate exactly who she is and who she is meant to be. It begins with each women admiring and accepting one another rather than pointing out others so called flaws, so we can be “better” or more admired than other women. This is not a competition in life, as many have been subconsciously taught. Womanhood is a state of being. Let us return to the loving and nurturing individuals we all are and carry our “marks” with dignity. These marks tell our story to the world in the form of natural art. Each mark different and each mark beautiful, signed by you.

 

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