Thursday, March 30, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Is it wrong to use the same poet again??

I wrote last week that I have only just discovered Mary Oliver for the very first time. How could I have missed her in all of the volumes of poetry I was asked to study? How could I have missed her in all of the inspirational books and websites I have visited? I know now I must have read her name before, but somehow I missed the poetry - the way that you sometimes miss seeing things until you are looking for them. Like how you have never heard of a celebrity and after you notice them for the first time you see references to them everywhere. Well, I have enjoyed my week of meeting Mary Oliver and so whether I am allowed or not, I am going to use another of her poems - TWO actually - because they are what has made me gasp this week. When I re-read them now I realize that they both have references to wildness - as many of Oliver's poems do. I guess my choices could have something to do with the echoes of my cackle and the Grroooooowwwwwllll I've been making lately! heh heh heh. I just LOVE her!

I will really try to post someone else next week!

A Meeting

She steps into the dark swamp
where the long wait ends.

The secret slippery package
drops to the weeds.

She leans her long neck and tongues it
between breaths slack with exhaustion

and after a while it rises and becomes a creature
like her, but much smaller.

So now there are two. And they walk together
like a dream under the trees.

In early June, at the edge of a field
thick with pink and yellow flowers

I meet them.
I can only stare.

She is the most beautiful woman
I have ever seen.

Her child leaps among the flowers,
the blue of the sky falls over me

like silk, the flowers burn, and I want
to live my life all over again, to begin again,

to be utterly

-Mary Oliver

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean--
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver

P.S. Sunday Scribblings is READY! (mostly - there are still some technical difficulties to be worked out.) But if you go there you'll be able to sign up!!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

woman stuff

"Our perceptions are always coloured by how we see ourselves." - Debbie Ford

I remember the first time that someone referred to me as a 'woman.' I was in my teens and it was a boyfriend. Unfortunately for him it probably had the opposite effect from the one he wanted. I was so absorbed by and frightened of the fact that he had called me a woman that I was incapable of being near him and went home shortly afterwards. I'm not sure why it freaked me out so much. I think that I was really enjoying thinking of myself as a Girl. Being a Woman meant that I had to deal with a whole lot of other issues that I was not yet prepared for.

I think that that moment and others like it stalled me more than I realized. Just a few years before this poor boy's blunder there was a high profile serial killer caught in Southern Ontario. His victims were girls who were about the same age as I was. He had pulled them off of the street and done unspeakable things to them before he (and his wife) finally killed them. This was a very public case, and it frightened me so much that in many ways afterwards I was afraid to be seen as attractive. This early knowledge of sex and violence made me nervous of being the object of attraction. Unfortunately, in my head I equated being seen as sexy or beautiful with being vulnerable.

It's not that I have never tried to be beautiful or sexy. On the contrary, I would have really liked to have been seen in that way. Inside of my own head, though, I lacked the confidence to pull those looks off. Deep in my subconscious I did not want to be noticed. People told me that I looked beautiful and I didn't believe them. I really think I did not want to be that girl.

This is one of those posts that don't end up being the post that you started. This all came up because I have been reading a fabulous book called, "French Women Don't Get Fat." by Mireille Guiliano. In the chapter on Life Stages she says: (in the aged 17-35 section) "Now that you are making choices as an adult for the first time, make sure they are adult choices. The rules you violate are no longer your [parent's,] and it's no longer simply a matter of getting caught." For some reason that passage brought me up really short. I really realized for the first time how many of my choices and my actions have been about old fears and old patterns.

The most obvious example of this is that I still 'steal' cookies and other foods knowing that I am being a bit naughty. In a lot of ways I still behave like that little girl who was trying to put one over on her parents, or trying to get away with something. I still avoid going to the doctor, avoid cleaning up after myself, and I am definitely still that young teen who was frightened of the bogey man. The trouble with these rebellious teenaged actions is that I am no longer a teenager. There is no one now to catch me. I am now the boss of me. And I am not doing a very good job.

Somewhere along the line I forgot to look in the mirror and really see myself as an adult. Thinking that the way I was acting was right, I kept up those old protective patterns, kept playing those old tapes, and kept behaving like a child. That passage in that book made me truly realize that I am not that little girl anymore. At my center - my essence - I am still her, but I am a stronger, fiestier, braver, more resilient version of her. I can still look at the world with the wonder and the joy and the delight of my younger self, but now I think I am ready to also be her parent. I think I am ready to make my decisions from the center of who I am now. I can let her know that she is finally safe and that I have learned her lessons. I can tell her we're okay. And you know, I think I am also ready to be called a woman. Finally.

"One is not born a woman, one becomes one." - Simone DeBeauvoir

Saturday, March 25, 2006

what I want.

This is only a partial list. It's what I could fit on the page. There are SO many other things I haven't listed. Starting to want things can become addictive! But what I really want is: to be comfortable in my own skin, security, for my friends and family to be healthy, and to be a success in whatever I choose to put my energy into.

I've been talking to Laini & she has agreed to help me start Sunday Scribblings (see yesterday's post!) so it'll probably start next week! YAY!! Let me know if you have any suggestions for it/ thoughts about it/ ideas about it/ ideas for prompts, etc.

P.S. Start saving your pennies and get out your calendars!! Melba has decided on dates and location and everything for JustBe!! It's going to be AMAZING!!!

P.P.S. Thank you so much to those of you who took the time to say such supportive things. I'm BACK ON THE HORSE & sending it out into the world again!! Grrrrooooooowwwwlllll!!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

"Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others." - Marianne Moore

I have been thinking about writing a lot in the past few days. Having my book denied has created all kinds of interesting conversations - within myself and between myself and other people. My Dad read through the rejection material that the publisher sent (impersonal rejection letter and, as my Dad put it, information that was a 'crass solicitation to sell books' ) and he asked me this question:

"What degree of this line of work that you wish to be in is commercial versus creative?" Gulp.

That's a big question. It's a painful question that all artists must face. Do you change what you have written, alter the colours, write more gently? The artists and writers who resonate with us are the ones who shook things up, who were determined to write/draw/paint/say what they wanted. How many of them made a living from their work? What is most important? Is it selfish to want to say exactly what you want rather than what sells? Is writing for an audience the wrong thing to do?

What do you think?


On a slightly different note but along the same lines, I was reading M's blog and she got me thinking about how much I enjoy contributing to Poetry Thursday and how many other 'artistic' things there are out there to do - but there doesn't seem to be as many for writers (DUH! Every day is for writer's in Blog-land isn't it?! - Well, no, not exactly.) Would anyone be interested in getting writing prompts to do? Saturday and Sunday are very slow around the blogging world, so I was thinking about "Sunday Scribblings" I'd make a new blog site for it. Would anyone be interested in participating? They would be small prompts, just designed to stretch the writing muscles a little, pull us out of our regular writing and juice up the batteries - like the five minute timed things we used to do in Creative Writing class. Would anyone be interested??

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection." - Anais Nin

P.S. I have just received my package for Race For Life (the 5k I am doing for Cancer Research - eek!) If anyone would like to sponsor me, you can go HERE.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Poetry Thursday

"Remember that a kick in the ass is a step forward."

I'm putting two entries into Poetry Thursday today. I'm feeling rather discombobulated this morning as despite my furious believing in it, my manuscript received it's first rejection letter. (The blow was softened somewhat by my parents each getting on an extension when they called to tell me about it (they're my Canadian contact.) It was very sweet of them.) Last night I felt sorry for myself and my precious book. Today I'm letting myself feel a little sad before I kick start the whole process again. (Why does that process have to be SO HARD?! I mean, it's harder than writing the bloody book!) So today this first poem is me going back to basics - to a children's poetry writer I love. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

The Bridge

This bridge will only take you halfway there

To those mysterious lands you long to see
Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fairs
And moonlit woods where unicorns run free.
So come and walk awhile with me and share
the twisting trails and wondrous worlds I've known.
But this bridge will only take you halfway there -
The last few steps you'll have to take alone.

-Shel Silverstein

I have just spent an amazing hour meeting a poet. I cannot say enough about how much I love this woman's poetry. I wonder how I missed her in my university years? I suppose once again it was
my angel-book-therapist who held her back from me until I was ready for her. Now that I am, I have been reeling with recognition.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

- Mary Oliver

(P.S. Tara Dawn is starting a Creativity Exchange - it looks like it could be really inspiring!!)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

a little sweetness has returned.

"Just living is not enough," said the butterfly. "One must have sunshine, Freedom, and a little Flower." - Hans Christian Anderson (from one of Laini's spectacular cards!)

I spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday doing training for my job. Altogether now I have had four full days of training & I still don't really know what I am doing!! I start back to work full time on Monday and luckily I am beginning in the job I already know so it'll be a painless transition day for me.

People have asked me what it is that I do so I'll tell you now. I work at a small museum and garden on the south coast. Once a strange millionaire's house, it is now a garden, museum, and youth hostel. It sits high on a cliff on the sheltered side of an estuary so it's full of plants that don't usually grow in England. I sometimes feel like I work in an enchanted garden. Every corner brings a new surprise, a new element of charm or beauty. The gardeners don't want it to be a perfectly manicured garden; they want it to be more natural, so it is full of wild animals and insects and strange things growing out of walls. I love it.

I don't actually work in the garden, I work in the house. It is also unusual. It's a very Victorian sort of place, full of stuffed dead creatures and dolls and other odd things. I work as what the English would call a 'General Dog's Body.' I work in other people's jobs when they aren't there. So I work as a House Steward (maintaining the running of the place on a daily basis) and in the Shop and in the entrance area, and all over. I enjoy the mixture of things.

So that's kind of what I do. I do believe that there is magic there. According to one of our volunteers, there are two lay line crossings under the house - which means that it is quite a powerful place. Sometimes I can remember how unusual it is, and sometimes it is just my job.

This week it has just been my job. My brain has been elsewhere. Truthfully, my brain has been everywhere. My sister-in-law is in the hospital right now. She and my brother are pregnant and she's been having some scares this week. So I'm struggling with being so far away and worrying about her and my brother and her precious bump. I've been whirling with creative energy after writing the posts about wanting and reading other people's responses, but I haven't been able to do anything about it. It's been bloody cold here. Blah blah blah. I'm going ON - you don't want to hear this stuff.

BUT THEN! A bright sparkle to change my day. When Mark picked me up yesterday he told me that there was a package for me! He said it looked like I had sent it to myself because of all of the creative touches on the outside of the box. Inside was a lovely treasure trove of goodies for me from Alexandra and Laini (THANK-YOU so much! I can't believe how well you know me already. Wait'll you see what I am cooking up for YOU two!!!) Then today Mark and I went to Dartmouth after a meandering drive through the countryside. I made a purchase that delighted me, and now we're back with the promise of Japanese food for dinner (mmmMMM veggie sushi!) The stressful stuff is all still there, but it's nice to know that there is always going to be sweet stuff too -

I haven't forgotten my promise of my own list of wants - it's coming, but in the meantime, I leave you with another quote from one of Laini's cards - I think it's captures me pretty completely. I hope wherever you are, there is a little sparkle in your day!!

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain." - Louisa May Alcott

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

they published your diary.

"someone'll get a letter to your soul" - Indigo Girls

I have been SO busy over the past few days that I haven't had a chance to be a good blogger. I've only been doing it for nearly two months now but already I feel that I am hooked. I want to tell you what I have been thinking and I am desperate to check in on all of the amazing people I have met - creative souls, going through so many of the same experiences. I am so full of thoughts and feelings about my last few posts and your responses to them. But today I have be out the door again. Today I get to learn about 'Health and Hygene' for my job. Good times.

I can't stop thinking about how lucky I am to have found this community. I don't have time to mull it over, but I have had a song in my head for the past few days & I am going to share the lyrics here. I have always felt that connection through time with some authors and artists, but never did I imagine that I would feel that same connection with LIVE, living BREATHING, creating people. We are so lucky that this age of technology has allowed us to meet each other in this way. I receive a "letter to my soul" so often that I sometimes want to pinch myself. On the live CD, Emily (of the Indigo Girls) says that through the pages of her diary, Virigina Woolf became her friend. I understood that before. I get it now. I'll see you later - when I've learned to wash my hands!! xo

Virginia Woolf - Indigo Girls

some will strut and some will fret
see this an hour on the stage
others will not but they'll sweat
in their hopelessness and their rage
we're all the same the men of anger
and women of the page
they published your diary
and that's how i got to know you
the key to the room of your own and a mind without end
and here's a young girl
on a kind of a telephone line through time
and the voice at the other end comes like a long lost friend
so i know i'm all right
life will come and life will go
still i feel it's all right
cause i just got a letter to my soul
and when my whole life is on the tip of my tongue
empty pages for the no longer young
the apathy of time laughs in my face
you say "each life has its place"
the hatches were battened
the thunderclouds rolled and the critics stormed
the battle surrounded the white flag of your youth
if you need to know that you weathered the storm
of cruel mortality
a hundred years later i'm sitting here living proof
so you know you're all right
life will come and life will go
still you'll feel it's all right
someone'll get a letter to your soul
when your whole life is on the tip of your tongue
empty pages for the no longer young
the apathy of time laughed in your face
did you hear me say "each life has its place"
the place where you hold me
dark in a pocket of truth
the moon had swallowed the sun and the light of the earth
and so it was for you
when the river eclipsed your life
and sent your soul like a message in a bottle to me
and it was my rebirth
so we know we're all right
though life will come and life will go
still you'll feel it's all right
someone'll will get a letter to your soul
then you know you're all right
(when my whole life is on the tip of my tongue)
then you feel you're all right
(empty pages for the no longer young)
and your hear dry you eyes
(you said)
and you know it's all right
(each life has it's place)
and your hear dry your eyes
(you said)
and you know it's all right
(each life has it's place)
and it's all right.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

the Seeker

"Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be." - Shel Silverstein

I found this image on this site a little while ago. I loved her right then and there and I have been coming back to her ever since. Yesterday I read Jamie's post and was inspired to get this girl out again. She is a card from an absolutely beautiful tarot deck created by Joanna Colbert.

In her post, Jamie talked about looking at a certain card and deciding what it means to you. Well this card really resonated with me when I first saw her. I had it open on my computer yesterday and when Mark saw it he said, "aww... it's you!" So I guess I wasn't far off in my reaction to it!

Every time I do a personality test or other sort of life-path kind of thing, I always end up with the answers being that I am a seeker: that I look for the deeper meanings in things and in life. I agree with that completely. I think I over-analyze things sometimes, but I love the idea of the journey, of understanding what it is that we are here to do. I love that by connecting with people and places we can come to understand them a little better. I love coming to realize that we are not alone in how we are feeling.

During the past few weeks I have realized this more deeply. On the surface we are so different, but when I asked you, "What do you WANT?" You answered me with passion and honesty, and striking similarities. We all want to be allowed to want things for ourselves. We all want to understand why we feel the way we do, but we also want to be able to let go of the past. We want our families and friends to be healthy and safe and to be good people. We want to feel good in our skins and our clothes. We want to be comfortable in ourselves. We want to be safe. We want to follow our bliss. We want to be recognized. We want to be seen, heard, and understood.

I love the image on this card because it speaks to me of who I am right now. I love the image of the butterfly on her shirt, the way she packed light, the way that she has guides going with her. I love that the path ahead of her isn't easy, but it is stunning and rich and lush. But I also think that I love what else I know is there. Beside her and behind her and ahead of her there are other people walking paths of their own; packing their own loads, taking their own steps, wearing different clothes. I may not always see them, but now I know that they are there, and that is making all the difference.

"He who cannot howl, will not find his pack." - Charles Simic

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Poetry Thursday

"Be as healthy, as vibrant, as beautiful, as authentic as you possibly can be, in a way that speaks silently to others, You can be this, too." - Rachel Snyder

Ever since yesterday I have felt strange. I have had a funny witchy cackle in my head. It kind of sounds a bit like the laugh Janis Joplin does at the end of Mercedes Benz, but longer and more spirited and fiesty. I'm not sure where it has come from, but I like it! I kind of feel like releasing myself to want - desire - pursue has freed me to realize those things that I REALLY WANT. I have begun making a list and I will share it when it's done.

I was a bit nervous of writing that post yesterday. When I had posted it I changed it lots of times before I finally let it go. I held my breath a little, waiting to see what people would say. When I went back to see if there were any comments, I was uplifted and thrilled and warmed and inspired by all of the truth and honesty there. (Thank you SO much!) THAT'S when the cackle started. Then I got an email from my brother with his list too (thanks Dave!) - and the cackle got louder and louder. I'm not sure where inside me it's coming from yet, but I look forward to getting to know this part of me. I don't want it to go away ever again.

This is something else from my Illustrated Journal. I got it from an Oprah magazine. I loved it then, and today I know it's something that I WANT. I want to burn with passion for my own life. I also want to inspire other people to have passion for their own lives by living my own in this way. I hope this poem inspires you too.

When she walks into the room,

everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious...
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.

-Tony Hoagland

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

... but you can!!

"Don't be afraid to want things, to yearn, crave, or lust for anything. And don't be afraid to go after what you want. If you can't satisfy yourself, then how can you expect anyone else to satisfy you?" - Cameron Tuttle

I have this picture pasted into my Illustrated Journal. I love it. Sometimes it is easy to think about all of the things that frighten me or make me nervous or that I think I can't do. This picture makes me remember that I have already done an awful lot of leaping off of the edge. If I can do all of those leaps, then I guess I am capable of a few more.

As a general rule I believe I am a nervous person. I am very afraid of the dark, I check travel details about a hundred times before I go anywhere. I am the BEFORE picture of the woman who wrote the poem about wearing purple when she's old. I lack faith in myself - but then I sit back sometimes and think about the things that I have done and I wonder who that girl was who got on the plane to move to the UK, and who that girl was who quit her job because it was making her so unhappy. I am a confusing combination of frightened and ballsy. It's a difficult tightrope to tiptoe!!

After some serious blog reading, long talks with various people, and some serious thinking, I had an 'a-ha' moment last night. I am scared to really WANT things. I don't know where it started and I don't care. I just want to stop it. When I was little I always used my birthday wish to wish that my Grandpa could have his hearing back in his deaf ear. I heard him tell my Mom that he wanted that more than anything else. He could hear the birds, but he couldn't tell where they were to look for them. I used that as my wish until the day he died. I never wanted to use one of my wishes for myself, because I was really afraid to - I was afraid to want something too much.

To this day when I make a wish I have to add 'please' and 'thank-you' to the end of it. I have been too scared to want anything. I have been afraid to want something so badly because of the pain when it doesn't happen. I have been afraid to want something because I thought I might jinx it. I have been afraid to want something because then I would have to do the work to get it. I was just plain afraid.

Well I have decided that I am going to start the process of coming back to WANTING again. For those of you who don't know - I sent a manuscript off to a publisher in January. I WANT that manuscript to be accepted. I WANT to be published. I WANT to get our website up and running but more than that, I WANT it to be a huge success. I WANT so much more than this - for me, for Mark, for me and Mark, for my family, for my friends. That's the trouble - when you begin to admit what it is that you really -heart- beating- down- and- dirty- bare- your- teeth- WANT, the list begins to grow and grow and grow. The list itself becomes scary. But I am going to be brave enough to begin to make that list. I am going to begin to let that clenched, nervous place in my belly loose a little. I am going to stop being so afraid.

It's okay to want things.

"... and the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful that the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

P.S. I would love to know - in my comments or on your own blogs - what is it that YOU really WANT?

Monday, March 13, 2006

sweets for the sweet!

"The soul starves before the body does." - Sarah Ban Breathnach

I really wanted to post something insightful or slightly interesting, but I just can't seem to come up with ANYTHING. I had my first day back at work today and ended up both excited about the upcoming season (and to be brutally honest, THRILLED at the prospect of a regular paycheck) and nervous about my role within the museum. I'll post more when everything has been sorted out and calmed down but for now I'm all a-flutter and can't seem to focus. I'm also a bit sad to see the end of my unemployed stretch. Truthfully I prefer sitting in my office writing and creating to going out to work - but don't we all!!

I got home this afternoon and just couldn't do anything productive. I needed to break free and do something different to change my mind-set. So I pulled out my Canadian Basics Cookbook and spent a lovely hour baking!! I made Chocolate Banana Bread for Mark (not for me - bananas gross me out!!) and Butter Tart Squares for me. I thought I would send out the recipe because it only makes a small batch, and it's really REALLY yummy. Sometimes we all just need a treat now and then! Believe me, I would have you all over tonight for tea and yummy treats and good conversation if I could, but this will have to do instead. xo

Butter Tart Squares

Preheat oven to 350F/180C

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Base: Cream butter with sugar; blend in flour until crumbly. Press into bottom of an 8inch square cake pan. Bake for 15 minutes or until very lightly browned.

Topping: In a bowl, beat 2 eggs. Beat in 1 cup of brown sugar. Stir in 2 tbsp melted butter, 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 cup of raisins (I leave these out and put in broken pecans instead - MUCH better!!) Pour over base and bake for 30 minutes or until set.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

...and now for something completely different!

It's not easy being green. -Kermit the Frog

Last night we watched a special called "The Greatest Muppet Moments." It was all about Jim Henson and his creations. Now, I have said it before, but I'll say it again - if I had to do it all over I think my dream job would have been to work in Jim Henson's Creature Shop. I think it must be the most creative, interesting and inspiring place to be. I imagine all of those faces peering out from drawers and cupboards, just waiting to be brought out and given life.

I cried when Jim Henson died. I remember it clearly. I was in high school and I remember just being SO SAD. I read every article I could about him in the time that followed. Two things I remember best are: the card that Disney sent to the company that showed a dejected Kermit sitting with his back to us with Mickey Mouse sitting with his arm around him, and a card that the company apparently got from a little girl. It read, "God must have needed Muppets in Heaven." (I STILL get a little wobbly when I read that back.)

I sat and watched the clips last night with a huge smile on my face. I know that my eyes were sparkling. I remembered a lot of the scenes from when I was little and I got just as much pleasure out of them this time. I am an unabashed fan of The Muppets. I sometimes wonder why. It could be that my first T.V. memories were of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. It could be that they appeal to the kid that I still am. Or it could also be that in this world where Disney gets criticized for so many things, and kids are getting into more and more trouble, I find them refreshing and REAL. Yes, I said REAL. They are silly. They make us laugh. They make us feel empathy and inspiration. They may be made out of fabric and plastic, but we watch them and BELIEVE in them. Jim Henson may have died, but his legacy of love and laughter and goofiness and joy lives on. What a legacy to leave. I will be forever grateful - and forever inspired.

"Someday we'll find it, the Rainbow Connection, the Lovers, the Dreamers, and Me."

Friday, March 10, 2006

the sea, the sea

(I've used this photo before, but I wanted to show you what I was talking about in this post! The wall that looks like it is holding the sea back is the Breakwater)

We went down to the beach this morning. It was too cold to play or to dance so we held hands clumsily, our gloves between us. It was the first sunny morning we have had for ages. We emerged from our cave, blinking in the unaccustomed light.

It was something we had to do. We had to reconnect with our neighbor. The ocean welcomed us with a roar. The tide was going out so the beach was heavy with water. Usually I stop and look for sea glass but it was just too cold today.

We climbed up on the 'Breakwater.' This is a wall that was built to protect the beach and the village from the worst of the weather. On the other side of the beach there is only the sea wall beside the road. On stormy days at high tide the waves crash up onto the road and the houses beyond. It is an awesome sight. It is slightly safer to stand and watch when the waves hit the wall of the Breakwater. I am always tempted to run down across the beach and stand under the waves as they crash against the concrete, swelling up and over the wall and the cliffs. The power and the energy is compelling and addictive. I want to be a part of it.

(This is Mark standing on the Breakwater. Sometimes the waves are so big that they'll be higher than the top of the photograph - we don't stand there then!!)

It was this photograph that made me the most introspective today. (Mark took it!) I love the way that this wall divides the beach from the ocean. It is beautiful in it's unnatural, man-made sort of way. Many times we will go down to the beach to find that the waves have broken through the wall and it is being fixed. Many times they rebuild it, hoping that it will protect the beach and the boats and the village from the pounding of the waves. But the ocean always wins in the end.

I have been reading so many blogs lately (including my own) that talk about people's struggles with letting go, allowing all of the parts, being wild, reclaiming their badness, their instincts, their bodies, their fears and their lives. Liz Elayne called it the 'whisperings of a movement' and I think she's right. So many of us are struggling so hard against being, doing, feeling, knowing so many things. I think that today I will take my lesson from the ocean. It ebbs and flows. It follows its own cycles. As it moves, it dislodges the old muck - leaving it high and dry on the beach. Its energy and persistence can carve rock, hold life, and break down walls. It doesn't do what it's told. And no matter how hard people try to make it otherwise, the ocean always wins.

"Eternity begins and ends with the ocean's tides." - unknown

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Poetry Thursday

Today is my first post for Poetry Thursday. This is one of my favorite poems of all time. I think I like it because I first read it when I was going through a yucky relationship. We all have at least one of those relationships in our past that make us cringe, shake our head, and say, "what was I thinking?!" But to be slightly cliched, I believe that each one of our 'bad' relationships prepares us for our good ones. So now I can read this poem and laugh at myself back then. What WAS I thinking?! (I can't remember who wrote this so if someone else knows, I'll edit the post!)

having a relationship
with you
is like riding
a 3-speed bicycle
in rush-hour traffic
up yonge st.-

too many people
and besides
it's dangerous

i got hit
by a bus 1 day
& didn't know what hit me
till i struck the pavement
& saw this great big
bus' body
going past me
2 inches from
my hand on the ground

what happened
a man asked
did your bike
get caught in the grating?

no i said
grating, my foot!
a bus just hit me
what does it look like?

(realizing i could've been killed
& no one would've
even noticed-
not even the bus)

falling in love with you
was like
being hit
by a bus-

i wasn’t killed
but i wouldn't do it again.



On another note, I have officially gone out and run for the first time. An enormous thank-you to those who took the time to give their advice and support on my post yesterday. With all of those positive vibes it was slightly less difficult to go out today. It hailed. It poured. It was freezing. I couldn't breathe. My boyfriend is a saint. But I am back, I am alive, I DID it, and Yes, I am going out again on Saturday.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

i'D LIKE to move it, move it.

"My feet danced and my arms moved, not in a dance that I had learned from others, but in a dance that moved and lived in me. My whole body moved in joyous ecstasy.” - Mika Walteri

This photograph is of a place called 'Arthur's Seat.' Believe it or not, it is smack-dab in the centre of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland. The other photograph is of the path we took to get to the top!

I often read Jamie's posts with a tinge of jealousy. She writes so happily about movement and dance. I have secretly wanted to be like that for a large part of my life. When I was a little girl my Mom signed me up for gymnastics classes. I should have been good - even now I am strangely flexible - but I just remember NOT being able to do it. I felt bigger than the other girls; I felt self-conscious and uncoordinated.

This feeling of physical self-consciousness has continued to hold me back in so many ways. I longed to be able to play silly characters in skits at camp, I longed to let go at dances, I wanted to be good at Phys. Ed. I always felt tight, held in, held back, uncomfortable letting myself just BE. To this day I have trouble letting go enough to dance - even when I am ALONE in my own living room.

One of my favorite memories from my early twenties was a dance that I went to with some of my friends. It was a 'Country 105' dance. (That's right, Susan!!) We got stupidly drunk and bought $5.00 felt cowboy hats and didn't know anyone except each other. I let go there like I have not done in a long time. We had so much fun dancing that our friend saw us from the BACK of the area and we were at the front. I remember it fondly because for about 4 hours I felt free of the ties that keep me from dancing.

Yesterday when I was walking I wanted to drop everything and spin and spin and spin on the beach. The day was warm, the sun was shining, and the tide was going out so the beach was sparkling. I stood there WANTING to feel more, to let go, but I wasn't fully alone and I felt too shy to follow my instinct to celebrate the day. I couldn't do it. Maya Angelou talks about life as being, "A dance that's walked, a song that's spoke." THAT'S how I feel about the way I have been in my body.

But, in the funny way that the universe pokes holes in our fears, when I got home from my walk yesterday there was an email waiting for me from my friend Michelle. Last October she walked with me during our 16 mile walk for Save the Children. I never thought I could have done THAT, so on the walk we decided that we would start running. (ME?! RUNNING?!) Yesterday she signed us up for the 5k 'Race for Life' (for Cancer research) in June. I'm so scared and nervous about it and I'm not sure my old knees will be up to the challenge, but you know what? I think that I have HAD IT with being afraid of my body. We haven't really been on speaking terms for a long long time. I want to get in touch again. I want to stop being afraid of it. I want to run and play and dance and SPIN again. I have walked 16 miles, I have climbed Arthur's seat. 5k shouldn't be too hard, right?!

First step: dancing alone in the living room...

Monday, March 06, 2006

sorry David... this one's REALLY girlie.

"See the world through the eyes of the woman you were always destined to be."
- Rachel Snyder.

Alternatively inspired, blocked, thrilled, saddened, excited, sick, empty and full. That's how I feel today as I read blogs and emails and try to sit here and write something that is interesting. I know that there's a post in here somewhere but it just isn't cooperating with me today. So I am dropping everything and going for a walk by the sea! I'm going out and I am not coming back until I feel better.

But I want to share a quote that inspired me today. I like this quote because it makes me feel like my wild and passionate and AWARE self isn't so unattainable.

"To adjoin the instinctual nature does not mean to come undone, change everything from black to white, to move east to west, to act crazy or out of control. It does not mean to lose one's primary socializations, or to become less human. The wildish nature has a vast integrity to it.

It means to establish territory, to find one's pack, to be in one's body with certainty and pride regardless of the body's gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one's behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to come into one's cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as possible."

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Grrowl! See you later. xo

Friday, March 03, 2006

tagged AGAIN!!

Here's my other tag! I got it from m payne. It is another list so I wanted to wait at least a few days after my many listy posts!!

Three things you wish for (just for you):

1. I wish that I had enough money to fly home whenever I wanted.
2. I wish for enough money to not be stressed about money.
3. I wish my family and friends and me were all healthy and disease free (yes, I know that seems like it is for other people but is also selfish. I love them and don't want to lose them.)

Three things you would do to/for you if there was no one to judge you (or if you had the guts.)

1. Buy a huge shelving unit and fill it with all of the art and writing supplies I could get my hands on!
2. Drop everything and take a trip that included: Macchu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands, the Elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka that lets you work there for a month, Iceland, Italy, Canada, Austria (to visit Claudia,) Holland and a Winnebago trip through the States (seein' the sites and meetin' other fellow bloggers) - not necessarily in that order!
3. Have my first facial and day at a spa.

Three bad habits you have.

1. Lazy, lazy, selectively LAZY!
2. Apologizing
3. I'm a paper pack rat - quotes, clippings, recipes, articles, exercises, etc., etc.

Three insecurities you feel:

1. I feel guilty really easily - I'm an apologizer.
2. I'm insecure about my looks - but I'm working on it!
3. That I'm not good enough to be a "Writer."

Three talents/skills you wish you had:

1. I want to learn to Knit. My Oma makes amazing knitted things. I have a kit & I am going to "learn myself"
2. The ability to cook calmly (I don't like it and I get really worked up when I do it.)
3. The ability to drive standard.

Three things you would do if you had more time:

I'm not sure I can answer this question properly. I have SO much time on my hands right now, but I find when I have a lot to do I get more done. When I am responsible for my own deadlines and my own time I am less productive. I have no excuses but I still am not getting everything done. I'm going to add my own question instead: Three things you would do if you had enough money:

1. Fund Melba's conference.
2. Get my website up and running properly.
3. Pay off everyone I know's student loans and my family's mortgages.

Three things that bring you peace and relaxation:

1. Mark
2. Walking
3. Writing

Three things that spark your creativity:

1. The amazing ladies whose blogs I read
2. Great books
3. Writing

Three people I'm tagging:

Hmmm... this is tricky. I'm not sure people haven't done this one before so I am going to tag Jamie, Claudia and Tara Dawn. (Chiquitas: if you don't want to do another tag, I understand!)

P.S. Does anyone else think it's strange that on BLOGGER's website the words 'blog' and 'blogger' are not in the spell check?!

Have a remarkable weekend!!

The hardest thing to get used to...

I've been tagged TWICE this week, but I think that today I am going to focus on the one that Claudia sent me. I think that it is more in keeping with my brain today. Tomorrow I'll make another list. (p.s. The photo is of a ski trail in Algonquin Park. My Dad is in the picture if you look really closely! Those are some BIG trees!!)

This tag is: The hardest thing to get used to... When coming to a new country.

Truly my first and gut reaction to this question was: never fitting in ever again. I know that sounds negative and a little bit sad and wistful. I think it is those things, but there are positives as well.

When I first took the scary plunge and moved to another country I didn't know anyone else who had done it. Many people asked me what I was doing. They would look at me with a mixture of jealousy and distrust. They were never quite certain how to take me. I wasn't playing by the rules. I wasn't doing what they thought I would do. People who were parents would be secretly afraid that I would somehow bewitch their children to follow in my footsteps. People my own age were happy with their stability and their path. Many of them had thought about traveling but decided to do it once they were working full time. I didn't want to buy a house, get a dog, settle down, become financially stable right out of university? What was wrong with me?

Now that my life includes someone else, people are even more frightened. "Wait - she's in love? Does that mean she'll NEVER come back?" People have been slowly disappearing from my life, unsure of how to deal with me, unable to understand my choices and unable to deal with a long-distance relationship. When Mark and I are home we are strange. People have a kind of image of our life as being this romantic, artsy idyll. In theory they are jealous but in practice they ask us practical probing personal questions about money and which country we will end up in - hoping that we will say Canada because it is safer for them. In making the choices I have I have become either exotic or irresponsible or inspiring or frightening depending on who you ask.

In Canada I am someone who uses British words. It takes me about a week to stop saying things like 'trousers' and 'loo.' I try very hard not to talk about 'taking the piss,' and have to remember that we don't have 'bins.' In the UK I am always asked which part of America I am from. They ask how on earth I ended up in this part of the country. They ask how long I am on holiday for. One woman I met who moved here from Canada TWENTY-FIVE years ago says that she has started telling people that she's 'here for another week' because it's easier than constantly telling people your life story. When you are from somewhere else you can never just blend in and get on with it.

The other hard thing about moving to another country is the loneliness for family and friends. Babies are born and people die and you miss it. Kids grow up without you watching. Friends forget you. Like Claudia said, there is also the tendency to idealize home. You forget that things were just as hard and just as good for different reasons. And homesickness is a real bitch.

Ahhh... but there are some positives. This post was supposed to be about the hardest things. I can't leave it sad though because there are lots of things I love about my double life. I love how much quality time I do get with people when we are home. I love that people really are interested in who I am and what I am doing. I love that I am experiencing two cultures. I love that people can come and visit me. I love building a life with Mark. I love that because I have already broken some rules I can get away with breaking more! I love that my life is unusual.

But I still miss Canada and Canadians and my home every single day.

(I'd like to tag Kerstin - if anyone knows about moving to another country, it's her!)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

a little help?

"I arise in the morning, torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." - E.B. White

When I came home from my training session the other day, it was getting pretty late. I had seen the sunset as we drove home but I hadn't been able to really appreciate it. Mark met me at the door and said that he had taken a picture of it for me - for my blog! xo (I think I must be a little bit obsessed.)

It's been a funny week. I've gotten lots and nothing done, I've felt yucky and headachey and then silly and sassy, and I'm not quite sure what is going on. I also realized this morning that despite all of this time on my hands, I have not done any real writing since last week. I am coming to know the signs and symptoms of that now. I have only recently been doing enough regular writing to realize what's happening when I get twitchy. I've been getting glimpses of storylines and whole pages of my books but for some reason I am not stopping and writing them down. I have a deadline for some of my part of our website and I haven't been able to focus on that either. UGH. My kingdom for some clarity!!

So here I sit, mug of jasmine green tea at my elbow, pencil case of Sharpies and coloured pens (another love affair of mine) on one side of my computer, and a to-do pile on the other. I am determined to work through my pile so that tomorrow I can focus on doing some me-writing. I have been digging deeper and deeper into what I really want to say in my work, and I'm enjoying that process, but maybe that's also part of why I have stopped. I don't know.

If you please, I'd love to hear your thoughts ~ How do you deal with inertia? How do you keep focus when there is so much to focus on? How do YOU do it?!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

gosh - this got a bit political!

Well, despite my cheeky posts earlier in the month about gardening in our t-shirts, and despite the fact that we already have flowers blooming in our garden and palm trees growing on our front terrace, my village has experienced it's first proper snowfall in several years. Most winters see a few flurries that don't add up to anything, but for the first time in recent memory (that is - mine) the snow fell and LANDED!!

I was sitting doing some work at my computer and got up to get myself something to drink. When I looked out of the window I had to drop everything and go outside. It was a winter wonderland! The beaches were covered in snow, the cliffs were white, and within a few moments I was soaked through. It was glorious. Once it stopped falling it stayed on the ground for an hour or so. Usually snow here falls and melts immediately.

The trouble with this sort of weather is that this part of the country just isn't set up for snow. An inch fell three winters ago in London and people were trapped on the M25 highway for something like 18 hours. That scared the government a lot so now the briefest mention of snow brings out the Gritting Lorries (that's Salt or Sand Trucks to those of you across the pond.) It's difficult for me to understand all of this fuss coming from a country that is completely designed around snow - driving in it, staying warm in it, coping with moving it, and basically getting ON with it.

I spent the last two days at a training session for my job. They were trying to teach me how to be a salesperson and sell to British people. I realized all over again that I am not in Kansas anymore, Toto. I'm not from around here. I've lived here for so long that I have largely stopped noticing people's accents. I have stopped seeing everything as new and novel. I have become as comfortable here as I am in Canada. So often I forget that I am in ENGLAND. I am in another country. They do things differently here.

This global community that we are building is an amazing thing. We can fly all over the world and see fascinating and spectacular sights. We can live in another country and get along with people and speak different languages. We can talk over the internet, eat Japanese food at our corner restaurant, and argue over which team is going to win an Olympic event. We can coexist on the same playground. I think, however, that many people are forgetting that we are not all the same. We look the same - we can all bleed and cry and dance and love and sing. But those songs and those dances and the things that make us cry are different. So much of today's global news is about one country or even one man or woman who is trying to put their own values and their own needs onto another country or group of people. It happens in the UK, it happens in Canada, it is happening in countries all over Eastern Europe, it's happening within the E.U., it's happening in the Middle East. It's everywhere.

I guess I am just saying that I wish that the rulers and even the ordinary people of the world would just remember that they are all coming at each other from a different page. We need to remember that all of those pages bring baggage and confusion and laughter and misunderstandings and richness and diversity. I think that if we all just remembered that we are all fragile, we are all unique, we were all babies once, and that we are all just trying to figure it out, we'd all get along a lot better. Why do we find that so hard?