Why are you here?

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That question was recently asked by what could have been a younger, curious version of myself.

A few times each month, I spend three hours of bliss volunteering in a small bookshop.

I get to meet interesting people, stroke and skim through the latest items placed on the shelves. Not a month goes by without me purchasing something of interest to me or someone I love. I like the fact that sales revenues go towards purchasing new books and supporting programs for our local libraries. Being in that book shop is the closest I can get to working in a library – for now¬†ūüôā

My recent volunteer shift was graced by the usual lingering regulars and families attending events nearby. It warms my heart when children express delight as they find a book or two that they want their parents to buy.

One particular tot caught my attention while exploring books with her older sister, parents and grandmother. She approached the front desk, her blonde head barely above the counter, her blue eyes peering at me.

“What’s your name?” she asked in a sweet and barely audible voice.

I responded with a smile and asked about hers. Her Mother responded on her behalf due to the child’s limited conversation skills.

Then the child asked, “Why are you here?”

“Why am I here? Well‚Ķ I like books, I like meeting new people and selling them books.”

Then she skittered away to explore the shelves with her family.

Soon she returned to ask again “Why are you here?”.

After I repeated my previous response I wanted to ask the wee thing if she was being philosophical about the big picture but I decided it would just confuse matters.

It was cute. It was thought-provoking in a naive kind of way.

I think that was a helpful experience for those basic queries we should ask ourselves often, like “Why am I here?”.

If we cannot answer the why, we could at least ask, “What am I doing during my time here?”.

T

Reminders for the love of life

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I recently contemplated the delicate balance of life and human relationships.

An elderly relative passed away after years of loneliness from losing a spouse, falling into unhealthy habits and an unpleasant lifestyle.

Those of us who were able to travel for the funeral benefited from reconnecting with each other and catching up with old friends in the town of our birth. The occasion gave a sobering twist to Halloween and All Souls Day.

It was a long journey for a short visit. The surrounding events provided opportunities to hear stories from others who knew your relative for years or recently formed friendships through shared interests.The sombre experience reminds you to enjoy times with those beings you love and cherish despite their shortcomings.

You venture into the new version of the church you once attended a lifetime ago, the religion you abandoned due to differences of opinion. You reach into the crevices of your memory for that sense of community and shared values. You notice they transported the large crucifix from the old church, the one with the bleeding savior you could not look at as a child. You find the strength and spirit to join in song, to celebrate a life and provide a smooth, harmonious send-off to the next dimension.

You contemplate how we should treat our deceased with respect and dignity. Without getting too elaborate, I feel it’s important to plan ahead for your own funeral, to make decisions for your mortal remains, to lessen stress on loved-ones, and put your house in order.

Although emotionally and physically drained, you enjoy companionship on short, refreshing strolls about town and down memory lane.

parrysoundcprnov2016

Shuffling through the fallen leaves, you visit the streets, the town park and the library where you recall misadventures and fond memories plus learn to enjoy new experiences. You let yourself laugh, share updates and hopes for your children. You dream of a future with the grandchildren who have entered your life and nestled into your heart.

As you contemplate the next decade of your independent life, you are determined to continue with those small changes to improve your health, to reconsider compromise and expectations. You tolerate the brief interruptions and annoyances, knowing that they too shall pass.

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Breathing in. Breathing out.  Repeating as necessary.

Thanks for dropping by.

T

 

 

 

Bending, stretching, sweating and remembering to breathe

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I don’t like rushing into things.

Three weeks ago, the resident artiste provided me with five morning lessons of gentle sitting and stretching, gentle Yoga moves for Salute to the Sun. That was three months after she gifted me a “high-end” Yoga mat for Mother’s Day.

Like I said, I don’t like rushing into things.

On the first day, the Tabby cat took position on her living room perch in preparation to supervise. As we have seen in a previous post in another blog, she’s not a fan of exercise for the sake of exercise.

aGenevaYogaLessonsPrepAug19grbd

On the sixth day, I proceeded to perform the sweaty, grunty feat in the privacy of my room. Soon the Old Boy wandered in to complain and rearrange my sweaty towel.

aSnugsCaturdayYogaMatAug27grbd

The Salute to the Sun routine goes something like this. With time and commitment, I shall be so graceful and poised. It has been two weeks during which I think I have succeeded in getting myself into a routine as part of a healthier lifestyle.

  • I aim to perform this sweaty morning ritual at least five days a week;
  • I time each session for 15 to 20 minutes;
  • These are small steps in supporting a healthy habit for body and mind;
  • As with most challenges in life, you just gotta remember to breathe – and repeat as necessary.

I am grateful for the resident artiste, bread baker, cook and cat sitter for persistently nudging and motivating me. It’s only a matter of time before she turns me into a vegetarian too.

What small steps do you take to keep yourself in good overall health?

Thanks for dropping by.

You might be interested in this book I wrote about a priest, his biological daughter and a retired exotic dancer dealing with family issues in a small Georgian Bay town during the 1970s.

T

 

Lighting up vs puckering up

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Come on Boomers, who didn’t get a thrill from striking matches or flicking cigarette lighters, experiencing that primal awe of having fire at your fingertips?

Who didn’t test their lungs out of curiosity and peer pressure with a prized pack of Du Mauriers or Old Port wine-tipped cigars? Who didn’t deeply inhale the aroma of a freshly opened pack of cigarettes?

Who didn’t get dizzy and nauseous their first time?

Why didn’t they stop there?

In my young adult years, smoking was part of dance bar outings and mostly a social crutch. It gave party-goers something to do with their hands while practicing conversation skills and courting rituals. That was so many years ago and before I carried my children.

From my caffeine-induced, Sunday morning Web research, I can see that smoking started as an experience of the spiritual, for Native Americans  to call upon and to give thanks for the six energies. The peace pipe was an important symbol to the indigenous people in the Ottawa Valley as well. Tobacco was used as an offering to the sacred waterfalls named after the pipe bowl.

This is one smoking symbol that I’d like to see spared from modernization.

So with smokers these days, does that mean people are trying to capture that inner reflection or reaching up to the divine? Do they want to meet their maker sooner than intended? How much of their earnings have gone up in smoke?

Sobering statistics and dry facts

Humour / satire

A clever, satirical film called Thank you for Smoking.

How dare you compare smoking to eating cheese! 

Quotes about smoking

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/smoking

Subconscious suckling desires?

I often wonder if smoking (and now vaping) are subconscious, primal desires for the comfort of suckling at our Mothers’ breast as well as reaching for the Divine. At least those who choose vaping are doing it to wean them off the death sticks. You can do it!

Social behaviour

I’d like to thank those public transportation users who walk a few meters away from the shelter to light up and begin your ritual of self-reflection while waiting for the next bus. Please complete your ritual by stomping out your cigarette instead of tossing it into the dry grass beside the bus shelter, and please completely exhale your sacred smoke before boarding the bus.

I will be sure to not sit close to you and experience the stench wafting from your hair, clothes and breath.

Be kissable

Another reason to quit smoking is to increase your attraction and possibilities for pleasurable mouth pressing activities.

Ah yes, pleasurable mouth pressing activities and making for romantic memories…

Thanks for dropping by. May your lip puckering activities be refreshing, memorable and sweet.

T

Millennial matters

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I am riding that Baby Boomer tail. 

I am also the caboose in one resilient and large Catholic family.

I am a white woman, a parent and a survivor. As a woman over 50 I feel invisible to most eligible men. I do not have a reliable partner, don’t own my home nor can I afford to travel to tropical locations every winter. I will be lucky if I can retire in comfort by the time I turn 60 years old.

Whenever discussing retirement plans with friends or colleagues, I joke that my insurance was to be extra patient with and kind to my children so that they will take care of me in my old age.

My beautiful adult children are Millennials. They are testing out their respective paths, life purpose and independence. Some are taking a little longer than others due to childhood trauma or the ridiculous limitations of the economy.

My Millennials were not handed everything on a platter. We were barely scraping by in the early years while surviving home life with an unstable, controlling individual.

It saddens and frustrates me when the older generations and entertainers poke fun at Millennials.

You’ve Gotta Love Millennials – Micah Tyler
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLpE1Pa8vvI

A few weeks ago, my oldest Millennial and I watched a documentary on TVO (TV Ontario).  It was interesting but discouraging.

My Millennial Life

“Millennials are getting dumped on from all sides – from parents, employers and the economy. “My Millennial Life” takes a look through the eyes of a group of resourceful, charming and talented 20-somethings and the obstacles and opportunities they face in getting launched and making their mark on the world.”

Then there was this article on CBC News:

Still living with mom and dad? You are not alone, and the numbers prove it
Almost a third of 18- to 34-year-olds still live at home, data shows
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/young-people-living-at-home-1.3599364

I love my Millennial room-mate who cooks healthy meals, cleans the humble apartment once a week, and looks after the cats while I am away – all the while using artistic skills to earn a modest income.

On a related, rippling note I am sad to acknowledge recent violent events south of the border. Some parental concerns and human rights issues catch your interest even more so if your Millennials are also dark-skinned, dealing with social anxieties or are gay.

They would seem to be fncked whichever way they turn. I know they can overcome challenges with courage, intelligence and strength of character.

I believe in them.

T

Support for Chaudi√®re Falls Area

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During the winter of 2016 I sat beside a woman on the city bus on my way home after a long day’s work. We talked about the recent heavy snowfall, the little plastic shovel I purchased at the dollar store, apartments, balconies and our cats. I found another kindred spirit!

The conversation turned to the purpose of her evening bus ride to attend a meeting for an important cause. She introduced herself as one of the Indigenous Grandmothers. She shared the history and the sacred importance of the Chaudière Falls then handed me some literature containing more information and site links.

I have been following the issue since, mentioning it to others who might listen. On Wednesday evening, I attended the information session, panel discussion on saving the Chaudière Falls from further commercial development and planning for the June 17th walk.

Although I do not like being in the middle of noisy crowds, I am willing to join them and to invite others along. With good conscience and spiritual respect, I feel I must.

Grandmother Christine’s story: https://freethefalls.ca/news/a-grandmothers-story-from-asinabka/

With a collective conscience, we must ask if Ottawa really needs more condos, if the federal government has the political will, compassion to repair damage by the former governments and flawed development approval processes at all levels. Ask if it is finally time to return this sacred land to our indigenous people, a place for sharing with all people.

Thank you.

T

Green Living Ottawa

Posted by Denise Deby.

It is sacred poster

Three Four upcoming events are focused on protecting the area around Chaudière Falls in the Ottawa River.

They’re prompted by concerns about development proposals for the area, which is considered sacred by many Indigenous peoples.

On Wednesday, June 8, 2016, a panel discussion will take a critical look at the ‚ÄúZibi‚ÄĚ development project. ‚ÄúReconcilation Needs Justice ‚Äď Stop Windmill‚Äôs ‚ÄėZibi‚Äô Condos on Sacred Algonquin Land‚ÄĚ will be at 7 p.m. at the Ottawa Public Library‚Äôs Main Branch (120 Metcalfe St.) Speakers are Algonquin Elder Albert Dumont, former Ottawa city councilor Clive Doucet, and Stop Windmill group co-founder Cathy Remus.

On Monday, June 13, 2016, Albert Dumont will talk about the protection and restoration of the Sacred Site at Chaudière Falls and the Islands, through the lens of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It’s at 7 p.m. at…

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Alone in a crowd

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Do you enjoy your solitude? Do you find it conducive to navel-gazing and existential contemplations?

Do you alternately feel a sense of inclusion and connectedness when in a crowd of like-minded strangers?

I do.

One way I experience the latter is to treat myself to a personal adventure on the Doors Open Ottawa tours. This was the third year that I explored the city on my own, learned new things, admired architecture and met other interesting humans.

Yesterday’s¬†weather was perfect for being in the sun, walking, busing, touring around Ottawa.

My first stop was a disappointment. It seems that arriving at noon is too late to get on the guided tour list for the temple of online commerce, Shopify.

Still determined for urban exercise and discovery, I walked from Elgin Street all the way to my next desired stop, The Temple of Science.

Science. Apologies for this ear worm coming at you.

I arrived tired and sweaty at the National Research Council Canada (NRC) РTemple of Science on Sussex Drive. After freshening up in the ladies room and refilling my water bottle, I unwittingly jumped the queue, ignoring protocol by inserting myself into the next guided tour group. I blame it on the heat.

It was a very interesting, fast-paced walking tour. Kudos to the staff and volunteers.

 

The wait on Sussex Drive for the OC Transpo bus downtown was very long. The buses were not obeying the GPS offerings according to various smart phone apps shared by me and my random companions. At least we had a bench in the shade of nearby trees. People came and sat. Some gave up and started walking.

It wasn’t the first time I used a park bench for deep thinking activities. I had plenty of time for people-watching, casual conversation, contemplating the Universe, and … catching up on some reading. ¬†I really hope to finish Masters of Time this weekend!

comic speech bubbles of black cat critiquing human reading efforts

 

Waiting for another bus on construction-cramped Rideau Street provided a different lens into humanity, social interactions of ragtag gangs rallying back and forth in some loud, shared purpose. I was relieved when the next bus finally arrived.

Next stop was the¬†Saint-Fran√ßois d’Assise Church,¬†another temple of sorts. It was cool and quiet except when someone was demonstrating the organ (!). I admired the wooden pews, the statues and all those candles.

Presque tous les panneaux d’information et de la litt√©rature √©tait en fran√ßais!¬†

Les gens sympathiques √† la r√©ception m’a remis le seul pamphlet anglais.¬†Heureusement pour moi, je continue avec l’apprentissage de la langue de ma m√®re.¬†

Now resting and reflecting on a rainy Sunday morning, I plan to head out for another educational tour. I think I convinced one of the young people to join me.

On a parting note, here is something else to contemplate:

The odds are overwhelming that we’re characters in an advanced civilization’s computer simulation.  See:  http://qz.com/699518/we-talked-to-the-oxford-philosopher-who-gave-elon-musk-the-theory-that-we-are-all-computer-simulations/

Thanks for stopping by.

T

From the journals of a stubborn Survivor

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This post is not typical of my light-hearted thoughts and tongue-in-cheek observations. 

This is a serious one¬†about getting results through persistence and respectful dialogue with those who help to initiate change in Canada’s¬†criminal justice system.

Over the past three years, I experienced¬†stress and heightened anxieties while enduring glaring¬†flaws and gaps in our system that seemed to favour offenders’ preferences, privacy and rights over their victims’. Each time and after expressing a “what the fnck?” reaction with family and friends, I embraced¬†patience and politeness.

I converted my frustration and anger into a stubborn strength to express my concerns and offer recommendations to those who maintain the criminal justice system.

I pulled out pen and paper and made notes. I took to my trusty QWERTY keyboard and tapped away.

pen and paper

I wrote about the sequence of events, the government agencies I contacted, the circles I had to retrace then break through in order to ensure my personal safety. Although I allowed myself some emotional expression, I stuck to the facts when communicating with officials.

For the past six months I managed my stress and struggled to carry on with the love of my family, support of friends and a professional listener. I like to think I maintained a professional persona as a productive member of my community, of a civil society.

It hasn’t been easy.

I am thankful for the first responders and individuals in the justice systems who helped us get through tough periods since 2003. Yes, that long ago. If I did not personally thank you during the emotional times shortly after, please accept this delayed expression of gratitude.

I feel vindicated that my concerns and recommendations since 2012 have been heard by the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime (OFOVC), documented, verified, then communicated to those who can make changes.

I feel a sense of pride that my persistence is paying off to speak up for victims of crime whose anxieties have likely caused them to walk away from the confusing processes, and not wanting to be victimized again.

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2016

“Victims and Survivors of Crime Week is an annual outreach initiative of the Justice Canada Policy Centre for Victim Issues.

The goal of Victims and Survivors of Crime Week is to raise awareness about the issues facing victims and survivors of crime and the services and laws in place to help victims, survivors and their families. It is also about acknowledging the dedicated work of service providers who assist victims and survivors of crime and their families.

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week will take place from May 29 to June 4, 2016. The theme for the Week is “The Power of Our Voices.” The Week will include projects and events in communities across the country and a federal symposium in the National Capital Region on Friday, June 3, 2016.

Victims and Survivors of Crime Week evolved out of the annual National Victims of Crime Awareness Week. Survivors of crime are now included in the name of the week to acknowledge the many individuals who, having been victims of crime, overcome their victimization and identify themselves more affirmatively as survivors.¬†”

Source:  http://www.victimsweek.gc.ca/abt-apd/index.html

I am a survivor.

I am in the middle of being alive

BEing ALiVE

T

 

Segmented sleep and creativity

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I think there may be benefits to waking in the middle of the night with hot flashes and a damp nightgown. 

A vigilant type can tour the humble abode, check the perimeters and be satisfied that all is secure.  A creative type can take a few minutes to write down in her dream journal, jot journal or make a crude illustration.

According to an article I recently read, there are benefits to segmented sleep and due to our modern habits and lighting, we may be losing out on times for reflection.

“But though we may feel perfectly happy with our modern consolidated sleep, we‚Äôve now lost that midnight hour between sleeps, a time when we can be awake and alone with our thoughts.

‚ÄúI think we‚Äôre missing out on a time of intimacy and privacy, a time of self-reflection,‚ÄĚ says Ekirch. ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve lost a traditional avenue to our dreams, our subconscious.‚ÄĚ”

Read the full article here:  http://qz.com/658571/the-many-forgotten-benefits-of-segmented-sleep/

Black cat in front of Mac computer

Snuggles the cat justifies his early morning wakeup calls

This prompted me to pull out my copy of Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day, to revisit and appreciate the Night Watch and Dawn segments without fighting the realities of hormonal changes and asshole cats.

book seven sacred pauses

Book: Seven Sacred Pauses…

I wonder if I can train my body to practise segmented sleep. Will I remember to drink more water before retiring so my body will force me to get up once or twice during the night? In a few years, my bladder will likely perform that task for me anyway!

I also wonder if segmented sleep can help me train my body and mind to embrace Hypnogogia, to capture, remember the dreams and visions, to record them for later inspection and creative expansion.

“In the borderlands between wakefulness and rest is a strange and fascinating state of consciousness characterized by dream-like visions and strange sensory occurrences. Psychologists call this stage ‚Äúhypnagogia,‚ÄĚ but centuries before they created a term for it, artists were using the hypnagogic state to tap into some of their best ideas. “

Full article:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hypnogogia-dreams-creativity_us_56c5d16ce4b0c3c55053de38

I am intrigued by the bridging of sleep and awakening, of the subconscious and consciousness. I also have an appreciation for afternoon naps.

Thanks for dropping by and staying alert while reading this entry.  You can also see what my pen name Flo is offering at her blog. She has so many ideas about more Seguin Sound childhood stories but needs more free time during our waking and working hours to transcribe them.

T