~ A Blog About Mindfulness and Other Musings~
Join me along this journey called life as we travel ever so gently, serenely, and mindfully.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Delicate Threads

Memories of my mother, buying fabric from various streets in downtown Toronto when I was young, no older than 6 or 7 - I want to say these incessant shopping sprees had more to do with the satisfaction that she could now afford such luxuries, rather than a true need for endless fabric of different texture and color.

Her heart must have felt a sense of fullness for what her life represented now, in a new country, compared to the impoverishment of her formative years.  Though her mind did not consciously register that her impulse shopping was needlessly excessive with each purchase of useless fabric -- the fabric itself came to represent the donning of a new life, replete with an aura of the Emperor's New Clothes.

These moments became a quest to compensate for the lack which once was.  The only two outfits she owned in her younger years, replaced by yard upon yard of silken threads to wrap herself in luxuriously, to finger finely, to fold neatly, into her now burgeoning suitcase -- not to wear, but simply to have, to look at, to carry, as a reminder of the gap between a barren past and a prosperous future, but without the ability to truly enjoy the present.

The poverty consciousness she developed due to her childhood circumstances has never left her, even when she was able to afford more than she could have ever imagined.  But her gift to me has been providing a life of abundance both material and otherwise.  Her hardship and endurance when she was half my age -- a sacrifice for enabling me to have the type of life, now, that she would have likely wanted for herself.  I send her my gratitude and love for all the gifts she has bestowed.  The ones without a price tag, which are worth more than the world itself.

Outfits my mother lovingly and painstakingly folded, pinned and wrapped when I was getting married.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cultivating A Green Thumb, Or in My Case, Purple Thumb

I continue to be obssessed with lavender -- I love the color, I love the fragrance, I love how pretty it looks when dried and bundled. 

I visited another Lavender Farm this past weekend in the same area where my in-laws live.  My mission:  to buy lavender plants for my garden.  Yes, I actually have a garden now.  I don't quite know what I'm doing yet as a gardener -- I've never had my own garden to tend to before.  But I'm trying.  And I did plant my lavender last evening.  Can't guarantee my garden will look like this:

Or that my lavender will even look like this:

But I am certainly having fun feeling the earth through my fingers, yanking weeds (what a great way to relieve stress), and really being aware of how easy it is to be mindful when gardening.   And so, here's to me, in a state of mindfulness, cultivating my green/purple thumb.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Our Guests

Thought I'd share with you the guests we've had for the last few months.  They're of the feathery, chirping variety.  Apparently, these barn swallows come to our carport every year to build their nest and make their babies. 

Here's mama bird looking at the hungry mouths to feed.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Making Room For the New

It's been a delightful weekend of spring cleaning -- purging the old and making room for the new. 

Actually, we're moving next month and it would be a shame to lug so much physical and metaphorical baggage with us to our new home.  It amazes me how much stuff we've accumulated in the past four years living in this cute little 1 bedroom condo. 

Our next home happens to be a cute 3 bedroom bungalow.  I hope the limited space issues mean we'll continue to live in a somewhat minimalist way.  It's hard to believe that once upon a time in the not so distant past, entire families, which included, parents and their two or more children had no problems living in small bungalows with one washroom.  In comparison to today's standards, that's mind boggling.  Why do we need so much more room and stuff?!

My current dilemma:  Trying to figure out whether having a king size bed in a room that's about 11 and 7 inches by 10 and 3 inches is feasible.  I'm only being somewhat ironic here. 
I really did want a king bed!

However, to achieve this, I must be satisfied with the following equation:
1 tiny room + 1 king bed = 0 room for any thing else. 

A room that looks somewhat like this, with a bigger bed wouldn't be so bad, right?


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stepping Out of the Shadows

This morning was an exquisite one.  The kind of winter's morning that is sunny and not too cold.  Cold enough to still be declared a winter's day, but not so cold that multiple layers of clothing need be worn when meandering outdoors. 
My meanderings took me to High Park.  I felt just so happy being amongst the trees and birds, hearing the soft crunch of snow under my feet. 

I bought myself an earl grey tea with a wedge of lemon and enjoyed my warm beverage as I walked towards the frozen pond.  The sun shone brilliantly on the icy water.  Looking up at the sky, I was overcome with gratitude for the beauty of the scene before me.

My moment of pause led me to reflect on something that I've been feeling lately.  The feeling that I've been living in the shadows a bit, which is to say, that I have not fully been engaging in this beautiful life before me.  There are fears stopping me from doing what I want.  And if not fears, than my own incessant complaints and critiques about why certain things cannot be done.  These criticisms are simply masked fear.  If the fear had a face, it would look a bit like this:
So what's stopping me from getting out of the shadow of myself and fully living in the present moment?  It's a question that eludes me again and again.  Is it possible to be addicted to some form of sadness, fear, or longing for things that feel out of reach?

My desire is to step out of my own shadow and to engage in the life before me.  But how?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

To Keep or Not to Keep...

Are you a maker, and subsequently a keeper, of New Year's resolutions?  I am of the maker camp but not necessarily of the keeper.  However, I do wholly believe in the process of setting intentions and writing them out.  I do not beat myself up if follow-through starts to lag.  The reward is in the attempt, even if the result is not long lasting, or seems to fail.  Putting it out there is the first step. 

And that is what I did when after New Year's Day we were fortunate enough to retreat to a cottage in the woods so to speak, a good 2.5 hours out of the city.  We had access to snowy trails, a cozy cabin with a fireplace, full kitchen and living room area.  Ironically, we even had cable television, something we don't subscribe to in our normal lives.  I must admit, at certain points of our stay, there was some serious television watching -- who can resist the Food Network?!

This 2-day retreat into the woods felt emotionally and spiritually renewing.  No agendas, just relaxation, reading Planting Dandelions, writing in my journal, scrabble playing, eating nourishing meals (and lots of chocolate left-over from Christmas).  I had time to reflect on what will bring me greater peace and joy in 2012.

Here's what I came up with:
  • Re-ignite mindfulness/meditation practise -- that means every day
  • Speak with less judgment, criticism, and negativity
  • Practise physical wellness by eating well and through physical activity
  • Renew social connections
  • Make regular gratitude lists
  • Use positive affirmations regularly
  • Purchase a house we love and that we can comfortably afford
There are a few more that are too private to post.  This may seem like a long list, even dooming me to failure from the start due to the sheer number, and yet, there is a relatedness in theme to the intentions.  Therefore, if I am able to maintain the practise of one or two, I won't be too far off the path.

What I am parting with are all the unhealthy and unhelpful habits I've picked up along the way.  Into the fire they go.

Through the ashes let there rise growth and wisdom from experience, and the ability to renew once again.

Wishing you all peace and blessings in 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

In this Position for a Reason

Disengaged and disenchanted
Are the words that come to mind
To express how I feel in this school
Of over-achieving artists
Both students and staff alike.

I cannot buy into the philosophy of
"We're unique"
Better than the rest
Devote your every waking moment
To success, showbiz, showbuzz
At the expense of your mental well being.

I do not want accolades
I do not want the spotlight.
I want to work with sanity
Self reflection, presence, calm
In the midst of crisis, trauma, and heightened emotion.

Is this the place for me?
I do not feel it is,
For now anyway.

It has only been a few short months
But I feel disengaged, disenchanted,
Opting to sit in a park at lunch and read
Than to spend another moment in a building
That fuels creativity at the expense of the artists'
Emotional well being.

Can I make change,
In my attitude first and foremost,
For if I do not
Resentment will only grow
Disengagement will widen.

What are steps I can take
To make the most of my situation,
To realize and understand
I am at this school
In this position for a reason.

The reason is not clear
But surely there must be one.
The universe and its Planner
Are not as random as they may seem.

I ask for guidance and a sign
To show me my path in the here and now
To help me bridge the gap of disengagement
To end the disillusionment
To help me see the light and being
For my purpose in all of this.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Wintery Interlude to My Day

Outside I looked today,
Taking a break from the dreariness of a windowless office
To discover the first snowfall of the season.

Peering at a spectacular swirl of powdery white
I took delight in the quietude of snow steadily falling,
Illuminating the tops of trees and framing window panes.

Filled with a sense of peace and a bit of magical wonder
Back to my endless tasks I returned,
With renewed spirit.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Voice Within

My decision-making abilities have always felt a bit wobbly.   I can't get quiet enough to listen to my Inner voice.  Gut reactions.  Intuition. 

As a result, I go back and forth when trying to make decisions, plagued with doubt about making the wrong choice. 

It could be over something simple, like a pair of boots that I recently bought.  Should I buy the ones with the heel or the ones that are flat?  Back and forth, back and forth.  Silliness I know. 

What I ended up doing was buying both because I couldn't decide!  One pair's going back, but I still don't know which one.

A more important decision that has me wobbly is which house to buy.  It's not like there's a lot of houses for sale in the area we want to live, but when a property does go on the market, back and forth, back and forth I go, unable to decide due to a number of reasons -- price, condition of the house inside, condition of the house outside, teeny details, and big ones too. 

I think there was even one house, I'll call it "the one that got away," which was pretty close to everything we wanted.  But we didn't get it because of my indecision, and ultimately because I could not trust my gut instinct.  Unlike a pair of boots, I can't buy two houses and then return the other one!

This is my latest collage journal.  Interesting what images I was drawn to.  The hands below are holding olives, not grapes.  Olives can be a symbol of peace, trust, wisdom.  Shall I say, intuition?

This, unlike some of my other collages, is simple in the unity of its message.  Trust in the voice within and the right choice will follow. 

I just need to get quiet enough to hear that voice loud and clear.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sharing Joy

I'll be the first to admit that I am not a naturally Joy-Full person.  By this I mean, I have to work hard every day to cultivate joy in my life, otherwise I can be a rather moody individual, even melancholic. 

I am, after all, a Four.  And Fours like hanging out in the darker corners of life, or in my case, hiding out in my serenity shell as opposed to fully engaging in life.  Sometimes.

I am aware of this inward tendency and so I am just as aware of the need to find moments in the every day that fill me with joy.  The moment can be as simple as having a meaningful conversation with someone with whom I am feeling very connected.

Or, drinking a cup of tea in a mindful way, aware of the warmth on my hands, and the nourishing effects of each sip. 

These ordinary acts of pleasure fill my days with bite-size moments of joy.

When I do not make a conscious effort to cultivate joy, I am a person who sees the negative in life, in myself and in others.  That's not a place which is helpful, or healthy. 

I also realize that by cultivating joy within, I am much more able to be compassionate outside myself.  I am able to peek out of my shell and stay out for longer periods of time, with the intent of sharing my joy with others. 

Oh, how interconnected that makes me feel to humanity! 

And isn't that the point of feeling joy?  To share this disposition with everyone whose path intersects yours?
Sometimes being joyful means putting on a funny hat and letting people share in your silliness
Photo taken in Quebec City, Winter 2011

What are things you do to cultivate joy-full-ness?  Are you naturally joy-full? 

Wishing you lots of joy on the path you travel.