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

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.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Make a Wish

I am currently making wishes:

1) For my husband to attain a full-time teaching position (he is currently teaching half days in a Gr. 2 classroom).
2) For us to find a house that is affordable but that also touches our heart in some way.  A place we can truly call, home.
3) For us to have grateful hearts despite whatever we feel are our hardships
4) For us to dwell in peace within, so that we may be emissaries of peace outside ourselves

Wishing you the fulfillment of your wishes too.

Photo taken within Boldt Castle

Saturday, October 1, 2011

A Word or Two, Ok, Maybe a Few...On Trusting

Max Ehrmann, in his poem Desiderata wrote,

And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,

keep peace in your soul.

I would definitely benefit from having more trust in the unfolding of the Universe, even when it appears that things are far from ideal, or at the very least, not going my way. 

I am currently reading, Writing and the Spiritual Life, and the line,
Within myself, I can bump up against God and still not trust Him
resonates quite deeply.

Life is definitely easier when I place trust in that which is Greater than myself. 
But, oh, how forgetful am I
when I think it's all up to me to make things happen. 

Here's to bumping up against a Higher Power and trusting,
What is to be, will be,
For my betterment.
Though it may not always be
Apparent at the time.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Collage Journal: How Are You?

Here's my latest collage journal:

(Images taken from the magazines O, Chatelaine and Alive)

Lately, I've been like the woman on the top right who has smoke, fire, and heat emanating from the top of her head. 

 The Right Hand asked:  Why such fury?

The Left Hand answered:  Mostly frustration and short "tempered-ness" over various issues -- hubs' search for work, house hunting in a ridiculously over-priced market, and other wifely nit-pickies.  Hubs is asking for acceptance, patience, and greater compassion.  Of course I can offer this.  The point being, I am capable of this.  Doing it. Now that's the real issue.  It would be far more peaceful to show restraint and calm instead of blowing my top (with dark, billowing smoke) as in the image. 

The Right Hand asked:  What are the fruits about? 

The Left Hand answered: A reminder to live in a healthy way and to diminish behaviour that can only be poisonus to the body, such as anger.  The fruits, particularly the berries all have antioxidant properties. 

The Right Hand asked:  Can you really dwell in equanimity like the woman taking delight in the present?

The Left Hand answered:  Just looking at her in this stance melts the fury.  I want to be present and to delight in a warm cup of tea with nourishing reading materials by my side.

The Right Hand asked:  Tell me more about the horseback ride.

The Left Hand answered:  That would be so exhilarating, yet terrifying too.  In moments of pure letting go, I would be in a state of bliss, no worries, no fears.  What an awesome inner space.

The Right Hand asked:  Two images, a younger self standing on a swing looking outward, and an older self along the bottom of a path, near the water.  What's captivating their attention?

The Left Hand answered:  The younger self clearly has no fear, standing there on the swing, she is looking outward at all the possibility that awaits in life.  How is it that our younger selves are so fearless and filled with such courage? 

Comparatively, the older self along the path is in a state of confusion or self-questioning, perhaps doubt.  She is looking downward, not ahead.  She is trying to find her bearings so that she may continue along the path, where ever that path may lead.

I am praying to find the courage to stand on my swing. 
Acceptance, patience, greater compassion. 
With self, and others.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Question of Authenticity

Narcissus fell in love with his shadow because he could not recognize his true self. He ended up in love with a false sense of self -- his ego.
Lately, I, too, have been struggling with questions of authenticity. Who is the real me?

I reflect on the ways I conduct myself in my professional life and I find myself judging the persona of:

a woman with the right answers
a woman with high energy
a woman with confidence and
of competence.

But is this my authentic self or just the mask I put on?

In my most private moments, I know the self that I am far more comfortable with is the quiet self, the serenity snail if you will.

But I fear that self is de-valued in our fast-paced lives and in our quick interactions with others.

How do I, then, learn to integrate both selves instead of judging one or the other?

Does the answer simply lie in being present to my experiences at work, at home, and in the privacy of my own inner world? If I am present and mindful, then there is no room for the false ego, the Pinocchio of myself rearing its ugly head. So much easier said than done!
(This image was taken in Florence, Italy)

I know my mask is glued firmly in place when I feel threatened, insecure or as though I have to prove myself. Indeed, that is exactly how I feel in my new position at work right now.

If I could simply let go of my fears, and relax into myself, perhaps I would not feel such inner duality?

Unlike Narcissus, I want to fall in love with my authentic self, not my shadow.  To actually experience self-love that is true without the narcissism -- now that would be Divine.

(Taken at Boldt Castle)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Office Mindfulness Reminders

I am beginning to see that my new position at a new school is very fast-paced. At any given time, students, staff, parents, phone calls, emails are all competing for my attention -- often all at once. In the midst of the busy-ness, I am losing my mind, yes, but also my ability to be present and mindful.

I wonder what mindfulness reminders I could institute in my office to remind me periodically of the need to just dwell in serenity for a moment: to feel my body, to breathe deeply and to quiet my mind. It is so easy to get swept away with the currents and tidal waves of a fast-paced work-life.

I am open to any mindfulness reminders that have worked for you in the home or office that I may practise.

Right now, I have a book on my desk at work entitled, Present Moment, Wonderful Moment. Just glancing at the title instills a little moment of pause.

I am all for other suggestions.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Change Awaits

Next week, I'll be starting a new position at a new school. I was at my previous school for 5 years. That may not seem like a very long time but by my fifth year, it felt as though I had been there forever and was ready for a change, not to mention a much shorter commute to work. It took me over an hour by subway and bus to get to my school. Thankfully, my new commute will be no more than 15 minutes.

Despite all the things I am looking forward to at my new school (arts-based programming, high caliber students, close-knit guidance department), I am also anxious. And naturally so. Whenever we embark on change or transition of any kind, there is a feeling of fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of our own abilities to meet challenges.
Fear in our decision-making: Did we do the right thing by embarking on this change?

I am sitting with all these emotions and more.

I also created this collage to help me process some of the change that awaits.

At the time I randomly selected images on the collage without giving too much thought to any of them. When I viewed the end result, I was left with some questions. The first being, Why the parrot?

So I journaled with my non-dominant hand to answer this question. (This is a technique that I blogged about in a previous post.)

Here's what I accessed:

I've been trying to figure out why I selected this huge, brightly colored parrot in the image. Parrots mimic; mindless mimicry. I am my own person and need to rely and trust my intuition, not leave it to others. The parrot, in a reverse sort of way, is reminding me to trust myself.

The right hand asked, Anything else with respect to the parrot?

The left hand answered:
I love the colors. They are beautiful and bright. The parrot is sitting on the woman's head/umbrella. The woman is trying to shelter herself from too much change it seems (what with the lemons of change falling on her). The parrot is keeping her firmly in place. It's almost making her resist the change.

I don't entirely feel that way. I am ready to embrace change. The parrot, however, is saying if you're not careful/mindful/alert, you may fall into your repetitive ways!!! Yes. That's why the parrot is there. To warn not to fall into a repetitive, stagnant pattern, as parrots and humans are apt to do.
The right side of the collage symbolizes resistance/apprehension to change. The left side is ready to take it on and to take it afloat, like the balloons.

The right hand asked, What's the woman on the bike about?

The left hand answered:
She's turning left. Turning a corner of life. She's also doing a balancing act between different areas of her life -- her man, work, play. The woman above her is self-assured and strong. She is happy and taking care of herself and her body.
The balloons are light and carefree. The stars are there to guide the woman who is a representation of me.

She is ready to turn the corner and embrace change.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Summer's End

To me, nothing symbolizes summer more than sunflowers. They mark the warmth and playfulness of summer which luxuriously unfolds and stretches itself out in June and July. Come August, the sunflower is a reminder of the wistfulness we have for those long summer days, when daylight seemed endless.

Alas, savor the summer, what's left of it anyway.

I love how the bee was captured in this image completely by chance.

This lotus flower gave me a moment of pause and reflection. My hubs and I both listed the top five things we were most grateful for this summer.

A perfect way to end a lovely summer afternoon.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

If This Tree Could Speak...

...What would it say?

I suppose it's a weird thing to admit I love looking at trees. I suppose it's even weirder to think trees can speak? But this particular tree had me do a double-take. You have to admit, the shape is very unusual and almost human-like? (It abides in the garden of a beautiful B&B we were staying in while on vacation.)

If this tree could speak, what would it say?


Come dance with me...

or ...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Collage Journaling

I am so grateful to my friend Tracy who steered me towards the exciting inner work of collage journaling as a way to tap into the subconscious mind. For the past several weeks, I have been deep-sea diving into my psyche through collage work, finding images that resonate with me either positively or negatively. Each of the collages I have created so far have provided a portal of insight into my emotions.

What's more, Tracy introduced me to the concept of using my non-dominant hand to answer questions I may have about the images on the collage. So the idea is to view a newly created collage for a day or so -- to allow the images "speak" to you -- then to pose questions to particular images with your dominant hand and respond with the non-dominant hand. This technique may sound rather unusual but it has definitely awakened my dormant creativity and has helped me process some issues I've been grappling with. For more information about this type of work, I'll refer you to a couple of valuable sources -- an expressive arts website and a resource that leads to more information about using the other hand.

Here are some collages I've worked on so far:

Reaching My Potential

Being Happy With Life: Supporting Change

Cupping Life's Possibilities, With Love

Allowing the Healing Energy to Flow

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fields of Lavender

This past week, we experienced a small taste of Provence on a Lavender Farm in Prince Edward County (PEC). It was quite enchanting with its lovely fragrance and breathtaking beauty. While this gorgeous butterfly fluttered from one patch of lavender to another, we took in the fresh, calming scent of this uniquely versatile flower.
After a walk through the fields, I was excited to purchase some lavender honey from the little gift shop.

Apparently, lavender honey is very expensive to produce because the yield from the bees is so little. Nonetheless, this honey falls in the category of life's little indulgences, which is just so worth it. Particularly, if enjoyed mindfully, and in a state of total presence. Just one teaspoon of lavender honey in my morning cup of tea is enough to awaken my weary soul from its slumber -- figuratively for sure, but literally, too, I imagine. Check out HoneyPie who sell their lavender honey and other products in PEC, as well as some farmer's markets in Toronto.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Travels

I'm doing some traveling this summer. Of the arm-chair variety. Last summer we were blessed to travel to Italy for two weeks on an organized tour. We saw over a dozen cities, which only whet our appetite for far more. We'd love to go back at some point. Clearly, two days in Rome was not enough, more like laughable. This time, we'd jump at the chance to hike through the Cinque Terre as opposed to spending one quick afternoon. So much yet to explore indeed.

But not this summer.

Alas, arm-chair traveling it will have to be, for prudent reasons of course. However, that shouldn't stop me from experiencing some culture and semblance of travel by sinking my teeth into as many travelogues and/or memoirs set especially in Italy or France -- places that hold me (and so many others) captive for mysterious reasons.

Any book suggestions set in either of these countries would be much appreciated.

Just today, I finished Tout Sweet, which was enjoyable in a fluffy, chick-lit sort of way. I did admire the author's boldness in leaving her glamorous life in England to live in a rural village of France in her mid-thirties. Did I mention, she visits a run-down house in the village and puts an offer on the house that very afternoon? It cost her a mere 35 thousand pounds or thereabouts. Quite a steal, no? Incroyable! But what truly baffles me is not why property in some regions of France costs so little.

Rather, where in the world do people find this level of spunk and courage to take risks and pursue their innermost desires? I'd like to get me a bottle of what she's having.

Ok, I'll settle for a petit wine glass.

Alright, just a sip will do.

To the sweet life.

I've entitled this image Sunset in Sorrento. It was taken on a villa last summer, deep in the lemon groves.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.

This opening to the life
we have refused
again and again
until now.
Until now

David Whyte, Where Many Rivers Meet

Monday, May 16, 2011

Musings on Materialism

And so it is, what a life of privilege I lead. Yummy food, fashionable clothes, roof over my head, entertainment, leisure time, great and fulfilling job… Is there really anything to complain about, or a reason to feel remotely unhappy? And yet, there are stirrings of discontent because life isn’t quite perfect. Hubby and I don’t have a house (material possession); we aren’t “settled” i.e. don’t make as much money as those our age (envy and projection); we don’t have kids (fear related to financial uncertainty and my own stuff).

In April we watched a lot of documentaries (The End of Poverty, Water on the Table) and went to see speakers (the notable David Suzuki) who discussed the disparity between the world’s have’s and have not’s and the environmental damage this inequality is wreaking.

More weighing on my conscience is the emotional and spiritual damage this type of material seeking perpetuates. As I struggle to stop making frivolous purchases, I am ashamed to admit, I simply do not have the will to pass by the window of a SALE sign and not make my way inside, particularly if it’s one of my favourite clothing stores. This may sound relatively trivial but most of us “have’s” do have that one, maybe more, vice – whether it’s the overwhelming urge to purchase the latest technological gadget or home improvement good or other big (or small) ticket item. We don’t really “need” these possessions, but boy, do they ever make us feel—and more importantly— “look” good.

We live in such a material and image-driven culture. We are conditioned to believe that these material items are essential to our happiness. We accept this without consciously even knowing that this is what we believe. Only if/when we have a moment of pause or reflection, or, when we’re hit on the head with facts (80% of the world’s resources are used by 20% of the population) that are just too difficult to ignore, do we finally see the reality of our consumptive ways. And so while we may be sobered into feeling remorse, shame, guilt, even outrage—these emotions rarely last more than a few hours or days.

And the cycle continues.

Do I have a solution? Nope. Am I going to consume less? I suppose in many ways, hubby and I do not consume very much as it is. We live in a tiny condo space that we rent, we have 1 car, take public transit as much as we can, and do not have much “stuff”, mostly because we have no where to store it! But that’s not to say in the deepest recesses of my mind, I don’t desire to have more things, or that I don’t envy those who seemingly have more. Isn’t that terrible? I feel like my hubby and I are just waiting for ourselves to “arrive” and join the ranks of all those other lucky folk who have the house, the china set, and all the fancy trimmings. We are in our 30’s after all!


These thoughts come from there, not the heart or soul.

But these futile comparisons wait and lurk, assaulting my senses every so often, as much as I intuitively know that having more is not what nourishes.

Case in point, this past weekend we were ‘brunching’ at my brother-in-law’s beautiful, spacious, four-bedroom house in an up and coming neighbourhood just outside the Toronto Area. (He and my husband are identical twins so the comparisons will be especially poignant here. And in case you’re wondering, who’s older, it’s his brother by 11 minutes, and yes, birth order plays a huge role within the family dynamic, even with twins).

Anyhow, my brother-in-law and his very gregarious wife were marvelling over a recent purchase they had made – of a vacuum cleaner, yes, a vacuum cleaner, that was originally over $700 that they paid a mere $500 for. They even brought the vacuum cleaner out to demonstrate its apparent awesomeness. I kid you not, when it was hauled into the room, I thought it looked like a gigantic Transformers toy from the 80’s, and said so, which got a few chuckles and head nods. After being dazzled by the Transformers vacuum, our attention was brought to their relatively new leather couch set, complete with built-in lazy boy features on their 3-seater and stand-alone. We got a demo of that too. When we sat down for brunch, we were further wowed with home-made waffles from an actual waffle-maker (not that expensive we were told, only $100). Do ordinary people actually own restaurant-style waffle-makers? Where do they store them? At our place, we hardly have enough cupboard space for our every-day dishes!

Getting back to the brunch table, which was overflowing with goodies, we were offered a beautiful white wine that they had bottled themselves, originally a $200+ cost for a couple dozen bottles, that they had paid half price for courtesy of a promotional sale. Again, we were marvelled and dazzled at all the luxury.

Oh, did I mention that just the night before, they had booked a fabulous trip to Portugal and Spain for two weeks in June?

It just doesn’t get any better than this, does it?

I just hope, somewhere in their hearts, they say a sincere prayer of gratitude every night for truly being blessed with abundance.
Because if they don’t, then the mild envy I already feel is more bitter than bittersweet.

I mean, let’s face it – we don’t choose which part of the world we’re born in, anymore than we choose the economic status of our families. So, in many ways, our good fortunes from an economic sense (even despite higher education and our own hard work) are just a random phenomenon of placement at birth. We, the have’s, are not entitled to the possessions we own — we are simply blessed, or at best, damn lucky.

This thought humbles me. It provides me with perspective. It makes me view my existing good fortune, with or without the house and its trimmings through the lens of gratitude and appreciation.

My heart is full. I am blessed.

And I strive to nourish myself in the only way that matters.

From within.