Sep042013

The Legacy of Children

Can I take some time to share something that’s on my mind? I don’t usually share such deeply personal things, but today, my thoughts have crystallized in a new way, so I would like to try to express them.

I am 39 and have no children. I don’t think about having children much, but sometimes I wonder if those around me, like my sister with two kids, think I have a golden life. I don’t have to plan my schedule around nap times, or run my life by the extracurricular activities of my pre-teens. I have an incredible husband and the loveliest cat, and they put few demands on me and my time. I am insulated from the craziness of today’s world, in many ways, because of where I live and because I have no kids. I am happily child-free, but it isn’t quite as simple as that (it never is).

Sometimes I think about what my legacy will be. What will I leave behind when I am gone? A mortgage only partially paid off. An old car which I love but has little value beyond its value to me. A grieving husband, if he doesn’t go first. Boxes of momentos.

It is thoughts like these that drive me to write. I have finished two books*, and they, in large part, are my legacy. Writing and publishing books may not compare with the hard work of childrearing, but it’s my work (and my joy) to do it. If you have children, your legacy is obvious.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Raising children today looks like a huge challenge; that’s why I hesitated to do it earlier. That, and the timing of events in my life just hasn’t been conducive to conception. I would have liked, perhaps, to have had a little one or two in my late twenties or early thirties, but those were crazy times. I had just left my abusive husband. I was a wreck for a while, and after that, I simply needed to be alone. I healed from the experience, but since I was wasn’t in a long-term relationship in those prime kid-having years, I feel it wasn’t meant to be. Make no mistake — I am completely at peace with my childlessness.

I write this to share my perspective. While my life is simpler, I sometimes feel like I carry the burden of being a producer — I must make a difference in the world in a way other than bringing a new life into it. I must leave the world a better place — cleaner, sustainable, more beautiful and more kind — for everyone, not just for my children and their children. My perspective is wider, because it can be; a mom with one in diapers is focused on different things than I. I think about the essence of the planetโ€ฆ the spirit of a riverโ€ฆ

Me and JSometimes I feel like I can’t relate to my friends with small children, and I think that they don’t relate to me. I can feel some people wondering if I have tried to have kids and can’t. It makes them feel awkward around me — some of them feel sorry for me. Please, don’t. There is nothing to feel sorry for, or about! I made the wise decision not to bring little people into an abusive family situation (my first marriage), and it was absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made. Now that I feel vaguely ready to have kids, I’m a touch too old, but that is certainly nothing to feel sorry about. Please direct your sympathy elsewhere — there are a thousand better uses for it, including towards your own children! They are your legacy, and they need your unconditional love and acceptance, 24/7.

I am blessed to have little people in my life — in friends and family, and friends that are like family — and I am supremely blessed to have found a husband who is loving, accepting, and appreciative of me. What more could I ask for? Nothing. Nothing at all. ๐Ÿ™‚

*For those who don’t know: My first book is the one associated with this blog, Love Your Skeletons and my second book, just released, is York Boat Captain: 18 Life-Changing Days on the Peace River.

Aug082013

All Headed in the Same Direction

Do you ever see the same person over and over again as you go about your life? It’s strange, isn’t it? Do you ever wonder why you keep bumping into the same person? Or, do you ever go through periods of time where you don’t see anyone around at all?

I often spend time alone — as an introvert, I don’t mind it at all, and I often get my best ideas as a writer when I’m alone. I live in the Northwest Territories, one of Canada’s northernmost regions. The NWT is a big, barely-populated area. To give you an idea of how thin the population density is, consider this:

  • The population of the whole territory is about 41,500 people.
  • Everyone is spread over an area 1.34 million square km (~457,000 sq mi).
  • That’s a little bigger than Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Arkansas combined, or in Europe, it would be France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands all together.
  • According to Wikipedia, the population density of the NWT is 0.04 people/square km, which really means there are 25 square km for each person (9.6 sq mi).
  • In most places, the population density is expressed as people per square kilometre, such as
    – Washington state at 40 people/km2
    – Illinois at 90 people/km2
    – Italy at 198 people/km2.

So, hopefully you can understand how, as I drove 470 km (~290 miles) across the NWT yesterday, I hardly saw any vehicles. I met some oncoming trucks, but only saw one vehicle going the same way as me. After driving that way for several hours, I arrived at the Liard River ferry crossing. (Since it is so expensive to build bridges in most places — the Deh Cho Bridge is a recent exception — the government operates ferries to take vehicles of all shapes and sizes across.) As I approached, I was surprised to see a line up of six pick-up trucks in front of me. Where did they come from?

Well, it seems all that time I was driving, the highway wasn’t abandoned. There were people in front of me, just around the corner beyond my view the whole time. I thought I was alone on the road, but it turns out we were all headed in the same direction, spread out a little so we couldn’t see each other.

The same is true in life. Sometimes, when we’re going through a tough time, we feel alone, but we aren’t — we’re just all going in the same direction, spread out along the way. We all go through similar challenges and stages in life, but we just don’t do it at the same time. There are people with us on the journey, but we don’t always see them. There are people thinking of us and wishing us well, they just don’t come along for every step. Rest assured there are people with you on your journey — you are not alone!

During those times that we feel alone, we get to know ourselves better, and we grow stronger individually. We also learn to believe in ourselves and trust that everything will work out for the best. We learn faith — literally, believing in something we can’t see — when we realize we aren’t alone even though it seems that way.

And if you keep seeing the same person over and over again on the subway, maybe he/she is on the same journey as you — not just on the same subway! Why not smile and say hi?

Johnny Berens Ferry
One of the ferries in the NWT — the Johnny Berens Ferry. This a small one — see how the truck takes up most of it? ๐Ÿ™‚

Jul242013

Starting Over…

Happy New Year’s!

Okay, so it isn’t actually New Year’s Day, is it? But what if it was? Have you ever noticed how great it feels to start over? Possibilities float up. The idea of new beginnings excites us. Anything is possible, and today is a new day — not burdened by yesterday, and never to be repeated.

You can choose to make EVERY day a “New Year’s Day” — a day where you put the past behind and determine to make a new start today. Did you cheat on your New Year’s resolution months ago and give up on yourself? Don’t do that! It is never too late to start over. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt — forgive yourself — and start over.

Still feeling haunted by a mistake from your past? Let today be a “New Year’s Day” where you stop looking behind you and start living in the moment. (And of course, reading Love Your Skeletons will really help!)

I’m not a morning person, so even when I’m feeling good, I have to talk to myself for a while to convince myself to get out of bed. I think that setting the intention before going to bed that tomorrow is a new day helps! When you wake up the next morning, you might find it a little easier to leave the past behind and face the day with renewed courage.

Tomorrow is a new day

Jul212013

The Power of Food

I was mildly depressed for a while this morning. This isn’t like me; I am usually pretty happy, so I was a bit confused about why I was in such a low mood. Here are some things I was thinking/feeling:

  • I wanted to have coffee. I have been “off coffee” for quite a while, because I don’t like how jittery it makes me feel. Now, of all mornings, I was wanting someโ€ฆ
  • I wanted to watch a “comfort show” on TV. I have a show — okay, I’ll admit, it’s Star Trek: The Next Generation — that I like to watch, just to kill time and “to keep me company.” What was odd today is that I never want to watch anything so early in the day. Usually, the Star Trek bug hits in mid-afternoon.
  • I kept thinking about events of yesterday. Yesterday was a good day overall, but there were a few things that I would have liked to go differently. I was rehashing those things and starting to feel really cruddy.
  • In general, I was dissatisfied and discontent. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I didn’t feel like knitting or reading anything, which are often things I do in the morning when I’m not too busy. On the whole, I felt like “self-medicating” in some way — I wanted to distract myself with TV, get zipped up with coffee and forget yesterday. I might have even been tempted by booze if there was some around!

Suddenly, I realized what was going on: I was hungry. I hadn’t eaten much for breakfast (unusual for me) and my blood sugar was low. All I’d had was a half a grapefruit and a cup of green tea, which is an okay start to breakfast, but not breakfast, at least not for me. That’s all it was — I wasn’t suffering from depression, there wasn’t anything “wrong with my life,” and I didn’t need anything to “cope.” All I needed was some healthy food and my mood improved greatly.

I share this story in case you ever feel the same! Please, take care of yourself and eat good, healthy food — whatever that means for you, I’m not going to give specifics and say you should never eat this and always eat that. I find I feel the best when I stick to less-processed food, but you eat whatever makes you feel good.

Why Food is so Important

Why does food make such a big difference in our moods? It’s because of how our bodies work. We need energy, in the form of sugar, to think and for our muscles to work. When we don’t have enough sugar in our blood stream, our body releases chemicals, such as the hormone adrenaline, that help to free up stored sugar, but those chemicals don’t make us feel very good. In a way, they are a warning sign for us to go and eat. Adrenaline is meant to give us a boost of superhuman strength for stressful situations, and when we aren’t active, such as when we’re just sitting at a desk, all that energy doesn’t have an outlet. Being active by getting more exercise or playing sports helps (in so many ways), but the root cause is what we are feeding our bodies.

I have a naturopath friend who uses the 100-year rule. She simply asks herself “did they eat this 100 years ago?” If not, then she doesn’t eat it. Fruit roll-ups? Nope. Granola bars? Nope. Oatmeal? Yes. Eggs? Yes. This helps her eliminate a lot of processed foods (granola bars are some of the worst). Another tip is to glance at the ingredients. If most of them are chemicals too long to pronounce, don’t buy it — if you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it!

Our bodies are incredible — we can eat almost nothing and go all day. In an emergency, we can survive for days on just water. Be kind to yourself and eat healthy foods, starting with a good breakfast — and as your day unfolds, don’t let yourself to get too hungry/grumpy. If you don’t feel like being kind to yourself, then take a little time to look inside yourself and see if you know why. Are you punishing yourself for something you did? Are you judging yourself harshly? Are you mad about something? Harboring unforgiveness? You may want to re-read chapters 13 – 20 (in Love Your Skeletons) and refocus on gratitude, self-acceptance, and positive things.

Jul202013

Beauty is Skin Deep

Once in a while, I come across a really great TED talk and just have to share it!

This one, by supermodel Cameron Russell is about beauty, society, and
how photos don’t represent who she really is. The video is only 9:38 min, so give it a look!

Jul192013

The Best Things About Going for a Walk

I love to go for walks. It feels good to get my body moving — legs and arms swinging — and I like the sun on my face and the breeze in my hair. I wanted to share a few tips to get the most out of a walk!

summer sky mackenzie riverStart with gratitude. Look up at the sky. Appreciate the fresh air, sunshine, noisy neighbourhood dogs, whatever!

Go at any time of day. Some people swear by the early-morning walks, but I say go for a walk whenever you have time. Sometimes, a walk after supper is perfect. Maybe a walk at lunch from your workplace is the way to go.

Keep it short. We’re all busy people! You can get a huge benefit from even a short walk, and if your walk makes you late for other things, that only adds to your stress.

Don’t push yourself. Sometimes, you will feel like taking on the world, walking fast and energetically. Other days, you might feel more like sauntering along. Whichever way it is, go with it.

Don’t let the weather stop you. Sometimes, it’s fun braving the cold or rain to see what you’re really made of! If it’s cruddy, you can always cut your walk short, but I often find I enjoy my walks in mediocre weather just as much as the fair-weather ones! You’ll notice different things and see the world around you with new eyes.

Like aps? There are lots of free aps for tracking your walks, to see how far you went or what route you took. Just don’t be glued to your phone — put it in your pocket and forget about it. Simply search “walking” and see what you can find.

Be safe. Depending on where you are walking, you might need to take some measures to be safe. For some, it might mean taking a friend with you. For me, sometimes it means taking a can of bear spray and knowing what to do if I encounter a bear when I go walking on a forest trail!

Go often. Don’t save going for a walk for a special occasion. Go as often as you can! Take your kids or dog, if you have them — they will benefit from the fresh air, too.

Acknowledge the people you meet. Be prepared to smile and nod, or say hello, to the people you make eye contact with along the way. Even in big cities, there are micro-communities of walkers and if you start doing it regularly, you will start recognizing people and your world will become a friendlier place.

Stay in the moment. As you walk, try not to let your mind wander away from where you are right now. It’s easy to start thinking about things you need to do, or phone calls you need to make, but you will get the most out of your walk if you can stay in the present moment as much as possible. As you practice, you will find yourself doing it more and more, so keep at it!

Jun272013

What Does the Future Hold?

Little Doctor Lake, NWT

Sometimes, it just hits you — I don’t need to know everything, and that’s okay. The Universe is looking out for me… And I can finally breathe easy and relax.

– – – – –

This photos is taken looking back at Little Doctor Lake, NWT, as we fly away in the float plane that brought us there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Jun252013

Vibration and Resonance

I know sometimes I talk about vibration on this blog, and since it is a foreign concept to some of you, I enjoy finding new ways to explain what I mean. Here is one that relates to sound waves.

Have you ever seen a tuning fork? It is a piece of metal of a particular size, so that when it is made to vibrate (usually by whacking it on a table or with something hard), it makes a particular note. They are used to tune instruments — once the sound is produced, the instrument can be tuned to it — or to find the right note to start a song (for groups singing acapella).

Now, there is a principle in physics called resonance. Resonance happens when there are several tuning forks, all the same, and just one is struck. This causes the others to start vibrating at the same frequency, just because they are nearby and they are tuned the same. A tuning fork that is tuned for a different note will not start vibrating.

Check out this cute video by a high school student. ๐Ÿ™‚

The same thing happens all the time in our lives. For example, when I think thoughts and put out intentions for how my life will be (whether conscious or unconscious), I am vibrating, sort of like the first tuning fork. As I go about my life, I encounter people of all different notes. When I come across some that are tuned the same as me, we have interesting, valuable, intense interactions — we resonate. The type of interaction depends on what note we are all vibrating in resonance to — if it is one of happiness, then we will have fantastic, happy times to together. If it is one of anger, we will probably get into a fight. If it is one of depression, we will act out that play together.

If I encounter people vibrating at a different frequency, we won’t interact much. If our frequencies are very far apart, we won’t even meet. That is how the Law of Attraction works, too — when the vibe is too far apart, the two things can’t be attracted to each other. For example, if you want to meet a “good man,” but you keep thinking about how your slimeball ex-boyfriends treated you, you won’t attract a man to treat you good — you’ll keep attracting slime balls (although they may be wearing better clothes)!

So I hope that analogy helps you think about what vibe you are putting out and what kind of resonance you will see in your life.

Jun202013

Possibilities!

Sometimes, I can't help but think

Sorry I haven’t posted any new articles or insights in a while, but I have been writing on other projects lately. In fact, what started out as a blog post for this site is now becoming a chapter in my next book, so although you’ll have to wait a while until you get to read it, it’s good stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚

This week’s inspirational picture was taken along the Mackenzie River, in Canada’s beautiful Northwest Territories. The float planes are from Simpson Air, in case you’re interested, and seeing them truly does make me think of the possibilities! With a float plane, you don’t need a runway or a landing strip — any lake that’s big enough or river that’s not full of rapids will do!

Jun062013

A Safe Harbour

Safe harbour

When times are tough and everything seems so difficult, remember that there is always a safe harbour waiting for you. You are never far from the Source of wisdom, insight and strength… Spirit is but a thought away, waiting to help… and you have more friends than you know!

– – – – –

I took this photo on the west coast of Vancouver Island, not far from Ucluelet, BC. Beautiful!

May312013

The Lord’s Prayer, Unscrambled

I recently listened to a podcast where the speaker, Patrick Cameron, read aloud a different version of The Lord’s Prayer. Pretty much everyone knows it like this:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory
Forever and ever,
Amen.

Patrick read a more direct translation, from Aramaic to English, instead of Aramaic to Greek to Latin to Old English to modern English.

O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration,
Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us
where your presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desires.
Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and to flourish.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose,
But illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
The birther, power and fulfillment,
As all is gathered and is made whole once again.

Phenomenal. I love it! It is amazing to read and re-read, pausing and absorbing all the nuances.

It’s surprising to me that there seem to be quite a few lines that don’t directly translate across. If you’re like me and want to see them compared, let’s have a look. I will try to group them, but it isn’t easy, because they are so different.

Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
O Cosmic Birther of all radiance and vibration,
Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Soften the ground of our being and carve out a space within us where your presence can abide.
Fill us with your creativity so that we may be empowered to bear the fruit of your mission.
Let each of our actions bear fruit in accordance with our desires.
Give us this day our daily bread, Endow us with the wisdom to produce and share what each being needs to grow and to flourish.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Untie the tangled threads of destiny that bind us as we release others from the entanglement of past mistakes.
Lead us not into temptation, Do not let us be seduced by that which would divert us from our true purpose,
But deliver us from evil. But illuminate the opportunities of the present moment.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power and the glory,
Forever and ever, Amen.
For you are the ground and the fruitful vision,
the birther, power and fulfillment,
as all is gathered and is made whole once again.

I find on the whole, the version on the left is more passive-sounding. Thy will be done… Give us… Lead us… The version on the right is more active-sounding. …so that we may be empowered… Let each of our actions bear fruit… Endow us… And I wonder how “illuminate the opportunities of the present moment” became “deliver us from evil.” There doesn’t seem to be any correlation there at all! It almost seems like as the prayer was translated, somewhere along the way, someone decided to remind everyone of evil and distract them from the beauty of the present moment.

I love the last line: As all is gathered and is made whole once again. Isn’t that wonderful to think about. All is gathered up — all your frazzled ends, all the ties flapping in the wind, all the frayed edges… everything scooped up in a gigantic, cosmic embrace — and is made whole again — at peace, at one, healed… whole.

~

I can see that memorizing the unscrambled, less-translated version would be harder, but then again, memorizing something can make us recite it so automatically, it is completely without thought. Our lips move while we think about something altogether different. I wonder how our lives might change if we read and thought about the unscrambled version every day? I think I might give it a try… I’ll let you know how the experiment turns out. ๐Ÿ™‚

May292013

Two Ways to Embrace Life

Now is the time and we are the ones. - Ernest Holmes

In Love Your Skeletons, I talk about how we are made up of body, mind and spirit, and in this post, I talk about how we often feel like we have a dual nature — sort of bipolar — between physical and spiritual. Let’s look at the body and spirit aspects of ourselves — we “do the looking” with our mind — to see how we can live a happier, more unified life.

I think sometimes people think that in order to be truly enlightened, one needs to deny the body and become some sort of extreme yogi, nun or guru. Well, I have a different idea.

If you have the courage, passion, and make the conscious decision to live fully in the physical world

soaking in every moment, thrilled in every pleasure, basking in every joy, feeling every pain fully, not withdrawing from uncomfortable things, breathing deeply, seeing deeply, hearing deeply

then without really trying, the spiritual world is opened to you as well. You will see the miraculous every day, connect to your higher self, touch a deeper wisdom, hear and talk to angels… feel the presence of God.

On the other hand, if you have the courage, patience and make the conscious decision to live more closely to the spiritual world

look for angels and faeries, pray without ceasing, use mantras, deny the physical desires and seek the spiritual enlightenment instead, and listen constantly for the still, small voice within

then without really trying, the physical world is opened to you as well. Things go smoothly. You will not be concerned with how your needs are met. What you want or need will simply show up with perfect timing. You will experience all of life’s sweetest joys and lovely pleasures. Your senses will be highly tuned and your physical world will be sweet.

If, however, you neither embrace the physical aspects fully — you numb yourself with mood-altering substances like drugs, alcohol or food, or distract yourself constantly with TV, movies or games — nor commune with the spiritual — you believe in science so fully, you refuse to acknowledge there is more to life, or you allow your ego to run your life — you will live in a shadowy netherworld of the mind, not living fully, not experiencing all that life has to offer. You will embody mediocrity. Your life will be painted in shades of grey, or beige, or taupe.

Yet we are all living in the shades of grey! None of us has it all figured out, doing everything we mean to do perfectly and consistently. But being aware of where you are, why you are doing what you are doing, and how your thoughts are affecting your life is amazing, so go ahead and celebrate the beiges, greys and taupes!

You don’t have be a spiritual guru. You don’t have to give up all life’s pleasures. You can choose instead to embrace, rather than fight, your physical nature. You will naturally remember your spiritual side.

Or perhaps the idea of being a guru — a highly tuned spiritual being — excites you! Then do that, and do it fully! Before too long, you will also be at peace with your physicality as well.

So, let this be a gentle shake, a friendly nudge, to get out of mediocrity and the world inside your head and live your life!

Now is the time and we are the ones. - Ernest Holmes

May152013

A True Friend’s Creed

I will not join you

A true friend will stick with you without falling for your story.

They will see the best in you, even when you’re at your worst.

They won’t get sucked in to your self-pity but will remember your awesome potential when you have forgotten.

They are precious, but not like gold or jewels, for they are free, and never to be owned.

– – – – –

This photo was taken in Wrigley, Northwest Territories, Canada. The mountain is commonly called Table Mountain, and the sunrises are breathtaking.

May082013

Forgiveness

Forgiveness

Chapter 20 of Love Your Skeletons is all about Finding Forgiveness.

This photo was taken in Canada’s Northwest Territories, near Little Doctor Lake, in early September. We were flying back from an amazing weekend spent in the beautiful woods at this lodge. The plane was a DeHavilland Beaver — a classic float plane — and we were flying over the boreal forest. ๐Ÿ™‚

May012013

Everything…

Everything is for my good