Boredom

I’ll be honest, it makes me a bit crazy and agitated when students of mine tell me they’re bored. It doesn’t happen often (probably because I tell them I don’t want to hear it if they are), and when it does, I tell them what my dad used to tell me: “only boring people get bored.”

I don’t know when kids decided that life had to be a constant stream of entertainment and fun. I’ve heard so many kids complain about being bored at recess or bored with an activity that we are doing in class. Sometimes, as a teacher, I feel my job is to be as excited and enthusiastic as possible about what I am teaching to keep their attention. Sometimes I feel more like a tv show host than a teacher. I bring in props, use funny voices and dress in costumes to keep things interesting.

So what’s with the whole boredom thing?  Do kids say they’re bored when they find something uninteresting? Or is it that they would rather be doing something else? Is it because they are used to playing video games, watching tv or having someone schedule an activity for them?

Whatever happened to free time? I remember feeling like summers lasted forever when I was a kid. There were so many days to fill, and my friends and I used our imaginations to come up with things to do. We had cartwheel and handstand contests on the front yard for hours, we choreographed dances, made up plays, lip-synched to our favorite songs, wrote songs of our own, read comics, went for walks, hung out at the mall, drew pictures and listened to music (to name a few things). I don’t remember ever saying that I was bored as I could always come up with something to do.

I think that it’s a good thing to have quiet time or downtime. We fill our lives with so many distractions in order to never be bored, but I feel that this may be limiting our creativity. Out of boredom comes the desire to do something or make something. According to Teresa Belton, visiting fellow at the School of Education & Lifelong Learning at the University Of East Anglia and boredom expert, research shows unstructured downtime helps kids become creative, independent thinkers. “Boredom needn’t be feared, and it can be seen as an opportunity.” What do you think about boredom?

What do you do when you are bored?

~Graffiti picture from the streets of Vancouver – unknown artist.

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Happy Anniversary (to me)

Yesterday was my anniversary. Well, I guess that could be relative, depending on when you are reading this post. Let me be more precise. Yesterday, April 2nd, was my anniversary. It was my 6th wedding anniversary with my incredibly awesome husband.

6 years ago we said our “I do’s” barefoot on a beach in Belize (that has the making of a good tongue twister). Our witnesses were the salty breezes, the sea birds and the undulating Carribbean waters (and two people who worked at the resort and a bunch of guests lounging in the pools beside where we were married). Our Marriage Commissioner was some kind of tv celebrity there (he hosted a morning show) so that was quite fortuitous and exciting for the locals.

But I didn’t notice anyone but him. After so many years of hardship, emotional upheaval and struggle, I had found my perfect partner in the form of a German helicopter pilot with a sharp intellect and a wicked sense of humor (he isn’t too hard on the eyes either). These 6 years have flown by. When I met him my kids were 15 and 12, and I had already been married twice (the first was to their dad and the second was to a guy who wasn’t that great with them), so it wasn’t exactly my intention to get too serious with anybody.

For our first date, we met at a sushi restaurant, which for those of you in the dating world is the perfect place to go. If the date doesn’t go well, you can leave before too long as the food comes quickly and doesn’t take long to eat. My daughter had also come up with a plan to save me from the date in case it was potentially a dud. She would call me about 20 minutes after our meeting time, and if I wanted to leave, and I would act like there had been some emergency at home. I practiced my reaction at home to see if I could sound convincing.

Me: “Hi honey….slow down, I can’t understand you. He did what? Your brother’s arm got cut off? or “THE HOUSE IS ON FIRE??!!! Oh my god, yes, I’ll come right now!!”

Him: “Oh no, did something happen?”

Me: (super flustered and worried-looking) “Um, yeah, I’m so sorry but I need to leave right now!!”

And then I would throw some money on the table (’cause I don’t expect him to pay for everything, it’s 2019, right?) and run out the door, never to be seen again.

This is not what happened. Instead, I was having a wonderful time and really enjoying the conversation when ZuZu called. The actual version of the conversation went something like this:

Me: “Hi honey, what’s up?” (I pause for response and random words on the other end of the phone and quietly tell him it’s my daughter calling)

“Oh, ok. Yes, everything is going great. Yep, I’ll probably be home in an hour-ish. Did you want me to pick you up something from the store? Ok, love you.”

He asked, (being the astute man that he is) “was that your get of out jail free phone call?”

This is not verbatim, of course, but you get the point. After our fantastic date, we went on a walk around the reservoir and got along amazingly. I was delightfully surprised by him…he was super articulate, smart, funny, charming, charismatic and handsome. It was the best first date I’d ever been on and, although I didn’t know it, the last first date I’d ever have.

Happy Anniversary to me, to us, and to all you out there who have found someone to love. xo

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Winter Woes

Ok winter, we are officially on bad terms now. I am so over the snow and slush and dirt and mush…please high five spring and tag ‘er in!

Six months of winter weather is just too damn long…there are a lot of positives to living in Grande Prairie, Alberta, but this is not one of them. The house prices are not as expensive as a lot of places, the wages are pretty good, and the standard of living is quite high…but half of my closet and storage space is filled up with winter paraphernalia. Snow pants, winter jackets, tuques, mitts, gloves, scarves, neck warmers, ear muffs, winter boots, snow shovels, a snow blower (yes, darn-tootin’ we got one a few years back), anti-freeze, salt for sidewalks, lock de-icer, Little Hottie hand /feet warmers, ice skates, hockey sticks, helmets, skis, ski boots, toboggans, you name it. Oh yeah, I forgot winter tires and those spiky things I put on the bottom of my boots when I’m out walking on icy roads. That’s a whole garage full of gear associated with winter.

I have this dream that someday I’ll live in a warm place with no snow or maybe only a week or two of snow. You know, the type of snow that looks pretty for a couple of days and then melts? One or two days of that sticky snow that is perfect for a snowman or a snowball fight is all that’s needed. When we were in Munich there was a light dusting of snow for a couple of days (barely enough to shovel) and it looked Christmassy and magical like an old-fashioned postcard. It was the perfect amount of snow to accessorize the festive decor and tickle our noses while we perused the Christmas markets (Kriskindlemarkt) and drank mulled wine (Glühwein or Feuerzangenbowle).

Yesterday it finally started to warm up. The sun was beaming and I could even do errands without a coat on! I felt as though I could finally breathe again! Well, speaking of breathing, this is my most problematic time of the year for my asthma as I’m very allergic to snow mold. Seriously, people, the snow is here for so long that there is a grey mold all over the grass when it melts. Aaaaaachoooo!

I want to live in a place in which I can eat outside on the deck every day, and maybe even have a swimming pool. I know someone who moved to Nashville and said that they actually missed the snow!! Say wha?

Maybe if I didn’t get hives from the cold, or didn’t have toes that freeze super quickly (I missed the bus and walked to school with no socks and little boat shoes in grade 11, and my feet have never been the same) and glasses that fog up. Maybe if it wasn’t -40 degrees Celcius here for weeks on end. Do you know how stir crazy the students get stuck in the classroom for recess day after day? It’s a Lord of the Flies incident waiting to happen, let me tell you. Maybe I need to start saving up now.

Sure, the frost can be pretty, and freshly fallen snow can make you want to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate by the fireplace. Sometimes the falling snow even looks like sparkly diamonds in all directions, but this is still not enough to make me love the winter. A sunset is pretty too, non? How about those bright tiny umbrellas in fruity drinks? Those are super cute!

Is it terrible of me to admit that I spent time yesterday searching for houses in Australia, and the day before that in Costa Rica? I dream of the day when I have to complain about the heat because I’m tired of my constantly sweaty brow or upper lip. “Sigh.” Better make that vision board already.

When I move will you come to visit?

 

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The Gaze

I feel the pink and bruised grapefruit skin

turned inside out,

I lick the blood off when it drips

and spoils my lovely mouth.

Rip off an eyelash here and there,

keep gin and tonic handy.

The stale and saccharine illness hits

when you’re consumed as candy.

My pseudonym, more me, than I,

that first stepped into heels.

A mammet, a poppet, a plaything,

embossed, unbuttoned, hardly feels.

Pushed up, pulled taut, combed back or not,

no longer my free will.

My head throbs of blue perfume;

I am locked and cold and still.

I want no more your honeyed call,

your syrup silver gaze.

My spectre smiles, I’ve lost it all,

I flee, I fall,

my image stays.

 

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Beauty of the Peace

The other day I entered one of my acrylic paintings in the Jim Pattison Beauty of The Peace contest at the Grant Berg Gallery. For those of you who are interested in checking out the beautiful entries from emerging local artists in the Peace Region of Alberta and British Columbia, the opening is tonight. Come on down to the gallery from 7-9 p.m. and enjoy some drinks and live music. There are a number of stunning paintings, and you can vote on your favorite! The Grant Berg Gallery is located between Sole Addiction and Fashionista at #3 9907 100Ave.

The contest winner will be decided by a vote from the public during the exhibition from March 14th to April 20th. The winners will be announced on-air April 23rd in the afternoon on Big Country with JP and on Q99 with Cristy Ellen. The winner also gets to have prints made of their work for promotional and charity gifts from Big Country and Q99 Radio Stations. Sign me up!!

If I win (I want to say “when I win” as a manifestation thing but I also don’t want to sound cocky) I will receive a print of my original painting and a one-year representation in the Grant Berg Gallery. How exciting! What an incredible opportunity for local artists!

So please, come downtown, check out and vote for my beautiful painting! “The Vast Beyond” is 48″ x 48″ acrylic on canvas. 

If you are unable to make it down to the gallery right away, you can view the works on the Grant Berg Gallery website www.grantberggallery.com for the duration of the contest.

Thank you to all the sponsors Grant Berg Gallery, Big Country 93.1 FM, Q99 FM (and the print sponsor: Image Design) for this incredible opportunity for local artists to showcase their work!

Good luck to all who have entered!

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A-Z Blogging Challenge

So today I signed up for a challenge/contest/ I hope it will be a fun thing – called the A-Z blogging challenge . The idea is to begin April 1st with a blog post that has something that starts with the letter A as a theme…Aardvarks? Alimony? Alumni? Apparently, I will need to put some thought into my themes.

April 2nd, the letter B, and on and on until the end of the month. Other than on Sundays (all participants will write on the first Sunday of the month though) I’ll be writing a post every day – so stay tuned for some “awesome” content (or some meandering posts about nothing in particular…we will see how I do!) I need to go back through my calendar now and make sure that my days correspond to the correct letters because initially, I included Sundays in the scheduling.

I’m excited about this challenge as I think it will force me a bit out of my box in terms of ideas and things to ponder. It will also be a fantastic way to motivate me to write every day! I’ve been writing regularly but this will really help to get me into the habit. I made a list yesterday while waiting (2 hours – gasp!) in the doctor’s office for my appointment. I really struggled with the letters H, O, I, K, Q, U, and X. Suggestions?

I’m looking forward to reading what other bloggers post! There are a lot of people joining in the challenge, and I’m sure to discover a few new cool blogs. Maybe it will even get me a few new followers (yes people, I’ll be very transparent and admit that I want more followers…Otherwise, I’d probably just be writing in a journal instead of on the Interweb…non?)

If you are interested in joining the A-Z experience, just click on the link above!

Also, if you have any topics specifically that you’d like to read about, leave me a comment!

 

 

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Art Class

Today I taught an art class to a bunch of kids, ages 5-10. I’ve been officially off of teaching for two years now, so this is the first time I’ve organized any kind of teaching activity, and let me tell you, I loved it!

I can’t teach full-time as my kidneys are failing, but even this one hour of teaching made me feel so much more alive than I have since I’ve been off of work. I had a gigantic smile on my face for hours after! When I got home I was in the kitchen doing goofy dance moves in front of my son, who said, “are those moves from the ’80s or something?” To which I responded, “no, I’m just hyper and happy and want to jump around like a weirdo.” Mission accomplished. (Elaine Benes has nothin’ on my Solid Gold dancing…if you’ve watched Seinfeld you know that Elaine is a notoriously baaaaaddd dancer).

Actually, I was just happy, really happy. Like from the top of my head to the tip of my toes happy. 🙂

Needless to say, my spurt of energy was short-lived and half an hour later I was in bed having a nap. But that’s ok. I have a nap every day, so this was par for the course.

What surprised me was how content I felt deep down in my soul after teaching. It is also important to note that teaching 12 kids is a breeze compared to a classroom of 23-25 students (my usual class size). Of course, this was also only for an hour, so it is waaay easier than teaching a full day. I was also lucky enough to have three helpers who did an amazing job of circulating, passing out supplies and tidying up.

The thing I love about teaching art, in particular, is watching the kids create. It is incredible how they focus on their work, and how every child becomes very calm and almost zen while working on their project. It was so quiet in the room! (Usually, I play classical music while the students are making art, but today we just had “I can hear a pin drop” silence).

I’ve found that one of the keys to creating this atmosphere is giving the students an art project that they are able to do. I make sure to teach the students whatever skills they may need, and I simplify the tasks enough so that it is pretty much impossible to fail. It is also important to be proactive – to anticipate what problems your students may have and deal with them ahead of time.

In teaching, we would call this scaffolding – pushing the kids somewhat past their comfort zone and ability level but also supporting them enough that they are able to be successful. I’ve also discovered that when giving art instructions there need to be clear parameters but also room for artistic interpretation and imagination. I tell the kids that they can express their inner artist in their work and that it does not (and should not) end up looking like mine. They love that they can put their own spin on it, and the results are always so interesting!

Here are some of the winter trees that the students made today with watercolor paints, sharpies, and gel pens.

Featured artwork by P. Porter.

 

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Hit The Road

I have two kids, and ever since they were little I’ve told them that as soon as they turn 18 they are out of the house! Like, “there’s the door, what’s your hurry” kind of out. I joked that they’d get a suitcase and a kick in the ass for a grad gift. I figured that, like me, they would want to stretch their wings and soar into the great blue yonder as soon as they could.

I, personally, couldn’t wait to leave Red Deer (where I grew up). Not that Red Deer in and of itself was a terrible place. I simply longed for the big city with all of its shiny newness and unlimited opportunities for exploration!

I idealized the metropolis, where everything was bigger, better, brighter, faster and more interesting. I dreamed of living in a bustling place there were endless possibilities of things to do, people to meet and places to visit. I wanted to linger in cafés, stroll thoughtfully through art galleries and admire the varied and interesting architecture.

As soon as high school was over I broke out of my shackles and fled to greener pastures. I believed that moving someplace else would also help me to escape the persona that I had created throughout high school. I no longer wanted to be the brainy (yet quirky) jock. I wanted to wear black and be the philosophical, artistic, poetry reading, espresso-drinking version of myself. I was an au pair in France before moving to Calgary and eventually Montreal.

When ZuZu graduated, Stefan and I (it was actually his idea) decided to give her a trip anywhere in the world as a gift (just not round-trip, but we didn’t tell her that – just kidding!). Both of us know how valuable it is to travel and see the world, and we wanted to encourage her to go off on her own. She chose to head down south to a warmer climate, and she spent the year in Australia (with side trips to New Zealand and Bali). Now she’s back living at home for a bit to save up some green before heading to her next to-be-determined destination.

My son Gabriel graduates in a few months and plans to attend the University of Alberta on a football scholarship. Most likely at this time next year it will only be Stefan and I in this big ol’ house. It’s gonna be weird.

Over the years I’d thought about what life would be like once my kids had left home. I had visions of myself learning how to do Ikebana, turning one of their rooms into a sauna and going to unlimited yoga classes. I figured I’d be drowning in free time since I wouldn’t have to clean up after kids anymore. I wouldn’t have to consider their food preferences when making dinner plans. Life would be so beautiful and so simple.

But, now that it is almost time for both of my kids to leave the nest, I feel a bit differently. I spend as much time with them as I can, I hug them more and I do my best to remember these moments. I was always in such a rush for them to grow up and now I kind of wish that time would slow down just a little bit. I know now that I’d better make the most of this time while I have it, and that I’m really going to miss having them around.

 

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Krazy for Kundalini

Kundalini yoga changed my life. For those of you who have never tried it, don’t expect it to be anything like a regular yoga class. You don’t have to be super bendy to do Kundalini yoga. You don’t have to be able to do headstands or handstands (oh I am so not skilled at inversions) or memorize the Sanskrit names of poses (Chaturanga Dandasana anyone?). You can be any age and have never gone to any other yoga class in your life, and you will be able to do Kundalini yoga. It meets you where you are at.

When I’m asked to describe Kundalini yoga I say it is a spiritual practice of energy management with chanting.

Ok, whoa?! Did you say chanting? Most people are really thrown off by the idea of chanting mantras, but it is one of the things I love the most about Kundalini. The mantras are beautiful and powerful expressions of sound current that facilitate the movement of energy flow in the body. The mantras connect us to something higher than ourselves and help us to expand and exercise our whole ten body system. (I will do a post about mantras another time).

Question: “Um, so like, I don’t really get what you mean that we have ten bodies?”

In the Kundalini yogic tradition, we exercise and heal more than just the physical body.  The ten bodies are:

  1. The Soul Body
  2. Negative Mind
  3. Positive Mind
  4. Neutral Mind
  5. Physical Body
  6. Arcline
  7. Aura
  8. Pranic Body
  9. Subtle Body
  10. Radiant Body ).

(I will explain more about these bodies in another post.)

During a Kundalini yoga class, we work on all ten bodies at the same time. It is very different than other yoga classes that are sometimes more fitness based or for the physical body. If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of Kundalini yoga, I would recommend reading Guru Jagat’s fantastic book, Invincible Living. She is a well-known Kundalini yogi from California who is bringing Kundalini to the forefront today. Her book is well-written, informative and artistic, and she was even featured in Vogue magazine! Ooh la la!

For you techno-savvy peeps you can also check out Rama TV for kriyas (exercise sets) and Kundalini teaching online. https://rama-tv

I started Kundalini yoga six months ago and it has become a part of my daily meditation practice. It was love at first mantra. ❤️

I had been following one of my favorite yoga teachers (Sara Conner) on Instagram and noticed that she had been posting regularly about her Kundalini classes and I was curious. Not knowing what exactly it was, I arrived at the studio and took my seat on my mat beside a number of others who were not wearing the typical yoga outfit of stretchy Lululemon pants and a top. Everyone was wearing all white, sitting on sheepskins, and a couple of them had on white turbans. Crap! Did I not get the memo that we were supposed to wear all white? Sara reassured me that it was just fine that I was not wearing white, as it was a suggestion rather than a “have to.” Ok, I guess my navy blue yoga pants from Costco and my Serge Gainsbourg t-shirt would have to do!

Kundalini yoga was not like the other kinds of yoga I had done. We did a kriya set and it was tough! Each action we did for 1-3 minutes and some were very challenging. What amazed me most was how I felt after! Tingly! Electrified! Energized! I was charged up and at the same time amazingly clear and centered.

The following information is taken directly from the 3H0 Foundation, which has an excellent website for learning about Kundalini. https://www.3ho.org/

In Kundalini Yoga a kriya is a series of postures, breath, and sound that work toward a specific outcome. Practicing a kriya initiates a sequence of physical and mental changes that affect the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously. There are kriyas that support the liver, balance the glandular system, make you radiant, stimulate the pituitary, increase the flexibility of the spine, and many more. Each kriya has a different effect, but all work on all levels of your being.

Without going on and on, all I can say is please look for a class near you and try Kundalini yoga!!! Just once, at least! Then you can see what you think about it. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how incredible you feel after!

What kind of yoga (if any) do you usually do?

Sat Nam and Wahe Guru! 🙏🏻

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The Curse of Perfectionism

The curse of perfectionism struck me at a young age. I’m not even sure if it started out as that, or if it developed more acutely as I got older as an attempt to control some aspects of my life.

In school, I was the child who cried if I didn’t get 100% (and I got 100% most of the time). I don’t know if I simply had extraordinarily high expectations for myself, or if it was about being perfect. It makes me cringe thinking of my over-emotional younger self and I feel sad for how hard she always was on herself.

I knew deep down that perfection was a lofty and unrealistic goal, but I still believed that if I worked hard enough, focused and set my mind to something, then I would be pretty much as close to perfect in all areas. “Doing my best” meant in a test meant that I expected to get every question right (or maybe one wrong). In sports, in academics, in projects (ok, pretty much everything), I was never satisfied with less than excellence. Where did this drive come from? Or, in olde English speak – from whence and wherefore doeseth this drive emerge? (hee)

I wonder if it was my ego spurring me on to perfection in order to feel worthy and accepted? I kind of always had this desire for high achievement, and I don’t really know from where it originated. I did know, however, that it dwelled in some deep internal cavern and it affected all areas of my life. Yes, I wanted the approval of others, but mostly I just wanted to be really good at everything. A lot of it had to do with my need for positive reinforcement and praise.

Teachers often asked my parents if they were the ones putting the pressure on me, but they didn’t push me to achieve at all. My mom said that in kindergarten the teacher told her that I was “in my Adult” and that I needed to be more “in my Child.” If some of you readers are my age or older, you may know that these terms come from the widely popular 1970’s psychology book “I’m Ok, You’re Ok”, by Thomas A. Harris, M.D. It is a classic book based on Eric Berne’s theory of Transactional Analysis, and in it, Harris explains that there are 3 states into which a person can switch:

1) The Parent

2) The Adult

3) The Child

According to Harris, a functioning person does need all three ego states to be present in their psyche in order for them to be complete. The teacher was concerned because she thought that I was excluding my Child (or blocking it out) which meant that I couldn’t play and enjoy life. Because I was in my adult, I wanted to be in control, doing every activity and the best at everything. They were not the ones pushing me though, it all came from me.

Over the years I’ve done my best to quell this urge for perfection even though from time to time it still rears its ugly head. Even though I want to succeed in every area of my life, I don’t have a meltdown or a break down anymore when things are less than perfect.

Have you ever wrestled with perfectionism? How did it present itself?

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Words That Move Me

I knew an older teacher who was amazing at remembering quotes. It was like he had a Rolodex in his brain (oh, I just aged myself there big-time) and I was in awe of how he could pull someone else’s words out of a hat like a rabbit whenever someone needed inspiration. This is not a skill I possess.

I used to have a leather-bound journal in which I wrote my favorite quotes, but due to the passage of time and various moves, it has become MIA. So this is my new virtual version of my “page des quotations” (to speak a little French-sounds fancier). The timeless wisdom is now also available for your perusal, whenever you need a little pick me up. I will keep adding as I come across new ones!

Do you have any favorite quotes? Feel free to put one in the comment section!

“Oh soul, you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less, why do you worry?
You are in truth, the soul, of the soul, of the soul.” 
Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

“If we perceive Life with reverence and understood our evolutionary process, we would stand in awe at the experience of a physical Life and walk the Earth in a very deep sense of gratitude”.  ~Gary Zukav

“The Universe falls in love with worthy plans and most especially with festive and expansive ones.” ~Julia Cameron (The Artist’s Way)

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.” ~Goethe

“Only the fool, whose mind is deluded by egotism considers himself to be the doer.” ~Bhagavad Gita

“Whenever you are creating beauty around you, you are restoring your own soul.” ~Alice WalkerIMG_0887.JPG

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Passion For Paris

J’adore Paris! When I first visited Paris I was a 20-year-old working as an au-pair in Evian-Les-Bains (yes, the place where the water comes from!). My host family and I went there for a few days and I was completely mesmerized by it all! Having grown up in Red Deer, Alberta, I was used to uninspiring architecture and wild prairie winds.

Paris lived up to all of my expectations – it was a magical place that captivated me and captured my heart in an instant. Even the lamp posts were stunning!! I walked for hours in awe and stumbled upon so many historical landmarks and places that I had only seen in movies and books. My mind was blown by the grandeur of it all.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to Paris three times, and every time I’m there I feel unbelievably happy, and I feed off the electric energy it emits. I’m like myself but with a Snapchat filter – I’m more beautiful, more elegant and more expansive. As I stroll the streets my pale skin reflects the light differently and my soul feels as though it’s both in and outside of my body – it expands like the air that propels a hot air balloon into the vast blue beyond.

Someday I plan to have a tiny Parisian apartment and I will visit whenever I want and walk every day until my legs ache. I will feed the pigeons, explore antique shops and write in dark cafés wearing a black beret and a smile. How about you? Have you ever been to Paris or have you always wanted to go?

Here are some of the photos I took when I last visited “The City of Lights” to celebrate New Year’s Eve with my husband. Enjoy! À la prochaine!

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Acceptance not Expectations

“Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.” According to the Internet, this is what Buddha said. That Buddha was a wise dude – if this is actually a quote from him (I never personally heard him say this, but it sounds very zen).

I’ve spent a large amount of my life not really enjoying it. For years my life felt like a never-ending repeating stream of days that contained problems or struggles. Sometimes there were more or fewer difficulties (picture a sliding scale ranging from complete devastation to a semblance of happiness), but they were never easy or particularly joyful.

There were moments of joy or happiness (same thing?) but the general overtone of my existence was that life was a lot of hard work and you just had to keep going until finally one day you died. (How’s that for depressing?)

Yup, that does sound rather morbid and I had a lot of deep-seated angst and sadness that was ever present. A lot of it had to do with me being disappointed because experiences in my life often did not meet my expectations. It’s not even that I had really high expectations!

When we look back over past moments or times in which we have been unhappy, we may see that the circumstances (or outcomes) themselves may not really have been so terrible, but we interpreted them as sucking big time because we had expected things to be different.

Case in point: One year for my birthday I told my husband that I wanted to have dinner at the Keg (which is the fanciest restaurant where I live) with a bunch of my friends. I had this picture in my mind of a lovely evening of wine and stimulating conversation, clinking glasses and laughter, wonderful memories made with those I love. Ok, I if I’m honest I also envisioned myself opening up small packages in cool wrapping paper or gift bags and being all delighted and thrilled with the thoughtful things that people had bought for me.

Side note: I ALSO NEVER WANT TO HAVE TO MAKE SUPPER ON MY BIRTHDAY

Maybe my husband stands up and makes a toast, I smile, my cheeks rosy and warm from a little too much vino (if it’s red I also probably have stained teeth), and maybe the restaurant staff comes out with a surprise dessert and sings me a cheesy birthday song. As we leave, the song “Oh What A Night” by the Four Seasons plays in my head (even though it’s about a hot night with a woman and not really relevant for this occasion)…getting the picture yet? I imagined (and also expected) a perfect night of memory making with a rectangular table full of friends and belly-filling food.

Two of my friends came. It was lovely, we had a nice dinner, we drank wine, clinked glasses and chatted about all sorts of topics. I had a wonderful time, and I so appreciated being able to spend time together. But (BIG BUT – there is a joke looming here but I’m not taking the bait) I was also sad because it was not what I had expected. I felt a bit let down because hardly anyone showed up. Ridiculous, I know, but suddenly I was feeling sorry for myself even though the evening had been wonderful.

So what did I learn? Appreciate what you have and don’t have expectations!

Sounds simple, right? I’ve had this lesson revisit me over and over and over in my life. I often make myself unhappy because of the thoughts that I have about an experience. When I focus more on all the things that DIDN’T HAPPEN instead of what did happen, I see my experiences through a lens of lack and dissatisfaction.

Instead, when I look at experiences with a grateful heart and positive thoughts, I don’t feel down in the dumps.

How about we stop the pendulum swing in the middle?

It is natural to have expectations, but how about we have expectations all the while being cognizant that they may not be met? That way, if they are not met, that’s not a big let down because we were mentally and emotionally prepared for it. We fall in love and accept the way things are instead of focusing on the way we had wanted them to be. Over the years I have definitely found that peace and happiness begin when expectations end. Thanks, Buddha, you hit the nail on the head with that one.

Have you had similar experiences with expectations? I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

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Most Likely To Succeed

In High School, I was voted Most Likely To Succeed. I was a keener and a people pleaser so this kind of rocked my world at the time. I liked being acknowledged by my peers and I loved that they thought of me as competent, smart and bound for future success. Part of me had wished that I’d been voted “nicest eyes” or “most beautiful smile”, but I had always received more extrinsic validation for my brains rather than my looks. Yes, I knew how essentially unimportant and subjective this “title” was, but it still met my need for acceptance from those around me.

To be voted Most Likely To Succeed by my peers meant that they saw me as smart and capable, somebody who would break through boundaries and conquer challenges. True, I worked hard, I had a determined spirit, indomitable energy, and a positive approach to my life – all qualities that would help me to succeed in life.

But what exactly does it mean to be successful? There are so many ways to look at success, and this subjective term can have such a huge variety of definitions.

Monetary Success – someone who experiences monetary success may have a high paying job, financial security and is most likely able to buy what they want or need whenever they want or need it. This person probably has money in the bank or maybe even an offshore bank account with an undisclosed amount of green.

Material Success – someone who has material success has lots of stuff, and probably big-ticket items like a house, a car (maybe more than one and even a luxury brand car), lots of clothes (possibly a walk-in closet), maybe a pool, hot tub, sauna – this type of success definitely strolls hand-in-hand with monetary success.

Career Success – someone who experiences career success does their job well (in whatever field of work they may be in). This person probably gets a lot of positive feedback and perhaps even accolades for the quality of their work. Chances are that their job is one that impresses people at dinner parties and it may have taken a few years of university studies to acquire the needed skills. This person may also have a job that is surprising and innovative, one that others may not have considered.

Relationship Success – strongly committed to a partner (whatever the gender, who cares?) who adores you. The kind of relationship that others look at and want to emulate. No issues with trust, fidelity, abuse or inconsistency. Perhaps some tasteful PDA once in a while but you gauge when it’s appropriate and you don’t make others uncomfortable.

Health Success –  someone with success in the area of health is most likely fit and active. This person exercises regularly and does not have any major illnesses. He or she may even run marathons, rock climb or eat really clean.

Thinking of success then, in these terms would I deem myself successful? Yes, all except for the health part – as I’m currently on disability from my teaching job waiting for a kidney transplant. That, of course, was nothing that I could control as I was born with PCK (Polycystic Kidney Disease). I have also been divorced twice, so now that I am on my third marriage with an amazing husband I would say I’m experiencing more success in the area of relationships. I have a beautiful house, a cute little Jetta, a great reputation at work and I’m not lacking for anything that I need or want. All of this aside, however, I would say my life is successful because I am grateful for what I have and in a good space…and really, in my mind, those are the most important things in life.

 

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Artistic Expression

Acrylic paint and alcohol ink are my favourite mediums to use over this last year. Thought you might enjoy seeing some new pieces!

 

My Heart Beats Faster – alcohol ink on Yupo paper – 11″ x 14″ img_5396

 

Big Prairie Sky – acrylic on canvas 48″ x 48″ image2.jpeg

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My Writing Cycle (nothing like a bicycle)

Like so many of us, I’ve always wanted to write a book. In my mind, this task couldn’t be all that difficult. I possessed the general qualifications:

  • an English degree – check
  • the ability to stitch together a coherent sentence – check
  • somewhat original thoughts in my head – check
  • a desire to sit for long periods of time in relative isolation – check??

Ok, that’s all good, but so umm, but like, so well…here comes the million-dollar question: what do I write about? Or am I supposed to put about what should I write? (that sounds weird)

I know I’m not the only wannabe author who’s had a tête à tête with inspiration. Even though I’m only 46 (47 in February but who’s counting?),  I decided to start my pseudo-autobiographical “masterpiece” (please read with a Pepé Le Pew accent).

I’d weave some of my own stories with snippets of wisdom and insightful revelations throughout the chapters. Doesn’t that sound delightful?

But here’s the rub…as soon as I start writing, I’m confronted with feelings of unworthiness and the dreaded (duh duh duh) IMPOSTER SYNDROME bears its ugly head. My self-talk sounds something like this:

  • What am I doing?
  • This is really hard!
  • Who was I kidding?
  • Why would anyone read my story?
  • What do I have to say?
  • Maybe I need a hobby…
  • Is my story even worth sharing?
  • My butt is falling asleep!

But I’m a trooper, so onward I tread, into the world of magical paperbacks with my head held high and my fingers on the keyboard.

I psych myself up for success, make a nice strong coffee with soy milk and Stevia and I type, oh boy, do I type.

And I reflect, and I type, and I sip and I edit.

I do my best to encapsulate my experiences and turn them into black marks on white paper (well on the white screen, actually, because I’m typing it on the computer). But holy moly, it’s difficult! How do I organize my life thus far into a tidy package? My almost half a century does not look like a drawer after it’s been Marie Kondo’d (yeah, I turned it into a verb…)

My life’s been messy, meandering, painful, blissful and beautiful. In looking back to look forward I feel dizzy and my vision is unclear. How many times have I thrown up my hands and exclaimed (mostly to myself and my cat) that the whole exercise is POINTLESS?! I feel insignificant, unimportant and like I’m wasting my time.

So I take a break for a while. I paint, I watch TV, I look on the Internet for stuff, I tidy my house…

Then, as expected, the desire to write returns. From where does this deep drive emerge? What is it that keeps egging me on? I wonder if it’s my ego taking over, telling me that I need to share my story to make myself feel special. Is it that egoic part of myself that wants to be in the spotlight? Am I sharing my story in a desperate attempt to feel as though I matter? Am I trying to find meaning and significance in my daily drudgery?

Yes, but, it is much more than this.

I truly believe that I have something to say that someone needs to hear. Maybe it’s you, or maybe it’s someone else.

I also want to write my story in order to free myself from the constraints of it and to encourage others to share their stories. I believe that we learn from and inspire one another when we connect on this level. It’s so important that we realize that we’re all able to transform and transcend the struggles that we face in our lives.

Sharing my story is also a way for me to transcend the circumstances and to evolve into a wiser (and hopefully) more spiritual version of myself. As I become the storyteller, I move from the victim to the protagonist in my triumphant tale. I escape the imprisonment of my memories and the narrative of my life no longer enslaves me. I write to heal myself and to hopefully assist in healing others.

Perhaps by sharing my perspective on what’s happened in my life, I’ll make it possible for you to see your own story in a new light. I’m making myself vulnerable hoping that you will do the same.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. Whaddayasay?

 

 

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Friendship

I’ve always wanted to have an entourage like on the show Friends. A group of super tight-knit peeps who just “get me” and are always around for dinner parties and advice. (Maybe we would even shop each other’s closets) I see pictures of groups of women that I knew in high school on a Vegas reunion vacation  and I feel a bit jealous…I would love to have a group of friends to go on vacay with. I’d love to drink Mimosas on the beach and post pics on Instagram of our super fun times together.

I realize though that less is more when it comes to friends – I really only need a couple of close ones. I am fortunate enough to have some amazing friends here in Grande Prairie and thanks to social media, I can keep in touch with my friends who live far away – in Australia, Brussels, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria…

Good friends are invaluable and we need to treasure them…as I get older I realize how rare it is to find someone with whom you can totally be yourself. How many friends are there when you really need them? How many friends can you trust to keep your secrets and to be there for you when you really need someone to confide in? Contrary to some instagram feeds, we all know that life is not really a never-ending stream of bbq’s, birthday celebrations and bright white smiles. Friends that are there with us in the good times and during the struggles are the ones that really matter. The friends that really count are the ones that will be there for you to help with the mundane things – to drive you to the airport, to help you to move, to console you when you’re sad or to fix your bad hair dye jobs.

I sometimes get feeling sorry for myself and complain that I don’t have many friends – but this isn’t actually true. I do have friends but I tend to isolate myself. I go through hermit phases and I close myself off to others and to social interactions. I don’t really know why I become anti-social, but sometimes I just want to be alone and I don’t reach out to anyone. As I age I realize that this is ok too. I like my alone time, but moreover, I realize that I NEED my alone time.

When I went on disability from work I felt sorry for myself because I didn’t see many of my friends. I was angry that they weren’t reaching out to me, but then I wasn’t reaching out to them either. Who am I to point the finger or throw stones at glass houses (or whatever the expression is)?

IMG_3992

I lost a good friend years ago because of a similar scenario. We had remained friends after high school, and we had made a point of seeing each other a couple of times a year -it was usually me coming to see her. For years we sent birthday presents for each other’s kids, but eventually we stopped doing that. I hadn’t spoken to her for about a year. Life had gotten busy, I was newly married and preoccupied with that, and I hadn’t come by to visit (she lived 6 hours away) for a while.

I thought of her and her family but I hadn’t made the time to contact her or connect with her. For that matter, she hadn’t either. I ran into her one day at the Farmer’s market… her kids were so much older and it shocked me how much time had passed! Needless to say I was really happy to see her and I gave her my phone number so we could arrange to get together. No call.

Weeks later I ran into her again in the line up at a clothing store. I was again thrilled to see her but she didn’t seem to reciprocate my sentiments. When I asked her what was wrong she proceeded to inform me that I was the worst friend ever (oh I had also been a bridesmaid in her wedding) and that she didn’t need shitty friends like me in her life (something to that effect). I was SHOCKED, like really all caps lock SHOCKED. Wha? Could this really be happening?

After all the years that we had been friends, after all that we had been through, she wanted to throw our friendship in the garbage??

She explained to me that the last time that we had spoken, I had said I’d call her back and didn’t. That was that.

Did she call me? No. Did I call her? No. Did we have to end our almost 20 year friendship because of it? Apparently we did. Did she ask me to return her cd’s that she had leant me for a road trip years before? Yessir.

This was a really painful experience for me and I was in a state of disbelief about it for a long time. It’s been about 8 years since that confrontation and I have not spoken to her since.

It is such a sad ending to a once important friendship. So what’s the moral of the story?

She was right, I could have been a better friend. I had been self-involved and she had fallen off my radar (which happens when you don’t live in the same cities) and I had not kept up my side of the friendship. I take full responsibility for my part in that. However, I believe that good, loving (and what I had considered to be lifelong) friendships should be able to withstand distance and time without contact. What do you think?

Has anything like this ever happened to you?

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Best Airbnb in Calgary – Field House

This Airbnb is cozy, cool, zen, elegant, clean, classy and refreshing! I think this is THE CUTEST place in Calgary-a total this place is a total gem. I’m almost hesitant to tell you about it because it’s going to get so popular, I’ll probably have to book it a year in advance.

Field House is an amazing space. I honestly could have lived there. It is a renovated mid-century home overlooking Calgary from the inner-city community of Albert Park.

There were beautiful vintage touches amongst the modern furniture (the blue typewriter was adorable), amusing little surprises (check out the picture of their “mascot” on the fridge), handmade pillows, fresh soft organic cotton linens and the comfiest bed ever. I slept like a brick (like a log?).

The hosts, Jemma and Damon, have created a beautiful private suite with a gorgeous solarium (complete with a fig tree inside and a record player to chill the night away). I found out from the Airbnb site that Damon designed and built Field House with his friends and colleagues at Studio North, a local architecture practice. It is sunlit, warm and spacious…a perfect getaway from the city.

Jemma (who is super warm and friendly) owns a home and travel goods company called Field Kit. It smells so good when you enter Field House – I’m sure from the scented soy candles that she makes! She also made the shampoo, conditioner, and clay masks that you can use when you book the space (they are beautifully displayed on the clawfoot bathtub).

Jemma and Damon are also helpful and willing to give tips or advice about what to do in Calgary. No wonder they qualify as “superhosts!” Wait ’till you see the pictures! If you need a place to stay in Calgary, this is a perfect pick! Thanks Jemma and Damon!

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Alcohol Ink Art

 

I started making art with alcohol inks a few months ago.

I had been painting with acrylic and watercolor, but I had never tried the inks and really had no idea how they worked…

Passing through Edmonton, I stopped at the Paint Spot (a mecca for the art supply enthusiast – me! me! me!) and asked them what I would need. I picked up a pack of Piñata inks (really the only multi-pack of inks they had), alcohol blending solution and some Yupo paper.

Yupo is a synthetic paper extruded from polypropylene pellets (so from recyclable material, not trees – cool). I thought at first that it was a bit like photo paper by look and feel (although it isn’t glossy), but it actually quite different. According to the info page, Yupo is:

  • Super-smooth
  • Prints consistently and effortlessly
  • Holds ink with razor-sharp precision
  • Durable
  • Wipes clean
  • Waterproof
  • Will not tear (I tried, it really doesn’t)
  • Bright White

There is no Yupo here at Michael’s (our go-to store for art supplies), which is why I grabbed it in Edmonton. I was shocked at the price! Seriously, a pack of 10 sheets was $42 (gasp!). I have since discovered that I can order it online for about half the price. Phew!

I started exploring by googling (now a verb – exciting!) a few alcohol ink tutorials. I didn’t learn a ton from these, other than the space needs to be well-ventilated and it is hard to predict what will happen with the inks, as they kind of flow and move on their own (and that some people on tutorials talk a lot and need to perhaps do more editing).

So instead of following what others have done, I simply decided to play and explore. I started slowly, one drop at a time, mixing colors and watching what happened. I found observing the colors mixing and expanding to be a very meditative experience.

I love how each piece turns out so differently. Some of mine looked like flowers, so I decided to do some drawing once the inks were dry.

A couple of caveats about drawing on your alcohol ink artwork:

  • make sure your alcohol ink is totally dry. I don’t use much ink on so this usually takes about 20 minutes (or less). For those who use more ink, I would recommend letting it dry overnight or for a couple of nights.
  • check to see if your pen or other marker wipes off. It is important to test your products on a small piece of Yupo because there are very few that won’t smudge.
  •  if using a gel pen to let the lines dry really well. Here is a blog with amazing examples of how different materials work on Yupo.

I tend to put my ink on straight from the bottle, as I love the vibrancy of the colors! I have seen some beautiful work done with diluted inks and a blow dryer (not too hot because the Yupo will warp with heat) but I have yet to try that!

Here are a few more examples of my work:

Have you tried making art with alcohol inks? It can take courage to start a new hobby and be a beginner at something, but once you get over all that it can be really rewarding!

~Heide xo

 

 

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Sleep Surrender- Nap Time

Sleep is necessary and we spend almost half our lives sleeping! Quality of sleep can evade me sometimes, which is one reason I love to nap!

Sometimes I get up in the morning already daydreaming about my future nap. It’s one of my favourite moments of the day.

I once saw a post on social media, which I’m pretty sure was a joke, for a 30-Day Napping Challenge. I thought, well, I may not be up for a 30-Day Squat Challenge, but a napping challenge, YES WAY!! I would totally rock that challenge!

There is also, believe it or not (I’m not sure I do because I learned about it through the internet) A National Competitive Napping League. Napping as sport?

Apparently, this “sport” was first documented as the 2010 Siesta Competition in Madrid. The contestants (or should we call them athletes?) slept on blue couches in a shopping centre for 20 minutes.

Competitors were rated on their speed of falling asleep, the depth of their sleep, how much they snore, twitch, etc. According to Daniel Blanco, president of the National Association of Friends of the Siesta, the event was a way to bring awareness of the modern-day possibility of losing the siesta as a regular practice.

In 2016, Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy proposed to end the normal working day at 6pm, rather than 7pm or later, which could mean no more after lunch siesta.

Here in Canada, the siesta isn’t common. We don’t have the blisteringly hot weather in the afternoon to merit this sleep time, nor do our work days support this practice.

I also know people who feel that napping is an unproductive waste of time, but I feel so much better once I’ve had a nap.

I wouldn’t win the cash prize for the Siesta Competition anyway because I’m a bed napper, not not a couch napper.

I love the feeling of cuddling into my cozy duvet when the sun is still shining. It seems decadent and luxurious to crawl into bed when everyone else is awake. Even better is when I feel the soft fur of my cat, while she purrs and snuggles up against me. I feel like my cat and I are one, curled up in a sunbeam.

I used to take naps as more of a treat to myself. I didn’t need them every day, but I usually felt better if I had one.

Now that I’m off work on disability, I absolutely need at least one nap if not two every day. Sometimes I get up early (today at 4:40 am) and then by 8:30 or 9:00 I’m back in bed again.

For a while I felt a bit useless, needing to nap everyday. I would fight the need to rest. I’d have another coffee, try to stay awake, but I finally just accepted that my body needs the extra rest. At least now that I’m done teaching, I can rest whenever I need. I’m grateful for this.

What do you think about napping? A good idea or a waste of time?

 

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Gotta Have Faith

I wasn’t raised in an Ashram or a Hippie community. I did not grow up with parents doing yoga, meditating, smudging, using crystals, any of the things that you may associate with a New-Age state of being. (Well, we did have the Jesus Christ Super Star album so that might count a tiny bit toward making me the spiritual person that I am today.)

I didn’t grow up in a religious household either. Our family did not attend church, recite Scripture or pray before eating. There was no Crucifix hanging or Bible in the desk drawer. Despite this, I took myself to church as a young child (the First Church of Nazarene was close to our house) because I could feel the Spirit in the teachings and in the building.

I have always been in touch with the supernatural. I have always believed in and resonated with something bigger than myself; something powerful and universal. For years I called it God. I’ve also called it Spirit, the Universe, the Source, the Superconsciousness, the Überconsciousness (that one is especially fun to say and write), the Oneness, the Creator…you get the point. Star Wars fans would call it “The Force.” I will be using many of these different terms interchangeably. If one term rubs you the wrong way feel free to substitute another in its place.

The presence of Spirit is larger and more glorious than our human brains can truly contemplate on an intellectual level. Those of you who have experienced it know exactly what it feels like to be connected to that ultimate source of light and love.

I had moments of insecurity about this connection to Spirit as many around me did not have the same sensitivity or proclivity. Once in a while I would question whether or not it was simply a figment of my imagination. Of course, this is understandable. If Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy aren’t real, and I believed in them for a while, who is to say that God is real?

I always came to the same conclusion. I believed in a higher power simply because I felt the connection and I knew it was real. I could not really explain it to anyone who didn’t. How could I prove the existence of something to someone who does not believe that it exists? How could I explain the invisible presence and love that was dwelling in me and everywhere around me?

Many people continue to be deeply rooted in the idea that they need to “see it to believe it.” It can be easier for some to cling to a worldview as seen only through the lens of the five senses. It is understandable to question whether something exists that we can’t see, feel, smell, taste or touch.

When I taught in the Catholic school system, the conversation circled a lot around the concept of “faith”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines faith as: a belief and trust in and loyalty to God, or a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.  I told my students that you just have to believe in God. I couldn’t prove it in the traditional sense.

I also taught them about Transubstantiation – that the wine at church was actually Jesus’ blood and the thin dry wafer was his body. (My grade one students were always particularly confused about this one-as much as some thought it would be cool to try wine they were not interested in eating Jesus’ body and drinking his blood-yuck!) I explained to them, “It is actually happening, you just can’t see it.“

I would talk to the students about what it means to feel God. I would share situations in which I felt that Spirit was supporting me and loving me. I asked them if they had ever felt that there was something larger than themselves (“yes, our dads!” – gotta love six year olds). Interestingly enough, many of the students completely understood what I was talking about.

There is something amazing about this concept. I was teaching the children to sense with more than their five senses. I was telling them that there are supernatural things that exist beyond the scope of their limited physical sensory-receptive abilities. Most seemed able to accept the premise that there are invisible, magical and miraculous things occurring that we cannot fully comprehend. They felt connected to Spirit in a way that went deeper than words could encapsulate.

 

How does your faith express itself? When do you feel most connected to Spirit, God, the Creator?

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Creative Habit – daily Sadhana

One of my goals is to create every day.

Sadhana means daily practice. It is a commitment or a dedication to do something on a regular basis.

Somedays I paint, others I explore with alcohol inks, or I make a collage. I usually write every morning when my brain is fresh and my ideas are percolating. I may create a post for my blog, ramble on in a stream-of-consciousness way in my morning pages, or I might even work on a chapter in my soon to be published bestselling book (the power of positive thinking, right?). This is my creative sadhana.

It was in one of my first Kundalini yoga practices that I heard the term sadhana.

Yogi Bhajan, the incredible visionary who brought Kundalini yoga to the West in the late 60’s, had this to say about sadhana:

“What is sadhana? It’s a committed prayer. It is self-enrichment. It is not something which is done to please somebody or to gain something. Sadhana is a personal process in which you bring out your best.”

A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary defines the term sadhana in an even simpler way:

Sadhana means literally “a means of accomplishing something.”

Not only is sadhana a way to get something done, there is an intention behind it. When you’re living your sadhana every day it is because you have a desire to practice something consistently with dedication and focus.

Sadhana is often understood in a spiritual context. A person may set aside time daily for meditation, prayer, yoga, chanting or reading spiritual / sacred texts. All of these are sadhana.

Personally, I have my daily meditative and Kundalini practice as well as my creative practice. I have made sadhana a priority in my life and I consistently dedicate time in my day for it.

Do I always feel like it? No. Do I miss a day once in a while? Yes, but I do my best not to beat myself up about it.

I find that it is usually easier to do my sadhana first thing in the morning (often early before anyone else in the house is up) as it starts my day off right. When I am grounded, centered and connected my day simply flows better and I feel better.

There are times when I do my sadhana later in the day, but sometimes I get busy with other activities and the sadhana gets pushed to the side or doesn’t happen. I definitely notice that when I miss my daily practice, something just feels “off” and things don’t go as well.

Could you incorporate a creative or spiritual sadhana into your daily routine? If you practice sadhana already, what helps you to stay on track and committed?

Thanks for reading!

~Heide

P.S. The featured art for this post is a watercolour and oil pastel masterpiece by a grade one student in my class. Young children are such amazing artists!

 

 

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100% Authentic

I am authentic.

I am me.

Which me am I?

There are so many parts,

So many facets,

So many bags,

So many screws, nuts, and bolts,

And no instructions.

Steps 1 – 20…

I think I mixed up the order.

The left is on the right,

And the right is upside down.

I’m a face card,

A queen of hearts,

A palindrome.

Am I me?

Am I authentic?

I started this blog mostly because I have a crapload of time on my hands, but also because I have a bunch of ideas that I want to share. Since I’ve been off work on disability I’ve been working on a book, but I’m having a difficult time with it right now.

It’s hard work! I am in awe when I go into a bookstore or library and see how many people have done it. Then I am confronted with the realization that millions of people have written books! How can anyone possibly write anything new? How can I have anything to say that hasn’t already been said?

It’s been an emotional roller coaster. Some days I am pumped and super proud of what I write. I save my work and close the file feeling confident that my book will be a big hit.

Other days the words don’t flow, and I feel like a fake and a failure. I doubt my abilities and doubt my motives. Is it just my ego that is taking me over? I can pretend that I’m writing just for myself, to get to know myself better, but deep down I know that I want to be successful. I want my book to be on the bestseller list.

I begin to question why anyone would ever publish my ramblings. Why do I bother? Who really gives a shit what I have to say?

I get discouraged, I stop writing for days and I want to abandon the whole thing. I do some art to distract me and to give me the feeling that I’m doing something useful with my abundance of free time. Sometimes I watch mindless T.V. or I nap.

I’m enjoying writing for my blog so far. The smaller posts make it seem more manageable, and it gets me into the habit of writing every day. It’s much less daunting than a book.

As excited as I was about starting a blog, I was really nervous about sharing my blog on Facebook. Well, I actually shared it and then I deleted it. I just felt weird and waaaay too vulnerable. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to put myself out there 100%.

So here I am, claiming to be all about authenticity and I’m struggling with being authentic. I’m struggling with sharing my true self through my writing.

I worry that some of my “friends” on Facebook might think that I’m too weird or flaky. They might not know that I’m interested in New-Age topics and spiritual stuff. I teach in the Catholic School system. What will people say if I espouse ideas that are challenging to the Catholic doctrine and dogma? What if some people don’t want to be friends with me anymore?

It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m 46 years old and I’m having thoughts like this. I’m searching for approval and likes and people to validate my self-worth. I realize that not only do I still have my people-pleasing tendencies; I’m still letting them run the show.

So, in an effort to be more authentic, 100% authentic, super duper authentic (can one really be partially authentic? Um…) I am sharing my blog on all my social media platforms; including Facebook.

If I lose friends, so be it. I’m putting myself out there – I’m embracing my vulnerability and I’m hoping that in doing so I inspire you to do the same. I’m sharing my authentic self.

In the wise words of Brené Brown

“Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen. “

Do you ever struggle to share your authentic self with those in your life? What are some of the ways you’ve overcome this? Please let me know I’m not the only one dealing with this!!

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Spiritual Signs

So you’re becoming more Spiritual? Awesome! But what does that really mean?

Spirituality is a really difficult thing to define. It manifests in a myriad of ways as an extremely individualized and personal experience. Here are the top 20 signs you may be becoming more “spiritual”:

TOP 20 SIGNS YOU ARE BECOMING MORE “SPIRITUAL”

  1. Meditation – You’ve started meditating and finding more space for mental quiet. You may even have downloaded the Insight Timer or another meditation app.
  2. Mantras – Not only do you chant them, you find yourself listening to them on Spotify. You may even listen to White Sun on a regular basis.
  3.  Astrology -You not only know your Zodiac “sign”, you might know that you have a “moon sign” and you might even know what it means when Mercury is in retrograde.
  4. Numerology – You know your life path, destiny and karmic numbers, and what this actually means. You are stoked that 2018 is an 11 year.
  5. Tarot – You do a Tarot spread (or Angel Cards, Medicine Wheel cards) for yourself or a friend “just for fun. You may even ask for a message of the day.
  6. Animals – When an animal crosses your path you get excited and you search for what it could possibly symbolize. You may even have an animal totem.
  7. Crystals – You find yourself buying more crystals and putting them around your house. You may even have jewelry with crystals in it.
  8. Smudging – You have purchased a smudge stick (maybe sage, sweetgrass or Cedar) and you have smudged your home, office or yourself to purify and clean the energy or vibes.
  9. Energy Work / Reiki – You may have taken Reiki training, had a Reiki session or gone to an energy healer. You believe in the power of hands-on healing techniques.
  10. Yoga – You may be attending more yoga classes and you are starting to say Namaste a lot more outside of yoga classes. You may even do some Kundalini yoga.
  11. Plant-Based – You may find that you are more interested in plant-based medicines or maybe consuming a more plant-based diet.
  12. Sound Baths – You have attended a sound bath or you know what a crystal bowl or Tibetan bowl sounds like. You may even own one!
  13. Incense – You are beginning to light incense a lot more often. You know what Nag Champa is.
  14. Guru – You have a Guru and you may even have a picture of said Guru or a spiritual mentor on your altar.
  15. Books – You read books about spiritual growth and enlightenment. You may have a book by Gabby Berenstein, Brené Brown, Danielle Laporte, Eckhart Tolle or Marianne Williamson.
  16. Podcasts – You have subscribed to a more spiritual themed podcast like Oprah’s Supersoul Conversations or Luke Storey’s The Life Stylist.
  17. Chakras – You know that the word is pronounced Chakras with a hard “ch” and you know the names and colours associated with each one. You may have even gone for a chakra balancing or clearing.
  18. Pendulum – You have a pendulum and you’ve used it for divination, healing or answering questions.
  19. Energy – You talk about energy and vibes a lot. You may be an “empath” or you’re extra sensitive and pick up on what others are feeling.
  20. Intuition –  You listen for that inner voice to inform you in your daily life. You may make judgments or adjustments to plans based on your intuition.

Any of these sound familiar?

How does spirituality manifest in your life? Do you have any signs to add?

Now that you have a seat on the Spiritual train…here is a link to a hilarious video by JP Sears on “How to be Ultra Spiritual”.

Namaste ~

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Creativity & Collage

Creating art is a way of tapping into your soul and your authentic self. I hear so many people say “I’m not artistic” and I simply don’t believe that’s true. I think that everyone has an inner creative spark – we are born to create. It is our birthright.

Many of us have had experiences in our childhood or in our life that have succeeded in shutting us down creatively. All it takes is one critique or the disapproval of someone else to make you feel “less than.”

I stopped drawing for years because of an incident in grade two. I used to love drawing and I did it all the time. So, as you can imagine, I was super stoked when I heard that my school was having an animal art drawing contest. I drew a duck sitting on a post in pencil and coloured it with pencil crayons. I worked on it for a week and I was so proud of it – it was beautifully-done and super-realistic.

It was apparently too good. The teachers who were judging disqualified me from the contest claiming there was no way that I could draw that well. I was devastated. I remember crying and crying until I basically had no tears left.

No matter how much I insisted that I had done the work myself, the teachers would not believe me. How horrible. In hindsight I don’t know why my parents didn’t go in and speak with them…they had seen me drawing the damn duck forever. What was even more insulting was the fact that a friend of mine won with a picture of a bunny that her brother had drawn! Isn’t it incredible how, even as adults, we remember these traumatic experiences with extraordinary clarity?

I struggled a lot with perfectionism, so it was my tendency to work on a picture, and if it wasn’t exactly perfect in my mind, I would crumple up the paper and start over. Suddenly, this perfectionist tendency was my downfall. Go figure.

I dabbled in painting in elementary school, but I didn’t draw or do much else in terms of art until my friend Derrick Denholm (an incredibly talented artist, writer and musician) introduced me to collages in 1995.  He had a bunch of random stuff, paper, paint, ink and glue, and he basically let me do whatever I wanted with it. It was so liberating!

I fell immediately in love with the process and I loved the freedom it provided.

Creativity comes in many forms, and you can express creatively in your life without necessarily making art! Perhaps your creativity shines through in the way you dress, how you cook, how you decorate your home, how you communicate or in how you do your job? Maybe the parameters around creativity need to be expanded.

How do you express your creativity? Have you tried collage as a medium?

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Spiritual Awakening

I believe in Spirits, aka ghosts. I grew up reading books on mystical topics like ghosts, UFO’s, the Pyramids, The Bermuda Triangle and Stonehenge. I was never 100% sure how legit the ghost stories were, until I met my first ghost when I was in grade 4.

My parents had just separated. It was a damn good thing too, because my mom really needed to get away from my controlling father. She left Red Deer with a carload of stuff and me, my older sister and my younger brother. 7 hours later we were in Grande Prairie, Alberta, getting settled at my grandparent’s house.

I was excited about attending a new school and I made new friends quickly, one of whom was named Denise (I do not remember her last name – if I did I’d look her up on social media). If you read this Denise you can corroborate my story.

Denise was always telling me about a ghost that she had at her house. Despite my eye rolling and doubtful looks, Denise explained repeatedly to me that her ghost was a man, and that he was friendly but annoying. She would often complain of getting little sleep because her ghost friend would pull off her sheets when she was sleeping, pester her and play pranks on her.

I, the complete skeptic, thought Denise was completely full of shit (yes, you read it right, THOUGHT) and I would pepper her stories with comments like “yeah, right” and “as if.”

I didn’t believe a word of it. Not even one measly little syllable. “Suuuuuurrrrreeeee Denise, he kept you up all night when all you wanted to do was sleep…”

I was the voice of reason. Ghosts were a bunch of hooey and I knew it.

I figured Denise was simply being ridiculous and telling these stories to get attention (although in hindsight I don’t think she really told anyone other than me).

After hearing countless stories of this phantom menace (tee hee) I challenged her (Denise if you ever end up reading this, I’m sorrythat I can’t remember your last name) to show me the ghost (with “show me the money!” conviction).

With creepy excitement, Denise invited me to her house so she could prove it. She lived in an older house close to the school we attended (the house had a little cupboard for the milkman to leave a bottle of milk by the door! Never had I seen anything like it. Of course, not that old when it comes down to it, but for my super shallow elementary school self it seemed really ancient).

We walked to her house at lunchtime, and I remember being really cocky and not at all afraid because I did not believe in ghosts. We entered through the back door. Her house was a typical bi-level – there were stairs leading up the kitchen and the main floor and stairs leading into the basement. The back door was creaky (you know, like in a Halloween sound effect way) and she told me to wait in the entrance while she went to look for the ghost.

She went downstairs, saying with conviction, and an over-the-shoulder glance, “he’s usually down here.” I don’t remember the intricacies of my reaction, but I’m pretty sure it resembled something like a tight-lipped smile and a hand on the hip. I thought it was hilarious how she was playing the whole thing. She opened the door to the basement and then another door to a room and said, “nope, he’s not in here.”

At this point I was expecting her to finally come clean. I was convinced that she would just admit she was lying or she would make up some other fib about the ghost being gone for the day.

I heard Denise’s distant voice say, “he’s not in here…, no not in here either…”

As I walked halfway down the wooden stairs to let her know that I was heading back to school, I heard her yell, with amused delight, “oh, here he is!”

And, as the word “is” left her mouth, I shit you not, I felt an ice-cold shockwave through my body. It was if something had penetrated my skin and traveled completely through me. It was freezing cold, it was nauseating, and it felt very volatile.

I burst into tears and ran from her house back to school, without ever looking back. When I got to the school grounds I was completely freaked out and hyper-ventilating. I felt like I was going to throw up. Denise wasn’t lying! I vowed to never return to her house.

I was so beyond petrified that I refused to talk about it with Denise, who was busy excusing his behavior and telling me that he was just mad because I didn’t believe in him. I told Denise with extreme conviction to never ever EVER speak to me about this ghost again, that I was never going to her house, and that I didn’t want to hear another word about it.

Poor Denise. I finally believed her and I was far too frightened to dialogue about it. I moved back to Red Deer at the end of that school year and never heard from Denise again. I never told anyone about this story until I was in High School, and even then it was an abridged version, as I did not want to acknowledge the existence of the entity for fear that it might somehow find me.

Wherever you are Denise, I’m sorry that I didn’t believe you. I hope that ghost eventually left you alone and let you get some sleep.

Have you even seen or felt a ghost? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Identity Crisis

One of those life trajectory-changing moments happened about a year and a half ago. My kidneys officially started to go downhill – they were losing function and fast. Over one summer they went from Salsa dancing five nights a week to barely boogieing (how does one spell this word?) in the kitchen. Not that this was a complete surprise – I had been diagnosed with an inherited disease called Polycystic Kidney Disease when I was 8 (we pseudo medical folk like to call it PCK, not to be confused with KFC).

Without going into too much detail, because, yawnsville, you don’t need to know all the amazing details about kidney function et al, my kidneys were underachieving. As a pair they were filtering at about 22%. Which I was like, wha?? when I got a phone call from the doctor ‘s office telling me I’d better get my hiney in there because there was some sh – – going down in ma nephrology area.

I was a little bit worried, because from my training in the scholastic arena over the years, I knew that 22% was really pretty bad!! It’s way lower than even 50%, which is crappy in and of itself, ‘cause as we all know 100% is the goal, right? And, last time I checked, the kidneys were still in the major organ category, non?

After an initial bout of semi-panic, I was referred to an internal medicine specialist and I was asked to check my GFR more often. (Glomerular Filtration Rate – please click on the link for more info if interested). I learned that 22% function wasn’t great but it also wasn’t as big of a deal as I had initially thought. The kidneys are pretty amazing organs – they can keep on truckin’ quite well until they are in the >14% or lower category. You don’t even need dialysis at 22%.

In general, I was feeling pretty good aside from being super tired all the time; but mostly I chalked that up to being a grade one teacher. Seriously, try hanging with 24-27 six and seven-year olds five days a week (that’s a lot of numbers in one sentence!). It’s exhausting. Fulfilling, but exhausting. It’s lot like planning a never-ending learning-focused birthday party EVERY day for months.

Fast-forward about a year and a half, to February 10th, 2017, my official last day of work. After teaching for fifteen years, I was written off on disability, waiting for a new kidney. All I can say about this is thank God for the Canadian health care system and for my doctor who was on the ball. As soon as I got off of full-time work my kidney function stopped plummeting and stabilized at around 18%.

HOME SWEET HOME

You might think, “sweeeeeeeet! How great would that be? Getting paid to stay home…sign me up!” As fantastic as it sounds, being home from work was really difficult for me at first. I suddenly felt as though I had no direction, no focus and no reason to be. I was devastated. I sat at home mostly doing nothing and sleeping a lot of the day, partly due to exhaustion and partly due to just feeling really low. In my mind I had purpose as a teacher. I had made a difference every day and the world was a better place because I had a positive impact on so many young lives. Now what was I doing? Housecleaning? Making my bed? Watching TV? Reading? A depression crept over me like a dark fog and I didn’t want to get out of bed. Talk about an identity crisis.

I felt isolated, alone and unimportant. I was used to so many daily social interactions with students, parents and other teachers. Now I was at home doing nothing of significance, saying nothing much…I felt like I was using up good air. This might sound like I was being a drama queen but the experience really threw me for a loop. One day I was a viable person contributing in the world, and then I was lump on the couch with a shitload of time on my hands.

This is what I wrote about the experience:

None of us is irreplaceable. It is a humbling realization to recognize that if we disappear or are suddenly removed from this random and ever-changing plethora of scenarios and scenes, it isn’t really that big of a deal. The veritable play will continue on without us. The sun will rise and set, the moon will play reflective peek-a-boo at night, and people will go about their business in a very similar semblance of the way that they did before you evaporated.

I’m not saying that there won’t be ripples. It will be noticed here and there that something has changed. A once relatively consistent factor or presence is no longer there, and that counts for something.

The loops in which we circulate in as humans cycle on ad infinitum, and each of us is only the most miniscule piece of the puzzle; less than a stitch on the grandiose patchwork quilt of life. The coffee barista might for a moment realize that he or she hasn’t seen you for a while. Perhaps an image of you crosses the mind of a previous neighbor, they wonder whatever happened to so and so? An old school friend recalls a crazy childhood memory in which you played a key role, and for a minute you come to life in their recollections.

But once you are gone, you are physically nowhere around to be found. Just poof! A snap of the fingers and you may never have even existed. The group of horses that trod the same path and tamped down the grass will continue to use this pathway even if one of the horses dies or goes missing. Birds will continue to fly South for the winter. People will get up and go to work and run on their people hamster wheels tomorrow and the next day and the next day, even if you are gone. In a few decades, you will be but a ghostly echo and a retinal image burned into a fraction of someone’s consciousness. In a century or longer you will be all but forgotten.

Is this part of the difficulty of life? When we are alive, our existence is a big deal to us. We are the stars of our own movie and every subtlety counts. Every gesture is meaningful and contributes to the creation and reinforcement of the identity that we carry around with us all day every day.

I have become strongly attached and identified with the job that I do. Despite my best efforts to regard my job as “what I do, not who I am,” I recognize that the phrase “I am a teacher” is my external and internal affirmation. Who am I? I am a teacher. Of course, I am also a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, and all those other roles and jobs that I assume in life. The danger in working in the field of education is that for myself it was more than just a job. It was my vocation. I believe that it was my calling.

A teacher, a mentor, a leader, a guide, an emissary, a counselor – going to work everyday gave my life structure and purpose. I felt as though I made a difference. I am important! I matter! I change lives! I mould the cerebellums of so many young people, and this influence made me feel that my presence counted for something and amounted to something.

Then suddenly, I am still a teacher but I am not teaching. If I am not teaching, am I still actually a teacher? If I am a chef by trade but don’t cook, then for all intents and purposes I am not really a chef anymore, right?

Cue the existential crisis, lift up the cue cards with the giant looming questions about the meaning of life and the role that I play. When I left the school on Wednesday, I knew that the students would miss me, at least for a while. Part of me, in a selfish and very unapologetic fashion wanted the new teacher to fail. Fail miserably? No. Struggle and stumble? Make some mistakes? Yes. I wanted her to be worse than me so that in my mind I could justify that I was important and that the classroom machine without my particular brand of cog just didn’t work as well without me.

But guess what? I’m not at school and everyone who teaches there is still going everyday. The students are in the same desks, they follow the same daily schedule and routines – they learn and grow without me. This stings a bit as I come to terms with the fact that I wasn’t really necessary. I am replaceable. This ‘aha’ moment conjures up feelings of inadequacy and it causes me to question the identity that I’ve been constructing and clinging to all this time. Who am I really? Without the job, pulled out of my comfortable and repetitive loop, I feel less special. This is all a bit unsettling to say the least.

Has this ever happened to you? Something in your life changes and you find yourself struggling with your identity? I’d love to hear from you about your own personal experiences in this area.

Xo Heide

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The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me on this journey through the realms of creativity, spirituality, and self-exploration. I am a teacher, an artist, a mother, a Kundalini lover, a photographer, a writer, and many other things.

I’m malleable and changeable and I can’t find my crystal ball so I don’t know the future. 

I am a seeker, just like you. I want to connect to others and to a beautiful, more meaningful life, just like you. I want to transcend, just like you.

Currently, I’m off of teaching on disability (I’m waiting for a kidney transplant) and in the midst of writing my best-selling-novel (I’m pulling on the manifestation strings-hee). I look forward to meeting you and thanks for taking a moment to check out my work! All of the writing, art, photos, and images are mine all mine (stamp stamp no erasies). 

~xo Heide

I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars. — Walt Whitman

 

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Grocery Grouch

I dislike grocery shopping. I am not exactly sure why…maybe it is because it seems like an arduous chore when I think about it. There are so many steps!

1. Make the list. This requires me to look in the fridge and the pantry to see what we have and what items are running low. I inevitably find some rotten or soft veggies (sometimes smelly and leaky) in the crispers and some random leftovers in the back of the fridge that need to be thrown out. So I do that and give the fridge a wipe down, vowing to make sure that after the next shop I will use up all the veggies and not be wasteful.

**Making the list also means that I have to come up with supper ideas for the week (a dreaded task that seems to never end-gah!!) and add necessary items to the list.

2. Go to the store. I procrastinate for a while but there are items on there that I need (like Silk for my coffee and bagels for breakfast) so I finally get moving. Putting the list into my bag I remember to grab the cloth bags (’cause I’m environmentally conscious…sometimes) on my way out the door.

3. Park. Find a cart with 4 working wheels without a sticky handle.

4. Go back to the car to grab the bags because I left them in the trunk.

5. Wipe the cart handle off with a disinfectant cloth – (What? They’re there at the entrance of the store, I don’t bring them with me or anything…I’m not that germaphobic)

6. Look through the list – oh man, it’s in my bag. Oh well, I think I can remember what we needed…I end up choosing way more than was on my original list. I do my best to pick some items that are on sale because I’m a little bit money conscious (but not really, but I just want to believe that I am). I’m annoyed because the avocados are either too ripe or rock hard, I try to figure out if the pineapple is ready, I debate between buying organic and regular bananas (they have a peel so I don’t think the chemicals can do that much damage, right?)

7. Line up at a till – hard to tell which one is the fastest, and inevitably I choose the slower line. I busy myself by quickly glancing through mindless magazines like In Style and Star to get my fix of gossip without buying them (I can’t justify spending money on that crap reading anymore).

8. I unpack the cart as fast as I can, pass the bags to the cashier, whip out my cards and chat enough to be polite but not to distract from the job at hand. If I know anyone I usually don’t make eye contact and I look at candy bars or something so I seem busy. I like to pretend that I’m on The Amazing Race and I pride myself on being really fast through the till.

9. Pay, haul bags to the car, put the cart away, drive home, haul bags out of the car (ask my son to help if he’s around), put stuff away and try to find room for everything. Hide the chocolate bars that I bought so I have a stash when I have cravings.

10. Phew! That is a lot of work! But then, I am so satisfied when the fridge is full and there are options for dinner and I’m not inventing some random stew/gruel with leftover bits of food.

After all that complaining it just occurred to me that I’m lucky to be able to buy the groceries that I want and need. How many people cannot? How many people would love to have my first world problems?

Also, I have to admit that my husband does the shopping at least 50% of the time, so I really have little to whine about. From now on, I am going to look at grocery shopping as a privilege and relish in the fact that I have the financial means to buy enough for myself and my family. Deal?

Are there times when you procrastinate or certain tasks that you tend to put off?

P.S. The picture featured is of my husband cuddling a Jackfruit…

 

 

 

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