Tuesday, October 31, 2006

We owe it to ourselves and those around us, to be excited about the lives we live. To dream bigger than we think we dare and inspire others to find their voice and way in the world. Let's be transformed by our limitless spirit.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

For Winifred

I am thinking about my maternal great grandmother tonight.

About 100 years ago she left London for a new life. She ventured across the pond with a soon to be professor to the University of New Brunswick and his wife, to be their nanny. She was 15 or 16 years old. I am told two of her first cousins were Lord's in the House of Lords. I really don't know what that means, other than it has to do with English government structure. Her father was a relatively wealthy man who owned a tavern. It is reported that his family was somehow involved in the slave trade between Africa and America.

Grandmother (as my mom refers to her) left of her own volition and refused to return despite her parents attempts. I believe it broke her mother's heart. Grandmother gave very little away about those days. Practically refusing to discuss them.

Not long after arriving in Canada she met my great grandfather. He was years her senior. He took her to live in his log cabin, far in the woods. He was often gone - hunting, fishing, trapping. They had children before he ever married her. She was an intelligent and articulate woman, an accomplished musician who in her youth, had played before the Queen. He was neither well spoken or well read. I'm sure the backwoods of New Brunswick was a far cry from the city streets of London. Being an unwed mother must have come with unbearable shame. Eventually they had 14 children which included two sets of twins. I once asked my mother how the two of them ever got together, I assumed it to be a loveless union. My mother suspected that she was in need of a place to live and he in need of a housekeeper.

When I was in eighth grade, I interviewed Grandmother for a socials project. I was learning about my family tree. I recall the walls in her house were all white and the sun seemed to come in from every direction. The ceilings seemed unnaturally high. She was old to me. My mother asked most of the questions, being much more interested in this particular piece of homework than I. Grandmother played the piano for us and sang. I thought it sounded dreadful but quite remarkable given she was the oldest person I'd ever met. For days afterward my mother recounted childhood memories and the special attention Grandmother had given to her over all the other grandchildren.

It would be so interesting to me to have this opportunity now. I would want my mom to be there and would plan it for days. I would ask her about having all those babies. How did it feel to be 30ish for her? Was there joy or did the days pass too quickly for such excess out of life? Was there any love or only duty? Did she make the right choice or just get so far into the wrong one that...

I have a theory that pain is passed down from one generation to another. That we can carry guilt and shame from a hundred years ago or even more. Chances are we don't recognize it as belonging to our ancestors. We pass it along regardless and throw in a few of our own secret sins just to ensure the gift keeps on giving. I see evidence of this in my own family. Thankfully, every once in a while, a generation refuses to indulge the sins of our fathers and our mothers and their fathers and their mothers. I'm certain that Grandmother's seeking out of a new life broke a cycle - but also created new grief to be passed on to her children and their children.

I honor her. I am told she was a brave and courageous woman. I'm sure she must have been.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Love that redeems the world

Seems to me that since the beginning of time, we've been interested in redemption. In need of a Saviour. Someone to take away our fear. Someone to make our world right. Someone to tell us we are good. Someone to show us the love we each carry inside.

Every culture has ingrained, a strong ideal about god(s). Some make claim to many, some to what they refer to as the one true God.

The problem is that god(s) is/are part of tradition. Traditions change. One does not have to look back in history but a few hundred years and see how Christianity has been molded and shaped to suit European/American culture. Dark day of burning women at the stake for sorcery over failed crops and less than satisfactory weather conditions are well documented and were carried out by great men of God. In modern day, Christianity has become a voice of programs and marketing ploys to bring the world to the feet of Jesus. I'm sure Jesus is mightily thankful for all the help. Also, still among us, we find the just plain crazies who interpret "gospel" to the letter and create their own cult rules from twisted out of context metal. Lets not forget these rules more often than not submit women to their husbands and take away their freewill to choose. Embroiled in guilt and shame, there is no way out, unless of course one can survive not being redeemed.

Yesterday I was scanning the radio and came across a Christian broadcast. "All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give, will you ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live." These are words to a well known hymn, they were not being sung but rather spoken, pleading for the listner to sign a contract with these words. "Can you in good faith, put your name to this, can you give it all to Jesus, can you surrender to him your life and all that you have." ...

My dad is a brilliant theologian. His sermons are deep and meditatively thought out, so simple you wonder why you never thought about it before. Whenever I have opportunity to listen, I'm awed and humbled and tears fall from my eyes. Not because he pleaded, not because he said you would burn in hell, not because he asked you to change a single thing in your life - he's never done any of that. But he found a nugget of gold, of ancient wisdom, that touched your heart, that made you feel all of your humanity, that opened your mind and gave you new eyes to see the world.

Believe it or not, my parents do not attend church, they haven't since my dad left ministry when I was twelve. He's called upon to fill in when regular ministers are away. I've never known him to give the same message twice. There seems to be no end to the sermons he has inside. He and my mom often have deep philosophical discussions about scriptures. They have no ego, no agenda, no position in the hierarchy.

I used to have difficulty reconciling my own lack of belief to their fortress of faith.

I know the lingo, the arguments, the call. For awhile I had guilt. Fear that not believing was a mistake. What if I burn in hell? It can't be possible that so many people are wrong about this redemption?

Now I see the entire thing differently. More like an exercise in psychology. They get you when you're young, they scare the crap out of you, they feed you to the gills with this stuff, isolate you, manipulate you - I mean religion in general here. (My parents never did any of this to me. They never took me to church past the age of 12.) And why do they do it? Because we all need a Saviour, we all need to be redeemed. They are doing the work of God, the most important work they know to do.

But here is the thing. You need saving because you think you need saving. Do you know what are you being saved from, anyway? The shadow that goes bump in the night? Is it all motivated by eternal damnation?

We ask god(s) for things in our lives. We turn our burdens over to him to bear. We negotiate our future to his service if only he will give us this one thing. I suspect he doesn't give a god damn. If he does exists - the universe is big and I am dust in the wind.

This, however, is not to say that the exercise of letting go doesn't make a difference. Perhaps it allows some to live in the present more fully without carrying the weight of this or that. Perhaps it helps some people to be good, knowing that they will be judged. I feel strongly that if god(s) meets your needs in any of these ways, then perhaps in you, the ideal of god has been fulfilled. You can call it God, even if it isn't, especially if that helps.

I'm close to labeling myself an a-theist. I have some disdain for organized religion. I have no bitterness. So many are just living the unconscious motions, certain their reward is in heaven. For them, I almost hope that they are right and I am wrong... but I don't think so.

I notice that a lot of atheist (at least those with weblogs) seem to be out for blood (oh the irony). There was a time in my life that I thought I knew God. I trusted he would keep me as the apple of his eye. It is all psychology. I can not disprove God, nor do I want to. If your belief helps you to live at peace in the world, then it is indeed a great gift. For my parents, I am certain that it is just that! Their lives often impart this gift to me, indirectly showering me with blessing of goodness and wisdom that see beyond a text to an esoteric plane.

My goal is consciousness. My experience in church is only now about enlightenment, as I can see it for what it is and was and where it has brought me. My intellect will not allow my rolling over and surrendering all to Jesus. My guess is that the enlightened Jesus would not want to be God to me but would rather me find the spirit within that is able to discern and choose wisely in the world.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I miss my books.

I guess I like looking at them on the shelf, running my finger down their spine, thinking about where I bought them, why I bought them. A few I haven't even read. Most I've read a couple of times.

I've bought some new ones, in the interm you know. They'll add nicely to the mix.

Soon. They'll be back on the shelf and scattered about.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Naked Tree

I took this photo a couple of springs ago. It is just down the 'south' road from where I grew up. To the left, the beautiful Miramichi river flows, you can't see it but I know it is there. It is here that the south road ends. My first love was a boy from the south road. On occasion, I drive down there for sentimental reasons. Part of me always hopes that he will be there and once again kiss me the way he did when I was sixteen. He never is, he never does. I think it is for the best.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Coffee and a Blog

Sunday mornings are my favorite. The house is quiet, the street is quiet, the world around me seems to be taking a collective breath.

I am thinking about the upcoming year. I believe that 2007 will be about making a life. (Every year seems to have a theme, 06 was change, 05 was self accepting.) We are very close to finishing the house. It is beautiful and I feel so blessed to be soon living there. I am ready to possess it fully - hang pictures on the walls, curtains on the windows, gather friends around the table.

In ways, I've been living disconnected. Lots of time to myself, not working, very little stress. That is going to change soon. Shortly I will be returning to work and all the waiting I have been doing will come to an end.

Sometimes good things must end so that better things can have life.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Yesterday I went skating. As a kid my entire winter recreational life pretty much revolved around skating and the arena. If I wasn't skating I was waiting to go skating or watching hockey at the rink. In mid winter we would spend our spare time clearing off the bogan (back channel of the river) so we could play pond hockey, mostly I just twirled and my brother and his friends would play.

Skating is very freeing. To skate well you have to let yourself go, feel the uncertainty of metal against ice and find a new center of gravity. Skating is about feeling not thinking.

When I was a kid, skating made me very content. I didn't even know how content until yesterday.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

I have hesitated to write too much about the whole house building experience, even though it has dominated my life for the past few months. It is getting to crunch time and we are behind sched. I am trying to take it in stride.

A coupoe of days ago we discovered a problem with the floor that runs the length of the living/dining room. This is going to hold us up a couple of days from getting the hardwood layed. I know it doesn't sound like a big deal (and truth is it probably isn't) other than Jeremy is the one doing the floors and he has been trying to work around his own work schedule. Because of next years budget, upcoming meetings, a trip to Kelowns and general delays to the project... finding the time is getting more and more difficult. I've checked my ego for the time being (it keeps creeping back) and am focusing on what we can get done now.

Today I am changing the paint in the kitchen.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I have learned over the last several years to be cognizant of my energy. I pay close attention to my moods - highs, lows, tired, hyper, calm, frantic, social, antisocial. When I was a child I needed much less sleep than my siblings. My brother would sleep on command and I, even as a toddler would remain awake in my crib until well after midnight. In my preschool and early school years I would often wake with crusted eyelids, as though my eyes wept through the night and then dried, causing them to be crusted shut.

As a teenager, I was an underachiever. I did practically nothing in high school and yet graduated with honors. In university, I continued my underachieving until the end of second year when I flunked calculus (highly likely given that I rarely attended class, had a shit teacher and didn't do assignments). I almost quit university at that point, for reasons beyond failing calc. Thankfully my mother went apeshit on my ass (quite literally) and I reconsidered under duress. Sometimes duress is good! My gpa went through the roof.

I now feel as though I have been a true adult for 10+ years. I've been married for far too long and waffle between complete happiness (I do love my husband) and questioning whether or not I am just afraid to make it on my own. We do not intend to have children and sometime we just wonder if this is what we want for the rest of our lives. Is 15 good years enough? Will it ever be enough?

At least half of me is a 60's child reincarnated. Social injustice hurts me deep inside and I long to change what is so obviously wrong with the world. I dream of teaching in dangerous third world countries. I am well identified with he hippy and draft-dodger. Part of me is afraid, part does not want to give up this mediocre middle class life.

Some people believe that you never truly change, that who you are is who you are. I am not one of those people. I am not who I was, not even close. Ten years ago I was in wonder with the world, identified with god and creation, faithfilled that all things work together for good. I have lost some of that wonder and all of that faith. I was happier when I believed, this is not to say that I am unhappy now. In ways I am freed. Perhaps I am who I have always been, it just took me a while to strip away that which I never truly was.

I have often wondered if perhaps I suffer from mental-illness and just happen to be smart enough to hide it. Then I wonder if the world is mentally ill for not seeing what I see and feeling what I feel. My mother accuses me of controlling my world. I have lived without control and trust me, it is not the path to inner peace for me. What I mean, goes back to monitoring my moods. I have learned with great unpleasantness that the line in the sand should not be crossed. Too much excitability is a very bad thing for me. My mother's energy is for the duration, mine is not and I must pick and choose where I spend it if I am to cross the finish. In our own way, I'm certain we're all insane or in denial.

My dad and I have always been close. We are very much alike. When we talk there is always more than just words. He somehow carries me with an understanding. It has been there since I was young, before I could articulate (even poorly) that it existed. It is as an adult that I realize the gift it is, it is not given freely between all fathers and daughters. Even for my sister it has been a process of development, not something that always was. I remember as a child once having this overwhelming need to cry, there was no reason other than I was overcome with deep sadness. I told my mom and she told me to go see my father. He was in his office with the door closed. I knocked and went in, and went directly to him in his chair, climbed on his lap and cried until I had no more tears.

When I sat down, it was not my intention to share all of that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Color my world

Our house is progressing. Not so quickly however, so that we will actually be moving in on our possession date! We are about 2 weeks behind. And on top of this I am horrified (yes completely revolted) by my own color scheme for the house. I keep questioning how this happened - I consider myself very good at coordinating an interior. If my last house was any indication, it is obvious that I had a flair once upon a time!!!

Our house in Halifax was a soothing mix of tone on tone shades of creamed coffee with a couple of punches of red. This house, I decided, needed to be different, more color, more drama, more punch.

Last night I went to inspect the paint job.

The main color throughout is called coffee body scrub, which is a very soothing creamy color with just a drop of green. It has a lovely spa quality to it. This color wraps the entry way, and is continuous down the hall, into the office, second bedroom and both baths. It looks great against the maple floors as well as the tile going into the bathrooms. So what's the problem you ask?...

Let's start with the living/dining room. I chose (what I thought was) a very earthy purple. Quite honestly, not that bad. Granted it is a bit Barneyfied, but not awful. Push comes to shove I can make it work with the coffee body scrub. Actually no I can't, unless I buy new everything, given that my current decor is not purple friendly.

Add in the kitchen. In the last house I had great success with red. But reds are finicky. You have to have just the right red, in just the right light or it doesn't work. Turns out, cajun shrimp is an angry red and doing a great job of pissing off the other colors. It especially dislikes where it seams up against Barney. The cabinets are yet to be installed. Initially I thought the red would look fab against the stained wood, but now I fear the two will just fight against each other and make the kitchen too dark. Too much intensity amongst all the materials - the cabinets are stained, the appliances are stainless, the island countertop is also stainless and the floors are hardwood. Already a lot of drama even before I started cooking up cajun shrimp!

No, the paint doesn't stop here. Our bedroom. Because the summer days are so long here I decided on a brown called cocoa glow. Wow, now that is a saturated color. They also painted the inside of the closet this color (I forgot to tell them otherwise), which means I will not know what the heck is in there - no reflective quality to this paint.

So the drama I was hoping to get in my house has created a great deal of tension in both me and hubby. Fuck. I just wanted it to work out the first time and be fabulous.

Looks like I will be painting after all. Time is too tight and the painter has no time to come back and redo my faux pas. So next week while hubby is installing hardwood floors I will be priming and painting kitchen, living and master - you know, only half the house.