Friday, March 28, 2008

Today I am just going to start writing and see where it leads. I have many ungrounded thoughts that are doing leap frog dances through my brain. On some level they do make sense and I can see their connectedness, however trying to convey them could be grounds for institutionalization.

It would seem that just in the last few weeks I have entered into a deeper level of personal development, I call it this for lack of a better descriptor. A lot of things seem to be in confluence, coming together, flowing with ease. Remarkably these "things" are not necessarily "easy" things and in a way should contradict any sort of flow. I must attribute it to getting better at setting aside my own ego and letting things find their own natural rhythm.

Many of the things I really want to write about I am not giving myself permission to explore in this forum. I'm not ready to be that open about certain ideas I am having nor am I prepared for the onslaught of misinterpretation that might come from some readers.

To skirt the issue and yet still talk about it, let me tell you this. Yesterday two lovely people, Jehovah's Witnesses, showed up at my door. I'm one of those strange people who actually enjoys talking with JWs. They are incredibly passioned in their beliefs. They also tend to be very scripted and show up as the perfect neighbor next door who just wants to slip in a single bible verse and ask you how you feel about it or what you think it means. I don't look like the sort of person who has an extensive knowledge of the bible, so I'm pretty sure I often catch them off guard and can counter just about any argument and do it better than they can. Especially when I move beyond the verse they initially present - you soon find out they were unprepared for a pop quiz.

For many years I tried to argue them. Loved doing it in fact! They were wrong and I was right. Obviously my interpretation of the bible was better than theirs. Didn't they know that I was the one going to heaven and they were the ones doomed to hell.

Yesterday, however our conversation while lengthy was non confrontational in anyway. They seemed genuinely interested in my future conversion to Buddhism and the fact that I had chosen this path after being brought up born-again seemed to dumbfound and confound. What I realized is that JW's see themselves as very peace loving and a class above traditional christian sects. They do not go to war and they do not celebrate many of the pagan rituals that are pervasive in the christian church. For this I applaud them and all things being equal, if I were interested in following a christian faith/doctrine I may well consider the JW model. At this point I don't ever see that happening.

One note to add to this process of peace that they see themselves involved in is that their means can be very inciteful. Going door to door and offering your version of a better Jesus can be grounds for great conflict. Those who care will care A LOT! And will feel compelled to battle you to the death for daring to insult the religious beliefs that they are very feverish about. Christians seems to scramble to have a monopoly on whose Jesus is the right Jesus and spend their hard earned cash promoting their version of truth throughout the world. After all, we couldn't have those JW's being the only ones out there converting the pagan masses and doing it WRONG at that! It all seems incredibly humorous when I stand back and take it all in.

Now when I started I didn't exactly plan on going off on the JW's or any kind of Jesus mousetrap. What I did intend to explore was that part of me that can decline the fight. The part that no longer has to win and therefore does not need to expend all of that energy trapped in tangles that serve no purpose.

To put an analogy to it, it is like I have been walking in a corridor with lots of doors with signs on them. Somehow I got to the end of the hall with out opening any of the doors. To my blessed surprise a beautiful garden full of light and love awaited me at the end. And now I get to explore this warmth and light until I start to crave some other important lessons.

I know me and I know that the garden will not always satisfy. But for right now I will drink it all in.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Who really knows if we find words or if words find us. Sometimes I almost feel as though I am made for a moment and in that moment, if I surrender to it, a beauty takes shape. I experience this all the time when I am teaching - as though the words and the lessons just come, flowing out without effort.

When life is like this, we are channelers of sorts. Moved through. Moved with. Moved by. Maybe this explains why I have always loved my river so much. My whole life, it has carried me places, no effort.

Tonight after yoga I felt restored having practiced many poses of surrender. These are my favorite. Where you lay it down on the mat. You be a witness to your conscious mind and possess the unconscious, the failing, the yeilding, the exposing. You let those things that hold you down go with gravity and return to the earth. In the end it makes you lighter. Your eyes clearer. Your heart wiser.

Before I sat to write tonight the verse "you anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over, goodness and mercies follow me and I forever dwell in the house of a most high god" was very strong in me. As though I could not escape it. Earlier today, I was bogged down, having spent the last several days feeling rushed and pulled and trying to catch up.

I'm not sure why we choose the illusions of life. When instead we should acknowledge that our dwelling is a house with a most high god. This god anoints us with oil, a sacred and very personal spiritual practice. In fact, my life cannot contain the goodness, it overflows on every side.

My practice dispels the fear that the world wants me to take on. We can live where we want to live. There are no strong men holding us to one place. We should flow and move. We should graciously give and recive alabastar jars full of precious oils.

*** After just visiting George, I've decided to post a prayer from his new zenbaptist blog that fits nicely here:

I believe in all that has never yet been spoken.
I want to free what waits within me
so that what no one has dared to wish for
may for once spring clear
without my contriving.
If this is arrogant, God, forgive me,
but this is what I need to say.
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back,
the way it is with children.
Then in these swelling and ebbing currents,
these deepening tides moving out, returning,
I will sing you as no one ever has,
streaming through widening channels
into the open sea.

Friday, March 14, 2008

What I'm reading right now.

The Good Dog is a novel by avi. I've been reading it with my grade 3 language arts class. They are eating it up.

It is the story of McKinley, a malamute husky and self appointed head dog of his community. He is more or less a dog that lives without barriers, no fence, no leash and a loving family to return home to each night. In McKinley's eyes he is the keeper of the family and not the other way around. He takes his job as caretaker to his human pup Jack, very seriously!

McKinley finds himself coming face to face with a she wolf named Lupin on the outskirts of town. Lupin scoffs at McKinley for being bound and not living the life of freedom that she enjoys in the wild. Lupin does her best to try and shame McKinley into leaving his current life behind and accepting his ancestral call.

What I like best about this book is that it forces kids to think about good and bad. McKinley, in efforts to protect his family and the other neighborhood dogs, makes choices that are not easily understood and often get him into lots of trouble. If they only knew the reasons why, perhaps his actions would seem heroic as opposed to disobedient. I think this is a good lesson for each of us. It is easy to judge things that happen as right or wrong so long as we don't scratch the surface to find the deeper motivations for some one's actions.

My kids and I give this book 5 / 5 dog bones! A great family read.


I picked up the book marrying buddha the last time I was in Edmonton. It was in one of those last chance 75% off bins. I almost always look there as I have found some cheap and fantastic reads - plus your expectations are lowered and that makes finding a good read even better!

The book is set in Shanghai and Putuo Island (China) with flashback's to a prior life in NYC. Self reflective in mood and pace the pages weave a story about who we are and how we interpret the world through all the shades of human behavior and endeavor. It is at times graphic and erotic, making no apologies or excuses - only insight into the very fabric of what it means to see ourselves for the beauty our complexities force upon us. It reads like a zen trance. I am falling in love with Coco. I hold on to each chapter. I don't want it to end. It has been quite some time since I have been so affected by a character.

I'll let you know what I think by the end.

Ah, there is nothing better than the promise of a good book.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The grass in the fields ahead.

As you may have noticed, my blogging frequency has increased significantly in the last week! I'm not sure what has gotten into me, but love of the word has once again overtaken. I do not mind being in her possession, it feels good. The rattling of this old keyboard is comforting and I can play her as some might tickle the ivory and ebony.

Early in January I posted that I was going to change the content of my blog from spirituality to money management. Oppps. That hasn't quite materialized like I envisioned. True enough I am done with self-help but I am not quite ready to relinquish the thoughts that fill my head on the self. It is far too interesting to me and there is still so much to learn. I hope that by the time I am 70 I will have more wisdom that I do now and yet still have infinite capacity to learn and to make observations on human nature. At every stage we just see things with new eyes. The deepest beauty of life is that it is an ever changing dynamic, if you're static you're not living. Dynamics allow for chaos and confusion and a never quite knowing how it will all turn out. This in itself makes me excited about life.

I think I have passed a tipping point. 15 years ago I never would have imagined that I would become this person - really it is quite surprising. I am curious to know who I will be at 50, in another 15 years. I hope that I will be just as imperfect and prone to making mistakes and taking risks, just new ones - and that I will have learned from all my current mistakes, 'er I mean learning opportunities! The tipping point is that I'm ready for more now. More in all capacities.

Part of that capacity is financial. I grew up relatively poor. Not destitute and always fed, but I knew the pinch of lack. When I connect the dots I can see how influential poverty has been on my life's beliefs and choices. I set low standards for what would be enough, what I could attain. I did not want to take or be given more than was my share. As a result, I have always had a bit of a gypsy attitude. My husband describes it as a tree planter's mentality. I go so far, work so hard and then pull back. There was always an imaginary boundary, an invisible high charged electric fence that kept me from the other side. I have carried on as though money were unnecessary and that all that I would ever need would be provided to me.

This is not the worst paradigm a person can view the world from but it does have a down side. The biggest down side is that it keeps you from being all that you can be in other aspects of your life. When the going gets tough you hide out and seek refuge until the storm is over. Then you proceed to rebuild your house, all the time anticipating another storm at any moment. Another rebuilding. Another storm. Rebuild. Storm. And the cyclone continues.

I still believe that when necessary, all that I need will be provided. I believe in providence and serendipitous circumstances. But I also need to go beyond my fear of just having enough and come into the presence of plenty. I can do it, I have all of the tools necessary. But one's toolkit can be full of the highest quality crafting material and the crafter can still create sub quality workmanship. I have had the toolkit for a long time and have in many ways mismanaged its use.

Proverbs 24 v. 30-34 says:
I went past the field of the sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgement;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest -
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.
As women in particular, it is high time that we step up to the plate. It can be intimidating and easy to let our fear point us down the path of least resistance. The path that often waits for the eye of the storm and keeps us caught in the yo yo of build tear down, build tear down. It is a temporary mindset that we allow permanent reign. We need to put our energy into building up and building up in places that can sustain what we build so our actions are not in vain. I know there are lessons to be learned from having what you've built taken away, but I feel right now my lesson is for the good that comes from building up not tearing down.
My tipping point is that I now have the belief that I can build and it can be good and it can prosper. It is a new direction for my energy and my thinking.
So my question to you is this... Are you moving toward a tipping point and in what area of your life? How have you folded your hands to rest? Is it in your family life? Your love life? Your financial life? Your professional life? What scares you? Where do you need to give more or less?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

If only we could be this good all the time!

I'm not sure I have ever written a week in review post but here it goes. :-)

As weeks go, this one was pretty normal except for my extreme fatigue. It was like I had fallen and couldn't get up. Literally. Every morning it took all of my strength to get out of bed. Jeremy had to nudge me (he is an early riser) many times! I didn't even shower everyday.

On top of this exhaustion I had a busier than normal teaching schedule with almost every single thing I did being teacher directed. As a rule I try and keep a balance between dependent and independent work for my students. But not this week. We did several intense science experiments that required lots of prior knowledge.

This year and next year are also evaluation cycles for me professionally. My principal is required to observe me at agreed upon times but he is also free at anytime to be present in my room. He showed up unannounced on Tuesday morning. The funny thing is that I generally do math first thing in the morning but due to some student paper work that need to get sorted and put into binders I ended up having an impromptu science lesson/review. Just as I was beginning this completely unplanned activity, guess who walks in and takes a seat!

For the most part having people in my room rarely breaks my stride. Overall, I am confident in what I do. But there is always the fear that what you do 90% of the time will get observed during that other 10% and get misconstrued. It is however, intimidating to have the principal waltz into your room. I kept praying that he would not wander over to my desk and see my empty day plan! The cardinal sin of teaching. Thankfully he did not.

My unexpected lesson was on rocks and minerals in the rock cycle. I was explaining to the kids how over breakfast my husband (a forester and expert pit digger) and I were discussing rocks on a beach and how they are a perfect example of an accelerated and visible rock cycle taking place. The lesson ensued for another 15 minutes and as soon as we got started in math, Mr. P up and left.

At first recess I stopped by the staff room for a few minutes and walked past Mr. P's office. He called out after me with "Great lesson this morning." I said thank you as I carried on down the hall. Later the same day after students had been dismissed I walked past his room again. This time he came out of his office! "Angela, that really was a fantastic lesson you gave this morning!" He was visibly excited. "I was really impressed with they way you had the attention of every student in the room. They were all engaged and actively participating in the discussion". At this point the VP sticks her head out of her office and adds, "Yeah, he's been talking your praises all day!"

I must say their words gave me quite a rush. But I had absolutely no idea how to respond. I even felt somewhat embarrassed and could feel the heat rising in my face as they spoke. I think I managed a "Thank you" and scurried away.

The week however ended on a low note. I've been trading off gym classes with another teacher so as to squeeze in a couple of more prep periods. Truth is, I'm not a fan of her class. They test me on every turn and are just difficult in general. If you have never dealt with 8 year olds and think that they are mouldable and eager to please jars to be filled with knowledge... think again. That kind of child seems to be the exception not the rule these days. Make no mistake, we are currently living in a child-driven society and I believe the anthropological effects of this will not be recognized until a few decades from now. Although I have a couple of narcissists in my own classroom we have developed a balanced relationship and strong emotional bonds. They have mostly accepted my role as teacher and no longer challenge me when I say no - thankfully. It is not easy to get those kids who have cart blanche at home to give it up at school and let someone else be the boss. Parents, if you are failing your children in any way, it is in letting them be the parent and you becoming their servant. It is in neither of your best interests.

So my week, a tired and emotionally charged one, scaled the top of the mountain to the bottom of the valley. Last night I was numb. I declined invitations to dinner and listened to some Blue Rodeo, my favourite co-dependent music.

Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining and there is not a cloud in the sky. Forecast says that it will be as high as +5C. I'm already feeling restored. A little yoga this morning helped and I can breathe once again. And for today, a bit of eye and ear candy for the ladies. :) Namaste.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Where this came from...I just don't know.

It seems that in the last few years, a common thread in my writings has been about letting go. I don't think that I have ever been particularly attached to things but when I made a substantial relocation move in 2002, it truly surprised me just how much stuff I had accumulated. Lots of brick n' brack, or whatever else people like to call it.

Looking at all that useless clutter gave me heartache and I swore that I would never walk that road again. I thought about the wasted time, money and energy I had put into storing all those small items. Hundreds of dollars in knickknacks, shipped off to the goodwill to become someone else's yard sale material. I can't for the life of me remember even one item that got left behind.

Somehow those trinkets lead me to look in other areas. The not so obvious places. Areas that are not displayed on shelves. Or even just hidden in the spare room closet. They have roots that run deep and they don't get collected in green bags on garbage day.

They go around with you and slink and slither into every move you make. They sometimes tell you lies and burden you down with their weight. They tell you that you are responsible for other people's happiness. That you must try harder. Do better. Be more. More beautiful. More thinner. More everything to everyone.

They are the elixir of the miserable. But the kicker is that they somehow convince you that no one else can know that you are completely in their grasp. And so, you play by their rules and pretend to be what you are not because you believe that is the right thing to do.

So who are they?

They are the deepest, darkest, stankyiest, ugliest, perverse ideas and fears you hold about yourself. The "I'm not good enough", "I'm not smart enough", "I'm not pretty enough"...enough enough enough.

No matter who you are, what you do, where you have been, you are ENOUGH. You are good enough and smart enough and pretty enough and worthy enough and then some.

It is OK to get pissed off at all of the people who have fucked you over and made you cry. It is OK to be this with yourself - if you have been one of the people! And haven't we all? At one time or another? So if you need to, get good and mad. Get mad and stay that way for a week. Call in sick every day from one Monday to the next. Make a list of whomever has wronged you. Write them letters you will never send, speak to them as though they are in the room with you. Don't let anyone off the hook, even the one's you love more than life itself.

Then make your peace, inside your own heart. Because 95% of all your bullshit lives inside your head. And it fills it up and creates barriers that keeps you down, not them. They have their own walls and demons. How do I know? Because pain breeds pain and we hurt others because we need to share it, dish it out and spread it around. As humans, we seem to have a certain drama factor. We want to perpetuate the pain, keep it close. It has been a dysfunctional friend for so long.

And the process begins. I have been journeying for years now. But I'm changed. And, I'm on the other side now. On the side where there is enough to the nth degree.

As I've been writing this I was thinking of a song by Jan Arden called Waiting in Canada. It seems so appropriate. Namaste.

every tear you cry
every doubt you have
all of these things will pass away
all of your big mistakes your little old heart would break
wishing that i could take them back
write down the things you don't want burn them in a glass
write down the things you dream of
make a paper plane that flies to heaven
and buy a ticket for a plane and come and see me baby
or drive your car all night by just starlight to Canada
that's where I'll be waiting
all of the empty rooms
all of the silent space
every warm embrace is you
nothing is like it was, there's nobody here but us
i have been filled right up with this
write down the words of sadness burn them in a cup
write down the things you've wanted
throw them to the wind that's soaring up to heaven
and buy a ticket for a plane and come and see me baby
or drive your car all night by just starlight to Canada
oh buy a ticket for a plane and come and see me baby
or drive your car all night by just starlight to Canada
that's where I'll be waiting waiting

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The things I do for love.

burn incense
light candles
sing in the shower
talk to myself
do yoga
walk the dog
try new recipes
be alone
read trashy novels
grind my own beans
buy organic coffee
drink red wine
eat carbs
send telepathic messages
dance in the living room
give thanks
expand my mind
let go
know the moment
remember the past
visit a grave site
feel the chill of winter
watch the moon cycles
walk barefoot in my kitchen
forgive my imperfections
cradle my dog
walk away from strife
sing old hymns
recite poetry
down dog
mountain pose
standing forward bend
call my parents
go to bed early
eat my vegetables
be me.
What do you do for love?

Monday, March 03, 2008

You're NOT the Boss of Me!

A kid in my class is driving me a little batty. He's a sweet kindhearted fellow who is extremely helpful. Way too helpful. He's so helpful in fact that it turns him into a bit of a control freak. He also has difficulty completing his own work because he busies himself with his neighbors work.

He can't seem to keep himself from being a bossy boots, even though he is one in an unconventional way. He does try but the problem almost seems bigger than he is - like an unseen force that controls his will!

So I've come to the conclusion that although I could discipline him everyday it would basically be to no avail. Natural consequences seems to be the best course of action. This is already taking place as he has increasing difficulty with his peers, who generally are not interested in his overtaking of their lives. Who could blame them. I'm frankly quite tired of his benevolent attempts to hijack my role as teacher, one I don't give up easily!

The question I have for myself in this situation is, what is the lesson I need to learn?

"Never mistake my self control for tameness." Teresa Lindner