Focus your energy on one thing to be more successful at more things.
It’s all great advice and I have taken it to heart during periods of my life that I felt it all applied.
I admire discipline. I have contemplated getting it tattooed on me somewhere I could see it often. I like to be organized and make numerous lists when I need to get things done. I always like periods of chaos and serendipity.
Where I struggle is trying to put myself in a box. I know the benefits of being clear in your communication with others. Even who you are and what you value should be obvious in your musings.
Where is this contemplation coming from?
I was chatting with my son the other day and he was giving me feedback on my blogs. He loves process and is driven by order. He suggested I narrow my scope of topics and use the website to express specific topics.” It’s unorganized” mom, he said. If I want to read about your dream yoga I have to search for it. Label and tag all of your topics to help with the navigation.
It was good advice. I even attempted to sort through the eclectic stories to file them in order of topics, relations and common themes.
Sigh. Ok confession time. I am interested in anything and everything. My interview to volunteer took over an hour because I was curious about many opportunities and didn’t want to turn down any that might be mutually beneficial. I am a realist and know that it isn’t possible to do it all yet I enjoy the push to try and do more. Sometimes less is more. Being willing to narrow the scope and hone in on projects that enhance your skills sets is golden.
So what is the purpose of a label? I have learned that in order to nurture and attract like minds you have to be able to define your ideas in a common language. I bet you thought I was going to dis on labeling things? Not true. I understand the importance of helping others to steer through your body of work to the place that interests them. The exchange of ideas understood and consumed is heady and very desirable.
I am not everyone’s cup of tea nor do I try to be. I do my best though to think of labels many can understand and relate to.
My son’s feedback was good and I continue to take it to heart as I post my blogs. I won’t guarantee him that I will narrow my topics. He knows me better than that but I will ensure they are labeled in the most scientific way.
All I have to do is close my eyes and dream away the snow…
I am getting the itch to travel as winter seems to be dragging on forever. I was dreaming of some of the epic beaches I have been to over the years as I scooped up the snow and piled it into mini mountains along my driveway and walks.
I am grateful for the trips I did take before COVID set it as now I only have to close my eyes and experience the warm humid air of Bali or the wisps of sands grazing my cheeks in the early hours of the morning in Morocco.
Sigh, will I ever travel again? The saving grace, for me, over the last couple of years has been my stays at the ashram. This year is, of course, different. I chose to stay home this time and volunteer locally. It has been good for me to learn more about the state of my own community. How people are coping post pandemic.
I am designing changes to my gardens and have already started many seeds to cut down the costs this year. Gardening, despite what you might think, is not a cheap hobby. At least the way I do it. I close my eyes and think of the Boboli Gardens in Italy. Even though we were there in a severe drought, the more tolerant varieties of shrubs and plants were beautiful. In Pompeii, we walked the grounds that were cultivated with species that were grown during ancient roman times. The formal gardens of Spain and Italy were a delight to wander through. These famous gardens are my muses as I think about the evolution of my own oasis.
In Seville Spain, my son, daughter in law and I spent the day basking in the formal royal gardens of Alcazar. The orange trees sported fruit the size of cantaloup but apparently are not edible which is a shame.
I can’t say that I am an expert on beaches. Some of the best beaches I have experienced have been in Mexico and Cuba. Epic beach award has to go to the islands of Gili in Indonesia. I loved the fact that you could ride a bicycle all the way around the island of Trawangan. I was a bit disappointed in the snorkelling there. Not much to see and I was told that dynamite had been used to fish in the area. This explains the reason that it seems to be bare in places. There have been numerous projects to promote new reefs and aquatic plant life but it’s sad that it happened in the first place. I was able to snorkel the Great Maya Reef by Puerto Morelos, Mexico. I have never seen so many types of coral, fish and crustaceans. The angel fish spanned a foot of more from fin to fin. There was lobster, sting rays, nurse sharks just to name a few varieties. It was the best show of marine life I have ever seen.
For my next adventure, I want to make sure to include jungle temples and ruins. The images of buddhas being swallowed up by tree roots and vines is on my bucket list to photograph and experience. Nature taking back its real estate has appealed to me.
Where is your next adventure taking you? Do you dream of beaches, botanicals and buddhas as well?
Spring is in the air! Literally for me as it’s the time of year I contemplate what I can grow vertically. I am intrigued by garden walls, stackable pots scenarios and the arrangement of complementary plants that can grow together.
A few years ago, while I was knee deep into my shaman exploration, I attended a weekend workshop in Ferintosh Alberta. It was held at an eco farm just outside of the small village. I learned many things about meditating with plants and the creation of infusion, tinctures and solar extraction of plant essential oils. I also learned about vertical options for growing complementary vegetation.
This blog, I want to explore options for how to arrange vertical structures for making the most out of small spaces.
My husband and I took a walk around the canal area near Venice Beach in California during one of our adventures. I fell in love with how creative the home owners had become with their small spaces. In particular, the wall gardens. They were created from all sorts of materials. Some were cinder bricks stacked up with the holes facing outward where potted plants could be inserted. Others were made out of landscape fabric with various sizes of pockets attached. You can buy all sorts of premade ones but I wanted one with specific dimensions. I am lucky to have a partner who is game to create whatever I can envision so off we went to build our own version of the Venice inspired garden. We got to work with a couple of 2×4 weather treated boards and some landscape fabric. I sewed the pockets together with my limited sewing machine skills and we assembled it with a staple gun. I fixed it to the side of the shed with some screws and then stood back to admire our handiwork. That was the easy part. The tricky part was finding plants that would not require too much watering. It’s a challenge to keep the plants hydrated in summer with this type of set up. I chose to fill it with succulents for obvious reasons. It turned out to be one of my favorite combinations.
Recycled Air Compressor Planter
My dear husband has a tendency to pick up other people’s abandoned junk. He comes home and asks me what we are going to do with it most often. Being someone who hates to just throw it away I have incorporated a lot of these homeless items into my landscape. Tim got to work making a hole in the two cylinders. We then bolted it to our fence. The depth of the planters created was deeper than the garden wall pockets so I was able to add more soil. I still decided to stick with succulents for easy maintenance.
Propane Tank Planters
Do not attempt to cut holes into propane tanks without the help of a professional. Once we consulted someone we then had 3 holes cut to work with. Hubby bent two metal pieces into a stand that he then was able to attach the tanks onto. The structure stands about 4 feet tall which is ideal. The containers are good sized so I could put bigger plants into them. For now I haven’t attached the planter to any permanent location so it can be moved throughout the yard or onto a balcony.
Other Vertical Planting Suggestions
I have incorporated numerous pots into my yearly garden designs. This way I can move them around. I can bring in the plants that I want to winter over, which sometimes consist of many plants. It’s an easy way to be able to change your mind about vegetation groupings seasonally or anytime you want to use one of your planters as a focal point.
I use lots of vines in my yard too. Along my fences are ornamental kiwi, grapes, Virginia Creepers and a few varieties of Climtas. I have been on the lookout for a Wisteria to add into the mix.
I have several bonsai trees that I put outside during the warmer season and bring into my office and music room in the colder months.
The succulents I use in the planters are recycled into small inside gardens if they aren’t able to survive outside in the gardens during the winter.
However you chose to garden, having at least one vertical option, has added to my enjoyment of nature’s bounty.
One of my favorite things to do during my stay at the ashram was to wander through the forests.
On one of my adventures I came across an unusual looking butterfly. It had a decent wingspan of about 3 inches dark brown with yellow edges. There were big blue dots lining the outer expanse of the wings.
What stood out for me was the body. I took a photo and then brought the image up on the camera. I am always looking for faces or character images in things. This butterfly didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of a shaman surrounded by a cloak. His head was bent in prayer or sadness. The image is pretty clear on the face and body.
I have done some digital graphics with the photos I took that day and played around with the butterflies artistic potential. I was drawn to its vibe of reserve.
I came across an article on the Mourning Cloak and could understand a bit more why it caught my interest.
The butterfly, itself, lives longer than most butterflies. It can live up to 12 months, coming out of aestivation in summer and then hibernating again in the winter until early spring. When the weather turns cold it replaces some of the water stored in its body to anti-freeze-like chemicals such as glycols. It then rests under a cavity or tree camouflage until spring.
The name, Mourning Cloak Butterfly, is thought to symbolize someone who wears a cloak of mourning a loved one. The native symbolism believes that the dark colored wings represent death while the white spots on the tips of the wings represent hope and new beginnings. The Mourning Cloak is considered a spiritual creature who can guide you to safety or direct you home if you become lost. As a totem it is believed to teach you about the importance of griefing and recognition of loss.
On further exploration, I came across some information tied to the celtic goddess Brighid. She is the goddess of fire, healing and inspiration. It is believed that Brighid brings new life and hope and is often seen as the Mourning Cloak butterfly. I like that.
My name, Vanessa, means “a group of butterflies”. I am drawn often to insects as I hike or travel. The amazing designs of nature alway make for a fascinating muse.
I awoke yesterday morning to the doorbell ringing on the side door. I did come out of my coma in enough time to realize that someone was at my door. I sleep with earplugs that work exceptionally well and it takes me a bit of time to come fully awake.
I jumped out of bed, quickly put some clothes on and head to the door only to see a policeman walking away. I catch up with him as he comes around the block again.
The neighbour’s car has been stolen out of their backyard while they left it running to heat up for a few minutes. The police wonder if I noticed anything. I was oblivious unfortunately as I slept soundly.
As the day progresses I have the opportunity to speak with the neighbors and take a walk around my yard. I notice footprints to my front door, carport door, sidegate, garage and shed. There are more footprints by each of the vehicles parked outside our home.
It’s becoming very clear that someone wanted to pay me a visit as I slept. When this was unsuccessful they went to the neighbors house. The neighbors said that a woman came to their house in the early hours of the morning. They tried to gain access through their patio door in the back. The neighbor just happened to be up and asked them what they wanted. Boldly the woman said she had left her backpack in their basement and wanted to retrieve it. He didn’t let her inside. He noticed that she had a cab waiting in the front of his house. A cab? She had taken a cab to his house to try and rob him. The cab took off and left her there. She panicked and took off on foot. The neighbor thought that was the end of it and went back to bed.
Later, that morning, as they were getting ready for work the lady came back. She got in the vehicle that had been left running and attempted to drive away. She backed up into the alley and hit another neighbor’s cement block fence. She was able to drive away but one of the kids from the home got in his car and pursued her. He didn’t find her. After driving around a bit they did eventually find the stolen vehicle and reported its whereabouts to the police.
Why tell you all of this?
I have two more sessions of the Dream Yoga series left to attend. In the practice there is a method you can use that involves working with a “Waking Dream”. A Waking Dream is one that occurs live and in living color. An event that happens while you are fully conscious that you wish to explore for any insights it might have for you.
The first thing I noticed was the fact that I slept through the entire ordeal. The car crashing into the concrete fence happened less than 30 feet from my bedroom window. I heard nothing through my earplugs.
Someone was trying to get into my house throughout the night and morning. They were attempting to access my “safe space” when I was most vulnerable.
In my Dream Yoga session last night, I looked for parallel symbols between my Concrete Dream and the Waking Dream.
In the Concrete Dream, the little girl had told me that I didn’t know the dangers here.
Do you need to know all of the possible dangers in your environment?
When does fear of the unknown become overwhelming?
I have lived at this address for almost 40 years. We have seen many changes to the neighbourhood. My kids grew up here and I felt safe enough in the 1990’s to let them walk to school and play unattended. I never, until recently, felt fearful of hanging in my yard. When outside I am always aware of who is around. This is something I would not have considered twenty years ago. I can stay in my house and worry about who might be lurking around the corner of the garage or I can live my life.
I choose to live my life and use my yoga practices to calm any anxiety that might arise. It helps.
Every night before I go to sleep I repeat the Divine Light Mantra.
I am created by divine light
I am surrounded by divine light
I am protected by divine light
I am sustained by divine light
I am ever growing into divine light
It helps me to go to sleep.
The city of Lethbridge has grown and the population has diversified. There are good things coming to fruition and plenty of bad things going on like any other urban community. The homeless numbers have intensified and they seem to have become bolder. Across the street from my house many have hung out in the past and did drugs right out in the open with little consequence. Phoning the police usually doesn’t amount to anything. You have a drug service come and pick them up but they just come back.
Breaking through the concrete…
Concrete gives you a sense of solid security against danger. In the Concrete Dream, the little girl trusts her carefully crafted cement steps. She doesn’t have to guess where they lead because she already has explored the path many times. It’s a practical existence that is perceived as being safe and secure but with enough force, the mixture can crumble or crack and the sense of safety collapses.
Outside forces want in. They will try as many access points to gain entry as is needed.
What are you going to do about it?
We will beef up our security systems for sure but one thing I refuse to do is live in fear or move away from the home that my husband and I have created here. To sustain a healthy mind and spirit, you have to manage fear. It’s important to be aware of danger to a certain point but letting it control your life can become crippling.
The neighbor said later that day that the lady who stole the car was let go immediately with a notice to appear in court on a certain day. There really wasn’t any consequence to what had happened. That is another discussion that I am not going to embellish here.
It was Sharon’s birthday yesterday. Happy belated birthday my friend!
As I reflect on Sharon, I am drawn to her strength and bravado. She has had a lot to deal with over the years that I have known her. Instead of falling apart she stood her ground, defending her position and marched forward. Her head was held high and she moved with grace and determination like no one I have ever been friends with. We have both been through heartache, death, trying to raise balanced human beings and navigate all sorts of relationships with family, partners, work and friendships.
What has stayed firm is our friendship and I am grateful for that. I am a firm believer that people are placed in your life for a reason. You need only pay attention to reap the benefits of the interactions. I had no notion of Sharon when we first started working together. I knew nothing about her or her life. We seemed to be like Ying & Yang and yet through our differences we were curious about what made each who we are.
I am a couple of years older than Sharon but not by much! The more we explore our lives the abundance of nuggets meld into our pot of golden thoughts and threads.
As readers I recommend going back on some of the older blogs to get to know Sharon more if you haven’t already. She is candid and unfiltered in the story of her life so far. We have both decided that transparency is the best way to operate within this blog world.
Women supporting each other and listening with open hearts and minds.j
So here’s to you Sharon! Happy belated birthday and a heartfelt toast to your future and our continuing friendship.
There is something about a winter storm brewing outside that makes you want to snuggle up with a good read, a hot beverage and a warm blanket. It’s volunteer day for me at the food bank and I am contemplating how to get out of it. There is over a foot of fresh snow on the ground and the sidewalk has not been shovelled out yet. My car is buried in the white stuff and I haven’t been feeling very well.
Then it hits me. I think about the “NFA’s” (the food bank personnel call those with Not Fixed Address this acronym). It was a long weekend and it might be busy and part of me is curious as to who will show up today. My FOMO rears its head and I get my but outside to dig out my car.
It’s interesting to observe the NFA clientele. A guy came in with shorts and crocs today. On his way out he took off his shoes and walked out into the snow barefoot. You can tell that many are suffering from frostbite with their fingers all taped up or parts of their extremities purple or deep red. I help some of them open the plastic bags as they are impossible to get the two sides to separate. I am surprised at how many have reusable bags they carry with them.
Their modes of transportation vary and some of them are very inventive as to how they carry their things around with them. The hampers are presented in boxes but many take the food staples out of the boxes and stuff their backpacks, wagons, and collapsible containers to overflowing.
One of the men was greeted with big smiles as it was mentioned that they hadn’t seen him for over 3 months and was concerned that he wasn’t ok.
There was a dismal selection of extra staple items this week. The choices vary from day to day and you never know what shows up mid shift. You have to think all your selections through carefully when you don’t have access to things like a stove or even a can opener.
You would have to have a very strong desire to survive in my opinion if you lived on the streets in a place where it can drop to minus 35 in a single day.
The more hours I spend helping these souls pick what’s for dinner tonight the more curious I become about their stories.
Dream Yoga conclusion. A conversation with the little girl
Conclusion to Concrete Dream Series…for now
I enjoy reading fellow bloggers’ thoughts. I came across a sentence that mentioned that doing things out of obligation or guilt can not be sustained. When you act out of love it’s repeatable.
Love is a renewable resource.
I have done many things in my life out of a sense of duty.
How wonderful it is to change the way I think about what I chose to do in service of others.
This week, in the Dream Yoga class (hosted by Yasodhara Ashram), I committed to explore further the people in my Concrete Dream. I decided to zoom in on a conversation I had in the dream with the little white haired girl when I first approached her on the stairwell in the stadium.
“ I ask the little girl if she is lost?”
She replies “you don’t know the dangers here”. She says she can’t trust me.
I am stunned and quick to negate her.
I feel that I missed out on being curious about what she meant by “the dangers” and why she couldn’t trust me. My dream self didn’t give her a chance to explain before rushing in with a response.
There is a practice that I can do that enables me to speak with the child through asking questions and then recording the response through journaling. Since both characters in the dream are representative of my personality traits I can both ask and answer the queries until I come to a point that I feel is conclusive.
I decided to take my van out for a drive, park in the coulees close to my home and lit some incense I had brought back from Bali. Breathing in the aromatic air I quickly sunk into a comfortable space.
Pen in hand with plenty of paper to gather my responses I decided on my first question.
What dangers are here that I don’t know about?
If I put myself out there and deviate from the safe and comfortable stairwell I am on I will get stuck again. I will become anxious and want to retreat. I will find myself back in the stairwell moving through life compelled by guilt and a sense of duty. You do your best work when it’s focused on someone else’s needs instead of ours.
How can I become aware and change my thoughts and behaviors to mitigate getting stuck?
I am quick to act impulsively. It’s my life that is being affected so what’s the rush?
Is this impulsive behavior what I meant by not being able to trust?
Yes, in part. The intuitive better response is there and I do come to understand it eventually. Often though, it’s after I have acted upon something and not before.
How long do I have to wait?
Patience is a suit that I could wear more often.
In the red tube in the dream, I get stuck and retreat. If I led with my heart open would I have made it to the blue seats?
There are many ways to get to the “blue seats”. They are not the destinations per say but places to rest along the way. Treat them like markers in the journey. When I need a moment to regroup or a reminder to rely on my practices or tools I should think of them.
My questions and responses continue for a while until I am satisfied with a “concrete” understanding of the missed opportunity in my dream conversation with the little girl.
I can imagine her smiling at me. She is feeling heard and understood. I am even beginning to think that she trusts me just a bit more than she did before.
Love is a renewable resource. Loving myself enough to seek out awareness of why I do the things I do, feel the way I feel and say the things I say is a gift of compassion to me.
I hope you have enjoyed this dream series. I find the practices extremely helpful to unlocking the inner guru.
Reaching out to find common understanding no matter the tongue spoken.
Yesterday afternoon was my first time attending The Circle.
Immigration and family services offer support to people who are “new to Canada” for the first twelve months or so. This time is spent helping them to integrate into the community. I thought it would be an interesting opportunity that could help me understand an immigrant’s journey to a country I often take for granted.
I walked into the room and was greeted by a friendly elderly lady who manages and facilitates the group discussions. We started right in with a craft. Making an outline of our hands which we placed onto a bigger heart. The facilitator encouraged us to write our name, where we were from and something special across the collage. We then strung the hearts on the wall and put little fairy lights interspaced among them. The art is to honor women during International Women’s Day.
I sat next to a lovely woman from Somalia. She has been living in Canada for a year now. As she struggled to tell me in English about herself and her family I had to admire her determination.
I have traveled to numerous countries and know what it’s like not to have a decent grasp of the language. Along with all the other challenges one must face when fleeing their country, just responding to simple questions about yourself can add another layer of burden.
I like the idea of a place you can go to practice your English in a safe and non-judgmental setting.
I smiled at my new friend and helped her to cut out her traced hand and heart. We even used some glitter glue to create fingernails. Being open and inviting with a smile and soft gaze I could see put her at ease while we tried to figure out what each other was saying. I could see the understanding come. It’s so random the things you connect on. Explaining how to say “fingernails” was the ice breaker. Then connect fingernail to thumb, index finger, middle finger…we laughed at that one, ring finger-great discussion on what that entailed and baby finger or pinky-which got another smile. I am not sure she understood all of the names but the conversation was flowing.
In the larger group the discussion was on the use of the local library. One of the immigrant ladies had mentioned that she got help setting up her social media account there from one of the volunteers. I was happy to hear that as my next week’s interview is with the adult learning group which is hosted at the library. The group seemed very interested in learning about how to use their social media accounts which is not surprising. I asked their favorite one and Instagram seemed to be the winner.
Finding small things to connect on is so important. It joins us in common interest and opens a window for more in depth understanding and discussion. Simple things like making an appointment or taking a bus are on the list for future discussions.