Blind Spots

I was driving out to work on my van that is being stored at my mothers old house. The road is familiar. I have been on it hundreds of times. It’s morning and the sun is shining. I have my Tim’s coffee next to me and running over in my head what can be done today to get us closer to using the van. My mind is exploring options and not really paying attention to the road ahead of me. I am driving a little fast and mostly on auto pilot. All of the sudden before me a hawk swoops its wing in front of my windshield. It comes at me from the south going north. I am driving east from the west. The dark brown hawk lands in the field on the other side of the road and stares at me as I slow down and look back at it. Hmmmm….what was that about?

I slow down and start to pay attention to the road. I take nothing for granted and know that the hawk is trying to tell me something important if only I pay attention to its warning.

I come to a section of road that climbs a bit of a hill and then drops down the otherside. You can’t see over the hill until you get to the top. As I approach the top I see a lady running with her head down listening with earbuds in her ears. She is running on the wrong side of the road and heading straight for me. She doesn’t notice my car until I am almost 10 feet from her. Then she looks up a bit startled and proceeds to move over to the other side of the road and pass me by.

This particular backroad is usually empty this time of day. I can cruise to town without encountering a soul. Today I encountered the lady and then a man on a bicycle again coming toward me on the wrong side of the road. You just never know when you will not be able to see what is lurking in your blindspots.

Blindspots are an interesting occurrence. Since we can’t see what occupies that space we usually assume that there is nothing there. What if there is? Now I know my example isn’t necessarily depicting a blindspot. It’s more about paying attention and focusing on the task at hand instead of multitasking. According to Google,studies show that only 2.5% of us are able to multitask successfully.

So why do we constantly think we can do it with success?

I can’t see what’s happening in my blindspots. I can use mirrors or ask someone for feedback to help me validate what occupies a space I think is empty. Whether that space be in my thinking, my views, my narrative, my memory or whether it actually is something physical. I am not that great at multitasking either. I do better completing something then starting something else.

The hawk was there to give me feedback that morning and I am very grateful for the heads up!

I have been contemplating doing more things one at a time and doing them to the best of my ability. Then I can move on to the next task with confidence that I am more likely to see what’s in my blindspots.

Afterall, what’s the rush?

Vantastic!

Everything is fixable….it’s my new mantra

Ok, eventually I promise, I will run out of puns here but in the meantime….

I believe in synchronicity. My life has been full of experiences that seem to appear custom made to help me learn something about myself, teach me an important lesson or skill or heal a whole in my spirit or heart. Sometimes, the crisis or drama is created for me to enjoy until another event happens to get us back on the right track. There are no coincidences in my life nor the people that appear out of nowhere to join me on my latest adventure.

The pandemic has been hard on families. Mine has been scattered and a bit disconnected. My mom died at the start of it all and we are all still grieving that loss. I parked my van at her house in a nearby town. I plan to work on it there with my siblings and extended family. It has been a way for us to reconnect and find some comfort in each others presence. Humans need humans. We are all lonely even if we have people living in our houses. It feels right to rediscover their gifts. To get to know them again and understand their point of view. The van has given us an opportunity to move forward in our new space that doesn’t have our mom to keep it all together.

I started looking for a van at least three years ago. Even before the pandemic, I was longing to go on a roadtrip with a house on wheels. To be out in nature with my musical instruments, creating art, discovering plants and wildlife is my jam. I love to hike and explore the mountains. Heck I grew up in the foothills of Alberta. The Rockies were my nursery and then my playground growing up.

I started to gather my board of directors and advisors for the Van-Essance build. Everyone I have contacted so far has been so helpful and eager to try their hand at creating an epic home away from home with me. I take great stock in symbols and appreciate the universe’s lessons.

The key to the ignition of the van broke off in the ignition. I could have taken the whole van to a locksmith and got them to get the key out. I had some anxiety about it being bad and stuck and costing me lots to get fixed. Fear is an interesting thing. 

False Expectation Appearing Real. Have you ever noticed that when we face our fears they are rarely as bad as we built up in our head? My helpers popped out the container for the ignition and I took that part into the locksmith. Within an hour I had it fixed, two new keys and it cost less than twenty bucks. 

I have a feeling that this is only the start of me facing my fears. A few blogs back I wrote about a dream I had in a vacant pool with a cobra and a snake charmer. The snake kept pressing it’s snout into my cheek. I knew it meant I had to face my fears head on. It was no longer serving to sweep them under the rug. 

What do I fear? 

Failure. What if my husband is right and I am not mechanical? That the skill can’t be learned? What if I bought a lemon and it turns out to be a mistake? So many what if’s running in my head. I can let them paralyze me or I can conquer them one step at a time.

What is failure? To me, it’s not trying at all. I have lived many years in a place surrounded by bubble wrap. I created that place. It’s safe, it’s comfortable but it’s missing a key. The key is broken in the lock. I think that getting a new key and starting a different narrative in my head is what is needed.

One step then another. Have courage to move out of the bubble wrap. At the ashram I really enjoyed walking meditations. It’s moving with awareness. Take a step, connect with your body to intentionally shift your balance as you choose your direction. Those teachings are coming in handy now that I am back in the “real world”. 

Van-Essance

I have wanted a camper van for some time now. I follow a few vloggers who are living a “van-life” existance on Youtube. I am a realist. I know that vanlife is not as glamrous as some might think. It sounds romantic and care-free but in reality it can be scary and full of hidden costs. Yet…here I am..I bought a van. Not just any van. A 1978 classic Chev camper van. It has low kilometers, fridge, stove, bed, character and is full of potential. It was formely owned by a tattoo artist that used it to travel around to convention and tattoo shows. It’s perfect…for me. My husband thinks I am nuts. Why buy something soo old to which I reply well “I am older, aren’t I worth restoring?”.

I can use it “as is” if I would like as it drives well so far. We (my brother in law) drove it from North of Vermillion all the way to Raymond which is about 550 Km. It was great on the road and handled well.

What do I hope to get out of owing such a vehicle? Quenched curiosity. Have you ever drove on a highway and seen all of those locals attraction signs? Tours of a honey farm or the worlds largest Easter egg lives here or a Ukranian flee market 12 kms that way. I want to stop at them all and be able to say I have been there. Why not? YOLO is a thing.

So, for this year, I am thinking get the van as comfortable as I can and as mechanically sound as I can and hit the road. There is no time like the present to take advantage of good weather, cheap-ish accomodations and the time to explore anything and everything up and down this Province that I live in.

I can’t wait to start the “VanEssance” adventure series. Hope you join me for the ride. If you see me on the road wave or better yet leave me a comment here and perhaps we can meet up and go for coffee or go see what is interesting in your hometown.

Cheers to the adventures of Midlife Arises continuing…

Namaste

Birds of A Feather…

I have always been fascinated by birds. Dreamed I could take flight and drift on the currents just like the eagles. Watched Robins make a nest on my patio and lay 6 eggs. Then defend the nest fiercely from me as I tried to enjoy just a square inch of my patio space and take pics of the new arrivals as they grew. Blue Jays have landed on my chairs and chatted away to me. Magpies have ripped apart my flower baskets and helped themselves to my moss. The variety of birds that come to visit daily in my gardens and yard are wonderful and welcome.

I have got back to working with some of my shaman practices and studying birds. Their hunting habits, communal tendencies and not so communal tendencies. I have watched as crows cornered the neighbors cat in the weeping willow. They were not happy the cat was invading their domain and wanted it out now. The cat was cornered and whining for help. I intervened with the crows’ shenanigans and had a chat with the cat to suggest a different route next time it wanted to wander. 

Crows and ravens have alway been present with me for as many years as I can remember. They are the first birds to greet me in the morning and stay with me throughout the day. No matter where I travel to, they seem to be present. I even spotted a crow in the Vancouver airport in 2019 when we boarded a plane to Bali. It was squawking up a storm in the rafters but seemed to disappear as we departed.

My niece and I recently took a little hike to one of my favorite spots on the trail to some caves. We didn’t go that far as that wasn’t the purpose or destination this time around. There is a spot on the way that has a lovely water flow with luminescent moss covering most of the rocks. The sun peeks through the grove and bounces off the water into thousands of prisms of reflective light. It’s divine light. The place feels sacred and special. I use it often in meditation as a visual aid when thinking of a place in nature where the vortex is transparent. 

We sat down by the rocks and I started to drum a bit. The shaman’s purpose was to invite spirit animals to come join us in the grove. It was my niece’s first shaman journey and I hope not her last. The meditation involves listening to the drums as you move through a natural transition into a space of peace. It invites you to imagine yourself in a grove with a place to lay down. In this case a flat rock in the centre with sunlight beaming down on it. Relax and feel the warmth. Take the time to enjoy the release of worries and tension. Invite nature in and ask the spirit of any animals close to come join you in the meadow. I think she was surprised to feel the presence of animals around us. One in particular she described as knowing it was there but not quite willing or ready to join her. It kept the perfereral view. It was obvious what it was and curious about her presence. This was a great success for her first time journeying.

Facilitating someone else’s journey was good practice for me as it has been awhile since I have done any guidance for someone else. At the same time I did feel some of my guides’ presence also and some new creatures hanging around. Prominent was the raven. A large one swooping overhead catching the downdrafts then moving higher to hover close.

In some of the literature I am exploring about birds it talks about the different types of feathers birds have. I am not going to go into too much detail here only to say that collecting ones I find on the ground has become more purposeful in the selection. The differences between those used for primary flight, covert and contour and the down feathers that are soft to the touch while holding great healing properties. I have a new appreciation for how complicated flight is for birds. Something that seems so natural has an ingenious mechanical design associated with it.

I have used feathers for smudging and in ceremonial practices before and know that different ones carry a variety of energy and meaning. As we kayaked around Crowsnest Lake on a recent camping trip, the hawks would swoop and glide high above us. The swooping sounds reminded me of being smudged with sage on numerous occasions. I would like to think the hawks were sharing with me the strength and powerful energy of sight and flight.

I plan to explore more the ceremonies and exercises I can incorporate into my shaman journeys. The yogic practices fit nicely too with many similar theories of practice associated with air flow, breath, flight, dreams and gliding on the wind.

Birds are amazing creatures. We can learn alot from observing them. Meditating with them. Incorporating their habits and life lessons into our own lives. They are always with me, watching, warning me of danger and things to come I need to pay attention to. I had a crow do a dance on my fence three days in a row three months before my mom passed away. I have come to respect their presence and guidance. 

Work Aparent

I listen to my grown kids talk about their professions these days and wonder… will they ever find a profession they are passionate about? Is that even a thing anymore? You hear lots of stats that say we will change professions at least 4-5 times or more. I chatted a-bit with my daughter. She is thinking about making a change. After so much education involved in professions are we brave enough to walk away from the money and security to pursue something different? Do we owe it to ourselves to try? She said she is thinking about stopping renting her “self” out for labour. Hah, what a great way to put it. We all got to make a living but do we all get to make the most out of life? Someone mentioned universal income to me the other day. Should we have a society that pays us not to work when we chose not too? The world is such a different place these days. Maybe this is part of the shift and trend in thought? Time will tell.

As a parent, I have changed my views of traditional work theories for my kids. I have changed. Don’t just put your head down and do what pays your bills. Find something that gives you a sense of moving forward. Be brave and able to pivot even if you feel that you owe your profession something of yourself. You don’t, in fact the more the shift and change the more valuable you become to any company worth exploring.

W.A.I.T.

There is a badge you can get in the gift shop here at the ashram. It says Speech Awareness on it. Silence and speech awareness are part of the daily practice here. Meals are taken in silence and karma yoga is practiced with limited chatting if possible. At first, I was a bit taken back by not being encouraged to talk while we work. I then started to read the Kundalini writings.

Why do I need to talk? Is there a purpose to my words or am I enamoured with my own voice? Hmmm. The text talks about those that feel the need to fill the silence with chatter and equates the behaviour to being an infant or full of self importance.

Why Am I Talking? W.A.I.T for short. For many years I have got paid to talk it’s a hard habit to break. My daughter and I took a rode trip from Vancouver to Seattle and back one time. On the way back, she told me I talk too much. I love my daughters directness. We drove in silence for a while and then she couldn’t stand it and told me to start talking again.

I have been practicing speech awareness here and to reduce my need to contribute often to the conversation. Its a hard habit to break and yet it feels warranted. Do I really have something worth saying or do I feel the need for attention? Wow, taking a closer look at ones own ego trips is revealing. How many times have I felt the need to add in my own experiences instead of sharing in others with the gift of just listening? The more I make a conscious effort to restrain myself the more I am aware of my speech.

So where do I go from here? Just stop talking? No, I don’t think that is the point. Be comfortable in the offering of silence. Be generous with my ability to listen. Become more present and speech aware. Practice W.A.I.T. when opportunities are available.

W.A.I.T.

Patience

Last day of quarantine

It doesn’t take long to become conditioned to a routine. At 6pm every night, I check a website to find out what I will be doing tomorrow. I knew that today was probably going to be my last day of isolation so I had a mixed of anxiety and excitement to see what the website would tell me was planned for me, my last day of quaratine. I checked at 6:05pm, nothing, 8:00pm still nothing hmmm. My night was restless knowing that I was the last to arrive in my cycle of Karma Yogis so I would be the last one out of quarantine. I didn’t sleep well. The wind howled all night, it rained and the hill side gushed with water towards the lake all through the dark hours. I woke up at 4:00am and tried to go back to sleep. I drifted in and out and then finally got up at 5:30am. I decided to recite my new mantra and then meditate for a while. I felt better after and eased into a morning yoga flow. I like the idea of setting an intention for the day. I decided that “Patience” was going to be needed. So patience it was. I got a call at 9:30am wondering why I hadn’t shown up for karma yoga…lol. I had been waiting with patience for further instructions. Now I put my jacket on and hiked up the hill to help with more wood cutting and stacking.

Transitions make us ansy, even for someone like me who likes change, changing bunkhouses, assigned duties, new group of people takes a few minutes to adjust. Luckily, the ashram gives you a day to move, understand the new pace and rest before you begin, again. The girl staying in the side house of the cabin moved yesterday. You can tell when someone has done this before. They gave her a day to move and she took the whole day. I asked her whether there was a time she needed to be done by through the closed door. She said she just needed to sleep in her new place, other than that there wasn’t a specific hour. Now there was patience. Squeezing every moment of peace and solitude that comes from having your own space and not giving up a second of it.

I shake my head at myself. I mopped the floors yesterday and cleaned up the kitchen. Today I sorted my laundry and organized what I was going to wear tomorrow. I am so used to deadlines whether at work or when traveling that the organizing starts a day or two before my vacation is over. Why do we robbed ourselves of those final hours of bliss before we need to immerse back into the chaos?

Patience. Tomorrow I will slowly make my way over to my new lodgings. Maybe take a few things and go check it out after breakfast. I have one of the only tubs that is available at the ashram. The other bathrooms are showers only. So I plan to take a bubblebath before doing the final cleaning. I have a few pages left of my book to read and some contemplations to record in my diary. Maybe even sit and soak in this wonderful little cabin of paradise for one more day. I hope I remember this if travel ever becomes a resonable option again as we all could use a little patience.

For Every Action

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

I went for a walk today. In my head I had planned the route, decided I would not listen to a podcast and just concentrate on moving. I needed a clear headspace to just think and home wasn’t providing it. I parked, got out of my car and was instantly distracted by my three eagle friends circling high over the coulee edge. I had intended to go the other direction but soon found myself chasing the eagles and their flight path. I tredge up the side of a cliff with my head down and feet forward. My mind now consumed by sighting the eagles once again. As I approached the top of one incline I began to see there were rows and rows of up and down paths. I looked up to see where the eagles were so I could choose an optimum path. They were gone. I zig zagged up and down the mounds and kept looking towards the horizon in hopes they would reappear.

Nope, they were gone. I had filled my space with lingering thoughts of more messages I could use in upcoming decisions I need to make. I wrote about a shaman journey in a previous blog. In that journey, the eagle had given me explicit instructions, heck even hand gestures to use on how to sort my chaotic mind.

So why was I still looking for more?

Newtons’ 3rd Law is not lost on me here. It can relate to decisions we make in life just as well as physics. I had asked the eagles for help they had given it. Now I was just being greedy and I suspect eagles are not big on needy types. So they had decided to move in the opposite direction from me to get me back on track and focus on why I needed a walk in the first place.

I applied for a residency at an Ashram in BC. It’s for two months and I will be totally cut off from most of my social media and communications. It’s an opportunity to grow in my yoga practice, my meditations routines, “Karma Yoga” character building and being in a community of like minds and souls. I am excited and thrilled.

I am terrified and second guessing my sanity and judgement.

For this action, I know there is an equal and opposite list of reactions. My husband and I have never agreed on this type of stuff. He doesn’t get it, though mostly he just says whatever he is going to say and then knows I will do whatever I feel I need to do. I have gone away on trips for up to a month before but never this long. I am nervous about this big of a change in both our lives and yet, I need this in order to be “Me”. The book, on our podcasts, talks about “You do You”. It doesn’t say “Doing You” will necessarily get you points with others or disrupt their lives and routines.

So, do you step forward on a path not knowing if it leads you to Shangrala or the “River of Sorrows”? The eagles gave me tools to guide me if I choose to ask and honor their method of sorting my chaos. The book “The Magic of not giving a F#” gives me a way of understanding what I value and the limitations of my”Fuck Budget”. I am sure the yogis at the Ashram won’t appreciate my choice of words here but I do know they will understand the language of my heart. Nothing like big open spaces to clear your core.

I was on a good path of clearing space. As I worked through my shit, I soon understood that it wasn’t enough. I needed to go deeper to unpack past trama and triggers. I know two months isn’t very long and yet, to some, it’s a very long time.

I started the “action” my wonderful readers by accepting the residency…stayed tuned to learn what equal and opposite reactions are yet to come…

Non-attachment

Be in the world but not of the world

I had a dream a few years ago and it has stayed with me. I am weeping because my husband has told me he sold our home and we were moving. I wasn’t upset about the house nor its contents. That, I was perfectly fine to let go of. What hurt my heart was to leave my gardens behind. I have spent years in development of my outside spaces. I have created a space full of fruit, flowers, havens for bee and birds. It is my own little oasis. My paradise. It’s an interesting attachment. Perhaps even a little unrealistic as plants, earth, rocks and wood can all be recreated anywhere. Yes, it would take time but it isn’t impossible to do.

In buddism there is a practice called “non-attachment”. The gist is to not allow your sense of wellbeing to rely on anything other than your own presence of awareness. “Be in the world but not of the world”.

Be in the world but not of the world

Buddha

We spend much of our time seeking out the approval of others. We are addicted to “Likes”. We are on a perpetual quest for acceptance, recognition of contribution, confirmation that we matter. We have lost reliance on our own awareness. Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to check in with those we trust to make sure we have a good grip on reality. Opinions, though, are a tricky thing. They can come from a place of love. They can be contructive and they are attached to someone elses perspective.

So what’s the point? The month of Januarys’ theme has been “clearing spaces”-mind, body and spirit. I have been working on the connections between mind and spirit. Pulling up past traumas to examine it with the lense of being present and self-aware (as aware as possible). I know I have choices to consider. I can blame others for how I think and feel about me or I can practice non-attachment.

If my gardens ever disappear from my life, I know I can recreate them in my heart and mind. I am master of my universe any time I choose to be. I have proof this is possible projecting memories and spaces in meditation and dreams at will. I can do the same with how I think and feel about myself. Learning to rely on intuition, empathy and a sense of “self” to guide me perhaps to a new oasis non-attached to a world or space that no longer relevant to my wellness or growth.

Are you ready to “let go” and practice non-attachment?

Untethered Space

In this blog I am going to do something a little different. I have been on numerous hikes through the coulees that surround where I live in Southern Alberta. I have heard many times that the area is situated on a unique number of vortex’s and natural energy throughout the rivers habitat. I have found that to be the case.

I invite you into one of my shaman journeys today. I always find the practice full of useful information and guidance. I hope you do too!

Meditation in Pavan Park Lethbridge