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?

About Face

A few weeks ago, my sister in law notified me that my face showed up on a Facebook page with someone asking if anyone could identify this person. My image was found on a cell phone I had lost on the summit of Mount Ward in the Crowsnest Pass. It was amazing that they had found the phone as I had lost it descending down on my butt over a mountain side of scree. Here is the remarkable part. I was up there in August of 2019. That’s over 3 years ago. Think back how much has changed in the last 3 years. For me? I lost my mom, I lost my job, COVID happened and I almost lost my sense of self.

As I look at the face staring out from the phone that shouldn’t be working, let alone sporting my face on the cover, I marvel at our ability for resilience. That woman captured is me but yet, is not me. She is restless and ready for change. She is tired and grieving over so much loss in the last few years. She is there with her two great nieces enjoying a warm summer day doing what she loves to do. Exploring uncharted territory and pushing herself to go further and harder.

Phone still works after 3 years!

Sometimes I am not sure where the strength comes from. It just appears and I am always grateful to the universe for providing it to me. I sat on the top of the summit enjoying the sun and view as the girls explored further up and around. I saw 3 crows in the distance. They were making a big racket and circling overhead. I watched them for a bit then noticed behind them that some big dark rain clouds were starting to form. Anyone who has been hiking in the mountains knows to start down when that happens. Hopefully you can outrun the storm, most often I am not that lucky. I was about to holler for the girls to come and they appeared ready to head out. I happened to look down and found the most unique rock I had ever seen. I had been thinking about the crows and their warning that the weather was about to change. The rock appeared to have a crow flying over the mountains on it. It was pale yellow with a black image of a crow. I picked it up and put it in my backpack. In hindsight, I wish I would have done the same thing to my phone which I placed in my coat pocket tied around my waist.

As the clouds got darker, we started to slide down on our backsides. It was treacherous and slow going. Over half way down I realized my phone wasn’t in my pocket anymore. There was no way I could go back up and try and find it. We had been zigzagging and moving over a large space of rock and debri. It could have been anywhere. Like a needle in a haystack. I resigned myself to either come back a different day or say “goodbye” to the pictures from that day.

I got a new phone and reclaimed quite a bit of my pictures, chats and music as I usually back up stuff to the cloud. I was missing the photos we had taken that day which was too bad. When I reloaded my messenger chats I was heartbroken to see my conversation with my sister who had passed away in 2016 wasn’t coming back up. It took some letting go to say “goodbye” to the conversation I had treasured.

Time goes by and I have had 3 phones since then. Every once in a while I would think about the phone and wonder if it was still alive. What view it had looking out over the barren terrain. Saying good morning to the crows and other creatures who passed by. My face is smiling out on that mountain side I thought. Never did I think it still worked after all that time.

I have been in contact with the mother of the guy who found it and will go pick it up some time soon. She said that several people had recognized the woman in the photo and let her know the phone belonged to me. The hat I am wearing I have taken on so many adventures. It’s kind of my signature look for exploring…lol.

Thinking about the phone and it’s adventures, I happened to glance through my messenger chats. I was drawn to the one with my sister, hoping that for some miraculous reason the conversation would reappear after all this time. I was amazed to see that it had. Everything was there again. My history with my sister has come back to me now. Years and years of conversation came tumbling down the mountain side to land at my feet.

Why now? So much has happened since 2016. I thought that was my low point but it wasn’t. Both of my parents died in the years after my sister’s passing. Despite all of the pain, grief and loss, I feel more alive today than ever before. I am living life on my terms in my own way. Choosing my adventures, love, spiritual paths and sense of self.

I am awake. I have lived many lives since I lost that phone. I am grateful for it’s reappearance to remind me to be grateful for what I have.

Once again the energy shifts and tilts the balance back.

I have a desire to put the phone back on the mountain. 

Stay tuned to see what I decide….lol

Love you all that keep reading our posts and coming along on our journeys through midlife.

Light and love.

We Are Family

I got my brother and sisters with me…

I decide to pull out the old rotten carpet out of the cab of the van only to discover that the floor has some serious looking rust spots. It’s been a couple of weeks since I came upon the damage and it’s been a cause for concern. My whole career has been based on solving problems. Taking complex learning and translating it into easy to follow steps for others to understand and use. This situation is no different. I got a hole and it needs to be fixed.

My sister and brother in law just happened to be down for the weekend. They are a handy pair. I have always admired my sister’s choice of professions. She had spent many years in the Canadian Air Force as a metal fabricator working on airplanes. I found out my brother in law has some experience with welding. My brother, well he is a jack of all trades and has been helping me with the project since day 1. So, in true project management fashion, I assembled the very competent team of experts who are up for the challenge and we get to work. 

With resources and know-how in place we decide a change of clothes is necessary to tackle the potentially dirty job. My sister bought my mom’s old house and some of the contents are still there. My mom’s coat still hangs in the closet next to the kitchen door. It’s coming up on the two year anniversary of my mom’s death in September. As I stand in her bedroom looking for something to wear in the closet I am overwhelmed with her presence. I take a couple of shirts off the hangers and smell them. Oh mom, they still smell like you. You are still here. Tears well up as I close my eyes for a moment. This is a pretty big hole we are trying to fix. Not just on the van floor but my heart. I hear my mom talking to me from other rooms as I walk through the house. She would call from the living room when you entered from the kitchen door to welcome you. Sometimes I can hear her voice echo through the space.

The family has had its share of challenges over the last few years and yet here we are coming together to problem solve and rebuild this van. I have heard you can’t choose your family. I am glad for that because you never know what you might need at any given moment. The universe is a way better judge on future needs than I am.

It takes some discussion and a few brainstorming sessions but finally we get to work patching the worn floor. Grinding away the rust where we can and applying new support when needed. I can’t help but make the comparison between the work on the van and work being done to heal our family relationships. You have to clear away the toxins that eat at your dynamics. Find new ways to communicate and come together. Mom would be ecstatic to see us all collaborating and getting along.

The van has helped us to find ways to connect again. It’s been a new beginning for me too. I am using tools I never thought I would have the confidence to even try. A little patience from my brother and determination to continue the work has made me excited about the possibilities for future projects and work.

We are family, I got my brother and sisters with me. I am truly blessed.

Me+Us+I+You=We

As a coach in my previous life in corporate banking, I became very accustomed to using first person pronouns to describe who was the owner of actions or feelings. I have been thinking about relationship dynamics and the intersections of “Me” to “US” and “I” to “You”. 

My daughter told my husband that we are both very stubborn people. I agree and we are both very strong in our opinions. We both have known we are very different and yet, in the past, have found ways to connect. As we get older and more set in our ways, it has become harder to compromise and find our way to a common grounding. I admit we have struggled and sometimes it feels easier just to throw in the towel and move on.

I can’t help but think I am not yet done learning all I can about myself and behaviors from this man. He challenges me in my core thinking. We expressed our feelings to each other in letters, texts and some verbal. I didn’t like what he said and he didn’t like what I said but we both listened, asked questions to clarify what we meant and then spent time trying to figure if we could still be compatible together. 

I get his points when he says that I feel I can express my feelings and he should respect and accept them because they are mine. He does stuff I don’t like, he says things I don’t want to hear. I asked him to apologize for things he has said to me and he asked if I feel like I should apologize for the way I feel and things I have said? 

I said “no” I meant what I said. At the time, he meant what he said too. So where does this leave the “US”?

I know that I respect him for his honesty towards me.

Can I keep the “ME” in “US”? We seem to be in different stages of life. I have decided not to go back to work anytime soon. He works full time. I want to travel and explore the world while our health is good and we are mobile. Can we create our own balance without driving each other crazy? We both have agreed we don’t know. We have been figuring it out one day at a time for over 36 years. For us, we know that we are at our best when we are connecting on every level. We travel well together, we have built a life together. We are unconventional in our partnership management system but so what?

Neither of us want to end this story yet so we have agreed to continue. To find ways to build our new chapters that include the “Me” in “US” and the “I” and “YOU in our “WE”

TIGHT SQUEEZE

I have been in a few caves in my life. Some with guides some not. Lewis and Clark Caverns comes to mind as an incredible example of the hollowed earths potential for beauty.

My sister in law and I have started a bit of a tradition to book some bucket list activities for our summer entertainments in Banff National Park. When she mentioned caving I paused. In the past I have sat in caves and watched others shimmy down a shaft or cotort their bodies into impossible crevices. I agreed to go and made a promise to myself that this time I would not sit and watch I would face my fear.

The hike up to Rats Nest Cave just outside of Canmore is an easy 45 minute warm up. We got some instructions from our guide on how to put the harness on under our coveralls which was comical to watch and do. I would be glad for the orange jump suit and knee pads once we got going into the cave.

The rock is quite slippery in places having been polished to a glass surface over the decades. There were ropes to help pull yourself up into the mouth of the cavern. You have to have upper body strength to leverage which I am lacking so it was challenging.

Caves are full of illusions. What appears to be impassable is the way forward. What is wide open and seems simple enough to pass can lead to a 100 foot drop or dead end. We went down 55 metres as we squeezed through rock piles, slid across bridge like formations and landed right by an underground little pool. You have to turn your lights off at this point. Everyone is always curious how it feels to be in the earth belly in the dark. The cave felt very young and fresh. It’s only 10 thousand years old which is nothing in cave years.

Rats Nest Cave Canmore Alberta

What you go down you must come back up. I had put that mantra in the back seat on the way down to worry about later.

It was later. We started back up and everything looked very different now. The easy parts had become hard the hard parts were now easy. You know you have come this way before and yet some how it appears to be uncharted. The guide said lift you leg up on a tiny notch half way up the sheer glass like wall. Then pull yourself up. Hmmm. What is option two? I made a couple of attempts then got some help with a borrowed knee to put my foot on.

It took some serious self talk about my abilities and realizing that unless I wanted to be pulled out if the cave it was up to me to now ascend back towards the surface. Push, pull, squeeze another inch forward and rest. I finally made it back to the entrance. I was feeling pretty elated. I did it!

Mind over matter. We often limit ourselves and resolve to live a watered down version of life. It feels empowering to push through the tight squeeze. It builds confidence for next we face our fears that we are capable of many things.

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”. 

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.

Coming Home

Kootenay Lake at sunset

Love surrounds us, peace surrounds us ,anyday, all the time…

I am back home now in Alberta. It was emotional to say “goodbye” to the “humans of the Yasodhara Ashram”. The last couple of days there, I kept getting the question asked “how do you feel?”. I wasn’t sure. The old me would have responded quickly with “I am fine” or “I am good” now?

I am that and I am more.

One of the traditions on your last day is to get up and say a few words at satsang. I don’t recall all I said though I do remember this part. I came as a guest to the ashram. In my interview I stated that I was looking for community. I had no real idea of how much I had missed belonging to a group of some sort. The drum circle hadn’t meant for over a year nor had I attended any meditations. Even work hadn’t had an in-person event for quite some time. Humans are meant to be together. We thrive when we feel like we belong, we matter. I left the ashram with a sense of leaving home. As the karma yogis helped me to pack my stuff into my sisters vehicle, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, love and support. 

I take with me the timeless teachings, the tools and the knowledge that I can sustain my practice anywhere and at any time. The wisdom is meant to be used every day, all the time it surrounds us in light.

Would I go back? Yes, no hesitation there. I know I have a life here at home and a husband and family who need me. I also know that, in order to help others, you have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first. 2 months seems like a drop in the bucket for time. It goes by too quickly. You barely start to learn who you have been before you understand who you are.

I intend to stay in contact with those that still live there and continue my karma yoga virtually at home. As someone said to me while I was there “you can check out anytime but you can never leave…lol”

If you are exploring the possibility of this type of experience. Do it! I know we all are hesitant to go anywhere or do anything during this pandemic world we live in now. I also know that we are all craving community and human interactions.

Check out Yasodhara programs at yasodhara.org or email me or comment here if you want to ask me questions about my stay or what I took away from the experience.

The Empty Pool, The Snake Charmer & The Cobra

The practice of dream yoga

March 11, 2021

I am sitting in an empty pool in lotus pose. I notice a snake charmer in the distance and he is working with a cobra. I can’t make out his facial features or too much about his physical characteristics. His being is blurry. The snake, however, is quite clear and vibrant HD quality. The snake comes towards me and I keep expecting the snake charmer to call it back. This doesn’t happen. Soon the cobra is raising up right in front of me. I keep expecting the snake charmer to do something but he is silent. The reptile presses its snout into my cheek. I feel the pressure and become terrified that it’s going to bite me. It puts more force behind the action. I try to jerk back but realize the response will get me killed. The snake has poisonous venom leaking from its mouth on my cheek. I am frozen in place. I hear the snake charmer in the distance speak in a quiet tone. “Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out”. It’s all I have right now so I start to control my inhalation and exhalation based on his advice. Soon, I start to calm and the snake eases up a bit on the pressing. I feel that as long as I stay calm and control my breathing I will live through this experience. The cobra loses interest and backs away. I watch as it slithers into a crack in the pool. I feel it hasn’t completely gone just given me some distance for now.

I don’t recall a lot of my dreams and yet, since coming to the ashram I have started to have more of them that are coming to the surface. Last week we started in a workshop series on interpreting our dreams, their symbols and sage advice they can give us. We were given some instructions on how to set up an environment around us to prepare our sleeping area to best encourage dreams to occur, capture and recall the details and then think about the events that lead up to the content of the dream. Once the dream has been recorded in as much detail as possible, you can start to work with its message and symbolism.

We were asked, in the workshop, to pick three symbols in the dream to work with. I chose the pool, the snake charmer and the cobra. The next exercise was to try and define what each of those symbols could represent to you. Our dream language can be quite different than our reality. Objects, words, colors, tones are not necessarily what they seem or are they literal in their use within the dreamscape journey.

Interpreting my dream

What was occurring that led to the dream? 

The day before the dream I went to a Hawtha yoga class. I was feeling like I might never be able to do the poses in the limber way of some of the others in the class. My body is stiff and tight and resists the stretches every chance it gets. There are many reasons for me being at the ashram some of which are because I am out of shape and in need of a regular routine of exercise, clean eating and living. I lack “know how” and discipline with my spiritual practices and I have been trying to create habits that will help me to sustain my growth after I leave here. I have been feeling very supported, encouraged and reminded of the benefits of establishing positive routines, rituals and habits.

Initial Thoughts About The Symbols

To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what to make of the dream at first. It was short and to the point and I didn’t think it was very significant other than reminding me of my lack of flexibility in the cobra pose. As I worked with sequences, chanted and meditated on possible messages a theme started to appear. It took several tries and some discussion with others to help me realize the potential learnings my subconscious was giving me. 

The Empty Pool

A pool is a confined space. It holds fluid. You can become weightless once it’s filled with liquid. It’s meant to be used to exercise the body. It’s relaxing,comforting and a safe space. An empty pool can mean “potential”, a controlled space that contains a substance that normally wouldn’t be easy to keep for long in one place. At least long enough for it to be effective. I started to think about the ashram and how it can be compared to an empty pool for me. I have many options as to what I can fill my “pool” with while I am here. 

The Snake Charmer

Why is this person blurry? I think it’s a man but not really sure as I can’t make out any details of the figures appearance. I get the vibe that it’s unsure of its ability to control the snake. I am irritated by the lack of confidence and feel that the person could try harder to help me. They only become useful when the threat gets to a point of crisis. The snake is about to kill me and then I hear the voice to breath. This symbol I got wrong a few times before I started to zero in on understanding what this could mean. My yoga practices has been a hobby in the past. Something I dabbled with like so many other things. I know a little about a lot of stuff. I lack confidence to help myself sometimes out of everyday challenges. In a crisis though, I come to life and I am able to manage my way through. My practice is the snake charmer, they are vague and need commitment and regularity to become more effective.  

The Cobra

The snake is pressing hard into my cheek. What am I supposed to face that I am not? On a walk with my guide, we talk about the dream and the cobra pressing me hard. I am very afraid. She asks me “How do I feel about facing my fears?” The light goes on in my head. Facing my fears. The anxiety is real, the F.E.A.R.- false expectations appearing real, has been with me for a long time. I have a safe space, I have the start of a practice that can help me with anything I chose to use it for. I have the opportunity to face my fears head on and learn what is real and what is false about them.

Now, the conclusion to this dream sequence. What can I do with this message? Like life, interpreting what our inner self is pushing up to the surface is tricky and takes patience, time and determination. Swami Radha, who founded the ashram, has a useful book called “Realities Of The Dreaming Mind, The Practice Of Dream Yoga”. In the book, it gives a practice to follow and details of how to start the flow of information from our inner guru.

Dream yoga opens up the opportunities for us to speak with the guru within us. I want to continue this practice as well as others that are pouring into my pool. They keep me resilient and buoyant on my life journey. I know that cobra will always be present somewhere and yet, I am less afraid when it comes into view. My inner snake charmer is growing in confidence and clarity of self and tools associated with its craft.

Namaste

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.