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.

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”

Blank Canvas

Starting from scratch. Am I crazy?

I sat in the van the other day and stared at its current state. My old thinking is still wanting to rule the day. The interior is good enough just do some cosmetic stuff and move on. I struggled with those sentiments for a few more minutes and then all the sudden the sledge hammer in my hand found a purpose. Before I knew it half the walls were down and the van had twice the space.

Sometimes you fight change until the urge to shift within just can’t handle it anymore. Picking the option that makes you feel like you have settled in life only delays things. It never really sits right until you do “that thing”. You know, that thing that is whispered in your ear over and over again. There was a wonderful lady I got to interview at the ashram named Jean Roberts. She wrote a book about her life as an island girl growing up in Grenada. How she grew up in oppression and decided to run away at a very young age.

I left home at 16 and lived with a couple of sisters. I worked and supported myself through high school. It seemed so much easier then to make decisions without worrying too much about how they affected others around you. The world revolved around my teenage life and I was creating canvases by the dozens. Thought nothing of painting over them and moving on.

I will be 57 in 2 months. It’s been a lifetime of changes. I am not my 16 year old self for sure. Thank heavens!

Sharon’s latest post talks about living adventures through my posts. It’s not lost on me how she and I are always peeking over the fence at each other. I envy her ability to make decisions about relationships and move forward in that regard. Put on her big girl panties and move into a better light. I understand the hesitation to make the first strokes on the canvas. I ask myself often what I am afraid of when it comes to being alone. If my partner doesn’t see my vision and has no desire or interest to explore the possibilities with me then ….what am I waiting for? A sign? Hmmm I have had plenty of those, a sledge hammer in my hand? I have one of those too? A push? Maybe.

My friend Sharon and I are at that place in life where our whole world is about to change. The post COVID blues I think. The universe is opening up again so now what?

For me? I have an empty canvas in the form of a tiny home to consider how “I” for the first time in my life want to create a haven just for me. Sharon has a new condo, new job and new life. I am excited for both of us to face our fears and build our confidence in ourselves. Maybe even build a bit of confidence in others. My brother has been helping me with the demolition. We have barely spoken over the last 40 years. Now we are collaborating almost daily. I am finding my voice and figuring out what I want to say. I am exploring new pallets and variations of light and color. It is changing my perspective for the good.

It’s healthy and positive to clear space. So many possibilities to explore now that the demolition has started.

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”. 

Time For Fessing Up

I have a confession to make. I have a phobia about asking for help, for things or even directions when I might be lost. Where does it stem from? Well, I can probably spout many options to answer that question but I won’t. What, for me, is important is what to do about it.

The van purchase has motivated me to get past my fears and tackle speaking and asking for help as much as I need to. I think it’s going to be good for me. Part of me really wants to try my hand at doing some of the work on the van. As a woman who grew up in the era that girls didn’t “fix things”, girls didn’t sign up for automotive classes or wood working in high school. I got the option of home-ec and/or band. I won’t tell you how bad of a sewer I am and the tragic nightgown that I threw away right after class was done. I think the flannel beast weighed close to a 100 pounds. I can cook but we didn’t really cook that much in class. I always walked past the shop and peeked in. Envying the opportunity to learn a skill that would be very useful right now in my fifties ambitions.

My husband is very handy but not really thrilled that I bought an old campervan. He has basically stated I am on my own. I am ok with that. The anxiety level is through the roof with getting it right or at least making sure any thing I do doesn’t fall apart around me as I travel. I have watched tons of restoration videos so far and those people don’t fool me. I know the art of editing and angles to make the most of making it seem simple while hiding the big flaws.

What a trip though if I can pull it off no? Renovating a piece of classic Americana that has remained functional and desirable. So, for the big stuff, like appliances, electrical and vehicle repairs I will leave it to the experts. What about the things I can learn to do like making a slide out bed or building cupboards or trying my hand at sewing again? What is life without a challenge?

It would be so much easier to pry my wallet open and dole out the cash to someone else to do it for me but my spirit tells me I at least have to try. I do have a handy crew of relatives who I might be able to bribe to help me. My brother use to work in a trailer factory. I have a niece who is partnered with a heavy duty mechanic. A sister who used to fabricate fixing airplane bodies for a living. So expertise is there. We are not without resources for sure. This winter could be an interesting time where I could gain huge confidence in my abilities and finally learn how to use power tools.

Stay tuned to see who wins the argument my spirit, my sanity or my husband (scenario where I just resell the beast and call it a day).

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.

What’s The Rush?

Our inner garden needs weeding and refinement as much as our outter one.

The balance between action and refinement

I have been enjoying reading and contemplating the Kundalini philosophy and practices. I strongly believe there is a lot I can learn from action and refinement in this area. The more I explore the more it becomes apparent that action without refinement is something I have mastered. I have always been a “jump in and get started” kind of personality. I believed I could pivot and adjust as I went but it was important to get going before I got side tracked doing something else or lost my motivation to continue down a path. It has served me pretty good in the past with work getting done and the quality being “ok”.

Now? I find myself wanting more quality over quantity. 

I have spent years building my external gardens. My yard is bursting with a variety of plant life and areas of interest. I push the growing season by planting early and extending out harvest as much as the weather will permit. This year was no different and yet it was. In the past, I would have taken the chance that it may or may not snow in my zone at the end of May. Zone 6 is notorious for being unpredictable or predictable in doing the opposite of what you expect. The weather over the past few weeks has been wonderful with highs in the mid twenties even as high as twenty-seven(80 degrees for us old timers) for a few days. Then a hint of cold weather appeared on the horizon and as is common the white stuff appeared out of nowhere. 

So why did I plant early and take the chance that everything might freezeTake the chance that I may have to start over later? I think it’s about taking calculated risks and refining goals as you go. For instance, through the years I have come to understand which plants are more likely to survive a snow fall late in the season and which aren’t. I have researched how to compensate for the low temps by covering plants and providing protection for those vulnerable. I have begun to filter my desire to have a longer growing season with a realistic expectation of what that might entail.

So what’s the rush? This exploration of balance and refinement relates to my desire for making the most of our short growing season (seems Southern Alberta’s growing season is getting shorter and shorter) and finding ways to expand what is possible to accomplish in the time given.

Can we transfer this exploration to our lives? The crystal ball that magically tells us how life will go is flawed. Most often, it doesn’t account for what happens when we are on autopilot. I find myself daily having to reset and find renewed motivation to get projects done or surrender to the knowledge that some things weren’t meant to be. I am working with a mind that has a desire to time travel through the past and leap into the future at any given moment, it takes discipline and resilience to keep it in check. To function from my centre while not giving into the flood of narratives that escape with a variety of emotion is a constant battle of will and surrender of control to a higher power. The garden that dwells within me is still being refined. The habitual paths(patterns) are well worn and maybe too comfortable to keep accessible. As I try to trench out new and healthier routes I become aware that rushing is not the answer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to start and continue to chip away at obstacles that constantly show up to distract us from our goals and purpose. What I am learning though, is refinement and checking in often with my inner guru helps me make sure I am awake and aware . It helps me to find a pace to live my life that keeps me healthy and whole while focused on what’s important for me to see to fruition at any given moment.

Namaste