Sunday, February 22, 2015

Truth & Wisdom

Listening to Jason Mraz's music is like listening to a wise teacher. Someone who sees the beauty and truth of the world and human beings and is able to teach us what he knows in the most beautiful way.

Frederick Buechner says that poets and artists, like the prophets, are the truth tellers of our world. They are able to call things the way they are and also give us ways to understand the world.

Music does this most easily it seems.

This song - 93 Million Miles - makes me lift my head up and look at the world. At the sun. At the sky. At the stars. At the moon. At people.

It makes me see that we are part of something so beautiful and awe inspiring. A world that is breathtaking. And we are able to experience this great and amazing world in ways only a human being can experience.

Sometimes I think it should be enough just to be a human being. To be someone who can walk, and talk, and eat, and move, and look, and see, and hear, and speak, and make, and be, and become, and laugh, and cry, and sing, and dance, and learn, and teach, and write, and read, and love, and hate, and feel, and think, and shout, and whisper, and draw, and paint, and build, and break, and ...

... there's no end to what we can do. Who we can be. What we can become.

He reminds me of this.
He reminds me to lift my head. Open my eyes,
And see the world and my life for the absolutely fantastic thing it is! 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Good Days

The past couple of weekends I have spent sewing.
They have been happy days.

I feel good when I make something. When I finish a quilt. When I have a new design idea.
It gives me great satisfaction to see my work take form, take life, be complete.

It seems I need this in my life - I need to make my quilts. I need to draw my patterns. I need to color.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life - and even though it sounds simplistic - all I want to do is quilt. And now design surface patterns. I guess I want to create and I found my medium - the hard way.

So - I am hoping that I can make Saturdays my quilting days. It's harder during the week and as much as I try I don't have the energy for it.

Saturdays it will be.
Saturdays will be work - but work that I love and enjoy.

Here is my project from today.
You can read more about it here: Eastern Sunrise

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Tell your Story

I was listening to Nerina Pallot's Nickindia the other day. It's a hauntingly beautiful song.

Here is my story- 
A little sad of soul, a little weary 
Maybe I am that? 
Will nobody love me? 
Is an empty heart and a conscience all I have? 
If I die tonight, if I give up the fight 
Will you do something for me? 
Tell them my story, 
tell them well Tell them everything you know

She goes on to tell her story.
In the end that is all we have - our stories.

Stories about our friends, our families, our dogs, our youth, our childhood.
Stories about the places we have seen, the things we ate, the people we met.

Telling stories is part of what it means to be human.

When someone passes away, we almost always in the days following their death, talk about them. Tell their stories. Smile, cry, laugh. It is how we remember them. It is how they live on.

I think we should tell our own stories too.
Our stories will, we hope, be told after we are gone.

But we should tell it now. While we live.
So we can remember.
So we can learn.
So we can understand.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Won't Give Up - II

I was thinking about my last post - I Won't Give Up - in the context of my own relationship with my husband. And I wondered why I wanted so much for someone to feel that way about me - but I didn't really feel that way about anybody else...

Maybe - to love someone else, to not give up on someone else, you must first learn to love yourself and not give up on yourself?

Or at least - begin to love yourself.

Maybe what is needed for a healthy and thriving relationship is for the ones involved to learn to love themselves, accept themselves, and not give up on themselves. To forgive themselves. Maybe, as they learn to be at peace with themselves, they can then be at peace with each other. Love each other. Not give up on each other.

I was reminded of Henry Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son and Becoming the Father.
Nouwen says that we are both the younger son and the elder son at some point in our lives. What we need to learn to do is become the Father.

Maybe that is what is required of me now.

Not giving up - on myself. And on the people I love. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Won't Give Up

It's hard for me to get through this song without weeping. The first time I heard it I thought, how insightful and loving. I was crying by the end of the first verse - and it's been like that ever since.

And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I wished someone would sing a song like this to me. I think I cried because I felt like I could see myself in the person he was describing but I wished someone would say it to me. A lot of people have told me I am old soul - but they say it, and I suppose that I also felt it, in a sort of heavy way. It seemed more a burden than a gift.

But listening to this song I felt like it wasn't a burden at all. It was just who I am. Just a person who does some navigating now and then, someone who learns along the way, and feels deeply, and keeps going.

Still, if only someone would say it to me - that would validate it.

Many listens later I realized that the song is as much to another person - a lover, a friend, a child, as it is to oneself. It can be sung to another but it really can be sung to ourselves.

To myself. To my young self. To my 35 year old self. To my future self.

I don't need this validation from someone else.
I don't need someone else to sing this song for me or to me - I can sing it for myself and to myself - because I, more than anyone, know it to be true. Of Me.

And so...

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

Sometimes, when things get really dark and painful, I need to hold on to this song. I need to remember not to give up on myself, to love myself, to wait and see what I will learn. I need to remember that I have worked very hard, and walked many miles to become the person I am today. I need to remind myself that I am strong, and that somewhere deep inside me there is an undying hope that things will get better.

So I keep walking.

We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Growing Food in your Apartment!

I loved this idea. I loved that she came up with a way to grow food and grow it in a city apartment! I love that she made this a community thing - made the technology available to anyone who wanted it and asked people to make it better. I love that people are doing this across the world.

I love that they are creating another world. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Profile Pictures

I changed my profile picture on fb today and so many people liked it. Smiles and thumbs ups all around. It's a good picture.

I am rather proud of it.

But I changed my profile picture because I couldn't bear to look at the one I had up.
No it's not an ugly picture of me -in fact - it's a really nice picture of me. I am smiling. I had had my hair done for my husband's graduation. I had my make-up on. It was a summer day and we were happy and shared a sense of accomplishment. He for this MA, his thesis, his two years of hard work. I for supporting him. For being the primary earner and care taker. It had not been an easy two years but we had made it and here he was, getting his degree.

I was happy in that picture.

I don't feel so happy tonight.

In fact, I have not felt happy for a long time now. Most of fall and all of winter. My therapist thinks I may have low grade depression (yet to be evaluated - why does the health system in Canada take so long to refer you to a specialist - what if you die in between appointments?)

I probably shouldn't take those on-line quizzes but in the absence of real medical help one can only rely on Web MD. And the specialists of the Internet all seem to say the same thing - see a professional now!

I wanted to change my profile picture to a black box. A dark screen. Coz that's really how I feel right now. But I thought people might think that I was protesting something.

So I chose this. It brings me a sense of calm this picture. It feels like I could be free. Flying off into the horizon with no weights attached, no burdens to carry, no people to support.

Just me and the open sky. Free. 

Live Creatively

I had a really bad day the other day. I spiralled to the point where I simply couldn't get myself up again. I could see no hope. No possibility. No light. It was strange because the evening before I was so positive. I had figured that a lot of my sadness came from being limited. Feeling like I could not do what I want to do or be who I wanted to be. And believing that to be true.

I realized that every human being is limited in one way or another. Rich, poor, educated, uneducated, young, old - we all have things we can and cannot do. The people who stand out are the ones who overcome these limitations, who break out of the boxes they are born into or find themselves in, and who do what they love doing.

I realized that I had for the most part of my life believed that "I Can't". I come from a practical family who loved and took care of me, gave me a good education, fed and clothed me, and did everything they could to give me a good start.

Only I wanted different things. In my naive mind I thought the house, the family, the financial security would be something I would acquire as I got older. What I wanted was to find meaning, joy, purpose, life and love. Spirit things. Soul things, Things that I couldn't touch. Things that I couldn't buy.

My family didn't know how to fill this need. I suppose they tried to fill it with Christianity and Church as did I for many years - but that didn't quite work.

Anyway - realizing this - this conflict of being, this push and pull, this fight with who I am and who I was raised to be - gave me a great sense of freedom Wednesday night. I came home and told my husband what I thought. I said I was now going to focus on finding myself, and nurturing myself, and finding the ME that was hiding deep down inside. I knew what I had to do!

Then Thursday came. And I got up in the same bed, in the same apartment, showered in the same shower, went to work on the same train, went to the same job, did the same things I had done the day before. And by the time I came home I was in despair. I wanted to change but my life hadn't. Was it ever going to?

I lamented on how I had made stupid decisions that had brought me to this point in my life. I lamented on how when I looked at job sites there was not a single job posting that I could fit into. I lamented that I had no money, no security, no freedom, no time to do the things I really wanted to do. I lamented, and wept and despaired.

My husband said many things to me that evening in an attempt to help. At times I wanted to ask him to stop. But he said one thing that was important. He said I had not made stupid decisions. Every turn I took in my life I had taken because that was who I was and who I wanted to be. And that was not a bad thing. It is true that the world can be hard on those of us searching for meaning and truth and joy. It is true that the world doesn't reward our pursuits with fat pay cheques. But it is who we are and it is what we must do because we cannot do otherwise.

You have to, he said, think creatively about how you will live your life. You can't be a mainstream person, so you have to find a creative way to live in the world you want to live in. You may never own a big house or a fat bank balance and you will have to be OK with that. But you can find a way to make your way in the world but it won't happen if you are only going to focus on the sadness of it all. You can think of what you have now as not enough or think of it as a resource to where you want to go.

Friday came and I made sure I got a good shot of coffee for the day.
And I thought about what my husband said and realized that he was right.
And I was grateful for him.

I also realized that I am not the only one doing this sort of thing. So many people want different lives. So many people are fighting the system that only values certain kinds of work or certain kinds of intelligence or certain kinds of abilities. I am not alone.

So I decided to surround myself with people and information and books and videos of people who are not running in the big wheel. I decided to seek out people who are searching for and building a different world. A world where people like me - soul searchers, meaning gatherers, spirit seekers can be just who they are and enjoy it!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Struggle

I realized something the other day.
I struggle because I am me and the people who raised me are them.
I struggle because I wanted to be free and they were afraid.
I struggle because I cared about spirit things, and they cared about physical things.
I struggle because I wanted to nurture my soul, and they wanted to secure their bodies.
I struggle because I cared about the world, and they cared mostly about their own.
I struggle because I am weak sometimes, and they are stronger.
I struggle because I am often unsure, and they are always right.
I struggle because I want to break free, but they love me.
I struggle because I am not them.
But they love me.
And they are the people who raised me.
And I love them.

And so now I struggle to be me, to become me, and to still love them. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Creative People Need to Create

The good thing about being a certain kind of person is that there are other people who are a lot like you! Whether you are a writer, a scientist, an artist or a philosopher, you can be sure there are people who have asked your questions, wrestled with your thoughts, fought your battles. This doesn't let you off the hook from asking your own questions, thinking your own thoughts, or fighting your own battles but it can help, inspire, and encourage to meet and listen to others who seem to share a little bit of your soul.

I came across Lisa Congdon when I started dabbling with Surface Pattern Design and have been drawn to her work. Today I found these videos and am further drawn to her.

If you watch the videos you will hear Lisa talk about how she came to art in her 30s and wishes she had done it sooner.

Me too!

You will hear her talk about how she was a Project Manager at a not-for-profit organization and even though she was passionate about her work and loved her job she felt a hole in her life. At the time she did not know why but later realized that she was a creative person and she wasn't creating!


It's been five years since I quit my Project Management job at a not-for-profit organization and decided to quilt full time. As much as I could do many different things and do them well, I could not get rid of the ache inside me. The only time that I did was when I quilted.

The ache is still there. The hole is still there.
The world is not easy on us creative sorts. It's not easy on those of us who don't want to swim in the main stream.

But we must do what we cannot but do.

The only time the ache is lifted is when I quilt, or draw, or make patterns.
And each day I must find a way to do more of this.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Singing as Defiance

“Singing in the midst of evil is what it means to be disciples. Like Mary Magdalene, the reason we stand and weep and listen for Jesus is because we, like Mary, are bearers of resurrection, we are made new. On the third day, Jesus rose again, and we do not need to be afraid. To sing to God amidst sorrow is to defiantly proclaim, like Mary Magdalene did to the apostles, and like my friend Don did at Dylan Klebold's funeral, that death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.” ―

Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint

 A very close friend of ours passed away in 2007. She was 45. She took ill suddenly, went into a comma and a month later she was gone.

For one month we had prayed, hoped, and believed that she would come back to us. We thought, someone so wonderful, so young, so lovely could not be taken away from the world so soon and in such a strange way. The family did not have a chance to say goodbye. We did not understand how someone we saw at church earlier that week could now be in a comma.

Surely this was something God was doing to make himself known in the world. Surely her healing would be miraculous and testimony worthy! Yes, she would wake up, like Lazarus, and tell the world how the Lord had saved her.

She did not.

The day she died I was at work. I got a text that she was gone. I didn't want to believe it. I still hoped that they were wrong. That the text was wrong. That it had not happened.

The finality of death is very real to me since my father died when I was 23. I know what it means to never see a person again. Never hear their voice. Never feel their touch.

I couldn't believe that my friend's husband and children would have to live with that now.

I went to their home. She was at the hospital morgue.
Friends and family had come home. We sat together. Wept. Talked.
But mostly there was a hushed silence.
A murmuring quiet.

My friend's brother who lived out of town arrived a little later that night. After spending a little time with the family he said, "We should sing. You cannot not have singing in Lali's house."

And so we sang.

I couldn't find sound within me except to cry.
But they sang. Her brother and sisters. Her friends.
They sang.

As I read the passage I mentioned at the start of this post I was reminded of this. Singing is an act of defiance. Singing together says that even though our hopes and prayers were not answered, even though something tragic has happened, we will still stand, we will still believe, we will still hope.

We may not be completely aware of this at the time of our grief but we can still do it.
We don't deny that we are broken, and hurt, and devastated but we will stand up.
Today. Tomorrow. We will stand back up.

My friend's life, illness, and death were testimony worthy. Her husband went on to speak about her and his experience through the tragedy. Sometimes the stories that don't have happy endings (in this world) are the ones we connect to the most. And there is something to be learned from them.

... death is not the final word. To defiantly say, once again, that a light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot, will not, shall not overcome it. And so, evil be damned, because even as we go to the grave, we still make our song alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. ― 

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Courage to Be Me

It's funny how you can go through life and never really figure out who you really are.
I know I've been through this before - this searching for myself - and I did find myself at the time. 

But the self is so vast, so complex, so deep that finding oneself must take a lifetime of searching. 

And even then we may never fully know ourselves. 

As I get older I am convinced that there is a Me inside of me that I don't know anything about.
As I get older I am convinced that there is a Me inside of me that I know something about but have been too afraid to let out. 

We become, some of us, who we need to become for our families, our friends, and society.

Inside me I am free. I am beautiful. I am fabulous, I am flamboyant. I am larger than life. I laugh. I love. I live with the audacity and elegance of someone who fears nothing. 

In the world I am heavy. I am cautious, I am practical. I am despairing. I am afraid. I am fragile.

I think it takes courage to find your inside Me and it takes courage to wrench that Me out from deep within your being and birth her into the world. First into your own world so you can look at her. Understand her. Love her. 

And then into the world of others. Not knowing if the others will love her and accept her. 

I think it takes courage to be able to bring her into the world and whether she is loved or accepted by the others... to love and accept her yourself. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Not Yet...

I have spent the last month feeling quite sad. It might be a mix of turning 35, of visiting family who are successful and "doers", of having finances being limited again... or just the winter blues... either way I have been feeling sad.

 When it comes close to my birthday I always think that another year has passed and I have still not... I think the right attitude would be to say Another year has passed and I have not yet ...

Things I am learning:

  • Make Clear Goals. 
  • Remember the ones you have not met... you have not met yet.
  • Work hard to meet them.