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Highlights of 2016

I'm staring this post on January 11, 2016 - to keep better track of what happens in the year.
This is going to be a long post.

Went back to work after two months medical leave for a myomectomyGot so tired in the first week - that it made me focus on my body and physical health moreWorked at sleeping 8 hours, drinking 8 cups of water, eating 5 small nutritious meals, doing yoga everyday.Began to become more aware. Went to The Rex for the first time. (I know this doesn't seem like much but I don't go many places. And I am often a bit insecure about going into a "cool" place.)Caught a cold in the second week of January - stayed home for another three days. Was not happy to have to feel ill so much. Not sure how I would handle a chronic/terminal illness if I had one. Read Thich Nhat Hanh'sThe Miracle of Mindfulness.Learned to do everyday tasks with more awareness. Learned to see everyday life as more beautiful and sacred. Realized that what I really wanted to do,…

From My Year of the Self

My theme for the year was The Self. And I think I 'm going to continue with that theme next year - there is so much more to be learned.
I am more assertive than I used to be. I am sometimes less confident than I used to be. I still despair. I know that I don't want to do work that does not matter. I know that I want to do work that is good. I know that my spirit is very important to me and I must nurture it. Though I more often than not  - don't. I am so conditioned to put the needs of others first that when I want to actually put myself first - I somehow sabotage it. I think all the physical pain that I have felt this year is me trying to stop myself from putting myself first - from going after the things I want to go after. I still can't seem to justify that. So much of who I am is who I used to be as a child. I still hear the voices - the voices of my parents, teachers, and friends - telling me I can't do it. What good is it? It's not that easy. I have to le…

Visiting Chevreuse II

Spent some time visiting my favorite painting at the AGO. 
Jean Paul Riopelle - Chevreuse II 1953 - 1954, Oil on Canvas

Every time we meet I feel like I have had a spirit filled experience. I feel like I am praying or visiting a deity. I speak to the painting and the painting speaks to me. It is a wonderful communion.

Trees

Trees are such amazing things.  Sometimes I wish I was a tree.  I could grow strong and big and beautiful.  I'd be so wise.  Birds would make their home in me, even raccoons I suppose.  All kinds of insects and bugs.  Everyday the sun would bathe me and the rain would bless me.  And I would stand.  Tall. Proud. Life Giving. 


I took these pictures in the little green patch opposite the Castle Frank Station, Toronto.

A Tree Was Here

I wonder for how long.  I don't know how to count rings.  But for long enough?
I wonder what happened to it.  Did it get sick or just old? Did someone hurt it, Or was it a storm too great for the tree to bear. 

Life Drawing

I am taking an Introduction to Drawing Class at Toronto School of Art.
The course is an 8 week introductory course and most of us are absolute beginners.

Today was Life Drawing.

We did a bunch of different exercises. Blind Contour, True Contour. Gesture Drawing.

Our instructor Paul Turner demonstrated each of the exercises for us before we tried it ourselves.

As he demonstrated Gesture Drawing I was struck by how beautiful the exercise was.
A nude model poses for the artist. The artist sees and draws the model. In gesture drawing you want to capture the energy of the pose. They are quick drawings. What the artist is doing apart from all the technical stuff is connecting. Connecting with what he/she sees, connecting with the lines on the page, connecting with the energy of the model. As Paul drew he moved too, like he was dancing along with the model.

Murray, our model, was exceptional.
It was like watching performance art. He had so many different poses, each giving you different an…

What a Strange Thing Life Is

What a strange thing life is.
Up and down.
In and out.
Good and bad, bad and good.
If you can see this
And learn to be up and down, in and out, good and bad...
... life can be abundant
If you choose just the one
It might turn out that you missed a whole half.

Some Days are No Good

One day in the middle of your 30s you realize that the great dreams of your life may never come true. The idea that you might have been somebody, that you might have grown up to be courageous is now a hazy dream. The potential of your life - what you might have been - is gone.

If you were to do something with your life, you should have begun it in your 20s When you had youth and passion on your side. When your body didn't feel like lead. Maybe you were never meant to amount to much. Maybe this is all there was ever going to be. Maybe that's all they were - dreams. Hazy dreams.

Now my shoulders and my upper back - they ache. My breasts feel too heavy.
I am full of fat. And my bones are weak.

And all I can do to get through my life is watch a whole lot of tv.

Jean Paul Riopelle - Chevreuse II

There are times when you are so drawn in to a piece of art that you experience something that you cannot quite explain. It becomes a "spirit" moment. A glimpse into mystery, wonder, and divinity.

Jean Paul Riopelle's Chevreuse II did this for me today. I went to the AGO to see the Turner exhibition. It was ok. Very crowded. I moved through it quickly.

I walked around for a little bit without a particular purpose and walked into a room with this painting. It's a huge painting and it instantly drew me in. I gasped. I walked closer and I didn't leave for a very long time. I stood there and looked up at it and the longer I stayed the more overwhelmed I was. I don't really know how to explain the sensations or what I was feeling. All I know is that I was moved and the only thing I could do was keep looking with sometimes teary eyes.



36

This year, I had the best birthday I have ever had. There were no parties or grand gestures. It was a normal day. I went to work and Bryan and I went out for dosas in the evening. Nothing spectacular. 
What was spectacular however is how I was feeling. 
Earlier in January I had been reading Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness and even as I read the book I was becoming more aware of my life. Seeing, if only briefly, the wondrous reality that life was. For me, reading Thich Nhat Hanh brought everything that I had been learning over the past few years from Richard Rohr, Fredrick Buechner, Henri Nouwen, and Yoga into a form that now makes sense. I see it all connecting up. 
For the very first time in my life I was able to feel joy and marvel at life itself. I felt grateful for everything and every experience I had had - even the bad ones. I smiled all day. I was overwhelmed with emotion - it was hard to contain. Often during the day I would cry and just shake with the intens…

Reasons to #LoveTheWorld

See earlier post here: 50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld




Our Deepest Fear

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. - Marianne Williamson

I've had this quote up on my blog for a long time now.
I've been thinking about it again.
I was reading Thich Nhat Hanh's The Miracle of Mindfulness and he talks about being in a…

Young, Healthy 35 Year Old

Two weeks before my surgery in November I went to a pre-op consultation. I had a bunch of questions for the nurses. They answered me very patiently. Then I asked them what my husband should do if there was an emergency? Is there a box or something I can tick so they don't resuscitate me?

The nurse said, Oh you're thinking about the worst possible thing. Well - there's always a risk with surgery but you are young and healthy so it should be fine. You are a great candidate for surgery.

I was a little shocked really. Me - YOUNG & HEALTHY! I don't think of myself as young and healthy at all! I am close to 36, I am overweight, I have aches and pains and very low energy. I don't run, I don't exercise, I don't diet - how could I be healthy? In fact, I was actually expecting that the pre-op tests would throw something horrendous up! Like I had high blood sugar or something. Especially since when I went home my aunt tested my blood sugar on her little home test…

50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld

I came across this today - 50 Reasons to #LoveTheWorld.
We are constantly badgered with news about how horrible the world is, and how horrible the people of the world are - and there are some horrible people - but we shouldn't forget how beautiful the world is. It's hard for me to remember this. Which is stupid because even I - limited and untraveled as I am - have seen such beauty.

We need to remember the beauty of the world. We need to seek it and bask in it and share it.
So we don't forget.

These are some of my pictures taken over the years - so I don't forget that I have seen much beauty in this life. And that there is much more to see.



The Miracle of Mindfulness

This has been wonderful for me.

I have actually been at home for the past three days sick with a cold and fever. I have been reading a little a day. Before I got sick with my cold I spent the first week at work not feeling very good. It was nice to be back but I have been struggling for a while with it. I think it is time for a change in my life. I don't like to do something for too long - it gets boring and I lose interest. I think feeling restless and wanting more are good things. It helps me not get complacent or stuck in whatever I am doing. Also - I have spent a lot of time over the past year solidifying what I want to do next with my life and I really just want to get going on it! Bills have to be paid though and as jobs go, it's not a bad one.

I was beginning to feel limited again and trapped in my circumstance and that is never good for me. I spiral when I begin to feel like that and maybe this cold was part of it. Of course, it's winter, I went into a full work w…

Understanding my Personality Type

In my search to understand my self I think it is helpful to understand my personality type.

We did the Myers-Briggs when I was doing my Masters in Christianity. I was an ISTJ then.

Our teacher asked us to think about our personality types again and see if we agreed with it. I realized that I was more an N (iNtuition - tend to be more abstract than concrete. They focus on the big picture rather than the details, and on future possibilities rather than immediate realities) deep down inside but was raised to be an S (Sensing. ISTJ's tend to be more concrete than abstract. They focus their attention on the details rather than the big picture, and on immediate realities rather than future possibilities. (from Wikipedia)

More recently I have realized, and have taken tests, that say I am an INFJ and I think this is more true to my inner self.

Understanding my personality traits explains a lot about the way I am and function. It helps me not be so hard on myself. It's just the way I …

God with Us

This Christmas we went to the service at the Church of the Redeemer. They have a fantastic choir and we like to listen to the music. The service itself was fine. The choir was good. The after party was ok.

I didn't feel very connected to Christmas this year and I haven't felt very connected to church for a long time. Maybe I am trying not to. Or maybe it's gotten harder to believe.

Things were going along fine in the sermon until the preacher told us about one of the choir members being murdered in the streets of Toronto earlier that week.

I guess, that was it for me!

Any sliver of wanting to be joyful, or hopeful, or at peace was gone. I was grasping anyway and now I fell down the well of hopelessness. I suppose the preacher wanted to bring home the idea that even though there is loss, and mourning there is joy because the saviour is born.... but I couldn't quite feel it. I didn't expect to - after all it has been a very long time since the birth of the saviour m…

Nurturing my Body in January

So I had great plans for this year as always. I wanted to do more, go more places, move more.
I went back to work 4 days into the new year and at the end of the day I was exhausted! All I could do was get myself back home and lie down.

My energy levels are not great to begin with and I didn't realize how hard the surgery would hit me. I was fine for the past two months while I recovered. I didn't have to go anywhere! Going from being quite relaxed to a full work day with two hours in transit knocked the wind out of me!

So I got angry and frustrated. And sad. I was raring to go in the New Year and I couldn't.

Then I realized that my body still needed a lot of attention. I needed to sleep better, eat better, drink more water, exercise and maybe take some supplements to boost my body up.

Wednesday night I went to bed early. Got 8 hours of sleep. Got a big breakfast Thursday morning. Drank lots of water and ate a good lunch.

I was much better when I got home. The best I had f…

The Self in 2016

This year is going to be about Building the Self.  Again, I am not sure what that will look like but I am hoping that I will come out stronger, more aware, more kind, forgiving and loving towards myself and others at the end of the year. 
I have spent too much time in the middle, always trying to please. Always trying not to rock the boat.  I've moved away from this now. I have had the courage to move away. 
Now it's time to go deeper and explore what that means. 
So, here's to the Self in 2016!