Archive | September, 2012

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nine: The Collapsible Day

27 Sep

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nine: The Collapsible Day.

The Collapsible Day

Essential Questions:   If we were to collapse today into its most meaningful and essential moments, what would they be?  What would be the experiences that mattered most or that best reflect our essential selves in these 24 hours?  If this is difficult to answer and it all seems a blur of positive or negative or something in between, we are likely moving too fast, or sleep walking through our experience on autopilot, letting our habits of mind guide our trek.

As a child, I remember driving to Golden BC once a month to visit my grandmother.  My family got in the car, and sped past the glorious countryside.  In one deep breath, we literally lept from Calgary to Golden.  Had we really been in the mountains?  Much of it I slept through, and more often than not, I would try to read a book or something else to while away the time.  However, recently, I have been driving to Golden, or past it, on my own.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I am not a very strong driver, and get tired easily.  Therefore, I need to stop and rest, and literally get out of the car.  In doing so, I am experiencing this familiar trek in very unfamiliar ways.

I see through my driver’s seat window a whole new experience on this journey and others, and in the end, when I reflect on my day of travel, I appreciate the various moments of the journey because I have to stay awake, pay attention and really understand where I  am going.

Today in Retrospect:  If I were to collapse today, September 25, 2012, I would realize that I was running through much of it to get things done; make people happy; and to insure that students are learning optimally in my new school.  However, there were a few moments that I believe I could harvest for this exercise:

  • When I woke up, I took my time.  I appreciated the breeze coming in the window, and how it was just chilly enough to want to stay in bed under the cozy comforter.  The ride to work was beautiful, and once again, the ocean stuns me with its beauty, especially on a blue sky day like today.
  • I laughed a lot today.  I find the office staff particularly friendly and they like to joke as much as I do.  We appreciate the humour in the moments that we share together.
  • I was invited by a staff member to the theatre, and accepted because I have time to go.
  • I sat with my group of students in my teacher advisory group, and we talked today, more authentically than we have in the past.  They are still not sure of me, and me of them.  We hedge ourselves tentatively around each other in our daily ten minutes together to discuss announcements and review attendance.  Terry Fox was our topic today, and perhaps the meaning behind his cancer run touched us in a special way.
  • I worked with teachers over lunch around the topic of professional development, asking ourselves how we can support the growth of teachers around their work with students and their understanding of education with each other.  It was exciting work, and enjoyable enough for us to want to meet again tomorrow to continue the conversation.
  • I grappled with a teacher around the topic of planning ahead, and the value of being accountable.  His students are challenging ones with special needs.
  • At two o’clock, sushi never tasted so good, but I ate it too quickly because I had waited too long.
  • A nice hug from my Comox realtor made me realize that tomorrow, everything from my Calgary home gets moved here, and this is the final steps of my relocation to the island.  On Monday, I get the keys to my new house.  Next week, the furniture and boxes will arrive, and then the unpacking begins.
  • A bike ride to Goose Spit this evening reminded me of the extraordinary beauty of this town, province and country.  How lucky I am to be healthy and wealthy enough to live here.

Take Two:  Distilling Further:   In retrospect, I believe that I captured the highlights of today, but I do not believe that I truly savored these experiences.  I did not bite into these juicy minutes and seconds and relish them with a presence that would have made them tastier.  I was and always seem to be cognizant of the time, and the bells, and the next meetings.  I am often thinking ahead about what the outcomes might be, or where we will go from here.  I am a navigator, and trying to get myself and others to places in interesting, productive and efficient ways.

Therefore, if I were to distill my experiences down to the truly delicious and essential moments, where I was truly in “bliss” and feeling happy or at peace, I would say that it looked more like this:

  • Lying in bed, pressing snooze, and hearing the birds through the window was the best nine minutes of the day. 
  • Getting some messages on Facebook from good friends was very special.
  • Tasting a good chocolate bar after the sushi was really what made this meal.
  • Talking to a nice man on the beach by Goose Spit as he brushed his blind dog made the bike ride worthwhile.
  • Sitting for a long time by the ocean with no reason to hurry, was truly engaging.  I just sat there and looked out at the ocean, breathing in the experience with every part of me.
  • The wind and sun on my face during my bike ride, especially down hill, was also spectacular.  It reminded me of being a child again on my first bike.
  • And finally, knowing that I had time to write my thoughts and feelings in this blog tonight held a special happiness all of its own.

I think that it is important to take time to collapse our days, and examine them in depth.  What really mattered today?  It is an interesting exercise, and forces me to be more present in my experiences so that when I de-centre and distill them down in this type of in-depth review, the day in retrospect holds vibrant moments to remember fondly.

Namaste

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Nine: The Collapsible Day

26 Sep

The Collapsible Day

Essential Questions:   If we were to collapse today into its most meaningful and essential moments, what would they be?  What would be the experiences that mattered most or that best reflect our essential selves in these 24 hours?  If this is difficult to answer and it all seems a blur of positive or negative or something in between, we are likely moving too fast, or sleep walking through our experience on autopilot, letting our habits of mind guide our trek.

As a child, I remember driving to Golden BC once a month to visit my grandmother.  My family got in the car, and sped past the glorious countryside.  In one deep breath, we literally lept from Calgary to Golden.  Had we really been in the mountains?  Much of it I slept through, and more often than not, I would try to read a book or something else to while away the time.  However, recently, I have been driving to Golden, or past it, on my own.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I am not a very strong driver, and get tired easily.  Therefore, I need to stop and rest, and literally get out of the car.  In doing so, I am experiencing this familiar trek in very unfamiliar ways.

I see through my driver’s seat window a whole new experience on this journey and others, and in the end, when I reflect on my day of travel, I appreciate the various moments of the journey because I have to stay awake, pay attention and really understand where I  am going.

Today in Retrospect:  If I were to collapse today, September 25, 2012, I would realize that I was running through much of it to get things done; make people happy; and to insure that students are learning optimally in my new school.  However, there were a few moments that I believe I could harvest for this exercise:

  • When I woke up, I took my time.  I appreciated the breeze coming in the window, and how it was just chilly enough to want to stay in bed under the cozy comforter.  The ride to work was beautiful, and once again, the ocean stuns me with its beauty, especially on a blue sky day like today.
  • I laughed a lot today.  I find the office staff particularly friendly and they like to joke as much as I do.  We appreciate the humour in the moments that we share together.
  • I was invited by a staff member to the theatre, and accepted because I have time to go.
  • I sat with my group of students in my teacher advisory group, and we talked today, more authentically than we have in the past.  They are still not sure of me, and me of them.  We hedge ourselves tentatively around each other in our daily ten minutes together to discuss announcements and review attendance.  Terry Fox was our topic today, and perhaps the meaning behind his cancer run touched us in a special way.
  • I worked with teachers over lunch around the topic of professional development, asking ourselves how we can support the growth of teachers around their work with students and their understanding of education with each other.  It was exciting work, and enjoyable enough for us to want to meet again tomorrow to continue the conversation.
  • I grappled with a teacher around the topic of planning ahead, and the value of being accountable.  His students are challenging ones with special needs.
  • At two o’clock, sushi never tasted so good, but I ate it too quickly because I had waited too long.
  • A nice hug from my Comox realtor made me realize that tomorrow, everything from my Calgary home gets moved here, and this is one of the final steps of my relocation to the island.  On Monday, I get the keys to my new house.  Next week, the furniture and boxes will arrive, and then the unpacking begins.
  • A bike ride to Goose Spit this evening reminded me of the extraordinary beauty of this town, province and country.  How lucky I am to be healthy and wealthy enough to live here.

Take Two:  Distilling Further:   In retrospect, I believe that I captured the highlights of today, but I do not believe that I truly savored these experiences.  I did not bite into these juicy minutes and seconds and relish them with a presence that would have made them tastier.  I was and always seem to be cognizant of the time, and the bells, and the next meetings.  I am often thinking ahead about what the outcomes might be, or where we will go from here.  I am a navigator, and trying to get myself and others to places in interesting, productive and efficient ways.

Therefore, if I were to distill my experiences down to the truly delicious and essential moments, where I was truly in “bliss” and feeling happy or at peace, I would say that it looked more like this:

  • Lying in bed, pressing snooze, and hearing the birds through the window was the best nine minutes of the day. 
  • Getting some messages on Facebook from good friends was very special.
  • Tasting a good chocolate bar after the sushi was really what made this meal.
  • Talking to a nice man on the beach by Goose Spit as he brushed his blind dog made the bike ride worthwhile.
  • Sitting for a long time by the ocean with no reason to hurry, was truly engaging.  I just sat there and looked out at the ocean, breathing in the experience with every part of me.
  • The wind and sun on my face during my bike ride, especially down hill, was also spectacular.  It reminded me of being a child again on my first bike.
  • And finally, knowing that I had time to write my thoughts and feelings in this blog tonight held a special happiness all of its own.

I think that it is important to take time to collapse our days, and examine them in depth.  What really mattered today?  It is an interesting exercise, and forces me to be more present in my experiences so that when I de-centre and distill them down in this type of in-depth review, the day in retrospect holds vibrant moments to remember fondly.

Namaste

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eight: Trees Talk to Each Other and To Me

16 Sep

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eight: Trees Talk to Each Other and To Me.

Trees Talk to Each Other and To Me

 

Tree Communication:   I have always wondered why I feel so happy when I am in the woods.  It is always a therapeutic experience for me.  We read about how our society is experiencing a “nature deficit” (Louv, 2005) when people are inside so much of the time.  Louv talks about the need for children in particular to “see” nature and experience its beauty.  However,  I think that there is more to it than just the rest and relaxation in the visual beauty of the forest.  Now that I have been immersed in the world of the trees on Vancouver Island, I think that there is something very scientifically psychological at play when walking amidst the trees.  I truly believe that trees are communicating with me.

Trees have been found to communicate with each other.  At first, scientists discovered that it was through chemicals and gases through their complex underground root systems stemming from large “mother trees” (Simard, 2011).  However, other studies indicate that gases and pheromones travel through the air between trees to communicate more immediately both warnings and danger (Andrews, 2012). 

Tree Therapy:  It is apparent to me (as I observe forests carefully) that trees, when contented with their environment and allowed to thrive, are communicating positive energy to each other.  So many people I have hiked with have commented on the positive energy that they feel in “happy” woods.  I would even speculate that happy trees are trying to talk to us and exchange energy with us as we move through the forest.  Many would counter my discussion about “tree energy” with the talk of oxygen and how the trees give us more air to breathe.  Although this is true, I think that there is so much more happening for humans than this when they encounter the trees.

I notice that whenever I have some worry or am facing some negativity in my life, a walk through the forest changes my mood and perspective for the better.  The power of the tree collective does much to restore my balance.  It is not my imagination that I come away from the experience a stronger and happier person.  Perhaps I also offer something back to the forest when I unite with it.  Perhaps they know that I marvel at their beauty and feel a sense of reverence and peace in their company.  In exchange, they shower me with their energy and power, just as they help to sustain each other (Simard, 2012).

I have noticed that big trees have a greater impact on me, and perhaps this is because they carry the most root networks in the forest (see links below).  Whenever, I have had a rest under a large tree through my tenting experiences or other, I have come away feeling more positive.  It is almost transformative for me, and it hasn’t been until recently that I have put two and two together to add up to the tree energy.  Trees rely on each other to be healthy (Corliss, 2000).  Perhaps, we rely on them and they on us to be healthy as well.  We are all one large inter-connected network of living beings.

The Forest is a Chapel:  I could speculate further, at the risk of being called a “tree hugger” (which I am), that trees help us operate at a higher level both psychologically and spiritually.  For thousands of years, we have relied on them in multiple ways.  Relying on the trees for fire and shelter are only the simplest ways that they benefit us, and yet, this is how we take advantage of them the most, destroying vast forests around the world.  It would be advantageous for us to learn more about trees and understand why they help us in more sophisticated and meaningful ways.  I know that most recently in my move to Comox that trees have offered me a sanctuary.  I am resting and healing with their support.  For me, there is no greater church than that of a dense forest full of trees, and this will be where I continue to spend my Sundays.

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=2764

http://goodnature.nathab.com/the-trees-are-talking/

http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf063/sf063b11.htm

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eight: Trees Talk to Each Other and To Me

16 Sep

Trees Talk to Each Other and To Me

 

Tree Communication:   I have always wondered why I feel so happy when I am in the woods.  It is always a therapeutic experience for me.  We read about how our society is experiencing a “nature deficit” (Louv, 2005) when people are inside so much of the time.  Louv talks about the need for children in particular to “see” nature and experience its beauty.  However,  I think that there is more to it than just the rest and relaxation in the visual beauty of the forest.  Now that I have been immersed in the world of the trees on Vancouver Island, I think that there is something very scientifically psychological at play when walking amidst the trees.  I truly believe that trees are communicating with me.

Trees have been found to communicate with each other.  At first, scientists discovered that it was through chemicals and gases through their complex underground root systems stemming from large “mother trees” (Simard, 2011).  However, other studies indicate that gases and pheromones travel through the air between trees to communicate more immediately both warnings and danger (Andrews, 2012). 

Tree Therapy:  It is apparent to me (as I observe forests carefully) that trees, when contented with their environment and allowed to thrive, are communicating positive energy to each other.  So many people I have hiked with have commented on the positive energy that they feel in “happy” woods.  I would even speculate that happy trees are trying to talk to us and exchange energy with us as we move through the forest.  Many would counter my discussion about “tree energy” with the talk of oxygen and how the trees give us more air to breathe.  Although this is true, I think that there is so much more happening for humans than this when they encounter the trees.

I notice that whenever I have some worry or am facing some negativity in my life, a walk through the forest changes my mood and perspective for the better.  The power of the tree collective does much to restore my balance.  It is not my imagination that I come away from the experience a stronger and happier person.  Perhaps I also offer something back to the forest when I unite with it.  Perhaps they know that I marvel at their beauty and feel a sense of reverence and peace in their company.  In exchange, they shower me with their energy and power, just as they help to sustain each other (Simard, 2012).

I have noticed that big trees have a greater impact on me, and perhaps this is because they carry the most root networks in the forest (see links below).  Whenever, I have had a rest under a large tree through my tenting experiences or other, I have come away feeling more positive.  It is almost transformative for me, and it hasn’t been until recently that I have put two and two together to add up to the tree energy.  Trees rely on each other to be healthy (Corliss, 2000).  Perhaps, we rely on them and they on us to be healthy as well.  We are all one large inter-connected network of living beings.

The Forest is a Chapel:  I could speculate further, at the risk of being called a “tree hugger” (which I am), that trees help us operate at a higher level both psychologically and spiritually.  For thousands of years, we have relied on them in multiple ways.  Relying on the trees for fire and shelter are only the simplest ways that they benefit us, and yet, this is how we take advantage of them the most, destroying vast forests around the world.  It would be advantageous for us to learn more about trees and understand why they help us in more sophisticated and meaningful ways.  I know that most recently in my move to Comox that trees have offered me a sanctuary.  I am resting and healing with their support.  For me, there is no greater church than that of a dense forest full of trees, and this will be where I continue to spend my Sundays.

http://www.karmatube.org/videos.php?id=2764

http://goodnature.nathab.com/the-trees-are-talking/

http://www.science-frontiers.com/sf063/sf063b11.htm

 

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Here: Week 7: Kairos Time

10 Sep

52 Weeks Begin Here: Week 7: Kairos Time.

Kairos Time

Serendipity?  Without giving it much thought, I accepted a colleague’s suggestion to stay with her aunt for part of my stay in Comox prior to taking possession of my new home next month.  It is in the middle of Comox on the quiet Richardson Street.  The owner is a very spiritual woman and she has named her little place Kairos.  In her back yard she has set up an elaborate labyrinth that she uses and encourages her guests to use for meditation.

Kairos Vs. Chronos:   There are various definitions of “Kairos” which stems from the Greek use of the idea of “time”.  I think that my opportunity to stay here is very much like the definition of “finding the right or opportune moment” in my journey.  It means the moment of indeterminate time where special things happen, and the “special” is determined by the person using the word.  It is in contrast to our more typical definition of “time” stemming from the Greek word “Chronos” which is the more sequential and quantitative use of time with which we are familiar.  Tick, tock, tick, tock…

The rhetoricians take the idea of “Kairos” one step further and indicate that it is “a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved” (Wikipedia).  This resonates with my experience here so far as I have been really throwing myself into this life change so that it will be successful one for me.  The choices that I make now will determine how I will be situated for the next while.  The move into a new town and culture in a new and rather prominent professional role in the community (I have now been interviewed twice by reporters) is requiring that I be very confident to push through it and not get overwhelmed by the changes. 

When arriving at Kairos on Friday after work, I was so exhausted that I simply lifted my bags into the house and lay down on the couch and let the calm of the place and the quiet windchimes ringing through the open window from the back patio, sooth me to sleep.  I literally could not move for the entire next day (fortunately it was Saturday).  All of the changes had caught up to me, and this was the sanctuary where I knew that I could get my steam back.  It is just a quiet little basement suite, but the energy here is very healing and tranquil.  For awhile, this place has afforded me the ability to stop time and reflect a bit.

Finding the Centre:  I have not walked the Labyrinth in the backyard yet, but I intend to discover what people have used or designed it for for 3500 years.  It is often referred to as the “divine footprint” or the archtype of wholeness.  People use them for spiritual guidance and meditation making their way along the winding path to the centre (see the design at the top), and within it, they are at the centre of their wholeness and can seek calmness or enlightment.  I find it interesting that since my visit to New Grange in Northern Ireland a few years ago, I have been interested in the Celtic trilogy circles, or in this case, the maze of the labyrinth (similar design and purpose). I have worn them as jewellery, and found that they seemed to hold some message within them.  Now to come to a place where the whole basement suite is adorned with labyrinths holds some special message for me.  Perhaps I have found the “right place” at the “right moment in time”.  I hope to find some clarity and peace here.

52 Weeks Begin Here: Week 7: Kairos Time

10 Sep

Kairos Time

Serendipity?  Without giving it much thought, I accepted a colleague’s suggestion to stay with her aunt for part of my stay in Comox prior to taking possession of my new home next month.  It is in the middle of Comox on the quiet Richardson Street.  The owner is a very spiritual woman and she has named her little place Kairos.  In her back yard she has set up an elaborate labyrinth that she uses and encourages her guests to use for meditation.

Kairos Vs. Chronos:   There are various definitions of “Kairos” which stems from the Greek use of the idea of “time”.  I think that my opportunity to stay here is very much like the definition of “finding the right or opportune moment” in my journey.  It means the moment of indeterminate time where special things happen, and the “special” is determined by the person using the word.  It is in contrast to our more typical definition of “time” stemming from the Greek word “Chronos” which is the more sequential and quantitative use of time with which we are familiar.  Tick, tock, tick, tock…

The rhetoricians take the idea of “Kairos” one step further and indicate that it is “a passing instant when an opening appears which must be driven through with force if success is to be achieved” (Wikipedia).  This resonates with my experience here so far as I have been really throwing myself into this life change so that it will be successful one for me.  The choices that I make now will determine how I will be situated for the next while.  The move into a new town and culture in a new and rather prominent professional role in the community (I have now been interviewed twice by reporters) is requiring that I be very confident to push through it and not get overwhelmed by the changes. 

When arriving at Kairos on Friday after work, I was so exhausted that I simply lifted my bags into the house and lay down on the couch and let the calm of the place and the quiet windchimes ringing through the open window from the back patio, sooth me to sleep.  I literally could not move for the entire next day (fortunately it was Saturday).  All of the changes had caught up to me, and this was the sanctuary where I knew that I could get my steam back.  It is just a quiet little basement suite, but the energy here is very healing and tranquil.  For awhile, this place has afforded me the ability to stop time and reflect a bit.

Finding the Centre:  I have not walked the Labyrinth in the backyard yet, but I intend to discover what people have used or designed it for for 3500 years.  It is often referred to as the “divine footprint” or the archtype of wholeness.  People use them for spiritual guidance and meditation making their way along the winding path to the centre (see the design at the top), and within it, they are at the centre of their wholeness and can seek calmness or enlightment.  I find it interesting that since my visit to New Grange in Northern Ireland a few years ago, I have been interested in the Celtic trilogy circles, or in this case, the maze of the labyrinth (similar design and purpose).  I have worn them as jewellery, and found that they seemed to hold some message within them.  Now to come to a place where the whole basement suite is adorned with labyrinths holds some special message for me.  Perhaps I have found the “right place” at the “right moment in time”.  I hope to find some clarity and peace here.

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Six: What is My Ground Bass?

3 Sep

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Six: What is My Ground Bass?

52 Weeks Being Now:  Week Six:  What is My Ground Bass?

Background:  The Passacaglia Within:   I find when things get complicated; I often revert to musical analogy to make sense of my thinking.  Perhaps this is because music was part of my upbringing, and I believe that its style and composition resemble the way that we operate in real life which is why we are so kindred to music in everything that we do.  A passacaglia, for example, is a type of music that is built over a ground bass.  This ostinated bass line of approximately 10 to 20 notes repeats over and over throughout the duration of the composition.  A good example is Pachelbel’s Canon  (You Tube version) that we all know so very well.  Slowly as the piece unfolds, there are multiple soprano, alto and tenor voices and variations that unfold over the bass line.  The bass line is important because it sets the key and establishes the bass note of the chord progressions that can go over top of it. This particular example is a peaceful version of the idea that I hope to explain further.

What is My Ground Bass Line?  As I talk to people, both new and familiar, I realize lately that we are all playing a theme and variations over our own bass lines.  Our bass-lines get more pronounced with age, if we have not actively changed them.  Pachelbel’s Canon works very well as it is in a major key, and allows for many chord progressions that are uplifting and thought-provoking.  It does not grow tiring (unless, of course, you listen to it too often).  I would refer to its ground bass as one of “hope” and “optimism”.  This might explain why so many people (including myself, 21 years ago) have used this particular canon for our wedding processionals.

Although we all have the ability to have multiple themes and variations in our lives, we do have the tendency to have one dominant bass line that grounds us to our life path.  It is like our key message, or essential essence.  It stays with us unconsciously until we consciously decide to change the track.  Again, it sets the key and determines the harmonic progressions over which we operate our lives.  Sometimes, I learn very clearly what people have as their core ostinato, as I listen to our conversations.  Sometimes they are positive and say uplifting things, and this is why we like to be around these people as their music warms our heart:  

  • I think that good things are happening
  • I want to help people
  • I like who I am
  • I am at peace with whatever comes my way
  • I care about my family
  • I want to make good things happen in the world
  • The world is a good place to be

Sometimes, the repeated bass lines in our lives are not as positive, and it is more difficult to understand.  The melody falls flat.  It is boring and repetitive and grates on the listener’s ears:

  • I am running out of time (biological clock)
  • I do not like my role in life (parent, wife, husband, career, single person, married person, other)
  • I do not like myself
  • I need to make money to prove my worth
  • I am afraid of what is happening in the world
  • I do not think I am worth being around
  • I have failed at things, and am unlikely to be successful
  • I wish I were somewhere else

The music unravels quickly and the minor and dissonant message loses its musicality.  A fine musician can pick out the message of each composer’s bass lines pretty quickly.  Intuitively, we all can if we put on our metaphorical headphones around each other, and really listen.

Being in Tune:  I don’t know why this idea of comparing our lives to Passacaglias came up for me today.   All I know is that lately, I am reading pretty clearly what people’s dominant bass lines are that come through what they are saying, their body language or what they are not saying at all.  In my efforts to have a fresh start, I am sensitive to what people are telling me.  As well, I am listening to myself and trying to understand what my own ground bass is, and what it is telling people about me in return.  I think I am finding it is best to stay in “The Key of Shelley” (to borrow a title by CBC).  (I have always thought I worked best in the key of E flat major, but who can really say.)   Most importantly, I am accepting that it is okay to not want to continually listen to everyone’s music where it is not musical to me.  We are entitled to our preferences, and where I am an eclectic listener and appreciate all music, I tend to return to the music that inspires me.

Pachelbel’s Canon:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOA-2hl1Vbc