Archive | June, 2014

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-One: Glad to be a Female Canadian

29 Jun

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-One: Glad to be a Female Canadian.

IMG_6743

I am glad to be a female Canadian because…

1. I am free to pursue my dreams, and I no longer feel that there are any glass ceilings and limitations, provided that I am intentional and tenacious (and where I feel injustice, I call people on it)
2. Men look me in the eye, shake my hand, and treat me with respect, where I hold my head high and do the same (and when they don’t, I comment on it)
3. I can support myself as a single person, and was able to raise my son as a single woman through hard work and an education
4. I do not feel that my son will be pulled into war at any moment, nor that his young life is in danger fighting for causes that are not his own
5. I am not forgotten nor invisible in my 40’s; instead, I am still valid and important in society where I also treat myself with respect and integrity
6. I have the ability to take care of my medical needs with confidentiality and confidence, provided that I research and take care of my own health
7. I can express myself openly without fear of retribution, provided that I am thoughtful of how I communicate
8. I appreciate the Canadian women of our past that afforded us the opportunity to vote and become legitimate in the eyes of law and society
9. I can be in the open, and walk on the streets at night, provided that I am thoughtful of where I tread (as there will always be danger)
10. I am free

Happy Canada Day!

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-One: Glad to be a Female Canadian

29 Jun

IMG_6743

I am glad to be a female Canadian because…

1. I am free to pursue my dreams, and I no longer feel that there are any glass ceilings and limitations, provided that I am intentional and tenacious (and where I feel injustice, I call people on it)
2. Men look me in the eye, shake my hand, and treat me with respect, where I hold my head high and do the same (and when they don’t, I comment on it)
3. I can support myself as a single person, and was able to raise my son as a single woman through hard work and an education
4. I do not feel that my son will be pulled into war at any moment, nor that his young life is in danger fighting for causes that are not his own
5. I am not forgotten nor invisible in my 40’s; instead, I am still valid and important in society where I also treat myself with respect and integrity
6. I have the ability to take care of my medical needs with confidentiality and confidence, provided that I research and take care of my own health
7. I can express myself openly without fear of retribution, provided that I am thoughtful of how I communicate
8. I appreciate the Canadian women of our past that afforded us the opportunity to vote and become legitimate in the eyes of law and society
9. I can be in the open, and walk on the streets at night, provided that I am thoughtful of where I tread (as there will always be danger)
10. I am free

Happy Canada Day!

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire

28 Jun

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire.

windows

Stay in the Spiritual Fire
Let it cook you
Be a well-baked loaf,
and lord of the table.
You’ve been a source of pain,
Now you’ll be the delight.

Rumi

Hitting the Edges: Charlotte Kasl (1999) reminds me of the courage that it takes to be in an intimate relationship. “New love is a rich time for the spiritual warrior” (p. 34) who is willing to accept the dance of openness. When we allow ourselves to connect with our essence, and let go of our masques, “[o]ur growth begins..as we face parts of ourselves that have always been there” (p. 36). As we unmasque ourselves, we get closer to the essence of who we are and why we are here, and what we seek in our intimate relationships.

Often, the relationships that matter and the ones that we should continue, are those that help us “hit our edges”. They are the ones where we get scared, but learn to face the fears in partnership. “We may hit an edge when someone hurts us, or when someone loves us more than we love ourselves. It is sometimes harder for many people to allow love to pierce their hearts” than to continue in busyness, chaos and distraction. “When people hit an edge, they usually run away by going numb, distracting themselves, changing the subject, counter-attacking, overindulging in addictions or blaming…Remember, love brings up anything that’s hiding. [As well], [w]e sometimes tell ourselves the story that because life was easy before we met a lover, our anxiety and agitation is the fault of our new partner, or not being a good match…” (p. 18 and p. 37). Sometimes we need to be in relationship to open ourselves up for spiritual growth, and that is not always an easy process.

Finding Voice: I remember reading Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak (1999) about finding our authentic voices. He stirred in me the importance of being true to ourselves. He encouraged us to not get caught up in lying about who we are so that we can gain approval. When we are speaking with integrity to ourselves and others, we resonate with joy in our hearts. We fill ourselves and others with strength and security, and not with anxiety.

In contrast, the lies that we sometimes tell ourselves and others distance ourselves from our spiritual path and from those with whom we might be destined to spend our time “…cultivating a garden together…digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives” (Palmer, 1999). It is important for people interested in authentic relationships to dig deeply into what truly matters, and make our way through the years of debris that hid us from ourselves and others. When we finally find it, we are compelled to look up out of the darkness and into the sun. We then have an opportunity to raise our arms up to the sky and sing into the light with the joy of the experience.

Courage: Being willing to stay in the spiritual fire takes courage and a strong belief that we are worthy of that which can bring us closer to our truth. If we are always standing on the outside looking in, and analyzing what can, might or does go wrong, it is difficult to connect with another soul. Being present with another, when all things seem impossible, not only takes courage, but it also takes some help from the universe. We need to appreciate when the universe has intervened, and appreciate the good fortune of finding a strong companion willing to ask what needs to be done so that we are warmed, not burned, by this spiritual fire that we are in together.

It takes the courage to open the different doors where potential soul mates are knocking. Which knock is the right knock? It takes some time and some loving discernment to see past any illusion or ego that might hamper our ability to find the right partner. “Allowing [ourselves] to be shaken to [our] roots is a source of a growing relationship” (Kasl, 1999, p. 172); however, in this challenging journey of intimacy, time usually teaches us who will bend in the wind. Time shows us who will revel in and not hide from the simplicities and complexities of an intimate connection. However, finding true intimacy is a bit of a universal gamble. If found and embraced, it can help us grow into our best selves if we make it our priority to do the work of the spiritual warrior.

Gamble everything for love…
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.
You set out to find God,
but then you keep stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.
Don’t wait any longer.
Dive in the ocean,
leave and let the sea be you…

Rumi

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 30: Staying in the Spiritual Fire

28 Jun

windows

Stay in the Spiritual Fire
Let it cook you
Be a well-baked loaf,
and lord of the table.
You’ve been a source of pain,
Now you’ll be the delight.

Rumi

Hitting the Edges: Charlotte Kasl (1999) reminds me of the courage that it takes to be in an intimate relationship. “New love is a rich time for the spiritual warrior” (p. 34) who is willing to accept the dance of openness. When we allow ourselves to connect with our essence, and let go of our masques, “[o]ur growth begins..as we face parts of ourselves that have always been there” (p. 36). As we unmasque ourselves, we get closer to the essence of who we are and why we are here, and what we seek in our intimate relationships.

Often, the relationships that matter and the ones that we should continue, are those that help us “hit our edges”. They are the ones where we get scared, but learn to face the fears in partnership. “We may hit an edge when someone hurts us, or when someone loves us more than we love ourselves. It is sometimes harder for many people to allow love to pierce their hearts” than to continue in busyness, chaos and distraction. “When people hit an edge, they usually run away by going numb, distracting themselves, changing the subject, counter-attacking, overindulging in addictions or blaming…Remember, love brings up anything that’s hiding. [As well], [w]e sometimes tell ourselves the story that because life was easy before we met a lover, our anxiety and agitation is the fault of our new partner, or not being a good match…” (p. 18 and p. 37). Sometimes we need to be in relationship to open ourselves up for spiritual growth, and that is not always an easy process.

Finding Voice: I remember reading Parker Palmer in his book Let Your Life Speak (1999) about finding our authentic voices. He stirred in me the importance of being true to ourselves. He encouraged us to not get caught up in lying about who we are so that we can gain approval. When we are speaking with integrity to ourselves and others, we resonate with joy in our hearts. We fill ourselves and others with strength and security, and not with anxiety.

In contrast, the lies that we sometimes tell ourselves and others distance ourselves from our spiritual path and from those with whom we might be destined to spend our time “…cultivating a garden together…digging beneath the hard and crusty surface to the rich humus of our lives” (Palmer, 1999). It is important for people interested in authentic relationships to dig deeply into what truly matters, and make our way through the years of debris that hid us from ourselves and others. When we finally find it, we are compelled to look up out of the darkness and into the sun. We then have an opportunity to raise our arms up to the sky and sing into the light with the joy of the experience.

Courage: Being willing to stay in the spiritual fire takes courage and a strong belief that we are worthy of that which can bring us closer to our truth. If we are always standing on the outside looking in, and analyzing what can, might or does go wrong, it is difficult to connect with another soul. Being present with another, when all things seem impossible, not only takes courage, but it also takes some help from the universe. We need to appreciate when the universe has intervened, and appreciate the good fortune of finding a strong companion willing to ask what needs to be done so that we are warmed, not burned, by this spiritual fire that we are in together.

It takes the courage to open the different doors where potential soul mates are knocking. Which knock is the right knock? It takes some time and some loving discernment to see past any illusion or ego that might hamper our ability to find the right partner. “Allowing [ourselves] to be shaken to [our] roots is a source of a growing relationship” (Kasl, 1999, p. 172); however, in this challenging journey of intimacy, time usually teaches us who will bend in the wind. Time shows us who will revel in and not hide from the simplicities and complexities of an intimate connection. However, finding true intimacy is a bit of a universal gamble. If found and embraced, it can help us grow into our best selves if we make it our priority to do the work of the spiritual warrior.

Gamble everything for love…
Half-heartedness doesn’t reach into majesty.
You set out to find God,
but then you keep stopping for long periods
at mean-spirited roadhouses.
Don’t wait any longer.
Dive in the ocean,
leave and let the sea be you…

Rumi

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 29: A Fatherless World

8 Jun

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 29: A Fatherless World.

IMG_4114

Absent Fathers: On the advent of Father’s Day next week, I have been thinking about this topic of fathers. It has often been my observation throughout my lifetime, and again, more recently, that many of the men in my life (not all), have had what they have described as fatherless experiences. This is not to suggest that they were all orphaned (although this was sometimes the case); rather, they expressed knowingly being forgotten or overlooked in their fathers’ lives and feeling something that I would describe as an “absent father syndrome”. From the time that I started dating through to sharing significant relationships with men; and, as well, my ongoing male collegial, teacher-student or friendships have given me reason to pause and reflect on the importance of the role of fathers in the lives of sons. I am also intimately aware of the impact of the father-son relationship on my own son’s life and his subsequent relationships with other people.

Distractions of the Father: Over the last few generations, and perhaps very prominently in my own generation, the roles of men have been in flux. They have had to really consider the competitive, fast-paced and demanding world around them, and to discover how to be successful within it. The ego-driven distractions that tempt them in their professional and personal lives, in my opinion, have posed as obstacles, pulling them away from having healthy intimate and responsible relationships with the people around them. Where the world has become obsessed by money, materialism, pop culture, technology and, in some cases, addictions, young boys have grown into adult males that have not had time to really adapt to the world that is constantly changing its expectations of them.

Because the men of the past hundred years have been busy being pioneers, going to war, building new lives, providing for their families, rising out of poverty, carrying on family businesses, making a name for themselves, dying young in their struggles, or other, they have not always been available to mentor the younger generation of men beneath them. As a result, each generation of men have not always had significant male role models on which to form their own strong and healthy identities, nor have they had substantial rites of passages that have helped them to establish where they are at in their journey into maturity. Therefore, many men have not truly been taught by other men how to have responsible and successful relationships. With the changing roles of men and women in society, marital relationships have also changed, and again, children are sometimes disconnected from having full-time relationships with their fathers.

My Son’s Mentorship: Since the time my son was very little, he has always watched men carefully, perhaps because he is trying to figure out who he is; what it means to be a man in the world, and who he should best emulate as he tries on different male identities in his coming of age. It has always been fascinating to me to watch him watch men, and assess them for their various strengths and weaknesses. He has had a quick eye, and is quick to point out any flaws of my dates. Fortunately, through his family, education, sports and music, he was put in contact with some very strong and generous men who took him under their wing and made the time to mentor him in some very important ways.

One of his most significant male relationships that he was able to count on throughout his lifetime and into the present is the one with my father. His “Poppa” (grandfather) was the one who was always there for him, regularly and reliably, and would take the time to show him how to “be” in the world. From a young age, my father took the time to teach Andrew things, attend his special events, and to be emotionally and physically available where Andrew would call him for virtually everything. Their time together had a profound impact on how Andrew operated in the world with strong morals and principles. It is now of particular joy to me when I know they are playing chess or pool together and enjoying the privilege of being men together now that my son is almost twenty-two years of age.

Interestingly, my father was fostered out, along with all of his siblings (who were adopted out across Canada) due to family difficulties and extreme poverty as a new Irish immigrant family on the bald headed prairies. He was raised by a hard-working (and busy) foster father who took time to show him how to work on cars and take care of the family. His biological father returned into his life in his later teenaged years, and then he was also reacquainted with all of his siblings. By this point, he had met his wife (my mother), and had determined that the most important thing for him to do in light of his difficult upbringing, was not to replicate any of the mistakes of his family of origin, but rather, to become a dedicated father himself. I imagine that he was a bit disappointed that he did not have a son, but he never let both of his daughters know this. Instead, he made a point of connecting with us regularly and always being their for us when we needed him. He made the choice to be the man that he knew we would need as a father. However, later in life, he clearly made his grandson the apple of his eye.

Father’s Day: I suppose that my conclusion in all of these observations about men and mentorship is that being a good father is a choice. Despite some of the gaps of mentorship that men may have experienced in their own lives, they have the opportunity to turn around and raise their sons differently. They can be the fathers that they may not have had, or wished that they had experienced in their own lives. They can model other ways of being and break the cycles of the fatherless world. For many of us, good fathers have made a difference in our lives, and we have been fortunate enough to know them. We have benefitted from their time and attention. For my son, I know that he always makes a point of remembering his grandfather on Father’s Day (along with his own father) because he knows that fatherhood is about mentorship, love and the dedicated time that is spent helping him to be a better man.

I would like to say how much I admire all of the men out there who are taking the time to be incredible fathers (you know who you are) and are doing their very best to raise their sons to be good men themselves.

Happy Father’s Day!

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”

William Shakespeare

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week 29: A Fatherless World

8 Jun

IMG_4114

Absent Fathers: On the advent of Father’s Day next week, I have been thinking about this topic of fathers. It has often been my observation throughout my lifetime, and again, more recently, that many of the men in my life (not all), have had what they have described as fatherless experiences. This is not to suggest that they were all orphaned (although this was sometimes the case); rather, they expressed knowingly being forgotten or overlooked in their fathers’ lives and feeling something that I would describe as an “absent father syndrome”. From the time that I started dating through to sharing significant relationships with men; and, as well, my ongoing male collegial, teacher-student or friendships have given me reason to pause and reflect on the importance of the role of fathers in the lives of sons. I am also intimately aware of the impact of the father-son relationship on my own son’s life and his subsequent relationships with other people.

Distractions of the Father: Over the last few generations, and perhaps very prominently in my own generation, the roles of men have been in flux. They have had to really consider the competitive, fast-paced and demanding world around them, and to discover how to be successful within it. The ego-driven distractions that tempt them in their professional and personal lives, in my opinion, have posed as obstacles, pulling them away from having healthy intimate and responsible relationships with the people around them. Where the world has become obsessed by money, materialism, pop culture, technology and, in some cases, addictions, young boys have grown into adult males that have not had time to really adapt to the world that is constantly changing its expectations of them.

Because the men of the past hundred years have been busy being pioneers, going to war, building new lives, providing for their families, rising out of poverty, carrying on family businesses, making a name for themselves, dying young in their struggles, or other, they have not always been available to mentor the younger generation of men beneath them. As a result, each generation of men have not always had significant male role models on which to form their own strong and healthy identities, nor have they had substantial rites of passages that have helped them to establish where they are at in their journey into maturity. Therefore, many men have not truly been taught by other men how to have responsible and successful relationships. With the changing roles of men and women in society, marital relationships have also changed, and again, children are sometimes disconnected from having full-time relationships with their fathers.

My Son’s Mentorship: Since the time my son was very little, he has always watched men carefully, perhaps because he is trying to figure out who he is; what it means to be a man in the world, and who he should best emulate as he tries on different male identities in his coming of age. It has always been fascinating to me to watch him watch men, and assess them for their various strengths and weaknesses. He has had a quick eye, and is quick to point out any flaws of my dates. Fortunately, through his family, education, sports and music, he was put in contact with some very strong and generous men who took him under their wing and made the time to mentor him in some very important ways.

One of his most significant male relationships that he was able to count on throughout his lifetime and into the present is the one with my father. His “Poppa” (grandfather) was the one who was always there for him, regularly and reliably, and would take the time to show him how to “be” in the world. From a young age, my father took the time to teach Andrew things, attend his special events, and to be emotionally and physically available where Andrew would call him for virtually everything. Their time together had a profound impact on how Andrew operated in the world with strong morals and principles. It is now of particular joy to me when I know they are playing chess or pool together and enjoying the privilege of being men together now that my son is almost twenty-two years of age.

Interestingly, my father was fostered out, along with all of his siblings (who were adopted out across Canada) due to family difficulties and extreme poverty as a new Irish immigrant family on the bald headed prairies. He was raised by a hard-working (and busy) foster father who took time to show him how to work on cars and take care of the family. His biological father returned into his life in his later teenaged years, and then he was also reacquainted with all of his siblings. By this point, he had met his wife (my mother), and had determined that the most important thing for him to do in light of his difficult upbringing, was not to replicate any of the mistakes of his family of origin, but rather, to become a dedicated father himself. I imagine that he was a bit disappointed that he did not have a son, but he never let both of his daughters know this. Instead, he made a point of connecting with us regularly and always being their for us when we needed him. He made the choice to be the man that he knew we would need as a father. However, later in life, he clearly made his grandson the apple of his eye.

Father’s Day: I suppose that my conclusion in all of these observations about men and mentorship is that being a good father is a choice. Despite some of the gaps of mentorship that men may have experienced in their own lives, they have the opportunity to turn around and raise their sons differently. They can be the fathers that they may not have had, or wished that they had experienced in their own lives. They can model other ways of being and break the cycles of the fatherless world. For many of us, good fathers have made a difference in our lives, and we have been fortunate enough to know them. We have benefitted from their time and attention. For my son, I know that he always makes a point of remembering his grandfather on Father’s Day (along with his own father) because he knows that fatherhood is about mentorship, love and the dedicated time that is spent helping him to be a better man.

I would like to say how much I admire all of the men out there who are taking the time to be incredible fathers (you know who you are) and are doing their very best to raise their sons to be good men themselves.

Happy Father’s Day!

“When a father gives to his son, both laugh; when a son gives to his father, both cry.”

William Shakespeare