Saturday, 26 December 2009

Life with a twist of lime, please.






Life is crazy.

And apparently that scares us.

So we simplify it. We break it down. Black and white. 1,2,3’s. ABC’s. Make it boring.

And then we complain about how bored we are. How unexciting our lives have become.

I cannot even begin to describe the ways in which one can live their life. So unimaginable. So out there. So far from the norm, the boring, the ABC’s and 123’s. And I don’t mean that there are so many careers to choose from. I don’t even mean so many places to see and people to meet.

There’s twists in life, and when you let them, they take you places. Just don’t be scared

I won’t live a “normal” life. It won’t pattern itself even remotely similar to anyone else’s. It’s one of kind. Both memorable and meaningful. Just you wait and see…

… Faith has some exciting surprises up its sleeve.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Linear Consumption + Exponential Times = ???

Got some time?

I really want to encourage you to take a minute… to learn something today. Something that just might change the way you live your life. Something that might change the way you think. Take a minute to learn something about YOUR life.

Need me to build your curiosity?

In the last 3 decades ,we’ve destroyed over a 1/3 of our planets natural resources.

Our pillows (yes, where we lie our heads) are soaked in neurotoxins!

Breast milk has the highest number of toxic contaminants than any other food. (As as side note, breast is still best!)

You might think you are getting a sweet deal on your Christmas presents, but the full cost is still being paid. It’s being paid for by the people who are losing their natural resources, the children who dropped out of school to mine the materials, the individuals who are getting cancer from the radiation and toxins they were exposed to making it, and the by the cashiers who gave up their health benefits that the company skimped on. Why? So you can save a few bucks on the toys for Suzy and Timmy.

99% of items consumed in North America are in the trash within 6 months or less.

Planned and Perceived Obsolescence. Just look it up. It’s obvious.

We see more ads in one day than our grandparents 50 years ago saw in a lifetime.

THERE IS INTERVENTION! There is always hope. Always.

Check out the system in crisis.


And then, turn her linear equation into an exponential one, and check this out.

Combine these two realities, and it’s gets a little freaky. In fact, it’s terrifying.

BUT, we can change this. We have all these brilliant minds creating solutions to problems that haven’t even surfaced. All these brilliant minds are recycling. All these brilliant minds, they are pitching in.

Because what they realize is they make a difference. They KNOW that their efforts are huge contribution. They are aware of the impact they are having on their life.

It's idealistic to think we can continue on this linear path while expanding at such an unstoppable rate.

This is now. Let's do something about it.

Monday, 30 November 2009

An afterword...

"At some point, we need to accept the boundaries of our control and see the brick walls for what they are."

The brick wall wasn't meant to represent any given challenge or obstacle in our lives, but more so, the environment and often, the situations we find ourselves in. While our decisions in the now effect where in our environment we will end up, can we really say they change our environment completely? With so many variables, so many other people influencing the world, it's important to realize it isn't just MY world. I am not the only one with impact. I'm not saying I'm power-less, just simply, I'm not in control.

The ant attempting to take down a brick wall wasn't meant to be an analogy on how we face challenges in our lives, but more so, an analogy on how difficult and hopeless it would be to attempt to control all realms of our environment. And I find, that is often what these so-called motivational quotes tend to suggest. Absolute control. And that's just not realistic. No matter how inspiring it may sound.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Imagining Managing


I’ve developed an impatience for motivational sayings these days. Not all of them, just some in particular (I understand different things motivate all of us, but the ones I’m currently nit-picking at have a common theme of falsehood.)

Take charge of your life!

Make your own opportunities!

YOU control your destiny!

If you fail to plan, you are planning to Fail!

I’m sure a lot of you are ready to defend these as I declare lies and deceit. That’s fine. I hope the day that you realize “controlling” your environment is as realistic as “planning” to win the lottery comes sooner than later for you.

I remember living my life abiding my those sayings – Wow, did it ever seem like I had my shit together! Key word here: “seem.” You develop skills at forcing life to go in certain directions, but eventually you have to be honest, and that’s when I’ll admit I spent most of my time convincing myself and those around me that I caused things to happen the way they were happening. How dare I exclaim that something was happening to me and I was simply reacting! Never! Not in Miranda’s World! I’m a driven, motivated and “in-control” person. Go team Type A!

Giggle, snort! Some good that did me.

I’ll break it down. Rather than seeing things rationally, rather than accepting the lack of control we have on this planet, I’d blame myself.

“Well, if that didn’t work out exactly as I planned it, I must have screwed something up! Where did I make the mistake? I must not have put in enough effort…”

Rather than accepting the laws of physics and time and the walls of capability within those realms, I constantly tried to expand them… and blamed myself when I failed.

Spiral, spiral, spiral…. Plop. I think I landed somewhere in the land despair and hopelessness believing I was useless and lazy, ignorant and incapable, weak and without-potential. It’s like an ant trying to tear down a brick wall all on its own. At some point, we need to accept the boundaries of our control and see the brick walls for what they are.

This doesn’t mean there isn’t a million different ways to approach these walls and use them to our benefit, because there is, but that is just chasing those motivational sayings again. In essence, it’s just finding new ways to force life down a certain path (I tried multiple methods of those after climbing out of my spiraling self-esteem pit.)

While I do believe in taking responsibility for our actions and recognizing we have influence and impact on the world around us, that is quite different than setting the expectation to a level of unprecedented control. There is a fine balance between accepting life as it is, and using the now to move us forward. For me, that no longer involves telling myself that I’m controlling my future. I’ve got a say in the direction I’m headed, but it’s so minute. Without exaggerating our power and influence, efforts at success are hardly futile, but faith and trust need to be seen as playing as big a role as our physical actions.

“Trust the universe.” I remember a brilliant and joy-filled woman telling me this one morning over coffee. It falls quite in line with my new ‘go-to’ saying of the year – round pegs go in round holes, square pegs go in square holes; don’t try to force it any other way.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

God Is Love


“God’s presence is best experienced in the sacred space that exists between people when love is offered and received rather than in special buildings and pious places” – Bruxy Cavey, End of Religion.

God is Love.
God IS Love.
God is LOVE.

You can say a million times and still not get it. We can verbally say that God is everywhere that Love is, and maybe some of us can actually imagine it, but for me it’s really hard to grasp.

What if we just took away the whole image of God as this omnipotent “being” sitting up in the sky dictating?
What if we were to say Love dictated this world?
What if Love was what really made decisions in this place?
What if we could actually SEE that the more Love that is put into this world, the more God is in this world, and therefore the more ‘goodness’ is in the world?
Can we see the three things move together?

For me that just creates a whole knew look around my faith. The idea that Jesus is a human representation of what PURE LOVE looks like. A man, who in everyway, every shape, and every form showed, gave and received Love.

Wouldn’t that make MORE sense in some cases?


Like how Jesus is said to live forever in all of us. To believe that every single one of us has a small part of this man inside of us sounds a little like fiction.
But to believe that each and every one of us is completely capable of receiving and offering Love sounds way more believable (yet, still difficult for some to fully comprehend).

So when we were created in God’s image, we were created in an image of Love?
Does that make sense?
Maybe that’s why every one seems to crave it… seek it… revolve around it.
We’re all trying our own ways to be loved (fame, power, sex, money, whatever it is.)
I think there are quite a few people in this world that realized that what they were really after in this world wasn’t any of that stuff. They just want Love. Or as we Christians always put it – if we fill our lives with God, we shall be fulfilled.
Maybe that’s the same as saying if we fill our lives with Love, we shall be fulfilled.

So how do we fill our lives with Love?

I guess we’d have to define Love in order to know how to fill ourselves with it.
We all know how Love feels, but can we all agree that LOVE IS NOT AN EMOTION? Love itself is not a feeling, but love can make you feel a certain way. I guess you could say that when you are “in Love” with a person, that IS a feeling, but it’s not the same as the actual word Love.

Can most of us agree that “Loving” someone and being “in Love” with someone are two different things?

I’m sure lots of people have an argument against my definition of Love, but a really smart man told me this once and I’ve never heard it put better.

Love is Honor.

If you can really, truly honor and respect another person that is showing them Love. Putting their needs above and beyond your own.
Making sacrifices so that the person you Love can be honored and respected.

Now to fill your life with Love, you REALLY have to love everyone. Now I just don’t mean the people you like. That is, for the most part, easy.
I’m talking about being self-sacrificing and respectful to those people you don’t like.

I’m sure by now most of you have this image of turning into a doormat in midst of trying to put a little love into this world. I guess that’s when common sense is supposed to kick in and you realize that saying “yes” to everyone isn’t the same thing as honoring and respecting those around you. Just because some body WANTS something, doesn’t mean it’s the right (or Loving) thing for them. And taking care of yourself doest NOT mean you aren’t being loving to others. In most cases, taking care of yourself is one way of showing honor and respect for others.

I guess that’s my way of saying – In the end, Love rules all. It doesn’t matter how bad you fuck up. If you can make the most loving decision possible (big or small) than you will be fulfilled.

Now it’s just a matter of understanding what the loving decision is, which again, isn’t always easy.

So now we have this God inside all of us, moving between us, being offered and received, being shared, being stored, being horded, being stolen, being given, being drained, being shattered, being built, being upheld, being bombarded…. BEING.

How much more do you treasure Love knowing that it IS God?
How much more important is that word when you say “ I Love you”, knowing you just promised to completely honor and respect that person to Godly standards with three little words.?

And at the same time, how much closer does it bring God to us, knowing that every time you are shown Love, or show Love, it’s God, right there, surviving in the midst of it all between us?
It takes a lot of risk. A lot of faith. To just step up and make the Loving decision when it looks as though you will gain nothing in the end. But you will. Because that’s how heaven works. You give a little, and gain a lot, even if you don’t see it right away.



(This blog is a re-post; I wrote it a couple year ago, but it's so perfect in explaining who God is to me, and in that, a lot about who I am and how I see this world.)

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Would you blame the red jacket?

He was holding his father’s hand. More so, his hand was tightly enclosed in his father’s grip. I’d estimate his age to be around 3 years old. Maybe just a small 4 year old. Wearing such a bright red jacket – geisha red. Calm curiosity is how I would describe his facial expression. Simply observing his surroundings, but not paying an ounce of attention to where his father was taking him, where his feet were stepping. I watched his eyes for a long time, my own calm curiosity infecting my imagination. I wonder what questions he’s asking himself. Slowly trying to articulate the words to pose it to his father. Something common, I assume. Something you and I wouldn’t think to ask. Something that is a huge mystery to him. Wow, his Dad is going to look like such a hero for knowing the answer to this one. And then, BAM.

Calm? Gone. Curiosity? Gone.

All of that is clouded over with fear. Proceeded by, embarrassment with an encore of fear. And then, a dose of pain. Sprinkle with some humiliation and Voila! That’s what happens when you trip, slip and Daddy wasn’t paying attention to react fast enough and keep your tiny hand squeezed in his grip.

Definitely ate a pile of dirt. Definitely going to have some bruises. Definitely needs a really big bear hug from Dad.

After a firm father-son embrace, Dad wipes off his son’s clothes, gives another tight squeeze, and continues walking, this time both paying closer attention.

I love how we learn lessons in life. So many times the hard way. I’m by no means a fan of churning my own butter just to prove it really comes from cows, but at some point, I want to know that some relationships are cause and effect. At some point, I want to know that if I do A, I can then assume that B, C and D will follow. But, you know what I am learning rather quickly in my early twenties? Life is NOT a causal relationship. There often is no order, rhyme or reason.

It’s not as though every time this boy drifts into thoughts of curiosity, he’s going to shortly afterwards experience pain and humiliation for his lack of focus on the now.

But, in a more ambiguous way, we tell ourselves that. The oh-so-logical, “I had ____ experience once, and then ____ happened to me. Surely, it must happen every time.” I know rationally and scientifically we would never state such cases. The sample size is too small; too many dependent variables to count; possibly, the relationship is simply correlated and hardly causal. But, nonetheless, our minds have a temptation to continually create a black and white structure to the patterns that surface.

I, admittedly, have a weak spot for relating my mental and emotional outlooks and attitudes directly on the effects I see in my real life. In layman’s, what I’m saying is, I tend to believe my internal motivations and intentions play a larger role in how opportunities lay out in my life than the actual actions that proceed them. I understand there are many great arguments against this, but none have registered with me quite yet.

I’m trying to use this as an example to pull this “1,2,3/ A,B,C / black and white” mentality that we are all drawn to under a different focus on the microscope.

It seems, that even when our life paths aren’t drawn out and the freedom to pave our own roads is there, we still try and structure it. Find logical reason in why things turn out the way they do.

Curious, isn’t it? I’m tempted to say it’s the fear. Fear of the unknown. Better the evil you know???

This constant desire to understand and foresee the future, starting from a scientific level with hypothesis and highly calculated predictions, to things as belief oriented as astrology and religion, creates a world of questions around why we do what we do.

Are all our actions manipulative? Meant to evoke a response? … I’ll save that tangent for another time.

I digress back to the little boy in the red jacket. We create silly ideas when we are children. Relate things to other things they shouldn’t be related to. Let say he fell again in that same red jacket. A few days later, his mother can’t figure out why her son won’t wear the red jacket anymore. Let’s say his father had gotten mad at him for not focusing on where he was walking when he fell. Would he be mad at himself for asking too many questions? For being curious? What would this child correlate his fall to?

What’s my point? What correlations and “life lessons” are we making about life (everyday) that stop us from wearing our red jacket? That keep us from asking questions about this world? From pursuing love? From making new friends? Forgiving old enemies? Facing an old issue? From eating sushi? What fear of the unknown, and what ridiculous desire to predict the future is keeping us set in our ways and stubborn to the reality that life just isn’t that easily calculated?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Emotional Irrationality


This is perfect. So mentally prepared, yet it does nothing when the emotions are unraveled.

No one feels sane or rational during heart break.

At least it was worth it. It doesn't matter how bad it hurts now, because there was so much gained through it all. I learned a lot. And I mean, A LOT.

Above all else, I rediscovered and solidified a very important lesson regarding relationships...

... Round pegs go in round holes, square pegs go in square holes. Don't force it. Just let it be.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Just Be


I really want to tell you about this customer who came into work yesterday. She was… simple; not entirely mentally aware, maybe. She seemed rather cranky actually. Was frustrated that I couldn’t understand what she was asking for.

( I was also frustrated that I had no idea what she was asking for.)

Eventually, I deciphered her request and was able to accommodate it. When I returned from the back of the clinic, she was sitting on the bench in the window reading a paper. I sat down next to her and explained the device and showed her how to properly wear it, and while doing this I attempted some small talk.

“Enjoying your morning so far?”

“Enjoy? What is there to enjoy?” was her retort with a tone of ‘what a ridiculous question!’ to under-set it.

Hmm… not exactly the response I expected. She muttered it a more few times. I think her seemingly disgruntled demeanor prior to my deduction of what she wanted tainted my view of this comment. I assumed, as I’m sure anyone would, that this response was pessimistic; that she was implying there was nothing to enjoy about this morning. I was soon corrected.

“Well, there is always something to enjoy! You just have to look for it,” I exclaimed.

I’m well aware that my optimism sometimes appears as naivety, but this was not one of those cases. This was simply “glass-half-full” mentality.

She repeated herself again, “What is there to enjoy?”

I thought, ‘She obviously isn’t understanding the concept of changing one’s attitude.’ That’s where my true greenness showed itself. So immature to believe that it was she who didn’t understand me.

I left it alone… until we finished up the transaction. Rather than walking out the door, she went back to the bench and started finishing off the paper she’d been reading. I said to her as I passed by, “ I hope you find lots of things to enjoy about the rest of your day,” and started walking into the back.

Again, same response.

I turned around and sat next to her on the bench, and without needing to ask, without initiating that I wanted an explanation, she poured into a passionate, yet inarticulate, justification for her answer.

I wish I could recite it word-for-word, but I doubt it would really hit home with anyone else via paper as it did for me when it came from her lips. Essentially, in my own words, this was her point:

Why are we “looking” for anything? Why can’t we just be? It is what it is – don’t get too excited about it! We think that in certain moments we are supposed to feel something in particular, and if we don’t, it’s not right, it’s weird. But it’s not! It is what it is. Why do we chase being happy? Why do we chase that enjoyment? If there is something to enjoy, then enjoy it! Why are we so consumed with how we feel all the time? Why can’t we just be and if that’s how we feel, that’s how we feel?

Clearly, it was I who needed to take a moment to understand her.

This was actually very similar to a brief conversation I had with my drunk and tired girlfriend outside the bar last Saturday. After I made some comment about how quiet I was compared to normal, she gave a brief rant about “just being.” Why do we have to “be” anything? Can’t we just be as we are? I think that was the first time anyone had ever accused me of that, but I was self-assured (and she agreed) that I never really “try” to be anyway, I’m just very aware and curious of how I am and why I am that way. Does that make sense?

The whole situation with this woman in the clinic today reminded me of this line out a song called “Happiness”, by The Fray.

Happiness is like the old man told me
Look for it, but you’ll never find it all
But let it go, live your life and leave it
Then one day, wake up and she’ll be home

In short, Just be.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Someone Connects

To you, I’m laying here speaking to an illogical, omnipotent being that you don’t understand. To you, these words are mere pointless ritual simply for self-soothing. To you, this prayer is an oddity. A one-sided conversation. A message that will go undelivered and unanswered.

You think it’s silly.

To me, it a method to connect. To connect with myself. To communicate my gratitude, my passion, my desires, my fears, my Love. These words are not mere ritual, but a full rhythm song of connecting with the world around me… including you. These prayers are not in vain.

A conversation? Yes. One-sided? Potentially. Undelivered? Never. Unanswered? Insulting to suggest it.

Sometimes these prayers are silent and involve no words at all. A moment to be. Just be.

Sometimes they have no rhyme, rhythm or reason. Sometimes they are just words. Sometimes they feel shallow.

Other days it’s deep. Other days, I pour myself into them.

And let’s not confuse prayer with plea. Questions and requests do not create the body of this dialogue.

They are revealing and reflecting. I connect by becoming aware. Aware of what’s really important to me today. What is really on my mind. What concerns me. What makes me call out…

Today, I pray, that someone starts a conversation today. Someone connects.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Emotional Decoys

Why do we prompt each other to "distract" ourselves during hard times?

Your friend's Grandma dies - the most common advice is "Keep busy. The distractions help."

Help what?

Help make the pain go away?

Help make you heal faster?

It certainly doesn't help you deal with the emotions. Why can't we actually feel the emotion? How come that is never the first piece of advice?

Why do we never say, "Stop. Sit down. Be pensive. Acknowledge what you are going through; feel it; let it out; let it go..."?

This is all paired closely with my view on anti-depressant and alcohol addictions. "Just numb it for a while - it'll eventually go away." No. No. That's quite wrong. It doesn't go away.

Would you put a band-aid over an infected leg wound and expect it to heal on its own without proper cleaning, antibiotics and continual care? No. If you did that, you'd end up having to amputate your leg.

Um...

... Amputating my leg doesn't sound like such a great idea.


I don't need any "distractions", thank you very much!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Candy Pain

In regards to the previous blog (The Beauty of Suffering)...

... Ouch.

It's never what you expect. Even when you expect it to hurt. Even when everyone is honest, respectful and considerate.

It's a hard hike. It's gonna be long, too.

Ouch.

It's worth it, though. I keep telling myself that.

My mind wants to make it logical; random, obtrusive and untrue thoughts jumping out at me to protect my heart.

We are made for self-defense. Internally and externally.

I'm not defending myself this time. I want to feel it. Be honest. Move on.

And in optimism, I really do feel like I've faced some old, hidden, internal demons of mine. One less peice of baggage to carry with me in the next adventure of love and war.

My massage therapist used to refer to the pain you would get that felt Oh-so-good during a massage as "Candy Pain."

Thats what I'm going to call this. Candy Pain. It hurts... a lot. But the affection and adoration involved feels Oh-so-good.

Oh, so very good.

Monday, 21 September 2009

The Beauty of Suffering

All I could think of was how glorious this morning turned out to be. The sun weaving between the trees impressing intense heat amidst the cool shade of the forest. The damp ground. The stillness. The silence. It was going to be a long hike. A hard one, but a good one.

The friend I was with, while appreciative of the beauty, saw more struggle in this morning physical push to get up the mountain than I did. There were moments at the half way mark where she would exclaim how she wanted to be done. How she wished for the end to come quicker. Whiney? Not so much a complaint, but unable to see the good, the hope, through the pain, the hurt.

“What choice do we have?” I asked her. Shall we sit down here, stop fighting through it. Not face the pain? Not endure the struggle to achieve and receive the good? Or do we embrace our options and love the choice we make and the road it takes us on? “We can turn around,” I tell her, “or sit here. Or keep hiking up the mountain. Those are our options. Enjoy this. Be in this moment. It’s where we are.”

“It is what we all need – hope that comes not from going around suffering, but from going through it.” –Rob Bell

This quote has always had endless “real life” situations to apply it to. Could be as simple as the physical challenge of hiking up a mountain. Maybe as obvious and difficult as overcoming loss or depression. Sometimes much more hidden. Much more outrageous. Much more ambiguous.

Recently, I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m required to make a choice about struggles and hope. A choice that could cause a lot of pain and difficulty in my life for quite some time if I’m not careful. I’m not an ignorant, innocent victim - I wandered knowingly into this position, but underestimated the strength I would need to pull myself out of it.

A cautious and logical person would give me a good eye roll and tell me in a tone of voice designed to reflect the obviousness of my self-perceived dilemma that choosing the path that doesn’t inflict the hurt and the tears would be best.

I consider myself logical and cautious. I also consider myself strong and intuitive. That logical and cautious decision I should be making doesn’t feel right. In fact, it feels very wrong and very weak. It makes me feel like a coward running away from it.

I know there is nothing wrong with protecting myself. But there is a lot to be gained by making myself vulnerable and taking this risk. More than just the opportunity of an amazing friendship with an amazing individual. And oh, would that be good. The enjoyment of that alone almost makes the pain worth it.

What if I told you that I would be facing a deep issue of mine? What if I told you that making the decision to put myself through this struggle rather than running away from it would be an opportunity to clean up some old war/ love wounds?

Because the way I see it now is that I’m half way up that mountain. Am I just going to sit down and cry about it? Am I going to turn around? Not face the pain? Not learn and grow from it? Accept defeat because I’m weak?


No.

I’m going to enjoy it. Appreciate the rough and ugly, the pain and suffering, as much as I’ll love the pleasureful and the beautiful. Not in denial, not unaware. Open. Honest. Strong.

I can do this.

I’m going through the suffering, not around it.

I’m going to finish this long, hard and glorious hike.