Thursday, January 8, 2015


I have been too long out of the academic world; my mind is no longer as attuned as it was to the theories and structures of silence. What I know, or think I know, is that silences - despite the best efforts of theorists - are uninterpretable.

There is a term in manuscripts for a missing portion of text or an unfilled space - it's referred to as a lacuna. It's a beautiful word for a gap; the Latin root is the same as that for 'lake,' a body of water that for me invokes memories of childhood and peace. Of course there are theorists who will spend whole books trying to measure this missing, trying to fill it in, wondering if it is there on purpose, by accident, or worn away through the abuses of time.

In the Psalms of David, there's another word "Selah." If I remember my Bible lessons correctly, "Selah" is somewhat like "amen" but more of an invitation to pause - to sit a moment in silence and let what preceded sink in - than an affirmation of what was said.

I tend to panic in silence - to imagine the worst. Not in the silence of a quiet evening at home, but in the silence of unanswered questions; of unmeasurable canyons. I fear the unknown and want the missing blanks filled in. I think the sea bottom is close enough to put my feet down, then realize I am out of my depth. Yes, I am a strong and joyful swimmer - but panic doesn't come from reality. Panic comes from not knowing.

I would prefer the other kind of emptiness - not the void but the luftpause, to  borrow the musical term. Here you may breath - you will be stronger after. Or, here you may breath, much more is coming. Come up from the music for air.

There are gaps and spaces. Missing words and invocations to breathe. The problem with silence is you can't know what kind it is until it's over. You can't know how long it will last until it is done. You can't know where the bottom is until your feet hit sand. Words themselves have endless play; silences stand unmoving.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

welcome to 2015, the year of stretching

You know that feeling - the one you get in exercise class warm-ups or cool downs, or with certain yoga poses. That feeling of stretching, of being as long and lean and extended as your body can be. Of reaching out and up, expanding in the best way, fully alive from your toes to your finger tips to the top of your head. You are tall. You are invincible. You are alert, and yet you are comfortable.

Some people can inspire that feeling as well. But you're still the one who has to do the reaching, the stretching, the being fully alive, awake and you. You are the one who has to determine not to shrink back when the external operator is no longer there to inspire you.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

the golden updraft

There are times in life when I feel dissociated from the reality around me. I have a surreal experience that echoes as 'is this really my life?' It is a question that I always experience as wonder. I know what I am experiencing is accurate, and yet ... 

As I write this I am sitting in Miami International Airport mid-way in a long day of travel between my temporary home of Kingston Jamaica and my excursion destination of Bridgetown, Barbados. This is my unrecognizable life. 

How did an awkward teenager turned frumpy housewife from northern British Columbia end up here? Was I always destined to be here, or did I make it happen? Is the answer somewhere in between? I know this was long the life I dreamed of - even as a teenager in the hinterland I dreamt of being cosmopolitan, a jet-setter. It's the adventure I always wanted, but the leap from then to know is mind-bending. 

As Sidney Poitier says in his autobiography The Measure of a Man
Daydreams were guaranteed to please. They had it all over facts & reality when it came to getting groundwork done and foundations laid. However, daydreams were burdened with what in years to come would be revealed as their major weakness. Every ounce of the hard grueling work necessary in the conversion from promises made to dreams fulfilled was the sole responsibility of the dreamer.
I can, with neither false vanity not false modesty, say I've done the work. I earned the education. I put in the hours of work at jobs that varied between an expression of myself and just paying the bills. I did without when doing without was necessary, and I did with when it was possible. I went with the flow, and then I swam against it. I am also clear I haven't arrived - maybe there is no arriving. Maybe each summit reveals a new peak ahead. But in this moment, life is surreal and perfect.

It's also unequivocally true that I have had the great privilege not just of being allowed to dream but of being allowed to believe in my dreams. My sisters and I were encouraged to test and develop talents in various fields - sports, school, the arts - and so to learn about ourselves. We were encouraged to learn about and visit other places and people. And, we lived in a culture and society that said in myriad ways 'the white middle-class will inherit the earth' - it was the water we swam in. 

I see the street children in Kingston and I know they too dream. But I wonder if it ever occurs to them that they are worthy of their dreams, that they have as much right to do the hard work that has dreams come true as anyone. In an environment of constant lack and need, how do dreams grow?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

turning FOMO into love

November was an odd month. The elastic tethering my heart to home was stretched taut, life in Kingston had some unusual and unexpected challenges, and I longed both for the freedom to be fully here and for the comfort of being home. 

In the midst of that one thing that kept me going, as they have for the past year, was the ladies of my book club (before anyone corrects my odd grammar, I'm speaking of the collective ladies :)). Skype dates. Facebook chats. Emails. Little lovebombs sprinkled throughout my days. And, of course, reading the book they were reading - it's the literary equivalent of laying under the stars and knowing someone you love is looking at those same stars. 

I also reflect, every time I think about them, that it is because of those amazing women (and three amazing men) that I am here in Jamaica living a life I dreamed of. It is challenging some days, it is imperfect, but it is still the most amazing, life-affirming, growing experience I've had. It is because of the unbridled encouragement and support of those ladies that I've not had a moment of doubt since May when I didn't hear one or another of them whispering - or sometimes yelling - to me "you've got this! Dream! Live! Go!"

I am missing our 2nd Annual Christmas Potluck on Monday, and for me the missing will be very real. I have experienced a lot of joy and a lot of 'fear of missing out' (FOMO) in watching them all go on without me. I can't begrudge them their fun, so this is my way of joining in the Christmas revelry. Last year I gave everyone little gifts - this year they get the e-gifts below. You're welcome to take from it what you need as well:

Our ladies, it's hard for me to articulate what you all mean to me without resorting to cliché. Since this is the season of giving, let me instead try to say what you've given me & what I'd give you if it was in my power: 
  • B - the happiest book club news I've had is that you are joining our happy bunch and bringing your gifts of caring, nourishing, and sass. I am sending you a clean shiny slate on which to create a limitless life - no past, no shoulds, no other voices, just you and your brilliant creative heart expressed in the world
  • - you make your living being clever, witty and hilarious, but for me you are also the gift of quiet observation and deep insight. For you, busy mama, I wish sleeping in, peaceful connections, and a graceful expansion of your life over the next few months and as you welcome your newest love
  • D - there aren't words enough for who you are to me, but beauty and freedom are your gifts that come most to mind. I wish you bold, passionate, lasting love and a life that is worthy of your giant heart and talent.
  • EL - you sparkle in a way that makes people around you sparkle too. The love you have for your family & friends and your commitment to taking care of the community are an honour to witness. I wish you nothing more than quiet sleepy mornings in your lovely home with Mr. L and Baby L, and time and space to reflect on how amazing you really are. (And maybe a table to dance on).
  • ES - I have so enjoyed getting to know you. While you are out in the world creating total wellness for others, that is what I most wish for you. Ever-expanding peace in your body ... and bucketloads of Vitamin D by the ocean!
  • EW - You are the embodiment of courage and commitment to knowing what you want in life and going for it. As you prepare to return to work I wish you a graceful transition, peace with the arrangements, and space to still sit and play and cuddle with your little Flower as she grows to be a powerful, beautiful woman like her mom.
  • H - I can think of no one who has taught me more about metamorphosis than you over the past 6 years. I love watching you recreate your life with skill, humour and grace. I wish you boundless prosperity, trees to walk under, and adventures that make you smile that stunning smile of yours.
  • J - our quiet, smiling Mona Lisa who always has the perfect comment at the perfect moment. As you and your family move into a new house and a new year I am sending you ease, joy, and a whole new world in which to create amazing memories.
  • K - the boundless joy and energy that burst from you into life is what I most wanted to get to know when you joined our club. Your passion for a better world is inspiring and infectious. I wish for you bold freedom to have that positivity expressed in the world in a way that gives back to you ten-times what you give to our community.
  • M - you simply are warmth, quiet strength, and generosity. You have also been a consistent blessing to me in reaching out, encouraging, and following through, and I can't thank you enough for that. With a full heart I am sending you peace, a year of calm, healing and joy, and time to just sit, write and be blessed.
  • N - your friendship is such a gift to me. Every conversation we have I leave more centred, calm, and at peace with myself and the world. I wish that for you - have peace in the grieving that will be unavoidable for you this season; know you are blessed, loved, and surrounded with care even in your quiet. And, when it's time, bring back your brilliant laugh that fills the room with sunshine. 
And a gentle reminder, ladies, that everything I'd give you is actually in your power, as you've so consistently taught me.

BTW - November's book was Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. It was fine, but painfully predictable. That is all. 
Amazon link
This post is a 3-fer:
Reverb Prompt 18: In the busyness of the everyday, taking time to nourish the soul doesn't reach the top of the 'to do' list as often as it should. What nourishes your soul? How would you like to incorporate more of this into your life in 2015?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the plank in my eye

Sometimes I want to share about insights I've had or lessons I'm learning but I fear that people will assume they know who has helped me learn that lesson or that I'm thinking/writing about someone in particular. I suppose I always am, but that someone is me. I just wanted to make clear that what I'm about to say is about me alone.

I've had a lot of opportunity of late to reflect on some patterns that have run my life and some traits or tendencies that work for me in some areas and not at all in others. One of those things that sounds good but gets twisted into something unhelpful is being compassionate. In both micro and macro ways, I want to make a difference for those who are hurting. It's why I am in Jamaica. It's why I volunteer when I'm at home. It's why most of my pets have been rescues or had some injury they needed nursing back from (that quirk has become somewhat of a running joke with my parents, particularly when I had a menagerie of needs - a scaredy-dog with a kinked tail, a cat with food allergies [and "developmental delays"] and a bunny that was blind in one eye). 

This morning I had the realization that the extension/bastardization of this drive in me is that sometimes my 'type' in relationships has less to do with particular physical attributes and more to do with wanting to rescue someone. When the rescuing is mutual it's worked out okay (though obviously not that okay or we'd be having a different conversation) - then it's not so much rescuing as mutual care and support, and I fully acknowledge the men who have tried to rescue me. However, far too often instead of a partner I go looking for a project. While there have been times that's put me in danger, generally it's less dangerous than it is a sad dishonouring of them and me.

On the receiving end, who wants to be chosen for a relationship because of their perceived weaknesses? And who am I to say someone else needs fixing or that I have any power to affect that change? As for me, what was new information this morning is that when my confidence has been shaken and I'm doubting my own worth it occurs to me that 'fixing' someone is what I need to do in order to compensate for the high price of admission for being with me. If I make your life better maybe you won't mind my soft belly or my height; maybe you'll have more grace for me when I'm snarky; maybe you won't mind that you'll always rank behind two other men in my life.

I pondered this while I made my way to work this morning - the walk, the bus, and the route taxi were all filled with my ruminations. When I got to work, I went on YouTube to look up a particular Christmas song and instead this video was the first one in the "recommended videos for you" list. Oh Googlebots, you know me too well. Listen all the way to the end - there's a question there worth thinking about.

And here's a new agreement from me: you do your work and I'll do mine. Now excuse me, I need to go deal with this plank in my eye. 


Reverb Prompt 16: (When I received this prompt I read it in relation to my writing projects and didn't see the fit. I see it now)  Like many folks, I picture myself as a modern day Wonder Woman, trying to use my superpowers, to do lists and pure force to get what I want.
- In 2014, I found that my effort wasn’t often tied to my desired outcomes -- except when it was.
- In 2015, is there something you’d like to try harder at because you believe it would make all the difference?
- Conversely, what is something you could stop trying so hard at that might actually help you manifest what you’d like
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