eleventhbeatnik

musings of an aquarian age counterculturist


Journal Crafting

Do you (or have you ever) kept a journal?

For years I wrote sporadically, longhand, in spiral notebooks or dollar-store style scribblers.  For me, the purpose was to empty a racing mind and work through my feelings by forming words that flowed easily on paper, but were too difficult to ever speak aloud.  Sometimes I wrote poetry.  Mostly, it was unpolished and spontaneous.  Sort of like right now.  As above, so below.

More than once I have been gifted with lovely, bound, proper hardcover journals to help nurture the practise of regular writing. As it turns out, those beautifully constructed books, despite being so very lovely to look at, were more of a hindrance than helpful to me in a practical sense.  The truth is that I simply could not bring myself to crack the spines of those gorgeous books and spoil something so special with my chaotic, unorganized and messy thoughts.  To do so, in my mind, would have been akin to randomly spray painting sloppy graffiti all over an already perfectly completed masterpiece.  Inevitably, those unused journals ended up as bookends.  Trinkets without purpose.

So it was the cheap, unadorned, ordinary notebooks that accompanied me through teenage optimism and angst; trials and triumphs of my 20’s and 30’s; and for whatever reason, were largely conspiculously absent in my early 40’s,

More recently, these types of notebooks have reappeared as regular fixtures in my surroundings, primarily due to my herbalism studies.  I’m also revisiting notebooks in the way that feels so very familiar to me by gradually returning to a journal practise.  In longhand.  My ability to express myself authentically increases greatly when I allow my thoughts and feelings to stream unedited through ink, pen and paper.

It has been awhile since I’ve felt inspired to write anything original for this blog.  In fact, there are several unfinished pieces idling away in my drafts folder.  Whenever I try to get into “blogging mode”, I’m distracted by something (or many somethings) and I can’t seem to hold on to my own thoughts long enough to translate them into full written sentences.  Self-doubt creeps in which results in blanket self-censorship and that pretty much explains that.  Essentially, any aspirations for regular blogging have been sidelined as I attempt to achieve a basic level of focus and recover my sense of self – whatever that actually means.

What I have been inspired to do is write in a crappy dog-eared notebook in a completely unorganized fashion.  My handwriting is all over the place.  Sometimes in straight lines, more often sideways or in circles, reflecting the pattern of my thoughts and emotions.  There are days that I write several pages.  Other times it might be a short paragraph or even one word to remind me later of the spark of an idea.   And then there are days where I simply can’t articulate what I’m thinking or feeling and the page remains blank.

I’ve been saying for awhile now that I’m not really writing much anymore. The truth is that I am in fact writing but have lately been doing so for my eyes alone.  I’ve gone back to Old School.  Realizing that, I’m thinking perhaps it is that inward reflection through a journal practise that has re-ignited my interest in returning to blogging on a regular basis.  Maybe I’ll even get around to finishing those drafts.

Let’s celebrate messy writing everywhere.  Especially in cheap-ass notebooks.


The Story No One Wants

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them,
but to be indifferent to them:

that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
George Bernard Shaw

This is the story no one wants.

This is the story I’ve sat with time and time again since 2011, wondering where it could go, and who would dare look.”

So begins the narration to the short film The Slaughterhouse, the first collaboration between myself and Kelly Guerin.

I first saw Kelly’s work when her film, Animal Auction, went viral in late 2014. I was really drawn to her filming, editing and sensitivity to the subject matter of our relationships with animals. I asked if she would look at, and try to make sense of, some of my more difficult material; video that I’d shot of the killing of animals, but hadn’t been able to put together in a way that didnt make people turn away. In endless emails, we mulled over how to craft this short film, and I think that, after much careful and thoughtful work, Kelly has done a really beautiful job with stitching the photos, videos and narration into what is now The Slaughterhouse.

I’ve taken photos of animals being killed in Europe, southeast Asia, North America and in Africa. It was in Tanzania that I was able to spend the most time with the workers and with the animals. I’ve witnessed the brutal treatment of animals, but at the hands of kind humans, who are frustrated, underpaid, and would rather be working elsewhere. They have almost unanimously said as much. Many of the farm and slaughter workers that I’ve encountered have been illegal and migrant workers, and have shared that they are the casualties of class of caste. And then, many of us just kill (and consume) out of ignorance. We’re not taught to think otherwise, or to open our minds and hearts to other possibilities, and caring is not only painful and challenging, but stigmatized.

Doing this shoot was hard. Really hard. But it was interesting to witness the men seeing the animals anew, through my eyes. They actually felt sympathy for me, as I struggled, at times, to maintain composure, while documenting the cows and goats being killed. Some of them expressed sympathy for the animals as well.

This is the story nobody wants to see. To look at our treatment of animals, no matter on which continent, is to witness both suffering, and our complicity in that suffering. But in bearing witness, we can learn, and change.

My hope is that, through this work, we can all look, care, share, and change.”

Jo-Anne McArthur
We Animals

For more information on Jo-Anne’s important, courageous and
compassionate work, please visit: We Animals

It is my core-held belief that it is by shining light on the dark places we illuminate ourselves.  Once enlightened, we can – each and every one of us – make decisions and choices every single day that contribute toward a more peaceful and compassionate world.  It has nothing to do with perfection and everything to do with intention and living from a place of love. Most importantly:  it is never the wrong time to listen to your heart.

Wishing peace for all,
eleventhbeatnik

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to bet better.  It’s not.”

Dr. Seuss


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Sustainability: Secret No More

Please take the time to watch this brilliant documentary. Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret is required viewing for anyone who even remotely cares about the environment, human health and animal welfare.

This mind-blowing film is so well done.  If the stats revealed here do not pull our collective heads out of the sand, I honestly don’t know what will.

Kindly support the filmmakers who did such an outstanding job despite many roadblocks along the way by purchasing the download or DVD from the documentary’s website:  Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.

As Maya Angelou once said:

“Do the best you can until you know better.  Then when you know better, do better”.


Yesterday’s News: Unsubscribe Me.

The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace.  
A persistent simplification will create an inner and
outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.
Peace Pilgrim

Glancing at the calendar, it feels a touch too early to be pondering spring cleaning.  Still, the need to clean house and organize my surroundings and by extension, my life, nags me with persistence.

Last week I finally finished a painting project that has taken a couple of months to complete.  Okay, fine: more than a couple.  Regardless, it was with a sense of accomplishment that I at long last stripped off the green painter’s tape, finished touch-ups, and packed up the tools – essentially removing the obstacle course that has existed in the living room so long that I somehow stopped seeing it.  I think that is a well-known characteristic of procrastination:  that which we do not wish to deal with is far too easily buried under other distractions.

In any case, I relished the moment when I was finally able to sit down to survey my surroundings and truly see the results of my labour.   Taking in the vibrant new wall colours was indeed a heady business.  (Good-bye and good riddance coma-inducing beige!)  I took pleasure in noticing that the apartment was starting to look like an actual home rather than an abandoned construction zone.  All that remained was to acquire a few pieces of previously-loved furniture in good condition that would suit the place.

Alas, coinciding with Paint Project Finito, it became clear that ever seeing those longed for finishing touches through to fruition would be an unlikely outcome.  Apparently, it will be a moving van rather than a delivery truck on the horizon.  It turns out that departing this place is more a matter of “when” than “if”.  Despite my initial feelings of disappointment, moving is not a new experience in my world and a part of me welcomes the excitement of starting fresh.  Although I am not necessarily thrilled about having to deal with another move so soon after the last one, I understand that the circumstances in this situation truly are completely outside my control.

Taking into account my direct experiences with disruption in general this last couple of years in particular, I’m doing my best to take the view that it is in fact life’s disturbances that open up new pathways and opportunities.  Taking a deep breath and stepping into the fear of the unexpected with as much peace as possible allows for a broader view of previously unseen possibilities to take shape.  It is in those moments of acceptance that an opportunity arises to glimpse something brighter and better waiting, if we move out of resistance and into ease and flow.  Not easy, but worth the effort.

Another major plus about moving is that it provides and excellent chance to de-clutter and identify any and all crap taking up real estate in closet space serving no particular purpose aside from collecting dust.  From that viewpoint, it appears my urge to spring clean is well timed after all, given that there is now really no choice about it.  In the planning of emptying closets and junk drawers, it has also become glaringly obvious that another area of my life is in serious need of paring down:  my email account.

Over the past couple of years while navigating a huge life transition and undergoing some pretty heavy soul searching, I swear I must have signed up for every self-help guru’s newsletter around the globe.  In that time of pain and grief, it was a comfort to pour over advice and opinions from healers and thought leaders I admired; who appeared to have a wellspring of knowledge I couldn’t seem to tap into on my own right then.  There was a time when I read every word and soaked up all the positive thoughts, affirmations, opinions and “how-to’s” like a sponge.  Lately though, I’ve come to realize that it has been many, many months since I’ve read any of those newsletters.  In fact, most of them have gone unopened and often sent straight to the trash.  The insight and guidance that was once so very helpful, no longer seems to fit.

In terms of my personal life, these days I’m far more invested in the support, love and guidance offered by people who know me personally and love me despite my flaws and missteps:  loved ones, my counselor, teachers, herbal studies classmates, my blog community.  That’s not to say I’ll stop reading authors and writings that I enjoy.  It simply means that it is okay to let go of what no longer seems nourishing or applicable right now.  By letting go of voices and messages of the past, I’m making room for new speakers and writers and teachers to emerge in my consciousness, allowing for the the potential to discover different principles and ideas to help me learn and grow in real time.

So as I prepare to purge the abode (yet gain) to start over in a new place, I am also clearing out my inbox.  I am spring cleaning my life.  I am making space.

With a nod of thanks to Yesterday’s News, it is time to say:  Unsubscribe Me.  

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images


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Becoming the Best We Can Be

“What if our ancestors got it wrong?”
Lyn White

Hello friends.  It’s been awhile.  All attempts at writing lately have ended before ever really starting.  Basically, I’ve been feeling flat and uninspired.

Until now.  I stumbled across a presentation called Becoming the Best We Can Be the other day.  Watching it set off firecrackers in my head and filled my heart to the brim. It is so good, so hopeful, so inspiring, so beautiful. So much so, I saw it twice.  It has awakened a part of me that has been quiet for awhile.  Suddenly I’m remembering all the things that matter most to me and why.  Things that too often get buried under the weight of the day-to-day distractions and to do lists.

Do yourself a favour.  Do the world a favour.  Press play.  The entire presentation is available to view online for free and is worth every second of your time.

More soon. I feel it.  xo

Full presentation available here:
Becoming the Best We Can Be

Lyn White


3 Comments

Strength in Community

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images

After viewing the film Food Matters, I started reading everything I could find on the subject of Orthomolecular Medicine.  Last week I attended a seminar rooted in that philosophy.  The topic was “Dietary and Supplemental Support for Stress, Anxiety and Depression.” Some of the information presented was new to me; other parts were review of nuggets I had previously stumbled across on my own.

The presentation was really interesting and reinforced many, if not all, of my personal beliefs surrounding the role of nutrition in achieving and maintaining vibrant health.  I attended this talk with certain filters in place, keeping in mind that as an ethical vegan, I often find myself on the sidelines of many discussions involving mainstream nutrition or flavour-of-the-month dietary fads .  As always, I had to remind myself going in that this was a generalized nutrition talk within the realm of “natural medicine”, meaning I would have to do “compassionate replacement therapy” in my head every time I heard the words “meat”, “protein” and/or “fish oil”, etc.  Gah!   Anyway.  By reminding myself that the animal protein bandwagon is firmly not an option for me, and that there are always compassionate alternatives available, I took in the information relevant to my situation and set aside everything else not in line with my personal ethics around food.

In the end, it was not the content of the talk that turned out to be a major revelation for me.  The light-bulb moment that evening occurred as I surveyed my surroundings.  Looking around, I was amazed to realize that the event was not simply well-attended, but brimming to capacity.  It was a full house:  standing room only.

At this realization, one thought dropped down in my mind like a tonne of bricks:  “A sold out seminar directed at those suffering from depression and anxiety.  This is a sign of the times.”

Every person in that room was touched in one way or another by ‘mental illness’ (a term I abhor, but have yet to hear another that everyone understands or accepts).

Every person in that room was someone, knew someone, or had heard of someone suffering with major depressive disorder, general/social anxiety, PTSD, bi-polar disorder or perhaps one of many other stress-related conditions.

Every person in that room was looking for answers, alternatives, ideas.

Every person in that room was hopeful.

Every person in that room was in community.

Perhaps it seems rather Pollyanna-ish to focus on hope in the face of the mind-boggling numbers of people struggling with the symptoms of this far-reaching spectrum of dis-ease.  But I sincerely believe that as long as people are seeking solutions there is hope.  That room was full of people seeking solutions.  Full to capacity.  Full of hope.

I believe depression can be overcome with time, patience and guidance.  And my heart is full.

I believe that suicide is not a foregone conclusion with respect to mental illness.  And my heart is full.

I believe there are antidotes to stress and anxiety available and possible.  And my heart is full.

I believe there is love and healing in community.  No matter what that community looks like.  And my heart is full.

It is my intention to incorporate orthomolecular medicine into my own experience of depression and anxiety in a way that works for me.  I am hopeful.  In community.

My heart is full.

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Marin Luther King, Jr


2 Comments

Unity

Mom 1968
My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman in her early 30’s.  I vividly recall her having the surgery which involved a lumpectomy and removal of the affected lymph nodes.  This was a highly progressive procedure in the day and age where standard operating procedure was complete mastectomy, no questions asked.

I remember my father taking my sister and I to visit her in the hospital afterward.  I remember the subsequent chemotherapy sessions.  I remember hearing that a classmate of my sister’s shared in “show and tell”, that our mom was dying of cancer.  When my father went to work to support us, I remember my mother driving herself back and forth to chemo sessions with kids in tow until the day came that she simply could not physically do it on her own anymore.  I remember witnessing her suffering through terrible nausea and vomiting nearing the end of that course of treatment.   Despite all of that, I remember our mother fighting to get well.  I also remember being completely confused by it all.  I was in Grade 5.

Fast forward 20-odd years from my mother’s initial breast cancer diagnosis and a lengthy period of clear clinical follow-ups.  After a time of feeling vaguely unwell and chronically exhausted, she was sent for a colonoscopy which resulted in a blood transfusion and diagnosis of colon cancer.

The news came as a complete shock.  I had just moved to Toronto a couple of months before.  I asked her if I should consider moving back to Manitoba.  She said, “Absolutely not.  It wouldn’t help anything and would only make me worry more.”

The months of treatment and recovery that followed were very difficult for her.  She endured it all quietly and stoically.  It is a testament to her strength and will to overcome that she lives to share her story.

At one point in her healing journey, my mother discovered her tribe: a group of cancer survivors participating in a dragon boat team to support each other and raise awareness. Since joining the team called “Waves of Hope”, my mother has attended many festivals and events that help to educate others about prevention and early detection.

This is an aerial overview of the recent Dragon Boat Festival in Sarasota, Florida.

At the end, you will see a cluster of boats joined together.  Every person seated in the boats are cancer survivors.  And every single rose you see dropped into the water represents someone.  Someone who didn’t make it.

My mother was there, in Boat #5.

Blessed be the survivors in their unity above and beyond adversity.  May hope and healing continue to expand in their wake.

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