eleventhbeatnik

musings of an aquarian age counterculturist


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In Between

The sun is gone. But I have a light. | Kurt Cobain

I am faltering at times on what appears to be unsafe ground.

Sometimes my footsteps are heavy, and I navigate the space between earth and roots.

Other times my footsteps are light, and I hover in the ethers, floating disconnectedly far and away.

Illusions are sometimes confused with reality.

And logic has nothing to do with love.

Yet here I am.  Alone but not lonely.  Wandering but not lost.  Heartbroken but not unloved.

Yes. I am faltering on what appears to be unsafe ground. But I am righting myself, finding an unexpected steadiness, in the balancing act of that struggle.

As I step forward into the depths of the In Between, I see that I unconsciously made a choice to avoid falling down the rabbit hole. The deep, unforgiving pit of depression.

As I move through the In Between, that old rabbit hole is covered.  I am fully present and reaching upward toward the light.  I will not lose myself. Not this time.

I am surrounded by twinkling stars and moonlight.

And the view is beautiful, from a place where I can truly see.


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


Cognitive Dissonance

A thoughtful piece on a subject very close to my heart. My own feelings and observations are echoed here, word for word.

planetaryvegan

tumblr_lpivn0WlYU1r12q7fo1_400
Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of discomfort that arises from holding two conflicting beliefs.

As described in one of my earlier posts, I had always considered myself an animal lover, and thought I was largely kind to animals, yet I continued to eat them when I had no need to. This conflicting worldview manifested itself in bizarre behaviours such as moving snails from the path so they wouldn’t be trodden on en route to KFC, or throwing distasteful looks at people wearing fur whilst wearing a leather jacket.

Finally, I became a vegan, and abstained from eating, using or wearing animal products as much as one can when their presence has become so ubiquitous.

When speaking to non-vegans about why we shouldn’t eat animals, I often face quite a hostile reaction. Some people are clearly very offended, and I can understand why; no one wants to be told they are…

View original post 1,233 more words


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Unconscious Uncoupling

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars.
You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”
– C. S. Lewis

So I have a Divorce Order in hand.

Shit sounds heavy.  But basically what a Divorce Order means in the Province of Ontario is that the marriage is dissolved 31 days following the date of the order.

The magic date, you wonder?  Let’s just say the wedding anniversary and divorce date shall forevermore converge.  Ironic, much?

The entire situation at this moment feels inexplicably odd.  A conclusion to the events comprising the train wreck that was 2013 is swiftly approaching in a thankfully undramatic fashion and with an unexpected neutrality of emotion.  The torrential rain of tears and grief that overtook me at the beginning of that story have pretty much dried up. Aside from a smidgen of PTSD, all that remains is a sense of relief.  I marvel at the thought of where I was, and where I am now, with a beautiful future flowering before me.

Lately I’ve given some consideration to the currently popular term “conscious uncoupling” with varying degrees of nausea.  For the few of us who actually had the opportunity to consciously choose to untangle ourselves from unhealthy relationships, I say: congrats on your decision!  For the rest of us, who were tossed into a toxic soup of misery and forced to sink or swim in the dark cold waters of grief, I say:  congrats on not drowning!

Perhaps it is more p.c. to refer to this divorce as “unconscious uncoupling” rather than “blindsided and tossed into a cesspool of shit”, but the song remains the same. That is to say:  Given the circumstances of said “uncoupling”, there really was no “conscious choice” involved here, at least not on my part.   That said, onward ho.  Yes, I’ll spare you from the myriad of jokes that particular phrase invokes in this situation.  You’re welcome 🙂

In any case.  The result of a door closing on that painful time is that another door has cracked open to a gorgeous new beginning filled with hope, love, support, peace and understanding.

I’ve come full circle and I’m so very grateful for the lovely path opening before me.

To those who rushed in with super-sized band-aids for my heart when I couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding:  thank you.

To those who stood with me in the flames when I felt I was the last tree standing in a forest fire: you are my heroes.

To those who held me tight when I felt I could no longer stand on my own:  I love you.

To those going through similar turmoil and upset right now:  hold on.  Please hold on.  It gets better.  Truly, it does.

xo

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images