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


3 Comments

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


6 Comments

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


The Epic Disconnect

The horrifying Bangladesh factory fire that killed over 500 people weighs heavily in my thoughts.

Following the various media articles in the days after the tragedy has raised more questions than answers for me.  We are all consumers, and as such, it seems to me that we all play a direct role in one way or another.

One angle the news coverage focuses on is corporations continuing production in Bangladesh with a view to raising standards for factory workers.  Another angle focuses on companies withdrawing completely from factory production in Bangladesh.  Reviewing the arguments presented in favour of either approach leaves me more confused than ever.  It seems to me that both paths court an unsavoury shadow side.  Which also gets me thinking with great concern about the companies involved that have said nothing at all.

The whole thing is a complicated and emotional topic, and clearly I’m no expert.  All I know for certain is that I don’t want anyone to suffer or die making clothes for me to buy cheap or otherwise.

I felt somewhat heartened to notice a few solution based commentaries appearing here and there in Canadian media with the intent of instructing readers how to become  “ethical” consumers.  Which sounds all well and good on paper, but I found myself wondering how “ethical consumerism” can possibly be achieved when the term is already a conflict in and of itself.  Avoiding the lowest price tags can by no means guarantee that a product is not sweat-shop derived.  Reading further, I found the Canadian press machine essentially promoting the purchase of local-centric Canadian made products as a form of direct consumer action.  Then, along that very “buy local” line of thinking, I encountered an opinion piece that absolutely floored me.  Why?

Said article recommended purchasing from Canadian manufacturers such as Stanfields underwear and …wait for it … Canada Goose jackets. (!!!!!!)

Hold up.  REALLY?????

I went into rewind mode on that one a few times to make sure I hadn’t misread it.  Yep.  That’s right folks.  Canada Goose and ETHICAL were actually uttered in the same sentence.

My head is still exploding with disbelief.  The disconnect here is beyond epic.  What can possibly be ethical, or compassionate, or decent or moral about this:  Deconstructing Canada Goose

Perhaps there is no one absolutely right answer to ensuring we are not directly supporting factory sweatshop conditions with our purchases.  It is true that we can always make better choices and inform ourselves as much as possible based on the information available.  But a discussion of ethics centred around the idea of exchanging one killing field for another?   This makes absolutely no reasonable sense to me.  How could it?

Ignorance is most assuredly not bliss.

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Pain and Presence

It occurs to me how easy it is to fall out of touch with what it means to live in the present moment.  So many of us get caught up reviewing events of the past, or planning for the future, that we tune out of what is happening in the world around us now.  Wherever we are at this time.

It also occurs to me how difficult it is to pull ourselves back into the present moment when we are focusing on the past or anticipating the future.  With thoughts constantly weaving aimlessly between worlds beyond the here and now, the present becomes nothing more than a holding pattern.  A place to bide time while we are remembering what has gone before and dreaming about what is yet to come. We stop noticing what is happening directly before our eyes.  We stop receiving subtle messages. Intuition goes to sleep. Quieter joys and softer sorrows become irrelevant when they come knocking at the door. We are simply not at home to answer and so we miss the sweetness of opportunity to breathe in their lessons. In essence, our body mechanics are working, but we are not experiencing the grace of feeling truly alive with every part of our being.

What then does it take to bring us back into the present — that place we are meant to live, but struggle to stay?

In a word:  pain.  Nothing delivers us back to the present like pain, whether that pain be emotional or physical.

Illness.  Receiving grief-inducing news.  Loss.  Shock.  Betrayal.  A broken heart.

The emotions bubble to the surface and force us to face everything we are feeling in a horrible, wretched burst of overwhelming pain.  We can no longer ignore what is right before us.

And then, something beautiful happens, if we allow it.  After acknowledging pain, we begin to be present in the moment because the future is too far away and the past is too close behind.

Friends that we always had, forgot we had, or are meeting for the first time start showing up in our lives to stand right there beside us.

We ask for guidance and it arrives.

Love surrounds us.  We breathe it in.  We heal.

Love surrounds me.  I breathe it in.  I heal.

Pain brings presence.

Presence