eleventhbeatnik

musings of an aquarian age counterculturist


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Birthing a Dream

“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” Hugh Laurie

For years I have daydreamed about bringing an idea, a certain heart-centred dream,  to life. And for just as many years, I have been wholesale unconvinced I could entertain doing any work on that idea until the perfect opportunity/ time/ money/energy scenario made its presence known which would in turn signal a universal “okay” to proceed.

As you can imagine, the result of waiting for the perfect moment in my case, until now, has resulted in: NOTHING.  Because putting things off for a better tomorrow, or an ideal moment, generally results in a whole lot of nothing in terms of progress.

Late last year, I decided to take the proverbial leap, trusting that a net would appear, as needed. I created a draft outline of the non-profit I had been envisioning and began making concrete plans. I started by hastily set up a social media page (promising a website coming soon), organized a speaking event, and booked event space – sight unseen.  Best. Decision. Ever. The event was a great success and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

And now, with the help of some amazing volunteers, we are going live with the non-profit website today, January 11.  Which, not coincidentally, is my birthday.  The motivator in choosing this day to launch was simple: what better time to birth an idea than a birthday?  It is so personally significant and it feels so right.

To learn more about this project, please check out GaiaPeaceCollective.com  Your feedback is greatly appreciated so do contact us with any suggestions for improvement.

Even better, if you are able and inspired to do so, please support our crowdfunding efforts by donating and /or sharing this initiative.

https://www.youcaring.com/gaiapeacecollective-728119

Please help us plant seeds of peace by donating and/or volunteering.  Together we can create a more peaceful world – I have no doubt.

With gratitude and love,

eleventhbeatnik

 

 

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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”.


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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


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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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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


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Judge Not. Failing that? Learn a lot.

It took me a long time not to judge myself
through someone else’s eyes.

~ Sally Field ~

It has always been important for me to do my best to be non-judgmental toward myself and others.

Looking at this concept more deeply, I realize that the entire topic is far more complex than a sweeping statement of intent could possibly encompass.

I don’t want to judge others.  But I have done so.
As we all have, to some degree.

I don’t want to judge myself.  But I have done so.
As we all have, to some degree.

I don’t want to be judged by others.  But I have been subjected to it.
As we all have, to some degree.

At one time or another, I’m sure you’ve heard yourself or someone else say the words:  “I never judge”.

Over time, I’ve come to view statements framed in absolutes as suspect, including those uttered from my own mouth.  Such rigid declarations can only be spouted from an ivory tower.  A disconnected place where assumptions are too easily made and illusions of perfection are foolishly constructed.

It is only when we choose to leave that place of lofty, often isolated, perception that humility is learned and empathy and understanding begin to unfold, if our hearts and senses are open to it.  Stepping away from an impossibly restrictive way of thinking allows us to consider the idea that what we aspire to is not necessarily what is, no how much we wish otherwise.

So please excuse me while I descend my ivory tower and burn the drawbridge on the way out.

From a more grounded place, I can better state my intention with greater clarity:  I aspire to be non-judgmental toward myself and others.  I am not entirely there yet, but I will continue to make a conscious effort.  Rather than berating myself or giving up should I fail in those efforts, I will remember why this intention is important to me, and take steps to do better next time.

Attempting to avoid judging others while also being strongly opinionated about subjects that are important to us individually is a struggle we all share.  It is at times both a perplexing and highly illuminating contradiction.  Here’s the thing.  Opinions are often formed through personal experience, hearing other people’s stories, or through the lens of popular culture, but they are not necessarily based in fact.  Knowing that, I’ve come to see that when I express an opinion based on little more than observation and less than personal experience, I come away with a lesson.  Generally a painful one, but infinitely educational.

With that in mind, I will take care to avoid saying “I never judge”.  Instead, I will focus on self-awareness around my original intention not to do so.   The reality is that I do not want to judge, but sometimes I do.  Ultimately, I want to learn to notice if I’m passing judgment in some way, identify the thoughts I’m having around it, and change the course of my thinking in a loving and compassionate direction.  I believe that it is in those moments of conscious self-reflection that real, lasting change in our own patterns can be made.

Getting it wrong once in a while does not extinguish the many future opportunities available to get it right.  And so I am embracing every chance I can get to do and be better in this life, with gratitude.

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images