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.


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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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A Love Letter To My Heart

To My Heart:

You are the hardest worker I know. Pumping oxygen rich blood to all my cells, keeping me alive and whole, you perform your task unfailingly.  Conducting operations primarily undercover, you beat the drum of my life with precision and persistence.  Until you skip a beat in excitement or pound with fear, your efforts escape my notice.

Broken, bruised and battered last year, you took on a lot of additional responsibility for my well-being.  You cracked in half.  Contracted in pain.  Squeezed until there was nothing left inside to compress.

Then gradually, moment-by-moment, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month, you ever so gently began to expand again.  The wound progressively mending, new tissue emerging.  Old pain dissolving.  New life beginning.  I did not witness your handiwork.  I felt no immediate effects.  No, your craft is far too subtle and deep to ever be a big showy production in full view of the conscious mind.

It is true that you bear a scar where that deep cut used to be, but rather than an unsightly reminder, it is beautiful to behold.  Because it is the mark of healing.  A testament to what it means to overcome.

Yes, the scar still hurts sometimes in the tender spots, but those moments of pain are less intense and far more fleeting.  Love, patience and hope massage the remaining aches away.

I look at you in wonder now:  resilient, strong, loving and open once again.  A force to be reckoned with.

You are a miracle.

I bow in gratitude.

To My Heart.

Healing Heart

Photo credit: Google Images/Creator Unknown


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Toronto Change-Makers

“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.”
-Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom

There are so many wonderful organizations out there doing amazing things to raise awareness and consciousness in the area of animal rights all over the world, for which I am immensely grateful.  The dedication and commitment it takes to undertake this type of heart-wrenching advocacy work comes directly from the heart.

Locally, a couple of stories really caught my attention this week on the theme of “bearing witness” and I feel compelled to acknowledge all those involved and share their stories here:

Liz Marshall is a Toronto filmmaker who brought us the brilliantly moving film The Ghosts in Our Machine.  Through the camera lens of photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, this beautiful and gentle documentary captures the essence of animals caught in situations of both injustice and hope .

Liz Marshall Interview:
Liz Marshall: The Ghosts in Our Machine

Jo-Anne McArthur:
WE ANIMALS Jo-Anne McArthur

Toronto Pig Save is an inspiring collective of peaceful, local grassroots change-makers holding weekly vigils for pigs arriving in transport trucks at Quality Meat Packers slaughterhouse in Toronto.  The work they are doing is both necessary and powerful.


THANKS TO ALL OF YOU FOR EMBODYING THE MEANING OF “BE THE CHANGE…”.


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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Shelter in a Shitstorm

Ever notice that some of the most effing amazing epiphanies occur in the middle of chaos?  Yeah, me too.  While I could certainly do without the chaos, the epiphanies are pretty awesome.

Lately  it seems as though I am in a state of chronic confusion.  The phrase fits so well, I’ll say it again:  I am chronically confused.  Yes. I. Am.

Every area of my life where I once felt a sense of security, love and belonging disappeared along with the rug abruptly pulled out from under my feet.  Never saw it coming.  Does anyone?   I think we’ve all been there on one level or another.

Over the past month, I’ve been forced to face a lot of uncomfortable emotions and realizations.  Being off work recuperating from knee surgery in the middle of a major life transition has been both a blessing and a curse.  Blessing:  nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. Curse:  nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Counselling, a previously uncharted territory for me, is proving to be beyond helpful in the grieving process.   Having a safe space to say what I *really* feel; rather than pretending everything is okay for the sake of good manners is potent therapy in its own right.  And it is helping me let go.  I mean really LET GO of  any illusions of control; wishing to recreate the past, or hoping to predict the future.  There is no greater freedom than that.  In my mind, letting go represents genuine healing of the heart and soul.  Which goes way beyond the superficial big pharma prescription or avoidance technique.

Most interesting to me is the discovery of where a genuine safe haven exists in my life.  It does not come from other people, places or promises.

The saving grace I’ve uncovered in these pain riddled days?  Meditation.  The Inner Temple.  My meditation practise has become a healing sanctuary in the middle of a relentless shitstorm.

Don’t know where to find shelter?   Go within.

I highly recommend it.

shelter-in-the-storm


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Shut Up and Hold My Hand

This weekend has been all about “spring” cleaning.  De-cluttering.  Unloading.  Refreshing.

Packing up “stuff” that had existed in purgatory awaiting tomorrow to begin.  Sifting through memorabilia undeserving of remembrance.  Sorting through representations of dreams that will never be realized.  Grieving the death of a future pre-empted of an opportunity to unfold in its full potential.

In this moment, I am reminded of the time I spent helping my mother decide what to keep and what to give away after my father died in a car accident.  Then and now, there is no escaping the painful reality of separation and loss, particularly when an ending is bomb-dropped in a brutal and unexpected way.  I had to be strong then.  I am determined to be strong now.

So here I am.  Spring cleaning a life that I never for one moment thought would need a “clean sweep”.  Isn’t that always the way?

There are a million things that could be said.  So much wisdom available.  I appreciate the kindness and support more than I can fully articulate here.

But please.  Just for today:  shut up and hold my hand.

Sea_otters_holding_hands