eleventhbeatnik

musings of an aquarian age counterculturist


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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Seeking the ‘Good’ in Good-Bye: Part 2

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
~William Shakespeare

A decision had been made.  Accompanying my parents on their road trip to Ontario in summer of 1994 was out of the question.  I was starting a new job that was financing my upcoming return to school and which prevented me from taking time off in time to go with them.

That in mind, I explained to my father in a telephone conversation that I wouldn’t be able to take vacation before August.  Agreeing that I would instead come to visit in Manitoba in early August before school started, my Dad said, “Sounds good.  See ya then.”  And we hung up the phone.

That moment in time replays in my mind, in my dreams, and in my heart to this day.  It was the last time I ever heard my father’s voice.

In the midst of all of that I booked my flight to Manitoba.  I was to arrive the day after my parents returned from their road trip to Ontario, intending to stay for a week.

The date of my arrival?  August 3, 1994.

On August 1, I moved into the Edmonton apartment that I would be staying in for the duration of school.  My husband was to commute from his work to the city, until I graduated.

August 2, the day before I was to leave for Manitoba, was filled with the usual pre-travel errands and arrangements.   A bit of shopping, un-packing from the move, cleaning, and packing for the trip.  I was exhausted from everything going on but excited about the impending visit.

In the early evening, I decided to have a bath and wash my hair so I could save some time in the morning and sleep a little later.  I took my time, turned on some music, lit a candle and relaxed.

Coming out of the bathroom, hair tied in a turban, I gasped in surprise as my husband walked into the apartment.  He wasn’t expected to arrive from work until the following morning, in time to take me to the airport.

I started to say “Hi, what are you doing here…?”  But I didn’t get a chance to finish the sentence.

His hands gripping my shoulders, eyes awash with tears and boring into mine, he said almost harshly, “Jill. Your Dad was killed in an accident today.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t want to be the one to tell you.”

My heart stopped.  The room started contracting.  My surroundings began to look like those old fun house mirrors where everything is real but grotesquely distorted in every imaginable way.

I slowly shook my head, incapable of acknowledging the life-altering words just spoken.

“There’s been a mistake”, I said firmly.  “It couldn’t be my Dad”.

My husband then squeezed me so tight I wondered if another breath would come.  He said urgently,”Please call your mother.”

With leaden feet I walked into the hallway, leaned my back on the wall and slid to the floor as my husband handed me the phone.

With shaking hands I dialed and as the ringing tone began, everything around me retreated into a tunnel I could not name.

Abruptly, my mother answered the phone.

I couldn’t think or breathe.  In a voice that to me sounded loud and crazed, these words rushed out of my mouth:  “WHAT HAPPENED???”

Answering me in a soft, shaky voice, my mother unleashed a litany that would alter my world on every level.  “The police came to the door when I came home from work today.  Your father bought a truck and he was going to pick it up and insure it in Brandon.  On his way home, just as he left the city, he was hit head on by an oncoming car swerving erratically into his lane.  Emergency crews were called to the scene but it was too late.  Dad died instantly.  So did the couple in the other car.  They were from New Jersey and it is suspected that the man who was driving had a heart attack.  I couldn’t bring myself to call you, so I asked your husband to drive in and tell you in person so you wouldn’t be alone when you heard the news.”

We talked a little while longer.  Shocked and in disbelief, and even in the face of confirmation from my mother, I still could not take it in.  We ended the call with hushed tones and tears, nonsensical ramblings in a nonsensical time.

That night I did not sleep.  I cried and tossed and turned and cried some more.  Arriving at the airport the next morning, I was completely unprepared for what lay ahead.

As I checked in at the airport, the absurdity of what was happening suddenly and furiously hit me:  I had turned down my father’s request to join his final road trip, thinking there would be lots of time to visit later in the summer.  To add insult to injury, I had pre-purchased an airline ticket to arrive the day after my father died.

I missed him by a day.  ONE. FUCKING. DAY.

As this realization came over me, in front of a ticket agent in a major airport and all in sundry, I began to sob uncontrollably.  My knees buckled.  I could not see.  Not knowing what else to do with my sorry ass, the agent (bless her) came around the counter and gave me a huge hug, essentially holding me upright.  She whispered:  okay sweetie, let’s get this done quickly.  Hold on to me and I’ll get you where you need to go.

And so she did.  I don’t think I could have taken a step further without her.  In hindsight, I wish I had asked for her name.  Because her kindness will live with me forever.  So wherever you are compassionate airline ticket agent:  thank you.

On August 3, 1994, I boarded a plane to Winnipeg.

Not to visit my family as originally planned.

No.  I was about to attend my father’s funeral.

 

Dad

Writing 101:
Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t anymore.

PART 2 f 3 – PART SERIES.

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2


Seeking the ‘Good’ in Good-Bye: Part 1

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak
whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids it break.
~William Shakespeare

1994 was a turbulent and confusing time in my life.

I was a young married woman, in the throes of discontent, trying to understand and figure out my place in the world.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that not much has changed from that time to this, but I digress.

During that time, I had recently moved from Edmonton to a small Alberta town with my then husband.  Out of my element and out of sorts, I found myself bored and unfulfilled professionally and I started looking for an escape route.  Ultimately, I decided returning to school was the better way.

Social justice was important to me and somehow that led me to the conclusion that becoming a paralegal would align my beliefs with my career.  Yeah …. I know.  In my defence, youthful idealism was running the show.  I had not yet figured out that the concepts of law and justice were not exactly one and the same.

My classes were to commence in the fall of that year.  I called my mother to say I would have some time later in the summer to come home to Manitoba for a visit before classes started.  She thought it was a good idea.  After we finished chatting, my mom passed the phone to my father.  I repeated my thoughts to him about coming for a visit in August.  He replied, “Well your mother and I are going to Ontario to visit your grandparents the last two weeks of July, so why don’t you come with us?”  I was a little taken aback by the question.  Firstly, because I hadn’t expected the invitation.  Mostly, because my father had always been a man of few words and for him, this was A LOT of words.

Immediately, I felt the urge to say, “Yes!  I’ll come with you.”  For a moment I imagined how much fun it would be to do a road trip to Ontario with my parents, something I hadn’t done since I was a kid.

And then reality intervened.  I had just started a job that was financing school and I had been told I wouldn’t be allowed any vacation days until August.

With that in mind I said, “Thanks for asking Dad, but I have to work so I can’t get away in July.  So how about if I come to Manitoba after you get back from Ontario?   I’ll come to visit the first week of August”.

“Sounds good.  See ya then, ” he said, before hanging up.

Little did I know, that was the last time I would ever hear his voice.

Dad

Writing 101:  Day 4
Write about a loss: something (or someone) that was part of your life, and isn’t anymore.

PART 1 of 3-PART SERIES.

writing-101-june-2014-class-badge-2


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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


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The Invisibles

So Prince Charming turned out to be a less than charming in the end.

As I move through the varying levels of grief that inevitably accompany a rite of passage; or in this case, the end of a significant relationship, I am forcing myself to address much that I would prefer to bury or ignore.

Before I met my best-friend-then-husband-turned-betrayer, by and large I felt that for the most part I was one of the walking “invisibles” of this world.  Inconsequential.  Insignificant. Unseen.

That perception dissipated as I allowed myself to trust and be free in a relationship with someone I loved.  When that relationship ended in a painful and unexpected way, my sense of trust was stretched and broken.  We’ve all been there, right?  Well maybe.  But collective wrongs don’t make a right.  Right?   Just sayin’.

And now, here I am again, at first blush, seemingly back where I started. Feeling invisible.  Noticing that few will even make eye contact.  Conversations out in the world for the most part feel stilted and limited.  Sanitized of meaning and connection.  I also recognize that this perception is coloured by my current state of confusion and uncertainty of the new ground I find myself standing on.

So now is the time of reckoning.  I am ditching the invisibility cloak.  Kicking judgment to the curb.

Life:  to you, I say:  surprise me!  (or show me how to surprise myself.)   Reveal the unseen, including me.  As the healing continues; please (please!) help me grow courage to understand and accept the lessons offered here.  Show me how to accept what is; so that my eyes and heart will be open to see the infinite possibilities that lie ahead.

I’m ready.  Lead the way.

invisible-man