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.


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.

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Music: A Life.

Music expresses that which cannot be said
and on which it is impossible to be silent.
Victor Hugo

Writing 101:  Day 3

Music is pure expression of the soul and unlocks meaning in as many unique ways as there are unique people.   The ability to create music is an art form like no other.  Lacking the skill to create music myself, I enjoy it through the perception of intricately choreographed poetry and story-telling in motion.  To experience crystalline language of the heart expressed through sound is simply exquisite, in its many varied forms.

Choosing only three songs that are important to me is beyond difficult.  So rather than focus on weeding out three of innumerable favourite songs based on genre or content, I am carving out a few tunes mirroring areas of my life that are looming large these days.

Like A Stone

Last year, the entire foundation of my life shook and crumbled.  Everything I thought was true, everything I trusted, everything I invested in emotionally cracked and dissolved.  Arising from the ashes, I looked around at what was left of the life I knew and recognized nothing.  The ground I was left standing on was in fact a cold floor where I lay prostrate sobbing uncontrollably.

Slowly but surely, time did its thing.  Healing began, clarity revealed a different perspective, and understanding led to recognition.  I looked at the world around me with different eyes. The old cracked foundation revealed a newer, stronger, truer one.

And standing firmly on that foundation, like a stone, were the beginnings of something new, amazing and wonderful.  All firmly rooted in patience, love and integrity.

In your house I long to be
Room by room patiently
I’ll wait for you there like a stone

It is a gift that moves me beyond words and I am grateful for every moment.


Om Namah
Shivaya

This is a mantra, and it makes my heart sing, so I am also classifying it as a song.

To understand more about my personal connection to this mantra, you can find it all here:  Mantra Magic


She Used To Love Me A Lot

As a young girl, I often visited my grandparents on their farm in rural Manitoba.  I have many fond memories of sitting around their kitchen table with tea and homemade sweets.  Even better, the privilege of sitting at the “grown-up’s” table did not imply an expectation that I would be seen and not heard.  I was included in the conversation as if I were an adult, even though my feet still swung from the chair, barely sweeping the floor.  I loved it.

My grandmother adored music and often had it playing full tilt on an old record player while doing household chores.  She introduced me to a variety of musicians that she loved, most of which I never really cared for at that age, but I sang along all the same basking in her enjoyment.  Johnny Cash was often in rotation.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to understand that although often branded a country singer, his artistry transcended genre.  He was a storyteller of the best kind and I grew to appreciate his skill.

In memory of my grandmother, and in gratitude for her sharing a part of herself with me through music, I’d like to give you a tiny glimpse of who she was.  See that smokin’ hot mischievous brunette at the top of the pic with the gorgeous smile?  That’s Rachel.  I miss her like crazy.

photo credit: eleventhbeatnik

photo credit: eleventhbeatnik


And here’s a little Johnny C. to remember her by.

Enjoy!

 

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New York City: My View.

Today, choose a place to which you’d like to be transported if you could …
Writing 101:  Day 2

Sometimes seemingly easy subjects at face value are in fact intricately complex.  And so it is with topics such as this.

If I possessed magical-instantaneous-transporter-superpowers, there are many places in the world I would want to go and explore for the very first time.  So many in fact, I wouldn’t know exactly where I would choose to land first.  Peru?  Sedona?  England?  Spain?  Italy?  Scotland?  Boston?  India?  Bali?  Iceland?  Australia?  Sweden?  And on.  And on.  And on.

So I had to go back to the original question, refocus and tap into what felt true for me.  Where in this very moment do I wish to be?  The answer, of course, is both stunningly obvious and veiled in mystery.  Why the contradiction?  Because despite the travel bug that thrives within me, my inner GPS always points me in the same direction.

Allow me to show you my True North.

Arriving at the destination that inexplicably and continuously calls my name, I begin my usual circumference walk with anticipation and excitement:  visiting old haunts and discovering new ones along the way.

A beautiful crossing.
Raindrops in Blue.

photo credit: eleventhbeatnik

photo credit: eleventhbeatnik

Emerging from W4 station, I soak in the familiarity and the newness
that unfailingly assaults my senses.

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images

As I walk here and there, past memories arise and fade.
Wonderful new observations and discoveries are born.

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images

S’Nice.
Very Nice, actually.
Much compassionate deliciousness occurs here.
Curry Cauliflower Wrap anyone?  Lemon Blueberry muffin my dears?
Hell, yes!

scene of crime

photo credit: eleventhbeatnik

Let’s just call this “Scene of the Crime”.
As a pedestrian, I was hit by a taxi here as I stepped into crosswalk
and it changed the course of my life.
Physical pain?  Yes.  Recovery?  Long.  Emotional repercussions?  Indescribable.
The take-away?  I am grateful to be alive to tell the story.
I hurt a lot.  I loved a lot.  I learned a lot.

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images

Washington Square Park.
Poetry, Music, Art
Home of THE BEATS

As my feet connect with the earth in this sacred place, I remember who I am.
It was in this park that I truly recognized myself for the first time.

i am the eleventhbeatnik

For me, New York City is more than a desired travel destination.  It is the place I feel most alive.  It is home of my heart.

photo credit: google images

photo credit: google images

 

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Writing 101: Day 2

 


Travelling Light

I’m packed.

That statement is so multi-layered it deserves to be a standalone paragraph.

I am the worst packer.  I always think it will take less time than it does, and I chronically leave it to the last possible moment.  Mostly because laundry has to be done before anything goes into the suitcase.  Then when items do start getting tossed into the bag, it becomes pretty much a free for all.  I am usually so undecided on what to take it feels easier to take everything.  Which is so crazy on so many levels.  There *are* laundry facilities where I’m staying.  There *are* stores where I’m going.  There *won’t* be a crisis if I forget my pj’s or the toothpaste.  It’s New York City for gawdssakes – I could go with a carry-on or less and get by just fine.

To further highlight the inherent ridiculousness around this dilemma, all I need to do is look at my travel history.  I inevitably take a huge bulging bag full of crap that has been tossed together largely on the premise of “just in case”.  Just in case it gets cold at night I’ll take this sweater.  Wait this sweater is kind of light, I better take a heavier one too.  And on it goes.

So what is this packing problem all about?  I think it comes down to this:  Fear.  Trying to cover off all contingencies is basically a lack of conviction that what I need will be available when I need it.  Ergo:  Fear.

I’m packed.

And I’m too tired to start unpacking for the sake of packing light(er).  What’s done is done.  There’s always next time, as they say.

All that said, I think its interesting to note that while my suitcase is heavy and in danger of being overweight, my heart is light.  My spirit is soaring.  The wonderful thing is that while my suitcase may very well be full of crap, I’m consciously leaving some baggage behind.  This journey is all about rising above, passing through and opening up to a future of infinite possibilities.  It is about my well-being and doing what makes my soul sing in a place that energizes and inspires me.

My suitcase is heavy, no question. But I’m travelling light.

More later.  From New York.

Packing Light

Photo credit: Google Images/Unknown


Dear John (or Kathryn) as the case may be

young poetry

Photo credit: eleventhbeatnik

My beautiful friend,

I came across this bit of writing tonight.  Neatly folded into squares.  Written in crazy yellow ink with flower embellishments.  I cannot recall the identity of the Romeo my younger self was so enamored.  What I do remember is that it was not the object of my love, but the opinion of my closest friend that mattered and transcended the passage of time.  I wrote my heart out in silly verses and covertly passed along the words to you for approval.  Likely under the classroom wall divider in Mr. Taylor’s class.

You kept this piece of paper in your safekeeping for years; and then unearthed it and returned it to me unexpectedly in a moment that turned out to be a remarkable rite of passage.

Yup . All of this from two rebellious young women convinced we’d never see a day past 30.  Cosmic joke, yeah?  And yet, here we are, well past our anticipated expiry date.

A poet I am not.  But here’s what I wrote all those years ago.  On lined paper.  In friggin’ yellow.

Life without love
Is an existence without life.
I love you more
Than words can say.

Life without love
Is not really living.
What I feel for you
Words cannot express.

Life without love
Is a garden without flowers.
I feel so empty
When I cannot hold you near.

Life without love
Is like sorrow without tears.
You can’t have one
Without the other.

And I cannot live
Without you.

***

If that’s not enough nostalgia for ya, check out my spiral perm circa late ’80s.  Oy!  Now there’s some serious entertainment.

Big love to you.  xo


When Hindsight is Foresight

Nothing brings up the sense of intense discomfort or mind-blowing insight (or both!) quite like re-reading an old bit of writing.  Circumstances and perspectives are constantly changing so looking back can sometimes feel like trying on a pair of jeans once loved but are now way too tight.

Today I came across a piece that I wrote back in February 2009.  It was in response to one of those endless “answer and pass along to 10 friends” emails.  My habit was (and is) generally to auto-junk stuff like that.  For whatever reason, I gave this one some expression time.  Interesting to me is that aside from possibly #11 and #23, the observations made then stand today.   It amuses me that this is pretty much a testament to a myriad of my quirks and smirks, compiled neatly in one list.  Here’s what I wrote:

25 Random Things About Me

  1. I have it on personal authority that Michael Jackson’s excuse of suddenly becoming “light” skinned is not due to vitilago. I know it because I have it. Four small pure white marks: one on each knee and ankle. There is NO WAY MJ uniformly lost pigment!!!
  2. Sources say that the “Harrington’s of England” were generally rum runners, pirates and horse thieves. Well…some of us had to have some fun right?
  3. I have worn every size of pants between 4-14 between the ages of 20 and 41.
  4. Glasses have been an extension of my face since I was 14. Contacts are a big pain in the ass and I’m not getting surgery until the day there is 100% guarantee it will work without still needing reading glasses. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  5. I’m a commitment-phobe and one of my biggest fears in life is to feel trapped or stuck.
  6. I was a vegan in my heart long before I chose that path in life.
  7. The only reason I never joined Greenpeace is that I could never quite envision myself tied naked to a tree swatting away flies. But…I happily sponsored someone else to do it for me.
  8. Lenny Kravitz consistently turns me on.
  9. When I was around 14 my friend Kathryn and I decided to take my parents’ car for a joyride. We backed out of the driveway and realized the car was out of gas.
  10. I am very spiritual in a non-traditional way. Into the mystic so to speak. And it has nothing to do with organized religion.
  11. Despite my non-traditional life, I would still consider marriage in the right circumstances.
  12. Every single time I travel over the Brooklyn bridge toward Manhattan I get tingles.
  13. Jane Goodall is my hero.
  14. On my 40th birthday I felt as though my “real” life was finally beginning. I was right.
  15.  Generally I am a serious reader, but I admit to reading Diana Gabaldon’s fluffy time traveller series 3 times. And I could read it again.
  16. My dream is to travel the world meeting people of all cultures and backgrounds, learning from the old world masters.
  17. When I was in school I always wanted to be a journalist. I looked up to Mike Wallace until the day he sold out on the “Big Tobacco” story.
  18. The documentary “Earthlings” changed my life forever.
  19. My dad always said “if you can dance, you can drive a stick”. I still can’t dance, and I still can’t drive a stick.
  20. Most of my decisions are made by answering yes or no to the question “Will I regret it if I don’t try this?”
  21. Sometimes I think an eyelift might be a really good idea.
  22. I have an irrational fear of bees. Yet snakes, spiders and rats are no biggie.
  23. When I leave the apartment I double check that I locked the door 3 times. Every time.
  24. The day I got hit by the taxi I truly woke up to the fact life is too short to fuck around.
  25. When I think that things could not possibly get worse, I remember that I once thought Leif Garrett was my soul mate. A little comedy goes a long way.

***

Have you done this exercise before?  If not, go ahead and try it.  Write out 25 things about your life that come to mind in a stream of consciousness.  File it away.  Who knows, maybe a few years from now you will stumble across it and realize the same thing.  Hindsight is sometimes also foresight.

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