The Dinosaur in the Room

“If anyone asked me, “What is hell?” I would answer, “The distance between people who love each other.”

The Minds Journal

Normal differences of opinions used to be an elephant in the room, slightly awkward, but dealt with in due time. These days, there isn’t merely an elephant in the room, but it’s more like a dinosaur, and the space between loved ones is enormous. Differences which typically would have been discussed are now off limits. Ears are closed and hearts are blocked. Severe damage and even the death of many relationships has become just one more type of casualty in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Discussion of the dinosaur was forbidden in many house holds; a stance supported by media and politicians who consistently inflated the size of the dinosaur during every morning and evening news cycle. Belittling and name calling others with a differing opinion was encouraged and even applauded. Many of those shamed individuals held their tongues and ignored their trepidations to keep the family peace. Sadly, when people feel unsafe to voice their concerns they inevitably become disconnected and distrustful of those relationships.

Some worried individuals did not heed the giant beast keeping them separated from their loved ones, they simply wiggled past the weighty dinosaur, and leapt into a discussion. Unfortunately, all too often it resulted in a challenging and fiery argument, sometimes erupting to the point of flaming eyes, spitting words, and boiling blood. The outcome of those types of conversations were doors slamming, phones clicking, and the dinosaur moving swiftly to take up even more space than before. Family members or friends ousted.

A civilized pachyderm would have been preferable, a dawdling being that mused self-reflectively while painting naked in the moonlight; an embarrassing but approachable subject. The Tyrannosaurus Rex, on the other hand, crashed around unpredictably flashing it’s ticker-tape death toll, and bellowing terrifying threats day and night; an intimidating subject to broach.

What a nightmare these last two years have been on kinship and connections. So many lives in ruins. I spoke with a lady outside a grocery store a couple months ago, she and her husband discussed the dinosaur regularly. It became an insurmountable block in their relationship. Their marriage ended. Name calling and shaming happened, just like it’s done on the news and by the politicians. Unfortunately, it was done everywhere and done by both sides of the argument— family and friends being banished for wrong thinking, and family and friends being banished for playing follow the leader.

Oddly enough, if you step back and ask yourself why the division became so large, the answer is the same—It is because people cared. Everyone had the same concern. Everyone wanted to protect the others. It was simply done from an extremely opposite viewpoint. There was no hate, or ill intent by those with the unpopular opinion, there was only concern at an absence of facts and an absence of information on potential harms.

Today we are entering the season of spring, it’s an ideal opportunity for fresh beginnings. It’s time to set the dinosaur free. It is time to turn our energies toward the things we’d like to see happen in our world. We all want health, prosperity, and the dignity of being heard, and we want it for all. It’s time to step away from those things that tear us apart and put our focus on those things that bring us together. Love heals and fear divides, let us find the exit to hell together.

Old Wounds Heal

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Melancholy is common, and probably even more common these days. This meandering affliction has flitted in and out of my life with an erratic flow, mostly hidden away as a secret despair. And within those months and even years I felt utterly exhausted and completely incapable of succeeding at any task. Yet, somehow, I pushed through, numb and only partially engaged, fat with anxiety. I seemed to be on auto pilot, unable to take control, my lifetime of gaffs and blunders were the only memories I’d play, over and over like the relentless refrain of an old song stuck in my head.

As I grew older, my list of botches grew longer and longer. And then, when people confided to me with their own troubles, I found myself automatically adding them to my own litany of unravellings or downfalls to solve.  A ridiculous notion at best, as though I could fix their problems too. Soon, in any conversation I found myself begging in a silent voice, “Please don’t ask anything of me with your expectant eyes and anxious energy for I cannot carry your burden too.” And in reality, I’m sure if they knew what I was thinking, they’d have thought I’d lost my ever-loving mind, and replied, “But I haven’t asked you for a thing.” And deep-down, despite my exaggerated sense of responsibility, I knew this to be true. As a middle child from a dysfunctional family, I was always trying to make it better for everyone else because that was my job. I was forever on guard, reading a rooms emotion, either trying to defuse the bomb before it exploded or running before it did. Focusing on others to maintain a smoother road of life absolutely crushed my ability to manifest a clear future for myself.

Celebratory events with family and friends which were intended to be easy and joyful, were a form of stilted play-acting in an attempt to satisfy the expectations of the group. Despite the good-humoured grins and laughter thrown around like money in a casino, my smiles were consistently hollow and my laughter forced; a pittance at the penny slots. My feelings became non-existent. The space inside my heart reserved for warmth and caring had long iced over, and in actual fact, the slow pulsing core of my being felt more desolate than a prairie field in the depths of winter; icy, rigid, and filled with emptiness.

Those were the darkest of days. Today, the sunlight pours down creating dancing shadows on the ground, my smile is an expression of my heart, my future unfolding as I choose. This is our one guarantee in life, everything changes. So, if you are feeling that your life is pointless, overwhelming and beyond repair, believe me when I say it is not. We live in a world of opposites; up/down, rich/poor, cold/hot, happy/sad, and on and on. Nothing is stagnant. All around us, every day, everything transforms, including you.

Please remember that spring comes; the grass greens, the sun shines and the gofers in the burrows foster little ones. I, for one believe in you. And maybe you are thinking, how can you believe in me? You don’t even know me, and I reply, “It’s because you are human that I believe in you. I believe in the power of your heart, of your love, of your forgiveness, of your kindness. I believe in your creativity, in your tears and in your future joys. I believe in the contrast of who you are. Even the most evil-minded individual holds the capacity to become giving and loving. It is in our potential to become; to evolve. We falter, we fall, we bleed, we lash out and we learn. If we can be strong enough to accept our pain without blaming the world or those around us, we grow. Our power lies in the love we give, not in the love we hold in our hearts. The love in a smile, in a letter, in a devil’s food cake. Human beings are magical creatures because they are capable of overcoming. Let us overcome.”

Follow the Leader?

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Life begins in a womb, or in a room, depending on your view, I suppose. But without a doubt, we all exist as the result of a big bang; the merging of two completely separate things; an egg and a sperm, and then lo and behold, out of this unification pops a brand new energetic being. Unlike baby lizards, which hatch from an egg and are completely independent at birth, eating ants, flies and small worms, brand new people are utterly incapable of doing anything except crying, flailing and losing their poop. And some people continue this type of behaviour well into adulthood, which isn’t to say those people won’t ever change, because they can. Humans are capable of advancing their position in life through self-determination, unlike a lizard, which will always be a lizard.

I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit unnerving comparing people to lizards, it puts me at risk of having a raging reptile or a pissy progenitor on my doorstep. I’ll put a pee-pad on the landing. Now, back to my weird, and over-simplified comparison, the most obvious difference between a human and a lizard is that people have a desire to determine their own path in life and can actively plan towards attaining that goal. In essence, we try, we fail, we try, we fail, we try, we succeed and we grow—remove the pee-pad. Whereas, lizards simply live in the moment fulfilling their own needs; eating, drinking and fornicating.

Furthermore, as a non-lizard species, we have the unique ability to use introspection to hone our personal progress and develop compassion for our fellow human beings. If we cut beneath the superficial mask we wear for appearances sake, each individual soon comes face to face with their own inner workings, including their deepest fears and most vile inclinations, in doing this time and time again, everyone eventually discovers we are all capable of doing dark deeds in difficult circumstances. This revelation leads us to find empathy for those who struggle. The idea of compassion doesn’t exist for lizards, they simply view the smaller lizards, the less powerful lizards as a source of food to fill an empty need.

The progression of any society is intricately linked to the empathy the people display for their own fellow man. I came across these paragraphs in a book, the words buried themselves inside my heart and mind, irretrievable shrapnel from an explosive idea.

Hammer cocked, a round in the chamber, finger resting lightly on the trigger, I drew a bead on whoever walked by—women pushing strollers, children, garbage collectors laughing and calling to each other, anyone—and as they passed under my window I sometimes had to bite my lip to keep from laughing in the ecstasy of my power over them, and at their absurd and innocent belief that they were safe.

But over time the innocence I laughed at began to irritate me. It was a peculiar kind of irritation. I saw it years later in men I served with, and felt it myself, when unarmed Vietnamese civilians talked back to us while we herded them around. Power can only be enjoyed when it is recognized and feared. Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those that have it.” .

This Boys Life: By Tobias Wolff

This scenario gnaws at the reality of our time. Do you think the leaders of today promote self-determination, fearlessness in the face of adversity and compassion for others, or do they actively participate in shaming, name-calling and enjoy the predatory feeling of having their finger on the trigger? Will the babies born today be encouraged to live their lives to their highest capacity as a human or will they be limited to the barest minimum like a lizard?

Freedom for All?

Lance Corporal Alexander Antoniuk, February 19, 1924 — December 31, 1944

Enlisted: March 2, 1942 in Edmonton, Alberta. He served in the military with 4th Princess Louise Dragoon Guards, R.C.I.C. He body lies in the Villanova Canadian War Cemetery in Italy. He fought for freedom; for the freedom to voice an opinion without being attacked with name calling or shaming, the freedom for a citizen to refuse an experimental treatment without being coerced or pressured into taking it, and the freedom from censorship and government overreach. The people who have followed every mandate cannot understand why some of us think some of our freedoms are gone, but I ask those people, with respect and love , how would you know some of your freedoms are gone unless you use them? Put the shoe on the other foot for a moment, what if you used your freedom of choice to reject a brand new medical treatment, and for that you lost the freedom to travel, to eat in a restaurant, to go to a movie theatre, and perhaps even lose your job. Would you notice your freedoms gone then?

Earlier this week, the federal government invoked the Emergencies Act (formerly known as the War Measures Act) for the first time since 1970.

As a reminder, the War Measures Act was invoked in 1970 because the Quebec nationalist group, Front de libération du Québec, set off over 200 bombs across Quebec, kidnapped a British diplomat, and kidnapped and murdered the Deputy Premier of Quebec, Pierre Laporte.

We highlight this most recent usage of the War Measures Act to explain the extremely high bar required to invoke this massive expansion in government powers, and even then its usage was opposed by the NDP on civil liberties grounds.

Since 1970, Canada has faced many crises in many different forms.

The Emergencies / War Measure Act was not used to resolve the Oka Crisis, a series of protests where multiple deaths and hundreds of injuries occurred, the Calendonia land dispute, the extended blockade of pipelines and railways in 2020 and 2021, the September 11th attacks, or even the COVID-19 pandemic itself.

This is because the Emergencies / War Measures Act contains extremely strict rules about when it may be used.

Just one of these many restrictions says that a crisis must “exceed the capacity or authority of a province to deal with it” before the federal government may step in and take over.

The crisis must also be of a nationwide nature, not restricted to just a small geographic area.

Given all the border blockades across the country were handled and ended by provincial governments before the federal government even invoked the Act, and the only remaining protest is the one in his own backyard in Ottawa, the current protest clearly fails to meet this criteria.

If you are in agreement, you can sign this petition.

Historical Love and Savagery

Happy Valentines Day! My original intention for today’s blog was to compose uplifting flowery prose which might inspire love and connection. However, as I delved into the complicated and muddled past of this whimsical day of adorations, I soon discovered there was nothing whimsical about Valentines Day. Its curious beginnings have been studied by various historians sifting through the dusty realms of the past, but unfortunately, rather than locating a precise origin, the beginnings are vague and incomplete. According to some, our designated day of love began with animal sacrifice and ended with a lottery in which young virgins were raffled off. Other chroniclers surmised February 14 was named for St. Valentine, a Roman priest, executed for secretly marrying young lovers against the wishes of Emperor Claudius II, and thereafter was named the patron saint of lovers, epileptics and beekeepers.

If you find the history of Valentines Day tragic, I would agree, but that said, haven’t we done something amazing? We took a historically horrific day and turned it into a day to express our love for our families and our friends. Each time we gape at our history with distress in our heart it’s an opportunity to revisit and become aware of the tribulations of the past thereby creating a brighter future.

Let’s consider the years of 1933-1945, when Adolf Hitler, the German dictator sought war and hate instead of peace and love. His leadership was directly responsible for the deaths of six million Jews and five million noncombatants. Many of those died in the concentration camps, and thousands of deaths were attributed to medical experimentation by Nazi doctors. During Hitlers war campaign the rape of innocent women and children were common occurrence, and he actively persecuted homosexuals and people with disabilities, and went as far as authorizing a euthanasia program for disabled adults.

Today, we look back and wonder how this devastation could have happened, the survivors tell us it occurred quite gradually, it began with a propaganda campaign, a stealthy layering of words resulting in a slow twist of the mind. The government sponsored media used radio, newspapers, posters and flyers, to dehumanize their fellow Jewish citizens and dissidents. Eventually they considered those people enemies that needed to be dealt with, debate was not allowed, disagreeing voices squashed and demonized.

“The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of the nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them a more easy prey to a big lie than a small one, for they themselves often tell little ones but would be ashamed to tell a big one.”

Adolf Hitler

Around that same time period from 1922-1953, Joseph Stalin, Soviet dictator, became responsible for over six million peoples deaths and perhaps as many as nine million if you take into account death by starvation and concentration camps for dissidents. A historian, Norman Naimark, penned the book, Stalin’s Genocides, to illustrate the dictator’s horrific deeds.

“In the process of collectivization, for example, 30,000 kulaks were killed directly, mostly shot on the spot. About 2 million were forcibly deported to the Far North and Siberia. They were called ‘enemies of the people, as well as swine, dogs, cockroaches, scum, vermin, filth, half-animals, apes. Activists promoted murderous slogans: “We will exile the kulak by the thousand when necessary— shoot the kulak breed.” The kulak class were farmers. ‘The destruction of the kulak class triggered the Ukrainian famine, during which 3 million to 5 million peasants died of starvation.”

Norman Naimark

It’s ugly. It’s terrible to read, and it’s difficult to consider those times, yet if we turn away from the bloody history of our world we dishonour the pain and suffering of the dead. A forgotten history is a repeated history. Out of all the mass murdering leaders of the 1900’s, the Chinese communist leader, Mao Zedong, reigned supreme at killing his own people. His rule led to the deaths of 45 million people. Forty-Five Million. Rodgers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team can hold 20,734 people for a concert. You would need approximately two thousand-one hundred and seventy Rodgers Places to hold all the bodies that Mao Zedong was responsible for killing.

“Mao thought that he could catapult his country past its competitors by herding villagers across the country into giant people’s communes. In pursuit of a utopian paradise, everything was collectivised. People had their work, homes, land, belongings and livelihoods taken from them. In collective canteens, food, distributed by the spoonful according to merit, it became a weapon used to force people to follow the party’s every dictate. As incentives to work were removed, coercion and violence were used instead to compel famished farmers to perform labour on poorly planned irrigation projects while fields were neglected.

A catastrophe of gargantuan proportions ensued. Extrapolating from published population statistics, historians have speculated that tens of millions of people died of starvation. But the true dimensions of what happened are only now coming to light thanks to the meticulous reports the party itself compiled during the famine….

What comes out of this massive and detailed dossier is a tale of horror in which Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962. It is not merely the extent of the catastrophe that dwarfs earlier estimates, but also the manner in which many people died: between two and three million victims were tortured to death or summarily killed, often for the slightest infraction. When a boy stole a handful of grain in a Hunan village, local boss Xiong Dechang forced his father to bury him alive. The father died of grief a few days later. The case of Wang Ziyou was reported to the central leadership: one of his ears was chopped off, his legs were tied with iron wire, a ten kilogram stone was dropped on his back and then he was branded with a sizzling tool – punishment for digging up a potato.”

-Frank Dikötter

People are complicated creatures, our egos and fears sometimes lead us into unreasonable actions. In the 18th century around twenty percent of all woman died from the Black Death of childbed. Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis, sought to solve the reason. Fairly quickly he established that the mid-wives had a much lower rate of mothers dying after childbirth than the doctors, therefore he concluded the mid-wives must be doing something different than the fully trained doctors. After spending time observing the mid-wives verses the doctors, he eventually came to the conclusion that the doctors did not wash their hands between seeing patients and delivering babies. In short order, Dr. Semmelweis instructed his staff to begin washing their hands and cleaning the instruments between patients, and in response the rate of Black Death in his delivering mothers dropped off dramatically. Incredibly, the other doctors did not immediately follow his solution and actively shunned and mocked Dr. Semmelweis’s suggestion. It took years before hand washing was implemented and in the meantime many more woman died.

History holds so many warnings in the crotch of its bloodiest years. Looking at history we can see, the first sign of a government gone astray can be found in the wording used by their media and its leaders. It utilizes disparaging language, singling out a particular group through blaming and name calling. Cultivating emotion through the use of certain phrasing is a the most powerful tool a leader can use in addressing its citizens. It can either bring people together or drive people apart.

“We all know people who are deciding whether or not they are willing to get vaccinated, and we will do our very best to try to convince them. However, there is still a part of the population that is fiercely against it.

They don’t believe in science/progress and are very often misogynistic and racist. It is a very small group of people, but that doesn’t shy away from the fact that they take up some space.

This leads us, as a leader and as a country, to make a choice; Do we tolerate these people?”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Do you tolerate me? Do you think I am racist and misogynistic for making a personal choices for the only thing I truly own on this earth—my body? Dividing citizens has never proved a peaceful path into the future. Love and unity is the only way to move forward. Consider this, ordinary civilians are not the instigators of an oppressive and tyrannical society, however, through fear and manipulation the majority of citizens do grant their leaders that power. Our history is being decided now. I am an unvaccinated healthy citizen on the side of freedom— love me or hate me, it makes no difference to me, I still consider you a potential friend and ally in a world that seems to have gone over the edge. Happy love day to you.

Unearthing Information

Photo by Alex Dugquem on Pexels.com

Good day, my fellow companions sharing in this grand adventure of life. I have a confession to make. I used to be the most over-trusting, easily deceived, green as grass, rural dweller that you ever could meet. I assumed all professionals such as doctors, dentists, lawyers and cheese makers were equally effective and proficient in their job. I had no clue that a little research goes a long way. Talk about naive. I mean, I was once a Girl Guide, I should have taken the motto, ‘be prepared‘ more seriously, but I think I was a bigger fan of the stylish uniform than being prepared. Long story short, I have aged into the understanding that a quality investigation into anything relating to your health and welfare is critical to a great outcome. And, if you know me at all, you know I have a story to illustrate this point, and no, it’s not about a cheese maker. However, if anyone one has one of those stories, I’d be absolutely giddy to hear it.

A few years ago, my friend, Brenda and I were on our daily walk. It was mid-summer; the towering grass growing in the wide ditch swaggered within the rush and wane of the wind and a hint of wild mint from a pond beyond the willows wafted through the air. We strode side by side without saying a word, all talked out from our previous kilometres, tiny beads of perspiration sparkles on our faces and the heat of the day hangs on the road between the ditches. A sudden movement to my left snatches my attention, a fluffy bear cub rears up near the edge of the road and contemplates us with obvious curiosity. My breath halts as a huge black mass rises up from the long grass behind the cub. My eyes widen and my body trembles in alarm. Brenda hadn’t seen them yet.

I grab hold of Brenda’s t-shirt to get her attention. “Stop. It’s a bear,” I say, huffing on each word. My knees weaken, running into a mama bear with cubs was not on my bucket list. Brenda’s eyes bulge as she takes stock of the imposing bear and her three cubs now romping unpredictably through the grass.

Thankfully, this bear and her three cubs had been sighted in the area a few days earlier and I had taken the initiative to sit at my computer and search this question, ‘What do you do when you run into a mama bear and you are about to drop a deuce in your drawers?’ Instantly, I received a list of websites about bears, none about poo. I read about five or six articles to get a wide variety of advice. The national parks had excellent information but there were also some educational personal accounts. The unanimous point in all information was DO NOT RUN. Then I opened another window and searched, “How to remove poo stains from panties.” So, according to experts you can mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with one-liter of water in a spray bottle. That said, I should have checked my sources, because squirting the bear with vinegar solution only enraged her further.

Kidding.

The bear stood about a camper length away, like an average fifth wheel, not a tent trailer. It seemed as though we stared at that bear for hours before we made our move but in truth it was closer to a second. And in that second, it was impossible not to take notice of the sharpness of her claws and the whiteness of her teeth. Who was her dentist? As we huddled together, I swear our hearts weirdly synchronized and we pounding out the drum beat of ‘Run Run Run,’ by the Who.

“What do we do?” Brenda asks, voice quavering.

Do Not Run, I thought. “We need to look as non-threatening as we can, look at the ground,” I say hoarsely, my mouth drier than a salted mummy. “Back away slowly.” We move in lockstep, a stealthy retreat. The sow shook her head clearly agitated, clacking loudly. Obviously she is trying to decide who to eat first, juicy Brenda or dusty Deb. In one swift move she drops down and takes two powerful strides toward us, head bobbing, ebony fur rippling in the sunshine. Then she rose up again to her full height, clacking fretfully.

We continue backing away, calmly and quietly— kind of quiet. Whispering, “Oh my God, oh my God.” A rattling holy phrase. The bear hoverers on her spot, eyes unblinking, nostrils flaring. Bren and I back down into the ditch nearly disappearing from the bears sight into the sparse shrubbery that lined the road. We duck behind a wimpy looking willow; the sturdiest tree of all. The bear sways trying to see where we are. I search the ground for a weapon of some sort, just in case; a weighty branch to be swung as a club or a sharp-ended stick like a spear. There is nothing. Only twigs. I could poke her eye out.

Then Brenda leans into me. “I think she’s leaving.”

I look up and peer through the leaves. Sure enough, the mama decides we are not a danger and she and her cubs lope off in the opposite direction, up an incline and into the deep bush.

Looking back, I should have failed my online bear psychology degree. Having done the research, I knew that Brenda and I should have been carrying bear spray or wearing a bear bell to announce it was dinner time. But at least I was able to move through my fear and use some of the tools I learned to minimize the possibility of a bad outcome. After all, we are all in charge of our own outcomes. So today, as in every day, I wish you the clarity of mind and clarity of heart in any decision you make. Oh yes, and by the way, the vinegar and water solution really does works.

Say I Love You

It was July 29/21 and I was doing it. I could nearly hear my dead mother gasp with shock, I could almost see my dead father giving me the head-shake of disapproval, and I was convinced I heard my husband cuss me out with worry, as I stepped on the brake to offer a ride to a stranger on the road of life.

A week ago, I wouldn’t have dared grant a lift to a scruffy looking man without having another person with me for added protection. I’m not a total country hick. I’ve seen the news reports and read the horror stories of well-meaning people picking up strangers and having things go dark and dastardly. I’m quite aware of how easily a stranger could overpower me, strangle me or stab me and then kick me down into a steep ditch. I even admit to being aware that the stranger could have driven away with my weeks’ worth of groceries and my daughter’s groceries too, leaving my family hungry. But honestly, at that point, none of those considerations mattered, the only thing that mattered was that I had been given a distinctive sign from above to offer this man a ride. 

To be clear, there was no flashing neon lettering hanging over the gaunt man’s head instructing me to give him a lift. It was subtle, much more subtle, and in all fairness, the only reason I had noticed at all was due to my newfound meditation practice. For those in doubt, I wrote meditation, not medication. This practice tends to enhance one’s attention on life’s details in a way that is nearly magical. For myself, meditation gave me cause to open my heart to a scruffy stranger and as a result I was granted the wondrous gift of knowing we are all connected no matter our status in life. 

Leaving the farmyard that morning, I had a smile on my face and elevated emotions in my soul and there was no reason for either. It was an overcast day, and I was merely going to town for groceries. As I turned off the gravel road and onto the highway I met another vehicle travelling in the opposite direction. Instantly, my thoughts drifted to the people in the other vehicle and I wondered about their lives. Not knowing a thing about them, I simply smiled at the black, shiny truck now in my rear-view mirror and said, “Good morning! I love you!” 

I blushed a bit at my silliness. People would think I had lost it, never mind meditation, they would have thought I was on too much medication. But my current practice of mindfulness had taught me that my feelings are an important guidance system, so instead of judging myself, I considered how I felt: My heart was lifted with joy. Everyone could use a little more love I decided with a nod, and I certainly wasn’t hurting anyone, so continued to say I love you to every vehicle I met along the way. 

Before I knew it, birds were soaring alongside my vehicle and daringly darting in and out in front of me, never seeming to be in any danger. It was as though they approved of my sentiments. I looked up. Clouds shifted aside and the suns rays fingered downwards displaying a kaleidoscope of colours shimmering with light. Magnificent. My heart blossomed hot pink. Feeling encouraged by natures response to my proclamations of love, I playfully began to singsong, “I love you,” instead of simply saying it.

Fifteen minutes later, I noticed the stranger up ahead on the side of the road, he wasn’t hitchhiking exactly, he was walking in the same direction as I was driving but in the opposite lane facing the oncoming traffic. I glanced at him as I passed and said, “I love you!” in an upbeat voice. My enthusiasm completely contrary to his demeanour. As I studied him in my rear-view mirror, I took my foot off the gas. My inner voice was suggesting I stop and offer him a ride. At that thought, my fears puffed up inside of me, a black balloon of programmed negativity expanding into every nook and cranny of my being. In an instant I recalled dire news stories, and many loved one’s warnings instructing me to never pick up a stranger. Those thoughts instantly deflated my good feeling vibe.

I stepped on the gas driving away from the stranger and wrestled with the morality of my decision. I gripped my steering wheel much harder than necessary. Maybe I should have stopped for him? After all, he was a person in need, my inner voice wanted me to pick him up. Guilt. A heavy self condemning dislike for myself stuck me with sharp barbs. All the sudden, a bird smacked into the front-end passenger side of my car with a loud thwack, and then 30 seconds later I hit my breaks to avoid killing another dodgy bird. See? I thought, even the birds are telling me I should have stopped for the man. 

And then I felt ashamed. “What’s wrong with me?” I fumed, voicing my anger aloud. “Why am I so afraid of everything? We are the same, the stranger and I. We are all just people trying to find our way in this crazy fucking world.” My chest tightened; heavy with regret, with sadness. My decision had been wrong. I acted out of fear instead of love. I snorted at myself. What a hypocrite I am, I thought. Here I was shouting, “I love you,” to everyone, but without action they are empty words.

Coward. I though. My heart nearly winced at the abuse. Tears welled up spilling over, and then my inner guidance spoke to me, “By judging yourself you are in a sense disrespecting the stranger too; condemnation without offering space for forgiveness blocks all healing… we are all connected by the living threads of energy. He is you and you are him.

Tiny streams of wetness ran down my cheeks and I was urged to place a hand on my heart and whisper, “I love you and I forgive you for being afraid.” And then I did not block the rest of my tears with my usual wall of hard self-judgement. Instead, I offered myself compassion. In that moment, I decided if I saw the stranger again I would stop and offer him a ride. 

The grocery pick-up was quick and easy and before I knew it I did see the man again. He was still travelling alongside the road. I wish I could say I felt courageous but I didn’t, I felt the shaking hands of nervousness strumming my tethered line of fear. Sitting up taller and grasping at elusive threads of courage, I roped my emotions and turned into an approach a few hundred feet ahead of the somber trudging figure. Another human being that was down on his luck. Instantly, I wanted to give him something, my grandma’s standard fix for everything was food. So, I turned around and rifled through my grocery bags until I came up with a vibrant red apple. I set the fruit in my cup holder and looked up. He was closer now, shambling towards the car, his face hollowed and drawn, a bulging pack on his back. It looked like everything he owned was in that bag. He was so thin. My throat tightened with emotion, I wanted to help him with more than just an apple. What road in life had brought him to this point? 

I snatched up my purse and grabbed my wallet hoping I had stashed some cash for a rainy day. I almost never carried cash. Today, there was a fifty and a ten. My desire to help swiftly wrestled my tight-fisted Scottish genetics into submission and I grabbed the fifty from my wallet sticking it under my leg for easy access. My Scottish bloodline kept the ten.

The man approached my driver’s window at a weary pace, rumpled and shaggy, looking as wary as I felt. I rolled down my window to greet him, and as he stepped closer my planned words were obliterated by my horror. His feet were bare. “Oh my God, you have no shoes!” I said with far more forcefulness than I intended. 

He bent his head and studied his feet momentarily, almost sheepishly. Then, he sighed and met my eyes gesturing with a limp hand towards the lumpy knapsack on his back where his shoes dangled like an oversized car mirror decoration. “I got soaked this morning when the rainstorms came through,” he said, his voice rusted from lack of use. “My feet were getting rubbed raw, so I was letting them dry.” Weariness lined the edges of his dull blue eyes and blondish stubble roughened his face; thick straw-coloured hair stuck out from under the edges of a black ball-cap. His frayed tan shorts and faded t-shirt hung on him; a scarecrow left to be weathered and worn. 

“Where are you headed?” I said, still feeling slightly nervous despite his harmless appearance. Fear porn news stories still rolling in the back of my mind. 

“I’m going to Plamondon,” he said, a touch of hope sounded in his words. “I have a line on a job.” The stranger reached up with one hand, fingertips brushing the peak of his ball cap and then sliding back alongside his hair smoothing it down.  

Plamondon was behind me and a little off my trail, but it would only be an extra twenty minutes. “Do you want a ride?” I asked, feeling lighter as I spoke the words. Love and kindness winning. 

“Yeah, that would be great.” His cloudy eyes brightening suddenly; a flash of brilliant blue. 

As he walked around the back end of my car, I tossed my coat and purse into the back to give him room to sit in the passengers seat. 

The back passenger door swung opened, and he held his backpack in his hand looking for a spot to put his possessions. I awkwardly moved a grocery bag out of the way feeling a crushing sense of guilt at the amount of food in the car. “It was my grocery day,” I said, blurting it out, wanting to explain. “I shop once a week online and since I am at the store anyway, I pick up my daughter’s grocery order too.” I laughed, a stuttering laugh and then offered the stranger an excessive grin. “It saves two vehicles going… you know, the extra gas.”

He nodded politely, and set his gear inside and closed the door.

I turned back to the front and then remembered a container of delicate Hey Clay sculptures I had sitting on the floor in front of the passengers seat, they were my granddaughters creations. The door opened just as I lifted the treasures from the floor. The man slid into his seat and clicked his seatbelt into place, appearing completely innocent. The fact he had put his knapsack in the back had made me feel much safer. 

I held the container out towards him like a peace-offering. “Would you mind holding these? They are my granddaughters—they were broken by her cousin—adorable sweet boy, but rough— and my husband has fixed them so I was returning them to my granddaughter today.” I was rambling, but he didn’t seem to take any notice. 

He just nodded and offered the slightest grin. 

I swallowed hard, put the car in gear and turned onto the highway back the way I had come. The stranger studied the carefully crafted blue dragon with interest. “These are pretty good,” he said, his tone honest.

I glanced over and smiled at his appreciation of the amateur art. “The sculpting material is called Hey Clay, it’s much better than the Play-Doh we used to have when we were kids, and it air dries really well too.”

His features suddenly softened and he appeared much younger.

“Well, you probably played withPlay-Doh when you were young,” I said, trying to make a connection with his past.

He nodded enthusiastically, childlike. “Yeah, I used Play-Doh all the time.” His scruffy face flinched then, as though the good memory hurt and he set the dragon back in the box with a light sigh.

Again, I wondered of his story, he seemed so wounded, his obvious pain triggered my desire to help even further. I remembered the apple and motioned to the fruit in the cup holder. “Oh yeah, I was wondering if you wanted an apple, I thought you might want a snack or something after walking this morning?” Ugh, I silently groaned at my words. Talk about minimizing; like he had gone for a pleasing stroll along the edge of the road to listen to the birds, instead of an agonizing walk in wet sneakers that rubbed his heels raw forcing him onto the pavement barefoot.

He reached down and lifted the apple with thin spidery fingers. “Thank you, I am kind of hungry.” He held it tightly in his hand, fist pressed against his stomach.

People have called me an empath, and maybe I am, I have always been sensitive, and this human being beside me leaked a type of suffering that I had rarely been around. The underlying pain and hurt inside of him was soul crushing. In that moment I just wanted him to know that he meant something. He was something. He was a living creation of a holy energy and that something was looking out for him in this world, whether we call it the Creator, or God or Source or Allah or whatever. This man needed to know he was looked after. So, in my authentic and unceremonious way, I said, “I was supposed to pick you up today.” I glanced at him brightly, earnestly… not crazily.

He met my gaze, eyes curious. “Yeah?”

“I mean, I was supposed to pick you up when I first saw you on my way into town, but—” I bit my lip and I frowned at my former actions. “—You know.”

He knew.

“I let my fear stop me the first time,” I explained glancing at him earnestly. He dropped his eyes, clearly uncomfortable but I continued on, “And then by the time I reconsidered you were too far back. So then, I don’t know— the Universe, or God, or the Creator, or whatever you may believe, gave me the idea to stop and see if you needed a ride if I saw you on my way home.”

“Hmph,” he said, an acknowledgment but a dismissal as well.

I laughed. It was a genuine laugh. “I know. It sounds crazy, absolutely bonkers, but it’s true. You don’t have to believe me.” And he didn’t. But I felt at peace.

He scratched his temple. “No. That’s cool, I appreciate the ride.”

“Happy to do it,” I said, “What’s your name?”

“Mitchell.”

My body, my brain, my very soul expanded with light. “Shut up!” I said, my filled with awe, bubbling over, my eyes wide. I’m nearly giggling as I explain, “My maiden name is Mitchell and my sister named her only son Mitchell. Isn’t that crazy?”

He patted his knee, unsure, and then nodded, his head a child’s rocking horse bobbing at an even tempo. “Yeah,” he said, his tone wondering. “Mitchell, isn’t a common name around here.”

I wanted to offer him more. “My nephew Mitchell is really clever.”

He bobbed again. “I used to be smart too,” he said, voice sad, regretful, beaten.

“I’m sure, you are still very smart.”

“I don’t know,” he said.

“You should give yourself more credit.” I said, in the tone of a bossy older sister, “Obviously the Universe believes in you, I wasn’t planning on picking anyone up today.”

He smiled and his eyes contemplated my words.

I slowed the vehicle as we drove into the small community of Plamondon. “Where do you want to be dropped off?”

He sat up taller looking ahead and pointing. “At the co-op gas station. Maybe I can get a coffee,” he said, sounding hopeful, “I could really use one.”

As soon as I rolled to a stop, I pulled the fifty dollar bill out from under my leg and thrust it towards Mitchell. “Here,”

Wide-eyed, he accepted the bill with a shaking hand, and then his brow creased as though he couldn’t quite believe his eyes. “Really?”

“Yeah really,” I nodded eagerly. “The Universe wants good things for you. You deserve good things.”

His voice trembled. “Well, thank you.” Appreciation shone on his face. “You have no idea how much I needed this.” And then he snorted happily. “Now, I really can get that cup of coffee.”

My heart sank. He really didn’t have anything. I watched Mitchell, hop out of my car taking tender steps on the rough ground as he retrieved his bag from the backseat. “Thanks again,” he said.

“Anytime,” I said “It was nice to meet you, Mitchell. Good luck on your job.”

The story doesn’t end there. There was one more gift in store for me.

On my way to my daughters to drop off her groceries, I picked up her mail. She had some parcels. At her house, after her groceries were put away she made me a coffee and then she began to open up her packages. As she sliced open the boxes, I started retelling the story of my day: of my spontaneous proclamations of love to everyone I met; how I wrestled with myself about picking up a stranger walking on the side of the road; how he had my maiden name, Mitchell for his first name, and how I I thought that was a sign that the love we have for others is the love need to have for ourselves. My daughter, Megan, followed the story nodding here and there, and then when she opened her final package exposing some gorgeous plumes of pampas grass, she squealed with shock. “Oh my God, Mom, this is crazy!”

“What? What?” I said, nearly dumping my coffee in my lap. 

She thrust a piece of plastic with writing on it. “Look! Look at this!” She held one hand to her throat, tears forming in her eyes.I took it from her. And this is what it said:  The bold lettering leaped at me.  SAY “I LOVE YOU”  

Blessed. I felt blessed. And then I read the whole thing and felt even more blessed. Today, was my wedding anniversary too.

Ushered Into the Program

Ushered Into the Program

Imagine this scene multiplied a million times over.

Are we being deliberately limited by what we hear and see through the mesmerizing transmissions on our TV?

Imagine this scene repeated endlessly.

Are we the ones choosing the planning of our time or are we led down a path of someone else’s design?

Imagine this tool being used trillions of times a day.

Do we control it? Or does it control us? Do the apps within its programs feed your need for approval one day and then smash your ego into smithereens the next? Does this device empower your sense of accomplishment?

I am not against technology. Technology optimizes the workplace and is invaluable in staying connected with family and friends. That said, I have to ask, do you think technology can be a substitute for the active experience of spending time with flesh and blood people? Do you think it can take the place of the heat of a tender embrace? Or the sultry sweet scent of flowers after a rain? Or a walk along a beach with a loved one serenaded by the roaring of waves crashing down upon the shore? Or the snorting laughter shared during an outing with old friends? Take a pause, close your eyes and remember those days; remember the energy; the realness.

Now, just imagine, dear ones, what could we accomplish if we all remembered our flawed yet marvellous humanity and we began to use our precious time for appreciating other people instead of tuning into the program. What would happen if we envisioned the world as a healing circle of compassion and day by day, interaction by interaction we built each other up instead of tearing each other down; a world threaded together by connected hearts instead of wifi. So many possibilities.

Do you know the real difference between humans and computers? Humans feel. We experience desires and dreams, and with those desires and dreams we are capable of freely determining our own destiny. Now I ask you, are you a human or a program?

Shaping Our World

Photo by MESSALA CIULLA on Pexels.com

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your Universe, and if you are worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion. What is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. “Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.” And then you’re a player, yet you don’t even want to play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.” — Terence McKenna

Here’s a question for you and it’s probably the most important question you could ask yourself…  What is your reality at the moment? Seriously. Pause and consider, are you absolutely certain that you are determining your own thoughts and perceptions? The answer might be eye-opening, but if not, then simply go back to your life-sucking, mind-numbing television show or all consuming social media frenzy. Sorry if that hits a nervy spot, but really, how much have you learned from your own personal inquiry lately? Now, consider, how much time you give to social media, television, and the internet. How do you know that what you’re listening to is actually true? Do you simply take the government and corporation sponsored programming at their word? Or do you invest the time to look at scientific data, published papers and listen to a variety of professional and personal accounts on a topic before forming an opinion? If you are only listening to one source it’s no better than hearing the gossip on the corner and spreading it around as Gods truth.

Let’s face it, if nothing else, life experience teaches us that nothing stays the same. And unfortunately for us, change causes us to feel off balance and uncomfortable; like a clown at a funeral. That instability can easily be used to make us feel vulnerable, and in those circumstances most will leap into the first clothes closet of safety.

These days, if you are listening to the media you hear each and every day that we are all at a great risk of dying. (So weird, I thought we were always at a risk of dying) But now we are told daily how we need to be separated by a block of six feet of empty air, a mask, hide in our homes and plug our ears against certain types of information to stay safe.

I’m just wondering? Are your spider senses going off yet? How much discomfort are you feeling in your guts because I’m sure by now that you must know something duplicitous is amiss? Are you quelling the jitters in your tummy with extra packs of peppermint tums? It’s not your fault you know, humans are creatures of comfort, we often disregard our early warning systems because it’s much easier to believe what is presented to us than to believe there might be malicious intent lurking under all the carefully crafted story lines.

Don’t you find it odd for a free country to suddenly begin silencing reputable doctors and scientists, and to begin name calling and bashing citizens, singling them out because they have a different belief than the proper narrative. What type of government enforces censorship and encourages the masking of free speech? I will not insult your intelligence by telling you. I’m quite sure you know. Coincidently, if you don’t look under the bed for the boogeyman before you go to sleep at and he is actually there you will be defenceless. Oops, you didn’t look. And now because of your unwillingness to look, he will suck the marrow from your bones.

As Terrence McKenna implied at the beginning of my blog, many events have been guided into a certain way of group think using mind manipulation. I for one am saddened by the depth of deception. I love community. I love people. I love their unique and diverse individual expressions of living. I love humanity. I love the artists, the accountants, the musicians, the professors, the bakers, the barbers and even the lawyers. I could go on and on, for each person has carved out a life for themselves and their personality and contributions have been woven into the fabric of humanity. We are all so damn special. Collective mind think is not freedom and it’s not special.

Step back. Breathe. Consider. What if everything you were told was wrong? I’m not saying it is, but what if it was? The first strategy of an authoritarian government is to divide the people and implement censorship under the guise of something else. It’s all been written before; it’s in the history books. Read some personal historical accounts from those times. The citizens never realized what was happening— they trusted the authorities. They happily listened to all the propaganda and took part in terrible things. Ask yourself, who has brought more death and destruction to countries throughout history? The people or their governments? Cap your opinions for the length of this video and listen to this little known information.

Please ask yourself, who do you think really makes the decisions for our country? Are they virtuous well-meaning politicians free of ties to corporations and other influences? Are our governments really keeping us safe? Who benefits the most from their decisions? Who has made a mountain of money these last two years? Do you understand that safe is a code word for restricted, controlled and limited. Come on. I dare you. Show some grit and look under the bed.

Fresh Start

September 2009 to March 2010-76

Welcome 2018

Screech! I hope this isn’t a sound you hear this year, with the exception of driving of course. You want to hear a healthy screech when you slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a pet, or a child, or three adolescent lynxes running across the road. Oh, and maybe an adult human, I guess you might want to brake for an adult  human too. Unless you’re an asshole, and then all bets are off. What I am trying to say in a rambling sort of way is stop hitting the brake pedal on your dreams. Ignore the hesitation within yourself. Smash the desire to toss those bright and shiny dreams in the garbage just because they might be hard to accomplish.

Seriously though, this is your fresh start. Begin. Make your wishes a priority. Do you want to travel? Maybe you can’t do it today, but you can start by planning for it today. Is it the cost of travelling which is stopping you? Begin by budgeting your money, read blogs and articles on how to save money, buy stuff at a second hand store, shop the deals in a grocery flyer, and cook your own meals. There are infinite ways to tighten ye ole purse strings.

Maybe this year is the year to lose the extra jiggle on your middle? It’s probably the number one New Years promise (lie). And do you know why people fail? It’s because they cut out everything they enjoy doing and eating on January 1 and replace it with gut wrenching gym programs, and tasteless food you need to chew for an hour before swallowing. The reason people can’t make it past week three of the program is because they are pure misery and still have the jiggle. Not only that, but they are feeling unsupported because their significant other is MIA. What they don’t realize is their significant other is probably hiding in the closet or under the couch. They are avoiding the swoosh of the fun Dracula which sweeps in when you enter the room. Please, for the happiness of those people around you, go slowly into the big life changes. The only thing shock starts are good for, are for jolting your heart when it stops beating. Begin your get fit program with a fifteen minute work out and build up to an hour. Change your diet a little at a time. Wean yourself slowly off the sugars, fats, and breads and gently incorporate healthier food choices. Have one food cheat day, and one exercise free day once a week. Be nice to yourself, changing your body takes time, tiny steps evolve into going the distance with less discomfort. And lets be honest, most people don’t enjoy discomfort.

Maybe this year you are dreaming of a gershnoskel upgrade? Maybe you have one of those snot collectors which have begun to look a little lumpy in a mushroomy sort of way, or it sweeps everything off a shelf when you turn around. If it bothers you fix it. There are people who are trained to deal with the genetic whoopsies in our personal form. Maybe this is the year of the nose job?

As you endeavour to change yourself this year don’t forget you have the ability to change the world as well. Recycle, buy local when you can, and if you can’t purchase something you need locally then please consider what type of country you are supporting with your money. Continuing to purchase “Made in China” products supports human rights violations, suppression of human expression, and death sentences for those people who dare to challenge the injustices in their country. I am so grateful to live in a country where I am free.

Whatever you choose for yourself in 2018, I wish you the most honest effort. I wish you foot off the brakes oodles of dedication. I wish you the simplicity of kindness towards yourself and then towards others. It is an important practice as you’ll soon discover travelling to your dream destination. On the plane they will inform you it is necessary to put on your own oxygen mask first before you are able to help others. This is often the case in life. Your dreams are personal. If you are focused — Anything is possible. All you have to do is to commit.

Have a blow your mind, bloody amazing New Year!