Pieces of me have been spaced too far apart lately, and there is nothing to be done but wait, and while I wait the twist in my gut gets bigger as my heart slowly empties and no longer fills.
Airway Management System
not helping catch my breath,
as I wait.
The beauty must equal the silence.
Montreal Biodome (I know, this thing is huge! It came off my iPhone and I cannot figure how to resize it!)
Perfect mornings are full of silence and beauty, endless possibility and hope. You can reflect on where you were yesterday and where you want to be today, and listen to your breath as you live in this one moment before the day begins.
“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are traveling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”
I saw this on a Facebook post today, and I cannot think of a better sentiment for the day set aside for love.
I heard Willie Nelson playing this song today, and he couldn't spoil it for me. One of the most liberating feelings in the world is loving people without fears and doubts and hope of reciprocity. Love is lawless and faithful and is returned in the most unlikely ways sometimes. The act of giving love is a leap, a show of vulnerability that makes you stronger. I have foolishly put conditions and demands on love and been crushed by the weight of disappointment, when I should have let the joy of the giving itself lift me up and teach me something. We do not realise how selfish we are so much of the time. I wish that I could live outside of myself for just one day and see how my actions, and inactions, effect the world and the people around me, strangers and people I love included. I know I would have a lot to learn from that day. And I would want to start again, do things a little differently, be truer to who I want to be, to who I am becoming.
Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry
You don't know how lovely you are
I had to find you, tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions
Oh, let's go back to the start
Running in circles, coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy
It's such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
Oh, take me back to the start
One of my girlfriends shared an article with me from The Atlantic entitled, There's More to Life Than Being Happy (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/01/theres-more-to-life-than-being-happy/266805/). It is one of the things that I have been pondering off and on for the past year. I keep talking about being happy and trying to figure out how to be happy, but after reading the article, I realise that what I was calling happy is actually having meaning and purpose in my life, and not the actual goal of happiness. My brain shouted, "Yes! THAT'S what I meant!", and a peace settled down on me, and then an excitement because I really want to think about this some more.
Allow me to recap the article without repeating, because it is well worth reading: Viktor Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist who survived the Nazi concentration camps (most of his family perished) and wrote a book about it and his theories on what makes people resilient - Meaning. Meaning and purpose give us a reason to exist, a responsibility to something outside of ourselves, a task that is uniquely ours which makes us indepensible. Suffering may be involved in that purpose, and so might happiness, but these are merely moments of time experienced with no real importance. And yet, we make happiness important - endless books and articles on how to be happy and achieve happiness, but happiness without meaning "characterizes a relatively shallow, self-absorbed or even selfish life". Living a meaningful life involves giving rather than taking, and leads to more satisfaction and fulfillment down the road.
This year I have been taking my life apart and examining the little bits and pieces from all sides. After considering this article, I realise that I have been asking myself the wrong question, or at least I was not wording it correctly. I want a life with meaning, so how am I creating that now and how can I continue to do so? The biggest meaning right now is my children, but that cannot be my only responsibility. There must also be what I contribute to others through my photos, my words, my actions - they contribute to a purpose that will be with me long after my children are grown.
I'm not done thinking about this, I feel there is so much shifting for me at the moment. Seriously, read the article if you didn't - hopefully you'll be as excited as I am about it :-)
The first week of the new year is over and what have I learned? Let's see:I saw Lincoln and learned a bit more about Amendment 13 and the politics of the American civil war. And also that I should brush up on my American history. I learned a little bit about Japanese pub food and sake beer bombs. Once again, further investigation is required. I thought a lot about loving what I do, what I want to be doing, and what I am doing to be able to love where I am right now. I started looking at my financial life and really thinking about making some changes rather than pretending what I am doing is good for me. And I have learned that substituting green tea for coffee for a week has not been difficult at all.
It's the beginning of the new year, so it's time for resolutions and reflections. When I woke up this morning, I thought the following: I am happy to be waking up in a warm bed, in a cozy dwelling. I am not hungry, I am not sick, I am alive and I can see the sunlight on the trees and the snow outside, making them sparkle. I have two beautiful children who dazzle me with their growing and person-ness. I have family who loves me and tries to take care of me. I have a few friends, just enough, who support me and love me in everything I do. I have a mind that thinks and creates and dreams and loves impossibly beautiful things.
Everything that I need or I want in this world is possible for me to grasp.
I am so very fortunate.
I just need to remember, and truly believe that. That is my resolution for this year. I will believe that I am fortunate, that I am beautiful just the way that I am. I will do the things that make me happy, and work from a sense of purpose rather than a sense of duty. I will believe in my friends' dreams and cheer them on as they climb. I will listen more. I will encourage my children and try to be the example. I will be my heart, I will listen to it and appreciate that it is unique and crazy and marvelous.
And I will try to ignore the parts of me, and the parts of others, who tell me different.
All the best for 2013. It will be a good year :-)
I was on a train somewhere in Spain Sometime in the night
I drew up my knees in second class
And watched in the blue light
Strangers beside me, strangers across from me
They've closed their eyes
So far away from home the empty stations echo
As we go dreaming by
I miss you like crazy
I wish that you were here holding me
I would like to live everyday of my life with a chest of glass - come world and look at my heart, see it pumping with excitement, swelling with pride, huge with love, and sometimes crushed and broken with disappointment - but look at it, see it continuing to beat and thrive and thump on without missing a beat. See only the best people drawn to it through its good intentions and endless hope and joy, and listen to its infectious rhythm as I smile and dance and sing in a snowy park at sunrise, my laughter ringing out over the dawn.
My little girl, today you are 7. Seven, what a year it's been! A year of kindergarten where you took over the class and were commended for helping other students; a year of Irish dancing which, well, you seemed to have fun with; a year of creating, and learning, and laughing, and make believe. You are still your brother's very best friend, and the two of you make worlds of fictional characters come alive. You live in a land of super heroes and Lego and barbies and stuffed hippos, each new story and game coming out of your mind in a flurry of rampant imagination. You point out the beauty of the moon, bright and still under the clouds, you laugh at Picasso and tell me he doesn't know how to draw a face properly, you sing along to Bob Marley in the back of the car, and dance to a beat that is yours and yours alone. You make friends without fear or judgement and have a way of making even the toughest playmates comply and you fill the world with the joy and wonder that you find all around you.
I love listening to your insights on life as we walk to the park, drive through the country, cruise the grocery store, and hike through the woods. There may be one too many fart jokes now, and the "Muthurrrrr" refrain has already begun, but I find your humour and silliness charming when paired with your mischievous grin and the twinkle in your eyes.
You are in a hurry to grow up, wanting to imitate the older girls, make yourself exotic, be the dramatic centre of attention - but when you and I are alone, and it's quiet, you lay down next to me and hold my hand and we talk and all the personas fall away and you are just you, and you are so damn beautiful that I want to gather you up and hold you forever. Never stop being you my little Noo, because I love the person you are and all the things you want to be and cannot wait to see where tomorrow brings you.
You are a fantastic, amazing girl and you make me proud to be your mom, you always will.
All my love, Momma
This project is dedicated to the leaves who didn't quite make it to the ground, the ones waiting for a gust of wind to complete their journey. No leaves were injured or manipulated for this project - they were shot as they landed.
Check out the entire set - Leaf fail
I've been thinking about Amanda Todd. Not about the tragedy of a young girl taking her life, and not about the outpouring of support and rage on all social media networks and across schools and communities, although the idea of a story this sad going viral because of a YouTube video and perhaps encouraging similar events because of the mass response scares me. I'm thinking about Amanda Todd because I have a daughter, and I want to understand what brought this ordinary girl to such a drastic decision. The media is talking about bullying. Bullying is bad, and I commend the seriousness with which this issue is now treated in most schools across the country. Bullying creates an endless cycle of mistreatment and abuse that effects everyone. But from what I understand, this girl's bullying problems started from some bad choices she made while communicating with cretins on the Internet (who take advantage of young girls on a regular basis and should be prosecuted). So maybe parents should be more careful about what their children do on the Internet, but the deeper issue is why girls go seeking attention online in the first place.
My first thought is lack of self esteem. We blame society and ourselves for not having enough self esteem. There are articles all over the Internet, Dove campaigns, and tons of self analysis and criticism of media, the modelling industry, advertising companies, and everyone else who tells us what a perfect woman should be.
So what is self esteem? As I type this I realise that I equate the lack of it with pictures of thin models and I couldn't be more wrong. Self esteem is knowing who you are, it's liking the great things about you and improving the things that are not so good. It's about being a good person and pursuing your dreams and living a life that you are proud of. It is being happy to be you.
We are born without any preconceptions of what we should be, but as we become aware of the world and ourselves we start to think about how we are viewed. This isn't a bad thing, but if we also start to compare ourselves to others when we do not know who we are, what we like, where we are going, then we latch on to an ideal created by someone else and compare ourselves to a figment of the imagination, that's when the issues start.
I was reading an article in Psychology Today about the myth of girls losing their self esteem in adolescence (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-women/201001/the-truth-about-women-and-self-esteem). According to the study, there is no significant change in adoloescence, and girls although more "anxious about their appearance" are more confident than boys in terms of academic achievement. What seems to make a difference is support, "For both girls and boys, those who felt supported by parents, teachers, and friends in expressing their points of view felt they had a stronger voice".
Adolescence is such a fragile time because we emerge from that bubble of being completely unaware to the question, "who am I?". It is important to have people in our lives who help us become who we are and not tell us who we should be.
I want to build a relationship with my daughter that allows her to share doubts and problems, and I want to help her to understand that she is beautiful and if people tell her she isn't she just won't believe them. But most importantly, I want her to know who she is so that she can make her own choices and be a happy person.
My goals for my children are countless, but I want them to understand that they are loved and that they have people in their lives who think they are wonderful, can listen without judgement, and will provide help when they need it. I think I'm on the right track, I'll read some more and get back to you.
I took the day off today to get some things done, run on one of the last warm sunny days of the year, have a long lunch with a friend, and to pick up my kids early and go and do something fun. This time last year I was telling myself to enjoy my free days as much as I have enjoyed this one, but only a few weeks after being layed off, it was a much different world. I felt dejected, rejected, used, and a lot of other negative things that no longer matter. I look at all the things that have happened over the year, and I am wondering why I am even thinking about it at all. When I try to be retrospective I realise that there's nothing to see back there, everything's ahead of me or standing right in front of me. Hang on to the sweet memories and the love and the smiles and let the earth swallow up everything else. The memory of bad things may be good to prevent future wars or mass tragedies, but have no place in an individual life. Holding on to the pain, bitterness, and anger only weaken you further and steal your future happiness. When they happen, let them come, but when they are gone, let them go. Enjoy the sunny days, make time for the things that matter and feel how amazing most days can be.
New York was wonderful! The energy of the city makes me spastic and I want to rush all over and stand in one place simultaneously. I could have spent a few days in the subway stations capturing images like this one. The subway even provides the framing, how thoughtful! I really enjoy Humans of New York and I am so intensely jealous of the people who are allowed to roam the streets with cameras at hand every day there - what a tremendous group of opinionated, open people, they really are a breed apart. Every place I looked I saw images that I wanted to take home with me, so many stories to tell.It has been an exhausting couple of weeks, but pretty eventful - I won some awards for my photography, spent some time in New York with my friends, hiked and biked in the beautiful autumn sunshine, and accepted a job. I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I feel pretty good right now. What I am missing right now is some time to be perfectly still and think while someone tells me a good story. Volunteers?